Saturday, February 28, 2009
I know it all sounds very spiritual which is not my typical content, but everyone needs this sometimes!
Recharging Your Batteries
Getting Run Down
Our natural state of being is vibrant, happy to be alive. Yet, there can be times when we feel run down and worn out. This does not mean that we are lazy or unfit for the tasks in our lives; it means that we need to recharge our batteries and find a way of keeping them charged. Vitamins and extra rest can be very helpful in restoring our physical bodies. And if we are willing to delve deeper, we may discover that there is an underlying cause for our exhaustion.
Whenever you are feeling run down, take an honest look at how you have been thinking, feeling and acting. You will likely find a belief, behavior pattern or even a relationship that is out of alignment with who you really are. Perhaps you believe you have to be perfect at everything or you have been bending over backwards to get people to like you. Maybe you are dealing with mild depression or simply have too much on your plate right now. There may also be people or situations in your life which are draining your energy. Once you get clear on the root cause, you can weed it out and better direct your flow of energy in the future.
In time, you might notice that the reasons you feel run down have less to do with how much you are doing and more to do with the fact that in your heart, you would rather be doing something else entirely. From now on, try and listen to what your heart really wants. It may take meditation, or just a moment of silent tuning in to gain the clarity you need, but it is well worth the effort. When you know what you truly want to do, and honor that in all situations, you will find that getting run down is a thing of the past.
For more thoughts, visit the DailyOM
Friday, February 27, 2009
As they typically will, the Democrats strive to lay the entire mortgage crisis squarely at the feet of the Republican Party. What they always forget is that we are in the age of television and what they say can actually be heard and documented, available to play back at a later date.
Where they typically luck out is that the main stream media has no interest in playing any of it back, for fear of being fair and balanced as opposed to the unpaid shills of the Democrat Party that they are. Here is an example from a hearing that took place in 2004 concerning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
This is a look at a snapshot of the Obama budget proposal which will most likely endure changes along the way but that gives us an idea of the sectors and citizens that have the potential to feel the most pain.
Will The Democrats Find A Way To Blame This Budget Proposal And Move Towards Socialism On The Bush Administration? I Am Sure We Will Find Out As Everything Obama Does Is Reported To Be In Response To "The Failed Policies Of The Last Eight Years."
For all of you Obama apologists and Bush antagonists out there, the sand is slowly running out of the egg timer. We know the drill. Eight years of failed policies and spending and an inherited budget deficit and banking/financial crisis. All the result of Washington business as usual and Change that hadn't arrived until Obama did. Is the change that we were waiting for: Jimmy Carter 2? Can a windfall profits tax on any industry still making money be far behind?
The Question: Is This Budget The Change That We Need?
The markets don't seem to think so as the Dow, NASDQ and S&P all fell after the details came out.
Student Loans - We have a proposal to end federal subsidies to private companies providing student loans - Sallie Mae -36% Thursday
Health Insurers - A proposal to trim medicare payments to firms such as United Healthcare -13% Thursday
Drug Company's - A proposal to allow more cheaper overseas purchases. Merck -7% Thursday
The budget also calls for a heavier tax burden on the "wealthiest" Americans, those making over $250,000 a year as a couple and $200,000 for single people. These are the same people who tend to be the entrepreneurs creating new jobs and who do the most consumer spending who may now lose any incentive to do either.
The Obama budget assumes that the country will enjoy economic growth of 3.2% in 2010 and 4% the three years after that. All well above the estimates of the private sector economists.
This is just a quick look at what we heard Thursday.
That honeymoon is just getting closer and closer to its' end!
Ahh, Time For The Annual Ritual Of Spring Break
It is time for college students and even some high school students from around the country to make that annual pilgrimage to the warm climates for that week of partying and debauchery also know as spring break.
In the past all parents had to worry about was the excesses of drinking and the problems that can create, sun poisoning, fighting and maybe personal belongings getting stolen. As with everything else the times have certainly changed, and while the majority of the tourist areas are most likely perfectly safe, this is one more thing that parents and guardians have to worry about and be aware of.
The United States Department of State has seen fit to issue a travel alert to Mexico due to increases in the level of violence there. This is not at the level of a travel warning, but is still something that people need to be aware of. It is mainly targeted at those cities along the U.S. border, but needs to be read in any case.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Crime and Violence Throughout Mexico (2/20/09)
The greatest increase in violence has occurred near the U.S. border. However, U.S. citizens traveling throughout Mexico should exercise caution in unfamiliar areas and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Mexican and foreign bystanders have been injured or killed in violent attacks in cities across the country, demonstrating the heightened risk of violence in public places. In recent years, dozens of U.S. citizens have been kidnapped across Mexico. Many of these cases remain unresolved. U.S. citizens who believe they are being targeted for kidnapping or other crimes should notify Mexican officials and the nearest American consulate or the Embassy as soon as possible, and should consider returning to the United States.
What ever happened to going to the Catskills?
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I was a proprietary equity trader for some time in the late 1980's, '90's and early 2000's. The uptick rule on New York Stock exchange traded stocks was in existence to prevent traders from pounding a stock lower because you could only sell the shares on a plus tick.
In the late 1980's this rule was not in place on the NASDAQ stocks and traders, including SOES traders (small order execution system), could take a stock, particularly on news, and make quick money selling and buying lower. The speed with which the markets would change on the screen was blinding.
Pity the poor market maker that happened to be in the bathroom and was not adjusting his or her markets when it was being driven down. Imagine an $80 bid that was now a $77 bid for the rest of the market, but ABCD market maker was still at $80 being bombarded by SOES trades like in a game of asteroids, with those traders able to cover at the ask of $77. Talk about a slot machine stuck on jackpot.
In any event, this rule that had been in force since the stock market crash in the '29 was revoked by Christopher Cox in 2007 for reasons that only he can explain. In testimony today before the House Ben Bernanke clearly stated that he very much favored the reinstatement of this rule.
"WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Federal Reserve board chairman Ben Bernanke seemed to give tacit support on Wednesday to restoration of federal rules that don't allow short-selling while a stock is declining. In a question-and-answer session with the House Financial Services committee, Bernanke said that the rule "may have had some benefit" during the current crisis. Mary Schapiro, the new chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission, told the New York Times this week that she's thinking about reinstating the rule. The SEC eliminated the rule in 2007. It had been in place since the market crash in 1929. It stated that short sale had to take place at a price higher than the price of the previous trade. Robert Brusca, chief economist at FAO Economics, said too many people on Wall Street were able to make profits from the pessimism in markets and restoration of the up-tick rule was needed."
The uptick rule is certainly not a panacea for all that ails the markets, but it is one step in the right direction!
Now That We Are At The Mercy Of Washington, What Do We Do?
Tim Geithner speaks, President Obama Speaks, our senators speak and our congressmen and women speak. Whether you think that they are saying anything worthwhile or if you think that their plans have no merit is all well and good.
The reality, however, is that at the end of the day it is up to each and every one of us to make sure that we are the captains of our own financial ships because no one else will be. At the end of the day much if not all of the macro picture is out of our hands and beyond our control. Therefore, we have to paint a picture of where we are now and where we would like to be down the road.
Our ability to reach those goals will depend on many factors, but they still have to be articulated and planned for.
Some Simple Steps
You 1st have to set-up a checklist and file of your key financial information:
- Income: Most recent tax returns, current pay stubs, alimony you pay or receive (if applicable), any and all other sources of income (i.e. rental income you receive).
- Home ownership records: All of your mortgage records for 1st, 2nd and even 3rd if you have them, any statements if you have a home equity loan or line of credit.
- Your current liability statements: This includes your account payables such as credit cards, charge accounts at stores, other vendors you may have credit with, car loans, student loans, boat loans and any other payments that you have to make.
- Assets: Your mutual fund statements, brokerage statements, money market fund statements, bank statements and even assets you may have in a safe deposit box such as savings bonds or gold coins.
- Retirement and College Savings: Your 401k statements, IRA statements, 529 Plan statements, annuity statements, Uniform Gift To Minors statements.
- Insurance: Policy number and company's (with contact name and phone number) that you have your life, health, disability and car insurance with.
- Key Business Documents: If you have your own business your corporate book, stock details, partnership agreements and anything else that will give a snapshot of important information.
- Estate Documents: Collect your wills, powers of attorney, health care proxies, information on your eternal resting place if you have one, trusts documents if any have been established.
The 2nd step, once you have determined your assets and liabilities is to calculate your personal net worth, or assets - liabilities.
3rd try and establish an accurate cash flow statement which will take all of your recurring income and subtract from it all of your recurring expenses. Using this you can try and determine if there are periods during the year when you have cash flow problems and account for them.
4th and last look at the overview of your financial picture and decide if any immediate steps need to be taken. In the current environment some steps may not be feasible, but take an objective look and do what you can.
For example do you have retirement accounts all over the place that can be consolidated in one? Although difficult today, are you saving enough for retirement or your kids education? Insurance, particularly disability is key as the statistic goes that you are far more likely to be disabled than die.
Overall we are all stressed in a variety of ways, but sit down, do a little research and be aware of potential problems or totally comfortable because you have everything under control.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Obama Is On My T.V. More Than I Love Lucy Reruns
One thing that you have to say about our new President is that he is not shy. He definitely likes his face time and loves to hear himself speak. The problem is that the rhetoric stays the same and the American people as well as the world markets want to see results and not just well spoken words.
Last night we had the Washington puppet show of up and down applauding depending on the side of the aisle you sit on. Hard to believe that there are typically no clapping dissenters on either side. You had the head puppeteer, Nancy Pelosi with a smirk or a smile glued on her face during what was really a somber speech about the economic condition of the country (see above).
Could it be that this is the perfect example of the fact that she does not feel any of the economic pain, but is happy about the totally partisan aspect of the occasion? Is this show of the laughing and back slapping on the way into the speech by all of these representatives just another example of how incredibly out of touch they are? Do they laugh and back slap on their way into a funeral? Not to equate the two but the country is currently in an economic ICU. How about if these representatives cut the crap and really, really tried to come up with viable solutions to fix this mess? It is unbelievable!
As Always, The Markets Are The Greatest Arbiter Of All
Well Mr. President, the markets will typically give some type of post speech bounce even if short lived if they see any aspect of hope or possibility in the things that you say. You got none of that which should be a guide to you that perhaps the need is for less face time and more results from the minions that you put into critical positions.
It is now time for you to accept your new successes or failures and stop blaming the past because the fact is that you now own this. Those that voted you into office on the sweeping promises of changing broken Washington will very quickly turn as they see layoffs, store closings and the markets continue increase and suffer.
Your administration is now well on its' way to the 100 day report card, and while you can point to things that have been passed, can you point to things that you have accomplished. There is more than just a subtle difference.
I Think That America Would Like To Be Let In On The Joke In The Picture, But It Must Be An Inside The Beltway Thing For Those That Don't Have To Worry About Their Jobs, Health Insurance, College, Food, Mortgage Payments and Pensions.
That Said, First Let's Start With The Obama Mantra (close your eyes and repeat 5 times): OM It's Only Been 5 Weeks In Office, OM It's Only Been 5 Weeks In Office...
Well Mr. President, you are not in Kansas anymore. At what point in time will your apologists run out of the excuse that it's only been 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks and now 5 weeks. You came into office with very big plans facing even bigger problems. You gave yourself and the Congress a very aggressive and artificial timeline of what you wanted to get done by certain drop dead dates. You had administration growing pains with the embarrassment of more than one nominee having to withdraw due to various tax problems and then you kept Geithner in one of the most critical positions of all despite his tax problems.
You have offered no real new ideas for getting us out of this economic mess other than a stimulus bill that resembles nothing more than a luau with a pig roasting over an open fire combined with taxing those that you consider wealthy. Tim Geithner, a not ready for prime time player from the Bush administration, now probably your most crucial appointee, is distinguishing himself by being completely undistinguishable. Since you have been in office the stock market has retested and taken out the old lows, not so much because of what you have done but because of what you have not done.
We all know the drill: complex problem brought on by the failures of the last administration. That only goes so far when you have players like Dodd and Barney Frank who are deeply involved in creating the problem out front accepting no blame for it.
By the time that you read this the orator-in-chief will have given a speech to the joint chambers of congress that will surely have been extremely well delivered and filled with flowery speak and talk of the inherited problems from the Bush administration. It was also hopefully filled with words of hope unlike the last speech where he effectively brought the entire country down with dire words and predictions of impending doom.
Anyway, I digress. The point of this post is to describe the fact that although Obama's approval rating are still high, they are slipping while his disapproval ratings are rising. Remember Mr. President, you only have one chance to make a good first impression!
"For the first time since Gallup began tracking Barack Obama's presidential job approval rating on Jan. 21, fewer than 60% of Americans approve of the job he is doing as president. In Feb. 21-23 polling, 59% of Americans give Obama a positive review, while 25% say they disapprove, and 16% have no opinion.
To date, Obama has averaged 64% approval, but, as the graph shows, there has been a slight but perceptible decline in his approval rating since he took office. This decline has largely occurred among Republicans.
The drop below 60% approval within the past week -- from 63% in Feb. 18-20 polling to 59% in Feb. 21-23 polling -- has mostly come among independents. Late last week, 62% of independents approved of Obama, compared with 54% in the last three days. His approval rating among Democrats has dipped slightly (but not to a statistically significant degree), while approval among Republicans has not changed. ."
Beware the point, if it comes, when the ever loyal Democrat base begins to recognize that the Bush blame game will at some point have to transition to the new administration. As I have said before, the honeymoon lasts only so long and Democrats will have to look at the same unemployment, declining markets and higher taxes that Republicans will. And it is not a pretty sight.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Hey Senator Dodd: Was This The Bush Adminstration Also?
Who Are The Best and Worst Presidents Of All Time?
were picked up by the online editions of
The Houston Chronicle Online, The Chicago Sun-Times and The Palm Beach Post.
I was listening to Ben Bernanke's semi-annual monetary policy report and it began with Senator Dodd giving his opening speech. As is typical Dodd seems to forget that anyone prior to the inauguration of George Bush had any complicity in the current crisis that we now find ourselves in. He must not remember any political contributions from Fannie Mae that he may have received or any mortgage deal he may have received on his own personal property. Just as a reminder to him as well as any other politicians that would like to place this entire crisis on the steps of the last eight years, here is an article from the New York Times from 1999.
It indicates that under pressure from The Clinton administration, lending standards were going to be eased. Read it with an open mind, and if you are of the mind to continue to solely blame Bush you will anyway.
Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending
Published: September 30, 1999 (New York Times)
In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.
The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.
Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.
In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called sub-prime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.
''Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements,'' said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. ''Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called sub-prime market.''
Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the sub-prime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market.
In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.
''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''
Who are considered the best and worst Presidents of all time? Some of the results might be a surprise, and some no surprise. The Times Online asked 8 of its international and political commentators to take on this task.
"The Collins English Dictionary definition of great reads thus: relatively large in size or extent; relatively large in number; having many parts or members; of relatively long duration; of larger size or more importance than others of its kind; extreme or more than usual; of significant importance of consequence; of exceptional talents or achievements; remarkable; doing or exemplifying something on a large scale; arising from or possessing idealism in thought, action etc; heroic; illustrious or eminent; impressive or striking; active or enthusiastic; skilful or adroit; excellent, fantastic."
President: 2009 rank, 2000 rank (Times Online)
Abraham Lincoln: 1, 1
The number one: our panel chose the radical Republican who kept the fledgling nation alive when it could have collapsed altogether.
The first Republican President, Lincoln led the defeat of the Confederate states in the American Civil War and freed around four million slaves by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. The formal abolition of slavery in the US was ratified soon after his death.
He succeeded in unifying the nation militarily as well as laying out a moral imperative for its governance in his Gettysburg address. During the final days of the civil war he was shot dead by John Wilkes Booth.
George Washington: 2, 3
Franklin D. Roosevelt: 3, 2
Theodore Roosevelt: 4, 4
Harry S. Truman: 5, 5
John F. Kennedy: 6, 8
Thomas Jefferson: 7, 7
Dwight D. Eisenhower: 8, 9
Woodrow Wilson: 9, 6
Ronald Reagan: 10, 11
Feted by many of the panel and implicated in the current financial crisis by others, Reagan's controversial reputation remains but his revolutionary zeal forced him into the top ten.
He was elected with a clear mandate for radical economic policy to tackle high inflation and unemployment rates. His tax cutting, budget slashing, laissez-faire strategy known as “Reaganomics” became extremely popular as the US economy recovered.
The former actor’s foreign policy was more divisive and his administration was attacked for perceived bellicosity as well as embarrassments including the Iran-Contra affair. But even though he was seen as a hawk when he took office, Reagan managed to grasp the historic opportunity brought about by Mikhail Gorbachev's rise to power in the Soviet Union to help bring an end to the Cold War.
Lyndon B. Johnson: 11, 10
James K. Polk: 12, 12
Andrew Jackson: 13, 13
James Monroe: 14, 14
Bill Clinton: 15, 21
Clinton was one of the most controversial figures in our list with some of the panel rating him highly while others buried him at the foot of their rankings.
Clinton was the first Democrat to be re-elected President since Franklin Roosevelt. He successfully passed progressive legislation, including the right to take unpaid leave during pregnancy or illness and an increase in the minimum wage but he failed with other proposals such as his medical reforms.
His second term was dominated by the Monica Lewinsky scandal and attempted impeachment but he still left office with a 65 per cent approval rating.
William McKinley: 16, 15
John Adams: 17, 16
George H.W. Bush: 18, 20
Reagan’s economic legacy left President Bush facing an enormous national debt and, with the country in recession, he was pressurised by Democrats in Congress to raise taxes. The tax hike contradicted his manifesto pledge for no new taxes and cost him popularity among the electorate and the Republican Party.
Success in Iraq, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the destruction of the Berlin Wall were not enough to restore his popularity.
John Quincy Adams: 19, 19
James Madison: 20, 18
Grover Cleveland: 21, 17
Gerald R. Ford: 22, 23
Ulysses S. Grant: 23, 33
William Howard Taft: 24, 24
Jimmy Carter: 25, 22
Many of the comment posters on yesterday's worst ten presidents could not believe Carter missed the roll of shame. Well our panel only just left him out - making him their 11th worst President.
The Carter administration was dominated by a series of foreign policy disappointments including the surrender of the Panama Canal, the Iranian hostage crisis and the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
In Washington, Carter instituted major civil service reform and restructured the health and education departments but he failed to excite the voting population and, with the economy struggling, he was comfortably voted out of office after a single term.
Calvin Coolidge: 26, 27
Richard M. Nixon: 27, 25
James A. Garfield: 28, 29
Zachary Taylor: 29, 28
Benjamin Harrison: 30, 31
Martin Van Buren: 31, 30
Chester A. Arthur: 32, 32
Rutherford B. Hayes: 33, 26
Herbert Hoover: 34, 34
John Tyler: 35, 36
George W. Bush: 36, NA
A dead heat between the unpopular Bush and the dastardly Richard Nixon.
The September 11 attacks, eight months into his presidency, created a central focus for the Bush administration that lasted into his second term. Bush responded by declaring a “war on terror” and leading military invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan as part of his doctrine of pre-emptive military action. The lengthy operations have plummeted in popularity throughout his time in office.
Domestically, he implemented tax cuts and the “no child left behind” education programme but has been criticised for his failure to deal with the impact of Hurricane Katrina and the collapse of the US financial market.
Millard Fillmore: 37, 35
Warren G. Harding: 38, 38
William Henry Harrison: 39, 37
Franklin D. Pierce: 40, 39
Andrew Johnson: 41, 40
James Buchanan: 42, 41
To read more about each president visit Times Online.
Monday, February 23, 2009
"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."
An Introduction To The Axis Of Idiots
This was sent to me by a friend of this blog, and it provides the thoughts of a TRUE American hero. The fact that he is a hero is something that even those that disagree with what he may say have to agree with. As a true American hero, this Marine has earned the right to be heard, and more than that the right to be listened to with an open mind.
Many who read this blog and others like it read anything written here with the pre-conceived idea that it has to be wrong. For those of you that fit this description, try something new and first read it, actually think about it, and then form an opinion.
The Axis Of Idiots
(Too bad we don't have folks on Capitol Hill willing to speak out like this. J.D. Pendry is a retired Marine Sergeant Major who writes for Random House.
He is eloquent, and as taught by the Marines, he seldom beats around the bush!)
'The Axis of Idiots"
Jimmy Carter, you are the father of the Islamic Nazi movement. You threw the Shah under the bus, welcomed the Ayatollah home, and then lacked the spine to confront the terrorists when they took our embassy and our people hostage. You're the runner-in-chief.
Bill Clinton, you played ring around the Lewinsky while the terrorists were at war with us. You got us into a fight with them in Somalia and then you ran from it. Your weak-willed responses to the U.S.S. Cole and the First Trade Center Bombing and Our Embassy Bombings emboldened the killers. Each time you failed to respond adequately, they grew bolder, until 9/11/2001.
John Kerry, dishonesty is your most prominent attribute. You lied about American Soldiers in Vietnam . Your military service, like your life, is more fiction than fact. You've accused our military of terrorizing women and children in Iraq . You called Iraq the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, the same words you used to describe Vietnam . You're a fake. You want to run from Iraq and abandon the Iraqis to murderers just as you did to the Vietnamese. Iraq, like Vietnam, is another war that you were for, before you were against it.
John Murtha, you said our military was broken. You said we can't win militarily in Iraq . You accused United States Marines of cold-blooded murder without proof and said we should redeploy to Okinawa . Okinawa, John ? And the Democrats call you their military expert! Are you sure you didn't suffer a traumatic brain injury while you were off building your war hero resume? You're a sad, pitiable, corrupt and washed up politician. You're not a Marine, sir. You wouldn't amount to a good pimple on a real Marine's butt. You're a phony and a disgrace. Run away, John
Dick Durbin, you accused our Soldiers at Guantanamo of being Nazis, tenders of Soviet style gulags and as bad as the regime of Pol Pot , who murdered two million of his own people after your party abandoned Southeast Asia to the Communists. Now you want to abandon the Iraqis to the same fate. History was not a good teacher for you, was it? Lord help us! See Dick run.
Ted Kennedy, for days on end you held poster-sized pictures from Abu Ghraib in front of any available television camera. Al Jazeera quoted you saying that Iraqi's torture chambers were open under new management. Did you see the news, Teddy? The Islamic Nazis demonstrated another beheading for you. If you truly supported our troops, you'd show the world poster-sized pictures of that atrocity and demand the annihilation of it. Your legislation stripping support from the South Vietnamese led to a communist victory there. You're a bloated, drunken fool bent on repeating the same historical blunder that turned freedom-seeking people over to homicidal, genoc idal maniacs. To paraphrase Jo hn Murtha, all while sitting on your wide, gin-soaked rear-end in Washington
Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Carl Levine, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Russ Feingold, Hillary Clinton, Pat Leahy, Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer, the Hollywood Leftist morons, et al, ad nauseam: Every time you stand in front of television cameras and broadcast to the Islamic Nazis that we went to war because our President lied, that the war is wrong and our Soldiers are torturers, that we should leave Iraq, you give the Islamic butchers - the same ones that tortured and mutilated American Soldiers - cause to think that we'll run away again, and all they have to do is hang on a little longer. It is inevitable that we, the infidels, will have to defeat the Islamic jihadists.. Better to do it now on their turf, than later on ours after they have gained both strength and momentum.
American news media, the New York Times particularly: Each time you publish stories about national defense secrets and our intelligence gathering methods, you become one united with the sub-human pieces of camel dung that torture and mutilate the bodies of American Soldiers. You can't strike up the courage to publish cartoons, but you can help Al Qaeda destroy my country. Actually, you are more dangerous to us than Al Qaeda is. Think about that each time you face Mecca to admire your Pulitzer.?
You are America 's 'AXIS OF IDIOTS.' Your Collective Stupidity will destroy us. Self-serving politics and terrorist-abetting news scoops are more important to you than our national security or the lives of innocent civilians and Soldiers. It bothers you that defending ourselves gets in the way of your elitist sport of politics and your ignorant editorializing. There is as much blood on your hands as is on the hands of murdering terrorists. Don't ever doubt that. Your frolics will only serve to extend this war as they extended Vietnam .. If you want our Soldiers home as you claim, knock off the crap and try supporting your country ahead of supporting your silly political aims and aiding our enemies.
Yes, I'm questioning your patriotism. Your loyalty ends with self. I'm also questioning why you're stealing air that decent Americans could be breathing. You don't deserve the protection of our men and women in uniform. You need to run away from this war, this country. Leave the war to the people who have the will to see it through and the country to people who are willing to defend it.
Our country has two enemies:Those who want to destroy us from the outside and those who attempt it from within.
J. D. Pendry - Sergeant Major, USMC, Retired
How Do We Get Ourselves Out Of This Crisis?
I have been accused by some readers of being a "Monday morning quartback", of critisizing and not offering solutions and of getting the facts wrong about why we are in the mess we are in. The fact of the matter is that the only one in that list that I am actually guilty of is not being able to offer a credible solution to a problem that is slowly sucking the country and the world down.
Now I am a pretty smart guy, but not smart enough to have the answer to a problem that the "best" minds on Wall Street created (of course with the help of the politicians of both party's), and that the "best" minds on Wall Street, Washington, academia and elsewhere can't seem to solve.
If only they had used their power for good instead of evil.
In any event, as I have mentioned before when it comes to macro-economic issues as well as the inner workings of markets, I find Jim Cramer to be an extremely knowledgable source. Not the greatest stock picker in the world, but that's alright.
These are his thoughts on how we can get out of this problem, which is much more definitive than the ever changing drivel that keeps coming out of Washington.
Love him or hate him, the man has actionable and definitive ideas based on an extremely extensive and successful background on Wall Street and as an observer of the markets and economy.
"According to Cramer, neither nationalization, which does too much, or euthanasia, which does too little, will work to save the financial system. He said what will fix it, however, would be offering 40-year, 4% fixed rate mortgages to everyone, especially to those whose mortgages are based on current appraisals. He again advocated forbearance for the banks, with no "mark-to-market" rules enforced.
Cramer said we simply cannot let the chips fall where they may, and the alternative of nationalizing will wipe out the preferred stock and so much more."
This is a short synopsis of his idea, but to me it sounds as if it makes more sense than any of the start and stop plans that we have gotten out of Washington so far. I know the same critics will say that Obama has now ony been in office for _____ days, but Tim Geithner has been on the scene for a lot longer than that (the guy the administration just had to have despite his tax problems), as have the members of congress, and all of them still can't seem to be able to grab their own a___s with both hands.
Maybe they should bring in some new outside advisors.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
First, A Market Update
On December 8, 2008, I wrote the following:
"We will have the analysts and the "experts" explaining why, after this rally off of the lows set a month or so ago has already taken place, that we have seen the bottom. That we are forming a base, backing and filling, poised to now go much higher and all of the other cliches that you will hear on T.V. These are the same guys and gals who simply go with the momentum trade disguised by fancy talk. When oil was at $140 a barrel, there was no doubt that it was going to $200. Now that it is $40 a barrel, there is no doubt that the next step is $20."
In typical Wall Street analyst fashion, the "experts" were wrong and Thursday we took out those lows and now could have another leg down to who knows where. In another example of investors voting with there feet, excitement and more importantly confidence has not been created in the fiscal stimulus and mortgage plans announced by the Obama administration.
You Want It Fast Or Right?
I still know the drill all of you apologists out there. He has only been in office _____(fill in the blank) days.
The problem is that in this case there are no do overs or mulligans, and if he had not properly vetted his plan with Wall Street and others to make sure it would not only be received well but also be the plan with the highest probability of working, then he should have waited. It is arrogance of the worst kind to believe that you know better, particularly with some of the culpable players you have surrounded yourself with.
It rings like an echo in my mind, another Washington cliche that is always rolled out (except in this case where fast was the main goal): You want it fast or you want it right?
Mr. President, we want it right, because the economic stability of country's around the world depends on it. You hopefully did not over play your hand by setting the artificial drop dead deadline that you did.
A Revealing Walk Down Memory Lane
On a separate topic, you will not believe that I am having a real problem with some of the sanctimonious politicians i see on T.V. that speak of the failed policies of the last 8 years as if there was a finite break between the time that the Clinton administration ended and the Bush administration began.
Remember some of the players and situations from before Bush took office? Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Melvin Watt, the expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act in 1995, the political clout of Fannie Mae, the political contributions made by Fannie Mae (now President Obama was a substantial beneficiary), sweetheart mortgage deals, the attempt to reign in the problem that was blocked by the Democrats when Bush was in office and so on and so on.
I know the rules of Washington. What you say in front of the cameras today is the new reality that wipes out any of your actions that have actually occurred through the years (i.e. Chappaquiddick, sorry couldn't help myself). Even though I know these rules, you reach a point where you just can't listen to it anymore without expressing some outrage.
The clip below was made during the presidential campaign, but is an excellent depiction of when the problem that we now find ourselves in originated.
It will also give some pretty credible evidence to the fact that some of these guys that stand up and say those famous words "the failed policies of the last 8 years" should look in the mirror and understand that while the American public might buy the arguments because no one is really pointing out the reality, they are not really fooling anybody.
Watch The Clip, And After That I Promise We Will Only Look Forward, At Least Until The Next Time.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
The Stimulus Bill Explained
Shortly after class, an economics student approaches his economics professor and says, "I don't understand this stimulus bill. Can you explain it to me?"
The professor replied, "I don't have any time to explain it at my office, but if you come over to my house on Saturday and help me with my weekend project, I'll be glad to explain it to you."
The student agreed. At the agreed-upon time, the student showed up at the professor's house. The professor stated that the weekend project involved his backyard pool.
They both went out back to the pool, and the professor handed the student a bucket. Demonstrating with his own bucket, the professor said, "First, go over to the deep end, and fill your bucket with as much water as you can."
The student did as he was instructed. The professor then continued, "Follow me over to the shallow end, and then dump all the water from your bucket into it."
The student was naturally confused, but did as he was told. The professor then explained they were going to do this many more times, and began walking back to the deep end of the pool.
The confused student asked, "Excuse me, but why are we doing this?"
The professor matter-of-factly stated that he was trying to make the shallow end much deeper.
The student didn't think the economics professor was serious, but figured that he would find out the real story soon enough. However, after the 6th trip between the shallow end and the deep end, the student began to become worried that his economics professor had gone mad.
The student finally replied, "All we're doing is wasting valuable time and effort on unproductive pursuits. Even worse, when this process is all over, everything will be at the same level it was before, so all you'll really have accomplished is the destruction of what could have been truly productive action!"
The professor put down his bucket and replied with a smile, "Congratulations. You now understand the stimulus bill."
Politicizing The Problem
President Obama gave the speech today outlining a plan to curtail the volume of home foreclosures in front of a cheering crowd in Arizona, thereby politicizing a problem that might have been better discussed in a speech from the White House in prime time to a national audience. That would have been Washington business as usual at its best.
Quote: The government infected us with the disease (starting with Clinton and continued by Bush), and now they are trying to kill us with the cure.
Is This Mortgage Modification Ad Depicting A Life Preserver or a Toilet Seat?
The Obama plan is reported to be aimed at helping 9 million homeowners and will commit $250+ billion to it. According to Obama the plan is aimed at "rescuing families who have played by the rules and acted responsibly."
For the people that are buried in a mortgage with payments that they can't afford on a house that is under water, this plan will offer the opportunity to reduce the principal amount and the payment amount. Assuming that they can now afford the new payment and don't become delinquent again, it is a win-win for them. The question is, did they tell the truth on the original stated loan application regarding their income? Did they over commit for a house they couldn't afford looking to get in on the buy and flip mania that was sweeping the country or the idea that even if you stretch the house will appreciate and you would use it as a piggy bank? I am not clear on any punitive measures in the plan, although there may be some.
On the other hand, what about for the approximately 90% of American homeowners that are current on their mortgage and who bought a house that they could afford based on their actual income? If they have a Fannie or Freddie loan and are current they may receive help to refinance at a lower rate.
The argument goes that it will be better for the non-troubled homeowner in the long run because having foreclosed houses on the block does little for home values or neighborhood desirability. This is all well and good and I agree that would be a benefit, but if I read it right we are being asked to subsidize bad acting with the bad actors not being asked to make any real sacrifice.
What will happen if a high percentage of those modified loans for one reason or another go back into delinquency? How will that be handled?
What will happen to the cost of mortgages for good borrowers if banks need to account for their risk of having the government force them to modify the existing loans on their books? If the covenants of a mortgage can be broken and changes crammed down the throats of banks what premium would the banks have to build in. Are we heading in the direction where the government will be the only entity giving home mortgages?
As with many aspects of this stimulus and housing legislation, we will know when we know.
One thing that we do know is that the old saying, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, still holds true.
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. Thomas Jefferson
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The New York State Manufacturing Index hit a new record low on Tuesday with a reading of -34.7 versus an estimate of -22.2. One more sign of a quickly declining and contracting economy.
The markets had no reaction to the signing of the stimulus bill with the S&P dropping 4.6% and the NASDQ dropping 4.3%. While this represents investors voting with their feet, hopefully we will soon be getting near a low and hopefully this much derided package will have some impact.
The truth is that having real confidence in the bill having an effect would be better than the praying strategy, but at this point we have little other choice. This brings us to the topic of the day, plausible deniability.
What Is Plausible Deniability?
"The term plausible deniability was introduced into the English language in 1975 when the Church Committee, a US Senate committee, conducted an investigation into the intelligence agencies.
Plausible deniability has been honed since in government and private enterprise, into an art form. We all do it, at home with the kids, at work, with our mates from our club and sometimes sadly, with ourselves.
The problem for me is that plausible deniability is a phrase that equates to lack of accountability." (ChangeFactory.com)
What Can Plausible Deniability Possibly To Do With The Obama Administration?
I have been writing blog articles about the economy, foreign affairs, the financial crisis, the Obama administration performance, etc. for some time now, and the responses that I get from Democrats tend to fall out along the same lines. I am going to list the most common, and I would love to get feedback on others that you have heard that might be different.
The point I am making is that plausible deniability pervades most of them. It is not so much about where we are going forward, but where we have been and why the task is so hard. President Obama knew that the task would be hard since before the first day he officially started campaigning. What's done is done. Were mistakes made? Could things have been done better? Could situations been handled earlier with more urgency? Of course, but the blame is not on one man but is absolutely bi-partisan.
Looking forward I want to know what is going to be done. Positive thinking forward statements and not the blame game and some serious name calling. Pointing fingers is easy. Facing the problem with solutions is hard. Everybody wants a scapegoat. You want a scapegoat? How about all of these clowns that represent us in Washington, Democrat and Republican.
Please Send In Your Favorite Statements That Attempt to Deflect Responsibility From The New Administration And Merely Point Fingers Someplace Else
The blanks can be filled in with any number of words or phrases that I have seen
- Obama has only been in office ___ days. How did those last eight years treat you?
- Why don't you have Rush Limbaugh, that ______ and _______ run things!
- That _____ Bush got us into this hole, it will take time for Obama to get us out.
- How do you think McCain would be doing?
Let me know any others that you have seen. The past is past. Look forward.
For those wondering what the picture has to do with plausible deniability, think about it.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
"Mr. Obama has said that he will reach out to Iran for direct talks, and last week the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said that Iran was ready. The two nations have not spoken directly since the Islamic Revolution in Iran 30 years ago." (N.Y. Times)
"Consequently, Tehran is once again attempting a strategy that has proven successful for them over the past three decades: bait-and-switch. In other words, Iran will start negotiating. The act of negotiation by itself is a victory for Tehran, as it forces the West to drop all of their demands before coming to the table. A few weeks or months of negotiations give the ayatollahs time to find a way out." (Middle East Times)
This is the quandary of opening a dialogue with the leaders of Iran. Talks in good faith would be terrific but cannot be one sided. We can not allow ourselves to be used as pawns by the Iranian government who will no doubt say and promise one thing and do another. Now one argument is that the ordinary citizens of Iran have become disillusioned with the government and want change. Can they force change? Maybe, but doubtful. How long do we wait for the change to happen? Conventional wisdom, or at least my wisdom, would say that we need that to happen before Iran has the nuclear weapons making capability.
Peaceful solutions and negotiations are always better than military confrontation for a variety of reasons, but you can not allow the charade of peaceful negotiations to replace the need for action. Negotiations cannot be used to provide cover for inaction.
A North Korean Comparison
"...growing international pressure on Pyongyang to back out of apparent plans to carry out a test launch of a missile believed capable of reaching U.S. territory..." (Fox News 2.16.09)
On Sunday, Hillary Clinton said told reporters aboard her plane that North Korea needs to live up to commitments to dismantle its nuclear programs, saying Washington is willing to normalize ties with it in return for nuclear disarmament. "The North Koreans have already agreed to dismantling," she said. "We expect them to fulfill the obligations that they entered into." (Fox News)
This is a serious statement but one that I am sure that hardly has the North Korean dictator quaking in his boots. She states what Washington is willing to do in return for disarmament, but what exactly will Washington do in the likely event that North Korea does not live up to it's end of the bargain.
Warnings without fear of the potential ramifications are worse than no warnings at all.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Chuck Schumer: Pork? Americans Don't Care
I think the reality is a little bit different in that Americans care about pork and don't care much for the politicians in Washington. To attempt to set the record straight for Senator Schumer, who for full disclosure happens to be my Senator and who also appears to be slightly out of touch with his constituency, I am giving the results of a recent ATI-News/Zogby poll.
The statements made by Schumer are part and parcel of the problem we face when it comes to our representatives. They don't know us, but they know what they think we want. By providing these things they will get the prize of re-election which is really all that they want or care about. They don't know me. And they don't know you.
Question #1: ATI-News/Zogby asked likely voters, "The current stimulus package supported by President Obama contains $650 million , renewing funding to help Americans buy digital converter boxes. Do you favor or oppose this spending provision?"
Overall, 56 percent of Americans oppose this $650 million pork provision; while only 33 percent favor it (11 percent are not sure). Eighty-four percent of Republicans oppose it, as do 61 percent of Independents. Fifty-five percent of young voters age 18-29 oppose, and only 34 percent favor it (11 percent are not sure).
Question #2: ATI-News/Zogby asked voters, "The current stimulus package supported by President Obama contains nearly $4.2 billion for neighborhood stabilization activities that could go to organizations such as ACORN or the League of Women Voters, that would spend it on voter registration activities and other community involvement programs. Do you favor or oppose this spending provision?"
Fifty-eight percent of American voters oppose using the "stimulus" bill to send $4.2 billion taxpayer dollars to community activist organizations. Ninety-three percent of Republicans oppose this pork, as do 64 percent of Independent voters.
Question #3: ATI-News/Zogby asked voters, "The stimulus bill would allow undocumented workers, who are also referred to as illegal aliens, who are working and paying taxes to collect a tax rebate check of $500 per person. Do you agree or disagree with this provision?"
Sixty-eight of all American voters disagree with using the economic recovery bill to give tax rebates to illegal aliens; while only 26 percent agree (6 percent are not sure). Ninety-two percent of Republicans disagree, as do 74 percent of Independents.
"Next time, Senator Schumer may want to think twice before speaking on behalf of the American people," said ATI-News president Brad O'Leary. "As this poll shows, a clear majority of the American electorate is opposed to using the economic stimulus bill as a vehicle for pork."
(Associated Television News)
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Maybe The Senators Who Opposed Seating Roland Burris Had A Point And Should Have Stuck To Their Guns
As an update to the soap opera that is Illinois politics, Roland Burris may have perjured himself in testimony to the Ilinois House impeachment committee in the investigation of Governor Blagojevich.
Governor Blagojevich's brother apparently asked Burris for campaign fundraising help before the governor named Burris as Illinois' junior senator. Burris had specifically been asked in testimony under oath whether he had ever had any contact with Blagojevich, his brother or any aides about the Senate seat that Obama was vacating.
In the "General Hospital" like early stages of the Obama presidency, Burris may be subject to a perjury investigation in Illinois, and Harry Reid will be looking into it as well because Burris was seated under the stipulation that there was no "pay to play" involved in the appointment.
With all of the critical economic decision making going on, this is one more distraction in the Senate and for the President that we could do without.
Stay tuned "As The World Turns" in Washington, the home of business as usual.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Do you want to contact your senators or congressman or woman? Is their something about the stimulus bill you don't love? There are proper and improper ways to do this, and I am providing some recommended guidelines below courtesy of CongressMerge.com. If you would like the contact information for your representatives the following link will provide that for you. I hope this helps. http://www.congressmerge.com/onlinedb/index.htm
The only way that Washington will be aware of the way you feel, because the people there are so out of touch with the Main Street they love to talk about, is if you contact them and let them know.
Congress Merge: Hints for Communicating with Congress
One of the many wonderful aspects of living in the United States is that we can have a direct
Be courteous and respectful in all communications. Don't use threats.
influence on the way we are governed. To do so, you need to become your own advocate with Congress. Members of Congress listen to their constituents and care about constituent opinions. But to be effective, you must communicate properly with your representative and senators. Members of Congress are people, too, and as you would react negatively to someone who sent you an angry or threatening letter, so do they. So to be effective, you need to follow some guidelines that are founded on civility and common
Letters, Faxes & E-Mails
Unless you have a personal, first-name relationship with a member of Congress or one of their staff members, the way you guarantee that your communication will be effective is to make sure the receiving office instantly can identify you as a constituent. If they can't, there is an excellent chance your communication will be discarded without being read. Start each communication with your name and address at the very top:
Ms. Sally Jones
123 Main Street
Wabash, IN 98765
When writing a member of Congress it's important to use the proper salutation. For senators it's "Dear Senator" (and the senator's last name: Dear Senator Lansing:). For members of the House of Representatives (according to House rules), the way to address female members of the House is "Congresswoman" and male members is "Congressman" (Dear Congresswoman Munster: / Dear Congressman Calumet:). However, using "Dear Representative" (Dear Representative Hammond:) is acceptable.
If you are sending a letter, fax or e-mail already prepared for you, take a minute to put the message into your own words.
If you are sending a letter, fax or e-mail already prepared for you, take a minute to put the message into your own words. And remember, courteously written communications are more likely to be read and have positive impact than a page or two of ravings and rantings.
Here are some other key points to remember in writing to your legislators:
- Be courteous and respectful in all communications. Don't use threats.
- Know your issue! Request documents from your organization that provide background information on the issue and the elected official you wish to contact. This information can be particularly helpful in drafting letters. If you are doing this on your own, do your homework to be knowledgeable in your communication.
- Keep your comments brief, pertinent, and factual. Cover only one issue per letter. Explain how the issue would affect you and/or your organization.
- Limit your comments to one page or two at most. Elected officials hear from hundreds of constituents daily so a brief letter is more effective than a multi-page one.
- Identify the subject in the first paragraph. If you are writing in reference to a particular bill, refer to the measure's House or Senate bill number and/or title, if possible.
- Be reasonable. Don't ask the impossible.
- Be constructive, not negative. If a bill deals with a problem, but seems to represent the wrong solution, propose constructive alternatives. Recognize that you might have to compromise.
- If you support a particular bill, say so. If you are writing in opposition to legislation, include specific examples of how the measure would adversely effect you and suggest an alternative approach if possible.
- Avoid stereotyped phrases, jargon, and sentences that give the appearance of form letters.
Also, don't forget that elected officials are people too and they like to be told when they've done something right. Send them a congratulatory note when they do something that merits approval.
If you are sending an e-mail to a representative, you won't receive a response via e-mail but will receive one through the mail (rules of the House -- however, you can communicate with House staff members via e-mail). Senators respond to e-mail with e-mail. If you follow these guidelines and establish a working relationship with the elected official or one of their staff, you might be sending and receiving e-mails on a regular basis.
The Best Communication: A Personal VisitThe most effective way of communicating with a legislator is to personally meet with them or their staff. Unless you are planning a trip to Washington, DC, this means visiting their local
Don't forget that elected officials are people too and they like to be told when they've done something right.
office. Don't expect the legislator to be in their local office if Congress is in session on the date of your visit. If you have the opportunity, note when Congress is in recess (please see the Congressional Schedule) and make a point to visit the legislator's district office then. You also can see if your representative and senators have on their Web sites a listing of their district offices (most do) and whether they list times when they will be there. You increase the chance of actually meeting the legislator by visiting at this time.
It is very important to remember that all contacts with elected officials must be constructive even if their opinions contrast with your own or those of your organization. It's one thing to disagree with someone, it's another thing to be a jerk about it . . . be respectful, courteous, and professional.
If you meet the legislator either in the Washington or local office, send them a thank you card after the meeting. In the card or letter state that you would like to meet again to tell them more about your profession and the issues about which you are concerned. Try to attend any social gathering which your elected official may attend; this is a good way to nurture the friendship.
Unless you have established a working relationship with a legislator or one of their staff members, telephone calls are best limited to times when a bill is coming up for a vote and you want to urge the legislator to vote for or against it. If you have established a working relationship with the legislator or one of their staff members, then call them to discuss it. But, keep in mind you may not be able to talk with the legislator personally. When in Washington elected officials have hectic schedules and a good part of their day is spent in committee meetings or on the floor of the House or Senate.
Instead of calling your legislators' Washington office consider calling a local district office instead. For one, it's less expensive than a long distance call to Washington and, two, district offices tend not to get swamped with phone calls as do Capitol offices.
If this is your first call to a congressional office, you'll talk with a staff member. The first thing you need to do is state your and name and the fact that you are a constituent of the legislator. Then briefly state the nature of your call, i.e., urging the legislator to support or oppose a particular piece of legislation:
"Hello, my name is Sally Smith and I am a constituent of (name of senator or representative). I am calling today to urge them to support/oppose HR 1234. Thank you."
These types of calls are very important to legislators and the vast majority of offices keep track of these calls.
In ConclusionYour congressional communications can be as effective as you wish them to be, all you have to do is take a little time to know your issue, be civil, to the point, and be reasonable.
©Copyright 2008 Congress Merge - All Rights Reserved
Friday, February 13, 2009
During the campaign candidate Barack Obama had much to say about the way that Washington has been broken, and how the failed policies of the last eight years have brought us to the economic point we are at now. He spoke of how the political insiders needed to go, and that with Change we would have fresh, non-Washington beholden blood in office free to operate without the ties that bound the Bush administration.
I think what the now President Obama will find out quickly, is that the America that fell in love with his campaign rhetoric is now going to start to ask the same questions that never got asked during the race against John McCain. Grandiose economic ideas with no potential to be implemented successfully will sometimes work during the interview process, but not once you are on the job.
Now there is no doubt Barack Obama is a great speaker and fantastic organizer who ran a pristine campaign that will someday be a Harvard University Business School case study in marketing. That being said, the campaign is over and the real work has begun.
Since his taking office, I have seen very little in the people that he has surrounded himself with, or tried to surround himself with (damn taxes) that represents change of any kind. As he likes to say it is just more of the same old Washington that got us to where we are. I lost count of the number of Clinton adminstration retreads that he tried to add or has added to his administration team.
He has overplayed his hand by setting a deadline for a stimulus package that was rolled out although it was not ready for prime time and the markets responded accordingly. He will learn that rhetoric is just that. Vague ideas and promises that on the campaign trail played very well with a media that had your back, but that are extremely hard to translate into results.
Remember Mr. President that Americans have a short memory and want to see those results. Your sky high approval ratings and political capital will, if they haven't already, begin to drop like a stone. The country is in dire economic straits and it is time to show us what you got.
Marching Tim Geithner out to give a speech to nowhere was just another attempt to try and use rhetoric in the place of cold, hard facts. You can see what works on the campaign trail when there is nothing at stake does not do as well when you are actually in charge.
This is no longer a campaign or a case study but our future and the future of our children and grandchildren.
Now people say give him time, he has only been in office 1 or 2 months and these problems were 8 years in the making (although the reality is it was more like 16 years in the making). Economically, we don't have all that much time to give him.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Back in November of 2008 I talked about morality and our kids, but some of the commercials on T.V. for Valentines Day I'm watching has brought it all back.
Erectile dysfunction and lubrication commercials are still showing up in prime time, during pro and college games and at every other time during the day. Parents of young children (under 14) still have to answer the questions of what sex is, what an erection is, what lubrication is, why it is a problem if an erection lasts more than 4 hours as well as why the people are in a bathtub outside after taking the erectile dysfunction medicine. Sitcoms are still getting into topics that not very long ago would have been considered taboo, and probably still should be such as sex of just about every type and description.
Vermont Teddy Bear And PajamaGram
I have been watching these commercials the last few days and the sexual innuendo that is written all over them. A PajamaGram is the one way to get your wife or girlfriend to take her clothes off and a Vermont Teddy Bear (I think she's talking about the bear but maybe not) is a lot bigger than the women in the commercial thought it would be. Again, I can assure you I am anything but a prude and I personally enjoy these commercials, but from the perspective of a parent, who in Washington is responsible for controlling what goes on the air.
I understand the television and advertising lobby is extremely strong, but keeping some of the questions that are being put in the minds of children away for a little while longer may be more important than the contributions taking a stand might cost a politician.
Has anyone seen the FCC?
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
You can't say that these Wall Street and commercial bank executives can't learn anything from the executives in other industry's.
Knowing that our leaders in Congress would focus on public relations and face time back home first, they knew that even taking a commercial plane to Washington might provide the ammunition to get blasted for squandering public funds. Taking no chances, they decided even Amtrak might be considered frivolous waste.
If you look very closely at the video below, you might be able to catch them in one of the first 5 cars.
Seriously, has Washington become so trivial, that these leaders of companies under extreme duress that is in turn causing the rest of the country extreme duress, cannot even take the shuttle to Washington for fear of the ramifications?
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner gave a speech yesterday that was supposed to outline the governments newest, new plan for ending the downward spiral in the economy that would start to right the county's financial ship.
His credentials at the New York Fed and experience with the financial crisis to date was supposed to give Geithner the unique background that was necessary for the Obama administration to solve the economic and financial crisis. This experience was considered so critical that neither failure to pay taxes or what are now seen as glaring mistakes in allowing Lehman Brothers to fail would be enough to stand in the way of his confirmation.
Watching his speech Tuesday left me wondering what it was that made his participation in the attempt at crisis resolution so important. After countless versions of the TARP, TARF and other letter combinations, my understanding of what he said is that we are going to throw an additional trillions of dollars at the problem, in some undefined way and that it may take a little time before it is implemented and that there is not really any guarantee of success.
My concern is that if after all of the time he has been involved in this crisis, he still does not have a concrete plan for extricating us from it, is it possible the only solution is time and even more pain?
The stock market, a non-political arbiter of the speech had an immediate reaction. A sharp move down with all three major indices closing off more than 4%.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I just listened to the Geithner speech, and to tell you the truth I did not hear anything along the lines of firm direction, but to be honest it sounded like more of the same.
The one thing I did hear that did not inspire a whole lot of confidence is that they are going to be working closely with the Senate and House. The same guys that allowed us to be here in the first place (although to hear it told it is all the fault of the Bush administration).
I just got this in an email, and it pretty much describes things:
Young Chuck moved to Texas and bought a Donkey from a farmer for $100.
The farmer took his $100 and agreed to deliver the Donkey the next day.
The next day he drove up and said, 'Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died.'
Chuck: 'Well, then just give me my money back.'
Farmer: 'Can't do that. I went and spent it already.'
Chuck: 'OK, then, just bring me the dead donkey.'
Farmer: 'What ya gonna do with him?
Chuck: 'I'm going to raffle him off.'
Farmer: 'You can't raffle off a dead donkey!'
Chuck: 'Sure I can, Watch me.. I just won't tell anybody he's dead.'
A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, 'What happened with that dead donkey?'
Chuck said, 'I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $898.00.'
The farmer said, 'Didn't anyone complain?'
Chuck said, 'Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.'
Chuck now works for the government as a top adviser on the Bailout Plan.
Nobody is looking for the President to get up in front of the country and spin the current crisis into a peaches and cream scenario. What we do look for, or at least I look for, is some semblance of hope that the administration is on track to address and solve the problem.
What I got from the speech last night was that we are in extremely dire straits, and that nobody knows for sure that the plan to be announced today will actually move us in the right direction. There are no guarantees in life except the usual death and taxes, but it would have been at least a little reassuring to hear some confidence from President Obama.
Instead I heard that the current problem is the fault of 8 years of business as usual when if the President went back and checked some facts he would find the Clinton administration is equally complicit. What I also heard was the "Change" promised has now deteriorated into the blame game, where it seems according to the President that the Republicans have been roadblocking a solution, when if we look at the bill and the pork that was shoved into it by the Democrat Senators perhaps the problem began there.
I would like to see the President become the Cheerleader in Chief, because to be honest that is what the country needs. We all know what is happening in the economy and the last thing we need is what I heard last night.
Hopefully the plan delivered by Treasury Secretary Geithner today (a key role player in the disastrous decision to let Lehman fail) will be well received, and more important than that, actually have a real chance of working.
I participate on a website with a membership that primarily comes from country's other than the United States. I had gotten some intense and angry feedback when I had posted an article on Israel and the U.N. resolution directed at the conflict in Gaza. I had approached it from the side of unfair treatment of the Israelis through an attempt to deny them the ability and right to defend themselves against unprovoked missile attacks.
I assumed I would get similar feedback with this, and although not as vicious, it shows the incredible naivete around the world with the desire to live and let live with those who would like to destroy us.
The prevailing attitude is one of that they haven't done anything yet, so why do we need to deal with them. Memory is short and although these are just the opinions of a few, they don't seem to remember the terrorism that has recently taken place on European soil.
Human nature is to put off the inevitable until there are no other choices. Political nature is to put off the tough decisions until your backs are up against the wall, and even then they try to avoid them. In this case putting off the inevitable has the potential to have dire ramifications as we are not talking about anything less than the potential deployment of a nuclear weapon.
As I said yesterday, do the talking, have your negotiations, listen to the promises but be prepared to swing the big stick. Don't be like the parent making threats and then not backing them up with the promised action.
Here Are Some Of The Comments
Vice President Biden, Iran And His Munich Mission
by Andrew Horder on 9-Feb-09 11:50am
"This is an extremely dangerous regime"
Could you elaborate on that - in what specific ways is the regime dangerous, and to whom?
Vice President Biden, Iran And His Munich Mission
by Peter Chaplin on 9-Feb-09 12:02pm
Quickest way to make the Middle East safe, Michael?
Get Israel back to its 1967 boundaries and give up its nuclear weapons. There's no peace where there's no justice.
Vice President Biden, Iran And His Munich Mission
by Michael Haltman on 9-Feb-09 12:04pm
I think I see where you are going with this Andrew. I think that you are looking for me to say Israel and the U.S., but in reality it is the world. If you read what I wrote, funding terrorism and the potential to develop and possess nuclear weapons would be a threat to us all.
I don't know what your political leanings are, but I think that the stated intentions of the leader of the country makes the threat clear to us all.
It is not just an Israel and U.S. issue.
by Andrew Horder on 9-Feb-09 2:22pm
It would probably be better if you don't try to second-guess my intentions Michael - I'm genuinely interested to know in what respects the regime in Iran is dangerous, and to whom - maybe I should have added 'any more so than any other nuclear power - US, UK, France, etc etc'.
"I don't know what your political leanings are, but I think that the stated intentions of the leader of the country makes the threat clear to us all." Which are? Let's make sure what we're discussing here, assume I haven't seen/read what the Iranian leader's stated intentions are.
Plus, there are 104 members of Ecademy who list their country as Iran, some of whom may not see their country as a threat - so the assumption that there is a self-evident threat to "us all" may not be correct, that's what I'm challenging.
Finally, my questions don't stem from politics, but from a desire for everyone's position to be fully understood.
Vice President Biden, Iran And His Munich Mission
by Louis Sequeira on 9-Feb-09 12:04pm
"The United Nations once again has ordered its weapons inspectors out of Iraq. Today's evacuation follows a new warning from chief weapons inspector Richard Butler accusing Iraq of once again failing to cooperate with the inspectors. The United States and Britain repeatedly have warned that Iraq's failure to cooperate with the inspectors could lead to air strikes."
Were the inspectors provided with any credible evidence in the first place? No, it was all third hand information.
With intelligence technology that claims to be able to read a license plate of a car from a satellite, why could the aircraft that were continuously monitoring the No-Fly Zone unable to come up with any credible evidence? There is a lot of grist in there for the conspiracy theorist's mills, on what some would call Weapons of Mass Deception.
This is an extremely dangerous regime
Based on what grounds? That they follow a religious belief that you do not believe in? If they are indeed dangerous what has made them dangerous?
Read history prior to 1998 with an open mind and you can get answers as to why they behave the way they do.
Finally, from a neutral point why should a sovereign nation be dictated to, regards getting nuclear weapons by nations who are loathe to forsake their own?
Vice President Biden, Iran And His Munich Mission
by George Montgomery on 9-Feb-09 12:05pm
Looking back at Iraq and the United Nations mandated weapons inspections, how many times did they renege and how many times was the U.S. reaction non-existent?
In regards to Iraq - what is the non-existent US reaction that you refer to ?
I have checked the history books, and I believe the USA did indeed invade Iraq. Should they have done more ?
Vice President Biden, Iran And His Munich Mission
by Michael Haltman on 9-Feb-09 12:11pm
A little naive Peter. Does it really matter why they are as they are or why they will potentially possess what they want to possess?
You also don't know what my religion is, and to be honest I don't care what they worship. Did I mention religion? I don't think so. I think that you are another reader who reads what they want to read and no matter what it said, you would have a problem with it.
When a country has the STATED goals that its' leader has, then I think the ENTIRE WORLD needs to step up and be concerned. Once again Peter, this is not an Israel and U.S. issue although I think that is what you are thinking.
A sovereign nation should have the right to possess weapons that could be used to destroy the world? Not if the stated mission is to destroy it.
Vice President Biden, Iran And His Munich Mission
by Louis Sequeira on 9-Feb-09 12:34pm
I would suggest that you take time in responding. I am not Peter, yes you did correct that in a subsequent comment.
I did not speak about your religion, as in "Michael's religion", it is a generic "you" and is one of the most cited reasons that comes from the USA.
Once again Peter, this is not an Israel and U.S. issue although I think that is what you are thinking. I can only assume that this line is not in response to my comments but due to the confusion that your eagerness to respond without giving thought to what is being written has created.
A sovereign nation should have the right to possess weapons that could be used to destroy the world? Not if the stated mission is to destroy it.
You have just provided a new definition to the word "world". Because I have not come across anywhere that Iran has stated that it's mission is to destroy the world.
My polite suggestion would be to read up on the history of the world as to why things happen the way they do.
Vice President Biden, Iran And His Munich Mission
by Michael Haltman on 9-Feb-09 12:18pm
Sorry Peter, that last comment was for Louis. Yours is that if you think Israel is the problem, as it would appear you do, perhaps you are of the opinion that if Israel ceased to exist the problem would go away.
That is your naivete painted by your dislike of Israel. Once again, it is not an Israel Iran issue although that is what you would like to believe because it is simplistic to think that way.
If you look at the many and varied country's that have been hit by deadly terrorist attacks, I think that you should be able to see that the problem goes deeper than that.
The reason that I like to post here, is because it is interesting to see the reaction of the Europeans that respond when it comes to Israel and the search for one simple answer as to why there are people that would like to eliminate ALL that do not think as they do. Again, if you for one minute think that your solution would end the problem, then you are sadly mistaken.
Vice President Biden, Iran And His Munich Mission
by Tom Law on 9-Feb-09 12:36pm
Iran has been a dangerous enemy for 30 years now. Buying time has been an effective way of avoiding war.
The West and NATO are under no current specific threat from Iran. (They weren't from Iraq either, and I thought that was the element of change promised in Obama's foreign policy... no more Texan range wars.)
I think the American administration should make it clear to the Iranians that the problem is the nuclear issue, and not them; you know, separate the people from the problem.
Vice President Biden, Iran And His Munich Mission
by Michael Haltman on 9-Feb-09 1:16pm
Not having conflict would be the optimum result Tom, but when you avoid something for 30 years eventually it comes to a head.
Vice President Biden, Iran And His Munich Mission
by Tom Law on 9-Feb-09 1:27pm
Who says? The cold war went on for 45 years. Then it stopped, cold turkey style. A new generation always brings new ideas. No one wants to fight their father's (or grandfather's) wars.
Besides: Avoid the issue: No
Avoid war: Yes
Avoid rhetoric: Yes
Avoid principles: No
War mongering is a kind of impatience to clarify things.
War never clarifies anything. Negotiation clarifies everything. It comes before a war and it always comes after a war.