Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Democratic Dogfights

There has been quite a lot in the press the last few days about political maneuvering in regards to the health care debate. One interesting thing about it is the terminology used by the big government control-freaks and their lackeys in the press. The term of the day is "blue dog". The term "moderate" has apparently been disallowed by the powers that be, when speaking of Democrats. Even the right wing press goes along to get along. From The Stimulist
Democrats are now paying the price for the cynical strategy they used to capture their Congressional majorities in 2006. In recruiting the 40-plus Blue Dogs, who went on to defeat Republicans...
It seems the Republicans aren't the only ones with a moderate problem. I have to wonder how many of these moderate Democrats are even more conservative than the Republicans they replaced. Might we one day be treated to the term "conservative Democrat"? I won't be holding my breath waiting for it.

For Republicans, there's not much to do but pull up a chair, pour a glass of lemonade and enjoy the show. Our post-partisan President doesn't seem to think Republican votes are necessary to non-partisanship. Unfortunately for him and the Pelosi cartel, conservative votes are necessary. The underlying problem being every congressman's main concern; self preservation. You can take the Republicans out of Congress, but you can't take conservatives out of the Districts.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Supply and the Health Care Debate

Today's lesson in economics comes from Abe Lincoln. With the Civil War raging, and the Confederates approaching Washington, Lincoln received a report that J.E.B Stuart's cavalry had kidnapped a general and stolen 40 horses. The next day a messenger appeared saying, " There's good news Mr. President. We've found the general." Lincoln replied, "That's unfortunate. I can always make a new general, but I can't make more horses."

Any government can arbitrarily suppress prices, at least for a while. Adding 40-50 million new health care recipients arbitrarily increases demand. It is on the supply side of the equation where things are beyond government control. The government can't dictate that someone invent a new medicine, medical device or procedure. Supply is created by individuals making choices, and applying their talents, according to their own self interest.

If you were 20 years old right now, would entering the medical profession look like a good idea, or would you be thinking of doing something else? Knowing that doctors already spend a great deal of time filling out paperwork and arguing with insurance providers, bureaucrats, lawyers and accountants, would a smart kid still want to be a doctor? With malpractice insurance and other costs remaining the same, and the prospect of lowered fees and less time for the customers, is there still a point to becoming a doctor?

Given the news of the day, would a technically gifted kid want to manufacture heart valves or wind turbines?

As the Soviet Union learned, supply cannot be mandated, distribution from a central point is ineffective, and if there is nothing on the shelf to buy, the cost to the consumer doesn't matter. With fewer reasons to enter the medical field, fewer people will enter it. With increased demand, rising costs and falling prices, a decrease in supply (rationing) is an absolute certainty. Like Lincoln and the messenger, we are about to discover that even the President of the United States is limited by natural law.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Coming Devaluation

It looks like the stars are coming into alignment for a devaluation of the dollar. The first set of signs comes from then recent run-up in stock prices, and subsequent multi-billion dollar bonuses, involving the Wall Street banks. An excellent look at this is by Daniel Harrison, who points out that some of the bigger banks resorted to accounting tricks to post a good quarter.
But on closer inspection, these profits reveal little more than the return of risk appetite in the face of rising problems at the operating-level. For instance, in the case of JPMorgan, investment banking revenue helped offset rising defaults on consumer loans, while Citi masked its operating losses with a one-time asset sale.
They are not likely to post another good quarter which will add fire to another round of stimulus.

On top of that, both gold and the Euro are poised for an upturn. There is a great video that shows the analysis for a gold price increase. It also doubles as a good primer on how to analize a chart, if you've ever wondered how they do that. It runs about 7 minutes. There is also good video on the rising Euro versus the dollar. Currencies are more complicated than commodities, but it's the same idea.

The only good sign I can see on the horizon at this point, is the typical end of summer fall in gas prices. From a consumers point of view, we'll still be able to get around, we just may not be able to afford anything when we get where we're going. Whether it's inflating prices, or a deflating buying power of the dollar, the end result at the consumer level is the same. It's looking like it's about to get worse.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blogola and Me

There are two questions about blogging that I am sometimes asked, and I have never found a satisfactory answer for; "What is your blog about?", and "When are you going to start making some money at this?". A blank stare is my usual answer. I'm 54 years old and no single subject has ever held my interest from one day to the next, nor have I ever made much money at anything. Why should my blog be any different?

What brought this up was an article in the recent Forbes Magazine marketing section entitled "Blogola". It seems there's a guy named Ted Murphy, whose business is paying bloggers, up to $3,000, to write nice things about various corporations. Recently, several bloggers earned a $500 credit from K-Mart for their posts. Was it the WW II era linoleum floor that they so admired? Was it the screaming kids, drowning out the mind-numbing Muzak that turned their heads? Was it the creatively arranged fertilizer display in the gardening section that caught their eye? Sadly, I'll never know. The article didn't say.

I do know one thing though. If I ever start a sentence with, "I had the most wonderful shopping experience...", then one of three things has happened. In descending probability they are:

1) I have completely lost my mind.
2) I'm being held hostage by corporate terrorists and forced to write blog posts against my will.
3) I really, really, really needed some new bath towels.

On some level, this is a serious subject. After all, the Federal Trade Commission is keeping an eye on Mr. Murphy and his ilk. There are some truth in advertising rules that could use a little tightening. There are people whose livelihood depend on a bold line between journalism and advertising. As for me, I'm content to meander along, like a lazy flowing river, curious to see what's around the next bend. Who knows, maybe I'll find a purpose for my blog there, or maybe even a way to make some real money without selling my soul to the Devil.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Please, Not Another Date Night

Photo by Penny Starr/

Earlier in the week, Joe Biden, last years smart VP candidate, addressed a meeting of the AARP in which he was quoted as saying:
“We’re going to go bankrupt as a nation,” Biden said.

“Now, people when I say that look at me and say, ‘What are you talking about, Joe? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’” Biden said. “The answer is yes, that's what I’m telling you.”
It remains unclear if he "got any action" in the after-speech shmoozing session, but other reports, as yet unconfirmed, attribute him as saying:

"Under our new plan, your doctor may actually be a lawyer, but at least you'll have health care".

"I knew John Kennedy. John Kennedy was a friend of mine. You're no John Kennedy. I just made that up".

"Killing Al Queda in Afghanistan is completely different from killing Al Queda in Iraq. It's not the same thing at all".

"The public simply must keep financing Wall Street banks. The only people who can get us out of this mess, are the ones who screwed it up. Nobody else on the planet knows how to be a bank president. I don't, do you?"

"Buying American doesn't necessarily mean protectionism. Foreigners can still sell things here all they want to, we just won't buy them."

"It's not necessary for legislators to read legislation. When I was a Senator, I just read the Boston Globe; they have someone over there who reads all that legislative stuff".

GM makes wonderful cars. I've never personally owned a car, myself, but I hear they're nice. Are they the ones who make the Mercedes limo?"

"The University of Delaware is an excellent law school. I learned all my rhetorical skills there".

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Why I Should Be The Next Empathetic Supreme Court Nominee

Seeing as how we are about to set the precedent that empathy is the most important quality of a Supreme Court Justice, as opposed to say, brains for instance, I've been thinking that maybe I could be a Supreme Court Justice too. After all, I'd like to think I'm a pretty empathetic fella'. Why, just off the top of my head I can think of 15 reasons why I should be considered for the job.
15)As a youngster, even though Willie Mays was black, I cheered for him anyway, sometimes even in public.

14)I once read Bob Gibson's autobiography, From Ghetto To Glory. He's black too.

As a teenager, I took a summer job washing dishes in a Jewish hospital cafeteria which means...
13)I've done menial labor.
12)I know what it's like to live on minimum wage.
11)I helped the Jews.

10)I once had to forgo giving advice to President Nixon regarding his Watergate affairs because I was busy getting loaded at a Santana concert. Carlos Santana was Hispanic before there was such a thing as Hispanic- how cool is that!

9)Although deep-fried Cajun soul food is not my particular favorite, I once had the gizzards and chitin's sample platter at M&M's Fish And Chicken Shack, and didn't throw up.

I'm no longer a member of the Boy Scouts, so I can't be held accountable for...
8)Their instance that leaving an oversexed homosexual alone in the forest with a group of impressionable boys may not be the best combination.
7)Their constant yammering about honesty and trustworthiness and all those other outdated notions.
6)Their walking around in uniforms like some sort of midget Gestapo.

Sometimes I've dated Hispanic women, from whom I have learned...
5)How to order Carne Asada without sounding like a total redneck
4)That even though the government of Mexico is little more than a rival gang of the drug lords,our country should try to be more like Mexico anyway
3)Eating a bowl of Menudo can give you the runs.
2)The meaning of "pinche guerro".

And the number one reason for why I should be the next empathetic Supreme Court Justice, just like Judge Sotomayor, is...

1)I don't think anyone bothers with the Constitution anymore either.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This Just In: Youtube Discovers An Honest Senator

We won't get to see how our money is being spent, but at least Omaha gets a new museum.

More Legislation Without Representation

In a previous post, I referenced the fact that the Energy Bill, that recently passed the House, was unread by anyone at the time of the vote. In fact, the bill wasn't even in completed form. Over the weekend, Rep Steny Hoyer, when asked by CNN, actually laughed at the idea of reading the Health Care bill before passing it.
"I’m laughing because . . . I don’t know how long this bill is going to be, but it’s going to be a very long bill,"...If every member pledged to not vote for it if they hadn’t read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes,’’ he said. The majority leader was declaring, in other words, that it is more important for Congress to pass the bill than to understand it.
So nobody's going to know what's in this bill, when it passes, either. We can likely add to these two, the cap and trade bill currently being slapped together. Will anyone have read that before it passes? No doubt many liberals will be shocked in the near future, when they find out Wall Street companies are making billions on trading carbon credits. Every trade goes through Wall Street, and that means commissions. Little wonder why they're in favor.

Also over the weekend, with all the talk centered on the Sotomayor hearings, the Senate quietly killed the Federal Reserve Transparency act. Senator James DeMint of South Carolina vows to fight on, but he is largely alone.

What we have in all this, is a "partner" acting in secret, developing relationships behind our backs, and hiding our finances from us. Does this sound like a healthy relationship to you?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Text In The City

I guess it was only a matter of time before we were treated to this headline: Teen Girl Falls In Open Manhole While Texting.
Alexa Longueira, a high school sophomore, was walking along Victory Boulevard near Travis Avenue on Staten Island Wednesday evening when she felt the earth move and was plunged into smelly darkness..."It was just really gross and it was shocking and scary," she said.
In her defense, there were no orange cones or barriers up warning of the open manhole. Of course, they will be suing the city for neglect.
Alexa's mother, Kim, said: "It could have been an elderly person, a mother pushing a stroller. It could have been anyone."
Except that most people, especially mothers pushing baby strollers, tend to watch where they're going. By this logic, if a man turns his head to look at a pretty woman walking down the street and walks into a lamp post as a result, he could blame the woman. After all, if she didn't have an attractive backside, he wouldn't have a bump on his head. Right? Right.

And finally, there's this:
Alexa lost one of her sneakers in the sewer. She does not want it back.
Somewhere in Gotham, a rookie sewer worker breathes a sigh of relief.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ode to the Unstimulatable

Incredibly, there is talk in Congress of a second stimulus package. For the record, the first stimulus is somewhere between 15-40% spent, depending on who you choose to believe. It's not due to get to 100% until sometime next year. Apparently, for the truly empathetic, one just can't spend other people's money fast enough. For whatever reason, this has caused me to burst into song.

Ode to the Unstimulatable (sung to the tune of "Unforgetable" by the legendary Nat King Cole)

Unstimulatable, that’s what you are
Unresusitatable, even by a Czar

We all agree, it’s so complainable
Credit bubbles are unsustainable

The printing press will get no rest

Unstimulatable, or so it seems
Unpenultimatable, by any means

You’ve stopped buying- that’s regrettable
Supply, demand, is still resettable

That’s why I
Am unstimulatable too

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Last Sarah Palin Post (At Least For A While)

OK, here's the deal. The market is so over-saturated with Sarah Palin stories that even I don't read them anymore. It's time to let the poor woman exit the stage. Let her go make some peanut butter sandwiches for the kids and be a mom. Let her get, what had been, a normal life back.

It's not that Governor Palin was such a great candidate. She wasn't. She was the last slim hope and the most difficult candidate I ever tried to defend. With her resignation, she not only abandons the field, she takes all of our weapons with her.

Those familiar with my political views, know that I separate the Republican Party into 2 major factions; east coast old money and western new money, Wall Street versus Main Street, fur coats and cloth coats. It was a long time between Calvin Coolige and Ronald Reagan. I suspect I have seen the last of the cloth coat candidates, at least on the national stage. Too bad. Life goes on.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Reid-Pelosi Date Night

Undisclosed sources are reporting that Senate Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a "night on the town" recently. A gushing Ms. Pelosi was overheard saying, "I've never been to the Senate cafeteria before. It's simply stunning!" The tab for the chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and green beans, was said to be in the neighborhood of $1.3 Billion. The frisky couple then retired to an undisclosed location where they spent the remainder of the evening rolling around in a pile of money and laughing hysterically.

Photo courtesy Drudge Report

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Twitter Theater presents...

Twitter at the Siege of Yorktown

Any similarity between the characters and persons living or dead is strictly coincidental. However, I would like to thank the 40 or so people I'm following on Twitter for their inspiration. Icons are from, all rights reserved.

Cast of Characters……………....……..played by

MeFirst…………………........General Washington
YankeeYuppie……Aide to General Washington
Glutton4Gluttony…………...……Lord Cornwallis
DandyCandy…………...Aide to Lord Cornwallis
WillSail4Wine.………French Admiral De Grass
FuturePresident.…………..Alexander Hamilton
DocBentIt…………………......…Town Intellectual
PrivateAnon ……..Continental Army Private
IDontStink………………......…High Society Lady
MatronlyMom……......……Working Class Woman

Note:Unlike a regular blog post, Twitter starts at the bottom and scrolls up. Our story starts at the bottom of the post and ends here.

DocBentIt FUNFACT: French people have 6 toes on each foot. #NewResearch

IDontStink My betrothed and I strolled along the wharves this afternoon. We met several gallant French Naval Officers. #2ndThoughts

MatronlyMom Fresh rat flanks ½ off @MidtownMarket

MeFirst @Glutton4Gluttony Very well, I’ll accept at noon this Inst'. #pwned

Glutton4Gluttony @MeFirst For the Love Of God man, I implore you, accept my sword. I’ve not had good veal in a fortnight.

PrivateAnon @MeFirst Begging the General's pardon, Sir, May I request you let them starve? I’d give a months wage to see @Glutton4Gluttony in a size 3 corset.

YankeeYuppie @MeFirst Could you hold off a little while longer General? I’ve got 2 bits on @DandyCandy not surviving.

Glutton4Gluttony @MeFirst It would appear you have the advantage, Sir. I’m prepared to offer my sword at your earliest convenience

DocBentIt FUNFACT: Surplus Continental Army bread doubles as a coarse cement. #NewResearch

DandyCandy @WillSail4Wine That’s DandyCandy you illiterate swine. I’m currently living in a mud puddle with commoners #disgusting.

WillSail4Wine @MeFirst I’ve dispatched the British fleet and am moving into range of the town. Where did you say @CandyAssDandy lived?

Two weeks later…

FuturePresident @PrivateAnon If I ever find out who you really are, I'll have you horsewhipped.

MeFirst @FuturePresident Very well, then. Proceed.

PrivateAnon @FuturePresident Good thinking Colonel, dying will definitely give us something to do.

FuturePresident @MeFirst @YankeeYuppie But the troops are idle. Attacking will raise morale and give them something to do.

PrivateAnon @FuturePresident Begging the Colonel’s pardon, how many is 10?

MatronlyMom My 7 yr old knocked over an entire hogshead of molasses in the barn and didn’t tell anyone. I’ll be scrubbing sticky cow hooves all morning now.

YankeeYuppie @FuturePresident Request denied. Fort number 10 has no strategic value whatsoever.

MatronlyMom My 13 yr old left a Bullfrog in the night pot for me last night. I didn’t get any sleep at all after that.

FuturePresident @MeFirst @YankeeYuppieI’ve found an opening in the line near fort number 10. Permission to attack?

DocBentIt FUNFACT: New poll out, women prefer men who bathe more than thrice a year to men who don’t. TinyBraodsheet83 #ClarkesvillePostDispatch

InnkeepersDaughter @WillSail4Wine I don’t presume you’ll be making port in Charleston to ‘re-provision’? ;)

WillSail4Wine @YankeeYuppie I’m off the coast of Carolina. This wind sucks.

YankeeYuppie @WillSail4Wine The General requests you make haste. The British fleet is approaching the bay.

Two weeks later…

IDontStink My betrothed ‘let one go‘ at supper tonight, right in front of everybody, then he blamed it on my plum pudding. #ihatehim

DocBentIt FUNFACT: Witchcraft due for a comeback, human soul weighs 3.2 ounces, more Vermont goblin sightings TinyBraodsheet81 #CottonMatherInst.ofScience

MatronlyMom I’m at the market. All they have that’s fresh are rats. I’m getting the putrid beef instead, again. :(

YankeeYuppie @DandyCandy Speaking of which, is it true they have to hide the livery boy whenever you’re @3ForksTavern? #pwned

DandyCandy @YankeeYuppie Bring it Hillbilly. I’ve heard what the ladies say about your aim. #pwned

IDontStink Just heard my betrothed traded his thoroughbred for a washer woman and a used carriage. # iluvhim

YankeeYuppie @DandyCandy The General desires that I remind you we have plenty of powder and shell for the artillery, and we know where you live.

WillSail4Wine @MeFirst Finally rounded up the crew and set sail, departing St. Martinique. This better be worth it.

DandyCandy @MeFirst Lord C. does NOT tweet with rabble. Go back to your pig farm, Nature Boy.

DocBentIt FUNFACT: tooting low grade snuff, 3 times daily reduces risk of sinus infection 10% #newresearch

MatronlyMom I dumped the night-pot out the window. Someone drank WAY TOO MUCH ale last night. I’m making breakfast now.

MeFirst @Glutton4Gluttony Good morning, Your Rotundity. I do hope the artillery hasn't been disturbing your sleep. I am prepared to entertain the terms of your surrender, should you feel the need.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Great Tweets Through History

I'm still in the lurking phase on Twitter, but I think I'm beginning to figure it out. In this mornings Financial Times Gideon Rachman is beginning to figure it out too. Along the way, he imagines what Twitter feeds might have looked like at different times in history. My personal favorite of his is Karl Marx:

If Marx really had lived in the age of Twitter, he would probably not have been sending out thunderous political messages. It is more likely that his Twitter feed would have read: “Just arrived at British Museum. Going for a cup of tea.”

I can imagine a few others. Here's ten, in no particular order.

Ulysses S Grant during the siege of Vicksburg:
GENOFWEST Going to artillery barrage. Already have headache.

Hannibal crossing the Alps:
CARTHAGETOPGUY Frozen elephants twitpic #weird.

Brutus in the days leading up to the assassination of Julius Caesar:
SATURNSPAL 10% off @Romulus Cutlery. Good stuff.

George Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn:
YELLOWHAIR Arrived @ Indian Village. The place is packed.

Thomas Jefferson at the Constitutional Convention:
VIRGINIAPEN Added preamble to doc. John likes it. Will show to others forthwith.

From the Lewis and Clark Expedition:
BOATMAN Picked up crackerjack Indian gal. Husband's a douche.

John C. Fremont from somewhere in Nevada:
FUTUREPRESIDENT Idiots can't find the cannon. Moving on.

Adolph Hitler responding to a tweet from Normandy Beach:

Christopher Columbus discovering America:
ITALIANSAILOR Arrived @ India. It's not what I imagined.

A converstion between Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant while inventing the telephone:
AGBELL @BELLASSIST Can you hear me now?


AGBELL @BELLASSIST Did you say something?

BELLASSIST @AGBELL No. Was in bathroom.


BELLASSIST @AGBELL Did you hear that?

AGBELL @BELLASSIST Delivery boy at door. Say again.