Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Out of the office

Just taking a little break from blogging. I will return to regular posting at the end of July. In the meantime, enjoy your summer folks!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Revenge of the Possum Part 2: A New Hope

(Continued from Part 1)

The second comment I received on the possum story came in April of this year. "Oxankle" started out his comment positively:
I have no sympathy for possums; they are indeed vermin and have killed uncounted numbers of chickens for me. I killed a possum this morning and six within the past three weeks.
Finally, some sympathy, right? Not quite:
However; Anon was right when he said that you, Ed, went about it the wrong way. When we inflict show death, pain, suffering on a living creature we diminish our own humanity. You could very easily have taken the possum by the tail with your gardening gloves, pulled it from the hole and dispatched it quickly.

I do not even have anything against the use of the sword, but you have to know how to use it efficiently. Imagine how you would have suffered had you taken a gut thrust and been left on the field.

Unfortunately there are millions of people who know so little about wildlife that they cannot do what our ancestors did as a matter of routine.
I went from "Ed, you're a horrible inhuman beast" in the first comment, to "Ed, if you're gonna kill a possum, at least learn how to do it right".

In my response, I had to agree with Oxankle:
Admittedly, I'm not a swordsman, nor am I a nature expert. For what it's worth, my intent was to kill the possum quickly. I failed.
At least I can admit when I am wrong.

The "Warm" has turned

Robert Tracinski and Tom Minchin point out how it looks like Australia might have finally come to its' senses regarding the whole Global Warming scam:
As the US Congress considers the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, the Australian Senate is on the verge of rejecting its own version of cap-and-trade. The story of this legislation's collapse offers advance notice for what might happen to similar legislation in the US—and to the whole global warming hysteria.

Since the Australian government first introduced its Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) legislation—the Australian version of cap-and-trade energy rationing—there has been a sharp shift in public opinion and political momentum against the global warming crusade. This is a story that offers hope to defenders of industrial civilization—and a warning to American environmentalists that the climate change they should be afraid of just might be a shift in the intellectual climate.
Tracinski and Minchin continue by pointing to that rarest of events. The conversion of a Global Warming advocate:
One of the most remarkable changes occurred on April 13, when leading global warming hysteric Paul Sheehan—who writes for the main Sydney newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, which has done as much to hype the threat of global warming as any Australian newspaper—reviewed Plimer's book and admitted he was taken aback. He describes Plimer, correctly, as "one of Australia's foremost Earth scientists," and praised the book as "brilliantly argued" and "the product of 40 years' research and breadth of scholarship."

What does Plimer's book say? Here is Sheehan's summary:

Much of what we have read about climate change, [Plimer] argues, is rubbish, especially the computer modeling on which much current scientific opinion is based, which he describes as "primitive."…

The Earth's climate is driven by the receipt and redistribution of solar energy. Despite this crucial relationship, the sun tends to be brushed aside as the most important driver of climate. Calculations on supercomputers are primitive compared with the complex dynamism of the Earth's climate and ignore the crucial relationship between climate and solar energy.

To reduce modern climate change to one variable, CO2, or a small proportion of one variable—human-induced CO2—is not science. To try to predict the future based on just one variable (CO2) in extraordinarily complex natural systems is folly.

I put in bold the part above, which is what I have been saying for years, yet the Religion of Global Warming parishioners cannot seem to refute it.

But I digress. Back to Tracinski and Minchin's story about how cap-and-trade is doing in the Australian Senate:
There are 7 other votes in the Senate: five Greens who say the scheme doesn't go far enough but who could be induced to go along; one independent, Nick Xenophon, who has pledged to vote against the bill unless the government waits till after Copenhagen; and one other, Senator Steve Fielding of the Family First Party, who has decided to investigate the whole thing first hand. Fielding could turn out to be the single deciding vote.

...Fielding went to the US to assess the American evidence for global warming at close quarters. As Melbourne's Age reported on June 4:

Senator Fielding said he was impressed by some of the data presented at the [US Heartland Institute's] climate change skeptics' conference: namely that, although carbon emissions had increased in the last 10 years, global temperature had not.

He said scientists at the conference had advanced other explanations, such as the relationship between solar activity and solar energy hitting the Earth to explain climate change.

Fielding has issued a challenge to the Obama White House to rebut the data. It will be a novel experience for them, as Fielding is an engineer and has an Australian's disregard for self-important government officials. Here is how The Age described his challenge:

Senator Fielding emailed graphs that claim the globe had not warmed for a decade to Joseph Aldy, US President Barack Obama's special assistant on energy and the environment, after a meeting on Thursday…. Senator Fielding said he found that Dr. Aldy and other Obama administration officials were not interested in discussing the legitimacy of climate science.

Telling an Australian you're not interested in the legitimacy of your position is a red rag to a bull. So here is what Fielding concluded:

Until recently I, like most Australians, simply accepted without question the notion that global warming was a result of increased carbon emissions. However, after speaking to a cross-section of noted scientists, including Ian Plimer, a professor at the University of Adelaide and author of Heaven and Earth, I quickly began to understand that the science on this issue was by no means conclusive….

As a federal senator, I would be derelict in my duty to the Australian people if I did not even consider whether or not the scientific assumptions underpinning this debate were in fact correct.
At least the Australians seem to be smart enough to recognize bull when they hear it, even if it took them awhile. In the meantime, the U.S. is stuck with Obama's Global Warming cultists running the show, who make policy on faith, not science. All we can do is hope the American people come to their senses before the fools in Washington throw another log on the true "warming" problem: the economic meltdown.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Revenge of the Possum Part 1

Back in July of 2006, I wrote my now almost infamous possum post.

While I did not receive any comments on my blog at the time I posted it, I have received a slow trickle of venomous commentary since then, most of it posted anonymously.

The first anonymous comment came in May of 2007:

Google "possums" and learn something about them. I've rescued and had close encounters with a number of them. They are gentle, slow-moving creatures that pose little threat. They almost never carry rabies.
"Almost never carry rabies"? That's good to know with a wife and two kids in the house. On the off chance this is one of those rare possum WITH rabies, I should ignore that possibility because they are "gentle" and "slow-moving"?

You might as well have been stabbing and dismembering a human baby for all the danger that possum posed to you.
Human babies don't have sharp teeth.

You imagine yourself a warrior? Practice the first rule: Know your enemy.
I wasn't planning on having a possum as a house guest. Next time, I will be better prepared. For example, did you know that possum like carrion? Grab an old piece of meat, put it on a large mousetrap, and SNAP! Possum problem solved.

And if you did know your "enemy", you'd realize you slowly tortured the very essence of innocence.
I don't normally associate "innocence" with an animal which has the same dietary habits as buzzards.

...nothing in your story described any behavior remotely threatening to you or your [wife] yet you slowly vivisected this unfortunate, harmless animal that, like you, has lungs, liver, kidneys, a heart....and, like you, experiences fear, trauma,...and pain.
So do rats and bats, but I don't want them in my house either.

The commenter then goes off into a long rant about the difference between foolishness and bravery. My original reply bears repeating:
Anonymous (if that is your real name), you obviously missed the humor in this. Are you familiar with a concept called "irony"?

You are absolutely correct in stating there is nothing brave in killing a possum. A possum is vermin, much like a rat, hence the irony. I added the "bravery" aspect to this post in order to play up the irony of the situation.
I should add there is nothing brave in leaving anonymous comments on the Internet either.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Neda martyr?

The story of an Iranian woman who was allegedly shot and killed during a protest in Iran has me intrigued:
(all quotes from MSNBC.com)
Amateur video of a young Iranian woman lying in the street — blood streaming from her nose and mouth — has quickly become an iconic image of the country's opposition movement and unleashed a flood of outrage at the regime's crackdown.

The footage, less than a minute long, appears to capture the woman's death moments after she was shot at a protest — a powerful example of citizens' ability to document events inside Iran despite government restrictions on foreign media and Internet and phone lines.

The limits imposed amid the unrest over the disputed June 12 election make details of the woman's life and events immediately preceding her apparent death difficult to confirm. She has been identified in the video clips as 'Neda' but it's impossible to confirm her name, or even if the widely distributed video was taken in Tehran during the unrest.
When I first read the story at Foxnews.com, my first thought was "Joan of Arc". Apparently, I was not the only one:
Thousands of people inside and outside Iran have written online tributes to the woman, many condemning the government and praising her as a martyr. Some posted photos of a gently smiling woman they said was Neda, some calling her "Iran's Joan of Arc."

It is hard to say what the reality is behind Neda, since none of the news services seem to be able to confirm the details of this woman's life. For all we know, she may have been a woman who happened to be walking near a protest, and was killed by a stray bullet. Or she might not even be Iranian at all, and the videos were shot somewhere else.

However, the perception of this woman by Iranians is the important factor here. While the protesting Iranians will undoubtedly hold Neda up as a martyr, what will the average Iranian think? Will this enrage them, or will they just go on with their day to day lives?

The Iranians will see what they wish in Neda. If they want a martyr, they have one. If not, then her death is meaningless to them. Either way, the Iranian government hangs in the balance of their perception.

There are no facts, only interpretations. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Africa by Perpetuum Jazzile

This following video from a choir group called Perpetuum Jazzile is just incredible. Enjoy.

(Hat tip to boortz.com)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Liz by any other name...

If you ever have to call Rep. Jim McDermott's office, and you get his Executive Assistant/Office Manager Elizabeth Becton on the phone, make sure you call her "Liz".

This email exchange (edited to protect the innocent) is why (from Anne Mullins over at Politico.com):

From: XXX
Sent: Friday, May 22, 2009 11:38 AM
To: Becton, Elizabeth
Subject: JPMC Meeting Request


Attached is a meeting request for JP Morgan Chase who will be in DC June 3rd-4th and would like to request a brief meeting with the Congressman.

Let me know if you need any additional information.

Thank you!

From: XXX
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:05 PM
To: Becton, Elizabeth
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

Hi Liz,

just checking in on whether the Congressman is available next week. [REDACTED] can confirm a meeting time for you - she is available at [REDACTED].

Thank you!

From: Becton, Elizabeth
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:07 PM
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request
Importance: High

Who is Liz?

Elizabeth Becton
Executive Assistant/Office Manager
Office of Congressman Jim McDermott
XXXX Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
XXX phone
XXX fax
From: XXX
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:07 PM
To: Becton, Elizabeth
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

Hi Elizabeth, I thought you went by Liz - apologies if that is incorrect. Best, XXX

From: Becton, Elizabeth
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:08 PM
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

I do not go by Liz. Where did you get your information?
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:10 PM
To: Becton, Elizabeth
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

Hi Elizabeth, I'm so sorry if I offended you! I thought you had gone by Liz at Potlatch, this was my mistake. Best, XXX
From: Becton, Elizabeth
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:11 PM
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

NEVER. I hate that name.
From: XXX
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:13 PM
To: Becton, Elizabeth
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

Hi Elizabeth, I'm so sorry if I offended you! I must have mis-heard. My mistake! Best, XX
From: Becton, Elizabeth
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:20 PM
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request
Importance: High


If I wanted you to call me by any other name, I would have offered that to you. I think it's rude when people don't even ask permission and take all sorts of liberties with your name. This is a real sore spot with me. My name has a lot of "nicknames" which I don't use. I use either my first name or my last name because I row with a lot of other women who share the same first name. Now, please do not ever call me by a nickname again.

As for your meeting request, who is the point of contact for this meeting? If it's not you, then I need to know who because it's very time-consuming to deal with a lot of people for one meeting.

From: XXX
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:23 PM
To: Becton, Elizabeth
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

Hi Elizabeth, I'm so sorry I offended you! My mistake!

XXX can confirm a meeting time for you - she is available at XXX XXXX.

Thank you!

Best, XXX
From: XXX
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:33 PM
To: Becton, Elizabeth
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

Of course! Again, I am sincerely sorry for offending you. I must have mis-heard and it was in no way my intention to make you upset. I always enjoy working with you and seeing you at the WSS events J

From: Becton, Elizabeth
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:37 PM
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

Sounds like you got played by someone who KNOWS I hate that name and that it's a fast way to TICK me off. Who told you that I go by that name? They are not your friend...
From: XXX
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:38 PM
To: Becton, Elizabeth
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

Hi Elizabeth,

Again, I am sincerely sorry for offending you. I don't want to cause trouble as I clearly must have mis-heard the person at Potlatch. It was in no way my intention to make you upset.

From: Becton, Elizabeth
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:41 PM
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request
Importance: High

I REALLY want to know who told you to call me that.
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:44 PM
To: Becton, Elizabeth
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

Hi Elizabeth,
Again, I am sincerely sorry for offending you. I don't recall who I overheard. It was in no way my intention to make you upset.
From: Becton, Elizabeth
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 6:04 PM
Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

Let me put it this way, they don't know me and perhaps they were PRETENDING to know me better than they do and pretended that I go by Liz. They did YOU a disservice.

In the future, you should be VERY careful about such things. People like to brag about their connections in DC. It's a past time for some. It's also dangerous to eaves drop, as you have just found out.

Quit apologizing and never call me anything but Elizabeth again. Also, make sure you correct anyone who attempts to call me by any other name but Elizabeth. Are we clear on this? Like I said, it's a hot button for me.

And please don't call the office and not leave a message. My colleague told me you called while I was away at the Ladies' room. I do sometimes leave my desk.

While I appreciate some people have names they prefer to go by, usually a simple "don't call me that" will suffice.

As an "Executive Assistant/Office Manager" to Rep. McDermott, Liz made $88,344.44 in 2008 (thanks to Legistorm.com). Way to go Liz! That is good taxpayer money for a secretary with an attitude.

Appalling Krugman

As detailed in my post from Tuesday, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman was caught calling for the housing bubble which contributed heavily to our current economic mess. Then he tried to back off what he said by calling it "just economic analysis".

Now PhD economist Mark Thornton calls Krugman out for recommending the interest rate cuts which also contributed to this mess. The following Krugman quote from May 2, 2001, shoots a huge hole in Krugman's excuse (bold formatting added by me):
I've always favored the let-bygones-be-bygones view over the crime-and-punishment view. That is, I've always believed that a speculative bubble need not lead to a recession, as long as interest rates are cut quickly enough to stimulate alternative investments. But I had to face the fact that speculative bubbles usually are followed by recessions. My excuse has been that this was because the policy makers moved too slowly -- that central banks were typically too slow to cut interest rates in the face of a burst bubble, giving the downturn time to build up a lot of momentum. That was why I, like many others, was frustrated at the smallish cut at the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting: I was pretty sure that Alan Greenspan had the tools to prevent a disastrous recession, but worried that he might be getting behind the curve.

However, let's give credit where credit is due: Mr. Greenspan has cut rates since then. And while some of us may have been urging him to move even faster, the Fed's four interest-rate cuts since the slowdown became apparent represent an unusually aggressive response by historical standards. It's still not clear that Mr. Greenspan has caught up with the curve -- let's have at least one more rate cut, please -- but the interest-rate cuts do, cross your fingers, seem to be having an effect.

If we succeed in avoiding recession, this will mark a big win for let- bygones-be-bygones, and a big loss for crime-and-punishment. And that will be very good news not just for this business cycle, but for business cycles to come.
Read the rest of Thornton's post for more "tastes like crow" Krugman quotes.

What I find interesting is the last paragraph from Krugman's quote:
For the big lesson of the late 1990's was that speculative bubbles spring eternal. The signs of irrational exuberance, not to mention sheer silliness, were there for all to see; yet the bubble expanded — and then burst — all the same. Surely there will be other bubbles, and other burstings, in the decades ahead. The best we can hope for is that when the bubbles burst the consequences can be limited. And the faint signs of good news in the U.S. economy are reason to hope that they can.
Contrast that with Krugman's view from his May 27, 2005 column:
The important point to remember is that the bursting of the stock market bubble hurt lots of people - not just those who bought stocks near their peak. By the summer of 2003, private-sector employment was three million below its 2001 peak. And the job losses would have been much worse if the stock bubble hadn't been quickly replaced with a housing bubble.

So what happens if the housing bubble bursts? It will be the same thing all over again, unless the Fed can find something to take its place. And it's hard to imagine what that might be. After all, the Fed's ability to manage the economy mainly comes from its ability to create booms and busts in the housing market. If housing enters a post-bubble slump, what's left?

Mr. Roach believes that the Fed's apparent success after 2001 was an illusion, that it simply piled up trouble for the future. I hope he's wrong. But the Fed does seem to be running out of bubbles.
So after 4 years of pulling for interest rate cuts and housing bubbles, Krugman FINALLY started to see the problem with bubbles?

But the question remains: Was Krugman's "hope" that the bubble was not just an illusion based on his desire for the economy to work, or was it based on the fact that Krugman had spent years advocating the failed policies which were about to lead to disaster?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


1. a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.

1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

(from dictionary.reference.com)

If you look at the United States government today, there are elements of both fascism and socialism at work in its' actions.

The latest example is the Obama administration's call for a "a new, strong, independent agency with full authority to protect consumers from unfair practices." This agency will provide (from Foxbusiness.com):
--Strong oversight of financial firms.
--Strengthening the regulation of core markets and infrastructure.
--Strengthen consumer protection.
--Ensure the government has the tools to effectively manage financial crises.
--Ensure high standards, not just in the U.S. but also globally.

The scariest line comes from a CNNMoney.com article on this subject: "The Federal Deposit of Insurance Corp. could get more power to take over and unwind financial companies, beyond banks, that are in deep trouble."

Hello, fascialism, a perfect combination of the regimentation of all industry and commerce (aka fascism), with "the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole" (aka socialism).

While I would like to take credit for the new word, I can't. Thomas J. DiLorenzo beat me by five days. He also wrote a much better column about it (link here).

So let us quit calling Obama a fascist or a socialist. Let us call him a fascialist, and let the Left try to run away from that label.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nobel Lariat

I have picked on Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman before, but when I read his idea for solving our recession back in 2002, I was floored by the complete idiocy of it.

What could be the worst possible advice anyone could suggest in 2002 to fight the recession? Maybe create a housing bubble? But that is exactly what our Nobel Prize winning economic baboon suggested:

To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that... Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.
(from Krugman's August 2, 2002 New York Times column)

So how is that housing bubble working for you?

If Krugman had an ounce of honor, he would give back his Nobel Prize, then go pull a David Carradine somewhere.

(Hat tip to lewrockwell.com)

UPDATE: Krugman's response:

One of the funny aspects of being a somewhat, um, forceful writer is that I’m regularly accused of all sorts of villainy. I was personally responsible for the demise of Enron; my nonexistent son worked for Hillary; etc.. The latest seems to be that I called for the creation of a housing bubble — in fact, the bubble is my fault! The claim seems to be based on this piece.

Guys, read it again. It wasn’t a piece of policy advocacy, it was just economic analysis. What I said was that the only way the Fed could get traction would be if it could inflate a housing bubble. And that’s just what happened.
My only problem with Krugman's explanation is that nowhere in the original piece does he suggest that a housing bubble would be a bad idea.

And the little joke about the housing bubble being his fault? Nice touch, but nobody is saying that. We are just calling you on the carpet for being on the wrong side of history yet again.

"Econoblogger" Megan McArdle says it best: "...there's a paragraph I'm sure glad I didn't write."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Economic lunacy

Perhaps the first clue should have been the fact the editorial was at the New York Times website. The dead giveaway that I was reading the work of an economic moron was the following passage:
The tax system in this country is pretty complicated, and nobody knows how well people understand their place in it. David Brooks once claimed that 19 percent of Americans thought they were in the top 1 percent of the income distribution in 2000.

A more accurate interpretation of the polling data he was referring to suggests that 19 percent thought they would benefit from tax cuts to the top 1 percent. This is almost equally implausible.

In the economic worldview of the Left, one can only "benefit" from a tax cut if it is a cut to taxes one pays directly. If the government were to cut, for example, corporate taxes, and corporations passed along the savings to their customers, there is no benefit for the customers from that tax cut, even though the customers were blindly paying for the corporate taxes all along. No, there are no benefits in that situation in the worldview of the Left.

What about taxing the rich? How can we all benefit from taking money from the rich? What could the rich possibly provide to the rest of us by spending their own money, as opposed to having our beloved comrades in government spending it instead?

Would you rather pay for "bridges to nowhere", corporate bailouts for failed companies, and payoffs for large campaign donations? Or would you rather let the rich spend their money on the extravagance they have earned, thereby promoting manufacturing jobs in such sectors as private jets, yachts, expensive cars, and other such "conspicuous consumption"?

Neither option may seem preferable, but consider the second one. Luxury item manufacturing promotes the creation of jobs. Good, steady, well-paying jobs.

But back to the New York Times editorial. It was written by Nancy Folbre. When you click on the link to her name, the following description of her comes up:
Nancy Folbre is professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Her research focuses on the interface between feminist theory and political economy, with a particular focus on the work of caring for others.

Feminist theory. Economics. There are two fields that belong together...if you want to be a bad economist, or a smart feminist.

Don't get me wrong, I fully support women's rights, and I believe most women are actually superior to men in many important ways. That said, "feminist theory" is a joke degree, and an excuse to hold a political grudge. Mix that with economics for a truly special brand of stupid that is not as rare as it should be. The kind of stupid that sounds smart, but is really short-sighted, and fails to think beyond what is in front of it. THAT may arguably be the most dangerously stupid kind of "economic" knowledge possible.

Nancy, I will NOT call you "Dr. Folbre". You frankly are not intelligent enough to be referred to as a "doctor" of anything. If you are an example of what passes for a "professor" at the University of Massachusetts, then I know not to send my kids to your "school" (I use the word school loosely, since it may be more of an indoctrination camp, if you are exemplary of its' staff).

Nancy, go back to school. Read some Sowell, some Friedman, some von Mises. Just do anything to increase your knowledge please.

What you wrote in that New York Times piece was an embarrassment to economists everywhere.

The Healthcare Issue

After reading my 50 millionth editorial on healthcare, I have come to one conclusion.

We already have government healthcare. It is in two programs called Medicare and Medicaid. And they do not work.

Both cost too much. In the case of Medicaid, many doctors will not even accept patients with it.

The only healthcare program which has shown the possibility of working: Medicare Part D. The only reason it works? It utilizes competition among private sector companies in order to achieve price efficiencies.

So President Obama wants to provide public healthcare (read: socialized medicine)? I will gladly go along with his proposal on one condition: He has to fix our current public healthcare programs utilizing whatever idea he has for all of our healthcare.

Is it too much to ask for proof that Obama's ideas will work?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Where my retirement fund is invested now

About 3 weeks ago, I decided to bring my retirement fund out of mothballs (read: cash). Since then, I've done rather well, making about $4,000. However, I fully expect to make MUCH more, based on my own read of the economy.

For the foreseeable future, I expect to see the economy flounder between weakness and inflation. As soon as the economy starts to improve, expect inflation to crank up, effectively squashing economic recovery. Then the weakening economy will cut back on the inflation. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Add in massive unfunded government spending (i.e. funded by "Geithner and Bernanke's Magic Printer"), and you can just multiply those effects (higher inflation and deeper economic recessions).

Here is where my money is now (in order of dollars invested):
1. Vanguard Precious Metals & Mining Fund (VGPMX): This is my "gold" play, and also the largest source of profit for my portfolio so far (accounting for $2,400 of my profit).

Even if you assume a "Paul Krugman"-esque view of the economy (i.e. all the money coming out of the government is only staving off deflation, and will not necessarily cause large amounts of inflation), there are two other factors to consider. All the money being printed will kill the dollar on the currency exchanges, thereby increasing the price of all imported commodities, of which most precious metals are included. Also, there are 2 billion people in China and India, where the cultures value hording commodities like gold and silver.

2. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM): If you think the price of oil is going up, and I do, then Exxon is the gold standard of blue chip stocks in the oil sector. If the economy turns around, the price of oil will shoot up like a rocket. Even if the economy doesn't turn around, the currency exchange factor affecting precious metals (see #1 above) still applies.

3. Ford Motor Co. (F): I actually didn't have that much invested in Ford, but it has had a nice little run since I started.

My Ford investment is a classic play where you look at how politics will affect business. Specifically, I am looking at the "cash for clunkers" bill rolling through Congress. That bill will most help those auto companies which make good small cars. Right now, Honda (see #8 below) makes the best small cars (i.e. the Fit and the Civic). By later this year/early next year, Ford will join this list with the new Fiesta (based on early reviews of the car).

In addition, the problems with GM and Chrysler have left Ford looking downright solid by comparison. GM is DOA, and Chrysler is hoping they can sell Fiats in America, which is an intriguingly shortsighted strategy since Fiat couldn't sell them the last time they were here.

4. Eni SpA (E): According to the CNNMoney.com profile, Eni "is engaged in the oil and gas, electricity generation, petrochemicals, oilfield services and engineering industries". Eni, an Italian company, is my Euro/oil play. Also, with a current price/earnings ratio (P/E) of 5.3, this is a highly undervalued company in the oil sector.

5. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT): This is my "Warren Buffet" play. As Buffet says, invest in what you know. I know Wal-Mart, because that is where I shop, almost religiously. Wal-Mart gives a solid dividend, and can only profit from a down economy.

6. Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR): Another oil play, this time in Brazil. By the way, google "PBR +Tupi". Of all the oil companies, Petroleo Brasileiro has the best prospect for growth in the next five years, thanks to the Tupi oil they discovered.

7. CNOOC Ltd (CEO): A Chinese oil company. P/E ratio of 9.8. 'Nuff said.

8. Honda Motor Co Ltd (HMC): A combo Warren Buffet/"cash for clunkers" play (see Wal-Mart at #5 above and Ford at #2 above). Ever since I bought my wife a Fit, I have been a Honda fan.

9. WisdomTree Dreyfus Brazilian Real Fund (BZF): Did you know Brazil has one of the highest average money market rates, approximately 9%? Did you also know Brazil's central bank JUST lowered their prime interest rate to 9.25% (compared to the Federal Reserve's 0.25% rate)? Did you know that currencies in countries with plentiful natural resources AND tight central banks have done best against the declining U.S. dollar?

So I get to earn 9% interest, AND enjoy improving currency exchange rates on that money? Cha-ching!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Did you know you owe $3,333 for the last 8 months?

You owe $3,333 for the last 8 months. Whether you're Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, black, white, Indian, Chinese, Hispanic, old, young, newborn, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, male, female, rich, poor, middle class, or any of the various other subdivisions in America, it matters not. If you are an American, you owe $3,333.

In the last 8 months, the U.S. government spent $1,000,000,000,000 more than it received in revenue. In a country of 300,000,000 people, that works out to $3,333 per person.

YOU spent that! What the heck were you thinking?

Whether you are a Bush Republican or an Obama Democrat, this is YOUR fault!

Actually, fault is irrelevant, since even the newborns in this country owe this money. They just don't know it yet.

But here is the real question: What did we get for that money? Think about it: $3,000+ will buy a lot of neat stuff.

For example, within the price range of $3-3,333, you could:
-buy one of 1,046 artworks available for immediate sale on eBay.
-put a nice downpayment on a small car.
-buy two(!) Vizio 55" LCD HDTV's from Walmart.
-leave tomorrow for Rome, and come back on July 2nd...with your spouse...stay at a nice hotel near the Colusseum. This includes flight, hotel, and rental car.

I know I'm being frivolous, since it is much more important to bailout banks and failing auto companies. We wouldn't want these people to join the other 9.4% of unemployed Americans. Of course, considering the unemployment rate WAS 6.2% eight months ago, one has to wonder how much these bailouts are really helping. Although I am sure Obama or Bush would probably say something about all the jobs that they have saved, but there sure are a lot of jobs for which they didn't do diddly squat.

Personally, I want my money back.

Monday, June 08, 2009

It's not bias if Obama IS a god...

To read this quote from Newsweek's Evan Thomas is to know the true depth of Media bias:
"Well, we were the good guys in 1984, it felt that way. It hasn't felt that way in recent years. So Obama's had, really, a different task. We're seen too often as the bad guys. And he - he has a very different job from - Reagan was all about America, and you talked about it. Obama is 'we are above that now.' We're not just parochial, we're not just chauvinistic, we're not just provincial. We stand for something - I mean in a way Obama's standing above the country, above - above the world, he's sort of God."

How can ANY human being be "sort of God"? Only in one person's distorted perception could a human being be elevated to such lofty heights of existence.

Of course, the fact that interviewer Chris Matthews let Evan Thomas's comment go unchallenged speaks volumes about Matthews too. But at least Obama's status as a deity would explain Matthews' leg tinglings.

(Hat tip to newsbusters.org)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Reid not reading

I have always been bothered by the fact our legislators can vote on bills without ever having read them. But now we have evidence they are voting on Supreme Court nominees while knowing nothing of importance about them.

Senate Majority Leader Harry "Taxes are voluntary" Reid has this to say about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's:
I understand that during her career, she's written hundreds and hundreds of opinions. I haven't read a single one of them, and if I'm fortunate before we end this, I won't have to read one of them. But -- I'm not familiar with that opinion, but there will be plenty of time for people who are concerned about the Second Amendment -- and there are lots of people on the Judiciary Committee who are concerned about it -- they'll have lots of time to offer her questions and she'll proceed to answer them. But I don't know anything about that.

Harry Reid hasn't read anything Sotomayor has written. Reid doesn't WANT to read anything she's written.

Coming from ANY legislator, that quote is indefensibly deplorable. Coming from a person whom all Democratic senators voted as their leader puts the entire Democratic side of the U.S. Senate in a very bad light.

Having said that, I will add that I doubt the Republican senators are any better about knowing what they are voting for or against.

Personally, I consider it a national disgrace that legislators can openly claim ignorance about knowledge of things for which their job, for which the American people have hired them, requires them to know.

Put this in perspective: If you were hired as a taxi driver, and you later told your boss, "I don't know how to drive, and I don't really want to know", how long do you think you would stay employed?

Yet we keep sending lazy buffoons like Harry Reid back to Washington again and again.

(hat tip to Newsbusters.org)


Glenn Hall over at TheStreet.com has an interesting take on the news that Wal-Mart plans to hire 22,000 people:
...Wal-Mart is borrowing from President Obama's playbook on optimism with [Wal-Mart's] Vice Chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright saying things like: "During this difficult economic time, we're proud to be able to create quality jobs for thousands of Americans this year."

Inspirational. Makes you want to shop at Wal-Mart, doesn't it? If a company cares enough about America to create jobs in this dismal economic climate, then by golly we should support it.

This well-timed news from Wal-Mart pushes all the right buttons.

It is genius to announce job creation plans ahead of the government report that showed 6.7 million Americans are collecting unemployment checks.

Wal-Mart also trumped today's retail sales reports, giving everyone something else to talk about instead of the fact that it is no longer reporting monthly sales figures.

From a marketing perspective, I have to agree with Mr. Hall. This is genius on Wal-Mart's part.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Abortion tax?

Frequently, pro-abortionists use the argument that a woman has the right to decide what to do with her own body. If we buy that argument, then shouldn't we also say that drug users have the right to decide what to do with their own bodies? Shouldn't smokers and alcoholics be allowed to decide what to do with their own bodies?

I know, smoking and alcohol are both legal. But they are also heavily taxed. So why can't we heavily tax abortion?

Mind you, I am NOT advocating an abortion tax. Rather, I am pointing out how obscene sin taxes are. We ignore justifications for some activities due to individual rights, but then support taxes on activities where we as a society deem them socially unacceptable, or dangerous (although the danger is strictly to the individual).