Saturday, October 4, 2008

My Letter to my Rep.

The following is the letter I wrote to the House Rep. from my district:

I am writing to you today as I am sure many of your constituents from the Granite State already have. As a proud native of New Hampshire, and as an American citizen, recent actions in Washington have concerned me and many others to write to our Representatives. Earlier this week, I was proud to view your “No” vote on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 which was defeated in the House. However, as pleased as I was to see you, my State Representative, vote against the amendment placed before the House, I tempered my enthusiasm knowing that another amendment would be placed forth by the Senate by the end of this week. This past Wednesday, my caution was rewarded by the passage of the HR1424EAS by the Senate.

I ask, as your constituent, that you continue the principled stand you demonstrated earlier this week and vote against this amendment when placed before the House today.

I oppose this measure for 2 different, yet equally important reasons.

Firstly, I oppose this measure because of the pure cynicism and disregard for the intelligence of the American people. The usage of this bill to further government spending and the redesign energy policy displays a confounding lack of seriousness by the Senate as to the magnitude of the situation we face today in the global financial sector

The inability of the Senate to put forth a provision which deals solely and directly with the issue at hand demonstrate an indefensible lack of political courage by people voted to represent the will of the people.

Secondly, I oppose this measure because of the economic reality that is facing this nation. The amendment upon which you will vote has been debated on both sides, with each side adamant that they are correct in their assumptions. I, however, do not believe that structuring an initial $700 Billion package will either help continue the continuation of the American economic engine, or be of overall benefit to the American tax payer.

The troubles facing the American economy come from two separate yet intrinsically linked concept of modern finance. Bank used their fractional reserve abilities to leverage deposits into credit. Credit, and perceived credit worthiness were utilized to forecast future economic beliefs that have shown to be untrue. With defaulting mortgages and loans, the basis of capital needed to maintain asset ratios faltered and some banks have found that they have been able to maintain liquidity standards set for them.

Investment banks also used leverage in their dealings. However, the blame for this should not be looked at as a reason for more regulation. Regulations for the Investment banking industry are clear as to the amount of leverage a company can take on to continue with their business. However, as it has been seen, many firms chose to go beyond this (at a rate up to 3 times the SEC mandates) when dealing with derivatives and especially credit derivatives. The onus was upon Mr. Cox and the SEC to do their jobs and their inability to perform their responsibilities has lead us to this point.

Quite simply, we are here today not because of a lack of regulation, but because of leverage within the industries above for mentioned. For the United States economy to reach equilibrium, this leverage must be unwound. By passing this amendment, the Congress will hinder that key factor and prolong this current situation. By artificially maintaining high leveraged prices with in the Housing and Credit Markets, the United States will not be able to reach that equilibrium for a much longer and much more painful period of time.

While political expedience often trumps long term benefit for the American people, I hope that you continue to demonstrate the necessary courage in your vote. Increasing the debt will only put even more pressure on the dollar, increase inflation, and dramatically affect the buying power of many low income Americans. And yet, this proposed amendment does not follow any branch of historical economic theory that would demonstrate that it will work and help the American economy or its taxpayer base.

There are very few votes before the members of Congress which so dramatically affect the lives of the American people. It is often less than once in a decade that a piece of legislation is put before our representatives that has such far reaching effects. I believe that this is one of them.

I ask that you take into consideration not only my views, but those of other constituents from New Hampshire who don’t believe that this is in the benefit of either New Hampshire, or of the United States of America.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dow down 6%


Today's news that the federal bailout package didn't pass the House is good for America.

Let's hope they don't fuck it up by passing it.

This whole mess isn't about regulation. It's about people doing their fucking jobs. The problems that we have today are not something that needs more government involvement. And while the pundits, politicians, and poseurs well...pose, let's look at some of the things that Supersized this shit sandwich.

1) Fannie and Freddie strayed from their core purpose and got into some stupid shit because they thought they were smarter than everyone else.

This was a whole lot of *wink* wink* "we're backed by the US Government so while we can't say that your investments with us are 100% safe" and they strayed from their purpose of providing loans to people who otherwise couldn't get them into a roulette wheel of mortgage backed investment vehicles.

2) Wall Street. You guys are the financial wizards who are able to create shit out of thin air and hide it away on books in the Cayman Islands in things called Special Purpose Vehicles that have no value because nobody will look at those books and you don't put them on your balance sheets. Fantastic, so you are trading shit with no metric based value and patting each other on the ass when it goes well, and then start crying when things go south.

3) The SEC. Acording to the SEC regs, the Wall Street Alchohlics could only leverage about 12-1 (which when you think about it, is insane in itself. They could have $1,000 and then place bets of over $12,000), but over the span of this whole debacle, were leveraging up to 40-1. You want to place a heap load of blame on this whole thing? Look at Cox at the SEC for not doing their jobs. This is why we don't need more regulation, but people doing their god damned cushy jobs. Had the SEC done what they were supposed to do, the damage now would have been much less sevear and we wouldn't have had the bank failures and brokerage house failures we do now. I pine for the days of trarring and feathering. Pine.

4) The Ratings agencies. You guys suck too. How can AAA securities go from the holiest of holies to the tangible value of my AAA Road Assistance card in 2 years...oh, sorry, I forgot, you get PAID to make ratings of securites. It's like being a restraunt critic who is paid my the restraunt. Douches.

5) Joe Six-Pack McMansion. Yes, you have the house of your dreams. For now. What?! Home values only go up? And this is why you got to live in a house that costs more than you will ever make in your lifetime. The only way that that liars loan you got whould have been any better would have been for the mortgage broker to have given you some oral while you were at the office. And if you think that something is too good to be true, but do it anyway, then you should have Idiot tatooed on your forheard. But don't dispair. There are a lot of other like you. You can start your own Facebook club. And when you claim Idiot as an illness, you'll be able to get disabilty checks mailed to you at your McMansion.

6) Congress...if I have to count in how many ways you suck, I would need to invent a new number system. The Youtube is being passed around so you probably have already seen it. Seriously...can anyone name me the last thing that congress had done that has really benefitted the American people? Like, ever? Ever, ever? Getting Congress involved in anything is about as smart as letting your parents make decisions on what kind of sex life you will have with your girlfriend.

So, why do I think this drop in the Dow is good? Because things need to reach an equilibrium and the only way to do that is to let the markets drop to the point where we can rebuild. And all this bailout does is keep prices artificially high and prolongs that shit taste in our mouths. We could be past all of this in a year or two, or we can go all Japanese style and need a 10 year recovery.

And for you Wall Street bitches...don't cry for me Argentina. You were perfectly happy when Goldy was paying out over $20 billion in bonuses a couple of years ago. Passing this bailout is only going to give the crying Alcoholics another bottle of whisky....until they start crying again.

Full Disclosure: I have a minimal part of my portfolio in US securities and 80% of my money is in European currencies. I am not currently trading and I will make no trades in the next 90 days.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Yesterday's National Press Club Meeting Revisited

In the last post, I vented about Bob Barr. If you didn't read it, I didn't mince words and I wasn't very nice. In this post, I will illuminate why I was in support of the press conference, and why it frustrated me.

The thing that makes me cringe about the Ron Paul campaign is that I agree with his platform and his position on the issues. I just hate the way the campaign was run. I have been an observer of political campaigns about as far back as the last 1980's.

While I have run the gamut of political ideology in my time, from Republican, to liberal, to neo-con, to Libertarian, I have always felt that my vote doesn't matter because the people we elect will just continue to do what they want (and what they do is nearly to a point bad). But more than anything, what I enjoy about politics is watching the whole process. I enjoy parsing press releases and political speech. I enjoy looking not for what they say, but what they didn't say. I look at political gaffes not with glee, but with a critical nature that asks "ok, well how could they have done/said that better?"

And because I have always felt that our elected officials never really represent my values, I have always has this disconnect with politics that lends it self to a more Macro viewpoint on how campaings are run.

So, when I watched Ron Paul make his run, I would look at his campaing and cringe when I saw how poorly they were trailoring the message. Now, don't get me wrong, I think Ron Paul did an incredible job in spotlighting issues that would have never gotten national attention without him. But at the core of it, the longer a candidate is in the spotlight, the more his message can be discussed in the town sqare of politics. And this is why, in my Macro view, I thought the tailoring of the message was not done as well as it could have been. Once the MSM decided Ron Paul was simply a reflection of Nazi Sympathizers/Truthers/Wackos and the fringe, he and his ideas were dismissed as "Krazy Uncle Ron". And his platform, which in an intelectually honest debate is hard to discredit, was lots to the American public.

Now, back to the topic at hand.

What was imporant about yesterday was that it was yet another instance of not tailoring the message for maximum impact. While you can dissagree with the platforms of any of the 4 people meeting yesterday, there are 3 important things that were stressed, yet not well reported.

1) The 4 candidates from the 3rd parties agreed on the principles of 4 specific policy topics:

Foreign Policy: The Iraq War must end as quickly as possible with removal of all our soldiers from the region. We must initiate the return of our soldiers from around the world, including Korea, Japan, Europe and the entire Middle East. We must cease the war propaganda, threats of a blockade and plans for attacks on Iran, nor should we re-ignite the cold war with Russia over Georgia. We must be willing to talk to all countries and offer friendship and trade and travel to all who are willing. We must take off the table the threat of a nuclear first strike against all nations.

Privacy: We must protect the privacy and civil liberties of all persons under US jurisdiction. We must repeal or radically change the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the FISA legislation. We must reject the notion and practice of torture, eliminations of habeas corpus, secret tribunals, and secret prisons. We must deny immunity for corporations that spy willingly on the people for the benefit of the government. We must reject the unitary presidency, the illegal use of signing statements and excessive use of executive orders.

The National Debt: We believe that there should be no increase in the national debt. The burden of debt placed on the next generation is unjust and already threatening our economy and the value of our dollar. We must pay our bills as we go along and not unfairly place this burden on a future generation.

The Federal Reserve: We seek a thorough investigation, evaluation and audit of the Federal Reserve System and its cozy relationships with the banking, corporate, and other financial institutions. The arbitrary power to create money and credit out of thin air behind closed doors for the benefit of commercial intereststaxpayer bailouts of corporations and no corporate subsidies. Corporations should be aggressively prosecuted for their crimes and frauds.

Regardless of their own political affiliations and interests, the 4 candidates were able to agree to the principles of these 4 ideas. That in itself is an amazing feat. As I said above, I think these points can be debated in an intellectually honest way, and are hard to discredit as they reach out to the core of the American beleif system.

2) The two major parties are now nearly identical in their platforms and actions. One thing that was stressed yesterday was that the two parties offer two slightly different versions of the same thing. Baldwin talked about "there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the two, and with today's inflation, it's more like a nickle".

3) The debate system is rigged against a 3rd party nomination getting any coverage. In order to be eligible for Federal Matching Funds, you need only 5% of the polled support. But, in order to get into the national debate, you need 15%. We are told this is to keep the 200 people who run for President every 4 years from making a national debate untennable. But the reality is that year in and year out, you rarely have more than 5 or 6 people that poll above 5% at this stage of the elecction. The 15% is B.S. and it's because the Commision on National Debates is run buy the 2 party system with support from corporate sponsors. I say that if you can be eligible for Federal Matching Funds, you should be able to participate in the debates.

The 4 candidates we able to agree on these 3 ideas. The one person who bagged out at the last second was Bob Barr. Which as you can tell from my last post, pissed me off all to Hell.

The missing link from yesterday was that it wasn't anything more than an agreement to support 3rd party candidates. Again, from a Macro perspective, this was a mistake. You have a message, but not a vehicle to drive it. What should have happened is for all 4 candidates to get together, look at what he most viable ticket would be, and to rally support to that ticket to try and get the 15% needed to get the message to the National Debates. 5 different parties divided doesn't do anything to advance the cause. 1 united ticket can.

And that to me is the most frustrating thing. If you want to change the system, you have to understand the system, and then work the system. And that, with yesterday's press conference, was not done.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bob Barr is a Narcicistic Political Coward

Yes, I am calling you out Bob. And your campaign manager too.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: You are a nobody candidate that almost nobody has
either heard of, that even fewer people now like.

For those who are confused as to what I am talking about let me give you a little historical reference:

Ron Paul was a candidate for President under the Republican party this last year. Through grass roots efforts and small donations, he was able to get over $34 million in donations from people across the United States. After several primaries, and no victories, Ron Paul decided to drop out of the race to focus on his re-election to the US House from his home state in Texas.

Bob Barr, is the Libertarian Party Presidential candidate. A former Republican from Georgia, he is now a Libertarian.

So, why am I pissed?

Through discussions with other candidates from 3rd parties, Ron Paul, Cynthia McKinney, Chuck Baldwin, and Ralph Nader held a joint press confrence today at the National Press Club, to discuss supporting the idea of 3rd candidate parties. From what Ralph Nader was told, and the rest of the group understood, Bob Barr, who was supposed to be at the event, was going to join them in spreading the message of 3rd party candidacy to the American public. The idea is that given their current policy stances, the American public agrees with them as a majority and that we need to change our thinking of the two party system. All four of the candidates from their respective parties got up and spoke and answered questions from the press.

Only, Bob Barr never showed.

Could have been a flight delay. Could have been a family emergency. Nobody knew.
But now we know.

Read it, I’ll wait.

Thank you for rejoining me.

Bob Barr. You are a narcissitic and short sighted bastard. Only in your head would you delude yourself to think that the freedom movement and the renewed interest in the Constitution had anything at all to do with you. We went to a convention and sat through many round of voting for you to only to barely be thought of as a viable candidate for the Libertarian Party.
But that is it. You’re barely thought of for only that reason.

The reason why you are where you are today is because of Ron Paul and the movement he inspired. Need any proof? Check out the donations he has brought from Americans interested in his message compared with yours. People will remember this. You and Mike Ferguson should remember what you did today, and look back upon the choices you have made in your past.

Your problem is simple. You looked for the message to carry you somewhere. But you don’t represent the message.

Being in the minority these days the people who support the Consitution, and the ideas of freedom, have become a small but tightly knit and very motivated group. Consider yourself expelled.

In the end, had you handled it like a man and even recognized today the contributions the other 4 candidates had made in letting you be where you are today, even with not joining them, I could have understood. But not the way it was handled. And not with the vitrol that was let loose by Mr. Ferguson.

You can put Lipstick on a Pig

Ok, so, everyone in the Universe has been talking about this, so I am going to make a couple of things clear....

Obama may have no sense of humor, and can't speak when he doesn't have a script. But he DID NOT call Sarah Palin a pig in lipstick.

Please, if you have to regal me with how horrible you thought it was that he called her a pig, then please, stick your god damn hand in a toaster and put the slider to the "down" position, wait five minutes, and then I will start to listen to you.

Because really, if these are the types of rhetorical things that I have to listen to, then sticking your hand in a toaster will start to give you just a slight, slight, idiea of how much I hate politics in America today.

On the bright side, for your hand, I will let you have the option of butter, margarine, jelly, or Palera All Fruit...because, you know, I'm Pro-Choice like that. FREEDOM BABY!!!

Image from these guys.

Friday, September 5, 2008

My Thought on the McCain Speech

"Meh, the book was so much better..."

When I got up this morning, I was interested in how J. McCain's speech went over. The first link I got to was a transcript of the speech. So I sat down and read it. And I thought it was pretty good. I read the humor of it, and caught the barbs. I thought it was pretty to the point and hit some of the right notes. The headlines didn't seem to think it was so great, but I didn't really think of it much.

A couple of hours later, a friend sent me an IM asking me about what I thought of the speech. He said McCain was good, so I went out and streamed the video and set out 45 minutes of my day.

I was not impressed. Now, I know. J. McCain's is not the natural orator of a Reagan, Clinton, Obama, or Palin. But for about 30 mintues, it was hard for me to watch it. I would cringe when McCain smiled because it looked so fake. The cheers from the audience stepped on his lines. And he would repeate the ends of sentences twice like Jimmy Two Times from GoodFellas.

But that last 15 was deep, it was personal, and it was powerful. As I watched it, I was moved. I knew the story from the transcript, but hearing it in his own words was emotional.

Still, I don't think he will be elected on his oratory performance anyway. I mean, how crazy would we have to be to vote for someone who can read a speech well....?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Two Last thoughts on the Palin Speech.

1) If you are going to use a metaphor, please use it correctly. Palin didn't "knock it out of the park". That's a one time event. If she had one line to read and did it flawlessly, then she would have knocked it out of the park.

Sarah Palin was a one-woman Home Run Derby.

2) Interesting response from the PUMAs...check out the live blog from last night and keep scrolling through the comments....interesting.

The Palin VP Speech

This wasn't red meat thrown to the crowd. It was a damned BBQ of the Obama/Biden ticket.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hold Your Horses there, Northern Exposure

Fricken Awesome (would you expect any less in a video about Palin, who, as we all know, is made of awesome?)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fun Fact of the Day

I got bored this afternoon, so I did a little research. The Tax code of the United States is actually part of the much much bigger Code of Federal Regulations. And when I say big, you have no fricken idea…

So, I did the number crunching because you would have never thought of wasting that much of your day:

Section 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations (that deals with the tax code):

Number of Books (yes, it’s in books): 20
Number of Pages (you may want to sit down): 14,796
Weight (want to lose weight, go hiking with it): Approx 34 pounds.

Now the number of pages and weight will vary slightly depending on which published variation you get. And with the weight, I went easy on you and did it in the paper back.

And just for comparison sake, the King James Bible clocks in at around 1,300 pages and 3lbs. depending on who publishes it.

And here is the point:

The Bible takes 1,300 pages to show you how to live your life to be a good servant of God.

The tax code takes almost 15,000 pages to tell you how to be a “good taxpayer”.

Remember folks, these are your tax dollars at work...if only you knew where in the tax code to find it....

And this is only one part of the Federal Regulations your congressmen have blessed you with...