This is not a political site. This is an anti-political site. We agree with the goals of individual liberty, free markets, and peace.

5/27/10

A Little Something Different

Regular readers of this blog are used to seeing commentary on issues and ideas. But in the last two days I have had a couple of "close encounters of the weird kind" that I thought I would share. Just brief conversations, but strange enough to make you get that quizzical "Mayor Daley look" on your face and mutter "Wha, Wha, Wha, Wha" like he does when he is confused. (Actually, he's perpetually confused, but that for a different day.)

The first one occurred while I was playing golf with my wife at our regular course. As I was walking toward the right rough/trees to begin the search for my ball I noticed the lady who was playing in front of us going back and forth in the same general area on her cart doing the same task. She seemed to give up fairly quickly and dropped a new one down in front of the green and continued her game.

Meanwhile, we found one which didn't belong to me and then the one I was playing. After determining that it did not belong to the only other players in the area, I put it in my pocket and told Carol I guessed it belonged to the lady ahead and we could return it to her when we caught up.

As planned, we caught up after the next hole and from a distance of about thirty yards as I held the ball up over my head I hollered out to them,
"Excuse me, were you looking for a Nike back there on the second hole?"
"Yes, she answered, did you find it?"
"Um.......Yeah." (Huh?)

Then today, while doing some landscaping work in my front yard, a rather odd looking, (in a way I really can't describe well) but very friendly man whom I had never seen before was walking by and the following conversation took place.

The odd walker makes eye contact and says, "Hello!"
"Hi"
"No need to join a health club, eh? Just keep working with that shovel out here and you keep fit!"
"Well, I don't know about keeping fit...."
"So, do you like living here?"
"Um yeah, I must, I have been doing it for decades"
"Must be better than living over in Oak Hills!"
"Really? What's going on over there?"
"Oh the people are all jerks."
"No kidding, how so?"
"Stuck up idiots" "They won't even talk to you" "Bunch of old people, they just stare at you."
"Yeah, there is quite a few older folks living over there, some might be kind of suspicious I guess."
"The Irish are even worse than the Jews!"
(It's anyone's guess what that was all about, I think I'd rather not know.)
So I finished the conversation, "It must be a tough place to live if your name is Briscoe." *
He looked puzzled, "I guess so."

It must be my lucky day, my favorite idiot bigots are the friendly talkative kind.
Like I said, a little something different.


* William Briscoe claims that Irish Jews are the friendliest Jews in the world (and the most inclined to enjoy a pint)! Shalom Ireland tells the untold story of how Ireland's affable and ambitious Jewish community came to be a major influence in shaping both Ireland and Israel. A talented, hard-working, profoundly civic group of people, Jews from Ireland served in such prominent positions as Lord Mayor of Dublin, first chief rabbi of Israel, and president of Israel.

5/26/10

Honestly, Will "The Chicago Way" Undo The Obama Presidency?

I wouldn't bet a nickel on it but it will be interesting to see where the story leads and who if anyone will spend time in prison for trying to rig the election in Pennsylvania.

Here in Illinois such crimes by governors like Blago certainly end up with TV offers and less certainly end with convictions. And the people who elect folks like the dim witted Mayor of Chicago and the slightly less dim Cook County Board President simply don't care or maybe don't even consider it criminal to rig elections, or political jobs, or almost everything else that goes on here. Putting that aside, taking the "Chicago Way" national by offering a bribe to a U S Congressman to exit a primary election may possibly be over the top.

Congressman Joe Sestak (D) of Pennsylvania's 7th District, a former U S Navy three star admiral, has repeatedly charged that he was offered a job in the Obama administration if he dropped out of the Senate primary in order to pave the way for Arlen Specter to remain Senator. Arlen gets rewarded for turn-coating from Republican to Democrat, Sestak gets a cushy government job and the people get defrauded, as usual. All is static.

Except that it didn't work out that way for the "most transparent administration" in history. It seems they forgot to make sure Sestak kept his mouth shut like a good little Mafia soldier. That may turn out to be a politically fatal miscalculation for Rahm Emmanuel and Company. Maybe he should send him a dead fish. He has done that before, but I must confess I'm not sure how that worked out for him the first time. This time, no fish that we know of, but Sestak ended up as the Democratic candidate for Senator. And Specter, well, he faces the specter of life in a retirement home.

Anyway, old Joe spilled the beans and now it's time for the media to run the cover-up for their fellow lefties in the White House. The smart money is on them to succeed.

If not, and the trail leads back to Dopey Hopey, he could be impeached. That won't happen even if he did it. But like I said, it will be interesting to watch, just like the video below.

Developing story...........



5/23/10

Who, But Us?

It's been a tad longer than usual since my last post. I have been working on an essay about the furor over the new Arizona illegal immigration law. It's a difficult essay because it's a difficult problem. The debate is long on emotion and short on logic. It is for subjects like this that I posted the quote at the bottom of this blog, "Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood."

To some, it may have been only a song title from the era of my youth, but to me, it is an earnest prayer. I have spent my life trying to express myself clearly, mostly to no avail. I tend to ramble on until I have lost my train of thought, or my perspective, or my regard for the opinions and feelings of others. It is the main reason for this blog. It's the reason I write, so I can be thoughtful and reflective instead of reactive and argumentative when I express myself. That goal has been only partially achieved.

And so I am still editing the piece. I'm OK with that, the topic deserves the time and thought. In the meantime, I stumbled across a quote, mainly by accident, (or maybe it was serendipity).
And it caused me to write this piece instead.

Today we had a most welcome and unexpected guest at our home. A very dear friend of ours came to town and we were excited to hear she could visit us. Of course, she brought us gifts. Unnecessary gifts are the very best kind. The gifts were a pizza and a book. Both were fabulous. The pizza is gone. The book will last for a lifetime.

As some of you know, I'm a history buff. I'm not really good at it, but I enjoy it more than almost anything else I do. The book is titled "The Civil War" by author Geoffrey C. Ward. It's an illustrated history of that conflict. I already own it, so I plan on re-gifting it. The one I already have was a gift from someone who loved me, on some occasion, many years ago. But since my memory is poor nowadays, I cannot remember the last time I looked at it or who gave it to me. (I'd bet plenty it was my wife, she knows me the best and loves me the most.)

As I welcomed the book like an old friend I was trying to catch up with, the first page I turned had a quote on it. It might have been written yesterday. It concerns a concept which I have always held true, but one that is met with incredulous stares when expressed publicly.

Many people think you are crazy when you express it as an opinion. Left wing writers go bonkers when they hear it. (As far as I am concerned, they were bonkers before, but let's just say the reaction is not the same as when they get that "tingle going up their leg" like they do when Obama speaks.)

The concept is simply, no other country, or group of countries on this earth can ever take our freedom by force. Only we can do that.

We can cede our rights and freedoms to ourselves in an act of personal and national suicide, but no Hitler or Tojo or Osama can take it from us by force. True Americans will never allow it.

As one of my most important childhood mentors, Ralph Rose, told me on several occasions when I was a high school kid, "Better dead than red." And as someone who fought in "the forgotten war", Korea, he meant it. Literally.

The quote is as follows;

"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth...could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years...If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

Abraham Lincoln, 1838.

Lincoln knew, and he wasn't afraid to say, that the dangers to our freedoms and rights was/is from within. And although he wrote those words 172 years ago, the steady erosion of our rights has always been perpetrated by our own governments. From slavery to "Jim Crow", from internment camps of our own citizens during WWII to property takings in a perversion of eminent domain, we have always lost our rights primarily to ourselves via government. And the pace of such losses has recently increased more than uncomfortably. Our government should be our servant to defend our rights. Instead, it has become an enemy to our fundamental freedoms.

So who now to be our savior? The only people saving anything around here lately are Jesus of Nazareth and Antti Niemi of the Chicago Black Hawks.

That leaves us. To defend ourselves at the ballot box in November or finish the job of self annihilation by staying on what Friedrich von Hayek called "the road to serfdom."

Somehow, I don't think Barak Obama had this Lincolnian concept in mind when he claimed Ole Abe as his political idol back in 2008.

5/11/10

Crunching The Numbers

I received a forwarded email this morning which contained an interesting analysis of the much talked about surge in employment the country has experienced according to the most recent government numbers. The analysis is by Arthur Cashin in his always informative and entertaining daily missive called "Cashin's Comments" which I enjoy immensely whenever I can get my grubby little hands on it.

His somewhat whimsical history lessons are mixed in with market commentary and analysis and I would happily pay him for a subscription to it. Unfortunately, it is not for sale and I am guessing it is available only to clients of his employer as a gift, and I am not among them. I receive it from time to time as a professional courtesy from a colleague in the financial industry and I don't use it as a tool to earn money, with so I'm guessing Art doesn't mind if I enjoy his efforts. At least I hope not.

I also hope I am not breaking any copyright laws by making it available. The copyright is held by UBS corporation and I do not know how to get their permission for a reprint. It is not an article which can be linked to as is my usual custom, so attribution is the best I can do. The following is his analysis:

Dissecting The Somewhat Suspect Payroll Data
"As we suggested in yesterday’s Comments, Friday’s non-farm payroll numbers got swallowed up by the on-going worries about Greece. But, the “jump” of 290,000 new jobs was a big topic on the weekend talk shows. There was a lot of “we’ve turned the corner” portrayals. Longtime readers know I’ve thought some of the improvement in the data was “suspect” (to be kind).

For the last eight weeks, Initial Unemployment Claims have averaged 450,000 per week. So, over the last four weeks, 1.8 million people were laid off. How does that fit in with the claim that 290,000 new jobs were created? The obvious answer is that it doesn’t.

So, let’s drill down into the payroll numbers to see what’s going on. The CES Birth/Death adjustment added 188,000 of those jobs. Birth/Death does not refer to people but to businesses. The BLS guesses how many new companies opened versus how many closed their doors. The BLS then uses that guess to guess again how many jobs those business created or lost.

Another 66,000 of the new jobs came from census hiring. Those are temporary jobs and those folks will be laid off later in the year. Speaking of temporary, another 26,000of the new jobs were non-census temporary. Let’s recap. A guess produced 188,000 of the jobs, 66,000 were census and 26,000 were temporary. Thus, it seems 280,000 of the 290,000 “new jobs” were either temporary or the result of guesswork. Some turn. Some corner."

It's always the "numbers behind the numbers" that matter if you are trying to get an accurate picture with statistics. It's why it took a few days to figure out that GM paid back all the money they owed to the federal government (themselves the owners of GM) ahead of schedule, with a different government loan. Which is also why a biased media and an intentionally misleading government don't want you to crunch them.

Instead of the numbers getting crunched, it may be the politicians who get crunched, at the polls.

5/7/10

Fat Finger or Fat Head?


Yesterday's stock market meltdown has been attributed by many to a trader with a "fat finger." We used to use that term on the trading floor when we hit the wrong tele-dialer or direct line key to clients. Sometimes, to a clever sales/trader, it was "accidentally on purpose", a way to start a conversation with someone when nothing was happening on the floor and you needed an excuse to get an order.

And occasionally, it happened for real when entering an order over the electronic order entry system as the then "high tech" equipment was called. But even then, the programs prevented someone from accidentally selling a twenty dollar stock at twenty cents instead.

So yesterday's price action rightfully needs to be examined to find out the cause of the one thousand point decline, the majority of which took only moments to occur.

But there is a larger question here. A media which wants to divert attention away from fundamental problems in the world economy, problems which are so frightening they make the "Nightmare on Elm Street" look like "Beach Blanket Bingo", seems to be trying to make the possible glitch in trading the story instead of the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average was already down three hundred and seventy five points or so when the panic began in earnest. And it wasn't the first big decline of the week.

Policies worldwide which are designed to keep the party going instead of correcting mistakes and pressing on, are potentially terrifying going forward. Murderous riots by people in Greece who are aware that they may begin to get less money from those it has been taken from by government (under threat of violence) may spread to the rest of Europe and even here soon.

If so, you ain't seen nothin' yet folks. And that is the reason the markets are "nervous." If your retirement account is ravaged by dropping equity prices, plunging bond prices due to soaring interest rates, and rampant inflation caused by manufactured fiat money, well later, you might be considered to have been a tad Pollyannish if you were under the impression that things were getting better because GM paid back it's government loans with more money borrowed from the government, or employment was up because the federal government hired a lot of census workers.

So it might have been a fat finger, or maybe a lot of fat heads that caused the sell off. As for me, well, I'm just plain old fat.

5/3/10

Oops! I Forgot to Tell You


Actually, I didn't forget to tell you, the Congressional Budget Office did.

What I forgot to tell you was, I was/am a fear monger. What they forgot to tell you was that up to ten million people will be losing their health insurance under Obamacare. And they forgot to tell you a few other things, like what is going to happen to your Medicare.

I guess all the people working at the CBO are a lot like me and others my age. That is to say, they have contracted CRS (can't remember stuff), at least important stuff like the effects of hope and change on your life in the post shame world which has begun since the nationalization of healthcare.

A recent article by Michael Tanner says in part; "during the health care debate, no presidential speech was complete without a promise that "if you have health insurance today, and you like it, you can keep it." But the Congressional Budget Office now says that as many as 10 million workers will lose their current insurance under Obamacare. Some of those workers will have to buy new insurance through the government-run exchanges. Millions more will be thrown onto Medicaid."


I have decided to concentrate on recalling my tee times until the golf season is over in order to stay in practice until November, when it will be my sole job to remember to vote. I'm confident a little piece of string for my finger will not be necessary.

The rest of the informative article on this information can be found here if you want to remember the details. Oh yeah, I just remembered something else I wanted to add, the fear mongers were correct, and......I told you so.