Saturday, December 13, 2008

From the Thumbper Files

I haz a sadd to riport dat Socks, fourmr Wite Haus prez-cat an' Buddy ovrloard, iz cloz to a meting wit CeilingCat. He'z berry admrbl fur hiz gud werks an' luvbl naychrs.

Twelve Days of Christmas Music Blogging

Bob Marley - Christmas Reggae

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Irony of ironies, the contractor who is being held accountable for the fire at the Deutsche Bank building that killed two firefighters in 2007 is the John Galt company. Yet another nail in Ayn Rand's coffin.

2) Notice who is the general opposition to the bailout: Republicans from Southern states. Why? Simple: Who benefits from the bankruptcy of GM and the reorganization? The south. How? Right-to-work states which are openly hostile to unions. GM, Ford, and Chrysler would be free to move their operations down south and save gobs of money on union salaries. Disgraceful!

3) Santa Kitty is going to leave coal in his litterbox!

4) Not pretty. Not at all.

5) I think this may be a dead cat bounce.

6) How many of you skipped this year's shot?

7) Either this guy is a lousy kisser or a great one, I'm not sure.

8) This is one of the more bizarre "terrorists" around. Not deadly, yet, but more of a nuisance. Yet, he or she always manages to show up at the oddest places.

9) This is one of my greatest fears when I am performing.

10) Free trip to London? Plus a Fish Slapping Dance? AWRIGHT!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So How Bad Is It, Really?


In the market equivalent of shoveling cash under the mattress, hordes of buyers were so eager on Tuesday to park money in the world's safest investment, United States government debt, that they agreed to accept a zero percent rate of return.

The news sent a sobering signal: in these troubled economic times, when people have lost vast amounts on stocks, bonds and real estate, making an investment that offers security but no gain is tantamount to coming out ahead. This extremely cautious approach reflects concerns that a global recession could deepen next year, and continue to jeopardize all types of investments.

A quick finance lesson for those of you who didn't attend B-school. Interest is essentially the cost of borrowing money (there's a lot more and that's very simplistic, but I digress). If you borrow $100 from me, that's $100 I don't have. I charge you $2 interest, because I can make at least that much in another investment.
Let's assume inflation is a factor, for a second, and inflation would eat up $1 of the $100. I still come out ahead. Presumably, you being a rational person, use the $100 to make a quick $3 or more. You come out ahead.
If I lend you the money at zero interest, it means that I lose money over time. I don't recapture that $1 that inflation has eaten up. I effectively get $99 for lending you $100. Under what scenario does this arrangement work.
When inflation is a negative, or economic growth is contracting.
So in other words, the global financial markets have factored in the entire world economy. They've taken into account China, and India and Russia. And they've decided that, for the next thirty days (which includes the last two weeks of Christmas shopping), the economy is going to go south like nobody's business. They're not worried about making money: they're worried about losing more money than they already have.
Too, some global investors are scared enough that the Treaasury auctioned off some 3-month notes for zer percent, meaning those pessimists believe things won't get better before next Spring.
Personally, I would have taken zero on 12 month notes.
It's a very weird world out there. The dollar, which had hit some recent historic lows against the euro and pound, is suddenly the place to invest, primarily because oil prices, tied to the dollar, have collapsed, making dollars more freely available on the market. You'd think this would be good news to stock markets, but you'd be wrong.
The dollar being strong and the US Treasury being able to float zero interest debt actually caused the market to drop. My guess is this is mopre pyschological than economic: I see this as the last stand of the American government. For too long, we've lived on borrowed money, buoyed only be the fact that we've been able to see the private sector, similarly buoyed, scratch out some economic growth in this decade.
Despite Bush's tax cuts, which have done nothing for the real economy and only helped speed up the shuffling of paper in the fantasy economy.
The bailouts of so many businesses in so many key economic sectors (wait till the airlines start lobbying) has Wall Street worried, and rightly so.
When does the spigot turn off? What companies will be left standing when the music stops and the chairs are full? What happens when Uncle Sam himself turns empty pockets inside out?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Well, I figured there would be some fallout from the whole Illinois corruption thing, going back to the Rezko trial, but this?
Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges.

Blagojevich and Harris were accused of a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy that included Blagojevich conspiring to sell or trade the Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama in exchange for financial benefits for the governor and his wife. The governor was also accused of obtaining campaign contributions in exchange for other official actions.


Blagojevich was taken into federal custody at his North Side home this morning.

Ouch. Naturally, Obama's sainthood is tarnished just a little by this revelation, but it doesn't touch him beyond that, as far as anyone is saying. Too, it would have to take a mistake of monumental proportions for this to somehow get tied back to Obama. I suspect he was purposely left completely out of the loop in any way, shape or form. At worst, someone lower-level in his campaign organization will take a fall for even discussing Obama's noninvolvement.
However, it is unlikely that Obama became such a powerful force in Illinois politics without having to dip his hand into this barrel of slime at some point, and that will likely come back to haunt him.
Blagojevich is a particularly unctious little creep, judging by the various investigations that he is or has been the subject of, but Illinois has a long history of people like this, from former governor George Ryan to the infamous Daley machine. It's not pretty.
It's possible that Obama's fast rise was predicated on keeping him out of the muck in this machine, much like Harry Truman managed to win the Presidency despite being a member of the Pendergast machine of the 40s and 50s in Missouri. Truman had a few brow-raising favors traded with Pendergast, but much of the dirty work seemed to take place around him but avoiding him directly.
Or he avoiding it.
Either way, the rest is history, and one can hope that the same can be said for Obama.
The difference, of course, is the Republican party today plays a far nastier and unctious game themselves and it's not out of the question that this shadow will hang over and hamper the Obama first term almost as much as the Lewinski affair nearly defined the Clinton legacy.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Point Of Posting Order

I'm still working out the shortcomings of being forced by circumstance to post to Simply Left Behind via e-mail.
For example, in this morning's post, I had to post the same thing twice since for some reason, Blogger decided to truncate the original post at the quote from Hildebrand.
There were links and everything!
I copied it to a new e-mail, posted it again and then deleted the original post. Unfortunately, the links and formatting did not copy over. I will fix these tonight.
Please bear with me as I try to figure out a better way and please accept my apologies for the confusion. It was a really good post, and I hate that it was confounded by slopping editing on my part.


Goodness gracious! A politician allowed the delusional to maintain their delusions just long enough to get him elected!

I could go on and on. The point I'm making here is that our new president, the Congress and all Americans must come together to solve these problems. This is not a time for the left wing of our Party to draw conclusions about the Cabinet and White House appointments that President-Elect Obama is making. Some believe the appointments generally aren't progressive enough. Having worked with former Senator Obama for the last two years, I can tell you, that isn't the way he thinks and it's not likely the way he will lead. The problems I mentioned above and the many I didn't, suggest that our president surround himself with the most qualified people to address these challenges. After all, he was elected to be the president of all the people - not just those on the left.
As a liberal member of our Party, I hope and expect our new president to address those issues that will benefit the vast majority of Americans first and foremost. That's his job. Over time, there will be many, many issues that come before him. But first let's get our economy moving, bring our troops home safely, fix health care, end climate change and restore our place in the world. What a great president Barack Obama will be if he can work with Congress and the American people to make great strides in these very difficult times.


While I respect the voices on the far far left....sheesh, and all this time I thought I was the wild-eyed idealist who wanted sparkle ponies for the poor and edible rainbows...Hildebrand's got it right: We are Democrats. We are not Republicans who will lead by ignoring the larger issues of the nation for the sake of focusing down narrowly.
We tried that for six of the past eight years and look where it got us. We should, as Jesus teaches, turn the other cheek, and welcome our rivals, enemies, loyal opposition, into the fold to help us guide this nation forward.
No one in this country, with the possible exception of me, has all the right answers at his fingertips, cross-referenced and readily vetted. If the other side has answers, like we had under Bush, then we ought to know about them and take them seriously into consideration, if such ideas warrant serious consideration.
And if not, we're free to ignore them on merit, but let it never be said that we ignored them out of spite.
Too, with all the frou-frouing over Obama's Cabinet appointments and advisors, the left loses sight of the single most important fact of all:
That's President Barack Obama.
Had any of the panty-wetters pondered the possibility that President Obama has chosen these people to counterweight his own more liberal tendencies? After all, what's the point in having "yes men" all around you? What do you learn that you didn't know already? And hasn't the past eight years proven how dangerous it is to have an intellectually uncurious mind occupying the Oval Office?
I doubt it, based on what I'm reading, which seems to be some Bizarro-world warping of reality. It's almost as if these folks expected Barack Obama to somehow morph into a Dennis Kucinich/Bernie Sanders clone, replete with left-wing policies, and now they're claiming that Obama isn't listening enough to them.
So really, fellow libs, to echo Hildebrand (by way of Hamsher): STFU.