Friday, February 29, 2008

Go Widow Six Seven!!

Widow Six Seven was Prince Harry's call sign in Afghanistan. I can hardly imagine the swelling pride the English must have in their royals after so many decades of an unimpressive monarchy. I feel proud of him and he's not even my prince!

The Brits are removing him from combat now that the story has been broken by Drudge. Shame on Drudge for breaking the story in the midst of the news blackout and forcing the issue. I certainly don't believe any public interest was served by revealing his presence to allies and enemies alike. Loose lips sink ships and often lead to casualties. At least the breaking of the story didn't cause the royal or his fellow troops to come to harm by being targeted before his removal.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Speaking of fences...

I wonder if eBay has put any fences for stolen goods out of business... or has it enabled fences (obviously required for any successful robbery) to unload goods more easily?

I suspect the discount for stolen goods must give a smaller margin to the fence, now that goods can flow easily to buyers who are used to buying from individuals on eBay. Who needs a fence when you can sell the goods yourself just by getting an email account? Still, high end goods would require someone with talent to move them, as few would buy incredibly expensive items over the Internet.

Did the Israeli fence work?

Seems so... Remember a few years ago when suicide bombers were exploding every month in Israel? There seems to be a bit of silence from the media on the success of the Israeli fence, but I think congratulations are in order. It's not as if the Palestinians have become more peaceful, though maybe I am confusing the success of the fence with the passing of Arafat. I don't miss him a bit.

On the subject of fences, isn't it interesting that free nations construct them to keep undesirables out and authoritarian nations build them to keep their brightest from leaving? If socialism makes such good policies, why do socialist nations fall all over themselves to prevent their citizens from fleeing? If capitalist inequality is so unjust, why are people scrambling to enter with just the shirts on their backs?

Trade war

If a Democrat is elected to the presidency, which is 64% likely according to the smart money, it seems very likely NAFTA will fall. Both candidates for the Democratic party nomination are competing to see who can attack NAFTA most strongly. Since when has a tariff increase ever been beneficial to the United States? It virtually guarantees inflation, as the goods we buy will cost much more if they're produced domestically.

Free trade is the cornerstone of a successful economy. Glance at any nation that cuts off trade or increases tariffs and it's obvious the damage that occurs instantly and deeply. There is a reason we isolate the economies of our enemies and embargoes work so successfully.

Why would we voluntarily embargo ourselves? The answer is simple and absolutely corrupt. The purpose of eliminating NAFTA would be to protect those jobs that cannot compete in the global marketplace at the cost of the US consumer. It prevents the consumer from buying the best goods in order to benefit those that cannot compete and protecting those jobs that should no longer exist. It is nothing more than a handout to those businesses that would close their doors without it. We've been down this path before. Remember the lesson of the Smoot-Hawley tariff. Want to guarantee a depression, raise tariffs... it works every time.

Forclosures - They're for everyone

Nobody escapes the housing crisis! The King of Pop hasn't been paying his mortgage, and if Mr. Jackson doesn't pay the balance by March 19th, it's all over for Neverland. If I were wittier, I'd say something about never seeing Neverland again or some such. Nevermind. I'll never try that again. Never.

Sometimes you see a musician fall and wonder how badly their lives can get screwed up. I have to admit though, taking one look at Amy Winehouse or Britney Spears makes you realize how much farther they can drop. It's like it's a contest to hit bottom, but my money is on Winehouse to hit bottom first. Sure, you can get locked up in a psychiatric ward or date your paparazzi or molest some kids and have your face fall off (yes, I know he was never convicted, but that doesn't mean he wasn't guilty)... but unless you're smoking crack too, you're barely in the running these days. Michael Jackson's so normal now, he doesn't even make headlines.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr. has passed

It is a sad day.

I'm sorry to report that Mr. Buckley is no longer with us. His mind, wit, and life made him a role model for many and he was a modern-day Renaissance Man. Taken straight from the news story I read on Brietbart, in his own words:

"I am, I fully grant, a phenomenon, but not because of any speed in composition," he wrote in The New York Times Book Review in 1986. "I asked myself the other day, `Who else, on so many issues, has been so right so much of the time?' I couldn't think of anyone."

I couldn't agree more.

No Free Markets for Old Men

Listening to the Fed Chairman speak today, I couldn't help noticing that everyone was asking questions as if they were organizing a command economy. How can we help these people? How do we stop that from happening? How can we protect blah, blah, blah, blah...? Why don't we do this regulation or help the middle class this way? Blah, blah, blah, blah government do blah, blah recession?

I have to wonder:
Why have we decided to single out the middle class as deserving special treatment to benefit them, to the detriment of the economy? They've almost become as sacred as children when the phrase comes out of a politician's mouth. And when was the last time the government did anything other than deregulation or tax cuts that assisted the economy or averted recession?

I was waiting for the phrase "Buyer Beware" or for someone to mention that the markets are really quite good at taking care of themselves. Not one person stood in favor of free markets, not one, though it appeared Ron Paul was going to, but couldn't stop droning on about our currency ponzi scheme. Fortunately, nobody was listening, so the pyramid still holds and our paper currency, which is based on the value of nothing whatsoever, still has value.

Since these are the people in charge of regulating our economy, it stands to reason that a flood of regulations and dabbling in the markets will be forthcoming.

Also, I saw "No Country for Old Men" and wow, really amazing! I hope they make a bunch more like that one. It was a lot more exciting than the Fed meeting.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Diamond robbery

I think these guys just committed the coolest crime of the decade, though we all know crime isn't cool. Crimes that involve digging tunnels... it could only be better if they used an EMP to shut down a casino, then robbed it and disguised themselves as a SWAT team and made their getaway and then made a movie out of it.

Thanks to for bringing it to my attention on a slow news day.

I'm certain they'll be caught, sounds like an inside job and there are 7 guys involved, but I'm impressed. Usually I think I can do a better job than the burglars, but this time, hat's off. If they don't get caught, it'll be a major embarrassment for the Italian police.

Google takes a beating

It's hard to be sad for a company that says "Do no evil," and yet is complicitous in the censoring of many web sites with totalitarian regimes. Could this be the market punishing Google for failing to uphold the moral high ground? I doubt it, but I'm not shedding any crocodile tears for it's current share price - almost $300 off it's high.

An unpopular view of the housing crisis

CNBC's front page with a cute caption is the "housing crisis." Why is it a bad thing that houses cost less? Isn't that good news for everyone who doesn't yet own their own home? I thought it was home ownership, rather than real estate speculation, that was part of the American Dream. Wouldn't a crisis be what would happen if there was a sudden jump in the cost of a new home?

Unlike every other good, whether it is TVs, food, cars, or light bulbs, we've decided we want houses to be expensive, and that higher prices would be good for us. We're like oil producing nations hoping for a bump in the demand for gas. And yet, lower prices mean that in the future, if we buy a home, we can spend more on everything else in our lives and pay less for our mortgage. How can that be a bad thing? To me, that sounds like a boon for future generations.

Personally, though, I want my apartment to double in value, for me to sell it, then buy it back on the bottom of the market. A few times. Future generations be damned. And I want my internet stocks to go up to pre-bubble values, too.

Monday, February 25, 2008


The Mugabe Efficiency Theory of Economics!

Print all the money you like, and put in price controls so gas costs 23p/liter and a car may be had for 30 pounds. Enforce the price controls with guns and courts. What could go wrong? In the face of obviously unwarranted criticism from fools, Mr. Mugabe has effectively disarmed his opponents by stating their claims were based on "bookish economics." Genius!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I guess everything's a-okay then

Iran says we didn't give them time to respond to our accusations they were trying to make nuclear weapons. They say they've been very nice, all our accusations are false, and even if they were true, we tried to pull a fast one by not giving them time to respond. Iran would like the USA to "apologize" for the accusation after the UN report vindicated them.

Here's a quote from the UN report.

"The U.N. nuclear monitor released a report last week saying that suspicions about most past Iranian nuclear activities had eased or been laid to rest." Sweet!

And yet...

Here's UN Director General Mohamed ElBaradei talking about the one issue not yet laid to rest
"...with the exception of one issue, and that is the alleged weaponization studies that supposedly Iran has conducted in the past."

I think we may owe them an apology. Of course, we might have to retract that apology if Iran then takes it upon themselves to follow through with their predictions about our ally Israel.

After all, it has been almost a year since Iranian president Ahmadinejad said "Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation. The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm." He must mean a single storm of happiness and freedom. I'm sure "one storm" couldn't possibly refer to anything else. Ahmadinejad has such a poetic way with words. With the UN on his case, I'm sure we can trust this man to keep his nuclear ambitions entirely with the realm of a civilian nuclear program and we will owe his nation an apology. If we're wrong, it's not like he's implied he'd wipe one of our allies off the face of the map.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Stuck in Ft. Myers at it snows in NYC

Blogging from Ft. Myers at Hampton Inn. The smart money in the election is 4-1 against Hillary winning the primary and 2-1 in favor of the Democratic Party taking the White House. Sounds like the primary is a done deal and the general election is getting there. More interesting is McCain's likely VP choice... Tim Pawlenty at about 25% is in the lead... oh, wait, that's not interesting at all... I don't have the least idea who he is, but he's not Rudy G or Tom Coburn or Nancy Reagan or Master Shake or anyone I've ever heard of. I'd like to be the first on record to suggest he pick Master Shake. If he is destined to lose anyway, that would make for a fantastic VP debate, because the presidential debate is sure to be a snooze. On that note, I'm off to dinner in sunny FL.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I bought 2 new Tara McPherson paintings!

"O frabjous day!"
Here are the two new additions to my collection, painted by Tara McPherson. She is having a show this Saturday at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in Chelsea with Lori Early, another of my favorite artists. All should go and all are welcome, at least according to Jonathan. Plus, free beer. What goes better with art than a beer or scotch? Well... gorgeous women in attendance, of course. Always interesting women... and Al's limo, too, but I digress. My amazing girlfriend will be coming with me to brighten my entire evening!
The internet always fails to show the true splendor of paintings. It is one of the few failings of this great communication medium. But even this cannot bring me down today.
Art is a key element to a whole life. Go buy some and support your local starving artist. Today is not too soon.

Chipotle burrito a close second

I miss Taco Bell and I've never known why they don't have more franchises in NYC. I just had the Chipotle burrito for lunch, and though it's no gordita crunch, I'm fully satisfied.
And yet...
Update: Rumor has it, it's no longer on the menu. I could just cry.


We shot our own satellite out of the air and hit it on the first try!

It sure beats the alternative of shooting and missing. I didn't even know we had that capability, but now the whole world knows. Perhaps that will add a few years to the Pax Americana, with enemy nations always aware that we can violently confirm the adage "What goes up, must come down," regardless of who put it up.

As far as an arms race with China goes, whatever gave you the idea they were not running as fast as they could? Why, just a year ago they used a military missile to shoot down a satellite in high orbit! Let there be no mistake, the arms race is a race that all nations take part in and have taken part in for all time history. There's no winning, but never doubt the importance of the good guys remaining in the lead.

The megarich want to fatten their own wallets! Oh no!

According to Jamie Johnson, a member of the wealthy Johnson & Johnson family, the super-rich are thrilled with the economic slowdown and drop in stock market value because it "has resulted in a thinning of the aristocratic ranks." Apparently this means the rich are getting richer and income inequality is on the rise. The wealthy will be taking baths in their own money as orphans are thrown out into the snow. Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

And yet...

The complaint of the wealthy in the 7 year bull market mentioned by Johnson is that the ranks of the wealthy are getting too crowded. Did the Bush years cause the worlds richest people to feel their elite position has been threatened by so many newcomers? Did the tax cuts shake the faith of the wealthy in their positions of power? Did inequality decrease under Bush according to the anecdotal opinions of the super-rich?

Let's not forget, even though the wealthy wear monocles and are all old fat white men with moustaches and big cigars (kinda like the Monopoly guy), they're just as concerned as the rest of us when their neighbors compete with their success. Apparently wealth alone doesn't except one from keeping up with the Joneses.

Johnson goes on to mention that as soon as the recession hits, his rich friend who hates the competition for the benefits of wealth will be the first to buy. Let's hope the rich buy a lot in the possible coming downturn... sounds like exactly what was hoped for by the recently passed stimulus package that intentionally excluded the wealthy. Who knows, if the super-rich are successful enough in "trying to fatten their own wallets and further insulate their lifestyles" by buying real estate, high end goods and expensive services most can't possibly afford, they may just prevent the economic downturn the rest of us all fear. I propose a toast to the wealthy going on giant spending sprees! Maybe if they buy enough in the downturn, companies won't even have to cut jobs for us poor peasants who "need" our incomes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Didn't ask for a tax break?

"It's a Washington where George Bush hands out billions in tax cuts year after year to the biggest corporations and the wealthiest few who don't need them and don't ask for them - tax breaks that are mortgaging our children's future on a mountain of debt; tax breaks that could've gone into the pockets of the working families who needed them most." Barack Obama 2/13/08

Everyone who paid taxes received a tax break under the Bush tax cuts... is it a surprise that the wealthy, who pay by far the most taxes as a percentage of income, in total dollars, and even when they die, received billions when they received back a portion of what they earned?

As far as those who don't need them or don't ask for them, ask the next wealthy person if they'd rather work until the middle of July or the end of July for the government before they earn their first day's labor for themselves and see what they say. The idea that the wealthy don't desire tax cuts is patently absurd, but I'll chalk that up to rhetoric because it sure sounds like a good excuse to take from someone what they don't want or need and give it to those that need it. Show me a wealthy person who doesn't want or need their money and I'll show you someone who's ready for a great Vegas weekend and won't be wealthy for long. A fool and their money...

In a nation where few can agree on politics, there is no doubt everyone would prefer that their personal taxes be lowered.

Anecdotally, I don't know a single wealthy person, other than Warren Buffet, who wouldn't enjoy receiving more of their own income, and if Mr. Buffet doesn't want to keep his money, he is (and has always been) free to donate his own money to the government as he likes, though as an intelligent and successful businessman it seems unlikely he would choose to give to such a wasteful organization freely.

It is unfortunate that the wealthy in our society are singled out for punishment for their success, or the success of their families, by being enslaved to work for the government for more time out of every year than any other member of our society. People earn what others are willing to pay them for their work and time. Has Mr. Obama decided the government is better to decide who should be paid and how much based on their "need?" Would he prefer the government distribute the fruits of the labor of the wealthy to those whose work in our society has been deemed less valuable? Unfortunately, though this is no surprise for a Democratic senator, this appears to be the case. If he becomes president, sincerely I hope he chooses my contributions as worthy of receiving extra income above and beyond their market value.

Who will speak up for the wealthy? Who will say, "This is unjust, they have as much right to the fruits of their labor as anyone else?" Sounds selfish, doesn't it? Unpalatable? Without the wealthy enjoying the fruits of their labor, they will just go away, and take with them all the businesses, jobs, capital, and tremendous quality of life they bring to our nation from the lowest to the highest, but especially to themselves. Envy is not a decent quality, and even if it is held by the majority against the minority, it does not gain any moral weight, not one ounce. At the core of capitalism is an understanding that equality is not justice. It is the freedom to produce that is important, the keeping of one's own property, not the equal distribution of what is produced through the taking of property from others.


I feel it's long past time someone came forward and unapologetically supported all the good capitalism does for the world. So few people appreciate that the modern treatment of disease, the inexpensive goods all around them, and the conquoring of famine around the world are all a direct result of capitalism. Fewer still recognize that they live better than kings just a few hundred years ago.

One need look no further than that almost perfect experiment in capitalism versus socialism that ended just a few short years ago in Germany. West Germany, under imperfect capitalism, was filled with wealth and inequality. East Germany, under socialism, was filled with universal poverty and equality. Only one side of the Berlin wall was designed to keep people in. The same people, the same history, different political systems. In East Berlin, the was a totalitarian state with an iron grip on its people, a place where the Trabant was made for decades, where progress halted in its tracks and people risked their lives just to escape. Shame on those who would turn our nation into an equivalent East Berlin with their socialist policies. We should never forget where those policies of socialism, based purely on equality, will lead.

It's time someone stood up and said, "This is not what government should do! This program, that regulation, and the other tax are all sending ripples through our lives and damage everything they touch!"

Let's no longer pretend socialism is an acceptable course. It is no more and no less than the taking from those who produce at the barrel of a gun. Every economic law and regulation that is passed should consider that fact seriously. May we never forget that the only reason the government passes and enforces laws is because it has the guns. We must be ever vigilant that those guns are used with the utmost care and only in the most extreme cases, or, as we have seen in our time, East Berlin awaits!