Obama’s Folly?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bush’s folly was/is Iraq. Will Obama’s be the stimulus?

Peter Schiff in the Wall Street Journal:

It would be irresponsible in the extreme for an individual to forestall a personal recession by taking out newer, bigger loans when the old loans can’t be repaid. However, this is precisely what we are planning on a national level.

The hope, with all of this printed money, is that it will stimulate the economy to grow again and that, once the growth begins, the Fed can start taking dollars out of circulation without undoing what it just did. It’s a very, very delicate act they’re trying to pull off and Schiff is arguing that, ultimately, it can’t be done. At some point, the piper will have to be paid.

I don’t disagree, but I do think we have to forestall a massive depression. Recession, yes. Long and hard, yes. But let’s not have 25% unemployment ever again. Let’s have plenty of pain. Just soften the blows a little.

On an even gloomier note, Marc Faber says short treasuries and buy gold. Hyper-inflation is coming and it’s going to be brutal.

This I believe. I don’t know the timing, but we are going to have massive inflation at some point likely coupled with a lagging economy (stagflation).

The only solution after we run through this cycle? Some day, and not far off, America is going to go bankrupt. We are all going to lose our shirts and suffer the harsh austerity measures of a vengeful globe’s bailout (or conquering).

America, we need to take our medicine now. It’s time to cut spending everywhere. By all means, Obama, borrow and spend, but phase in cutting, too. I can see $100 billion from defense right off the top.

This simply can’t go on forever.


The Sound of Music!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Sound of Music is the greatest movie ever made. I haven’t gotten around to ranking the ten best movies but the Sound of Music is my number one. What? I’m a giant pussy, you say?

Think about it. It’s got everything. The beautiful and conflicted nun Fraulein Maria (played by my favorite actress of all time, Julie Andrews). Great songs, Salzburg, the Austrian countryside, Christopher Plummer (who’s got a new memoir out and apparently was quite the “plumber” himself. (I know, lame.)) It’s got Nazi bad guys, a chase scene, and, did I mention, the incomparable, perfect Julie Andrews?

Growing up, my secret dream was to have Julie Andrews as my governess.

Anyway, I turn on the TV and I’m watching it right now on ABC and it’s the scene where the Baroness Schrader confronts Fraulein Maria and leaves shamed by Maria’s honesty and seductive innocence. The Baroness is the lessor woman and she knows it. But she quickly recovers, because she thinks that she has won her man.

Oh, then the excruciating scene where she tries to bond with the children by tossing a ball around. She tells Max that she’s going to ship them off to boarding school once she’s landed Georg.

Next you’ve got Captain Von Trapp walking around everyday wearing that strange quasi military jacket with green velvet lapels and having that strange whimsical reaction to his own emotional torment at Maria having left. He tells the kids that he and the Baroness are to be married and they line up in silence to pay their respects.

God, what a great movie. I’ll admit that the “I am sixteen, you are seventeen” song sucks enormously. And the love song in the gazebo after Georg finally makes his move is also a tad wanting, but I just pretend that I am Captain Von Trapp and the virginal Fraulein Maria is falling in love with me.

Speaking of which, how can Von Trapp be a naval captain in the Austria? It’s a landlocked country! Look, I know there was a port in Trieste that was part of the Hapsburg empire, and probably some other access to water somewhere on their turf, but with those green lapels and Edelweiss and all, you get the sense he was out cruising that lake behind the house rather than sinking U-boats, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, the Anschluss happens and that world class dick Rolf starts showing up again.

Here, as an aside, are the top five songs from the movie.

5) So Long, Farewell
5) Climb Every Mountain
4) The Lonely Goatherd (the puppet show scene)
3) The Sound of Music (the hills are alive)
2) My Favorite Things
1) Do-Re-Mi (doe, a deer)

Then the Captain and Maria return from their honeymoon. And I really believe I see a change in Maria. She’s a woman now. The implications of penetration and physical intimacy, previously unknown to her, have changed her. She was already the perfect woman and she has become, in a month, the perfect wife. She is also a mother, a responsibility she takes seriously.

Anyway, they sing at the festival. They knock it out of the park. Everyone loves it. Julie Andrews sings like a angel.

And they escape! The chase is on…

Right from the beginning of the movie you knew Rolf was a weasel. For that matter, I never really like Liesl. She is easily…well, I was going to say she was my least favorite Von Trapp child, but Kurt doesn’t do it for me either. At any rate, Rolf is a weak-chinned Nazi wannabe. Sickening. But they escape again from the convent after he finds them and…

Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow…til you find your dream…

#1, jack! You got that right.

Pastor Rick Hearts Homosexuals

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Of course this is an unfortunate choice. The man in question, Rick Warren, is a charlatan and liar who trades in snake oil. Why gays would be upset that he has anti-homosexual views is beyond me. What would you expect?

His business is based on a mythology that is thousands of years old and reflects the primitive culture and beliefs of that time. Instead of worrying about changing an archaic system of lies, a better bet would be to ignore the system altogether. Jesus doesn’t love you because Jesus doesn’t exist.

Neither does the Hebrew God. Or the Virgin birth. Or literally anything of putative divinity found in the Bible. These are primitive beliefs and rituals for primitive people.

The bigger question for me is when will we have an inauguration that doesn’t require an invocation of sacred lies. On that day, it’s likely that homosexuals – along with everyone else – will have advanced beyond a level of atavism that will be worthy of admiration.

That is the day all of us should fight for.

Holiday Blues (Economic Variety)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

GM is down 33% since the bailout. If you bought, I hope you sold. Ford is taking a beating, too.

As for home prices?

The pace of existing home sales plunged a record 8.6 percent in November to a 4.49-million-unit annual rate, while the median home price dropped for a fifth straight month to $181,300, a National Association of Realtors report showed on Tuesday.

And the Commerce Department confirmed that the economy shrank by .5% in Q3.

Blue Christmas, indeed.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Not sure how much I’m going to post over the next couple of weeks.

So, in case you don’t hear from me, happy holidays!

How to React to the GM Bailout

Friday, December 19, 2008

As guaranteed on this blog, the Feds have ponied up $17.4 billion in loans. I hope you took my advice and bought the stock when it was cheap(er). On the Ford stock alone, I’ve seen a return of over 80%.

Now the question is, when to sell?

I’m not sure. I may sell as soon as today. But don’t hold on to GM for too long. They are definitely going under. Ford, I’m willing to take a wait and see approach.

Manhattan Real Estate Prices Down 20%

Thursday, December 18, 2008

From Real Deal:

As anecdotal evidence about fall sales seeps out, well before brokerage reports about fourth-quarter transactions, evidence is mounting that not only have Manhattan housing prices slipped, they have done so by around 20 percent, which is a much more precipitous plunge than expected.

At this festive time of year, few things give me more pleasure than imagining the suffering of New York City real estate agents.

Continued significant price deterioration is guaranteed, as prices come into line with historical rent vs. own / debt-to-income ratios.