Saturday, February 28, 2009
(Even as her husband foolishly declares war on investors, entrepreneurs, and all hopes of economic recovery. In other words, as Barack sets us on the road to real depression.)
Also, I happen to think going sleeveless during the day in wool and jersey in February is fine. I don't think her look is uncouth at this point. And of course, I love the pearls. However, I'm not sure about the extremeness and narrowness of the cut at the shoulders. But what woman in the world doesn't want to distinguish herself with her own signature look and start a fashion and style revolution?
Below, Jackie displays a great look with a feeling of a little more modesty. Modesty would not seem to be Michelle's strongest suit.
And then there's Eleanor going sleeveless in formal attire.
Friday, February 27, 2009
I awakened early Friday morning to the most dramatic wind and rain storm I've ever witnessed and truly thought I was about to become airborne---along with my neighbors--flying through the air over the city in every state of disrepair. Eventually this fiercest-of storms subsided and I deemed it safe enough to hop out of bed and tip toe in my nightgown to make coffee.
As I puttered around my still-standing kitchen, my thoughts turned from the storm outside to the one that continues on what's left of Wall Street and began to mull over the conversation I'd had yesterday with Tom, a very smart money manager and world-class tennis player. Tom is the kind of guy who loves a big challenge but the last six months were clearly wearing on him.
"It's bru-tal out there," he told me, reiterating something we all know only too well. "I mean, I come to work everyday with my shield and helmet on and just hope and pray we're not going to fall through to some new bottom now."
"Bottom?" I asked. "What might it look like?"
"We're really hoping the SPY will hold above the 74.34 mark . If it takes out this number---the last time it came close and retested a bottom, it held at 74.59--- I can't predict what carnage will ensue. No one wants to think about it. But 74.34 is a pivotal number that we're all watching."
I pressed Tom to go on. "Look, Jane," he said. "Wall Street is scared to death of President Obama now. He continues to say things that sound good but have no meaning, no real definition, no details, except how bad things are and how much government needs to tax and spend to make it better. Men like Geithner are just yes men who will ultimately do what they're told. There's absolutely nothing to sink our teeth into here. And markets hate this kind of uncertainty."
Do you think this administration will raise taxes? I asked Tom.
"Absolutely, " Tom responded. "But they'll wait until things start to look a little better in a year or two to do it. And it will kill any long-term rally up ahead. Kill it. That's why Wall Street is in this state. It knows the Obama administration may wreck the economy for years to come."
Tom went on to say there would probably be at least a short-term counter trend and uptick at some point soon, maybe even next week. But the extent of it is dubious. "By the time it happens the smart money will be in and out before the public starts to pile back in....and then be killed again. I tell you it's about as gloomy as it can get."
In the many years I'd known Tom, I had never known him to be so pessimistic. I left with the reminder to watch 74.34 on the S&P. If it holds, then we'll have at least a short counter trend.
If not, Katy-bar-the-door.
Gosh, it'd be nice to see a little sunshine. But here at least and all up the East coast for now, the weather forecast promises to remain gloomy and over-cast. Still we're not all flying through the air----yet.
Meanwhile and in other things worth mentioning, Clint wants a word with us. And I like what I read.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Many of us believe Mr. Obama is leading us over a cliff. That's why more and more people are thinking of a tea party. Rick, are you out there? More tea.
Meanwhile, conservative Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal responded to the Obama speech:
"Who amongst us would ask our children for a loan so we could spend money we do not have on things we do -- we do not need? That is precisely what the Democrats in Congress just did. It's irresponsible. And it's no way to strengthen our economy, create jobs, or build a prosperous future for our children.
"In the end, it comes down to an honest and fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government. We oppose the national Democratic view that says the way to strengthen our country is to increase dependence on government. We believe the way to strengthen our country is to restrain spending in Washington, to empower individuals and small businesses to grow our economy and create jobs."
McCain rightly called Obama's hand on his no earmarks promise, as he spoke to Katie Couric:
"But when he says there are no earmarks - I just picked up a bill that we are going to take up tomorrow that has 9,247 earmarks in it,” a combative McCain continued. “What am I supposed to believe here?”
Meanwhile, on another planet, the new Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamen Netanyahu, plans to cut taxes as he takes the reins of government. Right man for the tough job ahead there. Fasten seat belts.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I'm not a costumer myself, nor overly daring when it comes to dressing up. I like simple fashion that I wear and that doesn't wear me. I can appreciate a woman who can pull off some crazy thing. This year Heidi Klum tried in that red dress and failed in my opinion. And except for perhaps Sarah Jessica Parker who came as Princess Cinderellatella, I just didn't see any costumes worth featuring here. So without further ado, I hereby give my Webutante best and worst 2009 Oscar awards starting with the best:
UPDATE: Runner-down (below) to Whoopi. Whoever got any dollars for this design including the wet-look dress, the bodice, the hair, is going to need some Obama bailout money because surely they've had to declare bankruptcy this week.
Then there's Morgan Freeman who is one of the wisest men I know. He gets it. He nails it, NAILS IT, as he calls the ever-dense Mike Wallace, (not to be confused with George Wallace) on his blatant racism. So fine. A homerun, Morgan. Via VIAMAN at American Digest.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Can you imagine the utter pride and hope these kids---who undoubtedly live on dollars a day in India---feel at seeing one of their own star in a film that goes all the way to the great America and wins the Oscar for Best Picture? The photo above touches me. And the kids below are darling too.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
In truth, prayer is designed to be one of the toughest disciplines there is on the spiritual journey.
God wants a long-term relationship with us and not just occasional intense cries for help. It's the single most difficult part of my walk each day. Like exercise, when I need it the most, I often want to do it the least. But Christ commands us to do it anyway, and do it steadfastly. He says it grows us up, especially when we pray for our enemies and those we may be connected to yet distant from.
This weekend one of my step-brothers died suddenly, though he has had several scrapes with death over the past few years. When a family member dies, even an extended family member from whom your life has drastically diverged for years, I can tell you it brings up what ever's left of unfinished stuff. Mine is a typical dysfunctional extended family which has the added complexity of my sister having married one of our four step-brothers (My father remarried after my mother died and we were all out of our nests.). They have two children and are now, sadly, divorced. But the angst and distance this created among us has often been palpable. At times like these, I struggle with my resistance to pray at all about certain parts of my family. And when I do, I'm inclined to pick and choose who and what I pray for. Sinner that I am, I want God to do it my way, Norman Rockwell's way.
But Christ commands me to grow up and out of such foolishness and do it differently, to do it His way no matter how hard I may find it. He wants me to surrender to His will and leave the results up to Him. And so I try. But believe you me, it's one of the toughest things I do on a regular basis---to pray where there's continuing family scars.
Christ says I may never ever see the results from these prayers in my lifetime but to keep praying anyway. So I do. Imperfectly. Sporadically.
Anyway, below is that little piece on prayer that I think tells it like it really is by Michael Stover:
"HOW OFTEN DO YOU PRAY? How long do you pray for something before giving up? Although the lack of persistence in prayer is a problem, I believe simple lack of prayer is the most pervasive issue.
"Many do not pray with any consistency or regularity from lack of faith in the practice of prayer. If we do not trust in the avenue of prayer, we will see no need for persisting in its discipline. And if we know little of what prayer really is and what prayer really does, we will simply not pray.
"Prayer is acquiring an understanding of the mind of God and aligning ourselves with it. Many jump to the conclusion that anything can be had from God if we are persistent in our asking. It is as if we can overcome God's seeming reluctance with begging and pleading, much as many children today seem to do with their earthly parents.
"Even though with Jesus as our great High Priest, we should be bold to ask with faith in God's character, but humble in the asking.
"Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time." (Hebrews 4:16)
"In Luke 18:1-8 we see another side of praying with persistence. The determination of the woman in dealing with the unjust judge is an illustration of we should pray continually until an answer comes. God is much more faithful and just to answer than the ungodly judge in the parable. But again, it is not our continual nagging that moves God. It is the faith that drives us to seek His will and help, adjust ourselves to His will and plan, trust in His answer, and follow Him."
"How should we react when we pray and seem to get no answer? We should continue to pray through until an answer comes. The answer may be different than what we expect; it may not be what we have asked for so vehemently. But God's answers are always right and are to be followed. He will always answer in a way that fits His character and plan, which will bring Him glory and bring His best to us."
from Pastor Mike Stover
Saturday, February 21, 2009
A terrific piece is up at American Thinker entitled Meet Joe the Plumber's Brother, Rick the Trader. Short, to the point and addresses White House Press Secretary Robert Gibb's glib criticsm that Rick Santelli doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to criticizing Mr. Obama's stimulus package and saying it rewards bad behavior. Oh really, Mr. Gibbs?
Don't miss the comparison of the resumes of Rick Santelli and Robert Gibbs either. In case you've been in outer space the past few days, here's Santelli's rant on CBNC calling for a new Chicago Tea Party:
Santelli is exactly the kind of man who understands derivitives and complexities of the financial markets who really ought to be advising the White House on real bailout strategies, specifically when it comes to dealing with the credit markets and toxic debt. Glad he's now got the administration's attention, even if he's had to take a hit or two doing it.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Tonight I learned that one of my step-brothers has just died. I was at a restaurant with friends. So I got up and went into the ladies room and an old Elvis song was playing. I stood there and wept. Saturday, I'll join family members in grieving and remembering Richard. He almost died several months ago and came back----briefly. He seemed to be doing well and making progress in recovery. But in the end, he was just too far gone and one of his aortic arteries gave way. To be honest, I'm not all that surprised, as some are. The song below has always reminded me of him.
God bless you, man.
(UPDATE: INDICES DIG DEEPER, DEEPER FRIDAY IN HEAVY VOLUME, BUT TEA PARTIES ARE UP, NETANYAHU IN....SEAT BELTS ON IN MIDDLE EAST. BUY GOLD, SILVER. Peek writes markets give Obama an F last month.)
It was standing room only yesterday morning at Le Peep restaurant in west Nashville as our US Senator Bob Corker stood before some of his prime constituents and dished out stimulus talk over bacon, eggs, pancakes and coffee.
I was there and not only didn't have any real coffee, I didn't even touch decaf, figuring water only and straight up would be the best accompaniment with the kind of things I knew Bob was going to say. I was over-stimulated enough by stimulus talk at taxpayers' expense (that would be my expense) over the past few days. I didn't need any more. I just listened and let food go too. It was a good call on my part. Corker stood and talked for almost an hour, answering questions and fielding comments. He did a great job of keeping extremely complex concepts fairly simple and straight forward. I left later filled to the brim with good information which I was too busy yesterday to untangle until now.
Corker---who sits on the Senate banking, foreign relations and energy committees---opened by describing about how he debated whether to go on the commerce or banking committees at the beginning of his term:
"All my advisers told me to go with the commerce committee, saying banking would be the dullest thing I'd ever do. There was just no action there. HA! I was just counter-intuitive enough to do the opposite of what they said and go with banking. Needless to say there hasn't been a dull moment. And I've learned more in the last few years than in decades prior, many things which I wish I didn't know. I honestly can't think of a more exciting place to be at this time in our history." (Understatement of the decade?)
From there it was all about the economy, some of which was off the record, all of which was sophisticated stuff. I'll highlight the salient points here:
1. No surprise, Bob voted against the stimulus package describing it as nothing more than a humongous 2-year spending binge that like a high-powered fire hose will be turned on at full velocity then turned off just as quickly. It does nothing, NOTHING, to address the real economic problems of unfreezing credit markets in financial institutions which is JOB 1 and dealing with toxic debts on the books of these institutions. ( Much of this toxic debt is a by-product of mark-to-marketing accounting requirements which often over-state the degree of toxicity.) Until that is done, our economy will continue to languish no matter how much money is thrown at the problem.
Harvard Professor Robert Barro chimes in via Carpe Diem.
2. The state of Tennessee which is among states in the best fiscal condition in the US---will get $4.2 billion in federal "bailout monies," and be forced, FORCED, to spend it ALL within 24 months in ways that it really doesn't want to. This leaves the state open to predatory lawsuits demanding such things as the re-extension of TENNCARE a program that almost bankrupted the state six years ago and has now been reined somewhat under control by Gov. Phil Bredesen's administration.
No state savings for rainier days is allowed. It has to be spent fast and furiously, by cracky and is predicted to leave---with the strings that come with the Federal government-- the state in worse financial shape than it is now. Corker said Bredesen who is a fiscal conservative is fretting about this every day.
UPDATE: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindel to refuse some of Louisiana's share of bailout money and talks about why. Again it's back to the fire hose analogy.
3. Calling on the Obama administration to let let us take our medicine now and allow the auto companies to fail sooner rather than later (not a matter of if they fail, just when) Corker called the auto bailout a pivotal moment in our nation's fiscal history. He said it will not be decided legislatively but rather in the executive branch. In answer to a question I posed to him, Bob said there was very little the public and taxpayers can do to influence decision making at this point except be well-informed and educated. (I beg to differ with him---we can make calls, read and write about it. And anyway, he said that before Rick the floor trader turned CNBC contributor made his fabulous tirade on CNBC yesterday. Tea Party, anyone?) Will be interesting to see how far to the auto labor unions Mr. Obama will lean, to the country's great detriment.
Corker talks to Kudlow Wednesday night.
4. Describing most of our 401Ks now as 201Ks, Corker said baby boomers and those soon to be retired will face greater poverty as a result of this spending spree and its ultimate effect on the economy than we can now begin to imagine.
The remainder of Corker's talk and Q and A got pretty sophisticated. I'm going to attempt to skim the surface on several of these and how they may impact the current economic crisis we're in:
5. One of the most shocking things Corker said he's learning since coming to the Senate (which he did not know) and has been catapulted up the learning curve is that most home mortgages in the US today are what is known as non-recourse loans. What this means is that the borrower is ultimately not liable for the value of the loan. If the borrower defaults, the lender can take the real asset which his home, but can't necessarily recover the stated value on the mortgage agreement. The effect of this is that it encourages people to walk away from mortgages where their home values have fallen below the mortgage agreement. This encourages what's known as Jingle mail, where house keys are mailed into mortgage lenders as homeowners flee their obligations to pay back the mortgage.
This type loan was provided as an incentive to lenders to make more prudent long-term loans, yet ironically came at a time the Federal government and Congress was forcing those same lenders through the Community Reinvestment Act to loosen standards of lending drastically and loan money to people who couldn't qualify and didn't have even a down payment.
6. Mark-to-Market accounting rules. Corker believes the recent change to M-T-M accounting was in part a good thing with certain caveats: While it forces assets to be valued in today's real time markets, it often causes an asset class to be falsely over-devalued.
Bob used an example of how Citicorp's bad mortgage debt was valued last year at about .20 cents on the dollar. This in turned forced a similar devaluation of toxic assets in other institutions even though the true value of those assets may have been much higher. This comparable valuing completely ignores a company or auditors taking stock and valuing these assets more realistically which in turn runs investors out the door screaming for their lives.
This is why there's so much more toxic debt in the system---some of which has been devalued far beyond reality---and also why bank stocks are trading so bloody low and may be for a long time to come. (BTW, when the dust settles, some risk-taking investors are going to make a lot of money buying these undervalued assets and having them immediately appreciate.)
Bottom line, the financial system needs more flexibility than the government wants to allow. The government always responds to problems by over-correcting. And this creates greater problems in the medium and long run.
7. Corker said he leans in favor of financial institutions and banks creating sub-banks to take its toxic assets off the books and encourage investors to reinvest. The "bad debts" and bundled mortgage instruments can then be worked out of the system without bring down the well managed aspects of the banking system. He only touched on this subject and I think it is an idea with lots of merit.
8. Bob said he had been in favor of the Isaacson tax credit and an uptick rule on short sellers. Unfortunately, I need to go to the gym and workout worse than I need to try to explain what little I know about these, mercifully.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
BUT OUR ENEMIES NEW DIET IS---US, as in the United States (no pun intended)
I READ ABOUT THE NEWS OF Syrian President Bashar Assad extending the olive branch of restoring full diplomatic relations with the United States with my eyes rolling back in my head. Whatever could Syria intend with such relations? Oh, I dunno, form a harmless little triangle with us against, oh say, Israel? You know the country they want nuked off the face of the earth?
And why would the leaders of our country even consider such a proposal under the guise of diplomatic relations?
Could it be the new Obama administration---what's left of it what with all the tax evasion and criminal activity of would-be cabinet members----want to secretly join them in the extermination of the Jews?
Couldn't be that Syria and Iran see President Obama as a little lamb they can lead to the slaughter, could it? Could it be they see Hillary as being just arrogant enough, with Billy-Bob, that she thinks she can actually make friends with terrorists and terrorist nations with no harmful effects?
Questions, questions questions. To which there are no peaceful answers. No answers at all except the hard one: to draw the line and hang tough with terrorists and our enemies. (Oh wait! Perhaps we could offer Nancy Pelosi up as a peace offering and she would go and live there forever.)
We can only hope, and pray, that our envoys and naive president all see the light and have their own On-the-Road-To-Damascus epiphanies before doing such a thing as making nice with Syria. It would be more than a travesty. It quite possibly be the....... beginning of World War III.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Economic collapse? What economic collapse? What trillion dollar stimulus bill? Nancy who? All I need to know is where my bead-head woolly buggers are?
Monday, February 16, 2009
PLEASE JOIN ME IN a long moment of silence as our former Presidents and Founding Fathers twirl in their graves today and ponder the question: What part of enumerated Constitutional powers do we no longer understand or care about as a nation?
Here's an interesting idea for us to consider: Supporting and passing the Enumerated Powers Act. Of course, now that the horse is out of the barn, it's probably way too late. As if Pelosi and company care a thing about anything but their own raw exercise of power. Twirl on, oh perishing Constitution bashers, your days are numbered!
Sunday, February 15, 2009
"In John Stott’s little book Your Mind Matters I found this quote from Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He was commenting on Matthew 6:30 in his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount and offered a great critique to those who feel that faith and thinking are opposites; that a person who has faith is a person who refuses to use his mind. Instead, says Lloyd-Jones, a person who exercises faith must use his mind.
"Faith according to our Lord’s teaching in this paragraph, is primarily thinking; and the whole trouble with a man of little faith is that he does not think. He allows circumstances to bludgeon him. … We must spend more time in studying our Lord’s lessons in observation and deduction. The Bible is full of logic, and we must never think of faith as something purely mystical.
"We do not just sit down in an armchair and expect marvelous things to happen to us. That is not Christian faith. Christian faith is essentially thinking. Look at the birds, think about them, draw your deductions. Look at the grass, look at the lilies of the field, consider them. … Faith, if you like, can be defined like this: It is a man insisting upon thinking when everything seems determined to bludgeon and knock him down in an intellectual sense.
"The trouble with the person of little faith is that, instead of controlling his own thought, his thought is being controlled by something else, and, as we put it, he goes round and round in circles. That is the essence of worry. … That is not thought; that is the absence of thought, a failure to think."
I whole heartily agree with Stott and Challis, above, but would take this observation even further: The thinking that goes with authentic Bible study can often be the deepest, most profound and time consuming intellectual study one can ever engage in. Ultimately it leads to the renewing of one's mind, intellect and entire thought processes. Being born again means being born again intellectually as well as spiritually.
Friday, February 13, 2009
This quickie without our consent by Congress on the largest spending bill in our country's history is about as low as our country's elected officials have gone---so far. We're being screwed, to put it mildly. They gotta have this "stimulus" NOW or else. It's scandalous. Not only was not one Republican on either conference committee in either house to hash out the details before the final version was concocted, Nancy has made it clear she wants this drunken spending binge passed today, TODAY, I SAY! so she can catch a plane this afternoon to Rome for ten days. And everyone knows, our country revolves around Nancy's travel schedule. A monumental disgrace, and desperate, new low in our country's history. This is a gigantic wake-up call. Like with Madoff, how long can we keep ignoring this out-of-control Congress?
Thursday, February 12, 2009
From Red Meat, via NRO
MY HAT IS OFF to Sen. Judd Gregg, R-NH, for withdrawing his nomination to Commerce in the Mr. Obama's shaky new administration. This is a very strong statement, done in a most appropriate, take-the-high-road manner. I want to write more about Gregg's fundamental economic differences with Obama and why this should concern all of us. But for now, suffice it to say, I salute this courageous politician and fiscal conservative for taking a stand and letting the chips fall where they may.
More in the Washington Times. While we're at it, How Treasury's Geithner offers paralysis over vibrancy in the economic stimulus.
File under: A good man is hard to find; a good politician is even scarcer. "We're operating from a different set of views."---Senator Gregg, referring to his differences with President Obama on the stimulus. That's putting it mildly. I do have to wonder why he accepted this nomination in the first place. Surely he must have seen this coming.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
ENTERING THE VOGUE/MAD AVE SPIN ZONE
Vogue and feminist photographer Annie Leibovitz are going to be creating a mythological, larger-than-life, romanticized woman of Michelle Obama. They couldn't wait to get their hands on her because she's got the right liberal politics. Out with the Laura Bush who stood by her man, was soft-spoken and respected by every man, woman and child on the planet---a real Proverbs 31 woman. Laura was not amenable to being handled by anyone like Vogue, except by her principles, her husband and family. But I don't believe that's the case with Michelle. The hype has only just begin. Soon, she'll be the media-perfected post modern woman in every way, glamorized to the max. Masses of women will not just want to look like her, they'll want to actually be her. Get ready.
She's a woman who wants to have fun dinner parties with Castro and Ahmadinejad and with Barack reach out to other of our enemies who wish us harm. After all, they'll be so charmed with her and her husband, they'll want to give up their nuclear aspirations and evil intentions towards our country and partner with us for peace. Right! Michelle is a hip woman who wants you to have the right to abort your child, even up to the seventh, eighth or ninth months. of a pregnancy. A mother, career woman, first lady who's cool in every post-modern way.
But I digress.
As far as I'm concerned, Vogue's advising Michelle on her inaugural suit (have a long jacket that covers your behind, so it won't look as large as Laura Bush's while you're walking down Pennsylvania Ave.) was a bit off-base. But I have to say, Michelle looks great in the above cover photo. Great color, great image, pose. She's an attractive woman who carries her tall frame well and looks good in vivid colors. She's got a good hair cut that works well with her lifestyle and frame.
But be forewarned. Her new handlers want to glamorize her life, politics, her very liberal cultural and social views and agenda---her feminism and ambivalent, relative patriotism---to the hilt. Because they want to make us all liberal, citizens of the world, like them.
Don't be fooled. She looks good. But we haven't the foggiest what she really stands for or whether she'll stand the test of time weeks, months, years from now. Or whether she'll be the right kind of role model for younger women and girls. I hope so. But with Vogue at the helm of her image making, I have my doubts.
Laura Bush, however, did. And her real legacy will be hard to follow. Even for the mythological Michelle. But if anyone, anything, is up to the hyping the new first lady, surely it's Vogue and those who grind the mighty, godless feminist agenda are.
MICHELLE IS THE FIRST LADY THE WORLD HAS BEEN WAITING FOR? In what way? Hipness? Fashion savvy? Anything goes-ness? That's quite a headline for someone who's been first lady for only a few weeks. But as in Hollywood, we won't let reality get in the way of some good publicity.
So stay tuned. Let's see if she can keep up with her Vogue handlers and the raised expectations they're creating. I'm holding my breath.
Mr. Obama, you can no longer hope for the best. You must prepare for the worst to save our country from protracted depression and a failed presidency.
"Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed? In normal times, this would be a ludicrous question. But these are not normal times. They are times of great danger. Today, the new US administration can disown responsibility for its inheritance; tomorrow, it will own it. Today, it can offer solutions; tomorrow it will have become the problem. Today, it is in control of events; tomorrow, events will take control of it. Doing too little is now far riskier than doing too much. If he fails to act decisively, the president risks being overwhelmed, like his predecessor. The costs to the US and the world of another failed presidency do not bear contemplating.
"What is needed? The answer is: focus and ferocity. If Mr Obama does not fix this crisis, all he hopes from his presidency will be lost. If he does, he can reshape the agenda. Hoping for the best is foolish. He should expect the worst and act accordingly....
"....The correct advice remains the one the US gave the Japanese and others during the 1990s: admit reality, restructure banks and, above all, slay zombie institutions at once."
-----Martin Wolf at Financial Times Online, must reading in my opinion
THE FED NEEDS TO GO
What Mr. Wolf is saying in a nutshell and among many other things is this: Allow zombie banks and financial institutions to fail. The longer you keep them on life-support, the longer and deeper this crisis will be. And it will sink your presidency sooner rather than later, if you don't take the bold action that's necessary. Stop trying to save everyone. It will only prolong the agony.
I have much more to say about all this as the week rolls on. I am going to write it as simply as I can. I am going to make an argument for the completely abolishing the Federal Reserve. Much of what has happened to this country is a result of its malfeasance and over-management of the normal business cycles of the economy, beginning with Alan Greenspan in 2001. It's scandalous and will destroy this country if we don't start to understand this. It's President Obama's job to understand it. Geithner is currently more a part of the problem than the solution. And we won't even talk about the numb skulls in Congress.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
This week President Obama claimed that failure to pass his economic stimulus bill will have 'catastrophic' consequences for the U.S economy. The reality is the catastrophe will be far greater with his plan than without it. If the trends of January and early February of 2009 continue, the rug will be completely pulled out from beneath the U.S. economy, and the full cost of the President's "economic depressant package" will be apparent to all.
If foreign capital does not continue to pour into Treasuries, interest rates and consumer prices in the U.S. will soar. At that point, we will finally be confronted with the real crises that I have long predicted. When the day of reckoning arrives our policy response will be critical. If we continue on the course our new President has mapped out, the catastrophe will far exceed the scope of any he hoped to avoid.
This is Just the Beginning---from Peter Schiff at Seeking Alpha
FORGET STIMULUS, IT'S THE BANK BILL THAT MATTERS MOST
"Unfortunately, it is the bailout package for banks and financial institutions that is the most important. The financial system remains mired in uncertainty. Just the whiff of changes in mark-to-market accounting (rumored midday on Thursday, Feb. 5) pushed the S&P 500 up more than 5% through Friday, while S&P 500 banking stocks moved up 20%.
"The stimulus package is just not that important compared with the plans for the financial sector. In aggregate, government spending does not create jobs. It never has. Total federal government spending increased significantly from 1950 through the early 1980s. But unemployment did not go down, it went up.
------Wesbury and Stein, writing today for Forbes
The real catastrophe happening in Washington right now is that no one---not the president, the Congress and ever Geithner know what's really going on and what to do about it. So they are going to throw tons, TONS, of money, OUR MONEY, at the problem and hope it gets better. Truth is they need to get the banking/financial sectors stabilized and the rest will take care of itself.
A very smart money man told me today that President Obama and company need to hire some smart derivatives guys to help the government sort this all out, adding, "Even hiring criminals who know the complexities of derivatives would be helpful. These people in Washington are politicians who don't have a clue. Not a clue. And having them try to fix this is only going to make it worse."
I couldn't agree more. Depression history proved long ago that too much government intervention only prolonged the economic crisis that began in 1929. So much of what's happening is really just a humongus media event and a convenient way for the liberals to pass its left of left domestic spending policies under the guise of fright and catastrophe. Sadly the cure will prove to be much, much worse than the disease.
Monday, February 9, 2009
FIRST THING I THOUGHT WHEN I saw this shot of Paula Abdul in this dress---this get-up---was she reminds me of the Queen of Sheba. Everything about her look---the dress, the hair, the adornments, the Come Hither! look---hearkens me back to the Biblical story of the queen who traveled from her country in the southern Arabian peninsula hundreds of miles to Jerusalem to see the world-famous, wise King Solomon she'd heard so much about. Can't you just see her royally disembarking from her caravan ship in this garb, bearing gifts----including 4.5 tons of gold, precious jewels and spices--- not to mention her bejeweled, bee-hived and undoubtedly heavily perfumed self? Paula looks as if she brought an Egyptian stylist with her, doesn't she?
When I look at fashion like this I like to ask myself if I'd ever wear it if the occasion presented itself. Well the answer here is, b) No, never in a hundred/thousand years! Still it's an interesting costume for Paula and reminds me of the too long ball dress---too long for dancing that is---that Michelle Obama wore on the night of her husband's inauguration. I would surely trip on the hem at some point and either rip the skirt off or fall into someone holding a full glass of Cabernet.
Either way, it would not be pretty.
She can pull off that yellow color much better than I ever could with my sallow skin tones. In fact, she can pull off the whole presentation in a way that would be totally unnatural for me.
One other thing: You have to have the right facial expressions to do this kind of thing----kind of like a cross between a Come hither and Because I said so! Two most likely women come to mind who can pull this whole thing off are Paula, here, and J-Lo. What do you think? Either one of them could easily handle this kind of role and frankly would probably enter the room with at least a good sized whip in one of her hands.
Final answer: I have to say Paula pulls it off in a way not too many of us can, but only standing still and only by the thinnest skin of her chinny-chin-chin.
WHITE HOUSE CONTACT INFO (202 456-1111, direct)
LOOKING FOR PORK IN YOUR STATE AND BEYOND AT STIMULUS WATCH
I've just gotten off the phone with The White House, Congressman Jim Cooper's office and both Senators Lamar Alexander's and Bob Corker's assistants. Each office I called had a real live person answer the phone and actually take notes on what I had to say. Now that's democracy in action.
Each staff person I talked to assured me that they would interupt President Obama, Senators Corker and Alexander and Rep. Cooper from whatever else important they were doing and tell them I had just called. No really.
And when I finish this post, do my hair, get my stuff together to take to the dry cleaners, I'm then going to start calling the offices of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Henry Waxman (202 225-3976), Sen. Harry Reid (202 224-3542) and on and on. What better things do we have to do than try to save ourselves and our children and grandchildren from this pathetic nonsense?
Anyway, I'm very glad I took the time to do this though I had to force myself to make that first call. After that it got easier. I'm posted contact information again for the White House and Congress which I hope you'll use.
For the record, I kept my message brief and simple. Here are the few points I made:
1. The best stimulus is cutting government spending.
2. The second best stimulus is keeping taxes low for individuals and businesses.
3. It is monumentally important that small businesses and entrepreneurs have low and lower tax rates and regulation since it is this economic group that creates the most jobs in America today. The more taxes and regulation, the greater the cost of running a business. And when costs go up, jobs are cut out or greatly scaled back. This will hurt our economy even more.
4. Allow businesses and banks to fail instead of putting them on permanent life support and making zombies out of them. Don't take consequences away from poor business decisions.
5. Haste makes waste. Much of the bill contains President Obama's domestic agenda that will increase Big Government, rather than create real stimulus which will jump-start the private sector.
These are more than enough. If you have more, and there certainly are many more, please post them in the comments below. Please make the time to do whatever you can to have your voice be heard. It's so important.
Remember, we--that is, us citizens who still pay taxes, and lur numbers are getting smaller---are paying for this.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
"....BE SURE OF THIS: it will take courage. If you accept this dare, you must take the view that instead of following your heart, you are choosing to lead it. The world says to follow your heart, but if you are not leading it, then someone or something else is. The Bible says that "the heart is more deceitful than all else" (Jeremiah 17:9), and it will always pursue that which feels right at the moment.
"We dare you to think differently---choosing instead to lead your heart toward that which is best in the long run. This is a key to lasting, fulfilling relationships.
"....this is a journey of exploring and demonstrating genuine love, even when your desire is dry and your motives are low. The truth is, love is a decision and not just a feeling. It is selfless, sacrificial, and transformational. And when love is truly demonstrated as it was intended, your relationship is more likely to change for the better.
"Remember you have the responsibility to protect and guide your heart. Don't give up and don't get discouraged (over the next 40 days) Resolve to lead your heart and to make it through to the end."
----Excerpts from introduction to The Love Dare (as seen in the new movie Fireproof)
I'm convinced that a 40-day Bible-based program---be it prayer, repentance or behavioral, like the one above---has the potential to begin to transform anyone who sincerely undertakes it. After watching the movie Fireproof this week, I came away with the sure impression that this movie--- and the book recently released concurrently by the filmmakers--- can and will save marriages. And not just save them, it can vastly, vastly improve, strengthen and chart a new, better course for them. It can grown them up.
The best news: it only takes one to do this love dare thing. The power of ONE. No dragging your spouse into therapy. ONE does it by following the book and hanging in there no matter what.
I'm divorced and saw myself and my then-crumbling marriage in a great deal of this movie (Aren't all divorces really basically the same selfish trainwreck?). For whatever reasons only God knows, we were not able to save it at the time, a long time ago, and God has used this failure to teach me much and for His Purposes and eventual Glory. So, whether you're married, single, divorced, want to get a divorce or just contemplating a life-long commitment, I can't recommend this book highly enough. But first, see the movie!
While it was written for marrieds, its principles can be used in all our relationships, especially our most difficult ones. There's great wisdom in the movie and The Love Dare book. Principles to live by, not just for 40 days, but a lifetime. What a blessing.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
OH, SILLY ME. WE'RE NOT THINKING. We're letting Barack, Nancy and Harry do the (insane) thinking for us. Again, this is not, NOT, a stimulus for the economy. It is a liberal domestic spending binge under the guise of a "bailout bill" which our super-liberal Congress and president want to ram down our throats without going through the normal legislative processes. In order to do this quickly (and they all know if it's not done quickly, much of it won't get done) they, especially Obama, are screaming that the sky is falling in order to scare us taxpayers to death and into acquiescing. We are being taken for fools. We should rise up and take decisive action and contact all our Senators and Congressmen. New stimulus watch site. (Also on my sidebar.) Our children and grandchildren will one day thank us.
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), issued the following statement tonight after the announcement of a compromise on the Senate stimulus bill.
"While I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues to bring down the price tag of this bill, the fact is we still face a trillion dollar spending bill. Making it worse, the bill is 93% spending and only 7% stimulation. Over the past few days I have fought to include more in the way of real stimulus through higher percentage of infrastructure and defense spending, while working to cut much of the typical government waste often found in a bill of this size. Yet Democrats have blocked these efforts.
"The good news tonight is that the American people are catching on to the fact that this is the largest spending bill in history and are becoming more and more vocal in their opposition. My offices in Oklahoma and Washington DC have been flooded with emails, phone calls and faxes overwhelmingly opposed to this trillion dollar legislation. They can rest assured that my vote remains an unwavering ‘no.'"
Friday, February 6, 2009
Did you hear about the rescue of Pencil Wednesday?
Evidently she was thirsty after her water trough froze and went looking for a drink at one of her favorite watering holes....the frozen pond and tavern down the road from the barn. The rest is history. Interesting to note that it took over 40 firemen in Northern Kentucky working over an hour to get her out. Way to go, fellows.
Pencil lives! And is undoubtedly still warming herself in her owners' living room somewhere in front of a roaring fire, sipping AquaFina through a long straw and nibbling sauteed oats with butter pecan syrup drizzled over it. Katie Couric is first in line for an exclusive interview. Her owner has assured the world that he will emphatically not allow her to give it to an Arab television station.
This reminds me of another great horse rescue story, I watched and participated in a while back in the Bridger-Teton wilderness in Wyoming. But that's a story for another day.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
SUCH FUN TO BE HOME in my own kitchen with my very own pots and pans for a little while. Sure I can cook in other people's kitchens. I do lots and it's fine. But cooking in mine is so much easier. What better to cook on a cold winter day than chard and kale. Puts lead in your pencils and pens! Later today, I'll roast the yellow tomatoes in the oven with herbs, sea salt and olive oil and serve them with the greens, maybe with some good sharp cheese and slice of lime. I'm a great believer in adding vibrant color to to our diets during the colorless days of winter (and rest of the year too). These greeens are so easy.
CHARLES NENNER, Dutch economist and market strategist, appears occassionally on CNBC with predictions on major market moves and strategies. He often predicts the exact time to the day when to get in or out. In late 2007, Nenner predicted that 2008 would be a very rough and volatile year for stocks. What an understatement! He nailed that one for a big cigar.
Now Nenner is talking about a short market rally that's imminent. He appeared again on CNBC two days ago with a new prediction: It's time to get back into the market by the end of this week and make some money on the short rally that will take place until the middle of March. He thinks the S&P will go to 1,000 (It's now at 846).
Since I can't seem to embed the video here, I'll give you the link . Think it's well worth a look-see. And another group of Nenner videos in which he talks about his methodology is here. Nenner, whose done this for Goldman Sachs for years, thinks there will be a short time of rally of hope. But after the middle of March, he sees another broad sell-off.
Hey, I'm grateful for even small bits of hope in this mess. Let's watch and see if he's correct. As a student of the markets and the psychology of greed and fear, I think Nenner will be proven right.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I've resisted doing IT, reading It, for months now.
Nevermind that dozens of people have mentioned it to me for over a year, or longer. Last week in Arizona, one of the women I hiked with---a lovely new friend from Switzerland living here temporarily with her retired Methodist minister husband---told me it had been one of the best things each of them had ever done. Reading It. Later, after our hike, I visited with her husband who reiterated her recommendation. They both urged me to read it, too, adding once I start I won't be able to put it down.
I guess when you hear something enough, it finally breaks through.
That was only one of the many such conversations I've had with people on walks, in churches, at the hair studio, over lunch or dinner and on airplanes and trains over the past few months. So yesterday afternoon, before going to the dermatologist's office, I made up my mind to do It. Mostly out of curiosity. I decided to surrender. I went to the bookstore and bought the book. I bought It.
And then stuffed it in my purse as I drove to the doctor's.
"What good books are you reading these days," he asked ironically as he cut an incision in my numbed right ear lobe to repair the hole which had been pierced decades ago for earrings.
I said I'd just finished Tim Keller's new book, The Prodigal God, which I found to be wonderful then rattled off several other titles I was working my way through.
"Oh, yeah? Keller was here speaking last week in Nashville, wasn't he?" he asked as he put stitches in my ear while I lay on the table.
"Yes he was, and I was out-of-town and missed him. But I go and hear Tim in New York at Redeemer every chance I get. I'm getting lots of chances since my son and his family---including our new grandson---are living there now."
And then he casually asked me The Question: Have you read It?
No, I told him. Not yet. But I just bought the book thirty minutes ago and am about to surrender and start reading it once I get home later.
How uncanny that this doctor would ask me that question at that very moment. The book was right there with me, hidden in my purse buried under my coat and wool scarf. He couldn't possibly have seen it. Still, I don't think there are any coincidences in life and this was only one more indication that It was something looming large on my radar screen.
When I got home, I steamed some brocolli, and sat down in my kitchen chair. I open the book and started reading.
Today I finish it. I'm half-way through.
After I finish and have a little time to think about it, I'll write a little about here. Do you know what the book is? And have you read It? What did you think? I'll be back with more later. But for now, I'm in reading mode.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
TUESDAY: Daschle withdraws nomination to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, calling his tax problems too much of a distraction. He did the right thing. Nancy Killefer of the "Department of Performance," a newly created position, withdrew her nomination today for tax reason too. Oops.
DO YOU REMEMBER when tax evasion was considered breaking the law and often got you thrown in the slammer and heavily fined? Not anymore. It's just standard operating procedure for the special people who know what's best for the masses of little people in our country but who don't really think laws apply to them.
We've got two cabinet nominees who have been accused of tax evasion. Now that it's out in the open, Obama is sticking by them and hopes they'll be confirmed anyway. After all, what's a little indiscretion here and there when it can be balanced off with decades of good works for the liberal/big government policy agenda in D.C? These guys are such great role models, aren't they? Can you imagine the tax evasion that will go on in these hard economic times we're in? And we have leaders in the Obama administration who are leading the way.
For the record, I think Mr. Daschle should withdraw his nomination for health secretary.
Monday, February 2, 2009
THIS FROM THE NEW AskHeritage site. Shocking facts to take in. Read, digest and then talk about it. Remember, we're---YOU AND I---are paying for this humongus bailout bill:
AS PRESIDENT OBAMA settles into his new office, it is imperative that we encourage him and Congress to exercise prudence when attempting to rescue the economy. Massive deficit spending will only throw our country further into economic shambles, as the current stimulus and SCHIP bills do little more than increase our debt and healthcare costs. Consider the following issues with the "stimulus" bill:
1) The $825 billion bill would dump $10,520 of new debt per household into the laps of our children and grandchildren. The interest on this debt ($347 billion) will dump even more.
2) Under the stimulus, new groups of children and adults would be eligible for Medicaid, the welfare program for the poor which is already going broke. These expansions are on top of spending $89 billion to bailout out failing state Medicaid programs.
3) The current "stimulus" bill will be the largest spending bill ever enacted by Congress, making the New Deal look small, accounting for inflation.
4) President Obama anticipates that spending over $800 billion will create 3.7 million new jobs. That means each job will cost more than $200,000, which is roughly equivalent to 5 times what the average American worker earns!
5) The bill is full of wasteful spending, including $21 million on new sod for the National Mall in Washington, $600 million on cars for government bureaucrats, and $650 million for digital television converters.
Read more, if you dare.
Steele needs to publicly enlist the support and expertise of men like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Fred Smith (of FedEx) to help clean up and streamline the organization's day-to-day functioning. He needs to get much more new blood and minorities involved.
Weekly YouTube updates is another winning idea. Steele should make it short and sweet, giving his people talking points and an education on the differences not just in personalities but in principles between the right and left. Brief and poignant teaching is a job the GOP has failed to do for years. President Bush fell down in this regard. Steele is charismatic and articulate. He needs to use these attributes to good advantage or lose them.
And he needs to do it over and over again and keep it brief and salient.