Sunday, March 29, 2009

just say nO

I was too busy watching an old Clint Eastwood flick last night to check out my neighbors and see who all chose to live in the heart of darkness with Al Gore, but I for one had every light blaring that could be seen from the street. That was not easy for me. I am by nature a very frugal person and cannot stand for lights to be left on needlessly. So I when I forgot about the lights-out deal and took a break in the movie to walk through the house, I nearly turned every one of them off.

I like the lights out deal. It is a great way to separate the darkness from the light, just like in Genesis.

A few weeks ago the Obama administration, in one of their brilliantly adolescent P.R. moves, was criticizing the Republicans of just being the party of NO. The Republican Party, typified by Lamar Alexander, pretty much has NO good sense, so in that respect I will agree with the Obamites. But they were just using the Republicans as symbols of the opposition, which in fact includes a huge number of independents like moi who find themselves voting Republican most of the time simply because so many Democrats are so God-awful repulsive, along the lines of Kennedy, Reid, and Pelosi.

If the Republican Party had any sense, instead of denying it every time the cock crowed, they would have embraced the NO label. They would have respelled it "nO". They would have hammered the point home in every exposure to the press that saying nO was far better than the irresponsible actions that the Obama administration is pushing through. Truly saying nO would clearly distinguish them from the idiots who are taking a wrecking ball to this country's teetering economy, cultural traditions, and national sovereignty.

So nO, I did not participate in the lights out hour last night. I'm a member of the real OppOsitiOn. I don't buy into the global warming scat any more than I do into Obama.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Presidential Follies

  • How ironic that President Obama committed the gaffe on the Tonight Show of comparing his bowling skills to the Special Olympics right after I changed my appraisal of his term so far from "incompetent" to "retarded". While his poor judgment in joking tells us how ill suited he is for the presidency in terms of demeanor, the comparison he made, while meant to be self-effacing, in fact reveals his biggest problem: he's a poser. He's not up to the job and he's trying to overcome that by pretending that he is.

    In addition to the Special Olympics remark, mostly overlooked are the jokes about flying in Air Force One and wearing the Presidential Seal. This is not the first time his fascination with the symbols of the office has been made apparent. Think back to last summer when his campaign made up its own quasi-presidential seal and to the elaborate staging of the (very disappointing rhetorically) speech in Denver. Obama is all about style and little about substance. It matters now that he actually has the office. A real operator like Putin will make mincemeat out of him if it ever comes to blows. And it will.

  • The AIG mess continues to spiral out of control. I don't think the Obama administration meant for it to be more than a quick detour to distract from other problems, but now they've got a mob mentality going.

    We don't know a thing about these AIG executives except that they got bonuses to which they were contractually entitled. In any group of people there are those deserving of their success and those who are not. So I'm sure there are some sleazeballs among these people. But no doubt there are some who have, through hard work, determination, risk, and making their own luck, made it to the big leagues of finance work and earned every penny of the bonuses through work that saved assets, saved jobs, and protected their company and the economy at large from further damage than was already happening.

    The Obama administration and their hangers-on have demonized these people as if they are stealing money from the taxpayers because the government is involved in their business. By this logic we should also go after the baseball players who get huge salaries in a sports organization to which the government has given a monopoly. Certainly a huge portion of Oprah's exorbitant income and assets should come back to the people because her medium is subsidized by government regulation. And Ted Turner? Why should he own so much land, having made his fortune off access to the government via CNN? And how about all these state lottery winners? Why should they make off like thieves with taxpayer money? The payoff should be smaller and more of the money kept for education or roads or whatever. Certainly the lottery executives shouldn't be making more than, say, $250k per year.

    The fact is, whether it's poor kids from Puerto Rico who make it big on the diamond, a black nobody like Oprah Winfrey whose father was a barber in Nashville, or a Ted Turner whose father committed suicide, they all present stories of immense, and I think most people would say deserved, success through the free market system. And all of their success is secured by what? CONTRACTS. Contracts are the basis for all business, all economic activity, in the free world. If you don't honor your contracts, you are soon history.

    Sometimes it hurts like hell to honor a contract. Business turns sour after you make a deal, or you find out you didn't make the deal you thought you were making. This is where due diligence comes in. Caveat emptor. Congress, with President Obama's blessing and guidance, made really bad deals on the various bailouts, stimulus bills, and other recent legislation. But it's the deals they've made. It is incredible hypocrisy to try to welsh on the deals now by attacking the businesses and individuals to whom they have forked over piles of cash. It is not those entities' fault that they assume their contracts are valid. It is the administration's fault for neither reading the bills they shepherded through Congress with such haste nor allowing public review of them.

  • There is an incredible churning of stomachs going on right now among those thinking people who supported Obama for president. While those of us on the conservative side feel an awful despair or impotence in the face of one lunatic act of legislation after another, some of which are even aided by supposed conservatives like Lamar Alexander, what we don't realize is that there is a very huge pool of influential people who may still support Obama on the surface, but only to save face or stall for time to find another option. They are eaten up with remorse and shame for their support of this bumbling, destructive man.

  • It is not a fun time to be in business whether as worker or owner. But it is an amazing time for history. Not for all that hogwash about the first black's being elected. That's only impressive to bigots, which I believe the vast majority of Americans are not anymore. What's so interesting is how the American system is going to react to this fly in the ointment. I really don't know. And I don't think anyone else does either.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cuomobama II

As it became clear to me after my yesterday post, the AIG bonuses were of a bit different nature than I had thought, though their very existence is thanks to the same principle that was my main point: money makes the insurance world go round. And of course, if the politicos wanted the contract voided that provided the bonuses, they should have just let AIG go belly up. But AIG is too big to fail, i.e., too good a source of political contributions just like Fannie and Freddie.

And the theatrical aspect of it all by hypocrites Dodd and Frank and hypocrite-in-chief Obama just reached a higher plain yesterday, all of whom were involved in the mess long before they decided to make a show of railing against it when in fact they were at the root of it. I love Michelle Malkin's suggestion that they should all be forced to give back the contributions that AIG made to their campaigns.

I've got to wonder if Andrew Cuomo was really helping their cause by forcing the bonus details out into the open. I believe this is a story they wanted to surface and disappear quickly, a way to score some populist points quickly and move on. But the more that's found out, the worse they look. Maybe Mr. Cuomo has his own agenda. You can bet it has nothing to do with justice for the people, but there may be some political power justice involved.

We're now about two months into the Obama administration. My assessment at the one month mark was "incompetence". This month I might further refine that to "retardation". They're making W look like a genius.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cuomobama

Am I the only one who finds President Obama's supposed anger over the AIG bonuses as ridiculous as Barney trying to get his bullet out of his belt and into his gun?

And since when is it legitimate for the state to target businessmen for getting paid???

It seems to me that if the government didn't want insurance executives taking bonuses they shouldn't have invested in the insurance business. They should have just let it go bust. Because bonuses are as fundamental to insurance marketing as overtime pay is for blue collar work after forty hours. That goes along with free trips to fun places like Las Vegas. Selling insurance is the hardest of work and it demands dramatic rewards to motivate employees. This holds true from top to bottom. Even the lowest adjusters have a relatively low salary but get big bonuses and nifty trips in return for outstanding performance on settlements, etc. Were AIG having a good year, no doubt the bonuses handed out would be many times what they are this year. They're trying to keep their best people.

If AIG is already failing, you can do nothing more to hasten its ultimate failure than to drive away its most highly productive employees by demonizing them and taking away their incentives. Personally I would have jumped ship as soon as the government appointed its CEO. Those who are left in a few months will be only those who can't find work elsewhere and those who've gotten on lately through political connections.

Shame on the Republicans in Congress who have joined the chorus in this lynch mob. Obama and Cuomo are exploiting the situation for political grandstanding. But what else is new...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Doctor Zhivago

I found a VHS copy of Doctor Zhivago at McKay's yesterday at a reasonable price and brought it home to watch for the umpteenth time. It is a fabulously rich and textured movie to have been made over forty years ago. There is no more beautiful actress in any movie than Julie Christie is in that movie. And no better indictment of the threat collectivism to the individual.

It is Lara and Yuri, of course, at the center of things, but as hateful as he is in certain aspects, you've got to love Komorovsky. His truth is brutal but revealing. He brings them back to earth when the star-crossed lovers risk becoming complete ninnies. And he saves them from early death. Where Zhivago may be the poet of Russia, Komorovsky is closer to its soul, the violent, passionate, often drunken maelstrom that inspired Dostoyevski to powerful novels like The Brothers Karamazov.

The great and painful romantic story is set against the backdrop of the Russian revolution. Class envy was at the root of that disaster just as it is being exploited today in America, with everything from performance bonuses to private jets to trips to Vegas being attacked by the have-nots and do-nots and the President himself to push their political agenda and, in cases such as Maxine Waters, Chris Dodd, Charlie Rangel, and Barney Frank for easy examples, their personal gain.

The book Doctor Zhivago, by the way, is no less powerful than the movie. Get hold of either one the next time you're looking for something of timeless import and quality to read or watch.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Red Herrings

It's nice that the market showed some signs of life this week. About ten more weeks of similar gain and we might be talking recovery.

But it isn't going to happen. Tucked in the portfolio under Obama's left arm is a stack of to-do notes that includes union card check legislation, nationalized health care, cap and trade taxes, undoing the Bush tax cuts, and a cornucopia of "green" malarkey. Each will be rolled out one after the other in time to snuff out any real hope for resurgence in the markets.

The effect of the unbelievable number of jobs lost since the election has yet to be factored in with the economic numbers we're seeing lately. Those folks have some credit card availability and maybe some savings to live off for a while, but that and unemployment payments will wear out soon enough. And no amount of ditch-digging, bridge-building, and paper-shuffling jobs the government can come up with will make up for it. Unchecked, the unemployment disaster is going to further dampen retail sales and lead to repos and foreclosures like this country has never seen. Yet Obama does nothing to stop it by reassuring the investing community that he will not tax them to death, and everything to accelerate it by waving the socialist flag even as he denies it.

The fact is, despite President Obama's sudden sunny outlook (things are never as good or bad as they seem???), knowing just how toxic his attitude is toward free markets and people who have what it takes to succeed in them, he was right from the first with his dour assessment of the economy.

It might make for a lumpy mattress, but as Obama helpfully suggested last weekend, I'd keep my money there if I had any. In gold or silver coin. With a gun under the pillow to protect it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tick tock tick tock...

Hoooo-kay. Down about another hundred today and President Obama's barely had a thing to say about the economy in days, since he compared it to a daily tracking poll. He's been too busy telling the world the Taliban is kicking our cans and revving up the market for unborn fetus cells.

Prior to his election, I predicted Obama would be another Jimmy Carter. Turns out I was being unfair to President Carter. I picked the wrong peanut guy. I should have said Obama would be like the head of that peanut company that's spreading salmonella or plague or whatever all over. But that hadn't happened yet either, so that would have taken a double prophecy. I'm not that good. In fact I'm not good at all but anybody with eyes to see could spot him as a quack if they'd only look.

The Obama apologists, when they're not bashing Rush Limbaugh or belittling those who dare call socialism socialism, like to invoke the excuse that Obama inherited this mess. Obama himself likes to invoke that excuse quite often. But he voted for TARP, and I seem to remember that he was brought in with McCain by President Bush to discuss it all real time before it even went down. That would have been an excellent opportunity for either candidate to stand up and say "No Way", but neither did. So one's not worse or better than the other. But we certainly got one that real time today does not understand at all that it's the economy, stupid.

I hear a clock ticking. It's getting louder and louder. There's only so long before even Democrats realize they've got a real dunderhead in the White House. The people who have loved him so well are going to turn on this President, and turn hard. There's only so much incompetence that even American Idol watchers and Democrats can put up with before it's no longer amusing.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Are you better off than in October?

How many trillions of dollars of value has the stock market lost since Barack Obama was elected? I don't even want to look it up. It's too disturbing. It's bad enough to look at my own retirement account.

I know the dyed in the wool, conscienceless, true left-wing liberals out there who supported Barack Obama will never wake up. They seem all to carry some childhood trauma that they've never gotten over, and don't want to, that leaves them permanently jaundiced by an anti-everything attitude except for what is grotesque and perverted. They're the ones who could not see Bush the man and could only see Bush the Hitler. They're the ones who feel that killing fetuses is a perfectly acceptable form of contraception. They're the ones who blindly buy Al Gore's claptrap. They're the Code Pinks and John Murthas and all those who can conveniently put out of mind the young woman scratching and clawing and gasping for air submerged in Teddy Kennedy's car underwater while he stumbled off not even concerned enough to call for help, much less try to save her himself. They revere him as the Lion of the Senate.

That crowd is hopeless. I'm not talking about them.

But there's a crowd somewhere between that bunch and the KKK types who are average, reasonably well-adjusted Americans, and among them was a large enough portion to swing the vote to the Democrats in 2008. Watching the Sunday shows this morning there was enough anti-Rush Limbaugh chatter to distract from the real problems, but as time goes on, more and more of those in the middle are not going to have to wait four years to ask the question, "Am I better off than I was in 2008?" They're already worse off, much worse off, just weeks into Obama's term.

They're mostly too proud to come out already with their buyer's remorse, though some are. "What the hell was I thinking?" is going through a lot of middle of the road Obama voters minds right now. They chose style over substance. "Is Obama really this dense?" is another common thought. And they thought George Bush was stupid! "Where am I going to put what money I've got left?" is another. Those gold coin ads are sounding better and better.

Obama didn't plea with people not to put their money under their mattresses yesterday for nothing. But I'll bet more than a few people are taking the hint: if he asks us not to do it, it's probably the right move.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Resist sOcialism.

That's what the sign I'm going to hand paint and put in my yard is going to say as soon as I get the time to do it. Feel free to steal the idea and beat me to the punch. Apparently the era of private property rights is past anyway.

I have no time now. For the past six weeks I've done practically nothing but work. My small industrial distribution business, which for several years had consistently been profitable though not lucrative, took a nosedive in November and has never recovered. Curiously, our sales are about 40% below where they should be. That 40% figure is consistent with a 40% dive in the stock market and the 40% drop I keep hearing for retail sales. Where did all those 40%s go? Poof. They're just gone.

And in my case, with our 40% went three of my staff, all of them long termers, including one who had been with us since day one. I blubbered through the layoff meeting like a schoolgirl.

I never thought I'd see such a mess in my lifetime. Granted, part of the responsibility lies with the Bush administration. But the Democrat majority that won Congress in 2006 is clearly the culprit. Up until that time, it's easy to see now, we were enjoying the halcyon days of business. It's hell from here on out, I'm afraid, until something gives.

And apparently it's not going to be our brilliant but headstrong and inexperienced President. Since it can't be his intellect that's in the way, it is absolutely confounding to me that he is either too drunk with his new power or genuinely determined to destroy our free market system.

His comments this week that the stock market is like a tracking poll strike me as adolescent. He is denying the obvious. The policy choices that he has made coupled with the reckless legislation pushed through by Reid and Pelosi are having dramatic, negative consequences for millions of Americans, and his tenure is barely out of the gate. Yet, in some sort of intentional or hapless denial, Barack Obama refuses to read the handwriting on the wall. He has scared the investor, productive class stiff. They will not risk their money any longer on American business not knowing what kind of tax and regulatory mayhem is coming its way.

So I and millions of others in small business are hunkered down. I'm not sure we're even praying or hoping for an improvement. It seems pointless. All we can try to do is survive.

It is a feeling of desparation. Some kind of hope this is. Some kind of change.