Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best of the best

Best question from a news anchor came from Katie Couric to House Minority Leader John A. Boehner: "What in the world are you people doing?"

Best remedial money move I’ve taken this week: I’ve stopped looking for a VW Vanagon on CraigsList.

Best cautious wisdom coming from a growing list of top CEOs in America: we may not need this bailout.

Best advice to McCain from conservative writers like George Will, David Brooks, et al: let Palin be Palin.

Add your “best” list below:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Paul Newman ruined my marriage

Our sex life was so bad that I got a life-size poster of Paul Newman and thumb-tacked it to the ceiling in our bedroom. I was hoping that looking up at Cool Hand Luke might inspire my then-wife.

No such luck and I soon forgot about the poster on the ceiling.

Later, her elderly parents were visiting and we always gave them our bed. The old people never said a word about the Paul Newman sharing their bedroom. During the third night, I heard this muffled scrumple and a yelp.

The poster had fallen on the in-laws. And I left it to her to explain.

I thought the alimony award was excessive.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Who won the debate? This might surprise you.

We won the debate. You and me. Deep inside, I’m just a patriotic fool who loves John Wayne and loves his country. And the country won last night.

The candidates spoke and both sides can be proud. Prediction: Debate II will be better after both sides have had a chance to review the game film.

I would like an answer to one big question: where the hell was Sarah Palin after last night’s debate? The Dems trotted out Joe Biden and let him make his gaffes and take his shots. But the Republicans could only dredge up Giuliani for the debate post mortem.

I’ll bet Sarah Palin is mad as hell and I don’t blame her. Her boss belittles her by his actions while he praises her out of his mouth. Uh uhh.

Memo to Sen. McCain: take the muzzle off your pit bull. Your bizarre witness protection treatment is ruining her self-confidence.

That’s cruel and is no way to treat a human being. If you really love her,
let her go.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Brother, can you spare a dime?

There’s a lot of hooey from Washington about the financial crisis. Political theater, political drama. Fascinating if it weren’t so frightening. Ask a Washington Mutual stockholder who just lost everything this morning.

However, for those of us who think we aren’t being told the complete truth, there’s this viewpoint from the left:

"It's more hype than real risk," said James K. Galbraith, a University of Texas economist and son of the late economic historian John Kenneth Galbraith. "A nasty recession is possible, but the bailout will not cure that. So it's mainly relevant to the financial industry."

“The Paulson plan will get some bad assets off the balance sheets of troubled Wall Street institutions and commercial banks. That may help thaw the lending freeze.

“But it wouldn't reduce the crush of homes in or near foreclosure, said Simon Johnson, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That's a problem that will surely grow worse if the U.S. economy enters recession, leading to greater job losses, which feed a vicious downward spiral of even more foreclosures and defaults on car loans and credit-card debt.

“Americans are spooked by talk that financial Armageddon awaits.”

Mebbe. But the credit market froze up this morning. The first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Were it not for the seriousness, I would change channels. Frankly, I am weary of John McCain’s stunts. His antics are dramatic – but lacking in real, substantive leadership.

And I never thought I would say this, but I am beginning to feel sorry for Sarah Palin, who is clearly in over her head. McCain fed her into the meat grinder with but one thought in mind – winning the election.
How calloused.

C’mon. let’s go get a cup of coffee. And see if we can still cash a check.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Just the facts, ma'am

I only post when there's a formatting issue George isn't comfortable with, so please pardon this intrusion from his out-law.

I get a lot of email forwards from friends and family, usually of a sensationalist nature, and they almost always turn out to be false. Before you hit that "forward" button, and certainly before you trust anything sent to you via email, I urge you to make a habit of checking Snopes.com first.

Snopes is an independent group (mostly a husband and wife) who make their living figuring out if a given urban legend is true or not. That's spilled over into the land of email forwards, and their resource is absolutely invaluable. If you want the straight dope on something, give them a try first; they're fair, objective, and hard-working.

Particularly helpful in this campaign season are their sections on the candidates. I know I can't even count any more the number of messages I've been helpfully sent that Barack Obama is the anti-Christ or that John McCain declared on 60 Minutes that he was a "war criminal".

Here in one convenient place are links so you can tell your mom/friend/wife/husband/neighbor to quit forwarding false information.

There is no entry for poor Joe Biden, apparently he doesn't register on enough radars to be worth a page of his own.

I'll slink back into the shadows now and turn thing back over to their rightful owner.

Vote no on Bush Bail-out

This is so wrong.

Former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says the Bush Bail-out will drive the engine of corruption as Wall Street insiders play the system.

This is so wrong.

Warrant Buffett pumps in $5 billion and gets preferred stock. The Bush Bailout would turn taxpayers into bottom feeders buying trash stock at low tide.

This is so wrong.

Many observers compare the Bush Bail-out with the Resolution Trust Corporation but it was no great success. RTC lost $125 billion in six years.

This is so wrong.

To function, RTC had to hire 10,000 people to work the debt load. The Bush Bail-out is twice that big. How long does it take to find and hire 20,000 people? The weekend timeline is artificial, political and cynical.

This is so wrong.

But it feels so familiar. Like the tactics used in the run-up to the Iraq war.

This is so wrong.

In the end, Wall Street will continue to run the show.

This is so wrong.

This morning, I hear the children playing in the school yard. Poor darlings. They have no idea of the debt they are going to have to pay. They have no idea that they are going to have to explain it to their children, too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ransom note

This anonymous note is getting a lot of play on the Internet:

put one trillion dollars in a bag by the side of the road or you will never see your economy again

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Slow down just a little, honey

What if the Congress does not take the bait and enact the bailout? It would not be pretty.

Credit markets would seize up, trillions would disappear and jobs would vanish. Without enough jobs, nothing much else happens.

Some guessers think as many as 11 million Americans could lose their jobs if the big money business and housing markets are left to find their bottoms. That’s almost ten percent of the U.S. work force. Not pretty.

Despite the Bush Administration’s best in-your-face efforts to get in our wallets, there is a slow-down mood gaining traction in Washington committees.

Is it wrong to ask for a little more foreplay before we get screwed?

Conservatives are beginning to shy away despite pressure from Bush; liberals instinctively have questions. Don’t forget, up until last week, Treasury Secretary Paulson was wrong at every step about the severity of the economic crisis. Is he right this time?

A rich guy from Houston paid for a full page ad in today’s New York Times that calls Bush, Paulson and Bernanke “the new communists.”

Harsh? Overboard? Yes. And I would not go that far. But so is a trillion dollar bailout that does not punish bad behavior. That's unbelievable.

I don’t pretend to have the answer. But I am worried about my retirement accounts and I am thankful the Congress has not yet panicked into giving George Bush and his cronies the license to plunder the U.S. Treasury. With no legal recourse?

What arrogance.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wall Street greed knows no bounds

“Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.” NY Times.

Please read that again.

The biggest bailout in the history of the world is underway and financial firms are already lobbying to expand the scope. The greedy are not satisfied. They want more. They want to make money on taxpayer misery. Misery that Wall Street brought about.

Treasury Secretary Paulson is asking for Congress to spend nearly a trillion dollars – without holding hearings – and everybody in Big Money wants on the gravy train.

You know something is wrong when liberal thinkers like Paul Krugman agree with conservative writers like William Kristol that this “cash for trash” plan is fraught with danger.

America is on the verge of nationalizing the financial world. Who is next? Airlines, automobile manufacturers, credit card companies?

Insane. This is insane. It was greed that got us here. If Congress is our best hope, then we are doomed.

"Give you an idea how bad the American economy is -- Mexico is
now calling for a fence along the border." – Jay Leno.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Trust Bush? Are you kidding?

The Bush Administration is asking congress for powers of a dictator to fix the economy. No one knows if the new rules will work. But Bush wants immunity from the courts in case the unprecedented governmental intrusion into Wall Street fails.(click here.)

Trust Bush? With absolute power? Reward his banking buddies' bad behavior with a trillion dollar bail-out financed by the American taxpayer? Not on your life.

We trusted Bush after 911. Look what his team of incompetents brought us.

I don’t know the consequences of doing nothing. But I like the odds better than giving Bush the power of a monarchy to play with our money. This isn’t Monopoly.

Let the market freeze up. It might anyway. Then we can cherry pick which institutions to save with a bail out.

Do not, I repeat, do not give George W. Bush these powers.

There is only one man in America smart enough to sift through this mess without being blinded by either the power or the conflict of interest – Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, is rich enough to have first-hand knowledge of our markets and markets throughout the world. I don’t know if Bloomberg is Democrat or Republican. I think he’s been both. He is an honorable man in that den of banker greed.

Warren Buffet suggested we make Bloomberg our economic czar. Do it now. If we must give up such extraordinary power to save American capitalism, give that power to Bloomberg. Do it now. Fill in with necessary legislation tomorrow.

I vote aye!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

From Wall Street to Main Street in real time

Wait a minute. Wait a goddamn minute.

Local TV just carried a story predicting home equity loans are fading fast. In six months, such line of credit loans may not exist.

Wall Street gets $700 billion gift of my tax dollars and I can’t get a loan on the equity I’ve built in my home? That’s my money. Come bail me out, Mr. Bush. I’m retired. I really could use the money. My money.

I don’t buy this stuff about “plenty of time for finger-pointing later.” The bulk of this economic damage happened on George Bush’s watch. That’s the truth of it.

Somebody should go to jail.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Economic crisis stock tip

Pssst. Buy bananas. In these uncertain financial times, buy bananas. I’ll explain shortly.

But first, a little history:

E. F. Hutton

S&L scandals, RTC

Freddie Mac

Fannie Mae

Lehman Brothers


You get the picture. It’s stark. The biggest bailout in the history of the world is underway. Big government is coming to the rescue of big money. Greed seems to be its own reward. But pity the homeowner trying to avoid foreclosure. No help in sight.

Now, a look into the future:

For starters. airlines, automobile manufacturers, credit card companies. If the federal government can bail out the stock market, why not these companies too? Print some more money. China is happy to back us up.

That’s where bananas come in. The U. S. government is spinning around the edges of becoming a banana republic. The feds buy another banana every time they put another buck into saving big corporations from big mistakes. We are nationalizing private business at an alarming rate.

Buy bananas. While you still can.

Put me in, coach

To get our minds off politics and the financial melt-down, let's talk a little football.


Surely you’ve asked: why do football players wear wristbands up around their elbows? A medical advantage? A physical edge. No and nope. It’s vanity. The players like the look. Most wear the bands on one arm only. Both arms would just be too too.

Three and a half seconds. That’s about all the time the quarterback has to decide where to throw. While it’s not rocket science, algebra is of no use (takes too long). The QB is processing info on a level that even he might not understand. Emotional signals travel the fastest. Duck!

Who is the bigger diva – quarterback or wide receiver? Well, receivers gave us the first end zone dance. And head shrinkers describe receivers as “confident, assertive, talented, high self esteem, vocal, and may act without regard for criticism.”

Do football players hit harder these days? They should. Since 1970, the players weigh 20% more. Speed has picked up, too. And that’s where Newton Second Law of Motion kicks in. You do the math.

Just give me the damn ball.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

McCain, the economy and BS

The federal government is going to own 80% of the world’s largest insurance company? Does this mean we are finally going to get affordable health care for all Americans?

That's a stretch.

I can’t find the source again, but I agree with the economics professor who said this bail-out seems to privatize profits and socialize losses. Why? Because the U.S. taxpayer will be responsible for the bad investments made by the greed-driven private sector.

Yet John McCain has said over and over that the U.S. economy is fundamentally sound. That’s not bullish, Senator. That’s bull s**t. If there was any doubt before, McCain just underlined the truth of his earlier statement that he doesn’t know much about the economy.

Don't forget. John McCain wanted to privatize our Social Security. The horror.

Speaking of BS, where is President George Bush? This is the largest financial crisis facing our nation since the Great Depression. Why has he gone underground? The President should go on national television tonight and reassure the nation with a plan to fix the massive financial hemorrhage.

Take a break from politics

Frank Mundus has died. He’s the salty old shark-hunter who was the inspiration for Capt. Quint in “Jaws.” Capt. Mandus lived out his last days at a small lemon-tree farm on the Big Island of Hawaii.
At 2,000 feet above shark level.

Cornelius Vander Starr, also dead, founded the American International Group not in the U.S., but in Asia -- with 300 Japanese yen, the equivalent of three bucks at today’s exchange rate. And yesterday, the U.S. government ponied up $85 billion to keep the messed up company afloat. That’s $85 billion at today’s exchange rate. Sort of makes you wish what happens in Wall Street stays in Wall Street.

Sorry, but I think wind turbines are ugly. If ever you are asked, reply that you prefer Don Quixote’s view rather than Sancho Panza’s.

You might need to know this if she gets elected. The moose meat delicacy saved for the elders includes the aforemention’s liver and nose.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Conservative writers turning on Palin

Sometimes I surprise myself. But I never, never thought I would be urging people to read these conservative columnists: George Will, Charles Krauthammer, David Frum and Ross Douthat. Today, I cross that line. Google up these guys and see what they have been saying about one of their own—Sarah Palin.

Each of these right wing writers suggests she is unready.

The best of the current crop of conservative writers is David Brooks. He is funny and thoughtful. He thinks before he types. To read what Brooks has to say in today’s NY Times, click here.

Still not convinced?

Try this: Lyda Green is the sixty-nine year old Republican president of the Alaskan state senate and represents the district that includes Palin’s home town of Wasilla. This woman has the bona fides. She and Palin were friends and allies throughout the nineties.

Green says: “She’s (Palin) not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?” Read more.

To counter this obvious shortfall, Palin’s handlers include a growing list of disgraced neocons from the Bush administration. Karl Rove confessed to being on the campaign staff and is fast becoming McCain’s brain, too. Just imagine what he’ll do with hers.

Read David Brooks today. You’ll be glad you did.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Potato, potahto

Ours is a small community at this blog. Like I’ve pointed out in the past, although I’ve enjoyed nearly 40,000 visits, I suspect it’s mostly my retired friends who have time on their hands. The hits come from the same twelve people.

Yes, we are small but we reflect the larger world about us. Same narratives, smaller print.

Take, for example, the difference between liberals and conservatives (or Democrats and Republicans, if you prefer). Somehow, the conservatives are painted as sacred while the Democrats are profane. Same story on the national level. Thinking about it worries me.

During the Democratic national convention, I wept. I cheered Obama. I knew they were right. During the Republican national convention, as I watched the faces in the crowd, I realized half my circle of friends were feeling the same thing while Sarah Palin spoke.

Who is being duped? How can we look at the same thing and come to such different conclusions? Are we hard wired differently?

Note: there is a school of thought that conservatism is a form of mental illness. Hold it. Before you join the posse, there’s a similar school tainting liberals.

Oy vey. Wish I had the answer.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sarah Palin is slick

Sarah Palin held her own during the interview with Charles Gibson. She’s too glib for my tastes (no surprise). More style than substance despite all the coaching. High potential for gaffs. I don’t think she is going to wear well. Her handlers fear this and will continue to limit her press availability. That's smart politics but shameful leadership.

If you want an evaluation of how the press covered the show, turn to Howard Kurtz, the media critic for the Washington Post. Click here.

I'm going on a bike ride to get some fresh air.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The difference in pit bulls

Since the current election cycle seems to focus on pigs, lipstick and other critters, these stories about two of the pit bulls in my life.

Yesterday, the Mystery Woman was talking with the guy down in Texas who voluntarily helps her with her modest retirement accounts. At work, he’s the lone Democrat in an office of 32 Republican financial advisers.

When Bush was first elected president, our friend challenged two co-workers: “OK. Republicans control the White House and the Congress. Let’s see what you can do.”

Eight years and two Bush terms later, he asked: “What happened?”

His co-workers grinned: “Are you making more money than you were?” His reaction? "The man on the street might be hurting because I am making more money." Fallout, you see.

True story. For these Republicans financial gurus, making money is more important than anything else. How calloused.

The next story comes from my sister, who volunteers at a food bank in a small Central Texas town.

Yesterday, three women came to the food bank on their lunch break - they work full time and can't feed their families. Read that again, please. They work full time and still cannot afford to feed their families.

The facility has lots of bread but no tuna or peanut butter - almost no protein. A church brought 28 lbs of red beans and there were only 6 bags left at the end of the day.

One grandmother said, "I have exactly $42.15 to last the rest of the month and I haven't paid my car insurance."

Burnet County, Texas, has about 4,700 residents. The Food bank serves around 900 individuals and 300 families. That’s up 20% over last year. By June of this year, they had served more people than last year.

You get the point.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sarah Palin - another day, another scandal

Evidence is building every day that Sarah Palin is a fraud.

Consider the latest mini-scandal about Palin billing taxpayers for the 300 nights she spent at home during her first year-and-a-half in the governor's office.

Curiously, her expense report covers reimbursement for sending her husband on state-paid “errands.” She also got paid back for her kids’ travel.

Her official excuse is that she didn’t spend as much as the last governor. Weak.

It’s not the dollars; it’s the ethics.

Palin was away from the state capital so much that Alaskan legislators wore yellow pins asking “Where’s Sarah?”

She’s a huckster. Her approach to government is riddled with lies and omissions.

The chef? Still on the state payroll. She didn’t really fire the cook but merely reassigned the job to a different part of the budget.

The bridge to nowhere? She never reveals that she kept the millions of federal money in Alaska anyway.

The airplane? Not sold on eBay as she carefully alludes. McCain, caught in her propwash, swears she sold it on eBay at a profit. Actually, the plane sold at a loss to an Alaskan businessman.

The trooper? He should have been fired.

Sarah Palin has an awful record which has only been revealed to us in the few days since she became a candidate. Makes you wonder what else is out there?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sarah Palin, hottie

I try to shake off my political past. In my declining years, I would rather laugh than fight. More fun for everyone is my current motto.

But the presidential campaign is too weird to let pass. I'm coming out of retirement.

Sarah Palin is a hottie. Not my words. That’s a Rush Limbaugh observation.

She is also a liar. Doozies: selling the state airplane on eBay, opposing the Bridge to Nowhere, opposing earmarks. All lies. We may learn more if the Republicans ever release her from that secure, undisclosed location where they are shielding her from the press and the public.

Palin told her fundamentalist church it was “God’s will” that the federal government put up $30 billion for a gas pipeline in Alaska. And she said the war in Iraq is “a task from God.” Isn’t that also what the Muslim fundamentalists say about the war?

Look me in the eye, Senator. Do you really think she is qualified to be commander in chief. Really?

After the past eight years, do we really want four more of the same?

Repeat after me: the economy. Say it again. The Bush government has run up a near-record deficit of $407 billion.

Shake your head and mutter: the mortgage crisis, gasoline crisis, banking crisis. the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac crisis. It’s the economy.

More: the Katrina bungle, the war in Iraq bungle, the Abu Ghraib bungle, the Justice Department hiring bungle. And where the hell is Osama Bin Laden?

Alberto Gonzales, Scooter Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, Jack Abramoff.

The politics of fear: Dick Cheney. Karl Rove. George Bush.

John McCain has voted with the Bush administration 90% of the time. The question bears repeating: After the past eight years, do we really want four more of the same?

I don’t.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Knee jerk

It was an unexcused absence. I decided to take a break for the Labor Day holiday and just never got back to speed. Retirement can be like that. But I’m back.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I haven’t been crowing about my basketball prowess lately. Blew out my knee. Hurt like hell every time my knee clicked into place. Insert knowing glances here. No self-respecting 69-year-old man should be out on the playground.

I checked to make certain I had the right equipment. Yes, the instructions said the basketball was recommended for males 12 and up. Apparently, there is no cut-off.

I miss it. As the Spalding box proclaims: “No flash. Just honest passion for pure play.” Emphasis on play.

But, as the knee pain was fading, my gout returned. Where did I put my cane?

Plus school has started (the basketball court is on school grounds) and they don’t want old guys lurking about the playground during school hours. Weekends will have to do. But this weekend, we had a cold morning rain. Then the 8th grade bullies came out in the afternoon.

Next weekend, for sure. Horse, anybody?

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