Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2011

10 Reasons President Obama Could Get Re-elected

Attention conservative brethren.  I know there are a number of conservatives who don't want any compromise in the Super Committee, assuming that President Obama has no chance of being re-elected.  I think there are two flaws in that hypothesis.  First if nothing is done, another $1 trillion is added to the deficit.  Second, I think he has a better chance of winning than conservatives are facing.:

1. The economy has added 250,000 jobs in the last 60 days. At that rate 2 million jobs will be added by the election. Still not great, but a nice move in the right direction.

2. He prosecuted the war in Iraq as vigorously as Bush, surprising conservatives.

3. Ditto Afghanistan where he approved a further troop surge. Yes, there can be some whining about how long it took him to decide, but not close to the criticism Lincoln took over many issues in the Civil War, and history treats him kindly.

4. He's been even more aggressive in using Predators than President Bush.

5. Some voters prob…

Dear Texas Senators

Dear Senators Cornyn and Hutchinson:
Have you noticed what is going on in Europe recently? Particularly with Greece and Italy?

Does it make you think that maybe you should be cutting some spending? You know, real cuts, not reductions in the growth rate of spending. Cuts where total spending is lower than the prior year by a couple of hundred billion.

Just asking.

Related articlesItaly's lower house to vote on austerity measures (

Dear Senator

Dear Senator:

Have you noticed what is going on in Europe today? Particularly with Greece and Italy?

Does it make you think that maybe you should be cutting some spending? You know, real cuts, not reductions in the growth rate of spending. Cuts where total spending is lower than the prior year by a couple of hundred billion.

Just asking.

Related articlesItaly stares into recession abyss (

RIck Perry's Brain Freeze

Rick Perry's mental lapse has lead the news. Videos of the CNBC debate showing his inability to recall all the agencies he would close have led news broadcasts across the country. He has my sympathy; more than once I've had a brain freeze as I tried to remember the perfect word or phrase, or, worst of all, someone's name when I saw them.

However, the question of eliminating Cabinet-level departments or agencies is actually a serious and important one. When the country was founded, there was the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Attorney General. That was it. Four individuals reporting to the President. It metastasized into its current form in the twentieth century. While populist thinking would eliminate both the Department of Education and the Department of Energy (both excellent ideas if we are really going to try to repay $15 trillion in debt), I'm now questioning the Department of Housing and Urban Welfare.

One thing w…

Bull move?

Over the last few months, the NASDAQ market has made a push towards heavy resistance at $59 - 60 on the $QQQ.  At each point, resistance has held and the market has fallen back.  However, momentum seems to be building again with the QQQ's closing at $58.10.
From there it seems to me that there is some weaker resistance at $62-63.  A penetration through and there is little resistance for a long way.  I'm holding my QQQ position.

Please Mr. Bernanke

Dear Mr. Bernanke:
I'm getting close to retirement age, and I sure could use some interest on my savings so that I have enough money to retire.  Can you let me earn some interest please?

Fed Policy

I've watched a variety of Republican candidates for President as well as many others attack the job the Fed is doing, and attack Ben Bernake.  And I really don't want to defend either - I think they are doing a lousy job and have punished savers and retirees at the benefit of the over-leveraged and private equity businesses.

However, fiscal policy has been a disaster for the last dozen years.  Bush II had a terrible fiscal policy, and Obama has just made it worse. Congress has been hopelessly irresponsible.  It seems to me that anyone who has served in Congress recently has no credibility criticizing the Fed.

All considered, the Fed has done a decent job considering how horrendous fiscal policy has been.
Related articlesBernanke Speaks Dollar Listens (


Gordon Ramsey screaming at someone that they need therapy; Tim Geithner lecturing Europeans on their sovereign debt; 85% of the Occupy Wall St crowd protesting the lack of jobs actually have jobs.

I've awakened in a post-irony alternative universe.

Leaving Iraq

Senator Lindsey Graham (and some other Republicans) was hammering President Obama for leaving Iraq.  Senator: first, we are broke: we can't leave troops everywhere - we can't afford it.
Second, what are we worried about  - a renewal of a shooting war between Iraq and Iran?  Why would that be bad for American interests?
If it does, a pox on both their houses.
Related articlesObama Announces Final US Pullout In Iraq (

RIck Perry

Apparently Rick Perry, or members of his campaign, have been whining that Romney has had all this time to prepare and he isn't being judged fairly because he hasn't had enough time.

Sorry Governor, if you weren't ready, you shouldn't have gotten in.  You won't be given a lot of prep time as President if you are elected either.
Related articlesAbbreviated Pundit Round-up: Rick Perry doesn't do his homework (again) edition (

Arturo Fuente

Just enjoyed an Arturo Fuente cigar.  I'm not sure just what size it was - it was the longest cigar I've ever smoked.  A double-Churchill?  Anyway, I smoked it for two hours and there was still 7 inches left when I gave it up.

Not the finest Fuente I've ever smoked, but a second-best Fuente is better than most other makers' product.  Nice smoke.
Related articlesBasic Cigar Etiquette (

Ponzi Scheme

Memo to Rick Perry, Rush Limbaugh, etc.  Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme.
I'll admit that it has many of the earmarks of a Ponzi scheme - e.g. it is largely dependent upon new participants to fund the prior participants.  However, Charles Ponzi didn't have the benefit of the ability to tax and print money.  Our government has both.
Now, they may be paying us in fiat money worth only a fraction of today's dollar, but the ability to tax prevents SS from being a Ponzi scheme.

Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver

I read all the original Ian Fleming James Bond novels quite literally decades ago. I haven't read any of the subsequent books in the series by other authors. Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver has garnered a lot of publicity and, for some reason I can't really explain, I decided to give it a try.

This is not your father's, err, my James Bond. He has been transported to 2011. He actually has some sensitivity. And Mr. Deaver decided to create a back story: James actually had parents, with their own secrets. There are inter-agency conflicts between the various branches of the British spy network. But there is still the Q branch helping out with gadgets, now including tricked-out mobile phones, and Bond's service still is in the assassination business. In keeping with the late Mr. Fleming's original novels, the settings have a travelogue character about them, with this book jumping from the UK to the Middle East to South Africa. Deaver does a reasonable job describing the…

How to Jump Start the Economy While Reducing the Debt

To: Members of Congress and the Administration:
In the face of a credit downgrade, you apparently can only find $27 billion of savings. I've heard a number of you -from both parties - argue that we must avoid "draconian" actions. News flash: we were just downgraded. It is already past time for draconian actions.

Since you are apparently bereft of ideas, here are some to get you started:

1. Approve the Free Trade Agreement with Columbia. It is failure to do something simple and easy like this that makes Americans of all parties believe you aren't serious about aiding the economy.

2. Ditto Korean Free Trade Agreement. Or is your goal to screw around until the Chinese and the French jump in and strike deals with all those local businesses?

3. Close the Department of Energy. Lay everyone off.

4. Close the Department of Education. Lay everyone off.

5. Cut the EPA budget 50%.

6. Amend the Environmental Protection Act to exclude new nuclear, wind and solar plants from the r…

Perdomo Reserve

Smoked a Perdomo Reserve Champagne Noir.  Apparently, it is the same binder and filler as the regular Champagne, but with a maduro wrapper.  Not bad, but I'll stick with the regular Champagne.

Letter from Senator Corker

Dear Dr. and Mrs. Fisher,

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office regarding the recent debate surrounding the debt ceiling. Your input is important to me, and I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts.

Left to my own accord I would have much rather seen larger spending cuts now, a long-term plan like the CAP Act to put a fiscal straitjacket on Congress, and a constitutional amendment to keep Congress from falling off the wagon, but regrettably, with the current administration and Republican control of only one house of Congress, I believe this was the largest package we could get at this time. In the final analysis I had to ask myself: do I believe two to four more weeks of negotiating would produce a better outcome? The answer is no, and I think it could even get worse.

I'm encouraged that passage of this agreement changes the paradigm in Washington by requiring real cuts in order to raise the debt ceiling. I view the $900 billion down payment as a start…

Letter from Congressman Culberson

This is a response from Congressman Culberson to my email, pleading for some serious cuts and dealing with the debt ceiling in a constructive way.

August 2, 2011

Mr. Gene Morphis

2345 Sage Road #182

Houston, TX 77056-4621

Dear Mr. Morphis:

Last night, I reluctantly supported the debt ceiling compromise for several important reasons. First, America will run out of money in early August, putting us at risk of a default. The ratings agencies have threatened to downgrade our AAA credit rating, which would drive up interest rates, shrink our GDP, and collapse our economy. For every 1% increase in interest rates, we lose a trillion dollars worth of spending cuts we enact.

There is a particularly well researched explanation of the debt ceiling problem at Click on the debt limit analysis, and pay particular attention to the debt bubble link.

Recognizing the very real threat of default and downgrade, we had to find a way to avoid this disaster while pre…

Note to Rachel Madow

Ms. Rachel Maddow:
I've seen your commercial with the impressive gorge bridge in the background saying that we need government to do certain things - implication is things like roads and bridges.

I totally agree.  Let's do this - exempt any new roads, bridges, interstate highways, airports, high-speed railroads, light rail systems, new and expanded subways from having to prepare and obtain an environmental impact statement prior to construction.
Maybe we can get some projects and the economy going.

Letter from Rep. Marsha Blackburn on the Budget

The following is a letter from Rep. Marsha Blackburn to conservative friend Richard Fisher.

Dear Dr. Fisher:
Thank you for contacting me to share your concerns regarding our nation's budget.
As you may know, on August 1, 2011, the House of Representatives passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 (S. 365) by a vote of 269-161. It was subsequently passed the Senate by a vote of 74-26, and was signed into public law by President Obama. I voted for this bill because it accomplishes two vital tasks: it gives the American people the security of avoiding the possibility of default, and it charts a new course for fiscal responsibility. In this bill, we achieved more than two-thirds of Congressman Paul Ryan's budget, and most of the aspects of Cut, Cap, and Balance. It contains real cuts in spending, real caps on future spending, and requires both the Senate and the House to vote on a proposed Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution by the end of the year.

This bill prevents our c…

Letter from Senator Hutchson.

During the recent debt limit fiasco, I wrote my Senators and Congressman.  I received reasonably lucid respones, which I'll post here.

However, I must preface it by saying that words fail me at the level of disdain I feel for people who can only cut $25 billion of spending from a $2.6 Trillion budget.....

Here is the letter from Senator Hutchison.

Dear Friend:

Thank you for contacting me regarding our national debt. I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Out-of-control spending has put our economic and national security at risk. Over the past two years, the federal government has posted deficits of $1.4 trillion and $1.3 trillion, respectively. Our nation’s accumulated debt surpassed $14 trillion December 2010, and reached its statutory limit of $14.3 trillion on August 2, 2011. The debate over our nation's debt ceiling agreement presented Congress and the White House with the opportunity to achieve real, substantive spending cuts and reforms that are necessary to put our fisca…

Should Conservatives Support a Balanced Budget Amendment?

Should conservatives support a balanced budget amendment?

I don't think so. To understand why , let's review some history.

Beginning with the Eisenhower era, budget compromises were always hammered out. Defense suffered some in that, but there were plenty of strong defense, conservative Democrats that kept things reasonable. With the coming of Johnson's Great Society, however, dramatic shifts began. Strong defense democrats like John Stennis, Scoop Jackson, Mike Mansfield and Jack Kennedy, retired, passed away or were pushed aside, as the Viet Nam war turned the Democratic Party pacifist.

The compromises made to balance the annual budget among various government priorities moved strongly away from defense to a growing variety of social programs.

This continued under Nixon and Carter. The CIA was almost destroyed by Senator Church, while the overall defense budget was dismantled, as Republicans made cuts to keep the budget balanced.

However, a new theory emerged as Regan wa…

Debt & Deficit

Let's deal with this before the U.S. (and don't tell me it can't happen here).

First, separate this into two issues: the current deficit, and the accumulated debt.

The deficit should be dealt with through massive spending cuts.  Entire government agencies - at the cabinet level - should go.  If you've had experience in a company, charity, church, local or state government, school district, etc. then you very likely know one thing: to get real cuts, first the frills must go.  For employees to accept pay cuts and still give 100%, the corporate jet has to go.

Same here.  The Acorns and Planned Parenthoods must go.  This isn't about whether or not they are effective.  We are broke, and therefore can't afford frills.  Then you move to the tough  stuff, and larger amounts.

The goal would be to cut at least a trillion from current spending.

Then, on to the accumulated debt.  There tax increases are required.  Conservative buddies, I know you hate this.  But it is math…

President Obama's foreign policy

Image via Wikipedia I miss the Nixon administration.

Yes, Nixon was a crook, no question about it. And I'm a conservative, and President Nixon definitely wasn't. (Disagree? We can debate that. He was clearly more liberal than his Democrat opponent Kennedy). But along with his sidekick Henry Kissinger, he had an encompassing, completely thought out, foreign policy.

Now, many conservatives didn't care for his policy - it was far too realpolitik for their convictions. And many if not most hated it, because it was a too confrontational to communism. I loved it then, and I love it more now. Look at successive administrations. Ford wasn't in long enough to matter. Carter was completely taken aback when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and never recovered his bearings. Regan made some steps in the right direction and had a brilliant plan vis a vis the Soviets, but couldn't develop a theory for the rest of the world. Bush the elder was on course, I believe, to a comprehensiv…

Social Security

I'm rarely surprised nowadays.  I've become accustomed to actions that used to shock me, acclimated to statements I would have considered outrageous at some point.

Nonetheless, I was shocked to learn that AARP said they were prepared to negotiate an increase in the age for Social Security eligibility.  That is astonishing hiatuses.  Where does AARP get any standing in this matter?  Who do they think they get to negotiate with?  In a private meeting with, say, the Majority Leader of the Senate?  Some cabinet member?  The President?
Who do they send to negotiate?  On whose behalf?  Mine? 
Have we acceded some Constitutional authority to them?

Isn't this remarkable?
Related articlesAARP Pivots on Social Security Benefit Cuts (

Sustainagility Book Review

A while back, on this blog I mentioned that I had bought a couple of books based on recommendations from individuals I follow on Twitter.  Further, both had been quite different than my expectation, including one that turned out to be about advancing the alternative energy/green tech movement, and that I would post a review about it.
Sustainagility is one of those books.

The tagline is "How Smart Innovation and Agile Companies Will Help Protect Our Future" Authors are Patrick Dixon and Johan Gorecki. Maybe I should have perceived what it is really about - but I didn't. Rather than a business book (my supposition) it is a wide-ranging survey, analysis and set of proposals to reduce global warming.

Let's set up my view of global warming, so that anyone who is interested in the review knows my biases. First, in my view the evidence that the earth is getting warmer is overwhelming. Basically, since the Little Ice Age (approx 1550-1850) the world has gradually, if irregul…

National Debt & Leadership

Once you realize that we've elected people whose idea of good judgment  is that it is OK to email pictures of their crank to women they've never met in person, you understand why I despair that we will deal with our debt and deficit problem. Representative Weiner
Related articlesPurported X-rated Weiner image released (

How to get job creation started

I watched Fareed Zakaria tonight being interviewed by John King on CNN. The topic was job creation.

My summary of Zakaria's points were: the Republicans are saying no to any government programs that might help, and President Obama for some inexplicable reason isn't prepared to propose the kind of bold initiatives required to get the unemployed millions back to work.

Mr. Zakaria: I agree. I'll give you some bold proposals to get job creation.

• Approve every outstanding offshore drilling permit, as long as rigs are in place or under construction within the next 180 days. That drilling is exempt from any EPA laws or rulemaking.

• Notify the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that any plan submitted must be reviewed and approved or disapproved with specific guidance on requirements to be approved within 90 days of submission. Notify all utilities, investment groups etc. that any new nuclear plant that is capitalized and breaks ground in calendar 2011 is exempt from all environment…

Republicans and Representative Weiner

The Republicans should shut up about Rep. Weiner.  No comments.  Dodge any questions.  Or say "Resign?  That is up to the Representative and the citizens of NY". 
Why?  Frequently in business a company is better off with a severally wounded competitor than a bankrupt competitor.  The assets of a bankrupt competitor may end up in strong hands, creating a stronger, tougher competitor.  Same here.  Weiner is now a non-factor.  Formerly a Lib Democrat attack dog, he is now discredited and completely marginalized.
If he quits, his seat will most certainly be filled with another far-left Dem.  Why push for that?
Republicans should let him stew and be a thorn in the opposition party's side.

Letter to Newt

Mr. Gingrich: I watched your interview on Meet The Press. The whole thing, live. Mr. Gregory asked you hard questions. I thought you handled them rather well. He was tough on your history of ugly divorces. You responded humbly.

But you did undermine Rep. Paul Ryan, and in a harsh way. And you quite clearly talked about health care, clarifying your point of view on coverage after Meet The Press showed a video from their archives (they are really good at digging up old, on-the-record stuff). In that video clip you supported mandatory health care.

(I understand the concept of mandatory healthcare; otherwise I don't know how the freeloader problem is ever resolved. But if we are ever going to restore any powers to the Commerce Clause, I don't see how a Federal mandatory program is Constitutional. The courts will eventually let us know.)

Overall, I thought you did quite a good job.

Then I heard you this week on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. If I hadn't watched Meet The Press,…

Abortions and sonograms

Here in Texas we've passed a law requiring a sonogram before an abortion. Now I don't think America should take any national pride in the number of abortions, but they are at least currently legal. The one thing we are sure of is that, as a country, we have more debt than we can handle, and it is compounding away.

My questions are, first, who pays for those sonograms? And second, did this really have anything to do with abortion, or are some TX state reps getting some monster kickbacks from the companies that make sonogram equipment?

Related articlesTexas law forces abortion seekers to get a sonogram (

Ballmer: Time to Go

It is always sad when a CEO stays too long.  Ask someone who witnessed the last days of Peter Grace at W.R. Grace.or Richard Fuld at Lehman.  That is what we are witnessing at Microsoft.  Gates' buddy and long-time CEO Steve Ballmer has stayed long beyond his usefulness.  While Apple shares continue to set records, MSFT is about where it was in 2,000.

And after squandering $6 billion of shareholders' money on aQuantive, and attempting to buy even more of Yahoo, MSFT is offering $8.5 billion for Skype.  How is MSFT going to get a return on that?  Answer : they don't know.  Ballmer is flailing around looking for something that can help.

Steve, you are now acting like a crazy man.  Time for you to leave.  Resign.

President Obama & OBL

OK - conservative buddies: The President deserves plenty of credit for getting OBL.  Yes, President Bush authorized interrogation techniques that probably helped. But, the raid could have backfired.  Remember the raid authorized by President Carter?  Disaster.  If that had happened, we would have pilloried the President.

Give credit where credit is due.  He took a big risk.  He earned this time.

Rep. Weiner

Representative Weiner, appearing on some Bill Mahler show, indicated that Glen Beck followers were shoeless and toothless.
Mr. Beck's radio and TV shows both occur while I'm at work, so I don't get to watch or listen very often.  However, when I do I usually find him entertaining or provocative.  Do I agree with everything he says? Of course not.
I do agree with his assessment of the sorry state of the country's financial condition. And I have all my teeth. And, Representative Weiner, I'll compare shoe inventories with you, anytime you'd like to have a closet comparison. And my closet contains many pair from U.S. manufacturers Alden and Allen Edmonds...
Related articlesAnthony Weiner speaks - again - obsesses over Glenn Beck (

Musings with Perdomo

I've been reading Sustainagility while smoking an absolutely delicious Perdomo Reserve Champagne.  Much of this is a commentary on our times.  First, I'm blogging about it - not likely ten years ago.  Second, I bought the book sight unseen from Amazon.  And third, I bought the book on a recommendation from someone I've never met, but who recommended it on Twitter.
It is a very different book than I presumed.  If I had bought it in an old-fashioned book store, I would have looked at the jacket and probably declined.  I thought it had more to do with how businesses could become more agile.  But in truth, it is much more about the environment, global warming, alternative energy and the like.  I've found it to be interesting and relatively balanced, although the authors make some assertions about the capability of governments that I find incredible, and throw hundreds of billions of dollars around like dimes.
It is good enough that I'm still reading it and will eventua…

Sperando - Hyper-inflation?

There was an interesting and thought-provoking article in January 3rd Barron's by long-time trader Victor Sperando. Mr. Sprerando's core thesis is that there is a level of current government borrowing to spending (e.g. borrowing to fund a deficit) that is associated with hyper-inflation. And, more specifically, the U.S. is now running at that level.

Let's suspend that discussion for a moment and focus on the accumulated debt, which is approximately $14 trillion. If those notes and bills were to carry an interest rate of 5%, which is certainly not outlandish, the annual carry would be a whopping $700 billion. That, of course, wouldn't be amortizing the loan (paying any principal), but rather would be analogous to paying the minimum on one's credit card bill.

How could this debt ever be repaid? There are four ways:

1. The method that Republicans seem to be placing their hopes on: that the economy grows so fast while spending remains so constrained that our current $1…