Friday, August 25, 2006

Congressman Asked to Have a Program Written to Secretly Fix Elections

Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles

Oh My!

UBS downgrades H&R Block due to rising loan defaults concerns. Is this an opening salvo in a tidal wave of mortgage lender downgrades to come?

Why is the Fed hedging?

Is consumer retail in for some down quarters? Border's press release.

New Home Sales Down.

It's time as a Christian to put our pride behind us

Greg Sargent of the TPM Cafe writes a story about a Maine Widow who recently had an opportunity to directly confront the President.

Halley says that while Bush was personable and receptive to her, she was very direct and critical of Bush's policies and insisted that the right thing to do was to end the war.

"We literally sat knee to knee...I looked deep into his eyes and talked to him about love and losing people and that he was responsible for this. I said, `I didn't vote for you, but you are my President. And you're not serving me.'"

"I said I believed it was time to put an end to this. His job is to find solutions. I said, `You yourself have said you had erroneous information going into this.'"

She continued: "I said, `As a Christian man, you realize that when you've made a mistake it's your responsibility to end this. And it's time to end the bleeding and it's time to end the war.'"

"I said, `what would truly bring healing is to start working on changing your policy towards the Middle President, you're here to serve the people. And the people are not being served with this war.'"

She added: "I told him, `It's time as a Christian to put our pride behind us."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bill Gets Emails

Bill Cara gets a email from a reader that hits the proverbial nail with the hammer.

We live in interesting times (as the Chinese curse has it), and in order to maneuvre and survive the shoals and rapids that lie in front of us, we have to understand them as they actually are. The prince, says Machiavelli (I paraphrase here; you can add bull and bear in substitution), is neither bold nor diffident simpliciter; rather, he is bold when boldness is required, and diffident when diffidence is called for. He sees reality as it is, without sentiment, without illusion, and he simply rides the waves -- he doesn't try to bully the wind, and he does not cower in the face of placid lakes. And this, of course, means seeing the world for what it is, rationally, objectively, dispassionately.

This is the reason most of us gather at your site -- to trade insights and analysis. Very little is accomplished by giving vent to one's political passions -- even if you think you're 'right' -- because such discussions are inevitably shallow, superficial, resting upon unexamined and unacknowledged premises -- so that even if you've got (or think you've got) Truth 'by the balls', it's like throwing mud and sludge into the water you plan to drink. It does a great disservice to the community we're trying hard to build here.

The rhetoric emerging from Teheran is certainly frightening. But the rhetoric coming out of Washington -- and I speak as a political independent, with no discernible partisan leanings that I can detect -- and the chorus of its supporters in the media, is equally hard for me to fathom. There are profound risks afoot in the world; but current breathless attempts among certain individuals to fan yet another war hysteria (WWIII is already here, says Newt Gingrich?) corresponds to nothing in the objective reality that I can see -- Iran, whatever dangers it may ultimately pose, is not about to bomb Topeka in the next few days, or even years. And there are many disinterested, and fairly well informed and intelligent observers who find the arguments currently being made in Washington to be disingenuous -- to say the least.

But those are my views, and even these are matters that can and should be discussed in rational and measured tones. Ultimately, the greatest danger facing the world today is a certain rabid and rancid irrationalism that is sweeping the globe -- and that is armed to the teeth -- and that I find very frightening. I -- no, we here together -- may not be able to do much to stem the tides of history. But history itself will condemn us nonetheless, if we allow ourselves to get reduced, both as individuals and as a group (like the blinded chorus in an Ancient tragedy), to being merely cheering sections for the catastrophes that may lie before us.”

Immigrant Bashing From the Past

Think Progress makes note of some immigrant bashing from America's not too distant past:

Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Languages or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion. [Benjamin Franklin, 1751]

"The Irish fill our prisons, our poor houses. ... Scratch a convict or a pauper, and the chances are that you tickle the skin of an Irish Catholic. Putting them on a boat and sending them home would end crime in this country." [Chicago Post, 1868]

[A] set of citizens, German and Irish, wanted to get the Constitution of the U. S. into their own hands and sell it to a foreign power. [Theme of an American Nativist Party rally, 1844]

Today, instead of a nation descended from generations of freemen bred to a knowledge of principles and practice of self government, of liberty under the law, we have a heterogeneous population, no small proportion of which is sprung from races that throughout the centuries have known no liberty at all... In other words our capacity to maintain our cherished institutions stands diluted by a stream of alien blood, with all of its misconceptions respecting the relationships of the governing power to the governed. [Rep. Albert Johnson, 1927, justifying the 1924 National Origins Act]

The number of purely white People in the World is proportionally very small Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are Germans also, the Saxons only accepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. [Benjamin Franklin, 1751]

"You're either for us or against your country."

Billmon does it again. Read him, you just should:

Reminds me of a scene from an even better black comedy:

"Won't you fight for your country?" Colonel Korn demanded, emulating Colonel Cathcart's harsh, self-righteous tone. "Won't you give up your life for Colonel Cathcart and me?"

Yossarian tensed with alert astonishment when he heard Colonel Korn's concluding words. "What's that?" he exclaimed. "What have you and Colonel Cathcart got to do with my country? You're not the same."

"How can you separate us?" Colonel Korn inquired with ironical tranquility . . . "You're either for us or against your country. It's as simple as that."

Joseph Heller

Housing Troubles

The Agonist does a brief round-up of national housing news. It ain't good.

From the Financial Times:

Sales of existing homes in the US slumped a sharper-than-expected 4.1 per cent in July, the National Association of Realtors reported on Wednesday.

The data underlined the rapid pace of the slowdown in the property market and sent stocks lower amid fears over the health of the broader economy.

Of course, it's only the 'hot' regions that are cooling down, right?


“No region was spared from July’s softness,” said Omair Sharif, analyst at RBS Greenwich Capital. “The headline figure was well below our forecast and that of the consensus, and corroborates recent builders’ statements that the housing market cooled substantially at the start of the summer.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

How Smart Money Toys Around with Dumb Money

One of the most disturbing facets of the cable TV investment channels are the amount of influence they can wield on a uninformed public.

Some CNBC journalist will tout a stock, or sector, on television. Then, it suddenly jumps a few percentage points in value based on that pundits recommendation. Oftentimes, this recommendation is based on nothing but heresy or an opinion that can neither be proved or disproved. It's just "push marketing."

My cynical self tells me that this is ultimately a game of "hide the ball". Smart money is influencing their brokers to come on network investment shows to push a investment. The smart money investor then takes this opportunity to sell as the market heats up. This investor will reposition their holdings without losing market valuation that would typically follow a major selling spree by smart money investor. Dumb money, who where persuaded to buy a stock or sector, is left holding the bag when the investment eventually drops. The smart money man is happy with his earnings, the TV pundit/ broker is happy to help a long time client and the common man investor is left scratching their heads wondering, "how did I make such a bad decision." It's a cycle that happens more than you can imagine.

Bill Cara points to a time when it recently happened to the home builders.

"Throughout the cycle top, CNBC encouraged traders to buy these home-builders. They went on a cross-country tour; they hosted receptions; and they interviewed ad nauseum the leading CEO's of these home-builders and the money-grubbing real estate agents in the hottest markets who seemed intent on proving the notion that pigs can fly over and above the slaughterhouse.

In a word, it was journalism at its worst.

I even remember Kudlow on Nov-16-2005 telling us how stupid we were to be buying the goldminers because commodities were going to hell in a handbasket, but, he said, the better play was in the home-builders, which his guest Neil Hennessy echoed.

From the chart I published that day and the ones above, just look at the prices of the stocks in those two groups since mid-November.

What in fact was happening was that BIG MONEY (aka the gnomes) was selling real estate and buying gold, and the "Help" was telling you to do the opposite.

That's how the rich get richer and the rest..."

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Perfect Circle: annihilation

This song blows me away.

YouTube Link: