Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Cronkite Moment

Will there come this moment for the Afghanistan War? There doesn’t seem to be a journalist with the gravitas of Uncle Walter. Certainly Katie Couric will not cut it. Maybe just for shock value we could have an O’Reilly or Hannity or Beck declare the conflict lost. That would just be for partisan advantage over a Democratic president, though. Hardly heartfelt.

The events there seem to be more ever-present lately. Maybe it is just a shift of our media collective toward presenting it for the clusterfuck it is and laying aside the support the troops (and the war) at all costs.

Seven U.S. troops have died in weekend attacks in Afghanistan's embattled southern and eastern regions, while officials found the bodies Sunday of five kidnapped campaign workers for a female candidate in the western province of Herat.

Two servicemen died in bombings Sunday in southern Afghanistan, while two others were killed in a bomb attack in the south on Saturday and three in fighting in the east the same day, NATO said. Their identities and other details were being withheld until relatives could be notified.

I recognize the geo-political reality that Afghanistan is right next door to a nuke wielding Pakistan. I realize that women are brutalized by religious zealots stuck in medieval times. I salute the bravery of these campaign workers who surely must have known they were placing their lives in danger to work for the election of a female candidate.

When I enter a search for “India Pakistan Peace” I don’t find much in the way of organizations working toward that goal. If we turned our time, efforts and resources away from Afghanistan and toward resolution between these two nations and eventual de-nuclearization of them it would likely solve a number of our problems.

Whatever Afghanistan is going to become, it is going to become with or without our troops there. Opium production has increased exponentially since our involvement. We have placed a former CIA asset and kleptocrat in charge of their country in the form of Hamid Karzai. Can things get worse? Probably for awhile. Are they going to get better with tens of thousands of US troops there? Probably not.

I’m just an average schmuck with a laptop and a broadband connection. My opinion could be wrong. I figure I have about a 50%  chance. Stay or leave. Those are the options.

UPDATE: FWIW, saw this piece at Newshoggers about the Chinese moving into Kashmir in a big way, ostensibly to improve their shipping times.

  Now, China isn't exactly a U.S. enemy and if they want a base in the Gulf then they're legally allowed one if the host nation (Pakistan) will co-operate - but many analysts have written about China's maritime expansion in worrying tones, seeing an eventual confrontation with the US as more possible because of it.

We are hardly in a position to get confrontational with the Chinese for any number of reasons. And since they are still willing to exchange dollars for treasuries it’s likely they don’t want to be either. Jon Huntsman seemed like a capable choice for ambassador to China when he was chosen. Hopefully, that is so and we will find a way to make lemonade out of this situation.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Last Sane Republican

Yes, I realize there are a few others who have come out on the side of the angels in the mosque Islamic community center debate. But Ron Paul is higher profile. He seems to be the most principled politician on either side of the divide. I know there have been charges of racism and that libertarianism deep down is crazy, but moments like this are likely the reason he inspires the devotion that he does.

Ron ripped into opponents of the Cordoba House project, saying that the rhetoric taking on the plan is clearly "all about hate and Islamaphobia."


"The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims," Ron wrote in a statement to "This is like blaming all Christians for the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservative's aggressive wars."

And no, I don’t give a rat’s ass about his unprincipled kid.

Classic Ron Paul:


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why Small Investors (and pigs) Get Slaughtered

The psychology of investing leads people to invariably jump in and out of investments at the wrong time. Been there, done that.

Investors withdrew a staggering $33.12 billion from domestic stock market mutual funds in the first seven months of this year, according to the Investment Company Institute, the mutual fund industry trade group. Now many are choosing investments they deem safer, like bonds.

The recipe for loss, or at least middling returns, is to sell on type of investment on the downturn and buy another when it’s ascending. Put simply, we sell low and buy high. These people are buying into bonds as they are riding high.

Take free advice for what it’s worth, but the Occam’s razor portfolio would likely beat any managed mutual fund over the long run. It will 3 ETFs and 10 minutes of work a year.

Put 40% of your money into BND which is a total market bond ETF. Put 30% of your investment money into VTI which covers the entire US market from low to high. And put the remainder into VEU which is an index that invests in the whole world excluding the US. Choose a brokerage with cheap commissions which will re-invest dividends for you. Rebalance back to the 40-30-30 split once a year and Bob’s your uncle.

When  it comes to investing, I’ve done all the dumb things.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Oswald and Hinckley Get a Pass

I can see not putting Lee Harvey on the list because he only killed a Democrat (sic) president. But WTF, John Hinckley tried to kill Saint Ronnie. Good God, Conservatives are stupid SOBs.

23) Saul Alinsky (7)
23) Bill Clinton (7)
23) Hillary Clinton (7)
19) Michael Moore (7)
19) George Soros (8)
19) Alger Hiss (8)
19) Al Sharpton (8)
13) Al Gore (9)
13) Noam Chomsky (9)
13) Richard Nixon (9)
13) Jane Fonda (9)
13) Harry Reid (9)
13) Nancy Pelosi (9)
11) John Wilkes Booth (10)
11) Margaret Sanger (10)
9) Aldrich Ames (11)
9) Timothy McVeigh (11)
7) Ted Kennedy (14)
7) Lyndon Johnson (14)
5) Benedict Arnold (17)
5) Woodrow Wilson (17)
4) The Rosenbergs (19)
3) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (21)
2) Barack Obama (23)
1) Jimmy Carter (25)

Nixon was kind of a shocker, too. He’s tied with Chomsky, Reid, Gore, Fonda and Pelosi. I would have expected John Dean in his place. Tricky Dick we hardly knew ye.

Apparently, pseudo professor Don would put Kennedy on the list, but not the guy who shot him. And he would put Kos and Howard Zinn on it, but not the guy who shot Reagan. I’m surprised he didn’t defend Nixon since he’s such a big fan of enemies lists.

I'd add some commie academics and bloggers, like Howard Zinn and Markos Moulitsas, although, yeah, no need to inflate the importance of dolts like that on the left. (I need to think of some others ...) And notice how John F. Kennedy doesn't make the cut. Something about the post-1964 Democrats that really brings out the neo-communism in American history.

Obama Says, “Piss Off, Xenophobes!”

Close enough, anyway.

"As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country," Obama said, weighing in for the first time on a controversy that has riven New York City and the nation.

"That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances," he said. "This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable."

Good for him. And in a spirit of bi-partisanship, I actually think either of the Bushes or Reagan would have said essentially the same thing.

Monday, August 9, 2010

This Too is Because of Obama’s Socialist Policies

The rich are becoming richer. And I wouldn’t have a problem with that if I was rich. Maybe that attitude is the heart of Obamism.

Consumer spending accounts for roughly two-thirds of U.S. gross domestic product, or the value of all goods and services produced in the nation. And spending by the rich now accounts for the largest share of consumer outlays in at least 20 years.

According to new research from Moody's Analytics, the top 5% of Americans by income account for 37% of all consumer outlays. Outlays include consumer spending, interest payments on installment debt and transfer payments.

Unfortunately for the US economy, even if I was rich I would likely still be the cheap bastard that I am now. Yes, Warren Buffett is my idol. I have his poster in my bedroom.

By contrast, the bottom 80% by income account for 39.5% of all consumer outlays.

It is no surprise, of course, that the rich spend so much, since they earn a disproportionate share of income. According to economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, the top 10% of earners captured about half of all income as of 2007.

The GOP, of course, says let the poor and middle class eat cake. Someone else said that too. Let’s see, what happened to her?

The data may be a further sign that the U.S. is becoming a Plutonomy–an economy dependent on the spending and investing of the wealthy. And Plutonomies are far less stable than economies built on more evenly distributed income and mass consumption. "I don't think it's healthy for the economy to be so dependent on the top 2% of the income distribution," Mr. Zandi said. He added that, "In the near term it highlights the fragility of the recovery."

Anyway, I’m sure wingnut geniuses are tying the enrichening of the rich to Obama’s socialist policies. Probably something to do with Bill Ayers and ACORN.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Everybody’s Talking

One of my favorite songs and I think I’ve put this up before because I love the Beautiful South as well, and the Housemartins which they were before that. But, I’m starting to feel like backing off of that northeast wind and sailing on a summer breeze. And, it’s my blog:

Happy Birthday Lord Obama

Hat tip to our nihilist friend at American Power. I had not realized it was the Obamessiah’s birthday today. I will spend the afternoon scourging myself as punishment. Thanks Donihilist!

Don’t click on the link, Truth.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tin Soldiers and Obama’s Coming?

Maybe a few of these Keyboard Revolutionaries should be incarcerated to test their mettle. It’s easy to foment revolution sitting in a lazy boy. Thoreau was a martyr next to them. And he actually had a worthy cause (possibly opposite theirs).