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Monday, March 31, 2008
Do you?

posted at 2:55 PM


Thursday, March 27, 2008
Morbid Curiosity

I doubt that anyone who reads this blog regularly would be surprised to find out that I voted for Barack Obama in my state's primary. I suppose no one would be all that shocked to find that I have a pessimistic streak in me as well.

I know. Such intimate stuff.

Three or four months ago, I was pretty pleased about the slate of candidates running for president, and saw a number of Democrats and even a Republican or two (eh, one) that I wouldn't have minded casting my vote for. As the Democrats got down to just two, I was of the mindset that either one of these people would make a pretty good president.

To hell with that.

I have decided, and am stating for the record, that if Hillary Clinton is awarded the Democratic Party's nomination, I am not going to vote for her.

"Gonna sit this one out?"

Nope. I'll vote for John McCain. I will cancel out someone's vote, and do it with a grin on my face. My reasons are twofold.

First of all, I am absolutely disgusted with both Hillary and Bill Clinton, and with the type of campaign they have chosen to run. I just don't remember things being this damned nasty back in the 90s, but maybe it was. I don't remember it like this, I just don't. Maybe it's because Bill actually had charisma as a candidate, whereas Hillary seems to have very little. But as a supportive spouse? Bill Clinton can take his smug aw-shucksness and cram it with walnuts.

If the Jeremiah Wright videos were dug up by anyone, it was by the Clinton campaign. Yeah, the pastor is a world-class douchebag, but for Hillary to have the stones to castigate Obama in the manner she did was just ludicrous.

"If my pastor had said something like that, I'd have just gotten up and left."

Well, what if you were married to him and found out he was nailing an intern? Would you have stayed with him then? Or would you stay with him because there's no way America elects a bitchy divorcée to be the first female president of the United States?

It backfired anyway, because Obama ended up giving one of the greatest speeches in political history as a response. His numbers dropped two points. Hillary's went down eight.

The other reason I'll vote for McCain over Clinton is - well...

I just want to see how bad things can get.

McCain wants to maintain high troop levels in Iraq. He wants to invade Iran. He's content to let the mortgage crisis play out, and has very little understanding of economics. He's my guy.

Let's really crater this thing, I mean just fly the country into the side of a mountain at 1000 miles per hour, and see if it bounces or explodes. I'm really curious to see what happens to our 300 million soft, fat asses when the long overdue correction in our standard of living really kicks in and takes out 100 other economies in one fell swoop.

I'm not proud of this impulse, but I recognize it, and figure I may as well be honest about it.

Besides, why should anyone other than a Conservative have to clean up Bush's ridiculous mess? I think Obama could take a crack at it and maybe get this thing back on course, but Hillary is cautious and timid, policy-wise, and we are beyond any good that baby steps can provide.

John McCain sees this thing heading toward a cliff and punches the accelerator like he was driving his Buick Century through a downtown farmer's market.

If we're still actively involved in Middle Eastern wars by 2015, I'll probably leave the country, to be honest. The machinery of war is lubricated with the blood of youth, and I'll make no contribution of that resource, not for oil, and not for empire.

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posted at 10:40 PM


Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Lousy, privileged black men

Former Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Geraldine Ferraro made the following observation today:

"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

Man, it just burns me up how easy black men have it in this country. What could be luckier than being a black male in America? I mean, just knowing you're going to earn less than your white counterparts has to make things easier. No capital gains headaches for these guys, no sir. And I'll bet waking up each day knowing that you have a one in three chance of being imprisoned is probably true piece of mind as increasing numbers of Americans lose their homes to predatory lenders and utter stupidity. Nothing like a cot in the state pen to fall back on in tough financial times. Ferraro went on:

“Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let’s address reality and the problems we’re facing in this world, you’re accused of being racist, so you have to shut up,” Ferraro said. “Racism works in two different directions. I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white. How’s that?”

Hell, all a black man like Barack Obama has to do in order to be elected president these days is just hang around and wait.

Now, I know Hillary Clinton's campaign didn't send Geraldine Ferraro out to say this today, but they don't seem to be in any hurry to divorce themselves from her, or what she said. This is how it's going to be. It's an ugly brand of politics this season, and the Republicans haven't even weighed in yet.

It'll get far worse, and in ways you haven't even imagined.

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posted at 6:45 PM


Monday, March 03, 2008
Waste not, want not

This is an expression I vaguely recall hearing as a child, although I'm pretty sure that my parents were decent enough to spare me hearing it from them. I don't know where I heard it, but I know it's an old expression. It sounds old, like some Puritan maxim, because everything is a sin, after all.

But I get it's meaning: Reasonable consumption now, avoid starving to death later. This is something I can really get behind, because if there's one thing that just bugs the hell out of me, it's waste. It irritates me when someone orders food that they barely touch. It strikes me as stupid for someone to purchase a four-wheel drive vehicle that will be used for nothing more harrowing than getting back and forth to work, or taking kids to school. It's overdoing it, just because you can.

Even with the looming recession, people can still live better in many ways than ever before. During the last real recession this country had in the late 70s until about 1982, people's standard of living took a noticeable step back. There would have been no point in the president going on television and using phrases like "mixed economic indicators" or "some slowing of growth." He would have been hooted down.

A woman I work with tried to tell me that there is no recession because when she went out last weekend, there were long waits at restaurants, and parking lots were crowded. I responded by pointing out that there are still plenty of people who are doing just fine (just not most of us), and that more importantly, because it has been a full generation since the last serious economic downturn, people really don't realize the magnitude of what is happening to them, and they won't slow down their consumption until their credit cards stop working.

The housing crisis is really only just beginning, and the fallout is going to poison many and varied sectors of the economy before it really plays out. Some studies I've seen indicate that, without another bubble (possibly in the alt energy sector) it may be as long as 2011 before the slide in the real estate and financial sectors bottoms out and is fully corrected.

The US Secretary of the Treasury has decided that consumers now living in homes that are worth less than the loans outstanding, in so many words, can go fuck themselves. You should have read the fine print, you should have believed what the lenders told you, and we're not going to reward bad behavior. And you definitely shouldn't have lost your job or gotten sick.

The reasons sound good, but the upshot is still a lot of people living in their cars. The new Middle Class Homeless. I like that. I may go on Nightline with that one.

But on the other hand, at least the Old School Homeless are benefiting in some cases, as many foreclosed homes are being squatted in by those affectionately named Urban Campers. Nature abhors a vacuum.

Waste not, want not.

Stimulus checks will be in the mail in 60 days, and the money will make a vague dent in the downturn, but it's not going to solve the housing crisis. $160 billion dollars, handed out, and most of it will be pissed away. A waste.

I've already speculated on the good that money of that type could do for infrastructure in the US, but I'll allow that people are probably more concerned about saving the roof over their heads than they are about some bridge over the Mississippi River.

At some point, as small banks, and eventually larger ones begin to fail, the government will realize that a bailout is inevitable. It's going to be gargantuan in scale, just like the recession caused by the lending crisis.

I'm going to propose some government waste.

The government will not bail out the banks. The government will assume these trillions in bad loans, people will remain in their homes with all loans converted to 30 year fixed-rate mortgages at 5%, paid to the government directly. The government will make commensurate monthly payments to the lender institutions at a rate of 4%.

Will the banks lose some money? Yeah, probably. Less than you might think though. The target lending rate will be no higher than 2.5% by March 18th, and possibly a quarter point less than that. The banks will manage, they just may have to cut back on the marble fixtures, and will likely put chains on all the pens again.

The government will also open the program to first-time home buyers by offering them 30 year fixed rate loans at rates from 3.5-5%, based on the banks' target lending rate. People will start snapping up homes that have been sitting on the market for months and years, and then they'll also do crazy stuff like buy things to put inside them. There's your fucking stimulus.

At some point, if the banks don't like being frozen out of the mortgage business, they can buy the loans back from the government, but with a transaction fee of 10% of the remaining value of the loan. The banks can piss and moan, but they understand compound interest, and will take the deal. The conditions of these loans will be unalterable by the institution that buys them back from the government. The bank will make a nice, slow, long-term profit, homeowners will make their payments, and this economic rollercoaster shit will end for awhile.

Who will pay for it? All of us. Will there be waste? Have you ever seen a government program that didn't have plenty of it?

I still hate waste. But I'll take it over want any day of the week.

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posted at 7:38 PM

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