Wednesday, April 30, 2008

FOMC Day-- Wheeeeeeeee!

Traders and active investors know today as "FOMC Day" meaning the day the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee reveals their new target for interest rates. We'll get that announcement around 2:15PM EDT. For quite a while now around our shop we've been hoping for an end to the current loose money cycle. The fed needs to stop reducing rates, although it's likely they'll make one more quarter point drop today. In the statement with today's announcement we hope they'll firmly signal that they recognize the roaring inflation this loose money is causing and signal that they'll be tightening soon. Our fearless prediction is that the dollar will head up once again when currency traders are certain that a bet against the dollar is a bet that "fights the Fed." Not even billionaire financier to the left, George Soros, wants to go up against the federal reserve action. A rising dollar will cause a drop in the price of oil and other commodities. The brilliant Brian Wesbury writes about the situation far better than we ever could in WSJ this morning.

By the way, the preliminary Q1 GDP numbers came out this morning showing growth of 0.6%. The technical definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of growth at 0 or lower. The next time you hear a media chinwagger pontificating or a politician wailing about this current, horrible, disastrous "recession" it would be smart to note that we're yet to have even one negative quarter let alone two consecutive. If the media had ever correctly reported on the tremendous economic boom we were in from October 2002 to October 2007, the public would be able to understand the current situation is a slowdown from that prolonged, hot growth. But then the media wouldn't be Democrat Party handmaidens if they did that, would they?
UPDATE: The FOMC lowered the interest rate target by a quarter point as predicted. The statement is, as usual, opaque. Equity markets had a low volume rally through the day and they haven't given that up in the first 15 minutes post announcement. We'll get a better read in the final hour of trading per usual. My reading of the statement is that 2% will almost certainly be as low as the fed funds rate will go. The next meeting isn't until June so it's a pretty safe bet that 2% will reign for that long. Oil is down about $6/bbl this week by the way. Subject to change of course.
UPDATE2: The final hour saw the day's rally sold off. General consensus-- fed shows insufficient concern about the inflation wolf standing on the porch licking its chops. However, once it all gets worked through the collective brain tonight we could see a different direction in tomorrow's equity market. As the stock market sold off some money moved back into crude oil.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sanford and Son Redux

DaBlade over at ChatteringTeeth has postulated in the past that Chicago's Rev. Wright is Fred Sanford to Barack X. Obama's Lamont. Yesterday while watching the video of the Rev. mugging and pulling faces while dazzling the crowd with his oratory, um, skills I thought, yep, there's some Fred Sanford in that wacky act. Chattering Teeth has the photographic proof today. Compare and contrast with this picture from yesterday's wild show.

Here's the delightful opening tune they should have played when the muggin' & buggin' Rev. took to the podium. The late Redd Foxx did quite well for himself with his late-in-life TV career. America in the 70's loved S&S and most of the rest of Redd's cleaned-up-for-TV act. Sanford & Son was PG rated. But Redd's nightclub act, honed over 40 years of hard work, was anything but PG. If you seek out the recordings be warned, like Rev. Wright, Redd Foxx could preach about "ridin' dirty." The crucial difference? Mr. Foxx was funny.

UPDATE: Breaking news... it sounds like Lamont has decided it's time to break up the act!
UPDATE2: Can't wait for Rev. Wright's reponse to Obama's press event. It should be along the lines of, "Shut up Dummy!" Fred/Redd would've wanted it that way.

Sorry I'm Late

Last Friday the airwaves and Internet were abuzz with a publicity stunt authored by Harrison Ford and his handlers. Ford, the highest grossing movie star in history, was calling attention to the terrible plight of trees that are being cut down by people trying to better their own lives. Or some such. Now a heartless cynic might think that Harry could have done this any time in the last umpteen years if it was such a huge concern-- I mean trees were dying every day, Harry-- and yet, by chance, it was on Hollywood gossip TV a mere month before the new Indiana Jones (career ender if it flops?) movie hits theaters. OK, I'm wrong, you don't even have to be cynical to figure out this obvious bit of ham-fisted image marketing.

When I saw this effort over the weekend I don't think my thoughts were the ones desired by Ford and his marketing team. My thoughts? "What the hell happened to that guy?!?!" There was a time when my closest associate wanted to go to any movie with Harrison Ford in it and, importantly, I always agreed. Off we would go, safe in the knowledge that it would be entertaining. Then the day came when she announced she was done with him. I don't want to put too fine a point on it but I think it was about the same time that Ford divorced Melissa Mathison, took up with some TV actress, and stuck a diamond stud in his earlobe like a bar-hopping dipwad. Not necessarily in that order. He lost about 900 manliness points (on the thousand point scale) in that series of actions. So, the last Harrison Ford movie I've seen is 1997's "Air Force One." Looking at his filmography I guess I haven't missed much. Hmmm, I have a sneaking suspicion that we weren't the only ones who dumped Harrison Ford about ten years ago.

A new Indiana Jones movie is the sort of thing that could get us to give him one more chance. And then, as part of the promotion, he does this idiotic chest-hair-waxing-to-save-the-forests globaloney. The closest associate saw it and just shook her head. All the money going into this project and they don't even know why the mass audience stopped going to Harrison Ford movies. Amazing.

I'm sorry I'm late with these observations but I actually completely forgot about it by Monday morning. Then, on my morning rounds in the Jeep today I heard Brad Paisley's "I'm Still A Guy" and the first thing the final verse brought to mind was that silly image of Ford getting his chest waxed.

"These days there's dudes getting facials
Manicured, waxed and botoxed
With deep spray-on tans and creamy lotiony hands
You can't grip a tacklebox

With all of these men lining up to get neutered
It's hip now to be feminized
I don't highlight my hair
I've still got a pair
Yeah honey, I'm still a guy

Oh my eyebrows ain't plucked
There's a gun in my truck
Oh thank God, I'm still a guy"

Monday, April 28, 2008

Check It Out

WASHINGTON (AP) - In a defiant appearance before the Washington media, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright said Monday that criticism surrounding his fiery sermons is an attack on the black church and rejected those who have labeled him unpatriotic. He said the black church tradition is not bombastic or controversial, but different and misunderstood by the "dominant culture" in the United States.

Michael Yon- Moment of Truth in Iraq

For anyone interested in the truth about Operation Iraqi Freedom Michael Yon's website has been the number one source for information for years. Michael is in the US currently doing a bit of promotional activity for his book, "Moment of Truth in Iraq". He points out on his website that Amazon is out of stock right now as the book heads into a second printing right out of the gate. However, Michael reports that Barnes & Noble stores have it in stock and B&N's online store is running a great deal on it right now. (Subject to change at a moment's notice.)

Book Blurb Reviews:

Monkeydarts- "Nothing you can do today will be more important than ordering Michael's book. Nothing you can do in the next two weeks will be more important than reading 'Moment of Truth in Iraq.'"

Joe Galloway-"Yon covers soldiers . . . the old-fashioned way: He goes down the back alleys and the bad roads"--(Joe Galloway, author of We Were Soldiers Once . . . And Young)

David H. Petraeus-"He's fearless . . . provides a candid, soldier's-eye view . . . from the very unique perspective of being there with them for weeks and months at a time . . . delv[ing] deep into the human component."--(General David H. Petraeus, commanding general, Multi-National Force, Iraq)

Brian Willams-"Michael Yon's voice is the voice of the soldier, often unfazed by what he sees, mission-focused and battle-hardened. These guys don't scare easily and they never let up, and Michael tells the story from their point of view."--(Brian Willams, Anchor, NBC Nightly News)

Clifford May-"His readers have learned what most Americans would not know from NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS and NPR"--(former New York Times foreign correspondent Clifford May)

OK, that first one isn't on the book jacket, but you get the idea.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another Sunday in the South

Storm clouds gathering?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Boob Bait for Petrophobes

->In the political game the term "Boob Bait" refers to demagoguery designed to lead a gullible electorate down the particular path you wish them to take. For a nation gripped with petrophobia (the irrational fear of anything made from petroleum) even a talentless hack like Chuck Schumer can ladle out boob bait with ease. Yesterday he had the stumbling socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, along. Sanders, as sane people know, is as mad as a hatter. Plus, he's usually vewy, vewy angwy which makes for great mouth-foaming tirade viewing.
->Former NPR & ABC reporter Jim Angle put together this piece for his employers at FNC yesterday detailing the latest from oily Chuck & friends. This new effort is notable for several reasons, not the least of which is it's a new twist to the "boob bait" formula. The usual method is a call for investigations about "gouging". The brains of the Senate, Barb Boxer, trots this hoary staple out several times a year. Another fave is calling executives from the oil companies to Congress for a day of solemn testimony. Just once I wish one of those guys would respond to the request with, "I'm sorry I won't be attending your show trial next Thursday. I'm too busy trying to figure out how to make eleven per cent ROI to sit around chit-chattin' with y'all." Somewhere along the way we got the odd notion that a free people are at the beck and call of their elected representatives. I suspect this happened somewhere around February 3, 1913. But it might have been even earlier than that.
->Schumer and pals outlined in their media event their wish that the executive branch would take dramatic action against foreign suppliers of oil if said foreigners don't increase output. He specifically named Saudi Arabia (which he inexplicably called "Saudi"-- the case can be made to call that nation "Arabia" but certainly not "Saudi"), United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait.
->The great antidote to runaway boob bait is an application of facts. Let's try a few:
1) First and foremost there is no crude oil supply problem, so increasing output would do nothing to lower the world price at this time. Acknowledge that fact and there's no press event for the gullible viewers of NBC, CNN, MSNBC, FNC, ABC, PBS and the last remaining viewer of the CBS Evening News w/ Kathie Lee Gifford or whoever is in the chair now.
2) Nearly 40% of the oil we use comes from our number one source, so if Chuck & Bernie truly believed supply was an issue they would be demanding that our #1 source increase output by drilling more wells in places currently off-limits to production. They don't call for anything of the sort. I wonder why? Oh, by the way, our number one source for crude oil is the USA. It comes chiefly from Texas, Alaska, California, Louisiana and Oklahoma; not New York or Vermont (coincidentally, I'm sure).
3) 75% of the crude oil America uses comes from sources outside the Middle East.
Most Americans believe we get almost all of our oil from Arab nations, thus Schumer's proposed strong-arming of SA, UAE and Kuwait. In fact, the following nations (and others) sell us more crude oil than either UAE or Kuwait: Algeria, Angola, Venezuela, Nigeria, Mexico and Canada. Why no tough talk directed at our biggest foreign supplier, Canada? We provide the military might that defends Canada from her possible enemies. Why not threaten them with a withdrawal of our protective umbrella if Canada doesn't just give us all the oil we want? Makes as much sense as what you actually called for, Charlie.
4) Oil prices are not set by the suppliers. They are determined by the marketplace as crude oil futures are traded in pits around the world. My post yesterday about climax runs addresses this... kind of. While Chuck Schumer doesn't represent, as a Senator from New York, many oil producers, he does represent lots of people who are active traders in crude oil futures. In fact, he probably represents the largest aggregation of crude oil traders in America. Strangely, he's mute on their activities and its relationship to oil prices. He's also mute on the action of George Soros, financier of the left, and how his selling of the US$ makes oil more expensive. I wonder why Chuck attacks Arabs but not Soros? Oh yeah, boob bait.
5) Oil is a fungible commodity-- if we buy less from Saudi Arabia we simply make it up by buying more from another source and the Saudis sell our allotment to, say, Japan. The very notion that we can tell the Saudis or Kuwaitis to "pump more or else" is, if you know how the marketplace works, darkly amusing.* 75% of oil production in the world is under state control (see: Russia, Venezuela et al.). The biggest US integrated oil company, ExxonMobil, hated by petrophobes from coast to coast, controls just 3% of world production. 3%. That's all.
->Democrats like Schumer & Sanders have spent the past 7 years, most of it in the minority, demanding that the President of the United States bend to the will of other nations on issue after issue. We constantly have heard that the US must not act unilaterally-- a notion that never came up when Bubba Clinton bombed Kosovo without stopping by the Congress or the UN for a vote, by the way. But now, in an act of Boob Bait Extremis, prominent Democrats of the legislative branch are demanding that the Republican controlled executive branch just tell other countries what they need to do for us regarding a commodity traded freely on world markets. It makes your head spin watching these clowns. But, it's easier for them to peddle this junk to the gullible than to call for something that would surely anger the enviro-leftists munching granola and wearing Birkenstocks around base camp in the D Party: more exploration for domestic crude. Just drill, baby.
Postcard of the Oklahoma State Capitol lawn above comes from CardCow. If you love old post cards, CardCow is a great place to check out.
* Darkly amusing in this way:
-Chuck Schumer, "You must pump more oil so the price goes down!"
-Kuwaiti oil minister, "We're pleased with the current level of production, my friend."
-Schumer, "Well, then we may have to stop buying your oil!!"
-Minister, "We shall miss these pleasant chats. But we don't lack for customers. Fare well my friend."
-Schumer, "If you don't pump more oil for us we'll be forced to stop selling you weaponry!!!"
-Minister, "I believe the defense minister doesn't have a problem with buying from any number of other suppliers. Shall I check on that, my friend."
-Schumer, "Ummm. To clarify, did I just cut off our arms sales to your nation while also losing you as a source for crude oil?"
-Minister, "Unfortunately, my friend, you have achieved exactly that."
-Schumer, "Can I leave Bernie Sanders here with you? He's getting on my nerves."
-Minister, "That can not be arranged. He must depart with you. And, I think I hear the engines starting on your magnificent jet right now. Make haste!"
One of my first year sales trainees, back in the day, would know how this approach would go. Ivy League trained lawyers who have "worked" their whole adult lives as politicians? Not so quick on the uptake.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Madame Speaker Writes Her Own Bible Too

Through the years since the first Earth Day on the 100th Anniversary of Comrade Vlad Lenin's birth (by coincidence I'm sure) many hoaxes have been perpetrated on the citizenry. The current Warmist movement is so entrenched in their beliefs that they refuse to even acknowledge the now ten year old cooling cycle the Earth is undergoing naturally. (Those awards and honors go to your head when you're a failed politician swanning around the world pretending to be a scientist I reckon.) Early on in the environmental movement a scriptwriter wrote a speech and attributed it to Chief Seattle. That speech has been reproduced hundreds of times and even included in text books. The fact that it is full of historic anachronisms and obviously phony doesn't matter-- it was too good to check out.
Another howler was the great public service announcement against littering featuring the single tear of a noble Indian portrayed by Iron Eyes Cody. Unfortunately ol' Iron Eyes was actually Espera de Corti from Louisiana. Since his parents were immigrants it's highly unlikely de Corti had a single drop of Native American blood. But, hey, I'm against littering, so no harm no foul.
Neither the placing of 20th Century envirobabble into the mouth of an Indian Chief in 1854 nor the use of a Sicilian-American to portray an Indian saddened by litter can compete with the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, however. You see, SanFranNan is writing her own Bible verses. The legacy/ dinosaur media has never called her on this despite the fact that she has peddled her own homegrown Bible verses at least five times on the House floor since December 2005. Cybercast News Service points out the latest example where Madame Speaker noted Earth Day by saying:
In her April 22 Earth Day news release, Pelosi said, "The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, 'To minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.' On this Earth Day, and every day, let us pledge to our children, and our children's children, that they will have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature."
Cybercast News Service repeatedly queried the speaker's office for two days to determine where the alleged Bible quote is found. Thus far, no one has responded.Distinguished biblical scholars, however, cast doubt on the existence of the passage.John J. Collins, the Holmes professor of Old Testament criticism and interpretation at Yale Divinity School, said he is totally unfamiliar with Pelosi's quotation."(It's) not one that I recognize," Collins told Cybercast News Service. "I assume that she means this is a paraphrase. But it wouldn't be a close paraphrase to anything I know of."Claude Mariottini, a professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Cybercast News Service the passage not only doesn't exist - it's "fictional."
Look, being Speaker is tough work. Making up Bible verses and peddling them to the media, many of whom apparently have little hands-on experience with the Holy Bible, is one of those little shortcuts a Speaker takes to get everything done. I guess we should just be happy she didn't find a Bible verse that screams, "God d*** America!"

That's Got All The Makings of a Run

"Don't look now, but there's something funny going on over there at the bank, George. I've never really seen one, but that's got all the makings of a run." --Ernie the cab driver to newlyweds George and Mary Bailey, "It's A Wonderful Life"
In the movie, as in real life in the 30's, the "run" in question was a bank run. We won't get into the causes of the Great Depression (anti-trade tariffs coupled with tax rate increases) or why it went on so long under FDR (deflation, endless government tinkering/ intervention coupled with large tax rates driving away capital formation) because the focus here is on the psychology of "runs."
In just the past decade we have, extraordinarily, experienced three different runs. The press, even the business press, calls these "bubbles." Bubbles is a really poor choice of words as it conveys something ephemeral or unreal as in *poof* it disappears and was never there. If you sold all of your stock holdings the first week of March 2000 you got out at the top of a climax run. What happened next was not the popping of some imaginary bubble. It was what always happens at some point to climax runs. Sellers overwhelm buyers, the traded item plummets in value, short sellers come in and drive the price lower, and the long struggle to find a bottom begins. This same picture is portrayed in price/time charts over and over again through the history of free trading of any item. Charts reveal psychology.
Following the collapse of the tech stock climax run in March 2000 the NASDAQ sought a bottom until October 2002 when it became clear that the Bush administration was going to get a major tax rate reduction package through. The bottom was made at that point-- the market took off with the invasion of Iraq the following March. But not everyone in the world lost big in the 2000-2002 stock market crash. There was a lot of cash seeking a new place to make money. Which brings us to the second climax run: real estate in certain locales. This was a logical next place because home ownership is the most tax-advantaged place for capital in the US. Coupled with extremely loose monetary policy (AKA FREE MONEY!) the climax run was on.
Sometime around 2005-06 it became clear to those paying close attention that coastal and second home real estate prices were reaching unsustainable levels. And those people started getting out. My particular exit was at the end of July 2005. By the way, at that very time people were driving around Silicon Valley with bumper stickers pleading with God to let them have one more "bubble" in their lifetime. Funny sticker made doubly humorous by the fact that they were in a housing "bubble" at that very time and, for the most part, didn't act. Which leads us to the third climax run of the decade: commodities.
We are getting very close to the top of a climax run in commodity pricing. Where the top is, I don't know. Oil at $120/bbl might be a topping signal. But, maybe oil can run to $140. Just remember, there's more oil on the market than the world can use right now-- there's no shortage. Demand is down in the US and very manageable worldwide. And yet the market drives straight up a wall. Hmmm, late stages of a climax run. Remember, when you talk about a commodity price there's a part of the equation often neglected-- the value of the currency you're using to buy it. The underlying story is "dollar weakness."
Look at some other anecdotal "run" news: Rice prices cause rationing. And here.
To paraphrase Ernie the cab driver: "There's something funny going on there. I've seen a few of these and it's got all the makings of a run." Fearless prediction? The end of this commodity climax run (AKA commodity bubble) comes when the federal reserve signals the end of the current loose money cycle. That could be as soon as next week. If it happens, where does the big money go next? Stocks? Tulip bulbs? That is topic A-1 around many trading/ investing shops these days.
NOTE: Some folks have commented that crude oil is at a price way beyond anything we've ever seen and will continue to climb until, I guess, we all are riding bicycles to the windmill factory. Poppycock. In April 1980 crude oil traded at $101.70 adjusted for inflation. We just recently broke through that top for the first time in nearly 28 years. In fact, just over a year ago oil was around $50/bbl. During the stock market crash in the last year of the Clinton presidency oil was under $20/bbl. The fact that it's bumping its head on $120 today is indicative of a climax run it is not indicative of a price level that won't drop by, who knows, as much as 30%, 40%, 50%, 60% in the next couple years. To use the popular term: it's a bubble, baby.
UPDATE: Friday morning (4/25) finds a WSJ column encouraging Americans to stockpile food. The rationale is that in times of high inflation everything is much cheaper today than it will be tomorrow. This is exactly right for today. But, as the old saying goes, markets continue to go up until they stop. How would you like to have filled your garage with non-perishable items this weekend only to find out that you could buy the same stuff this July at a 40% discount.
UPDATE2: A close associate reports that yesterday afternoon at our nearest Costco she observed that most people in the checkout lines had huge bags of rice and flour. "...that's got all the makings of a run."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

5-3! Sharks Advance

Groggy this morning. Being the fan of a west coast NHL team and living in the eastern time zone can be a pain during the playoffs. Last night's 7th game against the pesky Flames started at about 10:15PM hereabouts. At a quarter to 1AM this morning it was done and the Sharks will move on to face the Dallas Stars in the second round. The entire game was played at a pace one would expect from a deciding game in the playoffs. The crucial moments came in the 2nd when SJ rattled off 4 straight goals. The first two of those came from a kid playing for just a half millski a year-- 38 year old Jeremy Roenick.
Coach Ron Wilson made JR a healthy scratch in game 6. He was not pleased since it could have been the clinching game he was missing but, unlike the Jeremy of years past, he bit his tongue and didn't fume and cause problems. He did what he's done all year for this team-- he put the team ahead of JR. There was method to Wilson's madness as it gave the old man fresh legs for last night's contest. He didn't even lace up skates since last Thursday. Monday night Coach Wilson sent Roenick a text message telling him how much he was counting on a big contribution from the 38 year old Tuesday night. Jeremy loved the message and contribute he did. Two goals, two assists. Beats retirement.
The picture here (Roenick hugs Nolan) is as bittersweet as it gets for charter members of the SJSharks fan club. Jeremy Roenick will never mean as much to the Sharks as their long-time captain Owen Nolan. But last night Nolan was the enemy. Until the game was done. When once again he became Sharks fan favorite Owen Nolan. Friday night at the Shark tank, game one, Dallas. Bring it on.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's A Holiday Two-Fer Tuesday

Whilst dropping by one of my daily must-reads, Chattering Teeth, I found out that this is Earth Day. A young associate here in the office told me that Arbor Day is this Friday, at least he thinks it is. Through simple coincidence I already had planned to hitch up the buckboard (AKA a giant Chevy SUV) and gallop over to the Lowe's in the county seat during lunchtime today. I need to buy another 40 cubic feet of mulch-- to add to the 88 cubic feet I've already put down in the flower beds. But now that I know it's Earth Week I shall treat myself to something I've sorely needed for a while. When we moved here in the summer of 2005 I left my old chain saw behind for the buyer of our California manse. Many is the day I've thought, "I wish I had that old chainsaw." So, Happy Earth Week to everyone at Amalgamated Monkeydarts, the next sound you'll hear is WILD THING! Too loud? Putt on a pair of muffs, rookie.
UPDATE: They had five, count 'em 5, Wild Thing chainsaws in stock. We filled the SUV with mulch, weed&feed, (lawn chemicals for Earth Day--Yay!!) and got a Wild Thing for every member of the family. Our woodlot does not stand a chance on Arbor Day. As Nature Boy says, "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Mighty Tough Talk, Senator

Apparently Bill's gal Hil is still poundin' down shots after her famous night of boilermakers in Crown Point, Indiana. Now, in the clear light of day, she's promising to "obliterate" Iran.

Clinton on an Iran Attack: 'Obliterate Them'
Clinton further displayed tough talk in an interview airing on "Good Morning America" Tuesday. ABC News' Chris Cuomo asked Clinton what she would do if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons.
"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," Clinton said. "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them." -ABC News
How else to explain this blowhard rhetoric than "it's the booze talkin' again." Are we to believe she'd do any more than her husband who, as described by President Bush "Shot a million dollars worth of cruise missiles into an empty tent to hit a camel in the ass." I paraphrase, but you get the point.
I must admit it's fun to watch these clowns get so desperate they start channeling Gen. Curtis "bomb 'em back to the stone age" LeMay. I'm sure Senator Obama, if asked about Hillary's comments, will say, "That's not the kind of HOPE that the American people want, and it's not a CHANGE from the failed policies of the past. I'll sit down and talk with Iran, no conditions, not bomb them. We must communicate not obliterate! Yes, we can."
Cue cheers of adoration. Exit left.
UPDATE: BXO, quoted in the Philadelphia Bulletin this morning from the campaign trail in PA, "I don't want to just end the war (by this we assume he means Operation Iraqi Freedom, not Operation Enduring Freedom-- neither of which are 'the war', of course), I want to end the mindset that got us into war. I want to initiate diplomacy. [President Richard] Nixon understood (the importance of diplomacy), I have said we will meet not just with our friends but with our enemies. I was criticized for saying that by McCain, Clinton..." This is rich stuff. The "mindset" that got us into war isn't in the US. He's going to be spending a lot of time in Pakistan, Syria, Iran, the Bekkaa Valley of Lebanon (watch your step there, Senator) and on and on if he, the all-powerful Obama, is going to "end the mindset that got us into war." If I didn't know better I'd think the junior Senator from Illinois thinks America's "chickens came home to roost" on 9-11-2001. Where would he get that idea? But it's doubly rich to see BXO portraying himself as the wise diplomat Nixon rather than those firebrands Hillary and McCain. Is that the HOPE and CHANGE we were waiting for? The new Nixon??

Monday, April 21, 2008

April Snow at CNN

Tony Snow is a great guy. I wish him nothing but success and good health but not even this move can get me to take the block off of CNN on my satellite receivers. Sorry, Tony. Good luck.

For Release: April 21, 2008

Tony Snow Joins CNN as Political Contributor Former White House press secretary Tony Snow will join CNN as a conservative commentator beginning today, it was announced by Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S.

Airman Jason Cunningham

Back in the spring of 2002 we were living in Ventura County, California looking forward to the high school graduation ceremony for our eldest son. It was just a few short months since the attacks on the United States the previous September and Operation Enduring Freedom was ongoing in Afghanistan. One day we heard news of the death of Air Force pararescueman Jason Cunningham and learned that he had a link to our community. Before he joined the Air Force Jason had been in the Navy and it was while he was serving in Italy that he met the Navy enlisted-woman who would become his wife and the mother of his children, Theresa de Castro of nearby Camarillo, California. Jason and Theresa are pictured here-- proud Americans serving their nation.
Airman Cunningham was killed by enemy fire during Operation Anaconda March 2, 2002 while doing the job he was trained for-- rescue in dangerous circumstances. A funeral ceremony was held in Ventura County and then he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Jason was awarded the Air Force Distinguished Cross posthumously in the fall of 2005. Today Investor's Business Daily features a column about Cunningham and his gallant service. While it is always sad on one level to read these stories I also find the heroism of the next "greatest generation" uplifting. Perhaps you do too.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Of Tigers, Zillow, and the MC5

The Internet has enabled millions of amateur sleuths. All over the world people are prying into the lives of others as best they can. I know of one magazine publisher who even admitted on his blog that he checks out former girlfriends' current addresses on Zillow to, well, to see if their living circumstances are adequate I guess. Who would do such a thing, I mean... what?... you would? I am so behind the times.

But I do use the Internet to research my own life. My favorite way of doing this is to find the dates of ballgames I attended as a kid. Our family used to go up to Tiger Stadium once a season when I was a fresh-faced youngster. I remember little bits of each trip-- who Detroit was playing, a HR that was hit, an opposing relief pitcher that worked, whether we stopped at the White Castle just down Michigan from the stadium for a bag of sliders for the long drive home.

Well, that last part about White Castle is hard to research, but the games are fun to check out. For instance, I was able to figure out a game I saw in 1964 from upper deck box seats on the third base side right at home plate. I remember the view perfectly--in Tiger Stadium you felt like you were hanging over the infield in those seats. I was in heaven. I wasn't sure of the year but figured I had to be about 10-12 years old at the time. I knew the Tigers beat the Yankees that night and that Mickey Lolich threw a complete game. I remembered Don Wert, improbably, as a hitting star and I remembered that Lolich struck out Mickey Mantle at least once. I was almost certain that Whitey Ford started the game for the stinkin' Yankees. With that I set off through the archives at baseball-reference. And, after only about 10 minutes, there it was September 9, 1964. So what? So, um, to you, nuthin'. To me, though, it's a great memory. I can see the green grass under the lights, smell the beer and cigar smoke of Tiger Stadium in the 60's, and see Tiger great Bill Freehan taking a foul tip right back in the cup. He was in agony, as were all the adult males sitting in our section. I am proud to say that Freehan stayed in the game according to the box score.

But there are other pieces of one's life that can be put together this way. When I was in high school I went to see the legendary/ notorious MC5. I wasn't sure what year it was but I knew that none of us who went could drive-- that meant it was before the summer of 1969. The venue was a place called The Firehouse in Toledo, Ohio. I'm not sure why I remembered that-- it was the only time in my life I was there. That was about all I could recall, but with that little bit I discovered that it was April 29, 1969. (WARNING!-- clicking that link will cause you to confront obscenities. It was the MC5 remember.) Here's what made this research very cool for me though. The poster for the show, while hardly a classic model of the genre, told me a ton of stuff. Like, for instance, The Firehouse was at Secor & Alexis--which I could then look at in a current aerial image and place better in my mind-- I haven't lived in Northwest Ohio for more than 30 years. I learned that the reason we were even able to go was because they were doing an "under 18" show at 6:30PM which reminded me that it was, in fact, light out when we got there. My friend's father who dropped us off must have been horrified, come to think of it. But the real shocker was the opening act. The bass player for that local band was the older brother of one of the guys I went to the show with. I had completely forgotten that part. Dave's brother got to open for the MC freakin' 5!

But the biggest thing I gained from this exercise was the ability to give my ear doctor the exact date that I started to lose my hearing: April 29, 1969 from 6:30 to 8PM Eastern Time. I have been to literally hundreds of shows since then in clubs, arenas, stadiums, bars, race tracks, and convention halls-- sometimes for pleasure, but mostly for work. To this day, however, when it's quiet in the house in the middle of the night, and all I can hear is that high-pitched non-stop whistle and some crackling and popping I always say the same thing to myself: MC5, The Firehouse, Toledo, Ohio. Seriously. They were playing through Marshall amps set at ELEVEN in a low ceiling hall and we were right in the front!

And we were that close because, well, now I know, it was because we were with the (warm up) band! I never would have remembered that part.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama Acknowledges Supply-Side Economics

The Dems have now had nearly two dozen joint press conferences, AKA debates, during this election cycle. The Dodd's, Kucinich's, Biden's, Richardson's and a couple dozen other has-beens and never-wasses have gone away and it's down to the deadly duo. I have watched exactly none of these affairs. In the Internet age why would I? There must be a couple dozen folks that blog at The Corner watching, and I trust them to point me to anything interesting. There seldom is anything interesting, frankly.

But this morning Jonah Goldberg pointed out that Obama made an amazing comment when questioned about his promise to dramatically raise the tax rate on capital gains. According to Mr. Goldberg, BXO acknowledged the point embedded in ABC's question: revenues go up when the capital gains rate is cut. That, my dear reader(s), is supply-side economics. The Laffer Curve elegantly describes this effect that most liberals pooh-pooh. Or is that poo-poo? Either way, the D's ignore the facts, rely on static scoring, and say, "Raise taxes and you get more revenue, lower taxes and you get less." It's so very wrong, but it fits their demagoguery so they stick to it. But wait, Obama didn't actually leave the reservation and come over to the supply-side. Instead he said it didn't matter-- the cap gains tax needs to be doubled because it's FAIR. Fair? He advocates raising taxes on the millions of Americans who own stock, even though it decreases government revenue, because it's fair? Sheer lunacy. Could Jonah have misheard this amazing exchange? Doubtful, but I had to check further.

At the must-read American Thinker I found verification. Marc Sheppard has the goods on what Obama said in his article "The Inanity of Obamanomics."

BXO replied, "Well, Charlie, what I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness. We saw an article today which showed that the top 50 hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year -- $29 billion for 50 individuals. And part of what has happened is that those who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That's not fair."

As I pointed out a few weeks back when Obama did his interview on CNBC and spouted this idiocy, he gets that whole "the secretary pays more" malarkey from multi-billionaire liberal Warren Buffett. It is, of course, a bald-faced lie. Unless Warren pays his secretary a wage that puts her in the highest tax bracket, he pays the federal government a higher rate on his wages than she does on hers. On capital gains they pay the same. We all do. Warren always peddles this whopper to the handmaiden media. Many of them probably know it's horse hockey, but young Senator Obama is so unknowing he falls for it every time.

Now here's the really sick part of this-- while Buffett can absorb a dramatic increase in the cap gains rate millions of others will go bust. (BTW, Buffett generally owns/ invests in old, legacy companies, not start-ups-- it is actually to his advantage to stymie new competitors to his businesses.) Among the poor, beaten-down, bitter survivors of Obama's tax increase drastic adjustments will be made: assistants will be fired so their pay can be sent off to Washington as tax money, purchases will be postponed, accounts will be closed, health care insurance payments will be eliminated, and in some cases we'll (er, I mean they'll) move our (er, I mean their) operations offshore.

Raising the capital gains tax 66-100% or so is just some exercise in an abstract area to Obama. Allow me to put it in terms his money-grubbing wife, Michelle, can understand. How about we raise the tax rate on book royalties 100% effective with the 2007 tax year. After all, is it fair that the Senator can make millions writing about his own life while tens of millions of Americans lead lives nobody will pay to read about? Get it now?


Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States, Wednesday April 16, 2008:

--We want to thank the Radio Television Correspondents' Association for inviting us... You all know how to make a guy feel welcome. Obviously, you're not the kind to look down on a "bitter" man who clings to his guns.

-- Speaking of Vice President Gore, I'm sorry to relate that he's a little bit sore at me. He's convinced that, on global warming, I just don't get it. But lately with every passing day, the evidence has been catching my attention. I have no doubt, none at all, that we are in the midst of a global warming, or as I prefer to call it, spring. And I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but it's going to get a lot warmer before it gets cooler.

--I guess my cousin Barack has sat through some mighty riveting sermons over the years. If he gets elected, you're not going to want to miss those Washington prayer breakfasts.

-- But since it is our last time together at this dinner, I think it's enough to leave you with words I once addressed to Senator Pat Leahy. Go... straight home, have a good night, and thank you very much.

Change You Can Believe In-- Believe it Baby

Looks like Jimmy Carter's terrorist pals in Hamas have jumped the storyline a bit. The sequence was supposed to be: 1) Jimmy hugs Hamas thugs. 2) Jimmy lays wreath at grave of terrorist thug Arafat. 3) Jimmy meets with leader of Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. 4) Jimmy returns to the safety of the United States and endorses Senator Obama for President.

Cartoon from Cox & Forkum. More here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Four Short Years

Novelist Robert Ferrigno looks forward four years and sees that President Obama has bestowed upon former President Clinton (now divorced and bitter) a role in his administration: Outreach Ambassador to the Heartland.

Get ready for Michelle Obama's "I'M SORRY" buttons. You will wear yours, comrade. Or else.


Two run homer. For the win. Yes!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Useful Idiot Defined

Fresh from hugging leaders of the terrorist group Hamas, a former US President lays a wreath at the grave of terrorist Yasser Arafat. Next he'll reportedly endorse Senator Obama.

A Game For Men

Right thinking hockey fans are hoping for a Detroit v. San Jose Western Conference finals series in the near future. The Red Wings, as is their habit, dominated from start to finish in the regular season and won the President's Cup. They are the franchise by which all others measure themselves.

The Sharks certainly view the Wings as the team that sets the pace in the West and in the entire NHL. Their season was going "OK" when in mid-February they hit a stretch of 5 losses. Along with the usual tinkering with the lines the team made a big acquisition when they picked up Brian Campbell from Buffalo. From February 21 on the Sharks posted 18 wins, 2 OT losses and 2 outright losses. An incredible 38 points in 22 games. So, they entered the second season, The Stanley Cup playoffs, as the hottest team. Their regular season record was second only to Detroit's. That's why they need to meet in the conference finals: The Best v. The Hottest.

But something has happened on the way to that series. Sure the Red Wings stumbled last night against Nashville but they'll be fine and lead that series 2-1. The problem is with San Jose. They lost game 1 to Calgary and, to most SJ fans it was clear what happened: they started the game skating like it was still the regular season while the Flames were playing playoff hockey. By the time the Bay Area boys got it going it was too late, Calgary held on to win 3-2. Lesson learned? It sure looked like it in game 2 as SJ shutout the Calgarians at the Shark Tank. Then Sunday night game three began in Calgary with the Sharks full of jump and scoring a quick 3 unanswered goals in the first 3 and a half minutes. The Saddledome was dead in red.

Until... a brutal hit (no elbowing penalty? what tha??) on captain Patrick Marleau by Cory Sarich woke up everyone connected with the Flames. Patty, for his part, responded well. He stayed out there bleeding through his shifts and playing hard. But something was missing--- nobody took it upon themselves to pay Sarich back for his efforts against the captain. The Flames kept chipping away until finally former Sharks fan favorite Owen Nolan scored to put the Calgary crew ahead 4-3. Calgary earned their series lead of 2-1.

Right after the game goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, said: "You have to be men to play this sport, not a bunch of boys, and we looked like a bunch of boys out there and they were looking like a bunch of men." Nabby is not a popoff. He's pretty quiet, prepared every night, and wants to be between the pipes for every game. That quote is huge to Sharks fans. By Monday afternoon he was saying, about what the team talked about at practice, "We just talked about certain situations and how to respond - like a man. We have to come out and play a character game and do the right thing at the right time and not to let anybody push us around. All I can do is make saves. I can't go and hit the guy, I can't do something else. I think I just have to find a way to stop the bleeding." What did Douglas Murray think about Nabby's critique? "Yeah, we get a 3-0 lead and a lot of guys felt it was going to be easy after that. You've got to finish teams off. Teams are too good. A 3-0 lead after five minutes means nothing. I know exactly what he was saying and I couldn't agree more." Coach Ron Wilson, what say you? "I'm glad Nabby said that. It doesn't have to be me. The most important thing is for the guys to hold themselves accountable and challenge each other to rise to the occasion."

Will the Sharks show the toughness it takes to win playoff hockey? We'll start getting the answer tonight at 10PM EDT.

UPDATE: Sharks win game 4 on Joe Thornton's goal with 7.3 seconds left in regulation. It's now a best 2 out of 3 series and SJ has the home ice advantage.

UPDATE2: Sharks win game 5 with spirited play, hard hitting, and scoring from Cheechoo, Pavelski and Patty Marleau. 3-2 advantage Sharks as the series returns to Calgary Sunday night.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Miranda Can Teach Y'all About Small Towns

On Saturday, April 5th I had the great pleasure of seeing Miranda Lambert in concert. She was opening for King George (that would be George Strait and his 56 #1 singles to the uninitiated) in front of about 20,000 fans at The Colonial Center in Columbia, SC. Thankfully, those Strait fans stopped clinging to their guns and Holy Bibles long enough to lay down about $1.6 Million for a night's entertainment. Miranda toured with Strait last year but Little Big Town was supposed to open this show until it got postponed. The show got rescheduled and Miranda jumped in and did a great job.
Lambert, of course, burst on the scene with her ear (and eye)catching "Kerosene" a while back. But it's a hit of hers from last year that I thought of today while considering how little Senator Obama knows about small town America. See, Miranda Lambert knows quite a bit about the subject having grown up in a little Texas town. So, as a special tutorial for BXO, here's lesson #1 : "Famous In A Small Town." Not bitter.
And, when she sings "I just got the first buck of the season" that's a good thing. A real good thing out here where deer season and bass tournaments make the front page of the local paper.

Another Picture Worth a Thousand Words

This cartoon is over a month old, but just as true today as yesterday. It will be true tomorrow too. Investing and trading is primarily about fundamentals and technicals but if you're smart you never forget the political landscape and how it will help or hinder the businesses making up the market. An interesting fellow, now departed, even made a business out of educating people about this political/economic interaction that he called Polyconomics.

Take a trip to the Red Planet for more cartoon goodness.

Make Mine a Boilermaker

When one's political opponent is hanging out with the multi-millionaire swells in far left San Francisco and makin' with the condescending chatter about Americans who don't live in big cities one must seize the moment. Hillary started by getting into the "he's an elitist" trap. Not smart politically. Listen deary, you and Bubba Tubbypants have made $120 Million + out of the trash heap of his presidency. That ain't the common touch. You do NOT want to get into that rhetorical box canyon.

A good visual is far smarter politics. And the Clinton Crew came up with a doozy-- Hillary elbowin' up to the bar in a room full of "real guys" and hangin' with the boys. Now, at first you think the Hillster is just gonna sip that shot of Crown Royal, but then she does the right thing, she flat out knocks it back and immediately grabs her mug of suds to chase. Thata girl! I've known of Hillary since her Arkansas days when I used to go to Little Rock twice a month on business and this is the first time I thought anything positive about her. Think about it. If you were losing to the emptiest (albeit stylish) suit in the history of American politics AND you had to worry morning, noon, and night about what your loose cannon spouse might do to screw up things further... wouldn't you want to get loaded?

I bow to no man in my distaste of all things Clinton. I was in the VRWC before she even told the world about our club. But I also respect political imagery that is inspired and there's been very little of it coming out of this endless campaign season. This particular image is so much more effective than her clunky rhetoric about Obama's elitism and his being out of touch with the heartland. Nicely played. Now, two criticisms. Crown Royal is a little too pricey--- next time go down market. Secondly, to the media, every account I've read or seen on this incident in Indiana talks about her drinking a whisky and a beer. Where I come from there's a much quicker way to describe what she imbibed. She was havin' a boilermaker. Chances are, after the NC primary, she'll be switchin' to the Bacardi 151 and downin' a Flaming Blue Jesus. In the meantime, give the gal a boilermaker.

UPDATE: AP reports that Sen. Obama said the following today at a meeting of something called The Alliance for American Manufacturing, "Around election time, the candidates can't do enough for you. They'll promise you anything, give you a long list of proposals and even come around, with TV crews in tow, to throw back a shot and a beer."

Just words, BXO, just words. Say it with pictures. Here in small-town America* we're bitter that we haven't seen you go duck hunting yet. We cling to the HOPE that you'll CHANGE out of your stylish clothes and don a little camo.

*- Full disclosure, since we reside in an unincorporated area we technically don't live/work anywhere big enough to be called a "small town."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Reading The Greens Properly

The first blossoms of the season around here are the Bradford Pear trees. One doesn't get edible fruit from them, just beautiful cream-colored blooms as winter is ending. They're a good signal that it's time to put the pre-emergent fertilizer down. After they disappear we move into cherry blossom time.
This year's cherry blossoms were excellent, but that's pretty much done now and the wisteria is blooming like crazy everywhere. That's the signal that it's time to put the mulch down and to hang the baskets along the porch. In those baskets are Boston ferns. If it's like prior years the fern baskets will also become condos for finches. Unfortunately last year four baby finches became a meal for a tree-climbing blacksnake. Circle of life and all that.
About the same time the wisteria blooms the azaleas that are in full sun begin to blaze. Pictured above are some azaleas near here. This picture was taken Thursday on a golf course just off of I-520 East, AKA The Bobby Jones Expressway in Augusta, Georgia. Enjoy the weekend wherever you are. But stay cool, it's gonna be in the mid-80's.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Baseball at Briggs Stadium, Michigan & Trumbull

The HBO 3 disc series, "When It Was A Game" is a favorite around here. They use homemade movies to tell a story of the major leagues from the Great Depression era into the late 50's and early 60's. I like to watch some of this during spring training to get geared up for the season. (By the way, spring training officially ended just last night. Now the real season can begin.)
Yesterday on the site a link to an extraordinary clip on youtube was posted.
This clip is a homemade film running 7-8 minutes. It uses 8mm footage shot by three Yankee fans who traveled to Briggs Stadium in Detroit to watch the Yankees v. Tigers game of August 4, 1956. It's been edited, titled, and set to music from "The Natural." Pre-game warm ups are shown, close-ups of Mickey Mantle, and then actual game footage-- primarily Mantle and a 21 year old phenom right fielder for Detroit, Al Kaline. It's truly amazing to watch if you love the Tigers, Yankees, baseball in general, and especially vintage 50's baseball. Well done.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Creepy Mascot Arrested for DUI

Breaking news this afternoon from Pittsburgh! Steely McBeam has been arrested for drunk driving.
I'm not one of those mascot haters but, frankly, Mr. McBeam creeps me out. It doesn't help that he has a porn star name.

In Case You Wondered...

... Greenie has no regrets. Not even a few. Not even too few to mention.
He did it his way.

Michael A. Monsoor--Navy SEAL-- Hero

Last week we posted a bit about the latest Medal of Honor recipient. The ceremony was yesterday.

The AP report is here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

This Term's Grades Are Out

The National Taxpayer's Union is out with the latest grades for our Congress Critters. Happily, our little state has 2 Senators with "A" grades-- our pal Jim DeMint scored a 93% putting him at the top of the "Taxpayer's Friend" list. It looks like only one other state, Oklahoma, earned two "A" grades.

Unfortunately, our hangdog, sad, Democrat representative in the US House scored just 5% for an "F". To add to that, he's the chief budget writer in Pelosi's operation. Check out your Senators and representative here.

BTW: If you just want the presidential candidates' grades, they are: Obama 5% "F", Clinton 3% "F" and McCain Incomplete-- missed too many votes to track his performance.

I Like Ike

Tongues are wagging and keyboards are clacking over the fact that Lt. Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will be reporting to a Congressional committee today. The press is less interested in this than last time since America and her allies are clearly winning. They tried to plump up an effort by Mookie and the Iranian sponsored gangsters last week to no avail. It didn't help when a few folks found out that the NYTimes' "reporter" was a former Saddam official covering Basra from Baghdad. Tough one there. That crap used to work so much better for the Democrats and their handmaidens in the media.
The hook for the press is that the three people with a chance to be our next POTUS will be questioning Lt. Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker. It could be good theater. Or it might be a clunker. Either way I already know that of McCain, Obama, Clinton, Crocker and Petraeus the only one I would vote for in November is David Petraeus. Although I would have to consider Crocker for a few hours.
Good luck to all concerned. May the best man clearly win.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Econ 101

The alarm clock rings pretty early around here. 5AM to be precise. So the last time I saw The Tonight Show the host was a youthful chap named Carson. He was great by the way. That Art Fern stuff? Killer. But, I digress.
I learned today at the indispensable Cafe Hayek that Hillary! (TM) related a story to a fellow named Leno while she was on the show last week. According to Russ Roberts this is the transcript of a telling section on basic economics:
HRC: "I was in Indianapolis the other day and I was shaking hands after I spoke. And there was this young boy about eleven years old and he's trying to tell me something—you know the crowd was yelling—so I leaned over and he said, 'You know, my mom makes minimum wage and even though it went up, her hours were cut. So we're not making any more money. Can you help her?' You know, when somebody says something like that to you, it really does kind of energize me. I think, yeah, I can, I'm going to really try to help you, because this is wrong."
Now I'm sure that this story is as phony as the Bosnian machine gun tale and the current Ohio hospital whopper. As Russ points out, it's unlikely that an 11 year old boy tells her anything of the sort in confidence while a screaming crowd surrounds them. The Clinton Crew built their decades-long empire on well-documented (now) howlers and by advancing a story line through anecdotes about imagined or distorted events. But that's not the point.
The point is that Hillary, despite her tortured syntax and her use of "you know" in every sentence (she even gives the 11 year old a "you know"), is teaching a valuable lesson. She is the unwitting professor as she gives us a view at how the mind of a statist works.
First the state commands that private enterprises pay a wage higher than they otherwise might. Where in the US Constitution this magic power to set private wages resides has never been found, but they do it anyway like millions of other unconstitutional things.
Then, free people running their free enterprises respond to the state's demand by cutting employee hours, firing employees, suspending hiring programs, shutting down divisions, moving their operations to other countries where labor costs are better etc. This is done in an attempt to remain a profitable business. Remember, they're also paying huge corporate tax rates or sub chapter S rates, complying with thousands of costly regulations, and on and on.
Seeing this response the statist (Prof. Hillary! will play that role nicely) says, "This is wrong." It's wrong in the way that the sun coming up every morning is wrong if you want to live in total darkness. It is actually ironclad logic. But the statist is certain that bigger government will solve every problem. How? By caring, and fighting, and legislating, and regulating and and and.... even more stuff. Lots more really great stuff. Really. Eventually all of that caring and fighting and regulating and governing and blocking of free trade, and populist demagoguery leads to a command and control economy. The late Soviet Union leaps to mind. But North Korea is looking a little worn out today Hillary. Let's try freedom and liberty instead. If it isn't already too late.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

R.I.P. Will Penny

With the passing of Charlton Heston there will be many articles written about and airtime devoted to his well-known works in the bathrobe/ sandals genre and the sci-fi stuff about apes, soylent green, and omega men. The chariot scene will be shown over and over. That's all well and good. Some will, of course, cover his work on behalf of the 2nd amendment. Fewer, I suspect, will spend much time on his work on behalf of the civil rights movement in the 1960's. That part of Heston's life doesn't fit the media template of today so well. No doubt the fact that he was on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 by his friend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s side won't be as important as scenes of Mr. Heston in a crockumentary made by a porky liar a few years ago. So be it.
Somehow it's fitting that Charlton Heston passed from the scene right after the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination. The greatest of Heston's film work, in my view, was released 40 years ago this coming Thursday, "Will Penny". It was released just a week after Heston's dear friend was murdered. It's a bleak tale set far away from the urban America of a Memphis garbage workers' strike in 1968. It's the story of a solitary cowboy in the brutal Montana winter. Other forces intrude on his lonely existence and drama ensues.
Maybe it's because I spent a winter of my life working in Montana-- my working conditions were far more hospitable than Will Penny's-- but I love this movie. Even people who found Heston to be an overacting, scenery-chewing ham appreciate his subtle, strong performance in "Will Penny."
If you are a fan of the western genre or just like stories of justice and the righting of wrongs, I recommend taking a look at "Will Penny" released April 10, 1968. If all you know of Charlton Heston is "Planet of the Apes" and "Ben Hur" it will be an eye-opener as well.
May God bless and keep you, Charlton Heston.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cheer Up, There's Always College Baseball

With the major league club we've loved since the late 1950's mired in a wee bit of difficulty this week it's time to turn to happier baseball thoughts. Like this-- Collegiate Baseball News ranked 6 teams from the Carolinas in their Top 30 this week. The Tar Heels came in #5, The Carolina Gamecocks ranked #6 in the nation, Charlotte was #18, UNC Wilmington came in at 19, The Pirates of East Carolina ranked #24 and at #30 were the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. So 20% of the Top 30 are from South Carolina and that other Carolina. Not bad.

OK. That didn't work. I still feel bad about the 0-4 Tigers. Dontrelle, it's on you to set things right tomorrow! Have a great weekend Detroit fans.

UPDATE: OK. That didn't work. Justin Verlander, it's on you tonight to set things right... on national TV, too.

UPDATE2: OK. That didn't work. Take Monday off fellas.

UPDATE3: Should've taken Tuesday off too. Beyond ridiculous.

Details On That Airline Ban of Carry-On Liquids

From today's Daily Mail.

Just In Time For March Madness in April-- A Football Movie

Above, George Clooney at American Legion Memorial Stadium--Charlotte, NC, covered in mud instead of throwing it.
About this time last year a good friend of over 30 years standing told me he was working as an extra in a movie being made locally. They'd had good, clean fun shooting a 1920's era train scene for a few days in the area around Salisbury, NC near his home. Then that very weekend in the Greenville, South Carolina paper I found out that Univeral was filming "Leatherheads" at several locations all around the area with George Clooney directing and starring. As it turns out, if you took one compass point and put it on Monkeydarts Plantation and then scribed a 100 mile radius circle with the other point you'd be putting a ring around the dozens of exterior locations they used for the movie. "Leatherheads" is set in 1920's Duluth, Minnesota. Apparently March/ April in the Carolina piedmont is a lot like summer/early fall in Duluth. Who knew? That and the fact that both NC and SC are usually battling over giving bigger and bigger tax breaks for film production probably prompted the decision to film this epic around here.
I've seen George Clooney in three movies. (Just checked the IMDB to make sure.) I know he was a dreamboat in some doctor show on TV I never watched. In 1998 I saw "Out of Sight" because I'm a big fan of Elmore Leonard's novels. I thought both he and Jennifer Lopez were surprisingly good in that movie. Of all the attempts to put Elmore's books on screen that's the best largely because of the great Don Cheadle, Albert Brooks, Ving Rhames, and Steve Zahn performances. But Clooney was good and Lopez did an excellent job in a crucial role. A light comedy touch in a dramatic part suits him well.
His part in "Perfect Storm" could have been played just as well by any competent male thespian of the day. The movie wasn't nearly as good as the book.
The other movie of his I've seen is "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" on satellite and DVD. I watched "Oh Brother" mainly because the name came from the great Preston Sturges film, "Sullivan's Travels" and the soundtrack features the incredible Alison Krauss and Union Station. "Oh Brother" will never make my all-time top 10 list but I do like it. The politician scenes I absolutely love. It's Homer's "The Odyssey" set in the 1930's and filmed beautifully in Mississippi.
Judging from the previews of "Leatherheads" it's filmed beautifully as well. It looks like a 1920's watercolor post card one might find tucked away in a shoebox in the attic. I love that look. But, my invitation to the premier was, apparently, lost in the mail so I'm not completely sure if it works. I'll know better this summer as I suspect it will be available on Netflix right about the time the NFL season starts. Meanwhile, no matter how it does at the box office it's already brought jobs and money to my neighborhood, so "thanks" George, Renee, and all the good people at Universal Pictures. In the end, that's all that really counts.
UPDATE: Thank goodness we already cashed all those checks from Universal and Clooney's production company around here. "Leatherheads" cost $60M to make and market and took in just $12.5 in its opening weekend. Headlines will use "fumbled", "tackled" and "incomplete pass" puns with glee.