Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My rotary phone won't dial that site

I'm gonna dial up the VP's web site as soon as I get my modem hooked up to my TV.
Maybe we should get Al Gore, the inventor of the internet to help with this.

The Skeleton in my Closet

Everyone has their own skeleton in the closet. You know what I am talking about. It's that dark secret from your past that you hope to take to the grave with you. It is the horrific event from your past you would never tell even your closest friends, because you are sure they would recoil in disgust and never speak to you again. It is the thing that they dig up when you decide to run for public office to ruin your chances of being elected.

Everyone has one, and right here on this blog, I am going to share mine with you. I am not really sure why I chose to reveal myself in such a public way. Perhaps I hope that the catharsis will purge my soul of the burden of this awful truth. Maybe I just want to defuse the story so that when the media gets ahold of it, it will not ruin my presidential bid. Or could it be that I hope that you will learn from my tale of woe, and change your ways before it is too late for you.

Consider yourself warned. What follows is of a highly offensive and explicit nature. If you are squeamish, read no further. If you don't wish to have your opinion of me shaken, stop now. You have been warned.

And now, without further ado, the skeleton in my closet, the dark undisclosed secret from my past now brought out into the light, the most shameful episode from the hidden recesses of my memory: I went to high school with two members of the Dixie Chicks.

There. I said it. It is out in the open. I'm not sure which word I am more deeply ashamed of: "Dixie" or "Chicks". Or maybe it is their music. Or perhaps their tendency to insert their foot firmly in their mouth. In any case, if you no longer wish to associate with me, I completely understand. But I feel so much better. They say that confession is good for the soul.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A plan for our future

I was talking to my friend Jim Pannell yesterday, and he had a brilliant idea.

We should split the country in half and give half to the whiny bleeding heart commie pinkos who voted for BO, and give the other half to the real Americans who didn't. We've tried dividing the country north and south, and that didn't work too well, so I think that east and west would work better. We'll give the left half of the country to the lefties. That works out well, because most of them have already gone to California anyway, and they are welcome to it. There are quite a few in New England who will have to move west, but they can deal with it. New Jersey will be deserted, because conservatives sure don't want it.

The left coast can be ruled by BO and all of his czars. He's got a czar for everything, so there should be plenty of czars to go around. We will elect a President and restore the long-lost relic of Constitutional government. Both countries can govern themselves as they see fit. The left coast, which will most likely decide to call themselves "The People's Republic of BO" will soon be owned entirely by the government, and their citizens won't know how badly the government is botching everything because the kids graduating from government schools won't know how to add. They will have no military and no prisons because the government budget will go entirely to socialized medicine, funding abortion, government housing projects, poetry readings, condom distribution in preschool, replacing cars with mule carts, gay pride parades, carbon credits, and racial sensitivity training. Because all of the productive and educated citizens are on the east coast, within a year they will have reverted to a medieval existence.

Meanwhile, the east coast will be called "America" and will revive a lost form of government called a "Democratic Republic" based on a forgotten document, "The Constitution." We will have a low tax rate and a non-intrusive government whose primary purpose is to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens. When criminals notice that America has prisons and an effective legal system, they will all move west. America's citizens, unbridled and free from excessive taxation, over-regulation, and absurd union demands, will flourish with innovation and productivity, as the engine of capitalism creates an abundance of wealth that anyone with ambition and determination can share in. America will have a strong military and will trade freely with any nation that respects human freedom.

After three or four years, America will invade PRBO and take it back. They won' t have a military, electricity, internal combustion engines, the will to fight, or any freedom to defend, so it will require about a dozen guys with BB guns. We will be greeted as liberators.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Fox and the Hen House

Today when I saw that BO is staging a "Summit" to come up with a plan to achieve fiscal responsibility, I spewed a mouthful of scalding coffee all over my computer terminal.

After all, this is the guy who, just last week, promoted and then signed Nancy Pelosi's massive pork bill spending money we don't have on things we don't need. And this week he is concerned about fiscal responsibility? His claim that we are going to "Pay as we go" was pretty much blown last week.

His game plan is to bring in 75 "experts", primarily Democrat special interest groups and left-wing think tanks, put them in a room, send them off in groups with the assignment of devising a plan to cut the deficit in half in four years. I'm not sure if the baseline for that halving was last year's $450 billion deficit or this year's trillion dollar deficit (and counting).

It all sounded pretty ludicrous until I stopped and pondered exactly what BO is trying to accomplish. You see, when I think about fiscal responsibility, it means that you control spending to live within your means. This is what fiscal responsibility means to conservatives, and it is how most real people must live their lives. We can't spend more than we bring in year after year, or eventually we end up in a lot of trouble. So if we have a deficit, the problem is that we are spending too much money, and the solution is to spend less.

But BO's spending frenzy proves that controlling spending is not what he has in mind here. Liberals have a whole different way of looking at things. If the government is running a deficit, it means that they are not taxing us enough, and the solution is to raise taxes. The idea of reducing spending to balance the budget is heresy to a liberal, whose personal empowerment comes from his ability to take our money and dole it out to those who will ensure that he remains in power.

So the purpose of this contrived political theater is to make an excuse for BO's plan to raise taxes much higher and more broadly than he told us in the campaign. The conclusion that this anti-capitalist crowd of union bosses, environmental wackos, community organizers, gay rights activists, ACORN nuts, left-wing professors, liberal politicians, and fringe think tanks reaches will surely not be that we need to reduce government spending. They will conclude that the only course of action is to raise taxes. And who is the President to disagree. He'll go along with their recommendations. After all, that's what the experts said to do.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Loose lips

Where I work we often have to deal with classified information, which is a big responsibility because the lives of many Americans depends on keeping that information secure. Our briefings instructing us on how to handle such sensitive information stress that we must never confirm or deny any statements from which classified data could be inferred. The fact that such data has been printed in the newspaper is not relevant.

It seems that Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, never got that briefing.

Feinstein answered a reporter's question about the location of our Predator drones by saying, “As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base.”

Her defense for offering this highly sensitive information was just repeating what she had read in the newspaper. I'm not buying it. First of all, she didn't say "The newspaper said they were flown out of Pakistan." She cited her own understanding, and she is in a position to know for sure. There is a huge difference between making an allegation in a local paper and having the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence confirm it.

Feinstein's ill-considered blabbermouthing didn't go over well in Pakistan. “The Drones Are Here!” proclaimed the Pakistan Daily Times. This places Islamabad in an uncomfortable situation, though the government issued a swift and unequivocal denial. Who can blame them?

Fighting an intelligence-based war such as the one in Afghanistan requires a great deal of discretion, and a trusting relationship with friendly nations in the area is critical. In one thoughtless moment, Feinstein blew that trust. Not only will blowing the cover on this operation endanger the cooperation we have gotten from the Zardari government and make Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke's job that much harder, it will also endanger our drones, which are now sure to be a high-priority target for al Qaeda.

The Democrats are showing again that they are simply not ready for prime time in fighting the war on terror.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Several years ago I wrote a program to generate Mandelbrot Set fractal images. You can zoom in on any area of the image, revealing infinite complexity. I hadn't looked at it for a long time, but today I was just messing around with it and found this interesting view. No real significance, just here for your viewing pleasure. Click on the picture to see it in full resolution.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In the news

  • Police made an arrest in the January murder of Plano resident Sherlock Holmes. When asked what had helped to crack the case, police detective Lt. Watson responded that it was “elementary”.
  • A bank robber who disguised himself as a woman to hold up a bank last week was arrested. He looks forward to his new notoriety in the prison yard, where he is known as “The Drag Queen Bandit”.
  • Barack Obama said that “all sides had to compromise” to reconcile the House and Senate versions of his huge pork handout bill. The President cited the $500 per person tax cut which he promised in the campaign as something he had given up. Congress scaled it back to $400. Biting his lip in a fashion reminiscent of BJ Clinton, BO said, “It’s a sacrifice for me, but I’ll just have to live with the fact that for the foreseeable future you’ll all have to keep sending me that hundred dollars a year.”
  • When two BO appointees were withdrawn for ethical reasons concerning their failure to pay more than a hundred thousand dollars in taxes, reporters asked if another tax cheat, Tim Geithner, would keep his job as head of the IRS. BO responded, “The American people are tired of hearing this same partisan bickering. We need to get back to the important business we came here to do: attacking rich people for failing to pay their fair share.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why the outrage?

I got an email from a co-worker about a certain actress who went on an anti-Jesus rant in her Emmy acceptance speech. She said that "A lot of people get up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that nothing had less to do with this award than Jesus." She went on to tell Jesus to "Suck it". The email encouraged Christians to boycott her show.

Now I had never heard of this particular actress or the show for which she won an Emmy, and I wouldn't watch the show even if she had gotten up there and recited the Lord's Prayer, so saying that I am boycotting the show would be pretty pointless. Even so, I don't see any reason to be outraged by what she said. Her statement is no different from what every person on earth, starting with Adam, has said to God.

Every person thinks that their own way is better than God's way. This belief is based on the lie that God's law is intended to deprive us of something good. God's law is based in His love for us and His way results in every blessing. Adam's sin was much deeper than the act of eating a piece of fruit. He was rejecting God's way, which leads to life, and asserting his independence to follow his own way, which leads to pain, destruction, and death. Each one of us has followed in that same pattern, telling God that we don't need Him, we can do better on our own, and He can "Suck it." That act of defiance to God is responsible for all the evil in the world. We can't say that we don't deserve it because we choose it. Blaming God for the consequences of our rebellion against Him makes no sence at all.

The fact is that God would have been completely justified in leaving us to self-destruct, and then say, "I told you so" as we enter eternity seperated from Him. But He didn't. Knowing full well that this actress would look Him in the face and tell him to "Suck it", Jesus, God in human flesh, loved her so much that He gave His life to save her. She has been offered the most precious gift imaginable that she could never deserve or earn, but she rejects His forgiveness and tells Him to "Suck it." Rather than outrage, that makes me incredibly sad for her.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

While you're at it, buy me a kitchen

In last night's press conference did you see that woman who, back in October, was gushing about how BO was going to buy her gas and pay for her house? She showed up again, wondering where her freebies are, and asking him to throw in a new car and a kitchen as well. After all, he's been in office for three weeks, so what's the holdup? Ok, maybe it was not the same woman. BO drones all share the pathetic stupidity of expecting the government to take care of all of their problems.

Now any reasonable person would have taken the opportunity to clear up some common misperceptions. In America if you want to improve your situation you go get educated, develop some marketable skills, work your tail off, and earn your own way. But BO didn't tell her that. He told her to talk to his staff and they'll see what they can do.

BO's vision of America is of a place where all good things come from government. The financial crisis is a result of government, and the solution is a massive expansion of government. Health care can only be accomplished by another massive expansion of government. And if you want to remodel your kitchen, talk to the President's staff.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Going against the flow

In the past four months there has been a record movement of funds inside 401(k) and IRA retirement accounts out of stock funds into "safe" bonds or money market funds. This move didn't happen before the plunge in stock prices of September, when it would have avoided the huge losses. Instead people sold their stock at the low price, essentially locking in the loss and missing the chance to take part in the recovery. The Hewitt Associates 401(k) Index indicates that in each of the last four months of 2008, 401(k) participants transferred nearly a billion dollars out of equities and into fixed income investments.

If you had moved your money out of stocks last summer, I would congratulate you on your unusual foresight. I've given up on trying to predict short-term stock market fluctuations years ago. Most people who try that game end up losing. In the ten years from 1998 to 2007, the S&P 500 returned 11.81% annually. "Safe" Treasury Bills returned 4.53%. The average 401(k) account returned 4.48%. People who try to "beat the market" or avoid down markets consistently do worse than they could do with a simple "buy and hold" discipline.

Today people are still doing the wrong thing. Two years ago there was a general agreement that stocks were a good buy, when stocks were priced at about $15 per dollar of earnings. Today stocks are "on sale" in search of buyers, with the price discounted to $9 per dollar of earnings. If stocks were a good buy at $15, shouldn't they be an even better buy at $9? I think so.

It is a mathematical certainty that $100 invested in stocks today will return more in the future than $100 invested two years ago. Historical data also supports my claim that today is a prime buying opportunity. Steven Leuthold studied the returns of stock bought at different valuation levels. He divided the initial price per earnings into deciles. Stocks bought in the top 10% of P/E lost 1.3% on average over the next five years, while stocks bought in the lowest 10% of valuations returned 19.3% annually, on average.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has heard the motto: Buy low, sell high.

Right now stocks are well below the average price per dollar of earnings. According to Leuthold, stocks bought at our current level of valuation have historically returned 14.1% over the next five years. Admittedly, it will take a majority of that upswing to recover the loss from the last year, but if you flee to safety now, you won't ever recover those losses.

"Buy low, sell high" is easy to understand but very hard to do, mainly because it requires that we not join in with the mania of the day. When everyone is abuzz about the killing they made in the latest craze, be it internet stocks, real estate, or tulip bulbs, remember that someone is going to be stuck with those when the bubble bursts, and you don't want to be that person. On the other end of the spectrum, when things look grim and the outlook for the future is doom and gloom as far as the eye can see, the emotional response is to get out. When you go with the flow you will always buy high and sell low.

Nathan Rothschild once said to "buy when the blood is running in the streets." But to actually do that requires a really strong stomach. In the late 1990's, people were buying up internet stocks, tech stocks, and telecom stocks with no regard for the fundamental value of the companies they were buying. The price per earnings of companies like Lucent Technologies soared as high as $300. Other companies were snatched up at even higher prices, and their P/E could not be calculated because they had no earnings. At the same time, the Asian stock market was in the tank, making today's S&P 500 look rosy by comparison. The Japanese index was down 80% in one year. Today Lucent no longer exists and most of the "internet" stocks are worthless, but investors who bought Japanese stock that year were rewarded with an average return of 21% annually for the next ten years.

So I am resolutely doing nothing. My retirement savings, what is left of them, are staying right where they are, and each week I continue to contribute eight percent of my paycheck to my 401(k), invested primarily in the same diversified assortment of stocks I have used for years. I am counting on a principle which has held true in the past: I don't know if today's stock price is high or low compared to tomorrow or next month, but it is certainly low compared to 2036, when I plan to start selling.

Friday, February 06, 2009


I've been saying for a couple of weeks that BO's "stimulus" bill is little more than a huge barrel of pork handed out to his key Democrat special interest groups. Here is a rundown of all the stuff in the bill, very little of which creates real jobs or boosts the economy. A quarter of a billion dollars for film for Hollywood? $850 million for Amtrak? The bill is filled with wealth transfer programs, funding for various departments of the government, and loads of money to unviable "green energy" research which is likely to never amount to anything. In addition, the bill will transfer $79 billion from states who worked to balance their budget to states that didn't. In other words, from states run responsibly by Republicans to those run into the ground by Democrats.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Dead middle

The Brady Campaign just released their "State Scorecard Ranking" which rates each state's gun control laws based on which "sensible gun control laws" they implement. States can curry favor with Sarah Brady by restricting the sale of ugly or cheap weapons, by requiring various ridiculous gadgets be sold along with guns, by allowing cities to hold gun makers liable for shooting deaths, and by limiting, delaying, licensing, registering, and recording gun sales.

It is no surprise that The People's Republic of Kalifornia ranks first, with the most oppressive laws restricting your Second Amendment right to bear arms. Those liberal utopias of New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Illinois, and Pennsylvania round out the top ten.

I was surprised to find where Texas, with it's wild west image, ranks on the list: Dead middle. We are tied with Vermont, Wyoming, and South Carolina for 27th. Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, Arizona, Missouri, Florida, and 15 other states all have more freedom than Texas.

Come on Texas, we can do better. Texas law does not permit licensed citizens who have undergone training and background checks to carry a concealled weapon on a college campus, even though they can carry it in most other public places. Employers are also allowed to ban the transport of a legally-owned firearm in the employee's car in the parking lot, which effectively forces the employee to travel to and from work without the protection of a firearm. The employer does not assume the liability for the safety of their disarmed employees. Why, in Texas of all places, is the government ensuring that criminals have access to large groups of disarmed targets?

Let your state lawmakers know that we can do better in these areas. Even better, exercise your rights by owning a handgun, knowing how to use it, getting a CHL, and joining GOA.