Thursday, January 31, 2008


Stocks higher after troubled bond insurer MBIA assures investors in a conference call after reporting $2 billion loss. MBIA shares up 8%.

Is it just me or has any when else noted that the stock market shows big positive swings on the most anecdotal of signals (see above) while sinking with each broad-based negative measurement? These people seem to be clinging to their DOW 30,000 dreamworld by their fingernails.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


To those who are castigating President Bush for demanding a 50% reduction in congressional earmarks in the 2009 budget after turning a blind eye to the same practice in the Republican congress, shame on you!

The President is a man of principal and consistent reasoning. How dare you denigrate the office by making unfounded allegations. You see, the 50% earmarks that are to be eliminated are all the Democratic ones!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I spoke Too Soon!

I have made the observation that the line between any human stem cell and a human embryo is so thin that Pro Lifers will be faced with the possibility that ALL stem cell research of any kind is murder. The deduction is easy when you start with right assumptions.

It turns out that this issue is not to be left for future generations. Labs in California and Great Britain, at least, are creating human embryos in various ways. The upshot being that an embryo is an embryo. I believe the Catholic Church is way ahead on this - Every Sperm is Sacred, after all:
The process “involves creating human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them for alleged benefit to others,” said Richard Doerflinger, spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Peak Oil?

When President Bush pointed out on his recent visit to Riyad, that high oil prices were hurting the US economy and that an OPEC production increase might help, Secretary-General Abdalla Salem al-Badri said the oil cartel "will not hesitate to increase production if the market justifies this increase."

You could take OPEC at it's word and believe that high prices are NOT linked to supply but speculation in which case increasing production would not help. Or you could assume that oil producing countries are so greedy that they willing to prop up $100 oil in order to reap the profits.

The former seems insincere in light of the fact that reports of US inventories have a daily impact on futures prices. Supply and demand lives.

The later might be true but OPEC was making lots of money at $60 vs the $20 of a few years ago. It seems pretty extreme to risk the ire of your customers and of wary congressmen by following a $500 or bust policy.

What if the Saudis won't produce more oil because they can't? Peak Oil theorists have been pointing out for years that the official figure for Saudi Oil Reserves never changes. Think about it. They pump oil out of the ground for years but no dent is made in reserves. No bump up in estimates occurs because new reserves are located. Nothing. The figure just keeps steady over 18 years. Just what is being concealed by this practice?

It appears that there is more than prudence or greed going on here. With India, China and the rest of the developing world demanding more and more oil alternative energy and greenhouse gas remediation steps may become an economic as well as an environmental imperative.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Huckster

While driving to work this morning, my wife called me on the cell phone. She wanted to know if I had herad Mike Huckabee's interview on NPR just then. I had caught the end of it while flipping stations. The portion I heard involved Huckabee decrying the damage done by 527 organizations to the candidate they are intended to help. My lovely partner was impressed with how he not only talked sense but just how genial and nice he came across. I agreed, of course. Not only because she is right 95% of the time but because Huckabee is very charming in an interview.

Rewind to Christmas 2007. Mike Huckabee's famous reason-for-the-season ad and the bookcase. Some pointed out that the lit portions of the bookcase in the background were intended to not-so-subtly superimpose a cross with the candidates image. On MSNBC's Morning Joe program, Huckabee laughed it off claiming that he was also blinking a secret message to Evangelicals in Morse Code. He was very witty, charming and earnest through it all.

It was during that interview that my highly attuned Manipulation Alarm (patent pending) started going off. Yes, Mike Huckabee is cute and probably a sincere and nice guy. Bowling anyone? That said, it is apparent that he is also a skilled speaker and has honed his ability to disarm critics over his whole life. No one is this glib by accident. Even if unconsciously (he's no Romney), Mike Huckabee has probably learned that he will be more successful if he can lull people into a less defensive posture by appearing witty and charming. He bumps up against the line of Slick so tightly that you can barely see daylight through the gap.

Okay. So I am pathologically sensitive to being manipulated. I am too sensitive. Perhaps, but I refuse to believe that his campaign staff was so obtuse and unprofessional that they did not notice a giant glowing cross in their Xmas video. I also point you to his squirrelly Fair Tax plan of replacing the income tax with a 25%+ national sales tax and monthly rebate checks to every citizen while claiming that the current system is too bureaucratic and susceptible to fraud.

Finally I draw your attention to the item below. Even if your are not scared shitless by the prospect of amending the U.S. Constitution to bring it in line with Washington's view of God's Will, the fact that Huckabee is tossing this red meat to his theocratic supporters ought to expose his aw-shucks farm boy routine for the act that it is. Huckabee is a politician and play acting in a politician, while common, is no virtue.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Needs More God?

I admit that I was intrigued with Mike Huckabee. Maybe a "real" Christian - you know, one who cares about the poor and junk - would show all those nut jobs how Jesus meant for it to be done.

Now it turns out that Huckabee is going around saying that the United States Constitution should be amended to come into line with "God's standards." He just lost me big time! Even the blog at Christianity Today is taken aback.

The sad thing is that he is so glib and witty that he will try to laugh it off on al the cable shows.

Parlez-vous, Anglais?

I recently download an audio book from my library for my new MP3 player. The book was an Agatha Christie Poirot mystery. In this story, the hero, Hercule Poirot, peppers his speech with French phrases. These are not your average "Mon Dieu!" Many of these expressions are central to the flow of complex dialogs and there is little context to hint at the meaning of these utterances.

I studied French for a number of years and was able to more or less follow Poirot's polyglotic outbursts. My question is - How much French is the average British reader expected to know? Does England's proximity to their oft-reviled neighbor demand a working knowledge of the tongue? Perhaps the Texan-in-the-street has a similar fluency in Spanish.