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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tea Parties, Baseball and Life It's Ownself

I will be heading up to the tea party later this afternoon here on Kent Island. Like so many others I am disgusted with the current situation with pour government. The ever growing stream of taxes, fees and regulations flowing out of Washington is incredible. The government is bailout banks car companies and just about anyone else that represents a large chunk of cash or block of votes. As I read the constitution much of this is outright illegal and yet no one intervenes. The Supreme Court remains almost eerily quiet on the subject.

Want to get depressed? Sit down sometime and add up all the taxes you actually pay. Income tax, sales tax, liquor tax, cigarette tax, gas tax. You pay a tax on your electric bill, and both your phone bills. Then there is real estate tax, luxury taxes, car registration fees and taxes, alternative minimum tax, investment taxes and estate tax. If you have worked hard and done well you get to pay all kinds of extra taxes to help spread the wealth. Sounds socialist doesn't it? It should. It is. No wonder we drink.

My anger is not aimed at just barrack O dumb-dumb. Georgie W. spent money like a drunken hippie and entered into not one but two illegal wars. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the actions in the Middle East. I, for one, think militant Islam represents the greatest threat to global freedom since the insane fellow with the little mustache. However, the fact remains that we never declared war. We have not declared War since December 8, 1941. In spite of that we have had 4 wars and countless military actions and conflicts. We call then limited conflicts or police actions. The key affect of our limited action is of course rules of engagement that lead to more deaths amongst the brave men and women who wear our nation’s uniform.

The Federal Government grows stronger as the state and local governments weaken. This is exactly the opposite of what our founding father intended. The big joke is that there is almost no way in hell they can ever pay back all the money they have borrowed in our name and children’s name. Congress passes expensive bail out bills and healthcare reforms with not so much as one actually reading the legislation. The government is drunk on power and we are stuck with the bar tab.

Let me say that I am not without charity. I give often of time and money to certain causes. But they are of my own choosing, not the mandate of a vote seeking government. Lets get this straight. I do not owe you or anyone else one damn thing nor do you owe me. I will take care of me and mine and you do the same. If you won’t, do not ask me to pay for it.

The Tea Party has a chance to become a real political movement in this country. The biggest obstacle to the movement is similar to my problems with the Republican party. Many of those in the tea party forefront are conservatives. When I look at the speaker list for the Kent Island event I see some seriously hard core conservative politicians. The problem with conservatives in my opinion is that they want rights and freedoms that are beneficial to free trade and business. I am all for it. However the social values they represent are the exact opposite of the definition of freedom.

I have often said that I want the Democrats out of my wallet and the Republicans out of my bedroom. If we are going to push for a free country then let’s really push it. Why not gay marriage? Why should we hetros be the only miserable ones? I do not care if you screw goats as long as the goat consented and it’s not my goat. We cannot support economic freedoms and yet move to suppress individual freedoms. Relax the drug laws and tax the stuff for Christ sakes. People that want to will get high. We might as well tax it and balance the budget. Think of the reduction in law enforcement and prison expenses if we just legalized pot! Freedom should have the same meaning for a billionaire business man as it does for a 21 year old clerk who wants to toke up a little after work.

Now on to more entertaining speculations and musings. Lets start with the stock market. I confess to being dazzled by the continued rise. The near zero interest rate policy from the Fed has literally pushed money into the stock market. The liquidity and asset allocation fuled rally has been breathtaking. This ain’t going to end well. I have benefited from the action generously as the sheer number of cheap stocks last year forced me into the market. I was underinvested ,for sure, never getting more than about 50% invested by the number of stocks in my portfolio that have doubled and tripled is amazing. The only thing I would even consider buying right now are the net cash stocks like Actions Semiconductor, and Hilltop Holdings. I have two bank stocks right now as well, Shore Bank and Abington Bancorp as special situations. They may go lower if the market implodes. If they do I will buy more. Beyond that I am hesitant to add much money at these levels.

It goes without saying you should be short bonds. I own puts on the long bond ETF. Anyone who thinks the world at large will continue to lend money to the US at current rates for 20 and 30 years is smoking crack. They will eventually demand a higher rate. The Fed can control short rates but the market controls the long end of the curve. Eventually we will have inflation and that will also pressure bonds. The CPI report earlier this week was pointed to by many as a sign that inflation was subdued. Does anyone besides me actually read these reports? Equivalent rents are 40% of the CPI number. If real estate was not so deppressed that report would have shown inflation. God knows we are seeing it in food and energy prices. Bonds are the sell of a lifetime.

The Orioles. The 1 and 7 damn freaking Orioles. What can you say about a team hitting .156 with runners in scoring position? We have a team average of .237. On the bright side we have hit 9 home runs as a team. That’s tied for fourth in the AL. On the dark side our pitching staff has given up 10 to fall second in the league. We have a team ERA over four and are three from the bottom of the barrel. Can’t hit, can’t pitch. It’s going to be a long season.

I touched off a bit of a controversy the other day by posting a friends comments that he had a hard time finding a woman who wanted to be treated well. It is an interesting thought worth consideration. I see the seeds of a truth in there. All too often I have women tell me they want a guy with a sense of humor, who is intelligent and kind. The next night I inevitably see them out with Larry the Lounge lizard or Theodore the Thug. I spent a little time contemplating this remark and came to a conclusion. The majority of the time I am actually a nice guy. I think I have treated the women in my life fairly well. I cannot change this. I grew up with three sisters and I have a daughter.

I am well aware of my own faults. I smoke, I drink and I gamble to start. I make more than my share of my mistakes and have plenty of dummy moments. I am human and male. Once in awhile I will screw up and make an ass of myself. But on balance I think I am a nice guy and I will remain one. Even in the face of evidence that it works I will not become an asshole to land a girlfriend. Years ago I wrote the following. It was true then and it is now.

Being part of what is demographically called the middle aged divorce crowd,
I often see these failed models working out in the great American laboratory
known as the cocktail lounge, bar or pub. The young lady who professes to
value a sense of humor, kindness affection and romance will quite often
leave the bar with the lounge lizard who looks like Richard Gere, or the
overly muscled steroid biker freak with the long hair and will then spend
long hours lamenting these failed relationships over white wine and
cosmopolitans. Men are the worst here. In our desire for companionship, sex
and romance we are a sucker for the surgically enhanced temptress, long hair,
long legs and parts that do things the creator never meant parts to do…..We
forget so often that those who are appealing to the base desires, who dress
to look the part of the dream are most often looking to do exactly that…to
tempt us to do something we should not for reasons we usually would not and
its much more about their desires than ours…the muscle happy freak and larry
the lounge lizard are looking to get laid…the tight jeaned barroom queen of
our dreams, in my experience is looking for this month’s visa card payment
and a move up apartment. Those who initially profess interest in something
more meaningful fall into their traps and find all the attendant miseries.
Every time I have allowed a gin soaked brain to fall for a cosmetic package
that took my breath away…my wallet usually followed my breath. While all the
while their sits a decent respectable guy out with his buddies who would
like nothing more than to fall in love with the right girl and end up in a
Louisville airport in 30 or 40 years, arthritically shuffling for his
beloveds coffee, and an attractive women sits..without the surgical
improvement, dressed in clothes that actually fit but with more flashing
behind her eyes than even she realizes who only desires the right man and
dreams of wearing purple sundress and red tennis shoes on the beaches of her

Now I am off to get ready for the tea party. Afterwards perhaps I will drink and smoke too much and watch the Orioles find a new and exciting way to lose a baseball game.

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