Republican Primaries

So the nutjobs advanced in the Republican primaries in Delaware, Alaska, Nevada, Utah, Florida and Kentucky. Way to go, guys!
The Tea Party, the former pet of the Republican Party, that was never house broken and was purposely let loose around the house so as to bring about the disillusioned spectators who were looking for something new and exciting, has now become the master of the house. The GOP establishment was hoping to channel that massive energy that the unruly pet has generated into the wins by mainstream Republicans, but they got so carried away with their hatred of everything Democrat that instead of installing checks and strict discipline on the petulant and implacable beast they stoked and encouraged the clownish tricks. No denouncement or disapproval came from the establishment when the Tea Party candidates, running as Republicans, came up with such nonsense that in any other setting would be suitable for a crude comedy material. For example, Christine O’Donnell a winner of Delaware Republican primary yesterday believes that masturbation is the same as adultery. She also believes that her political opponents are stalking her and hiding in the bushes around her house at night. Sharron Angle, the GOP primary winner in Nevada believes that pregnant teenage girls can turn a “lemon into a lemonade” by staying pregnant, because, you see, this is “God’s plan” that we can’t interfere with. And I haven’t even gotten into Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim Socialist line of thought.

I do think that some in the GOP establishment, those who respect facts and common sense (unfortunately I can’t even think of anyone other than a handful of conservative columnists with a conscience) do not really believe that Obama is a Muslim Socialist. But because it was convenient to let those insinuations spread for political reasons, they stood aside and quietly rubbed their hands as the nuts were doing the dirty job for them. The questionable, unsupported by facts message is being sent to the angry electorate by the useful idiots and they (the GOP establishment) get to keep their hands clean.

I just wonder if those conservatives who came of age in the Reagan era, reasonable fiscal conservatives, Wall Street guys who just want their tax cuts, AIPAC members, libertarians – are they really happy that this is what Republican Party has become? Can they honestly say that they’re proud to be associated with the know-nothings?
Just a thought.

Don’t be a sucker

“When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.”

Sinclair Lewis

I’ve known this quote for quite a while but I always resisted using it in my blog, because I’d like to avoid using loaded words. But since the Right has bend the rules of the game so much that they have no shame comparing Obama to a Nazi – I had to come down from my high horse and get into dirty combat. I’m a small time crook. My profits are modest, my aspirations – laughable. Every day I have to coexist with a number of suckers and sometimes on a bad day when my guard is down I become a sucker myself. My poker winnings are in direct proportion to the number of fish at the table. My trading profits depend on the herd mentality of other players. I used to be upset when someone makes a stupid play and beat me with one-outer at the poker table or when everyone is buying when in my opinion they should be selling, but I got over it. Instead I learned to embrace it. Now I congratulate and cheer and encourage stupid behavior among my fellow players. I make sure to say ‘Nice hand’ or ‘Well done’ to a sucker to promote incorrect play. Why fight it if you can take advantage of it?

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Republicans Are Anti-Business

Karl Rove, Bush’s consigliere, has employed some rather brilliant (until the hubris and The Math took him down) strategies over the years, one of those being Attack Your Opponent Strengths strategy. Just look at what happened to John Kerry’s war record in 2004 – they turned a war hero into a coward, and what was left was just a flip-flopping blue blooded privileged New Englander – just the kind of opponent Republicans wanted.
Whenever I hear Republicans calling Democrats unpatriotic it has the same rovian flavor to it. Republicans own patriotism, Jesus and the flag. They also own pro-business image. For now.

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Some predictions for the near and not so near future

When you pay premiums for your insurance and if and when the time comes for you to get the benefits, imagine how pissed off you would be if, instead of getting the benefits, you would receive a lecture from your insurance company on the evil of handouts, generously peppered with folksy “American entrepreneurial spirit/pull yourself by your shoelaces” stories. That policyholder is the American unemployed and that insurance company is nowadays Republicans. Nowadays, because Republicans had no problem approving unemployment insurance for those lazy bastards when Bush was in office.
The public, notoriously attentive to details and known for their long attention span, will be able to see through the spin, of course, and reward Obama at the expense of the GOP. But not the way you think. Here’s how. This year, the Republicans will take the House, yes, that is my prediction. They will do so because Obama is in office and things are still pretty bad economically. Of course, when the GOP takes over the House they’ll show us, Commies, how things need to be done! Frankly, I can’t wait. Market loves gridlock in Congress, because this way no harm is coming the Wall Street way (apart from the freshly passed Financial Regulation Bill that has already been priced in). In anticipation of Republican takeover this fall the market will rally (that is my second prediction). For the next 2 years the GOP will demonstrate their problem solving skills with breakthrough and revolutionary ideas of tax cuts and less regulation. We will hear a lot of talking heads and read a lot of editorials about a repeat of 1994 GOP takeover of Congress with no mention of what happened in 1996. Which leads me to believe that Obama actually wants GOP to win this fall, so as to win against them in 2012. It’s a win-win situation for him. In 2 years, even if there’s no gridlock in Congress, the recession will be over through a natural cycle and what would stop him from claiming a well-deserved credit?
Oh, here’s Obama with balls. I’m considering it as one of my new blog avatars.

Republicans for Regulation

It turns out Republicans don’t favor free markets at all. Only they could come up with a legislation like this one.
On Strategic Default

Basically, they are trying to punish borrowers who, while being deeply underwater, are defaulting strategically – that is stop paying mortgage while staying in the house and spend money on other things. Things like going out to the restaurants, shopping, investing money in their small businesses, etc. You know, the normal things that help the economy rebound and keep the Republicans happy. I must also add and this is important – that while doing it, home borrowers are not actually breaking any contractual obligations. Default is an option. It’s the ultimate free market at work, just like the founding fathers have prescribed. But Republicans are not happy.
Frankly, it’s hard for me to guess why they are upset, because here we have people making rational economic decisions, which leaves me with only one option – they are upset with immoral behavior. Which they in turn seek to legislate. I can not put it better that this University of Arizona law professor.

I wonder if Congress might consider a similar measure mandating that any corporation or bank that strategically defaults on a contractual obligation is not entitled to any tax breaks or other government assistance, including any future financial bailout. The point is, of course, that business and banks strategically default all the time when it is in their economic interest to do so.

Why no similar move by the House to punish strategic default by banks and corporations? It is interesting that House Republicans are generally opposed to most regulation of corporate activities—preferring to leave the market to self-regulate—but have acted with House Democrats to regulate the economic activities of average Americans. This is yet another example of the double standard in America—one set of rules for Wall Street and another for Main Street—but this time the House is actually codifying this double standard.

Unfortunately, this kind of moralistic grandstanding by the House does nothing to help the millions of struggling underwater homeowners who have seen their retirement security disappear. Instead, it worsens the impact of the best bad choice they have to save themselves from financial ruin, which is to strategically default and let the banks have their homes—which, by the way, is a perfectly legitimate option under the terms of the mortgage contract.

The Left customarily criticizes conservatives for being too beholden to raw capitalism to the detriment of society as a whole. They are approaching it from the wrong end. They should criticize the self-proclaimed “capitalists” for not being capitalist enough. Because, (and it’s becoming a tired adage) it’s socialism for corporations and capitalism for the little guy.
However, it feels like Republicans didn’t just do it on their own accord. It does feel like it has an imprint of an invisible hand of Wall Street. The whole situation has a flavor of a strong player at the poker table losing a big pot to some schmuck who doesn’t know how to play and instead of saying ‘nice hand’ and moving on, he’s calling for a floor manager. Think about it – the big wigs on Wall Street got beaten in their own game and by who! To put it simply the scammers were being scammed, and they didn’t like it. The other team played dirty for once and won. But I thought it was understood among the players that it’s part of the business, a so-called leakage. That’s why I am very surprised to find moralists on Wall Street – out of all places, for Christ sake! Now I’m truly expecting the next logical move by Republicans – putting equal penalties for default on corporations.

Conservatives and tax cuts (a long rant)

I don’t even know where to begin, given the abundance of articles on taxes in the past week. But one article with the header Taxes On The Rich Are The Poor Man\’s Burden by John Tamny of Forbes especially caught my attention with the first thought that came to my mind “Is he fucking serious?” I also thought that with such a bombastic statement he’s going to tell something I haven’t heard before. Let’s see what his main points are. He starts his article by saying that 47% of US households don’t pay taxes and links to the source article that confirms this notion. Nearly half of US households escape fed income tax

So far so good, I thought, what’s to complain about – isn’t that a conservative dream? I thought that conservatives love tax cuts, and the fact that 47% of the households don’t pay taxes would show that we’re on the right track. Let’s first see how those households end up not paying taxes. If a family of four made $50,000 they claimed a standard deduction of $11,400 and additional $3,650 a piece for four personal exemptions. That would bring their taxable income to $24,000. The federal income tax on $24,000 is $2,769.With two children younger than 17, the family qualified for two $1,000 child tax credits. Its Making Work Pay credit was $800 because the parents were married filing jointly. The $2,800 in credits exceeds the $2,769 in taxes, so the family makes a $31 profit from the federal income tax.

I don’t see what would stop the higher income earners from claiming the same exemptions. If you make $1mln a year you too can claim the same deduction for yourself and for your children. But since that doesn’t cover the tax bill, what do you suggest we do to placate those earners? Make exemptions in proportion to their incomes? Because them and their children are what? Smarter, prettier, attending a private school? Should we have a kid from a poor family receive $1000 tax credit and a kid from a family making $1mln receive $20,000 credit? So that all is fair? Since when the word “fairness” has entered the vocabulary of the top 1%?

No, no! I hear conservatives screaming: forget credits – we want more tax cuts! But I thought you were already quite upset that almost half don’t pay any taxes at all. If we cut more taxes then that figure would increase to what – 60, 70, 80%? Damn you, guys, just say what you really want – cut taxes on just the top 1%. Let’s be honest already. But I digress.

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Real American Experience

Some friends recommended that I expand my posts into a wider range of topics. I think it’s a good idea. How much more can I trash Republicans? Although, I’m afraid, that no matter what I write about I will be inevitably skewed into looking at things through a political prism. Whether I write about money, sex or drugs I like to put things into context.

Here’s a good story about my real American first-hand experience.

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