Thursday, August 30, 2007

Where is the rest of Norman Hsu's money? - 8.30.2007.1

There seems to be quite an uproar over the recent news about political contribution bundler Norman Hsu. As quickly as it has been found out that Mr. Hsu has a warrant for his arrest, various Democratic presidential candidates have moved to take his donations and given to charity. So far there has not been a reaction similar to the reactions related to the Republican political contribution bundler's. I can attribute that to the press, and separate issues that the Republican Party needs to address currently.

Still, this is a serious matter. The donations made by Mr. Hsu are reputed to total $1 million. This total has been collected over a period of roughly 2 years, which is quite a short amount of time. Surprisingly, very little is known about this man, or why his donations have been so large. One would suspect that some sort of quid pro quo would be a logical expectation.

I am further suspicious of the donations, and their cost, because of the actions that have been taken by the Democratic presidential candidates. It may play well to the media, and the public in general, to donate some of the funds Mr. Hsu has collected to date, but it does not stand up to inspection. By this I mean, what the presidential candidates have done with the bundled funds. There are perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars that Mr. Hsu is responsible for yet mere pittances of all those funds are being addressed by presidential candidates. And this is only one example of questionable donors. Mr. Abdul Rehman Jinnah is another example of a bundle donor that had troubles, and his donations were not given away, or even addressed by Senator Clinton or Sen. Barbara Boxer.

By law, the Democratic presidential candidates, actually all candidates, are not required to divulge how much money comes from any one source of the bundled funds they receive. This I am sure is a failure of the legal system, but little can be done about that now. Yet and quite interesting is the fact that one of the sources of funds that Mr. Hsu, bundled for Senator Clinton is a mailman named Mr. Paw. The reason why Mr. Paw is of interest is because he has donated to Senator Clinton alone, $45,000, which is exactly what he makes in a year. But there's been no statement by Senator Clinton or any of the other Democratic elected officials that have accepted the bundled funds of Mr. Hsu. [Beyond the statement
We regularly review contributions as we receive them; we will continue our practice of scrutinizing contributions and, should we have a basis to return a contribution, we will do so.

Some might say, what is the big deal about money that is donated? Some would point out; there are bigger issues in American politics such as the war in Iraq, nationalized health care, and immigration to name a few. They would be right, but the question stands what is it that Mr. Hsu or any other bundling contributor getting for the funds they commit to whichever candidate? Perhaps it's just me but I find it somewhat troubling. I mean, what would the top bundling contributor expect after donating $225,000 to then-presidential candidate John Kerry or a $1000 a plate dinner for Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island or Senator Ted Kennedy, or Senator Sherrod Brown. That does not include the elected officials in California, where Mr. Hsu is facing charges.

Elected officials are supposed to hold themselves to a higher standard. That is, what were supposed to believe in America. Obviously, many are as corrupt as officials in countries across the world. The question of what this costs the nation is an unknown, and an unknown factor is something that is not a value in the next potential president.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

The ebb and flow of political opinions - 8.23.2007.1

As we approach the coming report on the surge in Iraq, several candidates vying for their respective parties nod in the primaries are taking another tack in their recent speeches. While this is not a bad thing, a Commander-and–Chief should be able to evaluate changing conditions in any on-going military action and act accordingly; it does cause me to pause.

While some have remained steadfast in their opposition to the war and any actions we take there, others have begun to bend, and on the other side a few are prepared to take advantage of any positive results. It’s not that things have changed as much as it’s the political maneuvering that has opened or closed some doors. That troubles me.

Some feel that President Bush has been too single-minded in his approach to Iraq; others say he has not been strong enough. I think all would say that there have been mistakes made in the execution of every step of the war in Iraq. But do we want to have the next President to be equally as resolute in their opinion of what to do, or flexible in their actions merely for the benefit of polling results?

I don’t question anyone that takes a critical look at the situation and based on the facts changes their mind. Yet, considering that there has not been a report made and that it will not be for several weeks still any changes now are more political in motivation than fact based. Those kinds of changes in position are pandering, to me.

“Now, I believe the facts that have brought us to this fateful vote are not in doubt. Saddam Hussein is a tyrant who has tortured and killed his own people, even his own family members, to maintain his iron grip on power. He used chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds and on Iranians, killing over 20 thousand people. Unfortunately, during the 1980's, while he engaged in such horrific activity, he enjoyed the support of the American government, because he had oil and was seen as a counterweight to the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran.

In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001.

Now this much is undisputed. The open questions are: what should we do about it? How, when, and with whom?

So it is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interests of our nation.” – Senator Clinton October 2002

“If I had been President in October of 2002, I would have never asked for authority to divert our attention from Afghanistan to Iraq, and I certainly would never have started this war.” - Senator Clinton February 2007

“It's working. We're just years too late in our tactics….

Clinton's positive assessment of the troop surge puts her in agreement with some high-ranking military officials and scholars, but in direct opposition to many fellow Democrats.” - Senator Clinton and article comments August 2007

I am singling out Senator Clinton because she may be the most easily tracked of many candidates, but by no means is she alone. As facts and political polls have changed over the years and months, so have the responses from many candidates. Often the current comments conflict with the emotion and strength behind words said previously.

Hollow comments based on political gain are not what is needed in a President, in my opinion. Strong opinions balanced with actual fact and viewed from the vantage of the good of the Nation, are what is needed.

Keep this in mind as we hear the responses from all the candidates about the surge in Iraq, and what we can do next. Keep that in mind when we wait for the plans proposed and what consequences are envisioned with Iraq. Keep it in mind as polls move back and forth and the primaries approach.

Emotion may be powerful, but a vote for the wrong person and the wrong reason has ramifications that lasts decades and affects millions. That will not fade even long after emotion have.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Where do you rate on the Political Compass - 8.22.2007.1

Well here is something original. You may be very surprised at the following chart; it details the political position of the various Presidential candidates here in the United States. One thing you should note about this chart is the fact that it is based on a wide spectrum, and not just the American political universe. Thus Senator Clinton is left here, but a conservative moderate on a worldwide basis. No doubt that alone makes this list interesting.
chart found at

One of the things about this list is the chance it allows each of us to see where we land. You might just be a bit surprised. I for one found out that, according to this, Ron Paul and Hillary Clinton are my closest contemporaries out of all the candidates. (I'm 5.75 Right and 1.59 Authoritarian - somehow I always thought I'd rate more authoritarian.)

If you are wondering where you might lad on this chart, take the test at The Political Compass.

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Religion in debates, where it may lead - 8.21.2007.1

A simple question I’ve asked before, does religion affect your choice of President of the United States?

As others have noted

Article VI of the Constitution of the United States of America states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Yet the question of religion has long been connected to elected office, and in recent years directly so. As religious fanaticism has caused some to become terrorists, the question of religion in American politics takes a stronger position. I for one do not find this to be a good position.

In a recent Democratic debate (there have been 27 so far if you lost count) George Stephanopoulos asked:

“My question is to understand each candidates’ view of a personal God. Do they believe that, through the power of prayer, disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the Minnesota bridge collapse could have been prevented or lessened?”

Can you imagine this question being asked of the oft quoted Theodore Roosevelt? Or perhaps Lincoln? How about if President Clinton had been asked if prayer would heal all the people without healthcare, or if President Carter were asked if prayer would get the hostages back from Iran?

Religion is a powerful thing, for an individual. Faith is something that cannot be quantified nor should it be worn like a merit badge. It is a facet of a person that is intrinsic like leadership. To pander to any group on this basis cheapens the people pandered to and the faith they have, in my opinion. Perhaps that is one reason that the Constitution precludes its use in gaining public office.

If we cannot separate religion for the debates of Presidential candidates, how do we believe the separation of Church and State will be maintained? Thus what other tenants of the Constitution are also subject to being bent or broken? How can we be idle as we see the slippery slope taking us to a place the Founding Fathers of this nation warned us never to tread?

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Monday, August 20, 2007

What can solve illegal immigration? Part 2 - 8.20.2007.3

Continued from What can solve illegal immigration? Part 1...

Senator Clinton on the other hand is very accountable. In Clinton said in a 1997 speech to the Corporate Council on Africa.

"Look around the globe: Those nations which have lowered trade barriers are prospering more than those that have not."

In 1998 Senator Clinton spoke in favor of NAFTA

"a very effective business effort in the U.S. on behalf of NAFTA...It is certainly clear that we have not by any means finished the job that has begun,"

Yet in 2006 Senator Clinton blames NAFTA on former-President George Bush

"continuing to drive hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people from Mexico into our country...We just can't keep doing what we did in the 20th century."

More confusing is a vote in 2003 for US-Chile FTA, and a 2005 vote against CAFTA. Add to that the criticism that Senator Clinton gives to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) which is supported by her husband former-President Clinton.

This flip-flopping and lack of cohesiveness in both parties is unacceptable. Building a wall is a waste of time. People will go over, under or thru a wall if their desire and need is great enough. Even smarter will be the ones that will go around the wall and enter from the wide-open North. Troops are costly, and will lead to confrontation and thus loss of lives. Even with added troops many will enter the nation. And having troops on one border is ignorant when a simple entry option to the North exists.

The best answer to immigration is dealing with its root cause. It’s the same as good medicine. Don’t deal with the symptoms, cure the disease. Improving trade and thus the economy of nations feeding illegal, undocumented, immigrants reduces the problem we face in America. Perhaps the Presidential candidates will realize this, or at least their numerous staff will. At least this is something I would hope as I find it hard to believe only the Latin Business Chronicle and I am smart enough to come to this conclusion.

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What can solve illegal immigration? - 8.20.2007.2

Given the attention, and strong feelings on immigration, there is no surprise that it is a hot topic among the various Presidential candidates. Each has staked out a position, usually running along political party lines. But there is an aspect of immigration that gets far less attention and is perhaps the answer to the issue.

Many of the illegal immigrants in America at this time are Hispanic/Latino. That is neither a negative nor an accusation. The fact is, as best as can be determined, that there are some 12 million illegal immigrants from Spanish-speaking nations. The main reasons they have come to America is because they are looking for work, a high standard of living, and the ability to provide families in their home countries with a better life funded by the American dollars they send to them. I cannot fault those reasons. That does not change the fact that they have broken U.S. law.

[I must state that I have very strict views on immigration. I have spoken before on these views. To simply state it, I do not believe any illegal alien, or undocumented immigrant if it makes some sleep better, deserves any rights or public aide in America.]

While many are suggesting that the answer to this issue is a wall along the Southern border (while completely ignoring the larger and virtually unwatched Northern border) or placing National Guard troops on patrol, few are looking at the other end of the issue. Improving the quality of life and income in the native countries of these illegal immigrants.

Improvements of the trade agreements and ability to conduct international business would reach the people of those nations and thus help stem the flow into the United States. It will not end the illegal immigration issue, but it could improve it far more than a wall or troops.

But the key leading presidential candidates seem to be questionable in their resolve on this issue. As noted in an article at the Latin Business Chronicle,

“Measured by their voting records and/or statements, Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney are the best candidates, while Democrat John Edwards is the worst. Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton - the frontrunners in the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively - both have mixed records. The two have, however, been developing in different directions. While Clinton previously was seen as more favorable to free trade, she now is more critical, whereas Giuliani appears to have gone the opposite way.”

While Mr. Rudy Giuliani seems to be improving his position on free trade, which thus improves the chance to reduce illegal immigration at its source, Senator Clinton is traveling in the opposite manner. Mr. Giuliani is a bit trickier to decipher as he was merely a Mayor, albeit that the city was New York City. His choices and position is not nearly as strong as a political decision that impacts the entire nation.

Continued in Part 2...

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What will we really get after the 2008 election? - 8.20.2007.1

I read something that is quite interesting. It deals with the standing of the Democratic Presidential candidates, and the Democratic Party in general. It’s a view that is actually obvious, but no one seems to take on seriously. There is basically one voice among the Democrats, and that voice is far from the center.

From the various positions Democratic candidates have mentioned, like national healthcare and retreat from Iraq, and their actions, like going to the Daily Kos convention while ignoring the DLC convention, we see a picture that runs towards the left. That is an important observation, not because that is a good or bad thing, but rather that it is not what the average American agrees with. The average American is acknowledged to not be severely right or left on the political spectrum, but in the center. There may be an issue that they will go to the left and another that goes right, but the balance is to the center overall.

Given that fact, I have to wonder what will happen after the primaries. Given that the top Republican Presidential candidates are closer to the center than the extreme right, what will Democratic candidates do? It may be fine to be targeting an extreme vocal portion of an individual party to win a primary but that won’t work in a general election. Or will it?

Immigration is a huge issue. Will the Democratic Primary winner that the view of the extreme left, and if they don’t how can they pull back from positions made so far? National healthcare affects millions of Americans, and the extreme left want a more socialized medicine, as espoused by pundits like Michael Moore. Yet average Americans do not want to absorb the cost or usual inefficiencies found in government run programs (I submit the effectiveness of the DMV and Veterans Administration as examples). And the question of an immediate retreat from Iraq, as has been promised my virtually every candidate, matching the desires of the extreme left and similar to the disapproval of the war held in the general populace. Still most military advisors note that such an action will lead to instability that will definitely cause more American military loses of life and eventually attacks on America itself. Can the democratic primary winner back away for an instantaneous retreat the extreme is calling for and still win?

There are many issues and many views for each. I do not question which is right or wrong. I merely wonder that if presidential candidates have aligned themselves with extreme views of their respective parties, can they still serve the more centrist general populace in a manner they will approve of. I have to wonder that if extreme views are held today, and more centrist views are stated after the primaries, what position will a presidential candidate actually pursue after being elected.

Maybe it’s me but I wonder which points of view will be the ones affecting the nation and our lives for the next 4 years?

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Why Theodore Roosevelt should never be quoted by current presidential candidates - 8.15.2007.1

President Theodore Roosevelt. The name evokes an image of a powerful President, and the growth of America as a serious world power. This one titular President made perhaps the most famous of Presidential quotes, “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.” [Actually an African proverb that he co-opted]

It is because of the image and actions of this President that Presidential candidates of both parties use his words to try to puff-up their own images. Virtually every candidate has done it, each in reference to goals they wish to promote. And in my opinion, none of them deserve or embody the legacy of the 26th President. Let me be clear.

Many candidates want to use or paraphrase the famous quote cited above, to improve their stature when speaking on issues like the Iraq war, terrorism, Afghanistan and America’s role in the world. It would be impressive if any of them actually had a solid plan for those issues. But as politics have become more MTV driven, in that there is little substance but lots of motion giving the impression something is happening, the soundbites are as close as any candidate gets to being a strong leader of our military.

Many candidates want to quote and refer to the strides President Roosevelt made against corporate corruption, implying they too can help improve the economy and preserve the 401k’s and retirement funds of the nation. Yet the plans stated to date, including taking corporate profits for redistribution or expanding/creating government programs, seem to go against that fiscal responsibility. Again the bluster fails to reach the pinnacles of the quotes and image.

Theodore Roosevelt was an important President. He was the first to have a Black man as a dinner guest in the White House. That was in 1901. Current candidates cannot compete with that, given. But they also seem incapable of doing anything comparable. Some would roll over in the face of political pressure found in polls on standing on this issue or that. Others are adamant in following only one course without a concept of what repercussions may be the result.

I don’t mind that the various candidates want to look like more of a leader than the other. I just wish one actually was more of a leader than the others. Quotes from those that have done things are never equal to those pretending to be of equal importance.

President Roosevelt had served in the military, ran state government, ran the Navy, a polymath, an author, an explorer, head of his political party, and was a boxing enthusiast. Most of the candidates today can barely stand in the shadow of his experience, before he ever became Vice-President or President. As such they should never try to use his limelight to make themselves shine. It just reminds us of how far less they offer in a time we need so much more.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Republicans will answer YouTube questions - 8.13.2007.1

There has been a resounding consensus that questions presented to candidates via YouTube are a good thing. The candidates get real questions that are faced by real people everyday. It’s a reminder that average Joe is the person these candidates have to answer to, not the special interest groups and large donors. The questions asked, though some were just ridiculous, did not hold back or cushion the candidates, and that is a great thing.

So far this format has only been presented to the Democratic Presidential hopefuls. It created a lot of interest in who is running and why. It’s lead to further discussion on who really is qualified, earnest, and beneficial enough to lead this nation. It provided perhaps the best example of what choices exist for the election.

There was some debate over whether the Republican Presidential candidates would appear for a debate based on this same format. Initially it appeared that it might not happen as only 2 candidates were confirmed to show. Many, including myself, thought it would be a massive blow against any Republican hopeful not to appear. But recent reports state that this debate format will be happening.

Check out YouTube to submit your question and look forward to the November debate. Remember that your vote counts, and if you don’t ask a question now you may not get a choice later. America deserves better than that.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Drugs and the race to the 2008 election - 8.9.2007.1

Just say no. It’s not a take on a Nike commercial; it was the United States attempt to keep the youth of the nation away from drugs. First Lady Nancy Reagan was the spokeswoman of this campaign, and with due respect to the First Lady, the results were indicative of how the government deals with drugs and drug crime. In my opinion they haven’t a clue, and screw things up.

You might wonder what any of the Presidential candidates’ think of this. Well if you have, keep wondering as none of them have any information on the issue. You can find comments on whether the government should or should not bail-out sub-prime mortgage loans, because it’s a topical question in the news today; but you can’t find anything on the struggle to keep kids away from drugs or how to resolve the enormous numbers of drug-related crimes. It seems to be a bit of an oversight don’t you think?

Then again, other than an occasional showcase speech whenever funding is needed, The President and the Presidential candidates rarely discuss efforts against drugs. I suppose discussing abject failure and the lack of vision to resolve this problem is too much to speak about. Worse yet, this is a truly non-partisan failure of both political parties, so neither side will get support blaming the other about this.

“According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 22 million Americans suffer from drug or alcohol abuse. Department of Justice statistics demonstrate that 55 percent of all federal prison inmates are there because of drugs.”

That seems to be an issue worth speaking about. You would think that at a time when each Presidential candidate, whether Republican or Democrat, is trying to stand out among their peers with soundbites over plans (as I understand it) at least one would have something to say about it. But alas ther is just a vaccum as large as space.

Perhaps Republicans don’t want to be reminded that each time First Lady Nancy Reagan implored the nation to say NO, kids laughed and said definitely yes. Perhaps Democrats find it difficult to speak on a subject where one of their most liked representatives, President Clinton, provided the laughable excuse that “I didn’t inhale.” Neither party has past or current Presidents that have done well on this issue.

Still considering the billions spent each year, the ever larger drug busts made by the DEA, and the ludicrous public safety announcements, someone should bite the bullet and say ‘I think drugs are wrong, and here is an idea that might help improve the situation.’

That’s not too much to ask for, don’t you think?

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Presidential candidates in glass houses... - 8.9.2007.1

I love the way politicians pick on a subject they know they can get attention with, all the while knowing that it’s complete hogwash. I’ll take the recent confrontation the Senator Clinton faced from John Edwards and Senator Obama. It was the near-famous refusal of Senator Clinton to give up lobbyist funding that did it. Didn’t the other candidates feel smug.

Of course, none of the others are getting nearly as much money from lobbyists so they might be a bit more willing since it levels the playing field a bit. Not that any of the Presidential candidates will give up the funds they have received unilaterally. Now that would make a statement and force others to follow their move. But bold groundbreaking political actions are not for this Presidential race.

Don’t be fooled. The question about lobbyist money is self-serving. If you are not getting the majority of it, you want to no one else to keep any. It makes it easier to be competitive. And don’t think that any of the candidates desire to let the public know where their money is coming from.

So far only Senator Obama provides an easy reference to where his bundled contributions are coming from. Bundled money would be, as an example, funds raised by Oprah Winfrey at her upcoming dinner party that is $2300 minimum to enter, if you were invited.

Let me correct myself, Senator Clinton did make it clear as well, 3 months ago on a blog by a lesser staffer, stuffed in the 4th paragraph, without other notice or fanfare. That is about as clear as pea soup.

Some may think this is the norm for Presidential candidates, but the fact is that President Bush, in 2004 made it somewhat easy (and far moreso than what is available today) on where his money was coming from and thus forced other candidates to be almost as clear. As maligned as President Bush may be these days, none of the current candidates match his actions. That seems to say a lot about how serious these candidates are, don’t you think?

And this does not even touch on the money received by candidates from special interest groups, which I spoke about before. Not surprisingly Senator Clinton and Mitt Romney lead in this arena, at least with healthcare.

So the Daily Kos may have cheered, the soundbites may sound great, but there is no substance behind any of it that I can find. Smoke and mirrors are not only for magicians, politicians use them well too. Sadly, I don’t find it entertaining.

Do you?

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Vote for me at the 2007 Black Weblog Awards


Here we go. If you enjoy my sites please for for me at the 2007 Black Weblog Awards


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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Jim Cramer gets upset with reason Part 2 - 8.7.2007.2

Continued from Jim Cramer gets upset with reason Part 1...

It’s a real gloom outlook. Like dominoes falling the effects move from the financial sector to every other industry. Once it starts there is really nothing that can be done. This is why so many would tell Mr. Cramer they are afraid. This is why he would demand that the Fed ease rates. It’s not a recession they fear, it’s a depression. It wouldn’t be 1929, but a depression all the same. Economically it’s just part of the cycle, emotionally and in terms of real people it’s quite another.

Most average people are unfamiliar with the terms being discussed by most analysts. Many see Mr. Cramer flipping out and they don’t get it. Such are the markets.

It’s not worth pulling everything out of the market in a panic, to me. It is worth evaluating and planning your investments around. A good plan takes into account that these things may happen and provides shelter for the storm. Just as the markets rebounded from the 2000-1 drop, the up-coming drop will also be survivable. But don’t doubt it will hurt a lot.

Since 2003 the market has gone from around 8000 to 14000, a total of roughly 75% overall or about 19% per year. That is very strong growth. The 7% drop from 14,000 to 13,000 is not enough to balance the growth. I’d expect a drop to 11,000 before things settle out. And at the same time there will be far less credit available. Already that has gotten tougher as Mr. Cramer mentioned. It will get worse.

These are things I expect. I could be completely wrong, and that would be a great thing. How any one person should prepare for this potential problem is a conversation that I cannot have. I would suggest having the conversations with your professionals though, and re-evaluating the potential costs of a mortgage. Preparation is the key.

**Mr. Vass is no-longer a stockbroker, and is not providing any financial advice. The above is an expression of the thoughts of Mr. Vass and do not make or imply a solicitation. Investments of any nature are complicated and highly individualized; it is recommended that any financial advice be sought from licensed professionals. **

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Jim Cramer gets upset with reason - 8.7.2007.1

So I was checking out a few things when I ran into this conversation by Mr. Jim Cramer. Actually I can’t really call it a conversation. It’s Mr. Cramer going off about his concerns. This is perhaps the most passionate I have ever heard him be. And I understand exactly why.

I’ve mentioned before that I am a former stockbroker. I’ve had years of experience and have spoken or listened to maybe hundreds of analysts and CEOs. I’ve come to understand the relationship between the markets, data, investor impressions and institutions both domestic and international. Given this I have a bit of understanding of Mr. Cramer’s words that some I’ve read do not. He may be blustering and a bit of a showboat, but he is no idiot.

Here is the actual footage –

The fact is that if you are an investor in the market, you should be concerned as well. Things are not going well and they will probably get worse. For all the naysaying of many democrats (and a couple of Presidential candidates) the economy has been doing well. That has a lot to do with the low interest rates and the boom that has persisted in the housing market. Couple that with investor impressions and you get most of what the market has been for a while now. But interest rates are on the rise and the evil some men do is coming to term.

When I say evil I mean the vultures that sought out the uninformed and ill-advised that were convinced to take on high-risk variable rate mortgages. Whether they are White or Black, most were less educated in the ways of markets and were not prepared for what would happen if rates increased. I don’t know how many people took advantage of the low rates being offered to take second-mortgages to cover rising healthcare costs or to keep up with the Jones’ and get new cars or some other such. How many ads are still being shown on TV advertising the homes that can be bought for as little as $1000 if you just call a 1-800 number for details.

For whatever the reasons, I estimate that the last 5 years has caused more people than are being estimated now to take on a home. I would say 10-20% of them were older people that took on risky second mortgages and 10-20% were mislead about the eventual cost of a first mortgage. I guess it could mean a total of about 10 million are in danger of defaulting on their loans.

If so many were to do so, banks and financial institutions would take significant losses. Profits would shrink as they are used to cover the defaults. Credit would tighten, causing some small businesses to fold, middle level companies to stagnate and fire employees and large corporations to increase prices. Unemployment goes up and the GDP of the nation drops.

Continued in Part 2...

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Do empty debates equal empty candidates - 8.6.2007.1

The debates continue to rollout one after the other as we approach the 2008 primaries, and the level each needs to rise up to supposedly increases. There have been debates that the various Presidential candidates have gone to, and others that were suspiciously avoided. The advent of technology has even provided the general public a chance to directly question the candidates on issues that John and Jane Q. Public find to be of importance.

This is a great thing, in theory. One might expect that this much attention being given to who might be the next President of the United States would spur conversations and help drive people to one candidate or another. One might think that the majority of Americans would be beyond the basic questions in the debates, and focusing on the finer points of the various platform policies. And if you thought that you would be wrong.

There are reports that suspect somewhere between 40-60% of Americans do not know, nor are they sure where to find, the actual positions of the various candidates. There could be many reasons for this. The prevalence of discussion on the War versus virtually any other question is potentially part of the problem. The fact that many are not familiar enough with the internet to find the information is another. But I believe the fact that getting a televised full answer to say nationalized healthcare is the cause.

Each candidate, in both parties, are prepared to answer most any question in a 30 second soundbite. The media has no problem in presenting the abbreviated responses. But how often are the candidates shown or reported as giving a complete answer? How often are quotes of a couple of paragraphs, that stay on topic throughout their entirety, found for any candidate on any and all topics?

Are there a lot of candidates? Yes, no matter which party you chose. Would more full debates take longer? If we got real answers they could. But isn’t it worth the extra time to know where everyone stands? Don’t we deserve to know who we are choosing in a primary or the election in 2008. Shouldn’t more people be able to say, in plain English that Presidential candidate XYZ stand for this on whatever issue, and here is a quote that they made supporting this stance.

There are many more debates to go, and some of the candidates will be at some of them. But when will we get a better answer that takes more than 30 seconds to proclaim. I just wonder.

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