Saturday, September 4, 2010

Oval Office Makeover by Celebrity Interior Decorator Michael Smith

the same guy who did the makeover for the living quarters of the White House for Michelle Obama, the same guy who did the office makeover for John Thain, who was then the CEO of Merrill Lynch, with the infamous $87,000 area rug.

But the taxpayers' money wasn't used, and the budget was $100,000, they say. You hire a guy who specs $87,000 for an area rug and $1,400 for a wastebasket and the budget is $100,000. Yeah right...

I don't quite care for this Oval Office Obama version - drab and boring like a hotel lobby. If that's what he likes, fine. I don't quite see why he had to hire a celebrity decorator though, to achieve this boring effect. I certainly, positively do not care for wallpaper.

The new rug features a quote from Theodore Parker, and NOT Martin Luther King Jr., according to Washington Post. Ooops. History rewritten ever so subtly.

You can view the Oval Office under different presidents, here. I like the smart color use of George W. Bush Oval Office.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Overdose: The Next Financial Crisis

A 46-minute documentary produced by a team of filmmakers led by prominent Swedish libertarians Jonah Norberg and Martin Borgs.

The film has been broadcast in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Australia - and won the prestigious 'Best Feature Documentary' award at the San Francisco Frozen Film Festival.

To dispel the myth that capitalism caused the crisis, the producers have decided to make the 45-minute film free to watch online, in full, for a limited time. (Note from Peter Schiff's Euro Pacific Capital)

Or watch it at YouTube here.

Obama Off to Another Vacation in Camp David

The "Recovery Summer" - the administration officials from the president on down flew all over the country for brief photo-op visits to celebrate how the stimulus money is being squandered or to miscategorize the spending as "stimulus money", and taxpayers had the honor to pay for the cost to fly them back and forth and to provide security, plus extra per diem on a travel day for these highly-paid federal government officials - is mercifully ending.

The hard-working President needs a constant vacation and light schedule.

President Obama's Full Schedule (from CBS Political Hotsheet)


10:00AM: President Obama delivers a statement to the press on the monthly jobs numbers
1:30PM: President Obama departs the South Lawn en route Camp David


11:30AM: President Obama meets with his national security team
1:00PM: President Obama receives the Economic Daily Briefing

It All Happened Two Years Ago in September

and I still remember it as if it were just last month.

I don't like September. The US stock market sentiment seems to have turned on a proverbial dime for no rhyme or reason on Wednesday, September 1st, and it managed to hold the gain Thursday. And I'm highly suspicious. September is a bad, bad month.

Why? Because I am still traumatized by what transpired in September, October and November of 2008. It started with "nationalization" of Fannie and Freddie on September 8, 2008. Then all hell broke loose: Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, money market fund "broke the buck", AIG was "nationalized", Washington Mutual was seized and sold off to J.P.Morgan Chase, and global credit markets froze.

One year ago on September 8, 2009, I wrote this post:

It All Happened One Year Ago - September 8 (9/8/2009 EX-SKF)

"One year ago on September 8, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were effectively taken over by the U.S. government.

"These were the headlines on Investors Business Daily on the next day, describing the events on September 8, 2008:

• U.S. Takeover of Fannie, Freddie Still Doesn't End Troubled Saga
• Builders And Banks Rally Over Seizure of Freddie, Fannie
• Fannie's stock tumbled 90%, Freddie 83%
• Picture of anxious specialists on NYSE floor
• Lehman Brothers Down On Uncertainty: the stock lost 13%
• Delivery Firms Reduce Speed To Save Fuel: UPS eliminates left turn
• S&P cuts Wamu to junk
• Russian troops were still in Georgia

"Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual were still with us. Not just homebuilders and banks but the general market rallied on the Fannie/Freddie news.

"For more on what happened one year ago, read my posts (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV)."

Now it's two years ago. It is almost miraculous that we somehow survived. Yes, yes, now more mainstream people are saying "end is near", not just Roubini (remember him?) and Celente, Schiff. But I feel the world we knew and the financial markets we knew died in September 2008; that was the end.

Whatever happens in this afterlife of a market, I hope I will not see the gut-wrenching 800 points plunge in Dow Jones Industrial Average every other trading day, I hope I will not see a stock sell off 70% in a week or the ghastly faces of floor traders and specialists almost reduced to tears on the NYSE. But such things would happen in a free market, which died.

Now only algo bots are capable of wrecking havoc, like they did on May 6. But if they do that again, the SEC will simply nullify the trades as if nothing happened.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Environmental Militant" or "Eco-Terrorist"?

The left-leaning US media calls James J. Lee an "enviromental militant". What a peculiar phrase.

The British tabloid calls him for what he is, an "eco-terrorist". Thank you, Daily Mail.

I took a look at this guy's "manifesto", couldn't get past the fifth word of the text when I encountered a spelling error. It's "its", Mr. Lee, not "it's"!

Whatever happened to "global warming" anyway?

Telegraph UK's James Delingpole who busted open the "climategate" writes:

James Lee is Al Gore is Prince Charles is the Unabomber (9/2/2010 Telegraph UK)

"Al Gore’s Church of Climatism has claimed a new glorious martyr. His name is James Lee – the Discovery channel attempted eco-suicide-bomber – and if he’d had his way he wouldn’t have been the only one who ended up in the great recycling bin in the sky. That’s because, as far as the late James Lee was concerned, humans like the innocent Discovery channel employees he held hostage are the scum of the earth.

"Just read some of the manifesto he posted on the internet and see for yourself:

The humans? The planet does not need humans.

You MUST KNOW the human population is behind all the pollution and problems in the world, and YET you encourage the exact opposite instead of discouraging human growth and procreation. Surely you MUST ALREADY KNOW this!

"Does this sound like the ravings of a sad, deranged loner on the wilder fringes of eco-fascist lunacy? Not to me it doesn’t. Strip away the block capitals and what you have, word for word, is the core manifesto of the entire global green movement.

"...What’s really depressing is that the philosophy expressed in James Lee’s (and the Unabomber’s) manifesto – which is also, incidentally, the philosophy expressed in Al Gore’s The Earth In Balance – is also the philosophy that is taught every day to our children in their schools: the world is fragile; human beings are a blot on the landscape; through our greed and selfishness we make everything worse; really it would be better if we vanished altogether and let all the lovely pure noble animals take over.

"It’s time we woke up to the threat posed by this mass brainwashing of the younger generation. We worry, rightly, about those Muslim children who are being indoctrinated with the extreme Wahaabist version of their faith. Yet we seem astonishingly complacent that every day, in schools of every kind throughout the Western world, our children are being taught by well-meaning teachers to view their world and culture through exactly the same anti-capitalist, anti-human, anti-growth eyes as James Lee and the Unabomber.

"The modern environmental movement is not kind, caring or gentle. It is a series of ticking time bombs waiting to blow up in our face." [Emphasis is mine. For the entire article, follow the link above.]

"Does this sound like the ravings of a sad, deranged loner on the wilder fringes of eco-fascist lunacy? Not to me it doesn’t. "

Not to me either. I've met one too many, otherwise gentle and well-meaning adults who earnestly believe forced sterilization and forced abortion are the excellent ideas to "save the planet" (whatever that means). I've also met one too many children who tell me "people are bad" (particularly the white, male kind) because "they destroy the planet". They eagerly tell me that's what their teachers tell them at school (so that must be right).

17th Consecutive Week of Outlow from Domestic Equity Funds

reports Zero Hedge:

Can You Hear Me Now? 17th Weekly Fund Outflow As Equity Fund Redemptions Accelerate (Tyler Durden, 9/2/2010 Zero Hedge)

"This is just getting silly: perhaps the next update on ICI mutual fund flows should occur if there is an inflow for once...ever again. In the meantime, ICI reports we have just recorded the 17th consecutive weekly outflow from domestic equity mutual funds, and what's worse for mutual funds' depleted liquidity ratios, it is now accelerating, hitting a total of $4.3 billion, a more than 50% increase from last week's $2.7 billion. YTD outflows have now hit $54 billion, as ever more capital is going into far safer fixed income instruments.

"...As for this being a contrarian signal, hopefully all those who see this as a buying opportunity can also find a way to make the now retiring baby boomers about 10 years younger and force them away from fixed income capital reallocation. Oh, and fix the broken market and restore investor confidence that the casino is only modestly rigged." [Go to the link above for the entire article.]

Here's the chart they have at Zero Hedge, plotting the fund flow against SPY performance. The significant outflow started right after the flash crash of May 6, when more retail investors saw the market for what it had become - a casino; my imagery of the day continues to be a black elevator shaft with no bottom to be seen.

But now that the retail investors are crowding into the bond funds, maybe the time is approaching when the big boys pull the rug and tank the bond market. Who knows...

BTW, speaking of a casino, Las Vegas Sands (LVS) shares are trading near 52-week high; it is at $30.07 right now. Not bad for a stock that went $1.38 on March 9, 2009. Things cannot be that bad, can they?

Another Oil Rig Explosion in the Gulf?

From Reuters:

"Shares of Mariner Energy (ME.N) fell 5 percent to $22.30 on Thursday after reports of a possible oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, with some media reporting that the rig was operated by Mariner.

"Shares of Apache Corp (APA.N), which is expected to buy Mariner Energy, also fell 1.8 percent to $90.94."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ohio: Bush 50, Obama 42

Who could have known? And the Democratic leadership and the Obama administration have been warning us against "Return to Bush Era".

Charleston Daily Mail reports:

Ohio: Bush 50, Obama 42 (9/1/2010 Charleston Daily Mail Blog)

"From Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling on Tuesday: “We’ll start rolling out our Ohio poll results tomorrow but there’s one finding on the poll that pretty much sums it up: by a 50-42 margin voters there say they’d rather have George W. Bush in the White House right now than Barack Obama.”

"In 2008, Barack Obama rolled over John McCain 2,940,044 to 2,677,820.

"Using Surber Math, that’s a 262,224-vote margin.

"What happened?

"The unknown became the known.

"Prince Charming turned out to be a frog.

"Imagine that." [The article continues.]

Earl Is Category 4, Heading to East Coast

For more, here.

But isn't nature beautiful?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Obama's Iraq Speech Underwhelms

President Obama gave his second speech from the Oval Office tonight. I didn't watch it because I don't have TV any more (thank Heavens!). But judging by how the media people reacted, he may have lost his charm over them.

Here's a take by David Zurawik at Baltimore Sun:

"Forget about the grace and TV magic that analysts once talked about it critquing President Barack Obama's prime-time performances. The kindest thing one could say about the president's 18-minute address from the Oval Office Tuesday night is that it was workmanlike.

"Part of that involved all the contradictions the president was trying to disguise -- starting with his effort to describe the combat mission in Iraq that came to an end as a victory without giving much credit to President George W. Bush who took a lot of heat for it while he was in office. And the one thing Obama really didn't want to do was remind Americans that he was one of the senators criticizing Bush.

"The performance also lacked grace because Obama was trying to do so much pivoting in such a short time. He had to move quickly from Iraq to Afghanistan, the war in which we are now mired at his choosing -- and then get the heck out of Afghanistan and onto the economy, which is what most Americans really care about. If it sounds lilke a mess -- yeah, that's what he had to try and deal with in 18 minutes.

"But I'll let the politicos talk about that. As a TV and media analyst, I was struck by the presentation and performance of the president -- both of which were strikingly defective.

"First, the camera shot him so tight you had no sense of the Oval Office. And this is crazy, because more than anything else after all his talk shows and hoops games and golf courses, this guy needs more than ever to look presidential. We need leadership, and he needs to wrap himself in the trappings of the office that remind us that he is our elected leader.

"But no, they shot him so tight it could have been a "Saturday Night Live" set where the intense close-up is used to mask the lack of anything but a desk and a couple of flags on an NBC stage. Honestly, look at the YouTube video, he could have been anywhere.

"This is huge and obvious mistake in staging. Does anyone in that administration understand imagery and symbolism?

"Obama seemed small sitting in that chair last night, and maybe that is why they shot him so close-up -- hoping to make him seem a little larger.

"Whatever the reason, it didn't work.

"This is not a TV performance that is going to inspire confidence in the man, the office or his policies. And that is too bad, because this nation desperately needs some confidence right now. "

Saturday Night Live would have done a much more lively and entertaining speech...

Let's see.. all he did yesterday was to give a speech on the economy in the Rose Garden and tank the stock market. Today, all he did was to fly to Texas to meet the troops briefly, fly back, and gave this speech. He must be conserving energy for tomorrow, a big day.

News That Disappeared

News that has all but disappeared from MSM, even from the Internet:

Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill - what happened to the "worst ecological disaster in history of the planet"?

Flash crash of May 6, 2010 when Dow Jones Industrial plunged almost 1000 points in a matter of few minutes - SEC still claims it doesn't know why or how it happened.

Iran nuclear reactor and Bolton telling Israelis they had only a few days to attack - now what?

Wikileaks - the last I read anything related to it was that Sweden dropped the rape charges on its founder. Hmmm.

Ground Zero mosque - the opponents have been called "bigots", "racists", "demagogues", "warmongers" by PC liberals and conservatives and libertarians, then the news disappears. Last I read about the topic was the arrest record of the mosque builder.

Instead, we were treated with non-news like:

Obama: US combat in Iraq over, 'time to turn page' - hahaha who is he kidding? As I reported here yesterday, a US soldier will be called "U.S. serviceman entrusted with protecting the U.S. reconstruction team". 50,000 of them (plus contractors numbering probably three times as many) will be doing the nation-building, aka colonization, for eternity.

Monday, August 30, 2010

OT: President Had Not Much to Do Today, So He Spoke the Same Old Stuff and Tanked the Stock Market

Today's schedule for President Obama:

10:30AM: President Obama meets with senior advisers

11:00AM: President Obama receives the Presidential Daily Briefing

12:05PM: President Obama receives the Economic Daily Briefing

His scheduled remark from the Oval Office was changed to the Rose Garden, at 1:00 PM. But as ABC News reports:

The event in some ways could be seen as a metaphor for the administration’s flailing on the economy. Originally no remarks were scheduled, then on Sunday evening, the White House announced the president would make remarks in the Oval Office after his economic daily briefing.

Then on Monday that was upgraded to remarks by the president at 12:30 p.m. ET in the Rose Garden after his briefing, signifying a more formal event.

Then those remarks were pushed to 1 p.m.

Finally the president approached the lectern at 1:20 p.m.

Only five sentences into his remarks, the P.A. system fizzled.

“What we did know was that it took nearly a decade -- what we did -- how are we doing on sound, guys?” the president asked

“Is it still going to the press?” he asked, checking to make sure even if he couldn’t be heard clearly in the Rose Garden, broadcast networks were getting clean sound, which they were.

“OK,” the president said.

A plane flew nearby, drowning out his voice.

Keep up the good work, Mr. President. The stock market shorts love you.

Rumor of the Day: Governor of Chinese Central Bank Gone Missing?

over $430 billion US Treasury holdings loss. He may have fled to the United States, one rumor says. Also, it may not be their US Treasury holdings but Fannie and Freddie bonds. At this point, nothing is confirmed, just a rumor circulating in Chinese media.

But how he could have lost that much? Do you smell Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley? Do you smell some synthetic positions recommended by them either to hedge or to speculate (betting that the Treasury prices go down), which may have spectacularly blown up in the recent weeks? And if his bank was also doing the currency hedging and/or speculation ...

For more, go to Zero Hedge, who cites Stratfor:

Rumor PBoC Governor Zhou "John Meriwether" Xiaochuan Has Defected From China After Suffering Half A Trillion In UST-Related Losses

Where In The World Is Zhou Xiaochuan? Stratfor Provides Update As 1 Month Chinese Repo Surges By 50%

Gold Lease Rate Spiking, 3rd Time in 6 Months

Gold lease rate is a "derived" rate. It is calculated by subtracting GOFO (Gold Foward Offered Rate) from LIBOR:

LIBOR - GOFO = gold lease rate

So, for the gold lease rate to spike higher, either LIBOR spikes higher or GOFO drops sharply.

It may mean the gold carry trade is on again, and that the gold price is set to decline in the near term. A similar spike in gold lease rate happened in October 2008, which resulted in volatile decline in gold price.

Head and Shoulders Pattern on Monetary Base?

Now, don't take this seriously. The monetary base is not a stock that may follow or exhibit technical analysis patterns. Still, it looks to me like a "head and shoulders" pattern - a topping and reversal pattern - although the right shoulder is not quite defined. The target would be the height of the head subtracted from the neckline, or at $1.8 trillion, which is the level last seen in September 2009.

That level ($1.8 trillion) has previous supports, as you see in the graph. If the monetary base hits this target, Ben will undoubtedly unleash a full-on QE2, even though he or anyone at the Fed doesn't have a clue what's going to happen. For more about Ben's thinking, read this article by Gary North.

Obama's Nation-Building in Iraq: Just Don't Call Them Combat Brigades

Since the US is officially supposed to be out of Iraq, you can't call a soldier a soldier any more. You call him (I guess her, too) "a U.S. serviceman entrusted with protecting the U.S. reconstruction team".

50,000 of such "servicemen entrusted ... (blah blah blah)" will remain in Iraq. For more, read this article from Army Times titled "Combat brigades in Iraq under different name".

A full-on "nation-building", as these renamed brigades will be given "specialized training that can include city management courses, civil affairs training and border patrol classes" (Army Times article linked above).

It looks Obama and his administration are ready to waste a few more billion dollars on top of what's already wasted in nation-building in Iraq. With his budget running in deficit to the tune of $1.5 trillion per year as far as eyes can see, so what if he wastes a few billion?

Aswat al-Iraq reported on August 28, 2010:

"MISSAN / Aswat al-Iraq: A soldier from the U.S. reconstruction team was injured by a sniper bullet while the team was touring projects in central al-Amara city on Saturday, a security source in Missan said.

"“A U.S. serviceman entrusted with protecting the U.S. reconstruction team was wounded by a sniper bullet while touring projects in al-Amara,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

"“The soldier was rushed by the team personnel for treatment and now his condition is stable,” the source added.

"The last U.S. combat soldier has left Iraq seven and half years after the U.S.-led invasion of the country in March 2003 in accordance with the status of forces agreement (SOFA) signed between Washington and Baghdad.

"U.S. forces had withdrawn from Iraqi cities on June 30, 2009 as part of a plan for full withdrawal of combat troops by the end of this August in line with the status of forces agreement (SOFA) signed by Iraq and the United States on December 13, 2008.

"Amara, the capital city of Missan province, lies 390 km south of Baghdad."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Libertarians in Cahoots with Obama Admin and Call Mosque Opponents "Bigots" and "Racists"

and "Warmongers" and "Demagogues".

I have to say I'm disappointed.

This mosque/Muslim community center was pretty much a non-issue for people outside New York, until President Obama for some reason decided to step in and throw his support behind the project, citing, of all things, the Constitution.

It's most cynical of this president to base his support on the Constitution, when just about everything he has done since he became the president has been to further restrict citizens' rights under the Constitution and further expand the power of the government which was already huge under Bush and Clinton.

Now, people whose views and opinions I have respected, people like Lew Rockwell, Eric Magolis at, Justin Raimondo at are almost gleefully calling the mosque opponents "bigots" and "racists" and "warmongers". Raimondo goes to ask the same question that George W. Bush asked ("Are you with us or against us?") by starting the article "Liberty against the lynch mob: which side are you on?" Ron Paul basically states we have to accept the mosque even if that's insensitive and objectionable to some people because of the grave injuries the US has caused over the years in Muslim countries, and calls the opponents "demagogue". (Ron Paul, as the result, is suddenly popular with liberal bloggers.) The American Conservative magazine had the article in the similar vein as Ron Paul.

I rarely have a serious objection to the opinions expressed at or, but this is one of the rare cases.

Extremely rare for them, they are in agreement with President Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and tell us that if we oppose the Muslim center and mosque within two blocks from the Ground Zero, we are bigots and racists and warmongers and demagogues.

Haven't we heard these words somewhere else?

Yes we have, and many times in the past year and a half. Anyone who dare oppose the Obama government policies have been called "racists" by the administration and its Democratic leadership and supporters. If you oppose Obamacare, you are racist; if you oppose climate change bill, you are racist; if you oppose stimulus spending, you are racist; if you oppose financial regulation bill, you are racist and dirty capitalist on top of it. And if you mention the president's middle name (Hussein), you are "bigot". That's how they've been calling the majority of Americans who oppose anything that the current government does: "racist" and "bigots".

According to a Rasmussen Poll, these bigots and racists and warmongers and demagogues make up 77% of mainstream Americans, in contrast to 68% of the political class in favor of the mosque.

Just like 56% of American voters want Obamacare repealed, 75% of them want the Federal Reserve audited. Majority support Arizona's immigration law, 72% oppose increase in government spending. And they oppose this particular mosque.

I am not ready nor prepared to call the majority who oppose this mosque "racists", "bigots", "warmongers", "demagogues" and to shame them into accepting what clearly doesn't sit well with them, if not downright repulsive.

What's different this time around is that people who throw these words at Americans who oppose include libertarians. Suddenly, in their eyes, President Obama seems to have morphed into a paragon of Constitutional virtue.

Muslim Americans have constitutional right to worship wherever they want. Sure. That's not even an issue for most Americans who oppose this mosque. They are opposing this particular one within two blocks of the Ground Zero as "insensitive".

Americans who smoke have constitutional right to smoke wherever and whenever they want. But many businesses ask them not to, or ban them from exercising their right when there are others whose well-being would be injured by having the smokers nearby. Sensitive and sensible, many smokers do not smoke in the presence of small children, without being asked not to.

There's a city in Europe which still is my favorite city. But a certain section of the city I stopped going after the character and ambiance of the place had changed so much after the newly arrived Muslim immigrants exercised their right to live wherever they wanted and did so in such a great number that you wouldn't recognize it was the same place. You'd hardly see a white person, other than tourists accidentally wandering into the area, and you would hardly see a woman either. I remember a very uncomfortable stare I'd get passing through the section. There was a porn movie shop open during the day, right next to the game arcade; streets were strewn with trash.

People who want to build so-called "MacMansions" have every right to build whatever atrocity they want, as long as they follow the local regulations and laws. They almost always do build their "dream homes", thus totally destroying the neighborhood character that the long-term residents have appreciated for a long time. More and more neighborhood communities have a review board of some sort to somehow curb this architectural pollution that harms the well-being of other residents, but usually to little avail.

This particular mosque is no exception. Sure, they may have all the rights under the law to do whatever they want, but the question is, is it sensible thing for them to do, particularly when the supposed purpose of this mosque/center is "a platform for multi-faith dialogue"? Dialogue? It's not happening.

It is sad to see even the libertarians joining the autocratic Dems and GOP in telling the entire country what to think and feel over what should have been a non-issue other than for New Yorkers and 9/11 victim families.