Month: September 2008

Cash for trash

Paul Krugman, as usual, wrote a clear article in the NYT yesterday about Paulson’s plan to fix the economic crisis. Paulson used to be the CEO of Goldman Sachs, one of the “big five” investment banks, so it’s not hard to assume where his sympathies lie. And sure enough, he wants to reward the people who caused this mess.

The plan is for the government to spend $700 billion to buy bad loans (mortgages) from the companies who own the loans to prevent them from going under. But they can’t sell them at low prices, i.e., what they’re really worth, because that would cause the prices to fall even further due to the huge sell-off. So the government, actually tax-payers, is going to overpay for the loans so we can pretend that we bought something that is worth more than it really is. Where does this extra money go? To the shareholders and executives of the companies, of course. I wish I could run a business into the ground, pocketing salary and bonuses along the way, and then have the government buy my company at a profit.

Democrats want time to review the plan and make changes, crazy ideas such as not allowing the thieves to benefit. Today George Bush awakened from his week-long sleep and urged Congress to stop thinking and start approving the plan. If there’s one thing you can say about the Bush administration, it’s that they always take care of their own in a crisis.

On a side note, Al-Qaeda must be laughing at us. Between the dot-com bubble and crash, Enron, Worldcom, the sub-prime mortgage mess and now the financial industry tanking, we’re doing more damage to ourselves economically than they could hope to do.

Hudson at 4 weeks

Hudson at 4 weeks

He’s four weeks old now. So far, he’s been a great baby, much easier to take care of than Havana was. From what we understood, Havana was a very good baby so I was not expecting to be so lucky the second time. And with a 16 month-old and a newborn, we expected to have our hands full and to be hating it at this point.

But that’s not the case at all. Gay has to wake up every hour or two at night to feed him, of course, and some nights are better than others. Generally though, he’s very quiet and keeps to himself. I can even bottle-feed him already. I think that makes Gay happy. Havana let me do that maybe twice in total, but I’ve fed him twice in just the last few days. I can even get him to calm down and sleep my arms in minutes.

The next few weeks should be interesting to see if this streak of good fortune continues. The way it’s going, though, I’m hoping he’ll be sleeping through the night by the time he’s 4 months old.

Sarah Palin continues to show her stupidity

Palin says she’s going to “put ‘the government’s checkbook’ online”:http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/09/18/palins-transparency-proposal-already-exists-in-dc/ so everyone can see what the government spends money on. The problem is that it’s already there: “USASpending.gov”:http://usaspending.gov. And which Senator did it in 2006? Barack Obama.

It’ll be fun to watch how many more stupid things she says and does in the next six weeks. Forget vetting her, they should have just given her an IQ test.

Maker's Mark vs. Bulleit Bourbon

Maker's Mark vs. Bulleit

We’ve seriously cut back on our Manhattan drinking since Gay’s been either pregnant or nursing for the last 24 months. But a Manhattan sounded good on a Friday evening. We did a little taste test between our favorite Maker’s Mark and “Bulleit”:http://www.bulleitbourbon.com/home.htm. I like Bulleit and have been having it straight on occasion (i.e., when I’m out of Maker’s Mark) but never in a Manhattan until now.

We still prefer Maker’s Mark, but Bulleit is the only other bourbon I’ve had that I could drink in a Manhattan. It has a more aggressive taste than Maker’s Mark and is fairly spicy similar to Woodford Reserve. But all around, being a bit sweeter, Maker’s Mark makes a more enjoyable Manhattan, in my opinion.

Maker’s Mark trivia that I recently learned: Maker’s Mark was created to be the best bourbon for a Manhattan.

New camera

I finally got an “SLR”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-lens_reflex_camera camera, a “Canon EOS 450D”:http://www.dpreview.com/news/0801/08012403canoneos450d.asp (or it’s “maverick-style” name Canon Digital Rebel XSi), in the hopes of taking better photos.

Hudson's best side

Dinner

I posted the best ones in “their own Photoset”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/troyh/sets/72157607352909589/ on Flickr.

It’s not as convenient to carry as a tiny point-and-shoot, but the quality is much higher and I can get different lenses to take more interesting shots. Now I need to get an HD camcorder to take better-quality videos of the kids before they grow up.

McCain, the economist

On the worst day in the stock market since 9/11, McCain announces his idea for solving our economic problems. He explains the cause:

bq. the old-boy network and the corruption in Washington is directly involved and one of the causes of this financial crisis that we’re in today.

I wonder if McCain has forgotten that he was part of that “old-boy network and corruption in Washington” for the last 26 years. I know he hopes we all forgot.

So his solution is to create a “a high-level commission”:http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/09/16/america/NA-POL-US-Elections.php to investigate similar to the “9/11 commission”:http://www.9-11commission.gov/. We’ll ignore the fact that the Bush administration ignored all the recommendations of the 9/11 commission report, but McCain thinks bureaucrats will solve the problems that, he believes, bureaucrats created.

He is correct that bureaucrats created the problem. Republicans and McCain hate regulation and the housing and banking crisis we’re experiencing was caused by the de-regulation that the Republicans have wanted for years and got in the mid-1990s. “McCain supported the de-regulation”:http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=s1999-105 that caused it! In fact, 38 of the 39 Democrats in Congress voted against it and all 44 Republicans voted for it. This was a problem clearly created by Republicans, as McCain correctly pointed out.

Now, McCain’s own economic advisor has a solution:

bq. a McCain economics and policy adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, said any plan should include regulation of all sorts of financial institutions, consumer protections, improved corporate governance and “systems stability” programs.

In other words, we just need to undo McCain’s mistake. Yet McCain thinks we need a commission to spend several years thinking about it. Republicans have no understanding of economics beyond cutting taxes.