Friday, May 29, 2009

Bill O’Reilly’s War of Words.

Two blogging sites I frequent quite often are Michelle Malkin's sites and On both of these sites, Michelle offers in depth analysis from a conservative perspective of the political world. They are both great sites.

The other night while watching "The O'Reilly factor", O'Reilly decided to dump on by pointing to one derogatory remark on the Sotomayor pick. The comment read as follows, "Unqualified, militant and socialist, NEXT, please. The GOP has to block any of Hussein's extremist picks.". Bill was looking for reaction to the Sotomayor supreme court pick. He wanted to see how the right wing blogs were reacting to it. However, in the attempt, he managed to smear Michelle Malkin's site because of one comment by one its readers. He described it as a blog posting. It, of course, was not a blog posting, it was one comment out of the thousands of comments hotair receives a day. O'Reilly somehow feels that every comment posted to a blog site should be moderated. That would of course require endless hours of moderation, and most blog sites do not have nearly the staff required to monitor every comment that is posted to these websites.

Bill O'Reilly in his zeal to appear "fair and balanced" tries just a little too hard. He has gone after the far-left websites for not moderating their comments like the Daily Kos and the Huffington Post. There are loons from both the left and the right. If there is hateful speech in an actual blog posting, that is one thing, but if it is from a commenter, that is another thing all together. Blog postings are contributors to the sites who actually write op-ed pieces. Commentors post their own views from one of the blog postings they see, and it would be virtually impossible to moderate every comment posted to the site. Michelle Malkin states in her comment section that any commentor who fails to abide by "its terms of use" may lose their commenting privilege, but again it would be impossible to monitor every comment that is posted. To comment on Bill O'Reilly's blog, you have to be a premium member (a paying member.) A hotair reader actually signed up for premium membership on O'Reilly's site to see the comments on his site and it appears that O'Reilly fails his priestly duties by not monitoring the comments on his site too which you can view here. O'Reilly apparently doesn't understand the difference between comments and blog postings.

There is a need for The O'Reilly factor, because he does offer a different perspective than the typical media outlets that are in the tank for Obama, but he needs to get his facts straight. O'Reilly does some good reporting like his exposé on the corruption of the far-left organization ACORN, but then he comes out of left-field when he supports the new car emission standards of Obama while in the same breath tells his audience that he has the sensibilities of the middle class. I wonder if Bill O'Reilly will have a difficult time in paying the extra $1,300 dollars per vehicle (for a smaller vehicle) as the rest of the middle class will? If he continues to put out misinformation in his zeal to appear "fair and balanced", he may lose credibility and go the way of the New York Times.

Bill O'Reilly always says that he has open invitations for various guests. I am waiting to see him invite Michelle to the show. She can hold her own.

Update: The commenter who published the quotes from Bill O'Reilly's site account has been terminated. Is Bill O'Reilly following the same pattern of which he accuses the left?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Soaking the rich – part 564

California keeps raising its taxes thinking in its delusional liberal mind that somehow this will extricate the state from its ills. New York was jealous of California, so after California raised its tax rate, New York raised its tax rate. New York is now going to attempt to impose a 2% millionaire tax on "New Yorkers" who earn more than 200,000 dollars a year. The top tax rate will be 8.97% in the State and New York City will be 12.62%. Of course, the result will be predictable. There will be less tax revenue flowing into state coffers, because those who have the wherewithal to earn the money also have the wherewithal to leave the state.

My brother in liberal Oregon sent me an email that was sent to all teachers from the Oregon Education Association, (OEA). It reads like a joke (or one would think) or it appears like one of those endless and incessant forward chain spam letters of which we are all too familiar that we receive from some friend or colleague who believes against all hope in the veracity of the chain. But no, the sad part is its true - this is how liberals actually think. When faced with reason, liberals just look the other way.

Here is the email he received (Pay close attention to the 2nd question. This banner also headlines the OEA's homepage. Its the first thing you see when entering the OEA's website.


Save Our Schools
S.O.S Mission No. 3

Download an 
S.O.S campaign sign and put it in your superhero car!

Drive around your community and help spread the message far and wide. We need to Save Our Schools!

If you're asked: "Are our schools really in trouble?"
You can say: "Yes, this once-in-a-lifetime economic crisis means we may not have enough money for a full school year / to keep teachers on the job / to support valuable programs for our kids."

If you're asked: "How can we save our schools?"
You can say: "Contact your legislator! Tell them to ask corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share to help protect our schools and vulnerable Oregonians!"(italics mine)

I do have a question. What is my fair share - 50%, 60%, 90%? Why don't we just endorse our entire paychecks to the government?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The gloves are off – Obama vs. Cheney


"To the very end of our administration, we kept Al-Queda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again." Dick Cheney.

Dick Cheney was scheduled to speak weeks in advance at the American Enterprise Institute this morning in defense of the Bush Administration's policies war on terror. But after the Senate in a 90-6 vote refused to grant Obama the funds to close Guantanamo, because he remains clueless as to what to do with the prisoners, Obama decided to make a guest appearance and make a speech at the American Enterprise Institute also. I could imagine what must have been going through his mind, "Why did the senate reject my closing of Guantanamo? Don't they know I campaigned on this? Yes I know I don't know what to do with the terrorists? But why would they reject me? I am the messiah. I know, I will go and speak in front of the American Enterprise Institute before Cheney speaks, this way it will look like Cheney is giving a rebuttal to my speech." Obama still gave no specific plan as to what to do with the detainees, but he did manage to once again malign Bush's policies for keeping us safe. – give me a break.

Now, I have to hand it to Barack Obama. When he fails in his policies, he appears in front of the cameras to try and defend his position. If former President Bush had done this, we may not have had this buffoon who appears to have just graduated from Daniel Ortega's school of Marxism trying to defend the indefensible. I wish there were more voices out there than just Dick Cheney's voice. But at least, Dick is giving powerful and cogent arguments that even the far-left has a hard time refuting. Obama may have given his speech first, but he was sure on the defense.

Obama - too often – our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions

While I believe that Obama sincerely believes that waterboarding is torture, I also believe that it was political posturing when he came out to sign the executive order to close Guantanamo Bay with no strategy as to what to do with the prisoners. Was it not the left who said Bush went into Iraq with no exit strategy? It was also political posturing when Barack released the CIA memos in the guise of transparency while blacking out entire portions of these same memos which showed the efficacy of these enhanced interrogation methods. Barack Obama reminds me of Good Samaritans like Lisa Torti who lifts a co-worker out of a wrecked vehicle, fearing it would catch fire or "blow up." The co-worker then sues Torti because she causes injury to her spinal cord. A rash of these types of incidents required Good Samaritan Laws. Maybe we need laws to protect American CIA agents who use the law to protect American citizens, but then have to worry about politically-motivated administrations who take power with vengeance on their mind not against the terrorists but against the very Americans who kept the rest of us safe. It was political posturing when Obama was going to release photos of detainee abuse knowing full well that these photographs were taken by the military for the purpose of prosecuting certain individuals who did abuse to prisoners for the purpose of prosecution, some of whom are in jail now, and it was political posturing to change his mind not to release the photos when he saw the polls were against him.

Barack Obama said that Gitmo alienated us from the world, but yet the world refuses to take the detainees. This is a recruitment tool Obama says – says who? - The terrorists who are trying to kill us. In fact, just today, a terrorist plot was foiled by the New York FBI while Obama is giving a speech about closing Gitmo. If it were a recruitment tool, why are there continuing attacks against the United States? Barack Obama's rhetoric goes against the face of reality.

Obama - sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries. By any measure, the costs of keeping it open far exceed the complications involved in closing it. That is why I argued that it should be closed throughout my campaign. And that is why I ordered it closed within one year.

Where does he get this stuff? How would he even know that? So releasing the CIA memos somehow made us a stronger nation? He can't even come up with an argument that makes sense. So what again is the rational for closing Guantanamo? I have yet to see a valid argument. Are we going to put them in our prison population so they can radicalize the rest of the prison population? We already know this is happening. In fact, the New York plot that was just foiled was planned by four Muslims who converted to Islam in prison. Where is the press on that one? Are we going to provide them with ACLU attorneys who will make every effort to make sure they walk free on some technicality? We don't have to worry about disclosing secrets during trials, because Barack Obama has already showed a propensity for doing just that. Barack Obama tells us he will make sure that the detainees will be scrutinized and no prisoner will be let go who will kill Americans. He argues that Bush let 2/3rds of the detainees go under his watch. He is right. Bush did the same meticulous investigative work that Obama proposes yet we have confirmed that 61 of these detainees returned to the battlefield, some of whom have killed Americans again. If we know 61 have returned, there are probably many more we don't know of who have returned to the battlefield.

Obama's speech was the usual flowery rhetoric of which we have become accustomed, but which lacked specifics and the basic ingredient of common sense.

Then the person who was originally scheduled to give a speech at the American Enterprise Institute enters. It is so much easier to defend a position with sound reasoning than what Obama delivered.

I am glad Dick Cheney has come in defense of Bush's policies that were working. Since Cheney has come in defense of the Bush policies, his approval ratings are up 8 points according to a CNN poll. What is interesting is Bush was elected to a second term because the American people recognized his policies were working. Isn't it refreshing to see a politician say something like this?

Being the first vice president who had also served as secretary of defense, naturally my duties tended toward national security. I focused on those challenges day to day, mostly free from the usual political distractions. I had the advantage of being a vice president content with the responsibilities I had, and going about my work with no higher ambition. Today, I'm an even freer man. Your kind invitation brings me here as a private citizen – a career in politics behind me, no elections to win or lose, and no favor to seek.

Every time I have heard Cheney speak, his arguments have been forceful, on point, and reassuring. I can't say this about either Obama or gaff-prone Biden. Of course, now your tax dollars will have to go to build another bunker for the vice president since Biden disclosed where the Vice President goes when we are under attack. So, who do you really feel safer under?

When President Obama makes wise decisions, as I believe he has done in some respects on Afghanistan, and in reversing his plan to release incendiary photos, he deserves our support. And when he faults or mischaracterizes the national security decisions we made in the Bush years, he deserves an answer. The point is not to look backward. Now and for years to come, a lot rides on our President's understanding of the security policies that preceded him. And whatever choices he makes concerning the defense of this country, those choices should not be based on slogans and campaign rhetoric, but on a truthful telling of history.

This is so true. Obama does deserve an answer. For almost eight years, the Bush administration kept us safe, and Barack Obama is out there trying to tell us it's not true. He is trying to tell us, we were operating out of fear. He is trying to say what the Bush administration did was not effective. Why does he not go back to community organizing with the corrupt organization ACORN and the corrupt political machine of Chicago where he can bask in the anti-American rhetoric of Reverend Wright as he teaches his Liberation Theology and leave the war on terror or as Obama would say the Overseas Contingency Operationto the adults? He operates better there. Only an idiot would think to change the name to Overseas Contingency Operation.

That attack itself was, of course, the most devastating strike in a series of terrorist plots carried out against Americans at home and abroad. In 1993, they bombed the World Trade Center, hoping to bring down the towers with a blast from below. The attacks continued in 1995, with the bombing of U.S. facilities in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the killing of servicemen at Khobar Towers in 1996; the attack on our embassies in East Africa in 1998; the murder of American sailors on the USS Cole in 2000; and then the hijackings of 9/11, and all the grief and loss we suffered on that day.

    Nine-eleven caused everyone to take a serious second look at threats that had been gathering for a while, and enemies whose plans were     getting bolder and more sophisticated. Throughout the 90s, America had responded to these attacks, if at all, on an ad hoc basis. The first     attack     on the World Trade Center was treated as a law enforcement problem, with everything handled after the fact – crime scene, arrests,     indictments, convictions, prison sentences, case closed.

We know of the attacks before 9/11, and we know of the thwarted attacks after 9/11, but somehow the left doesn't feel Bush should be given credit for the almost eight years we had no attacks. And, the Bush administration is second guessed on preserving American life saying that information could have been retrieved by other means in lieu of waterboarding. Has this world gone completely insane?

Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it. We didn't know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.


Who is A.Q.Khan you might ask? If you don't know, you should find out. This man presented the greatest threat to the proliferation of nuclear technology to terrorist groups than any other man. He was the founder of Pakistan's nuclear technology. He was involved with selling nuclear technology to North Korea, Iran and other rogue states. Anyone with money could purchase the technology from Khan. But no worry, let's not waterboard, let's just use the Army Field Manual and yell at the detainees.

To make certain our nation country never again faced such a day of horror, we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target. But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks. We decided, as well, to confront the regimes that sponsored terrorists, and to go after those who provide sanctuary, funding, and weapons to enemies of the United States. We turned special attention to regimes that had the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, and might transfer such weapons to terrorists.

We did all of these things, and with bipartisan support put all these policies in place. It has resulted in serious blows against enemy operations … the take-down of the A.Q. Khan network … and the dismantling of Libya's nuclear program. It's required the commitment of many thousands of troops in two theaters of war, with high points and some low points in both Iraq and Afghanistan – and at every turn, the people of our military carried the heaviest burden. Well over seven years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive – and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed.


There couldn't have been a more stark contrast between the two speeches. Dick Cheney is finally making the case to the American people and as Bill Sammon, the Washington Managing editor says, "Liberals will redouble their efforts to destroy Cheney." But Cheney is not Obama, he will not waver with the polls, he will continue and defend his position preventing at the same time history revisionism. Instead of vilifying the Bush administration, we should be thanking the administration for keeping us safe. If there is ever a nuclear attack on U.S. soil, life as we know it will change forever. Liberals will emerge from their theoretical utopian world that doesn't exist and say, "I wish we had done everything possible to prevent an attack including waterboarding" or maybe not. But, by then, it will be too late.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Let's just finish off the auto industry once and for all.

The car of the future

I am sure glad I have two relatively new cars purchased within the last couple of years, because I saved myself 1,300 dollars per vehicle.

Who thinks this increase in car prices Obama has pledged is not a tax on the little guy? Obama was only suppose to tax people who made $250,000 a year or more I thought. By the time it is all said and done with I can guarantee it will be more than 1,300 dollars. They always underestimate.

While the new fuel and emission standards for cars and trucks will save billions of barrels of oil, they are expected to cost consumers an extra $1,300 per vehicle by the time the plan is complete in 2016. Obama said the fuel cost savings would offset the higher price of vehicles in three years.

Who thinks we will really save money in fuel costs? Who thinks this will have any impact on the environment? I don't

We will now all be driving around in lighter European style cars. Does it take a rocket scientist to figure out these cars will be less safe. If you doubt it, there have actually been studies on it here. Laura Ingraham said it best when she said paraphrased, "soon, we will all be driving around in clown cars." Does anyone remember the car Steve Urkel used to drive?

Now on to the next order of business - We have finished off the car industry. On to cap and trade to finish off the rest of the economy. Go Obama!!!

And while California is about ready to vote down six inane propositions in a tax revolt that is about to begin, the terminator is hob nobbing with the White House elite probably teaching them how to speak "Austrian". The terminator is with Obama and in a press conference the terminator (that was one ugly tie he was wearing) said that Obama thanked the terminator for being a leader in this new economy. HEY OBAMA HAVE YOU NOTICED THE MESS CALIFORNIA IS IN?

Remember liberals as you keep paying more for cars, more for energy, more for food just keep telling yourself, "Change is here. Change has finally arrived. I voted for change"

Monday, May 18, 2009

Guatemala on the verge of collapse

After the release of a video from the recently assasinated Attorney Rosenberg, Gutatemala has been in a state of crisis. Even the FBI has now become involved.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Eurovision - and the winner is "Fairytale" from Norway

The Winner of the 54th Eurovision contest - Norway - Fairytale by Alexander Ryback

Alexander Rybak won (with 387 points) the 54th Eurovision in Russia 2009, singing Fairytale, a song inspired by Russian and Norwegian folk music. The song was composed and written by Rybak himself. The song is performed with the modern folk dance company Frikar. The song has received good reviews with a 6 out of 6 from Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet. In an ESCtoday poll he was the lead in a poll with 71.3% to get into the final from the semi he was in. Read the rest here.

Alexander won a wopping 387 points, a song inspired by Russian and Norwegian Folklore.

What the heck happened to Spain? Spain was the second from the bottom.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Guatemala in Crisis – What President Colom of Guatemala and The Cosa Nostra have in common.

videos below

I was translating the entire two videos to English when I realized the Guatemalan newspaper, El Periódico had already done it. Talk about recreating the wheel.

Guatemala is in the middle of a crisis that seems to have stepped out of the script of a Hollywood movie. Any producer would be envious of the script unfolding in the tiny country of Guatemala. The sad fact is this script is true.

A friend of mine sent me a youtube video made by a prominent Guatemalan attorney Rodriguo Rosenberg Marzano. I watched it, and after I watched it I thought it was a joke. The youtube video in two parts was released after the assassination of a prominent Guatemalan attorney. Attorney Marzano was assassinated while riding his bike around town. The attorney accused President Colom of his murder. Mario David García, a journalist from Prensa Libre was told to release the video should something happen to him. Marzano begins the video by stating the following:

"Good Afternoon. My name is Rodrigo Rosenberg Marzano, and sadly, if you are watching this message, it is because I have been murdered. If you are hearing or seeing this message, it is because I was assassinated by President Álvaro Colom."

It has been three days since the videos were released, and it also marks the third day where daily protests have been occurring in the Plaza of the Constitution in Guatemala. Buses filled with union members and around 800 other people arrived on city buses to the plaza. 125 policemen were mobilized also. The protest groups are growing on a daily basis.

Corruption in politics in Latin America has always been a fact of life from both the right and the left. Daniel Ortega, the current president of Nicaragua who in my opinion is as corrupt as Hugo Chavez escaped prosecution from sexually abusing his stepdaughter Zoilamérica Narváez in 1998 because as a member of parliament he was immune from prosecution.

Alvaro Colom was elected president of Guatemala in 2007 besting his opponent by only a 5% margin at the polls. Colom is a far-left president from a string of far-left presidents that have been winning elections in Central and South America. In his campaign, Colom said, "
he (Colom) did not have "bloodstained hands," I think that has now changed with the release of this video

The released video from the attorney in Guatemala has thrown the entire country into crisis. The small country of Guatemala is now on the verge of rebellion. The only difference between this murder and the corruption that goes on in some of these other countries is the attorney knew he would probably be killed, and used the internet to let the world know. It is now becoming more difficult for even governments to conceal their crimes.

Remember Obama has no problem in dealing with these thugs.

Written translation can be found here.

A must view - Part one Subtitled in English

Part two (with English Subtitles)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The press conference that didn't work or Maybe there should be a "truth comission"

Nancy Pelosi didn't know anything. Pelosi didn't know anything about waterboarding. The CIA lied. Who do you believe?

Eurovisión: There must be another way – Noa and Mira (Israel)

Noa and Mira - There must be another way.

Eurovision is a singing contest among most of the countries of Europe. When Eurovision is on, the entire continent of Europe becomes fixated to their television sets. I still remember when Mocedades won Eurovisión in 1973 with its song Eres Tú. In 1973, Spanish was never heard on American radio stations, but a disc jockey heard the song, played it and for several weeks it was one of the most requested songs on the radio.

Mocedades - Eurovision 1973

This week on Spanish television (TVE) which only Dish Network offers, television viewers can watch Eurovisión. This year Eurovisión is taking place in Moscow, Russia. If you are able to watch the event, you should. The finals will be Saturday.

I was struck by one of the songs which I believe deserves mention. The song is entitled "There must be another way" from Israel interpreted by Noa and Mira. The song is sung in three languages, Hebrew, Arabic and English. Noa said she could not face the murder of Yitzah Rabin the prime minister of Israel who was assassinated on November 4, 1995 by a radical right-wing Jew who opposed the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords. Since then Noa could not ignore politics in her songs.

I do not believe there will ever be peace in Israel because the animosity between the Jews and Arabs date back to the time of Noah. Arabs are taught to hate Jews from birth, but that is another story. The song is still well written and well performed. There must be another way says it all. In my opinion, it is one of the best songs of Eurovision this year even though I always vote for Spain. (I may be a little biased.)
Talking with Noa and Mira after the semi-finals

This youtube video of the Spanish series Cuéntame cómo pasó (Spanish)gives an idea of the euphoria that captivates the European continent during Eurovision. This is when Massiel won the Eurovision contest for Spain with her song "La La La" in 1968.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Barack Obama and Notre Dame University

Barack Obama who is the most radical president this country has ever known on abortion is going to give a commencement address at the Catholic University of Notre Dame. The university intends to give Barack Obama a doctorate for his appearance. According to Catholic doctrine, Canon law (that body of law which governs Catholicism) states that abortion is "a Mortal Sin" and excommunication is the result under canon law 1398. This is the reason that Nancy Pelosi has been so reprimanded on her position on abortion, and why Catholic clergy has denied her communion. It seems the students are the only ones who get the life issue at the University. The students have put this video out to announce their displeasure and protest against the university and Barack Obama's address.

Siemens – Time to divest

Siemens, located in Germany, operates in three sectors, industry, energy and healthcare. 54% of its revenues comes from the industrial segment. Since I have owned it, I have lost about 36%, but it looks poised for a rebound. The last quarter was a strong quarter for Siemens. Siemen's plans to announce a 50 million wind power factory in Kansas. Siemen's will most likely be a recipient of the current administration's stimulus package for its so-called green energy. However, I would not invest in Siemen's, I would divest.

Siemen's is one company out of a growing number of companies in Europe that continues to do business with Iran. At a time when Iran is on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon, it is amazing to me how companies continue to do business with Tehran. Europe is much closer to Iran than the United States. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Siemens, the largest German trade partner of Iran, represents a window onto an opulent economic partnership between the two countries. German firms such as Mercedes-Benz, whose Web site lists an Iranian general distributor, and insurance giant Munich Re have also remained indifferent to the growing calls to isolate Iran economically. Yesterday, a Munich Re spokesman confirmed to me that the company insures goods in transit to Iran. This was the first such public disclosure by the firm.

And the deals just keep on coming. The Hannoversche Allgemeine newspaper, for example, reported in late January that the German engineering firm Aerzen secured a contract totaling €21 million to supply process gas blowers and screw-type compressors to a steel factory in Esfahan, Iran.

One of the major factors that brought down Apartheid in South Africa was the divesture movement. Universities led the movement, and eventually if a company did business with the government of South Africa, it was not good for the company. Apartheid was a moral cause, but it did not present a threat to the United States. Iran presents a direct threat. Where is the divesture movement with Iran?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Obama gets it wrong

I posted a letter from a Hedge Fund Manager , Clifford S. Asness on Friday. Here is an interview with Morningstar with the Hedge Fund Manager

Sin Nombre – A movie review

One of my favorite movies of all time is El Norte. Filmed in 1983, El Norte recounts the story of a brother and sister from Guatemala who make a dangerous and arduous trek to the North in search for a better life. Each immigrant who leaves his or her country in search of a better life from Latin America has a story, and El Norte puts a face to these immigrants.

Sin Nombre, Spanish with English subtitles, is in the same genre as El Norte with a twist. Even the title Sin Nombre, (without a name) aptly describes the film about the faceless immigrant struggling to survive in a dangerous world. Sin Nombre tells the story of a young Honduran woman, Sayra, (Paulina Gaitan) who escapes the destitution and poverty of her hometown. She heads north with her uncle and father clinging to the hope for a better life. Sayra's facial expressions reveal a sadness that is a result of an impecunious life of poverty she has already had to endure for her young age. Sayra is tenacious and indefatigable in her resolve to cross the Mexican border as she embraces the hope for a better tomorrow. Her father leads Sayra and her uncle to the place where they will begin their journey, and he forces them to memorize a phone number to his family in New Jersey should they become separated. They hike to the rails where they will hitch a ride on the cargo trains that will take them up north.

Sayra begins the dangerous trek with her father and uncle. As the train traverses the country of Mexico, the cinematography is nothing but spectacular. Cary Fukanaga, the director captures the plight of the immigrant in stunning detail. We are all too familiar with the scenes of immigrants waiting in the dark of night to cross the border from Mexico illegally into the United States. In Sin Nombre the moviegoer is presented with a gritty portrait of the dilapidated conditions the immigrants have to endure between Guatemala and Mexico as they await the trains that will lead them hopefully to their new lives. Immigrants encamp in squalor conditions during the night lying on the ground in the open air exposed to the elements awaiting the cargo trains that pass. As the trains pass, hundreds of immigrants hungering for a brighter future hitch a ride. The trains meander through the mountains as the immigrants cling precariously to the tops of the moving trains. The immigrants head north in search of a better life, but atop the trains is a host of nefarious characters that prey on the most vulnerable.

Tragedy befalls Sayra's father, and her uncle is deported leaving Sayra to fend for herself. The notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13) plays a predominant role in Sayra's journey. The film encapsulates the danger of the journey when the MS-13 gang takes advantage of the myriad of immigrants by robbing them at gunpoint. In a harrowing scene, the leader of the gang notices Sayra and almost rapes her. As Sayra cries out for help, Smiley (Kristyan Ferrer), a member of the gang, in a gut-wrenching scene, slits the throat of the leader. He then shows sympathy when he lets Casper, (Edgar Flores), a prepubescent adolescent and an up-and-coming member of the gang go. Casper returns to the gang, and the word is spread to kill Smiley. Casper pledges that he will kill Smiley himself. This begins a dangerous cat and mouse gang between Sayra and Smiley, the Mexican immigration and the MS-13 gang.

There are two items of note. The Mexican government uses checkpoints and patrols in search for undocumented immigrants throughout the country. The government shows no tolerance for illegal immigrants that enter into Mexico. What is also evident is how organized the MS-13 gang is throughout Central America and Mexico.

The MS-13 gang is ruthless and it is thought to have originated in the 1980s in Los Angeles by Salvadoran immigrants after El Salvador's civil war. Its original purpose was to protect El Salvadoran immigrants from Los Angeles gang members. Membership is estimated at 36,000 in Honduras alone. The gang has branched out throughout the United States and it also has spread its tentacles throughout Mexico and Central America after members were deported back to their native country. The gang is now spread throughout the United States, Mexico and Central America. It is well-organized and well-financed. Throughout Mexico and Central America, the gang operates with impunity and in virtual lawlessness. The gang is involved in any type of criminal activity including gun-running, illegal drugs, assassinations, etc.. Members often have military training. The MS-13 is a feared gang. It is also a well known fact that the MS-13 gang has been paid handsomely by terrorist groups to smuggle Islamic terrorists across the Mexican border. This is a fact known by the INS and by the United States Government.

What is evident after seeing the film is the need to close our borders. If we need workers from Mexico, there are ways to do that. President Bush refused to close the borders for eight years, and now President Obama in his last press conference reiterated his unwillingness to close the borders. Mexico is intolerant of immigrants entering into its country, yet we leave our borders wide-open. This is a national security issue, yet we act as if nothing can happen from our southern borders. There is a lack of political will. Obama looks at these immigrants as potential votes. The safety of America is not a primary concern.

Sin Nombre is a riveting and harrowing film-going experience. I found myself feeling sympathy for Sayra hoping she makes it north, and at the same time rooting for the underdog Smiley hoping he would escape the clutches of the gang. This is Cary Fukanaga's directorial debut, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.


Friday, May 8, 2009

A letter from a hedge fund manager to the Obama administration

I decided to post this letter from a hedge fund manager from because it demonstrates the strong arm tactics employed by the Obama administration.

Unafraid In Greenwich Connecticut

Clifford S. Asness, Ph.D.

AQR Capital Management, LLC

Last updated: 5/5/2009

Updated versions available at:

The President has just harshly castigated hedge fund managers for being unwilling to take his administration’s bid for their Chrysler bonds. He called them “speculators” who were “refusing to sacrifice like everyone else” and who wanted “to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout.”

The responses of hedge fund managers have been, appropriately, outrage, but generally have been anonymous for fear of going on the record against a powerful President (an exception, though still in the form of a “group letter”, was the superb note from “The Committee of Chrysler Non-TARP Lenders” some of the points of which I echo here, and a relatively few firms, like Oppenheimer, that have publicly defended themselves). Furthermore, one by one the managers and banks are said to be caving to the President’s wishes out of justifiable fear.

I run an approximately twenty billion dollar money management firm that offers hedge funds as well as public mutual funds and unhedged traditional investments. My company is not involved in the Chrysler situation, but I am still aghast at the President's comments (of course these are my own views not those of my company). Furthermore, for some reason I was not born with the common sense to keep it to myself, though my title should more accurately be called "Not Afraid Enough" as I am indeed fearful writing this... It’s really a bad idea to speak out. Angering the President is a mistake and, my views will annoy half my clients. I hope my clients will understand that I’m entitled to my voice and to speak it loudly, just as they are in this great country. I hope they will also like that I do not think I have the right to intentionally “sacrifice” their money without their permission.

Here's a shock. When hedge funds, pension funds, mutual funds, and individuals, including very sweet grandmothers, lend their money they expect to get it back. However, they know, or should know, they take the risk of not being paid back. But if such a bad event happens it usually does not result in a complete loss. A firm in bankruptcy still has assets. It’s not always a pretty process. Bankruptcy court is about figuring out how to most fairly divvy up the remaining assets based on who is owed what and whose contracts come first. The process already has built-in partial protections for employees and pensions, and can set lenders' contracts aside in order to help the company survive, all of which are the rules of the game lenders know before they lend. But, without this recovery process nobody would lend to risky borrowers. Essentially, lenders accept less than shareholders (means bonds return less than stocks) in good times only because they get more than shareholders in bad times.

The above is how it works in America, or how it’s supposed to work. The President and his team sought to avoid having Chrysler go through this process, proposing their own plan for re-organizing the company and partially paying off Chrysler’s creditors. Some bond holders thought this plan unfair. Specifically, they thought it unfairly favored the United Auto Workers, and unfairly paid bondholders less than they would get in bankruptcy court. So, they said no to the plan and decided, as is their right, to take their chances in the bankruptcy process. But, as his quotes above show, the President thought they were being unpatriotic or worse.

Let’s be clear, it is the job and obligation of all investment managers, including hedge fund managers, to get their clients the most return they can. They are allowed to be charitable with their own money, and many are spectacularly so, but if they give away their clients’ money to share in the “sacrifice”, they are stealing. Clients of hedge funds include, among others, pension funds of all kinds of workers, unionized and not. The managers have a fiduciary obligation to look after their clients’ money as best they can, not to support the President, nor to oppose him, nor otherwise advance their personal political views. That’s how the system works. If you hired an investment professional and he could preserve more of your money in a financial disaster, but instead he decided to spend it on the UAW so you could “share in the sacrifice”, you would not be happy.

Let’s quickly review a few side issues.

The President's attempted diktat takes money from bondholders and gives it to a labor union that delivers money and votes for him. Why is he not calling on his party to "sacrifice" some campaign contributions, and votes, for the greater good? Shaking down lenders for the benefit of political donors is recycled corruption and abuse of power.

Let’s also mention only in passing the irony of this same President begging hedge funds to borrow more to purchase other troubled securities. That he expects them to do so when he has already shown what happens if they ask for their money to be repaid fairly would be amusing if not so dangerous. That hedge funds might not participate in these programs because of fear of getting sucked into some toxic demagoguery that ends in arbitrary punishment for trying to work with the Treasury is distressing. Some useful programs, like those designed to help finance consumer loans, won't work because of this irresponsible hectoring.

Last but not least, the President screaming that the hedge funds are looking for an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout is the big lie writ large. Find me a hedge fund that has been bailed out. Find me a hedge fund, even a failed one, that has asked for one. In fact, it was only because hedge funds have not taken government funds that they could stand up to this bullying. The TARP recipients had no choice but to go along. The hedge funds were singled out only because they are unpopular, not because they behaved any differently from any other ethical manager of other people's money. The President’s comments here are backwards and libelous. Yet, somehow I don’t think the hedge funds will be following ACORN’s lead and trucking in a bunch of paid professional protestors soon. Hedge funds really need a community organizer.

This is America. We have a free enterprise system that has worked spectacularly for us for two hundred plus years. When it fails it fixes itself. Most importantly, it is not an owned lackey of the oval office to be scolded for disobedience by the President.

I am ready for my “personalized” tax rate now.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AQR Capital Management, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.

The information set forth herein has been obtained or derived from sources believed by author to be reliable. However, the author does not make any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the information’s accuracy or completeness, nor does the author recommend that the attached information serve as the basis of any investment decision. This document has been provided to you solely for information purposes and does not constitute an offer or solicitation of an offer, or any advice or recommendation, to purchase any securities or other financial instruments, and may not be construed as such. This document is intended exclusively for the use of the person to whom it has been delivered by the author, and it is not to be reproduced or redistributed to any other person.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Special Election - California

"Arnold Schwarzenegger, the best governor the states contiguous to California have ever had" George Will

An incompetent governor + an incompetent legislature = A special election with six incomprehensible and inane propositions that will have the effect of helping California sink deeper into the abyss.

I have written about California's woes here and here

When Governor Davis was recalled, the terminator was elected on a platform of pro-business. California's business costs have grown 20% higher than the average business costs of any state in the union. How is that for business friendly? As the saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it."

Columnist George Will states the following:

If, since 1990, state spending increases had been held to the inflation rate plus population growth, the state would have a $15 billion surplus instead of a $42 billion budget deficit, which is larger than the budgets of all but 10 states. Since 1990, the number of state employees has increased by more than a third. In Schwarzenegger's less than six years as governor, per capita government spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased nearly 20 percent.

Liberal orthodoxy has made the state dependent on a volatile source of revenues -- high income tax rates on the wealthy. In 2006, the top 1 percent of earners paid 48 percent of the income taxes. California's income and sales taxes are among the nation's highest, its business conditions among the worst, as measured by 16 variables directly influenced by the Legislature. Unemployment, the nation's fourth highest, is 11.2 percent.

California should be a test case for Barack Obama. While government spending increases, there is a continuous brain drain from the once golden state. Those with means and those with the entrepreneurial skills to grow the state's economy are leaving in droves. California is left with Mexico's unskilled and poor. Obama in his last press conference stated he was unwilling to close the border. So now, it's off to the polls. Will Californian's vote themselves a 16 billion dollar tax increase? Or will they finally say enough is enough and vote no on these propositions?

May 19, 2009 – Californians head to the polls to vote on six propositions. Californians will do the job the California legislature seems to be incapable of doing. There is no need to put too much sweat in trying to decipher all of the nonsense that these incomprehensible propositions represent. Just take that number two pencil and vote no on each one of them.

These propositions are only stop-gap measures to temporarily fix California's budget crisis, but in reality they will fix nothing.

Of course, you have to love the names given to the propositions.

1A – "Rainy Day" Budget Stabilization Fund

1B - Education Funding. Payment Plan

1C – Lottery Modernization Act

1D – Children's Services Funding

1E – Mental Health Funding, Temporary Reallocation

1F – Elected Officials Salaries. Prevents pay increases during budget deficit years.

Proposition 1A keenly disguised as a "Rainy day" fund is nothing more than an extension of the huge tax increase that the California legislature already passed. It increases taxes by another 16 billion dollars. When the economy does come back, will California even be poised to benefit? This proposition continues the tax increase already passed by the legislature for another two years. The San José Mercury says this:

Proposition 1A is a convoluted combination of higher taxes and spending restraints. The effects are so uncertain that the legislative analyst's opinion concludes, "The fiscal effects of Proposition 1A are particularly difficult to assess. This is because the measure's effects would depend on a variety of factors that will change over time and cannot be accurately predicted." Why voters should approve a measure that even the legislative analyst cannot decipher is a mystery.

When the San Jose Mercury is against the propositions, then something must really be wrong.

The blurb in the ballot on Proposition 1C, the so-called lottery modernization act says it will allow the state to be modernized to improve its performance with increased payouts, improved marketing, and effective management. Are you convinced yet? What it really does is borrow on future lottery profits to help balance the 2009-2010 state budget. The California lottery was created in November 1984 by proposition 37. It passed because of the help it was suppose to provide to schools. It is currently mandated to provide at least 34% of its revenues to public education. With proposition 1C, schools will no longer receive funds from the lottery winnings, but lottery winnings will be diverted to the General Fund, and public education will be paid from that fund.

According to the ballot, Each Californian currently squanders about 83 dollars per year in the lottery but It is common knowledge that the poor and uneducated spend much more per capita on the lottery than the average Californian. There is even a graph on the ballot showing that California is the third from the bottom as to lottery sales per resident. And, that is a bad thing? How? The proposition states "Higher prize payouts can attract more spending for lottery tickets and increase lottery profits." Proposition 1C intends to increase lottery revenues by revamping the lottery and increasing marketing efforts. This means the poor will be induced to purchase even more lottery tickets. I thought liberals were for the indigent and the destitute.

Since the economic crisis, lottery winnings have actually fallen off 10% during the first four months of the current fiscal year. California put its hopes on imaginary growth, which caused its current budget crisis, and now it is putting its hopes on future lottery winnings that may or may not materialize, but that will assuredly be paid from the backs of the poor.

The San Jose Mercury states the following on propositions 1D through 1E:

    Propositions 1D and 1E would break open dedicated tax funds for use by the general fund. Proposition 1D would allow the state to grab tobacco tax money that is currently dedicated to children's services. Proposition 1E would allow the state to raid the so-called millionaire's tax that is dedicated to mental health services.

    These two propositions highlight the folly of dedicated spending accounts. Income tax rates and tobacco tax rates are so high that raising them further would be counterproductive. Yet, without a statewide vote, the money generated by these taxes cannot be used to ameliorate crisis level deficits.


These six propositions do nothing to alleviate the ills of California. California is like the typical highly-leveraged individual who borrows from Peter to pay Paul. He maxes out his credit cards, and when the MasterCard bill is due, he uses the American Express card to pay off the MasterCard. He takes out home equity loans, maintains a high amount of leverage and continues to play this shell game until everything implodes. He plays this game more if he is unemployed. This is California. California is engaged in a massive shell-game and wants voters to now approve the continuation of the shell game to see how long California can continue without bursting at the seams. Companies and individuals who earn the salaries leave. Tax revenues do not materialize, but California continues its spending spree, and uses one fund to pay another fund. The hope is that some time growth will begin again in California, and all this debt can be paid back.

There is an answer to California's woes. Vote the incumbent legislators out of office. Get rid of the terminator, and get someone who knows how to grow an economy. Become a business friendly environment. Go to the polls and vote "no" on every one of these incomprehensible and idiotic propositions.

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