Monday, September 29, 2008

Republican Party, FTL!

Dear Republican Party,

Is there anything you can get right these days? Anything? Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?

I mean, for the love of Jebus. You at least used to get more things right than not on the economic side of things, which is why in the past I'd grudgingly considered myself more Republican than anything else. You took care of those lucky enough to be privileged, and I'm a largely greedy monkey who was lucky enough to be privileged, so, you know, you had me there.

I could almost overlook all that bad crap ya'll don't like to talk about publicly much (you know, the rampant racism, sucking the blood of the poor and middle class, and all the weird Old Testament close-mindedness about abortion and gay marriage) and call myself a Republican. Almost.

But man, you're seriously struggling at the plate these days. You've got a ninety million year old man running for President who 90% of you left for dead when the nomination process began, a VP candidate who gets easily confused when spoken to in polysyllabic words, and you're now leading the charge to protect all the ordinary Americans from the evil of corporations and big government by opposing the bailout package. When the bailout package is exactly what those ordinary Americans need most, in this utterly screwed up insolvent place we've found ourselves in.

How many speeches from Warren Buffet and other smart economic minds do you need to convince yourself that this is a necessary evil? Forty-three? Seven thousand and thirty five? Do you honestly and truly believe that Paulson, Bernanke, et al are just bluffing, and that none of this is necessary at all and all of this work itself out just fine? Really? How many enormous financial institutions have to go belly up before you decide that, umm, yeah, I guess we should try to do something about this, even if it means raising taxes?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bailout, FTW!

Again, it'd almost be funny that it's NOW that the GOP decides to dig in its heels and look after Joe and Suzy Mainstreet, fighting the bailout tooth and nail, with the icy cold water spilling over the deck already up to their necks.

Almost funny, just like Palin babbling on about Putin rearing his head while defending her "foreign policy" experience, or getting confused when Katie uses way, way too many word when asking her a pretty direct question:

But, ultimately, not funny at all. The bailout isn't about golden parachutes or Wall St. fat cats getting fatter. It's an absolutely necessary, desperate Hail Mary, close-you-eyes-in-best-Brett-Farvian-style-and-chunk-it-downfield play call. We have no choice at this stage. We may not like it, but it's got to get done.

You may have huge issues (and should have huge issues with it) but the root cause of this goes back 5 or 6 years. Railing against the effects of something you allowed to happen (and even encouraged and profited from) five or six years ago is like refusing to put your house out, when it's on fire, because you're finally sick and tired of putting out fires your darling little pyromaniac child keeps lighting (with the flame thrower you bought him last Christmas, after he got back from attending Fire Camp for the fifth straight year).

And, seriously, the house is fucking on fire right now. Full on involved conflagration. WaMu, with more than $300 billion in assets, just went belly up. Insolvent. Didn't have the bankroll to even play a $1 SnG on Full Tilt. Largest bank failure (by far) of any financial institution in the history of the United States of America. Bye bye.

But, somehow, it's exactly now that assorted congresspeople (primarily those of the GOP persuasion) decide to bow up and make a stand for Joe and Suzy. Wiretap their phones? Hell, sure, whatever. And a little waterboarding never REALLY hurt anyone but those Muslim terrorists, and screw them anyway. An escalating regressive tax structure? Oh, hells yes, sign me up, roll it out, let's make us some money.

But a bailout that would just cost taxpayers money? Oh no. Hells no. Because it's all about looking out for the people, you know. Oh no. No, no, no, no, no....

*Face palm*

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

GG America?

Very interesting times to be living in the US, especially in regards to the US economy and financial infrastructure. The unthinkable just a few short years ago (Lehman effectively ceasing to exist, AIG teetering on the brink, et al) not only becoming thinkable but full-blown reality, with the brutal end coming in just a matter of a few short days.

And, honestly, there's really no end in sight, at least not for years, once the momentum starts to build. WaMu is very likely next, with the US government, once again, eventually being forced to step in and bail out yet another financial institution that "cannot be allowed to fail." Each bail out, though, is effectively just prolonging the larger, slow-motion failure that's coming home to roost after eight years of historic, epic failure on the part of the current administration that will likely never be eclipsed.

(Note: funny in that I saved the above as a draft about a week ago, before the $700 billion bailout news hit the wires, and that the unthinkable became even more super-duper-unthinkable).

So, umm, yeah. Wow. Not that the $700 billion bailout plan isn't eye-popping enough, but the audacity of Paulson and his buddy Ben to think they can ram this thing through with absolutely no oversight or checks and balances, just by using lots of dire, scary words like "recession", "catastrophic consequences", and "failure". And the icing on the cake of Bush standing tall and shaking his little monkey fist, threatening to veto any legislation that isn't a simple blank bailout check. Wth none of them all that concerned, really, and not giving much of a damn about appearances. as they know they'll get exactly what they want in a few days, because that's how the system works, because that's how they've made the system.

It's this sort of thing that baffles me in the context of the current election and how the mantle of "change" is alternately mocked and embraced, seemingly at random. I'm a pretty piss-poor Democrat these days, and fall on the Republican side of the fence on more than a few issues (and, honestly, I'd have probably voted for the old pre-sellout McCain over Kerry, if McCain had gotten the nomination), but how this election is anything other than an Obama landslide is beyond me. And, really, a pretty terrificly depressing thing to ponder, as it speaks more to flat-out racism and bigotry more than anything else.

I don't think Obama is a savior. Far from it. But for the love of Jebus, isn't it time to try something new? How many more signs do you need that the current status quo isn't working? Yes, indeed, it'll be more of the same with Obama, and we'll still struggle with crippling national debt, unpopular wars, and creaking, groaning infrastructure that's showing its age. We'll struggle with that for many, many years. There's no avoiding it, as too many chickens are coming home to roost, and we've largely turned into a fat, lazy nation of TV-obsessed mouth breathers with mounting personal debt and negative savings rate.

But thumping our chests and trampling on anyone in our way isn't the way forward. Cronyism isn't the way forward. More tax cuts for the wealthy isn't the way forward. More water boarding and phone taps. More governing from a personal sense of entitlement and divine guidance. We've tried all that. It ain't working, kids. It just flat out isn't working.

And I'll be the first to admit that voting for "Someone Else" (in this case Obama) isn't the best situation to find oneself in, but that's exactly the spot this country is in. While it's pretty funny to watch the wheels fall off the Palin sideshow as its exposed for exactly what it is, it's also pretty damn sad to watch our electoral process be mocked by the rest of the world for the Springer episode that it's rapidly devolving into. Funny but sad.

In the end, who knows. I hope we elect someone who manages to steer us through the current mess this country is mired in. Or at least puts us on a different path than the one we're on, one with a decent chance of navigating through the muck. If that means higher taxes, then tax the crap out of me. If that means short term pain, then bring the pain. Just stop pretending that this country is on the right path and that with faith in God and a little more trickle-down economics, we'll plow through this little rough patch just fine and be back to glory days in no time flat.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

LOL Politics

I had a big honking draft of a post regarding political matters, but finally had the good sense to just delete it, as pretty much any blogger posting about politics could serve as a textbook definition for anyone wondering what the phrase "monkey humping a football" means. But by all means, keep 'em coming, as the unintentional comedy is pretty priceless.

The only thing I really have to say is thank God people are at least engaged and talking about politics. I may completely disagree with Palin's stance that if a half Negro/half Islamic terrorist rapes and impregnates your daughter or wife that she should be forced to have the baby, but at least it's getting the issue out there for discussion, for debate. Just like all of those fake dinosaur fossils planted in the ground by God to test your faith, when He wasn't busy directly whispering her ear that natural gas pipelines are a necessary and crucial part of His grand plan. it's very refreshing that both parties are finally addressing the process of real change, of tackling the tough issues at the core beliefs of all the candidates, and not just trying to put out a slick, smiling package designed to appeal to (insert name of target demographic here).

As far as poker, things are actually rolling along pretty well. I'd gravitated towards playing more SnGs and MTTs over the last few months in lieu of cash games, but found myself with fairly skewed stats. I was doing well in satellites and smaller field MTTs, but donking back anything I made in those to large field, bigger buy-in MTTs.

Smarter people than myself would have seen the logical conclusion there (stop plauing large field, bigger buy-in MTTs) but I persisted for quite awhile before finally giving in to the cold, harsh truth. So for the last month or so I've been playing a ton of satellites on Saturday/Sunday, mostly to the $750K Guaranteed, and just unregistering and pocketing the T$, using those to play a bunch of $24 and $36 Turbo SnGs.

Not the most exciting poker existence to live, as there's never a potential payoff of more than $216 on the line, but it's been fairly profitable, with a ROI of 10% for the SnGs and about 40% for the assorted satellites (anything from the $3 shootouts up to the $75 ones, with various field sizes). I naturally lapse into a more screwed-down style in MTTs and rarely play aggressively (i.e. correctly) enough to build the stack I need to be a real force, but it'd make sense that I'd have more success in satellites, as far as simply needing to outlast 10% or so of the field, and nothing more.

I'll be off to Niagara Falls in just under a month for the WPT Canada event with PokerRoom, but then nothing on the schedule (for now) until next April. We've been pretty busy with work on our house, trying to get assorted stuff done by late October in time for the wife's 30th birthday party, as she's planning quite a shindig. Odds are actually improving on everything getting done, but probably still 75/25 at this point, as tackling one thing just spawns three more, etc.

I haven't quite convinced myself to leap back into the real estate investment waters but I'm pretty close, as discussions with a local bank led to them offering me a line of credit for real estate purchases/renovations that would not only make a potential project more profitable, but would ease some of the headaches caused by tapping into savings for repair costs. I can't say I'm very bullish on either the housing market or the general US economy for the next 18-24 months, but there are still people out there flipping houses and making money. If I can find a property at the right price (and with the backup plan of being able to rent it profitably), I may give it another whirl and see what happens.