< meta name="DC.Date.Valid.End" content="20050825"> Amendment Nine: April 2005

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Right to Privacy

Atrios quotes a post by Orcinus on the right-wing's war against the judiciary. Its an average post by Atrios, filled with sarcasam and snarkiness. And of course, he lets the original poster do most of the talking. The quote he uses though, found at the bottom of the Orcinus post, shows yet again the churlish and infantile nature of the hard left.

I recommend everyone read the whole post first, it is interesting, to say the least. Now though, let's point out some of the more absurd remarks in the quote Atrios chose to plug. "Of course, most Americans tend to take privacy for granted, but little realize it exists almost solely, according to Supreme Court rulings, as a Ninth-Amendment "natural right" not enumerated by the Constitution, or as a "penumbra" of other rights that have been written out."

Does anyone see what is wrong here? Young Orcinus, and by default our dear Atrios, have missed the boat on the right to privacy. The right to privacy was actually, more or less, invented by Louis D. Brandeis and Samuel D. Warren (courts like to see rediscovered, by truthfully, these two were the first to "rediscover", so call it what you want). The founding essay, published in 1890, is titled "The Right to Privacy", I understand Harvard Law has a few of these laying around, go read it.

The problem these two face is that the whole point of the right to privacy is that, as they put it, "most Americans" take it for "granted". Were it not that way, it would have never been "discovered" in the first place. Instead though, Orcinus and Atrios would rather impugn the intelligence of "most Americans", and as a result, they continue the ever tragic (now almost comedic) plunge off the nearest cliff.

Orcinus continues that most of us Americans don't understand that the separation of church and state is similarily a judicially created mechanism. Again, Orcinus misses the point, it is only judicially recognized, not created. We seemingly naive Americans created the right by generally accepting it in the course of our daily lives. This then brings us full circle, and poses the question which Orcinus and Atrios almost cynically overlook, is America changing or are the conservatives pushing this out of step?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Returns in this Market and Flat Club Soda

I love all things carbonated. I actually dislike sugar because it takes away the carbonation effect. Club soda, mineral water, seltzer, anything that fizzes for a long time, just love it. It is the most refreshing type of drink I think.

Have you ever noticed that when youleave the cap off a bottle of carbonated drink it goes flat pretty quickly? I've invested in bottle stoppers to prolong the carbonation as much possible, but thats beside the point. When things aren't capped, the fizz goes out. Thats all you need to know to make sense of whats going on with the market these days.

The floor on yields was non-existent for awhile. Inflation approached zero and the fed, in its "wisdom", decided to move interest rates lower. Correspondingly, the price of future income went up. Investors paid more. Stocks, bonds, real estate, just about every asset class, even distressed assets (which are, in my view, a leading indicator instead of the laggard everyone seems to make of them; though obviously it depends which end of the distress you're looking at) all increased as real interest rates fell.

Problem here is that the Fed never put the cap back on. Instead, it just let things settle. Now the period of rate-falling is over. Rate-stagnating will be with us for awhile. The soda will still be carbonated, but it won't be fizzy like it used to be. Returns should generally settle at revenue growth plus inflation. Thats the generic view though.

Deep inside the flat water you'll still find opportunity to stir things up. My area of focus, distressed debt, is already under intense focus as investors chase yield. But other "special situations" of all types will remain the wild west in an otherwise orderly, egalitarian environment. Looking for these changes will be difficult, but they should be somewhat predictable and light, fast-moving hedge funds are the best to exploit these opportunities.

Product liability suits for manufacturers, natural disasters for energy suppliers, new regulatory environments in highly regulated, or highly unregulated industries. All these events, and more, will give investors ample opportunity to shake the bottle up a little and get any remaining swigs of fizz of the next 10-12 months.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Need Your Help

Still working on that research I told you about earlier. Now I need your help. If I threw out two terms to you, and you were asked to spontaneously say how they were related, what would you say when I said the two terms were: "absolute monarchy" and "direct democracy"? Go at it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Car Wrecks & Credit Markets

When I was in my twenties, I was in a pretty nasty three car pileup on I-95 heading south towards Florida (it happened somewhere in Georgia, don't ask me where). It was rainy, so people were going slow already, which is probably what spared my life. While I was in the car, and while I was spinning, completely out of control, watching other cars approach me and knowing there was nothing I could do about it, I felt as if time was in slow motion. I think that happens to us when things we can't control occur. Our brains slow down, everything appears to be moving at a snail's pace. That is precisely how I've felt over the last few weeks, even months, while watching the credit markets. Its as if things are moving in slow motion, but you know a wreck is about to happen. You can even see some of the headlights out your window now, GM, FNM, AIG, today's inflation numbers, all working to create a huge, slow motion, credit wreck. The only question remaining is, how fast were we moving when we lost control?

Monday, April 18, 2005


I was just about to tell everyone to throw in the towel, but DAMN did you all see BofA's earnings? Looks like that Fleet acquisition wasn't so bad afterall. This is going to be an interesting day, if not an interesting week.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Original Sin

I'm back, after a long absence. Truthfully, I find the discourse in "blogosphere" to be depressing. But Federalist X has twisted my arm. Here I am again.

Does anyone really believe in original sin anymore? I ask this because, of late, I can't quite tell the difference between the religious right and Pharisees of old.

In fact, I will ask an even more blunt question, are there any Christians left in America?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Question on Adelphia

I've gotten conflicting info on this, so antitrust experts please respond... When the feds (specifically FTC and FCC) are reviewing a merger of a cable co., do they consider market share of local markets or just regional / national? Reason being, as most of you know, Adelphia's going to be bought in this 11, and Time Warner is going to be one of the buyers... such a purchase would give Time Warner almost 100% of the cable subs in the LA market. Can that make it fail antitrust?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Deaniancs, Nuff Said.

The Moose has it covered, right down to the lattes. I just hope this Pew survey gets WIDE distribution. I haven't heard it mentioned over at the friendly confines of dKos, and a diary citing the report as of now received only 3 comments at MyDD.

Now, back to the discussion on the next Pope below...

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Next Pope - A Thought Exercise

This is how some of my friends, including my collegue from El Salvador, are looking at it:

The World is at war, first versus third, and the first battle of that war is one of faith. Fundamentalist, reactionary forces across denominations are intent on seeing the battle as existential and so are using the rhetoric of spirituality to recruit warriors and sway public opinion.

Caught in the middle of this initial battle are the world's poor. On the one hand, the poor offer fresh recruits to fundamentalism. On the other hand, the poor offer a vast supply of cheap labor for wealthy nations to exploit.

Only one religion, in their view, is charged with the care of the poor, and that religion is Christianity... and the Pope is its most visible leader. To end this war before it spirals out of control, the Pope, in their view, must:

1) strongly denounce the self-destruction of fundamentalism and evangelize against its rebirth,
2) firmly reject the exploitation of the world's poor by unchecked capitalism,
3) loudly proclaim that Christ's resurrection has liberated the poor from their condition

It is said these three keys are the only way to prevent a generations long struggle, ending in untold bloodshed across the globe.

If you look at the world this way, which I stipulate has a sort of martian like quality to it, who is the best candidate to serve as Christ's Vicar?

Go Heels

Not wanting to offend the basketball gods, I will say only, may the best team win (so long as its Carolina).

Thoughts on John Paul II

First, if you haven't ever read Crossing the Threshold of Hope by the late John Paul II, I recommend it. I did not grow up in or anywhere near the Catholic church, and yet, I found a great deal of the philosophy discussed to sound quite familiar. While the book isn't as in depth as it could be, or perhaps should be, the Pope is a clear thinker with an education to complement.

Second, in that book, and throughout the collected teachings of John Paul II, you will no doubt find him to be staunchly pro-life on the abortion issue. However, what most of these media tributes are forgetting is that he was also explicitly and radically pro-woman. While one has to wonder how pro-woman you can be and still resist the ordination of women, at the very least, the idea that you can be one without the other is rejected by his own argument.

Third, the Pope did not relegate his pro-life faith to just the issue of abortion, he was pro-life, all the way, straight down the road. And his anti-war and anti-death penalty views were not so much a directive of his pro-life stance as they were indeed articles of faith incumbent upon every Christian. I haven't even seen him comment on the just war hypothetical, choosing to emphasize peace instead. This is a trait which I believe will be well regarded by history, as it should be by us too.

Finally, a friend of mine from El Salvador asks that I remind people of the tension, to say the least, between John Paul II and liberation theology. While he too mourns the loss of John Paul II because: "he responsibly argued for peace" he also sees this as a moment filled with opportunity and is excited about the Catholic church, "coming home to where its seeds still prosper."

These are things to keep in mind while watching the much deserved tributes of his life. The sad thing is that he is gone, the good thing though is that his teachings will remain.