How Did we Connect before Kevin Bacon



The older I get the more I realize that the old saying about things that have an occurrence rate of 1 in a 1,000,000 is really meaningless.

With about 7 billion people in the world that would make for 7,000 of those all so rare occurences possible each and every day. With them being so common no one should really be surprised when they actually occur. Additionally, with advancing age comes the realization that pretty much everything is connected somehow as long as you can suspend rational thought processes long enough to see the connection.

A good knowledge of useful trivia also helps to see those connections.

At some point the Kevin Bacon game began to replace the one time wildly popular game Trivial Pursuit with a single minded focus on celebrity entertainers. But beyond being a game of mindless cinematic, television and theatrical trivia, the Kevin Bacon Seven Degrees of Separation game was all about the connections.

So before I get to the point of today’s blog, let me get my Kevin Bacon moment out of the way.

Years ago, I was in The United Airlines lounge in JFK Airport. I wasn’t really the sort of guy that would otherwise have access to the lounge, but United opened it to calm the nerves of passengers who were looking at a very long delay before embarking on a very long flight

Sitting in my preferred manner, solitary, I noticed a familiar figure a few tables down., sitting in an equally solitary manner. I was certain that it was Louis Giambalvo, a character actor, with no really great roles in his repretoire, but still one of my favorites.

I finally summoned up my courage and walked over to his table.

When I said, “Mr. Giambalvo”, he looked like he was going to jump out of his skin, maybe expecting that I was some sort of Mafia hit man, he having played to comedic perfection a Mafia boss in Weekend at Bernie’s

He clearly wasn’t accustomed to being recognized.

I immediately sensed his unease and simply told him “I’ve always enjoyed your work” and then returned to my solitude.

I did not shoot him in the back of the head.

Of course, Giambalvo appeared with Ken Howard in The White Shadow, who himself years later would have a recurring role in 30 Rock. Those are both pretty mainstream bits of information, hardly qualifying as trivia.

By now, you’ve probably got it figured out. 30 Rock is produced by Lorne Michaels who was the producer of SNL back when John Belushi was everyone’s Monday morning chatter topic.

And yes, John Belushi starred in Animal House in which a very young Kevin Bacon had a small role.

Now on to what the blog is all about.

As opposed to all respectable financial bloggers who are probably dissecting and analyzing the various outcomes following congressional votes, I could care less. On this Sunday evening while everyone else is waiting to see what further childish games our elected officials will play with our economic future, my thoughts are elsewehere.

No debt ceiling for me, only death sealing the clear connection that is waiting to be discovered.

For today I learned of the deaths of Howard Stein and Robert Ettinger, two totally unrelated individuals who walked entirely different paths in life, yet are extraordinarily connected.

In my mind, anyway.

More amazingly, they both existed in non-concentric paths before Kevin Bacon could play much of a role.

SleeperRobert Ettinger, who’d better be sitting on ice right now, was the mastermind behind cryogenic preservation of people and pets. The stuff of science fiction, but more importantly the stuff behind the premises of Woody Allen’s “Sleeper” and Mike Myers’ “Austin Powers”.

I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without “Sleeper”. So may great jokes, premises and sight gags. Since it takes place a couple of hundred years in the future, it’s still not even remotely dated.

Thank you Robert Ettinger, although I’ve never understood why people tell me that I remind them of Woody Allen. Most of the time the reaction that I get is eerily similar to that of Grammy Hall when she met her first Jew.

I do love ice pops, but I’m not really keen on becoming one.

But that brings us to Howard Stern, considered by many to be the master-mind behind the no-load mutual fund and many innovations in the mutual fund industry. Somewhat of an anomaly, he was also a large backer of Eugene McCarthy in his 1968 Presidential bid.

Before he moved over to Dreyfus, the one time scion of the industry, he worked at Bache and Co.

I don’t know if they still exist, but I can still remember the check that was sent to Szelhamos back in the 1960’s or early  70’s representing his profitable sale of Gulf & Western warrants. Somewhere I must still have that check from Bache. It was off by an order of 100.

I think my initial reaction was to deposit it immediately and flee to Jersey.

Szelhamos knew better.

Szelhamos also sent in about $25 each week to pick up Dreyfus mutual fund shares. That was his ticket toward retirement. As far as that went, he didn’t know better.

Szelhamos worked until he was about 80.

Humor, finance. Almost as good a combination as peanut butter and chocolate. People and mutual funds? Not so much.

Years later, I don’t believe in many things. I certainly am not buying into a Ted Williams existence, nor do I want a Futurama kind of life. Coincidentally enough, that was the subject of the “Evolution” blog from just a couple of days ago.

But by now, you should know that I don’t really believe in coincidence, either.

So it’s with a swelled head that I say that the movement in stocks last week all served to bring my covered positions below their strike prices. In my totally egocentric way I’d like to think that was the pre-ordained direction, being part of an overarching series of connections that I totally anticipated.

The possibility that stocks may move upward Monday morning may not have too much of a meaning for those issues that still have 3 weeks to expire, but it does mean something for the ones that expired this past Friday.

For as we are getting closer to getting an agreement on the debt ceiling this Sunday evening, it appears that precisely the opposte of what everyone was predicting is likely to occur.

The conventional wisdom had been that upon an agreement there would be a market sell-off on the news.

Rather, as the children played and squabbled, the market went down and down.

If that agreeement comes, expect a bungee like snap. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Monday morning is my favorite time for stock price increases, as long as I’m not in a portfolio replacement mode. There’s no better time to sell call options than when prices are on the rebound.

Now I may be getting a wee bit ahead of myself as there’s still plenty of time for whoever owns a critical piece of the ball to threaten to take it and go home. That would create another in a series of equally predictable disconnects.

Even if the bungee bounce comes, as expected, the script then calls for a relatively quick return to reality as there will be some other nerve wracking event coming down the pike in short enough order.

You can count on that as much as you can count on a relationship of some sort with Kevin Bacon.

When it comes to investing the things that need to be avoided are those human emotions that are connected by their venality

Greed, fear and envy.

I don’t think “pomposity” is an emotion, but between now and the market open, after I climb out of the “Orgasmitron” I’ll be exercising that atitude fully prepared for precisely the opposite to occur.

As it turns out, the likelihood that the expected will occur is more like the 1 in a 1,000,000 phenomenon.

Given how unpredictable events and reactions really are I wouldn’t be completely surprised to discover that I am Kevin Bacon and have been quietly playing a solitary game of Seven Degrees of Separation from Louis Giambalvo.





What’s my Motivation


I know.

For those readers still entombed in concrete operations, the answer is simple.


But that’s not what I mean. Sure, I mean money, but there are more reasons to take on various tasks in life and to do a credible job.

There’s passion, there’s commitment, there’s shame. And money.

Nice, so far I’ve thown mildly connected references to Piaget and Maslow all in a broken sentence or two.

Alas Poor YorickI’ve never had any acting skills. It actually took me many years to get comfortable with public speaking. I once saw a professionally produced videotape of a presentation that I had made to a large audience who I couldn’t see because of the overwhelmingly bright stage lighting.

I was amazed at how flat the jokes fell and how many bizarre bodily movements I made. That videotape is entombed, as well.

Honestly, I had no idea tha I changed into pajamas during the presentation, but the videotape doesn’t lie.

My one true stage role was in 8th grade, performing in the Alfred Noyes classic poem, “The Highwayman”.

In that case, the problem was that I could see the audience.

I had the role of the horse. And instead of saying “Tlot, tlot”, I was supposed to stamp my feet in cadence as someone else recited the particular stanza.

Much like knowing when to buy and sell stocks, my timing wasn’t very good, but I swear, one more uptick and I’m unloading my Freddie Mac. Just want to cut those losses.

But for actors, there is a school that teaches going deeply into one’s self and looking for life experiences, immersion into character and asking the basic question, “What’s my motivation?”

I have no idea what depths Laurence Olivier may have plumbed to reach into Hamlet’s pain and his bond to Yorick, but it is undeniably powerful.

Years later I discovered that I loved harness horse racing, but I couldn’t pull that as yet unexperienced experience into my being as a 13 year old Yeshivah boy on stage. That is why it appeared as if Bess, the landlord’s daughter was trampled on that stage one cold Thursday afternoon in The Bronx.

Most days I sit around and watch alternating blasts of red and green numbers while listening to #CNBC in the background. Usually there’s something that I hear or read that just starts the thought process and that fuels the motivation. It’s almost as if the very process of existing is itself the muse.

Don’t worry. I don’t know what that means either.

But today, there was nothing. Sure, there were some well groomed House Republicans in very tightly bound shirts at the neckline, but there was nothing to really get the juices flowing.

As a sometime Pediatric Dentist, even the brief CNBC story about the average Tooth Fairy payment being reduced by nearly 15%, according to a Visa survey, didn’t get me overly immersed in thought or in a fit of indignant rage.

The paradox in that report is that many children don’t accept American Express for their Tooth Fairy payments due to the high transaction fees, yet Visa may offer credit limit constraints. Isn’t it better to let your parent assume greater levels of debt so that you can enjoy greater rewards right now.

Besides, there’s only so many teeth that you have to give. Your best days may already be behind you.

Yet, the shallow analysis of this all important story didn’t as much as stir me.

Errie, how that simple financial decision faced by the ntion’s children is so very similar to the dilemma facing our child-like elected officials. How do we balance spending cuts with revenue enhancements? How mucjh longer do we kick things down the road?

Then it came to me.

Actually, it came to my bank account first. You see, after all, it was about money.

Today, I received the first royalty payment for the Option to Profit book.

If I actually had a day job I would probably continue to take steps to secure that job, as the royalties weren’t earth shattering, but I don’t have a day job.

Initially, my motivation for stepping up my trading game was to dump the day job and that’s worked out pretty well, even when the market tends to get petulant. Today, in complete boredom, I bought some shares of Sprint, which got a huge earnings related hit today, but I can thank Option to Profit for making that possible.

I also sold $14 call options on the ProShares UltraShort Silver ETF, as silver took a big drop today.

Remember, they’re UltraShort. Down is good and as silver went down, the premiums on the options went up.

I don’t use the word “petulant” often, but this morning Ken Langone, formerly co-founder of Home Depot, a current holding, referred to President Obama as being such.

I like Home Depot and I like Ken Langone. I especially admired his outspoken ctiticism of then Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, with regard to his witch hunts of Dick Grasso and Hank Greenberg.

I don’t agree with Langone on very many things in terms of actual politics, but I do like his heartfelt and pragmatic approaches to issues.

Talk about motivation. Here is a billionaire devoting so much of his time, efforts and energy to advancing healthcare. That’s pretty nice. He certainly doesn’t need to do that. Years from now, people will look at the Langone Medical Center, part of NYU and have no clue that he toiled anonymously. To be fair, Langone actually seemed embarrassed with host Joe Kernen let the audience know that he was referring to the Langone center. And when confronted with being outted, Langone corrected the host by pointing out that his wife had first billing. As Bernie Marcus would say: “A Mensch”

While I really don’t agree with his assessment of the President, as eventually going down as the worst in history, he did have a very compelling assessment of the very positive role of wealthy people in our society, particularly in advancing education and the arts.

He also very clearly said that people of great wealth should pay higher taxes and shouldn’t avail themselves of such government programs as Social Security.

He’ll get a lot of hate mail on that one, but not from me. Partially because I don’t do that kind of thing and the other is that it was so refreshing to hear someone take a balanced approach to an issue that effects us all.

Anyway, that first royalty payment was a motivator to pound out some more tripe for the blog. After all, I can’t continue to fall back on yesterday’s fame, not if I want to sell books by the truckload.

Since I’m not greedy, even a Karmen Ghia would do just fine.Just load her up.

I decided not to really bother waiting for the upcoming congressional vote on the new iteration on what is being called the Boehner Plan.

With a divided Senate and House of Representatives and the threats being made of bill defeat or veto, it just pays to sit back and watch the brinksmanship from the comfort of the La-Z-Boy.

At the moment it appears that there is a new operational definition of what it means to have bipartisan support. It appears that both parties have borrowed a page from Ivory Soap’s old playbook.

As long as either party puts forth a bill that has only 99.44% of support from a single party, it is qualified to be referred to as a bipartisan bill. Within the Washington D.C. Beltway, the definition of “b-partisan” was formed by the same person that decided it was accurate to refer to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut as such because it had a single daily flight to Canada.

So the game will continue and August 2nd just approaches.

I’ll be on my way to South Carolina along with Sugar Momma and my day trader son to watch @PFCAcsMan graduate from his Army Basic Training. I won’t care too much about whether it’s all being taken down to the wire or not.

I don’t have much iun the way of debt, so I don’t care too much about the worst case scenarios regarding the nation’s credit rating.

Obviously I know that’s incredibly short sighted of me. But right now, my motivation is getting my family together after a 9 week separation.

Once that’s happened, I’ll be very happy, but I’ve committed myself to finding fault with at least one new thing each day.

I know of no better motivation than self-motivation, Yorick.



Will Fame Go to my Head?

There it was.

I had no idea, but someone was actually paying attention.

Dunkin DonutsI looked up at the screen and there, high and tight, was my name, my Twitter handle and a Tweet that I had sent out regarding Dunkin Donuts, of recent IPO fame.

I won’t repeat it here, because that just cheapens it and we’re still working on an agreement over residuals.

Given how many Tweets I send out per unit of time over the past 3 months, it shouldn’t have been too surprising that one would show up someplace.

I’m more surprised that no one from the Department of Justice has showed up at my doorstep yet, as I worry that they may construe every Tweet as being something resembling truth.

In fact, though, another Tweet was flagged by CNN as being the best business Tweet of the day, along with a handful of other “bests” a month or so ago. Mine was “bestest”.

The difference was that this time my real name was used. I tend to think that will be a problem with my witness protection status, because absolutely everyone watches CNBC.

On Twitter, at least the small number of people that I follow, all blast CNBC. Yet they keep tuning in, as evidenced by the onging Tweeting commentary. It just proves that there really is no thing such as bad publcity.

Or it may prove that there are no good viewing alternatives now that Oprah is gone.

But I’m not letting that notoriety go to my head, although now potential readers of this blog will be required to undergo a screening process to see if they are  “blog worthy”. Coincidentally, the independent Board of Directors of Szelhamos Rules had already been mulling over that possibility and now seems a good time to put our new policy into effect. I have to thank Carl Icahn for that, but I’m not turning my back on him quite yet.

The sure cure for self-inflated sense of worth though, was today’s market action.

It’s always humbling to sit on a couple of the days’ biggest losers. In my case that would be Caterpillar and Riverbed Technolgies.

Although their blow was softened somewhat with the outstanding call options I had written, there wasn’t really much good news today. It’s not like there would have been much of a difference if the Titanic sunk in 3500 feet or water or 4000.

But before I get down too much on myself, that need to self-aggrandize takes hold again, and I marvel at the fact that right now I’m sitting on lots of options premiums and nearly every “hostage” stock of mine is near the money. Some of them will expire this Friday, while others will have 3 weeks to go.

Compared to the S&P 500, as good of a comparison index as I can find for myself, which is down 3.0% for the week, my portfolios are down 2.1%.

Notice, I didn’t use the adverb “only” to describe my loss. It’s still pretty bad and as I said earlier, humbling. Now I know exactly how Rupert Murdoch must have felt.

But if today was the Wednesday before the monthly options expiration I’d be feeling pretty good about myself. Instead of feeling like a fool, albeit less of a fool than the Index of Fools, I’d smugly be patting myself on the back for another investing job well done.

I wonder, in the name of self-denial, just how our elected officials are feeling about themselves. Since the bar is set fairly low on Capitol Hill, it should be fairly easy to outperform that index. I’m not much of a political junkie, but in the wake of any number of pledges that politicians are finding themselves signing, it’s not terribly easy to hedge your positions.

To do so, would make you a loser by most accounts, even though steadfastly holding onto ideological positions is the equivalent of group suicide or nuclear holocaust, where we all lose and don’t even get any Kool-Aid to show for our troubles.

Take Rudy Giuliania for instance. His positions on many issues have evolved, especially in the social arena, demonstrating that a thought process was at work, in a politician no less.To others though, it represented the completely unacceptable.

Selling out.

Imagine actually doing what the electorate wants. That’s novel. I know one guy that will never be elected again.

John Boehner must be spouting Latin, as he intones “Et tu, Cantor?” As he is getting squeezed from all sides he looks about ready to molt right out of his bronzed skin. Lterally and figuratively a shell of a man unless he pulls something miraculous out of his hat. Like his soul.

Not likely.

I think that Boehner is probably one guy who would be happy to let his fame and notoriety take a couple of days off. It’s at times like this that you’d just love to kill bin Laden again.

In the meantime as my suddenly found fame offered me no protection, the market just kept right at it. Losing nearly 200 ponts, its been a rough few days for nearly everyone. Even Apple and Google got slammed today. Up until a couple of days ago the party line was that the market would sell off on the news of a debt ceiling agreement.

Now like most predictions, that one is probably not likely to occur quite as planned. If somehow the dysfunctional and self-absorbed elected officials do pull this one out by the August 2nd date, there’s likely to be a rally.

Some will call it a relief rally. Some will call it the beginning of a new bull run. Some will call it a dead cat bounce and others will refer to it as a bear trap.

And those are just the experts.

That’s the beauty of the markets these days. Just like the sudden sell off that began this afternoon in the absence of any macro or micro-economic news. Nor was there some earth shattering international event, like bin Laden coming back to life.

Some blamed it on technical factors, with the S&P 500 dipping below a “critical support level”.

Now I’d like to think that with my new found fame I’d be far too important to be effected by such intangibles as a line and a curve. But that’s not the case. Even the original JP Morgan would occasionally get the sniffles.

As it turned out, my fame didn’t last much more than about 4 seconds and a handful of re-tweets and direct messages, there was no lasting love or respect.

Even Andy Warhol would have thought me a loser for not lasting the full 15 munutes.

But still, I had those 4 seconds.

Would I have traded it all for a 200 point up day and maybe a debt ceiling agreement?

Probably not.

That’s because today’s plunge will long be forgotten, maybe as early as tomorrow and there will be some other man made and completely preventable crisis coming down the pike for the markets to over-react toward.

But there’ll be at least one person remembering seeing his handiwork and 140 spaced based wit on TV, despite the fact that it wasn’t on COPS. Granted had it been on Tosh.0, the whole world would see that Tweet for all eternity

At least I still have a goal.

Oh, and there’s the doorbell. Just a couple of non-descript guys in black suits and dark glasses.

See you in 10 to 20 years with good behavior.





Although as a young man I read everything Kurt Vonnegut wrote, I was never much of a science fiction fan. Other than seeing the most recent Star Trek movie with a visiting relative I’ve never even seen an episode, even though the original series ran when I was in the heart of my television watching youth.

However, even though I ignored it during its original run, I’ve become a big fan of Futurama ever since its resurrection on Comedy Central and the introduction of new episodes after a lengthy absence.

Futurama has introduced me to science fiction, as well as lots of great concepts in physics and metaphysics. How many cartoons can do that for you? I loved The Flintstones, but I’m not really certain that it’s helped in any way to expand my outlook on life, although you do have to love the talking mini-pterydactyls inside every consumer appliance. That’s something that can never be outsourced.

Nixon Head on FuturamaAnyway, one recurring theme on Futurama is the ability to preserve human heads. Not only preserve them, hell, even Ted Williams could do that, but maintain them as living, thinking and talking entities.

The beauty of such a system is clear, but perhaps most useful is the repository of historical continuity that exists in each talking head.

As we look at the changing nature of the American dream and the jobs situation, to me it appears that we are evolving into a sutuation where physical labor is going to become less and less of our national character.

It appears that way because it already is that way.

Manufacturing has been going offshore for a couple of generations and our heavy industry just continues to take a beating.

Some states, like Texas, boast of job growth, but the Presidential wannabe taking credit neglects to mention that these are overwhelmingly dead end minimum wage jobs. Additionally, had his earlier talk of secession become reality, it’s doubtful that the United States Treasury would have sent TARP and QE funds to the new nation of RIck Perry’s creation.

The more recent manufacturing innovations in technology, computer chips a prime example, are being made all over the world. Solar panels? Have you ever heard of China?

Sponge BobDid you see the beating that legacy companies such as Boeing, 3M, Illinois Toolworks and AK Steel took in their shares prices today? It surely can’t change by tomorrow. (I can’t really find a good “sarcasm” font, so instead here’s a winking eye instead, as the allusion to cartoon characters just continues.)

What’s left for us in the United States?

Well, just for a moment, let’s forget about how the great minds in theoretical math and physics gave us Collaterilzed Debt Obligations and other financial derivatives. Instead of bemoaning the fact that we don’t produce anything anymore, let’s celbrate the wonderful ingenuity and the ability to make something out of nothing at all.

But that’s what we have been for a long time and have certainly further evolved.

Great minds.

Sure, we do need people to pump gas, construct buildings and perform various physical jobs, but we are increasingly becoming a nation that creates nothing but ideas.

Certainly, there are advantages to the preserved head form of life. Without the necessary equipment to procreate, the need for jobs will abate. No population growth means less demand for available jobs, which in turn leads to increased wages for those that haven’t yet evolved.

At some point, as the underclass, those with torsos and limbs becomes adequately wealthy and is able to avail themselves of the best opportunities to expand their minds, they too will evolve into the heads only class, leading to a further wage pressure. Someone has to change the fluid in our head jars.

From a social perspective, people like RIck Santorum would be torn. Sure, fewer abortions, but that would still be accompanied by fewer people upon whose shoulders the social security sytem could rely.

Did I mention that the preserved heads have no shoulders?

I spent 30 years working with my hands.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but then why are we not spending more of our research dollars to create a man-made evolutionary kingdom of Talking Heads.

Not the kind the you see on TV. There’s already plenty of hot air that contributes to our global warminjg. But the kind of Talking Heads that actually contribute to our continued evolution as an economic powerhouse.

On a personal level, I’m slowly making the transition. Now, I make my living using an index finger or two. All I need to do these days is type in a buy or sell order.

After all, it is a slow process, that’s the basis of evolution. I know that the technology already exists to be able to move a virtual mouse and point and click on a computer monitor.

I want that.

Just look at the efficiency of evolution.

I used to spend many hours in physical and mental labor. For many years the employment of others depended on whether I could game a system enough to justify our continued employment.

With the proceeds of those labors, whatever was left over after the basic necessities would be shipped off to my stock broker, who himself evolved into a financial advisor. He then prematurely devolved.

High fees, slow and inefficient  trade executon and a limited inventory of products.

Like the Big Bang, an antithesis to evolution I began my own trading career after having given up on it 20 years earlier.

The first things necessary were to abandon the outdated human characteristics and emotions of fear, regret and greed.

How else can you explain buying Freeport McMoRan on Monday at $55.50 and then selling a weekly option expiring this Friday with a $55 strike price for $1.41 premium.

Sure, you could call it stupidity.

But you’ll have to agree that there’s no greed involved, since I’m perfectly content to net $0.91 per share.

Unless of course you believe that 1.8% weekly ROI is greedy, because it sure isn’t stupid.

I used to have morbid fear and would overly intellectualize every trade I made back in the days before I turned the reigns over to a professional.

Evoluition can be wonderful.

And imagine, without a body to worry about, think how much more your investing income would stretch. That’s one less pair of Crocs for me.

For me, the evolutionary process took another step forward,as my oldest son informed me that he just received Option Level 2 approval for his new trading account.

He’s made a handful of trades and has clearly evolved beyond my old Buy and Hold days. I think his average holding period has been about 4 days, somewhat longer than his girlfriend tenure.

Of course, you do need arms and hands to be part of the “holding” class, so there still may be a flaw in my thinking.

But if anyone that can work out the details, it’s this head.

Can someone scratch my ears?



Taking Aim at the Debt Clock

Everyone’s an economist these days.

I should probably include myself among the armchair experts. On the other hand, my nephew just graduated from University of Virginia as an economics major and my youngest son has declared as an economics major.

He will be returning from Army basic training in just a couple of weeks and then heading back to University of Maryland. My guess is that he will find that if he carries his Army issued rifle with him, his positions on the economy are much more likely to be accepted by his fellow students and perhaps even faculty.

Not that there’s anything wrong with healthy debate.

Since I live in the Washington D.C. area, I’m a little bit ambivalent about the entire debt ceiling and government shutdown debate, healthy or otherwise.

That’s because I can still remember how wonderful the commute into work was when the federal government was shut down 15 years ago. The roads were empty, reminiscent of the recent Californian Carmegeddon. Each day during the shut down restored an hour to my life in the form of less commuting.

These days, for the most part, my only commute is to the garage to retrieve rolls of toilet paper, so I don’t have quite the same incentive to see political stalemate continue. In fact, it seems as if there are lots of good reasons for all sides to come together and put an end to all of this talk about a credit downgrade for the United States.

Replace Clinton and Gingrich with Obama and Cantor, respectively, and not much has changed in the past 15 years except that Gingrich still appears to be the loser.

I know that Cantor isn’t really the Gingrich character this time around That falls to John Boehner, but it’s not really clear to me that Boehner is leading the Republican ship.

When I think of Eric Cantor I’m reminded of the Seinfeld episode when the convert to Judaism dentist insults Seinfeld as he tells jokes to him.

When asked if he was offended as a Jew, Seinfeld replied, “No, I’m offended as a comedian”.

I’m offended by Cantor because he doesn’t seem to have the semblance of thought processes.

As someone who is at least one blip away from cortical flat-lining, I’m offened that the lone Republican Jewish congressman could be so light between the ears, although he is far better groomed than I.

Debt ClockI don’t know about you, but among the things that I’m getting tired of is the everpresent appearance of the U.S. Debt Clock.

It’s not like it’s brand new. I’m not quite certain when it first made its appearance in Manhattan, but it was many years ago. Like most things that constantly seek to stimulate your senses, after a while the numbness sets in.

Perhaps the answer is to just not watch so much television or to simply change the channel.

The latter recommendation turned out to be ineffectual, as even Comedy Central’s presentation of “It’s Always Sunny in Phildadelphia” is now accompanied by the $58,000 per second movement of the clock’s digits.

Somehow, everything is funnier on Comedy Central. On C-SPAN it only seems like $40,000.

I’m also a little tired of the constant appearance of political figures as “Breaking News”. It makes me long for the days when regular programming was pre-empted by Parliament hearings into Murdoch shennanigans. At the very least they should be in fleeing cars on the Freeway” and doing their press conferences on the road. That’s where Fox News got it right.

At least we can credit the Murdochs for that innovation, and perhaps O.J., as well.

All talk on Sunday was how important it was to come to a debt crisis solution prior to the Asian markets opening.

Sure enough, no agreement and the US markets opened up on the down side.

Hey, that’s exactly what I was hoping for. After all, I needed to replace about 15% of my portfolio following assignment of JP Morgan, British Petroleum, QQQ and SPY.

Initially, as I mentioned on Friday, I was hoping to pick up shares of Caterpillar, Freeport McMoran and Praxair.

As it turned out I didn’t add Praxair, as it opened up, but I got the others, as well as repurchasing QQQ and JP Morgan.

And wouldn’t you know it, being a good boy, I got my second wish and the market turned up by 100 points from its opening low and I got the opportunity to sell call options on everything other than the Freeport shares. I just didn’t act quickly enough before it reversed its reversal.

And then late in the afternoon came the “Breaking News” again.

This time it was Majority Leader Reid giving us the bad news. There was no progress. In fact, he said the was backsliding and so the market took its cue and did the same.

Reid, at least in his public pronouncements has never learned to make his case on any subject.Droopy Dog

Today was no different.

He passingly referred to ex-Secretary of Defense Gates’ opinion that the Department of Defense budget could be pared. That would have stood in sharp contrast to what was reported as a last minute Pentagon budget increase presented by house Republicans.

We’ve heard stories before how various armed services did not want certain weapon systems or technologies, but through the wonderful system of pork, those projects and contracts were pushed through by elected officials who only cared about being elected officials.

Reid should have hammered home the point.

For a guy puported to be an ex-boxer, he can’t put the opponent away.

It was hard to tell whether Reid was sleepy or severely depressed at the podium, but he only inspired pity. Perhaps it was my imagination, but he really looked like Droopy Dog moreso than ever.

Not a winning emotion, nor look. Also, a second rate cartoon character.

I suppose that we’ll have to keep looking at the Debt Clock a while longer. In the meantime I’m beginning to think that totaliarianism is the answer.

Those kind of governments always seem to work. No one is faulting Idi Amin for the Ugandan economy.

Maybe all it takes is a Treasury Secretary and Chairman of the Federal Reserve armed with rifles and passing out blindfolds.

I’m sure my son can teach them how to take aim.