Saturday, May 31, 2008

OMG is Sara Jessica Parker Skinny!!!!!

I know this is not within my normal purview, but it is one of life's (my own maybe) little mysteries. Who in the world gets turned on by thin, emaciated, tooth-pick sized women?

Even in my young, hormone raging days the thought of holding someone like that (Twiggy in those days) would generate immediate bouts of nausea. I'm sure they would say the same about the thought of being with me, but, hey, get real.

I love movies and television, and I don't mean documentaries (though I will occasionally watch them). I want to be entertained and escape the stuff of life that irritates me. The type of material that I write about on here.

Revulsion from seeing the likes of Parker, Laura Flynn Boyle and the multitude of other anorexics spoils that profoundly. I like my women with some substance to them, some definition, something for crying out loud.

I saw a picture in the newspaper yesterday from her new movie where she was with Chris Noth and in a wedding dress. Unbelievably, I don't know how the dress stayed in place. Maybe they glued it to her. Her scrawny skeleton was clearly visible.

Please, someone tell me who in the world likes to see this type of deprivation and is attracted to it. Maybe other women, anorexics? It certainly can't be red-blooded American men.

In wonder,

The Hammer

Copyright Crickard Publishing 2008. All rights Reserved

Friday, May 30, 2008

Three Big Bubbles Will Burst: Part V, Addendum 5/29

Although I feel that I am usually right about my opinions, I am always open to corrections or suggestions. Having said that, heed the following.

The cauldron is bubbling nicely now, and I believe this update confirms much of what I said about the oil/gas bubble.

Yesterday a $4 drop in oil was accompanied by a rise in the USD ( $1). It was questioned as to the chicken or egg of the situation. My personal view is the rise in the $1 prompted the fall in oil, demonstrating that at least part of the price of oil is the reduced value of the dollar.

Also the government is looking into the speculation of the market to see if there is any manipulation in the futures. I doubt it because it is so huge, but the fact that the multi-trillion dollar pension funds have been buying commodities has definitely been a factor.

These fund involvements in futures is not good, especially for the pension funds. As a former dabbler in the futures, I certainly wouldn't want any of my money in there. Their involvement is in the billions, so when they pull out (when the last fool has bought the highest priced barrel of oil, or other commodity), there will be gigantic losses.

And thirdly, if you think this only affects the non-Mideast world, think again. The oversupply of money in that area (Mideast) is causing an enormous amount of inflation and is beginning to disrupt lives there. This is especially true of the hired help.

Keep an eye on all of this. We are not far from the end of this one.

As always, be informed and be prepared,

the Hammer

Copyright Crickard Publishing 2008. All rights Reserved

I Want My Vioxx Back, D--- It !!!!

I have arthritis, and I want my Vioxx back. I used it on an occasional basis and suffered no harm, just relief.

Lawsuit-happy lawyers, you know who you are, and patients out for a buck took it away.

One suit was thrown out yesterday and another award greatly reduced, since there was no direct relationship shown with constant use and the heart attacks involved, at least in the Texas case.

What about those of us that used it once in a while? Don't we get a say in our own lives?

Here is another example of "big brother" watching out for our "benefit". Why not give us the information and let us decide for ourselves whether we want to take the chance of using something?

Life gives us no guarantees. Why do politicians and bureaucrats think they can?

Damn it!

The Hammer

Copyright Crickard Publishing 2008. All rights Reserved

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Neo-Cons VS Neo-Libs: A Few Definitions

(This is a reprint of an article I wrote from Nov., 2006 with a couple updates:)

I try very hard to have all of my opinions based on the ideas that we must have as small as possible government at all levels, that every person (or company) is responsible and accountable for their actions, and a true conservative would never utter the words "there ought to be a law", unless it was absolutely proven to be necessary.

Keeping this is mind, I set forth a few working definitions for terms I'll be using in future writings.

Conservative (classic definition): One who believes in small fiscally responsible government, especially limited at the Federal level to defense and necessary infrastructure, and is socially concerned, with answers for those concerns coming from the private sector. Examples are: Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley, Ronald Reagan, & JFK (surprised).

Liberal (classic definition): One who believes that government has all of the answers both politically and socially. One who wants to expand government at all levels. Examples: FDR, LBJ, Hubert Humphrey, & RFK (though he had many instances of conservative thought).

Moderate (Middle of the Road): One who is afraid to take a stand on issues, and usually resides in the middle of the road with the carcasses of the dead animals. Examples: None Living.

Neo-Conservative (Neo-Con): One who believes that his/her "Conservative" ideas are correct for everyone and wants the government to exist to make the people conform to these ideas through legislation, and therefore insists on big government to insure this. Pretends to be socially concerned. Examples: George Bush I, George Bush II, Ashcroft, and the Extreme Right.

Neo-Liberal (Neo-Lib): One who believes that his/her "Liberal" ideas are correct for everyone and wants the government to exist to make the people conform to these ideas through legislation, and therefore insists on big government to insure this. Pretends to be socially concerned. Examples; Pelosi, Murtha, Clinton I, Clinton II, Obama, and the Extreme Left.

Neo-Moderate (Neo-Mod): Still dead in the middle of the road, and as yet does not realize it.

As you can see the difference between the Neo-Cons and the Neo-Libs is how they insist we should live our lives.

The Classic Liberals are now considered Conservatives by the Neo-Libs, and the Classic Conservatives are considered Liberals by the Neo-Cons.

What a screwy world we live in, and we had better start correcting things ASAP. Obviously being a classic conservative I believe in the right for people to chose their on lives, spend their own money, and make their own decisions.

Speaking of politics and life, keep the facts, not the faith.

The Hammer

Copyright Crickard Publishing 2008. All rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Liberals Want to Nationalize Oil!

I've spoken lately about the free market and how much liberals hate and despise it. You could have very easily ignored that and called me a kook.

Now it is in the open. At the recent (May 23rd) congressional committee meeting with the oil executives, Congresswoman Maxine Waters bluntly, though falteringly, and maybe accidentally, told them that they had to do something or they (the liberals) would nationalize the oil companies.

Here are a couple points of interest:

1. The liberals are precisely why we are in trouble. They have not allowed exploration, building of new refineries (though part of the blame for this lies with the oil companies, to be honest), and have continuously screwed around with the free market.

2. When was the last time the government did anything efficiently, correctly, and properly, other than defend us? All non-military jobs are by definition, non- productive and add nothing to the GNP.

Now that it is in the open, I hope that each and every one of you will wake up and see your enemies for who they are. I don't care if they are Democrats or Republicans, these liberal, socialistic, anti-free market, anti-capitalism, anti-people radicals are not our friends.

Wake, up. Be Prepared.

The Hammer

Copyright Crickard Publishing 2008. All rights Reserved

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Two Giant Steps to Energy Independence

Oil is in abundance and readily available, if the politicians and eco-terrorists would get out of the way. I have been a conservationist for over 50 years, but this reluctance to drill for oil in our own back yard is absurd. Those trying to stop it basically hate capitalism, the free market, and freedom in general. If we sat down and organized ourselves we could easily accomplish both a sound environmental, and less foreign oil dependence.

Not having much hope in this area, I suggest the two following steps to take.

First we must construct micro-nuclear reactors everywhere. Forget about whose backyard it is. It is a proven, safe, and efficient technology. It is so safe that they are all over Japan which is a giant rock sitting on top of a major earthquake fault line and volcano region. The people of France aren't exactly the bravest people in the world and they get 90% of their power from micro-reactors.

Less waste is generated, and with increasingly better technology that problem will be solved in the very near future. Regardless, the environmental impact is a whole lot less than with coal or other fossil fuels.

Second, we have to reconstruct our railroad systems.

Back in the 1950's the U.S. and most of the cities were sold a bill of goods by the tire manufacturers and oil companies that promoted buses, trailers, and interstate highway systems. We tore up our streetcar and railroad lines and put into service those fume belching, inefficient vehicles. We have tried to keep up with the ever demanding growth of highways, but it is virtually impossible and could bankrupt us in the process.

For years, the unions have fought against this idea; however, since we have had to search all over the world for long haul drivers for the past 15 years, that probably won't be a problem. We would not be getting rid of trucks, just the long hauls.

We could build 25,000 to 50,000 miles of train track in a very short period of time. What took 300 men a week to do in 1900, takes 5 men a day to accomplish now. The biggest problem would be reacquiring the right of ways, but that is very solvable. Also, a rail has a fraction of the environmental impact that a 6 lane highway has, so the tree kooks should be satisfied.

These two steps would change our country overnight. It would be expensive in the short run, but very cheap in the long run. I saw a cost for building a large (not-micro) nuclear reactor the other day at $30 billion dollars, and an analysis of how much more that was than 25 years ago. Yes, and the dollar has gotten a lot cheaper with that inflation. Regardless, it isn't going to get any cheaper waiting for a miracle.

As always, be prepared,

The Hammer

Copyright Crickard Publishing 2008. All rights Reserved

Friday, May 23, 2008

Three Big Bubbles Will Burst: Part V, Addendum

If any of you doubted what I said in the previous articles on this subject. Take a look at the massive farm bill that President Bush vetoed on a technicality and the Senate overrode.

This is an example of your brilliant politicians at work. It will cost billions of dollars, out of your pockets, to subsidize farmers, mostly corporate, for crops that are either not needed , too cheap (how's that possible), or just outright gifts.

There are enough earmarks, additional non-related items, to buy as many votes as they can.

Bottom line: more taxes for you and higher food prices.

This is why the free market doesn't work correctly. It is NOT free of politicians.

Wake up people, get rid of these guys!

The Hammer

Copyright Crickard Publishing 2008. All rights Reserved

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Three Big Bubbles Will Burst: Part V, The End

In the final part of this series, I want to reflect on price (cost). Sounds simply, but it isn’t really.

You hear the comment, “Wow, things are really going up. It costs so much more to live now.” This is the illusion that is being cast upon everyone. It mainly comes from politicians, and mostly from liberals (currently most Democratic candidates and a lot of Republicans).

They run on fear because they usually have no ideology their own, and figure they can scare the votes out of enough people to win.

Here are the cold hard facts. Almost all things we spend money on today are cheaper than they ever have been, with one exception.

People live in fear of gasoline prices going up. It cost about .32 a gallon in 1964 which in today’s dollar is about $3.84 which we have just currently exceeded. Stop and think about that. Until recently it was dirt cheap.

How about cars? A fully loaded 1967 Chevrolet Impala at the end of the season (I know this first hand) was sold for $4441. Now that would be a little less than $50,000. There is no equivalent car because they have improved so much and added so many features, especially safety ones. The MPG back then was 12 – 15. The same car today would probably be about $16,000 and wouldn’t be allowed on the road.

Everything considered, it costs a whole lot less to drive a mile today than ever.

Food is dirt cheap, really, even with the recent rises. Here are some examples. In the 1950’s, milk was .50 per gallon, that’s almost $8.00 today. Do you pay that much? Eggs were .35 per dozen, $4.00 today, again not.

On top of that, try and remember the grocery stores back, how much were mangos, ugly fruit, soy milk, tofu, 18 kinds of apples, Asian pears? What’s that, you don‘t remember? They weren’t even offered until 1970’s, or later: we had no real selection back then.

How about television? In 1957 we (my family) bought our first one, an RCA 21” black and white model for $225.00, in today’s money, that would be $3,150, more than the cost of a 65”, HD, 1080p, LCD, flat screen.

Don’t ever talk to me about the “good old days” and make me sit through a movie from back then. You just can’t compare Forbidden Planet with Iron Man.

What makes all the difference: technology, that’s it? From electronics, to food, to the clothing on our backs everything is so much cheaper even with the recent price increases. Don't blame business, price gouging, or anything like that. Put the blame where it belongs.

What hasn’t decreased? TAXES!!!!!! No matter what they do with the “progressive” federal income tax, they get you good. Each and every one of us, whether we pay federal or state income taxes or not, pays 60% to 90% of what we earn in taxes. Every loaf of bread, car, tomato, sponge, and on, has compound taxes built into it at every level. Most of what you pay for anything is comprised of taxes. This is why two people in the family has to work to make a go of it.

Our governments have gotten so used to feeding at the public’s teat, they don’t know any other way of existence. As long as we keep reelecting these people to run our lives, it will continue. Every one of them (liberals all), President Bush, Senators Obama, Clinton, & McCain has no interest in you or your lives, no matter what they say.

When Benjamin Franklin was asked what type of government we had gotten, he answered, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” We didn’t. The republic has been replaced with a mutant form of autocracy.

Why do I stay so upbeat? I’ve lived through some of the worst of them, and I will continue to survive with whoever or whatever is thrown at us. But… there will come a day, in the not too distant future, when this pimple will come to a head, and you had better be ready to pop it. I know that is a nasty analogy, but it will be that awful when it comes.

Be happy, survive, and be prepared. Live life to the fullest as if each day were your last.

The Hammer

Copyright Crickard Publishing 2008. All rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Three Big Bubbles Will Burst: Part IV

Speculators and Politicians, a Tutorial: Who are the bad guys?

Many of you might guess the speculators. They are just working people like you, really. Ok, they’re gamblers, but instead of going to Atlantic City or Vegas, they trade stocks, commodities, and other things.

They serve a very useful purpose. Here I will just refer to commodities traders because they work with the bubbles I’ve been talking about. Whether they are on the trading floor, working for a bank or other company, or in a home office, they supply liquidity to the markets.

If only the producers and processing companies were the market there would not always be someone there to buy or sell, and someone would get hosed, usually the producer, farmer, etc.

Commodities’ trading unlike the stock market is a zero sum game. That means that for every buyer there has to be a seller. The combined contract is part of open interest. If open interest is high, there are a lot of buyers and sellers. If you want to buy a contract, say 5000 bushels of oats, someone has to think that the price is right to sell. Of course, you think it is too low. Someone’s going to win: someone is going to lose. If enough traders are in the show gambling, when any time a producer needs to sell, or a processor needs to buy, there is a liquid market to do so. This keeps prices from fluctuating wildly.

Contracts can be traded far into the future, hence the name, “Futures Market”. Southwest Airlines has remained profitable because they bought fuel far into the future and is just now hitting the high priced spot market.

Traders have been known to reap vast fortunes if their timing was right, and many have lost everything. The suicide rate is a little above average is this wild arena. It is not for the faint of heart.

You have heard me refer to the “Last fool Theory”. When the Last fool has purchased the highest priced item, the market will collapse. This happens, especially in manipulated markets. However, it usually happens when the general public or trading funds, such as retirement plans, are sold a bill of goods, or just get the “bug” and go nuts. Classically the Pork Belly Market is so thin it is manipulated all of the time. In 1981 the silver market had its turn. Sometime I’ll talk about that because even if you think you know what happened, you are probably wrong.

Right now, there is Euro, oil and gas “fever”. The fundamentals just do not justify the prices for these commodities. A day of reckoning will arrive, probably sooner than later. The last fools in will get killed.

Politicians: they are the ones to watch. Their only interest is getting elected, staying in power, and controlling our lives. If they can sell you a plan of “controlling” the markets to do that, they will. Any attempt to do it, will end in disaster, guaranteed, or… worse, an end to freedom.

The best example is communism, sounds good, and doesn’t work. It’s that simple. Yet, liberals, be they Democrats or Republicans, are the culprits in this activity. Richard Nixon was a liberal economically, putting price controls on that ended in total failure and market dislocation was the prime example. Every Democrat running for and getting elected to national office in the past 30 years did their share or at least attempted it.

I live in the Socialist State of Maryland, where they never cease to try to regulate business and our lives in general. They have driven major corporations out of the state regularly for the past 30 years.

Free markets work. It isn’t always nice, and it isn’t always pain free, but that is life. In the end, we survive and we keep our freedom. What more can you ask? Hundreds of thousands of our people have died preserving that and I hope we don’t piss it away.

Who are the bad guys? You tell me. My money is always on the politicians. The general public usually votes their wallets and perceptions, not their brains. As I have always said, the general public is almost always wrong. If you doubt that, look at our choices for president this year.

Be prepared,

The Hammer

Copyright Crickard Publishing 2008. All rights Reserved

Monday, May 19, 2008

Three Big Bubbles Will Burst: Part III

Food prices are not truly a bubble, but more like a balloon. They expand and contract constantly. Occasionally, they will exaggerate their movements in either direction. Right now, for the most part, the price balloon is getting quite large, and is probably not finished growing.

Prices have gone up 30%-50% over the past 1 to 2 years and will most likely continue for at least another 30%-40%.

Here are the important factors:

  1. Weather.
  2. Supply
  3. Demand
  4. Stupidity.
  5. Speculation.

Unlike other commodities such as the dollar, oil, & gasoline, food is immensely influenced by weather. It has to grow, whether it is a plant or an animal that feeds on the plant!

Food prices world-wide have been pushed by the 6 year drought in Australia. Sixty percent (60%) of the rice crops in Burma were destroyed by the cyclone and storm. On the other side, the cool spring and mild winter has given us a bumper crop of wheat (causing the price to drop 25-30% from its high).

As you can see nothing is static in this arena. Weather obviously influences the supply in the short run, but there are other things that do in the long run. Arable land that is set aside unfarmed as was in the U.S. from the 1950’s until recently is one. Land not used because of political changes and logistics, such as in the Ukraine, classically known as Europe’s Bread Basket, is another. When prices go up, the obvious response is to grow more crops. Both the U.S. and the Ukraine are coming back into the business in a big way. Barring any major weather problems, they will affect the world price of food soon. These are only 2 examples from a huge gallery of areas.

Demand has been increasing and will continue to do so, as more people world-wide become more affluent. Hundreds of millions are working their way from poverty and near-poverty to something near a middle class. With that progress, there develops an appetite for something other than the basics, such as rice & beans. Unless there is a major calamity or war, this will definitely go on.

As the demand increases and supply decreases, the result can be conflict, anger, and in many cases war. This is already occurring in some of the poorest countries. Many of them have leaders that don’t give a damn or have a vested interest in part of their population dying (genocide). I have written about this before and will again.

Stupidity is my favorite. It has no geophysical, political, or educational limits. Some of the smartest people in the world can be so damn ignorant and naive. Take ethanol for instance. Whoever the wunderkinds were that figured you could convert a huge part of the world supply of corn into fuel without upsetting the balance of supply and demand should be institutionalized. Dante has a prime place in hell for them. My god: use sugar if you have to do something this dumb. No one needs it anyway, and it is dirt cheap.

Anti-hording laws and price controls (a political favorite when backed into a corner) are not only self-defeating, but in the long run completely distort the market. Let the market be, it will take care of itself.

Even though grains, coffee (yes it is a basic necessity), cocoa, sugar and more are traded in the commodities markets, speculation is fairly short and is mostly self-correcting when the traders lose their asses and become the last fools.

Speculation in other markets that are indirectly and directly involved is another story. The current push on oil, cash, and currencies are greatly influencing food prices. The costs of these materials for growing, processing and distributing food are responsible for at least 20% to 50% of the current rises.

Food is a renewable resource and supply can change very quickly. It is an industry that can involve everyone from a background gardener, small farmer to mammoth corporations. If prices go up, more is raised, and prices go down.

When the oil & gas, and US dollar big bubbles burst you will see prices retreat, maybe not to the original cheap levels, but a lot lower than today. Even if they don’t, more people will raise more food and there will be some relief.

There are a myriad of other factors and related subjects in this area, too numerous to expand on here. Believe me I will be back to it. If there is one thing in life I like to do, it is eat, not quantity, but quality.

As always, be aware, be prepared, don’t panic, and if possible don’t vote for liberals, they are the biggest market offenders, and they really don’t care about you or anyone else in the world.

Next time: Speculators & Politicians: which do you think are the bad guys?

The Hammer

Copyright Crickard Publishing 2008. All rights Reserved

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Three Big Bubbles Will Burst: Part II

Now we deal with the energy bubble(s). There are really two of them working congruently but not identically. That is the price per barrel of oil and the price per gallon of gasoline.

Here are the basic factors:

  1. Supply of each.
  2. Demand for each.
  3. The value of the dollar (since I am referring to prices in USD).
  4. Speculation.

Many of the factors from the discussion of the value of the dollar apply here, but usually in the context of the dollar; therefore, I will not repeat those.

First the supply of oil: there’s a lot of it. The result of estimates of the known readily available fields is: there is enough to meet demand of 100-150 years. Common sense would indicate that we obviously don’t know all of the areas, especially under the oceans. The amounts that are known to be trapped in shale and micro-fissures raise those estimates 5 to 8 times. Either way, there is more than enough to use until we can find efficient and workable alternative sources.

The supply of gasoline is another matter. In the U.S we have not allowed additional refineries to be built for over 30 years, mostly because of misguided environmental concerns. I say this because using the old refineries is not only costly, but inefficient and not at all environmentally sound. This is irony of the first order. We actually import gasoline already refined because we can’t do it all ourselves. Combined, these are the most fragile elements of this puzzle. If any of our major refineries go off line, there will be hell to pay at the pumps.

Demand for the past year in the U.S. has leveled and is now decreasing. People are driving less, keeping their houses warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter, and airlines have cut routes, just to name a few areas.

Worldwide demand will stay at the present levels and increase as economies in countries such as China and India flourish. There will always be fluctuations.

The price of oil is directly influenced by the value of the U.S. dollar. World-wide pricing was switched to the euro a while back and as goes the euro so goes the price of oil.

The big biting bugs in bed with us are again the speculators. Normally they keep the markets alive and serve a vital purpose in the world of finance. Occasionally, they get a little crazy: reference again the and housing bubbles. This is especially true when they draw in the general public.

They are directly influencing the oil and gasoline futures market just as they are the dollar and compounding the net results, increasing the sizes of the bubbles.

The price of oil started recently at the $60 level and was pushed by demand to the $80. The speculators (in oil, gasoline and the euro) took over and have driven it to the $125-$130 level. It will probably continue to $150 +/-; again, until the last fool is sold the highest priced barrel as possible. A pull back to $80-85 would be predictable, but again, the panic that would bring that price would probably overshoot that mark to $60 +/-.

If you add in the probable drop in the price of the euro, even to $1.10, it would decrease the price of oil in USD to $110. Believe me if the speculators run from the dollar, they will run from oil too, and gasoline. Get out of the way of that stampeding herd.

I don’t know what would be the cause of the panic. We seldom know until after it is over and we sit back and study it, but it will happen. Speculators do just that, speculate. It is how they make a living, on both sides of a price. Ask George Soros. He made his considerable future betting against the old line currencies.

Again, the best advice is: never buy or sell on panic. If everyone wants something, sell it to them: if they don’t, buy it from them. The general public is almost always wrong; hence the reason for my article on SUV’s.

Notice I did not mention politics or political correctness. They have little to do with an open market. Trying to control the market is the politicians’ personal area of self-destruction.

For those of you who want to blame Presidents Clinton or Bush (or Dick Cheney), don’t bother. The president has very little say in all of this, except for the occasional exceptional bully-pulpit speech. Their only real power is appointing judges and issuing executive orders: a topic for another time.

Don’t worry about the 3 Liberals running currently. The same will apply to them. We’ve survived some real losers: ahem… Jimmy Carter, and we will survive anything they try to throw at us, as they try to empty our wallets.

Be prepared,

The Hammer

Copyright Crickard Publishing 2008. All rights Reserved

Friday, May 16, 2008

Three Big Bubbles Will Burst: Part I

The first is The U.S. dollar. This could be called an inverted bubble. The actual bubble is all of the non-U.S. currencies. Here is a brief overview

The dollar is weak for a lot of reasons:

1. Low interest rates in the U.S.

2. Increased development and investment in Europe and China.

3. Desirability of the euro, lack of demand for the dollar.

4. The dollar is a commodity and as with all things the price goes up and down.

5. There are cycles and the pendulum swings, usually too far each way.

6. Supply, there are a lot of dollars around the world that have been dispersed for over 30 years.

7. Speculation.

At one point, not too long ago, the yen was one of the strongest currencies in the world. Because of that, the Japanese bought everything in sight, major art work, businesses, and the Pebble Beach Golf Club. Within a few years it died. They were forced to sell most of their purchases at significant loses, cascading it into the toilet. It is now coming back and is even gaining on the euro.

When the euro was introduced it was pegged at a $1.15, steadily fell until 2002 (when I was in Europe for the first time) to .83. At that time we were coming out of the bubble which hit world-wide, toppling the euro as well as our economy for a while. Germany, for example, was in the tank because they took over East Germany and basically became a welfare state. It still is.

As Europe became more organized, the euro became more attractive. Interest rates were higher there, so dollars became converted to euros to deposit in European banks causing a demand on them.

From 1995 (with the Soviet Union breakup) to about 2003, Europe was just getting its act together. People who lived there, as well as the newly liberated East Bloc countries wanted to convert their money into dollars because it was classically a safe, sound currency. When it started slipping, they started buying Euros (running with the herd), putting a demand on them raising the price in U.S. dollars. When you have millions of people doing this at one time it has a powerful effect.

We began lowering interest rates to spur growth and in the process creating the new Finance and Housing bubble. Dollars went to euros for higher interest rates and safety.

Now for the biggy, speculators started working the euro pushing it to the sky, topping recently at $1.60 +/-.

If you think this is permanent, think again. As the old song says, “What goes up… must come down, spinning wheel… spinning round”.

A strong currency is not a desired commodity for any length of time. It makes your products and labor unaffordable, and upsets your balance of trade. The dollar was too strong for too long.

Japan had to outsource work to Southeast Asia. We outsourced work to India and Mexico, etc.

Europe is in the beginning of a major crisis. Unemployment is climbing and will do so steadily. Tourism is collapsing. The speculators are still there, but their house of paper will tumble down. Something, I have no idea what, will spook them and they will be gone.

Europe is outsourcing labor because theirs is too expensive. A Russian steel manufacturer, the second largest in the world, just bought Bethlehem steel in Baltimore because it is cheaper to do it here.

Just as with the housing market, 25% to 30% of all purchasers of the dollar (and of new homes) are from speculators. That is basically the rise from a $1.15 to a $1.60. When they leave (for profit taking or most likely a panic), the euro will go back to $1.15 and then overshoot that point as others run for cover. You can easily see for a short time the euro at .75 - .85 cents and then a recovery to $1.00 - $1.15 where it was set originally. Last week’s drop from $1.60 to $1.50 and slight recovery was simply profit taking. The big drop will be a panic. After it is over we can try to figure, how, what, and why? You can make guesses now, but something will cause it.

Best advice: don’t buy euros. Remember the “Last Fool Theory”, when they have sold the last fool, the most expensive euro, it will all be over.

Be Prepared,

The Hammer

Copyright Crickard Publishing 2008. All rights Reserved

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Let's Kick Some Burmese Butt!

This may not be a coherent essay. I’m so angry I could spit fire.

As I said the other day in my comments about Africa, where is our humanity? Now I ask, when are we going to kick some Burmese butt?

Those self-righteous, arrogant, and corrupt “delegates” to the United Nations are sitting in their plush East River offices playing with something and surely is not their hearts or brains.

They let us know this morning that aid was sent to Myanmar but it was taken by the ruling junta. Excuse me! Who gives a crap about those thugs? They are not the representative or sovereign government of the Burmese people. They are simply the military mafia (giving the mafia a bad name, sorry) that took control, killing off all opposition. A price should have been put on their heads weeks ago. Their neglect is not indifference, but a new form of genocide.

If the UN wasn’t founded for interfering in cases such as this, what good are they? We should get out now. Run don’t walk to the nearest exit.

Where are the Europeans who are so quick to berate our efforts in the world, who spout orations of civil liberties and humanitarianisms, or generally be a nuisance? Hiding in the EEC as usual?

Where is the anger? Is there anyone out there that gives a rat’s behind about any of this?

Be careful, you may be next,

The Hammer

Copyright Crickard Publishing 2008. All rights Reserved

Now is the Time to Buy an SUV!!

Now is the time to buy an SUV. It costs a lot of money to run with the herd. Since everyone seems to want to get rid of their SUV and buy a small car or a hybrid, then maybe you do too. Remember: the general public is almost always wrong. Be a contrarian! Bernard Baruch said it best: “Buy Panama hats in the wintertime.” Or, paraphrased: When everyone wants something, sell it to them. When they don’t, buy it!” You almost never lose, ask George Soros.

It just makes economical sense. Here’s why.

  1. If you sell your current SUV you’ll probably take a $4000 to $5000 hit.
  2. If you buy a new one, you can probably get $4000 to $10,000 off.
  3. Used smaller cars are up 20% or about $1,500 to $4000.
  4. Even a few newer ones are selling above list.
  5. Hybrids cost an extra $3,000 and more for a comparable car

Now, take these figures and look at the gas MPG’s.

  1. Larger SUV’s get 16–20 MPG. We have a Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT 6 passenger. We got it in 2005 when this fever hit the last time. It listed for $36K and we got $12k off.
  2. Your smaller cars and hybrids get 22-32 MPG.
  3. The average car is driven 12,000 to 14,000 miles per year.
  4. Using 16 MPG (low end) for an SUV, and 26 MPG for the others (mid range), you get about 875 gallons vs. 540 gallons of gas per year usage.
  5. At $4.00 per gallon (unleaded), driving 14,000 miles, the cost of 335 gallons (the difference) is $1,340 per year. That is what you would save getting a smaller vehicle.
  6. Your loss (or savings if you were buying) on selling your SUV or not buying one at a drastically reduced price and opting for a smaller version is at least $6,500.
  7. For this, we won't consider that many SUV’s are cheaper for insurance coverage

Obviously, it would take you almost 5 years to just break even, and in the process you sacrifice safety, comfort, and utility.

If you are single and do little driving or just use a car for commuting, you probably already own a smaller car: no need to change.

I am not actually promoting SUV’s or trucks. We have a small S-10 pick-up which we use more and the SUV less since gas increased so much and really wouldn’t want to give up the things we can do (hauling, etc) that we would have to pay extra for otherwise. Our monthly gas outlay has dropped about 25% because we eliminated unnecessary driving and plan our trips more.

The bottom line: there is a great buying opportunity right now. If you can use it or need it, take it. Don’t let mass hysteria, runaway emotions, or political correctness scare you.

Enjoy life as best you can,

The Hammer

Copyright 2008 Crickard Publishing. All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 09, 2008

Mother Russia, Why Do You Cry?

Today, May 9th, is Military Day in Russia. Every Russian, no matter where he/she lives, today will stop and remember the end of World War II. It has been and will always be a day of memories, of happiness mixed with extreme sadness.

I am married to a beautiful Russian woman, who is now a proud American citizen. When I went to Riga, Latvia to bring her children home I was a guest at her former in-laws, on May 9th, 2002. Her children’s grandfather sat at the dinner table in his old uniform and cried in his vodka for hours.

Millions of men, women, and children died of starvation and directly at the hands of the Nazis. All of his brothers died in the war. The families were so depleted afterwards, that many names simply ceased to exist. My wife has only one living relative, an aunt in Moscow.

Between the Nazis and a Georgian by the name of Stalin, between 50 & 60 million Russians, Belarusians, & Ukrainians died last century.

In 2000 when I met my wife, we both were hopeful for the future of Russia. Many reforms of the 90’s were taking affect and changing lives all over the country.

Yes, a few bureaucrats became wealthy as always (several were in the top 100 billionaires), but even that didn’t last.

Hundred of thousands of Russians have left the Motherland for parts known and unknown around the globe, probably never to return. Even the Russian Mafia left in droves. Why? The reason is simple: because the real gangsters have taken charge there again.

The Soviet hierarchy was nothing more than organized thugs with a theme. As much as Socialists and Liberals in this country over the years thought communism was a viable alternative to capitalism, it isn’t. They never had to stand in bread lines, not yet.

The former KGB leader, Tsar Putin, has just anointed his puppet President and has placed himself in the position of Prime Minister, with all of his former powers and more, such as the ability to disband the Duma at will.

Many of the rich men in that top 100 list are now either dead, exiled, or in prison, stripped of their new wealth, and the hopes for a better future. Was it given back to the people? No, Putin himself is now worth at least 10 billion dollars, and probably a multiple of that. His cohorts of course are sharing the wealth and supporting his power play.

What about the average Russian? Most have a difficult time getting enough to eat. Does that sound familiar? There are many meals in restaurants in Moscow that cost $200 to $3000 each, and the man and woman on the street can’t afford a pound of chicken parts.

Mark my words, there is trouble brewing here. Belarus is following apart quickly, with Russia hungrily waiting to scoop it up. The Ukraine is a little more stable, but living in fear and hatred of the Putin gang.

Not good, my friends. And, why should we care? An unstable Europe/Asia is a major problem, especially for oil that comes out of that area. Even though we get little from that region, if the flow stopped for the other countries that do, there will be hell to pay.

Just to piss us off, Putin is arming and making nice with Iran & Northern Korea, think about that for the future.

This is indeed a sad day for Mother Russia, in many, many ways.

God Bless them all and you my friends,

The Hammer

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Darfur! What Are We Good For? Absolutely Nothing!

Most of the time, we Americans are the most generous, kind, honorable nation of people that has ever lived on the earth. During natural catastrophes world-wide (except maybe our own), we are usually the first responders. Our allies need us we are there, but sometimes…

Six million Jews died in Germany, again six million Cambodians were exterminated in Pol Pot’s intellegencia holocaust, and country after country in Africa has practiced genocide on its own people.

Where were we and the rest of the world, while all of this took place: looking the other way of course. Why? There are many reasons, none of which bring honor home.

In World War II, the U.S. government and big business were populated by anti-Semites, both closeted and in the open, who refused to intervene. One of my unanswered questions in life is: for this and many other reasons, why would any Jewish person ever vote Democrat?

Maybe after the Vietnam War we were weary, but that is no excuse. Could it be that they were just Asians that looked a lot like the Vietnamese, after all they all look alike? An interesting side note: George McGovern (the penultimate peace dove) was the only senator to stand and ask why we were letting those people die.

Africa. They are poor, mostly black, and live in a very inhospitable landscape. Who knows? Is it because it is mostly black-on-black crime, perpetrated by some of the worst dictators and thugs in history, or is it because the culprits, especially in Darfur, are Moslems practicing extremism Islam? We don’t want to offend them; after all they only want to kill anyone who isn’t Moslem. Maybe if they kill these people, they’ll leave us be. Sure!

President Clinton went there to pose for pictures and nothing else and was lauded for his great work. President Bush has done more for Africa, especially Aids treatment and care than any other president, and has been totally ignored. Maybe the lack of media support for Black Africa is telling in the over all scheme of things.

Economically it makes no sense, because the continent is the main source for rare and semi-rare elements which are desperately needed in medical research and war materials. (That in itself is in itself a grand irony.)

Here are some major points to consider:

  1. We are the last of the old line superpowers. We have a moral imperative to help the victims, maybe even police the wrong doers of the world, i.e. do away with them.
  2. The United Nations is a weak, corrupted old group of Hate America and the West countries, and you can never count on them. We should bail out ASAP.
  3. Democrats are supposed to be the civil libertarians of the world, but their response is to talk to our enemies and find ways to capitulate to their every whim. This also appears to be Senator Obama’s main theory of handling world affairs.
  4. That publicity seeking, senile old fool, Jimmy Carter, would rather sleep with Hamas than get involved in Africa. Maybe he built a mud hut or something, somewhere; though, I’ve never heard that he did even that.
  5. China is investing a ton of money in Africa to build processing plants for copper and other metals. The Africans really don’t like them, so why aren’t we there instead?
  6. The bottom line is: For God’s Sake, these are human beings that are being slaughtered like cattle. The difference is that cows are not raped and tortured first.

I think it is about time we get out that big stick Teddy used to carry and start whooping some ass, or have we become a nation of whiny ostriches?

Something to think about, because my brothers and sisters, the future is right around the corner,

The Hammer

Copyright 2008, CRickard Publishing, All Rights Reserved

Protecting the Children? Part II: Education

You hear people say “let children be children”; however, we have carried that to a devastating extreme. Actually the whole arena of child rearing is in shambles.

Many of you are so damn concerned about your preschoolers getting as early a start as possible; you drive yourselves and your kids nuts. If there ever was a time to let a kid be a kid it is up to the age of 5. A few hours of kindergarten a day is ok for the year before age six, mainly for learning social skills.

Starting first grade at six is fine, but here is where the education system falls apart.

We live in Baltimore County, Maryland, historically one of the best school systems in the country. My son graduated in 1986 and my daughter in 1996. I thought things were bad then, but OMG now.

My wife’s son is eleven years old and would have been in sixth grade this year. He attended a federally designated Blue Ribbon School. We had to drive him to and from there every school day for two years. Little did we know it was such a waste of time.

He was having some problems in math so we hired a very strong tutor. Within a few months of two hours a week he progressed from a year behind to a year ahead of his class.

Knowing what school he would have attended this year, we decided to home-school him. It was a very difficult decision.

He attends a special math class with nine other students. There he also works on critical thinking and how to take tests. In less than one school year, he is now beginning Algebra II which is usually taught in ninth or tenth grade. Tonight was his last class of this school year. He was tested on work from Algebra II which they had not studied and got 3 out of 10 right: not bad.

He has a teacher for writing and reading comprehension and is functioning at a ninth grade level and is acing sample SAT tests. He will be taking the SATs this fall for a special program at Johns Hopkins University.

His mother and I work with him on the remaining subjects. By teaching him prefixes, suffixes and root words, he makes perfect or near perfect scores on sixth grade spelling pretests (plus meanings), that is testing before he actually studies the words.

He IS NOT a genius by any stretch of the imagination, and does not kill himself working. He spends about five hours a day six days a week studying.

Now here is the kicker. He and his mother were Russians living in Latvia until 2000. He came here in July of 2002 knowing two words of English, “Yep” and “No”. We believed everything the schools told us including retaining him for a second time in second grade.

I now know that what is taught in Grades 1 to 5 could easily be done in two years, but so much time is wasted in schools for one thing or another. Grades 6-8 are so repetitive one year would suffice. Grade 9–12 could be taught in no more than two to three years.

You may question this if you like, but the bottom line is that even with twelve years of our present eduction, the two largest classes in any college the freshman year are remedial math and English, middle school level.

Everyone said to us, what about his social life? It has never been better. He was and still is a competing ballroom dancer. He plays organized sporting activities three to six hours a week and is with a friend every weekend. He has more time for these things, since he doesn’t have to waste so much time at school.

On top of all that, he has one to two hours a day of chores and other duties. This was the most difficult part to get going, but now he is working well in that area also. It is all tied together.

Let me reiterate: he is not a Genius and probably wouldn’t have qualified last year for a GT program. He is now light years ahead of all that. Almost any child out there could accomplish comparable work, if allowed.

Even though the public schools are such a disaster, most private schools are not any better.

Depriving our children of a good education, making their road in life even more difficult, is criminal. This is another example of the weakness of government involvement, and of the influence of teacher unions and lawyers. But that is a topic for further discussion later.

We have to protect the children from a myriad of things in life, but how can you guard them from incompetence and neglect.

Next time, why don’t we allow our kids to grow up?

The future is today,

The Hammer

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Obama is Absolutely Right... About One Thing.

Senator Obama is shallow, arrogant, an elitist, uninformed, and worst of all an extreme liberal; however, he is intelligent, handsome, and a great speaker, and may very well be our next president. God help us.

Having held back in my description of him…, I must state he is positively correct about the so-called “gas-tax holiday”. Here’s why.

  1. It only amounts to $30 which is not going to make or break anyone.
  2. It will do nothing to decrease demand for gas over the summer months.
  3. It will delay much needed infrastructure repairs and construction.
  4. It is one of the few fair taxes we have. Those who use the roads should pay for them.

Even though at present the price of gas has little to do with supply, demand, or the price of oil, reduced demand will be beneficial in the long run. It is also not directly the fault of big oil companies. I say this even though I have little time for them: more later.

The federal government has no business in highway taxes or infrastructure development, but that is the way it is currently, so we have to live with it until we change it. This “holiday” is thoroughly self-destructive.

Be prepared for the future,

The Hammer

Monday, May 05, 2008

Protecting the Children? Part I

How do we protect our children? The larger question is: from whom must we protect them?

With all the ruckus, concern (both artificial and sincere) and sensationalism stirred up in San Angelo, Texas by a corrupt and immoral throw-off of the Mormon Church, the question of when a child becomes an adult has been thrust into the headlines.

This is a question and a perplexing conundrum which haunted me for years: not when, but why? Let me explain.

Obviously this sect believes that a young girl of thirteen is a woman and can be married and have children. In the past this was an accepted concept, because life expectancy was so brief that it was necessary for the survival of our species. Biologically this is ever the case, especially in these times of overloaded environmental hormones; some girls are ovulating as young as ten (this is a topic for another time).

Is this lunatic sect the only place in all of the country that thirteen to seventeen year old girls are having babies? I don’t think so. Then the question is: why the selected enforcement? Is it because they are white, dress in funny clothes, and are an easy target?

Literally hundreds of thousands of early teens have become mothers over the past forty years. It is nothing new. They are from all walks of life, but mostly lower income. We have expressed concern for all that time, but have done very little.

In those cases, I know of very few children that were forcibly taken from their mothers or extended families (grandma), even though many became grandmothers themselves at twenty-five to thirty years of age. The few (in relationship to the whole) that were taken, was because of abuse or drugs, not a general hostile programmed systematic removal. If that would have occurred all hell would have erupted.

Speaking of abuse, much has been made of fractured and broken bones in the cult kids. If you take a look closely, it was less than 10%, which unless I am mistaken is far below the norm for the country at large. It would appear to be a much safer environment than the “outside” world. As far as I know there is no direct evidence of physical abuse. This is simply another example of headline grabbing, self-fulfilling and self-justifying bureaucratic aggrandizement, and will remain so until proof is presented.

The bottom line is, there was simply no justification for tearing those families apart, and worse: who will they go after next in the quest for fame and power, your family?

In part II, Why do we want to keep our kids from becoming adults?

Be Informed,

The Hammer

The Eyes of the World Are on Texas

America’s (if not the world’s) attention lately has been on a small Texas town and a wack-o renegade Mormon fundamentalist sect of polygamists.

At last count 462 children have been taken into custody, stripped from their crying mother’s arms. Media anchors and pundits have had a field day dutifully echoing the concerns raised by government officials and religious leaders.

Accusations of abuse (with no proof or at the least misunderstood facts) and threats have led to calls for punishment, if not permanent incarceration for someone, mostly the cult’s leaders. I thoroughly understand everyone’s concern and frustration, but they are worrying about the wrong evils here.

The main discussion and dispute is of thirteen to seventeen year old young women baring children to older fathers. There are loud calls for retribution for the siring men, and on the surface it is easy to say this is all wrong and they should be punished. Maybe they should, but the responsibility is not entirely theirs.

In the “normal” society of America we have tried to keep our children as children until they are twenty-one years old or more. We have stunted their social and mental growth to the point that most are not fit for employment until their mid-twenties, if then. We (our education system mainly) put off teaching responsibility and many times keep them at home under our wings until they are wimpy adults, barely able to survive on their own.

This kooky sect asks that their children, mostly girls, to hit that mark at thirteen. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle. Both this sect and general society are both profoundly wrong.

Even more terrifying and threatening to out nation, is the quick rush to judgment and the action of ripping these families apart with no regard to their well-being. The social service department of any state or city should be the last organization to make this decision or care for the kids. Most are under-funded and staffed by inept or overworked employees.

In this case, it was as if one tribe captured the women and children of an enemy tribe, rending their social unit with the intent of destroying the men of that tribe in the process. It may take you a while to understand this analogy, but that is exactly what happened.

These people obviously have a culture that functions differently from most of the rest of the country. Does this make it all wrong? One of the most important questions to be answered is the extent the government has control over religion.

I have always questioned government’s role (especially the Feds) in determining family structure through marriage law. It is absolutely not a bureaucratic responsibility, at any level of government to determine family structure or composition. Segments of society can codify that within their belief credos and limited scope of authority, such religious, ethnic, or cultural backgrounds, and have separate marriage vows to conform to those beliefs.

Most marriage laws were written by fat old men with ever present nagging wives, who couldn’t get a second wife if they paid for one. Government should have a contractual arrangement for two or more people, of whatever sex, for economic security, such as health and life insurance, home ownership, and the like, nothing more: end of problems

When something is illegal or forbidden (such as drugs), it immediately becomes extremely desirable and can attract the lowest forms of life into its midst.

Polygamy is no different. If polygamists were allowed to live normal lives in the open, the alleged captivity aspect of this sect could no longer exist. If members could come and go as they please within their belief system, the sect’s control over their lives would be lost. That they could operate as they do is directly the fault of the general laws of the land. Free will should be the underpinnings of all law.

Because of the underlying principals involved, and the general and specific arguments that will be made in court, reinforced and debated by the media talking heads, we are going to see, if not now, in the very near future, some drastic changes in this area. I predict (or hope) in the long run for the better.

Government simply can not continue to regulate our lives from morning to night, from home to work, and in our living rooms and bedrooms. It will surely not be tolerated much longer.

Whether you agree with this sect (I certainly do not), or the surrounding issues of the ability to regulate, or destroy families (I don’t), I am hopeful that we will come to our senses and put government and those multitude of bureaucrats in their place. They should be our servants, not our masters.

This is by necessity a broad overview. I will be discussing each section in detail shortly. There are just too many urgent and immensely important issues here.

Be prepared for the future,

The Hammer

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Future is Upon Us!

Buenos Dias All,

I have just returned from a trip to Mexico. It gave me time to rest and revive my mind, body and soul.

It has been a while since I last wrote. This was mainly due to medical and family problems, as well as other unforeseen events, and a general degree of ennui. Some of the more interesting traumas I may share in future entries.

Since the selection of English speaking channels on Mexican cable was very limited (as well as my Spanish comprehension), I watched an inordinate amount of news coverage causing me to reflect on the life and times in which we are living. I have always said it is important for everyone to become aware of the important events surrounding us, consider what each of us can do in altering life for the best, and take as strong of a stand as possible to accomplish those goals. This is why I am going to give a concerted effort to writing and stimulating controversy on a regular basis.

Again, for the record I state my simple belief system, and fundamental rules of life which have guided me very nicely through life and all of its turmoil. These are the basis of all of my viewpoints and approaches to solutions for the many problems we encounter as individuals and as a society.

Fact #1: There is a Universal Life-Force (God if you will), and you had better have a close and intimate relationship with It.

Fact #2: Each and everyone of us are responsible for our own actions, and

Fact #3: we are damn sure accountable for those actions.

Boil down the 10 Commandments, or all of the laws, rituals, or myths of any religious teaching, and this is what you get. If we as a nation would consider these ideas each time we write a new law, we wouldn’t have 25,000 plus volumes of law to enrich lawyers to decipher and regulate our lives.

As always, be prepared, the future is upon us,

The Hammer

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