No G.I. Joe with the kung-fu grip!

As Billy Ray Valentine would say, they are once again panicking out there. When I looked at my Treo while I was still at breakfast this morning, the market was down another 660 points, to below 8,000.

I remarked to my friend Jerry, who knows way more than I do about financial matters, that it made no sense for people to be selling at a loss when everyone knows that the rescue plan hasn’t been implemented yet, and was never supposed to have been felt before several weeks had passed. He said he assumed it was because of automatic trading.

But the idea of setting a "sell" order for a LOW price seems counterintuitive to me. I have, in my extremely limited experience, set a number for when my stock got UP to a certain price, but why look forward to LOSING money?

Yes, I know that practical people think in terms of cutting their losses, but that is exactly my problem. I’ve never done that. When I would play touch football as a kid, I never wanted to punt. I didn’t care if it was 4th down with my back to the goal; I was still going to go for the score.

You may say the punters are wiser than I. But look at where their wisdom is taking the country.

27 thoughts on “No G.I. Joe with the kung-fu grip!

  1. Phillip

    I wonder if either of these guys is thinking now, sheesh, do I really want to be President starting off in the crappy circumstances this country is in now and will still be in on January 20?
    You know, Brad, when you chided Bill Moyers for saying this was THE most important election ever or some such statement, I agreed with you. But that was a few weeks ago, right? It’s starting to look more and more important…I’d venture now to say it might be the most important Presidential election since 1932. (well, I suppose you could say if Goldwater had won in 1964 American history would have been drastically changed, but I guess I’m mostly considering fairly tightly-contested elections, 48, 60, 68, 76, 00, 04.)

  2. bud

    The 2004 election was very important and I was sick when Kerry lost. It was so obvious by then (even to Brad as his awful endorsement indicated) that George W. Bush was clueless. His war mongering and continued out-of-touch governing style suggested a disasterous 4 years to follow. Sadly, it has come to pass. Of course we could have never anticipated Katrina but it was clear in my mind that he couldn’t handle the pressure of a crises. Just check out the My Pet Goat video sometime. Watch that and his botched handling of Katrina will not be a surprise. Clearly we needed to extract ourselves from Iraq and John Kerry would have probably done so by now.
    But here it is 4 years later and we continue to spend billions and lose lives. All the while the Iraqi people still get slaughtered by suicide bombers. Millions are still refugees in Syria or Jordan. The country is pretty much divided into 3 separate entities, just as Joe Biden suggested 3 years ago. That has created a bit of stability, hence the drop in violence, but 150k troops remain for reasons that remain a mystery. And of course John McCain wants 100 more years of this. Disgusting.
    So while it is imperative to vote responsibly in this election to try and recover from the last 8 disaterous years I would suggest that it is no more important than the election of 2004. Let’s try not to blow it again.

  3. Brad Warthen

    I’ve met John Kerry. He was the single most unengaging, off-putting candidate among the many who sought the Democratic endorsement in 2004. You know I liked Joe Lieberman. But I think I would have preferred John Edwards to Kerry. I KNOW I would have preferred Dick Gephardt (but once again, as with Joe Biden in 2007, such strong candidates fail to make it to South Carolina). Kerry was an awful candidate.
    And Phillip, this election may be like 1932 if one of the candidates were FDR. Unfortunately, I don’t think either McCain or Obama has those qualities. I think you’re right to wonder whether they should want the job right now. I don’t think you’d be saying that about FDR. I wasn’t there, of course, but my impression is that he projected the air of a man who truly WANTED that challenge, and was more than equal to it.
    You know I like McCain and Obama. But I don’t see that in either of them.

  4. Brad Warthen

    And I make that comparison to 1932 in light of this that I read a few minutes ago:

    The Dow is threatening to extend a seven-day losing streak during which it has shed nearly 21%. Heading into Friday, the average was down 17% this week. The stock market has so far avoided a one-day plunge of 10%, the traditional definition of a crash. But even in the two instances when such a single-day drop did happen, in 1929 and 1987, the full-week bloodletting was not as bad.

  5. TIm C

    Shut down Wall Street for a few days. This is ridiculous. The equity stakes in every publicly traded company is now at the mercy of a bunch of gamblers acting like their in the pit of a casino. We have put all of our 401K plans, investments and future growth as a nation into the hands of a few greedy self absorbed gamblers. Sort it out and then open it up to the free market with controls in place to prevent gambling and the emphasis back on investing.

  6. Doug Ross

    > but my impression is that he projected the
    >air of a man who truly WANTED that challenge,
    Meanwhile, George Bush stands in the Rose Garden this morning and reads a one minute “speech” off of notecards.
    Where’s Bill Clinton when you need someone to feel your pain? 🙂
    Any chance we can start a write-in campaign for Mayor Bloomberg? We need a do-er now.

  7. Phillip

    Bud, while I of course agree that 2004 was an important election, I’d argue that in hindsight the 2000 result was more important. By 2004 we were already deep into the Iraq misadventure and our national unity and international standing (never higher than right after 9/11) had been squandered by terrible policies. Kerry would have been already dealt a bad hand.
    Had Gore won in 2000 (well, maybe he DID but let’s not go there…) history would have truly been different. 9/11 might still have happened but Gore would have taken a very different fork in the road. Iran certainly would not be the threat it is now. We would be much more on our way towards weaning our dependence on oil.

  8. bud

    After a roller coaster morning that saw the DOW sink to below 8000 at one point it’s now trading for about 8300, down 366 points. This is really scary right now. I keep thinking it’s going to bottom out. It will be interesting to see where this week ranks among the worst weekly percentage drops in history.

  9. Doug Ross

    William F. Buckley’s son Christopher (the backpage editor of National Review and the author of several hilarious books that parody our government) has just posted his endorsement of Obama. It’s titled: ”
    Sorry, Dad, I’m Voting for Obama”
    Here’s the link Buckley Endorses Obama.
    Here’s a bit of it:
    “I’ve read Obama’s books, and they are first-rate. He is that rara avis, the politician who writes his own books. Imagine. He is also a lefty. I am not. I am a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets. On abortion, gay marriage, et al, I’m libertarian. I believe with my sage and epigrammatic friend P.J. O’Rourke that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away.”

  10. Phillip

    Brad, you met Kerry and I have only seen him on TV or read his speeches. He was not a dynamic or charismatic candidate, to be sure. Yet he received more votes than any Democratic candidate in history, and had Ohio(which barely went, 51-49, for Bush) tipped the other way, Kerry would be President today. Folks see that two ways; sounds like you’re inclined to think that the Dems blew it in 04 by nominating Kerry instead of someone else; I actually think that Kerry will eventually be seen to have done as well as anybody could have facing an incumbent President in wartime who was constantly fanning the flames of fear, with an economy that was not nearly as bad as now. I don’t think Kerry ran nearly as bad a campaign as Dukakis, for example (I know, not much of a standard to live up to, right?)
    Things have not changed all that much. Now that McCain has tacked to the right and won back the “base” with his selection of the Hockey Imam and has started talking their language, plus the lowering of American casualties in Iraq making that less of a front-burner issue for Americans, the blue-red state breakdown would probably run almost exactly like 00 or 04 were it not for the economic situation. Up until about 6 weeks ago, I could easily have foreseen an exact or nearly exact replica of the 04 results, with a narrow McCain win in Ohio tipping the election to him.
    Re your point about FDR: I beg to differ slightly…up until the point where Obama became the undisputed frontrunner in the primaries and also in the general election, he spoke and appeared to want to lead with the passion and commitment of an FDR. But he’s played it a bit safe since then, strategically perhaps savvy but kind of cooling the “inspiration” side in favor of showing his “competency, steadiness” side. I think at heart he does want this challenge, whereas I think McCain feels he (fill in the expletive) deserves it, having paid such dues politically and otherwise through his 72 years. And he’s peeved (and it shows) that he’s losing to this young guy with so little time on the national stage.
    It’s true neither may turn out to be the FDR we need for these times. On the other hand, McCain surely would not, while Obama just possibly might. I think voters sense that now and are willing to take that chance.

  11. bud

    Had Gore won in 2000 (well, maybe he DID but let’s not go there…) history would have truly been different. 9/11 might still have happened …
    Or maybe, just maybe, 9-11 would not have happened. It’s unknowable for sure, but I seriously doubt Gore would have gone on vacation AFTER reading an alarming presidential briefing titled: “Obama determined to strike America”.

  12. Bill C.

    “When I looked at my Treo while I was still at breakfast this morning, the market was down another 660 points, to below 8,000.”
    You’re still at breakfast after the market opens?

  13. bud

    Whoops, that should read “Osama bin Laden determined to strike America”. Lee Muller probably thinks that’s just exactly what the briefing DID say.

  14. Brad Warthen

    I generally arrive at the office at about 10, and work until about 8. Or 9. Or later. Sometimes I get away at 7. I’d like to get away at 6, but haven’t been able to master that.

    And thank you for making that mistake, bud. It makes me feel better. I mistakenly called Obama Osama, and vice versa, several times earlier this year while I was reading The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Fortunately, each of my lapses was in the privacy of my home, and I STILL got reactions of unbelieving, shocked, accusatory horror. But I couldn’t help it. Between the book (and I tend to subsume myself in books while I’m reading them) and the campaign, I’d have one on the brain but be talking about the other, and it would just happen.

    I had this deep fear that I would do it publicly — maybe on live TV — but Thank God that hasn’t happened. Yet. And I haven’t made the slip even privately recently.

    I should add that based on my reading of aforementioned book, I can assert with confidence that 9/11 would have happened no matter who was president. It was all about the lack of communication between intel services, which resulted from long, deliberate national policy dating to the founding of the CIA (and probably exacerbated by the statutory fallout of the Church hearings).

    The really shocking thing was that we had all the necessary pieces of information to stop the attacks (more than you might have thought); they just never got into the hands of anyone who knew what they meant and was prepared to act.

  15. Brad Warthen

    Mind you, I’m referring to SPECIFIC intel — names and associations of people who were in this country, and some people knew and others didn’t.

    The overall idea that Osama was determined to strike America was not new. He’d been saying so, and different people in the intel community took it with varying degrees of seriousness. Just as there was legitimate difference of opinion as to the meaning of Joe Wilson’s (not our Joe Wilson’s; that other Joe Wilson’s) intel from Niger — although the consensus seemed to be that while what he had found was vague, if it indicated anything it lent credence to the yellowcake stories (this is according to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation). Mr. Wilson doesn’t tell it that way because it’s at odds with his personal movie entitled "Bush Persecutes Me and My Wife for Telling Truth."

    But I digress.

  16. Lee Muller

    The US Army had an intelligence team which had uncovered the 9/11 sleeper cells and their plots, but Jamie Gorelick and Janet Reno would not let the FBI talk to the Army officers.
    John Kerry can’t be too bright. His anti-war group was funded by the KGB, and it took Kerry years to figure it out.
    The next generation will be wondering how America could have been so duped by Barack Obama and his Arab financiers.

  17. Brad Warthen

    In case you didn’t follow that link above, here’s an excerpt from the story in The WashPost of July 10, 2004:

    Wilson last year launched a public firestorm with his accusations that the administration had manipulated intelligence to build a case for war. He has said that his trip to Niger should have laid to rest any notion that Iraq sought uranium there and has said his findings were ignored by the White House.

    Wilson’s assertions — both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information — were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report.

    The panel found that Wilson’s report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson’s assertions and even the government’s previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union address.

    Yesterday’s report said that whether Iraq sought to buy lightly enriched "yellowcake" uranium from Niger is one of the few bits of prewar intelligence that remains an open question. Much of the rest of the intelligence suggesting a buildup of weapons of mass destruction was unfounded, the report said.

    Not that anybody is still keeping score on that. My point is that intelligence gathering is a murky enterprise, and intelligence analysis even more so. Consider the late Yuri Nosenko, whom the U.S. intelligence establishment tells us is dead, although we have no independent way to confirm that. That I’ve always thought Mr. Wilson to be a self-aggrandizing liar is beside the point.

  18. just saying

    “The overall idea that Obama was determined to strike America was not new. ”
    And now you’re doing it too (the name confusion, not the striking). Sheesh.

  19. Brad Warthen

    Ow! OW! You see?
    That’s the result of just having written a super-long column about Obama for Sunday, and then trying to whip out some blog comments.
    I need to avoid live TV for the next few days.

  20. penultimo mcfarland

    “Had Gore won … history would have truly been different. … Gore would have taken a very different fork in the road. Iran certainly would not be the threat it is now. We would be much more on our way towards weaning our dependence on oil.” – Phillip
    Thanks, Phillip. I haven’t read anything that funny in quite some time.

  21. Mike Cakora

    Stevarino says everything’s gonna be fine. Some sellers are acting rationally in trying to cut their losses. These folks own Ford, GM, and other outfits that rely on credit to fuel their sales. There’s no buying opportunity there, even if CAFE and other silly restrictions are removed.
    Others are panicking.
    Over the past several days I’ve read reports of folks who’ve lost considerable amounts with the Wachovia mess; what’s worse is that we know some folks who’ve been whacked hard by having so much faith so long in one company. Wachovia and Fannie / Freddie will join Enron and WorldCom in the lore of “reasons to diversify one’s investments” lessons.
    Mallaby’s column on Monday makes the important point that blaming the current crisis on deregulation is nonsense. The challenge for the next administration is to find the best way to return all the crap (my word) to the private sector so that the common folks can clean it up and make it valuable again. And how about we not choose another Goldman-Sachs alum as SecTreas, okay? How about a used-car dealer? I mean, the job is to sell tarnished assets, no?
    An aside: Mallaby’s assertion that Obama’s “bench of advisers is superior” is more than questionable: he’s got one Noble Prize winner, McCain has five. And Obama’s one avoids logic, engaging in commentary without substance. Obama’s marginal tax rate is 50%, McCain’s is 40%; the latter will generate greater funds for the treasury.
    Back to the challenge of privatization. At long last the feds will have semi-liquid assets other than the Strategic Petroleum Reserve out the wazoo. If the next administration was clever (I know, a long-shot in either case), they might be able to generate enough in asset sales to push off the Social Security shortages by a few years, turning this financial calamity from what we in the software world call a “bug” into a “feature.” Add in royalties from off-shore drilling, and we all may be able to retire at 75!
    But of course that assumes that famine, chaos, death, and destruction don’t do us all in in the meantime.

  22. Phillip

    Penultimo, laugh all you want. If I shared your ideology I’d be laughing now too, only to keep from crying at the realization the nation seems to be rejecting your ideology.
    Certainly it’s completely beyond argument to say that Gore, for whom this was a major passion while W was still making trades for the Texas Rangers, would have moved faster than Bush on alternative energy issues. (No, “drill-baby-drill” sounds Palinesquely cute but is not a serious answer to the problem.) As for Iran, the proof is in the pudding: their longtime enemy was removed, replaced now with a leader who is essentially friendly to them.
    Yes, penultimo, laugh if you want; those others you hear laughing with you include Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Osama bin Laden.

  23. Mike Cakora

    Phillip –
    You should give some credit to the market, inventors, investors, and innovators. They’ve been creating technologies and getting product out to the masses.
    Government has for years encouraged the research with grants, tax credits, and restrictions / regulations on conventional energy producers and transportation-sector enterprises.
    A Gore could have done what? Increased regulations to penalize enterprises in conventional industries? Thrown more money into research? Nope, he’d have upped the price on conventional energy in order to make the higher-cost alternatives more competitive. Note that he’s on a jihad against coal right now, our most plentiful energy-producing resource, with the goal of shutting down use of what provides 50% of the nation’s electricity. Given current events, who’s got the money to replace that capital investment today?
    What our Congress continues to do is to focus on politically popular measures that have the unintended consequence of starving poor folks. If ethanol is a good idea, why maintain the $0.51 tariff on imports? To protect the farmers, folks who’ve seen their incomes rise thanks to stupid legislation making food and fuel more expensive.

  24. Lee Muller

    Because Mrs. Tom Daschle of South Dakota and K-Street is the lobbyist for ADM and the ethanol industry…. along with raising money for the Obama campaign


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