Observations on a New Year

Here we are!  2009!  What can we say?

2008 is gone and I think we’re all grateful for that.  Republicans had their hats handed to them, although Conservatives fared pretty well.  And there’s the difference.  Moderate Republicanism is indistinguishable from the Democrats.  If Republicans want to regain their stature in Washington and the state houses across America, they need to do it at the grass roots level and they need to return to Conservative values.  Barack Obama is the President-elect not because of his microscopic resume, or because of the political cesspool he climbed out of, or the message of change and hope, because he represents neither.  He won the national election because the Republican candidate was a moderate with a poorly-crafted message, and so since the two were indistinguishable, people chose the candidate that was younger, better-looking, and articulate.  We can’t do that again.

After 18 months of the media (and Obama) telling us how bad things are, it looks like we finally are in the throes of a recession.  GDP growth is negative, employment growth is negative, the government is systematically deciding which companies and industries are worth saving, and people are scared.  Despite all the negativity, there are some positive things to focus on:

  • Oil and gas prices have returned to stable levels, and that translates into more money in the pockets of consumers,
  • Consumers have regained the lost art of saving and investing,
  • The broader market indices are up 20% from their lows in November,
  • Mortgage rates are as low as they’ve been in the 27 years I’ve been in the workforce,
  • The world did not end.

This does not mean that we are free from economic challenges, but this is still the greatest country in the world and the second half of 2009 will be much brighter than the second half of 2008.

Turning to sports, we have one more college football game to be played and for the first time in recent memory, the New England Patriots did not make the playoffs.  This means that everyone else has a chance.  In six weeks, pitchers and catchers report to spring training, which for me is the first sign of spring and hope (real hope, not the phony stuff Obama peddled) springs eternal.  One more item of note:  despite what those suffering from Bronx-myopia (Yankee Tunnel Vision) think, not every talented free agent in the world has to wear Yankee pinstripes.  If you’re a Yankee fan and you don’t understand why the rest of the baseball world hates the Yankees, then perhaps you should examine how the Yankees monopolize the free agent system (at the expense of their farm system), how that’s worked out for them in the past (poorly), and consider that maybe, just maybe, not everything revolves around the Bronx.  It makes rooting for small market teams that much sweeter.

Finally, in 2009 it will be interesting to watch the Democrats in Washington self-destruct, Blago, and Bernie Madoff.  It will be like slowing down to rubber-neck the car accident that no one really wants to look at.  But you just have to.

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