Tomorrow: Einstein's Bird. But Today . . .
AXP, NTMD, and Buckets of Propaganda
Published on September 15, 2005

1040ES

1040ES

Don’t forget to send in your third quarterly estimated tax payment today, if  (because you have significant taxable income not subject to withholding), you have to deal with that.

 

CHARLES NOLAN GOES LIVE!

Click here. And if you like the clothes, click through to SAKS to order on line. And/or come to SAKS Fifth Avenue New York – fourth floor – for a drink and a fashion show TODAY, September 15, at six o’clock.


THE NEW REPUBLICAN PARTY

Tom Friedman in yesterday’s New York Times:  “Last year, we cut the National Science Foundation budget, while indulging absurd creationist theories in our schools . . .

 

F I just want to stress that those of you who are Republicans or libertarians are welcome in the Democratic Party. 

 

  • We don’t rack up massive deficits without good purpose (the last one we racked up was to fight and win World War II). 

 

  • We find ways to topple and imprison genocidal dictators like Milosovich at relatively low cost – we would have been more effective with Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. 

 

  • We would be encouraging embryonic stem cell research, not seeking a global United Nations ban (which, thankfully, we “lost” most recently, 79-80). 

 

  • We don’t believe Tom DeLay should make life’s intensely difficult choices for your daughter or your dying parent. 

 

You won’t like everything about us.  But overall, isn’t it time to reevaluate? 

 

BUT IT WILL STILL BE VOLUNTARY

Monday I told you that the California legislature passed a gay marriage bill and asked you to take 30 seconds to discourage promiscuity, strengthen the social fabric (that’s what stable, supportive relationships do), and add a little happiness to the world:

 

  • Call Governor Schwarzenegger – 916-445-2841
  • Press: 2
  • Press: 1
  • Press: 1 to support marriage equality 

 

Well, yesterday, the Massachusetts legislature – which had voted unfavorably on this issue in March, 2004, by a margin of 105-92 – reversed that position by a margin of 157 to 39.

 

Yes, I know:  Massachusetts.  But this is a heavily Catholic state, and a state that has been living with gay marriage now for a little while – and look at the swing:  from 105-92 “against” marriage equality in 2004 to 157 to 39 “for” yesterday.

 

So to Governor Schwarzenegger’s rationale . . . that he can’t allow the legislature to make such a law when, five years ago, the people passed an anti-gay marriage referendum . . . this adds a new data point. 

 

The big argument was, hey – don’t you believe in representative democracy?  Can’t the duly elected representatives of the people pass laws on their behalf?  (If the people object, they can toss the rascals out!) 

 

But added to that now is the argument that, hey – that was five years ago!  Five years is an eternity in the evolution of the nation’s thinking on this issue.  In those five years, Canada, Spain, and Massachusetts, among others, have all passed gay marriage.  And in Massachusetts, in little more than one year of further cogitation, now that they’ve actually been living with it, the legislature has swung from 105-92 against to 157-39 for.

 

So, c’mon, Arnold.  Don’t be a Girlie Man.  Stand up for equal rights.

 

Lynn:  “Of the ‘need to amend the United States Constitution to deny equal treatment to gay and lesbian couples,’ you said, ‘I don’t agree with that view, obviously, but I respect their right to hold it – and yours to share it, if you do.’  Well, I’m a straight woman, married to a man, and I don’t respect their right to hold their rotten views.  I truly think they’re insane as well as nasty and bigoted.  How in the world would it damage my marriage if gay people married?  What is wrong with them?  My husband agrees with me, by the way, and we’re not young.  Politically, though, I do think that going for ‘civil union’ would be smarter than trying for marriage.  I've talked to friends who aren’t wing nuts, by any means, and they seem to want that word all to themselves.”

 

F I hear you.  The problem is that tens of thousands of local and federal laws and millions of contracts are written with the word ‘marriage.’  So unless you change them all, civil unions doesn’t provide equal benefits.  Plus – while we have to be respectful of people’s feelings about this, and give them time to come around (look at the progress made in Massachusetts in little more than a year) – at the end of the day, “separate but equal” is not this country at its best.  Religious institutions should absolutely be allowed to discriminate against gay couples, condemn them, deny them salvation, issue fatwahs, and all the rest.  But our taxpayer-funded institutions should not be allowed to discriminate.  GLBT citizens pay a lot of taxes just like everybody else.

 

And it never hurts to stress:  Gay weddings would be entirely voluntary.  You totally would not have to have one yourself, or even send gifts.

 

AND WHILE I’M SUBJECTING YOU TO THIS

Listen: your American Express is up 8% since it was suggested May 11 (more, if you bought LEAPS) (don't sell) and so far, at least, we have a nice gain on our NTMD puts (BiDil scrips for August were reported yesterday to have been 1,223, or just under 40 a day; this did not set Wall Street afire) . . . so I figure I can test your patience with just one more little piece of propaganda.

 

You might think we would allow gays in the military in peace time, when “unit cohesion” is not a life or death matter . . . but kick them out when they might actually have to sleep in fox holes or show courage under live fire. 

 

Instead, just the opposite is true. 

 

It turns out that when there’s dying to do, gays not only may stay – they must.  When the “all clear sounds,” it’s all clear to fire them.

 

To wit:

 

SANTA BARBARA, CA, September 13, 2005 - Scholars studying military personnel policy have found a controversial regulation halting the discharge of gay soldiers in units that are about to be mobilized. The document is significant because of longstanding Pentagon denials that the military requires gays to serve during wartime, only to fire them once peacetime returns. . . .

 

Discrimination against gays in the military – whether in peace time or war – may be on its last legs.  We’re just about the only NATO country left that does this (Bin Laden must be thrilled that we fire gay Arab linguists), and in the years since the open debate began, there has been a tremendous shift in public opinion, both within and outside the military. 

 

President Clinton, who signed the Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell compromise after being thwarted in his effort to lift the ban, has for several years now been on record saying the policy didn’t work as intended and should be abandoned – that citizens should be allowed to serve their country irrespective of their sexual orientation.  The Republican leadership, by contrast, is on record thinking it’s a fine policy, to be suspended only in wartime.

 

NTMD

Don: “I’m interested in buying NTMD puts.  How do I do that?  Through my Vanguard brokerage?”

 

F If your account is set up for that level of risk, yes.  But PLEASE remember you really can lose every penny you bet this way, and may.  I think the odds are with us (e.g., the March 25 puts selling for $830 each).  But there was, obviously, more potential in this when the stock was 22 than there is now at $18.20.  And even good odds sometimes lead to bad outcomes.  (Take, for example, a single round of Russian roulette.)  But if it turns out people and insurers are not willing to pay six or eight times as much to take one combo pill instead of its two generic components . . . and, thus, sales do not pick up sharply as the company hopes they will . . . it seems to me it will be a company with maybe $10 million or perhaps $30 million or even $50 million in revenue, but $125 million in expenses (the company’s expense estimate, not mine) – at which point I would expect the institutions that own most of the stock to run for the door and as the stock drops to $3.  So, worst case, we lose our $830 (and we may!); best case, our puts are worth $2,200.  Most likely case (to my mind): someplace in between. 

 

Tomorrow (or soon): Einstein’s Bird



© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 Andrew Tobias