Sunday, February 24, 2008

This Could be a Hanging Offense

Some guy west of Kalamazoo, Michigan came out to find his snowmobile stolen. So he borrowed another snowmobile and joimed by family members in a car he followed the tracks 10 miles up to the garage door of a snowmobile chop-shop. Considering that this winter has been the best winter for snowmobiling that we have seen in years I can see why the guy followed those tracks across ten miles of farmer's fields and backroads.

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Democrats Paint Target on America

Well, here we are on day eight of Pelosi's Putsch, and nobody knows what our intelligence agencies have missed. The Democratically controlled United States House of Representatives allowed a critical law concerning the regulation of the FISA court to expire last Saturday night, leaving America more vulnerable to another attack. The relevant law allowed our people to listen in on the phone calls of known terrorists who call from overseas, in some cases the phone call is only routed through the US, even using the *72 service that reroutes your calls. This is very interesting for a wide variety of reasons, first off there is the question of whether or not Congress even has the right to legislate in the area of what may be an executive war power. It seems that whenever the two sides have gone towards the brink on that subject (powers of Congress vs. the powers of the Executive) one or both sides have backed off.

The other interesting point for me is that I, like millions of Americans, work in a potential target. Not only do I work in a target building but I take a target to work. Since 2001 al qaeda terrorist operations in the West have concentrated on public transportation and as my moniker "EL Rider" implies, I take public transportation to and from work. As of today the Democratic leadership has refused to consider a FISA replacement unless it explicitly allows their trial lawyer donors to sue telephone companies for participating in a program that helps to keep Americans safer. That provision effectively nullifies the law and may even nullify the existing program. According to Democratic Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller "What is the big payoff for the telephone companies? They get paid a lot of money? No. They get paid nothing. What do they get for this? They get $40 billion worth of suits, grief, trashing, but they do it. But they don't have to do it, because they do have shareholders to respond to, to answer to." When Jay Rockefeller is the adult in the room you know that they are having problems over there at the Democratic Party.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Is Obama Blaming America For Cuba?

In response to some criticism from McCain the Obama camp has released a statement that McCain "would give us four more years of the same Bush-McCain policies that have failed U.S. interests and the Cuban people for the last 50 years.'' That is so inane I hardly know where to start. Do the Obama people know that John McCain is not the Vice President? Do the Obama people think that Bush has been President for the last fifty years? Do the Obama people think that Bush is also the President of Cuba?

More to the point, do the Obama people believe that the reason that Cuba, a former Caribbean jewel (with obvious ruling problems) has been turned into a third-world gulag is because of America's policies toward Cuba? That is stunning in it's ignorance. I guess that the Obama people are such leftists that they can't help themselves.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Defeatists to March on Bughouse Square

C Flying Debris
At least one protester was afraid of being shot by Vice President Cheney during the 2006 march.

C Flying Debris
Calder sculpture Flamingo in Chicago's Federal Plaza during a blizzard.

How will the defeatists get there? They will start out at the Federal Plaza in the South Loop (Adams & Dearborn), their destination will be Washington Square Park, on the Near North Side. Washington Square Park is also known as Bughouse Square, a nod to the soapbox orators who spoke in the park across from the Newberry Library for fifty-some years starting around 1910. Watch for Studs Terkel sightings.

They will probably march right up Dearborn instead of their recent route on the popular Michigan Ave. I have the feeling that last year's relatively sparse turnout had something to do with the new route up what is a much less traveled street at that time of the evening. I had been wondering about this year's march when I found a flier on the el today, the Chicago ANSWER flier is in both English and Spanish. Chicago ANSWER is an unabashed communist group.

Oh yeh, this fun-house kicks off at 6 PM Wednesday March 19 at the Federal Plaza. Bring your camera and your sense of humor.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Jane Fonda Award

Publia up at the Wilmette blog made the big announcement yesterday. The blogosphere has been waiting for months with baited breath for the results of the Jane Fonda Patriot of the Year Award. And the winner is, drumroll please, Michelle Obama. Congratulations are due to Tony Rezko's grateful neighbor.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pelosi Watch: Day 3 - Post Wedding Blues

Guests at the Pelosi wedding last weekend ham it up while America grew more endangered each minute.

Speaker Pelosi gives a toast.

Well, here we are, America is much less protected due to the incredibly dishonest members of the Democratic Party who have decided that it is better to sell out Americans to certain trial lawyers than to protect those Americans from future al qaeda attacks. This stand is no real shocker, the Democrats don't want you to be able to protect yourself so why should they help our government protect you?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pelosi Watch: Day 2 - Gone Fishing?

After skipping town last week without being able to find the time to protect America from terrorists by helping our intellegence services to, what do they call it? Ah yes, connect the dots. Well, Speaker Pelosi spent this weekend at her daughter's wedding but what is she doing instead of working this week? Has she joined the honeymoon?

This Robert Novak article outlines how much money trial lawyers, including some involved in current litigation addressed by the legislation in question have given to many Democrats currently involved in endangering America. Included in that list are Democratic profiles in courage Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-IL), they couldn't even be bothered to vote. If you work or live in a building that could be a target, by all means go read the Novak article. I will be thinking of those Democratic sell-outs as I walk into my "likely target" workplace Tuesday morning. What have our intellegence services missed during the last 36+ hours? Who knows? How much will they miss between now and whenever the Democraic leadership will allow America to protect herself? Who knows?

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Democrats to America: Drop Dead!

What else could a headline writer write? Yesterday instead of considering a bill to extend the much needed FISA laws that allow our spies to intercept foreign terrorist's phone calls and e-mail messages that happen to come through the United States, the United States House of Representatives fumed over President Bush's legal use of his Constitutional powers as President to replace Federal Prosecutors. The current FISA law expires tonight and the House is not in session because the head Democrat, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is at the wedding of one of her daughters.

Let me perfectly clear, this is personal for me, I work in a target. I am not alone, there are workplaces across the country that are potential targets, including the United States Capital Building. The building that I work in, the Chicago Board of Trade Building, houses some of the world's most important interest rate and grain markets and this spring we will house even more of those markets as we complete a merger with the CME. I do not think that I am being arrogant or overly dramatic, it is not rocket science to figure us as a potential target. During my years in trading pits I have seen some real fear in people's faces but never the terror that I saw in some people's eyes on the morning of September 11, 2001. Those of us who were on the floor that morning (some markets never opened) all knew damn well that we could be a target, we also knew that we are virtually surrounded by potential targets, hell the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is across the street. I stood across La Salle Street from the Federal Reserve Bank that morning when I gave an interview to CNN and I'll never forget looking up at our building and half expecting a plane to barrel down La Salle and plow right into the front of the Board of Trade.

What many Democrats and many of their allies object to is the NSA tapping into the communications of known terrorists. When those terrorists make telephone calls into the United States our government can listen to those calls until 11:00 PM Central Standard Time tonight, February 16, 2007. Strangely there are surely instances where the Democratic leadership is now protecting the "civil rights" or "human rights" of machines. That is no exaggeration, many times neither end of the communication are physically in the United States, however the communications line travels through the United States. Another interesting example is the "call forwarding" service that is just a *72 away for most of us, that service allows a call to be transfered from a telephone in the United States to a telephone outside of the United States. In both of those examples the only "rights" of an entity in the United States being protected would be the "rights" of machines. Maybe they are afraid of this.

I must note that of my two Senators, the aptly named Dick Durbin (D-IL) voted to make it much more difficult for America to listen in on terrorist phone calls and the "new politics", "change" and "hope" guy Barack Obama (D-IL) didn't even bother to show up for the vote. The measure of a politician is his or her ability to convince people to do the right thing even when it pains them; this measure only pains terrorists, the fact that so many Democrats are against it makes them appear utterly unprincipled.

Many thanks to Dr. Sanity for inclusion in her Carnival of Insanities again this week. Go read her blog!

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Porsche Blogging: Bobby Rahal Drives the "Hippy Car"

This is a post that was written and posted almost two years ago and continues to receive hits from all over the world; the car involved is a great car and Rahal is a great guy so the interest is no real surprise:

Copyright: Flying Debris
Rahal's Ride

This is one of my favorite race cars of early ‘70s, the Porsche 917. 25 of these cars were built for the ’69 sports car season; they were very fast but notoriously untamed. Porsche test driver Hans Herman once said of the early 917 “Often I really believed that my next resting place would be in heaven.”1 The ’69 Le Mans 24 hour race was the closest Le Mans ever. Yet the excitingly close finish was between a Porsche 908 driven by the 41 year old Herman and a Ford GT40, driven by a 24 year old Jacky Ickx; the vaunted 917 was not involved in the chase for the checkered flag. The Ford won after a final lap that featured several lead changes being reported back to the packed grandstands from the 8.365 mile course.

The next year, 1970 saw a 917L race at Le Mans with this fantastic Martini Racing livery that inspired observers to dub it the “hippie car” for its beautiful swirling paint job. The “hippie car” took second place in the rain soaked Le Mans of 1970 with Gerard Larrousse and Willibert Kauhsen at the wheel. The winning car was the 917K entered by Porsche Salzburg, the firm owned by Louise Porsche Piech. Louise was the daughter of Porsche founder Ferdinand Porsche, the older sister of then Porsche Chairman Ferry Porsche and mother of 906 designer and later Volkswagen Audi Group Chairman, Ferdinand Piech. Her story is a wonderful one in itself. I once read an interview with her in which she said “I’ve only ever driven my family’s cars. First the cars of my father, then those of my brother, and now those of my son.”2

The fact that Louise had such a hot car in the 1970 race while customers Martini Racing and Team Gulf chased her car didn’t sit very well with the customers. On the other hand it was Louise who kept Porsche going both as the head of the firm and by moving supplies and funds through the various Allied Occupation Zones in the early post WWII period. During much of that time both her father and her brother were being held as economic war criminals in France due to the pre-war and war-time activities of Porsche, Ing. The engineering firm could count the Volkswagen Beetle and the King Tiger tank among their war related projects. An exasperating factor is the fact that Ferdinand Porsche, in his roll at the bizarrely named KdF (Kraft Durch Freude; the Nazi conglomerates’ name in German, translates as Strength Through Joy) had authority over the Peugeot factories during the German occupation of France. Needless to say, Peugeot, a previously proud French firm, was not turning out smartly elegant French cars while under the thumb of KdF. The area between where the Porsche family was living, Zell Am See and the firm’s base in Gmund was split by the post war authorities. German men had a much tougher time crossing between those zones than German women, giving Louise an advantage over the other early Porsche employees. It was an advantage that the young Porsche firm needed, for without that help it is likely that the firm would have lost many key employees to other opportunities.

The photo above shows the “hippy car” after being run on a Saturday afternoon by Bobby Rahal in July of 2002. The shot was taken in the pits at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI. during the Brian Redman International Challenge (BRIC). The BRIC has been renamed the Kohler International Challenge with Brian Redman; KICBR doesn’t really work so it will likely still be called the BRIC. It is an annual vintage auto race held in July at the Kettle Moraine area race track, the longest road course in the US. The BRIC is also one of the largest vintage races in the country and is always a great time. The nearby towns of Elkhart Lake and Plymouth are nice Midwestern farming towns that have enough economic activity to still be described as thriving. They are the quintessential dairy towns of middle Wisconsin, a real throwback.

1 Porsche Excellence Was Expected by Karl Ludvigsen 1st Edition 1977 pg. 660 2nd Edition 2003 pg. 583
2 Excellence Magazine #143, Dec. 2005 pg. 82

Friday, February 08, 2008

Two Years of Flying Debris!

Copyright: Flying Debris
Warning sign at the start of the staging area at Route 66 Raceway, the NHRA drag racing facility in Joliet, IL.

That's right, for the past two years I have been commenting on the world's issues, great and small (mostly in obscurity as you can see from the Statcounter at the bottom) from my virtual front porch on Al Gore's Internet. My first post was a rant against the Chicago Tribune that featured a non-hyperlinked, now expired link to that day's Tribune editorial page. Blogging for the past two years has improved my writing (don't laugh, I've been a trader in a Chicago trading pit practically since graduating college), additionaly blogging has forced me to sharply examine issues that I would not have otherwise put under a microscope, as a bonus I have been able to correspond with and/or cross-comment with some nice and interesting people. All in all, worth it.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Food Shortages?

Talk about a strange election year, there have been whispers in the Chicago Board of Trade's grain room for some time concerning the levels of grain stocks going into next fall's harvest. Things are tight across the board this year but the hard red spring wheat market, traded at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, is out of control. Hard red spring wheat is used to produce pasta. Wheat markets were bid up the 30 cent per bushel limit all day however the option markets allow strategies to discover price "synthetically". I heard that on a synthetic basis the wheat market in Minneapolis traded over $18 a bushel this morning, an unheard of price. Before this year the wheat market in Chicago had a record price (going back to 1848) of $7.50 a bushel, reached in highly unusual trade (a reader is quoted in the linked NY Times article!) literally during the last few seconds of trade in the March 1996 contract. Those involved in the trade were disciplined by the feds. Today the March wheat contract was bid the exchange imposed daily limit of 30 cents per bushel at $10.33 per bushel and traded synthetically as high as $10.90 per bushel before easing from those lofty levels.

The grain markets are going through some of the same issues that the oil markets have been going through, notably expanding demand. As the world gets more wealthy people want better foods, be it meat, bread, pasta, etc. A constant in the grain markets is the effect of weather, last season's and of course the upcoming season's weather. Other parts of the world have been hard hit by weather issues during the past few years, especially historic wheat exporter Australia which has been stricken by a drought that has seemed to have allieviated during the past several months. The other issue is ethanol, sure we are exporting historic amounts of corn but today we also have the additional and less elastic demand for corn from the ethanol makers, they can often outbid livestock raisers for feed stock. Today corn prices hit another record high of $5.28 3/4 per bushel before closing lower on fresh farmer selling of corn that they had from last year and previous harvests.

As we prepare for next summer's political conventions we could very well find ourselves with grain stocks at critically low levels, we may literally be scraping the bottom of the barrel before the next harvest. Nearly every year there is a "weather scare" of one sort or another but if there is a serious weather issue (read: drought) we will experience grain shortages that could lead to food shortages. Shortages or the appearance of shortages will surely become political issues during this political year. Flex-fuel or hot dogs? Remember that political do-gooders made that decision for you years ago.

Check out this Flying Debris post from last October: World's Great Minds Look at Ag Issues

This post in no way advocates the taking of any position in any cash, future or option market.

Many Thanks to Dr. Sanity for inclusion in her Carnival of Insanities again this week. Btw, I was told that wheat in Minneapolis traded over $21 per bushel synthetically last Friday. If you have a favorite pasta that is storable or a favorite flour to make your own pasta, go out and stock up - today!

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Illinois Called

FOX just called Illinois for Mc Cain, Flying Debris projects Illinois for Obama. Hey so does FOX.


Election Day Morning

Copyright - Flying Debris
Wrightwood Ave. looking west from Lakewood Ave.

Copyright - Flying Debris
West Lincoln Park polling place (right) on Lakewood Ave. looking north from Wrightwood Ave.

Chicago news crews on the vote! The polling place at Wrightwood and Lakewood always attracts a crowd of television trucks, this morning saw four of the five (when I walked by) local stations covering the vote from that apparently critical corner. The polling place is in a VFW hall. There are train tracks that run down Lakewood, they are used less often these days but as recently as two years ago the neighborhood could look forward to "Tuesday Train Day" when two and three car freight trains would crawl through the neighborhood.

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Happy Mardi Gras!

Now go Vote! Well, if you live in one of those Super-Duper Tuesday States. If you are in New Orleans this morning here is a schedule of parades:
Zulu - Uptown, 8 a.m.
Rex - Uptown, 10 a.m.
Elks Orleans - after Rex
Crescent City - after Elks
Argus - Metairie, 10 a.m.
Jefferson Trucks - after Argus
Elks Jefferson - after Jefferson
Grela - West Bank, 11 a.m.

Don't miss Zulu or Rex. I still have the Rex doubloon that was tossed by the then Grand Marshall Ed McMahon.

Check out this site for video and web cams.

Update - Correction: I wrote this post too early this morning, Ed Mc Mahon was King of Bachus not King of Rex when I snatched a King of Bacchus doubloon out of the air after Ed Mc Mahon threw it from his throne/float on Canal Street. All that high jumping finally came in handy.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

VOTE Tuesday!

 Yep, the Illinois primary is Tuesday. I regret that I did not take a picture of the Hillary supporters who were at the Fullerton El stop this morning but I was running for a train. I was surprised to see Hillary supporters here on Chicago's north side, didn't they get the e-mail? Now if you have problems or questions concerning voting in Cook County (especially if you are on Chicago's North Shore) and who doesn't, head on over to the Wilmette blog, Publia likely has the info that you need. For a pre-ballot and ballot day Republican rundown go no further than the other great  Wilmette blogger (they have their own water works up in Wilmette, if that matters) the Backyard Conservative

 It looks like tomorrow the  Illinois Democrats will show the world a bit of self-deception, that a Chicago Democrat is an agent of "change". Maybe they are thinking of John "Quarters" Boyle


Friday, February 01, 2008

Calder in the Morning

Copyright - Flying Debris

I walk by this Alexander Calder sculpture, Flamingo in downtown Chicago's Federal Plaza whenever I take the subway rather than the elevated line to or from work. Despite the lousy light it looked great this morning with snow covering part of it. The photo was taken in a blizzard (under the eves of the Kluczynski Federal Building) with an iPhone.

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