BITE ME, MR. ATTORNEY GENERAL

FEMA was politicized, the Veterans Department was entrusted to the former RNC chair, George Tenet was given a medal for his work at the CIA, Donald Rumsfeld did a brilliant job, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales always puts Justice ahead of politics. The competence and integrity are all but overwhelming. What’s next? Industry lobbyists in regulatory roles? Creationists on scientific panels? Oh – wait.

But there I go off into orbit, when all I wanted to do was answer one of my donors, who asked me to find out how many of the 93 U.S. Attorneys were fired in the Clinton era. Eight? For political reasons?

As it happens, the Congressional Research Service has just released a report on this. It appears two resigned under pressure – one because he grabbed a TV reporter by the throat on camera, and the second having been accused of biting a topless dancer.

BITE ME, GENERAL PACE

Where to begin? At least he was honest. One day, when he has time, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff may get to know more gays and lesbians. (Or those he already knows – and respects – may be free to let him know they are gay. Right now, they would lose their jobs).

When he does, I think he will conclude that they are pretty much as moral – and occasionally immoral – as anyone else.

He compares us to adulterers. Leaving aside that adultery is a choice* – why doesn’t he expel adulterers from the Armed Services? Why only gay Arabic linguists?

One of the reasons I expect General Pace to come around eventually is that even George Wallace came around eventually on segregation and, more to the point, General Shalikashvili -Joint Chiefs Chair when Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell was implemented – has come around. As he recently wrote in the New York Times:

Last year I held a number of meetings with gay soldiers and marines, including some with combat experience in Iraq, and an openly gay senior sailor who was serving effectively as a member of a nuclear submarine crew. These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers.

This perception is supported by a new Zogby poll of more than 500 service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, three quarters of whom said they were comfortable interacting with gay people. And 24 foreign nations, including Israel, Britain and other allies in the fight against terrorism, let gays serve openly, with none reporting morale or recruitment problems.

I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.

*Can we still even be discussing whether sexual orientation is a choice? How many straight folks do you know who have spent a lifetime trying to ‘pass’ as gay? (How many gentiles in Nazi Germany do you know who tried to pass themselves off as Jewish?) In the history of all mankind I would estimate there have been exactly none. It is not a choice one would make.

By contrast, how many gays and lesbians have gone to extraordinary – and often desperately lonely, painful – lengths to pass themselves off as straight? Until the 1960s, the answer has always been: most of them. Why would they have done that if, to avoid the pain – sometimes even the suicide – all they had to do was switch sexual orientations, as one might switch political parties?

Happily, thanks to readers like you, and leaders like General Shalikashvili, we’ve made striking progress in the last few decades. But – thanks to Generals like Peter Pace – we still have a long way to go.

OUCH, MR. MARKET! DON’T YOU BITE ME

Several of you have asked about some of ‘our’ stocks. In brief . . .

TXCO reported some decent results Tuesday, depending on how you looked at them [CORRECTION: I’d characterize them as “disappointing but hopeful”]:, and the stock dropped 20% (albeit still double where we started). Call me nuts, but I bought a bit more Wednesday at $8.98.

FMD is down to $42 (albeit up from $25.50 where we started). David Williams: ‘I have read that the sub-prime problems will carry over into other areas affecting loans, those who issued them as well as derivative package buying and selling, and, general credit availability. Is FMD vulnerable here?’

☞ As I understand it, these college loans are mostly co-signed by the parents and guaranteed by TERI. Indeed, one of the knocks on this stock is that the loans will be paid off early, which might be a bit less likely if we’re in for rough times. Likewise, where on the margin a parent might have leaned on a home equity loan to help finance tuition, now there might be a bit more reliance on student loans. This might be (might be) one of those nice opportunities where the baby (FMD) is thrown out with the bathwater (much riskier lenders) only to be recognized when people take a second look. (‘Wait! Is that a baby out there in the alley? Quick! Get a blanket!’)

BOREF – it is to laugh. Stock holding up like a rock. (A $9.50 rock.) As always, a lottery ticket one must only buy with money one can truly afford to lose, because even lottery tickets with great odds, as I continue to think this one has, generally prove worthless.

BELL BITE-EMS

Remember bell bottoms? I didn’t think so. But they were the pant leg of choice in the Seventies, and if you don’t remember the Seventies – the period just after a long, failed, disastrous war called Viet Nam – you don’t remember that the Dow, which had briefly topped 1000 in 1966, bottomed at 573 in 1974 (all this from memory, but probably pretty close, because it was searing). In a real bear market, all bets are off. Virtually everything gets killed. I’m not predicting that; but the wise investor imagines possible scenarios and tries not to take on more risk than, at the end of the day, he or she can really live with.

 

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