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Shorting the Market and Buying Gold

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But does this imply financial anarchy is upon us?

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Greetings from New York, where last night was one of those evenings where my body and brain staged a flat-out uprising against my will, refusing me even a wink of sleep.

How did I kill the time? Roughly 2 hours trying to sleep; surrendering at 1 a.m. and kicking the wife into the guest room so I could a) read John Kenneth Galbraith's The Great Crash, 1929 b) watch the episode of PBS' American Experience on FDR c) fret that I just may have become an Obamaniac (which would require blood tests, sheepishly explaining how I caught it to Mrs. Jeffmacke, a possible bumper sticker and drifting into the sweet release of death as my bumper-stickered car idled in a closed garage).

The administration, so hyped just a month ago, spent its first 30 days lowering expectations like a teen retailer. I confess, I went into the speech cocky. I'm the Roy Hobbes of cynicism. It simply never occurred to me that my love of a well-delivered speech could overcome the sole natural gift I'll claim freely: the gift of inherent mistrust of any and all flimflammers or hustles.

Ben Bernanke softened me up; the President finished me off. Despite several nods to the mess he "inherited" from George W. Bush (and a needless tangent into stoking the fires of class warfare), President Obama largely gave me the broad strokes I've been pining for over the last week.

This wasn't the place for wonkish details. Addressing Congress is a time for broad strokes and rhetoric. The president said the right things about being tough on the automakers, seemingly drawing a line between the banks and other industries. I hated his lack of restraint on spending but I voted for a guy who used his pre-9 /11 Congressional address to announce plans for a manned flight to Mars by 2020.

Had I final edit authority on the speech, I would have scrapped the pandering to his party, added some shots at the pork-laden stimulus package put together solely by the Democrats, and subbed in one major theme that's beginning to glare by omission: unity between classes, parties, industries and Americans as a whole.

The president assured us we'd win, citing our history, but didn't touch on how we'd achieved prior victories.

Lincoln stood for a united United States (to which he later added freeing slaves). FDR stood for overcoming fear itself and later oversaw a pretty darn solid American war effort. Lincoln delighted in Sherman making "Georgia howl" but, in his final speech -- the greatest in Presidential history -- he sounded a shocking tone of unification with the very rebels he'd spent the entirety of his first term suppressing. (Read the final paragraph of Lincoln's Greatest Hit here.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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