Saturday, November 27, 2004

Beyond Dirty Politics

This is extremely weird. Go to Drudge to look at the before and after pictures of Viktor Yushchenko, the challenger in the disputed Ukrainian election, and then read the story here.

And Americans were outraged at reports that people had voted multiple times and that some ballots weren't counted. This is an entirely new twist in the evolution of negative campaigning.

The Battle of Fallujah

The has a day by day account of the battle for Fallujah. It's not pretty, but it's an outstanding piece of journalism.

Wrong Values

Dennis Prager undertakes to answer the question, how did a party filled with people with "values" become identified as the party without values. His reply to the question pretty much says it all. Here's an excerpt:

To most Americans, Michael Moore is a Marxist who has utter contempt for most of his fellow Americans, who goes abroad and tells huge audiences how stupid and venal his country is, and in his dishonest propaganda film, portrays the American military as callous buffoons. Yet, this radical was given the most honored seat at the Democratic Party convention in Boston, next to former President Jimmy Carter.

To most Americans, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are race-baiting demagogues. Yet they are heroes to the Democratic Party. Most Americans do not see their country as the bigoted and racist nation regularly depicted by both black and white Democratic leaders.

To most Americans, a man who wears women's clothing to work is a pathetic person in need of psychotherapy. To the Democratic Party, he is a man whose cross-dressing is merely another expression of multiculturalism. The California legislature, which is entirely controlled by Democrats, passed a law prohibiting any employer from firing a man who shows up to work wearing women's clothing.

To most Americans, Eminem is a vulgar nihilist who poisons young Americans' minds. To John Kerry he was a man whose anti-Bush hate video was worthy of endorsement.

As long as these people are the face of the Democratic party, the average Democrat is going to feel like Ronald Reagan and Zell Miller did, that the party had left them in its rear-view mirror. As long as these people personify what it means to be a Democrat, voters in the heartland are going to find it difficult to pull the lever for Democratic candidates. The values embodied by the leadership of the party are the values which define the party. The Democratic leadership, its spokespersons, its big donors, and its celebrities largely embrace the values of Hollywood, trash culture, and the far political left, but these are not the values, at least not yet, of a majority of Americans. It's not that the Democrats are the party without values, it's that they are the party with the wrong values.

Read the rest. It's very good.

Good News From Iraq #15

Arthur Chrenkoff has his 15th edition of Good News From Iraq up and there's a ton of it. Just a couple of items from this fortnight's edition:

"Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, has secured assurances from various countries, including the U.K. and Germany, that they would support the cancellation of a large part of Iraq's $120 billion foreign debt burden. However, the pledge was only partial. 'We're not talking about just forgiving debts; we can't be that generous anymore,' said German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. 'But we do want to make sure that Iraq's substantial resources aren't used just to pay off debt, but to rebuild the country. We want to contribute to that.'

This is an incredible development that the MSM is evidently dumbfounded by since they've said next to nothing about it. We can be sure that had, say, the Clinton administration secured such a diplomatic coup the media would be chiseling his visage in the side of Mt. Rushmore even as we speak.

And there's this from Stan Coerr, a Marine helicopter pilot who went into Iraq in the first wave of the Coalition troops. Coerr reflected recently on the significance and purpose of America's mission:

"For years, you have watched the same large, violent man come home every night, and you have listened to his yelling and the crying and the screams of children and the noise of breaking glass, and you have always known that he was beating his wife and his children. Everyone on the block has known it. You ask, cajole, threaten and beg him to stop, on behalf of the rest of the neighborhood. Nothing works. After listening to it for 13 years, you finally gather up the biggest, meanest guys you can find, you go over to his house, and you kick the door down. You punch him in the face and drag him away. The house is a mess, the family poor and abused - but now there is hope. You did the right thing.

"I can speak with authority on the opinions of both British and American infantry in that place and at that time. Let me make this clear: at no time did anyone say or imply to any of us that we were invading Iraq to rid the country of weapons of mass destruction, nor were we there to avenge 9/11. We knew we were there for one reason: to rid the world of a tyrant, and to give Iraq back to Iraqis."

One cannot reflect upon this report by Chrenkoff, taken in its entirety, without thinking that the United States, despite its historical black marks, is the greatest nation ever to grace this planet, and that the American people, our many shortcomings notwithstanding, are among the greatest people ever to inhabit the earth.

Post Script

If no one objects, I'd like to add a Post Script to my previous article on The U.S. Dollar vs. Gold to address the question of plausibility. It's interesting to note that only several years ago, articles like the one I presented were relatively scarce and when found, were often quickly dismissed as the rantings of crackpot folk on the fringe. Yes, Doom 'n Gloomers, to be sure. Always pessimistic...always believing the sky would start falling at any moment. For the reader to even consider the plausibility of such a scenario would mean they were just as nutty as the author.

Times have changed since then for several reasons, 1.) The very issues in question haven't gone away, rather, they have become more severe with increasingly disastrous implications gaining in probability. 2.) Respectable people in the mainstream with established credibility are starting to make the same observations and express their concerns. 3.) We're starting to hear rumblings from Asia, Russia, and even South America that maybe it's not such a great idea that their reserves be so fully invested in U.S. dollars and the time may have come to reduce risk to the dollar through diversification.

Today it's easy to find articles on the Internet and other media from people growing increasingly concerned about the condition of the U.S. Dollar. Here are links to just a few...

Warren Buffett - perhaps the most successful investor of all time.

Why I'm not buying the U.S. dollar. America's growing trade deficit is selling the nation out from under us. Here's a way to fix the problem -- and we need to do it now.
By Warren E. Buffett,

...Both as an American and as an investor, I actually hope these commitments prove to be a mistake. Any profits Berkshire might make from currency trading would pale against the losses the company and our shareholders, in other aspects of their lives, would incur from a plunging dollar.

But as head of Berkshire Hathaway, I am in charge of investing its money in ways that make sense. And my reason for finally putting my money where my mouth has been so long is that our trade deficit has greatly worsened, to the point that our country's "net worth," so to speak, is now being transferred abroad at an alarming rate.

... In effect, our country has been behaving like an extraordinarily rich family that possesses an immense farm. In order to consume 4 percent more than we produce -- that's the trade deficit -- we have, day by day, been both selling pieces of the farm and increasing the mortgage on what we still own. Why I'm not buying the U.S. dollar

Bill Gross - managing director of Pimco, the worlds largest bond fund handling several hundred billion dollars. He offers some very good points here but I must say, his recommendations at the end leave me a little confused.

From the link: John Snow and Allen Greenspan have finally bowed to the inevitable. Instead of blocking the lane in defense of a Shaq Attack slam dunk, they have politely if somewhat obfuscatingly stepped aside. "Put it down brother" they seem to be saying but it's the dollar and not a round ball that they're referring to. The dollar has gone down. The dollar is going down. The dollar will continue to go down because it's the easiest way out (for the U.S.) to begin to rectify its imbalanced finance-based economy. Balance the budget? Fugitaboutit. Raise interest rates to historic norms? Fugitaboutthattoo. "Let the market decide," Snow says. "Likewise," chimes Greenspan, warning that sooner or later foreign lenders will not be so exuberant in their purchase of U.S. Treasury bonds. Perhaps they'll be a little less irrational with their money he might have thought but that's a word he doesn't use anymore. And so the market's most crowded trade-short the dollar - will inevitably become a little more crowded, perhaps irrational itself at some point. There is a whiff of crisis in the air. Too Much!

Allan Greenspan - Chairman of U.S. Federal Reserve

Given the size of the US current account deficit, a diminished appetite for adding to dollar balances must occur at some point," Mr. Greenspan told a banking conference in Frankfurt. "International investors will eventually adjust their accumulation of dollar assets or, alternatively, seek higher dollar returns to offset concentration risk, elevating the cost of financing the US current account deficit and rendering it increasingly less tenable." The deficit has ballooned to more than 5% of gross domestic product, or $166bn in the second quarter of the year, driven by Americans' appetite for imports and flows of money into US financial assets, particularly bonds. The dollar has been sliding against other major currencies for a couple of years but its fall has accelerated since the re-election of President Bush this month as markets refocused on the current account and budget deficits. The large tax cuts of Mr. Bush's first term have driven the government's budget deficit to record levels. Speech to G20

Ron Paul - Congressman 14th District of Texas (My opinion - One of the very few honest politicians alive.)

Congress has become like the drunk who promises to sober up tomorrow, if only he can keep drinking today. Does anyone really believe this will be the last time, that Congress will tighten its belt if granted one last loan? What a joke! There is only one approach to dealing with an incorrigible spendthrift: cut him off. Congress wastes hundred of billions of dollars every year on countless agencies and programs. Rather than raising the federal government's credit limit, Congress easily could mandate cuts in the existing bloated budget. Raising the Debt Limit- A Disgrace

W Joseph Stroupe - Editor in Chief Global Events Magazine

President Vladimir Putin has stated both publicly and privately that invoicing Russia's crude-oil and gas exports to the European Union in euros instead of in dollars makes very good sense for both Russia and the EU.

... If Russia is perhaps positioning itself to make even a partial exit from the dollar in the pricing of its petro-transactions, then the Asian and other economies don't want to risk being left out in the cold, unprepared, seeing the value of their own huge dollar reserves undermined by a steep or chaotic decline in the value of the dollar. They cannot afford to ignore Russia's moves. Hence as Russia moves to decrease the percentage of its own holdings of dollars, so are the big Asian economies, as well as many other economies around the globe. No one wants to get burned in the event Russia moves to the euro. Additionally, as the dollar continues to weaken and crude oil continues to rise in price, having the dollar as the preferred international currency for petro-transactions will become more of a liability, especially for the big Asian economies, which are heavy importers of crude oil. This fact will tend to further undermine Asian, as well as the rest of international support for the dollar. Crisis towers over the dollar