Thursday, February 10, 2005

News From Iraq

Strategy Page gives us this report in its daily briefing:

February 10, 2005: Terrorists in Iraq have resumed their terrorist campaign of suicide bombings, murders and threats. But there's been a change since the January 30th elections. In many mixed neighborhoods (where Sunni Arabs live next to Shia Arabs and/or other minorities), the amount of tips to police regarding terrorist activity has increased. It's uncertain if this is because of the morale boost from the election turnout, the growing use of Iraqi commandos and SWAT teams for raids against terrorists, or the growing availability of cell phones. It's probably all three. As a result, American and Iraqi security officials are more confident that American troops will be able to start leaving this year. While details are not given, there is apparently better security on the Syrian and Iranian borders. There are dozens of new border guard bases (actually small forts) being built on those borders, and more aircraft and UAVs patrolling there as well.

The economy is booming. The terrorist attacks are too few to paralyze the entire country, and seem to stage their operations mainly for the foreign media friendly to their goals (the return of a Sunni Arab dictatorship). The number of cars on the roads has nearly tripled in two years and sales of consumer goods continues to grow as electricity is more widely available. Because it takes so long to build oil refineries, Iraq must import most of its vehicle fuel. That, with the growing number of personal and commercial vehicles, creates frequent fuel shortages.

But then you probably knew all this from watching CNN and reading the NYT.

Nothing New Under the Sun

From the link:

The gap between US exports and imports hit an all-time high of $671.7bn (484bn euro) in 2004, latest figures show.

The deficit with China, up 30.5% at $162bn, was the largest ever recorded with a single country.

Democrats claim the administration has not done enough to clamp down on unfair foreign trade practices.

Absolutely. For once, the Democrats get something right. Foreign country corporations don't operate under the same conditions as those in the U.S. They don't have to deal with the taxation, environmental regulations, labor laws, or labor unions that raise the cost of doing business astronomically.

So while the Dem's have the right argument, it's for the wrong reason. They maintain:

For example, they believe China's currency policy - which US manufacturers claim has undervalued the yuan by as much as 40% - has given China's rapidly expanding economy an unfair advantage against US competitors.

The gist of this statement is correct except that there's nothing "unfair" about a country establishing a policy that maintains the value of its currency in direct proportion to that of the U.S.

The following may be absolutely the most inane statement uttered in recorded history...

Meanwhile, the Bush administration argues that the US deficit reflects the fact that America is growing at faster rate than the rest of the world, spurring on more demand for imported goods.

Duh! Why doesn't America's fast growth rate spur demand for domestic goods?

Now, here's a question to ponder...why is it that the U.S. government ONLY allows foreign countries to return their dollar surplus to the U.S. by purchasing U.S. treasuries?

Answer: Because they would own this once great country lock, stock, and barrel. But since they can only use their U.S. dollars to by our debt (Treasury bonds), they continue to finance our current life style of manic consumption. Can you say "dollar hegemony"? It is truly a house of cards.

Lastly, there's good news and there's bad news. The good news is that the major Medicare reform isn't going to cost the estimated $400 billion to implement.

The bad news is the latest figures just released are estimated at $700 billion to $1 trillion and they haven't issued dollar one for a prescription yet.

Check out this link for an audio interview with Laurence J. Kotlikoff. Scroll down to the Real Player or MP3 links on the left side of the page to listen to a shocking discussion. Truly a voice in the wilderness.

Wake up America!

Inquiring Minds Want to Know


In January, insiders bought a mere $34.1 million of their own companies' stock, little more than a third of the $95 million for December, according to MarketWatch, which cited data from Thomson Financial. The January number was the lowest since July 1993, when insiders bought just $26.3 million, according to MarketWatch. That month, however, insider purchases still accounted for roughly 5.5 percent of all dollars spent on insider-trading activity; in January 2005, purchases accounted for a mere 1.8 percent of the total dollars spent by insiders.

Hmm. So if the company insiders don't have any confidence in their own companies to do well going into the future, why should I or anyone else be buying their shares? More importantly, why is President Bush pushing for a privatization of Social Security where the proceeds are placed in the stock market while the insiders are cashing out? It would seem that the insiders would be buying shares with both hands in their companies and others to position themselves to capitalize on the imminent influx of hundreds of billions of dollars.

One can only speculate on the answer to these questions and since neither the insiders nor the President confide in us all we can do is "follow the money". I suspect the insiders are persuaded that the chances that the stock markets and economy in general are headed for a firestorm are high and the chances of Bush getting his privatization plan through congress are low. Given these probabilities, they don't want to be among the bag holders when the expletive hits the fan...and either should any other thinking person.

The Face of the Secular Left

Jacob Laskin and Ann Coulter limn portraits of Ward Churchill on Front Page Mag, and they are not pretty pictures. Churchill's is the face of the contemporary secular left: mendacious, fraudulent, violent, and hate-filled, a superannuated hippie from the halcyon and hallucinogenic sixties who languishes in a permanent state of arrested development. It gives us a feeling akin to nausea to reflect that his pathetic existence is being subsidized by taxpayers.