Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 31, 2004

Billmon: Osama Strikes Out

Billmon also has some Good News

Posted by b on October 31, 2004 at 11:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (75)

Good News

Just stumbled over this piece of good news:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush holds a 49-to-43 percent edge over his Democratic rival in the latest CNN/Time poll, conducted Wednesday and Thursday.

The poll of 2,060 adult Americans, including 1,076 likely voters, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points and is thus in essential agreement with a CNN/USA Today/Gallup tracking poll also released Friday. That poll gives Bush a 52 percent-39 percent edge. More important, both polls show the same snapshot of the current state of the presidential campaign: a solid advantage for Bush.

CNN/Time poll: Bush holds edge

Posted by b on October 31, 2004 at 08:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Billmon: The Face of American Fascism

Billmon finds more analogies.

Posted by b on October 31, 2004 at 03:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

October 29, 2004

Billmon: Osama's Endorsement

Billmon on Osama's Endorsement for Bush:

... a boogeyman with which to frighten that last sliver of undecided voters into rejecting change. Al Qaeda, it seems, has evolved into one hell of an effective 527 organization.

Posted by b on October 29, 2004 at 06:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (66)

Billmon: The Future Belongs to Me

Your comments on The Future Belongs to Me

Posted by b on October 29, 2004 at 04:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

Open One

News and views...

Posted by b on October 29, 2004 at 09:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (50)

Reality Bites Back

It’s not going as planed for Bush. The media has turned a bit around and finally remembers its task to reveal facts and opine for decency. Yes, their propaganda for the Iraq war did fall apart, yes, they screwed up the execution of the war, yes, they are robber barons. But where does the press asks the real questions? Why does the US feels the need to be a superpower. Why is there the need to be the bully? Still 170 degree to turn folks.

Why is a report about 100,000 Iraqi war death - in just 18 month - published in the UK Lancet and not in the States? Why is anybody astonished about these numbers? Hersh has been asking this for weeks and month:

Since June 28, the bombing has gone up exponentially. Bombing, bombing, bombing. Civilian targets, civilian neighborhoods.

But I don't see anyone in the press worrying about it. I don't see them demanding to know how many sorties we're flying - have they grown? Are more bombs being dropped? What's the tonnage? We don't know any of that, do we?

And its not only Iraqis dying. GIs dying in the war are only reported when they die in Iraq. As most severely wounded are flown out of Iraq within 24 hours, there must be some number of them dying from their wounds later. Where are they counted? How big is that number? One hundred? One thousand? More? Does anybody ask this question?

John Pilger in the New Statesman sees "Americanism" endangering the world, no matter who wins this election. There is only one hope

Perhaps those millions of worried Americans who are currently paralysed by wanting to get rid of Bush at any price will shake off their ambivalence, regardless of who wins on 2 November. Then, as during the civil rights campaign, the Vietnam war and the great movement to freeze nuclear weapons, will a giant awaken?
It's an open question. Mosh makes me believe that there is a chance for this to happen. But how long will it take and how many people will have to die before?

Posted by b on October 29, 2004 at 08:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

October 28, 2004

Rule and Appeal

SEATTLE - The Bush administration has proposed giving dam owners the exclusive right to appeal Interior Department rulings about how dams should be licensed and operated on American rivers
The proposal would prevent states, Indian tribes and environmental groups from making their own appeals, while granting dam owners the opportunity to take their complaints — and suggested solutions — directly to senior political appointees in the Interior Department.
Dam owners "would be facing an extremely high cost and very uncertain benefits," said Lynn Scarlett, the assistant secretary at Interior for policy, management and budget who approved the proposed rule. "Giving them some ability to voice their concern and present alternatives seemed appropriate."
[The proposal] will be open to public comment until Nov. 8. The department can then, with the approval of the Office of Management and Budget, issue a final rule that has the power of law.
Further proposals, pairing future government rulings and the exclusive rights to appeal them, are to be published in next months Federal Register. Some possible pairings mentioned in the press conference were:

Ruling on / Exclusive Right to Appeal
- abortions / priests
- car driving / car owners,
- torturing / torturers,
- air quality / polluters,
- dams / dam owners,
- marriage / married couples,
- milk quality / diary farmers.

Posted by b on October 28, 2004 at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Paranoia? results in:


BBC: Bush website blocked outside US

Surfers outside the US have been unable to visit the official re-election site of President George W Bush.
The BBC article suggests costs as a factor, but I don´t buy that. Foreign traffic is usually neglectible compared to US traffic plus they are running on the Akamai network which has local cache servers in all major countries.

The server is reachable from outside of the US with the URL

Posted by b on October 28, 2004 at 08:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (33)

October 27, 2004


Some art makes me weep, this does. Please watch this video:

Mosh Video alternatives 1 2
Don't matter what color, all that matters is we gathered together
To celebrate for the same cause, no matter the weather
If it rains let it rain, yea the wetter the better
They ain't gonna stop us, they can't, we're stronger now more then ever,
They tell us no we say yea, they tell us stop we say go,
Rebel with a rebel yell, raise hell we gonna let em know
Stomp, push up, mush, fuck Bush, until they bring our troops home come
on just . . .

No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our own soil
No more psychological warfare, to trick us to thinking that we ain't loyal
If we don't serve our own country, we're patronizing a hero
Look in his eyes its all lies
The stars and stripes, they've been swiped, washed out and wiped
And replaced with his own face, Mosh now or die
If I get sniped tonight you know why,
Cause I told you to fight.

Hear the rhythm to really get the lyrics. Watch that video. Strong, very very very strong stuff. There´s some hope.
Lyrics are here

Posted by b on October 27, 2004 at 04:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (37)

Where is the Surprise?

Hi Karl,

It is already the 27th and there still isn't that surprise. What has happened? You are so good with this stuff so why is there nothing on Fox?

We need a really big one now. The polls show we may lose and all these lawyers and judges are unreliable - they just aren't the base.

Just talked to Diebold. They have trouble with their vote balancing algorithms - had to take'em out. Now we need direct database access. What a screw up.

Sharon did win his "pay-Gaza-settlers-to-annex-West-Jordan" vote yesterday. No need for him to blow up Teheran now. That bastard is totally unreliable.

Why do the Brits take so long to get to Falluja? Do they expect US to take the casualties? A week before the election? Blair needs a butt kick - Allawi too - talking of "major neglect" - who does he think he is? Have Rummy call them.

And talking about Rummy, his shop is leaking like a sieve. $70 billion request, 30,000 more troops for Iraq, those damned explosives. Can´t he even shut up his Generals.

So where is the surprise? We can have Fox, God and whoever speaking for us, but we need an initiative, a spark, a surprise. We need one!

Don’t tell me there isn't any coming up. That one would be really bad.

Posted by b on October 27, 2004 at 05:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (32)

October 25, 2004

Divide and Rule

by Harrow

Since Saddam's government was toppled, Iraqis have endured a series of events that have eroded their faith in the Americans. First it was the mass looting and inability to enforce law and order, then the indiscriminate sacking of soldiers and low-level Baathists, later the abuses at Abu Ghraib and several ferocious battles that caused widespread collateral damage. Before things started going truly and horribly wrong last April, polls showed a small majority of Iraqis were still supportive of the American presence. And yet, even early on, there was a noticeable difference between the attitudes of the three major ethnic groups, with the Kurds being strongly supportive, the Shia lukewarm and the Sunni Arabs opposed.

Academic blogger Juan Cole has been extremely critical of the occupation and Bush's screw-ups. But even he is skeptical about the intentions of the Sunni Arabs.

I don't think they primarily want elections, which would bring the Shiites and Kurds to power. I think they want the Americans gone so as to find a way to regain Sunni Arab supremacy in the country. That actually makes them more dangerous, because if that is their motive then they will likely go on blowing up things for a long time to come.

He also quotes a journalist who notes a severe hardening of opinion among the Sunnis. The Association of Muslim Scholars, the biggest Sunni body in the country, has announced it will boycott the elections. Muqtada al-Sadr has raised stupendous hell for much of this year, but his hardcore supporters form a minority of Shia. He was not able to mobilize the majority of Shia into supporting open rebellion.

Why is that? The title above says it all. Obviously the US is not anti-Sunni on principle, and has included several in the Iraqi government to make it representative. Washington has vigorously promoted six cooperative political parties, where Sunnis form a very small minority, but their common feature is being pro-American or exiles who were against the old establishment. The truth is, Saddam has made the job of ruling Iraq laughably easy for the American government. The memories of his massacres are still fresh for the Kurds, who faced genocide in 1988. As a "final solution" to never-ending Kurdish rebellion, especially during the war with Iran, soldiers were ordered to interrogate and execute all people between 15 and 70 in rebel-held areas. Captured civilian men and teenage boys were separated from other Kurds, trucked off to giant pits in the countryside, and summarily executed. In total 50,000-100,000 Kurds were murdered or died. In 1991, Saddam carried out reprisals against rebellious Shias that were nearly as vicious; large parts of Karbala were razed, and the huge marshes in southern Iraq were completely drained and turned into desert to flush out Shia rebels taking refuge there.

And even before Saddam, sectarian distrust and the history of Sunni supremacy made unity difficult. This is from Militant Islam, a book by writer and journalist G.H. Jansen. Keep in mind Jansen is sympathetic to radical Islam, vehemently critical of the colonial powers and wrote this 25 years ago.

The ulema {religious establishment} in Iraq, as we have seen, did play the usual leading role in the 1920 uprising, but that was possible because beforehand the religious leaders of the Sunnis and Shiahs had formally decided to cooperate to face a national emergency. It is because these two communities are evenly balanced in Iraq (only officially so, the Shiahs have long claimed to be in the majority and almost certainly are) that the Iraqi national movement never again had recourse to Islamic support: the delicate equilibrium might not have been achieved again, one or the other community would have been forced into opposition.

If it was a challenge in the 1920s, just imagine what it would be like today.

The good news is, despite the fierce Sunni resistance against the interim government, there's not much evidence of the civil war that so many have warned of. In spite of horrific attacks against Shia pilgrims and other civilians, most Iraqis seem to believe the worst terrorist attacks are carried out by foreigners (Iranians, Kuwaitis, Israelis, Americans), and there has been some degree of cooperation between Sunnis and Sadrists when one side or the other was engaged in battle with the Americans.

All the same, if the elections go ahead in January and aren't a complete debacle, there's the danger that a serious national rift could start to grow. Right now it seems most Sunnis will either boycott the elections or be too afraid of terrorist reprisals to go to polling stations. A nominally democratic government might be seen as an expression of Shia and Kurdish will to keep the Sunnis down. The Shia will probably continue to tolerate a large American presence for the same reason they do now - they fear the intentions of the Sunni Arabs more than they hate the American occupiers.

Rahul Mahajan believes the real danger is a long, savage war between religious extremists and a repressive government.

Unfortunately, the United States, by its continuing presence and operations, is creating another force that offers an even more frightening prospect of civil war, with a clear religious basis. The model for potential civil war in Iraq is not, or at least not primarily, Lebanon; it is Algeria.
The GIA was distinguished by the extremism of its ideology, even among Wahhabis; at one point, bin Laden dissociated himself from them because of their extremism.

In Iraq, that role is to be played by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Tawhid wal Jihad (Monotheism and Holy War). By “monotheism,” they mean primarily anti-Shi’ism. They are not primarily an anti-occupation force; they target Shi’a directly, with American soldiers occasionally as collateral damage.

But there are problems with this: al-Tawhid may have had a chance to start growing by the American failure to provide order, but an American departure would do nothing to lessen the danger of extremists. More importantly, these ultra-violent nihilists are said to make up only a few hundred (at most, a few thousand) of the 10,000-20,000 Sunni rebels in Iraq. It's true that the continuing American presence has helped to create them, but the other insurgents will not go away either. As American forces begin falling next year or 2006, the next prime minister of Iraq will have to be a genius of national reconciliation with an iron will, or the *best* that can be hoped for is a feudal state ruled by petty local warlords and religious zealots. Since it's unlikely that there will be an Iraqi government that is both strong and indefinitely friendly to the US, divide and rule it will be. And because of Iraq's history, Washington may never have to lift a finger to inflame it, even if it willingly acts as a catalyst.

Posted by b on October 25, 2004 at 02:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (40)

Your Open Thread

Posted by b on October 25, 2004 at 05:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (34)

Red Lights Flashing

Doug Noland of Prudent Bear started his weekly Credit Bubble Bulletin on Friday with the words "It has the feel of an unfolding bear market." Martin Goldberg, author at Financial Sense, titled his Thursday market wrap-up "Something big is about to happen."

For years the US has over consumed and under saved. Foreigners have financed the difference between consumption and savings so far, confident in US politics and the US economy. This is changing.

The US war adventure in Iraq has helped to push oil prices up 100% in only one year. This is an oil shock for the global economy. Take a look at this chart and predict where the oil price may go.

Oil chart
The Saudis say they are pumping whatever they can. Seeing these prices and imaginating the "love" the Saudis have for a Bush administration let me doubt that they are telling the truth.

According to Morgan Stanley the US needs to attract $2.6 billion per business day to stay liquid. Foreign buying of US equities slowed to an average of just $0.6 billion of US equities in the first seven months of 2004 - only 10% of the $5.7 billion monthly average in 2000-2003.

With less demand for US$ assets the Dollar will sink relative to other currencies. When the US$ did sink to $1.30 per Euro in February, the Euro Central Bank did threaten to intervene. This stopped the slide at that time. Last week the Euro finance ministers agreed to favour a stronger Euro. Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy of France said, "A strong currency is better when commodity prices are high." With the Euro higher, oil will be cheaper for Euro countries. This will offset losses in exports.

The Japanese and Chinese Central Banks have not yet arrived at this conclusion. The current exchange rate is around 107 yen per US$. At 105 the Japanese Central bank will threaten to intervene, at 100 yen/US$ it will intervene. But what happens if oil goes to $70/barrel? Japan is importing all its oil and at a certain price point it will come to the same conclusion as Mr. Sarkozy. Better to buy cheaper oil than to waste money to keep the US$ up. At that point the US$ will go down some 25%.

With the US$ going lower who will buy US treasuries? Currently treasuries only give some 4% in interest. This is not enough to compensate for the risk of a sinking US$. Therefore treasuries will sink in value and their interest rate will go up. This may not happen immediately (see Japanese intervention), but the long term trend is obvious.

Rising interest rates are bad for the bond markets. There are trillions in bonds in the market. Fannie Mae alone has a book of business of $2.282 Trillion. It has sold Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) of about this value and lent the money to US homeowners. Many of these loans are with Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM). When interest rates go up, this bubble will burst. Fannie Mae being under SEC investigation and in de-facto receivership does not help to keep ones confidence.

The stock markets show divergences. Since January the DOW is in a downtrend. But for the last two weeks the DOW did fall while the NASDAQ did rise. What is the rational of Google being evaluated at $46 billion when the company makes a profit of only $105 million? If you buy a Google share you will get an interest rate of 0.2% plus a serious downside risk. This is the sentiment of early 2000 and the result will be similar.

Often there are external events that trigger the fall of nervous markets. The US election is right at the door. If the election is contested, as it is likely, what will happen with confidence in the US democracy, in the US debt position, in the US markets?

Markets anticipate it is said. If this is true and the markets do anticipate problems after the election what will they do this week?

Posted by b on October 25, 2004 at 05:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (57)

October 24, 2004


LA Times has an analysis by Neal Gabler on Rovism. Even without the religious extremes taking over the Republican party, as has been discussed here in recent threads, the piece finds that the concepts applied by Rove in and of themself constitute a theocratic scheme.

This election is about Rovism — the insinuation of Rove's electoral tactics into the conduct of the presidency and the fabric of the government.

All politicians operate within an Orwellian nimbus where words don't mean what they normally mean, but Rovism posits that there is no objective, verifiable reality at all. Reality is what you say it is, ...

When neither dissent nor facts are recognized as constraining forces, one is infallible, which is the sum and foundation of Rovism. Cleverly invoking the power of faith to protect itself from accusations of stubbornness and insularity, this administration entertains no doubt, no adjustment, no negotiation, no competing point of view.
Americans love toughness. They love swagger. In a world of complexity and uncertainty, especially after Sept. 11, they love the idea of a man who doesn't need anyone else. They even love the sense of mission, regardless of its wisdom.

These values run deep in the American soul, and Rovism consciously taps them. But they are not democratic. Unwavering discipline, demonization of foes, disdain for reality and a personal sense of infallibility based on faith are the stuff of a theocracy — the president as pope or mullah and policy as religious warfare.

Boiled down, Rovism is government by jihadis in the grip of unshakable self-righteousness — ironically the force the administration says it is fighting. It imposes rather than proposes.
All administrations try to work the system to their advantage, and some, like Nixon's, attempt to circumvent the system altogether. Rove and Bush neither use nor circumvent, which would require keeping the system intact. They instead are reconfiguring the system in extra-constitutional, theocratic terms.

Posted by b on October 24, 2004 at 09:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)

October 22, 2004

Open Thread

Welcome ...

Posted by b on October 22, 2004 at 10:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (126)

Strategic Campaign Extended

Fri Oct 22, 2004 06:21 AM ET

Washington DC (RBN)

The US government has extended its strategic communication campaign to remind "Old"-Europeans of the danger of terrorism. The advertising and influence campaign, which has be running for one year, recently launched into a new phase.

"We need to get more determination to actively fight the war on terror into the European mind" a senior administration official said. "There is no way we will ever have German or French troops in Iraq or Iran if we can not stir up the popular fervour," he added.

The campaign with the slogan "There is no future in terrorism" began in November 2003 with full page advertisements in leading newspapers in ten Western European countries. Additional newspaper ads were launched in March 2004 and in October. New committed funds now allow for 30 seconds TV spots with powerful scenes of nuclear, biological and explosive attacks to be broadcasted.

The advertisement campaign is supervised by VALE International LTD, a group of international professional advertising and public relation consultants under the leadership of Norman Vale, a long time professional in international marketing.

VALE International has established a European entity under the label of "European Security Advocacy Group". The website promises "sustained effort to change people's attitudes and behaviour" and to "raise people's concern about the disastrous threat terrorism poses to world peace".

The strategic communication effort is estimated to have cost $20 million. "We intend this to get us at least one division of European troops into Iraq. That could save us a billion a month," one official said. "It is the cheapest imaginable way to free our troops for other commitments."

Related links:
European Security Advocacy Group
Bjørn Stærk has the TV ads and more information

Posted by b on October 22, 2004 at 07:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (30)

October 21, 2004


Mon Oct 25, 2004 03:12 AM ET

BAGHDAD (RBN) - Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been captured after a firefight at a roadblock north of rebel-held Falluja. The announcement was made early Monday morning at an hastily arranged news conference by Falah Hasan Al Naqib, Iraqs Interior Minister.

"We have heard those reports and we do believe they are true," Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, told RBN. "We are in contact with the marines based around Falluja," he said.

An Iraqi defense ministry spokesman also confirmed the report.

Zarqawi is believed to have been among 5 militants seized at a U.S.-led roadblock operation on their way north from Falluja. One man resembled Zarqawi and DNA tests are being conducted, the sources said. There were no further details.

Another senior U.S. officer also confirmed the report. "There was a short firefight and several of the terrorists are wounded," Lieutenant Colonel Eric Schnaible told RBN. "Zarqawi seems to be unharmed," he added.

Zarqawi, with a $25 million price on his head, is the United States' main enemy at large in Iraq and is blamed for some of the worst insurgent violence against the U.S.-backed interim Iraqi administration.

Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group claimed responsibility for suicide bombings last Thursday that killed up to four Americans in the heart of Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, seat of the government and home to the U.S. and British embassies.

A spokesman of President Bush in Washington would not confirm the report but refered to an exclusive life interview with the President by Charlie Gibson scheduled for today's "Good Morning America".

Posted by b on October 21, 2004 at 09:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (41)

World League

Congratulations to the Red Sox for winning the American League. The next step is to play and win the World Series now.

After the US baseball team did not make the qualification for the 2004 Olympics, playing the World Series is quite an achievement.

There is also this contest about being leader of the free world where an underdog may win this year. Let's take the Red Sox win as a good omen.

Posted by b on October 21, 2004 at 04:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

October 20, 2004

Latest News

Wed Oct 20, 2004 11:59 AM ET

Washington (RBN) - President Bush caught the flu and will rest in the White House until further notice. "The President came down with a nasty variant of a regular flu virus and suffers from a cold and intermediate headache," spokesman Scott McClellan announced. "His doctors asked the President to refer from further travel and the President has agreed," he added.

The announcement came shortly after the President had attended a campaign strategy lunch at an institute in Rancho Mirage, California. Witnesses said the President fainted while picking up a heavy brown bag that has slipped out of his hand on the way back from the meeting to his official limousine. The President is currently aboard Air Force One flying back to Washington DC.

Unlike Congress the President had refrained from a flu shot after a recent shortage in flu vaccine has resulted in accusations of administration mismanagement.

Posted by b on October 20, 2004 at 01:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

Fear No Fear

Conservative NYT opinion editorial writer William Safire crusades agains fearmongering in: The Year of Fear.

the Fear Room at Kerry campaign headquarters is on a hair trigger to turn any breaking news into a personal threat. ... After approving ads that strike fear into U.S. television viewers by exploiting terrorist beheadings of Americans, John Kerry had the chutzpah to say of Bush's reminders of 9/11: "He's scaring people." That was a classic Fear Room maneuver: as soon as editorial revulsion at scare tactics breaks into print, direct that reaction at the other side.
Like many OpEd writers Safire obviously does not read the news sections of the paper he writes for. Today he did not even scan the NYT front page which has a lead titled:
Cheney Cites Bomb in Critisism of Kerry
Vice President Dick Cheney cast doubt Tuesday on whether Senator John Kerry was strong enough to fight terrorism, and asserted that the nation might one day face terrorists "in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us,'' including a nuclear bomb. ... "The biggest threat we face now as a nation,'' he said, "is the possibility of terrorists' ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us - biological agents or a nuclear weapon or a chemical weapon of some kind - to be able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.''
Are Dick Cheney's speeches written by the Fear Room of the Kerry campaign?

We will not be caught by fear mongering politicians, says Safire and continues:

My advice to voters in this political Year of Fear, as well as to journalists and our sources, is from Joshua 1:9: "Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed." Courage and freedom will win, and the purveyors of panic will lose.
We hope so and ask Mr. Safire to follow Cheney's advice who adds:
"You have to get your mind around that concept."

Posted by b on October 20, 2004 at 04:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

October 19, 2004

Another Open One

Iraq, Election, Iran, Election, Israel, Election, ...

Please contribute your news, reviews and opinion ...

Posted by b on October 19, 2004 at 05:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (71)

The Party is Over ...

Throughout the last years Asia has been financing the Unites States consumers. This is now about to change. The US is not prepared for the resulting foreign policy and economic trouble.

The Problem's Start

After the stock bubble burst in 2000, the Federal Reserve Bank lowered its interest rate to stall off a recession and allowed for cheap and plenty credit availability. The government lowered taxes financed by additional debt. Cheap mortgage rates allowed real estate to be used as an ATM. This and the tax cuts put money into consumer pockets.

On the other side of the Pacific central banks were concerned with underemployed masses in their countries. To bring the people into employment and develop their economies they needed growth in production facilities and export markets.

With sinking US interest rates, the Dollar should have lowered versus all other currencies and should have allowed for more US exports and fewer imports. Asian countries could not allow their currencies to increase and stall their exports. They pegged their currencies to the US Dollar.

The Circle

The US consumer carried their Dollars to Wal Mart in exchange for goods produced in China. The producers in China exchanged the Dollars through the Chinese Central Bank into freshly printed Yuan to pay their workers. With its Dollars the Chinese Central Bank then bought fresh US debt in form of Treasury Bills and Mortgage Backed Securities. This facilitated further US tax cuts and even cheaper mortgage rates. The Dollars found the way back into consumer hands.

To the astonishment of many economists this "vendor-financing" circle did work for some years. But ever increasing US debt levels and increased printing of Yuans are not sustainable. Nobody wants to finance a house to 150% of its value and nobody wants to build unprofitable Mobil-Phone-Factory-No.52 in Shanghai.

The Crunch

As Stephen Roach reports India is starting to use the Dollars owned by their Central Bank to finance new roads and water pumps. China starts using its Dollar reserves to bail out some of its failing banks and to build strategic commodity reserves. Roach cites an Indian official:

"We are subsidizing the American economy. These are scarce resources that can be put to better use."

As China and India slow their recycling of Dollars, the Dollar will have to decrease relative to other currencies. To finance its wars, the US will have to pay higher interest rates on renewed an additional debt and will have to increase taxes. With higher rates and taxes the consumer will no longer be able to sustain current consumption levels. Falling consumption will lead to a recession.

As consumer, financial institute and government debt are at unprecedented highs, higher interest rates and a recession will facilitate severe dislocation in financial markets. The Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac have reached the Outer Limits and will fail.


So far the US has denied these unbalances and the problems that will result. Fareed Zakaria is correct when he writes in WaPo about America's Big Challenge: Asia. The election discussions have been about foreign policy on a country with 23 million inhabitants and some minor domestic economy issues. A real foreign policy discussion would be about 3,000 million Asians and the coming economic train wreck.

Posted by b on October 19, 2004 at 01:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

October 18, 2004


Together with Putin’s endorsement for Bush today, a qualitative equivalent testimony by Abu Musab Goldstein al-Zarqawi emerged today.

An Arabic written message was posted on several Islamist websites and message boards and is said to be Zarqawi endorsing Osama bin Laden.

"We announce that the Tawhid wal Jihad (One God and Holy War) Group, its prince and soldiers, have pledged allegiance to the sheikh of the mujahideen Osama bin Laden,"

[The Islamist websites do not use Christian Web Hosting and real Christian IP addresses. As General Boykin explained, the IP addresses used were "only idols" and the postings could therefore not be tracked back to the poster.]

With today's announcement there is now final proof for the prophetic abilities of George W. Bush and his administration.

Powell soothsaid to the UN on February 5, 2003:

We know these [Al Queda] affiliates are connected to Zarqawi because they remain, even today, in regular contact with his direct subordinates
Three days ago, anticipating today's evidence, Powell even put Zarqawi on the State Department's terror list.

Now Zarqawi's connection to Al Queda is proven beyond doubt. The statement is in Arabic, posted on the Internets, it includes his name and, most conclusive, US officials say it is credible.

Endorsing Mr. Zarqawis help in the election process White House spokesman Trent Duffy said in Washington:

"This underscores once again why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror," .. "It's also proof positive of why the president's firm resolve to fight terrorists overseas so we don't face them in America's neighbourhoods is the only clear way to prevail."
The flypaper theory, now officially endorsed as No. 10 on the List of Iraq War rationales cited by Bush administration.

Atrios asks what Kerry's response to Bush capturing Zarqawi should be.

The build up of Zarqawi as the current Goldstein and now his connection to AlQueda could be the hint that they already have someone they can present as a captured Zarqawi.

CNN has a picture with this recent article of a man supposed to be Zarqawi. The picture has the copyright notice of AP/Department of State. It is significant different from the picture in Powells UN presentation.

Where does this new picture come from, why has it not been in the UN presentation and how do they know it is Zarqawi?

Posted by b on October 18, 2004 at 01:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (25)

What will he be like?

Conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan asks the question every voter should ask:

This insularity, of course, is not a sign of strength, but of weakness. So there are no deficits; or they do not matter. There has been no increase in domestic spending because the president's plans say so. There was no insurgency in Iraq, just a fgew 'dead-enders', And on and on. The reason Bush cannot name a mistake he has made is not because he is smart enough not to admit error in public. It's because he doesn't believe he has ever made a mistake. If you are God's instrument, how could you? And notice the only mistake that came to his mind: he allowed a few non-believers into his inner circle. You can be sure that won't happen again. I cannot be the only person of a conservative disposition in politics to be alarmed at this kind of blindness in a president. Most people become tempered by experience; they learn from their mistakes; they adapt and reflect and adjust. Not this president. If he is as sealed off from reality now, what will he be like if he's re-elected handily?

Posted by b on October 18, 2004 at 07:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (25)

October 17, 2004

Just Another Open Thread

News and Views...

Posted by b on October 17, 2004 at 05:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (71)

October 16, 2004

Gignac's Gargantuan Gaffe

by Harrow

You usually don't read the business section of the newspaper for laughs, unless you're reading quotes on the economy from Bushco. But I got a good chuckle when I picked up yesterday's Globe and Mail. In the previous day's edition, there was this:

It's proverbial wisdom in the stock market that when the base metal stocks such as copper and nickel are soaring in price, it is a sure sign that the economic cycle is about to peak and it is time to take profits.
But that is not Mr. Gignac's view. He is confident that the rally is sustainable, helped by growth in China and India, ample liquidity provided by the central banks in the Group of Seven countries and continued moderate growth in the United States.
The very next day, their story changed somewhat.
VANCOUVER -- High-flying metals prices and mining stocks thudded back to earth yesterday, dragged down by factors that included a stronger U.S. dollar, worries about slowing demand in China and signs that shortages of some metals, such as copper, could soon ease.
Wow, what a difference one day makes!

I especially like how it was China's fault either way. If and when a serious economic crisis hits the US, there's going to be a lot of opportunistic demagogues pointing their fingers overseas and bellowing about the yellow peril. Maybe another way of interpreting this is that China has become so huge and voracious (it surpassed Japan as the world's third biggest trader sometime earlier this year), it can drastically affect the world economy one way or the other, depending which side of the bed it got up on that morning. At any rate, there's another peril much closer to home:

Analysts said the rout was aggravated by the increased influence of institutional investors such as hedge funds, who stepped up their activity in metals markets to offset disappointing returns in other sectors. The presence of these large traders has helped push commodity prices higher but has also led to more volatility.

"We have unleashed a horrible monster of liquidity," said John Ing, president of Toronto-based investment dealer Maison Placements Canada Inc. "With interest rates where they are, and stock markets such miserable performers, there have been a great number of these hedge funds or commodity funds created, because that's where the action has been."

I've heard that hedge funds are increasingly dominating the stock market. How long until the next business section flip-flop?

Posted by b on October 16, 2004 at 07:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Cease and Desist

There are rumours that a decent answer to this recently discovered letter could have prevented the war in Iraq.

Mr. Saddam Hussein
Presidential Palace

Bagdhad, Iraq


Dear President Hussein:

It has been brought to our attention - and was confirmed by the Los Angeles Times yesterday - that your country is sponsoring and promoting a false and misleading campaign designed to scare America into believing that there are no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

As you must be aware, this urban myth regarding the non-existence of WMD in Iraq has been thoroughly debunked by no less than the President of the United States, who explicitly stated in a radio address, "We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons," as well as the Vice President, who declared, "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." Additionally, the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, said, "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat.'"

In the light of the above statements, the only conclusion to be drawn is that your campaign is being conducted with malicious intent and a reckless disregard for the truth. You have an obligation to immediately cease and desist from promoting or conducting your "nonexistent WMD" campaign.

As we know, the addressee of the letter did not cease and desist his campaign.

Senior administration officials, citing the President and the Vice President, now assert, that a fulfillment of the request to cease and desist the campaign would have avoided the issue.

Thereby, if Rock for Vote would only cease and desist their "Draft" campaign there would be no draft.

A PDF version of the letter
Josh has the story

Posted by b on October 16, 2004 at 11:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (24)

October 15, 2004

DoD Mystery

Last Monday LA Times reported: Major Assaults on Hold Until After U.S. Vote

The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.
..administration and Pentagon officials say they will not try to retake cities such as Falluja and Ramadi .. until after Americans vote in what is likely to be an extremely close election.

A similar article, which I currently can not find, did appear in the New York Times some two weeks ago. Reoccupying rebel cities would require more Iraqi forces and would have to be delayed because these forces were not yet trained.

In opposition to the above articles, a full fledged offense on Falluja did begin last night. WaPo reports

The intensified assault on Falluja, involving Iraqi and U.S. forces, started Thursday afternoon and was of a magnitude well beyond the "precision air strikes" that had become routine in recent weeks.

CIA asset Allawi had yesterday challenged the peace negotiators from Falluja to produce the ominous Jordanian militant Zarquawi. Otherwise Falluja would be "smashed". The negotiators replied not to know about the whereabouts of Zarqawi and left the negotiations. By one report the negotiators have now been arrested.

From a psychological warfare aspect the start of a larger scale attack on the day that marks the begin of Ramadan is a mistake. It will provoke a harsh answer.

There is split between the planed leaks from individuals in the Department of Defense to the press and reality. This doesn´t sound like the usual propaganda but more like a split personality. Something mysterious is happening at the DoD. Who is in control?

Posted by b on October 15, 2004 at 12:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

Promotion Balloon?

Fay Report on Abu Ghraib (pdf)


(c) (U) I find that LTG Sanchez, and his DCG, MG Wojdakowski, failed to ensure proper staff oversight of detention and interrogation operations.

LA Times reports: 4-Star Plans After Abu Ghraib

Senior Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have privately told colleagues they are determined to pin a fourth star on Sanchez, two senior defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said this week.

Schlesinger Report on Abu Ghraib (pdf)

Although LTG Sanchez had tasks more urgent than dealing personally with command and resource deficiencies and allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib, he should have ensured his staff dealt with the command and resource problems. He should have ensured that urgent demands were placed for appropriate support and resources through Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) and CENTCOM to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was responsible for establishing the confused command relationship at the Abu Ghraib prison.

To become 4-star, Sanchez will have to be approved by Congress. That chance is near to zero. So the question is why are anonymous senior defense officials lauching this.

  • Red meat for the base?
  • An attack on Rumsfeld?
  • A smoke screen to something else?
  • A trial balloon to really get a fourth star for Sanchez?

Posted by b on October 15, 2004 at 10:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

October 14, 2004

Matthew 7:3-5

Readers Beq and DM pointed to a report on a new legislation effort:

In another test of Europe's frayed relations with the United States, Israel and other allies, the European Parliament has ordered the European Commisioner for Foreign Relations to start rating governments throughout the world on their treatment of Muslim and Christian citizens.
The proposed law was passed on Monday, in response to what its sponsors called an alarming surge in anti-islamism and anti-christianism, especially in Israel.
Recent incidents show how urgently this legislation is needed.

When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the [Greek Orthodox] clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face. The clergyman prefered not to lodge a complaint with the police and told an acquaintance that he was used to being spat at by Jews.
the officer ignored warnings that a person approaching an army outpost last week was a schoolgirl. After she was shot, he approached Imam al Hamas, 13, as she lay on the ground and fired two bullets at her body before emptying the contents of his rifle magazine into her ... The second schoolgirl, Ghadeer Mokheimer, 10, died of injuries sustained on Tuesday at her UN-run school in Khan Yunis. It was the second time in recent weeks that a schoolgirl had been killed at her desk by Israeli gunfire
The fire that destroyed a storage shed at the Islamic Center in Columbia Heights on Oct. 3 followed an incident in which two unidentified assailants entered the mosque and threw a bottle of rotten eggs at worshippers. On Sept. 23, vandals splattered pink paintballs at the Islamic Center of Minnesota in Fridley.
The two [teenagers] allegedly assaulted Arab taxi drivers and pedestrians in the Jerusalem area, in addition to hurling stones at vehicles belonging to Arabs.
The first quote about the new legislation is, of course, a joke. The real article is about US legislation and anti-semitism in Europe.
In another test of America's frayed relations with France, Russia and other allies, the US Congress has ordered the State Department to start rating governments throughout the world on their treatment of Jewish citizens. ... The proposed law was passed by the House of Representatives on Monday, in response to what its sponsors called an alarming surge in anti-Semitism, especially in Europe.
There is hate crime in Europe and it is harshly prosecuted. Congress is right to be concerned about hate crimes and should read Matthew 7:5 and the Christian Science Monitor.
In Westchester County, N.Y., for example, there were 26 anti-Semitic incidents last year, up from seven in 2002. ... the number of racist skinhead groups in the United States has doubled over the past year, and that the Aryan Nations has 11 new chapters. ... "One-third of Americans believe today that American Jews are more loyal to Israel" than to the United States, says Abraham Foxman, ADL's national director. "That's the oldest anti-Semitic canard in history."
Let me urge the State Department to include in its report this quote of liberal Brent Scowcroft who openly provokes anti-semitism through the European press:
"Sharon just has [the president] wrapped around his little finger"
Add to that the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Posted by b on October 14, 2004 at 12:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (26)

October 13, 2004

Fresh and Open Thread

Posted by b on October 13, 2004 at 04:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (71)

They May Survive

Mark Hertsgaard has written that Bush can not win this election. He compares the situation with Mc Carthy, were people were intimidated into silence, but after four years the nightmare unravelled within just a few months. I now think he is right.

Only a minority is better off after four years of Bush. The majority has lost on its standard of living or has paid for it with higher debt. Conveniently for todays debate (and not by chance) the DOW fell below 10,000 today and oil did reach $53.60 again.
The Iraq explanations are gone one after the other and the public feels that there is a big mess out there, though it does not openly confess this yet. Six dead GIs today and the coming Ramadan weeks will push this - right up to the election.

So the chances are high Kerry will win, as Hertsgaard and Jérôme expect, the popular vote by a wide margin, maybe even by a million and some votes. But will he win the presidency?

Seymour Hersh says, Bush & Co are believers, not rational liars like Kissinger or Nixon. Believers are right by definition. They have the right by definition. They can do no wrong.

There are many fraud possibilities with the US election system. And already there are plenty of cases of unrightful registrations or non-registrations of voters. Given that only a few votes in a few states may decide the ultimate result, someone, somewhere will try for a fix.

Will this be detected? Yes. Will there be litigation? Yes. Will Kerry win those? Unlikely.

Like in Iraq, the real war will only start after the mission is accomplished party and the polling station close. The October surprise may come 3rd of November or even later.

With a clean since unused conscience, never being wrong, there are many ways to achieve a fix - you just have to think big enough.

The junta may survive this indecent onslaught of an election, even if it looses the vote.

Posted by b on October 13, 2004 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

Debate Preparations

Are you in need of a serious depression?
Has your urge to kick some ass slacked?
Is your outrage temperature below boiling?

Just read some news:

Seymour Hersh narrated in Berkley last Friday. Here is the webcast (RealPlayer).

And as he told the story, another platoon from his company came and executed all the guards, as his people were screaming, stop. And he said they just shot them one by one. He went nuts, and his soldiers went nuts. And he's hysterical. He's totally hysterical. And he went to the captain. He was a lieutenant, he went to the company captain. And the company captain said, "No, you don't understand. That's a kill. We got thirty-six insurgents."

Consigliere James Baker is travelling the world to reduce Iraqs debt, while his company, the Carlyle Group, works for Kuweit to maximize their share in debt collection from Iraq.

"Baker is on two sides of this transaction: he is supposed to be representing the interests of the US, but he is also a senior counsellor at Carlyle, and Carlyle wants to get paid to help Kuwait recover its debts from Iraq."

Charles County May Change School Reading Lists. WaPo adds:

Board [of education] members would also invite Gideons International to provide Bibles to students, and cull school reading lists to ban books offering "a neutral or positive view of immorality or foul language."

As it happens, one of the board members, Collins A. Bailey, is a member of Gideons International. A second, Mark Crawford, is host of a weekly religious radio show whose producer favors the abolition of public schools and opposes women holding elected offices that exert authority over men.

The basis of optimism is sheer terror. - Oscar Wilde

Posted by b on October 13, 2004 at 08:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (21)

October 12, 2004

Who? Me?


Your caption?

Posted by b on October 12, 2004 at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (32)

October 11, 2004



In economics, arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of a state of imbalance between two markets: a combination of matching deals are struck that exploit the imbalance, the profit being the difference between the market prices.
An upbeat article in the NYT is headlined:
Rebels Loyal to Shiite Cleric Begin Handing In Arms in Iraq

(paragraph 1) Militiamen loyal to the rebel cleric Moktada Al-Sadr surrendered hundreds of weapons today in what appeared to be an encouraging start to a deal struck with the Iraqi government and the American military to end months of fighting in the eastern Baghdad area known as Sadr City. ... (paragraph 3) In exchange, American commanders agreed to halt military operations against the group, known as the Mahdi Army, and to begin hundreds of millions of dollars worth of reconstruction projects in the impoverished and dilapidated Sadr City area. The Iraqi government also promised to release any member of the Mahdi Army, among the dozens picked up in sweeps here, who has not been charged with a crime. ... (paragraph 15) The weapons drop-off sites brought out an array of characters, some of them Mahdi Army loyalists following orders to turn in their weapons, and some of them unemployed Iraqis looking to make some quick cash for their old army equipment. Under the agreement, the Iraqi government agreed to pay above-market prices for any weapons turned in; $250 for a mortar, $170 for a grenade launcher, and for a bullet, 25 cents. ... (paragraph 28) at the gates of one of the weapons-disposal sites, the Iraqi security officers checked the identification card of an American reporter and then made him an offer.

``Do you want to buy the weapons inside?'' he asked. ``Just $150 for a Kalashnikov.''

Every sane inhabitant of Sadr City will rush to buy a weapon at his favorite bazaar and sell it to the Iraqi government for a profit. The bazaaris will then replenish their shops from the new government stocks. At least three Iraqis will benefit in each transaction - the arbitrageur, the bazaari and the Iraqi security officer. Others will profit from the additional reconstruction funds.

The Neocon utopia of economic revolution in Iraq fulfilled? Only if the markets would balance. But with guaranteed prices, the business opportunity for Iraqis is now endless and as some might see it, one-sided.

(paragraph 30)
In violence today, three American soldiers were killed and 14 were wounded in a pair of attacks in Baghdad and Mosul. In the first, two American soldiers were killed and 5 wounded in a rocket attack in south Baghdad. In the second, one American soldier was killed and 9 wounded when a car bomb crashed into a convoy in Mosul.
BTW, how to value the NYT's reporting priorities?

Posted by b on October 11, 2004 at 07:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

Iraq Mix

Some mixed news about Iraq

As expected, massive fraud was (and is) part of the action. It was easy to do:

The lawsuit said Custer Battles took at least one and as many as eight forklifts from Iraqi Airways at the airport, repainted them to cover their former markings and billed the CPA for leasing them at thousands of dollars per month.
Custer Battles seams to have defrauded the CPA of some $50 million. The government sees no reason to join the whistleblower lawsuit, because the CPA was no government entity and money was from Iraqi oil revenue and confiscated funds. Why should one wash a rented car?


Friday marks the beginning of this years Ramadan. During last years Muslim holy month US casualties doubled. Therefore the president decided: Major Assaults on Hold Until After U.S. Vote. The resistance needs more time to prepare for battle and to read the new Abu Graibh documents.


Some Marines are unhappy:

"Every day you read the articles in the States where it's like, 'Oh, it's getting better and better,' " said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Snyder, 22, of Gettysburg, Pa. "But when you're here, you know it's worse every day."
Asked if he was concerned that the Marines would be punished for speaking out, Autin responded: "We don't give a crap. What are they going to do, send us to Iraq?"

The GOP candidate for the Senate for Colorado, Pete Coors says about voting in congress on giving Bush the authority to wage war in Iraq:

"I suspect that, given what we know today, there would be a much different outcome than we had a couple of years ago" ... "Clearly, we should be more worried today, actually, about Iran and North Dakota than we are -- that is, North Korea -- than we are about Iraq, based on weapons of mass destruction."
North Dakota has about 1,140 nuclear weapons, North Korea may have 10, Iran has none.

His democratic competitor has a different opinion on the Iraq vote:

Seated next to Coors, the Democratic candidate for the Senate seat, state Attorney General Ken Salazar, said he would vote today for a resolution giving the president authority to act in Iraq.
Now that is some party discipline.


Faiza blogging at A Family in Baghdad observes on democracy

[The lecturer] said every candidate has a message, which he keeps repeating to people's attention until they memorize it…
I smiled........... imagining the poor American citizen these days…they all fight, and debate, giving him the headaches, as they try, each separately, to say he is completely right, and the other is completely wrong…and whoever votes for the opponent is a complete fool…
Ha, ha, ha…
A game that gives people the headaches…as if you are in a Bazaar…each is calling for his merchandise, wanting to sell it more than the others.
A very dangerous game….this is Democracy.

Posted by b on October 11, 2004 at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)

October 10, 2004

Kudos to the General

Blogger Gen. JC Christian, Patriot has achieved an ultimate prize.

Campaign and Elections Magazine, The magazine covering the business and trends of politcs, has listed him as Republican / Anti-Kerry in their Political Blog Directory

Highly conservative and anti-liberal, the blog discusses religious aspects of the campaigns and issues involved.

It is extremly difficult to be named in this category. So far neither the hard trying Free Republic nor the well financed Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal have achieved the Republican / Anti-Kerry glory. They were evaluated to fit only the lesser category of Non Partisan.

On Real Clear Politics, Campaign Magazine writes, This blog was credentialed at the Republican Convention. Even that has not done it. The blog is still down as Non Partisan. The General really did beat them all. Such are the business and trends in politics.

Please help the General to continue his fight for a less French republic. Buy one of his Bush campaign t-shirts and give him your vote in the Washington Post Best Blogs - Politics and Elections contest. The sanctified General challenges the National Review in the Best Republican Party Coverage category. Your vote will help to achieve the Lord's will.

Posted by b on October 10, 2004 at 09:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

October 09, 2004

Off Topics Here Please

Posted by b on October 9, 2004 at 07:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (135)

Killing Them Loudly

by koreyel

There is absolutely no comparison between these two candidates. None whatsoever. One is clearly superior to the other.

That this election is evenly divided speaks volumes about how shallowly engaged Americans are in politics.

Which is to say, the sheeple aren't thinking much at all, rather they are reacting to fear. Specifically, fear for the big bad terra wolf. Never mind that automobiles murder over 100 Americans a day. It's the big bad terra wolf that is going to get you. Tomorrow probably if not sooner.

That's the sophistication of the American voter. It really is chicken shit.

And so we have this spectacle of a man with a command of topics, and a vision for America having to repeatedly belittle himself so as to appeal to
America's runaway fears.

How many times did Kerry say he was going to KILL KILL KILL terrorists? Disgusting.

Disgusting that he has to so belittle himself. Surely his parents taught him not to make such spree use of the word KILL. He is educated. He knows better.

But even more disgusting is that the sheep demand such cheap red meat. That they need to be so desperately and artificially assured. Poor things. They need to be pampered and petted, and told repeatedly that the big bad terra wolf won't get them because we are going to KILL him first.

Bah humbug.

I'm sick of the whole thing. Walt Whitman once said: "To have great poets, there must be great audiences." I wonder what Old Walt would say about trying to make a democracy out of a herd of sheep?

Posted by b on October 9, 2004 at 06:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (17)

New Free Speech Zones

by Citizen

According to, its servers in London have somehow been seized by order of U.S. authorities. Their press release:

Thursday morning, 7 October 2004, US authorities issued a federal order to Rackspace ordering them to hand over Indymedia web servers to the requesting agency. Rackspace, which provides hosting services for more that 20 Indymedia sites at its London facility, complied and turned over the requested servers, effectively removing those sites from the internet.

Since the court order was issued to Rackspace and not to Indymedia, the reasons for this action are still unknown to Indymedia. Talking to Indymedia volunteers, Rackspace stated that "they cannot provide Indymedia with any information regarding the order." ISPs have received gag orders in similar situations which prevent them from updating the concerned parties on what is happening.

It is unclear to Indymedia how and why a server that is outside the US
jurisdiction can be seized by US authorities.

The timing of this media suppression is suspicious, coming during the last month of an election in which more and more statements by the administration are being recognized as fabrications, lies, and damned lies. Indymedia generally takes up stories that would be dismissed as marginal or tin-foil hat by mainstream media, but the function of the media in a democratic society is not to hew to the mainstream, but to report news within the limits of the law. This seizure, although still unexplained by authorities, appears to be aimed to bury press freedoms under the mass of the security state.

In Iraq, seizure of the press drove Moqtada Al Sadr into open battle with U.S. troops, and seems to have cost much more security than it achieved. While we cannot know what sort of state secrets this action might possibly have been aimed at, we do know that for the last 3 years, "state secret" as
become a byword, and the U.S. reputation a laughing stock.

To channel Rumsfeld for a moment: Will this action help the U.S.'s
reputation as leader of the free world? Probably not. Should we oppose this?

You betcha.

Posted by b on October 9, 2004 at 06:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Billmon: Anger Management

Billmon sees a walking bomb.

UPDATE: 11:15am
The post at the Whiskey Bar is no longer on the front page. The above link goes to the archives.

Posted by b on October 9, 2004 at 04:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

October 08, 2004

The Second Debate

It has been a bad week for Bush so far:

Like this weeks headlines, the last debate was terrible for Bush. That makes it easy for him to be better in this debate and maybe they will spin that into victory. If Bush is wired again, they may even have trained for it by now.

  • What questions should be asked?
  • What is your immediate impression?
  • Who did win and what's the spin?
Your comments are welcome!

Posted by b on October 8, 2004 at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (40)

Oily Thread IV

by Jérôme

The article Russian oil prospect provides a bleak view of Russian oil reserves. In a nutshell, ..

.. the author, Leslie Dienes, a geographer by profession, argues that Russia's recent oil production increase is mostly due to
(i) some catching up of the "lost production" of the 1990s (the oil that would have been produced in existing fields if production had not dropped dramatically due to the turmoil in the country) and
(ii) "skimming off" the easiest bit of the existing reserves by the new owners of the Russian oil sector in order to boost financial returns in the short term.
She indicates that hardly any production comes from new fields, and that future production will require heavy investment as the fields (in the Asian part of Siberia) are hard to access, very distant from markets and with difficult geological configurations.

In the meantime, the Western oil majors are more busy giving back cash to their shareholders than investing in exploration; and when they invest they are concentrating a growing share of their budgets on natural gas (including the LNG business). They have called on OPEC to open up to them as these countries effectively control all the remaining (large-ish) oil fields where it makes sense for the majors to invest in.

So to sum it up:

  • oil demand is growing unexpectedly strongly (pulled by China, thus not likely to slow down even in the event of a recession in developed countries)
  • oil supply is very tight, with very limited spare capacity (see here - 500 thousand b/d is about 0.5% or current production)
  • oil majors are unwilling or unable to invest significantly to increase oil production, due to lack of access to the reserves or a choice to give back cash rather than invest in small (and more expensive) fields
  • there are strong doubts that OPEC countries can increase their oil production in the short or even medium term, as they seem unable to do so without Western know-how, investment or technology and unwilling to let them in
  • Russia, suddenly the last great hope of the US, may not be able to provide a sustainable increase either.
In any case, there will continue to be tensions on the oil supply-demand balance in the short term and it is yet unclear whether this will change in the long term...

Short term advice - buy oil futures...
Medium term advice - buy a Prius or a bike...
Long term advice - find a way to invest in electricity-powered transportation...

I expect that "demand destruction" is going to become a very widely used term in the future.

Prior discussions with many insightful comments and useful links:
Oily Thread III
Oily Thread II
Oily Thread I

Posted by b on October 8, 2004 at 06:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (22)

October 07, 2004

Two Cents

Andy Xie of Morgan Stanley writes

Summary and Investment Conclusion

The monetary bubble that the Fed has created post-tech burst has created property and commodity inflation (mainly in food and oil). I anticipate the cost-push inflation will spread to general inflation in the coming months, which may shake the bond market.

I believe the global economy is headed toward either mild deflation or stagflation. If central banks cut interest rates in 2005 in response to slowing growth — an outcome of the oil shock — the global economy may be headed toward stagflation. If central banks focus on price stability and, hence, do not cut interest rate in 2005 despite slowing growth, the global economy could be headed toward low growth and low inflation with deflation in certain periods and some sectors.
My expectation is along Andy Xie's one, but twofold, dividing the world into a US-Dollar and a Euro zone.

The US Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) under Greenspan is likely NOT to focus on price stability. The propaganda "core CPI" inflation measurement (without "volatile" food and oil prices) will show only low US inflation rates.

Next year the Fed will decrease its interest rate again, because the US economy will be in stagnation or in another recession. Low Fed interest rates will lead to a new round of money creation (cheap credit => increasing amount of money chasing a constant amount of goods => higher prices => inflation) and intensify the inflationary process. The US money expansion will also fuel inflation in Asia where currencies are bound to the value of the US Dollar. Through more expansive imports from Asia to the US the inflation spiral will accelerate.

This will have the desired effect of decreasing the cosmic US debt in real, inflation corrected, terms, but in effect will be a heavy additional tax for the US consumer. This is the stagflation scenario.

The European Central Bank is hawkish on inflation. It will most likely not decrease its interest rate, but may allow or engineer a further rise of the Euro against the US Dollar. This will shield the Euro market from increases in Dollar denominated commodity (oil) prices, i.e. inflation, but will hurt its exports.

Inflationary pressure in the Euro zone will be much less than in the US, but low local demand and sluggish exports will take their toll.

(The Euro economies will try to increase their exports into countries that are blessed with higher income through higher commodity prices, i.e. the Middle East and Russia. This puts their economic interest in opposition to strategic US interests.)

Real wages will decrease, as desired, not through inflation, but through negotiated working hours increases. This is Andy Xie's deflationary scenario.

Economic analysis is unsound in quantifying effects in time. The above scenario may unfold in 2005 to 2008, but possible shocks like a massive oil supply disruption, a litigious US election or a severe correction in the stock markets through derivative failures (Fannie Mae?) will likely accelerate the process.

My medium term investment conclusion:
Short: US Dollar, US Treasuries, high tech, housing and retail related stocks;
Long: Euros, Gold, commodities (oil, food), stocks related to water, food and commodity production;

These are just my € 0.02. If you add your equivalent in the comments, we may all become rich.

Posted by b on October 7, 2004 at 05:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)


"My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."
Transcript of Powell's U.N. presentation
The Comprehensive Report .. on Iraq’s WMD finds:
Irak had

Possible - Weapon - of - Mass - Destruction - Program - Related - Activity - Considerations

thought to eventually deter an Iranian aggression.

Never has a nation's international standing be shredded like this.

Posted by b on October 7, 2004 at 08:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (20)

October 06, 2004

Turn into Finns

From yesterdays debate:

CHENEY: We've been strong supporters of Israel. The president stepped forward and put in place a policy basically that said we will support the establishment of two states. First president ever to say we'll establish and support a Palestinian state nextdoor to Israelis.
Ariel Sharon's senior adviser Dov Weisglass in an interview with Haaretz partly published today:
"The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process," ... "And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress."
Cheney obviously bended the truth yesterday on several points, but this two-state-support-lie is new. The now supported concept is radical and disgusting. Will the US media call him on this? Will the Kerry campaign bring this up? Rhetorical questions. Weissglas continues:
"The peace process is the establishment of a Palestinian state with all the security risks that entails. The peace process is the evacuation of settlements, it's the return of refugees, it's the partition of Jerusalem. And all that has now been frozen.... what I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns."
No support for a two state solution, the peace process frozen, the settlements not be dealt with, agreed to with the Americans - until the Palestinians turn into Finns. Goebbels would have been proud of that abyys analogy.

Also in yesterdays debate:

EDWARDS: Now, we know that the prime minister has made a decision, an historic decision, to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza. It's important for America to participate in helping with that process.
... [The Israeli] don't have a partner for peace right now. They certainly don't have a partner in Arafat, and they need a legitimate partner for peace.
Yasir Arafat is the elected president of the Palestinian Authority, with an overwhelming 87% majority. For Mr. Edwards that does not qualify him be a legitimate partner for peace. There is no other Palestinian leader in sight, therefore for Mr. Edwards the peace process is frozen too.

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is the cancer of the Middle East. The metastases are now spreading even further and both parties in the US activly support the dispersal of the desease. How much longer? Until the Palestinians turn into Finns? Until a dirty nuke deserts Los Angeles? Until whatever may come first?

Posted by b on October 6, 2004 at 08:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (23)

Asking for the Sword

by koreyel

Josh Marshall writes something that I absolutely agree with:

I don't usually think much of the sort of comment that I'm about to make. But there was a moment during this 'philosophical' phase of Cheney's performance when I couldn't help but think: 'I just don't know if this guy's heart is really in it. I'm not sure they really want to win.' He was listless. It was like Cheney checked out of the debate about a half hour before Edwards did.
That very moment happened for me too. It was just a fleeting feeling... yet strong enough that it rose to consciousness.

Essentially I thought: These guys know they have failed. And that very knowledge is dragging them down. Somewhere deep inside they know they should lose this election.

A strange psychodynamics is upsetting the guts of the republican party machine these days. The parts are misfiring. There is a listlessness and a emptiness to their arguments, and a rancor between various pistons.

Every creature, every machine, every society has to maintain some sort of integrity. A failure to do so leads to mechanical failure, exhaustion, and collapse.

Arguably, the wheels are coming off the republican party because they know the wheels deserve to come off. They really have bollixed up the planet in short order, and have no idea how to fix things. Trying to pretend they do is just making them sicker in their centers.

If Kerry can follow up on Friday with an acute performance... I think he can win it.

Posted by b on October 6, 2004 at 05:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (33)

October 05, 2004

Realcons Begging "Help!"

By an "Anonymous", a veteran Foreign Service officer currently serving as a State Department official, yesterdays Salon:The State Department's extreme makeover

Powell's early 2005 departure is the subject of intense jockeying among the neocons. A Perle neocon protégé, Michael Rubin, has been given the task of destroying the only competition -- L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer ... They intend to close the Foggy Bottom door to any aspirations Bremer, a former Foreign Service officer and Kissinger protégé, might have to take over from Powell.
Bremer is fighting back and talking at DePawn University:
"The single most important change -- the one thing that would have improved the situation -- would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout... Although I raised this issue a number of times with our government, I should have been even more insistent."
I am not sure what Bremer says is consistent with what he thinks or what he has said and thought before. Maybe he was the best possible choice against the neocons, but now he is off that list.

The little revolution State, with the above article, the CIA with several leaks and the military with some disgruntled rumours are running, will not be enough. Maybe they still have an October surprise, but don’t bet on it.

So what is to expect in foreign policy if Bush wins? Powell and Armitage are out, Condolezza Rice will get State and be as ineffective as ever. Wolfowitz will become National Security Advisor and Feith will take Wolfowitz's seat in the Pentagon. David Wurmser or John Bolton will be Rice's deputy and run the show at State. Arafat will be killed, Syria couped and Iran bombed - the Zionist/Neocon wish list will be followed point by point. In four years Palestine will be cleansed from Palestinians. Teheran will be burned down and the preparations to attack China in full swing. Welcome to a brave new world.

No wonder the realcons are begging for help

Posted by b on October 5, 2004 at 03:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)


Dick Cheney as advertised by the Bush/Cheney campaign.

Throughout his service, Mr. Cheney served with duty, honor, and unwavering leadership, gaining him the respect of the American people during trying military times.
John Edwards bio written by the Kerry/Edwards campaign.
Whether in the courtroom or the Senate, John Edwards has been guided by the small-town values his parents taught him when he was young – hard work, responsibility, and community. And those same values guide him in his campaign to be vice president.
Hard do guess how the viewers will judge on the discussion tonight. There are some openings in Cheney’s defense from today’s press. Rumsfeld has not seen 'strong, hard evidence' of an AlQaida - Iraq link and Paul Bremer admits ''We never had enough troops on the ground.''.

Cheney's flip-flop going to Baghdad 2002 versus 1992 should also be a fair point. How many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? Cheney had asked. Edwards should demand an answer. But of course Cheney will be prepared for these and have his attack points ready.

From outer appearance I expect Edwards, People magazine's sexiest politician, to win this one, but Cheney's ever frightening terror, terror, terror does boost voter support on all issues.

What is your bet?

Posted by b on October 5, 2004 at 06:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)