Saturday, September 22, 2007


These types of stories are so tiresome.

Not the bloggers doing the work of pointing it out, but that fact that it chronically happens. Every time I read some wanking reporter's political story I shake my head and wonder. I used to write about it a whole bunch, but I'm simply fed up with it.

My hat is off to other bloggers and Media Matters and any number of others who keep track of this sludge, point it out, and work to change the wankers. Until it improves, you simply cannot believe a whole bunch of what you see, hear, and read from the media.


Compare, Contrast

Always remember, the MoveOn ad was terrible!!!!


Congress Can't Read

And neither can the mainstream media and punditry.


Keep On Trainin'

Juan Cole gives us an update on the training of Iraqi's to be policemen, using the Pentagon's own assessment (so you know it has to be right!):

' The Pentagon report cited a litany of problems with the police. For example, it said as few as 40 percent of those trained by coalition troops in recent years are still on the job. Also, due to combat loss, theft, attrition and poor maintenance, a "significant portion" of U.S.-issued equipment is now unusable.'
Just to underline what is said here, 60 percent of the policemen who got even the very minimal training on offer to them have disappeared from the force; and not much is left of the weaponry ("equipment") that the US gave the Iraqi police.
As for other progress? Read them and weep:

Note the first chart shows little change in the casualty rate. The second chart shows a drop in August in the number of attacks. But since casualties remained essentially unchanged this simply means that the attacks are getting more deadly .... hardly a good development.

What more can be said?


Friday, September 21, 2007

Rather Has CBS By The .....

In thinking about Dan Rather's gazillion dollar lawsuit, I think he made a great move. If it goes all the way to court, the revelations from him regarding CBS's ass kissing of Bush will be highly embarrassing. Rather can claim he's removing the veil from network wanking. And if CBS settle with Rather, he gets a pile of cash.

You go Dan.


A Good Question

Why are Senate Dems afraid of a real filibuster but not afraid to condemn MoveOn?



In a normal world, I'd say this takes guts. In our world and given the recent Republican stupidity in the Senate, I guess it would make sense .....

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration may increase the amount of money it is seeking for the Iraq war for the 2008 fiscal year that begins October 1, the White House said on Friday.

The White House outlined a request for around $147 billion for fiscal 2008 for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the administration is reviewing those figures and is considering giving Congress an updated request.

"I would expect it to be higher, I can't tell you what the number will be," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.

The Washington Post has reported the administration may increase its request by up to $50 billion, which would bring the total request to nearly $200 billion.
In for a penny, in for a pound. Helps Helio Ben to keep the government printing presses going.



Yes, now on top of everything else, we have cholera reaching Baghdad. Why? It's simple .....

You see, insurgents have been blowing up chlorine trucks as a weapon. So what does the military do? Stop chlorine shipments into the area. But wait you say. Isn't chlorine necessary for drinking water? Well yes, drinking water is necessary. But without chlorine residents are left to drink the sewage water downstream of large populations. And of course, we know what that leads too.

But there haven't been any chlorine trucks blowing up!



In a wild twist of irony, Helicopter Ben's interest rate cut has had the opposite of the intended effect ....

Logic suggests that if you cut interest rates homeowners with adjustable mortgages will have an easier time of it when adjustment time comes around.


The above chart is of the longer end of the yield curve. In other words, interest rates on longer loans .... like mortgages. Because of fears of inflation (the money supply is expanding at a larger rate than right after 911), bond traders are selling bonds. What this means is that interest rates in the market place go up in order to attract money.

So Ben's actions to "save housing" have actually made the situation in housing worse ... much worse. Meanwhile, gold and other commodities are going through the roof. Watch for seriously higher inflation numbers next spring.

Poor Ben. He's made a serious rookie mistake in order to bail out his banking buddies. And like Bush, we'll all pay the price for his cronyism.


Back Down Maliki

Just as predicted, al Maliki backed down and the Blackwater convoys have resumed in Iraq. This certainly doesn't enhance Maliki's image as an independent now does it.



The Senate failed to get a filibuster proof vote to end the war yesterday. But this is what is really astounding ....

The vote, 47-47, fell 13 votes short of the 60 needed to pass.


Blocking the bill were 43 Republicans, Connecticut Independent Joseph Lierbman and Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut. Whereas Nelson and Pryor say they are reluctant to embrace a timetable on troop withdrawals, Dodd said he refuses to support anything short of cutting of funding for combat.
So now with a year plus of the polls showing Americans want out of Iraq, and after all has been said and done by Senators wanking about supporting/not supporting Bush, the vote is right back where we started with the same actors keeping us in Iraq.

I don't care what any Republican says, it's their war and they are supporting Bush. Period. As for those Dems, they also are the usual suspects and are why I believe Reid is being quite careful with his political calculations. There are enough weak-kneed Democrats to cause embarrassment to the Democratic party. I still think they should freeze Senate business and keep this issue front and center. But I'm willing to admit that it's a weak Senate majority against the war.

So we're right where we started from. And I think Americans are getting fed up.

I know I am .... still.

Added: Further proof? Read it an weep. The inside the beltway idiots are wrong .... again ... still.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Quickie Reminder

As the dollar plunges in value, as bonds plunge in value, and as other countries like Saudi Arabia consider moving away from the dollar as a reserve currency, don't forget this little chart:

This is the chart of the upcoming adjustable rate mortgage resets. Mortgage interest rates (thus far) have reacted to the Benanke helicopter drop of dollars with a yawn. In fact, mortgage rates actually climbed after the announcement as the bond market is pricing in greater inflation on longer maturity bonds. Unless something changes (a surprise rate increase? .... lol), those adjustable rate mortgage holders are still in for a world of hurt.

If Bernanke and company are freaking out now, just wait for spring. Note on the chart that we are Sept. of 07. Take a look at the resets between now and summer of next year.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007


After the great Petraeus show, our boy king has surged to an all time low in the polls!:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress registered record-low approval ratings in a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday, and a new monthly index measuring the mood of Americans dipped slightly on deepening worries about the economy.

Only 29 percent of Americans gave Bush a positive grade for his job performance, below his worst Zogby poll mark of 30 percent in March. A paltry 11 percent rated Congress positively, beating the previous low of 14 percent in July.
Anyone with a brain can look at these numbers and see that it's about the war stupid. Too bad Congressional critters can add 1+1 and get 2.


Habeas Down Again

Those strong civil libertarian Republicans have successfully filibustered the Habeas Restoration Act.

Will the media scream about their obstructionist tactics? Hell, they can't even bring themselves to call it the "F" word

The 56-43 vote against the bill, by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., fell four votes shy of the 60 needed to cut off debate.
Whaaaa? 56-43 vote against? Oh yeah, up is down and down is up these days.


The Gasoline Dilemma

Bonddad has a great post up summarizing the gasoline situation right now.

The short version is that we're awash in oil, but gasoline supplies are at very low levels.

I wonder why refiners aren't keeping up?

Also of interest, consumer demand is up over last year despite higher prices and fuel efficiencies. That's not a good sign.


The Dilemma

Bernanke's rate cut yesterday was accompanied by language the stipulates that inflation is still a concern. What? How can you have a ginormous rate cut and be worried about inflation?

It's a simple answer and it's called stagflation. And as I've been saying for some time, we're in it. So far, it's not the hyper-stagflation of the 70's, but there's still time to get there.

The year over year inflation comparison data is about to undergo a big change. Put another way, inflation is going to look pretty bad, even by the government's nonsense numbers, in the next couple of months. Add to this record oil prices and rising gasoline prices (we've had our seasonal dip .... shorter than in the past).

Ben baby, get ready for your dilemma to increase as the economy continues to slow and inflation continues to rise.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Warner The Wanker

Remember all those headlines a few weeks ago about John Warner (Idiot-Vir) splitting with Bush on the war?



Habeas Restoration Project

If you care much about Habeas Corpus, it would be good to let you Senator know.


The Last? Or Another?

The title refers to gasoline ... as in gasoline on a fire ....

BAGHDAD - The United States on Tuesday suspended all land travel by U.S. diplomats and other civilian officials in Iraq outside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, amid mounting public outrage over the alleged killing of civilians by the U.S. Embassy's security provider Blackwater USA.
What is the evidence of the "mounting public outrage" in Iraq?

Is the U.S. laying low while things calm down, or putting pressure on Maliki to back down? The Iraqi government is already waffling on the "ban" of Blackwater claiming it's now "temporary". But given how popular the U.S. is in Iraq, you have to wonder if there isn't a bit of civil strife brewing over occupying black ops killing their citizens.

If this was occurring in, oh say, Alabama or Mississippi, how do you think citizens would react there?


Please please please please

Is Harry Reid saying to hell with em'?

After weeks of suggesting Democrats would temper their approach to Iraq legislation in a bid to attract more Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared abruptly Tuesday that he had no plans to do so.

The Democratic leader said he will call for a vote this month on several anti-war proposals, including one by Sen. Carl Levin that would insist President Bush end U.S. combat next summer. The proposals would be mandatory and not leave Bush wiggle room, said Reid, D-Nev.

"There (are) no goals. It's all definite timelines," he told reporters of the planned legislation.


Reid's hardline stance reflects a calculation by Democrats that Levin's proposal probably would have failed either way. Democrats hold a thin majority in the Senate and similar legislation has repeatedly fallen short of the 60 votes needed to break a GOP filibuster.

When asked why Democrats won't soften the deadline, the majority leader said he doesn't have confidence Republicans are willing to challenge Bush on the war.

"I think they've decided definitely they want this to be the Senate Republicans' war, not just Bush's. They're jealous," he said with a smile.
Negotiating ploy or real? We'll see.

Added: Here's what Pelosi/Reid face:
A small band of moderate House Democrats and Republicans is hammering out a bipartisan position on the Iraq War that would avoid hard timelines for withdrawal, even as each party?s leaders still appear to be on a collision course.



Well .... good ole Wall Streeter Ben Bernanke blinked today. He lowered interest rates a whooping 1/2 percent. What does that mean?

Despite recent economic data that hasn't been great, but not terrible either, the Fed is spooked and working to bail out Wall Street. In short, he's throwing money at the housing/subprime/credit problems. And Wall Streeters, ever the money hungry types, are now pricing in another rate cut in October.

Just like Big Al Greenspan did.

What's that mean to you and me? It means a further stoking of inflation, cheaper dollar (don't be planning any overseas trips soon), rising exports with less foreign cash coming into the U.S. The last one means that ultimately interest rates will rise, particularly on the long end, requiring even more Fed stimulus to keep the house of cards in place.

As for all those risky hedge funds that are imploding due to excessive risk taking? Fogetaboutit. Keep leveraging your money and going for broke. If anything goes wrong, the big money boys will always have the Fed to add more printing presses. The stock market responded with a big rally today. But interestingly, the rally was not as big as expected and occurred on less than stellar trading volume .... both tepid indicators of strength. I still think we're in for a big drop and retest of the recent lows before Thanksgiving. But now HeloBen has shot his bullets ... at least the easiest ones to fire.

The key question to ask is, will the rate cut forstall a recession if it's coming? No one knows. My guess is that it won't. The housing/credit problems are due to suspicion and fear that bonds based on outstanding loans are suspect, not due to money being necessarily expensive. No one will know the outcome of that mess until sometime mid-2008. Until then, I think we'll continue to see troubled mortgage lenders and headline stories about bank runs. Oh. And lower housing prices which means less HomeATM money to be blown on SUV's.


Just For You

Not that the news media really cares, but Bush's war offensive over the last few weeks hasn't moved the public in anyway, and the Democratic response to Bush's speech got more viewers than Bush's speech.


Chat Time

If you have the time and interest, here's a virtual chat between Juan Cole and Josh Marshall on the real state of Iraq and the war:


Sign o' The Times

It really is astounding when someone can testify in open court that they bribed a sitting U.S. Senator and no one notices.

Neither Young nor Stevens is on trial here, at least not directly. But it's not every day that a witness admits in open court to having bribed a sitting U.S. Senator, which is exactly what happened last Friday, when former VECO executive Bill Allen admitted that among the bad acts he had pleaded guilty to was renovation work done on Stevens' Alaska home. Stevens is not commenting.


Tough Spot

The Dems are saying that Iraq war funding will be "delayed" while they figure out their next move. It takes time to do careful policy and political calculations .....

Meanwhile, the media continues to carry water for the Republican:

Democrats are in a tough spot. Still lacking enough votes in the Senate to pass legislation ordering troops home by spring, they would have to soften their approach if they want to attract more Republicans. But doing so would rile much of the party's rank-and-file, elected on anti-war platforms and eager to cut off money for combat.
I've fallen into this trap too but have since been corrected.

The Dems do not need a filibuster or veto proof vote to stop war funding. They simply need a majority to pass Iraq war funding (which they've done once before) that includes withdrawal language. If the Preznit vetos it, then pass it again and again and again. The war will eventually have to end due to defacto unfunding.

The problem with such a strategy is that conservative Dems will likely bail, falling prey to Republican squeals of NOT SUPPORTING THE TROOPS!

I'm not of the camp that thinks Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi are spineless. Rather, I think they know the players and can count votes. It's bad enough to "compromise" and pass legislation that does not end the war. But imagine if Reid embarked on the above strategy and, oh say, ten conservative Senate Democrats bailed out on him? Dems would then look really spineless and fractured.

I favor pursuing the confrontation strategy anyway. It accomplishes two important goals. First, it puts the onus on the Republicans and Bush to defend Iraq. Putting them on the defensive is good policy and good politics. Second, and maybe more importantly, it reveals the weak sisters in the Democratic party for all to see. If some Dems bail, expect their primary hopes to dim and to have some of them cleansed from the party. In short, it would accelerate the netroots "more and better Democrats" policy.

I don't think Pelosi or Reid will do it because of the unwritten agreements to protect collegues. But it would work if they did. Who knows, perhaps enough pressure will come to bear in the coming weeks that they will. Get your email machine ready and your phone ready, because putting pressure on Congress is going to be the theme of the next several months.


Blackwater Roiling

The whole situation with the American contractor Blackwater is heating up and becoming a real problem.

As you likely know, Blackwater contractors were involved in a shootout that resulted in a whole bunch of dead Iraqi's. Al Maliki responded by revoking Blackwater's license to operate in Iraq.


One little problem. Without Blackwater, the State Dept. officials are unprotected (along with many other Americans). Contractors make up a huge portion of the force protection inside Iraq. So the U.S. would naturally be resistant to them being banned.

But what if the chronically shaky Maliki backs down on Blackwater? Would it be the nail in his political coffin or simply another incident in proving that he is an American shill.

I will be very surprised if Blackwater is actually expelled. They are simply too important to the security of American personnel in Iraq. And suggestions that the escalation reduction may be delayed to cover for a Blackwater reduction is, in my humble opinion, politically untenable. That leaves Maliki backing down .... again.

The stalemate in Iraq has to be broken at some time in the future. Whether this is the straw on the camel's back is unknown. But at sometime there will be an event that completely changes the dynamics in Iraq. And that change is unlikely to be in a positive direction.


Monday, September 17, 2007

What Digby Said

That's right, we have another edition.

In this case, it's about how the media gasbags are all acting like Alan Greenspans's proclamation that the Iraq war was about oil is like a big duh. The fact is that when the DFH said it, they couldn't grasp and clutch at their pearls fast enough.



Glenn Greenwald makes the case for why Michael Mukasey will get through the nomination process and become Attorney General.

The short version is he's quite conservative, but apparently "independent minded".

We'll see.



Kevin Drum writes a post echoing what I said the other day.

There's simply no political constituents for an end to the war .... except for the soldiers and their families that is.

But hey. What do they matter? Right?


More Reason To Dislike Hillary

Hillary will release a health care plan today that will "preserve a large role for private insurers".

Clinton aides said her plan would preserve a large role for private insurance companies; would promote the use of health information technology and low-cost generic drugs; and would create a public-private institute to evaluate and compare drugs, devices and medical treatments.
Didn't Hillary Clinton used to be a liberal? She's been drinking the DLC kool-aid too long.

It's going to be very very difficult for me to support a Hillary Clinton for President.

Update: Some folks are liking it alot as they look at the details. I'm less unimpressed than before, but still suspicious of the involvment of the private sector .... unless it's just a backdoor method of putting them out of business (which it could be).


Ole' Blackwater, Keep On Rollin'

It appears that our alternative military, Blackwater, got into a bit of trouble in Iraq:

The Iraqi Interior Ministry is pulling the license of Blackwater USA, an American security firm, after the company was “allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade.” “We have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory,” Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said.
Should be interesting to see if the Iraqi's can make this stick. Interestingly, Walter Pincus just wrote something that makes me think that the American military will probably "pull some strings" to allow them to stay:
A week ago today, Gen. David H. Petraeus started his rounds on Capitol Hill, reporting that security in Iraq was improving to the point that a small number of troops could begin coming home by year's end.

But 10 days ago, his commanders in Baghdad began advertising for private contractors to work in combat-supply warehouses on U.S. bases throughout Iraq because half the soldiers who had been working in the warehouses were needed for patrols, combat and protection of U.S. forces.

"With the increased insurgent activity, unit supply personnel must continue to pull force protection along with convoy escort and patrol duties," according to a statement of work that accompanied the Sept. 7 request for bidders from Multi-National Force-Iraq.
Huh? Increased insurgent activity? That can't be right. The good General told us that things were improving.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a Blackwater surge over the next several months despite the Iraqi governments protestations. What are the Iraqi's going to do .... declare war on Blackwater?


Slow Morning

Other than O.J. in the can again, and Sally Field being censored by Fox at the Emmy's last night, there's really not much going on. A lot of buzz about the Petraeus ad campaign ....

... but not much else.

I'm still waiting to see the Democrats response to the last weeks charade. Bush's campaign to shore up Republican support seems to have worked ... at least somewhat according to polls. Dems are saying that they see through it, but there's not yet been anything put forward. Meanwhile in Iraq, the meltdown continues although you won't see much about it in the media with O.J. back around.

I guess we just wait and see the next move.


Attack is Imminent

Interviews like this are the reason I support RealNews.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Maddy Understands

Albright: Bush ‘must think we’re all idiots.’

Yesterday in Iowa, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that Iraq will “go down in history as the greatest disaster in American foreign policy. That means that I am acknowledging it is worse than Vietnam.” She added, “I don’t think I have ever seen the world in such a mess.”
It's common for we humans to see others as just like us.


Don't Say You Weren't Warned

Now that Gen. Petraeus has come down from the mount and delivered the Iraq message from god Bush, we can move on to the future of Iraq. I predicted this a couple of weeks ago. Now we see officials putting into the public consciousness. Don't be surprised to see it happen:

Today on ABC’s This Week, host George Stephanopoulos challenged President Bush’s assertion that the troop drawdown is because of “success” in Iraq. He asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates, “Wasn’t the drawdown a matter of military necessity?”

Gates insisted that the military was not broken, noting the large size of the armed forces: “After all, we’ve got 2.1 million men and women in the United States armed forces. If the circumstances required it, other choices could have been made.”

Stephanopoulos continued to push Gates, asking, “So if General Petraeus comes back in March and says we’re making some progress, but we can’t continue to draw down right now, where would the troops come from?” Gates tried to back away from answering a “hypothetical,” but eventually conceded that they would potentially have to deploy more National Guard and Reserve forces.
Or how about the scenario where Iraq is no different-slightly worse. We'll need more troops there to support the Petraeus doctrine now won't we?

If Bush wants it, the Pentagon will provide the bodies (literally and figuratively). All the CW about "we have to drawdown because we don't have the troops" is nonsense.


Quote of the Day

"You have an unpopular President going onto prime time television, interrupting Americans' TV programs, to remind them of why they don't like him."
-- A "frustrated Capitol Hill Republican strategist with ties to the G.O.P. leadership," quoted by Time magazine, on President Bush's recent address on Iraq.

What's funny about this quote is that Congressional Republicans continue to fall for Bush's crap .... which is likely why this strategist is frustrated.


Cool Pic

I like this pic:

Kinda sets up Halloween, don't you think?


Big Al

Big Al Greenspan is really rockin' and rollin' these days. His new memoir may actually make some money as the tight-lipped word-juggling Big Al comes out firing:

AMERICA’s elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken the White House by declaring that the prime motive for the war in Iraq was oil.

In his long-awaited memoir, to be published tomorrow, Greenspan, a Republican whose 18-year tenure as head of the US Federal Reserve was widely admired, will also deliver a stinging critique of President George W Bush’s economic policies.

However, it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion that is likely to provoke the most controversy. “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he says.

Greenspan, 81, is understood to believe that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the security of oil supplies in the Middle East.
Wu-who. You go Big Al. We're gonna make a liberal out of you yet what with you lovin you some Bill Clinton, hatin' Bush and taking this radical line with oil!


Northern Rock

This may be the biggest story last week that you didn't hear anything about:

There was a very large bank run in London. The mortgage banking firm Northern Rock is suffering from the mortgage/credit/housing debacle and investors demanded their money .... in very large numbers .... in lines extending around the block. Some call that a "bank run".

Why is this a big story for us? Well, financial failure has a way of becoming like falling dominoes, affecting other institutions and other economies. It's perceived as a big enough problem that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson flew over to London on an emergency trip to try and help sort the mess out.

Experts warn that a decade-long borrowing binge has left Britain dangerously exposed to the fallout from the global liquidity crisis. US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson flies in to London tomorrow to discuss the worsening global credit crisis with Chancellor Alistair Darling, as fears intensify that the lending squeeze could be the last straw for Britain's buy-now-pay-later economy.

City economists warned that a decade-long borrowing binge had left the UK economy dangerously exposed to the fallout from the credit crunch. 'I think the UK is extremely vulnerable to this,' said Danny Gabay, director of consultants Fathom. 'The UK has a double vulnerability. We are vulnerable because of our hugely over extended consumer sector, and because of our large financial services sector.

'This is a financial market event; but the longer it goes on, the greater the risk that it becomes a real economy event - and I think we are at a tipping point.'
I suspect the big money boys will bail Northern Rock out. We all better hope so.

Added: It's pretty bad when a mortgage company (in this case an American mortgage company) sends out property tax checks and they bounce.