Month: September 2006

One Step Closer to Big Brother

29 September 2006, From the AP
House approves warrantless wiretap law
WASHINGTON – The House approved a bill Thursday that would grant legal status to President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program with new restrictions. Republicans called it a test before the election of whether Democrats want to fight or coddle terrorists.


Article: Rushing Off a Cliff

From the September 28, 2006, NYT:

Rushing Off a Cliff

Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.


Lawmakers Slam HP On Spying

But isn’t that what they want to do… make warrantless spying legal? That bill already passed through Congress no problem.

From today’s Investor’s Business Daily:

“Ousted Chairwoman Patricia Dunn was grilled at a House hearing for letting a boardroom leak hunt spin out of control, as private eyes got phone records and spied on directors and reporters. HP’s general counsel quit and took the 5th. Dunn, who ordered the probe, rejected “personal responsibility.” CEO Mark Hurd seemed unscathed. HP rose 2% and kept rising late.”

Article: Book Says Bush Ignored Urgent Warning on Iraq

From the September 29, 2006, NYT:

Book Says Bush Ignored Urgent Warning on Iraq

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 — The White House ignored an urgent warning in September 2003 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there, according to a new book by Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter and author. The book describes a White House riven by dysfunction and division over the war.

The warning is described in “State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III,” scheduled for publication on Monday by Simon & Schuster. The book says President Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq.

As late as November 2003, Mr. Bush is quoted as saying of the situation in Iraq: “I don’t want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don’t think we are there yet.”


Market Update & Personal Update

The Spiders (AMEX: SPY): 5:05 AM NYC time, September 21st: Just a quick update on a couple of things: (1) The market, and (2) Why I haven’t been posting as often as usually and why I won’t be posting very much for the time being. Click through to read more.


Article: King of Pain

From the September 18, 2006, NYT:

King of Pain

A lot has been written and said about President Bush’s demand that Congress “clarify” the part of the Geneva Conventions that, in effect, outlaws the use of torture under any circumstances.

We know that the world would see this action as a U.S. repudiation of the rules that bind civilized nations. We also know that an extraordinary lineup of former military and intelligence leaders, including Colin Powell, have spoken out against the Bush plan, warning that it would further damage America’s faltering moral standing, and end up endangering U.S. troops.

But I haven’t seen much discussion of the underlying question: why is Mr. Bush so determined to engage in torture?


Article: Theater of War


September 17, 2006
Theater of War
As a former theater critic, Frank Rich has the perfect credentials for writing an account of the Bush administration, which has done so much to blur the lines between politics and show business. Not that this is a unique phenomenon; think of Silvio Berlusconi, the media mogul and master of political fictions, or Ronald Reagan, who often appeared to be genuinely confused about the difference between real life and the movies. Show business has always been an essential part of ruling people, and so is the use of fiction, especially when going to war. What would Hitler have been without his vicious fantasies fed to a hungry public through grand spectacles, radio and film? Closer to home, in 1964, to justify American intervention in Vietnam, Lyndon B. Johnson used news of an attack in the Gulf of Tonkin that never took place. What is fascinating about the era of George W. Bush, however, is that the spinmeisters, fake news reporters, photo-op creators, disinformation experts, intelligence manipulators, fictional heroes and public relations men posing as commentators operate in a world where virtual reality has already threatened to eclipse empirical investigation.


Article: Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq

So who are all the Bush incompetents “rebuilding” / destroying Iraq? Where did they come from? How did they get there? This is a great article explaining it. Another facet of the Bush doctrine: loyalty before competence. You should at least give this article a skim.

From the Washington Post
Sunday, September 17, 2006; Page A1 (lead story):

Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq


Cubes Update

The Cubes (NASDAQ: QQQQ): 6:35 AM NYC time, September 11th: Just a quick post as we get back to work after summer holidays. And of course today we remember our friends and loved ones who have been victims of violence. Today I’ll try to refrain from saying anything negative about Bush, the greatest failure in American history, the confused and stupid man who’s source of power is lies, fraud and fear. If there were a negative Noble Peace price, he would win it. Oops, oh well! Now onto the Cubes.


Article: The Unslammed Phone

From the NYT
September 9, 2006
The Unslammed Phone

Sandy Berger is lucky they didn’t show him stuffing government documents into his bra.

After all, cinematic license is cinematic license.

Regarding ABC’s tarted-up 9/11 movie that sparked a furor among Clintonites who felt they were unfairly blamed for the rise of Osama, I hate to be so quaint as to defend reality. There’s not much point. It’s as dead as dial-up.

In Hollywood, reality comes with quotation marks around it, as in fixed and scripted “reality” shows. In New York, hybrids of fiction and nonfiction are lavishly rewarded; publishers want the reality part to sell the fiction part and the fiction part to enhance the reality part. In Washington, the Bush team is on a cynical and dangerous new pre-election push to present its fantasies about Iraq as reality, accusing reality-based critics of “moral or intellectual confusion,” as Rummy put it.


Some Words of Wisdom From France

From CNN: PARIS, France (Reuters) — France issued an implicit criticism of U.S. foreign policy on Thursday, rejecting talk of a “war on terror.”

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, speaking in parliament, expressed these views on global terrorism:

“Against terrorism, what’s needed is not a war. It is, as France has done for many years, a determined fight based on vigilance at all times and effective cooperation with our partners.

“But we will only end this curse if we also fight against injustice, violence and these crises,” he said.

[Villepin’s comments came a day after George Bush admitted another lie, this time about the CIA’s use of secret foreign prisons.]

Article: Donald Rumsfeld’s Dance With the Nazis

From the September 3, 2006 NYT:

Donald Rumsfeld’s Dance With the Nazis

PRESIDENT BUSH came to Washington vowing to be a uniter, not a divider. Well, you win some and you lose some. But there is one member of his administration who has not broken that promise: Donald Rumsfeld. With indefatigable brio, he has long since united Democrats, Republicans, generals and civilians alike in calling for his scalp.

Last week the man who gave us “stuff happens” and “you go to war with the Army you have” outdid himself. In an instantly infamous address to the American Legion, he likened critics of the Iraq debacle to those who “ridiculed or ignored” the rise of the Nazis in the 1930’s and tried to appease Hitler. Such Americans, he said, suffer from a “moral or intellectual confusion” and fail to recognize the “new type of fascism” represented by terrorists. Presumably he was not only describing the usual array of “Defeatocrats” but also the first President Bush, who had already been implicitly tarred as an appeaser by Tony Snow last month for failing to knock out Saddam in 1991.


Housing Done ==> Recession Next

The inverted yield curve shown above is just another reminder about the elephant in the room that nobody’s talking about… yet. The housing bubble has burst and not even the most blinkered bull can continue ignoring that fact. The rate of change in housing prices peaked two years ago, as noted at the time on and now the roller coaster has tipped down the first big hill, but still has a ways to go before people scream. Click here for my entire list of housing posts. And click here for the spreadsheet I created showing the second derivative top back in April of 2004. Housing is done. The recession comes next. Cheers! PS: Click through for today’s WSJ article.


Article: Where Have All the Protesters Gone?

From the August 31, 2006 NYT:

There Is Silence in the Streets; Where Have All the Protesters Gone?

It was almost painful the other night to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sing about a war whose purpose Americans never really understood, started by a president who didn’t tell the truth and then waged the war ineptly. And that was before they sang about Iraq.

The audience rose for Neil Young’s blast at George Bush, “Let’s Impeach the President,” and sang the words displayed on a huge TV screen, even the 20-something in front of us who had been text-messaging throughout the concert. That same screen also displayed thumbnail photos of slain soldiers while a counter ran up the most recent toll. It takes longer than you might think to count to 2,600.