Monthly Archives: September 2006

EZSmirkzz 3.4.Z Sept 17-24 2006 archive

Saturday, September 23, 2006


For those two of you who visit here, and don’t visit Kos the NYTimes has an interesting headline, Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat

You’ll have to read the article, which really isn’t news to anyone this side of deranged, which apparently is anywhere outside of the Beltway or Faux Snews. DemFromCT tries to give the American people too much credit in the “I wanna love my pResident too” dept. Sort of like Rangel’s defense of W from the verbal assualts of the UN.

In fact it is demonstrative of the failure of the West in general to come to terms with it’s own shortcomings in reasoning, ably demonstrated recently by the Pope’s remarks on Islam. The problem remains; the west has extensive thinking ability without the necessary thinking capabilities, much like the computer you are reading this on.

Update: Not to forget that Laura at War and Peace was on top of the story too.

USA- Ultimate Spying Authority or Fascist Forward?

via CIO;

A U.S. House of Representatives Committee has approved a controversial bill that would broaden the U.S. government’s ability to conduct electronic surveillance on U.S. residents by making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to get court-issued warrants.

The Electronic Modernization Surveillance Act, opposed by several privacy groups, would also allow federal law enforcement officials to spy on U.S. residents for up to 90 days without a court order in the period after a terrorist attack. The House Judiciary Committee approved the legislation Wednesday by a 20-16 vote, with all committee Democrats present voting against the bill.

The bill, sponsored by Representative Heather Wilson, a New Mexico Republican, would reduce the amount of information required from federal agents applying for a wiretapping warrant from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The bill would clarify that the U.S. government can seek wiretaps on any type of electronic communication, not just telephone- or radio-spectrum-based communication.

The Times They are a Changin’

From the Asia Times Online; in the first of a five part series looking at Russia and your favorite drug addiction, oil.

On January 28, 1992 during his first State of the Union address after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Bush said:

I mean to speak tonight of big things, of big changes and the promises they hold, and of some big problems and how together we can solve them and move our country forward as the undisputed leader of the age. We gather tonight at a dramatic and deeply promising time in our history, and in the history of man on earth. For in the past 12 months, the world has known changes of almost Biblical proportions. And even now, months after the failed coup that doomed a failed system, I am not sure we have absorbed the full impact, the full import of what happened. But communism died this year.

Much good can come from the prudent use of power. And much good can come of this: a world once divided into two armed camps now recognizes one sole and pre-eminent power – the United States of America. And they regard this with no dread. For the world trusts us with power – and the world is right. They trust us to be fair and restrained; they trust us to be on the side of decency. They trust us to do what’s right.


Be courageous, and may your heart be strong

Psalms 31

In you, O Jehovah, have I taken refuge. O may I never be ashamed. In your righteousness provide escape for me. incline to me your ear. Deliver me speedily. Become for me a rocky stronghold, A house of strongholds to save me. For you are my crag and my stronghold; and for the sake of your name you will lead me and conduct me. You will bring me out of the net that they have hidden for me, For you are my fortress. Into your hand I entrust my spirit. You have redeemed me, O Jehovah the God of truth.

I do hate those paying regard to worthless, vain idols; But as for me, in Jehovah I do trust. I will be joyful and rejoice in your loving-kindness, In that you have seen my affliction; You have known about the distresses of my soul, And you have not surrendered me into the hand of the enemy. You have made my feet stand in a roomy place.

Show me favor, O Jehovah, for I am in sore straits. With vexation my eye has become weak, my soul and my belly. For with grief my life has come to an end, And my years in sighing. Because of my error my power has stumbled, And my very bones have become weak. From the standpoint of all those showing hostility to me I have become a reproach, And to my neighbors very much so, And a dread to my acquaintances. When seeing me out of doors, they have fled from me. Like someone dead [and] not in the heart, I have been forgotten; I have become like a damaged vessel; For I have heard the bad report by many, Fright being on all sides. When they mass together as one against me, It is to take away my soul that they do scheme.

But I—in you I have put my trust, O Jehovah. I have said: “You are my God.” My times are in your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those pursuing me. Do cause your face to shine upon your servant. Save me in your loving-kindness. O Jehovah, may I not be ashamed, for I have called on you. May the wicked ones be ashamed; May they keep silent in She´ol. May false lips become speechless, That are speaking against the righteous one, unrestrainedly in haughtiness and contempt.

How abundant your goodness is, which you have treasured up for those fearing you! [Which] you have rendered to those taking refuge in you, in front of the sons of men. You will conceal them in the secret place of your person From the banding together of men. You will hide them in your booth from the quarreling of tongues.

Blessed be Jehovah, For he has rendered wonderful loving-kindness to me in a city under stress. As for me, I said when I became panicky: “I shall certainly be exterminated from in front of your eyes.” Surely you have heard the voice of my entreaties when I cried to you for help. O love Jehovah, all YOU loyal ones of his. The faithful ones Jehovah is safeguarding, But he is rewarding exceedingly anyone showing haughtiness.

Be courageous, and may YOUR heart be strong,
All YOU who are waiting for Jehovah.

Monday, September 18, 2006

So you want a job?

What’s Really Propping Up The Economy

Since 2001, the health-care industry has added 1.7 million jobs. The rest of the private sector? None

Emphasis theirs.

For years, everyone from politicians on both sides of the aisle to corporate execs to your Aunt Tilly have justifiably bemoaned American health care — the out-of-control costs, the vast inefficiencies, the lack of access, and the often inexplicable blunders.

But the very real problems with the health-care system mask a simple fact: Without it the nation’s labor market would be in a deep coma. Since 2001, 1.7 million new jobs have been added in the health-care sector, which includes related industries such as pharmaceuticals and health insurance. Meanwhile, the number of private-sector jobs outside of health care is no higher than it was five years ago.

Sure, housing has been a bonanza for homebuilders, real estate agents, and mortgage brokers. Together they have added more than 900,000 jobs since 2001. But the pressures of globalization and new technology have wreaked havoc on the rest of the labor market: Factories are still closing, retailers are shrinking, and the finance and insurance sector, outside of real estate lending and health insurers, has generated few additional jobs.

ht/ The Big Picture

EZSmirkzz 3.4.Z Sept 10-17, 2006 archive

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dismantling the Republic

Speaking “Truthiness” to the Powerless, by Leilla Matsui, lays it out.

Even with voters poised to give Bizarro World’s despised denizens the heave-ho, it would be premature to suppose that “a few minor setbacks” aren’t preventing our temporarily hobbled leadership from staging their comeback. Secure in the knowledge that “truthiness” will prevail, the Bush Gang has every reason to dismiss their opponents and critics — rigged Diebold machines notwithstanding. Facts, after all, stand no chance against “factoids” — those cheez-whiz smothered, byte-sized chunks of reconstituted reality cooked up in the Pentagon, and featured on the menu at every McMedia outlet across the nation.

Admittedly, it becomes harder to fault the optimistic assessment that the cracks beginning to show on Humpty Dumpt-ya are a sure sign that the hapless, wobbly-kneed “Decider” will soon implode under all the pressure, leaving a yolk strewn trail from his play ranch in Texas to his rightful place alongside the rest of his minions in the defendant’s docket of the Hague. Still, it would be pure folly to persist in the belief that his eventual departure will accomplish anything more than window dressing, or that the changing of the Republican Guard in 2008 will herald a return to sane governance, rather than a phased re-deployment of neo-cons to the “opposition” party. It’s better to believe that the administration is in the final throes of their lunacy than face the grim fact that we have reached a Rubicon moment in the dismantling of the Republic.

“Ok, You’ve covered your ass now…”

via Billmon,

“For America, 9/11 was more than a tragedy — it changed the way we look at the world.”

George W. Bush
Address to the Nation
September 11, 2006

The alarming August 6, 2001, memo from the CIA to the President — “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” — has been widely noted in the past few years.

But, also in August, CIA analysts flew to Crawford to personally brief the President — to intrude on his vacation with face-to-face alerts.

The analytical arm of the CIA was in a kind of panic mode at this point. Other intelligence services, including those from the Arab world, were sounding an alarm. The arrows were all in the red. They didn’t know the place or time of an attack, but something was coming. The President needed to know . . .

George W. Bush seems to have made the wrong choice. He looked hard at the panicked CIA briefer. “All right,” he said. “You’ve covered your ass now.”

Ron Suskind
The One Percent Doctrine

EZSmirkzz 3.4.Z Sept 3-10,2006 archive

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Iraq Facts Not Unnoticed

Pat Lang Civil War and Partition lays it out.

All You Need to Know About Derivatives

via Economist’s View “This Economic Letter from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco explains how derivatives markets for events work…”

How derivatives markets for events work In the Economic Derivatives market, a trader might purchase an instrument that pays $1 if the next employment report shows monthly growth in non-farm payrolls of between 100,000 and 125,000 jobs. The transaction is structured so that the payoff is binary—either $1 if you are correct, or nothing if you are not; hence, these are called “binary options.” Similarly, a trader can decide to purchase an instrument that pays $1 if employment grows by 125,000 to 150,000 jobs. Indeed, around a dozen such options are typically offered, thereby allowing traders to take positions on the particular outcomes that they regard as most likely. Traders also have the option of selling (or going “short”) on any outcomes that they think are particularly unlikely.

These options are traded in an auction that typically lasts for about an hour and which occurs either on the morning before the data release, or a few days before. As such, this market allows traders to hedge their portfolios so that they are not exposed to the particular risk—typically called “event risk”—that arises due to unexpected economic announcements causing sharp changes in the value of stocks and bonds.

A particularly interesting feature of this market is the mechanism used to match willing buyers with sellers. This market uses a pari-mutuel system, which is quite uncommon in financial markets, but much more common in horse racing. In the racing context, punters bet on their favorite horse, and all the money bet is put into a central pot; when the race is run, the house simply divides the money from this central pot among those who bet on the winning horse (with those who purchased more tickets receiving a proportionately larger share of the pot). In the Economic Derivatives context, the mechanism is similar, but instead of betting on a favorite horse, traders purchase tickets in their preferred economic outcome. An interesting feature of this mechanism is that the return to selecting the winning outcome is not known until all trades have been executed, although indicative estimates can be shown during the auction process.

GDP not so Good

What Inning Are We In?Mark Thoma links to; Nouriel Roubini rebuts the positive spin surrounding the GDP revision of 0.4%

Essentially, almost all of the upward revision to the figures comes from a much larger increase in inventories of unsold goods, an ominous signal for future growth as firms saddled with unsold goods will soon start cutting production (as it is happening, for example in the auto sector). Indeed, if you exclude inventories and look at final sales, the figures are much worse: in Q2 final sales of domestic product grew only 2.3%.

It looks at other data too, and as usual YMMV.

Friday, September 01, 2006

God Bless the President

God bless the President,
I hope he gets laid tonight,
waking in the morning thinking
things will work out all right.
I hope he falls in love again
like it was on his first date,
I hope that peace envelopes him,
I hope he doesn’t hesitate.
He can delve like Adam, and she can his Eve,
while Cain slaughters Abel, in a moment of blessed reprieve.

God bless America,
help her get through her dark night,
sometimes everyone knows everything,
except how to get it right.
“Blessed are the Peacemakers”,
said the neon church’s sign,
next door at the liquor store,
a veteran’s turning blood back into wine.
Amazing grace doesn’t pass this way, like you think it would,
and no one will really noticed when it finally passed away for good.

Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism

was signed by Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, a Palestinian, and by bishops of the Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran and Syrian Orthodox Churches in Jerusalem.

“The Christian Zionist programme provides a world view where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism,” said the declaration, accusing Christian Zionists of hurting hopes for Middle East peace.

“We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war,”

Thanks to Reuters.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Broken House

Worth a read, Eight Market Spins About Housing by Perma-Bull Spin-Doctors…And the Reality of the Coming Ugliest Housing Bust Ever…. Nouriel Roubini | Aug 26, 2006

In the last six years a similar bubble – an even more massive one – has taken place in the housing market and has led to a boom and bust cycle that is qualitative identical to the tech boom and bust of the 1990s.