Saturday, May 28, 2005

Why the US wants a civil war in Iraq 

Anyone with even a modicum of interest in what is happening in Iraq realizes that the country is teetering on a civil war. What may surprise many Americans, however, is that a civil war is in the "best interests" of the regime currently controlling the US.

And it's not for the reasons you might think, such as:

1. It's a great way to get the UN involved
2. It's a great way to get the country split into three parts for managing the outflow of oil more effectively (though this certainly must be a factor, as well)
3. It's inevitable when a scourge like Saddam is removed (while indeed Saddam was a scourge, civil war after removal of such a "leader" is not inevitable--look to Spain after Franco, Germany after Hitler, and the USSR after Stalin for proof. And don't think these examples are contrived...after all, the difference between Hamburg and Nuremburg in adopting the Nazis was striking).

Instead, the reason is more sinister. The mainstream US is currently in denial about the real human price being paid in Iraq since March 2003. Somewhere between 20,000 to more than 100,000 civilians have been killed, to say nothing of injuries, reduced pregnancy rates, increased infant mortality, and many other "soft" statistics. The US regime doesn't want clarity in these numbers. So, what better way to obfuscate the real price imposed by the US coup in Iraq than by getting a civil war underway to forever make ambiguous the other casualties?

Sick as this sounds, the American people will buy it. A rational response would be, "Hey, wait, isn't the civil war the fault of the US occupation and lack of follow-on plans?" But in the Orwellian world of 2005 USA, there is no chance the mainstream media will even raise this issue.

So, look for a civil war in Iraq. Another "victory" for the Bush League.


Friday, May 27, 2005

Thank God for 9/11 

Ever wonder why the most hateful people in the US are holding up signs saying "Thank God for 9/11"?

Let's use Occam's razor on this. Why would you, as a religious freak who thinks Matthew Shepherd--a nice, innocent person who was eulogized by a friend of mine after the heinous incident 6 years ago--is "Rotting in Hell for 6 years", turn around and say "Thank God for 9/11"? Wasn't 9/11 a crushing victory for the "infidel", a shockingly successful attack on the heart of America by a small group of marginally funded religious freaks?

It's because you wanted 9/11 to happen, isn't it? Wanted it to happen so badly, that, well, you helped it happen, didn't you? The Pentagon was not hit by a passenger plane, as proven here on The Bite and elsewhere. World Trade Center building 7 was plan-detonated. The plane to hit Bush or his cronies in the Capitol just happened to be the one "heroically" sacrificed over Pennsylvania--was it shot down as a cover-up?. The tapes for the Pentagon attack just happen to be completely hidden from the public. The World Trade Center planes just happened to be windowless.

It's starting to smell worse and worse. Occam's razor cuts through this data readily, though--and the religious wrong's gleeful "Thank God for 9/11" is the final nail in the coffin. Wake up, America, this is no beer hall putsch. You can run, but you can't hide from the truth.


NIN still rocks... 

You've got to respect the integrity of this:


The rock band Nine Inch Nails said on Friday it canceled plans to appear on next week's MTV Movie Awards after the network questioned the band's plans to perform in front of an image of President Bush. The band was slated to perform "The Hand That Feeds," the first single from its latest album. A Los Angeles Times review called the song "a warning against blind acceptance of authority, including that of a president leading his nation to war." "We were set to perform 'The Hand That Feeds' with an unmolested, straightforward image of George W. Bush as the backdrop. Apparently, the image of our president is as offensive to MTV as it is to me," Nine Inch Nails' leader Trent Reznor said in a statement posted on the band's Web site.

Shame on you, EMPTY-V, censorship is censorship, and you are just weak.


Housing bubble about to burst... 

We've remarked for more than a year on The Bite how the housing market is being manipulated to prop up an economy that is much, much weaker than fictional unemployment rates and ignominious trade and budgetary deficits would have you believe. Now Paul Krugman notes that the housing bubble may burst soon, too.


I copy his story below in case you are not signed up for the NY Times. But, even Paul seems to have missed another important point in his article. If the housing bubble bursts, not only will it hurt the economy for the reasons he cites, but also because right now property tax rates are being raised to compensate for increasing Federal and state budget shortfalls. If house prices (and consequently property taxes collectable) are to plummet, then the cities and counties--like the Fed and states already--will be insolvent. Bankruptcy will indeed be a "trickle down" effect...from Fed to state to county to city to home "owner". It could get really, really ugly, really, really soon. The entire nation could go bankrupt virtually overnight.

With that happy thought, here is Paul's article:

Remember the stock market bubble? With everything that's happened since 2000, it feels like ancient history. But a few pessimists, notably Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley, argue that we have not yet paid the price for our past excesses.

I've never fully accepted that view. But looking at the housing market, I'm starting to reconsider.

In July 2001, Paul McCulley, an economist at Pimco, the giant bond fund, predicted that the Federal Reserve would simply replace one bubble with another. "There is room," he wrote, "for the Fed to create a bubble in housing prices, if necessary, to sustain American hedonism. And I think the Fed has the will to do so, even though political correctness would demand that Mr. Greenspan deny any such thing."

As Mr. McCulley predicted, interest rate cuts led to soaring home prices, which led in turn not just to a construction boom but to high consumer spending, because homeowners used mortgage refinancing to go deeper into debt. All of this created jobs to make up for those lost when the stock bubble burst.

Now the question is what can replace the housing bubble.

Nobody thought the economy could rely forever on home buying and refinancing. But the hope was that by the time the housing boom petered out, it would no longer be needed.

But although the housing boom has lasted longer than anyone could have imagined, the economy would still be in big trouble if it came to an end. That is, if the hectic pace of home construction were to cool, and consumers were to stop borrowing against their houses, the economy would slow down sharply. If housing prices actually started falling, we'd be looking at a very nasty scene, in which both construction and consumer spending would plunge, pushing the economy right back into recession.

That's why it's so ominous to see signs that America's housing market, like the stock market at the end of the last decade, is approaching the final, feverish stages of a speculative bubble.

Some analysts still insist that housing prices aren't out of line. But someone will always come up with reasons why seemingly absurd asset prices make sense. Remember "Dow 36,000"? Robert Shiller, who argued against such rationalizations and correctly called the stock bubble in his book "Irrational Exuberance," has added an ominous analysis of the housing market to the new edition, and says the housing bubble "may be the biggest bubble in U.S. history"

In parts of the country there's a speculative fever among people who shouldn't be speculators that seems all too familiar from past bubbles - the shoeshine boys with stock tips in the 1920's, the beer-and-pizza joints showing CNBC, not ESPN, on their TV sets in the 1990's.

Even Alan Greenspan now admits that we have "characteristics of bubbles" in the housing market, but only "in certain areas." And it's true that the craziest scenes are concentrated in a few regions, like coastal Florida and California.

But these aren't tiny regions; they're big and wealthy, so that the national housing market as a whole looks pretty bubbly. Many home purchases are speculative; the National Association of Realtors estimates that 23 percent of the homes sold last year were bought for investment, not to live in. According to Business Week, 31 percent of new mortgages are interest only, a sign that people are stretching to their financial limits.

The important point to remember is that the bursting of the stock market bubble hurt lots of people - not just those who bought stocks near their peak. By the summer of 2003, private-sector employment was three million below its 2001 peak. And the job losses would have been much worse if the stock bubble hadn't been quickly replaced with a housing bubble.

So what happens if the housing bubble bursts? It will be the same thing all over again, unless the Fed can find something to take its place. And it's hard to imagine what that might be. After all, the Fed's ability to manage the economy mainly comes from its ability to create booms and busts in the housing market. If housing enters a post-bubble slump, what's left?

Mr. Roach believes that the Fed's apparent success after 2001 was an illusion, that it simply piled up trouble for the future. I hope he's wrong. But the Fed does seem to be running out of bubbles.

As The Fates may have said to MacBeth,
Double, double, toil and trouble
The economy is to be rubble
When there is bursting of this bubble.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Taking the Tipping Point to heart... 

A big thanks to all of you who have been involved, like yours Vulfy, in getting the filibuster "nuclear option" defeated this week. All the calls, emails, monetary contributions, and conversations led to an ostensibly small victory that may end up having big ramifications. Sure, the Senate is likely to approve a few more so-called judges who conflate religion with morality. But the Republicans have the taste of ashes. As they try to spin doctor it, the fact remains they could not push through the means to crush one of the last remaining checks on their unbalanced agenda.

Look for other small victories:

* McNamara has stated that the US & NATO nuclear double-standard is "immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, very, very dangerous in terms of the risk of inadvertent or accidental launch and destructive of the non-proliferation regime that has served us so well".

* The US House of Representatives passed the Stem Cell Bill, forcing Bush to carry out his threat to veto it and take personal responsibility for moving the US to second-tier status in the biotechnology world (and removing one of the few possible growth areas from the Dismal Swamp that is his economy).

* Most importantly, as the USA Today McPaper polls show, Bush and the Republicans are heading south...way down south, to their home bases in Bob Jones University land, in the polls:


Most telling: In response to "Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with George W. Bush on the issues that matter most to you", 40% agree, and 57% disagree. Now that's a mandate!(who are these 3% undecided, by the way? The same 3% who said they voted for Kerry in the exit polls but "didn't"?).

Keep winning the little victories, and the tipping point will come!


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