Friday, August 24, 2007

Give 'Em What They Want 'n' Tell 'Em What To Do

Does any one else find this frightening?

People don't scare me (often) but groups of people are another matter. Groups can be persuaded to act in atrocious ways. There is something about Putin's plans to assemble a youth movement aligned with and prepared to follow his views that makes the little hairs on the back of my neck snap to attention.
From the Daily Mail

A Quick Chuckle Vol 3

Always read the small print. Men lined up for a topless car wash for charity. You can guess the rest.
From Ananova.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

AC Cleans House on Jeopardy

An oldie but a goodie, Anderson takes on Maria Bartiromo & Kweisi Mfume. This video gold has forever ruined my ability to take Maria B. seriously. I hope she had the decency to be embarrassed.
Click here to watch the second half on

Cool Advertising on Kiev Subway.

Check this out.

From the site:
A new way of advertising in Kiev subway: it’s not a movie in the window - it’s many single paintings written on the wall of the metro tunnel, so when the train moves at a high speed the pictures change very fast and it seems that there is a movie showing out for the passengers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Overvalued, Devalued Dollar

A recent article in Bloomberg has fired up a rant. Ready?

As regular readers will know, I am concerned with the state of the dollar. My simple point is that a weak dollar is a symptom of a weak economy. This concern is fueled by the apparent lack of concern from the Bush administration.

All is not well.

Right now the US is totally dependent on foreign countries (mostly China) purchasing debt. That deficit that pundits like Tony B. and Pat B. (the "B" Twins) don't care about does not involve some fantasy banking system, quite the contrary, it involves real countries buying real debt at prices they are happy with.

It is that last part that scares me.

What would happen if the total debt became large enough that China, Dubai and others decided to purchase a bit less of of the fresh version? I am not talking about a fictitious dooms-day scenario, but a very real possibility. If foreign countries decided to purchase a bit less American debt, the US would be faced with two options. One, raise the interest payed in order to sell debt, or two, cut spending.

The second is politically unpopular, the first, devastating. An increase in debt rate would be a de facto further devaluation of the dollar (again, weak economy, weak dollar). This means an immediate raise in the price of every import --including oil.

Does this sound like fiction? Well, in the past 6 years the US Dollar has gone from purchasing 1.56 Canadian Dollars to the current rate of 1.06 Canadian Dollars. The neighbors from the north have not suddenly become the most prosperous nation. No, their economy has been stable. It is the dollar that is now two thirds as valuable as it was not too long ago.

What does this mean? It means that a huge amount of the increase in the price of a barrel of oil is only being felt in the US. The price of oil has not gone up near as much elsewhere. The dollar has gone down.

Okay, time to tie this to the article in Bloomberg.


The U.S. Treasury took two years to persuade the International Monetary Fund to police global currency markets -- and just two months to trash the initiative once the IMF adopted it.

Treasury officials recruited the IMF to be a currency cop as China and other countries meddle with exchange rates to gain a trade advantage. Instead, the international lending organization took aim at the dollar, calling it overvalued in an Aug. 1 report.
IMF staff economists told U.S. officials in meetings ended July 27 that their research showed the dollar was 10 percent to 30 percent overpriced, according to an account included in the 54-page Aug. 1 report.
The Experts that the US hired to look into currency fixing have come to the conclusion that the current greenback is overvalued. This is frightening.

This means abysmal US dollar purchasing power on the international stage is being artificially supported.

Who is overvaluing it? Not the US. No, the dollar is being held aloft by the countries that are happy to buy debt at an inflated price. To a large degree it is being artificially buoyed by the very country the pols are upset with, China.

China doesn't need to buy US debt. They could spend some of their enormous pile of surplus cash on their own economy. They could, in very short order, raise both the level and the numbers of the Chinese middle class to the point where the average Chinese family had a car instead of a couple of bicycles. (What would this do to the price of oil?) But they "choose" to buy overvalued American debt.

By the way, what do you think the response was to the IMF ruling?
...on Aug. 2 an aide to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Congress that it's impossible to measure a currency's fair value.
So, to summarize. The US has asked the IMF to look into the Chinese currency because it is unfairly valued. But when the IMF looks at the unfair value of the greenback, the response is swift,'s impossible to measure a currency's fair value.
Where did I put my gin.

The American economy is not, as Karl Rove said on Meet The Press this last Sunday,
...dynamic and powerful, providing jobs and increases in real income for people.
After almost seven years of Bush/Cheney leadership, the American economy is weakened. It is not in serious trouble, but it is close. Overseas (and up north) the dollar now buys two-thirds of what it did less than a decade ago. The perception that all is well is part of the problem.

But all is not lost. I have a solution. It may sound simple, but that does not mean it lacks merit.

Stop borrowing.

That is the only way to regain control of the dollar. It is the only way to ensure that the dollar does not collapse.

How to stop borrowing? Simple. Spend less.

This administration is poised to collect record revenues (here), all they have to do to get out of this quagmire is spend less than they bring in.

Basic fiscal responsibility.


Rant over.

Time for the last plymouth of the night. Cheers.

Bullet Proof Baby Products

This is a follow up to my post about bullet proof back packs.

My feelings are the same: I hate that the current conditions in America make these items viable. But, I would think about it --If I had kids.
More in The Presurfer

Good Economy?

More evidence that the devaluation of the Greenback is not good. Did you know that it is now economically viable for call centers in India to re-outsource their labour to Ohio? Yes. US companies are outsourcing to India and Indian companies are outsourcing to Ohio.

Why is this happening now? Well, it is simply because the US dollar has slid 40-50 per cent internationally in the past 6 years.

Remember, a strong economy has a strong currency. It is that simple.
Read about the re-outsourcing on

A Big Fat Cold

Yet another reason to step up research for a cold cure. It appears that one of the cold viruses that attacks humans has a distinct residual effect. If stimulates the growth of fat cells.
More in

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Vick Chew Toy

I know I promised not to write about Vickers until his allocution. I am not breaking my promise; I am not writing about him.
Check this out. (Here) Genius.

Who Couldn't use a #@%&-ing Day Off?

That's what I need. A fornicating day off. Humans are crazy.
More in the Denver Post.

Those Darn Washers

This story has had a lot of press lately; but, I have yet to read a news/editorial/blog posting that makes the argument that this is a great example of how the US can afford to pay for better education and health service for its people.

If you have not heard the story:
A small South Carolina parts supplier collected about $20.5 million over six years from the Pentagon for fraudulent shipping costs, including $998,798 for sending two 19-cent washers to an Army base in Texas, U.S. officials said.

The company also billed and was paid $455,009 to ship three machine screws costing $1.31 each to Marines in Habbaniyah, Iraq, and $293,451 to ship an 89-cent split washer to Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Pentagon records show.

There is no doubt in my mind that the US could afford good quality health service for all Americans simply by cutting government waste. How can this be done? Well, it is easier than you think. Although these are hyperbolic examples, irrational spending is a staple for companies doing business with the Government at all levels, from 500 dollar toilet seats to 500,000 dollar washers.

People, When you pay your taxes, you do not decide what goes where: it all goes into general revenue. It is my guess that if we reduced irrational spending country wide (and that include getting rid of the waste in the IRS) we would, without raising taxes find several hundred billion dollars. That is billion, with a "B".

This abuse occurs at every level and must be fought at every level, from the local contractor selling 500 dollar toilet seats to the Member of Congress with both a contractor in the family and an earmark. Bridges to nowhere need to end up with charges being laid.

Basically the US needs to do a better job of taking care of its people's money.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fred Thompson: Already a Candidate?

Fred Thompson might already be a candidate. This could be bad for NBC.

Many have speculated on when Mr. Thompson will enter the race. Few have speculated on why it has taken so long. Well, you see, once ol' Freddie is officially a candidate NBC must either pull all of his Law and Order episodes, give other candidates equal time or be fined heavily for giving one candidate too much airtime.

Why do I bring this up? There are specific rules that define candidacy. A person cannot simply say they are not a candidate and proceed to campaign. One of the rules stipulates that as soon as a person who has established a "testing the waters" exemption spends more than $5000.00 they must announce.

So, has Fred Thompson broken the law? Well, according to his own tax filings he has spent $625,743. That's a tiny bit more than five grand.

I am not the only one to think so. Today, Lane Hudson filed a complaint with the FEC. (here)

I am curious to see how this affects NBC.

Box Score: Bears - 1 Humans - 0

Man gets drunk and climbs into a bear pit at the zoo. The hungry bears say, "Thank you."
More on the CNN Web-site.

Vick Pleads Guilty

It is imperative that this man be banned from Professional football for the remainder of his life. The crimes he has perpetrated are far more serious and damaging to the sport and that nation than anything Pete Rose ever did.

I sincerely hope he made good use of that education his football talents purchased for him during his two years at Virginia Tech. Perhaps he would have been better prepared if he had stayed in college. Perhaps not.

I promise, not another Vick blog entry until his allocution (if it is part of the plea).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rove on MTP: Unbelievable.

For those who missed it, here are some quotes.

I had intended to to this without commenting, letting his words sink in... But I am a weak man; I simply could not let these words go without replying. After all, that's what this is all about.

All quotes are from the Meet the Press transcript pages. Here

So, Let's begin with a soft one.
MR. GREGORY: (on the Republican Party) But do you feel responsible for its current state?

MR. ROVE: Well, look, every, every person who identifies with the Republican Party ought to, ought to, ought to feel some responsibility.

Being only on my first Plymouth of the day, I can let this one go....

No, no I can't, sorry.

The fact is, people who identify with the real conservative, Republican values of small government, low taxes, separation of church and state, and keeping the government out of people's private affairs are not responsible for the state of the party ruled by an administration that has raised record tax revenue (here), made terrible decisions based on Christian beliefs (subject for a future editorial), stomped all over the constitution (here) and has brought the government into the bedrooms of the nation like no other since Nixon.

Moving on.
Our party, when this president came in, we faced a recession.
Um, er... really? Actually in saying this he is showing the genius of Karl Rove. "Facing" means it is ahead. And during the 2000 election the recession was still ahead. The fact is, in 2000 the US was riding high. The tech bubble was deflating, but on the whole the economy was strong.

Which brings us to the present.
Our economy is dynamic and powerful, providing jobs and increases in real income for people.
Time for my second Plymouth.

People, the economy appears to be dynamic and powerful, but the US is printing money like it is wallpaper --and that is what over produced currency becomes. Oil has gone up; but, 40-45 per cent of the increase is due to the devalued greenback. The state of the dollar has driven the cost of imports through the roof --remember that the US is to a great degree a net importer. Not to mention the lousy-mortgage situation.

No, the economy in not dynamic and powerful. It is at the sign-in desk in the emergency room looking for its insurance card.

He went on.
You look at education reform, you look at energy, you look at higher education, you look at welfare, and you look at the compassion agenda, you look at faith-based, you look at AIDS in Africa, you look at trade—on a whole range of issues, this president has been able to offer a bold and optimistic agenda and get it done.
Uh, get what done exactly?

Education reform? That's done? Really? So, the US is now leading the world in the education of its people? No. The education record of the US is and continues to be one of the worst in the world. To be fair, it was not good before Bush; but (going back to Karl's quote) he has not got the job done.

Energy? The US is facing an energy crisis not unlike the one it faced in the '70s and the devaluation of the dollar is largely responsible. They are still talking about drilling in Anwar. Against the recommendation of the scientific community and as a direct hand out to farmers they are supporting the use corn for the production of ethanol. I could go on --and will in another editorial.

Compassion agenda? Aids in Africa? Trade?

One last item on this quote. How is introducing a faith based agenda a good thing? What would Thomas Paine say?

On to Iraq.
What would’ve happened if, if we’d said at the end of D-Day, “Oh, you know what? We’ve suffered too many casualties. Let us, let us, let us step back from this important battle”?
Is he actually suggesting that the current state of the aggression in Iraq is comparable to the European Theater at the end of D-Day? Is he suggesting that the Bush/Petraeus team is comparable to FDR-Churchill/Ike, Monty, Patton, Smith, Bradley team? Not to mention that the whole western world was on board and that every American was forced to be and, perhaps more importantly, felt part of the fight --at the very least through rationing.

On Saddam prior to invading Iraq.
16 UN resolutions that said “live up to the agreement that you made in the aftermath of the first Gulf war to disclose your weapons of mass destruction and to account for them.” He didn’t.
Perhaps Mr. Rove didn't get the memo. There were no WMDs to for Saddam to disclose.

On Valeri Plame after talking to Novak
MR. ROVE: ...You know, I acted in an appropriate manner, made all the appropriate individuals aware of, of, of my contact (with Novak). I met with the FBI right at the beginning of this, told them everything.

MR. GREGORY: Do you think you owe Valerie Plame an apology?


A significant part of the Rove strategy that has permeated the administration is that one should never admit fault, never show weakness, never apologize. Despite his record, on this he is wrong. Apologizing when you mess up is one of those things that good parents teach their kids. I am not going to suggest that Mr Rove Sr. is to blame, but I do believe that a good person takes responsibility for their actions and apologizes when they mess up. There is great power in this behavior.

On testifying before congress
The counsel’s office had made a very generous offer. If they want to find out what Harriet Miers and I said and did, we’d be happy to go up there and have a visit with them about it.
He really wanted to make the point so he said it again.
If they want to hear from me, the counsel’s office had made a generous offer. They didn’t take us up on it.
For those who don't recall the offer, Mr. Rove was happy to testify before congress in a secret session, with no record and no oath of honesty. Now, it would still be illegal for him to mislead the panel (lie) but without witnesses or a record (more here), how could his true testimony be guaranteed? Would he lie or manipulate the truth? Yes, yes he would.

Time for my third Plymouth. Happy Sunday.