Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

My Photo
Location: New York City

A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Where Are They Now?

Love and creating a life is not a transient thing yet often it seems that way too many in our society. Mothering is indeed defined as a nurturing job. Fathering is more often limited to, and defined as, planting seed. This is evident in the first definitions of these two words. This is very sad for our children. And it is something that our culture has yet to get a grip on and grapple with.

My feelings regarding this also inform my feelings on abortion and on amniocentesis, etc. Those feelings have become even more hardened since I have become a parent. There is no guarantee in life or birth. Once you have decided to become a parent you have decided to become a parent period the end. Thus you have decided to accept the inherent risks, and there are so many, that come with that scary territory.

That said, this tune can be taken in so many ways.

Far too many Daddies are gone because they no longer are enamored with the walk and baby talk of their former beautiful girls and so their children suffer. How sad is that for both the children and the Daddies. Everyone loses in this picture.

As an undergraduate I had a discussion with an economics professor about abandonment. I told her that I totally understood why women engage in infanticide, etc., but I could not understand why “fathers” would walk away and abandon their children because they could not stand to see them go hungry, etc. I did not understand how it was okay to know that your children would be hungry as long as you didn’t witness it. However, this seemed to be for many “Fathers” a justification for abandonment, not to mention the other spurious justifications. I didn’t get it then and she agreed with me. Maybe that was because we were both single mothers, or not?

There are many theories that abound when it comes to “Fathers” abandoning their children versus Mothers abandonment. One is that women carry their offspring and therefore are connected to them and “Fathers” have no actual physical connection to their offspring and thus are less connected, and in some cases feel totally unconnected, to them. But I still do not understand the justifications for abandonment. And I can’t believe that our children do.

In our culture it is indeed “Gone Daddy Gone” and without a penalty that is equivalent to the damage done to all those involved.


A Shrill Blog!

One of the best things to happened at the NYT’s since the Wall came down is Paul Krugman’s Blog called “Conscience of a Liberal.” Krugman posts regularly and the comments are terrific and very informative in so many ways.

So take a gander you won’t be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hey Ya, Etc.!

I so love this and so here it is just because you need it sometime!

For some reason this reminds me of Beatlemania from back in the day!

And for all the “Shaun of the Dead” and Edgar Wright fans (which came up over the holiday weekend) we have this just for your viewing and listening pleasure:

Outkast forever and Edgar Wright, too!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday, Don’t Do It!

As most of you know I am a devotee of the Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. So, stay out of the commerce and debt thread today.

This isn’t a vote for Dennis the Menace but a vote against Black Friday. If you want to put your money somewhere else, it would still be a great thing.

If you give up buying stuff for one day, you won’t hate yourself in the morning.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Let’s Give Thanks!

Thanksgiving Day is the only Holiday that I celebrate. It is the only holiday that hasn’t been really co-opted by the consumerist cult of consumerism. My friends and I celebrate it for two whole days. Friday night’s culmination is a real mixed generational blowout. So, my son and I love Thanksgiving Day and its communal feel.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to be thankful for. First, I am above ground and breathing, and that’s a big one. Second, I have a wonderful child, who has grown into an amazing man. Third, I have wonderful family and friends. I also have some of the greatest memories ever. Indeed, because of all of the above I have had an extraordinary life. For that I am so thankful.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Intertubes. I have come to know some thoughtful, insightful and really gracious folks from my interactions with other Bloggers which has enriched my life. In fact this year I received a Thanksgiving Day card via email from a fellow Blogger who I really respect. It was my first ever Thanksgiving Day card via snail mail or anything else. I didn’t know there was such a thing. As Martha would say, “Learn something new everyday. It’s a good thing.”

Now times are tough and many of us feel distraught about the trajectory of the U.S.A., but I think that the tide may be turning and for that I am grateful and feeling a little more hopeful. Now, with that in mind I want to go with that optimistic vision.

So, have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and be thankful! We deserve it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Subversive Children’s TV!

I had forgotten just how informative and subversive Schoolhouse Rock was.


I guess we now know why Schoolhouse Rock is no longer on MSM and Public Broadcasting, or is it and I am just missing it due to my dismal TV watching?

The Schoolhouse Still Rocks

Like John Aravosis, my son, and therefore I, grew up with Schoolhouse Rock. My favorite is “Conjunction Junction.” I am a hummer and I hum it all the time. So here is a little refresher from Schoolhouse Rock:

Yes, learning can be fun. And as John reminds us Schoolhouse Rock was more than just grammar, it was history too. So for all those Americans out there who don’t remember or know what this “Great Country” is about watch this Schoolhouse Rock for a reminder. That means you wannabe “King George” and the rest of your obedient GOP followers.

Our Founders are probably rolling over in their graves with what “We the People” have allowed this “Great Country” to become.

h/t Americablog

UPDATE: Here is the Schoolhouse Rock link at Youtube. You know, just in case you would like to relive days gone by and revel in pure genius.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Do Something to Support our Troups!

Land of the Free and the Brave!

What have we become? We are no longer “Free” as our government is surveilling everything we do and many are more than willing to give up everyone’s “Liberty” for a little “Security.” And that means that we are no longer “Brave” because for a little “Security” we are willing to give up our “Freedom.”

Watch the discussions:

Pilage on Maher:

Yes, after approximately 3,000 American deaths on September 11, 2001 we have become a nation of sniveling cowards willing to have our neighbor’s and our mail and phones tapped to save us from cave dwellers. And as we cower we have allowed this Administration to screw us at every turn in the name of Patriotism. So, how come we aren’t willing to give up a little liberty to eliminate the 30,000 American deaths each year from guns and the 100,000 gun injuries committed by our fellow Citizens? How sad is that?

Can You Ever Come Back from War?

During the Vietnam War many a vet that I knew came home and were unable to adjust. Many had terrible nightmares and daily problems that required heavy medication and psychological treatment which for the most part was unavailable. I also have to admit that many of the civilians I knew were unable to adjust to the returning vets. I believe from my experience that being at “War” is unhealthy to say the least.

The Iraq War is different in some ways as most folks aren’t engaged or cognizant of what it means. Whenever I bring the War up in some circles I am served with the dismissive, “Oh, yeah, the War.” For most Americans it seems they can dismiss it because it doesn’t involve them, their cohorts or family. It is a very troubling aspect of this “War of Choice.”

Here is an essay from the Sunday WAPO that says a lot about our recent situation and America’s reaction to it.

I'm Back Home, But Still in Iraq's Grasp

By William Quinn
Sunday, November 11, 2007; B01

The only feeling I've ever had that was more surreal than arriving in a war zone was returning from one.

I came home on R&R in 2005 after eight months in Iraq. Heading for the baggage claim in Detroit, I watched travelers walking and talking on their cellphones, chatting with friends and acting just the way people had before I'd left for Baghdad. The war didn't just seem to be taking place in another country; it seemed to be taking place in another universe. There I was, in desert camouflage, wondering how all the intensity, the violence, the tears and the killing of Iraq could really be happening at the same time that all these people were hurrying to catch their flights to Las Vegas or Los Angeles or wherever.

Riding home that day with my parents, I felt nervous, too exposed in their Ford Taurus. There was no armor on the car, and it felt light. We stopped at every red light and stop sign, and I saw potential dangers everywhere, even though I-94 heading into the city was nothing like Baghdad's Airport Road. There were no torched trucks or craters left by bomb blasts. I think it was the neatness of it all that made me uncomfortable. It seemed that staying alive shouldn't be so easy.

I've been out of Iraq for more than two years now. I have a different life, as a college student. But some of those feelings are still with me. After dedicating a year to a conflict of such enormous complexity, I find that college feels a bit mundane, and it's inexplicable to me that people here seem to be entirely untouched by the war.

On Sept. 11, 2001, everyone said that the events of that day would change the lives of all Americans. I was a trainee in the interrogation course at the Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., at the time. At 18, I had dropped out of college and joined the Army earlier that year, because I felt that my life lacked discipline and direction. Six years later, 9/11 doesn't seem to have had much of an effect on most people's lives. But it has had an enormous effect on mine.

I arrived in Iraq in March 2005. My unit hurried onto a Chinook helicopter at Baghdad International Airport in the middle of the night. I was weighted down with more than 100 pounds of gear, and I never managed to strap myself in. Helicopters are violent machines, and we shook as we lifted into the air. The rear door was open, a machine gunner suspended over the ramp, and the lights on the ground receded as we flew off, like the scenery behind a taxi in an old movie. Before long, we were over a field of tents, lit up under spotlights as bright as day. We had arrived at Abu Ghraib.

I spent the next month and a half at that prison complex outside Baghdad. By then, the interrogation rules had changed substantially after the stories of abuse there came out in mid-2004. We were permitted to sit across from a detainee and talk to him -- everything else was banned. This was a good rule. Torture is easy to justify. Interrogators assume that everyone they question is culpable; it's part of the job. If a detainee can't provide information because he has none, the temptation to slip into brutality is very present. Without rules in place, I might have been brutal, but I never so much as raised my voice to a detainee.

On April 2, 2005, Abu Ghraib was attacked by dozens of insurgents armed with vehicle-borne bombs, rockets, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikovs. It was a terrifying experience -- but also an exhilarating one. I learned that I was capable of functioning through my fear, and that I could place my life, with absolute confidence, in the hands of my fellow soldiers and Marines.

I spent a few hours that night in an inner tower with Marines who responded to the rockets and small-arms fire with 50-caliber machine guns. I watched as a man in a tractor was killed by machine-gun fire and as a group of trucks was stopped by a barrage of bullets from the tower guards. Later that night, I interrogated some of the men who had been in those trucks. A few had been wounded; all were frightened. They were fish deliverymen, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. The man in the tractor turned out to be a suicide bomber. It's nearly impossible to tell the enemy from the innocent.

After my time at Abu Ghraib, I was transferred to Camp Cropper, which was then a small prison facility near Baghdad International Airport. Over the next year, I spoke with hundreds of detainees. I spent my days with members of al-Qaeda, Baathists, Sunni nationalist insurgents and Shiite insurgents. I listened to their life stories, and I wrote hundreds of reports about their experiences. It consumed every moment of my day.

I wasn't involved in the short interrogations where we try to learn where the next bomb is located or how many insurgents are in the next safe house. The interrogations I conducted lasted weeks and sometimes months. We were trying to understand the big picture: the support networks, the international connections and the enemy's motivations. The long-term nature of our conversations forced me to see the men I interrogated as human beings. Most were Iraqi. Many were extremely intelligent, and some had had a great deal of formal education.

Their levels of cooperation varied. Some were forthcoming with information; some were not. Some seemed to enjoy the solitude of prison; some were led to despair by it. They all remain in my thoughts, and I'm sometimes surprised by my feelings. Recently, I read in the International Herald Tribune that a man I'd interrogated had been executed in Baghdad. If anyone ever deserved execution, it was he. But I still felt a pang of regret. His life, for all its horrors, mattered to me.

While still in Iraq, I was accepted to Georgetown University as an undergraduate. The Army discharged me in July 2006, and I began college that August.

What a difference.

People on campus don't think about the war very much. It rarely comes up in conversation, either inside or outside the classroom. Some professors have encouraged me to share my experiences, and some students have expressed interest in my past. Last semester, one wrote an article about another Iraq veteran and me for the campus newspaper. And this semester I dedicated about 250 words of a 900-word paper to the problem of sectarian violence in Iraq for a class on international relations. But that was the first time in my three semesters here that I was asked to formally consider the war for a class.

Beyond that, my theology professor gave a lecture last year that challenged students to find God in Iraq. My philosophy professor used Baghdad to describe what the philosopher Thomas Hobbes may have meant when he said that life in the state of nature would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." But that's about it. One student actually told me to stop thinking about Iraq. "You need to get rid of all that baggage and let yourself live," she said. "We need to be shallow sometimes."

I find it frustrating that Facebook is a bigger part of most students' lives than the war. After my first semester, I decided to rejoin the Army by signing up with the ROTC. I felt a bit guilty for having done only one tour in Iraq while friends of mine have done two or three. And I didn't want to forget the war. I may be prejudiced, but many of my college peers seem self-absorbed. I didn't want to end up like that.

You could rightly say a lot of negative things about soldiers. Many are crude. Some visit prostitutes; some commit adultery. I've known some who are bigots. It would be a lie to say that every soldier behaves honorably at all times. When I was stationed in South Korea from 2003 to 2005, I was often embarrassed by soldiers who were loud, obnoxious and insulting to Koreans. Men in their early 20s act like men in their early 20s, whether they wear a uniform or not.

Nonetheless, the Army's values are important to soldiers. They may not always live up to them, but they do when it matters most. Soldiers are selfless; they are courageous; they are loyal. The most interesting intellectual conversations I've had have been with others in the military. They discuss things not to impress you but because they're trying to figure them out. They're faced with difficult situations, and they want to make sense of them. Though many privately question our government's policies, they do their duty, which lies beyond the political debate.

This culture of duty is at odds with the culture of individualism and self-promotion that seems paramount here in college. And yet, the divide between my soldier friends and my fellow students isn't the result of any fundamental differences between the people themselves. Many of my peers at school know much more about the world around them than my fellow soldiers do -- international relations is a popular subject at Georgetown. My Army friends used to laugh when they saw me reading the Economist; my friends here think everyone should read it. Students talk about refugees from Iraq, North Korea, Burma and Darfur with sincere compassion. One of my friends told me: "I want to dedicate my life to educating people about the sufferings of others."

That's a wonderful goal, but I often feel that the words ring hollow. Students' true priorities are demonstrated by their daily activities: They have friends to meet, parties to attend, internships to work at, extracurricular activities to participate in, papers to write and classes to attend. They're under a lot of pressure to build a strong r¿sum¿ for whatever company or graduate school they apply to after college. They're under no pressure to be concerned about those who are less fortunate -- or those who fight wars on their behalf.

I'm proud to be a student at Georgetown. Though I find some aspects of campus culture discouraging, I have a lot of respect for my professors and peers. But there are still days when I think about what it must be like back in Baghdad -- and wonder whether that's where I should be.

I frankly don’t know anyone who has served in active combat who could leave it behind. How could the brutality that is combat not have a mutable effect on your very being?

The CEO’s Usually Walk and With the Big Bucks

As is often heard across the land, ”first kill all the lawyers.” Well, there might be a reason that many companies would like to eliminate lawyers and I am not so sanguine as to believe it is to protect the stockholders and/or taxpayers. It does appear as Mr. Lerach points out that CEO’s who screw the stockholders and the public at large get the big bucks. Now Mr. Lerach and Milberg Weiss may have cut some corners, etc., but Sandy Weill, etc., didn’t get time for the corners he cut and Prince takes the fall with a big parachute.

Mr. Lerach makes some very good points here and I highlight them not just because I am an attorney. They are points that during our current economic situation need pointing out.

Loser CEOs, Raking It In

By William S. Lerach
Sunday, November 11, 2007; B01

"How come I don't get nothin'?"

In light of the massive payoffs that corporations are handing to failing executives -- most recently the ousted chiefs of Merrill Lynch and Citigroup -- that could be the legitimate lament of millions of U.S. workers whose jobs have been sacrificed of late in the name of corporate competitiveness and free trade.

Cleaned up grammatically, that question would probably express the sentiments of many of the 24,000 Merrill employees fired in recent years and the 17,000 Citi employees who are soon to get the ax. Together, former Merrill chief executive E. Stanley O'Neal and former Citigroup chief executive Charles O. Prince have lost more than $20 billion in company money. Yet they left with $360 million in their own pockets.

The American principles of responsibility, accountability and justice require everyone, even corporate titans, to pay a price when they mess up. I've dedicated my career to holding powerful corporations accountable when they victimized innocent people. CEOs such as Enron's Jeffrey K. Skilling, WorldCom's Bernard J. Ebbers and Tyco's L. Dennis Kozlowski all went to prison for their fraud. Now I'm being held accountable for overzealously pursuing these corporate scam artists.

Two weeks ago, I pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge involving payments made to plaintiffs in lawsuits against major corporations. Under the terms of the plea, which requires court approval, I agreed to pay the government $8 million in fines and penalties and to serve at least one year in federal prison.

But what about accountability for Wall Street CEOs who line their pockets while making stupid decisions that rob shareholders and pensioners of billions of dollars? Recently, corporate boards have been fundamentally misinterpreting the phrase "the buck stops here" -- and handing the bucks over to their miserably performing bosses.

Let's see if I've got this right. To try to boost profits in the new low-interest-rate era, O'Neal and Prince plunged Merrill and Citi into the high-risk world of subprime collateralized debt. The banks peddled billions of dollars of this stuff to pension funds and institutions, pocketing more than a billion in fees for feeding the pigeons. Apparently, Merrill and Citi got stuck with more than $50 billion of the riskiest debt that they couldn't unload on their customers. O'Neal had assured Merrill shareholders that these high-stakes bets would "not add to Merrill's risk profile." And when the subprime fiasco started to unravel, Prince famously said that Citi was "still dancing."

As Merrill and Citi took on these risky assets, their balance sheets ballooned and short-term profits flowed in. O'Neal, Prince and their executive teams crowed about their successes and their risk-management skills while pocketing bigger performance bonuses based on the "profits" and cashing in stock grants and options as the stock prices temporarily advanced. Several top Merrill executives received more than $30 million each in 2006. O'Neal led the pack with $91 million. For cream in his coffee, O'Neal unloaded about 235,000 shares of Merrill stock, pocketing an additional $20 million. At Citi, top executives were given more than $10 million per year, with Prince raking in $25 million.

Then the roof caved in. A tsunami of losses has swept over many big banks -- but none comes close to matching Merrill and Citi for their folly. At first, O'Neal told investors that the Merrill loss would be about $4.5 billion. Prince initially said that Citi's would be about $6 billion. Horrifying enough. But just a few weeks later, O'Neal admitted that Merrill's real loss would exceed $8 billion -- the largest subprime loss in the world. Then Citi announced that its real subprime loss could reach $11 billion.

The previously reported profits have been wiped out, and rumors of billions more in coming write-offs abound. Who knows what the class-action suits against Merrill and Citi for stock fraud will cost? Merrill's stock has deflated from almost $100 per share to $60. Citi's stock is down from $55 per share to $36. Ironically, the Merrill stock "bounced" only when it was disclosed that O'Neal had secretly talked to another bank about buying Merrill -- a bad move for shareholders at these depressed price levels, but one that would have paid O'Neal $250 million under the company's "change of control" provisions.

Let's not forget that Merrill was one of the key architects -- while O'Neal was a top insider -- of the unsurpassed Enron rip-off of thousands of investors. Merrill managers were indicted and convicted. While Prince was Citi CEO Sandy Weil's consigliere, Citi was also a "tier one" bank for Enron and was forced to pay $2 billion to settle lawsuits by Enron stockholders as part of the largest fraud settlement with stockholders in history.

Prince and O'Neal have admitted to "mistakes" and "flawed risk models." These "mistakes" and "risks" are reminiscent of those of Andrew Fastow, Kenneth L. Lay and the other Enron boys in their "structured" "off balance sheet" deals -- contrivances that were really designed to put shareholders at risk while lining the insiders' pockets. The more things change, the more they stay the same on the "Street."

One would think that having engineered these catastrophes, O'Neal and Prince would be in for some real financial reckoning. Some working stiff on the assembly line who forgot to tighten the lug nuts on the cars going past him or some clerk in the risk department who forgot to file an insurance claim would surely suffer some penalty. Like being fired without a huge going-away gift. But O'Neal got to pocket $160 million in stock-based compensation as his departure present -- on top of the more than $100 million he received during the past couple of years. Prince, it is said, left with $100 million, on top of the $100 million he got as Citi's CEO.

How can this comport with notions of fairness? If some Merrill or Citi lower-level manager lost $2 million -- let alone $100 million -- you can bet that the board would come down on that poor soul like a ton of bricks. And these boards would no doubt sue a defaulting counter-party who cost their corporation $800 million -- let alone these billions in losses -- because of a "mistake."

It would be one thing if this were an isolated incident reflecting just terribly bad judgment by these CEOs' pals on their boards. But it's not. It's a way of life in American executive suites, aided and abetted by lax regulations and politically compromised regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Executive failure is consistently rewarded with giant payments -- or, really, payoffs -- to keep the parting sacrificial lamb quiet so that he or she won't bleat to the stockholders, lawyers and the media that the others at the top of the company (and in the boardroom) knew what was really going on.

Similar examples of excess abound. Take Morgan Stanley, where a few years ago, top executives Philip J. Purcell and Stephen Crawford were ousted after a series of managerial missteps swamped that bank with losses and crushed its stock. Their reward? More than $100 million -- as they were shown the door. Jerry Levin was pushed out as chairman and CEO of AOL Time Warner (oops, now it's just Time Warner; the AOL name is gone but not forgotten) after engineering the worst acquisition of the past century, which cost his shareholders $100 billion and sank the stock from $58 to $9. His going-away payoff -- $600 million. After Carly Fiorina ran Hewlett-Packard into the ditch, she was sent packing with a $100 million gift for her "leadership." Dick Grasso, New York Stock Exchange, $140 million. Michael Ovitz, Walt Disney Co., $135 million. And dozens more.

The real frustration is that there's so little that can be done. Shareholders supposedly have access to the courts for a remedy, but they won't get far. A stockholder suit filed more than two years ago challenging the Morgan Stanley payoffs languishes in court. The CEO-and-director club knows that pro-business judges in the corporate haven of Delaware and elsewhere in the legal system will protect them. Shareholder suits against Time Warner's Levin got nothing back from him.

The government -- forget it. The SEC, and even Congress, appear to be getting ready to cut back shareholder rights and court access even more. And the Justice Department is busy defending waterboarding and targeting Democratic activists. Why do you think corporate bigwigs behave so badly so often?

One great virtue of the American free-market capitalist system is that to date, it has been able to withstand all forms of excess. But "quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" -- "Who will guard the guards?" wrote the Roman poet Juvenal. How corporate boards treat the shareholder owners of the corporations they oversee is simply intolerable. And even the strongest camel's back can ultimately be broken.

Someone told me recently that Lenin was wrong about communism but right about capitalism. Maybe he was. I'm on my way to prison because, in my zeal to stand up against this kind of corporate greed over the years, I stepped over the line. It turns out that the legal system is a lot tougher on shareholder lawyers than it appears to be on Wall Street executives.

This is his opinion and I have to say that he has many good points. Also in this recent round of corpratization of our government many think it is payback.

Don’t Ever Forget!

I have always been a Joan Blondell fan and her rendition from “Golddiggers” is perfect for this Veteran’s Day.

h/t to TeddySanFran

Sunday, November 04, 2007

So, Who Exactly are They Talking About?

Let’s get it out now so we can get on to the really important issues of this Presidential Election. Smear campaigns and innuendo need to be put out front so that they can be disclosed and/or denied. This is our Republic Folks. Let’s stop screwing with it! The future is too important to screw around with.

There are those who think this is going to be a GOP scandal and those who think it is going to be a Dem scandal.

Whoever owns this “purported” scandal, it needs to be out and over now.

Mr. Flynt, step up to the plate and stop playing cat and mouse and screwing with our Democracy.

Well, Duh!

Shouldn’t this be the dumbest NYT’s and AP headline ever. It would seem to me that “Investors” should always be “Honing in on Economic Data.” Crazy talk I know, but what have the “Investors” been honing in on if not "Economic Data," Weegie Boards?

November 3, 2007

Investors Honing in on Economic Data


Filed at 2:01 a.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Prospects for a year-end rally dimmed this past week right along with the chances of another interest rate cut, and that has investors wondering if the bull market can be saved.

Investors enter November with some considerable doubts about corporate earnings, inflation, the continuing credit turmoil, the Federal Reserve's next move, and whether the U.S. might plunge into a recession. All this hangs over the stock market, which has been at best fragile this year.

The quarter-point cut wasn't enough to satisfy Wall Street, which wants to see further reductions to help stimulate everything from cheaper loans to corporate borrowing. And, the Fed's inclination that it might not lower rates again this year sent the Dow Jones industrial average tumbling 1.5 percent this past week.

The tug-of-war between Wall Street and the Fed has individual investors wondering whether this past week's market decline was a temporary shakeup or a signal to re-evaluate stocks altogether. Most people aren't expecting a worst-case scenario, but some observers say economic data will be a key to determining the market's direction.

''It is almost futile to try and watch everything because this is going to become a data driven market again,'' said Chris Johnson, president of Johnson Research Group. ''Before we were waiting for what the Fed was doing, but now all of a sudden that safety net is gone.''

Johnson and others caution not to react too quickly to economic reports from the government and trade groups due over the next few months. The data typically give a backward look at the economy, and it often takes time to get a good interpretation of what the numbers mean.

For instance, on Friday Wall Street got a surprisingly strong report from the Labor Department that showed 166,000 new jobs added in October -- yet no rally followed. A more careful reading of the data indicated that fewer people were employed overall last month.

Even the Fed's decision on Wednesday led to a delayed reaction by investors. At first, the cut was seen as good news and sent the Dow up 137 points. But, on further examination, it showed that policymakers were worried about inflation and oil reaching a new record high -- raising the possibility the Fed might stop cutting rates, and even consider raising them.

''The market always tends to worry about things, and always exaggerates them,'' said Peter Cardillo, a market strategist with Avalon Partners. ''I have a suspicious feeling that is what's happening right now. The market is looking for good economic news, data that doesn't sink the economy into a full-blown recession.''

With the Fed unlikely to cut rates, the market wants to see reassuring economic readings. This would indicate that inflation remains in check and the economy continues to plow ahead.

But there are unknowns -- the biggest is the financial sector, hit hard during the third quarter after taking massive write-downs from investments linked to the subprime mortgage industry. Investors at first believed financial institutions like Citigroup Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. had taken the bulk of their losses, and would likely have better earnings going forward.

However, analysts in recent days believe more pain is in store. There was speculation that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. might take a big charge for exposure to the mortgage-backed securities market, which cost banks some $25 billion of write-downs during the third quarter. And many expect Merrill will write off about $4 billion from wrong-way bets in the credit markets after a $7.9 billion write-down in the third quarter.

If there is one thing that can torpedo the market's run this year -- when the Dow reached record heights and is up 9.08 percent -- it would be a collapse in the financial sector. It would crush any hope for the typical year-end rally that Wall Street has enjoyed, dent corporate earnings, and the economy as a whole.

''The market was punch drunk on free money, low interest rates, and available credit,'' Johnson said. ''If the financial sector has more surprises in store, it will be a situation where the gates are going to open again and people are going to want to leave.''

“Punch drunk” is one way to characterize it. Delusional might be another way to put it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Bonnie, Aretha and Gloria are Natural Women!


Aristotle Would Know the Answer Judge Mukasey!

Waterboarding is Torture.

Torture is Illegal.

Therefore, Waterboarding is Illegal and Unconstitutional.

Now really Judge, how hard was that?

It really is very simple and not at all that difficult.

And while you are at it, pass the message along to Senator Schumer and Senator Feinstein. They are obviously totally misinformed as well!