Saturday, May 31, 2008

I get email...

Recently one of my self-described right-wing friends, I'll call him Ralph, sent me this email. I'll publish this along with the responses that followed.

Ralph's initial email:

Subject: "Email of the Year"

This is pretty good. Forgive a couple words in there though.... Ralph

"My Fellow Americans: As you all know, the defeat of the Iraq regime has been completed.

Since congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete.

This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning.

Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries which have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short . The United Kingdom , Spain , Bulgaria , Australia , and Poland are some of the countries listed there.

The other list contains every one not on the first list. Most of the world's nations are on that list. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening.

Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war. THEN EVERY YEAR THERE AFTER IT' ll GO TO OUR SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM SO IT WONT GO BROKE IN 20 YEARS.

The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world Hell holes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption.

Need help with a famine ? Wrestling with an epidemic? Call France .

In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home . On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the earth.

Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize? Try France or maybe China

I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France , Germany , and Russia . Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. Bonne chance, mezamies.

I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid parking tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed. I don't care about whatever treaty pertains to this. You creeps have tens of thousands of unpaid tickets. Pay those tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world. I love New York

A special note to our neighbors. Canada is on List 2. Since we are likely to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change.

Mexico is also on List 2 its president and his entire c orrupt government really need an attitude adjustment. I will have a couple extra thousand tanks and infantry divisions sitting around. Guess where I am going to put 'em? Yep, border security.

Oh, On another note; In the past 100 yrs, the US government has LOANED billions of dollars to most of the countries on list 2 in time of crisis. Have any of them ever considered paying us back???? NOOOOOOO! Instead we are on their sh_t list... Go figure!

Oh, by the way, the United States is abrogating the NAFTA treaty - starting now.

We are tired of the one-way highway. Immediately, we'll be drilling for oil in Alaska- which will take care of this country's oil needs for decades to come. If you're an environmentalist who opposes this decision, I refer you to List 2 above: pick a country and move there

It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens. Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, 'darn tootin.'

Nearly a century of trying to help folks live a decent life around the world has only earned us the undying enmity of just about everyone on the planet. It is time to eliminate hunger in America It is time to eliminate homelessness in America . To the nations on List 1, a final thought. Thank you guys. We owe you and we won't forget.

To the nations on List 2, a final thought: You might want to learn to speak Arabic.

God bless America . Thank you and good night."

If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier.

(Please forward this to at least ten friends and see what happens! Let's get this to every USA computer!)

(Please forward this to at least ten friends and see what happens! Let's get this to every USA computer!)

My first response:


Do I detect a little anger here? According to your guy Bush we are just on the verge of winning this thing in Iraq, so why do you want to leave now? Don't tell me you think it was a bad idea.


Ralph's response:

I'm not angry at all! And this was the quote: "Since congress does not want to spend
any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete."

As you know, the congress is controlled and led by the democrats. The e-mail never said that we should pull out
and I don't think we should at this point. The purpose of the e-mail is to show (the reckoning) or what we should happen once we do. [sic]

God Bless America,

My second response:


I'm heartened to hear that you are not angry, because anger saps the soul of its vitality, especially when that anger is misdirected away from the party responsible. I'm worried about you, buddy. I guess I had mistaken all the anger and venom depicted in the "The "Email of the Year"-- since you took the immense trouble of forwarding it-- as sentiments that you may harbor. Threats to rescind treaties, tow diplomats' cars, attack Canada, or giving Mexico an "attitude adjusment"... pardon me, but this sounds a bit angry. We'll cut off "foreign aid" (Never mind, of course, that the US ranks nearly dead last among developed nations in the provision of foreign aid.) Talk of being "pissed off" or making up "sh_t lists" that include entire nations of allies, in my interpretation, smacks of anger. So if you're not angry, then what emotion should I have detected?

(Maybe I should just make a habit of deleting inane emails when they come my way, but one of my character flaws is that I have a hard time accepting such unmitigated garbage without a comment. That's my cross to bear.)

In reference to this "Email of the Year", since when has Congress withheld financing or support of Mr. Bush's ill-conceived incursion into Iraq? The Iraq Force Resolution of 2002 was signed (to my dismay and likely that of Russell Kirk, if he were alive) by half the Democrats in Congress. Every single one of Bush's defense budgets has been passed, including war supplementals approaching half a trillion dollars. Never before in my memory has a president been given such wide latitude in the conduct of any project, let alone an unjustified, unsanctioned, undeclared and unpopular war. Is the point of the "Email of the Year" that Mr. Bush has NOT been given enough money, troops and time to win in Iraq? Seriously? By your calculation, how much more of our borrowed tax revenue does Mr. Bush need? To your liking, how many more of our kids need to be thrown into the grinder to ensure the purple-fingered freedom of a bunch of religious fanatics half a world away?

The Bush administration had predicted in 2003 the war would take no longer than 6 months and less than $50 billion, so the fact that we are still mired in this debacle 5 years later and still spending $2 billion per week shows Congressional acquiescence bordering on insanity.

I realize you didn't write the "Email of the Year", but the mere act of blindly sending emails with snarky humor or self-righteous inuendo about a murderous illegal war is beyond the pale. (Forwarding risible emails has become de rigueur replacement for political debate in out post-modern internet age.) In my name-- in our names-- this nation under the leadership of its Commander-in-Chief has invaded another country under mistaken (or fraudulent) pretenses, killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, forced millions of refugees, destabilized the world's oil supply, spent billions of borrowed treasury revenue, and committed thousands of our own kids to death, debt, dismemberment and disability... and for what?

(By the way, where is Osama bin Laden? Or do you have another snarky email in your inbox implying that his current freedom is the Democrats' fault, too?)

I have little patience with such crap. If you have a point to make, make it; but try to make it without all the snide little snipets of non-humor and veiled angry threats. Ralph, the "Email of the Year" would have been more palatable if it HAD been sent by someone who was truly angry, who truly felt the emotion that is characterized in the email. Instead you have admittedly sent the email in order to portray (to idiots like me, I suppose) what "should happen" if we "pull out." This protrayal, however, is chock full of all the misguided testosterone-laden vitriol that got us into the Iraqi quagmire in the first place. If you are not really angry, then why send such an angry depiction of what "should" happen? (As if you have any judgment of "shoulds" or "shouldnt's" anyway.)

I apologize for the lack of humor in my response, which hardly connotes "bitterness" as one person on this list has characterized me (I always enjoy being labeled by people who do not know me); instead of being bitter, my comment is more a reflection of disgust. Disgust at the glibness of Bush supporters-- the twelve or so who are left-- at the mayhem that has been produced and the complete lack of a sense of responsibility for this mayhem.

My view is that if you have supported Bush all these years, the least you can do is keep a low profile. The arrogance of deflecting responsibility from anyone but the current president and his administration is frankly disgusting. He was wrong then, he is wrong now, and if you are not angered by the poor conduct of your Commander-in-Chief at a time of war... well, upon further reflection maybe anger is the healthier emotion, Ralph.


By the way, if God had truly blessed America he would have dropped a few more chads in Florida in 2000 and maybe we wouldn't be in this mess. My guess is that God gave up on us a while back.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gasoline demand drops... Duh!

Okay, I'm going to talk my book for a few paragraphs. The story this morning is that US consumers have stopped driving and gasoline sales have declined. When people stop driving, they also stop spending money on vacations, restaurants and discretionary spending in general. The economy, which is 70% consumer driven, cannot sustain high priced oil and the cracks are appearing.

The next part of the narrative will be the obvious recession that we have entered this quarter. The move in oil has not been exactly parabolic, but the oil contract is well above it 200-day moving average and, on a technical basis, is overbought.

Sure, demand in China and other growing economies will continue to increase, but the acceleration will most assuredly drop. Also, China currently subsidizes the cost per gallon of gas to less than $3 per gallon which may end very soon.

I've mentioned DUG before and will mention it again. Can oil get to $150 per barrel? Perhaps, but the technicals and fundamentals point to $120 before $150.

Shorting oil is also a play on a stronger dollar, and with the dollar making new monthly low against the Euro, again the contrarian play is go short oil in anticipation of the stronger dollar.

Note that I'm not one of those nutjobs that thinks the run up in oil is "all due to speculators." Demand driven prices have brought oil up to $130 per barrel, but the demand projections have not fully factored in a prolonged recession in the US which would certainly affect developing econonmies as well.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Don't sell that Gold just yet

Thomas P.M. Barnett, author of the Pentagon's New Map and other internationalist non-fiction, gives good insight on his blog about current events. A recent post commented on President Bush's trip to the Israeli Knesset and upon reading and re-reading Bush's words, it occurs to me that Barnett may have a striking point.

Barnett says that "Bush calling Iran the equivalent of Nazi Germany is his way of signaling the White House's pre-approval for any Israeli military strikes on his watch." Now that makes total sense.

The exact words by Bush from that speech are:

"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

Aside from violating Godwin's Principle, Bush has clearly targeted Iran, yes Iran with a defense budget of less than 1% of the US', as the latest bogeyman worthy of annihilation. Never mind that analogies to Nazi Germany are completely absurd. When the bombs launch, so will gold, US Treasuries and oil futures.

So, you think you know what's going on?

TED talk by the CEO of Public Radio International about the poor international news coverage by US news outlets.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Waning Countertrend Rally

A while back we looked at charts of the market to see the countertrend rally in an overall down market. At that time the short positions were closed and careful longs positions were taken in SPY and financials.

In April we took half profits and let the rest ride for another leg up in the countertrend rally. Well, it may be time to reverse course on this market and look for some short positions again. The rally is a bit long in the tooth for a bear market phenomenon.

If the SPY can hold above $138.20, then a sharp decline may be averted, but if this drops further then watch out below with the next support level at $134. Risk management would dictate extreme caution in this environment and the poor technicals.

The market, while not as overbought as in October, has had a heady run with two-thirds of NYSE stocks trading above their 50-day moving average as shown in the following chart. This signifies a short term overbought condition.

The fed minutes were released today under much more hype than usual and the market sold off. I would look for a some limited strength tomorrow to sell into.

Another theme is the extremely overbought condition in oil over the short term, barrel prices having gone up over 7% this past week. A reasonable trade would be to buy DUG, the ultrashort oil and gas ETF, and look for a quick 5% on the retracement.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Canadian Solar: So Far... ALL Good!

Back in February we talked about alternative energy, and specifically Canadian Solar (CSIQ) as the cheapest player in a burgeoning field of photovoltaic solar energy equipment. At that time CSIQ was under $19 and Friday it closed above $32, up over 70%.

My bias in situations like this is to take money off the table as I did with Mosaic (MOS) last year, having bought it at $20 and selling at $40, thus missing the run up over $100. So, with CSIQ I'm letting this sucker ride, although I'd put a stop-loss somewhere around $27.

Energy generation will be an issue for the remainder of the decade and beyond. Looking at the 1970's analogy, we are still only at about 1975 and the a dollar rally should not hurt CSIQ very much-- in fact they may have a better US market for sales with a stronger greenback . Even in the teeth of this current recession, we are still seeing a huge need for non-carbon energy generation and this should increase with the coming panic over global warming As such, CSIQ and Cameco Corporation (CCJ) should continue to be strong holdings.