Prague Twin

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Just a Quarter?!

The Dow dropped nearly 300 points today on the news that the Fed lowered it's target rate and discount lending rate by 25 basis points each. Now, doesn't the market usually rally on a rate cut? Sure, unless they were expecting more. Clearly, traders wanted a full half a point cut to 4.0%.

Here is what I don't get. If market valuations are at near record highs (fact) and the credit crisis is just a media invention (what my detractors say) and the housing market isn't really that bad (same as the credit crisis) why is it necessary for the Fed to aggressively cut rates?

If the "experts" don't believe that a recession is around the corner, why should the Fed even have to cut rates at all?

Today's market reaction to the Fed cutting rates by .25% reminds me of a little brat screaming that they didn't get what they wanted for Christmas.

But I suppose that Fed just isn't in that much of a hurry to debase the dollar. Net Foreign Purchases coming soon!


Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Well Timed Post

The last post was definitely well-timed. It is a week old, and since then we have had a slew of articles on the subject come out. I honestly couldn't have planned it better if I'd known.

Early in the week we got the story that the CIA destroyed videotapes of suspected terrorists being interrogated. There will be an investigation which is pointless since the tapes are gone. Reports suggest that illegal activity by CIA operatives are on the tapes, or were on the tapes before they were destroyed. But here is what they might have shown. Seriously, those of you who endorse torture NEED TO READ THIS!!!!!

Now we get the follow-up report that Congressmen and women were briefed on the tactics (presumably those caught on tape) and did nothing to stop the CIA. In fact, some reportedly encouraged even harsher techniques. Was this a coincidence? Doubtful. This is clearly an attempt to spread the blame across party-lines which is fair enough. While it was probably the Republicans on the committee who wanted harsher tactics used (just a guess here) the Democrats remained silent or tacitly approved because in 2002 that was politically expedient.

And while we are spreading blame, let's not forget President Clinton's "ticking bomb scenario" that is now being used everywhere to endorse torture.

Sure, Republicans are more sadistic than us "lefties" (if nothing else, I think the comments from the last post proved that), but the Democrats don't stand up for the ideals they say they believe in unless it happens to be politically convenient at the time.

I'm still trying to figure out which is worse.

Well, one small point in the Democrats favor: the one member who did express concern when briefed on these tactics was, in fact, a Democrat. Yes, Rockefeller raised concerns despite being legal bound to silence. Good for him. Too bad there are so few like him in Congress.

So while they leave a lot to be desired, the Democrats efforts to stop the CIA from torturing people beat out those who are racing to destroy our values out of a combination of fear and sadism.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Not In My Name, Please

In the post below, I had called into question the fact that all of us who were raised in the states (even those like Jeb who went to private schools) had to recite the pledge of allegiance every day. I don't think it is detrimental necessarily but just kind of ironic and weird. When I explain this to Czechs, they usually look at me dumbfounded: they would expect this kind of thing from their old communist masters, but not in a "free" country like the U.S.

I found it very interesting that the detractors who are all Republicans to the best of my knowledge (feel free to correct me on that) generally felt that my light criticism of this practice was groundless because the U.S. stands for the greatest ideals ever to grace the planet. I would generally agree with that last part, but I feel that only lends credibility to my argument that being forced to give the pledge is at least ironic.

One of the ideals that I think is particularly poignant is the idea that all people have certain rights, irrespective of what they are suspected of. Pedophiles, ax-murderers, pension-fund plunderers, and animal torturers are all afforded certain rights. The crimes they are accused of are presented to them clearly. They are given a trial, and even when convicted, cruel and unusual punishment (i.e. torture) is strictly forbidden. As much as I would personally like to hang these people up in the square by meat hooks until they slowly die, I understand that this is not possible if one wants to live in a civilized society.

Another one of those ideals is captured in the first Amendment to the Constitution. The press, by virtue of that grand ideal, is allowed to report almost anything.

So when I read a story like this one I can't help to point out the irony that the same people who believe so strongly in the ideals captured by the Constitution, are ready to cast those ideals away in the name of security. They not only think that a terrorist suspect (suspect mind you, not convict) can be tortured, held indefinitely without trial and without any charges being brought against them, but that the press is treasonous for even reporting that this is going on.

I don't have anymore sympathy for a terrorist than I do for a pedophile, but civilized people should refrain from torturing either of them.

Is that really too much to ask?

As an American citizen, I am calling on my government not to endorse, or abet the torturing of anyone no matter how horrible the crime of which they are accused of is.

As an American citizen, I ask that we live up to the ideals that once made us the most admired nation, and people, on earth.

Won't you join me in that, all of you?

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