This blog aims to accomplish two things. Given how quickly events are reported, misreported, and dropped by the MSM, we want to go back and see if we can't find some answers to questions that were and were not asked. Second, because the lazy MSM's chief tool for what passes as journalism is to quote pundits without having done any homework,the right questions don't get asked. We want to provide our readers the contact information for these pundits so we can ask them directly.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Why Does NY Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg Hate Obama?

In articles today and yesterday Stolberg seems to be just itchin' to propagate the meme that his party's losing the House on Nov. 2 has all but made him a lame duck in the eyes of world leaders. I haven't seen this kind of vindictiveness since Jodi Wilgoren covered the Howard Dean campaign.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

NY Times Cohen Gives China an Editorial Reach-Around

Roger Cohen's slathering over how great China is in today's Times comes across as some kind of post-coital euphoria after a night on the town with senior Party cadres. I hope he makes sure to pick up some non-bootleg tetracycline in the hotel apothecary!

Sadly though, he is on to something in that, on their respective current trajectories, China and the US (EU too?) will meet, in the not-too-distant future, at a point called corporatocracy.

Long live Stability!

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Google and China - the Big Picture

Is this a turning point? Doubtful. Will 'western' multinationals and their respective lapdog governments begin to reevaluate and reconsider 'engagement' policy vis a vis China? Don't bet on it. 'Engagement' was a fraud from the time the phrase was coined. Corporations had been longing to regain access to cheap Chinese labor ever since China was 'lost' in 1949. When Deng opened the door, corporations quickly discovered a manufacturing heaven; not only was the labor cheap but unable to complain about anything and easily replaced should they have the temerity to do so.
What if the 'West' spent 30 years investing in the USSR after the end of WWII, strengthening its economy and its ability to challenge us around the world? Well, wake up people, China is challenging us everyday in the UNSC(Iran, Sudan), in resource-rich developing nations around the world(laissez-faire FDI, bribes), etc.
'Western' FDI created China. The real danger is that we become more like China than the other way around. Keep a weather eye out for words like 'stability', 'appropriate', 'harmony', 'security' when politicians, controlled by their corporate masters, start making excuses for surveillance laws, anti-union laws, censorship laws, 'free speech zones', obstacles to freedom of assembly. Oh wait, some of that has already happened.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Climate Change Debate: China and India say, "We wanna smoke too!"

Today's NY Times reports on the UN's daylong climate change summit and though more sophisticated than my crude title implies, China, India and other developing nations are essentially arguing that despite knowledge gained since the West "smoked"(grew by burning fossil fuels) they want the right to "smoke" too because the West did.

I did a little research and, though still in their nascent stages, both China's and India's governments have embarked on anti-smoking(cigarettes) campaigns. I assume they are doing this because they accept the science that smoking is bad for human health.

Yet, even though they seem to equally accept the science on climate change they want the right to "smoke" for growth.

This by no means is meant to absolve the West from their responsibility to aggressively pursue real cuts in CO2 emission regardless of what China and India's stance is.. I'm merely pointing out the dichotomy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

'The Biggest Political Blunder in Modern History'

Today's NY Times op-ed page features a warning against the advent of an all out US-China trade war. How did we get to this point where China holds so many cards? The same way that Max Baucus came up with his outrageous health 'reform' bill, by putting the interests of huge corporate contributors over the well being of the people. Some history:

The West, as defined by G-7 or the OECD, back in 1989 struck a Faustian deal that they would 'engage' China like they never would have the Soviet Union.
COCOM, which had very successfully kept western technologies out of Soviet hands, denying them a source of economic growth, was allowed to die in the early '90s.
G-7, at that time, controlled over 75% of the world's economy and could have used that primacy to engender real change in the remaining non-democratic countries. That was supposed to have been the real 'peace dividend'.
Instead, western leaders kowtowed to their respective corporate constituents and set of a race to the bottom in pursuit of China's cheap, compliant labor force.
The rationale given to the gullible public was the 'engagement' theory in which we would 'change China from within' because 'economic reforms would lead to political reforms.'
Now, in 2009, China blocks almost all UN Security Council initiatives aimed at stemming corruption, oppression of minorities and women, sanctions on despotic regimes, etc. The Central Commitee is stronger(and richer) than ever.
China is a champion of 'no strings' investment in myriad bad regimes in Africa and we can't complain because the West did the very same thing with China!
The decision of our leaders to trade with China in hopes of changing it instead of the other way around will eventually be recognized as their biggest political blunder in modern history. Even bigger than abandonning Afghanistan after we expelled the Soviets. Talk about 'blowback'!

Friday, September 18, 2009

NY Times Laments US Style Democracy?

On September 9th Tom "we've turned the corner in Iraq" Friedman openly lamented our inability, unlike China, to "...impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.... from the top down."
It's true his lament comes in the broader context of exposing the GOP in 2009 as "...standing, arms folded and saying “no.” " and it is, after all an op-ed.
Yet today, in the News Section(page a4) we get this from China correspondent Keith Bradsher.
He breathlessly reports "The image of laid-off workers here returning to jobs stands in sharp contrast to the United States, where even as the economy shows signs of improvement, the unemployment rate continues to march toward double digits."
Though it's clear in reading the article that China's central govt is purposely replacing one bubble (global demand) with another (domestic demand) through fiat, Bradsher wants to emphasize how well it's working now while giving short shrift to the inevitability of the coming bubble burst; "The state-controlled banking system here...unleashed $1.2 trillion in extra lending to Chinese consumers and businesses in the first seven months of this year. That money is financing everything from a boom in car sales, up 82 percent in August from a year earlier, to frenzied factory construction." Never mind that "As much as a third of the extra bank lending in China appears to have gone into real estate and stock market speculation.", stay focussed on "...the bulk has gone into investments by companies and local governments, with tangible results."
He breezes through eye-poppers like "Government agencies have been told not to buy imported goods with money from economic stimulus programs unless no domestic alternative is available." and "Beijing also has given huge tax breaks and other assistance to exporters. They include placing broad restrictions on imports and intervening heavily in currency markets to hold down the value of the renminbi, to keep Chinese exports competitive even in a weakened global economy." That looks like fodder for a whole article to me!
Only in the final paragraphs does he touch on the the dangers with "Cheap cash has a way of inflating bubbles — just ask Wall Street — that could damage China’s economy and its banks when they pop." But ends with the oddly editorial-sounding "But such concerns are so 2008."

For more than 20 years we have pursued an illusory 'engagement' policy vis a vis China in hopes of 'changing China from the inside.' Looks like WE'RE becoming more like China instead.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Insurers and the Financial Crisis - The Link

One major reason healthcare insurers and malpractice insurers are so adamant about 'tort reform' and 'junk lawsuits' and 'defensive medicine'(see previous post) is that focussing on these as the blame for their poor earnings performance of late gives them cover for their dismal investment performance.

Most insurers invest premium income either internally or on a contract basis with a money manager, ostensibly to 'maximize returns to shareholders.' The combination of financial dereg under Clinton/Bush II and persistently low yields on Treasury Bonds led insurers to the siren song of 'AAA' mortgage-backed securities (CDOs) and derivatives thereon (CDSs).

I imagine many of these losses have yet to be 'realized' in the open market or 'written down' on financial statements but sure as hell are keeping CEOs awake at night.

This is a huge motivator to keep the emphasis on small potato issues like 'junk lawsuits.'

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