Archive for September 28th, 2012
The Democrats-with-a-byline who populate the MSM are no doubt going to point with glee at the performance of the markets over the last quarter. A good Q3 in an election year usually means re-election for a sitting president, and with the Dow Industrials up 6.6%, the S&P 500 up 8.4%, and the NASDAQ gaining 9.4%, the champagne will be out at the Tiffany Network tonight. (Maybe Jay-Z and Beyonce have some left over for them.)
But perhaps we ought to look at some other indicators, as well. Since QE3, the third, unlimited round of the Fed’s
pump-priming inflationary stimulus, was announced on September 13th, the markets are down. The Dow is off 0.5%, the S&P off 1.3%, and the NASDAQ has also given back 1.3%. These are shorter-term moves, to be sure, but they also mean that the little boost from the QE3 announcement has faded, and the grim reality of a stagnant job market, collapsing durable goods orders, rising foreclosures, and downward revisions in company guidance as a result of rising costs. All the money printing in the world can’t actually reverse business fundamentals.
It’s also worth looking at the Dow Transportation Index over the same period. Over the last quarter, that index is down 3.4%, and down 5.8% since the QE3 announcement. Clearly, the truckers and trains aren’t feeling the love. This is important as an indicator in its own right – road and rail are expecting to have less stuff to move, and their fuel and personnel costs are rising.
But it’s also a contra-indicator according to classic Dow Theory, which says that you only get a confirmation of a market move if both the Transports and the Industrials move in the same direction. That’s because a lot of what rail moves is related to industrial production. Three months of divergence, in Dow Theory, is roughly an eternity. I don’t know if it’s unprecedented, but it’s a very long time. Sooner or later, one or the other will have to move in the other direction. (It’s possible that they both will, in which case we’ll have the same problem for a while longer, just different winners and losers.)
The political effect may well be real and enduring (although a pretty good Q3 in 2010 wasn’t enough to save Nancy Pelosi’s sorry hide). People may look at a good quarter for their 401(k)s and their pension plans (although the government employees were probably voting for their subsidizer, anyway), and conclude that the worst is over. That would be both a financial and an electoral mistake.
Still catching up from the New England trip. Today was the Ceremonial Marking of the Maps. It’s something I enjoy doing tremendously, marking out the routes that we took. I usually end up doing it twice – once on the large US map, and once on the individual AAA maps. If you like driving, the roads you’ve driven are sort of an archive unto themselves. 2001: the Columbia River Gorge and the Oregon coast. 1997, and then 1999 again: The Loneliest Road in America across Nevada. 2011: A helluva lot of Nebraska. 2012: The Grand Tour of New England. You can’t really get to know a place by driving through it once, which it why great photographers often make a career out of one state. But you can get a little sense of the lay of the land, see what you missed, and plan the next trip.
As for the photographs, I’m still working on those. Posted a bunch of them to Facebook, but a two-week excursion into the Far Northeast deserves a section on The Site, not just a Facebook album. Of course, you could say the same thing about Nebraska.
In the meantime, maybe someone needs to get the working press a map to what happened in Benghazi, and then perhaps they can politely ask for their manhood back from whatever jar Jay Carney is keeping it in. I realize that what we used to affectionately call the MSM thinks that this time, they really show us who’s boss. They thought they had done that during Katrina, when they finally got their revenge for being thwarted in the 2004 election. (You remember 2004, don’t you? The year that the Tiffany Network teamed up with 42nd Street to foist a false-document hoax on the public to unseat a sitting President?) It must be tiring for them, having to do this over and over again.
I have a very old friend, a White House reporter for a newspaper you’ve probably heard of. He wrote a piece a few days after the September 11 attacks this year, parroting the administration line about the whole thing being, as Mark Steyn put it, film criticism that got out of hand. I wrote him a brief email, asking him how he could write this as fact, when it was clear, even then, that at a minimum, the attack in Libya didn’t have anything to do with the video, and that the video’s connection to the rest of what was going on was word-of-mouth and tenuous at best. He replied that “the intel guys didn’t have indications of premeditation.” Um, the intel guys were lying to you, my friend. Now that is a story in its own right. Count on it to be written sometime after January 21, 2017.
But just in case anyone in the briefing room wants to turn in their claim check on the family jewels, Bill Hobbs has helpfully put together a road map of the administration’s handling of this year’s September 11:
Fact: The Obama administration required our ambassador in Libya to be “protected” by “security” people who had no bullets in their guns.
Fact: The Obama administration was forewarned of the possibility of a terrorist attack against the U.S. in Libya days before 9/11/12. Fact: The Obama administration made zero changes to the security measures taken to protect our ambassador and defend our embassy and consulate.
Fact: the terrorist attack the Obama administration was warned was likely did in fact happen.
Fact: Our ambassador and three other Americans were killed.
Fact: For two weeks, the Obama administration continued to insist that the attack on the Benghazi consulate was a spontaneous riot of a mob angry about a YouTube video – when it KNEW that American intelligence services had determined within 24 hours that the attack was clearly a pre-planned, sophisticated terrorist attack.
Fact: Obama went to sleep the night of the attack while the ambassador was missing – and a four-hour terrorist assault was underway.
Fact: The morning after the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11/01, attack, Obama went to Las Vegas to campaign.
Fact: There NEVER WAS an angry mob rioting outside the Benghazi consulate.
Fact: The Obama administration sent our UN Ambassador onto FIVE different news programs last Sunday to lie and claim the attack on the embassy was an out of control mob – when the administration already knew it was a terrorist attack.
Fact: While the Obama administration claims the attack is “under investigation,” 16 days after the attack, FBI agents have not even gone to Benghazi.
Fact: The most significant piece of information found at the scene of the attack – Ambassador Stevens’ diary – was found by a CNN news crew.
Fact: Entries in that diary strongly suggest that Stevens had been warned he was the target of an impending attack.
Fact: The Obama administration, confronted with the contents of Stevens’ diary, chose instead to talk about whether CNN violated journalistic ethics by reporting from the diary.
Fact: In his UN speech yesterday, Obama continued to pretend that outrage over a YouTube video is what caused the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans at the Benghazi consulate
As much as I would like to have the luxury of this just being about media bias, there’s an election coming up, and the primary victims of journalistic malfeasance are going to be the voters, who will be confronted at some point with the fact that their government is taking them for fools, who probably already know that, but will never actually have that knowledge confirmed by so much as an editorial in their newspapers. Somewhere down the line, the official story will change from “riots over a video,” to “terrorist attack,” and by then it will already be old news, so the change will go unnoticed, and Oceania will always have been at war with East Asia. Which is what happens when an administration can conduct neither defense nor diplomacy.
It can’t do it because its thinking is a muddle, and its moral compass always seems to be operating near Iron Mountain.
As usual, it is left to Benjamin Netanyahu to provide both a conscience and clarity. That bomb chart with the red line was simply brilliant, mostly because it was brilliant in its simplicity. Naturally, the wags have been all over it, using the bomb’s blank interior as a canvas. Here’s my favorite:
Anything that simplifies can be mocked. But it will mostly be mocked in Israel, where an open society can always make fun of its leaders, and nobody actually can afford to take the threat lightly. Netanyahu’s a big boy with a thick skin, and can take such lampooning easily, knowing he reached his target audience with clarity, two things Obama seems incapable of.
When we were kids, we used to try to make up different planets, and then game out world conquest. But at one point, a friend of mine, I think the same one who’s the White House correspondent, said that they new maps were superfluous, because earth already had so many strategic choke points and such interesting terrain. Right now, we’re worried about Iran closing the Strait of Hormuz. But consider what happens when the Suez Canal is no longer a sure thing, and the Mediterranean coast of Africa starts bristling with anti-ship missiles with the names of our carriers on them.
These are deeply serious times, and we have a deeply unserious administration governing, and a deeply unserious press not covering them, but covering for them.