Thread: Ebbers

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  1. #21

    Default Pamplona

    .. maybe all the bulls are on vacation... the festival started friday if i remember correctly..
  2. #22

    Default A little humor from Barrons

    This piece will be in mondays Barrons. It's by Al Abelson

    Get Shorty
    IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. All that fuss and furor between North Korea and the U.S. Sure, they're light years apart in almost every important way. But, it's because of, not despite, those very striking differences that we feel amity, not enmity, should define relations between the two nations.

    For some of the best marriages we know are between people who spend most of their time thousands of miles from each other, don't speak the same language (the wife may talk Dixie and the husband Brahmin Boston), have widely disparate passions (he's crazy about gin, she's strictly a vodka person) and habits (she bathes every morning, he only on special occasions -- which don't come very often). But, they're as lovey-dovey a couple as you're likely to come across (granted, it's hard to actually come across them, since they're so rarely together).

    So here's the U.S. and North Korea, even though they meet all the criteria for unstinting cordiality toward each other, cussing and threatening the other with mortal injury and going to great pains to ensure that the whole world hears their bellicose verbal blasts. Part of the problem, we suspect, is that the North Koreans don't have much of a sense of humor. When President Bush, obviously seeking to defuse the tension with a chuckle, jovially remarks on the abbreviated stature of North Korea's No. 1, Kim Jong Il, by endowing him, as is Dubya's wont, with a cute nickname -- "Midget" -- Mr. Kim takes umbrage. Hey, we mean, the guy is a shorty, so what's to get so hot and bothered about?

    By the same token, in an attempt to be chummy, North Korea decides to celebrate, American-style, the Fourth of July by setting off rockets, handmade by local pyrotechnicrats. But instead of hearing "Way to go!" from Washington, its reward for this extraordinary show of comradeship is a barrage of warnings of annihilation and worse. (What's worse than annihilation? We don't know, but Dick Cheney's working on it.)

    The launching of one missile in particular, an intercontinental ballistic number, affectionately known in North Korea as Taepodong 2, got everybody in the world excited. None of the missiles were aloft more than 42 seconds and they all took a quick nose-dive into the Sea of Japan. But that was by design: Mr. Kim was determined they make a big splash. President Bush, still trying to get a smile out of the little fellah while, at the same time, subtly reassuring Americans whatever their height, noted with a sly smile that "the rockets didn't stay up very long."

    We hesitate to disabuse anyone of any solace he or she may have drawn from the quick fizzling of the rockets, but we hear from unimpeachable sources (they're not in the employ of the federal government, which is why they're unimpeachable) that the North Koreans, undaunted by their temporary setback, are ready to unveil a newer, bigger and better ICBM that makes the Taepodong 2 look like a sparkler. It's called Dingdong 1.

    Markets as well as homo sapiens the planet over were discombobulated by the evidence that North Korea had developed a long-range missile to go with its nukes and only partly comforted by the evidence that it hadn't quite got the hang yet of making one that really works. The key word in that excessively long sentence is, of course, "yet."

    Still, even mushroom clouds aren't a universally depressing sight these days: The news sent gold back over $600 an ounce and pumped oil up to a new all-time peak above $75 a barrel. Actually, Mr. Kim can't claim all the credit for the spirited action in both those elite commodities. As Rhonda Brammer made clear in her piece on Newmont Mining last week, everything is breaking right for gold, from supply-demand (tight and due to get tighter) to our deficits with the rest of the world (wretched and likely to get more so). In like vein, demand for crude keeps surging (think China), supply is a bit thin and more than a bit vulnerable, and even a modest interruption of global production or distribution could further fuel petro prices.

    We feel obliged to make mention of the favorable response of gold and oil to the provocative missile test-firing by North Korea that triggered tremors on bourses everywhere as our contribution to help calm such widespread investor jitters. Who knows? The whole business may have been nothing more than a charade devised because Mr. Kim was short stocks (we trust he understands that conjecture is nothing personal, that you don't have to be vertically challenged to be short stocks). And if by chance last week's events turn out to be the beginning of the end of the world, it's nice to reflect that those investors who bought gold and oil will have the wherewithal to enjoy what comes next.

    HAS KARL ROVE LOST his touch? Is he still, perhaps, a little happily delirious at having escaped being indicted and possibly ending up in the hoosegow? Is he suffering from early pre-election depression brought on by the latest icky poll numbers, not only for his boss but for his party's chosen representatives in Congress as well? Is he disturbed that Tom DeLay just won't go away and hide? Or, is it simply that one of his shiny-faced gofers screwed up?

    For Mr. Rove has an eminently deserved reputation as a slick political operator, arguably the slickest around, a Prussian for detail and blessed with an infallible instinct for putting on just the right show at the right time and in the right place to wow the voters. So why in the world would he schedule a full-dress press conference in Chicago on Friday for the president to crow about the economy -- the very day June's abysmal employment report was slated to be released? Or did he neglect -- and this is truly inexcusable -- to get the essence of the survey leaked...sorry, make that advance to his people?

    The Karl Rove we all knew and loved, well, anyway knew, the Karl Rove who maneuvered George Bush into the White House in 2000 and got his lease renewed four years later, would never, ever have committed so flagrant a goof. That's what got us worrying about Mr. Rove and wondering if he has lost it just a teeny bit.

    There may be a gentler, kinder explanation. Mr. Rove wears specs. Conceivably, what with court appearances and having to work virtually around the clock on damage control (somehow, the Republicans have been catching a lot of bad publicity lately, and not only in the New York Times), he may have forgotten to visit his ophthalmologist for his annual checkup and so misread the numbers. Instead of the 121,000 new jobs that were, in fact, added last month, Mr. Rove blurrily saw 221,000. Kind of thing that could happen to anyone.

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