free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ... taking an imposing analytic toolkit out of the box, over the wall and into the street ... with callous disregard for accepted wisdom and standard English

reading tea leaves from original angles, we've led with uncannily prescient takes on the federal surplus, the dotcom crash, the "Energy Crisis", the Afghan campaign, the federal deficit.

More where those came from ... stay tuned.

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All "major" articles of older material have now been imported, some with updates worth perusing. We'll keep it all on the main page for a while, will add a few loose pieces of history, will trim the main page and index the archives for convenience later.


free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ...
... gateway to the next Progressive Era?
Some say it's nothing but a train wreck ... roll in the big cranes, clear the track, see what the crew was smoking. If I thought so, I'd not be writing this ... and if they thought so, they'd not be drumming so hard.

Many thanks to Tony Adragna and Will Vehrs, still shouting 'cross the Potomac at QuasiPundit. Early Camp Enron material can be found in QP's Dispatches department.
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

--- S.O.T.U. Review ---

Give Bush credit -- he found an acceptable tone, avoided pitfalls, and pulled a couple of velveteen rabbits out of the hat. He may get his SOTU bounce after all. [UPDATE: ABC News has the first legit response poll, giving W about a 3 point bump (within MOE).] Will it stick, or is it (as one MSNBC commentator speculated) a "sugar high"? [Bad decisions pile up ... he'll never make the play-off's.]

One rabbit was a threadbare stuffed bunny, but it plays surprisingly well in early reviews. Did the Hydrogen Car sound familiar? It should. In dailyKOS comments, "olds88" notes that Bush announced this US Council for Automotive Research FreedomCar subsidy last January, using it to run Clinton's quicker-starting USCAR Partnership for a Next Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) off the road.

The other was AIDS funding for Africa. $15B over 5 years, of which $5B was previous committed ... so it's a $2B/year rabbit out of the $2000B/year federal hat. Will it displace other "hearts and minds" expenditures? How much ends up in Big Pharma coffers? (Or is US going to bell the drug-patent-waiver-for-poor-countries cat? Unlikely.) How much is earmarked for condoms? (Or is "prevention" a windfall for Christian conservative abstinence missions?)

The tone of delivery was serious, subdued, almost leaden ... successfully avoiding flippancy on the one hand and hysteria on the other. This was no mean feat.

The economy? What economy? Glad to hear "our economy is recovering" but we still need tax cuts, what with "unemployment rising" and all. Deficit? We have a deficit? OK, more tax cuts.
Response by Washington Governor Gary Locke provided a study in contrasts ... the affirmative action Yalie versus the legacy admissions Yalie ... and oh, yeah, that economy! CP suspects several Republican governors were tuned in and muttering "You tell him, Gary!".
Social Security? Privatize it. Medicare? Privatize it. An odd passage railed against bureaucrats and HMO's. (The proposed reform involves herding seniors into HMO's, by holding prescription drug benefits hostage).

All that was just warm-up. The feature act was Iraq. "If war is forced upon us ..." we'll kick ass. If war is not forced upon us ... we'll find another pretext to kick ass.

SOTU coinage can be disastrous, but it's never accidental. New coinage: "Hitlerism", as in "Hitlerism, militarism and communism" ... the Axism of Evil? What happened? Was that Hitler fellow giving "fascism" a bad name?

And tubes? The Boy Who Cried Wolf cried "ALUMINUM TUBES"! Bush's "intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production", but CP's intel says the "centrifuge tube" story was doubtful from day one, and recent inspections refute it decisively ... or so it seems. (Does Bush have even more secret secrets up his sleeve?) Not to worry ... Colin Powell is scheduled to break out the good stuff next week, and we'll all have a snort before we hit the Road to Baghdad.

In light of this development, we'll interrupt our regular programming (OK, not very regular) to unpack the case for war with Iraq. And then we'll get back to those staggering deficits -- in finance, marketing, personnel and elsewhere.