James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Time the Bin Laden capture and win

Don’t be shy, folks. Make your guess on when the capture of Osama bin Laden will be announced and win a deck of Shareholders Most Wanted playing cards.

Each card bears the face and a short biography of one of this country’s top corporate crooks. If you don’t want to use them yourself, send them to the White House as a gift to the nominal president; his handlers could use them as flash cards to help him recognize his major contributors at $5,000 a plate fund raisers around the country.

Just under my bio on the right of this page is a heading that says “Contact.” Under that is an email address. Click on the email address and send me a note with your name, your address or at least an email address and your guess about the capture date. The three closest guesses will get cards.

Think of the debate in the White House: Should they spring Osama soon, so that they have months to trumpet the capture? Or do they think the political usefulness wear off too quickly? Should they wait until fall, so that it’s still very fresh, still in the news daily? What do you think they’ll do?

Too far fetched? Are we sure?

Here’s one I hesitate to mention, yet somebody has to:

Mehr News Agency, founded in June 2003 and based in Tehran, Iran, reported a few days ago that it had learned from a “source from the Iraqi Governing Council” that American troops, aided by British soldiers, unloaded a “large cargo” of long-range missile parts and other “weapons of mass destruction” from a ship or ships in Iraqi ports recently.

The unloading was done at night in great secrecy, the Mehr story says, and at least some of the weapons and weapons parts were quickly trucked off to a secret, possibly temporary, location near Basra. The weapons and parts were made in the 1980s and ‘90s, mostly in eastern European countries, the story said, and are of types the United States claimed were in Saddam Hussein’s possession before the invasion a year ago.

Mehr said its source claimed the U.S. acquired the weapons over 20 years by confiscating them when interrupting illegal arms sales.

I know nothing of the reliability of Mehr. It’s commentary, of course, generally supports Iran’s positions on international issues, yet it appears to be a product of the reformist movement in that country. Without learning much more about Mehr, I wouldn't bet heavily either way on its accuracy.

The sad thing is, it’s impossible to dismiss the idea that the Bushies/Pentagon would plant weapons in Iraq in order to unveil them some time before the fall election. They've already demonstrated beyond question that they are without scruples.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Economic recovery is mostly fiction

One of the many things the establishment press isn’t telling us, though it has a duty to do so, is that the economic recovery that CNN, Fox News and the broadcast networks keep talking about is more political fiction than fact.

The supposed return of big time corporate profitability is largely a lie, and, of course, the job situation is far worse than the daily broadcast and press reports state or imply. “And,” as Edith Ann used to say, “that’s the truth.”

Yes, corporations are reporting improved profits in the past few quarters. What the press articles and broadcasters don't say – and what the corporations bury deeply in their reports to shareholders – is that a very big piece of the improvement comes from two sources that have nothing to do with increased unit sales.

One is Republican-provided reductions in corporate tax rates. A major gift to large corporations is a change in the law that allows companies that sell goods or services abroad to pay taxes on their foreign earnings at the rate charged by countries in which the sales are made, rather than at the normal U.S. tax rate. Corporate tax rates generally are lower abroad than in the U.S., which means American corporations received big tax breaks that have shown up as profits in the past year.

Two, more important in many cases, is the big change in foreign currency exchange rates over the past couple of years. In general, foreign currencies have gained substantially in value against the U.S. dollar. That means that companies that do business abroad – essentially all large corporations and many smaller ones – are reporting “higher sales,” even if their sales haven’t increased by single unit of goods or services. That’s true simply because the sale of one widget once brought in, say, $1 and now brings in maybe $1.20 because the euro or the baht or whatever is worth more in terms of dollars.

In many cases, those two factors account for major portions, or all, of the reported increases in sales and earnings. Dig deep into the quarterly and annual reports. It’s there, in the small print.
Of course, top-level executives continue to get huge bonuses and to reap millions by exercising stock options because they have “improved” profits.

So far the only mainstream news organization I’ve seen report those facts in a way that’s understandable to a majority of readers is the New York Times. There may be others; but most haven’t done it and obviously don’t intend to.

And then there’s the job situation. The lack of job new jobs, or recovery of jobs lost under the Republican regime, is so obvious that even outfits like Fox have to report it fairly regularly. They don’t generally tell the whole story, however.

It was widely reported for a few days that there had been major job growth last month. Then, oops, it turned out that only 21,000 jobs had been added to the U.S. economy last month. And then, oops, it turned out that all of those new jobs are in the public sector. There was no gain in business employment in this country in February.

That last fact has not been emphasized on Fox or CNN or in your daily newspaper. And an almost unreported fact is that another 588,000 people joined the ranks of “discouraged workers” last month. Those are the people who finally wore out and gave up looking for work because months (or years) of trying showed them the hunt was useless and/or they simply ran out of energy.

The rapid growth of that pool of officially uncounted “discouraged workers” is the only reason official unemployment rates haven’t gone to, or at least near, the highest levels in modern history. That’s right; discouraged workers are not included in unemployment figures because they’re not looking for work.

And one more little bit of employment information, thanks to the New York Times (March 14), that should interest the middle class backers of the Bushies: The number of U.S. college graduates 25 and older who hold jobs fell from 78 percent in 2000 to less than 76 percent last year. That, said the Times, is the lowest rate in more than 25 years. Oh...and the average pay of employed college graduates also has fallen over the past two years.

Monday, March 15, 2004

More on the Florida vote fraud in the making

Evidence that this fall’s election in Florida will once again involve massive fraud – perhaps even more and more blatant fraud than in 2000 – keeps piling up.

Similar election theft is likely to take place in several other states, notably in the deep South and far West, although Ohio also appears to be wide open to outrageous action.

The most recent suggestions of what’s to come in Florida are contained in the lead editorial of the New York Times for Sunday, Feb. 14. (Click on the link on the right side of this page.) The editorial really is more of a report than an opinion piece. It tells of egregiously and obviously erroneous vote totals in the recent Florida primary, of Florida officials’ refusals to provide paper records of touch-screen machine ballots, of what probably were “fixes” of a January election in two of Florida’s most populous counties, and more.

As I did here a few weeks ago, the Times also notes the close relationship between the Bush crowd and the major manufacturers of the new voting machines, who are major financial backers of the Bush campaign.

Take a look at the Times piece, and if you missed it, see the report below (Wiring the Coming Elections, posted Feb. 27) on the voting machines and the companies that make them.


Send me your guess on when they'll bring in Osama bin Laden. (See item below.)