Boy Bombers

In a tense scene captured in exclusive Associated Press Television News footage, soldiers jumped behind concrete barricades and sent a yellow robot to hand scissors to the 16-year-old boy so he could cut off the vest. They then ordered him to strip to his underwear. Experts later detonated the bomb, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the incident. The teenager’s family in Nablus identified him as Hussam Abdo, and his brother, Hosni, said “he has the intelligence of a 12-year-old.”

Although neighbors identified Abdo as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine militant group, his family said he did not belong to any militant group, but went to demonstrations held by all of them. The incident was the latest in a series of what Israel says are foiled militant attacks involving young Palestinians.

Two things. First, why should Israel hesitate to kill Palestinian men, when those same men are willing to send their own children to die fighting in their stead? Second, this abomination of sending a retarded boy to his death is actually a good sign that the terrorists are clearly on the run, as Debka commented yesterday. Hamas is in disarray, not only because its leader is dead, but because its operatives have been targeted for weeks. Surprise, surprise, that killing the enemy should be the way to win the war. As General Patton said, the purpose of war is not to die for your country, it’s to make the other son of a bitch die for his. Eventually, as almost every defeated nation has learned, you start running out of soldiers. That’s when the white flags start flying.

When inflation knocks

PPI at .6 percent in January. It’s not quite as easy to disguise producer’s prices as it is to exclude “volatile food and energy prices”, and when they show up in the CPI, it’s in significantly reduced form. But that’s a rate of 7.2 percent inflation, which means that money market funds will soon be openly inverted if the Fed doesn’t raise interest rates soon. Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley is already calling for an increase of three percent; imagine what that will do to all those idiots who, at a time of all-time record low interest rates, opted for an adjustable-rate mortgage. I’ve read that as many as 25 percent of mortgages are now ARMs, which is just another way that the mortgage banks are setting their clients up for some serious financial raping and pillaging.

Gold never quite touched its 200-DMA, but it got close – 390.50 on March 3 with a 200-DMA of 385 – before jumping back up to 420. Silver is still snorting and stamping and moving up, while the Economist’s dollar-based index of commodities is up 28 percent on the year. Given housing prices, I daresay that’s a lot closer to the true dollar inflation than the fictitious CPI.

As usual, Mogambo’s on the case, this time ripping the hot-and-heavy home-buying crowd:

1) Prices are at historical highs, and are also at the end of a long series of setting new records.

2) Prices are a record-setting multiple of the buyer’s incomes.

3) This is at a time when interest rates are insanely, abnormally, fraudulently low, manipulated to negative real, inflation-adjusted rates

4) There are record deficits in almost every layer of government in the country, thus state and local taxes are sure to be raised.

5) Real-inflation-adjusted incomes are still falling after decades of declining real incomes. And if you also adjust for the increase in total taxes paid to all the different layers of tax-levying authorities, the real, net-of-taxes, inflation-adjusted and cost-of-government adjusted-incomes are hitting the bottom of the barrel.

6) We are at the tail-end end of a long, long series of booms, most of which have not busted yet.

If you’re looking to sell your house, this is inarguably a good time, and quite possibly a great time. If you’re looking to buy, think about renting for a year or two and buying when prices are lower. But if you must buy now and want to take advantage of the low-rates, whatever you do, get a fixed-rate mortgage. But even if Greenspan and company can pull one last boom out of their hat, so what? The point isn’t to get off the ride at the peak, it’s to get off safely and profitably.

The War of the Left- and Right-Wings

Like Hugh Hewitt, I share a bit of anticipation of Mr. Franken’s radio debut. When it starts, someone will have to email me the call-in number; I’ll post it here and everyone who’s interested in seeing the War of the Wings can call in and demand an answer from him on a specific day. The chances are slim that anyone will actually get on the air, but at least we’ll send him a message.

And who knows? The guy is just nuts enough that he might go for it. There’s a lot of rage inside that little man and given that he outweighs me by more than thirty pounds, he’s got a chance. Oh, who am I kidding. I can bench him at least 20 times; even though I’m much lighter I rather doubt he can do the same. While he may have been a wrestler, that was a long time ago and it’s a lot harder to take someone down when they’re looking at you.