“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

US Dept of Justice Destroys $10 billion in Wal-Mart Worth

A Bribery Ban Backfires

Until 1977, there was no country that criminalized the practice of bribery abroad.

Until 1977, there was no country that criminalized the practice of bribery abroad. But that year, President Jimmy Carter signed a law making the United States the very first. In due course, this measure eliminated corruption from every nation where our corporations operate.
Yes, it did—right after Carter got a tattoo and a Harley. In fact, bribery remains a way of life in much of the world, including rapidly developing countries where American multinationals need to be. These firms often are forced to choose between following age-old local custom in order to compete and obeying U.S. law, which may leave them high and dry.
That could be the explanation behind the behavior attributed to Wal-Mart in its effort to expand in Mexico. The New York Times reports that the company's internal inquiry found "evidence of widespread bribery" and "suspect payments totaling more than $24 million"—in apparent violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The scandal hit the world's biggest retailer like a ton of bricks. It lost $10 billion of market value literally overnight. The Justice Department had already launched an investigation, and congressional committees may not be far behind.
If you think this is a case of greedy Americans corrupting innocents abroad, think again. In its annual Corruption Perceptions Index, the watchdog group Transparency International ranks Mexico 100th from the top, out of 183 nations and territories. On a scale of zero ("highly corrupt") to 10 ("very clean"), it gets a score of 3, which I would read as "pretty sleazy." (The U.S. was 24th, at 7.1.)
If you want to reach the Mexican consumer, you may have little choice but to grease some palms. The Times interviewed a former high executive of Wal-Mart de Mexico who offered insight: "Bribes, he explained, accelerated growth. They got zoning maps changed...Permits that typically took months to process magically materialized in days. 'What we were buying was time,' he said."
Sure, executives can refuse to pay bribes. But while they get old waiting for permits to clear, they will lose business. They may also get to watch less scrupulous competitors swoop in. Those rivals may not have to fear the possible legal consequences quite so much, if they hail from countries with more permissive standards.
China, for example, didn't get around to passing its law making it a crime to bribe foreign officials until last year. But a spokesman for the British anti-corruption group Global Witness told the South China Morning Post, "It remains unclear whether the Chinese government is serious about prosecuting individuals and companies who have broken the law." Not a sure thing, since China is rated only slightly cleaner than Mexico.
The question is why it's the duty of the U.S. government to dictate business practices in nations with very different business climates. You would think the Justice Department has plenty to do enforcing American laws on American soil without trying to sanitize the rest of the world.
Our idea of appropriate business practices ought to prevail in America, but less developed countries are entitled to do things their own way. If Mexico doesn't police bribery and can't change its economic culture, why should Uncle Sam take on the job?
One effect of the anti-bribery law has been to scare U.S. investment away from corrupt countries. But as one study found, it didn't reduce the overall amount of investment in these locales: Corporations from more tolerant countries were happy to take up the slack.
If other governments were brave and vigilant in fighting graft, there would be no need for American prosecutors to step in. Foreign prosecutors would be happy to issue indictments. It's only in vice-plagued nations that the FCPA makes a difference.
But the difference is not necessarily a positive one. Andrew Brady Spalding, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, says the law often amounts to imposing economic sanctions on particular countries. By deterring American companies from investing in such places, we deprive their citizens of goods and jobs that would improve their lives.
When extortionate officials block Wal-Mart from opening stores in Mexico, ordinary Mexicans suffer. Economic growth is a good thing, even when it's lubricated by graft.
If the goal is to make ourselves feel good, this law is a success. It's a failure only if the point is to actually do good.
Steve Chapman blogs daily at


  1. OMG, the Obama DOJ discovers the Mexicans are corrupt. Nothing to do with the US election of course.

  2. I think Obama is being culturally incentive to the Mexicans.

  3. The truth is Wal-Mart is the favorite corporate target of the Left and the unionists.This is election year politics and the height of pious hypocrisy.

  4. As a candidate in 2008, Obama blamed the reversals largely on the policies of Bush and other Republicans. He cited census figures showing that median income for working-age households -- those headed by someone younger than 65 -- had dropped more than $2,000 after inflation during the first seven years of Bush’s time in office.

    Yet real median household income in March was down $4,300 since Obama took office in January 2009 and down $2,900 since the June 2009 start of the economic recovery, according to an analysis of census data by Sentier Research, an economic- consulting firm in Annapolis, Maryland.

    1% Get 93%

    A president who attacked Bush’s policies for favoring the rich has overseen a recovery in which the wealthiest 1 percent captured 93 percent of per-capita real income gains in 2010, according to an analysis of tax data by Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

    On average, families in the top 1 percent saw their inflation-adjusted incomes rise by $105,637 that year from 2009, according to Saez.

    Middle Class Continues on "The Great Hollowing."

  5. Atlas won’t shrug.

    That’s the view of economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Picketty: They argue higher taxes will not discourage the wealthy from working harder or slow the economy, unlike in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, “Atlas Shrugged.” Its hero, John Galt, led a strike by industrialists and others against the government, partly because they thought they were too highly taxed.

    Audio Download: Diamond Says High Tax Rates Do Not Slow Economy
    “Top 1 percent earners now make 20 times the average, while they made only 10 times the average in the 1970s,” Saez, winner of the John Bates Clark young economist award in 2009, said in an e-mail. “If they worked hard then, they should continue working hard today, even if they are taxed at 50 percent.” The top federal tax rate is now 35 percent.

    The two economists’ work is of more than just academic interest. President Barack Obama’s former budget director, Peter Orszag, has said their research on income inequality “helped to point the way for the administration in its pledge to rebalance the tax code.” Senate Republicans last month blocked Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the rich via the so-called Buffet rule, arguing it would hurt the economy.

    Atlas Can Take It

  6. .


    Government regulation is the reason we are as screwed up as we are.

    Jamie Diamond says so. He's called a meeting with other top banks and their banking regulator to explain to him that current regulations (some of which haven't even been implemented yet) are hurting business. The GOP agrees with him. This despite the fact that some banks continue taking on the risk that got us into this problem to begin with.

    These guys say the bribes are merely to grease the system so that paperwork can flow more quickly. If you believe that, I'll check and see if rat still has that oceanfront property in Arizona he was selling.

    Corruption is corruption. The difference is Walmart has the size and money to outcorrupt everyone else.


    1. When in Rome, do as the Romans.

  7. Income Inequality (links):

    15 Facts About U.S. Income Inequality That Everyone Should Know

    Tim Noah: The Great Divergence


    Stock trading at the speed of light. What could possibly go wrong?

    That question is not asked in a Forbes piece on Monday by Bruce Dorminey, entitled "Neutrinos to Give High-Frequency Traders the Millisecond Edge."

    In this story, serious people seriously contemplate giving Wall Street traders particle accelerators -- yes, I said "particle accelerators" -- to create neutrinos, sub-atomic particles that move roughly at the speed of light and can pass through solid objects with nary a shrug, expressly for the purpose of high-speed trading.

    Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein only thought he was doing God's work before. Wait until he gets the ability to create sub-atomic particles.


  8. Oil service companies led by Technip SA (TEC) and Subsea 7 SA (SUBC) for the first time are working with wind energy developers in the North Sea’s 14 billion-euro ($19 billion) a year market.

    The offshore engineers plan to exploit the similarities between building undersea oil installations and constructing offshore wind farms and have both established renewable energy units. Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) also offers expertise to wind developers in the North Sea, where fossil fuels first discovered in 1966 are being depleted as clean energy demand rises.

    Enlarge image

    North Sea wind farm. Source: E.On
    “The synergies available between offshore wind and oil and gas are most apparent in the North Sea,” said Jayesh Parmar, a London-based consultant at Baringa Partners LLP. “It makes sense here to be operating in both areas.”

    The move into renewable energy comes after Britain’s oil and gas production has shrunk more than half since peaking in 1999 at about 4.5 million barrels of gas and oil equivalent a day to about 2.2 million barrels now, according to the Oil & Gas U.K. industry group. Production from Britain’s continental shelf has fallen about 6.2 percent annually in the past 23 years . . .

    Windy Story

  9. Proof of this is the latest investment of $700 million in the Marena Renovables project in Mexico’s Isthmus de Tehuantepec in Oaxaca. According to a Macquarie Mexican Infrastructure Fund (MMIF) press release, the 396 MW wind energy project is under development since March 2012. The project is expected to reach completion by the end of the year.

    The Marena Renovables wind farm is being financed by a syndicate of commercial banks, including Banorte, BBVA Bancomer, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, HSBC and Santander, as well as development banks that include the Inter-American Development Bank, Banco Nacional de Obras y Servicios Públicos (“Banobras”), and Nacional Financiera (“Nafinsa”).

    “We are pleased to have completed the financing for this Project and look forward to starting construction,” said Jonathan Davis Arzac, Executive Chairman of MMIF. “This Project, which marks the first renewable energy investment in MMIF’s portfolio, is expected to be the largest single-stage wind farm in Latin America when complete.”

    The wind farm’s location, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, is regarded as having the best wind-resources in Mexico and as one of the world’s windiest regions.

    “It is estimated that the area alone has the energy potential between 5,000 and 7,000 MW with a plant output of 45%, while the international average varies between 25% and 35%,” said Rafael Carmona, Principal Analyst at

    Mexico Goin' Windy, Also

  10. Tea Party favorites such as Stephen Fincher of Tennessee were swept into Congress on a wave of anger over government-funded bailouts of banks.

    Now those incumbents are collecting thousands of dollars for re-election campaigns from the same Wall Street firms whose excesses they criticized. They have taken no significant steps to curb them or prevent future taxpayer-financed rescues . . . . .

    Just another brand of asshole

  11. The number of pregnant women abusing prescription drugs has soared, and babies addicted to opiates are now being born at the rate of one every hour in the US, a new study warns. Researchers found that the newborn addiction rate has tripled over the last decade, and the newborns spent an average of 16 days in the hospital being treated for opiate withdrawal, reports the New York Times. "The incidence has gone crazy, and I think it has the potential to become a national or international issue,” a clinical neuroscientist writes in an editorial accompanying the study. “People who previously might not have used heroin or the needle are more likely to use prescription opiates.”

    A newborn suffering opiate withdrawal gives out "a very high-pitched, uncomfortable cry," a pediatrician in Kentucky who sees at least one or two cases every week tells CNN. "It's like the kid has been pinched." The long-term health implications of such a grim start in life are unclear, but the problem is straining health care programs, the study found. It costs an average of $53,400 to treat each of the 13,500 babies born addicted to opiates every year, and state Medicaid programs end up covering the cost nearly 80% of the time.

    It's going to be a genuine rubber-meets-the-road event when the public fix for health care meets the private behavior profiles. Obesity. Drug Abuse. I already don't appreciate it.

  12. So Wal-Mart market capitalization is $200 Billion. It lost $10 billion (5%) based on $24 million in bribes (effectively 0%).

  13. Condi For VP

    Nor does Ms. Rice cover herself in glory by describing her ambivalence about every option on the table in the run-up to the surge—the surge itself; a mini-surge; some form of retreat; or her own preferred option to have Iraqis "kill one another for a while before they get the point."

    heh, and she looks like such a nice young woman.

    That's quite cold-blooded.

    heh :)

    The writer however doesn't have a lot of faith in her, but she seems to be on the VP list and she is the favorite of most Republicans.


  14. Max (short for Maxine)Apr 30, 2012 06:38 PM
    a century and a half’s worth of supply at present usage rates

    Always a dead give-away. Under any scenario, except Armageddon, power demand will double at a minimum (including energy required for next generation of fossil fuel extraction technologies). At a minimum. That cuts the estimate to 75 years. Coupled with skepticism of the 5 trillion barrels (??) and you're back to a more realistic timeline of 30-40 years."

    What period of time are you asserting that power demand doubles? While the author does speak of "current usage" he also speaks of "proven reserves". I'm guessing there is a bit more to discover out there. In addition to the shale oil there are the tar sands which, if you halve like you did the shale oil adds another 30-40 years in your "realistic" projection.

    Is peak oil upon us? It seems not.

  15. New York State going after Wal-Mart for activities in Mexico? GMAFB

    1. Should Wal-Mart pay US taxes for its earnings in Mexico?

  16. Replies
    1. Well that would certainly solve any issue regarding US corporations keeping their earnings off-shore. It wouldn't do much to help the US budget deficits though.

  17. They should pay taxes in the country they make their money.

  18. RE tar sands

    I read too fast - thought the 4.8 trillion barrel "recoverable" volume included all fossil fuel reserves (might want to recheck that since it seems suspicious for the author to come up with a grand number that excludes one resource dominating current news cycle.)

    I'm unconvinced at the "hundreds of years" fossil fuel "recoverable" argument. Been here before but briefly, (1) EROEI is pretty low for the "squeeze and bake" it out stuff, (2) water demands are very high, reminiscent of the food argument leveled against ethanol industry and (3) environmental issues are pretty serious, both source and distribution, as per but not limited to issues raised by Keystone XL that were only poorly disguised by what was little more than a diversionary reference to, as well as an outright lie regarding, employment. Canadians putting crippled Americans back to work. I don't see "hundreds of years." I see maybe 50, tops.

    I'm not going to put numbers to future demand projection because I don't do research papers anymore. But it's going up. And Fast.

  19. .

    Max, I responded to your last post on the previous stream regarding government overcommitting (or not over committing if your like). Had intended to just list dot points but it soon turned into a three page summary that barely touches the issues.

    My bottom line was that given demographics and economic and political reality, you can't extrapolate long-term trend lines into the future.


    1. .

      "...long-term historical trend lines into the future."


    2. Well why didn't you just say so?

      RE SS: agreed, that historical trend line needs "bending."

      RE "entitlement programs for the poor:" probably disagree both in terms of absolute magnitude and growth rates, neither of which set me on fire (yet) relative to other "trend lines."

      RE Medicare: big problem that needs serious attention from the country and the political class. As I have said before, my view is that the only realistic solution will require some form of public participation - either offering Medicare as an option or going directly to gov health care or regulating the hell out of the industry and letting the private sector "compete."

      RE tax code: fewer of the entitlement trend lines would be of serious concern if we were able to repair this toxic stew of a mess. Economic growth covers a lot of government - the misguided as well as the well-guided.

      I agree nothing is forever. I disagree that change should begin with the least advantaged among us.

    3. .

      I disagree that change should begin with the least advantaged among us.

      IMO, you jumped to a conclusion. When I read Samuelson, I find him to be pretty even handed. I doubt you will find in his article any suggestion that "change should begin with the least advantaged among us".

      He is rebutting what he considers a myth but he is not attacking a particular constituency he is attacking the process.

      The larger lesson is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, American politics have not become insensitive to the “the people.” In many ways, just the opposite is true. Politicians are too responsive to popular will. The real Washington is in the business of pleasing as many people as possible for as long as possible. There are now vast constituencies dependent on the largesse of the federal government. This is the main cause of huge “structural” budget deficits, meaning that they aren’t simply a hangover from the Great Recession.

      You may take that statement as an attack on the least advantaged among us. I don't.

      Just as I think the following is a general statement of fact.

      More promises were made than can be kept without raising taxes, which — for the most part — were also subject to bipartisan promises against increases.


    4. "Starve the Beast" was born somewhere between Samuelson (and the academic theorists as a group) and the Republican/Conservative demographic. Color me skeptical when a wordsmith reduces the poor and the disenfranchised to just another interest group "sucking at the government teat." What's good for the military, the middle class, and the business community is good for the poor. Sounds like 'shared sacrifice.'

      I agree about over-promising - up to a point. (I also agree that we are 'over-governed' - up to a point, which is a different subject.) But neither are the focus, or I should say turning point.

      That would be the financial fallout of 2008, a bipartisan and meticulously orchestrated series of events that clearly reversed the power balance between the political class and the money changers. There is no turning back. The derivatives space was a game changer. It matters not a whiff to folks like Jamie Dimon et al whether Mitt's Balance! beats Obama's Forward! That is entertainment for The Rest of Us. The money guys are now fully removed from government influence/control.

      Institutionally, the game has changed forever, but, as a practical matter, government must be propped up as a protective bulwark to ensure social stability and provide for national security. That means fiscal stability on the backs of the middle class. Constituencies might be equal in theory, but in practice, when it's time to apply the vise clamps, some constituencies are more equal than others.

      Nice economy you got there. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it.

    5. .

      Some good points made; however, they have nothing to do with Samuelson's initial point just as the concept of "Starve the Beast" has little to do with the concept of living within your means.

      You insist on making the subject of government over-spending a matter of allocation of resources or as you put it 'how the the vise clamps are applied'. But that is a different subject than what Samuelson was talking about. He was talking about the amount of benefits being promised not who should be the first to take cuts.


    6. ..."Starve the Beast" has little to do with the concept of living within your means.

      Except in the concept of fixing the problem, which is not the primary objective of some academic analysts.

      But I'm not sure I understand the point of arguing over something that has already occurred, except in the context of a Grand Reset when we get to try again, and I'm seeing a lot of that in the subtext here and elsewhere.

      By "living within your means" I assume the argument is against deficit spending. That is not practical imo. But that doesn't mean there is nothing our federal (and state/local/municipal) governments can do. Sunset provisions are one example of a rather substantial set of tools available to a governing body that is (re)focused on what is good for the country. But controlling deficit spending will not end the corrupt influence of what I guess is being short-handed as 'crony capitalism.' That will require a multi-front effort of which solid fiscal policy is one part.

      He was talking about the amount of benefits being promised not who should be the first to take cuts.

      Parsing it pretty thin in my view, but OK. The "promised benefits" were not excessive - until we promised democracy in the ME, paid off Big Pharma, and failed to control the derivatives space. Straight back to my argument that handful of big events destabilized a workable system, with the caveat that the big ones - SS and Medicare - are 'reauthorized' benefits (SS being off-budget), not 'promises.'

      Samuelson's thesis of fiscal restraint has a very narrow application, unless the revolutionary reset is being plotted as I type. Of more pressing concern is how to reverse the 'trend lines' and that is hard to do precisely because it is a resource allocation issue.

      The deficits are steep because Wall St got silly drunk with unregulated leverage. A simple housing bubble would have been peanuts compared to the hyper-leveraged derivatives market built by the Wall St investment houses on the backs of mortgage-backed securities and other structured investment vehicles that really have no physical asset backing - just market movement.

      We'll have to agree to (largely) disagree about focus.

    7. Except in the context of fixing the problem....

    8. I'm puzzled by your notion of a "Grand Reset" where we get to start over again. What the heck would one of those things look like? Is it even possible? History forever marches forward and I'm not aware of do-overs. I guess the nation could declare bankruptcy but is that what you mean?

    9. No.

      I think the people who talk about it mean armed revolution.

      Another group worries that a string of sovereign defaults will crash one or more Wall St houses due to their highly leveraged exposure in the derivatives space and this will destabilize banking with institutional ripple effects that lead to armed revolution.

      I have no crystal ball (nor any beret-clad associates) but I keep hearing talk about restricting the franchise and other government reforms, including limitations on deficit financing and entitlement roll-backs.

      Political hyperbole is not new. What is new is that the money-changers have fully removed themselves from any form of significant government influence or control. In that sense 2008 was very different from previous financial downturns. As I said there is only one way back and it is the hard way. Who knows how events will evolve?

    10. All that survivalist armed revolutionary BS sounds like Belmont club crap. And no the money changers ate not totally free of government influence but they have been cut too much slack (the deposit taking institutions anyway).

    11. RE Viva La Revolutione

      Where do you think the (soon to be defanged) Tea Party got it's talking points??

      RE financial regulation

      The Masters of the Universe have shifted the center of gravity. Very few have noticed.

      Meanwhile, while some idiot is busy fucking up the Obama Part II campaign (David Puffle?) the serious players are packing for a weekend in Venice.

      The Stateless Rich

      And they don't give a rat's @ss about revolution or regulation.

    12. One more point (sometimes takes me awhile to see in what new direction you have completely missed the latest point.)

      The "lock and load" crowd is one rumble in the jumble of discontent. I was referring to another 'narrative', one that is discussing what a 'new' government would look like - limited enfranchisement, greatly reduced entitlements, greatly reduced role for central government, return to isolationist foreign policy, reform of the Federal banking system.

      Institutional (and cultural) failures create lots of platforms.

      Who's to say which ones "take?"

      I never thought I would live long enough to witness that Tea Party debacle of naivete during the last debt ceiling debate.

      "It'll never happen here" certitude belongs to those who carry more Keys to the Kingdom.

  20. Oh, I see you weren't kidding about the bullet points.

    I'll need some time.

    (But you're right - hard to treat in brief ...

    let alone fully clothed!!)

  21. Wal-Mart won their battle here. Wanting a SuperStore, they got turned by by the City Council, and immediately moved across the state line to greener pastures.

    Immediately the new Council started whining about lost tax revenues and basically crawled on their knees to get them back. They are now back, on their terms.

    Don't mess around with Sam's Club.


  22. Facebook Inc. is planning to start its roadshow to pitch its stock to investors on Monday, as the social network enters the final stages of its coming public offering, said people familiar with the matter.

  23. A 101st Airborne Vietnam vet writes to me about the controversy over the Obama campaign ad which suggested that Mitt Romney wouldn't have gone after Osama bin Laden:

    I really don't want this to just be a bitchfest by an old fart about the good old days. However ...

    There was an ethos among the men of our childhood that:

    · a man was going to have to do a lot of tough things, and it didn't make him a victim because that's just the way life is.


    Can you imagine Ike saying, "I pulled the trigger on D-Day but Stevenson never would have had the guts to do that"? Or Truman saying, "I dropped the bomb, and Dewey wouldn't have"?


    My, how times have changed.

    Vulgarization Of The Presidency

  24. To roars of approval, President Sarkozy attacked the trades union movement as too political and not sufficiently patriotic. "Put down your red flags and work for France," he said.

    For someone who appeals constantly to France's history, Mr Sarkozy has a shaky sense of history. Using the Vichy phrase "real work" was almost certainly clumsy rather than deliberately provocative.


    Yesterday, the podium for his "real work" rally was erected a few metres from the viewpoint towards the Eiffel Tower where Adolf Hitler was filmed on his only visit to Paris in June 1940.

  25. To be fair, the effects of health-care reform will not be nearly so drastic as the effect of the price controls imposed by Hugo Chavez or Robert Mugabe. But how big a selling point is that?

    "America—Still Not as Bad Off as Venezuela!"

    Not the most inspiring slogan, is it?

  26. "If a marketer measures [return on investment] as direct sales from the Web, then Facebook may not be the ideal platform," said Sarah Hofstetter, president of digital ad agency 360i, a unit of Dentsu Inc. 4324.TO +0.24% "But if the goal is to move the needle on brand health metrics, whether its awareness or engagement,... then Facebook should be a key part of the marketing mix for most consumer brands."

    Some brands have figured out ways around Facebook's measurement limitations. They have hired ad companies like Buddy Media Inc., which can give advertisers a deeper understanding of how Facebook's promotions work, or install apps that offer advertisers the ability to track users by allowing people to opt in to cookies.

    Kia, meanwhile, said it is working with Facebook to get better measurement of the effectiveness of its ads. Kia declined to provide ad spending figures.

  27. This is not because similar people are attracted to each other, Pennebaker says; people can be very different. It's that when we are around people that we have a genuine interest in, our language subtly shifts.

    Speed Dating Success and Language

    Shakespeare knew this long ago.


  28. There will be only up to 140 combat-capable F-22s, after the Obama administration and Congress killed production of the plane in 2009. It is unclear, moreover, how survivable the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be in heavily contested airspace, given its slower speed and constricted performance relative to the F-22.

    Our few B-2 bombers—we have only 20 of them—operate from extreme intercontinental distances, thus reducing the number of sorties they can carry out against multiple targets. As for standoff weapons such as the Tomahawk cruise missile, it is a needed part of the U.S. arsenal, but cannot be retargeted once launched, and thus is of less use against mobile SAM launchers.


    Warfighting is becoming more risky as authoritarian regimes modernize their forces. If the United States wants to retain the ability to respond successfully to crises across the globe with a leaner and more cost-effective force, then our leaders must recognize that maintaining control of the air is the starting point for U.S. military supremacy.

  29. Millions, and millions, of small brown frogs have appeared on the streets and highways of China.

    This is an omen.

    The mandate of Heaven has been withdrawn from the Chinese regime.

    The Chinese People expect a confirmatory earthquake from Heaven in 5 to 7 days.

    The mysterious and secretive Madam Gou (sp?) has appeared in full military regalia and given a ripping speech in some Chinese city of 30 million.

    The blind Chinese dissident has sought refuge in the US Embassy.

    Hillary Clinton will soon be on the scene.

    The regime shakes.

    Heaven says: civil war


    1. You will recall the earthquake at the time of Mao's death.


    2. And always, a powerful, secretive, scheming woman deep in the political mix.


  30. Replies
    1. Geert doesn't seem to have a whole lot of faith in a few more decades of acculturation, and a little more 'male compassion.'

      I hope his party wins.