Monday, April 20, 2009

SOLD MDRX at $11.82/PEP/BAC/Hayden: Word Deception and Newspeak/

I am still queasy about this market and my inclination is to sell something into rallies, preferably a non-dividend paying stock. Today, I sold 50 of Allscripts-Misys (MDRX) at $11.82 that I bought in February at $8.45. BUY of 50 MDRX 
I am leaning to using those proceeds to buy a floater or more shares in a dividend paying stock that I currently own.    

2010 MDRX 50 Shares +$152.48
I was waiting for a pullback to further implement that mini-strategy. Today's fall is not, however,  sufficient to add one of the two stock ETFs that I am now considering, either VV or IYY. 

For some stocks bought in early March, like DuPont and Avery Dennison (AVY), the dividend yield at my cost is far better than any non-junk bond that I could buy now, particularly with the tax benefit of a qualified stock dividend over bond interest is taken into account.  My approach to those kind of purchases is to hold them, avoid the temptation of taking a quick profit, at least for so long as the dividend is not cut. Most likely, I will jettison a DD or AVY in the event of a dividend cut.  

So far I have resisted the temptation of buying Pepsico back. The last quarter's earnings, though better than the analysts' consensus estimate, was another uninspiring report and will cause me to wait for a better re-entry price. Net revenue fell 1% with earnings growing about 3% to 72 cents a share from 70 cents a year ago. 

Revenue was hurt by the strength of the dollar. Beverage volume fell 6% in North America led by a double digit decline in sports drinks and a mid-single digit decline in carbonated soft drinks (that information is found in the earnings release under the heading in bold letters "PepsiCo Americas Beverages (PAB)"). PEP also announced a takeover offer for two of it large bottlers, Pepsi Bottling Group (PBG) and PepsiAmericas (PAS). 

Bank of America also reported better than expected earnings, but it is hard to feel positive about it. BAC reported earnings of 44 cents a share compared to the forecast of just 4 cents. I do not yet know how much the FASB Rule 159 adjustment impacted earnings after reading the earnings release. The reason for caution comes from the worsening credit losses, including a more than doubling of credit loss provisions to 13.38 billion and the rise in credit card losses to 8.62%.  Non-performing increased to 2.65% from 1.96% last quarter. There was nothing in the report, however, to cause me to jettison my BAC bond positions. 

The last CIA director appointed by Bush, the former Air Force General Michael HaydenMichael Hayden - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, claims that Obama has endangered national security by releasing the dense legal memos that provided legal cover for those who carried out the "enhanced" interrogation techniques.  Hayden (VIDEO)

I wonder how many people in this world have read them, other than a few intrepid journalists at the NYT. Hayden's argument for that opinion, which is ludicrous on its face, is that it tells Al Qaeda about how far Americans will go in their interrogation techniques. Anyone remotely aware of what is happening in this world already knows about all of the "enhanced" interrogation techniques approved by Hayden's boss for at least 3 years.  

There has been an ongoing debate between republicans and everybody else in the world about whether waterbording was torture. The co-author of Hayden's letter to the WSJ, the former Attorney General Mukasey, refused to say during his confirmation hearing whether or not he viewed waterboarding as torture.  But basically, when you strip the verbiage from the Hayden and Mukasey opinion letter printed in the WSJ, then it can be viewed in its proper context, an attempt to justify torture. 

Until people like Hayden, Bush, Cheney and Mukasey came along, waterboarding was considered torture. Waterboarding I would just point out for General Hayden that this article in Wikipedia, which has a detailed discussion of the debate on this interrogation technique, was written before Obama released the torture memos, so this is not exactly news to anyone other than those Americans who are completely uninformed.  

So how exactly is the release of the torture memos endangering national security?  Sure they may be a tad embarrassing to some of the lawyers like Jay Bybee who was appointed by W to serve as a Judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as a reward for playing ball with the administration ( really, would W have appointed him to the Federal bench if he had refused to write the now infamous Bybee memo?)  

Some are calling for Bybee's impeachment.  NYTSlate Magazine. (I am just curious why anyone would call Mr. Bybee a conservative judge or a conservative legal theorist.  I do understand Bybee's position as expressed in the torture memos to be the one advocated by the GOP as the conservative position which is just asinine and ludicrous in my opinion) 

Or, is Hayden making his claim just to throw red meat to the anti-Obama forces, attempting to undermine the new President and thereby helping to undermine national security himself by his reckless accusations, as well as just trying to  distract and to keep the light of day from shining too much on the prior actions of the Justice Department and the CIA headed by Mukasey and him respectively? 

Some of the enhanced interrogation techniques are at least arguably not torture. Some would  classify listening to loud rock music as a pleasurable experience, and I could name many who fall into that category. Personally,  I would most likely tell someone everything after listening to heavy metal music for an hour and would consider the experience something close to a form a torture. Most people in the civilized world, who are not card carrying members of the GOP tribe, would characterize waterboarding and slamming a prisoner's head into a wall as torture.  

When a person who routinely engages in word deception says that some valuable information was gained due to "enhanced interrogation techniques", there needs to be further questioning about which techniques produced those results, something a reporter at Fox would not ask Hayden. The invention of the phrase "enhanced interrogation techniques" is a form of word deception intended to deceive the listener. 

It might described playing loud rock music, or turning the thermostat down a few degrees in the cell, or waterboarding a prisoner a couple of hundred times.  Those who use that phrase remind me of the state in Orwell's 1984, and their use of words to deceive.  The phrase is a form of "newspeak", to avoid using the word torture. Newspeak - Wikipedia 

 Hayden says that his critics are naive about the results gained from torture. The NYT and other publications have cast doubt on whether waterboarding  produced any meaningful information when performed 83 times on Abu Zubaydah.  Other techniques used at the same time included slamming Zubaydah's head into the wall. Waterboarding a prisoner of war one time is torture, but some may argue without looking completely ridiculous that one time is not torture. But, subjecting a prisoner to 183 separate instances of waterboarding in one month is without a doubt torture except to many members of the GOP tribe including Bush and Cheney.  Times Online

Bush knew about all of this when he asserted to the world that the U.S. does not engage in torture.   

Perhaps, Bush and Cheney would have a different opinion about this issue if they volunteered to submit to similar kinds of interrogations. Perhaps, they would volunteer to undergo waterboarding for a live TV broadcast on a new reality show, where the interrogators would inquire about their representations to the public about the justifications for the Iraq invasion. 

Christopher Hitchens submitted to waterboarding one time and characterized it as torture beyond any doubt.

See Disclaimer to the Right 

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