W encourages murderous Iraqis

George W. Bush today, the most powerful man in the world, directly addressed Iraqis who are sniping and firing grenades at American troops:  “bring them on”, he taunted, according to this NYT story.  As noted in my Boston-Alaska-Baja-Boston 2002 trip report, this seems like a bad idea.  What better way to make a guy with an AK-47 feel important than by challenging him through a televised speech?

And surely American boys will die as a result of this speech.  It sounds like W. mano a mano with a young Muslim.  But having been a passenger on an airplane that makes a carrier landing does not make our President into a front-line soldier.  It will be some kid from North Carolina that gets killed.

It wouldn’t bother me to hear that an American foot soldier in Iraq was challenging the local ruffians.  But to hear a guy sitting at a desk 6000 miles away doing it?  Why aren’t military families objecting to this?

Will a day come when we Americans can hear our leader talking about something other than kicking Third Worlders around?  Something that would result in technological innovation and economic growth?

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Et tu Microsoft?

Cash-strapped U.S. companies, devoid of management imagation, strive to cut costs by moving IT staff to India.  They’ll do the same things with computers that they were doing in the 1980s and 1990s but do them cheaper.

Microsoft was the exception.  Yahoo Finance shows that they’ve got a 30.6% profit margin and $46.2 billion in cash.  These are what economists call “supranormal monopoly returns”.  Yet what do we find in today’s Reuters:  Microsoft Shifting Development, Support to India”.  Microsoft is firing American workers and hiring in India.

[The other half of the Wintel duopoly is doing the same thing.   A friend of ours had his little company acquired by Intel.  They’ve had a hiring freeze in the U.S. for more than a year but would be happy to give him 20 newly hired programmers for his product… in China.  He’s now living in Shanghai and loving it, managing a medium-sized cubicle farm of eager under-25ers all recently graduated with Computer Science degrees.]

In a slightly related story, the New York Times today reports that the U.S. unemployment rate is up to 6.4 percent, its highest in 9 years.  The stock market is basically okay, though.  Investors realize that American corporations can make plenty of money without necessarily hiring Americans…

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Mauthausen concentration camp still a live issue in the U.S.

According to this AP news story, a guard from Austria’s Mauthausen concentration camp was arrested today in Michigan.  It is rather ironic that the Europe’s war against its Jewish citizens is still a matter of public interest and debate here in the U.S. considering that for most Europeans it is history as ancient and irrelevant as the Roman Republic.  The story reminded me of a trip to Austria in May 2002.  Austrians would ask where I’d been thus far.  I’d reply “Salzburg, Mauthausen, biking down the Donau”.  Oftentimes their immediate response was “We had no idea that camp was there.”

Mauthausen has been turned into a very informative museum and one of the interpretive signs is a map showing the dozens of factories within a radius of about 60 miles to which thousands of Mauthausen inmates were dispatched to work alongside ordinary Austrians.  If the Austrians were indeed unaware of the existence of the camp they must have thought it was strange that some of their fellow workers were so shabbily dressed and getting thinner every day until finally they didn’t show up.

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