This month also happens to usher in Memorial Day, commonly considered the kickoff of the summer and all the fun that comes with great weather, green grass, and vacations. Of course, it's a day where we must honor those that made it possible for Americans to breakout ice chests and beer coolers. Known for a while as Decoration Day, we honor those that died in the service of this country.
Over the years, it has been more difficult for Americans to handle deaths in the service of this country, which has limited missions and objectives, hamstringing commanders and ironically making it more dangerous to serve. But the news last night should make all servicemen and servicewomen feel more pride in their work and sacrifice. The longer the wars have dragged on, the more the nation took their efforts for granted. Not today. The personification of evil has been wiped off the face of the planet. Sadly, the fighting isn't over.
War means death, and last night proved we need boots on the ground to finish jobs.
The big news from the Libya region was the killing of Qaddafi's son and three grandchildren by a NATO missile. I cheered when the savage sons of Saddam Hussein were put down, but felt odd about those grandchildren. Naturally, there is no choice since we must win this (non) war in Libya at any cost. Last Thursday, I interviewed former Defense Secretary William Cohen who told me victory is the only option, even if it means we are in bed with al-Qaeda. That's scary stuff.
The notion we are going to send weapons, extend training, and provide cover to future enemy combatants is nuts. But, now that the head is cutoff it's hopeful the rest of al-Qaeda will rot and die as well. I'm not sure how the news of Osama's death impacts strategy in Libya and the rest of the region, but it's clear we must get a "W" there at any cost. The "win" means the death of Qaddafi, who must be more frightened now than ever. Of course, killing Qaddafi will not be the end and in fact, could open a new, more deadly or threatening chapter. That being said, the die is cast.
Before this morning I wasn't sure how we could call Iraq a win. The media bought into the notion war was over in Iraq when all "combat" soldiers left the country, leaving 50,000 "trainers" to shore up that nation's police and military. That's 50,000 young men and women with targets on their backs. Last month, as many of those targets were struck since November 2009, both saw 11 fatalities. They are walking around with more pride this morning, but the future is still blurred.
Our soldiers are fighting against a tough timeline to get Iraq ready to defend itself even as it's clear that nation isn't ready. Attrocities such as those seen on the last day of April underscore the challenge.
* Insurgents killed a judge, his wife, and two daughters.
* Insurgents killed Ministry of Industry worker and his two daughters.
This takes us back to Libya, where the unofficial goal of regime change makes everything and everyone a target. Qaddafi is a sick, ruthless killer that has to go, but only a few months ago he was considered something of an ally. I think true victory only comes when we let military commanders fight wars to win the old fashioned way. Our proxies in Libya could never win without massive and expensive support from the United States. What happens when they finally do win?
I can tell you the only option will be for taxpayer funds to prop up that oil-rich nation while it brings its economy up to speed.
God bless those that gave their lives for our freedom. God bless those Navy Seals, and God Bless America.
April showers bring May flowers. That is an old line that held true this year as it rained a lot; the blooms have already begun.
Sell in May and go away. It remains to be seen if this old Wall Street axiom comes true or not, but in so many ways it would seem more likely. Yet, the more things seem likely or even commonsensical the less it matters to the stock market.
I dislike labels, but I'm bullish over the longer term in spite of us being at the point where our problems can't be ignored anymore. It is true I will do a lot of soul-searching if there is a second term for the President, where I think a blitz of anti-business initiatives will push around state's rights, citizen's rights, and even the Constitution. Having said that, it's really hard to believe the average person can't connect all the economic failures in the nation to ineptitude.
I would love the nation to prove the pundits wrong and go with a game plan that openly admits near-term pain rather than be charmed into four years that will level businesses. With that in mind, even half-hearted compromise might slow down the day of reckoning long enough to mend it before it's too late. In the meantime, the stock market has less risk, though bonds and precious metals are up so much corrections could spook casual observers. The Dow broke through a double-top and could pullback to test former resistance as support. The next leg on the upside lifts the index to 13,000; from there a new all-time high is within reach.
But, everyone is looking for that big correction; yes it has to happen at some point. To remain completely out of the market until then is actually more dangerous. Assuming you are going to buy the bottom of the next dip is a folly. As for the big support point, I think it's 12,380 on the Dow; a failure to hold could land the index at 11,600. The shift into blue chip names is a result of big money investors seeking more safety. But, at the same time, smaller investors are piling in, and many are buying small- cap stocks. Check out the Russell 2000, which has been a rocket.
The problem for the index is that's at a perfect double-top going back to 2007. That is more often than not a bearish chart formation.