Rumor has it that the 138,000 Troop level limit chaffs for the American leadership in Iraq, jointly Ambassador and American Military Command. Rumor states they requested an additional 30,000 Civilian Contractors (Mercenaries) to replace the drawn-down Troop levels. It costs the U.S. Military about $67k per year more for a Contractor than a Troop element; Health Insurance being about equal in Cost, without an assumed Retirement benefit. The good Republicans of the Bush administration are said to be somewhat perturbed, thinking the Cost to be quite excessive, while the recruitment of this level of Contractors will reflect in the Press. Even the extension of the Patriot Act does not buoy Spirits in the Oval office. Secretary and Vice-President have both journeyed to Iraq to lift the morale of Our Servicemen; Some say to silence various Press leaks in the American Command structure. This is the Story, at least as visualized by this Author.
It does not help that Home Sales dropped in November by 11%, indicating that the Fed rate hikes alongside Energy prices are indeed inflicting drag on the Economy. The increase in the sale of Durable Goods reflect only Price increase, as Capital formation in the Durable Goods arena decreased, when aircraft are removed from the format. Too many Economists spin their numbers on the specialized industry of Aircraft, as earlier they crowed about the Housing boom. lgl