Sunday, May 31, 2009
Cashin's Comments: Rebooting the global economy
The greatest economic realignment since Genghis Kahn took over Eurasia’s trade routes is continuing apace. The west remains mired in an assets contraction of its own making, and the east is refocused on channeling its growth engines into domestic consumption. The resource sector, which is our focus and which has been governed by those growth engines for a decade and half, is indicating at least the expectation of continuing gains in the east. That does not mean we ignore what is going on the developed west, plus Japan.
We think that concisely lays the enormity of change we are witnessing. As Mohamed El-Erian has suggested, the coming years may see adjustments in world leadership and determine the shape or fate of capitalism itself. It is hard to overstate how important these times likely are. The world as we knew it is changing. Get ready for the "new normal."
For the full story go HERE
At this point in time, the leaders of China, India and Brazil are oriented toward growth while the Obama administration is focused on rewarding its political allies, punishing its political enemies and shrinking America's "footprint."
What would be different if America's enemies were in charge?
We nurture racial analysis. We create a school of thought and hire people to write about Critical Race Theory. What Sotomayor said was actually a weak, feel-good version of the kind of racial talk that is widespread in the legal academy.And ... I should add, in the media, in mainline churches, and wherever Liberals talk to each other.
Still, those who want law to be color-blind have an fine opportunity to play off that quote. Whether calling Sotomayor a "racist" is the best rhetoric is another matter. I would recommend characterizing Sotomayor's thinking as "racial" (rather than racist). And lets have a real debate about whether law and public policy should have a racial or a color-blind character. It's an important issue, and it can be used to define Obama in contrast to whatever 2012 candidates the Republican Party may produce.Based on what the Republican Party has become, I'm not sure that this will any longer be an issue.
Outside of the putrid Ivory Tower the "proles" comment ...
"We nurture racial analysis... What Sotomayor said was actually a weak, feel-good version of the kind of racial talk that is widespread in the legal academy."
So, law school is just a big racist grievance factory? Good to know.
View from the right makes the point that we should not let this pass as a mere "teachable moment."
Any white man who had said the equivalent of what Judge Sotomayor said, that he as a white man would be a better judge than a black or a Hispanic, would have had his name automatically removed from any list for the U.S. Supreme Court.
And if such a man had been nominated, and such a statement in his past had then come out, his nomination would have been instantly withdrawn.
Therefore Sonia Sotomayor is disqualified from the U.S. Supreme Court and her nomination must be withdrawn.
If the Democrats approve her nomination, they are saying that there are two sets of rules in America, one for whites and one for nonwhites, and that what is prohibited to whites, is freely allowed to nonwhites. Which means that the real purpose of the movement for racial equality and racial inclusion in this country has not been the ending of racial discrimination, but the inauguration of a pro-nonwhite, anti-white regime.
At Althouse Richard Fagin remarks ...
Some introspection is long overdue, professor. You shouldn't sympathetically smile and nod at such things. They are bigotry in every sense of the word, and whether or not they are understandable they are not justifiable.
From that famous lecture in 2001, Sotomayor postulates ...
Whatever the reasons why we may have different perspectives, either as some theorists suggest because of our cultural experiences or as others postulate because we have basic differences in logic and reasoning, are in many respects a small part of a larger practical question we as women and minority judges in society in general must address.
Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.
We have a judge getting ready to ascend to the Supreme Court who has the same ideas about the thinking ability of various racial groups as the racists of the 19th century. How pleasant.
Texas is the state for jobs
(source: Arthur Laffer, Wall Street Journal).
Dick Morris observes...
Asked why he was naming some of his rivals to top administration jobs, President Lyndon B. Johnson said it best: “I’d rather have them inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in.” President Obama seems to echo Johnson’s management style in his handling of Bill and Hillary Clinton. By bringing them into his inner circle, he has marginalized them both and sharply reduced their freedom of action.
It may appear odd to describe a secretary of State as marginalized, but Obama has surrounded Hillary with his people and carved up her jurisdiction geographically. Former Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine) is in charge of Arab-Israeli relations. Dennis Ross has Iran. Former U.N. Ambassador Dick Holbrooke has Pakistan and Afghanistan. And Hillary has to share her foreign policy role on the National Security Council (NSC) with Vice President Biden, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, CIA chief Leon Panetta, and NSC staffer Samantha Powers (who once called Hillary a “monster”).
With peers who are competitors and subordinates who can deal directly with the president, Hillary is reduced to announcing foreign aid packages for Pakistan while Holbrooke does the heavy lifting.
To refresh your memory...
Let's be clear.
Political appointees are allowed to over-rule career civil servants in government departments. It’s part of the job description. Political appointees are superior to career civil servants. So it is not a crime if political appointees change the direction of the government. It’s what they are supposed to do.
But it can be a scandal.
Justice Department political appointees overruled career lawyers and ended a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense of wielding a nightstick and intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place last Election Day, according to documents and interviews.
The incident - which gained national attention when it was captured on videotape and distributed on YouTube - had prompted the government to sue the men, saying they violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act by scaring would-be voters with the weapon, racial slurs and military-style uniforms.
Career lawyers pursued the case for months, including obtaining an affidavit from a prominent 1960s civil rights activist who witnessed the confrontation and described it as "the most blatant form of voter intimidation" that he had seen, even during the voting rights crisis in Mississippi a half-century ago.
What's interesting is that the court had already rendered a verdict because the defendants refused to show up. It wasn't that the Justice Department was going to lose this case.
The career Justice lawyers were on the verge of securing sanctions against the men earlier this month when their superiors ordered them to reverse course, according to interviews and documents. The court had already entered a default judgment against the men on April 20.
During the Bush administration, Democrats in government and out (read the media) did their best to turn policy making into crime. Now that Team Obama is in charge, the usual suspects are silent. Not only has the decision to withdraw charges of voter intimidation against the New Black Panthers been stuffed down the media’s memory hole, but as we can expect, the Democrats in congress are also silent since it’s white voters subject to intimidation.
Not a word in the Virginian Pilot online, nothing on the NY Times online. Apparently political influence in the justice department it only happens during Republican administrations. Otherwise we have to depend on the Washington Times and the Internet.
Alas, the same is true with human-rights organizations. While their pronouncements are often taken at face-value by news outlets, they are, in reality, intensely compromises organizations, often putting organizational interests above mission. Earlier this week, Libya's most prominent dissident, Fathi El Jahmi, died. His brother Mohamed El Jahmi's letter today to Irene Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International, may be a bit unpolished, but it is certainly worthy to ask the question whether Amnesty's desire to operate inside Libya led it to self-censor.
Click on the link for the letter.
Ever notice that no matter what's happening ... people losing their jobs, markets crashing, companies going bankrupt, Obama has a big smile?
President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama landed in New York Sunday afternoon, and after taking a helicopter from JFK into Manhattan, drove up the West Side Highway, where the northbound lanes were shut down by police for their visit, past Ground Zero, into the Village for dinner at the Village's Blue Hill restaurant. From there, they went north to Times Square, where they went to to see a production of "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" at the Belasco Theater on West 44 Street.
Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest read a statement from Obama: "I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished."
Asked about the cost of the trip, ... coming just ahead of the expected announcement of GM's bankruptcy filing on Monday, Josh Earnest told pool reporter Dave Michaels of the Dallas Morning News, that he "didn't anticipate being able to provide a cost estimate tonight."
Ever notice that "leaders" in third world hellholes always live the good life even as their people line up for food and do without?
“….immigrants from Eastern Europe were not just gawking at the supermarket shelves in wonder – they (us, me) saw in their mind’s eye their previous life: in endless queues for the barest necessities, the everyday battle of wits and connections to get a block of toilet paper or a pack of oranges for the baby – and they realized how much of their productive life was wasted, never to be returned, gone. I doubt you could truly empathized (sic) with that feeling.”
I'm starting to get that feeling that we're watching a politician with the political class of a third world potentate.
Twisted magnetic fields arching from the solar surface can trap ionized gas, suspending it in huge looping structures. These majestic plasma arches are seen as prominences above the solar limb.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Brown was President George W. Bush's African-American nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Democrats weren't so smitten with her compelling life story that they were incapable of asking her tough questions.
When the Democrats ended their nearly two-year delay, including a filibuster of Brown's re-nomination in 2005, their attacks continued. They claimed their opposition wasn't racist or sexist:Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) ridiculed Bush nominees including Brown, as "Neanderthals." He attacked Brown as "another extreme right-wing candidate ... a judicial activist who will roll back basic rights."
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) said: "I oppose giving Justice Brown this lifetime promotion to the second highest court in our land because the American people deserve judges who will interpret the law fairly and objectively. Janice Rogers Brown is a committed judicial activist who has a consistent record of using her position as a member of the court to put her views above the law and above the interests of working men and women and families across the Nation."
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said: "Janice Rogers Brown is one of President Bush's most ideological and extreme judicial nominees."
Schumer said: Judge Brown "is the least deserving of all of President Bush's appeal court nominees
Which one of these is racist?
"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
"I would hope that a wise Anglo male with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Latino female who hasn't lived that life."
"I would hope that a wise American man with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Latino female who hasn't lived that life."
"I would hope that a wise White woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a black male who hasn't lived that life."
"I would hope that a wise Asian woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
"I would hope that a wise white Southern woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a black female who hasn't lived that life."
"I would hope that a wise Chinese elder with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
"I would hope that a wise Black man with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
There are quite a few variations on this theme on the Internet where "politically correct" speech codes are not enforced ...
"I would hope that a wise Nazi with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Jew who hasn't lived that life."
…so we could draft convicted felons to serve as our public officials! That would seem to slay two vultures with one stone:
No elections, no campaigns, and no pandering;
No more worries about governmental corruption: we’d know with perfect certainty that everyone in office is dishonest
In recent decades, whites and Americans have learned not to exalt themselves over other races and nationalities. But non-whites and non-Americans resent whites and Americans for having achieved more in the four aforementioned fields. Indeed, the trend seems to be running the other way; tensions based on race and nationality are rising rather than attenuating. Which calls to your Curmudgeon's mind what Colonel Tom Kratman wrote about coming to resemble one's enemies:[I]t has been said more than once that you should choose enemies wisely, because you are going to become just, or at least, much like them. The corollary to this is that your enemies are also going to become very like you....
If I could speak now to our enemies, I would say: Do you kill innocent civilians for shock value? So will we learn to do, in time. Do you torture and murder prisoners? So will we. Are you composed of religious fanatics? Well, since humanistic secularism seems ill-suited to deal with you, don't be surprised if we turn to our churches and temples for the strength to defeat and destroy you. Do you randomly kill our loved ones to send us a message? Don't be surprised, then, when we begin to target your families, specifically, to send the message that our loved ones are not stationery.
[From the afterword to Colonel Kratman's A Desert Called Peace]
Colonel Kratman was speaking with regard to our war against Islamism, but his core observation is applicable to any form of hostility. Hatred and resentment tend to be reciprocated. Also, he who has been accused, sufficiently often, of holding a particular condemned conviction will often adopt that conviction as a result -- and champion it openly, and act on it, and feel no shame about any of it.
Caspar Melville of the New Humanist, intrigued by a recent spate of books which argue that atheism, not deism, is in decline, interviewed John Micklethwait, one of two authors of God is Back, to ask him why. Together with the other author, Adrian Wooldridge, another Oxford graduate also on the staff of the Economist, they explained that the answer must begin from the observation that, contrary to all 19th and 20th Western expectations, religion is booming, not declining; the question they have attempted to answer is why. Melville wrote:
But this “God book” is of a rather different order. Unlike its rivals it contains a wealth of fact and subtle argument, empirical evidence and expert witness. As we might expect from The Economist its perspective is global - it sweeps comfortably from the corridors of the Pentagon to a front room church in Shanghai, and speaks authoritatively about events in Nigeria, Pakistan and Egypt. Altogether it lays down a very serious challenge to any of us who had waved God a not-so-fond farewell.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Stock market analysis from Art Cashin
Cocktail Napkin Charting – As noted above, the Dow tested and held 8221 as the S&P did with 879. Yet the tests did not covert many skeptics even though it did panic some shorts. The rally peaked just under resistance at 8500/8525 in the Dow. The S&P was also contained below 914/920.
A potentially troubling trend may be developing. The number of stocks dipping back below their respective 50 day moving averages. That suggests the rally may be deteriorating internally. Another thing we're watching is the VIX. Its chart is
hinting a possible breakout higher. Not a prediction but a reason to monitor carefully.
Napkins suggest resistance, as noted above, is Dow 8500/8525. In the S&P, it looks like 914/920. Support is Dow 8340/8355 and S&P 898/903. These are somewhat minor levels. We wrote yesterday that Friday's compressed action in the McClellan Oscillator suggested a 200 point move was likely. We got the 200 point move alright but without a hint of direction, the information was useless. Back to the drawing board.
Consensus – The dominance of electronic players raises questions of sustainability. Nervousness of shorts will make the 10:00 housing data and 1:00 auction results very important to watch. Tension builds as the S&P and Dow remain trapped in a tightening vise between the 200 day moving average and the 50 DMA. Remain wary and stay very, very nimble.
Glenn Reynolds headlines: THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN, thugs would drag screaming journalists away from Air Force one. And they were right!
Beyond time and space.
The creator of the universe.
And we are the creatures of his hand.
Be in awe.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
True, we miss out if we read only The Daily Me, but the good old days of reading only The Daily Liberal were not so good. I don't believe that America will be worse off with fewer breakfasts of propaganda on newsprint, over easy.
For example, I posted yesterday about an editorial in the Virginian Pilot that contained pure propaganda disguised as analysis. And, basically, that's pretty much the content of the MSM today. We are being fed a daily dose of intellectual poison.
The desperate remedies that newspaper writers and editors are searching for: tax breaks, endowments, public funding are at the bottom nothing other than a desire to save their jobs. Nothing wrong with wanting to stay employed. But I feel sorrier for the people who work in cigarette factories. Poisoning your body is not nearly as bad as poisoning your mind. Forget about all the high sounding rhetoric about the "need" for newspapers.
So, let's be frank about motivation: Many liberal journalists are concerned not so much about newspapers in general but about saving their jobs. Even with endowments and contributions, many of those jobs in their present form will disappear. News distribution via computer is so much cheaper that even an endowed New York Times would not last all that long in paper form. Goodbye, survival of the fattest.
Newspapers as currently produced and distributed - primarily as local monopolies - are on their death beds. But there will always be a market for news. We can create our own news sources. And we will be read.
Concerned that Sotomayor's famed "empathy" might not shine through in cases such as Ricci v. DeStefano, the Democrats are claiming -- as Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said on MSNBC -- that she was merely applying "precedent" to decide the case. You know, just like conservatives say judges should.
This was an interesting claim, in the sense that it was the exact polar opposite of the truth.
To be sure, there is "precedent" for racial discrimination by the government, but Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned in 1954 by Brown v. Board of Education. If Sotomayor had another case in mind, she wasn't telling: The lower court's dismissal of the firefighters' case was upheld by Sotomayor and two other judges in an unsigned, unpublished opinion, titled, "Talk to the Hand."
all liberals only have empathy for the exact same victims -- always the ones that are represented by powerful liberal interest groups. As Joe Sobran says, it takes a lot of clout to be a victim.
Thus, the media and Democrats seem to find successful Hispanic attorney Sotomayor much more "empathetic" than successful Hispanic attorney Miguel Estrada.
After aggressively blocking Estrada's nomination to a federal appeals court during Bush's first term solely on the grounds that he is Hispanic and was likely headed for the Supreme Court -- according to Senate Democrat staff memos -- now Democrats have the audacity to rave that Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice!
In Liberal Land empathy is siding with your tribe. Justice? Never heard of it.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
This kind silliness we sort of expect from high school sophomores, but it demonstrates that the adults have left the keys to the country in the kids' hands.
President Obama's energy adviser has suggested all the world's roofs should be painted white as part of efforts to slow global warming.
By looking at him you would not expect ... insanity?
Virginian Pilot's Questionable Answers on Virginia's Jobless Benefits
The fact that they press is now such an obvious player in the game of politics on the side of the Left is part of the reason that the old media is dying. Alternatives to the old media are now so easily reached that lies of commission as well as lies of omission can easily be exposed.
With that in mind, I saw something on the Virginian Pilot editorial page that struck me as wrong. I just could not put my finger on it. The numbers did not add up. The editorial was entitled Questions, answers on Virginia's jobless benefits and pretended to be a series of questions and answers designed to inform readers about the issue of the Virginia legislature’s decision to reject the Administration’s offer of $125 million in unemployment benefits if the state would permanently change its unemployment benefit laws.
Other states have objected to this intrusion into what have traditionally been state laws. Different states tax things at different rates; this is the essence of federalism. Virginia has a proud history of fiscal prudence. It has generally been business friendly which has resulted in low unemployment as businesses move from high tax and regulatory states to states with a lower cost of doing business, like Virginia. Exhibit A for a state with an oppressive tax and regulatory climate is California, a state that has managed to destroy all the benefits of a great climate, magnificent natural resources and a skilled work force into a business hell leading to the nation’s second highest unemployment after Michigan. Like GM and Chrysler it is bankrupt unless it can get a federal bailout.
But I digress.
The editorial made some interesting assertions about current and projected unemployment as well as the cost of implementing the laws demanded by the Obama administration. Some of the projections were sourced and some were not, which roused my suspicions. The sourced statistics came from Governor Kaine’s Virginia Employment Commission (VEC). Keep in mind that Kaine is Obama's choice to head the DNC and his official cheer-leader. He is paid to promote Obama's policies.
How many new people would get benefits with those changes, and what would it cost?The Virginia Employment Commission identified 6,867 part-time workers and 1,043 people in training who would be added, at a cost of less than $20 million a year.
Keep in mind that the Federal Government is promising to give Virginia $120 million dollars to pay for benefits that – according to the VEC – would only cost $20 million a year. So VEC is claiming that the Federal Government is willing to pay SIX YEARS of extra benefits if the state signs on the bottom line. Now if you bought a home with an interest-only variable mortgage at the peak of the housing bubble you may want to buy into this pipe dream, but when somebody offers me a deal like that I put my hand on my wallet and walk away … quickly.
But later on we find out that
Aren't unemployment insurance taxes going up already?Yes. Businesses pay taxes into a special fund that pays for unemployment benefits. When that fund runs low, taxes automatically increase to replenish it. Businesses currently pay an average of $98 per worker each year, but that tax is forecast to rise to $155 next year and $218 in 2012. The exact amounts will depend on the number of people needing benefits in future months. Any future tax increases tied to expanded eligibility would be on top of those increases.
So let me get this right: businesses are going to see their unemployment benefits taxes more than double over the next three years due to higher unemployment rates and higher benefits despite the fact that the Feds are giving the state enough money to fund six years worth of expanded benefits. Does this seem odd to you?
It appears that the aforementioned data comes from the VEC. Now here’s a tidbit that the Virginian Pilot’s editors don’t source.
Will businesses pay higher taxes if eligibility is expanded?
If the state legislature leaves the expanded benefits in place, businesses will see an average tax increase of $1.71 per employee annually in 2011. The amount would peak at $4.73 per employee per year in 2012 before declining.
Where did this estimate come from? I spent more than an hour trying to find the source for these numbers and finally gave up. Then I had a bright idea. Why not ask our legislators if they had ever seen these statistics. Sure enough they had.
Here is the e-mail I received from Speaker William Howell. I will let his reply speak for itself.
Thank you for your inquiry regarding the figures recently cited by a recent Virginian-Pilot editorial on unemployment insurance. We read the same editorial and, sadly, were not surprised by the lack of citation or fact-checking by the Pilot editorial board as they and their news coverage have consistently accepted information from Governor Kaine's Administration without question or substantiation.
Last month, when the General Assembly meet to deal with Governor Kaine's last-minute proposal to permanently expand eligibility criteria for Virginia's unemployment insurance in order to meet the strings associated with federal stimulus funding, the Kaine Administration and the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), the agency responsible for the program, were less than forthcoming with their calculations on how many Virginians would become eligible and the corresponding cost that would Virginia businesses would be saddled with when the federal funds end. From what we were able to ascertain from the VEC, several points struck us as problematic.
First, the VEC used a static, backwards-looking analysis that appears to be based on prior fiscal years -- when the number of unemployed in Virginia was far lower and the health of the unemployment trust fund was much greater. According the VEC, adding workers seeking part-time work to eligibility was estimated to cost an extra 2.13% in benefits. This was based on not VEC calculations, but an analysis done by an outside group called the “National Employment Law Project” that estimated paying this group would have added 6,867 claimants and cost $8.1 million in 2007. The average weekly benefit for this group is less than $100. The average duration is about 12 weeks. Similar prior year data was used to calculate the cost of expanding the benefit time for those enrolled in training programs. By using old data, prior to the economic recession and rising unemployment roles, the Kaine Administration and its allies are clearly ignoring the true costs of these expansions.
Also disturbing to many of us was the Kaine Administration's reliance on data supplied by the National Employment Law Project (NELP). The NELP describes itself as “a national advocacy organization for employment rights of lower-wage workers.” A check of their website shows that their Board of Directors includes the General Counsel of the AFL-CIO, three “community activists,” and is chaired by a contributor on the Huffington Post. Obviously this group supports expanding eligibility for unemployment insurance and any "analysis" by the group would be slanted to show a minimized cost assumption for businesses. It is disappointing that the Kaine Administration would use a clearly biased organization to develop the rationale for their proposal without proper disclosure to the public and the media. It is also disappointing that the media chooses not to challenge those figures or their sources.
Relying on static, backwards-looking data from clearly biased sources considerably under-estimates the potential long-term cost burden to Virginia businesses struggling to retain and create jobs. On April 23, we were joined by several small business owners from across the Commonwealth who discussed the negative impact Governor Kaine's proposal would have on Virginia businesses. I recommend you visit the House Republican Caucus's website to view their statements on the issue - http://www.vahousegop.com/?p=289
We would like to note that while we believe House Republicans made the correct decision in rejecting this tax on businesses, House Republicans did take significant and positive action to assist unemployed Virginians. During the 2009 legislative session, for example, Delegate Nixon had a bill that ensured hundreds of unemployed Virginians would not lose their benefits as well as extending benefits from 26 to 59 weeks for those currently eligible through the use of federal funding. We also provided an opportunity for works laid off from small businesses to continue receiving affordable health insurance coverage. Finally, we did accept $62.5 million in federal stimulus funding for Virginia's unemployment insurance program to pay for benefits to those already eligible. That money had no strings attached.
Hopefully this helps to clarify that the figures being used –misused really -- by Virginia Democrats and echoed in the media are questionable on their face. Please let us know if there is any other questions we might be able to answer.
Speaker William J. Howell
It is inevitable, the projections and costs of projects championed by the Virginian Pilot never come in on time or on budget. The light rail system that drew the support of the Pilot has seen costs escalate from $232 million to $288 million in just a year and completion has been pushed back from early 2010 to late 2010. There is no doubt at all that as construction proceeds the cost will escalate to over $300 million and completion be delayed until 2011. Incidentally, light rail will have no measurable impact on traffic congestion.
Bottom line, if you want facts, skip the Virginian Pilot. For fantasy read the editorials.
Labels: Virginian Pilot
Why make this complicated?
President Obama prefers Supreme Court justices who will violate their oath of office. And he hopes Sonia Sotomayor is the right Hispanic woman for the job. Here’s the oath Supreme Court justices must take:
“I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as (title) under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”
So, what’s wrong with empathy?
Well, nothing. Empathy is a fine thing, and all decent people should employ it, including Supreme Court justices.
But Obama has something specific in mind when he talks about empathy. He wants the justice’s oath to in effect be rewritten. Judges must administer justice with respect to persons, they must be partial to the poor, and so on.
Read the whole thing.
"God knows, number one, I wanna help Rod. Number two, I also wanna, you know, hope I get that appointment."
Rob Blagojevich: "If you guys can just write checks, that'd be fine."
Burris: "I will personally do something, okay."
Rob Blagojevich: "Okay. Alright, Roland."
Burris: "And it'll be done before the 15th of December."
Rob Blagojevich: "Hey, you're a good friend. I'll pass on your message."
Burris: "Please do and... tell Rod to keep me in mind for that seat, would ya. (chuckles)"
Rob Blagojevich: "I'll let him know."
It all came down to how to bribe without getting caught.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Freddie, Fannie and all that
Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation) was founded in 1970. Along with Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association), the 2 government-sponsored enterprises owned or guaranteed $5.3 trillion of mortgages (out of $10.5 trillion nationwide) as of 12/31/08. Freddie Mac lost more money during the 2 years of 2007-08 (a $53 billion loss) than it made during the 36 years from 1971-2006 ($42 billion of profits) (source: USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Federal Reserve).
From "By the numbers" published by Sun Life.
The idea that President Obama's supporters trust him precisely because they believe that he frequently misrepresents his own beliefs is becoming more widespread. My friend Bob Cunningham was one of the first to explicate this phenomenon. Yesterday he sent us these thoughts:
It has long been noticed that Obama's slipperiness had been accepted by the left during the Hope-and-Change campaign when He took positions, for example and notably, NAFTA and foreign trade generally, on both sides of an issue. They were willing to cut Him slack in most cases precisely because they just assumed that, of course!!...He was lying....to someone...about the issue. Since each side could reasonably assume this --- the unions that when He made free-trade noises when He assured Canada (and then lied about THAT!) that He wasn't protectionist, and the rational liberals when He pandered to the unions on NAFTA in Ohio, for example --- they could all support Him thinking He was lying....but to the other side!...."Don't worry....we can trust Him because He's lying" was, in effect, left-wing Hope. This has been particularly noticeable with the gay marriage issue....Carrie Prejean being exactly right when noting that her position is identical to that of His Oneness. But Obama gets a pass, of course, from the homosexual activists because they just assume He is lying!!!...to the conservative blacks, for example, 70% against gay marriage in California.... Today Frank Rich in the New York Times comes as close as I've seen actually to acknowledge openly the "we trust Him because He's lying" view:...Obama's opposition to same-sex marriage is now giving cover to every hard-core opponent of gay rights, from the Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean to the former Washington mayor Marion Barry, each of whom can claim with nominal justification to share the president's views.
In reality, they don't. Obama has long been, as he says, a fierce advocate for gay equality. The Windy City Times has reported that he initially endorsed legalizing same-sex marriage when running for the Illinois State Senate in 1996."
In reality, Obama is always, always lying....to somebody....and often it IS the left...Sistah Souljah-ing them on renditions, Guantanamo, wiretapping, etc.....but where are they to go?
"Trust me: I'm lying!" I don't know, somehow it doesn't sound like a tactic that will work over the long run.
UPDATE: A commenter on another post draws this analogy:Many years ago, a friend of mine owned a bar in Alaska. Above the bar was a sign: "We cheat the other guy and pass the savings to you." This encapsulates the Obama profile!
Monday, May 25, 2009
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.
Read the whole thing.
World Leaders Defy Obama? We were told that "The One" would heal the planet!
JERUSALEM, May 24 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rebuffed U.S. calls for a full settlement freeze in the occupied West Bank and vowed not to accept limits on building of Jewish enclaves within Jerusalem.
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected on Monday a "freeze-for-freeze" proposal put forward by the West in a bid to resolve a row over the Islamic Republic's nuclear aims.
"Our talks (with major powers) will only be in the framework of cooperation for managing global issues and nothing else. We have clearly announced this," he said when asked about the so-called "freeze-for-freeze" proposal.
"The nuclear issue is a finished issue for us," Ahmadinejad told a news conference.
British banks and stockbrokers may refuse to take on American clients if new international tax proposals outlined by President Obama are passed. ...
Andy Thompson of Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers (APCIMS) said: "The cost and administration of the US tax regime is causing UK investment firms to consider disinvesting in US shares on behalf of their clients. This is not right and emphasises that the administration of a tax regime on a global scale without any flexibility damages the very economy it is trying to protect."
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea claimed it carried out a powerful underground nuclear test Monday - much larger than one conducted in 2006 - in a major provocation in the escalating international standoff over its rogue nuclear and missile programs.
Pyongyang announced the test, and Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed an atomic explosion at 9:54 a.m. (0054 GMT) in northeastern North Korea, estimating the blast's yield at 10 to 20 kilotons - comparable to the bombs that flattened Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
North Korea, incensed by the condemnation of the April 5 rocket launch, had warned last month that it would restart its rogue nuclear program, conduct an atomic test and carry out long-range missile tests.
President Barack Obama said a nuclear test would constitute an act of "blatant defiance" of the U.N. Security Council and a violation of international law, and only further isolate North Korea.
North Korea's claims "are a matter of grave concern to all nations," he said, calling for international action in a statement from Washington. "North Korea's attempts to develop nuclear weapons, as well as its ballistic missile program, constitute a threat to international peace and security."
President 'WE'RE OUT OF MONEY'
Which recalls this essay from the UK Telegraph: "...why does President Pantywaist hate America so badly?"
The President of the United States is a community organizer who's self proclaimed executive management experience is running for president. Does it make you feel comfortable that this friend of racists and terrorists is leading America, ... or the world?
UPDATE: At FreeRepublic VanDeKoik comments
Well, he’s not a leader or commands any real weight with people that aren’t one of his ass kissing voters.Perhaps the media and Obama will go down together. How do I get off this train?
All of these guys are calling his bluff. They know he is just a media creation.
According to the victim, she and Thomas had only met that day and were drinking in the park with another man. That man eventually left the two alone.
"I think he took advantage of her, probably due to her intoxication level," Moses said.
Officer Moses said Thomas is a known panhandler in Spokane,
Lessons for the day: don't get drunk with panhandlers you just met.
VIENNA: A Sikh preacher died Monday after being wounded in an attack on his temple by a group of fundamentalist Sikhs armed with knives and a handgun, police said. India's prime minister appealed for calm as riots protesting the deadly shooting spread to several northern Indian cities.
If al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the rest of the Looney Tunes brigade want to kick America to death, they had better move in quickly and grab a piece of the action before Barack Obama finishes the job himself. Never in the history of the United States has a president worked so actively against the interests of his own people - not even Jimmy Carter.
Obama's problem is that he does not know who the enemy is. To him, the enemy does not squat in caves in Waziristan, clutching automatic weapons and reciting the more militant verses from the Koran: instead, it sits around at tea parties in Kentucky quoting from the US Constitution. Obama is not at war with terrorists, but with his Republican fellow citizens. He has never abandoned the campaign trail.
That is why he opened Pandora's Box by publishing the Justice Department's legal opinions on waterboarding and other hardline interrogation techniques. He cynically subordinated the national interest to his partisan desire to embarrass the Republicans. Then he had to rush to Langley, Virginia to try to reassure a demoralised CIA that had just discovered the President of the United States was an even more formidable foe than al-Qaeda.
"Don't be discouraged by what's happened the last few weeks," he told intelligence officers. Is he kidding? Thanks to him, al-Qaeda knows the private interrogation techniques available to the US intelligence agencies and can train its operatives to withstand them - or would do so, if they had not already been outlawed.
So, next time a senior al-Qaeda hood is captured, all the CIA can do is ask him nicely if he would care to reveal when a major population centre is due to be hit by a terror spectacular, or which American city is about to be irradiated by a dirty bomb. Your view of this situation will be dictated by one simple criterion: whether or not you watched the people jumping from the twin towers.
Obama promised his CIA audience that nobody would be prosecuted for past actions. That has already been contradicted by leftist groups with a revanchist ambition to put Republicans, headed if possible by Condoleezza Rice, in the dock. Talk about playing party politics with national security. Martin Scheinin, the United Nations special investigator for human rights, claims that senior figures, including former vice president Dick Cheney, could face prosecution overseas. Ponder that - once you have got over the difficulty of locating the United Nations and human rights within the same dimension.
President Pantywaist Obama should have thought twice before sitting down to play poker with Dick Cheney. The former vice president believes documents have been selectively published and that releasing more will prove how effective the interrogation techniques were. Under Dubya's administration, there was no further atrocity on American soil after 9/11.
President Pantywaist's recent world tour, cosying up to all the bad guys, excited the ambitions of America's enemies. Here, they realised, is a sucker they can really take to the cleaners. His only enemies are fellow Americans. Which prompts the question: why does President Pantywaist hate America so badly?
Gerald, perhaps you were not paying attention. This is what happens when you elect a racist radical to the presidency. Remember Reverend "God damn America" Wright? Remember Bill "Bomber" Ayers? These are his people. This is the sea he swims in. This is what he believes. His wife has never been proud of America until now. Imagine either Wright or Ayers as president. How would either one act differently? Obama is not a pantywaist, but he does hate America.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Letters to Maurice - an ongoing series
Interesting letters selection in Sunday’s Virginian Pilot. Three letters criticizing religion and one defending faith … out of seven total. One of the correspondents mentioned that 78% of Americans were self professed Christians. Let’s think about that and how it applies to your paper’s editorial judgment.
I don’t know how many letters you get each day, but let’s use a nice round number of 100. You tell me if it’s more or less. If it’s 100 then Donny Luzzatto chose to publish 7. Of that 7 he chose four which discussed religion. And of those, three can be classified as anti religion. So 3% of the letter writers – those who write letters denigrating religion – get about 60% of the coverage in your letters section.
As that gecko in the Geico commercials says: "Nice."
Didn’t you tell us in you full page editorial that you have people telling you that they’re praying for you? Evidently these people – the church ladies - are not only illogical, they are unintelligent. That’s the opinion of Liz Sheffield-Peters, one of the authors Donny decided to print. Another, Carol Anderson, denigrates people who believe in the Bible. Yet a third believes that despite the First Amendment, hostility to religion is OK if “we” vote for it.
Since editorial judgment is used in deciding what letters to print, it’s reasonable to conclude that your editors believe religious people range from the stupid, to the ill-informed, to being subject to removal from the public sphere. Do you remember what I wrote you earlier about people who pay for your product? The part about paying to be insulted? Today’s letters to the editor is exhibit A.
And don’t get me started on the lame defense of Obama's military tribunals. Guantanamo's issues aren't easy to unravel Obama did not campaign to modify the rules of evidence in military tribunals. He denounced them root and branch … as did “dependable voice for justice and human rights” Bobby Scott. Rewriting history in the age of the Internet makes the people who try it objects of derision.
You really should be getting more for your money.
That’s why I’m a volunteer.
Labels: Virginian Pilot
The Devil is, the Bible tells us, an angel. Fallen perhaps, but still an angel and were we to see him, he would be not only beautiful but also ultimately persuasive.
Shakespeare has Richard III say “I am determined to prove a villain” but villains in real life are always and everywhere saviors of their country, their class or their people. Lest there be any doubt, remember that Lenin (and Stalin) after him delivered the Russian people from the Czars and the kulaks. Hitler delivered the German people from the Jews and the victors of World War 1. Pol Pot delivered Cambodia from capitalism and he corruption of cities. Mao delivered China from large landowners, ushering in agrarian reform. The fact that millions of their own countrymen died on the way to salvation is (as the intelligentsia will tell us) the cost of progress.
All the true horrors of the 20th Century were committed in the name the people. But these horrors cannot be committed by one man alone. He must have the support of the intelligentsia and the media. There must always be a megaphone to tell the people that war is peace, freedom is slavery, and truth is a lie.
Welcome to the US of A in the 21st Century. George Will identifies one participant who tells us that free speech is corruption.
For several decades, most of the ingenuity that liberal academics have invested in First Amendment analysis has aimed to justify limiting the core activity that the amendment was written to protect -- political speech. These analyses treat free speech as not an inherent good but as a merely instrumental good, something justified by serving other ends -- therefore something to be balanced against, and abridged to advance, other goods.
The good for which Zephyr Teachout would regulate speech is combating corruption, which, as she understands it, encompasses most of contemporary politics. A visiting law professor at Duke, writing in the Cornell Law Review ("The Anti-Corruption Principle"), she makes an astonishingly sweeping argument for emancipating government from First Amendment restrictions on its powers to regulate political speech -- speech about the government's composition and conduct.
What is corruption?
Teachout's capacious definition of corruption includes even an unseemly "attitude" of citizens as well as officeholders "toward public service." ...
She advocates, as proponents of an elastic Constitution often do, an "evolving standard," this time a standard about how we define, measure and condemn "self-serving" behavior, aka corruption. This standard might license Congress to restrict speech in order to combat:
"Unequal access" to the political process; "unfair deployment of wealth"; "undue influence" by this or that group; speech that is "distorting" or lacks "proportionality" or results in "drowned voices" or a "passive" or "dispirited" public or that causes a "loss of political integrity" or creates "moral failings for members of Congress." Such speech might not be constitutionally protected if we properly "refine the meaning of the privilege of political speech."
So, political speech is not a right but a privilege, something granted by government when government deems it consistent with what Teachout calls the "equally important" anti-corruption principle.
You can imagine how welcome this explanation of the need to end free speech will be received in academia.
I will not bother to mention, because - like Obama - I do not want to dredge up old issues - that Teachout is a visiting professor at Duke, the home of the Duke lacrosse team lynching.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
If the applicable law permits us to hold dangerous detainees indefinitely without trial, then we should hold all such detainees in this manner. After all, we cannot be sure in advance of a trial that we will succeed in convicting any particular detainee.
And if the law does not permit us to hold dangerous detainees indefinitely without a trial, then I don't see how we can decline to try a dangerous detainee on the grounds that our evidence isn't good enough to convict. Rather, as Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU says, "if they cannot be convicted, then you release them; that's what it means to have a justice system."
In this scenario, wouldn't Obama be acting in clear disregard of the law if he picks which detainees to try based on the likelihood of obtaining a conviction? And wouldn't he and those advising him be subject, potentially, to prosecution in the event that the law is found to require trials for all detainees?
In an executive order, the president said, "Since I ordered Gitmo shut down, and people don't want us to bring the inmates here, the only way to extract them from the facility is to change their legal status to one that offers us more choices."
While accused terrorists have access to attorneys, and nearly-limitless legal appeals, a fetus has no legal standing, cannot speak for itself, and is subject to the death penalty without regard to guilt or innocence.
The life of a public servant
Picture of the selfless public servant's home
In case this public spirited person wants to go visiting, he has many friends and the friends have many homes, like this one ...
On the other hand, the people who graduate and don't go into public service live here ... until the day of the sale.
When the public servant wants to visit his friends he uses public transportation ...
When the public servant's friends come to visit they use their own transportation ...
For the people who choose to go grubbing after money, the government has a plan for their
The public servant has many things to attend to and needs constant protection so unfortunately he has to put up with this ...
At the end of a busy day, the public servant comes home to his humble abode
Is there no end to this shared sacrifice?
Bill Gross - the biggest bond buyer in the world - of PIMCO thinks so.
I don’t think it will happen quickly, but I think the market views the possibility as an increasing one," Gross said. "I mean, the U.K. was downgraded last night, and the market views those two countries, the U.K. and the U.S., as relative twins."
And Timmy Geitner is not saying "that's ridiculous." Instead, he's saying we'll address the problem - over the "intermediate term." That's a term of art meaning more than 5 years.
“It’s very important that this Congress and this president put in place policies that will bring those deficits down to a sustainable level over the medium term,” Geithner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television yesterday. He added that the target is reducing the gap to about 3 percent of gross domestic product, from a projected 12.9 percent this year.
Picture of the guy who was touted as the only man who knew how to fix the economy so that the fact he was a tax cheat had to be overlooked.
This bill, H.R. 45, was introduced by congressman Bobby Rush of Illinois.
`Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009'.
It provides that...
To own a firearm people must get permission from the Attorney General
- provide a picture
- name and address
- birthplace and date of birth
- be fingerprinted
The owner of such a license will certify that the gun will be stored safely. Before being licensed the applicant will be required to pass a test on any subject the Attorney General deems appropriate.
And, of course, pay a fee.
It shall be illegal to sell or give a gun to anyone without getting a licensed dealer involved and documenting the sale or transfer.
The government must know who has a gun.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Some business leaders are cozying up with politicians and scientists to demand swift, drastic action on global warming. This is a new twist on a very old practice: companies using public policy to line their own pockets.
GE's Jeff Immelt: Global Warming 'Compelling'; Cap-and-Trade Most 'Effective' Way to Go
Labels: global warming
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Are they gone?
God, I thought those idiots would never leave. Finally, we can be together -- just you and me baby. Do you realize how long I've waited for this moment, how much I've lusted for your beautiful hipster demographics? How long I sat there on the rack at Barnes and Noble, watching in silence while your fingers slowly caressed the pages of The America Prospect and New Republic and Mother Jones, dreaming that one day you'd actually notice me and take me over to the coffee bar? Baby, I wouldn't even have cared if you spilled hot macchiato on my table of contents, that's how much I am into you.
God, it's such a relief to finally give up that stupid facade of objectivity and tell you how I really feel. It's like I was trapped in some sort of circulation prison with that clueless 55+ slightly upscale middle America demographic.
It was clear to us that, despite the very high hurdle that we always apply to such a statement, the world has changed in a manner that is unlikely to be reversed over the next few years. Put another way, markets are recovering from a shock that goes way, way beyond a cyclical flesh wound.
It is not just about the major realignment of the financial system and the extent to which governments have intervened to offset market failures. And it goes beyond the massive increase in government deficits and government debt in virtually every systemically important country in the world (at a time when few countries can credibly pre-commit to the type of fiscal primary surplus required to subsequently reverse the massive deterioration in the debt dynamics).
It’s also about the structural change in how savings are mobilized and allocated, nationally and across borders. It is about the shifting balance between the public and private sectors. And we should not forget the potentially long-lasting consequences of the erosion of trust in such basic parameters of a market system as the sanctity of contracts and property rights, the rule of law, and the robustness of the capital structure. Such trust can be lost quickly but takes a long time to restore.
Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles):"In talking to different organizations that did focus groups and polling throughout the process and also organizations that did exit polling afterwards, it was really clear that voters were giving us a very specific message-- This is too complicated. We don't want to vote on it. We are fatigued with the number of elections we've had especially special elections and we want you to go back to Sacramento and resolve this."
And, here we thought it was because the people of California were sick and tired of runaway government spending and high taxes?
Thanks for clearing that up, Karen.
Journalists like to think of their work in moral or even sacred terms. With each new layoff or paper closing, they tell themselves that no business model could adequately compensate the holy work of enriching democratic society, speaking truth to power, and comforting the afflicted.
And to prove how brave they are they give each other prizes and hold conclaves that they report on.
Journalists are not professionals with a unique base of knowledge such as professors or electricians. Consequently, the primary economic value of journalism derives not from its own knowledge, but in distributing the knowledge of others. In this process three fundamental functions and related skills have historically created economic value: Accessing sources, determining significance of information, and conveying it effectively.
To create economic value, journalists and news organizations historically relied on the exclusivity of their access to information and sources, and their ability to provide immediacy in conveying information. The value of those elements has been stripped away by contemporary communication developments. Today, ordinary adults can observe and report news, gather expert knowledge, determine significance, add audio, photography, and video components, and publish this content far and wide (or at least to their social network) with ease. And much of this is done for no pay.
The fact is that individuals who are experts in their fields now have the ability to communicate their expertise without the press as intermediaries.
...journalistic labor has become commoditized. Most journalists share the same skills sets and the same approaches to stories, seek out the same sources, ask similar questions, and produce relatively similar stories. ...
Across the news industry, processes and procedures for news gathering are guided by standardized news values, producing standardized stories in standardized formats that are presented in standardized styles. The result is extraordinary sameness and minimal differentiation.
One cannot expect newspaper readers to pay for page after page of stories from news agencies that were available online yesterday and are in a thousand other papers today.
I will add a few points that need amplification. The last thing that newspapers of the future need is attitude. If there is one thing that the Internet provides in spades is attitude.
Until newspapers figure out their value proposition, they will continue to die.
If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet does collapse, it is likely to take hundreds and hundreds of years. And Bindschadler says the global changes in gravity, which would redistribute ocean water around the world, would take even longer.
"Those won't come into play for many centuries, if not millennia down the road," he says.
The predictive power of these models is not tied down, despite the claimed unanimity of scientific opinion. Scientist are united that the end is coming ... and I agree. The only thing is I see a different end.
How about for next year's graduation ceremony Notre Dame have an abortionist perform an abortion live on stage?
According to liberals, the right to kill babies was enshrined by the Founding Fathers in our Constitution -- and other constitutional rights are celebrated in public.
The right to bear arms is honored in 21-gun salutes, turkey shoots, Civil War re-enactments, firearms demonstrations and, occasionally, at Phil Spector's house.
Read the whole thing.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
California voters reject tax increases
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to permanently fix California's "broken budget system." But three times now he has tried and failed to smooth out the state's roller coaster revenues.The state's democrat controlled legislature is strangely absent from the story by AP writer Julie Williams.
Voters on Tuesday resoundingly rejected his latest effort, a package of budget-balancing measures that he promised would provide a short-term patch for the current financial crisis and prevent further catastrophe in the future.
Instead, he now faces a $21.3 billion budget deficit and a budget system that has not changed a bit since he took office nearly six years ago.
The AP also implies that it was low voter turnout that cause the defeat.
The majority of registered voters didn't bother to vote at all. Partial results from nearly 70 percent of precincts reporting late Tuesday showed only 19 percent of voters had cast a ballot, according to the secretary of state's office.Off year and special elections never get big turnouts and there is not reason to assume that the rest of the people of California - a state with the nation's highest unemployment and some of the highers taxes - were ready to jump on the tax-me-more bandwagon.
The LA Times points out that all the powerful special interests were for the tax increases.
Schwarzenegger helped behind the scenes to garner big contributions for the measure's proponents, who raised about $30 million and outspent foes by nearly 10 to 1. Among the big contributors were businesses hoping to avoid tax increases if state finances slumped further: oil companies, tobacco and alcoholic beverage firms, sports teams and Hollywood studios.
Despite a big advantage in cash and manpower, the campaign failed to gain traction from the start. Polls throughout the race showed all the ballot measures -- except Proposition 1F -- losing badly, as voters expressed equal parts confusion over the package and disdain for the Sacramento politicians who crafted it.
Californians seemed upset partly by Sacramento's call for more money at a time when employment was sagging, retirement accounts were plunging and the average resident was struggling. Others expressed irritationat being called back to the polls just months after a presidential election.
Perhaps the media doesn't get it that the American people can more easily take the bias of an attack-dog, go-for-the jugular media that claims it is the watchdog of the public trust and therefore must skin the president, far more than such carnivores suddenly becoming sheepish and obsequious, as ministers of truth, rephrasing and repackaging the party line. How odd that just six months ago we had screaming reporters and columnists talking about the near-end-of-days with Bush — and now doing contortions to assure us that things suddenly aren't that bad after all, or that we must give Obama flexibility and time to sort out the prior mess. Quite scary, all this chest-thumping about tough journalistic integrity of 2001-8 suddenly devolving into, "Hey everyone, we can reassure you that the Emperor really does have clothes on."
We have to help folks. Here's the beginning of my contribution ... Letters to Maurice
Letters to Maurice
Almost everywhere I go these days, somebody greets me with the words, “I am praying for you.” Usually, I thank them and hesitatingly ask what they see in me that is in need of divine intervention.
The most common answer? They’re praying for me to succeed at “keeping The Pilot from going out of business.”
As a helpful sort, I thought he could use some support. Here is my contribution...
In view of the cutbacks at the Virginian Pilot, I have decided that you could use a cadre of volunteers to develop story ideas for your paper.
Here’s my first suggestion: how about a story and an outraged editorial about the government’s decision to try the jihadists we hold via military tribunals? That’s the present government, not the previous administration.
Or, if you don’t want to go that far, how about the record breaking deficits? Again, the present government, not the previous administration.
Or, the growing chorus of demands for special tax breaks for newspapers? Is that a tax break you could learn to love? Is that the change you were hoping for?
Whew, I’m exhausted. Time to take a break … back soon.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
And Boston's Not a Big College Town [Jonah Goldberg]
The headline on the jump page of Howie Kurtz's piece on Newsweek's redesign speaks volumes:"Newsweek Targets a Smaller, More Elite Audience."
Anyone remember this scene from Spinal Tap:MARTY: The last time Tap toured America, they where, uh, booked into 10,000 seat arenas, and 15,000 seat venues, and it seems that now, on the current tour they’re being booked into 1,200 seat arenas, 1,500 seat arenas, and uh I was just wondering, does this mean uh...the popularity of the group is waning?
IAN: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no...no, no, not at all. I, I, I just think that the.. uh.. their appeal is becoming more selective
Too Big To Fail
Question: What does Nancy Pelosi think of waterboarding?
No, I mean really. Away from the cameras, away from the Capitol, in the deepest recesses of her (if she'll forgive my naïveté) soul. Sitting on a mountaintop, contemplating the distant horizon, chewing thoughtfully on a cranberry-almond granola bar, what does she truly believe about waterboarding?
Does she support it? Well, according to the CIA, she did way back when, over six years ago.
Does she oppose it? According to Speaker Pelosi, yes. In her varying accounts, she's (a) accused the CIA of consciously "misleading the Congress of the United States" as to what they were doing; (b) admitted to having been briefed that waterboarding was in the playbook but that "we were not – I repeat – were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used"; (c) belatedly conceded that she'd known back in February 2003 that waterboarding was being used but had been apprised of the fact by "a member of my staff". As she said on Thursday, instead of doing anything about it, she decided to focus on getting more Democrats elected to the House.
It's worth noting that, by most if not all of her multiple accounts, Nancy Pelosi is as guilty of torture as anybody else. That's not an airy rhetorical flourish but a statement of law.
And on plagiarist Mo Dowd:
Over at The New York Times, the elderly schoolgirl Maureen Dowd riffed off Cheney's defense of waterboarding and argued that, no matter when the next terrorist attack comes, the former vice-president would be the one primarily responsible. He is, she said, "a force multiplier for Muslims who hate America".
Really? Last week, while Speaker Pelosi was preoccupied with her what-did-I-know-and-when-did-I-know-that-I-knew-it routine,The Daily Telegraph in London reported what is believed to be the second mass poisoning of Afghan schoolgirls, this time at Ura Jalili High School for Girls in Charikar. Fifty students had to be hospitalized after a mysterious "poison gas" infected the classrooms. As you may recall, under the Taliban it was illegal for girls to attend school, and Afghan insurgents have made a sustained effort to make the price of female education too high. So, in an effort to identify the poison, blood samples have been taken to Bagram air base to be analyzed by the U.S. military, taking time off its hectic schedule of mass torture.
Does waterboarding so outrage the Muslim world that it drives millions of young men into the dark embrace of al-Qaida? No. But the media fetishization of U.S. "torture" is certainly "a force multiplier" for Muslims who don't so much "hate" as despise America, not least for its self-loathing.
One of the few U.S. commentators to pick up on the Afghan schoolgirls story was Phyllis Chesler, who wrote about it under the headline "The High Cost Of Western Idealism." America and its few real allies fight under the most constrained and self-imposed rules of engagement ever devised, and against an enemy that rejects every basic element of the Geneva Conventions. Perhaps we are so rich, so smart, so advanced that we can fight with one arm and both legs tied behind out back and still win – eventually. Along the way many innocents will suffer. But better that than that a Gitmo detainee with a fear of insects should have a caterpillar put in his cell.
Read the whole thing.
The moral failures of the Obama economy
To torture the analogy for just a moment more, we are in an economic skid and we’re depending on the powers that be in Washington to steer us out of it. They don’t see the problem.
John Mauldin’s “Outside the Box” has an unusually good article by Horace Brock called The End Game Draws Nigh - The Future Evolution of the Debt-to-GDP Ratio.
Brock makes a compelling case that deficits the government creates are less important than the growth policies that that same government promotes. In other words, it’s possible to grow an economy out of the debt hole if the proper policies are followed.
Unfortunately, while the Obama policies are creating deficits that are larger than any seen before, the policies regarding economic growth are nowhere to be seen.
…the President's cheerful rhetoric suggests little concern with the growth of the numerator [the rate of debt]. To be sure, his administration's OMB budget projections blithely assume that very high growth rates will magically return after the next three years, and nothing solves fiscal problems as well as rapid growth. Yet everyone acknowledges that these projections are smoke-and-mirrors, constituting a leadership default of the first magnitude.
Yet could all of this be deliberate? Could the administration's choice to tax and spend ad infinitum have been politically strategic in nature? After all, haven't both President Obama and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel openly admitted that "the new budget is a means to altering the very architecture of American life, with government playing a much larger role than before"? The likelihood that their new architecture would drive the growth of numerator of the Debt-to-GDP ratio ever-higher and the growth of the denominator [the growth of the economy] lower was never mentioned.
Do financial commentators even understand this risk? While the press has expressed appropriate "concern" about the sea of red ink to come, there is little sense of the true End Game at stake: Which of our Figure 3 scenarios will occur, and what will it imply?
The answer may well determine whether we face a future of peace and prosperity, or of war and privation. As a personal aside, this author has never been more concerned than he is now about the economic state of the nation.
Brock is no enemy of the right kind of spending … the kind that results in higher productivity over the long term. Brock’s essay includes lots of tables and graphs that demonstate his point that the key to avoiding the “Zimbabwe” kind of economic black hole it to promote the right kind of economic growth.
It’s embarrassing to be lectured on economic growth by the Chinese who were, until fairly recently doctrinaire Communists.
Given this rare opportunity—and moral obligation—to tilt the economy towards long overdue investment spending, how can the Obama stimulus package have fallen so short of the mark? It is frankly embarrassing to witness Chinese policy advisors like Professor Yu Qiao of Tsinghua University scolding the US about something as basic as this:
Most of Mr. Obama's stimulus spending is devoted to social programmes rather than growth promotion, which may exacerbate America's over-consumption problem and delay sustainable recovery.
Financial Times, Editorial page, April 1, 2009
Qiao's point parallels a principal point we are making in this essay. Why are we not reading this from Christina Romer or Larry Summers in Washington? Have the Best and the Brightest once again lost their moral integrity as they did during the Vietnam War era? Can they seriously believe that more transfer payments to Democratic Party special interest groups is what the nation needs in this hour of its distress? The author considers the composition of the proposed $3 trillion of discretionary stimulus over the next five years a moral travesty.
Case Study of Energy: As a case study in how poor the administration's policies are in this regard, consider its energy policies. Is anyone in the new administration reading about the disastrous 9% annual decrease in the output of "old" oil (yes, "peak oil" turned out to be true), in conjunction with a collapse of previously scheduled investments in exploration and development, and in refining capacity? Are they blind to the supply-crisis that is unfolding, one that calls not only for "renewable energy," but also for a major expansion of traditional oil and gas production?
By now, has it not become crystal clear that the increased production of traditional fuels should come from within the US, given the devolution of both the political leadership and the infrastructure of those thugocracies upon whom the US increasingly depends for 40% of its consumption? Is no thought being given to the rising probability of $500 oil prices—or perhaps outright rationing—when global energy demand recovers? [Recall how jointly price-inelastic demand and supply curves cause huge changes in price both upward and downward, as we demonstrated mathematically five years ago.]
Elementary arithmetic is all that is needed to ascertain that the administration's BTU gains from increased renewable energy production and conservation from increased "weather-stripping" will not yield even 10% of the BTU shortfall that the nation will confront. The reality, therefore, is that the country needs a vast expenditure of funds on novel and traditional sources of energy, as well as on our deteriorating energy infrastructure. Expenditures of this kind would create several million jobs of precisely the kind that are needed during the next decade. And they would leave the next generation with an improved infrastructure, in addition to lessening our extraordinary dependence on imports from rogue states.
But what do we get from the Obama team? A present value tax hike of up to $400 billion on "big oil" in one form or another, along with weather-stripping tax credits and expenditures on renewable energy alone. And who is the newly appointed spokesman for national energy policy? A highly credentialed academic who strikes virtually everyone as indecisive and ineffectual. Does even one reader of this essay know his name? [Steven Chu] Of course, his Nobel Prize supposedly substitutes for his lack of political skills. By extension, are we about to witness the "quant" financial theorist Myron Scholes appointed as Treasury Secretary after Tim Geithner steps down? After all, Scholes too, is a Nobel laureate, even if his notorious "pricing models" helped to bring down Long Term Capital Management and then the world economy a decade later. The Lord save us from "The best and the brightest!"
Both the president and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel have been completely candid about their redistributionist agenda—an agenda that has even alarmed European liberals. Were they at all concerned with innovation, productivity, and growth, the administration would not publicly espouse taxation policies that punish success and reward failure. In particular, they would not have declared war on small business, since small businesses typically generate the bulk of new jobs and innovations that determine the rate of economic growth.
To be sure, disparities in the current tax code do permit Warren Buffet to incur a much lower tax rate than his receptionist, as he quipped. Such inequities must be remedied. But the fact remains that the top decile and quartile of income earners in the US pay a larger share of government tax revenues than in any other G-7 nation. If so, why does the president assume it is "fair" to hike the tax rates on top income earners, and only on this group? From an employment standpoint, the new tax rates may well send talented young Americans to live elsewhere. Starting in 2011, a New York City wage earner will pay a marginal tax rate (federal, state, and local) of over 60% on "high" incomes of $200,000. This rate is higher than comparable rates in Germany and France where taxes paid secure decent schooling and medical care, which they do not in the US. Yet even so, France has witnessed a veritable diaspora of young talent to London, the US, and Switzerland during the past two decades.
Brock reveals at the end that he initially supported Obama, but he’s having second thoughts.
Is "politics" the problem? We do not think so, at least to the extent that growth-maximizing policies are win-win policies that any good politician should be able to sell. No, the problem is rather one of the mind-set of a generation that has never before needed to confront the problems lying ahead, and that is tone deaf to philosophical issues, as opposed to "policy wonk" issues.
Today's True Challenge — Governance: In this vein, … the root problems of today are not macroeconomic as much as they are political philosophical: How can democracy save itself from itself?
The political philosophy of Team Obama is nowhere more brightly defined than in his and Michelle’s commencement speeches in which they encourage graduates to enter “public service” jobs. Jobs that are in no way going to increase productivity, supply the world of tomorrow with goods and services that make us richer and more prosperous. They are the kind of jobs that nurses perform as a patient is dying, making the world economy more comfortable as the end draws nigh.
The hope for the US and the world is that others will join Brock in his revelation …
The abject moral failure of the new team to identify much less to propose a solution to the End Game is extremely disturbing to the present author. Despite his initial support of President Obama, he increasingly wonders whether we have the right team in place. And he is alarmed that time to rebuild credibility is running out.