Friday, January 30, 2009
Few people attending the World Economic Forum question the need to kick-start America’s economy, the world’s largest, with a package that could reach $1 trillion over two years. But the long-term fallout from increased borrowing by the federal government, and its potential to drive up inflation and interest rates around the world, seems to getting more attention here than in Washington.
Only ten per cent of the "stimulus" to be spent on 2009.
Close to half goes to entities that sponsor or employ or both members of the Service Employees International Union, federal, state, and municipal employee unions, or other Democrat-controlled unions.
This bill is sent to Congress after Obama has been in office for seven days. It is 680 pages long. According to my calculations, not one member of Congress read the entire bill before this vote. Obviously, it would have been impossible, given his schedule, for President Obama to have read the entire bill.
For the amount spent we could have given every unemployed person in the United States roughly $75,000.
We could give every person who had lost a job and is now passing through long-term unemployment of six months or longer roughly $300,000.
I think the $75,000 to every unemployed person would be much more effective in generating demand. But even the German plan of giving $3,000 to everyone who buys a new car would do more good than just giving corporations or unions money.
This DMN editorial stresses the stimulus should focus on what the present--what can be spent now.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
First, the search for al Qaeda and other Islamist groups is an intelligence matter best left to the covert capabilities of U.S. intelligence and Special Operations Command. Defeating al Qaeda does not require tens of thousands of troops — it requires excellent intelligence and a special operations capability. That is true whether al Qaeda is in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Intelligence, covert forces and airstrikes are what is needed in this fight, and of the three, intelligence is the key.
Second, the current strategy in Afghanistan cannot secure Afghanistan, nor does it materially contribute to shutting down al Qaeda. Trying to hold some cities and strategic points with the number of troops currently under consideration is not an effective strategy to this end; the United States is already ceding large areas of Afghanistan to the Taliban that could serve as sanctuary for al Qaeda. Protecting the Karzai government and key cities is therefore not significantly contributing to the al Qaeda-suppression strategy.
In sum, the United States does not control enough of Afghanistan to deny al Qaeda sanctuary, can’t control the border with Pakistan and lacks effective intelligence and troops for defeating the Taliban.
Logic argues, therefore, for the creation of a political process for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan coupled with a recommitment to intelligence operations against al Qaeda. Ultimately, the United States must protect itself from radical Islamists, but cannot create a united, pro-American Afghanistan. That would not happen even if the United States sent 500,000 troops there, which it doesn’t have anyway.
Monday, January 26, 2009
If you gave money to the successful Proposition 8 campaign to outlaw same-sex marriage in California, you'd better watch out. Anonymous gay-marriage activists have mashed up public data with Google mapping technology to create Eightmaps.com, an online map to your home. And it's perfectly legal.
One example: Margie Christofferson, a manager of a popular Hollywood restaurant, did not talk about her politics or her religion but quietly gave $100 to the Prop 8 campaign. Activists swarmed the restaurant, with a mob getting so out of hand that riot police had to be called.
Friday, January 23, 2009
A major argument in this regard seems to be that Mr. Wilders compared the Koran, with its many verses that call for murdering Jews, to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Mr. Wilders is one of Holland’s most outspoken defenders of Israel and the Jews. Ironically, his adversaries have on several occasions compared him to the Nazis, but none of them has been prosecuted for making this comparison. Countless non-leftist European have been compared to the Nazis in the past decades. The European Left has used terms such as ‘Nazi,’ ‘Fascist’ and ‘racist’ to such an extent that the words have become meaningless. Even Israel is regularly called a Nazi state.
The Wall Street Journal compares the Dutch court to a Saudi court.
This is no small victory for Islamic regimes seeking to export their censorship laws to wherever Muslims reside. But the successful integration of Muslims in Europe will require that immigrants adapt to Western norms, not vice versa. Limiting the Dutch debate of Islam to standards acceptable in, say, Saudi Arabia, will only shore up support for Mr. Wilders's argument that Muslim immigration is eroding traditional Dutch liberties.
From a Dutch news report:
Asked if he thought comparing Mein Kampf to the Koran and calling Islam a fascist ideology fall within the boundaries of the law Wilders replied that he does not see Islam as a religion but as a 'dangerous, totalitarian' ideology.
'I am allowed to say that. If I had said the same about communism there would not be a problem. I have always criticised ideologies, people never,' he told the NRC.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
By contrast, the entire plan to bring Obama into office depended on the glorification of the man, whose actual experience was so bizarrely limited that it took some nerve to claim to be ready. Magic was required. The cult grew up not as he held power and needed to respond to a crisis. The cult was the campaign to bring him into power. It depended on our projecting all sorts of hopes and dreams onto him, and he knew it.
The point of all this? Excuse me, but as a cynic I confess the politics of the left are now about power, ego, status, and the notion of control, rather than genuine concern for the planet, or the creed of egalitarianism or for freedoms of the people. The conservative grandee at least lives by his unapologetic creed, one that we sometimes abhor, but accept is consistent with the natural law of the jungle in that the stronger and more capable claim that that they deserve a greater material reward for their greater accomplishments or, barring that, even unabashedly for their greater luck in being born lucky.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
1. The genius fallacy -- he has appointed all these brilliant people that the press is "gaga-ing" over. Have we forgotten what JFK's "best and brightest" did to this country, especially in Vietnam?
2. The herd instinct -- the herd is saying "do this" or "do that" with the economy, but is the consensus correct?
3. We are broke -- politicians don't seem to realize money is finite (and California Democrats seem to be the worst example of this).
4. Words, words, words -- will Obama be more than words?
5. He rarely challenges the home team -- Obama challenges Republicans and voters, but he has never challenged his supporters.
6. Everyone is winging it -- the bottom line is no one knows for sure what to do.
7. The watchdogs are dozing -- the press isn't scrutinizing Obama or the Democrat congress.
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right. Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.
NYT column on Rick Warren's prayer.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
The country is in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, which isn't stopping rich donors and the government from spending $170 million, or more. . .
The activity underscores that despite Obama's pledge to restrain the influence of lobbyists – including barring their contributions to pay for official inaugural events – they are still using the occasion to conduct business.
Many lobbyists consider it especially important to work hard when a new administration takes over. Lobbyist Patrick M. Murphy likens the impact of a new president to the complexity of a Rubik's Cube because long-valued contacts take jobs in a new administration, causing a ripple effect of turnover on Capitol Hill and in lobbying and law firms and trade associations in town.
Friday, January 16, 2009
A telecommunications company has confirmed for this columnist that its vice president for policy—who is also an Obama donor and a former lobbyist—is advising Barack Obama’s transition team on telecom policy.
Obama’s transition team, which has failed to disclose this executive’s involvement, happens to have proposed a significant change in telecom policy that will profit that very company, called Clearwire.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Friday, January 09, 2009
On Dec. 18, an Egyptian native was sentenced to 15 years on charges that he "provided material support to terrorists."
Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, a resident of Tampa, Fla., was convicted of smuggling explosives and plans for Hamas missiles and rockets.
She is the real deal.
As a former TV sportscaster and radio talk show host I’ve interviewed a lot big-time “celebrities,” and can honestly say that even though you could argue Sarah Palin was the most prominent, she is also by far the nicest, most sincere and seemingly honest subject I’ve ever questioned.
I also know, with moral certitude, that the media assassination of her, her character and family, was one of the greatest public injustices of our time. . .
At the U.N., no surprise, this double-standard is in full force. In response to Israel's attack on Hamas, the Security Council immediately pulled an all-night emergency meeting to consider yet another resolution condemning Israel. Have there been any all-night Security Council sessions held during the seven months when Hamas fired 3,000 rockets at half a million innocent civilians in southern Israel? You can be certain that during those seven months, no midnight oil was burning at the U.N. headquarters over resolutions condemning terrorist organizations like Hamas. But put condemnation of Israel on the agenda and, rain or shine, it's sure to be a full house.
But it is not just the UN.
Red Cross officials are all over the Gaza crisis, describing it as a full-blown humanitarian nightmare. Where were they during the seven months when tens of thousands of Israeli families could not sleep for fear of a rocket attack? Where were their trauma experts to decry that humanitarian crisis?
The government had actually investigated him—not once or twice, but "at least eight times in 16 years," according to the Journal. Yet it "never came close to uncovering" the operation, which may have begun as early as the 1970s.
So what makes anyone think that future bureaucrats, no matter how vast their authority, will be able to do better? Advocates of stricter regulation often talk as though the choice for protecting investors is between imperfect market mechanisms and foolproof government regulations. In fact, governments, like every other institution, are staffed by fallible individuals who can be fooled as easily as anyone else.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
For many years the President and his Administration have not only warned of the systemic consequences of financial turmoil at a housing government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) but also put forward thoughtful plans to reduce the risk that either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac would encounter such difficulties. President Bush publicly called for GSE reform 17 times in 2008 alone before Congress acted. Unfortunately, these warnings went unheeded, as the President's repeated attempts to reform the supervision of these entities were thwarted by the legislative maneuvering of those who emphatically denied there were problems.