What Is Different?

Power Line – Unemployment in the Great Recession

Looking at this chart, what occurs to me is the difference between the current recession and the one of 1981. Look at the 1981 recovery and ask yourself, “what did they do then that resulted in such a strong recovery”, and is what we are doing now going to work as well?

Diplomacy With Autocannibals And Rerapists – In Nick Kristof’s Fantasy World

The Grotesque Vocabulary in Congo – NYTimes.com

I’ve learned some new words.One is “autocannibalism,” coined in French but equally appropriate in English. It describes what happens when a militia here in eastern Congo’s endless war cuts flesh from living victims and forces them to eat it.

Another is “re-rape.” The need for that term arose because doctors were seeing women and girls raped, re-raped and re-raped again, here in the world capital of murder, rape, mutilation.

And what is Kristof’s reaction to such savagery?

[I]sn’t it time for the U.S. to lead a major, global diplomatic push for peace?

No Mr. Kristof, it’s time for the inhabitants of the Dark Continent to give up their wait for the white bwana to come save them and take care of the problem themselves.

I’m not even sure I think that is possible. But if it is, it is not going to be accomplished by the former white colonialists parachuting back into their countries with plans and timetables. There’s a distinct element of “They’re Wogs, Y’know.” hiding under the carefully articulated phrases meant to convey that the whites really “care”, while shaking their heads an muttering to themselves about the unchangeability of Africa.

I rarely read Kristof. He lives in a world so alien from the one I live in that I have to wonder that he can survive. His previously Quixotic quest to save two bar girls in Cambodia ran into real life when he returned and found that one of the girls had gong right back to the brothel. The other was probably not far behind. If Kristof spent more time with the objects of his pity and less time talking to people that make their living extracting money from guilt bound foreigners, he might actually learn something.

But, since he does make his living as a guilt bound liberal, it wouldn’t pay.

Do Journalists Speak English Anymore?

My Way News – Mudslides sweep away cars, assault homes near LA

A mudslide, a flood or a snowstorm is incapable of “assaulting” anyone. In the English language it refers to “a violent physical or verbal attack” according to the dictionary. A quaint tome that evidently has fallen in to disuse in the newsroom.

I would even take exception to the dictionary’s inclusion of a “verbal” attack being assault. As every school child knows “Stick and Stones….”. Know one has ever been physically injured by a cutting remark or crushed by heavy praise. Criticism may hurt your feelings, but so far, hurting someone’s feelings is not a crime. In a legal sense, assault is a physical attack, being yelled at is harassment, and then only if it puts you in fear of being physically harmed.

No Duh!

Michael V. Hayden – Obama admnistration takes several wrong paths in dealing with terrorism – washingtonpost.com

We got it wrong in Detroit on Christmas Day. We allowed an enemy combatant the protections of our Constitution before we had adequately interrogated him. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is not “an isolated extremist.” He is the tip of the spear of a complex al-Qaeda plot to kill Americans in our homeland.

In the 50 minutes the FBI had to question him, agents reportedly got actionable intelligence. Good. But were there any experts on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the room (other than Abdulmutallab)? Was there anyone intimately familiar with any National Security Agency raw traffic to, from or about the captured terrorist? Did they have a list or photos of suspected recruits?

When questioning its detainees, the CIA routinely turns the information provided over to its experts for verification and recommendations for follow-up. The responses of these experts — “Press him more on this, he knows the details” or “First time we’ve heard that” — helps set up more detailed questioning.

None of that happened in Detroit. In fact, we ensured that it wouldn’t. After the first session, the FBI Mirandized Abdulmutallab and — to preserve a potential prosecution — sent in a “clean team” of agents who could have no knowledge of what Abdulmutallab had provided before he was given his constitutional warnings. As has been widely reported, Abdulmutallab then exercised his right to remain silent.

And why did we get it wrong?

Because our government thinks that al-Qaeda are criminals along the lines of street gangs or the Mafia. They are not.

They are loosely connected Muslim fanatics that actually think that Allah commands them to kill unbelievers. They believe this with the same certainty that Keith Olbermann has that Bill O’Reilly is the devil. Maybe even stronger than that.

They do not consider death or imprisonment a deterrence, it is the will of Allah and not punishment.

This sets us up for a tiger ride. Do we continue to handle them with legalistic kid gloves and learn to live with the attacks? If so, they will certainly try to make them more and more horrible. Or do we squeeze them and hunt them, which will lead to them attempting more and more horrible attacks. But succeeding less.

It’s a war. And wars are nasty things that result in the death and maiming of thousands of innocent (or not so innocent) people. But not fighting a war results in the death and maiming of thousands of innocent (or not so innocent) people you know. It’s a Tiger tail situation. Do we hang on and hope we aren’t eaten, or do we let go and hope we can kill the tiger before it eats us?

It Must Be the Air.

When David Brooks started writing in the NYT I thought he was, not a conservative, but someone slightly right of center. After reading his latest I am starting to think that there is some time of mind altering substance in the atmosphere at the newspaper.

His latest on Barack Obama;

Op-Ed Columnist – The Pragmatic Leviathan – NYTimes.com

A year ago, the country rallied behind a new president who promised to end the pendulumlike swings, who seemed likely to restore equilibrium with his moderate temper and pragmatic mind.

In many ways, Barack Obama has lived up to his promise. He has created a thoughtful, pragmatic administration marked by a culture of honest and vigorous debate. When Obama makes a decision, you can be sure that he has heard and accounted for every opposing argument.

But just a paragraph later;

Americans, with their deep, vestigial sense of proportion, have reacted. The crucial movement came between April and June, when the president’s approval rating among independents fell by 15 percentage points and the percentage of independents who regarded him as liberal or very liberal rose by 18 points. Since then, the public has rejected any effort to centralize authority or increase the role of government.

Trust in government has fallen. The share of Americans who say the country is on the wrong track has risen. The share who call themselves conservative has risen. The share who believe government is “doing too many things better left to business” has risen.

The country is now split on Obama, because he is temperate, thoughtful and pragmatic, but his policies are almost all unpopular. If you aggregate the last seven polls on health care reform, 41 percent support it and 51 percent oppose.

So, Americans are rejecting his policies because he is “temperate, thoughtful and pragmatic”? The actions of his Cabinet members and his surrogates are marked by a culture of honest and vigorous debate?

Is that why all the Republican amendments to the Healthcare bill are voted down on Party line votes if they get any vote at all? Are the backroom deals and blatant payoffs of supporters considered honest? Is his idea that “bipartisanship” means allowing your opponents to slavishly support your legislation, otherwise they are “obstructing”?

I think that Brooks would be wise to skip the luncheons with the editorial staff and other columnists. They have slipped something in his salad.

The Only Surprise Here Is That The AP Analyzed And Reported It.

STIMULUS WATCH: Unemployment unchanged by projects – Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – A federal spending surge of more than $20 billion for roads and bridges in President Barack Obama’s first stimulus has had no effect on local unemployment rates, raising questions about his argument for billions more to address an “urgent need to accelerate job growth.”

“Clueless” Describes Our Entire Intelligence Apparatus.

RealClearPolitics – Video – Napolitano Most Surprised By “Determination Of al-Qaeda”

Question: What was the most shocking, stunning thing that you found out of the review? And, Secretary, to you, as well.SECRETARY NAPOLITANO: I think, following up on that, not just the determination of al Qaeda and al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula, but the tactic of using an individual to foment an attack, as opposed to a large conspiracy or a multi-person conspiracy such as we saw in 9/11, that is something that affects intelligence.

You mean that the tactic of the “suicide bomber” surprised them?

I guess that’s not too surpising when you consider that our inteeligence agencies were taken by surprise by the the Iranian Revolution, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rise of Hugo Chavez, pretty much anything the North Koreans do, the first WTC bombing, the embassy bombings, the USS Cole, Khobar Towers, 9/11, the lack of WMD in Iraq, the Iraqi resistance,…..pretty much any important development in the world in the past 50 years.

So, they didn’t see this coming? It probably would have been more surprising if they had.

Glad To See That Some Economists Agree With Me.

Why Government Spending Does Not Stimulate Economic Growth: Answering the Critics

Why Government Spending Does Not End Recessions

Moving forward, the important question is why government spending fails to end recessions. Spending-stimulus advocates claim that Congress can “inject” new money into the economy, increasing demand and therefore production. This raises the obvious question: From where does the government acquire the money it pumps into the economy? Congress does not have a vault of money waiting to be distributed. Every dollar Congress injects into the economy must first be taxed or borrowed out of the economy. No new spending power is created. It is merely redistributed from one group of people to another.[7]

Congress cannot create new purchasing power out of thin air. If it funds new spending with taxes, it is simply redistributing existing purchasing power (while decreasing incentives to produce income and output). If Congress instead borrows the money from domestic investors, those investors will have that much less to invest or to spend in the private economy. If they borrow the money from foreigners, the balance of payments will adjust by equally raising net imports, leaving total demand and output unchanged. Every dollar Congress spends must first come from somewhere else.

For example, many lawmakers claim that every $1 billion in highway stimulus can create 47,576 new construction jobs. But Congress must first borrow that $1 billion from the private economy, which will then lose at least as many jobs.[8] Highway spending simply transfers jobs and income from one part of the economy to another. As Heritage Foundation economist Ronald Utt has explained, “The only way that $1 billion of new highway spending can create 47,576 new jobs is if the $1 billion appears out of nowhere as if it were manna from heaven.”[9] This statement has been confirmed by the Department of Transportation[10] and the General Accounting Office (since renamed the Government Accountability Office),[11] yet lawmakers continue to base policy on this economic fallacy.

Removing water from one end of a swimming pool and pouring it in the other end will not raise the overall water level. Similarly, taking dollars from one part of the economy and distributing it to another part of the economy will not expand the economy.

This is basically what I have been harping on since the recession began.

I initially agreed with the first bailout, the one that was supposed to be used to buy “toxic assets” and keep the financial system running. I was OK with some corporations folding, but thought that while the economy can recover from the bankruptcy of normal companies it would be much harder for it to recover with the collapse of the financial system.

Unfortunately the Fed and Treasury changed their minds as soon as they got the funding, and the Congress was so panicked that they were ready to rubber-stamp anything that was put in front of them. It was basically the Tonkin Gulf Resolution all over again. Congress, whichever party controls it, is basically stupid and easily frightened. They’re first instinct is to “do something” and their second is to find a way to blame it all on the opposite party.

We’re All “Rich” Now.

Bob Hertbert – A Less Than Honest Policy – NYTimes.com

The tax would kick in on plans exceeding $23,000 annually for family coverage and $8,500 for individuals, starting in 2013. In the first year it would affect relatively few people in the middle class. But because of the steadily rising costs of health care in the U.S., more and more plans would reach the taxation threshold each year.

Within three years of its implementation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the tax would apply to nearly 20 percent of all workers with employer-provided health coverage in the country, affecting some 31 million people. Within six years, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would reach a fifth of all households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Those families can hardly be considered very wealthy.

This is surprise. Bob Herbert has been one of the most doctrinaire liberals at the NYT. (It’s not like he doesn’t have competition for it though)

Now he’s worried that the increased taxes on medical insurance is going to hit the middle class?

Hello? Have you been so engrossed in your Obama campaign collection that you haven’t noticed what has been going on in Congress the last few months? Are you telling us that Obama’s promise that the tax burden will only fall on “the rich” might have been a little disingenuous?

It might only mean that Herbert feels comfortable enough that the ‘healthcare bill” is going to become law that he can write columns pointing out the problems. That’s insurance for down the road when he gets accused of being oblivious to the tax increases. No one is going to notice then that his column was a couple of weeks too late.

Hosts and Parasites

When I read news stories of the government’s (State and Fed) attempt to “create” jobs by funding public works and protecting the jobs of government workers, I have to shake my head in disbelief. Do they really thing that they (the government) have a back room full of jobs that they hand out to people?

The truth, of course, is that they do and they don’t. They don’t actually have jobs to hand out, but they do have the ability to encourage others to create jobs.

A Capitalist free economy, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, is the worst system for managing an economy, except for all the others.

A Free Market encourages people to innovate, take risks and is able to offer products where they are needed, at a “reasonable” price without employing unaccountable central planners. If someone in a free markets systems offers the wrong products to the wrong set of customers, at a  price they can’t afford, they lose.

The Free Market economy is the engine that makes America work.

What people seem to misunderstand is the relationship between the government and the Free Market.

The relationship is that of a parasite and the host. That is not necessarily a bad thing and it doesn’t mean that government employees are bloodsuckers. Our bodies contains many parasites, some of which are necessary for life.

The Private Sector is the host. It goes on and on, enriching some, beggaring others. The government is the parasite that is supposed to prevent the host from destroying itself with its own excesses. The government (the parasite) takes what is necessary to to do its job from the host.

The problem arises, not because the parasite exists, but because it takes too much from the host. In nature this manifests itself in anemia or other health problems. It is invariably weakens the host and can lead to death.

Think it can’t happen here?

When I was in Grade School back in the 1950’s I can remember being told (probably at one of those assemblies for Washington’s or Lincoln’s Birthday back when holidays were supposed to mean something) about the Voltaire quote that was supposed to have said  “I may disagree with what you say; but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. (Yeah, I know it is probably bogus, but that’s not the point)

The point is that we were having it smacked into our mushy impressionable brains that in America the right to free speech included speech that you didn’t like.

Now we have “Hate Speech”, which is basically speech that some victim group or politician decided that they didn’t like.

How far is that from defending to the death your right to speak? We, our parents and our teachers thought that such a thing couldn’t happen here. But it did and it has.

Think of how many things that American’s used to believe was their heritage that are now discounted and reframed as somehow illegitimate?

The parasite is now in charge and we’re being reduced from patriots to husks that still mumble the words but have been so weakened that there is little time left to react, and even if we do, the poison is in our bloodstream .

Can we be saved? Maybe…maybe not. Time will tell.

The government is getting some help in gutting the Private Sector…Unions.