March 24, 2009

Web Reconnaissance for 03/24/2009

A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

The Other McCain: And the bad news is . . . - . . . there is no good news: “American consumers still have debt coming out of their ears, and they’ll be working it off for years. House prices are still falling. Retirement savings have been crushed. Americans need to increase their savings rate from today’s 5% (a vast improvement from the 0% rate of two years ago) to the 10% long-term average. Consumers don’t have room to take on more debt, even if the banks are willing to give it to them.” Via Hot Air, where the one-day "Geithnermania" bounce is examined from several points of view. My own point of view is that last week's Fed buy-up of Treasury notes represents the fateful step into the fiscal/monetary abyss of Weimar America. (READ MORE)

Phyllis Chesler and Marcia Pappas: A Universal Doctrine of Women's Rights - It is time for feminists, both women and men, of all faiths, and of no faith, to stand together for a womans' right not to be murdered in the name of family honor. Indeed, we welcome men and women of all faiths, including Islam, to stand with us against female genital mutilation/castration, forced veiling, child marriage, arranged marriage, polygamy, and "honorcide," and in favor of a woman's right to live as a westerner in the West without being threatened and beaten for refusing to wear hijab, wanting to have non-Muslim friends, wear makeup, attend college, drive her own car, or end an abusive marriage. Muslim and Sikh women have been honor murdered in North America for all these alleged crimes against their religion and their culture. Here are some specific examples of how American feminist leaders have addressed the problems of Third World women, including Muslim women, both here and abroad. (READ MORE)

Robert J. Avrech: Hollywood is Burning, Part III: Gauntlet - “Attack, always attack.” My friend, the heroic Israeli tank commander, told me that in the first few days of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, both fronts, The Sinai and The Golan, were so weakly defended that had the Egyptian or Syrian high command been strategically bolder, tactically smarter, and their soldiers braver, well, the Arab armies could have achieved massive breakthroughs, and Israel would have found herself facing genocide. But small, actually tiny pockets, of brave, determined and very well trained Israeli troops, in some cases, just two or three tanks on the Golan, held their ground and attacked enemy forces sometimes a hundred times their strength. “We had no orders except to hold our ground and whenever possible to attack—always attack.” All this whips through my mind as I aim our car—I’m already thinking of the Lexus as a tank, a Centurion—towards the exit of the parking garage. A knot of rioters are milling about at the exit. (READ MORE)

AJStrata: There Is No Atmospheric Green House Effect - Reader Crosspatch referred us to this excellent scientific paper (which has been out in one form or another for almost two years now) which debunks the entire man-made global warming myth at its source - the fact that no one has (or can) prove there is a “Greenhouse Effect”. It is a fascinating read and notes how real green houses warm up by heating the trapped air which cannot be cooled by convection (hot air rises, cool air drops in to take up the heat being absorbed by the ‘ground’). The IPCC green house theory (which is proven to be false) relies on a radiation imbalance between the Sun and the reflecting/emitting Earth. It assumes visible light comes in, is absorbed by the ground, etc, and then heat radiation (infrared) is transmitted out. It assumes (wrongly) that infrared cannot escape the glass or atmosphere and that is how heat builds up (not because the air cannot be refreshed). (READ MORE)

Victor Davis Hanson: Thoughts About Depressed Americans - Why are so many Americans so depressed about things these days? It is perhaps not just the economy. I think the answer is clear: all the accustomed referents, the sources of security, of knowledge and reassurance appear to be vanishing. Materially, we still enjoy a sumptuous lifestyle in comparison with past generations—and the world outside our borders. America remains the most sane and successful society on the planet. But there is a strange foreboding, a deer-in-the-headlights look to us that we may be clueless Greeks in the age of Demosthenes, played-out Romans around AD 450, or give-up French in late 1939—with a sense it cannot go on. Why? Let us count the ways. (READ MORE)

Just the Library Keeper: Earl goes to the Gun Show in Puyallup... - Looking for Hispanic Gangsters buying weapons for the Drug War in Mexico. Didn't see any. Looking for rifles that I just had to have. Didn't see any. Did see many that were beautiful, but they wouldn't be lonely for long, and I am still dancing with my own thank you. Went looking for peace and quiet, but the Gun Show isn't the local library - large crowds of people packed like PETA wouldn't do to your beef still on hoof. Yes, I thought that mooing and horns would have worked. Met one of the Corrections Officers from McNeil Island and talked crowds, military shooting (1903 through M1) and reloading. Didn't find any ATF agents in undercover clothes working the crowd for Obama - the things I don't see when I am looking. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Loss of lift - The NYT, in an editorial, categorically rejects Geithner’s bank rescue plan. It is an unswerving rejection of Treasury’s assumption that the auction system through which it proposes to dispose of the troubled assets will value them properly. But more importantly, it reflects a lack of faith — even among the converted — in the ability of government to keep from playing favorites where such sums are concerned. Geithner’s bank rescue plan, coming on the heels of the AIG scandal, had to be both financially sound and politically viable to keep the administration’s credibility from cracking. With liberal economists like Krugman already against Geithner’s plan, the categorical rejection of Geithner’s plan by the NYT implies that the Obama administration is running out political places to hide. The NYT wrote: “President Obama’s long-awaited plan to revive the banks could work if certain assumptions about the future are right. But there is not much, beyond faith, to believe those assumptions will pan out — and even if there were, it is hard to see how the plan is the best way to go. …” (READ MORE)

McQ: The "Geithner Plan" - Will It Work? - The Geithner Plan for "Bad Bank Assets" has been published in the WSJ under Geithner's name. It is pretty much that which was leaked and critiqued by Dale here. James Joyner wonders: “To my non-economist mind, that sounds eerily remniscient of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), the $700 billion plan passed last October to prop up the frozen financial system by buying, well, troubled assets. Granting, arguendo, that the Bush administration, which ran the first part of TARP, was evil and incompetent and the Obama administration is all sweetness, light, and omniscience, why would this work any better the second time around?” Paul Krugman, as we noted last week, is not impressed by this plan at all: “This is more than disappointing. In fact, it fills me with a sense of despair.” (READ MORE)

John Hawkins: The Problem With The Modern Environmental Movement - Over at the Moderate Voice, a liberal website where they masquerade as moderates, one of their writers took exception to Cassy Fiano's comments about green loons in Britain wanting to reduce the population of Britain by 30 million people to protect the environment: “The ‘unfortunate’ aspect of this is that as soon as you mention anything to do with the environment you invoke the ire of certain Right wing elements. For one example, Cassy Fiano at Right Wing News refers to supporters of such ideas as "environmental moonbats" but then goes on to actually ask one of the more pressing questions. How does a nation accomplish such a goal even if everyone agrees that it's required?” (READ MORE)

John Robb: HOLLOW STATES vs. FAILED STATES - A considerable number of analysts contend that Mexico and other countries suffering assaults by open source insurgencies/crime aren't in danger of becoming failed states. They are right given the limitations of their modeling. A failed state is a complete breakdown in the delivery of political goods (security, law, health, education, infrastructure, etc.), the dissolution of most arms of the government (often what's left is in absentia), and widespread chaos. Think Somalia. In contrast, these states are well on the road to becoming hollow states. A hollow state is different from a failed state in that it continues to exist on the international stage. It has all the standard edifices of governance although most are heavily corrupted and in thrall to global corporate/monied elites. It continues to deliver political goods (albeit to a vastly diminished group, usually around the capital) and maintains a military. Further, in sections of the country, there is an appearance of normal life. (READ MORE)

Marc Ambinder: Make Haste, Slowly - President Obama's financial rescue plans have two limiting factors. One is the willingness of the Congress to sanction what amounts to an unprecedented federal intervention in the economy and the ability of the administration to calmly transport the Congress towards a particular destination. The second is the need to consider not short term consequences or long-term consequences, but interim consequences. This point is often lost. The federal government, not Congress, will manage the aftermath of any action it takes. It can reliably project short-term consequences and probably can envision long-term consequences - they are only a few real possibilities. 2nd order effects of actions - what happens between the solution being implemented and the problem being solved - are notoriously, extraordinarily difficult to envision. Fixing the economic crisis is like playing three-dimensional dominoes. (READ MORE)

This Ain't Hell: Dems step back from bonus anger - It’s funny but early last week, those folks at AIG who took $165 million in bonuses were the most evil people on earth according to Democrats. Angry Democrats demanded a 90% tax on those ill-gotten gains - well, until it was discovered that Democrat Senators and the Democrat Administration had facilitated the bonus payments. Now, they’re in less of a hurry to recover the tax payer money, according to the Washington Times: “Rank-and-file Senate Democrats on Monday helped put the brakes on their own congressional leaders’ frenzied dash to enact new taxes to take back executive bonuses at bailed-out Wall Street firms. Democratic defectors echoed President Obama’s and business leaders’ concerns about the tax bill’s legality and chilling effect on struggling financial firms. Critics said the tax penalty could scare banks from participating in the Treasury plan announced Monday to buy toxic assets in order to unfreeze credit markets.” Of course, that doesn’t stop Harry Reid from blaming Republicans… (READ MORE)

Right Wing Nut House: IS OUR NATIONAL WILL ‘WILTING AWAY?’- An interesting discussion piece in today’s Washington Times by Big Hollywood’s Andrew Breitbart that tries and make the case that Americans today, compared to the “Greatest Generation” that fought World War II, are a bunch of weak willed wimps, enamored of wealth and privilege while being frightened of our own shadow. In short, we are a bunch of self-indulgent philistines who lack the capacity to deal with the numerous crisis in our midst. We’ve all heard this rant before - as I’m sure the “Greatest Generation” heard it from their elders back in the 1930’s and the generation before them, and on backwards to the founding of the republic where as early as Washington’s administration, ministers were bemoaning the loss of the “revolutionary spirit” and the desire by a majority of the populace for “material possessions” rather than seeking spiritual uplift. I guess it goes without saying that the more things change, the more likely the previous generation sees a danger that American values are threatened. (READ MORE)

Reformed Chicks Blabbing: Feinstein: Not in our desert - These people are unbelievable! They make it impossible for us to drill for oil. They blather on and on about using renewable resources but they keep limiting where they allow them to be. Not off the coast of the Cape because that would effect the view of the Kennedys and now they want to make it impossible to use them in the Mojave Desert because they don't want to destroy the aesthetics of the desert: “California's Mojave Desert may seem ideally suited for solar energy production, but concern over what several proposed projects might do to the aesthetics of the region and its tortoise population is setting up a potential clash between conservationists and companies seeking to develop renewable energy. Nineteen companies have submitted applications to build solar or wind facilities on a parcel of 500,000 desert acres, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Friday such development would violate the spirit of what conservationists had intended when they donated much of the land to the public.” (READ MORE)

Rhymes With Right: I Just Can't Sympathize - I work. I pay taxes. I have a chronically ill spouse. It might be nice to have the government pay for my wife's health care, but it does not. I pay for insurance through my employer, and I pay the expenses not covered by that insurance. So it really angers me to read stories like this one. “Jose Cedillo, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, says he has nowhere to turn. A day laborer since 1986, Mr. Cedillo has received notice from a Los Angeles County hospital that he must start paying out of pocket for the treatment he will need. ‘I have no choice because I have no insurance and can't work while I'm taking these treatments,’ he says, sitting in the tiny apartment he shares with his wife, a janitor. The recession – and a big state deficit ­– is leading some California counties to cut back on nonemergency health services to illegal immigrants. In others, cutbacks in services for the uninsured are hitting illegal immigrants especially hard.” (READ MORE)

The Redhunter: A Pox On All Their Houses - This whole situation with AIG and the bonuses is an absolute disaster. Not because of the bonuses, which are small potatoes, but for where all this is headed. In fact the whole thing disgusts me to the point where this is going to be a pretty short post. First off, conservatives should not defend AIG or the bonuses. The father of modern American conservatism, William F. Buckley Jr., criticized similar behavior by Viacom a few years ago. When your company is failing you do not pay anyone a bonus for anything. When you take money from the government you do not pay anyone a bonus for anything. I've heard all of the rationalizations and none of them hold water. Can't these guys go without the big bucks for a few quarters? Most Democrats, of course, are demagoguing the issue for all it's worth, the worst being Barney Frank, a man who ought to be investigated himself. (READ MORE)

Political Pistachio: Liberty Dying Like the Snow Falls - A few snowflakes does not make a snowstorm. A few puddles does not mean there will be massive flooding. But, unfortunately, a few bad apples can ruin a barrel. On the same token, if you see the tip of the iceberg, it may be possible there is a whole lot more from where that came from. "Walter Reed" has become synonymous with what people believe to be a failing Military Hospital and Veterans Administration system. It doesn't matter if the connections exist between Walter Reed and any other medical facility in or out of the system. People automatically assume that if an Army Hospital is capable of a breakdown in command and proper leadership, the entire military hospital network, including Veteran's Affairs - in their minds, is a listing ship ready to take a nose dive into the bowels of Davey Jones' Locker. However, nothing could be from the truth. Overall, the military hospitals are top notch facilities manned by military personnel doing all they can to take care of their own. (READ MORE)

neo-neocon: Another puzzling bout of Obama administration cluelessness—or something else? - It’s hard to know exactly what to think of this: “…[T]he private-sector worries about the plans being cooked up by Geithner and Summers extend into countless corporate suites, start-ups, and small businesses far beyond Wall Street—and that until recently, the administration was comically clueless about it. When I was at the White House recently, I jokingly asked a senior Obama official if the team was having fun turning the country into a socialist state. ‘What are you talking about?’ this official replied. ‘Business loves what we’re doing!’ Back in New York the following day, I related that story to a CEO pal of mine who is a big Obama backer. ‘What are they, smoking crack down there?’ he replied. ‘Find me one CEO who likes what they’re doing. Seriously, find me one!’” The story by John Heilemann appeared in the Obama-friendly New York Magazine. (READ MORE)


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