Archive:

June 2011, Part 3

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



Internet = Che Guevara?  A top Hillary Clinton advisor said that.  And he wasn't telling a bizarre joke, even though many of us will take it that way.
Hillary Clinton's senior adviser for innovation at the US state department has lauded the way the internet has become "the Che Guevara of the 21st century" in the Arab Spring uprisings.

Speaking at the Guardian's Activate summit in London on Wednesday, Alec Ross said "dictatorships are now more vulnerable than ever" as disaffected citizens organise influential protest movements on Facebook and Twitter.
It's not a comparison that would occur to most of us, since the Internet has not helped impose a brutal dictatorship on one country, personally executed dozens of political opponents, or tried to impose a brutal dictatorship on another country.

Presumably, Ross believes that Guevara was a freedom fighter, which is something like believing that Ted Bundy was kind to the women he abducted and murdered.

(Start at seven minutes into the video, if you would like to see the remark in context.  Note how matter of fact he is when he says that, apparently not realizing he is saying something controversial.

Here's the usual Wikipedia article, with descriptions of some of Guevara's crimes.)
- 8:40 AM, 24 June 2011   [link]


Terrorist Plot Thwarted, Terrorist Motives Unclear:  About half of the local news stories I saw yesterday avoided using the M-word, or the I-word when they described the plot.  (The TV stories I've seen this morning have been more honest — and less silly.)

Here's an example.
Two men have been arrested in a plot to attack a Seattle military recruiting station, reports the U.S. Justice Department and FBI.

Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, who also went by Joseph Anthony Davis, 33, of Seattle, and Walli Mujahidh, also known as Frederick Domingue, Jr., 32, of Los Angeles, will face terrorism and firearms charges for the suspected plot.

The pair were arrested Wednesday night after nearly a month of surveillance and recordings by FBI, with the help of an informant recruited to join the plot.  During that time, law enforcement say they learned Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh intended to shoot people enlisting in the armed forces at the Military Entrance Processing Station on East Marginal Way (MEPS).
You can search that entire article and not find the word "Muslim", or the word "Islam".  Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh may believe they were defending their religion, but King 5 saw no reason to share that fact with us.

The stories that did mention their religion, and their religious motive for the plot, usually followed that with the usual PC lecture from our very political US attorney, Jenny Durkan, who assured us that most Muslims were not like these two.  True enough, and almost everyone in this area has figured that out already.  (I doubt that she would feel it necessary to give us a similar reassurance if she were prosecuting a Catholic priest.)

It would be interesting to know just how many local Muslims do sympathize with terrorists, but I do not expect any of our local "mainstream" journalists to investigate that question.

(This unwillingness to call a Muslim a Muslim, even when the Muslim calls himself a Muslim has an eerie similarity to the way many "mainstream" journalists treated left wing extremists like Angela Davis.  She might be an open Communist, she might proudly call herself a Communist, but the reporters would usually describe her as an "activist", or something similar.

Abdul-Latif is married to a women from Niger.  No one has explained how the two got together, which makes me wonder whether it was an arranged marriage.)
- 6:59 AM, 24 June 2011   [link]


German Economic Historian Albrecht Ritschl has some fun with his fellow citizens.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Ritschl, Germany is coming across like a know-it-all in the debate over aid for Greece. Berlin is intransigent and is demanding obedience from Athens. Is this attitude justified?

Ritschl: No, there is no basis for it.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Most Germans would likely disagree.

Ritschl: That may be, but during the 20th century, Germany was responsible for what were the biggest national bankruptcies in recent history.  It is only thanks to the United States, which sacrificed vast amounts of money after both World War I and World War II, that Germany is financially stable today and holds the status of Europe's headmaster.  That fact, unfortunately, often seems to be forgotten.
But Professor Ritschl will happy to remind them, from his safe perch at the London School of Economics.
- 10:42 AM, 23 June 2011   [link]


Presidents, Congress, And The Economy:  Presidents, like quarterbacks, get too much credit for good results, and too much blame for bad results.  In contrast, Congress, like offensive lines, gets too little credit, and too little blame.

It's an argument I've made before, but it's an argument that requires repeating, since so few "mainstream" journalists understand the point.  Even economists — who you would think would know better — make this mistake.

I was reminded of that by this Greg Mankiw post, where he takes Paul Krugman to task for an odd choice of dates.
What strikes me about Paul's blog post, however, is how completely unconvincing it is.  He uses a chart that starts the Reagan era in 1979, arguing we need to correct for the business cycle.  But would or should this persuade anyone?

The null hypothesis being tested is that Reagan policies had a significant effect on revenue growth.  But would any believer in that null hypothesis include the last couple years of the Carter administration as part of the Reagan era?  Weren't the policies of those years precisely what Reagan was trying to reverse?  Maybe Paul's chart might appeal to someone who already agrees with him, but I thought economists turned to data to try to persuade those who are truly undecided.   It is hard to see how this presentation of the data would move someone who is yet to make up his mind.
(I am trying to match Mankiw's politeness when I say "odd".)

Mankiw ends by crediting the Internet bubble for the good economic news in the last Clinton years.

Let's review:  During all eight Reagan years, Democrats controlled the House; during his last two years, Democrats controlled the Senate as well.  It is true that Reagan was able to win majority support in the House for some of his measures, especially in his first two years, against the Democratic leadership.  But it is also true that the Democratic House majority forced Reagan to change many of his policies, for example, to continue spending on programs that he would have preferred to end.

So the good — and bad — results of the Reagan years can not be attributed to Reagan alone, but must be shared with Congress, especially the Democratic House majority.  We can not know exactly what shares should attributed to each, since we can not run history over again, changing only the control of Congress.

You can extend my argument to the first Bush administration, without much effort.   Unlike Reagan, George H. W. Bush never had a friendly majority in the House or the Senate, so the credit and blame for those years goes more to the Democrats in Congress than in the Reagan years.

For the Clinton years, we need to review again:  Clinton came in with a large House majority (258-176) and a solid Senate majority (57-43).  Clinton, with the support of those majorities, increased taxes, including on the middle class, and spending, but failed to pass his health care "reform" plan.

Economic results during those first two Clinton years were unimpressive.  The economy continued the recovery begun during 1991, but did not pick up much momentum.

In 1994, as we all know, Republicans took over control of the House and the Senate.  Under the leadership of Speaker Newt Gingrich and Majority Leader Bob Dole, they cut spending and restrained regulation.  Since they had to get Clinton's agreement for their changes, they were unable to go as far as they would have liked, but they did succeed in getting him to sign on to welfare reform, on their third try.

After the Republican takeover of Congress, the recovery picked up speed.  And for that, Gingrich and Dole probably deserve more credit than Clinton.  Probably because, again, we can not run history over again just changing the party controlling Congress.

(And the low energy prices during Clinton's eight years probably owe more than a little to Bush's victory in the first Gulf War.)

The second Bush administration is harder to analyze because, even when George W. Bush had Republican majorities, they were so narrow that it constrained his policy-making seriously.  He was unable, for example, to control wasteful spending on farm subsidies, and unable, as Professor Mankiw knows, to restrain Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Which would have saved us several hundred billion, real money, even now.

And his efforts to reform entitlements got no support at all from Democrats in Congress.

Credit — and blame — for the economic results of those eight Bush years must be shared even more than usual.

(Of course, there are many other people who can help or hurt our economy.  In 1991 and 1992, President Bush was unhappy with the Federal Reserve because he thought their monetary policy was too tight, correctly as far as I can tell.  But there was no way that Bush could change those policies by himself.

Nor does the help, or damage, have to come from someone in government.  A brilliant inventor may spark an economic boom that owes nothing to government policy.)
- 10:17 AM, 23 June 2011   [link]


South African President Jacob Zuma Doesn't Fear President Obama:   Which explains why he felt safe snubbing First Lady Michelle Obama.
South Africa President Jacob Zuma has snubbed the visiting Michelle Obama by sending his prisons minister to meet the first lady at the airport and failing to see her during her three-day stay.
His prisons minister!  (Officially,Corrective Services Minister.)

Zuma knows how to insult a visiting dignitary.  And just to add to the insult, only one of his three wives was allowed to meet Michelle Obama, and that very briefly.

(What's Zuma mad about?  Most recently the attacks on Libya.  Many African leaders think that even the most corrupt and dictatorial African leaders should be left in power.)
- 8:39 AM, 23 June 2011   [link]


Obama's Speech Last Night Was Not Churchillian:  By now, that should not surprise anyone who has been paying attention.  President Obama might be able to read a Churchillian speech if one appeared on his teleprompter, but he could not write one, and he certainly doesn't believe in Churchill's resolute defense of freedom and democracy.

Somewhat to my surprise, when I searched through the speech for the word "victory", I found it.
And thanks to our intelligence professionals and Special Forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever known.  This was a victory for all who have served since 9/11.  One soldier summed it up well.  "The message," he said, "is we don't forget.   You will be held accountable, no matter how long it takes."
And he even uses "defeat" in the next paragraph.

But that's the only place in the speech where he uses a concept so foreign to most on the American left, and so essential to any thinking about war.

This passage is more typical:
Of course, huge challenges remain.  This is the beginning — but not the end — of our effort to wind down this war.  We will have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we have made, while we drawdown our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government.  And next May, in Chicago, we will host a summit with our NATO allies and partners to shape the next phase of this transition.

We do know that peace cannot come to a land that has known so much war without a political settlement.
(And we know that how?)

His language in that selection has become so familiar to many on the left that I must take a minute to explain why it sounds so silly to others.  (This is how I would explain it to Obama.)  Suppose you were in a football locker room at half time and you were listening to the coach give his half time pep talk.  Suppose that the coach told his players that, in the second half, they would "wind down" the game.  You'd think that the coach was nuts, right?  Football games, like wars, can be won, lost, or tied; they can't be wound down.

We can extend this metaphor by going on to the next paragraph.  Coach Obama is telling our team that we are ahead, but that the game can only end in a tie.

There's another word that's almost entirely missing from the speech, "military".  At the beginning, Obama tells us that he ordered the surge on the advice of our "military commanders".  So one would expect him to say, further on, that those same commanders are telling him that it is safe to draw down the troops.  But he can't say that, because it isn't true.  As anyone who has followed this knows, General Petraeus, who probably knows more about military questions than President Obama does, is opposed to the draw down.  And so, I suspect, are almost all the other military commanders.

Obama's plan does not make sense militarily, but it does make sense politically.  As practically everyone has noticed, the timing will allow Obama to claim credit for the draw down before next year's election.  (Note, for instance, the timing and place of that NATO meeting, if you are wondering how the Obama political team plans to play this.)  And, most likely, before the costs of the draw down become apparent, even to our slothful "mainstream" reporters.

(The move of Petraeus to the CIA can also be understood politically.  The Obama administration is moving a potentially dangerous critic to a position where he can do less damage.)
- 7:39 AM, 23 June 2011   [link]


Has Congressman Alcee Hastings Been A Bad Boy?   Possibly.
A congressional ethics panel is investigating allegations that Florida Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings sexually harassed a member of his staff, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation of Mr. Hastings is being conducted by the Office of Congressional Ethics, the House's independent ethics investigative arm, and it is at a preliminary stage.

It began at least a month ago after Judicial Watch, a conservative group, filed a lawsuit as the legal counsel for Winsome Packer, a staffer on a commission Mr. Hastings headed.  She alleged that she had been sexually harassed by the congressman and that he retaliated when she tried to report it.
Aaron Worthing and Ann Althouse think there might be something to the complaint.

(Long-time readers will recall that this is not his first ethical problem.  Not many federal judges get impeached by the House and removed by the Senate.)
- 3:32 PM, 22 June 2011   [link]


The Continuing Mystery Of Hugo Chávez's Illness:  The Wall Street Journal has a long article that begins with this paragraph:
Venezuela's voluble and ubiquitous President Hugo Chávez hasn't returned to the public eye after a surgery in Cuba that has friends and foes alike speculating about the state of his health and the future of his rule.
And then describes the speculation at some length, without ever coming up with a plausible explanation for his illness, and his long stay in Cuba.  (As I have said earlier, Chávez may be staying in Cuba in order to keep his illness secret, but that's just a guess.)

How sick is Chávez?  Fausta has a telling detail.
Everybody is speculating as to Chavez's malady, particularly since Chavez, who for years has done his interminable TV and radio shows several times per week (averaging 43 minutes per day since he took power in 1999), has limited himself to a single telephone call into state-run television.
As the Journal article and a later post by Fausta note, there are constitutional problems with his long stay in Cuba.

(One can understand why he might not want to go back to Venezuela, even if he were well.  The country has a horrific prison riot and electricity rationing, both caused, in part, by his regime's incompetence.)
- 10:41 AM, 22 June 2011   [link]


The (Almost) Perfect Political Family:  You can see them in this People's Daily picture from January, 2009.

Jon and Mary Kaye Huntsman have seven children, five of their own and two adopted daughters, Gracie Mei from China and Asha Bharati from India.  The older five children all look friendly and normal.  Gracie Mei is mugging for the camera and Asha Bharati is looking shy, which is what you expect at their ages.  (Gracie Mei was found, abandoned, in a vegetable market; I would guess that Asha Bharati has a similar background.)

And the family has two dogs, one homely and one handsome.

Except for the dog, they all look attractive, but not as if they spend hours each day trying to look attractive.

But wait, there's more.  Their second oldest daughter, Abigail, is married.  Their oldest son, Jon III, is in the Naval Academy and his brother, Will, plans to follow him into the service.  Oh, and Jon's father has given millions to cancer research.

I can see why the Obama team is worried about Huntsman's candidacy.

(Here's a current picture of the family, along with his speech announcing his candidacy.  I like the fact that he started out by saying that he was humbled.

I said almost perfect, so I suppose I should mention ways the family could be improved, politically.  They need a cat, of course, and, more important, they need a Hispanic in the family.  And there are some other details that could be improved.

But, having said that, I have to add that I don't know of a better political family in the United States.)
- 10:05 AM, 22 June 2011   [link]


California Voters Had A Good Idea:  If legislators won't do their jobs, then they shouldn't get paid.
California's controller took the rare step Tuesday of halting paychecks for all 120 state lawmakers after he determined they failed to meet a voter-approved requirement aimed at getting the Legislature to approve balanced budgets on time.

Controller John Chiang said he reviewed the budget approved last week by Democrats on a simple majority vote and determined it was not balanced.  Chiang, a Democrat, said lawmakers therefore did not meet the requirement for getting paid under Proposition 25, which voters approved in November.

Lawmakers can start receiving their salaries and expenses again once they pass a balanced budget.   They will not be retroactively paid for the days the budget was late.
This pay stoppage will have more effect in California, which has a "professional" legislature, than it would in states where legislators are part time.
- 8:10 AM, 22 June 2011   [link]


The Huntsman Boomerang:  When President Obama named Jon Huntsman ambassador to China, Obama political operatives celebrated their success at removing a potential 2012 Obama opponent.  They were quite open in saying that they hoped they had taken Huntsman out of the race.

That celebration puzzled me, because their timing was wrong.  They had named him ambassador too early to take him out of the race.

And now that their error has become obvious, they are pouting.
Mr. Huntsman's decision prompted a mix of suspicion and resignation among the president's advisers: suspicion that Mr. Huntsman had not always been straight about his national aspirations, and resignation that, as one presidential strategist put it, "There's no loyalty in politics," especially when it comes to across-the-aisle alliances.
Obama's people know something about disloyalty; to win his first office, Obama used petition challenges to knock his mentor, Alice Palmer, off the ballot.
- 9:59 AM, 21 June 2011   [link]


The New York Times Editorial Writers say that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a "moderate".  And so, according to the Times, are Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.  You could call Breyer a moderate, but the other two are obviously liberals, or as I prefer to say, leftists.  (Obama would not have nominated them to the Supreme Court if they weren't leftists.)

Do the editorial writers believe that?  Or are they just saying that in an attempt to fool their readers?  Perhaps a little of both; from their point of view, Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan may indeed be moderates.  But they probably recognize that few others see the three that way.

(Even Wikipedia recognizes that Ginsburg is a liberal.  And a quick search with Google found 324,000 hits when her name is paired with "liberal", 419,000 hits when paired with "leftist", and just 144,000 hits when paired with "moderate" — and the top hits with moderate were mostly from that Newsbusters article.

Edward Whelan has some examples of Ginsburg's extremism.   A few might surprise you.)
- 8:45 AM, 21 June 2011   [link]


Even Eugene Robinson thinks that Obama's claim that we aren't engaged in "hostilities" in Libya is "nonsense".
Let's be honest: President Obama's claim that U.S. military action in Libya doesn't constitute "hostilities" is nonsense, and Congress is right to call him on it.

Blasting dictator Moammar Gaddafi's troops and installations from above with unmanned drone aircraft may or may not be the right thing to do, but it's clearly a hostile act.  Likewise, providing intelligence, surveillance and logistical support that enable allied planes to attack Gaddafi's military — and, increasingly, to target Gaddafi himself — can only be considered hostile.  These are acts of war.
If Obama has lost Eugene Robinson on this issue, he's lost nearly everyone.

(I don't know why Obama made such a nonsensical claim.  But this may — I repeat, may — be relevant:  It is common for machine politicians to be careless about following the letter of the law.   Obama learned much of his trade from the Chicago machine.)
- 7:28 AM, 21 June 2011   [link]


James Taranto Catches The New York Times "cruelly invading a 3-year-old's privacy".  In order, of course, to make a politically-correct point.
- 2:57 PM, 20 June 2011   [link]


Do Some People Have Genes That Predispose Them To Crime?   On some level the answer is obvious — to almost all of us.  In every society, men commit many more violent crimes than women do.  (You can find — hard as this may be to believe — a few people who argue that those differences are cultural, but I see no reason to pay serious attention to them, just as I see no reason to pay serious attention to people who believe the world is flat.)

And almost all of us recognize that some are born with more talents for music, math, and many other things, so it is a small step to hypothesize that some may be born with more predisposition to crime.

It's a small step, but criminologists, for decades, have refused to take it.
It was less than 20 years ago that the National Institutes of Health abruptly withdrew funds for a conference on genetics and crime after outraged complaints that the idea smacked of eugenics.  The president of the Association of Black Psychologists at the time declared that such research was in itself "a blatant form of stereotyping and racism."

The tainted history of using biology to explain criminal behavior has pushed criminologists to reject or ignore genetics and concentrate on social causes: miserable poverty, corrosive addictions, guns.
Now others, mostly psychologists, are beginning, tentatively, to explore the possible connections between genes and crime.
"Throughout the past 30 or 40 years most criminologists couldn't say the word 'genetics' without spitting," Terrie E. Moffitt, a behavioral scientist at Duke University, said.  "Today the most compelling modern theories of crime and violence weave social and biological themes together."

Researchers estimate that at least 100 studies have shown that genes play a role in crimes.  "Very good methodological advances have meant that a wide range of genetic work is being done," said John H. Laub, the director of the justice institute, who won the Stockholm Prize in Criminology last week.  He and others take pains to emphasize, however, that genes are ruled by the environment, which can either mute or aggravate violent impulses.  Many people with the same genetic tendency for aggressiveness will never throw a punch, while others without it could be career criminals.
There's much more in the article, which for reasons that escape me, was published in the Arts section.

(I have often thought that we would have less crime if our journalists and political leaders would pay less attention to most criminologists.  This article provides more evidence for that hypothesis.)
- 12:56 PM, 20 June 2011   [link]


Crystal Harris Calls Off Her Marriage To Hugh Hefner:  Because, she says, the Playboy founder is not monogamous.
In a tearful interview with America's Entertainment Tonight, she said: 'I wasn't the only woman in Hef's life.  I didn't feel comfortable in my heart knowing that and getting married to him, because a marriage is between two people.
I wonder what clued her in?

(To be fair, there are a number of other possible explanations for the break up.)
- 9:20 AM, 20 June 2011   [link]


The Kremlin's Candidate?  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev can not vote in our 2012 presidential election, but, if he could, there's no doubt about how he would vote.  That, and much else, is revealed in this fascinating Financial Times interview.  (Registration required.)
FT:  If we get back to America.  Do you believe that the so-called 'reset' has improved the relations between the two countries for a long time?  Does this means strategic relations?  Or is a new deterioration of the relations possible?

DM:  Nothing lasts forever in this world.  Our relations have improved, and I think this is owing to the efforts of the new [US] administration and personally president Obama, with whom I am friends.  It is easy for me to work with him.  If a different person becomes US president, he might have a different agenda.  We realise that there are representatives of a rather conservative wing, who try to attain their political objectives by stoking tensions towards Russia among other things.  What is the use of condemning them for that?  This is just a way to attain political ends.  I remember the race between Barack Obama and John McCain.  They were absolutely different, even in their appearance.  I believe I have been lucky in this respect at least, because my counterpart has been a modern man wanting change not only for America, but for the whole world order as well.  You have kept on asking me about my presidency and whether I will stand for president again, or whether somebody else will come to office.  Let me tell you that no one wishes the re-election of Barack Obama as US president as I do . . .
(Emphasis added.)

Note that Medvedev is describing Obama as Obama often describes himself.  Obama is personally responsible for the improvement in relations.  (So much for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.)  Obama's opponents are just playing politics, unlike Obama, who is a "modern man".

All of those are things that Obama might say himself and, I fear, mostly believes.

Does Medvedev believe them too, or does he just realize that going along with Obama's illusions is the best way to get concessions from Obama?  Most likely the latter, most likely Medvedev and Putin have much more cynical views of Obama than they are willing to share with Western journalists, even journalists who are this uncritical.

The interviewers, editors John Thornhill and Neil Buckley, and Moscow bureau chief Charles Clover, did not ask Medvedev any questions about the substance of the agreements between the US and Russia, or any questions about missile defense.  (It is amazing to see how far prominent journalists will go to avoid committing journalism.  But they may have had to agree to censor themselves just to get the interview.)

On the whole, I do not think that this Medvedev endorsement will help Obama.  Most Americans have a more cynical, or, I would say, a more realistic, view of the Russian regime than Obama does.  (Nile Gardiner thinks that Obama should be "embarrassed" by this endorsement; I suspect that Obama is pleased by it, and may not realize just how many Americans have a different view of the Russian regime.)

And more than a few American will wonder, again, just why Obama is so friendly to our enemies, and so hostile to our friends.

(Further down, the interviewers show how unwilling they were to challenge Medvedev.   They are discussing a possible UN resolution against the Syrian regime, and Medvedev says:
DM:  You know, unfortunately, my partners have learnt to interpret Security Council resolutions very broadly of late.  I remember how things were under George W. Bush.  There were no resolutions, nobody would ask for them, but there was the notorious military action in Iraq.
In fact, as Medvedev knows, and as the three journalists should know, President Bush got a UN resolution before liberating Iraq.  (And Bush's predecessors had gotten others.)   That the three journalists let Medvedev get away with this shows just how slavish the interview was.)
- 7:47 AM, 20 June 2011   [link]


And That's A Scandal Because?  Like commenter A. Shmendrik, I skimmed through this New York Times hit piece attacking Clarence Thomas and was left wondering what the scandal was.

(If you don't want to read it, here's the gist of the article:  People in Clarence Thomas's home town, tiny Pinpoint, Georgia, wanted to build a heritage museum, but were short on money.  They told Thomas, and he put them in touch with a rich friend, Harlan Crow, who helped them preserve the site.  Crow has done other favors for Thomas including — gasp — entertaining him at his home and giving him a "Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass".

The history is interesting, but you should not read the article hoping to find a scandal.)

Professor Ann Althouse says there's no scandal in what Thomas did.  (Which is mildly reassuring, since legal rules don't always produce common sense conclusions.)

Professor Glenn Reynolds says that this attack on Thomas is not about ethics:  "It's battlespace preparation for the Supreme Court's healthcare vote."

That's certainly a possibility — and I have seen other attacks on Thomas recently that fit that pattern — but there's simpler explanation.  The reporter, Mike McIntire, may believe that Thomas and Harlan Crow are bad people, and so McIntire sees everything they do as inherently suspicious.

If that explanation seems too simple to you, spend a little time comparing the reactions of many (but not all) leftists to identical actions by Bush and Obama in the war on terror.
- 6:32 AM, 20 June 2011   [link]


"Prepare For The Worst"  That's the advice that Professors John Cochrane and Anil Kashyap give for the Greek debt crisis. Why?  Because the crisis is not really about Greece.
Fourth, in the end this is all about Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy.  If Greece were the only country in trouble, it would have been allowed to default. European governments would have plugged the holes in their banks, bailing out those deemed "too big to fail" and reorganizing the others so that deposit and lending operations continue unimpeded.  After all, Greece is small.

But Spain, Portugal and Italy are also experiencing slow growth, high unemployment, and have unpopular governments with limited ability or desire to implement reforms.  The banks in each of these countries are chock full of their government's debt.  Other euro-area banks are lending to them, indirectly taking on additional exposure.  And the ECB is full in, holding their sovereign debt and lending vast amounts of money to their banks, taking sovereign debt as collateral.
(ECB = European Central Bank.)

Cochrane and Kashyap say that Greece's debts will have to written down, eventually, one way or another.  And so, very likely, will some of the debts owed by Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy.  It would be better for all of us — in the long run — if European leaders were to face these hard facts now, rather than trying to postpone the day of reckoning, again.
- 5:12 PM, 19 June 2011   [link]


Happy Father's Day To All The Fathers Out There:  Including one who has some traditional attitudes.
During an appearance on GMA on June 17, the President joked, "I understand teenage hood is complicated.  I have men with guns surrounding them.  So there is no chance of them getting in cars with boys who have had a beer!"

That's enough to scare off any lusty teen!

It's not the first time he's tried to warn off potential suitors — remember his hilarious message for the Jonas Brothers at the 2010 White House Correspondence Dinner?   He said, "Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but boys, don't get any ideas.  Two words for you: predator drones.  You will never see it coming."
That protective attitude is one of the things I like about Obama, and, yes, there are other things I like about him, even one or two political things.
- 4:19 PM, 19 June 2011   [link]


Obama's Argument On Libya Contains A Contradiction:  As you read through the document he sent to Congress, you learn that we are engaged in hostilities, directly and indirectly.

The United States has "specific military objectives". (p. 3.)  We used "our unique assets to destroy key regime military targets and air defense capabilities". (p. 5)  We are now supporting our allies in their attacks on the regime. (p.5)  We are demanding a change in the regime. (p. 7)  We are supplying most of the intelligence and refueling. (p. 9)  Without our support, the coalition would find it difficult to "execute and sustain its operation". (p. 13)   We have expended almost $400 million worth of munitions. (p. 14)

Nonetheless, according to President Obama, we are not engaged in "hostitlities".
Given the important U. S. interests served by U. S. served by U. S. military operations in Libya and the limited nature, scope and duration of the anticipated actions, the President has constitutional authority, as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive and pursuant to his foreign affairs powers, to direct such limited military operations abroad.  The President is of the view that the current U. S. military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because the U. S. military operations are distinct from the kind of "hostilities" contemplated by the resolution's 60 day termination provision. (p. 25)
Mind boggling.  Professor Althouse thinks that Obama doesn't believe his own argument.  I hope that he doesn't, but am less certain than she is.

Obama believes so many other strange things that he may believe his own argument; he may believe that hostilities are not hostitlities.
- 3:38 PM, 18 June 2011   [link]


Just In Case You Missed It, here's James Taranto's line on all those fake lesbians.
And that is why it is so very important to encourage more women to get into traditionally male-dominated occupations like lesbian blogging.
- 12:31 PM, 17 June 2011   [link]


Congratulations To Massachusetts On The Hat Trick:  Or, perhaps we should call it a "three peat".   They have just convicted their third House speaker in a row.

Howie Carr thinks that Sal DiMasi deserved his sentence.  And that the Democrats in Massachusetts could choose better leaders.
Poor Sal, by the time he gets out of Club Fed, there won't even be any English-language AM talk stations to hire him to get ratings lower than whale excrement.  The pathetic Felon Finneran grabbed the last of those dead-end deals.

When will these hacks ever learn?  As late as two years ago, about 135 Democrats in the House voted to re-elect this corrupt bum Sal DiMasi, a notorious sleazebag whose legal clients included Mafia legbreakers.  But what did the ham-and-eggers care?  Sal stole $65,000 and the hacks gave him a standing ovation.  The drunkards at the State House kissed his rear end.
Massachusetts is a very Democratic state, but four of the last five governors have been Republicans, William Weld, Paul Celucci, Jane Swift, and Mitt Romney.  Persistent corruption in the Massachusetts Democratic party is a big reason, perhaps the biggest reason, for that long string of Republican wins.  (Did either Ted Kennedy or John Kerry ever do anything about this corruption problem?  Not as far as I know.)

(The previous speaker, Thomas Finneran, pled guilty to obstruction of justice.   His predecessor, Charles Flaherty, pled guilty to tax evasion.

Massachusetts is not unique; three of the last four Newark mayors, Sharpe James, Kenneth Gibson, and Hugh Addonizio, all had little legal problems.

The current mayor, Cory Booker, appears to be honest, which must be something of a shock to the citizens of Newark.)
- 9:14 AM, 17 June 2011   [link]


This Gallup Poll finding makes me wish we could nominate a Republican to be named later.
Forty-four percent of registered voters say they are more likely to vote for "the Republican Party's candidate" and 39% for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, according to Gallup's June update.
Though I should note that, as Gallup shows in the release, polls this early aren't very good predictors of election results.

(There's an error in the Gallup release; the US economy was improving in 1992, not getting worse, though you might not have known that if you got your news from our "mainstream" news organizations.

Sometimes minor parties have kept their platforms secret, or so generic as to be meaningless.)
- 8:01 AM, 17 June 2011   [link]