“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Too Bad for Christians in Iraq and the Rest of The Middle East

All the spin about the outcome of our invasion and occupation of Iraq cannot account for the blowback that has adversely affected Christians. That will only get worse with time and if we leave promptly, it will get worse for them faster. George Bush would have done better by Iraqi Christians knowing history better than he knew his bible.


Baghdad church hostage drama ends in bloodbath

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says that the full death toll remains unclear

At least 37 people have been killed after Iraqi security forces stormed a Catholic church in central Baghdad to free dozens of hostages being held by gunmen there, security sources say.

Twenty-five hostages were among the dead, along with seven members of the Iraqi security forces and at least five of the attackers, they told the BBC.

About 100 people had been inside Our Lady of Salvation for an evening Mass.

The gunmen had reportedly demanded the release of jailed al-Qaeda militants.

The local TV station, al-Baghdadiya, said it had received a phone call from someone claiming to be one of the attackers, who said they were from the Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni militant umbrella group to which al-Qaeda in Iraq belongs.

Reports said the attackers were not Iraqis, but foreign Arabs.

The raid came two days after a suicide attack on a cafe in Diyala province left 21 people dead.

'Priest killed'
Residents of Baghdad's Karada district, where the attack took place, first heard a loud explosion at about 1700 (1400 GMT), followed by gunfire.

Police said a group of armed men began by attacking the Iraq Stock Exchange building, and then took over the Catholic church just across the road, clashing with guards and killing some of them.

Security forces later surrounded the church and sealed off the area, with helicopters hovering overhead. Then they stormed the building.

Witnesses nearby said they then heard two explosions from inside the church and more shooting.

One eyewitness, who was inside the church, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that the gunmen "came into the prayer hall and immediately killed the priest".

The witness, who declined to give his name, said the people in the church had huddled into the main prayer hall when the gunbattles began with the security forces.

The gunmen reportedly threw grenades and blew their suicide vests.

There were no negotiations with the gunmen before the security forces stormed the church, reports suggest.

Witnesses also say they saw US troops on the ground and US military helicopters hovering above the scene, but the extent of their involvement is not yet clear.

"The operation has finished and we released all the hostages," said the commander of police in south-eastern Baghdad, Brig-Gen Ali Ibrahim.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says there are different figures from different sources for the number of hostages and attackers involved, and how many of each were killed or captured.

Earlier reports said that two security guards at the stock exchange had been killed before the attackers occupied the church.

Many churches have been bombed in recent years - including Our Lady of Salvation in August 2004 - and priests kidnapped and killed, but there has never been a prolonged hostage situation like this before, our correspondent says.

There are about 1.5 million Christians from ancient denominations in Iraq.

Iraqi Christians have been leaving the country in droves since the US-led invasion in 2003.

84 Year Old Woman Drives Wrong Way on I-95

CHESTER, Pa. — State police in Pennsylvania say they have interviewed an elderly Delaware woman believed to have been the driver of a station wagon that caused numerous crashes while going the wrong way on Interstate 95 just outside Philadelphia.
Police say the 84-year-old Wilmington, Del., woman was interviewed at her home Friday, and the vehicle police were seeking was found at her residence. They say the case is under investigation.
Police said the vehicle was first seen heading the wrong way on Route 322 in Upper Chichester at about 12:15 p.m. Thursday. Witnesses said she made her way onto the southbound lanes of Interstate 95, and headed north, going about 45 to 50 miles per hour. Police say a number of crashes resulted, but there were no serious injuries.

Read more:Centre Daily

How to fold your T shirts in Two seconds

I have been busy with traveling, working and family obligations. A few weeks back, I lost my cleaning lady due to something or another with the tragic consequence of being forced to do my own laundry. No one takes socks, boxer shorts and t-shirts to the cleaners, do they?

For years I had an endless supply of t-shirts, all neatly folded and stacked in the left center drawer of my bureau. They were neat and endless because someone else did then. This week they ran out and I decided to do laundry while watching the Sunday lineup. I discovered my profound ineptitude about t-shirts. How do you fold the damn things to the standards of which I have become accustomed?

You tube, of course.

My drawer is now a work of art, onto the boxers.

Obama Losing Control and So Are the Rulers and Masters

American revolution: the Tea Party movement could transform politics

Midterm elections 2010: Prepare for a new American revolution

More than three centuries ago, the residents of America staged a rebellion against an oppressive ruler who taxed them unjustly, ignored their discontents and treated their longing for freedom with contempt. They are about to revisit that tradition this week, when their anger and exasperation sweep through Congress like avenging angels. This time the hated oppressor isn't a foreign colonial government, but their own professional political class.

In New York last week I was struck by the startling shift of mood since my last visit, during Barack Obama's first year in office. This phenomenon took varying forms, of course, depending on the political orientation of my interlocutor, but the underlying theme of despair and disgust was almost universal. Liberal Democrats (who hugely outnumber most other factions in that city) were despondent and disappointed with the collapse of Obama's popularity. A few of them (remarkably few, actually) were ready to blame this on a "Right-wing conspiracy" of vaguely racist motivation. But most of them were frankly critical of the strategic mistakes they believed the White House had made, and the baffling inability of their President to connect with the people in an engaging way. His shocking lack of emotional expression during last month's commemoration of 9/11 – a point of particular significance to New Yorkers – was remarked upon by a number of people I met.

There was a general sense that his personality was over-controlled and repressed, and that this was perhaps a function of his self-invention: the effect of having made a conscious choice to adopt an identity and a history (the Chicago black activist) which was unconnected to his real past. It occurred to me that, in an odd way, he was a Gatsby-like figure who had reinvented himself but whose new persona could be sustained only with a tremendous act of will. This psychological analysis seemed not unconnected to the political one, which revolved around his peculiar inability to sense what most Americans would regard as alienating and contrary to their own values and culture.

My Republican friends, perhaps surprisingly, were not gloating. They were too furious. But contrary to the superficial British assumption (heavily promoted by the BBC), they were not devoting their excoriation exclusively to the Obama Administration – or even to its clique of Congressional henchmen, led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. That they were opposed to the Big State, European social democratic model of government which Obama had imported to Washington went almost without saying. But they were at least as angry with the leadership of their own party for having conceded far too much of the argument.

And this anger – again, contrary to the general understanding in Britain – is not new: it goes all the way back to the Bush presidency. It was widely known in Europe that the American Left hated George Bush (and even more, Dick Cheney) because of his military adventurism. What was less understood was that the Right disliked him almost as much for selling the pass over government spending, bailing out the banks, and failing to keep faith with the fundamental Republican principle of containing the power of central government.

So the Republicans are, if anything, as much in revolt against the establishment within their own party as they are against the Democrats. And this is what the Tea Parties (which should always be referred to in the plural, because they are not a monolithic movement) are all about: they are not just a reaction against a Left-liberal president but a repudiation of the official Opposition as well.

Nor are they simply the embodiment of reactionary social conservatism, which has been the last redoubt of the traditional Republican Right. There were plenty of people in New York who wanted to believe that Tea Partiers were just a new incarnation of the gun-totin', gay-bashing right-to-lifers whom they found it so easy to dismiss as risible throwbacks. This is a huge political miscalculation, which quite misses the point of what makes the Congressional midterm elections this week such an interesting and historic political event. This is so much more than the predictable to-ing and fro-ing of party control midway through a presidential term. What the grassroots rebellion is really about is an attempt to pull the Republican party back to its basic philosophy of low-tax, low-spend, small government: the great Jeffersonian principle that the best government is that which governs least.

One of the more electorally far-reaching effects of this is that Republicanism could become the home once again of a plausible political and economic programme, rather than simply an outpost for those who seem to reject many of the features of modern life. The gun-toters and gay-bashers and pro-lifers may have jumped aboard the bandwagon, and Sarah Palin may be frantically attaching herself to the parade, but this is not their show: the Tea Party protests began (as their name suggests) as a campaign against high taxation and the illegitimate intrusiveness of federal powers. That is what they are still about.

As some astute commentators have observed, the ascendancy of the Tea Parties has meant that fiscal conservatism can replace social conservatism as the raison d'être of the Republican cause. So rather than being a threat to Republicanism, the election of Tea Party candidates might be its salvation. It represents a rank-and-file rejection of what many Americans see as a conspiracy of the governing elite against ordinary working people. All of which makes clearer the appeal of even the naivety and inexperience of some of the Tea Party contenders who have challenged incumbent Republican candidates. If what you are rebelling against is a generation of smug, out-of-touch professional politicians, then a little dose of amateurishness or innocence might strike you as positively refreshing. (In a poll last week, more than 50 per cent of voters said that they would be more willing this year than usual to vote for someone with little political experience.)

The Democrats, too, are experiencing internal turmoil, with the Blue Dog congressmen (who represent conservative Democratic states) having to fight all their natural instincts to support Obama's healthcare and cap-and-trade policies. If they are annihilated in these midterm elections, their resentment against the White House will be terrible to behold. This could be a seminal moment in American post-war history, when popular rage against the political elite brings about realignments within parties which change the whole nature of the country's democratic choices.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Heck of a Job, Mr. President

Heck of a president

Washington Post

Kathleen Parker
Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's always risky to appear onstage with a comedian. Not only are funny guys funny, but they're also aggressive.

Indeed, humor is nothing but aggression harnessed and saddled - and nobody today rides that horse as well as Jon Stewart.

So what was President Obama thinking when he submitted to a nearly 30-minute interview with the Comedy Central star? He was thinking, of course, that he could rekindle some of the love with his base. Seventy-four percent of Stewart's audience falls into the 18-49 demographic otherwise known as - money.


As others have noted, Stewart is a superb interviewer. No surprise there. The funniest people are also often the smartest people in the room.

Stewart asked all the right questions and managed to get the president to answer most of them. Should he have called the president "dude"? As a matter of decorum, the short answer is no. But in the context of the moment, who could resist?

Stewart had just asked Obama how he could square his campaign mantra of "change" with hiring economic advisers such as Larry Summers, who looks the same as those who had served in previous administrations. In response, Obama said that Summers had done a "heck of a job."

Whereupon, Stewart said, "You don't want to use that phrase, dude."

Everyone got the joke. George W. Bush used the same words to commend Michael "Brownie" Brown after his disastrous performance as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency following Hurricane Katrina. Translation: You're fired.

Everyone got the joke, that is, except for Obama. He got it eventually, after seeing the "oops" expression on Stewart's face, but he couldn't take the joke. There's a world of difference.

Instead of laughing at himself, he turned to the audience - a beat too late - and said, "Pun intended."

No, it wasn't. Anyone watching could see that. He slipped. Obama is a nice guy; he was trying to say something nice about Summers, and "heck of a job" just tumbled out. No big deal. We get it. Stuff happens. But Obama couldn't roll with the gut punch.

In that, among other moments, Obama revealed his fatal flaw. He has no sense of humor. He might be able to laugh at a joke. He can even tell one, as he demonstrated at the last White House Correspondents' Association dinner. Whoever wrote that script should send his rsum to Comedy Central. Oh, wait, some of the writers do work at Comedy Central.

No, what Obama revealed was that he has no sense of humor about himself. This is utterly huge.

It is entirely appropriate that the president take his job seriously. And no one would urge Obama (or anyone else) to try to be funny with Jon Stewart. He's the funny guy, and producers doubtless remind guests of that fact.

A good guest on "The Daily Show" is expected to be the straight man so that the comedian has some place to go with the material. I'm sure there's a Rolodex of "bad guests" who tried to out-funny the comedian.

But it is imperative that leaders not take themselves too seriously. What should Obama have done instead? How about saying: "I can't believe I just said that"? Or, "Oy!"? Whatever. Anything to signal to the audience that, "Oh, well, I'm human."

But Obama isn't very good at human. His smile is a beam of light, but too often it seems to turn on and off with a switch. Missing is the spontaneous response that says, dare I say it, "I'm you." (Pun intended.) More often, Obama comes across as a body snatcher. Good choice of pods, but we might need to add a little juice to the "emotion" grid.

Like a majority of Americans, I like Obama. He seems to be a thoroughly decent guy, but he's more suited to chess than schmooze. You can almost see him calculating his answers, even hinting at admiration when Stewart made a good comeback. He all but says, "Nice move."

Cutting the president some slack, we might acknowledge that these are tough times. Agree or not with his policies, Obama has had a very tough two years. The media are relentless. So are the Republicans.

But in the human game we call life, victory and failure are respectively sweeter and less bitter if one is able to laugh at one's very own self.

Heck of a job, Mr. President.

Afghan Battle Kills 30

Wall Street Journal

KABUL—Insurgents armed with rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars tried to storm a combat outpost in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, setting off a battle that killed 30 attackers and wounded five coalition soldiers, NATO said.

Assailants struck from all sides in the nighttime attack on the outpost in Paktika province's Bermal district, where nearly all forces with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are from the U.S. military.

The military called in close air-support and aircraft dropped three bombs to help repel the insurgents. According to NATO, the five coalition service members who were wounded in the attack continued fighting.

"Insurgents attacked from all directions," NATO said in a statement. It provided no further details.

The attack took place in an area about 125 miles (200 kilometers) south of Kabul that borders the Pakistani region of North Waziristan. The area is controlled largely by the Haqqani network, a Pakistan-based Taliban faction closely tied to al-Qaida.

The border region has long been a refuge for Islamist extremists from around the world and has been the target of numerous drone strikes against the Taliban, al-Qaida and the forces of the Haqqani network. Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani, a former anti-Soviet commander and his son, are now battling American forces in eastern Afghanistan.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Harry Lime, The Third Man

You mean like Democrats?

Obama's desperate election-eve plea for ethnic retribution

Is Washington capable of getting anything right?

Do not expect anything different after this election regardless of the outcome. The existing federal system, the one we are stuck with, will only change if things get far worse.

The American Middle Class is at greater risk than they were ten years ago and they know it. Why do I say that? Because ten tears ago, financial damage could have been repaired far more easily than it can be today.

Today, the consequences of wealth destruction will fall on the middle class. They will not be able to repair the damage done to them by the government because their money and wealth will be dragooned and redistributed to the recipients of federal largesse.

Local and state governments, mainly driven by federal laws, will compound the misery.

In a column posted by Pat Buchanan, he says:

..."Consider the critical issue facing America today – the budget and trade deficits, the soaring national debt, an unemployment near 10 percent for 14 straight months – and how neither party seems to have the cure.

While George Bush's tax cuts did not cause this, they did not prevent it. And if Republicans believe that his deficits did cause it, why have those Republicans not addressed the causes of those deficits – Bush's wars, Bush's tax cuts and Bush's social spending on No Child Left Behind and Medicare drug benefits?

Yet, if liberal Democrats are right and deficits are the correct Keynesian cure for recession, why have Obama deficits of $1.4 and $1.3 trillion failed so dismally? Paul Krugman says they are not large enough. Perhaps, but the country is about to end the experiment.

The Federal Reserve, having used and broken every tool in its toolbox, including doubling the money supply and setting interest rates at near zero, will now bet the farm on inflation, starting Nov. 3.

Both parties have lost the mandate of heaven, and neither knows if its economic philosophy even works anymore.

We are in uncharted waters. The country is up for grabs."

I cannot find much optimism in any of it.


The great campaign of 2010

By Charles Krauthammer
Thursday, October 28, 2010; 9:45 PM
Washington Post

In a radio interview that aired Monday on Univision, President Obama chided Latinos who "sit out the election instead of saying, 'We're gonna punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.' " Quite a uniter, urging Hispanics to go to the polls to exact political revenge on their enemies - presumably, for example, the near-60 percent of Americans who support the new Arizona immigration law.

This from a president who won't even use "enemies" to describe an Iranian regime that is helping kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. This from a man who rose to prominence thunderously declaring that we were not blue states or red states, not black America or white America or Latino America - but the United States of America.

This is how the great post-partisan, post-racial, New Politics presidency ends - not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with a desperate election-eve plea for ethnic retribution.

Yet press secretary Robert Gibbs's dismay is reserved for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and the "disappointing" negativity of his admission that "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

McConnell, you see, is supposed to say that he will try very hard to work with the president after the election. But it is blindingly clear that nothing of significance will be enacted. Over the next two years, Republicans will not be able to pass anything of importance to them - such as repealing Obamacare - because of the presidential veto. And the Democrats will be too politically weakened to advance, let alone complete, Obama's broad transformational agenda.

That would have to await victory in 2012. Every president gets two bites at the apple: the first 18 months when he is riding the good-will honeymoon, and a second shot in the first 18 months of a second term before lame-duckness sets in.

Over the next two years, the real action will be not in Congress but in the bowels of the federal bureaucracy. Democrats will advance their agenda on Obamacare, financial reform and energy by means of administrative regulation, such as carbon-emission limits imposed unilaterally by the Environmental Protection Agency.

But major congressional legislation to complete Obama's social-democratic agenda? Not a chance. That's why McConnell has it right. The direction of the country will be determined in November 2012 when either Obama gets a mandate to finish building his "New Foundation" or the Republicans elect one of their own to repeal it, or what (by then) remains repealable.

Gibbs's disapproving reaction to this obvious political truth is in keeping with the convention that all things partisan or ideological are to be frowned upon as "divisive." This is pious nonsense. What is the point of a two-party democracy if not to present clear, alternative views of the role of government and, more fundamentally, the balance between liberty and equality - the central issue for any democracy?

The beauty of this year's campaign, and the coming one in 2012, is that they actually have a point. Despite the noise, the nonsense, the distractions, the amusements - who will not miss New York's seven-person gubernatorial circus act? - this is a deeply serious campaign about a profoundly serious political question.

Obama, to his credit, did not get elected to do midnight basketball or school uniforms. No Bill Clinton he. Obama thinks large. He wants to be a consequential president on the order of Ronald Reagan. His forthright attempt to undo the Reagan revolution with a burst of expansive liberal governance is the theme animating this entire election.

Democratic apologists would prefer to pretend otherwise - that it's all about the economy and the electorate's anger over its parlous condition. Nice try. The most recent CBS/New York Times poll shows that only one in 12 Americans blames the economy on Obama, and seven in 10 think the downturn is temporary. And yet, the Democratic Party is falling apart. Democrats are four points behind among women, a constituency Democrats had owned for decades; a staggering 20 points behind among independents (a 28-point swing since 2008); and 20 points behind among college graduates, giving lie to the ubiquitous liberal conceit that the Republican surge is the revenge of lumpen know-nothings.

On Nov. 2, a punishing there will surely be. But not quite the kind Obama is encouraging.

My prediction: The Dems lose 60 House seats, eight in the Senate. Rangers in seven.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Incredibly Shrinking Obama and John Stewart

Laughs in short supply as Barack Obama gets serious on The Daily Show

Obama makes history as first sitting president to be interviewed by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central show

Ewen MacAskill in Washington,

Thursday 28 October 2010 06.35 BST

The last time Barack Obama appeared on the Daily Show, he was a young, up and coming senator vowing to change the way politics was done in Washington and trading wisecracks with presenter Jon Stewart.

Last night however, in making history as the first US president to be interviewed on Comedy Central's satirical news show, he struck a more sombre tone. Obama appeared to have decided that in the present political climate, with unemployment high and many voters expressing disappointment with his performance, jokes were inappropriate.

Even Stewart was subdued and generally respectful, referring to the president as "sir", except for one reflex moment when he could not help himself and called him "dude". It was also the first time the show was devoted to a single interview, with no monologue from Stewart as an opener or any satirical sketches.

Stewart repeatedly contrasted Obama's heady campaign trail rhetoric, of hope, change and audacity, with what he called the timidity of his legislative programme. Obama appeared agitated. Having been leaning back in his chair, he sat forward, pointing his finger at the desk separating him from Stewart.

"Jon, I love your show, but this is something where, you know, I have a profound disagreement with you," Obama said. "And I don't want to lump you in with a lot of other pundits, but this notion that health care is timid ..."

It produced a rare rejoinder from Stewart – "I'll tell you what I mean, and I don't mean to lump you in with other presidents" – which won laughs from the audience.

The show, normally recorded in New York, was shot in Washington because Stewart and his crew have moved to the capital in preparation for his 'Restore Sanity' rally on Saturday, a liberal riposte to recent conservative gatherings on the Mall. The audience of 550 was more partisan than the New York audiences and gave Obama a long standing ovation when he entered the studio.

Obama stuck with two key messages throughout the 30-minute interview: that he had done a good job in getting healthcare reform through Congress, and passing financial regulation laws. The White House said his appearance was mainly aimed at winning over young voters ahead of Tuesday's midterm elections.

The one news point in the interview was a hint that he favoured reform of the Senate's filibuster tactic that frequently obstructs legislation. But he did not tackle it when the Democrats had a big majority in the Senate and the chances of doing so in the next Congress, in which there will almost certainly be more Republicans, are slim.

Stewart teased the president about his campaign slogan "Yes, we can", suggesting that these days it was "Yes, we can, with conditions attached".

Obama replied: "When I say that when we promised during the campaign, change you can believe in, it wasn't change you can believe in in 18 months ...What I would say is, 'Yes, we can', but it is not going to happen overnight."

Stewart suggested one of the problems was that far from bringing about change, Obama had brought into power many of the same old faces, such as his economics adviser, Larry Summers, who is about to leave the administration and has been heavily criticised over the lacklustre state of the economy. "In fairness, Larry did a heck of a job," Obama said. Stewart interjected: "You don't want to use that phrase, dude."

George Bush used the same phrase to describe the hapless Michael Brown, who was head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency during hurricane Katrina.

US interest rates at zero are 7% too high!

The Fed's impending blunder

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Economics Last updated: October 27th, 2010

OK, I’ve calmed down after a week of Jamon Iberico and Rioja in Granada’s Albaycin, so I will try to be polite about the US Federal Reserve. Try, that is, not necessarily succeed.

For a good insight into the thinking of the New Keynesian priesthood that rules our money and our lives, it is worth reading “QE2: How Much is Needed?” by Jan Hatzius from Goldman Sachs.

His argument – crudely – is that US interest rates at zero are 7pc too high given the Taylor Rule on output gaps, et cetera (not that Professor Taylor himself happens to agree, but let us not quibble).

Since rates cannot be minus 7pc, the Fed would need to launch a $4 trillion blitz of fresh bond purchases to fully compensate, such is the mess that America’s leadership has inflicted on the Great Republic. I have over-simplified: Goldman Sachs relies on a “policy gap” concept, which factors in fiscal tightening et al.

This would push the Fed balance sheet to $6.3 trillion, above the $5 trillion pencilled in as the upper limit during the Great Crash.

Mr Hatzius is not saying the Fed will do this, or should do this. His forecast is that the Fed will start off with baby steps of $500bn spread over six months or so, rising over time to meet the bank’s “dual mandate of low inflation and sustainable employment”.

(Actually the Fed’s mandate is “to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” Stable prices are not the same as low inflation. It takes Ben Bernanke’s maniacal obsession with the doctrine of inflation targeting to twist this into a mandate for printing large sums of money at a time when the Dallas Fed’s `trimmed mean’ measure of annual inflation has jumped from 0.5pc in May, to 0.8pc in July, and 1.5pc in August. But again, let us not quibble).

Mr Hatzius said the Fed sees “tail-risks” in using QE to the full, but may nevertheless do another $2 trillion in the end.

I have no doubt that this report reflects thinking at the Fed Board in Washington, and among Bernanke allies at the San Francisco Fed and Boston Fed – though not of course at the Dallas Fed where Richard Fisher confesses: “In my darkest moments I have begun to wonder if the monetary accommodation we have already engineered might even be working in the wrong places.”

What we have is a glimpse into the Sanctum Sanctorum of money creation, a glimpse of Jesuitical fanaticism.
Now, I put my hand up and confess to having supported QE when the financial system was imploding in late 2008 and early 2009, and I continued to do so as the M3 money supply collapsed at 1930s rates earlier this year. I persist stubbornly in thinking that it was the right thing to do, AT THAT TIME.

But we are no longer in a systemic financial crisis, and the Fed’s motives have become subtly corrupted. Having argued during the boom that it was not the business of central banks to stop asset bubbles – and specifically that any fall-out could “safely” be cleaned up later – Bernanke now seems to determined to validate this absurd doctrine, bending all the sinews of the US economic and financial system to this end. One error leads to the next.

In a sense QE has worked all too well. M3 has stabilized. The M2 gauge used by the Fed – which was still contracting in May – has been growing annual rate of 8.4pc over the four weeks to mid-October. The pace has been accelerating for months.

OK, 8.4pc is not Weimar, but it is not imminent deflation either.

And what about velocity, the other part of the monetary cocktail? It is coming back from the dead as you can see below?

Simon Ward from Henderson Global Investors said his measure of velocity is rising at a robust rate of 8.7pc. “QE1 was justified during the crisis because monetary velocity was collapsing at that time. But now that velocity is recovering further QE is not needed. In fact it is potentially very dangerous,” he said.


This is the theme of Chapter 17 entitled “Velocity” in Jens O’ Parsson’s book Dying of Money, the cult text of our brave new world.

If I may recycle a passage from a column I wrote about the book in July: “Each big inflation – whether the early 1920s in Germany, or the Korean and Vietnam wars in the US – starts with a passive expansion of the quantity money. This sits inert for a surprisingly long time. The effect is much like lighter fuel on a camp fire before the match is struck.

People’s willingness to hold money can change suddenly for a “psychological and spontaneous reason” , causing a spike in the velocity of money. It can occur at lightning speed, over a few weeks. The shift invariably catches economists by surprise. They wait too long to drain the excess money.”

“Velocity took an almost right-angle turn upward in the summer of 1922,” said Mr O Parsson. Reichsbank officials were baffled. They could not fathom why the German people had started to behave differently almost two years after the bank had already boosted the money supply. He contends that public patience snapped abruptly once people lost trust and began to “smell a government rat”.


No doubt the Bernanke Fed views monetarism with contempt, despite paying lip service to Milton Friedman. This is a grave error. Surging M3 gave forewarning of the credit bubble from 2005-2007, and then rang alarm bells before the banking crash in late 2008. Ignore money and velocity at your peril.

The immediate effect of the Fed’s QE2 rhetoric has been to drive up commodity prices, negating much of the benefit. “How this possibly helps out the moribund US economy is anyone’s guess,” said David Rosenberg from Gluskin Sheff.

“If there is an `imbalance’, it is in the US pretending it can solve structural headwinds, overextended balance sheets, chronic unemployment and a massive housing inventory backlog with untested Fed policy tools,” he said.
Nor is it clear that Bernanke’s aim of driving down interest rates serves any useful purpose at this stage. As GMO’s Jeremy Grantham argues, this policy is reducing pensioners to penury. “Lower rates always transfer wealth from retirees (debt owners) to corporations (debt for expansion, theoretically) and the financial industry. This time, there are more retirees and the pain is greater, and corporations are notably avoiding capital spending and, therefore, the benefits are reduced. It is likely that there is no net benefit to artificially low rates.”

If you crunch everything in the mixer you can perhaps claim that QE2 will be a net plus of sorts. But is it really wise policy to embark on such a contentious adventure at a time of deep misgivings among the public and in Congress, and in the face of blistering criticism from China, Germany, Russia, as well as a lot of Western economists?

I hate to cite Alan Greenspan but he is right this time to warn that the Fed is playing a “dangerous game”, whatever the claims of New Keynesian economic theory. Politics matter.

Yes, the Fed is right to worry that protracted deflation would be lethal in an economy with total debt at 350pc of GDP. Those who call for a liquidationist policy of mass bankruptcy and default are an even greater danger to political stability than the Bernanke Fed. That policy was enacted from 1930-1932, with observable results.
But I suspect that something else is happening at the Fed. Bernanke is refusing to accept that the US must go through the slow painful cure of debt-deleveraging. He is trying to air-brush away the consequences of 20 years of debt creation and Fed error.

The proper role for the Fed from now on is to steer a narrow course between the Scylla of deflation and the Charybdis of inflation, for year after, for as long as it takes, until America is properly purged. AND THEN NEVER COMMIT SAME IDIOTIC MISTAKE AGAIN.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Jersey Teachers Gone Wild

Hat Tip: Rufus

This video should be seen by every New Jersey parent, homeowner and taxpayer.

Now, here is the disinfectant needed:

This is not the only union Christie is taking on. Christie has the cajones to say no to the huge underestimated, proposed "NJ Big Dig". This bone thrown to NJ and NY construction unions will in fact bone the taxpayers for years. Christie is expected to say, NO.

Let's wait and see.

Barack Obama is Just Not That Bright

George Bush was never quite as dumb as the media portrayed. Obama is not even close to being as smart as the tingle of media legs hoped him to be.

I do have to chuckle when I think of the collective of stupid and naive who fell for his eloquence.

An eloquent Afro-American is very intoxicating to the inclusive generation.

Obama has not worn well. He could have done a lot of good. He hasn't. He blew it and given the opportunity handed to him as the being-there president, one could safely question, just who is the stupid one?

Obama also wants the Republicans (whites) to sit in the back of the bus. That is not very smart either and is going toxic for him. Actually Obama has been using that little poke in the eye for some time as this video clip shows:


Barack Obama echoes anti-Americanism of Europe in calling voters stupid

President Obama and his fellow Democrats are mocking Republicans and the Tea Party as stupid. But they could be the ones who look foolish on election day.

Barack Obama is gambling that voters will remember why they once backed him as he tries to rally the Democratic campaign.
Barack Obama speaks to his audience at a campaign rally in Las Vegas Photo: EPA

So what is the closing argument of Barack Obama's Democrats before next Tuesday's midterm elections? The President is no longer the self-proclaimed "hope-monger" of 2008, who vaingloriously declared that his vanquishing Hillary Clinton marked "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal".

He has stopped patting voters on the back for choosing, by voting for him, to listen not to their doubts or fears but to their "greatest hopes and highest aspirations". Instead, he is berating Americans (most of whom now do not believe he deserves a second term) for not being able to "think clearly" because they're "scared".

Having failed to change Washington or, as he promised that night in St Paul, Minnesota in June 2008, to provide "good jobs to the jobless" (unemployment was 7.7 per cent when he took office and is 9.6 per cent now), Obama is changing tack.

Boiled down, the new Obama message to Americans is: you're too stupid to overcome your fears. To be fair, it's not entirely new. During the 2008 campaign, Obama was caught on tape at a San Francisco fund-raiser saying it was not surprising that voters facing economic hardship "get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them".

At a fund-raiser in Massachusetts this month, Obama spoke of Democrats having "facts and science and argument" on their side. As opposed, presumably, to the lies, superstition and prejudice that Republicans rely on.

This year, Democrats have embraced with gusto the notion that Republicans, and by extension anyone thinking of voting for them, are dimwits. Their mirth over the likes of Tea Party figures like Christine O'Donnell, the former anti-masturbation activist who once she had "dabbled" in witchcraft and is now a no-hoper Senate candidate in Delaware, seems to know no bounds.

The most chortling of all about the populist Tea Party and its anti-tax, anti-government uprising against the Republican establishment can be found on the shows of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, the edgy liberal satirists on Comedy Central. Mocking Republican candidates last week, Stewart declared the midterm elections as "the best chance ever for a bowl of fresh fruit" to be elected.

Three days before the elections, Stewart will hold a "Rally to Restore Sanity" in Washington on the same day as Colbert, who adopts the character of a Right-wing talk show host, leads a "March to Keep Fear Alive". The thinly-disguised message: Republicans are crazies who trade on fear.

In choosing California and Massachusetts, two of the most liberal states in the union, to demean ordinary Americans during election campaigns, Obama did not display a whole lot of his much-vaunted intelligence. But Obama's decision to plug Stewart's rally approvingly and appear on his show three days beforehand is even more foolish.

In the 1990s, Democrats managed to get away from their image as "eggheads" in the 1950s or "pointy-headed liberals" in the 1970s. Bill Clinton spoke like a Good Ol' Boy from the Deep South, ate junk food and enjoyed trashy women. He was clever, but he did not look down on people.

Obama, by contrast, has become a parody of the Ivy League liberal smugly content with his own intellectual superiority and pitying the poor idiots who disagree with him. It is an approach that shares much with the default anti-Americanism of British and European elites, who love to mock the United States as a country full of gun-toting, bible-clutching morons.

David Cameron has made nods to this sniffy condescension, speaking of the Sarah Palin phenomenon as being "hard for us to understand" (how about giving it a go, Dave?) and describing American conservatism, inaccurately, as moving in a "very culture war direction". This might be part of the reason why he seems to have hit it off with Obama.

The problem for Obama and the Democrats is that belittling the Tea Party movement, which is taking hold of much of Middle America, merely fuels the popular sense that the party in power is out of touch. It also highlights the reluctance of Obama and the Democrats to discuss the Wall Street bail-out, economic stimulus and health care bills because they know they are not vote winners.

Joining the Europeans in mocking ordinary Americans for their supposed idiocy may play well at big-dollar fund-raisers. In adopting this as a political strategy, however, the Democrats could be the ones who end up looking stupid.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pentagon Reacts to Wikileaks Document Release

Pay attention to the Pentagon spokesperson. She is highly decorated with five rows of ribbons.

The Pentagon announces its reaction to the Wikileaks action, with a female USAF staff sergeant reporter, wearing five rows of campaign ribbons, the same as General George Patton.

Hold on, I miscounted, Patton is only wearing four.

The young gal, modestly in her twenties, is wearing what used to be called a class "B" work uniform.

When Eisenhower wore his Class "A" work uniform, he wore three rows of ribbons.

It has been a little quiet for the air force lately since the glory days of bombing Belgrade and Baghdad, so you have to wonder what the young gal has done and where she has been to be so heavily weighted with ribbons.

She must have been all of fifteen at the time.

Perhaps we should see what General Curtis LeMay was wearing in his prime. He was after all in the air force as well.

Oops, he is still one shy at four rows.

Still, the air force has a greater mission and used to remind us to "Sleep tight tonight, your airforce is awake".

Sleep well, all is under control.

Too short, too much cleavage? - "One glance will be enough to judge."

Miniskirts ban planned by Italian resort

The mayor of Castellammare di Stabia, south of Naples, has ordered his police to fine women who wear 'very short' miniskirts

Tom Kington in Rome, Monday 25 October 2010 21.31 BST

The mayor of a southern Italian beach town has ordered police officers to fine women who wear short miniskirts or show too much cleavage, as part of a battle to raise what he describes as the level of public decorum.

At a council meeting last night, Luigi Bobbio, who was elected on Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party ticket, won a vote to ban clothing considered "very short" from the town of Castellammare di Stabia, south of Naples. Police will get the power to hand out €300 (£265) fines to offenders.

Explaining what he meant by "very short", Bobbio said officers would target women wearing miniskirts that did not fully cover their underwear. "The display of too much cleavage will also earn a fine," added a spokesman.

Bobbio said he had faith in officers to make snap decisions. "They won't need to carry out checks up close," he told Corriere del Mezzogiorno. "One glance will be enough to judge."

The new rules, which were approved by the town council yesterday, drew outrage from local centre-left politicians, who mounted a sit-in outside the town hall. "The Bobbio administration is male chauvinist," the organisers of the protest said in a statement. "This town does need decorum, but not the decorum that is measured by a tape measure held against women's clothing."

"By equating women's clothing with urban decorum, this measure implies women are no more than benches or hedges," said councillor Angela Cortese.

Cortese said she was equally angered by a local priest, Don Paolo Cecere, who praised the move and claimed it could cut down on sexual harassment.

"This turns the clock back years for women and undermines all our victories," she said. The Italian consumer group Aduc added: "Is Castellammare di Stabia in the province of Naples? No, it's in the province of Teheran."

The vice-president of the provincial commission for equal opportunities, Ilaria Perrelli, said: "This is worse than prison, where at least female guards check the clothing of female inmates."

The miniskirt ban is one of 41 new decorum measures introduced by Bobbio. Swearing in public, kicking footballs in the street, lying on benches, climbing trees and walking a dog with a lead longer than two metres will also be targeted. Bobbio said people would not be allowed to wander off the beach in their swimming costume. "This is not Majorca," he said.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Speaking Truth About the Clash of Cultures of Europe and Islam

The tide is turning against Islam in Europe. Actually, it has been happening for some time with the real people. Now it is filtering upward. If only they would get it at NPR. Still there are the usual fools:


Tony Blair's sister-in-law converts to Islam

Iran trip prompted journalist Lauren Booth to become a Muslim and wear a hijab

Lauren Booth presents Press TV news show
Lauren Booth speaks on Press TV, an Iranian associated TV news channel

Tony Blair's sister-in-law has converted to Islam after having what she describes as a "holy experience" during a visit to Iran.

Journalist and broadcaster Lauren Booth, 43 – Cherie Blair's sister – now wears a hijab whenever she leaves her home, prays five times a day and visits her local mosque whenever she can.

She decided to become a Muslim six weeks ago after visiting the shrine of Fatima al-Masumeh in the city of Qom.

"It was a Tuesday evening and I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy," she said in an interview today.

When she returned to Britain, she decided to convert immediately.

Booth – who works for Press TV, the English-language Iranian news channel – has stopped eating pork and reads the Qur'an every day. She is currently on page 60.

Booth has stopped drinking alcohol and says she has not wanted to drink since converting.

Before her spiritual awakening in Iran, she had been "sympathetic" to Islam and has spent considerable time working in Palestine, she said, adding that she hoped her conversion would help Blair change his presumptions about Islam.

HOROSCOPE – SCORPIO (October 23 – November 22)

Blogger Quirk said...

HOROSCOPE – SCORPIO (October 23 – November 22)

Origin – The Scorpion, is the slayer of Orion, The Hunter. Orion bragged to the gods that he could destroy any creature on earth. To punish his hubris, Artemis summoned Scorpio from the underworld and had him kill Orion.

[Before the 12 month calendar was invented, Virgo, Libra, and Scorpio were all viewed as one sign. Later when they were divided, they came to represent part of the creation myth. Leo was considered Adam, Virgo Eve, and Libra the ‘Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil’. Scorpio was the serpent and represented rebirth, both physical and spiritual. Likewise, in the Tarot, the card representing Scorpio is Death. Again, this card ruled by Pluto represents pending change and regeneration.]

Scorpio (Chantal Duros)

Controlling Body – Pluto (primary)/Mars (secondary – Pluto was discovered in 1930.)

Lucky Day – Tuesday
Color – Red (Black)
Element – Water
Symbol – Scorpion (Phoenix, Eagle)
Lucky Number - Six
Compatible Signs – Taurus, Cancer, Libra
Incompatible Signs – Aries, Gemini, Sagittarius

Famous Scorpios – George Patton, Charles Manson, Bill Gates, Sam, Teddy Roosevelt, Bob, P.J. Goebbels, Billy Graham, Carl Sagan, Leon Trotsky, Robert Kennedy, F. Dostoevsky, August Rodin, Neil Young, Voltaire, Marie Antoinette, Larry Flint, Dylan Thomas, Mata Hari

Scorpio Quote (Male) – John Adams: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

Scorpio Quote (Male) – Dennis Miller: “What's so touching is the way we fight the war right until the moment our business is taken care of and then we turn on a dime and we immediately start taking care of people. It's like a shock and aw shucks campaign.”

Scorpio Quote (Male) – Erwin Rommel: “Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning.”

Scorpio Quote (Male) – Charles DeGaulle: “Treaties, you see, are like girls and roses: they last while they last.”

Scorpio Quote (Male) – Rodney Dangerfield: “If it wasn't for pick-pockets I'd have no sex life at all.”

Scorpio Quote (Female) – Indira Gandhi: “My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.”

Scorpio Quote (Female) – Dana Plato: “Nobody knows what a woman feels or experiences but another woman. We are the nurturers and there are times when we need to be nurtured.”

Scorpio Quote (Female) – Margaret Mitchell: “Until you've lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was.”

AttributesIntuitive, powerful, emotional, passionate, sensual, determined, creative, inventive, likable, observant, focused, jealous, resentful, suspicious, judgmental, secretive, obstinate, compulsive, immoderate, introverted, obsessive

Many consider Scorpio to be the absolute best sign of the Zodiac. Admittedly, most of those people are Scorpios themselves; however, Scorpio is undoubtedly one of the most popular signs of the Zodiac. Unscientific studies indicate that a full one-twelve of the entire Zodiac consists of Scorpios. The Most Interesting Man in the World is a Scorpio.

When the Scorpio is good he is very, very good; but when he is bad, he is horrid.

Scorpios are typically conservative some would even say old-fashioned in their views. However, they are not middle-of-the-road types and are rarely open to compromise. They usually have strong opinions that are unlikely to change and are often subject to rapid mood swings. This can often get them in trouble. They are curious and anxious to learn everything they can about others. They can be good leaders but prefer to quietly manipulate events from in the background. They are highly intuitive and are drawn to the arcane and psychic. They are intense. They are hard-workers and rarely give up once they have set themselves a task. They are intelligent. They can use the word ‘want’ as both a noun and a verb in the same sentence. They know how to divide by zero and most understand the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

On the other hand, they worry about being humiliated or being made to look foolish so they limit themselves to those tasks they know they can accomplish and excel at. They are suspicious and are constantly looking for hidden motives, flaws, and vulnerabilities in others. They are suspicious of flattery. They refuse to accept superficial arguments and are constantly pressuring to get the full story.

Scorpios are obstinate and stubborn. They are rarely willing to compromise. It is usually their way or the highway. They tend towards jealousy and can be manipulative and vindictive when they feel they have been wronged. They are not prone to forgiving and forgetting and are patient enough to wait to exact revenge. They have to struggle to control their emotions and their tempers.

It is in personal relations where the dual nature of the Scorpio is evident. Scorpios are normally highly committed to their long-term relationships. They are loyal and devoted mates. On the other hand, they can be flirtatious. This tendency is driven by ego, the desire to manipulate situations, a genuine curiosity about others, and an effort to explore motivations. It is another instance of the Scorpio trying to shake things up. When push comes to shove; however, they are typically committed and loyal to their partners.

Scorpios have strong sex drives. They are intense and uninhibited. They are also enthusiastic and inventive. The Kama Sutra was ghost-written by a Scorpio. It was also a Scorpio who first introduced the radical concept that sordid, distasteful, and abusive sexual relations did not necessarily have to involve other people. They are patient lovers. They don’t mind letting their lovers continue to talk after sex even when the toll charges really start adding up. Scorpios are disgusted by the shallowness and lies that surround them; however, their manipulative nature also recognizes that this actually helps them in getting a little now and then.

Scorpios tend to use sex as an excuse to grab an extra smoke.

Physically, Scorpios are typically average in height and built, wiry when young but stockier as they grow older. Some retain their wiry physiques but most have to work to keep the weight off. Scorpios are physical but not necessarily athletic. They tend to be lovers rather than fighters. Scorpios are often hairy, and while some Scorpios are into metrosexual grooming most consider their hair a sign of their virility. This is especially true of female Scorpios. Scorpios also tend to be prone to extremes. They need to try to avoid potential excesses in the areas of food, drugs, alcohol, and sex. Scorpios tend to use sex as an excuse to grab an extra smoke.

Your 2010-2011 Horoscope (Scorpio)

This year is expected to offer a mixed bag for the typical Scorpio.

• You will continue to receive those midnight phone calls from that ranch-hand up around Coeur d’Alene warning you to quit coming around sniffing after his woman.

• Your addiction to Mezcal grubs will result in a near-death experience that will completely change your outlook on life. You will immediately become heavily involved with sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll as well as the occasional round of autoerotic asphyxiation.

• Within a few months, the attorney for the City of Moscow will be bringing a lawsuit against you for felony misnaming of side streets in a proposed development. Various Indian tribes will join the lawsuit alleging discrimination in that the spelling of the names requires a Japanese dialect in order to pronounce them. The city attorney will be relentless and convincing in exposing your crimes; however, you will take a certain wry satisfaction in the fact that at certain times during the trial you are able to see right down her blouse.

• Most economist and pundits know that the recent economic downturn was caused by a low savings rate, a housing bubble, overextended credit, excess risk taken by the banks, poor government oversight, and obscure and opaque derivatives packages; however, in spite of that, they still can’t shake the gut feeling that you are somehow to blame for the whole damn mess even though you are now living in Australia.

• Later this year, you will laugh at the lachrymation of the Moscow city lawyer as she laments the loss of her lousy and libelous lawsuit. But don’t lambaste or lampoon her as that would be a little too much alliteration.

Appropriate Scorpio Pets – Appropriate pets for Scorpios would include wolves, spiders, moray eels, and owls. Bats and badgers would also be acceptable.

Next Month: Sagittarius (monthly personalized horoscopes available by request)

Other Services
We are approaching Halloween, one of the key merchandising periods for Souls-R-Us; and this year our staff has come up with more specials designed to make this year’s holiday season one you will long remember.

Sun Oct 24, 03:40:00 AM EDT


[Note: Our planned “Bookum Danno” tour of Hawaii Five-O crime scenes has been cancelled due to legal and commercial issues with CBS. Instead we have arranged an exciting new tour through our affiliation with the SYFY Channel.]

Folks, how would you like to be the next Jason Hawes or Grant Wilson hosting your own episode of Ghost Hunters? Or perhaps you’d rather be a tech like Steve Gonsalves or Dave Tango, kicking ghost ass and taking names. The choice is yours when you sign up for our new one nightGhost Hunters A’ Go Go tour scheduled for October 30, Halloween, 2010.

Do you want to be the guy that says “Hey, we were able to de-bunk the reason for your people getting sick in the basement. It was just electrical leakage from an unshielded electrical box in the basement, a pretty common occurrence.’’ Or better yet, “Geez-o Pete, we can’t say definitely but from all the evidence we have gathered if someone were to ask me if this place was haunted based on all my years of experience investigating similar sites I would have to say that I’m pretty convinced that there is a distinct possibility that this place is haunted or that at least there is some kind of something here that is unusual.”

Of course you would!

Don’t get shut out. Sign up now!!!

The tour includes:

• One night stay in the infamous and deadly Rococco House of Horrors located in the beautiful Cedar Point Amusement Park in Cedar Point, Ohio on the shores of mighty Lake Erie. (The TAPS team has never visited this sight before.)

• Pre-investigation Training
• De-bunking (buckets, electrical panel, lights from street, swinging doors)
• Pre-investigation Orientation
• Static Discharge Training (1 hour on plush carpet squares)
• Equipment Placement Training
• Stringing extension cords
• Orienting cameras and sound equipment
• Proper use and disposal of ‘barf’ bags
• Three hours of firearms training (includes 1 hour on shooting range)
• Policing the sight and final exit
• Reviewing the Evidence?
• Equipment Training
Thermal camera, ion generator, digital video camera, EMF detector, white noise generator, digital thermometer, wireless MIC, IR illuminator, ectoplasm extractor (Beta model)
• The Investigation (6:00 pm – 2:00 am)
• Reviewing the Evidence with Cedar Point Management

Extra! Extra! Extra! Extra!

As a special inducement for early signers on the Ghost Hunters A’ Go Go tour, Souls R Us in conjunction withRoto Rooter International will award the first 25 people who call in to sign up for the tour with a free ‘state-of-the-art’ video inspection of the main drain lines at their primary residence. This service is entirely free and you will be allowed to keep the VHS tape of the inspection. (There is no obligation to purchase any further services.)

[As always, discounts on our full range of services are available to the Rosicrucian Brotherhood (secret handshake required)]


Sun Oct 24, 03:45:00 AM EDT