Sunday, September 30, 2012

Is it possible for an entire culture to suffer from Asperger's?


This whiny violent bully crap is getting old. Then again, Buddhists are probably the masters of Islamophobia, so I guess they deserved it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Watching the wheels come off.

I often wonder if the ordinary folks who lived through building crises ever sensed the sweep of events--the sheer scope of what was happening--as it happened. Or did they just process it in a way to fit it into a framework of "it was ever thus", because facing the awfulness of it was too much?

Three signposts for our times:

1. Activists investigating factory farms are terrorists as far as the FBI is concerned. The "Thou Shalt Not Annoy Agribusiness" commandment in action.

That's the same provision that keeps subsidizing ethanol production during a crippling drought, also helping to send your food costs through the roof. USDA approved!

2. Islamist vandal arrested for breach of the peace rewarded with ad policy change prohibiting political speech which threatens a breach of the peace.

Orwell wept.

[Wait...we seem to have questions for the blog readership from a self-identified Salafi reader, a Mr. "Abu Hamza":

"While suppressing Jew propaganda is fine, why is this whore Eltahawy not wearing a headscarf? And where is her male relative escort?"

Those are toughies. Anyone?]

3. An Inconvenient Filmmaker arrested on unspecified "probation violation" by the Justice Department.

As in the Federal government. Anyone got any other examples of flying squads of feds arresting people for misuse of a computer while on probation?

So, we can see it happening. Now what?

"2X2L calling CQ . . . 2X2L calling CQ . . . 2X2L calling CQ . . . New York..."

"Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone . . . 2X2L -- "

So. How have you all been?

--he asks, ascertaining whether or not he's the blog equivalent of a guy with a shopping cart who bickers with lampposts.

Forget it, Sun--it's a China town.

A lot of people worry that our future will be dominated by China.

I'm not one of them.

No one really knows the internal state of China's finances--save the Politburo. But there are signs, like this one, that internal indebtedness, bad loans and overall corruption exist on a level that would threaten to make Jon Corzine blush.

After Corzine has a soul transplant, that is.

Remember the Sovfilter I mentioned below? It's also helpful for analyzing official statistics from Beijing.

Interesting times.

Exception to the rule.

A worthwhile, non-flamethrowing examination of the current economic malaise. The last line says it all.

[T]he slow recovery that we are experiencing from the recession that ended in July 2009 is an exception to the historical pattern. This can largely be attributed to the unprecedented housing bust, a proximate measure of which is the collapse of residential investment, which still is far below its historic pattern during recoveries. Another problem may be uncertainty over changes in fiscal and regulatory policy, or over structural change in the economy.

The legacy of the unprecedented housing bust calls into question whether in the future, expansionary monetary policy could make recoveries more consistent with the depth of recessions. Expansionary monetary policy in the past three years seems to have had only limited traction in stimulating the economy and speeding housing recovery. To catalyze full recovery in housing, we may need policies other than looser monetary policy.

But facts have never stopped the solons at the Fed, whose motto seems to be Print, Baby, Print! With all that entails for your ability to buy food and gasoline.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sarah Palin was such an idiot about the death panels non-troversy.

"WE need death panels."

Medicare needs to take a cue from Willie Sutton, who reportedly said he robbed banks because that’s where the money was. The big money in Medicare is not to be found in Mr. Ryan’s competition or Mr. Obama’s innovation, but in reducing the cost of treating people in the last year of life, which consumes more than a quarter of the program’s budget.

Of course, it'll just stop right there. With people in the last year of life. And no one else. Ever.

There aren't any other possible cost-cutting, "futile-care" options to be considered elsewhere in an age of austerity.

Buckle up.

What. A. Shock.

Quantitative easing--the process by which the Fed has attempted to boost the economy by printing money to buy securities, and such--is a regressive tax on those with lower incomes.

But it's a boost for the rich, so Ben's got that going for him, which is nice.

Last month, the Bank of England issued a report that must have made Fed chairman Ben Bernanke squirm.

It said that the Bank of England’s policies of quantitative easing – similar to the Fed’s – had benefited mainly the wealthy.

Specifically, it said that its QE program had boosted the value of stocks and bonds by 26 percent, or about $970 billion. It said that about 40 percent of those gains went to the richest 5 percent of British households.

Many said the BOE's easing added to social anger and unrest. Dhaval Joshi, of BCA Research wrote that  “QE cash ends up overwhelmingly in profits, thereby exacerbating already extreme income inequality and the consequent social tensions that arise from it."

Here's a link to the Reason piece referenced in the article. Not a big fan of Reason as a whole, but the analysis here is sound.

It won’t be a surprise to read conservatives lambasting this as unconventional monetary policy meant to help re-elect President Obama. And inflation hawks have already started screeching. But the loudest cry of “for shame” should be coming from the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Quantitative easing—a fancy term for the Federal Reserve buying securities from predefined financial institutions, such as their investments in federal debt or mortgages—is fundamentally a regressive redistribution program that has been boosting wealth for those already engaged in the financial sector or those who already own homes, but passing little along to the rest of the economy. It is a primary driver of income inequality formed by crony capitalism. And it is hurting prospects for economic growth down the road by promoting malinvestments in the economy.

How is the Federal Reserve contributing to regressive redistribution, income inequality, and manipulated markets? Let’s flesh this out a bit.

Last month, Bernanke said that quantitative easing had contributed to the rebound in stock prices over the past few years, and suggested this was a positive outcome. “This effect is potentially important, because stock values affect both consumption and investment decisions,” he argued, apparently under the belief that the Fed has a third mandate to support rising stock prices.

This is ironically a trickle down monetary policy theory, where rising stock prices mean more wealth and more consumption that trickles down the economic ladder. One problem with this idea is that there is a gigantic mountain of household debt—about $12 trillion worth—that is diverting away any trickle down. An even worse assumption is that the stock market really reflects what is going on in the real economy.

If we had a news media (as opposed to high-production value fanzines) interested in fulfilling their functions as the only private businesses protected by the Constitution, they might ask the President--allegedly the tribune of the little guy--about the hammering effect of such a policy.

 But we don't.

"Equally condemn..."

Or, "an object lesson in how not to reassure."

“There is a need for deterrent legal measures against those individuals or groups that want to damage relations between people, spread hate and incite violence,”  Osama Siblani, Publisher of The Arab American News said in a statement. “It is a need that Americans should seriously consider.”

Sibliani is one of the organizers of a rally in Dearborn, Mich., that will denounce both the video and the deadly terrorist attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Libya. “While we condemn violence against innocent Americans abroad, we equally condemn the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims,” he said in the statement.

I don't about seriously considering growing a thicker skin instead?

Or seriously considering violence to be worse than insult? Apparently that's too much to ask.

Nah. Better to run the Bill of Rights through the shredder, then nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"If something cannot go on forever, it will stop."

This is known as "Stein's Law."

Just something to ponder, as we consider the Fed's enabling of fiscal irresponsibility:

The central bank's recently announced bid to stimulate the economy has also taken the pressure off politicians to deal with the U.S. fiscal cliff, Lindsay argued, which could result in destabilizing tax hikes and spending cuts automatically taking effect early next year.

"The Fed, maybe because it can't do otherwise, has told the Congress: 'We're going to buy your bonds no matter what,'" Lindsey said. "I think that's keeping the pressure off the president, off the Congress."

The effective of QE3 on interest rates may also keep Congress from reining in borrowing.

"If the (Fed) chairman's estimates of the effectiveness of QE3 on interest rates come true, we're going to be down to an average cost of borrowing for the government of 0.6 of a percentage point," Lindsey said. "Why would any Congress not borrow and spend if they could borrow at 60 basis points?"

Buckle up. I'm not sure where this ride ends, but the destination is almost certainly going to be some place we never wanted to go, nor ever imagined we would be.

Reinstalling the Sovfilter.

Even though nobody asked for it, we have the return of full-blown moral equivalence, courtesy of that cack-handed speech delivered at the U.N. yesterday. Oh, sure--there were the (contractually-obligated boilerplate) good parts, but they were more than cancelled out by the desperate, knocking-knees attempt to reassure that we understand your outrage, and are determined to validate it.

Back in the days of the Cold War, our Non-Aligned Press would desperately try to burnish its Objective credentials by pulling a Derek Smalls and attempting to be lukewarm water between the U.S.' fire and the Soviets' ice. Which meant, basically, that you'd get the grandsons of Walter Duranty waxing flatulent about such things as "why yes, the U.S. has certain freedoms, but the Soviets have free health care, so there" and trying desperately to put an "objective" spin on such Soviet faux pas as invading Czechoslovakia or crushing Solidarity. After all, the Soviets were different, and valued different--but certainly not bad--things.

Like autocracy and famine.

Ok, maybe there was the occasional crop failure, or something, but it's convenient propaganda to suggest there were deliberate efforts to starve inconvenient peoples, or that there were mass slaughters which built various communist regimes. You can't trust dissidents and their agendas. We must be objective. We shouldn't report incendiary charges.

What? Oh....


Hey, is that Kim Kardashian's ass over there?

Likewise, we have a determined effort to downplay what is happening in the Middle East, to not report on its, er, inconvenient features, and to paint it as something it manifestly is not--the aspiration for Western freedoms. This ugly putz begs to disagree, and he has the organization which has successfully said otherwise.

So, yes, if you still have your old Sovfilter from the Cold War in the attic, now would be a good time to break it out and reinstall it. Our betters are cranking out the propaganda again.

Bon Voyage, First Amendment.

You were awesome for a while, but then the Left determined that you were a hindrance to the greater causes of free abortions (as ironically cheer-led by a wealthy law student) and appeasing savages.

[As a stick-in-the-eye bonus, scroll down to Matt Yglesias' tweet in favor of secular Caesaropapism. Marx couldn't have said it better. Actually, no, he couldn't--Marx wrote a hundred years ago or something. For the products of recent head-up-your-ass-schooling, let me translate in your attenuated pop culture understanding: all your stuff are belong to State. OBEY.]

Apparently, sometime after Muslim terrorists massacred three thousand of us, it was determined that we'd be better off if we treated Islam as a shadow state religion and said blaspheming (read: criticizing in any way not likely to be approved by Saudi-trained clerics) it was bad. Easier that way.

Well and truly tired of this.

Edward Feser is an admirable thinker and superb digital pugilist. He makes the Thomist case with considerable energy, and is a welcome read....