“One more victory...
No, really. One more...
Guys, why are you laughing?”
Look on the bright side: if we don't change, the economy collapses and we get smaller government through lack of power. If we do change, a culture of thriftiness may return. If we raise taxes without cuts, the collapse will be quicker. If we raise taxes and cut, maybe we'll make it through without a huge financial collapse. In all these options, the government is going to shrink.
In the lingo of the International Monetary Fund, the future of the world hinges on "rebalancing and consolidation," antiseptic words that would not seem to raise a fuss.
Who doesn't want more balance in their life?
But the translation is a bit ruder, something on the order of: "Suck it up. The party's over."
"Rebalancing" is an idea that most everyone endorses -- including the technicians at the fund and President Obama and the leaders of the G-20 group of economically powerful nations. In broad strokes, it means curbing what has been a massive transfer of capital from nations that consume more than they produce, such as the United States, to nations that produce more than they consume, such as China.
The imbalance has been key to China's modernization: The country buys U.S. government bonds by the tens of billions to keep the dollar stronger than it would be and to keep its domestic currency -- and its exports -- cheaper. Looked at one way, the flow of U.S. debt to the People's Bank of China has acted like a giant, collective credit card, underwriting consumers across the United States and driving the business models of major retailers such as Wal-Mart.
The message from the IMF is that the card is about maxed out and that the imbalance in trade flows needs to be corrected.
How to do it? One way is for China -- or Asian exporters, more generally -- to let their currencies rise on world markets. The other way, which IMF economist Blanchard raised this week, would be to devalue the dollar, the euro and other developed-world currencies.
"Fiscal consolidation" is another idea promoted by IMF leaders. Again, the aim seems unobjectionable: The United States and other developed-world governments ran record deficits during the crisis, both to pay for stimulus programs and because tax and other receipts cratered. Across the developed world, the IMF says, government debt will rise from about 80 percent of economic output before the crisis to roughly 115 percent of output in 2014.
That's considered a dangerous trajectory, and IMF officials say that by next year, governments need to announce "credible" plans to cut their annual deficits, turn them into surpluses and start paying off what is owed.
The level of the correction needed is large, perhaps 10 percent of gross domestic product. In the United States, that would amount to roughly $1.4 trillion annually, to be cut from government programs or raised through new taxes.
Even under its most virulent anti-Communist leaders, South Korea has responded to past attacks, including the 1987 downing of a South Korean airliner, with palpable anger but little action. In at least one of those cases — the bombing that killed the cabinet members — a revenge attack was planned but never carried out. In others, under a liberal government, leaders reacted by trying harder to nudge the North back to the negotiating table on its nuclear program.
Those relatively mild responses were before the North effectively changed the calculus of retribution by forging ahead with a nuclear program, making what intelligence experts say is fuel for at least eight nuclear weapons, or possibly the bombs themselves.
Seeing the way in which Obama is confounding the Tea Party movement tends to remind me of the classic alternative history short story in which the Germans conquer British India and instead of facing imperial British troops, Gandhi finds himself confronting soldiers of the Wehrmacht. Needless to say, satyagraha is rather less effective in the face of a ruthless enemy that is indifferent to bloodshed.I'm hopeful that my pessimism won't come true. I'm also pessimistic my hope won't come true. Such is life at a key point in history.
Obama is entirely focused on his goals, not the polls. He is as indifferent to the political pressure from his left as he is to the Tea Party-led pressure from his right, in part because he has largely delegated his legislative priorities to the Congressional Democrats. And being a ruthless pragmatist who has never hesitated to discard others once they cease to prove useful to him, it is extremely unlikely that he is in any way concerned with the Democratic Party's probable loss of the House in the fall. Obama will simply keep pursuing his progressive goals while relying upon Republicans to do what they do best, namely, crumble under media pressure.
Michael Young, the opinion editor of the Beirut Daily Star, has a fine column parsing the latest developments on Syria, Lebanon, and the Obama administration. He confirms the interpretation I made recently on this blog, that the administration is puzzled at the failure of its opening gambits and unsure of what to do next:As a man with family in Lebanon and a connection to the beautiful, fragile country, I'd like President Obama to take a stand, as President Bush did, against Syrian aggression. This isn't just an emotional plea. The defeat of Hezbullah and its expulsion from Lebanese politics would be a first step in allowing Lebanon, for the first time in its history, to be truly independent. An independent Lebanon with its pro-Western culture is a needed addition to Israel and Iraq.The problem is that Washington is of several minds over what to do about Syria…because there is no broad accord, and because the president has not provided clear guidance on resolving Mideastern problems, there is confusion in Washington. And where there is confusion there is policy bedlam, with everyone trying to fill the vacuum. That explains why the Syrians feel they can relax for now, and why the Iranians see no reason yet to fear an American riposte.Young’s worry is confirmed by this remarkable report from Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin:
Lebanon should be worried about American uncertainty. When there is doubt in Washington, it usually means the Israelis have wide latitude to do what they see fit here. With much of the Lebanese political class openly or objectively siding with Hezbollah, rather than shaping an American approach to Lebanon that might reinforce its sovereignty, we can guess the calamitous effect of that abdication.As for why Syria seems to be playing such an unhelpful role, “that’s the million-dollar question,” the [Obama administration] official said….”We do not understand Syrian intentions. No one does, and until we get to that question we can never get to the root of the problem,” the official said. “Until then it’s all damage control.”This is quite simply amazing. The Assads, father and now son, have run the same foreign policy for decades. It is a very simple model, and one that gets discussed in detail on a regular basis: They are the arsonists who sell water to the fire department. The administration official should start his odyssey of discovery by reading Bret Stephens’s 2009 Commentary essay, “The Syrian Temptation — and Why Obama Must Resist It.”
Nothing in the law authorizes stopping people because of their skin color. The law simply provides guidelines as to what is permissible in accordance with federal law, and the procedures that should be used.
Could the law be abused? Sure, so can any law.
Claims of "driving while black" and other racial profiling have abounded for decades. But we don't eliminate the enforcement of traffic laws just because some police racially profile; instead we educate and discipline police who use racially neutral traffic laws for racial purposes. Why should the immigration laws be any different?
If you want to argue that the law is not sound on civil liberties grounds, do so. If you want to argue that as a matter of public policy local governments should not enforce the immigration laws, then make that argument.
But the one argument which is not legitimate is that the law is racist. Because it is not.
The bill would require immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and require police to question people if there's reason to suspect they're in the United States illegally. It also targets those who hire illegal immigrant day laborers or knowingly transport them.Is this honestly what passes for serious leftist issues with this bill? What kind of mental constipation must you have to think like that?
Critics argue the new law would foster racial profiling, saying most police officers don't have enough training to look past race while investigating a person's legal status.
I’m often conflicted while playing games in Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy library. They’re fantastic fun—several entries in the Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, and Splinter Cell franchises have provided some of the most memorable moments I’ve experienced in military-themed gaming—but I’ve always had a problem with Clancy’s politics. America’s forces typically act as world police in his games, conducting overt or clandestine operations in foreign lands with little regard for local governments and citizens and usually with impunity. It makes me feel a little guilty for enjoying myself so much while playing.So fighting terrorists and nations bent on destroying us makes this guy "feel a little guilty", but when the story involves a wayward PMC full of ex-American soldiers "[i]t feels great".
And that’s what makes Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction such a welcome change of pace. It delivers the sort of high quality and innovative action that players have come to expect from Clancy-branded games while giving us a hero who is actually rebelling against the American military industrial complex. It feels great.
I don’t think this explanation can be dismissed out of hand – in particular, dismissing it out of hand as “insulting” to the South would be in instance of precisely the dynamic I’m outlining. The South does have a distinct history and culture; that culture is substantially oppositional; and the American right is dominated by the South in a way that it has not been before. Dominance of a party by an atypical and oppositional region is just a structural problem. And, if this is a problem, it is going to be a hard one for the American right to solve, because the South is now large enough and strong enough, and remains cohesive enough, that its leaders should expect to lead any coalition of which they are a member.
Apparently, David Ignatius of the Washington Post isn’t the only recipient of White House leaks about an Obama peace plan. Helen Cooper of the New York Times chimed in with her own piece this afternoon about the president’s desire to jump into the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.This plan solves nothing other than vanity. The 1967 borders are indefensible for Israel and logistically impossible for Palestine. Israel has stated over and over it will not negotiate on Jerusalem. Hamas and Fatah are still at war. Hamas is still at war with Israel and is supported by Iran. There is so much wrong with this plan.
According to Cooper, the trigger for this latest instance of administration hubris was a recent gathering of former national-security advisers including Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Samuel Berger, and Colin Powell, who were called in to consult with the president and his adviser General James L. Jones. The consensus (only Powell seems to have dissented) was that Obama must put forward his own scheme that would state exactly what the parameters of a peace deal would be. The idea is that peace can only be obtained by the United States imposing it on the parties. The plan is, of course, along the lines of past Israeli peace offers rejected by the Palestinians, plus extra Israeli concessions. The Palestinians give up their “right of return,” and Israel “would return to its 1967 borders,” including the one that divided Jerusalem, with only “a few negotiated settlements” as an exception. The supposed sweetener for Israel is that the United States or NATO, whose troops would be stationed along the Jordan River, would guarantee Israeli security.
We remained above the engagement site while Bushmaster sent ground forces to the site. Bushmaster arrived and reported 11 x AIF KIA and found RPGs and RPG rounds at the site. We also witnessed a loaded RPG lying 2-3 blocks south of the engagement site. Bushmaster reported that the first child was wounded and pulled from the van. We were unable to determine that there were children in the vehicle and never saw any children prior to or during the engagement. After viewing the gun tape, were able to determine that both wounded children came from the van. Bushmaster immediately MEDEVAC'd both girls to FOB Loyalty for medical care.All this points to that group of men being armed insurgents, not innocent civilians as Wikileaks wants you to think. The journalists were embedded with the enemy, without the knowledge of the military, and there was little to no way that the Apache gunner or his commanding officer who authorized the strike could of known. If the journalists hanging with the insurgents didn't want to be shot, they should of marked themselves as such with a giant “TV” taped to their vests, helmets or clothing. The same goes for the van that flew in to aid the fallen insurgents. If you want to go help folk in a war zone, you need to mark yourself as such, even if you're an insurgent sympathizer. A giant cross or crescent on your roof, or the word medical or doctor, would give the soldiers reason to hold fire. Yet, that wasn't on the van, so there was no reason to believe that the van was civilian, nor was there anyway to know the man who drove the van in had his kids in it.
The Jewish Defence League held a demonstration today in Toronto at Palestine House, one of the many jihadist front organizations without which no sophisticated multicultural western city is complete. Tomorrow night, for example, they're hosting the editor of the London newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Abd al-Bari Atwan. Mr Atwan is a celebrity eliminationist who declared on TV that "if the Iranian missiles strike Israel, by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight." Because Palestine House is government-funded, Mr Atwan's appearance to share this and other insights is effectively being underwritten by Canadian taxpayers.Not only the rope, Canada has built the entire gallows and offered the radicals the first pull. Sooner or later, Canada has to stand up against the government funding people like these. This is another reason for homegrown terrorists, not our war against their kin, but cultural acceptance and government funding of their views.
At the demo, Palestine House officials were caught on tape telling Jewish protesters "You need another Holocaust" and "We love jihad... We love killing dogs... your bitches with you". As a notorious "Islamophobe", I certainly don't begrudge anybody his Judeophobia. What I don't understand is why Canadian taxpayers should subsidize it.
Yet any attempt to roll back funding for such organizations would be met by howls of protest that the government was attacking "immigrant groups" and "human rights". Lenin famously said the west would "sell us the rope by which we will hang them". He was underestimating our suicidal stupidity: We're happy to give it away.
You would not want to be at war with General David Petraeus. He plays to win, and it’s personal. Last fall it was revealed that, months earlier, he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The general had quietly undergone two months of radiation treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, maintaining his full schedule throughout—“It was like it never happened,” said one of his aides. And that’s the way the general planned to leave it—as if it had never happened—until a reporter from The New York Times got a tip and asked a direct question.But, as in all things, what's more badass than a badass general?
So his Central Command staff in Tampa drafted a terse press release, laying out the bare facts. As with everything that comes from his office, Petraeus reviewed the statement. It disclosed the diagnosis and the successful treatment, and explained that the general had declined to announce his ailment because it was a “private matter.” But the general added a line of his own. He added one more reason for not disclosing his condition: “to avoid giving al-Qaeda hope.”
The staff balked.
“Absolutely not, sir” was the gist of the response from his public-relations advisers.
“Leave it in,” ordered the general. “End of discussion.”
There was only one avenue of appeal. The staff felt strongly enough about it to send the release to the only authority in-house capable of overruling the general. Holly Petraeus returned it without comment, but with her husband’s addition deleted.A badass general's wife.