November 21, 2009

The stimulus is working – although too small

Mainstream economists are weighing in a general thumbs-up for the results of the Obama economic stimulus plan. Mark Zandi says unemployment would be above 11 percent without it. And, as President Obama and Congressional leaders talk about a jobs bill, they should note that folks like Zandi all agree the original stimulus was too small.

Karzai would 'fall in weeks'

If the US and NATO forces pull out of Afghanistan, that is.

That’s not my prediction of the possible future of Afghanistan’s president, either, though I largely concur. Rather, it’s the words of British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Miliband argues that’s why the UK, and the US, and the rest of NATO, need to stay in Afghanistan. But, he offers no guarantees as to how long it will take for Hamid Karzai to strengthen his position — or if he even thinks that’s possible.

The Guardian repeats Karzai's own three-five year time frame, but why wouldn't he repeat that again in three-five years?

November 20, 2009

Krugman: What Geither got wrong

Clearly refuting fellow columnist David Brooks’ love fest for little Timmeh Geithner, Paul Krugman says the current Treasury secretary was a clusterfuck at the NY Fed, and hasn’t looked a lot better on his current job.

Vatican researcher claims Shroud is real

Barbara Frale claims computer enhancing let her see Greek, Latin and Aramaic words on the Shroud of Turin.

First, I want a list of the experts to whom she showed her photos.

Second, I want her to show the photos to the general public. Especially to specialists in scripts from 2,000 years ago.

Third, in light of that, I want her to admit this means nothing. Assuming the Shroud is from the 13th-14th century, the forger could have written any lettering that is there.

Fourth, there’s other refutations at the link.

Crowdsourcing, New Media and bad media

The Big Money’s good article on the perils of TripAdvisor should give you crowdsourcing touters, especially ones who are also New Media touters (I’m thinking of a science editor in North Carolina, among others!) something to think about.

Preferred media may just be crappy media; another reason to remember that the new media/old media divide is about the media first, IMO, not necessarily about message quality.

November 19, 2009

One big reason Senate health care bill is good

This one reason, from Ezra Klein, is enough:
7) Forcing insurers to spend 80 percent of all premium dollars on medical care (75 percent in the individual market), thus capping the money that can go toward administration, profits, etc.

Assuming it's enforced, without loopholes, the Scrushys of the insurance world are on notice.

Note to AP: Learn some American Indian history

St. Augustine, Fla., is NOT "the oldest permanent city" in the United States. By best reckoning, it's the Sky City pueblo of the Acoma Indians. (The Hopi Indians have their own claim.)

Rabbi offers cocaine for sex

This news of the weird story is certainly more proof of the power of, ultimately, multiple addictions, not just one.

And, I love the claim the rabbi made that coke helped him sleep!

The ‘war industry’

Gene Lyons is right. Misguided dunderheads of David Broder ilk aside, the increased privatization of the U.S. military means that, far beyond Ike’s famous “military-industrial complex” line, there is a “war industry” sounding the tocsin of battle all in the name of the almighty dollar — even as more and more of that dollar migrates to Beijing in the first place.

So, fuck you, Dick Cheney. Go talk to Chinese President Hu Jintao if you really think Afghanistan is such a problem.

Oh, and take Tim Geithner, Hank Paulson and some other Goldman Sachs alums, or current brass, with you.

Better yet, since the Army now accepts people until age 42, tell Liz and Mary to support the war industry by driving down to the nearest Army recruiting station.

Reich: Raise interest rates!

Yes, you heard me right. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich says raising U.S. interest rates might be part of what’s need to make the “Wall Street recovery” into the “Main Street recovery.”

Of course, Reich should recognize that President Barack Obama cares little more for bottom-up Main Street recovery than did Reich’s old boss, Bill Clinton.

(When the Slickster “fulminated” about how his presidential program was captive to the bond market, at the start of his first term, he was pulling off his first great presidential acting job. He knew Jackson Stephens too well from his time in Little Rock to really be that surprised.)

And, Big Ben Bernanke probably never learned the biggest lesson from his study of the Great Drepression, and that is that we didn't get too much recovery then, either, until it got to Main Street.

November 18, 2009

Obama kowtows to China on Fox News

That about says it all, doesn’t it? Apparently afraid after a Beijing lecture, US President Barack Obama talked to what he used to consider The Dissed Network to turn into a deficit hawk, even to the point of warning about a double-dip recession if he doesn’t act like a deficit hawk, which is precisely what many liberal hawks think will cause a second dip into recession.

Global warming: 6C rise by 2100, and carbon offsets exposed

The Guardian reports there’s more and more evidence, supporting that likelihood, namely that natural carbon sinks are possibly becoming less effective.

More on the fading efficacy of carbon sinks, in this case, the oceans’ ability to absorb carbon dioxide, is here.

Hence, the “carbon offsets exposed.” Al Gore and others will have to tell American jet-setters they need to do something more real.

However, not everybody accepts the research findings on the less effective natural carbon sinks. Still, we know they're not getting more effective, and the rapidity of rise of carbon emissions would indicate the possibility, at least, of lessened effectiveness.

November 17, 2009

McCain aide: Palin book 'fiction'

And, Nicolle Wallace said this as part of a TV interview, even though Schmuck Talk Express himself has asked his campaign staff not to do that. The long knives are out for Palin.

Goldman Sachs now Guilt-ridden Sachs? Or PR Sachs?

Or, rather, are Sachs and fellow financial bailout hog-trougher Warren Buffet just buying PR with their $500 million small business capital line of credit?

You know the answer? $500M is a drop in Buffet's bucket, let alone that of Sachs.

Fox boo-hoos AP's Palin fact-checking

Fox calls it overkill and politically motivated for the Associated Press to have used 11 people to fine-tooth-comb "Going Rogue."

Well, she's told enough whoppers, the AP was simply being prepared.

The US-China joint sellout on Copenhagen

The popular German magazine Spiegel wonders if the two nations didn’t deliberately cook up their APEC announcement that the Copenhagen climate summit would have no legally binding agreement, including accepting that each country would blame the other, for domestic consumption.
“China and the US have more room for maneuver than they are currently admitting,” Stefan Krug of Greenpeace Germany says. “Obama could actually already agree to legally binding objectives for CO2 emissions without waiting for Congress. He could also make financial promises to developing nations and make those commitments dependent on greenhouse gas reductions.”

If Krug is right, then we’re in for a long, hard battle on this issue.

And, non-conspiratorially, he does make sense. It would be easy for Beijing and Washington to think ongoing, scripted finger-pointing would be an easy "answer."

Spiegel reams Obama on climate change

The popular German magazine says U.S. President Barack Obama lied in Berlin a year ago, has sold out to the lobbyists he said he would fight, and has forfeited his claim to be a world citizen.

The magazine then faults average Americans’ notable insularity:
For most Americans, the world beyond the US's borders is nothing more than an irritating nuisance.

That’s part of also deploring Obama’s likely no-show in Copenhagen next month.

As a parting shot, Speigel goes quasi-apocalyptic:
But if the worst-case scenario becomes reality at Copenhagen and at the follow-up conferences -- if, in other words, world leaders ignore the findings of the global scientific community -- then the US will find itself in a very uncomfortable position. America will be seen as the primary culprit of global warming -- and this after the US, with its rampant real estate speculation, has given us a global economic crisis that has not only destroyed assets, but pushed 100 million people worldwide into hunger. With that kind of track record, the US hardly has a claim any more to the leadership of the Western world — let alone a Nobel Peace Prize for its leader.

Wow.

No love for Tricky Ricky Perry in top Texas GOP

Ten of Texas’ 20 GOP Congressmen have already endorsed Kay Bailey Hutchison; the rest are likely to sit it out. At least one, Rep. Kenny Marchant, thinks Gov. Helmethair has already served long enough and shouldn’t even be running again.

Geez, Kenny has more sense than I knew.

November 16, 2009

Why not stimulus money for the Small Biz Admin?

Big Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, is the latest person Washington mahatma to rue the lack of bank lending to small businesses. So, why not give the SBA a bunch of stimulus money?

Tim Geithner, best bud of AIG and Sachs

An audit faults the New York Federal Reserve Bank, then led by Tim Geithner, now our Treasury Secretary, for being too kind to AIG’s trading partners when it was bailed out last year. And, of course, a huge AIG partner was Goldman Sachs.

A new philosophy for pledging allegiance

First, yes, Michael Lind is spot on. We should be pledging to other people, not the government.

Second, I like that a 10-year-old kid whose parents have gay friends refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school because it’s not liberty and justice for all.

November 15, 2009

Big Pharma pockets Obama bribery

And raises drug prices 9 percent. That’s just enough to cancel out any savings pledges from the top drugmakers. Gee, what a surprise.

Wingers should blame W, selves for alleged Obama kowtow to China

To the degree it’s true that President Barack Obama is allegedly soft-shoeing China on civil rights and other issues, blame George W. Bush’s massive war debt.

Google, AP and paywalls

Here’s some very interesting thoughts from Josh Cohen of Google News.

Very interesting, indeed. I wish he’d been asked more, by the interviewer, Danny Sullivan, about the *rates* AP and other wires charge Google, et al, whether they're high enough, whether they should be set high enough to force Google and other portals to paywall, along with newspapers, etc.

How China helped Pakistan get the Bomb

And then lied about it. And still does.

As this Times of India story notes, US President Barack Obama probably isn’t happy about having details of this leak out in the midst of his first Asian trip.

But, before Mao died, even, China was sending uranium compounds to Pakistan in exchange for Pakistan knowledge about European centrifuges that would boost Chinese enrichment technology.

And, the infamous A.Q. Khan was involved from the start. Read the full story.

China bemoans low US interest rates

Ahh, well, you dance with who brung you, Beijing. I was going to suggest you might want to revalue the yuan, but the Bloomberg piece suggests that’s already in the possible works.

Pakistan ISI hoist by own petard

It’s an open secret that the Taliban in Afghanistan is to some degree a creation of Pakistan’s “military within a military,” it’s Inter-Services Intelligence. Well, first, the Taliban expanded into border agencies of Pakistan, along with allied but independent groups. Now, they’re attacking the ISI.

That said, beyond the schadenfreude, this is a serious issue. The ISI could decide it needs a change of direction, even some housecleaning, or it could try to co-opt the militants, or it could decide to ride the range with them in tandem.

More on the main attack here.