Archive for July, 2010

So it IS a Recovery Summer!!!

Recovery Sommer, to be precise:

German unemployment fell in July for the 13th consecutive month, putting Europe’s largest economy on the brink of a milestone: regaining all the jobs lost during the recession far faster than many economists expected.

During the global downturn in 2009, Germany, the world’s fourth-biggest national economy, was relatively slow in launching its economic-stimulus package, which was less sweeping than that of the U.S. Now, amid debate about the timing of stimulus withdrawal globally, Germany has led the argument for fiscal rigor and disciplined spending—despite U.S. calls to keep the stimulus engine going—and has announced budget cuts for next year to reassure the German public that the deficit won’t balloon.

Just to remind you: President Omoeba and Timmy Geithner (who, remember also, was the only man in America for the job) told us—swore up down and sideways—that we had to pass the stimulus package to keep unemployment from crashing through the 8% barrier. We did, and joblessness hit 10.3%—and still wallows at 9.5%, with no serious respite in view.

While Germany has regained its (admittedly high) job level before the recession hit. Without busting the budget.

I don’t want to say I told you so, but you know I did. Just about everyone but Timmy Geithner told them so.

I also told you we hired the wrong Geithner.

Aura Cristina Geithner

PS: Meanwhile, across the Atlantic:

Economic growth slowed in the second quarter as a capital investment drive by businesses saw imports increasing at their fastest pace since the first quarter of 1984, a government report showed on Friday.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.4 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said in its first estimate, after a revised 3.7 percent growth pace in the January-March quarter.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast GDP, which measures total goods and services output within U.S. borders, growing at a 2.5 percent rate in the second quarter. The government had previously estimated a 2.7 percent growth rate for the first three months of this year.

The economy, which is digging out of its longest and deepest recession since the 1930s, has now grown for four straight quarters. However, growth has been too tepid, making little impact on a high unemployment rate.

A year of growth—not bad Timmy! Way to go O! The recession may have been Bush’s, but this “recovery” is all yours.

PS: As Joe Biden might say of the “recovery”, “Stand up, economy, let the people see you. … Oh, God love ya, what am I talking about?”

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David Brooks Notices That We’re Reliving The Carter Era

Without mentioning Jimmah, but while talking about our miserable ObamaEconomy

…What we have is not just a cycle but a condition. We could look back on the period between 1980 and 2006 as the long boom and the period between 2007 and 2014 or so as the nasty crawl.

Politically, this period could be akin to the late-1970s. Economic anxiety could produce good and bad ideological effusions. As the economy stutters, people will ask fundamental questions about the nature of our political-economic structures and come up with grand proposals to revive growth. The electorate could shift in ways hard to imagine.

Talk about nuance! Another way of saying this would be that the failed policies of the Obama administration, like the failed policies of the Carter administration, failed.

I can imagine the shift though. People will move towards the Center, and some will become very conservative. This will be a direct result of unemployment. They will watch their dreams dissolve. They will realize that they are behind the curve on retirement savings. They will have paid a bajillion dollars for college for the kids, and the kids will be mowing the neighbor’s lawn for loose change. All the promise of the future – shot.

I just hope that we don’t lose our concern for other people, here and in other parts of the world. As individual Americans become more despairing about their personal situation, it will be easy to blame small “out-groups”. So far, most of that is happening on the Left, but I hope the contagion doesn’t spread.

- Aggie


Achtung! The Ministry of Propaganda Would Speak to You!

I’ve taken to calling the mainstream media the Ministry of Propaganda.

Anyone care to dispute that appellation?

Taxes? Taxes??

Kerry, during a 45-minute session with Globe reporters, repeatedly insisted that he never had any intention of permanently docking the yacht in Rhode Island to avoid paying taxes in Massachusetts.

Asked why he had not paid taxes earlier, he said he has not taken final ownership of the yacht because there were several changes still being made by a designer, whose team is based in Rhode Island. Thus, he said, he was not in a position to pay taxes in Massachusetts.

He said, however, that he could now take possession within days — possibly soon enough to go sailing this weekend. He insisted he always intended on paying taxes after taking possession, notwithstanding the conditionality of his earlier statements.

Front page, above the fold, with picture. After they ignored the story for days.

This pillar of the Fourth Estate behaves more like a Fifth Column.

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Taking Care of Hitler

As long as we’re building publicly-funded shrines to the Kennedy clan, we’ll have to raise taxes enough for the Joseph Kennedy wing of the compound:

A letter from Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy to the secretary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt expressing doubts about going to war against Hitler was among nine documents the National Archives released this week.

A month after the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, Kennedy, the US ambassador in London, voiced his reluctance about “this war for idealism’’ against Hitler.

“I can’t see any use in everybody in Europe going busted and having Communism run riot,’’ Kennedy wrote to Marguerite LeHand, Roosevelt’s personal secretary. “My own belief is that the economics of Germany would have taken care of Hitler long ago before this if he didn’t have a chance to wave that flag every once in a while.

“But, of course,’’ he added, “one isn’t supposed to say this out loud.’’

Kennedy’s letter presaged his further public disparagement of the war and the future of democracy — comments that, along with his efforts to arrange a conciliatory meeting with Hitler, forced him to resign as ambassador in 1940.

Wise words. If we had just declined to go to war, think of how many lives would have been saved.


Too Close for Comfort

I’m not saying there’s a comfortable distance for anti-Semitism, mind you, just that Brooklyn is too close, way too close:

[I]n an effort to show that Grimm lacks support among voters in the district, which covers Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, the McMahon campaign compiled a list of Jewish donors to Grimm and provided it to The Politicker.

The file, labeled “Grimm Jewish Money Q2,” for the second quarter fundraising period, shows a list of over 80 names, a half-dozen of which in fact do hail from Staten Island, and a handful of others that list Brooklyn as home.

“Where is Grimm’s money coming from,” said Jennifer Nelson, McMahon’s campaign spokeman. “There is a lot of Jewish money, a lot of money from people in Florida and Manhattan, retirees.”

Nelson said that the list was compiled by the campaign’s finance director, Debra Solomon and that she did not know exactly how the finance team knew who was Jewish and who was not.

“She herself is Jewish so she knows a lot of people in that community,” Nelson said.

Oh, okay. That’s fine, then.

It falls to the other fellow to point out the obvious:

Reached by phone, Grimm, who is part-Italian, part-German, said he was proud of his Jewish support and said he was disturbed to hear that the McMahon campaign compiled a separate list of his Jewish donors.

“The fact that a U.S. Congressman would separate out any group by religion or even by ethnicity is nothing short of outrageous,” he said. “This goes beyond politics.”

Fortunately, on that all can agree:

“These comments were entirely inappropriate and there is no place for this kind of behavior. I was outraged by these unfortunate remarks which were unauthorized and are in no way indicative of my beliefs or of my campaign,” said Congressman Michael E. McMahon. “I am proud to represent an incredibly diverse community and to enjoy an incredibly diverse base of support. Any comments that could serve to divide our community along religious or ethnic lines have no place in our community or my campaign. I sincerely apologize for her comments, and as she has since been terminated from our campaign, there will be no such incidents in the future.”

UPDATE: It appears that Nelson is the only one getting canned by McMahon, and while her quotes were certainly quite something, another staffer, Debra Solomon, was apparently involved in putting together the list of ‘Jewish money’ – and IDing donors, according to what Nelson told the Observer.

It gives me no joy, no satisfaction to report this story. I just feel I have to.


Oh, the Misery of Gaza!

The depravity and inhumanity continues unabated.

Palestinian children forced to take communal baths.

Smuggling tunnels exposed.

The roughest of living conditions.

“I was last in Gaza in mid-February. Returning three weeks ago, I found it almost unrecognizable… and the greatest surprise was the nature of that change. I would have expected a change for the worse, considering the blockade – but the opposite was the case; it seemed as if it had emerged from the blockade.

“A sense of absolute prosperity prevails, as manifested by the grand resorts along and near Gaza’s coast. Further, the sight of the merchandise and luxuries filling the Gaza shops amazed me. Merchandise is sold more cheaply than in Egypt.

The reality [in Gaza] proves that the siege was broken even before Israel’s crime against the ships of the Freedom Flotilla in late May; everything already was coming into the Gaza Strip from Egypt. If this weren’t the case, businessmen would not have been able to build so many resorts in under four months.”

“The reality in Gaza” couldn’t be more irrelevant. A world that holds Israel responsible for global warming (see Aggie’s post below), that blames Israel for the violence wrought by Turkish pirates, that ignores Palestinian incitement—no, glorification—of violence… such a world wouldn’t recognize reality if it strapped C4 and hex nuts to its chest and blew up a bus.


Global Warming? Blame Israel!

What do we expect from the Brits?

FORGET setting aspirational targets for cutting greenhouse gases.

And stop pointing the finger at China and America as the main stumbling blocks for a climate change treaty.

Because, according to a prominent British MP, it’s actually cold-hearted Israel that’s to blame for global warming.

Former Blair Government minister Clare Short made the absurd claim last month that no progress was possible on climate change treaties because Israel “undermines the international community’s reaction to global warming”.

Ms Short, who resigned from the Blair Government over the war in Iraq, explained that man-made climate change continues because Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbours is distracting world leaders from devising a response to global warming.

What was that about mad dogs and Englishmen coming out in the midday sun?

Her timing was unfortunate. Days later, APEC passed a major declaration on climate change.

The travesty is that Ms Short’s comments received no condemnation from responsible European or world leaders.

Yep. For more Moonbattery, check out this summer’s roundup of Leftist nutcakes by Allan Dershowitz

Oliver Stone urges us to see the positive side of Hitler and Ahmadinejad, while imitating his two heroes by railing against Jewish control of the media. (To his credit, Stone has apologized for his bigoted statements.) According to Newsweek, Meg Ryan canceled a scheduled appearance at an Israeli Film Festival, despite the fact that this artistic festival is well-known to feature pro-peace and even pro-Palestinian films. Ryan’s publicist insists that the film star never agreed to attend the festival. If that is true, Ryan should issue a public statement denying that she has boycotted, or would boycott, an Israeli film festival.

Doctors Without Borders suddenly erects borders when it comes to Israeli doctors who flew to the Congo to treat 50 local villagers who had been severely burned. The Israeli volunteers worked around the clock, treated the burn victims and trained local doctors to perform skin grafts, and donated tons of medical equipment. But the bigoted Doctors Without Borders refused to work with them and treated them “as though we were occupiers.” This should not surprise people who have been following Doctors Without Borders over the years. Dr. Marie Pierre Allie, President of the French Branch of the organization, said that Israel’s self defense actions in Gaza were actually worse than the Darfur genocide in the Sudan. Only a blind moonbat could even make such a comparison! As one critic put it well, these are doctors with borders but without scruples.

J Street, a leftist organization that pretends to be pro Israel, puts out a TV ad suggesting that I am against peace between Israel and the Arabs and that I agree with Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin in opposing the two state solution and supporting expansion of civilian settlements. When told that this was a lie, the head of J Street publicly acknowledged that, “He [Dershowitz] does support the notion of a two-state solution,” but he has kept his mendacious ad unchanged.

Radical leftist, who support the expansion of rape law to cover obtaining sex by fraud, rail against Israel when Israel actually enacts such a law and applies it. An Israeli court sentenced a married Arab man to several months in prison for having sex with a woman after claiming that he was an unmarried Jew interested in marrying her. The Israeli courts had previously applied this law to Jewish men who had perpetrated comparable frauds. Though I personally think these sex-fraud law are seriously misguided (except in extreme cases such as lying about AIDS), I find it hypocritical in the extreme for radical leftist, who generally favor such laws, to use them as a club against the Jewish state and only the Jewish state.

A fifth rate French University has cancelled a writer’s conference that was supposed to deal with “writing today in the Mediterranean Region: exchanges and tensions,” because some unnamed participants refused to take part in a dialogue that included an Israeli Jewish author. This university, Provence Aix Marseille would have been lucky to attract any accomplished Israeli authors, but the conference could not go forward because the president of the school, to his credit, would not allow a conference to be held by bigots who would exclude others on the ground of religion or national origin.

And, to get a feel for absolute Jew hatred, read the comments to Dershowitz’s article.

- Aggie

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Sue Him, Sue Him, What Can You Do Him

William Jacobson makes the point that if Shirley Sherrod really does sue Andrew Breitbart, she will have made his day:

Defamation? For what, showing a two-minute clip of her speech, and not showing the rest of the speech (which Breitbart apparently did not have a copy of)? For calling her comments “racist” when she admitted in the speech, at a minimum, to formerly being a racist?

Interference with her employment? When she resigned and turned down the job when she was offered it after her resignation?

For portraying her in a false light? Really? I’d like to see the movie of her real light.

The legal issues — was she a public figure? — may not take this case past a motion to dismiss at the start of the case.

But, let’s say the lawsuit does get off the ground, and moves forward into discovery.

Will Sherrod assert that her reputation has been damaged? By claiming reputational harm, Sherrod opens up almost her entire life to scrutiny, which is why so many people are hesitant to assert a defamation claim.

Will Sherrod assert the loss of her job as damages? This would permit Breitbart to take depositions up the chain of command, from the person who made the infamous “pull over to the side of the road” phone call, to Tom Vilsack, to the people in the White House.

Now, I’m sure Breitbart does not want to be sued, even though he probably has insurance anyway, which at least would cover the defense costs.

But, if having to defend a suit of dubious merit allows Breitbart to put Sherrod’s life on trial, to conduct an inquiry into the NAACP and Sherrod’s connections in the movement, and to take the depositions of administration officials, that might just be a price Breitbart is happy to pay.

Hell, I’ll pay.

After the Arizona decision, I’m no longer confident of judicial opinion—but I’d take my chances.


11,000 Jobs Created!

Give the man credit: a standing room crowd at a Toledo Mud Hens game just got hired.

New claims for unemployment benefits slipped last week, but stayed at a stubbornly high level that underscored the labor market recovery was having trouble gaining traction.

Initial claims for state unemployment aid dropped 11,000 to 457,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday, a touch more than the fall to 459,000 that financial markets had forecast.

“Stubborn”? Like the economy has a bad attitude, or something? Can’t disagree. If you were so abused and mistreated, lied about and misrepresented, blamed and scapegoated, you’d have a bad attitude, too.

“With claims (for jobless aid) at these levels the 200,000-plus increases in private payrolls that we need to see in order to bring unemployment down quickly just aren’t going to happen any time soon,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York.

With unemployment high, consumer spending has been tepid and home foreclosures have remained elevated.

Foreclosures rose in three of every four large U.S. metropolitan areas in the first half of this year, likely ruling out sustained home price gains until 2013, real estate data company RealtyTrac said on Thursday.

Unemployment was the main culprit driving foreclosure actions on more than 1.6 million properties, the company said.

In the week ended July 17, 4.57 million people were still receiving jobless benefits after an initial week of aid, up 81,000 from the prior week.

Uh-oh. So, while those Mud Hens fans were getting jobs, a sell-out crowd at Notre Dame Stadium was added to the long-term dole. That’s one step forward, one long-jump back.

Are they stubborn, too? Stubborn and racist?

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From “Never Again” to Again and Again

We noted the attractiveness of the women of the IDF a few posts down. Women of the Taliban, not so much:

[Actually, even disfigured, she's a beautiful woman.]

The Taliban pounded on the door just before midnight, demanding that Aisha, 18, be punished for running away from her husband’s house. Her in-laws treated her like a slave, Aisha pleaded. They beat her. If she hadn’t run away, she would have died. Her judge, a local Taliban commander, was unmoved. Aisha’s brother-in-law held her down while her husband pulled out a knife. First he sliced off her ears. Then he started on her nose.

This didn’t happen 10 years ago, when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. It happened last year. Now hidden in a secret women’s shelter in Kabul, Aisha listens obsessively to the news. Talk that the Afghan government is considering some kind of political accommodation with the Taliban frightens her. “They are the people that did this to me,” she says, touching her damaged face. “How can we reconcile with them?”
(See pictures of Afghan women and the return of the Taliban.)

In June, Afghan President Hamid Karzai established a peace council tasked with exploring negotiations with the Taliban. A month later, Tom Malinowski from Human Rights Watch met Karzai. During their conversation, Karzai mused on the cost of the conflict in human lives and wondered aloud if he had any right to talk about human rights when so many were dying. “He essentially asked me,” says Malinowski, “What is more important, protecting the right of a girl to go to school or saving her life?” How Karzai and his international allies answer that question will have far-reaching consequences, not only for Afghanistan’s women, but the country as a whole.

For Afghanistan’s women, an early withdrawal of international forces could be disastrous. An Afghan refugee who grew up in Canada, Mozhdah Jamalzadah recently returned home to launch an Oprah-style talk show in which she has been able to subtly introduce questions of women’s rights without provoking the ire of religious conservatives. On a recent episode, a male guest told a joke about a foreign human-rights team in Afghanistan. In the cities, the team noticed that women walked six paces behind their husbands. But in rural Helmand, where the Taliban is strongest, they saw a woman six steps ahead. The foreigners rushed to congratulate the husband on his enlightenment — only to be told that he stuck his wife in front because they were walking through a minefield. As the audience roared with laughter, Jamalzadah reflected that it may take about 10 to 15 years before Afghan women can truly walk alongside men. But once they do, she believes, all Afghans will benefit. “When we talk about women’s rights,” Jamalzadah says, “we are talking about things that are important to men as well — men who want to see Afghanistan move forward. If you sacrifice women to make peace, you are also sacrificing the men who support them and abandoning the country to the fundamentalists that caused all the problems in the first place.”

Talk about conflicted!

On the one hand, I recognize that all experience and all evidence prove beyond any doubt that Afghanistan’s backwardness and ignorance will outlive us all—especially the US soldiers serving there. On the other hand, we, and no one else, have the power and the will to protect the powerless, and to allow the embers of enlightenment enough air to catch fire.

But 15 years to walk next to a man? Sorry, not worth it.

Give the women sidearms and ammo, teach them Krav Maga, and tell them to walk where they damn well please.

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In the Name of God, Go!

In expressing my feelings toward this Congress and the Democratic Party, it would be hard to top Oliver Cromwell:

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money. Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!

“Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation”. Preach, Brother Oliver!

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Leftist Historian Unloads On Obama

He’s disappointed, and he’s not taking it any more

As noted below, I personally don’t agree with the concept that Afghans are so backward, they can’t be helped to create a civilized society. Hell, if Germany could do it, anyone could do it. Plus, I don’t believe in genetic problems, master races, inferior races, or that cultures can’t change. Cultures can and do change, sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly. Look at our culture, for example.

But, the historian is ticked-off, and it is entertaining to listen to him vent:

Most presidents start wondering—or, more often, worrying—about their “legacy” well into their first term. Or, if they have a second term, they worry even more feverishly about what posterity will think of them. Obama need not wonder about his legacy, even this early. It is already fixed, and in one word: Afghanistan. He took on what he made America’s longest war and what may turn out to be its most disastrous one.

It is time for me to break a silence I have observed for over a year, against my better judgment. On June 30, 2009, I and eight other historians were invited to a dinner with President Obama and three of his staffers, to discuss what history could teach him about conducting the presidency. I was asked shortly after by several news media what went on there, and I replied that it was off the record. I have argued elsewhere that the imposition of secrecy to insure that the president gets “candid advice” is a cover for something else—making sure that what is said about the people’s business does not reach the people. But I went along this time, since the president said that he wanted this dinner to be a continuing thing, and I thought that revealing its first contents would jeopardize the continuation of a project that might be a source of information for him.

But there has been no follow up on the first dinner, and certainly no sign that he learned anything from it. The only thing achieved has been the silencing of the main point the dinner guests tried to make—that pursuit of war in Afghanistan would be for him what Vietnam was to Lyndon Johnson. At least four or five of the nine stressed this. Nothing else rose to this level of seriousness or repeated concern.

PS: Do historians always have problems with simple math? If four or five out of nine historians were opposed to continuing in Afghanistan, perhaps that means that either slightly more than, or slightly less than half of them supported the effort.

- Aggie

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