November 21, 2010

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Tony Blankley with a sober view of the reaction to the deficit commission’s report.

“If only we had sold our stocks a few weeks ago.” “If only I’d had the brakes checked before she drove up to the mountains.” There are few sadder words than those of regret at letting time pass until the catastrophe hits. Neither individuals nor armies nor nations are exempt from the human tendency to wait too long before acting – and paying a terrible price for the delay.

These thoughts, among others, have crossed my mind as I have watched politicians across the ideological spectrum react to the deficit commission’s report of last week.

Whatever substantive view of the proposal the various politicians had, I didn’t see a single senior player express the desire to take the report as an opportunity to throw all of our effort immediately into developing and passing a workable proposal into law. …

… Even as Greece, Spain and Ireland raise the specter of sovereign debt crises, even as France and Britain take bold action to bring their excessive spending under control (at the price of major street violence in their capital cities ) – American politicians focus on the general unacceptability of a proposal that includes anything that doesn’t quite fit their ideological predelictions. If they can’t have it exactly their way, they don’t want it at all. They are prepared to just coast forward at multitrillion-dollar yearly deficits, leaving only a string of condemnatory press releases in their wake. …


Abe Greenwald thinks Obama’s worst week ever has been going on since June. 

… Here’s a mordant laugh. On Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer said, “Every administration has a period where things just go haywire, nothing seems to go right. But I can’t recall a week like the Obama White House has had.” That was June 6, when Obama’s worst week was composed of lame PR attempts to deal with an oil spill that was not — at all — his fault. But clearly, as far back as June, the American people sensed that not all was well with the state of the country. The spill was convenient prey — and Barack Obama has scarcely had a week that easy since. What this really means is that our worst week ever has been going on for almost six months. This is a full season of collective uncertainty. With no reset on the horizon, the concept of worst is becoming infinitely elastic.


Joel Kotkin knows why the Dems got wiped. Their ideas suck.

Democrats are still looking for explanations for their stunning rejection in the midterms — citing everything from voting rights violations and Middle America’s racist orientation to Americans’ inability to perceive the underlying genius of President Barack Obama’s economic policy.

What they have failed to consider is the albatross of contemporary liberalism.

Liberalism once embraced the mission of fostering upward mobility and a stronger economy. But liberalism’s appeal has diminished, particularly among middle-class voters, as it has become increasingly control-oriented and economically cumbersome.

Today, according to most recent polling, no more than one in five voters call themselves liberal.

This contrasts with the far broader support for the familiar form of liberalism forged from the 1930s to the 1990s. Democratic presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Bill Clinton focused largely on basic middle-class concerns — such as expanding economic opportunity, property ownership and growth.

Modern-day liberalism, however, is often ambivalent about expanding the economy — preferring a mix of redistribution with redirection along green lines. Its base of political shock troops, public-employee unions, appears only tangentially interested in the health of the overall economy. …


Since there is almost universal condemnation, why is Bernanke doing QE2? WSJ Op-Ed has a suspicion.

… I have a different explanation for the Fed’s latest easing program: Without another $600 billion floating through the economy, Mr. Bernanke must believe that real estate (residential and commercial) would quickly drop, endangering banks.

The 2009 quantitative easing lowered mortgage rates and helped home prices rise for a while. But last month housing starts plunged almost 12%. And in September, according to Core-Logic, home prices dropped 2.8% from 2009. Commercial real estate values are driven by job-creation and vacancy rates, both of which are heading the wrong way.

Because of unexpectedly bad construction loans, the staid Wilmington Trust was sold to M&T Bank earlier this month in a rare “takeunder”—what Wall Street calls a deal done below a company’s stock value, in this case by 40%.

In other words, real estate is at risk again. But Mr. Bernanke would create a panic if he stated publicly that, if not for his magic dollar dust, real estate would fall off a cliff. …


Charles Krauthammer comments on TSA pat-downs.

Ah, the airport, where modern folk heroes are made. The airport, where that inspired flight attendant did what everyone who’s ever been in the spam-in-a-can crush of a flying aluminum tube – where we collectively pretend that a clutch of peanuts is a meal and a seat cushion is a “flotation device” – has always dreamed of doing: pull the lever, blow the door, explode the chute, grab a beer, slide to the tarmac and walk through the gates to the sanity that lies beyond. Not since Rick and Louis disappeared into the Casablanca fog headed for the Free French garrison in Brazzaville has a stroll on the tarmac thrilled so many.

Who cares that the crazed steward got arrested, pleaded guilty to sundry charges, and probably was a rude, unpleasant SOB to begin with? Bonnie and Clyde were psychopaths, yet what child of the ’60s did not fall in love with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty?

And now three months later, the newest airport hero arrives. His genius was not innovation in getting out, but deconstructing the entire process of getting in. John Tyner, cleverly armed with an iPhone to give YouTube immortality to the encounter, took exception to the TSA guard about to give him the benefit of Homeland Security’s newest brainstorm – the upgraded, full-palm, up the groin, all-body pat-down. In a stroke, the young man ascended to myth, or at least the next edition of Bartlett’s, warning the agent not to “touch my junk.” …


According to CNet News, one typical human brain has more switches than all computers on earth.

… Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have spent the past few years engineering a new imaging model, which they call array tomography, in conjunction with novel computational software, to stitch together image slices into a three-dimensional image that can be rotated, penetrated and navigated. Their work appears in the journal Neuron this week. …

… They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study:

“One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.” …


Licking off the humor section is a feel good story from the editors of Investor’s Business Daily.

As the case for global warming and cap-and-trade has collapsed, so too has the market that was to exploit this manufactured crisis for fun and profit. The climate-change bubble has burst.

Lost in the hubbub leading up to the Republican and Tea Party tsunami on Nov. 2 was the collapse of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). But its implications for the future of the American economy and the business climate are staggering: It is an acknowledgment that both the case for climate trade and cap-and-tax legislation has also collapsed. …

… The biggest losers are CCX’s two biggest investors, Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management and Goldman Sachs, that champion of sound money management that serves as the farm team for administration staffing. …

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