December 28, 2009

Thank You, Charles Krauthammer

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:17 pm

Rephrasing what I’ve mentioned a couple of times in the past week, when we desperately need an updated version of the December 1981 model of Ronald Reagan, we instead get the 2009 clunker known as Barack Obama.

Charles Krauthammer rips into Obama’s relative indifference (HT Taxman Blog), after Fox’s fair and balanced Jim Engel attempted to give President ‘Prompter cover for having uttered “strong words”:

Full Text:

President Obama: The decision of Iraq’s leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not succeed in making those aspirations go away. As I said in Oslo, it’s telling when governments fear the aspirations of its own people more than the power of any other nation.

Jim Engel: Now, strong words, Charles, but what is the administration doing? What can it do with a regime that is so obstreperous?

Charles Krauthammer: Flaccid words. Meaningless words. He talks about aspirations, he talks about rights, he talks about “justice” in the statement he made. This isn’t about “justice,” this isn’t about a low minimum wage, this isn’t about the absence of a public option in health care. This is about freedom.

This is a revolution in the streets. Revolutions happen quickly. There is a moment here in which if the thugs in the streets who are shooting on the crowds stop shooting, it’s over, and the regime will fall. The courage of the demonstrators and their boldness isn’t only a demonstration of their courage, it’s an indication of a shift in the balance of power. The regime is weakening.

This is a hinge of history. Everything in the region will change if the regime is changed. Obama ought to be strong out there in saying “It’s an illegitimate government, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people in the street.”

He talks about diplomacy. He should be urging our Western allies who have relations to cut them off, isolate the regime. To ostracize it he ought to be going into UN, every forum, and denouncing it. This is a moment in history and he’s missing it.

Ronald Reagan didn’t miss it. You’ll note in his December 23, 1981 speech that he announced specific symbolic and substantive actions. They weren’t overwhelming by any stretch, but they demonstrated a willingness to do something beyond complaining. And of course, Thatcher, Pope John Paul, the AFL-CIO’s Lane Kirkland, and many others also started doing a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes.

By contrast, Barack Obama is from all appearances avoiding doing anything, and even seems to require convincing to get in front of a microphone.

Not only is Obama missing the moment, he is doing way too much to give the regime of Khamenei, who really runs things, and his puppet Ahmadinejad legitimacy they do not deserve.

Elections matter, don’t they?

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Related: Michelle Malkin on Obama’s response to Flight 253 — “Perfunctory, hasty, and bloodless.” Obama’s reax to the attempted takedown is related to the situation in Iran because Iran funds and facilitates Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which would include Yemen.

AP, Aversa Conveniently Change Their Definition of ‘Recession’

recession

The Associated Press’s business writers and many others in the establishment press spent just over a year reminding readers at seemingly every conceivable opportunity that the recession began in December 2007, simply because the supposedly apolitical collection of academics at the National Bureau for Economic Research said so.

Lo and behold, in her year-end roundup of 2009′s top business stories, an article so biased and error-prone that I am devoting my next weekly column to deconstructing it, the Associated Press’s Jeannine Aversa writes that:

After four quarters of decline, the economy returns to growth during the July-to-September period, signaling the end of the deepest and longest recession since the 1930s.

Well, isn’t that special?

All of a sudden, Aversa is telling us that that the recession really ran from the third quarter of 2008 through the second quarter of 2009. She says that the recession ended during the third quarter of 2009 simply because the economy has returned to positive GDP growth (i.e., the “signal” went from a minus sign to a plus sign), which means she is now pegging it as having begun just four quarters earlier.

In other words, after using the NBER to define the beginning of the recession, she is using the “normal people” definition of a recession to say it’s over.

No can do, babe.

If you want to come back to the “normal people” definition, Jeannine, you and your colleagues are going to have to rewrite all items composed during the past year that dated the recession’s beginning as December 2007 — items that conveniently told us that we were putting up with a recession for more than a full year before Dear Leader came along. If you and your fellow journos aren’t willing to do that, you’re just going to have to be patient like the rest of us and wait for the NBER to tell us when it ended, and in the meantime shut your traps about whether it is or isn’t. In other words, if it’s on because they say it’s on, it doesn’t come off until they say it comes off.

As I noted in my Pajamas Media column/BizzyBlog post on February 12 and 14 this year, NBER, to arrive at its December 2007 determination, ignored three different significant pieces of evidence it cited in its own report — beyond the obvious fact that second quarter 2008 GDP growth was positive, ultimately even after the comprehensive revision several months ago — that the economy was improving during 2008’s second quarter, but got stopped in its tracks after that (bolds are mine):

The income-side estimates (of gross domestic income) reached their peak in 2007Q3, fell slightly in 2007Q4 and 2008Q1, rose slightly in 2008Q2 to a level below its peak in 2007Q3, and fell again in 2008Q3.

Our measure of real personal income less transfers peaked in December 2007, displayed a zig-zag pattern from then until June 2008 at levels slightly below the December 2007 peak, and has generally declined since June.

The Federal Reserve Board’s index of industrial production peaked in January 2008, fell through May 2008, rose slightly in June and July, and then fell substantially from July to September.

Beyond these three contrary items, considering December 2007 through June 2008 as part of the recession has these other additional flaws:

  • In December 2007, the economy added 120,000 seasonally adjusted jobs.
  • Fourth quarter 2007 GDP growth was an annualized +2.1%.
  • Compared to the first two full quarters of previous recessions, the first six months of 2008, with its average of +0.4%, is the only period showing positive net positive six-month GDP growth.
  • Jobs lost during the first six months of 2008 were lower as a percentage of the workforce than any other first two full quarters of previous recessions.

I for one am perfectly willing to concede that the recession as normal people define it is over, even if the economy’s performance isn’t particularly impressing anyone. In fact I have to; that’s what’s nice about having clear, objective, fact-based definitions. Of course, that also means that I’ve always said that the recession began in the third quarter of 2008.

But given that seasonally adjusted job losses haven’t yet ended, new home sales are still in the tank, and the largely government-induced nature of third quarter 2009′s growth, it’s hard to see how NBER, if it is to be consistent, will consider the recession to have ended in July. We’ll have to see what these supposedly apolitical academics have to say when they say it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

P.S. And of course, it is not a coincidence that the the third quarter of 2008 marked the first full quarter of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy.

So He Doesn’t Have an Excuse?

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:14 am

Item: Zennie Abraham asserts (without any attempted verification, it would appear; the fact that hard-lefties at Think Progress put up the video is what constitutes his “evidence”) that “Senator Max Baucus not drunk on Senate Floor.”

But if Abraham is correct, that’s not good news for Baucus. If the Senator from Montana were inebriated, that would at least give him an excuse for this where otherwise none exists (Warning — very painful to watch):

Baucus is blubbering because every Senate Republican seems to have finally figured out what Mark Steyn capsulized nicely in his column yesterday (all text is his):

  • “Looking at the millions of Americans it leaves uninsured, and the millions it leaves with worse treatment and reduced access, and the millions it makes pay significantly more for their current health care, one can only marvel at Harry Reid’s genius: government health care turns out to be all government and no health care.”
  • “The entire bill is a public option – because that’s where it leads, remorselessly.”
  • “The so-called ‘death panel’ is …. again the entire bill – because it inserts the power of the state between you and your doctor, and in effect assumes jurisdiction over your body.”
  • “As I’ve been saying for over a year now, ‘health care’ is the fast-track to a permanent left-of-center political culture. The unlovely Democrats on public display in the week before Christmas may seem like just a bunch of jelly-spined opportunists, grubby wardheelers and rapacious kleptocrats, but the smarter ones are showing great strategic clarity.”
  • “Alas for the rest of us, Euro-style government on a Harry Reid/Chris Dodd/Ben Nelson scale will lead to ruin.”

Lucid Links (122809, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

RIP, Phillip Wise, and prayers for his family. 

Wise’s killers, who murdered him in front of his three children at a Salvation Army center in North Little Rock, Arkansas while his wife Cindy was inside, are still on the loose.

Phillip was a Salvation Army major in North Little Rock, as is his wife.

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“Death Panels” Update, from a page at National Right to Life –

HealthCareSenateVersionRationing120

Important additional segments and points follow at the link. Read the whole thing.

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From a week ago, in the UK:

Poor people who are desperate for cash have been advised to go forth and shoplift from major stores – by an Anglican priest.

The Rev Tim Jones said in his Sunday sermon that stealing from successful shops was preferable to burglary, robbery or prostitution.

He told parishioners it would not break the eighth commandment ‘thou shalt not steal’ because it ‘is permissible for those who are in desperate situations to take food that they might not starve’.

…. “I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.”

Following the “logic,” burglary and prostitution are really okay, because they’re preferable to killing and maiming, which are okay, because at least they’re not mass murder and genocide.

Carrying out Jones’s suggestion would be difficult:

  • Stealing from Wal-Mart, which by the way has done more to make food affordable than any entity in the past 50 years, would be okay, because it is large, national, and successful.
  • But lifting stuff from Kroger is dicey. Yes, it’s large, national, and usually successful, but it just reported a loss of $875 million. Does that earn the store a one quarter Tim Jones exemption from shoplifting?
  • Or, since Kroger’s problems appear to primarily be in California, does that mean that stealing from those Krogers is wrong, but five-finger discounting in the Midwest is okey-dokey? Maybe the Rev should distribute the financials of various providers so he can help his parishoners decide on acceptable and unacceptable targets.
  • As to size, why wouldn’t it be okay to steal from a smaller store if you know the owner is very well-off?

Gosh, this is getting really complex. Isn’t it just a lot easier to do your best to follow the Commandments?

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Venezuela begins establishing its police state.” Giveaway quote:

Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said the nascent police force would seek to reduce crime through preventative rather than repressive measures and embrace the socialist ideals of Chavez’s “Bolivarian Revolution,” a political movement named after 19th-century independence hero Simon Bolivar.

“The National Police will impose a culture of peace in the barrios to eliminate the violence of the capitalist, bourgeois model that we’ve inherited,” El Aissami said.

Venezuela 2009 = Cuba c.1960, but with oil.

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Exercise in delusion — According to Susan Rice, “new US (foreign) policy is engaging world.”

Then explain this, Susie (internal link added by me):

Obama the party crasher
Foreign leaders were avoiding the president in Copenhagen

Barack Obama is not used to being the guy not invited to a party. At the Copenhagen global warming conference, however, he found that not everyone wanted to hang with him. Our president can’t take a hint.

After Mr. Obama’s bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, the Chinese began sending lower-level functionaries to the multilateral meetings.

…. imagine Mr. Obama’s surprise when he arrived for (a) bilateral powwow and found all four leaders (of China, India, Brazil, and South Africa) in the room already in deep discussion. “Are you ready for me?” he said with an “uncharacteristic edge” to his voice, according to a CBS News report.

“We weren’t crashing a meeting,” an Obama flack later explained defensively. “We were going for our bilateral meeting.” But that didn’t stop him from walking in where he wasn’t invited. Clearly, Mr. Obama learned a few things from his own White House party crashers.

There was no chair at the table for Mr. Obama so he announced he would sit next to his “friend Lula,” whose staff had to scramble to make room for the president and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. On Monday, Mr. da Silva used his weekly radio program to rebuke the United States for its stance at Copenhagen.

After Mr. Obama arrived, the …. group was basically held hostage. They had tried politely to keep Mr. Obama at arms length, but since he showed up, decorum mandated that they find a way to save face.

The countries reached agreement on three pages of noncommittal boilerplate – and Mr. Obama rushed out to declare that he had once again saved the day.

There’s also this, from Obama’s Cuban buds: “Cuba’s foreign minister called President Barack Obama an “imperial and arrogant” liar Monday for his conduct at the U.N. climate conference, a reflection of the communist island’s increasingly fiery verbal attacks on the U.S. government.”

Imagine what it will be like when they come to really respect us.

Positivity: Popes Pius XII, John Paul II declared ‘venerable’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From the Vatican:

In a series of decrees issued on December 19, the Vatican has approved miracles allowing for the canonization of five people and the beatification of five others. The Vatican also recognized the 1984 murder of Father Jerzy Popieluszko by Communist intelligence officers as a martyrdom, preparing the way for his beatification.

The decrees, approved by Pope Benedict XVI during a private audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, also proclaimed that ten other candidates for sainthood had lived lives of heroic virtue. Those decrees make the candidates eligible for beatification if a miracle is attributed to their intercession.

The two decrees commanding the greatest public attention were those recognizing the heroic virtue of Pope Pius XII, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, and Pope John Paul II, who reigned from 1978 to 2005.

Five of the December 19 decrees testified to the authenticity of miracles attributed to candidates who have already been beatified, and are now qualified for canonization. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.