Tuesday, May 31, 2011

You Have To Get The Players Right

WILL AMERICA SEE EUROPE-STYLE RIOTS? Newsweek sounds hopeful, but in America, unlike Europe, it’s usually the taxpayers who are behind the revolutions, not the parasites.

UPDATE: Reader William Stoddard emails:
I have to say I find the 18th-century analogy that Newsweek offers fairly plausible; it’s one of my possible historical models. But I think they have the actors wrong. Consider what things were like in France under the ancien régime, the dominant Great Power of the time:

* Rule by two cooperative elites, the noblesse d’epée and the noblesse du robe, the latter of whom were the intellectual, political, and legal class of the day, with both groups profiting from massive government subsidies and tax exemptions denied to the commoners

* Massively unbalanced government budgets, with the rulers spending money several years before they collected it in taxes

* Early experiments with printing-press money under John Law, which gave rise to the South Sea Bubble, which was, I believe, the first to be called by that name

If we are headed for revolutionary times, I have my own theory as to who will be the aristos fleeing from the embrace of Mme. la Guillotine: the people who’ve visibly profited from their control of government offices and budgets.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Facing The Music

Here we go.....
"I am forced to speak openly," Damanaki was quoted as saying in a statement by the semi-official Athens News Agency. "Either we agree with our lenders to a programme of tough sacrifices ... or we return to the drachma."
Do it.

Here's what happens if they do:

The Drachma would be devalued against the Euro. Sovereign debt denominated in the Euro would be recast into Drachmas, instantly haircutting them by whatever the devaluation is.

The Eurozone folks will scream. No matter; what enforcement mechanism to prevent this do the ECB and Eurozone folks have have? None, other than an armed invasion. And therein lies the solution for Greece - their external debt which has become impossible to pay suddenly becomes payable, as it's cut by 20, 30, even 50% overnight. This is a forced restructuring crammed down the creditor's throats.

Greece is forced to cut spending to match their tax revenues as borrowing will remain prohibitively expensive. This has to happen anyway - everywhere, not just in Greece. Doing that is going to suck. There's no avoiding the fact that it is going to suck nor is what has to happen avoidable on an indefinite forward basis. The sooner Greece runs a primary surplus the sooner the damage stops compounding.

To those who claim this sort of adjustment is "unjust", please square it with what Obama did to GM bondholders, who were forced at government gunpoint to agree to a roughly 70% devaluation. I know, I know, it's a sovereign .vs. a corporation. Or is it, when a firm has been effectively nationalized? Hmmm....

Contrary to the screaming in the media and elsewhere, Greek banks survive this. Their currency is converted; they get "haircut" but only in purchasing power, not numerically (think about it.) On the other hand foreign institutions take it up the ass. French and German banks, in particular, are deeply exposed to this, as is the ECB itself. Is this enough to throw the chessboard to the floor? To calculate that you need to know what the actual leverage ratio is on these institutions and how much actual capital they have to absorb losses. Can you come up with those numbers and defend them? I can't, and I presume the reason I can't is that the "interested parties" want me to be unable to do so. I am therefore forced to assume that material numbers of large French and German banks would detonate if this happened.

The Greek people's standard of living gets hit. Hard. This is unavoidable too. When you make $20,000 and spend another $10k on your credit cards a return to spending less than $20,000 so you can pay down the debt, or defaulting on the accumulated debt, is inevitable. It is better to choose the "when" yourself than to have it chosen for you. This move by Greece would be a choice to elect "now" as the time to do that.

The CDS written against these bonds will trigger, of course. Who's holding that risk and do they have any money? We know the answer from the last time around on the second part - no, they do not have the money. Did any of the regulatory institutions fix this since 2008? We know the answer to that too: No, they did not. Therefore we must assume the money does not exist, the swaps cannot be paid, and much hilarity will immediately ensue.


Their Reach Vastly Exceeds Their Grasp

Charles Hugh Smith:
The single greatest conceit of the Status Quo in the U.S., China and Euroland is that systems and trends can be tightly controlled. That conceit is slowly being revealed as hubris, as all sorts of things are spinning out of the control of the centralized authorities and financial elites in each geopolitical power center.

Does anyone really think the people of Greece will stand idly by while the state treasures of their nation are transferred to the banks which foolishly lent billions to a visibly risky enterprise? The banks, of course, lent freely to insolvent governments throughout the European Union, confident in the backstop of the E.U. itself.

The analogy to subprime mortgages in the U.S. is near-perfect: banks lent freely to extremely risky borrowers, breezily confident that their worker-bees in the Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Treasury and Congress would all toil feverishly to transfer the risk to the U.S. taxpayers, by whatever means were necessary.

Does anyone really think the uprisings against this transfer of national wealth to the "too big to fail" banks in Europe will fade as unemployment rises and the true costs of the transfer become apparent to all?

Does anyone really think there is no chance that the citizens of one of the nations lined up to be stripmined by the E.U. will openly rebl against the stripmining, throwing out their government until they find some politicians who are not spineless lackeys and factotums of the financial Status Quo?

Does anyone really think the banks are really that precious to the people they are stripmining? Just how awful would it be if all the big banks with exposure to sovereign debt in the E.U. went belly up and were declared insolvent? A handful of very wealthy managers would lose their jobs, a handful of very wealthy owners would lose their stake, and all the pension funds and mutual funds which bet on the inifinite passivity of the citizenry and the infiite checkbook of the E.U. would lose, too.

It's called Capitalistic risk and return, baby, and return can be negative. All the big players assumed the citizenry would quietly line up to have the clothing ripped from their backs and their flesh flayed to extract the pound of flesh "owed" the banks. But as the citizenry of Europe wake up to costs of the stripmining, which extends now to the taxpayers of Germany, Finland and beyond, they are withdrawing their support of the financial Status Quo.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Follow The Money

Excellent Charles Hugh Smith piece.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Two Leaders As Young Men

Netanyahu and Obama.

Any questions?

Got the image from here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Good Observation

Funny, it’s easy for some people to accept that artistic freedom is good for art, but they still have trouble accepting that economic freedom is good for the economy.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Death Before Discomfort

Leftist principles on full display:
The media is buzzing because for the first time in recent history a journalist actually demanded an answer from a liberal to a logical question. Following the Navy SEAL hit on Osama bin Laden, Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, interviewed Tom Donilon, President Obama's National Security Adviser, and broached the obvious inconsistency in the administration's argument that water boarding is "over the line," but "shooting an unarmed man in the face [is] legal and proper."


Nevertheless, Chris asked Mr. Donilon a valid question which could be paraphrased in the following way: "Why is putting a couple of bullets into the head of an unarmed man acceptable, but pouring water over an enemy combatant's face ‘over the line?'"


According to Tom, obtaining intelligence through unacceptable means like facial holding, muscle fatigue, and being confined with a caterpillar in a small space is less tolerable than blowing a hole through the face of a person who nonetheless deserved it. Life-saving intelligence-gathering deemed illegal and achieved through the cruel and inhuman practice of feigned drowning is, according to liberals, better left not attempted, even if the potential interrogation "victim" is planning to murder a few thousand Americans.

To normal people, i.e., those who think clearly, Donilon's explanation is a bit peculiar, but to anyone who understands the skewed and illogical manner in which liberals think, the National Security Adviser's response makes perfect sense.

For liberals, killing is an acceptable route, but discomfort on any level is never "consistent" with liberal values. If the prevention of uneasiness ends in death, then so be it.

Case in point: Abortion. Think about it -- for some women, carrying a child to term can be as uncomfortable as water boarding. Just ask Planned Parenthood. Unplanned pregnancy is scary and problematic, not unlike enhanced interrogation. However, if "gutsy" liberals are in charge, terminating a pregnancy is, more times than not, the preferred solution.

Donilon confirmed that liberal judgment dictates that the finality of violent death is consistent with liberal values, while inconvenience, irritation, and minimal emotional pain are objectionable to liberal sensibilities. A suspected terrorist gasping for air for a few seconds is unconscionable, but a fetus bleeding out from a purposely inflicted mortal head wound is perfectly acceptable.


In reality, Chris Wallace's probing question was a scratch-your-head inquiry and an honest attempt to understand an illogical way of thinking. The Fox News Sunday host acknowledged that most would agree that shooting Osama dead was justifiable. However, Wallace, as well as most right-thinking people, just couldn't grasp the dichotomy between the unbridled elation associated with blowing a hole through the skull of a vicious murderer and the endless moral indignation expressed over holding the head of an equally monstrous beast under water for 35 seconds.

Wallace pressed on: "What I am second-guessing is, if that's OK, why can't you do water boarding?" In other words - what's the rationale behind evading distress in favor of death?

Hey Chris, the answer is simple. There is none.

Why wasn't the relatively benign enhanced interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, "who was just as bad an operator" as the now-deceased Osama bin Laden, acceptable? It's because death is always embraced by the left as ethically superior to placing an individual in a painful situation. If the opportunity presents itself, the benefit gained through character-building coercive means will always take a back seat to offing someone. If the revered right-to-choose is presented, the left will almost always side with sacrificing a life over depriving comfort.


Abortion over adoption -- a shot to the skull over enhanced interrogation -- for liberals, the loss of abortion rights would be like subjecting America to an ongoing water boarding session. To liberals, abortion on demand is similar to shooting bin Laden in the head: necessary, better than the alternative, and lauded on the left as "gutsy" and worthy of rationalization.

So when Chris Wallace attempts to make sense out of what seems senseless and asks reasoned, well thought-out questions, the left's response exposes the foundational liberal principle that when given a choice, killing is preferred over avoidable discomfort and at all times will be vigorously justified by an ideology rooted in irrational absurdity.

The Establishment Has Gone Off The Rails

Very good Walter Russell Meade essay. Instapundit excerpts a section here, and here is another:
The Evaporation of Religion

The religion gap between the elite and the rest of the country is a big part of the problem — and in more ways than one. I can’t help but notice that the abandonment of serious religion by most of the American elite has coincided with a massive collapse in both the public and private morality of the American establishment. Kids who weren’t raised in church or synagogue or mosque, who were taught that ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ were simplistic categories in a complex moral world of shades of gray, who were told that their highest moral duty was to be true to their inner passions, who were the first generation in American history to be raised in a Scripture-free educational medium, turn into self-indulgent, corner-cutting, self-centered adults.

What a surprise! We raised a generation of bright kids without a foundation in religion, and they’ve grown up and gone to Wall Street. We never told them that the virtuous life was both necessary and hard, that character was something that had to be built step by step from youth, that moral weakness was both contemptible and natural: and we are shocked, shocked! when, placed in proximity to large sums of loose cash, they grab all they can.

Religion is no guarantee of righteousness; Elmer Gantry is not the only sticky-fingered preacher in the history of the world. But at least in western history when the culture and habits of mind of an entire social milieu have lost touch with their cultural foundations in ethical monotheism, trouble is usually on the way. The estrangement from religion is also an estrangement from the ideas and cultural values that bind society into a workable whole.

The French aristocrats laughed at the manners and the morals of the common people and ridiculed the faith that lit the darkness and softened the harsh conditions of ordinary lives. Enlightened and cosmopolitan, the establishment mocked the attachment of the ignorant peasants to the king. The well educated, well connected elites accepted no limits on their ability to convert their social privilege into personal wealth; they accepted no limits on the gratification of their physical desires — flaunting their romantic affairs in the same spirit in which they feasted at Versailles while the gaunt peasants starved. They used and abused to the fullest all the privileges that came with their status while mocking and rejecting any sense of duty and obligation.

It was fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

And So It Begins

Ireland is going to impose a wealth tax on money in private pension accounts. To pay off the idiot EU bankers, of course.

No doubt Congress can't wait to get its paws on your 401k and IRA money.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Absolutely Outstanding And Heartfelt Hitchens Essay

Best introduced by this Anchoress post.

Part Of The Total Lack Of Principles

Brutally Honest:
Interesting that the justification for shooting an unarmed bin Laden in the head (we're at war with Al Qaeda) is justification we can't use to support enhanced interrogation of Islamist radicals.

Going back to John at VerumSerum, he speaks for me when he writes:
Gitmo and waterboarding are moral horrors which show America to be a ruthless, murderous monster-state run by Chimpy McHitlerburton. On the other hand, if President Obama orders an unarmed man shot in the face that’s not only legal it’s heroic and deserves a victory lap through ground zero.

Memo to the left: One of these two positions is wrong. You can not have it both ways.

Reason Itself Calls For Subscribing To Every Leftist Cliche In The Book

Koch-brothers-inspired paranoia is now officially part of Science!.


Saturday, May 07, 2011

Leftism Has No Need Of Criticism

It can do no wrong. VDH (the whole short piece is very good):
It’s also easier to conduct assassinations abroad if the Commander-in-Chief is liberal. This neutralizes criticism from the media, universities, the legal community, and Hollywood. Obama the law professor can assassinate bin Laden in Pakistan, dump his body in the ocean, and with first-person emphasis boast of our brilliant mission in a way Bush the Texan could not get away with—in the same manner that killing the son of Qaddafi, and the effort to kill Qaddafi himself, are not really forbidden targeted assassinations under Obama, and in the manner that Guantánamo, tribunals, renditions, preventive detentions, Predators, wiretaps, and intercepts that so bothered Senator Obama and others are now deemed essential. This paradox is just the way it is; the media will report a liberal president’s Predator drone attack or commando hit as done with reluctance and without other viable choices. Were a conservative leader to take the same actions, he would be portrayed as a trigger-happy war-monger reveling in the violence. Thus, the street celebrations that ensued when news of bin Laden’s death broke are seen by the media as a new unity inspired by Obama. Three years ago, they would have been seen as macabre triumphalism.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Through The Looking Glass

"If Supermarkets Were Like Public Schools"


No doubt the Democrats are already working on doing this.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


IOWAHAWK: American Pride is Back Out of the Closet! “Who is to credit for this rebirth in American national unity? First and foremost, we must cite the leadership of President Obama. Like many Americans – and the Nobel Peace Prize committee – I naively feared he was actually serious when he initially proposed shutting down Guantanamo, trying detainees in American civilian courts, and prior consultation with the international community. Little did I know that this untested young Commander-in-Chief would muster the courage to read his weekly Gallup numbers and, in one daring unilateral extra-judicial targeted hit job, toss aside every single idiotic foreign policy principle of his election campaign. Perhaps most satisfyingly, it was a mission made possible thanks to information extracted by methods he previously banned as ‘illegal torture.’”

Also this:
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama ordered Cheney's assassination squad to murder Osama bin Laden in cold blood, based on intelligence gathered through a combination of illegal torture of unlawfully detained civilians and warrantless wiretapping of private communications.

Anything I left out? Why are the Democrats celebrating? Doesn't this make Obama a war criminal, just like Bush? What am I missing here?

(Don't get me wrong. I'm as pleased as anyone that Osama has assumed room temperature. I just want to make sure that I don't say the wrong thing if Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi shows up on TV wearing an "I ♥ Waterboarding" t-shirt.)

Absolutely No Principles


Nancy Pelosi, press conference, September 7, 2006:
[E]ven if [Osama bin Laden] is caught tomorrow, it is five years too late. He has done more damage the longer he has been out there. But, in fact, the damage that he has done ... is done. And even to capture him now I don't think makes us any safer.
Nancy Pelosi, earlier today:
The death of Osama bin Laden marks the most significant development in our fight against al-Qaida. ... I salute President Obama, his national security team, Director Panetta, our men and women in the intelligence community and military, and other nations who supported this effort for their leadership in achieving this major accomplishment. ... [T]he death of Osama bin Laden is historic....

Monday, May 02, 2011

Motion Pictures

These are cool.


Ace of Spades headline:
Confirmed: Trail That Led To Bin Ladin Began With Enhanced Interrogation Methods of High Value Targets That President Obama And His Suddenly Rah-Rah Kill-Crazy Media Allies Completely Opposed and Campaigned To End

Sunday, May 01, 2011


What Vox said.

"When Carter Is Your Best-Case Scenario, You're In Trouble"

Full length Glenn Reynolds piece begins strong and goes from there:
People on the right have been comparing President Obama with Jimmy Carter for a while now: The rise from nowhere via inexplicable press adulation, the smarmy moralizing, the excessive faith in his own abilities, the tendency of everything he touches to turn to crap -- all seem eerily reminiscent of the Carter presidency.