Friday spawns

| April 10, 2009
The new face of America!

The new face of America!


[Welcome to AoS readers, and thanks to Genghis for the links and the kind words! Feel free to bookmark ASIP! Also, my Saturday links are posted here, my Monday links are here, my Tuesday links are here, and my Wednesday links are here.]

ITEM: Remember me quoting Machiavelli (“It is better to be feared than loved.”)  a few days ago with regards to the Obama World Tour? Well, the Economist just did the same thing. Great minds think alike, and all that.

ITEM: Speaking of being feared, here’s more advice, all of it sensible, on how to deal with ongoing piracy on the high seas. Y’know, if Obama were wise (as opposed to being merely smart or clever), he would follow these steps. It would make a lot of our enemies (and allies) nervous and would win him great approval here in the US.

ITEM: Creeping socialism/fascism alert: Yet another reason why I will probably never move back to my home state of California — now they want to regulate how big your TV can be, all in the name of “global warming.” Talk about fiddling while Rome burns….

ITEM: Ouch, ouch and ouch. Vanity Fair weighs in the on the question of whether Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. should be running the New York Times, but the real knife-between-the-ribs is the photo at the start of the article:

Yep, thats him on the right.

Yep, that's him on the right.

That’s gotta leave a mark.


ITEM: My laptop isn’t dead. Yet.

ITEM: As per the photo above, Charles Krauthammer takes Obama to task for his recent swing through Europe:

Our president came bearing a basketful of mea culpas. With varying degrees of directness or obliqueness, Obama indicted his own people for arrogance, for dismissiveness and derisiveness, for genocide, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantanamo and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world.

And what did he get for this obsessive denigration of his own country? He wanted more NATO combat troops in Afghanistan to match the surge of 17,000 Americans. He was rudely rebuffed.

Read the whole thing.

ITEM: Another comedy of errors from the White House. Hat tip to TOTUS; be sure to read his version of events. Also, TOTUS has the real scoop on Joe Biden calling President Bush to task.

ITEM: A call to bring US troops home from Europe. I’ve been arguing for this since the fall of the USSR 20 years ago, particularly given the rampant anti-Americanism in (western) Europe. Yeah, the Russian Bear has been growling a bit lately, but I think it’s time for the EU to cowboy up and take care of their own borders.

ITEM: Speaking of anti-Americanism — “I think the fact that Canada continues to exist is proof of the kindness of America as a nation”:

ITEM: The current Somali pirate hostage situation should remind us that there are tried and true methods for dealing with pirates that actually work quite well (as opposed to, say, holding hearings in Congress). Which is not to say that there haven’t been effective steps taken already.

ITEM: Good news! The economy could recover sooner than expected! Bad news! No, it won’t! Worst news: even if it does, we’ll probably make all the same mistakes all over again. Related news: China, who owns just about 25% of the total US debt, is having economic troubles of its own.

ITEM: Speaking of make the same mistakes over and over again, Congress is still in session:

Self-proclaimed victims of global warming or those who “expect to suffer” from it – from beachfront property owners to asthmatics – for the first time would be able to sue the federal government or private businesses over greenhouse gas emissions under a little-noticed provision slipped into the House climate bill.

Environmentalists say the measure was narrowly crafted to give citizens the unusual standing to sue the U.S. government as a way to force action on curbing emissions. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sees a new cottage industry for lawyers.

“You could be spawning lawsuits at almost any place [climate-change modeling] computers place at harm’s risk,” said Bill Kovacs, energy lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

I’m not sure which is worse: whether this was deliberately intended, or if it’s just a byproduct of the increasingly disfunctional legislative process.

ITEM: Creeping socialism/fascism alert: Congress also wants to take control of the Federal Reserve Board. That is a truly terrifying thought. I may not always agree with the Fed’s course of action, but giving Congress any hint of control or oversight would be a disaster.

ITEM: Speaking of disaster (and I’m referring to the subject, not the author), Woman On Fire Megan McArdle starts her latest article with:  “America’s public sector pensions have been a scandal for years.” They sure have, but the mainstream media has studiously ignored this problem because, as McArdle notes, “Politicians had gotten into the habit of promising generous pensions as a ‘cheap’ giveaway to powerful unions.” And unions can do no wrong as far as the MSM is concerned.

By the way, guess where a lot of those pension funds were invested?

With the holes laid bare, public pension funds scrambled to find some way to fill them without making politicians do something ridiculous, like raise taxes to pay for all the promises they’d made.  Many of them seem to have hit on the notion of pulling the money out of boring old bonds and putting them in something that paid a nice, high return–not just equities, but hedge funds and exotic securities. . . .

. . . the current underfunding in public plans, which cover about 22 million workers, seems to be something north of a trillion dollars.  And they’re not insured.

Read the whole thing.

ITEM: In the meantime, the PPIP plan for helping banks rid themselves of toxic assets fails some very elementary game theory analysis:

Game theory tells us that a risk neutral gambler would pay $50 dollars for a coin flip that paid $0 for Heads and $100 for Tails. Game theorists would call $50 the value of the bet.

Suppose someone is willing to fund your gambling problem, and lend you $80 at zero interest. Better still, if you lose the bet you don’t have to pay him back. Under that scenario, the same gambler would pay $90 for the bet, giving him an even chance of winning or losing $10.

This is a microcosm of what the Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP) is intended to do: create an incentive for investors to pay $90 for a bet that is only worth $50. It is bad economics and bad public policy and it is probably fraudulent. Congress should act pre-emptively to halt Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s latest scheme.

ITEM: Take it from the father of nine chidren (plus a few semi-adopted daughters) — if you think having children is going to make your marriage easier or more pleasant, think again. But what this article — and the study behind it — does not touch upon is that there are (or can be) deep joys from your children not found anywhere else in life. But the commitment is for a lifetime.

ITEM: For the life of me, I can’t figure out why anyone would be surprised that the US trade deficit keeps dropping. If people lose net worth and/or are unemployed or at risk of losing their jobs, they’re not going to spend as much (assuming they have money to spend). And since vast amounts of what we buy are manufactured (or grown) outside the US (read: China), it only stands to reason that we’d import less.

ITEM: Speaking of China, this photo shows the world’s tallest statue, located in eastern China. Here’s the Google Maps view. (Hat tip to the Drunk Report.)

ITEM: The Daily Bayonet is back from being under the knife and has his Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up posted.

More in the morning, I believe.  ..bruce w..

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Category: China, Climate Change, Creeping socialism, Economics, Environment, Family, Geopolitics, Humor, Kids, Links roundup, Main, Obama Administration, Recession Watch, Stimulus, Video

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.