Monday swings

| April 13, 2009
See, it says right here: All pirates shall be hanged.

See, it says right here: "All pirates shall be hanged."


ITEM: Robert Samuelson, one of the more sane and balanced economic observers (probably because he has no noticeable political agenda), points out the fundamental flaw in Obama’s approach to the economy:

What Obama proposes is a “post-material economy.” He would de-emphasize the production of ever-more private goods and services, harnessing the economy to achieve broad social goals. In the process, he sets aside the standard logic of economic progress.

Since the dawn of the Industrial Age, this has been simple: produce more with less. (“Productivity,” in economic jargon.) Mass markets developed for clothes, cars, computers and much more because declining costs expanded production. Living standards rose. By contrast, the logic of the “post-material economy” is just the opposite: Spend more and get less.

Read the whole thing. And speaking of “setting aside the standard logic of economic progress” . . .

ITEM (BUMPED): The current astroturfed meme on the Left/in the media is, “Oh, those tea parties are just silly! What do people really have to be upset about? Well, Rand Simberg provides Exhibit A (which he in turn got from Instapundit):

Holy bankruptcy, Batman!

As Rand points out:

This is both an interesting, and scary graph. The most important thing to me is not just the sheer magnitude of the Obama deficits, but the respective trends of both administrations.

ITEM: OK, this reach is so desperate that it’s funny:

By authorising the use of military force for the first time outside the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan that he inherited, President Obama may hope that he has shut some of his critics up. For the moment, at least. . . .

Opponents who have always seen his presidency as a throwback to that of Jimmy Carter rather than John Kennedy, were lining up to compare the scenes in the Gulf of Aden to the Iranian hostage crisis 30 years before.

Trust me, those of us who compare Obama to Jimmy Carter aren’t doing so on the basis of Barry and the pirates (to steal a phrase). Even Carter tried to rescue the Iranian hostages. The real question is whether Obama will take the necessary steps to minimize the chance of this happening again. Fortunately, there are some indications that he might well do that. On the other hand, not everyone is ready to give the Obama Administration credit for the rescue. On the gripping hand, not everyone wants to call Captain Phillips a hero (and by “not everyone”, I mean the usual gang of idiots over at Daily Kos, though as commentator “Political Season notes below, “the post at Kos criticizing Capt. Phillips was pretty roundly repudiated and refuted in the comments.” Glad to see there are still things we all can agree upon).

ITEM: Though this article doesn’t make the explicit connection, Obama’s choice to abandon missile defense may well result in a re-armed Japan:

The fear of a nuclear attack from North Korea, coupled with the current economic recession, is more than likely to prompt Japan to re-arm itself. North Korea, rather than Russia or the People’s Republic of China, is Japan’s only potential enemy. And the country is headed by Kim Jong-Il, the erratic despot son of Kim Il-Song, who launched an invasion to kick off the Korean War in 1950. Pyongyang has gone on the record by saying it has stopped trying to make nuclear bombs, but the Japanese military suspects that they may have been stockpiled.

Japan has a mutual defense treaty with the United States. Uncle Sam provides a nuclear defense umbrella for Japan under the treaty signed at the beginning of the Cold War era for protection against attacks from the Soviet Union. Thanks to the mutual defense arrangements, Japan has been able to refrain from rearmament, which is frowned upon by the United States and the People’s Republic of China, along with those Asian countries that were invaded or occupied by the Japanese Imperial Army before and during the Second World War.


ITEM: Old news by now, but Captain Richard Phillips — the last US hostage from the Maersk Alabama being held the Somali pirates — was freed by Navy SEALs in a “swift gunfight” that left three of the four pirate holding Phillips dead. Note that Captain Phillips jumped overboard from the lifeboat again, which gave the SEALs a clear firing zone.  I’m not sure how they coordinated that, but it was well done.

ITEM: Let’s see, Pastor Rick Warren appeared on a video last fall supporting Proposition 8 in California, then went on Larry King’s show last week and denied that he had supported Prop 8, then canceled an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” yesterday morning moment before going on with a spokesperson stating that Warren was “sick with exhaustion.” Yeah, I’ll bet.

I’d say that in retrospect he was the perfect choice to give the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration.

ITEM: Speaking of Obama, how’s that reliance on multilateral negotiations via the United Nations working out? Not so well, apparently:

The Security Council stalemate over North Korea’s rocket launch is turning into an early test of the Obama administration’s U.N.-focused multilateralism.

Six days after U.S. President Barack Obama called for swift punishment of North Korea, the Security Council hasn’t acted.

Ace of Spaces has some more butt-covering on this matter by the Obama Administration.

ITEM: New evidence of global warming!

Wallington: Yesterday [April 11] exceedingly warm & fine, said to have been the warmest day for that date for 70 years. Today [April 12] even more so.

That’s George Orwell’s diary entry for April 12, 1939.

ITEM: Speaking of global warming, I’m afraid this may be a bad bet on the part of my home town of San Diego:

Learning from their failed 2005 bid to house California’s stem cell institute in San Diego County, local business and academic leaders are mounting an early campaign to become the state’s hub for research on global warming.

Has anyone there looked at global temperatures over the past decade?

ITEM: On Saturday, I mocked the Denver Post for having the Obamas’ new dog as their lead headline online. Well, they are in good company; here’s this morning’s Washington Post online:

Important news!

Important news!

In all fairness, this is a local story for the WaPo and it reflects their constant coverage of day-to-day life within the White House. On the other hand, I’m not the only one who thinks this reflects a bit too much coziness between the WaPo and the White House. And this article only supports that concern (emphasis mine):

White House aides told the AP that the office of the first lady arranged an exclusive deal on the dog story with the Post. The officials, who demanded anonymity because of the deal with the Post on exclusive details, said the dog was not in the White House as of Saturday evening.

And here I’ve given the WaPo major props for actually criticizing the Obama Administration. Sigh. . . .

ITEM: I have previously linked to articles suggesting that the US Government’s efforts to set salaries within the financial industry would lead to a talent flight. Well, the New York Times says that’s just what’s happening:

There is an air of exodus on Wall Street — and not just among those being fired. As Washington cracks down on compensation and tightens regulation of banks, a brain drain is occurring at some of the biggest ones. They are some of the same banks blamed for setting off the worst downturn since the Depression.

Top bankers have been leaving Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and others in rising numbers to join banks that do not face tighter regulation, including foreign banks, or start-up companies eager to build themselves into tomorrow’s financial powerhouses. Others are leaving because of culture clashes at merging companies, like Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, and still others are simply retiring early.

ITEM: Movie recommendation of the week — if you have never watched the 1959 version of “Ben Hur” (with Charlton Heston in the title role), do so. It’s one of the few “religious epics” of the 50s and 60s that holds up well half a century later.

ITEM: Creeping socialism/fascism alert: Jonathan Turley expresses dismay in the Washington Post that “the ‘Free World’, it appears, may be losing faith in free speech.” Read the whole thing.

ITEM: Creeping socialism/fascism alert, part II: George Will, someone with whom I don’t always agree, pretty much nails my current concerns in this piece (“Racing Past the Constitution”):

Rampant redistribution of wealth by government is now the norm. So is this: It inflames government’s natural rapaciousness and subverts the rule of law. This degeneration of governance is illustrated by the Illinois Legislature’s transfer of income from some disfavored riverboat casinos to racetracks.

Illinois has nine licensed riverboat casinos and five horse-racing tracks. In 2006, supposedly to “address the negative impact that riverboat gaming has had” on Illinois horse racing, the Legislature — racing interests made huge contributions to Gov. Rod Blagojevich — mandated a transfer of 3 percent of the gross receipts of the four most profitable casinos, those in the Chicago area, to the state’s horse-racing tracks. This levy, subsequently extended to run until 2011, will confiscate substantially more than $100 million.

What is to prevent legislators from taking revenues from Wal-Mart and giving them to local retailers? Or from chain drugstores to local pharmacies? Not the tattered remnant of the Constitution’s takings clause.

ITEM: Speaking of a tattered Constitution, Justice Ginsberg is concerned that if we don’t listen more to foreign law, they won’t listen to us:

She added that the failure to engage foreign decisions had resulted in diminished influence for the United States Supreme Court.

The Canadian Supreme Court, she said, is “probably cited more widely abroad than the U.S. Supreme Court.” There is one reason for that, she said: “You will not be listened to if you don’t listen to others

So, it’s all about popularity, then? And, of course, we know that Canada is  a bastion of civil rights such as free speech. UPDATED: David
Bernstein over at the Volokh Conspiracy has a longer and more informed reaction to Justice Ginsberg’s remarks.

ITEM: On the international front, the New York Times editorial board beclowns itself by unilaterally declaring an “End to the Clash of Civilizations”. They end their idiocy with a small fig leaf:

Aides say Mr. Obama is still planning a bigger speech to the Muslim world. The next one will have to acknowledge not just common ground but important differences with many Muslim countries — including the issues of women’s rights and freedom of religion — that are not easily bridged.

They apparently have no clue even about their own coverage of those vast differences, as this post by Jim Hoagland so clearly demonstrates (emphasis mine):

“Leave me for the moment — you can beat me again later,” a 17-year-old woman begs between sobs in a video airing on Pakistan’s private television networks and now posted on the Internet. But the local Taliban commander continues to flog her without mercy as a group of village men watch in silence.

These images were described in a recent New York Times dispatch, which noted that the alleged transgressions of the woman could not be definitively established. The range of possible violations of the Taliban’s version of Islamic law — from stepping outside her house without a male escort to having an illicit affair — is appallingly vast.

The video, apparently shot on a cell phone and given to a human rights activist, is not surprising in itself. The brutal subjugation of poor, uneducated women in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan is widely if incompletely known in the West. But the brief, blurry images are revealing.

Nope, no clash there.

ITEM: Well, then, that explains everything. Actor Woody Harrelson says that he attacked a photographer at an airport because “he mistook the cameraman for a zombie.” Gotta lay off the hard stuff, Woody. Hat tip to Dave Barry.

ITEM: Also from Dave Barry comes this moment of human courage and magnificence some 30 miles to the north of where I currently sit:

So we’re sitting in the Denver airport, in a confined area, maybe 25 people, and in our midst is one of those Bluetooth Blowhards, carrying on a long cellphone conversation in a loud voice so everybody can hear every detail about his big workload and his very successful business and his rich friends with a 150-foot yacht with a weapons system to repel pirates and how he’s a pretty good skier and he doesn’t want to talk trash but he knows WAY more about stocks than Jim Cramer and you should definitely bet on Russian stocks and on and on and ON. So finally a man walked over, put his face right into the blowhard’s, and said, “Excuse me. Nobody here cares about your business, OK? And all of us can hear every word.” Which actually pretty much shut the blowhard up. If I wore a hat, I would take if off to that man.

More links later in the day, maybe.  ..bruce w..

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Category: Climate Change, Colorado, Creeping socialism, Economics, Environment, Geopolitics, Humor, Journalism, Links roundup, Main, Media, Military, Obama Administration, Terrorism, US Politics

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.

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  1. Friday spawns | And Still I Persist | April 13, 2009
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  1. To be fair, the post at Kos criticizing Capt. Phillips was pretty roundly repudiated and refuted in the comments.

  2. bfwebster says:

    Thanks for the correction; I’ve noted it in the original post above. ..bruce..