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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

May 23rd, 2012 - 8:43 am

Greece IS Mulling Euro Exit…
Eurozone nations told to prep for Greek departure…
Germany rules out common euro bonds…
In Europe, Time for Plan B, Only There’s No Plan, and No Time…
Markets slump ahead of key EU summit…
Bundesbank says Greek euro exit would be ‘manageable’

“Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?” The WSJ writes, “something concrete finally came out of a eurocrat summit. The Germans said no.” And no means nein.



May 22nd, 2012 - 11:00 pm

President Obama is getting beat up by shadows.

In Arkansas, the latest results, with about a quarter of precincts reporting, shows Obama beating Tennessee lawyer John Wolfe by a margin of 59 percent to 41 percent …

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Obama is actually losing full counties to “Uncommitted.” Actually, Obama lost more than 40 counties across the state to Uncommitted…. It literally means that people are actively voting for nobody.

Mr. Nobody was having a pretty good night with Colin Powell too. The AP says “Former Secretary of State Colin Powell declined Tuesday to renew the presidential endorsement he gave Barack Obama four years ago, saying he wasn’t ready “to throw my weight behind someone” at this time.”


The Juncker Dictum

May 22nd, 2012 - 4:27 pm

The Wall Street Journal has blog roundup summarizing predictions of what will happen if Greece left the Euro. The scenarios presented vary; all seem to agree it would involve a period of acute short term pain followed possibly by long-term benefit. The two worst worries are a cascading run on the banks in the “periphery” and the rise of left and right wing parties.

The risk of capital flight is key. “We are most worried about deposit risk for the periphery, and we see plenty that can be done to alleviate these risks–crucially if there is the political willingness. For instance, allowing banks to access the EFSF/ESM [the European Financial Stability Facility and European Stability Mechanism, the euro zone's temporary and permanent rescue funds, respectively] directly. We have not thought that this was politically feasible but clearly there is a pain threshold that makes politicians take risks.” Alternatively, a euro-wide deposit insurance program would be a good idea, RBS says.

But  the predictions are contingent. There is if and there is maybe. The biggest if is whether politicians will do the right thing. Why would anyone think they will? The most likely outcome is for politicians to behave exactly as they have before.


Free As a Bird

May 22nd, 2012 - 11:44 am

A number of recent blogposts show how astoundingly easy it is to start a fake narrative and keep it going. A lie can keep ripping through explanations easier than a high velocity bullet through a paper wall. For example, journalist Mark Singer wrote about a book about how he was conned into slandering Dan Quayle by a guy called Brett Kimberlin.

This book relates a journalist’s worst nightmare: of getting deeply involved in a “big story” based on information from a single source who turns out to be a world-class liar. During the 1992 Presidential campaign Singer wrote a story for the New Yorker about the allegations by Brett Kimberlin, a former marijuana dealer then in prison for a series of bombings, that he had once sold marijuana to Vice President Dan Quayle.  (The cartoonist Garry Trudeau was another journalist who pushed this story hard.) After signing a book contract to expand the story, Singer invested more and more time,and became frustrated by holes, inconsistencies and dead ends in Kimberlin’s tale. …

After Garry Trudeau in “Doonesbury,” the New Yorker’s Mark Singer was possibly the most prominent journalist to sympathetically report allegations that convict Brett Kimberlin had sold marijuana to Dan Quayle when the Vice-President was a law student. … Now free, the former dope smuggler helps ship commodities to Ukraine; but when Kimberlin (with Singer in tow) had a chance to meet Quayle at a book signing, he refused to confront him. Quayle, it now seems, deserves apologies. 50,000 first printing.

Dan Quayle’s reputation is restored, right? Probably not. If he’s remembered at all it will be as the only man who ever lived that was more stupid than George W. Bush. But Kimberlin kept going. Today he is suing everyone, but most especially bloggers, though he will sue anyone at a pinch. Patterico’s Pontifications notes the incredible extent of Kimberlin’s legal action.


Not To Reason Why

May 21st, 2012 - 1:18 pm

The New York Times describes more evolution in action in its article, Charting Obama’s Journey to a Shift on Afghanistan.  The article is by David Sanger, based on his own book, Confront and Conceal. “President Obama’s thinking about what he once called “a war of necessity” began to radically change less than a year after he took up residency in the White House.”

in the first days of his presidency, Mr. Obama asked Bruce O. Riedel, a former C.I.A. officer with deep knowledge of the region, to lead a rapid review. At the time, the president was still speaking in campaign mode. He talked about remaking “an economy that isn’t dominated by illicit drugs” in Afghanistan and a “civilian surge” to match the military effort. But he said little about the Riedel team’s central insight: that Pakistan posed a far greater threat.

“If we were honest with ourselves, we would call this problem ‘Pak/Af,’ not ‘Af/Pak,’ ” Mr. Riedel said shortly after turning in his report. But the White House would not dare admit that publicly — even that rhetorical reversal would further alienate the Pakistanis …

Mr. Obama concluded that the Pentagon had not internalized that the goal was not to defeat the Taliban …

his goals now focus largely on finishing off Al Qaeda and keeping Pakistan’s nuclear weapons from going astray. Left unclear is how America will respond if a Taliban resurgence takes over wide swathes of the country America invaded in 2001 and plans to largely depart 13 years later.


And the Lights All Went Out

May 20th, 2012 - 4:50 pm

Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb died from cancer today. “Only Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees“.

The group sang three-part tight harmonies that were instantly recognisable; Robin’s clear vibrato lead was a hallmark of their earlier hits, while Barry’s R&B falsetto became their signature sound during the late 1970s and 1980s. The brothers wrote all of their own hits, as well as writing and producing several major hits for other artists.


Won’t You Please Come to Chicago

May 20th, 2012 - 4:06 pm

What could go wrong with NATO, Occupy, the Anti-Racist Action and National Socialists converging on Chicago?

Who were the White Supremacists who were attacked at a Tinley Park restaurant in Chicago? The Sun Times reported that in the middle of the lunch on rush Saturday “a waitress screamed a fight had broken out in the dining room.” …

Just who were the assailants? Wikipedia describes the Anti-Racist Action group as “a decentralized network of anti-fascist and anti-racists in North America. ARA activists organize actions to disrupt neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, and help organize activities against fascist and racist ideologies. ARA groups also oppose sexism, homophobia, heterosexism, anti-Semitism, and the pro-life movement. ARA originated from the skinhead and punk subcultures.” …

As for the White Supremacists, Fox Chicago reports that “they planned to have lunch at the Ashford House restaurant, 7959 W. 159th St, Tinley Park. Their internet postings refer to a ’5th Annual White Nationalist Economic Summit.’ Not clear is whether they chose this weekend and this suburban Chicago location as some sort of response to the NATO Summit in Chicago.”


One of the problems with conventional histories is that they are narratives designed to show a particular sequence of cause and effect. But when there are multiple causes there can be a dispute over which of these created the observed effect. Take the Western Allied air campaign against Nazi Germany. No one can dispute that Germany was beaten, but the extent to which the air campaign caused that defeat, or even subsidiary parts of it are disputed to this day.

In an era when only 20% of US “precision” bombing fell within 1,000 feet of a target and most of British bombing was in fact directed against area targets what, in terms of brute arithmetic, contributed most to the fall of Nazidom. Was it the attack on enemy industrial targets? The diversions of thousands of artillery pieces that might otherwise have been used to resist the Soviets to serve as flak? Was it the destruction of the oil supplies of the Third Reich? Was it even the fact that it drew the Luftwaffe into the air where they were eventually destroyed by long range fighter aircraft?


One Day More

May 19th, 2012 - 2:11 pm

A question was posed on a recent open thread: would the EU let Greece exit, or would they attempt to keep the currency in the fold. As a bonus, readers were asked to choose which song the Fat Lady would sing to correspond to the outcome. Well, according to the Guardian, we can now name that tune.


The Son of Paleface

May 18th, 2012 - 12:50 pm

We live in an age when just being yourself is … well … simply wrong. After Barack Obama’s girlfriend accompanied him to the theater she expressed regret at her inability to change her race. “It was a very angry play, but very funny. Typical black American humor. … We had a big fight, right in front of the theater. When we got back to the car, she started crying. She couldn´t be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn´t. She could only be herself, and wasn´t that enough.”

Elizabeth Warren understood that being yourself isn’t good enough. So she claimed Cherokee heritage at the institutions for which she worked and benefited thereby. In time she believed it herself and went so far as to contribute recipies to the cookbook Pow-wow Chow, “even if Cherokees did hold pow wows — which Cherokee genealogist Twila Barnes told the Herald yesterday they don’t — even then, your contribution to authentic teepee cuisine is ‘Crab With Tomato Mayonnaise Dressing?’” Nor did the problems attendant on adopting a racial identity deter Barack Obama himself making the attempt. Sandip Roy at First Post writes about his conscious efforts at becoming black: