Stuff to start the New Year *UPDATED*

I’ve got a few minutes here before the family vortex sucks me back in, so I wanted to share with you some of the articles I found most interesting this morning.  After all, just because the calendar changed doesn’t mean the forces working around us have stopped:

The New Editor has a compilation of videos that should put the fear in you when you think about our Democratic “leadership” and their followers.  These people don’t even have the virtue of being smart and misguided; they’ve got a feral intelligence that’s propelled them to power, and now they’re intent on America’s destruction.

AJ Strata has been all over the Flaming Panties attack, and I’ve been remiss in not giving you links to his articles.  Let me stop being remiss, and strongly recommend that you read A Smoking Gun Dot In President’s Report On Flight 253 Intel Failures and When Blogging Impacts National Security.  You won’t be happier when you read those posts (you’ll probably be kind of depressed), but you’ll have important knowledge about what’s working for the terrorists and what’s not working for us.

John Hawkins has compiled his picks for the Top 20 Political Quotes of the Decade.  It’s quite a march through time.  Given what’s facing us now, some of them look remarkably innocent.  Even Howard Dean’s weird howl has a benign look compared to what President Obama says and does.  (My personal favorite, by the way, is No. 20, which I quote regularly, because even though it somehow manages to sound rather foolish, there’s actually a huge amount of life wisdom packed into it.)

All governments, Democratic and Republican, systematically misrepresent unemployment.  Pierre Legrand, however, thinks that the current government may be taking this venerable tradition to new extremes.

Charles Krauthammer takes on the administration’s feckless refusal to admit that we’re at war or even that an enemy exists.  (As you may recall, Obama’s tie-free post-Flaming Panties address made no mention whatsoever of the identity of those forces united against us for our destruction.)

On a similar subject, I like Bill Kristol’s summing up of a topic we’ve all read about everywhere:  the fact that the Obama administration, as part of its denial that there’s a war going on, decided to Mirandize Mr. Flaming Panties, who is now refusing to talk.  I like even better the little summary a friend of Kristol’s offered:  “In Abdulmutallab, we have a terrorist in custody who’s probably a lot smarter than the Richard Reids and Zacarias Moussaouis of the world, at least based on his educational background, and who therefore may be a rich source of intelligence –and we’re letting him invoke Constitutional protections that he has only by virtue of coming to our country to murder hundreds of people!”

All year long, Ed Morrissey has been tracking Obamateurisms, and has having readers vote weekly as to those they find most egregious.  Naturally, he ended the year with a vote for the single most egregious Obamateurism in 2009.  Interestingly, readers (myself included) did not opt for the bows to the Saudi King and Japanese Emperor, or Obama’s resolute refusal to talk to General McChrystal (even while making time for his friends at the SEIU and the Tonight Show).  Instead, we went for Obama’s decision to do a two minute “shout out” before reluctantly turning to the subject of the Fort Hood massacre.  I don’t know about the other voters, but I know I chose the shout out because it goes to the essence of the man:  he is deeply self-involved; pathologically incapable of connecting with the feelings of others, including the citizens who are at his mercy; in deep denial about the fact that America is a war and that her soldiers are on the front line; and prone to obvious errors, in this case shouting out misinformation.  Everything we dislike about him is on view.

If you want an excellent summary of Obama’s first year as president, you can’t top Victor Davis Hanson’s One Year of Obama, which examines what Obama wants to do, and asks whether he’ll do it before he and his Congress are kicked out of office.

The Anchoress has a great compilation post looking at predictions others are making for this New Year.  Some are no brainers, some are wishful thinking, and some are scary.  Check it out.

The New York Times wanted to offer a heart-wrenching follow-up story to its original story about a charity dialysis unit in Atlanta that had to close, leaving its illegal immigrant customers without care.  The point of the first story was how much we need government care, of course.  This follow-up is meant to make us tremendously aware of the victims of this failure to have government care, as it follows dialysis patients who have had to return to Mexico for their care.  The irony, of course, is that Mexico has a form of socialized care and it is a disaster for those poor illegals who were trying to piggy-back on America’s premium care:  “Everywhere, it seems, there are roadblocks to affordable care. The dialysis unit at Guadalajara’s public hospital, which offers heavily discounted prices to the uninsured, has a waiting list that extends for months. Ms. Chavarria is not eligible for the insurance plan known here as Social Security, which is limited to salaried workers. The country’s five-year-old health program for the uninsured, Seguro Popular, does not cover end-stage renal disease.”  I don’t mean to be cold about people afflicted with horrible diseases, whether they’re American citizens or lawbreakers.  I just wanted to comment on the fatuity that lives in the New York Times building.

Michael Ramirez, the superb editorial cartoonist at the IBD, picked his favorites for the year.  Can’t do better than that.

Eugene Robinson leaps to Obama’s defense with a massive New Year’s attack on Cheney.  Robinson is unaware of his own stupidity.  Let me quote my favorite part.  You all can read and savage the rest:

Cheney’s broadside opens with a big lie, which he then repeats throughout. It is as if he believes that saying something over and over again, in a loud enough voice, magically makes it so.

“As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war,” Cheney begins. Flat-out untrue.

The fact is that Obama has said many times that we are at war against terrorists. He said it as a candidate. He said it in his inaugural address: “Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.” He has said it since.

Is it only Robinson who hasn’t figured out that you’ve got no war without a named enemy?  I didn’t know that, unless you’re Katie Couric, you could be at war with a “network.”

UPDATE:  Everyone does their best lists at the end of a year, and a lot go to town at the end of a decade.  Kurt Schlicter took a different approach and came up with a “worst” list of movies — those movies the critics adore and normal people hate.  As for me, I think Kurt and I need to go to the movies together. I saw, or tried to see about 7 of the 10 films he listed, and agree with him in every respect.  My husband is an avid film watcher. Through Netflix, he’ll try to watch 5-6 movies a week. I end up walking out on most of them within the first 6 minutes. He castigates me for my snap judgments — and then usually ends up agreeing with me after he’s slogged through the whole film

Here’s an excellent article about the way in which Israeli air security differs from ours — and why theirs works, and ours doesn’t.

Don’t miss Andrea Shea King and Kristinn Taylor’s expose of the way in Obama’s left-most friends (Code Pink, Bill Ayers) etc., are seeking to create an international incident in Egypt.

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  • BrianE

    So much for a Happy New Year!

    The question for 2010 is whether the left’s assault on the constitution will accelerate. One would think they would tire at some point.

    Spiff580 asked whether our current situation will be worse than those under Carter. At that time I was running a family store and it was a nightmare pricing merchandise to keep up with inflation. Every week new merchandise would come in at a higher price.

    In the short term though, we are still in the contracting.

    Here’s some information that should give everyone some food for thought:

    I have to confess that when the third quarter report came out a few weeks ago, I was surprised it did not show more contraction in the third quarter; total credit market debt only declined a further $113 billion from the revised Q1 2009 peak of $52.9 trillion.  The net contraction to date has only been 0.53%, which seemed weirdly small when the 8.7% contraction in commercial bank loans over the same period was taken into account.

    But a look at the various credit sectors usefully clarifies this apparent dichotomy.  As the chart below shows, household debt reached its peak in the third quarter of 2008 and is down 1.75% since then.  The financial sector began reducing its outstanding debt a quarter later than the households, but is deleveraging much faster as its debt has fallen 5.93% from the Q408 peak.  Corporate debt has remained essentially flat since 2008, but the Federal government has, for the time being, been able to fill in the entire credit gap by increasing its outstanding debt by nearly one-third, 30.1%, in the four quarters since Q308!  State and local government debt has also increased, but by close to an order of magnitude less at 3.25%.  So, the reason we have not yet seen any significant effects of the debt-deleveraging in the household (-$242.8 billion) and financial (-$873.7 billion) sectors in the wider economy is because the Federal government has taken on an additional $1,743.4 billion of debt plus another $72.4 billion from the state and local governments to counter that contraction of credit.

    So, the questions raised by this analysis are:  a) can the various levels of government continue to increase their outstanding debts faster than household, corporate, and financial debts decline, b) how long can the various levels of government continue to increase their debts, c) when will household, corporate, and financial debt stop contracting?  As of today, January 1st, 2010, the answers appear to be: a) No, the disparity of debt levels renders this impractical, if not impossible, especially since the early data indicates that household and financial debt is still declining. b) Probably not beyond the second quarter of 2010.  State and local tax revenues fell precipitously in 2009, many state and local governments are already on the verge of bankruptcy and the White House is already talking about attempting to reduce the 2010 deficit. c) given the growing number of mortgage and credit card payments reaching 60 and 90 days late, there is no sign of this happening in 2010.  In fact, much of the 2009 contraction that should have happened due to foreclosures and defaults has not yet been recorded on the books thanks to the extend-and-pretend policy presently in place.

    The White House and the Federal Reserve are gambling that the contraction of household and financial sector debt will end before time runs out on their ability to increase Federal debt enough to compensate for that contraction.  But despite a panoply of credit-creation programs, changes to accounting laws, and regulatory easing, they are running out of time and there are still no signs of any further appetite for debt on the part of consumers or financial institutions.  The brief uptick in total bank loans from the middle of October to the middle of November has already given back its gains; TOTLL was still down 8.01% as of the most recent report on December 16th.  Therefore, I conclude that the White House already knows it lost its credit gamble, which is why it is now preparing the $4 trillion SuperTARP bill known as HR 4173.

    Vox predicts a second Great Depression and has recently written a book about it.

    Given the amount of government intervention for the last 40 years, one would think it won’t be worse. But possibly we have reached the limits of government interventions, and a necessary contraction will occur to restore balance.

    The other scenario leads us to hyper-inflation due to the government printing presses running 24/7.

    Whether we will be able to match Zimbabwe’s 2,300,000% annual inflation is doubtful. Zimbabwe abandoned it’s currency last year, and I understand you can pick up $1,000,000,000 notes on e-bay.

    I guess it’s something to shoot for.

  • BrianE

    By the way, Barney Frank’s financial reform legislation alluded to by Vox, HR4173 does include a $4 trillion bailout provision for the next round of bankruptcies.

    From commentary by Bill Reilly:
    Here are some of the nuggets I gleaned from days spent reading Frank’s handiwork:
    — For all its heft, the bill doesn’t once mention the words “too-big-to-fail,” the main issue confronting the financial system. Admitting you have a problem, as any 12- stepper knows, is the crucial first step toward recovery.
    — Instead, it supports the biggest banks. It authorizes Federal Reserve banks to provide as much as $4 trillion in emergency funding the next time Wall Street crashes. So much for “no-more-bailouts” talk. That is more than twice what the Fed pumped into markets this time around. The size of the fund makes the bribes in the Senate’s health-care bill look minuscule.
    — Oh, hold on, the Federal Reserve and Treasury Secretary can’t authorize these funds unless “there is at least a 99 percent likelihood that all funds and interest will be paid back.” Too bad the same models used to foresee the housing meltdown probably will be used to predict this likelihood as well.

  • BrianE

    More from the Bloomberg article on HR4173:

    — Since Congress isn’t cutting jobs, why not add a few more. The bill calls for more than a dozen agencies to create a position called “Director of Minority and Women Inclusion.” People in these new posts will be presidential appointees. I thought too-big-to-fail banks were the pressing issue. Turns out it’s diversity, and patronage.
    — Not that the House is entirely sure of what the issues are, at least judging by the two dozen or so studies the bill authorizes. About a quarter of them relate to credit-rating companies, an area in which the legislation falls short of meaningful change. Sadly, these studies don’t tackle tough questions like whether we should just do away with ratings altogether. Here’s a tip: Do the studies, then write the legislation.

  • BrianE

    Here’s an article at American Thinker addressing the same issues where the economy is headed.

    Not a pretty way to start off the year.

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