Tuesday, March 24, 2009

News Nits

"All the news that's fit to reprint."

It's been awhile for News Nits. If you have been following the news at all, then it's clear there are too many nits to pick since our last installment. So, let's keep this just to the main news items that might be slightly downplayed in our press.

It's been an exciting month with our long time friend, China. China is much bigger than us in people and much smarter than us in their patience. Why strike an enemy when they are strong? Well, things are starting to cook between us, and the U.S. has never been weaker than she is now.

For years, China has been buying up U.S. reserves and treasury bills. They are not alone, but they are doing it on an incredibly grand scale. Our currency and our T-bills are the foundation of our entire economy. As long as China plays by the rules of the international bankers, there should be no problems. But what if China says "screw the white devils" and starts to sell off all their U.S. reserves? This has been referred to as China's "nuclear option". Playing into this trap by borrowing more and more while exporting less and less while also importing more and more from China has been how the past several U.S. presidents have bought their way out of recessions. It's been a hot potato time bomb, and our current president is accelerating the process.

As our economy really started tanking and the new face in the White House did not magically improve the economy, some funny things started happening in close succession. This is important. First, some Chinese Navy ships started bumping butts with an unarmed U.S. Naval vessel in international waters. Keep in mind, China has 20-30 million surplus males in their 20s-30s who have no hope of getting married or becoming family men. These "bare branches" are mostly being absorbed into the military.

Then, a few days later, China's Premier, Wen Jiabao announced that he is concerned with the health of the U.S. economy and our ability to honor our nearly $2 trillion committment to the health of the Chinese economy. (That's right, every time we borrow more money to "stimulate" the U.S. economy, we are really stimulating the Chinese economy!)

Finally, just today, China has announced that it is time to remove the U.S. currency as the standard currency (or "vehicle currency") of the world. This is sort of like if a huge part of the U.S. suddenly rejected Mastercard, but we're Mastercard. This is not good. Putin has been beating the drums in the background as well and is no doubt joining China in this effort.

"I just want to remind you that, just a year ago, American delegates speaking from this rostrum emphasised the US economy's fundamental stability and its cloudless prospects... Today, investment banks, the pride of Wall Street, have virtually ceased to exist. In just twelve months, they have posted losses exceeding the profits they made in the last 25 years. This example alone reflects the real situation better than any criticism." -- Vladmir Putin, at the Davos meeting in Switzerland, 2009

If you don't think our system is broken, then you are not following the news. News Nits will not cover the AIG bonus scandal because it is so ridiculous, it is not worth reprinting. The bailout is ridiculous; the bonuses are ridiculous; the posturing of outrage by politicians is ridiculous; the half-assed attempt to tax the bonuses back is ridiculous; the coercion of getting bonuses back from 9 of the top 10 bonus "earners" is ridiculous. How these crooks get paid so much money and then get subsidized by our government (supposedly, sworn to represent the people, not some people) to run a company and a large part of the country into the ground when they should at least be going broke like the rest of us if not going to jail is beyond News Nits.

In other news, can you trust your doctor? In an interesting commentary, a recent article in Newsweek explains "Why Doctors Hate Science." Ms. Begley explains that local cultures dictate practice moreso than scientific standards.
Along these lines is a rapid increase in exposure to radiation that Americans have experienced from an increase in scans since 1980. It remains unclear how much local medical practice is affected by profits, patient ignornance, or inertia from old standards.

What happens when there are no more nukes to knock out of the sky with lasers? Easy, turn the lasers on mosquitos. What? Yup. Throw away that old bug zapper, using the same basic technology that was used for the missile shield, this laser kills mosquitos one by one from a hundred feet away.

Deborah Solomon conducted an interesting, albeit brief, interview with Zambia native Dambisa Moyo, who explains why massive foreign aid from the U.S. government causes far more problems than it solves. If you don't read his interview, be clear, he is not knocking active charities who are proactively helping real people solve problems, and connecting your bankbooks with them. He is knocking the phoniness of celebrities who care and the incredible harm that large governments do when dishing out "charity" through "proper channels."

I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it. -- Mitch Hedberg


G. Smith said...

Star Wars for mosquitoes - Genius!

Clearly - these folks are searching for ways to spend their money. If Gates wasn't dumping so much money into Africa on polio eradication, TB treatments, and proven methods for combating malaria like bed nets, this story would be more annoying.

As it is, I think it's one of these great examples of an approach to innovation that I heard a former Washington State Gov. Dan Evans talk about last year. He said the best way for us to get rid of our dependence on oil, was to make grants and mini-grants to ordinary people (preferably with science/technical background/skills) to develop a new energy source. Have 100,000+ people working on some whack idea in their garages, or labs - like flubber, or a flux capacitor, or a warp drive (my examples, not Evans'). Of 100,000 projects, maybe you get 100 ideas to develop, and maybe one of them gets us to flying cars (I won't rest until I have a flying car).

That we have the technology to develop a system to shoot frickin lasers at frickin mosquitoes is remarkable. Lets turn that skill and know-how to something useful!

kevin said...

that putin quote is great.

i don't blame china for being worried about its money or for planting the seed of changing the world's currency though. if china's going to be the next big powerhouse of the world, those are just a few of the first things on its to-do list. in other words, i don't feel any more threatened by that stuff.

i also don't think china would choose to bankrupt us by cashing out. i think they are just rattling the cage a bit as if to say "where's my 2 dollarz!".

if they did call in their note, we'd just print off the money to pay them, which would destroy the money, thus make the whole thing pointless, which would hurt us both. if their goal was to speed up their ascent into world supremacy by shattering our economic world, too late.

anyway, it will be interesting to see what else develops. i think we've got too many jets and nukes though for too much aggression against us. i don't expect much to develop with those military references.

i kind of think once the world gets back on its feet, china will slowly back out of US T-bills, and the change in power will happen slowly and quietly.

Ryan said...

G, I'm working on a flux capacitor in my kitchen right now, it's basically a blender, a toaster oven and a package of lager yeast.

Your comments I think are dead on in terms of spurring innovation. But that never happens through the government (the interview with Moyo becomes relevant here). My academic group is applying for a smallish grant of I think maybe $1.5 million for 3 years. But about half of that is overhead to the University and the rest gets split up among professors. I am very sure that if I got that $1.5 million, I could hire 3 guys, pay them very well, get the job done in one year, split any leftovers up among us, and move on to the next project. But again, that won't happen.

My brother also found a neat proposition that falls in your line of thinking from Mark Cuban. Kev, could you repost that link?

Kevvie, I think you are mostly right. But you are also understating the severity of the situation. It's not 2 dollaz, it's a huge amount of money, an amount that could either stunt China's growth or maybe even destroy our entire financial system.

And I'm not blaming China at all, rather, to their credit, they put their country's needs above their own personal needs, unlike our leaders.

A decent part of me is legitimately worrying about the prospect of a massive world war breaking out within the next 10 or 15 years or so. Look at WWII, caused by fascist movements, led by tyrants who came out of the economic ruins of their countries. The global population has never been higher, and terrorism and violence is on the rise.

The whole world is going to be an economic ruin for awhile, and with 30 million extra dudes in China and maybe 20 million extra in India, all it takes is one charismatic psycho with the right group of supporters to turn sparks into wars.

And don't think that a lesser option of a pound of flesh is out of the question. If China is going to take a bath on their investments, they will hurt us someway somehow.

A wise man once told me that everything about life you need to know is in the movie Godfather.

kevin said...

Everything in life can be learned by clicking this link

I would have said give me my trillion dollars, but that had no 80s reference.

Anything can happen when people get desperate, but China doesn't have any real history of aggressive or violent foreign/military policy. As far as world war, the last one ended when we got the bomb. Now, 9 countries have it. Hopefully cooler heads prevail or we'll all be investing in fallout shelters.

I am much more worried about a religious war than any other type. The only thing that will motivate people to give up/take life more than loss of money is religion. I'd be curious to do more research, but I feel like the major religions are doing a bit of consolidating. Hopefully they don't square off.

here are the cuban links:
this one started it:

this is the update:

Ryan said...

"I am much more worried about a religious war than any other type. The only thing that will motivate people to give up/take life more than loss of money is religion."

You shouldn't be worried about that, since it goes against what history is telling us, especially your second statement.

For example, in WWII, Josef Stalin killed 60 million people while suppressing religion and being anti-religious. Hitler killed 20 million people while using religion (and patriotism) as a fascist tool to get into power, but he was certainly not religious in any way.

It is secular governments with their huge lust for power that have caused the worst wars in history. In this past century, in fact, you were more likely to die from your own national leadership slaughtering you than you were from being forced to fight in a war they started. Stalin killed mostly his own people, Hitler killed millions of German jews.

This historical trend, dating back to forever, motivated the 2nd amendment, that there could be threats to our freedoms abroad or within -- within actually being the more common.

And I'm only showing the situation in China. I think with the recklessness of recent presidents, including Obama, there is a decent chance we will be the ones to start the war. China, for example, might finally try to take back Taiwan.

Would we escalate to full scale war over that?

We've fought over much smaller things. We fight today in the middle east on the grounds, essentially, of gossip and democratic propaganda. Almost all the harm the U.S. has caused has been in the name of good.

When leaders start to talk about all of mankind, especially how much they love mankind, get ready for massive violence.

Roller said...

Great discussion.

I tend to believe, perhaps naively, that both Chinese and U.S. governments are smart enough to know that no one wins WW III. Besides the obvious consequences of nuclear war, the Chinese and U.S. economies are so dependent on one another that it doesn't make sense for one of them to, for lack of a better term, "declare economic war" on the other.

I suppose if one of the economies is going down, the other could pull some "If I'm going down, I'm taking you with me!" bad, Sly-Stone-movie type of move... but I don't think it gets that far, for the simple fact that each one knows that the other could collapse, and thus it's in their best interest to keep that from ever happening.

China will continue to turn the screws on us on it's way to becoming the world's largest economy (currently predicted to be in 2027, I think). But full-scale war with China? I just don't see it. I'm more worried about that possibility with Russia and Big Bad Vlad, or Pakistan or some kind of Israel vs. the Middle East tragedy.

Ryan said...

Let's not forget about japan and korea.


Jim said...

"And I'm not blaming China at all, rather, to their credit, they put their country's needs above their own personal needs, unlike our leaders."

Uh, really? Are we thinking of the same China? The communist one with a terrible record on human rights? Might want to re-think that one. From what I understand, China needs to grow its economy about 8%/year to keep its growing population economically happy and willing to overlook the fact that it is denied basic rights. In looking out for China's economy, they are really looking out for their own interests.

Rollo: good point about global economic interdependence and the ramifications on war. I read a few years ago that India was making some noises against Pakistan over that disputed region. Basically, the CEOs of IBM, GE and and a few other huge companies got on the phone and said that if they didn't cut that shit out, they would redirect their investment to other, most stable low wage countries. And then India cooled it.

Ryan said...

Jim, your points are well taken. No system is perfect, and again I'm not endorsing theirs. I'm also not an expert in Chinese history or culture.

But they are still basically a communist society, where the needs of the community or country are greater than the identity or rights of the individual, hence your note about the lack of civil or even basic human rights. (Maybe Kev could pitch in some opinion about their history and philosophy here.)

I'm pretty sure that if an indiviudal tries to leave China and take their wealth with them, that wealth is confiscated. The shenanigans that a lot of the elite capitalists in our country get away with to improve their own standing at the pain of many individuals in our communities, would not happen as easily under their system.

Our leaders need to get elected and a lot of our presidents are narcissists. They want a "legacy", so they do irresponsible things while avoiding solving the tough problems that affect the people. The Bailout is an example -- keeping Wall street greased at the expense of the taxpayers.

Barack Obama is a globally marketed brand name, but comparatively few know the name of Wen Jaibao. The individual in our society is promoted, the individual in theirs is diminished.

Teh influence of business is certainly a powerful one, and although those CEOs were able to quiet the situation down, they certainly haven't been able to end thousands of years of religious, geographical, and tribal differences with a little threat. The terrorists in the Bombay hotel were certainly a reminder of that.

The global population has never been bigger, and a huge chunk of it is in Asia. War is rarely ever started for rational reasons, and it is also almost always under a cloud of denial that it is happening or getting worse.

G. Smith said...

No doubt - there will be conflict with China as the economy declines, and they become more of a superpower. But I think the prospect of yet another war taking shape directly btwn the U.S. and China are slim. What would be in it for them as they have us over an economic barrel, and are investing globally. And it's affecting politics. Check out Africa, China is making considerable investments all over the continent - Last week Desmond Tutu, and William DeKlerk just pulled out of a peace conference to kick off the 2010 World Cup b/c the South African gov. gave in to pressure from China and denied the Dali Lama a visa.

Seems like what is more likely is something more protracted and undefined. Cold world style - but with the stated goal of economic dominance rather ideological (maybe that's the same). Or some sort of strange hitherto unknown to the U.S. economic blackout - where China calls in it's debts and boots us out of the world market?

Frankly, I'm far more worried what the U.S. will do out of desperation in the coming years to pull ourselves out of an economic crunch. But more than a direct nuclear conflict btwn states, I think much more likely we see a nuclear terror attack. The global danger there being our inevitably misguided war we will start to retaliate. Because afterall - isn't that what really got out of the last depression?

Thats the sort of thing that worries me far more than having to work for the Chinese, or the Indians some day.

kevin said...

i think that a direct fight between China and US just wouldn't happen, even when if China takes back Taiwan.
We barely got involved in WW2, and Hitler was slaughtering people. If China takes Taiwan back, I think we'll let them. George W may not have stood for that, but I think Obama and whoever follows will back off spreading democracy at the expense of American lives.

Going back though, religious wars have happened since cain found out his brother was a scientologist. The fact that there have been cruel dictators in the 20th century doesn't negate the passion that religion inspires. The difference now is the availability of mass destruction. Those dictators had access to mass destruction via government polices and military control. Religious leaders, aside from maybe the Pope, have never had that much power to kill.

This gets tied back to nuclear weapons. We live in a world where minor religious sects have serious beefs with major organized governments. As long as they don't have nukes, we'll be fine.
But how long can that last? I would agree that terrorism will one day involve a nuclear blast.

Something else I read a while back, was a poll in Muslim countries. When asked what the most pressing issue was, it wasn't Iraq or Afghanistan, but the Israeli conflict.

This conflict (which was never explored in 16 years of my schooling) is just as intense as ever. I don't see any real hope for lasting peace. And as said before, how long can we keep fanatics away from nukes? Hell, how about Iran?

The last thing that springs to mind, was an interview with Stephen Hawking. He thought it was statistically likely that humankind wouldn't survive the next few hundred years due to nuclear war. However, if we did, our survival as a species was extremely positive due to space travel and developments on different planets and space stations.

G. Smith said...

Steven Hawking wants flying cars too!

Ryan said...

Yeah, Steven Hawking will have invented a flux capacitor for his super chair and will be immune from the problems the rest of us face.

I'm not sure why everyone keeps talking about nuclear war, or some isolated, full-scale war between us and China. I think either of those possibilities is extremely low.

The point of posting the news about China and growing tension is because when you look at the macro picture and identify where pressure is building up, you can maybe predict that something is going to happen. Maybe not exactly what, but something. That's valuable so that when things are actually happening, there is limited denial on our part.

World Wars begin as regional wars, and life is a big game of Go to the Chinese, who are stocking up in Africa as G points out. I also don't think a WWIII necessarily involves nukes.

From my grad school friends who understand weapons grade plutonium pretty well, it is apparently a very hard problem that requires a huge technological/mechanical foundation to do. It's not just like a couple of idiot, arab-trash hick goat herders can open a meth lab and make a nuke. Iran can't even make a nuke. Dirty bombs are a much different story. But remember the goal of these people is not to kill a bajillion Americans but rather to TERRORIZE all of us so we do stupid, predictable reactions and bleed ourselves to death like the USSR did. We will be victims of a halal sacrifice.

And the deterrence is still so strong. If Iran actually attacked Israel in an overt, serious way, Israel alone could level Iran 7x over. I guess Iran is pretty level now, maybe they could make it smoother.

We should be out of the middle east for sure. It's an absurd, counter-productive waste of life and money.

And our country remains vulnerable to these people because our leaders still chase ghosts over alien terrain rather than solve problems at home.

Kev, you need to look a little deeper into your comments regarding religion and wars. I think over zealous patriotism has caused far more bloodshed than devotion to God. And the Pope has never had any power to kill, that's an odd statement to make. Even the Crusades were not on Papal order, but were grassroots efforts to take back land conquered by muslim invaders. I think there were 2 exceptions to that rule. But they prove the rule rather than overturn it.

It is also unclear how much of these terrorist attacks is coming on silent order from the top muslim leaders and how much is just jumping spontaneously out of the shadows. I.E., I'm not even sure how much we can blame "religion" on the current terrorists' actions. Convenient, but not sure how true.

kevin said...

i am not saying that religion has caused more death than patriotism. this is because government leaders have armies at their disposal, and religious leaders do not.

i mention the pope because throughout history, he is the exception to the above - he's the only religious leader influential on a worldwide scale, and has what most resembles government power; that is, he's at the top of a very large, and organized body. the pope doesn't wield power in that way though, which is a credit to the church in my opinion.

my point is not that religion causes wars. my point is that religious fanatics can have screwy logic that makes killing OK, and if they had access to weapons of mass killing, then they'd use them. they don't (have nukes), so they use the most powerful weapons they can make/get their hands on.

i think terrorists would nuke us in a second if they could. terrorizing isn't their main motivation. they are not strapping bombs to their belts in subways in order to scare us. they want us dead.

i don't think a nuclear terrorist attack will happen because the terrorists figure out how to make nukes. there are just under 30,000 nuclear bombs in existence today. russia with 17,000 and china just starting out with 400. not impossible that one of those gets stolen or sold. even we misplaced a few for a while.

the more countries who get the bomb, the more likely they'll get into john b fanatic's hands. if, let's say russia, wants to nuke us, we'll nuke them back. but if russia wants to nuke us, and they 'lose' a nuke to bin laden, then it's much more likely we won't nuke russia in retribution.

Gene said...

I just want to get this in before we're nuked, or bombed, or nuggied...

(1) I really want to know how Stephen Hawking found or enabled such a statistical analysis (or was this a joke?) First of all, I realize this guy's eyelashes have a higher IQ than all of me combined, but I just don't get it. Throwing "statistical analysis" in makes it hard fact for so many people, and it almost seems laughable to statistically analyze a possible future event that has never occurred in the past and may NEVER occur, for that matter. Ry, your EBM articles ((which I have only browsed thus far (sorry)) may or may not back up my thought. Regardless, I throw that comment into the same forum as the possibility that Yellowstone will erupt and we all will be incinerated. Scary? hell yes! Does it effect me on a day to day basis? NO. Aren't these things unavoidable?

Counterpoint: Unavoidable, you say? The difference obviously is that this destructive force (nuclear weapons) is man-made. In response, yes, I clearly want a safe environment for me and my family, as safe as possible. I want health and happiness for all involved around me. That said, I will not be staying up late worrying about whether some crazy psycho is thinking of using WMD on me. I'd like to have some national security because I buy in to Kevin's thoughts on terrorism, esp the WMD theft thought, but it will not keep me from hitting the All-Star game if I get a ticket.

Statistically likely, my ass.

(2) Ry - your flat comments caught me off guard (yes, your thoughtful writings attack larger-than-life topics, and I latch on to one arbitrary geographical statement.) Iran is anything but flat. Thanks to my cheating, I know that Kuh-e Damavand is 5,610 m (roughly 17,580 feet) above sea level. That's about 3,000 feet higher than Mt Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48. Thanks to the Caspian Sea, the country also dips to about 75 ft below sea level. That ain't flat.

Any other unimportant news niblets you may be looking for? Just call.

Oohhhhhh to be Prince Caspian...

Roller said...

Kev, good points regarding the black market for nukes and "proxy nuking".

As complicated as it is, Iran and similar nations are certainly capable of developing nuclear weaponry. I can venture a guess that the only reason Iran and NK aren't nuclear right now is the international community's will to stop them. Whether or not that's true, it's only a matter of time before the number of powers (be it sovereign nations or stateless organizations) that have nuclear weaponry is expanded.

The more hands that have nukes, the more likely the next war or terrorist attack becomes a nuclear one. It's true that WW III doesn't necessarily involve nukes. But I think as time passes, it becomes more and more likely that WW III or any war contains nukes.

Geno, is it true that al-Qaeda created the Caldera?

I'm sure a lot of you know the brief history of it, but if one person doesn't it's worth the story for the "holy crap" effect. The Yellowstone Caldera is a super-volcano that has erupted every 600,000 years for the last 17 million years. It's last eruption was 640,000 years ago, and it covered Nebraska in 7 feet of ash, which probably covered even the highest cornstalks back then.

Since its inception, The Loop And The Lou has been on "Caldera Watch". So far so good. We also sell Caldera insurance, for anyone interested.

Ryan said...

Kev, thanks for clarifying your statements, I agree with you on those points then. I also think that if a nuke would pop off, it wouldn't come from an organized country, not even from Iran - regardless of their capacity, real or imagined, to do it.

The threat of counter attack is too great, and not even the crazy Iranians would sacrifice their whole country to take down Jerusalem. Ditto North Korea. They just want to develop tools to use to blackmail and bargain with the rest of the world, put them on the map.

The free-floating nukes from the USSR are a huge concern. but even moreso is the country-less terrorists who sulk around the middle east. If they used one against us or even against anyone, how would we respond?

Geno's points are dead on. I mean, this is a good discussion from all sides, and we are cooler heads than most, but the amount of hysteria or fear over threats, no matter how small a threat, is just a shame.

Personally, to follow on another little comment, I don't think Obama is any different militarily than Bush. He has gone a long way boasting that he was against the Iraq war, but he gradually changed his position on pulling out. Now that he's the Dawg, he did nothing about Iraq and is ramping up in Afghanistan. My friends in the Muslim world are very scared of him because they think he thinks he has something to prove as a half Muslim. He has also demonstrated no real principles that guide his "foreign policy". By contrast, he is the ultitmate pragmatist.

Also Geno, thanks for the Iran-flatness correction. I've heard a lot of people talk about turning Iran into a sea of glass, I guess it would be a rocky sea.

We should have some banner ads that talk about the 600,000 year Caldera storm. We could sell virtual shelters and booklets of reprints of the blog so people can read them in their shelters as Caldera rains down.

I wonder if the mosquito laser could be modified to shoot Bono or Oprah whenever they try to go outside?

kevin said...

"I don't think Obama is any different militarily than Bush."

i would really disagree with this.

his plans on iraq and afghanistan are pretty much going according to his plan (which is different than bush's). he's set a time to leave iraq, which bush was firmly against.

he has also started in with a much less combative/abrasive approach to iran. again, something much different than bush, and I think it could really payoff in the long run.

also, i've listened to a lot of NPR who has run a lot of stories gauging international reactions to the new administration. the arab world seems pretty positive about the change, but still reserved to see what happens. israel is the most negative about it. even though obama has said all the right things about israel, it's not hard to see that obama is different than bush, and that israel has to think twice before they do something drastic: "does obama have our back on this?"

bush seems to be much more black and white, much more 'you're with us or against us'. i was uncomfortable with him being commander in chief due to this type of personality (others happen to like that).
obama seems more measured and willing to deliberate more. i was impressed with his campaign when some international gossip would break, and he'd have no comment. i didn't trust mccain and hillary who were suddenly experts on events that happened 15 minutes ago.
a reporter just tried to "gotcha" with obama the other day. "why did it take you 2 days to respond to this scandal?" and obama said "because i like to be informed with what I'm talking about".

much of the mismanagement of the early part of the iraq war was due to lack of disagreement with bush/rumsfeld. again, i think that's an extension of "you're with us or against us". obama seems more willing to at least hear from others.

Ryan said...

Admitting one listens to a lot of NPR is like admitting one listens to a lot of FOXNews; it's only self-incriminating. NPR gives its listeners the soft glow of pseudo-intellectualism while FOX gives absurd overzealous patriotism a drumbeat. I would listen to neither with interest very often. And if I couldn't help myself, I would certainly not admit it.

You have been misinformed about the Iraq withdrawal. A plan to get out of Iraq by 2011 was put in place by Bush towards the end of his presidency, yet the media didn't mention it much, so as not to interrupt the campaign they were running for Obama. When Obama signed the same agreement to the sounding of loud trumpets, what was overshadowed was that he too, alongside the Bush/McCain doctrine, wants to leave 50,000 soldiers in Iraq indefinitely with a large military presence. Again, no change.

He is ramping up in Afghanistan, sending more soldiers to chase goat herders. Change, in the wrong direction.

Did you know that you can go the FBI's website, onto the top 10 most wanted, and Osama Bin Laden is on it? They don't even have enough evidence to charge the man with the 9/11 attacks.

Obama's public desire to talk with Iran means next to nothing. That is a negotiating style, not a principle.

The rest of the differences you note are also along the line of personality, not principle. Be careful not to be sucked into the idea that informed or rational decisions are necessarily good ones. Information can be misconstrued into any false shape. Invading Iraq was an informed decision backed by almost our entire Congress/Senate. They had information but no principles, save my man Ron Paul and some other "wackos" like Dennis Kucinich.

In all this time, I have never heard an explanation of "why" Obama claimed he was against the Iraq war (not that it mattered, he had no authority over the outcome). I have also never heard of any principles he claims to follow -- again he is the utlimate pragmatist. If you could find either of these pieces of information, I would be very interested.

Roller said...

"A plan to get out of Iraq by 2011 was put in place by Bush towards the end of his presidency, yet the media didn't mention it much,"

I recall being well-informed of this news.

"When Obama signed the same agreement to the sounding of loud trumpets,"

I don't recall this being reported as anything other than news (and I don't recall it getting more press than Bush's initial actions).


So far I have no qualms with the foreign policy decisions Obama has made. That said, it's been a little over 2 months. There's not a lot to like or dislike.

Gene said...

I think I did hear one or two tubas, but no trumpets. Short, cute, little fat guys were playing them, of course.

In your next post, will you guys please compare/contrast Caldera insurance with collateralized debt obligations? I eagerly await.

Marty said...

I feel like I should contribute something, as I have dutifuly read all of these comments and updates with great interest. It turns out though that the only thing I can think of is, wasn't Bin Laden already #1 on the FBI's most wanted list before 9/11, because of the Embassy bombings, etc.

...oh and I think comparing NPR, or public television for that matter, to FOXNews is a little extreme. I know that NPR is supported and listened to by a much more liberal population but when I listen to NPR, I hear more reporting of information than I do spin, which can't be said for FOXNews, or even CNN or the other big cable outlets.

Marty said...

...there was also a cornet

Ryan said...

Marty, if there's one thing I've always said about you, it's oooooooole dutiful Marty.

If we can't have a little fun whilst debating, then the terrorists have already won. The day they get trumpets too, is the day there is no hope.

Rollz, let me restate what I meant based on your first point. Not so much that the press somehow suppressed the news or didn't report it but that it was spun incredibly. Bush finally does the "right" thing and it is reported as confirmation of his failures, or confirmation the "left" has won, etc. Similarly, when Obama signed into effect an actually less-aggressive withdrawal plan than Bush's it was touted as his line in the sand, as his vision, as his noble deed, etc.

30 seconds on google will confirm this. Here's a great link confusing both events entirely, giving Obama credit for U.S. policy under Bush, before he's even the president!


And what a 2 months this has been! I think there has plenty to dislike. Again, I have seen no evidence that Obama is changing anything but window dressing and moral wedge issues (for the worse).

He has decided to fund abortion and embryonic stem cell research with taxpayer money - not a unifying step, but a polarizing one. He has closed down Gitmo in spirit, but that is just marketing for the sake of popularity.

In substance, he has extended, furthered, and deepened nearly every Bush mistake. Deepening our involvement in the middle east; deepening our tranformation into a socialist economy by redoubling Bush's failed bailouts, posting the largest budget defecit in the history of our country (by a huge amount) and even going so far as to put the federal government behind the warranties of GM cars!

Now my tax money stands behind crappy cars that they can't even sell!

I shudder to think what the next 3 years and 10 months will hold.

But I am glad to see cornet usage on the rise.

Coovo said...

Ryan, way to take the news and blast their Nits.

I caught this on the 1pm rerun of the Daily show. For anyone who can't stand any major cable news outlet as much as me, it's a must watch:


Before that he did a great bit on Obama's "redefinition":


kevin said...

ripping on NPR? now i'm pissed.

i thought you'd never listened to npr? why exactly do you not trust it?

i have watched a fair amount of fox, and i recall o'reilly yelling at a guest who said no other news show was so slanted or one sided. billy yelled 'try NPR!!!'.
i've heard the right repeat that claim against npr, but after hundreds of hours fo listening, i'm confused. i just don't see it. comparing it to c-span is a bit more accurate. if anything it can be boring...

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