"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Centrists Gone Radical!

Tim Fenrholz writes about Simon Johnson.

Paul Krugman writes
about Bush's drive to war in Iraq:
"The Bush administration was obviously - yes, obviously - telling tall tales in order to promote the war it wanted: the constant insinuations of an Iraq-9/11 link, the hyping of discredited claims about a nuclear program, etc.. And the question was, should you stand up against that? Not many did - and those who did were treated as if they were crazy.

For me and many others that was a radicalizing experience; I’ll never trust "sensible" opinion again."
Here, Krugman points us to the new IMF report titled World Economic Outlook.

The New York Times reports on it here and here.
The I.M.F. projected a 1.3 percent decline in global economic activity for 2009,[first decline since WWII] down sharply even from the modest 0.5 percent growth it had projected in January. In the United States, still the "epicenter" of the crisis, according to the fund, economic contraction would be even greater, at 2.8 percent this year, with zero growth for 2010.
Mr. Blanchard said that the fiscal responses of several major countries had made "a gigantic difference."

"If there had been no fiscal stimulus across the world, world growth in 2009 would be 1.5 to 2 percent less," he said. "We would be in the middle of something very close to a depression."
One has to give props to China who enacted a $500 billion (converted) stimulus package. Japan also enacted one. The IMF puts bank losses from global economic crisis at $4.1 Trillion:
Of that amount, $2.7 trillion is from loans and assets originating in the United States, the fund said. That estimate is up from $2.2 trillion in the fund’s interim report in January, and $1.4 trillion last October.
Among European countries, the fund has already agreed to more than $55 billion in loans to Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Iceland, Ukraine, Belarus and Latvia. More may yet need to be bailed out.

On Tuesday, Colombia became the second Latin American country to seek aid, requesting $10.4 billion. Last Friday, the fund approved a $47 billion line of credit for Mexico, making it the first country to qualify for a loan from a program that extends credit to emerging economies that are considered well managed. Poland also said this week that it would seek a $20.5 billion credit line under that program.
In a twist that leaves some experts shaking their heads, the fund needs money from cash-rich developing countries, like China and India, to help more developed but strapped countries, like those in Eastern Europe.
Mark Weisbrot argues the IMF needs reform.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Stockholm Syndrome

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Via Matthew Yglesias. Yglesias also reports good news: his friend Ezra Klein was hired by the Washington Post.

But to my sorrow Matt also linked to Daniel Larison at the American Conservative. Larison is a conservative isolationist of the Patrick Buchanan/Justin Raimondo/Charles Lindbergh school and is currently being touted by the anti-interventionist faction. From Wikipedia:
After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Lindbergh resigned his commission as a colonel in the U.S. Army Air Corps on September 14, 1939 to campaign as a private citizen for the antiwar America First Committee. He soon became its most prominent public spokesman, speaking to overflowing crowds in Madison Square Garden in New York City and Soldier Field in Chicago. His speeches were heard by millions. During this time, Lindbergh lived in Lloyd Neck, on Long Island, New York.

Lindbergh argued that America did not have any business attacking Germany and believed in upholding the Monroe Doctrine, which his interventionist rivals felt was outdated. Before World War II, according to Lindbergh historian A. Scott Berg, Lindbergh characterized that:

"the potentially gigantic power of America, guided by uninformed and impractical idealism, might crusade into Europe to destroy Hitler without realizing that Hitler’s destruction would lay Europe open to the rape, loot and barbarism of Soviet Russia’s forces, causing possibly the fatal wounding of western civilization."

Charles Lindbergh speaking at an AFC rally.

During his January 23, 1941, testimony before The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Lindbergh recommended the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Germany.

In a speech at an America First rally in Des Moines on September 11, 1941, "Who Are the War Agitators?" Lindbergh claimed the three groups, "pressing this country toward war [are] the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt Administration" and said of Jewish groups,

"Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way for they will be among the first to feel its consequences. Tolerance is a virtue that depends upon peace and strength. History shows that it cannot survive war and devastation."

In the speech, he warned of the Jewish People's "large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government," and went on to say of Germany's antisemitism, "No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany." Lindbergh declared,

"I am not attacking either the Jewish or the British people. Both races, I admire. But I am saying that the leaders of both the British and the Jewish races, for reasons which are as understandable from their viewpoint as they are inadvisable from ours, for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war. We cannot blame them for looking out for what they believe to be their own interests, but we also must look out for ours. We cannot allow the natural passions and prejudices of other peoples to lead our country to destruction."
J.G. Ballard passed away this past Sunday.

Johann Hari asks: Was J.G. Ballard a prophet of doom - or the future?
Ballard's vision hangs like black smoke over my instinctive liberalism and rationality, as a constant, nagging doubt. His novels present a world where people will not - cannot - be persuaded by facts and evidence and reason for long. Our frontal lobes are too weak; our adrenal glands are too big. We would rather hug our consumer goods and our guts today than preserve ourselves and our species for tomorrow. He said of his novels: "I see myself more as a kind of investigator, a scout who is sent on ahead to see if the water is drinkable or not."
The roots of Ballard's vision obviously lay in his childhood. He grew up in the ornate mansions of the International Settlement in Shanghai in the 1930s, waited on by battalions of servants paid for by his father, who was a rich textile chemist. When the Japanese invaded, that world was stripped away overnight. His family was interred in a detention camp, and he scavenged and starved in suddenly abandoned mansions - a story told in the Spielberg film Empire of the Sun.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From the New York Times:
A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.
Then he was waterboarded another 82 times.

Khalid Sheik Mohammad was waterboarded 183 times.

I think Obama has the right idea that a bipartisan 9-11 type committee should be formed instead of Leahy's truth commision because that might become too partisan.

I love Anna Faris, so I was interested to read Majikthise's criticism of a scene in the new movie Observe and Report, which I haven't seen.

I tend to agree with Dana Stevens more, who says that Ronnie stopped once he realized Brandi was passed out. Although I haven't seen the movie.

Hopefully Faris's next movie will be better - like House Bunny or Smiley Face - since neither Beyerstein nor Stevens liked this one.

In an interview with Newsweek, Faris says she and Seth Rogan believed the scene would be cut.