Saturday, April 4, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
"LONDON — Struggling to bridge deep divides over how to revive a paralyzed global economy, the leaders of the world’s largest economies agreed Thursday to bail out developing countries, stimulate world trade and regulate financial firms more stringently. But President Obama conceded that there were “no guarantees” that those measures would reverse the biggest global downturn in six decades."
"To me, the most interesting factor is the way instant communications lead to unconscious conformity. You’d think that with thousands of ideas flowing at light speed around the world, you’d get a diversity of viewpoints and expectations that would balance one another out. Instead, global communications seem to have led people in the financial subculture to adopt homogenous viewpoints. They made the same one-way bets at the same time."
"Now, she is reaping the rewards. She and her daughter recently moved into a three-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch-style house, with a pool, after putting 20 percent down and persuading the seller to cover most of her closing costs. She paid $187,000 for a house that sold in July 2006 for $370,000.
And there are many more like her. Across Florida and other states with high numbers of foreclosures, severe declines in real estate values are reinvigorating a group of buyers previously priced out: middle-class families with steady jobs, who are often buying a home for the first time."
Thursday, April 2, 2009
"Serious reform of the U.N. Human Rights Council is impossible. The United States failed to win over a majority of U.N. members to the idea of minimal preconditions for Council membership because the majority of U.N. members are not fully free democracies and have no interest in introducing democratic hurdles for anything they do. On the Council itself, the majority of seats are held by the African and Asian regional groups, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has a majority in both of these groups. That means the OIC holds the balance of power. The more time the Council spends demonizing Israel, the less likely it becomes that it will ever get around to condemning genocide in Sudan, female slavery in Saudi Arabia, or torture in Egypt.
President Obama’s decision to bring the United States into the Council is a gift for his political adversaries. The Council and its many subsidiary bodies meet almost year round, and many of their proceedings are webcast. Every time the president makes a speech about human dignity, the welfare of minorities, the equality of women, or an end to torture, his critics can circulate another picture of the hapless American representative to the Council glued to his chair during the adoption of yet another decision trashing human rights —"
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
"But such disappointments should be tempered. Not only is Obama simply drawing on his past 30 years of education, writing, work, and associations, but he is also properly reflecting the worldview of many of those working for him.
What, then, is the mindset behind America’s new approach to domestic policy and foreign affairs?
If you believed that average Americans are not well educated, do not think in sophisticated and rational ways, and cannot be trusted to make good decisions, whether for themselves or for their nation, then you would expand the power of better-educated and wiser government overseers. This would ensure that, instead of millions of private agendas that lead individuals improperly, and at times recklessly, to acquire and consume, we would have benevolent and far-sighted powers directing our lives in ways that benefit the environment, the economy — and themselves."
Jonas Brothers fans faced a similar situation when the band’s five New York-area concerts sold out over the weekend. Elizabeth Bohl, a payroll manager from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., said she could not find tickets at list price or afford to take her daughter, Emily, 11, at scalpers’ rates.
“I’m not going to spend a month’s worth of groceries to get two tickets to see the Jonas Brothers,” Ms. Bohl said.
"“Try picturing a Shiite-Muslim mega-church,” he wrote of the Hezbollah rally, “in a huge downtown tent, with separate entrances for men and women and separate seating (with the women all covered in black). A huge poster of a nuclear mushroom cloud surmounts the scene, with the inscription OH ZIONISTS, IF YOU WANT THIS TYPE OF WAR THEN SO BE IT! During the warm-up, an onstage Muslim Milli Vanilli orchestra and choir lip-synchs badly to a repetitive, robotic music video that shows lurid scenes of martyrdom and warfare. There is keening and wailing, while the aisles are patrolled by gray-uniformed male stewards and black-chador’d crones. Key words keep repeating themselves with thumping effect: shahid (martyr), jihad (holy war), yehud (Jew). In the special section for guests there sits a group of uniformed and be-medaled officials representing the Islamic Republic of Iran.”"
"I have some exciting news to tell you. For the first time ever, you will have a car that’s been made using the full efforts of the federal government. That’s right; the same entity that once got man to the moon will now get you to the grocery store. Yes, unlike the moon, you’ve been to the store before, but never with the style and efficiency of a vehicle designed by your United States government."
"Whenever products are mispriced and do not reflect the real costs and risks associated with their usage, people go to excess. And that is exactly what happened in the financial marketplace and in the energy/environmental marketplace during the credit bubble."
Monday, March 30, 2009
"The new Afghanistan policy that President Obama unveiled at the White House today was pretty much all that supporters of the war effort could have asked for, and probably pretty similar to what a President McCain would have decided on. … The big news — though it had been apparent for some time — is that Obama is eschewing those who argue for a major downsizing of our efforts to focus on a narrow counter-terrorism strategy of simply picking off individual bad guys. Instead, Obama is embracing a more wide-ranging counterinsurgency strategy focused on enhancing “the military, governance, and economic capacity of Afghanistan and Pakistan.” …"
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Green and private conservation are fine. We have no problem with an individual (or group) that wants to sit naked in the dark without heat, clothing, or light. Additionally, we would have no problem with the group holding a pro-green technology rally. That is their choice. But when this group stages a “global election” with the express purpose of influencing “government policies to take action against global warming,” we have every right as individuals to express our vote for the opposite