Wotka World Wide

Monday, November 30, 2009

Has Obama lost the Arab world? Did he ever have them?

Steeped in an overarching idea of American guilt, Mr. Obama and his lieutenants offered nothing less than a doctrine, and a policy, of American penance. No one told Mr. Obama that the Islamic world, where American power is engaged and so dangerously exposed, it is considered bad form, nay a great moral lapse, to speak ill of one's own tribe when in the midst, and in the lands, of others.

The crowd may have applauded the cavalier way the new steward of American power referred to his predecessor, but in the privacy of their own language they doubtless wondered about his character and his fidelity. "My brother and I against my cousin, my cousin and I against the stranger," goes one of the Arab world's most honored maxims. The stranger who came into their midst and spoke badly of his own was destined to become an object of suspicion.

Mr. Obama could not make up his mind: He was at one with "the people" and with the rulers who held them in subjugation. The people of Iran who took to the streets this past summer were betrayed by this hapless diplomacy—Mr. Obama was out to "engage" the terrible rulers that millions of Iranians were determined to be rid of.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Climate change skepticism spreads to the Antipodes:

Australia is leading the revolt against Al Gore’s great big AGW conspiracy – just as the Aussie geologist and AGW sceptic Professor Ian Plimer predicted it would.

ABC news reports that five frontbenchers from Australia’s opposition Liberal party have resigned their portfolios rather than follow their leader Malcolm Turnbull in voting with Kevin Rudd’s Government on a new Emissions Trading Scheme.

The Liberal Party is in turmoil with the resignations of five frontbenchers from their portfolios this afternoon in protest against the emissions trading scheme.

Tony Abbott, Sophie Mirabella, Tony Smith and Senators Nick Minchin and Eric Abetz have all quit their portfolios because they cannot vote for the legislation.

Senate whip Stephen Parry has also relinquished his position.

The ETS is Australia’s version of America’s proposed Cap and Trade and the EU’s various carbon reduction schemes: a way of taxing business on its CO2 output. As Professor Plimer pointed out when I interviewed him in the summer, this threatens to cause enormous economic damage in Australia’s industrial and mining heartlands, not least because both are massively dependent on Australia’s vast reserves of coal. It is correspondingly extremely unpopular with Aussie’s outside the pinko, libtard metropolitan fleshpots.

Though the ETS squeaked narrowly through Australia’s House of Representatives, its Senate is proving more robust – thanks not least to the widespread disgust by the many Senators who have read Professor Plimer’s book Heaven And Earth at the dishonesty and corruption of the AGW industry. If the Senate keeps rejecting the scheme, then the Australian government will be forced to dissolve.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Power Line has a great case study on global warming science run amok, with some great email examples from the recently hacked material from the Hadley Climate Research Center in the UK (one of four to have their data used for the UN IPCC report). They center around criticism of a tree ring study that was done to disprove the Medieval Warming Period, and highlight the flagrantly unethical behavior of some higher-ups in the climate science community. A must read.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Apparently, those previously adulatory Germans are wising up to Obama's act:

Upon taking office, Obama said that he wanted to listen to the world, promising respect instead of arrogance. But Obama's currency isn't as strong as he had believed. Everyone wants respect, but hardly anyone is willing to pay for it. Interests, not emotions, dominate the world of realpolitik. The Asia trip revealed the limits of Washington's new foreign policy: Although Obama did not lose face in China and Japan, he did appear to have lost some of his initial stature.

In Tokyo, the new center-left government even pulled out of its participation in a mission which saw the Japanese navy refueling US warships in the Indian Ocean as part of the Afghanistan campaign. In Beijing, Obama failed to achieve any important concessions whatsoever. There will be no binding commitments from China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A revaluation of the Chinese currency, which is kept artificially weak, has been postponed. Sanctions against Iran? Not a chance. Nuclear disarmament? Not an issue for the Chinese.

The White House did not even stand up for itself when it came to the question of human rights in China. The president, who had said only a few days earlier that freedom of expression is a universal right, was coerced into attending a joint press conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao, at which questions were forbidden. Former US President George W. Bush had always managed to avoid such press conferences.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Did you hear about Climategate? This is a must read. Apparently some hackers broke into a database at one of the huge climate change research organizations in the UK (one of four who supplied the data for the UN IPCC report, btw) and found a lot of damning emails which slam skeptics, including having journals not publish their research, as well as suggestions for suppressing data that is unfavorable to the cause. This type of stuff isn't really surprising to me though.
Considerations on the privacy risks of a smart power grid. These types of policies are already in effect in Western Europe. It seems to be an inevitable development here. But setting up guidelines for managing the collection of this kind of data is something that should be done before these types of grids become widespread, as there is a potential for abuse and it needs to be mitigated before it becomes a problem. Via Instapundit.
Charles Krauthammer: Travesty in New York. A devastating critique of trying the 9/11 mastermind in New York City.

[I]t will endanger U.S. security. Civilian courts with broad rights of cross-examination and discovery give terrorists access to crucial information about intelligence sources and methods.

That's precisely what happened during the civilian New York trial of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers. The prosecution was forced to turn over to the defense a list of 200 unindicted co-conspirators, including the name Osama bin Laden. "Within 10 days, a copy of that list reached bin Laden in Khartoum," wrote former attorney general Michael Mukasey, the presiding judge at that trial, "letting him know that his connection to that case had been discovered."

Finally, there's the moral logic. It's not as if Holder opposes military commissions on principle. On the same day he sent KSM to a civilian trial in New York, Holder announcedhe was sending Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, (accused) mastermind of the attack on the USS Cole, to a military tribunal.

There really is no good rationale for proceeding in this fashion with such a trial. And the damage to our intelligence capabilities doesn't even seem to enter the Administration's calculus.

Lindsey Graham makes Eric Holder look stupid. Worth viewing, just to show that the people running things have no idea what they are doing. And normally I don't really like Senator Graham, but he is spot on here.

A Case in Antiquities for 'Finders Keepers'. I agree with this sentiment. While Egypt certainly has some claim to their plundered treasures, they don't need all of them, and the Egyptian Antiquities Director's attitude of denying archaeological teams from certain countries digging permits because a particular museum won't turn over an item he wants is definitely not furthering the cause of discovery and seems rather petty to me. Plus, it only increases the world citizenry's interest in Eqypt to get a glimpse of such treasures in regions closer to home. No doubt many such trips bringing needed tourism dollars to Egypt were inspired by such museum visits at a younger age.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The NYT criticized President Clinton for bowing to the Japanese Emperor in 1994, for violating a 200 year precedent on not bowing to foreign monarchs. But for President Obama and his recent extravagant bow to the Emperor? No criticism at all. Big surprise.
UN bans critic from premises, for suggesting that the human rights charges against Israel may be one-sided, in that they don't even mention Hamas. How dare she?!?

As part of our public-service reports on the workings of your favorite world body, allow us to introduce you to Anne Bayefsky. The Toronto native is an expert on human-rights law and an accredited United Nations observer. She is also a friend of Israel, which makes her persona non grata as far as the folks at Turtle Bay are concerned.

Ms. Bayefsky's sin was a two-minute talk she delivered at the U.N. earlier this month after the General Assembly had issued a resolution endorsing the Goldstone Report, which levels war crimes charges at Israel for defending itself in the face of Hamas's rockets. "The resolution doesn't mention the word Hamas," she said. "This is a resolution that purports to be even-handed; it is anything but."

Ms. Bayefsky's comments were the only note of criticism on a day otherwise marked by much U.N. jubilation. Whereupon she was summarily stripped of her U.N. badge and evicted from the premises. "The Palestinian ambassador is very upset by your statement," Ms. Bayefsky says the U.N. security chief told her. Journalist Matthew Russell Lee tells us that he heard the ambassador asking whether U.N. security had "captured" Ms. Bayefsky.

For the record, the U.N. claims that Ms. Bayefsky violated procedures by bringing a colleague who lacked a proper badge, and that she was not entitled to speak where she did, though representatives of nongovernment organizations have used it in the past. And when we called the Palestinian Mission to get their side of the story, they told us the fracas was the last of their worries. Maybe so.

Yet the U.N. continues to bar Ms. Bayefsky from the premises, despite calls on her behalf by the U.S. mission and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. Best-case scenario, one U.N. insider tells us, is that "they'll put her on probation." We hear the U.N.'s NGO accreditation committee, chaired by Sudan, will likely make the final decision.

Meanwhile, a committee of the General Assembly recently passed a resolution on the so-called defamation of religion. "Everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference, and has the right to freedom of expression, the exercise of which carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to limitations," it says.

"Without interference" yet "subject to limitations." Orwell should be living now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Michael Moore's Capitalism has basically flopped so far, earning less than $15 million in two months. Which just goes to show that capitalism actually works!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thoughts on Obama's recent declaration that he is "America's first Pacific president."
[T]he incumbent is hardly the first chief executive to have lived in another Pacific Rim country. William Howard Taft was governor-general of the Philippines. Dwight Eisenhower had military postings in the Philippines and the Panama Canal Zone. Herbert Hoover worked as a mining engineer in Australia and China; he even learned to speak Mandarin. Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Bush 41 all served in the Pacific during the Second World War. What they did as adults was perhaps more consequential than what Obama did as a child.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

In case you were wondering why there were so few armed soldiers at Ft. Hood when Hassan went on his rampage...
Among President Clinton's first acts upon taking office in 1993 was to disarm U.S. soldiers on military bases. In March 1993, the Army imposed regulations forbidding military personnel from carrying their personal firearms and making it almost impossible for commanders to issue firearms to soldiers in the U.S. for personal protection. For the most part, only military police regularly carry firearms on base, and their presence is stretched thin by high demand for MPs in war zones.
Surprise, surprise. Think there is any chance of this policy getting reversed? Nah, me neither.

Meanwhile, in Israel, soldiers carry their weapons while off-duty, have them next to their heads while sleeping and have a fellow soldier hold them while they shower. You can tell which army is ready to respond to an attack anywhere at a moment's notice.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Longevity Tied To Genes That Preserve Tips of Chromosomes.
A team led by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has found a clear link between living to 100 and inheriting a hyperactive version of an enzyme that rebuilds telomeres — the tip ends of chromosomes. The findings appear in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Via Instapundit.
Obama on cap and trade: "My plan makes electricity rates skyrocket." Well then.

So Now Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a 9/11 Suspect? A civilian trial in New York City, with "disaster" written all over it. The piece asks the very good questions, where do you find an unbiased jury to try him with and what happens if he gets acquitted on a technicality? I don't believe they really think that far ahead...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Feds move to seize 4 mosques and a New York office tower, owned by an Iranian front group called the Alavi Foundation. More:

In what could prove to be one of the biggest counterterrorism seizures in U.S. history, prosecutors filed a civil complaint in federal court against the Alavi Foundation, seeking the forfeiture of more than $500 million in assets.

The assets include bank accounts; Islamic centers consisting of schools and mosques in New York City, Maryland, California and Houston; more than 100 acres in Virginia; and a 36-story glass office tower in New York.

Confiscating the properties would be a sharp blow against Iran, which has been accused by the U.S. government of bankrolling terrorism and trying to build a nuclear bomb.

Apparently this has been a long time coming. Anything that denies income to the Iranian government is a good move in my view.

In the midst of the current Keynesian fervor, we would do well to remember the work of the man who predicted the Great Depression, Ludwig von Mises. His theories just so happen to apply to recent financial crisis as well, but that doesn't mean more people are heeding his wisdom. Hopefully those managing things will wake up and take note:

Taking his cue from David Hume and David Ricardo, Mises explained how the banking system was endowed with the singular ability to expand credit and with it the money supply, and how this was magnified by government intervention. Left alone, interest rates would adjust such that only the amount of credit would be used as is voluntarily supplied and demanded. But when credit is force-fed beyond that (call it a credit gavage), grotesque things start to happen.

Government-imposed expansion of bank credit distorts our "time preferences," or our desire for saving versus consumption. Government-imposed interest rates artificially below rates demanded by savers leads to increased borrowing and capital investment beyond what savers will provide. This causes temporarily higher employment, wages and consumption.

Ordinarily, any random spikes in credit would be quickly absorbed by the system—the pricing errors corrected, the half-baked investments liquidated, like a supple tree yielding to the wind and then returning. But when the government holds rates artificially low in order to feed ever higher capital investment in otherwise unsound, unsustainable businesses, it creates the conditions for a crash. Everyone looks smart for a while, but eventually the whole monstrosity collapses under its own weight through a credit contraction or, worse, a banking collapse.

The system is dramatically susceptible to errors, both on the policy side and on the entrepreneurial side. Government expansion of credit takes a system otherwise capable of adjustment and resilience and transforms it into one with tremendous cyclical volatility.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lou Dobbs has resigned from CNN. He is the last of the original anchors, having worked for the network for over thirty years. Apparently, the management kept encouraging him to be less opinionated, and he decided he had had enough. This seems to me like CNN officially getting relegated to an inferior network, because the opinion shows are what draw the viewers. This is the formula that has worked so well for Fox News, and to a lesser degree MSNBC. Will Dobbs show up at Fox next? I wouldn't be surprised...
Justice is served: DC Sniper Executed. And it only took seven years to get this done. Too bad the other one was only 17, or he'd be next. Both were caught in the act, no question of their guilt.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Camille Paglia is quite the interesting intellectual. She covers more in one column than most people do in a year, from politics to religion to anthropology to music. Dinner with a person like her would be fascinating.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fort Hood's 9/11:

On Thursday afternoon, a radicalized Muslim US Army officer shouting "Allahu Akbar!" committed the worst act of terror on American soil since 9/11. And no one wants to call it an act of terror or associate it with Islam.

What cowards we are. Political correctness killed those patriotic Americans at Ft. Hood as surely as the Islamist gunman did. And the media treat it like a case of non-denominational shoplifting.

This was a terrorist act. When an extremist plans and executes a murderous plot against our unarmed soldiers to protest our efforts to counter Islamist fanatics, it’s an act of terror. Period.

When the terrorist posts anti-American hate-speech on the Web; apparently praises suicide bombers and uses his own name; loudly criticizes US policies; argues (as a psychiatrist, no less) with his military patients over the worth of their sacrifices; refuses, in the name of Islam, to be photographed with female colleagues; lists his nationality as "Palestinian" in a Muslim spouse-matching program, and parades around central Texas in a fundamentalist playsuit — well, it only seems fair to call this terrorist an "Islamist terrorist."

Friday, November 06, 2009

Interesting thoughts from Charlie Gasparino on the next big crash in the financial system, which he thinks is only a matter of 'when':
Now I’m not in the Goldman is the center of all evil camp. But I know a lot of really smart people who believe that Goldman’s bankers and traders virtually control the federal government in order to advance their own notorious agenda.

In fact, as I show in The Sellout, there were far worse players whose risk taking led to last year’s meltdown, starting with Merrill Lynch and Citigroup (C). They were equally powerful from a policy making standpoint.

Remember, after Robert Rubin fought to end Glass-Steagall’s separation of investment and commercial banking, he didn’t go back to his old firm, Goldman Sachs, he went to work for the firm that benefited the most from the law’s demise, Citigroup.

But Goldman in many ways crystallizes all that is wrong with the financial bailout, started by the Bush Administration, but carried on and expanded by Obama’s. Goldman has been declared a bank, not much different than the old Bailey Building and Loan, and yet they don’t take deposits or offer checking accounts. So what do they do? They trade, and they are trading as a federally protected bank, meaning they get to borrow at cheaper rates and they are Too Big To Fail.

How anyone considering themselves to be a capitalist can support this arrangement is beyond me.

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Jacob Sullum takes Obama to task on his 'no new taxes' pledge:
[T]he bills would establish a “tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage” and an “individual responsibility excise tax,” respectively. “If you put something in the Internal Revenue Code and you tell the IRS to collect it,” a tax expert told the Associated Press in September, “I think that’s a tax.”

The president disagrees. “For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” he insisted during a squirm-inducing September 20exchange with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “You can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase.” Stephanopoulos responded by literally getting out the dictionary to demonstrate that “a charge…imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes” is commonly considered a tax.

You know you are in the wrong when Stephanopoulos is calling you a liar on national television.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Considerations on the continuation of easy government money for housing loans, exemplified by the Federal Housing Administration's 3.5% mortgage down payment loans. Why is the government continuing to push an already strained and depressed housing market further off the cliff? I haven't seen one person in government even attempt to answer that question. But it is scary, because it will continue to do long term damage to the American economy. And more bailouts probably loom, this time for the FHA. What was it Einstein said about the definition of insanity? This is a prime example right here.
The NSA is building a $1.5 billion cyber security center in Utah. While this has potentially scary big brother implications, you can be sure other world powers have similar facilities already up and running (especially China). This center should help protect against that threat, while helping keep the U.S. at the forefront of cyber security technology. The battles of the 21st century are going to be fought indirectly via cyber strikes (really, this is already happening). This is an attempt to counter that threat. Now if they could just start planning a contingency for having our satellites taken out...