Friday, October 23, 2009

Near-Perfect Day

I decided to take the day completely off. It's only the second time I've done that since we got here nearly two months ago (not counting the half-dozen days we spent up north visiting and such). Many of the things on the to-do list have been needing to be done for a decade or several, so one day isn't going to hurt anything. And it was everything that one expects from a day off.

And maybe someone can explain why I'm working harder and longer hours now that I'm unemployed than I ever did when I had a job?

But most of what comes next is not going to sound like the product of a happy day. Because it's pretty grim out there, and not just for us and our constant striking out on the job front. I'll start off with part of Jerry Pournelle's view from today:
Obama's pay czar has determined pay scales for some of the officials in some of the banks and investment houses. Everything for the state. Nothing against the state. Nothing outside the state. It is certainly change you can believe in. And quite popular....

Wage controls continue. The war on the Chamber of Commerce continues. It's all pretty reminiscent of other times and places where it all turned out badly.

And today's Wall Street Journal has an op-ed by former Senator Bob Dole on Bosnia. Dole thinks we need to assert more leadership since Bosnia appears to be nearing collapse under the tender mercies of the European Union. Dole was the only man Clinton could beat in 1996, but it was his turn to run and he insisted on his droits d' signeur. He has learned nothing and forgotten nothing, and I fear he is far too typical of the Country Club Republicans, who have never learned that the United States should avoid entangling alliances and not be concerned with territorial disputes in Europe. Bosnia is a European problem. Leave it to the Europeans. The Bosnia mess was never our mess, and Clinton's intervention didn't help the US in any discernible way. One of the fruits of US intervention in Bosnia was rapidly deteriorating relations with the then-nascent post USSR Russia, to no US advantage anyone can name.

The United States seems to work best when governed by a center-right coalition; it would work even better if there were two center-right coalitions contending for power. Alas I see few signs of any political party representing those views. I don't expect to see the kind of government I want, which involves local control over most domestic issues and far less Federal intervention in local and state affairs; but it would be useful to see contending parties who simply want to govern, not transform the country into something it never was and never should be. Even if we could afford it I do not think it would be a good thing for the US to become Sweden (and as I watch Sweden under diversity, one wonders if Sweden can stay Sweden, but that's another story). The Democratic Party doesn't want to govern, it wants to remake us; while the Country Club Republicans seem clueless when they aren't facilitating the ravenous wolves that go about seeking whom they will devour; nor do they have any notion of American national interests.

For a very long time we have sown the wind. Now we reap. And up pops Bob Dole reminding us of a place we have not sown recently. Halloween indeed.

Our domestic political situation becomes more grim by the day. Meanwhile our president works the late-night talk show circuit like he's still campaigning for the Democratic nomination.

Speaking of sowing the wind, the anti-vaccination movement is seeing some success. At least, success at what I assume is the goal of the movement; bringing back deadly childhood diseases that have been virtually unknown outside the third world for several generations. Western civilization has collectively gone mad, and our children are paying the price.

I don't often read Peggy Noonan, but I may have to start. The peaceful transition of power that our nation has experienced numerous times in its history is as unique as it is fragile. It is based on the simple premise that loosing an election will not result in the loss of life or liberty. That is something that certain loud-mouthed segments on both sides of the political spectrum need to keep in mind. But equally important is the flip side of that; what Noonan calls in her most recent WSJ column, owning the presidency. In other words, stop blaming your predecessor and take responsibility for the nation you were entrusted to lead. The thrust of the article is that it is time and past time for Obama to quit talking about what he "inherited" and start taking responsibility for what he has done, or not done, to fix it. Instead, we have the perpetual campaign on late night television. Ye flippin' gods.

Speaking of what Obama has done, it seems that true to predictions, he has managed to get yet-another bubble going fueled by easy money. We are a long way from a boom cycle, but we are still looking, in my ever-so-humble opinion, at a double dip because the central banks have put themselves in an untenable position:
Our present situation can give rise to two scenarios – or some combination of the two. The first is that central banks start exiting at some point in 2010, triggering another fall in the prices of risky assets. In the UK, for example, any return to a normal monetary policy will almost inevitably imply another fall in the housing market, which is currently propped up by ultra-cheap mortgages.

Alternatively, central banks might prioritize financial stability over price stability and keep the monetary floodgates open for as long as possible. This, I believe, would cause the mother of all financial market crises – a bond market crash – to be followed by depression and deflation.

In other words, it's bad news no matter how we go forward from here. And the more that is done to keep several decades of chickens from coming home to roost, the more chickens there will be. (I'm not sure that was the best way so say that, but it's late.) This isn't over. Not by a long shot.

And to end on a somewhat comedic note, someone takes the time to see how the lead global cooling denier has fared in his predictions:
While doing research 12 or 13 years ago, I met Jim Hansen, the scientist who in 1988 predicted the greenhouse effect before Congress. I went over to the window with him and looked out on Broadway in New York City and said, “If what you’re saying about the greenhouse effect is true, is anything going to look different down there in 20 years?” He looked for a while and was quiet and didn’t say anything for a couple seconds. Then he said, “Well, there will be more traffic.” I, of course, didn’t think he heard the question right. Then he explained, “The West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be under water.

Right Jimbo. That's exactly what happened. Question; twenty years after these bozos started trying to scare the crap out of everyone for fun and profit, has anything happened the way they said it would?

OK; enough for one night. I need to make a backup and get to bed.

No comments: