Your Lying Eyes

Dedicated to uncovering the truth that stands naked before your lying eyes.

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25 November 2009

Are We in Recovery?

Are win in a recovery right now, and how strong is it? It looks pretty anemic, at least compared to the last great recession we had back in 81/82. Then, Fed Chairman Paul Volcker was ruthless in keeping interest rates high in order to wring the poison from the system. While the recession was painful (and since there was a Republican president at the time the press was equally relentless in featuring sob stories of unemployed workers, none of whom seem to be much in the news in Obamaland), the therapy worked. When the economy recovered, it roared.

Note the chart below comparing Gross Domestic Private Investment in the two recessions. The Volcker recession began in the 3rd quarter of 1981; this recession began in the 4th quarter of '07 (see NBER list of recessions). This one does not look to have the same robust recovery - though we'll see with the 4th quarter figures. The difference? This time around, no one's willing to apply any hard therapy.

Source: B.E.A. Table 1.1.1. Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product

22 November 2009

The #1 Suspect?

Imagine we're talking about any other country in world besides the U.S. Imagine the leader of the country is assassinated in the home province of the man who will directly succeed this leader on his untimely death, and that this man was himself a very powerful force in the government only a few years earlier until the late leader supplanted him as head of his party. Imagine further that the assassin is rapidly apprehended and in short order is himself dispatched. Now wouldn't everyone just assume that the new leader was responsible for the deed, or at least at the top of the list of likely suspects?

So how is it that so many believe the Kennedy assassination was a conspiracy, but almost no one assumes Johnson was behind it? I feel close to 100% confident that Oswald acted alone, but whatever little doubt I have points in LBJ's direction. It would have been trivially easy for him to have arranged such a crude but effective hit. Certainly, compared with the other much discussed conspiracies, this would require the involvement of the least number of people. But it's never mentioned, except in fringe circles (google "Kennedy Assassination Johnson" for a flavor). Why is that?

Addendum: Imagine further that the murdered leader's brother and right-hand man, out of power after the new man takes over, 4 years later seeks the top office himself and during his campaign is himself gunned down. How could any conspiracist not zero in on LBJ. The answer, as Glaivester noted in the comments, is that the conspiracists are ideologically driven - they want to believe in the inherent evil of the U.S., and so must cast the assassination of JFK as the treacherous act of reactionary (i.e., American) interests to subvert the glorious march of progressivism. Although I also have a friend who believes in a similar conspiracy, but believes it was a necessary and proper conspiracy, as Kennedy posed too great a danger to the nation.

11 November 2009

Will Hasan's Efforts Have Been in Vain?

Not if the Washington Post has any say in it. And no doubt General "Diversity is the most important thing in the whole world" Casey is listening.
U.S. Muslim service members say they stand out in both their worlds. Among fellow troops, that can mean facing ethnic taunts, awkward questions about spiritual practices and a structure that is not set up to accommodate their worship. Among Muslims, the questions can be more profound: How can a Muslim participate in killing other Muslims in such places as Iraq and Afghanistan?
No doubt frantic efforts at accommodation are already underway to make sure no Muslim soldier is ever driven again to take such extreme measures to voice his disapproval.

Meanwhile the New York Times is fighting a similar battle from a different approach: that the shooting is just another symptom of stress in the military and our failed efforts to relieve it.
But in the town of Killeen and other surrounding communities, the attack, one of the worst mass shootings on a military base in the United States, is also seen by many as another blow in an area that has been beset by crime and violence since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began. Reports of domestic abuse have grown by 75 percent since 2001. At the same time, violent crime in Killeen has risen 22 percent while declining 7 percent in towns of similar size in other parts of the country.
Yeah, I can just here those Killeen residents right now: "What - that Fort Hood thing? Please. We've had a 22% increase in violent crime ourselves - don't talk to me about mass murder - we live with it everyday!"

Clearly, according to the Times, Fort Hood needs more mental health professionals. Surely there are more crack psychiatrists like Maj. Hasan they could bring in to help?

04 November 2009

What the Elections Mean

The Republican rout in Virginia and the shocking Republican win in NJ means that the Obama magic is officially over. It's become clear that the alleged Obama charisma was more a chimera and that the glow he emanated was just a back reflection of his supporters own sanctimony. But this pretty much makes it official - the guy is a bore personally and his natural inclination technocrat over leader. The MSM is struggling to maintain the myth - thus the Washington Post vainly tries to portray his lackluster foreign policy performance as the inner-community-organizer at work (like there's any evidence he was any good at that, either). And the Times features "The First Marriage" on its magazine cover in a desperate effort to spice up the brand, to no avail (more on this anon). So now it's down to plain old politics, which is good.

But not necessarily for Republicans. What this election does not tell us is that Republicans are back. They still have little to offer the breadth of the electorate. They were in charge more or less for eight years and only managed to accomplish the near destruction of the U.S. economy and our influence abroad. Right now they pretty much have to do their best to sabotage the Democrat's health care push - there's no choice there. But they've yet to come up with anything to grab voters' attention.

Elliot Spitzer has given them a hint how to proceed:
break up the banks. Imagine this: by next spring, an intellectual consensus will have emerged that the concentration in the banking sector that developed from the 1980s until the crash of ‘08 was misguided...A few brave souls on the Right — recognizing that the Republican Party has been bereft of ideas in its attacks on President Obama — will then try to re-define a populist, conservative attack by asserting that the White House has been captured by Wall Street. Real populism and change, they will argue, will come from the Republican, not the Democratic, party.
That is indeed the direction the Republicans must go if they want to grow their constituency. Rather than fretting over their share of the minority vote, they ought to be trying to expand it among the vast working class. They don't need to be pro-union to do this - not necessarily even anti-business. But they can't continue to be in the lap of large corporate interests. It will be tough, because that's where the money comes from. But they need to get back to emphasizing traditional family values - which is first and foremost about fathers being able to earn a decent wage for decent work, and being able to save money and find a good occupation for their kids without mortgaging their retirment on college. There are areas ripe for exploitation in the populist arena - they don't have to hang their hat on abortion to win the heartland.

But, alas, Republicans are too stupid - and too addicted to easy campaign cash - to even attempt it.