FM newswire for 18 November – news you can use

Today’s broadsheet from the FM website pressroom.  There are 5 sections, all with hot news.

  1. Links to 5  interesting articles of news and analysis
  2. Quote of the Day — about the natural enemy of civilization
  3. Featured articles – Good news for the Democratic Party!
  4. Plus, an Afterword

(I)  Links to interesting news and analysis

(a)  Today’s fearmongering:  “Plague: A New Thriller of the Coming Pandemic“, Robin Cook, Foreign Policy, November/December 2009 — “The best-selling author of Outbreak has an exclusive tale for FP about a catastrophe of global proportions. And by the way, it’s not fiction.”

(b)  Nine Nations of China“, an interactive feature at The Atlantic — In most respects “the big country of “China” is really a fluid congeries of interests and ambitions.”

 (c)  Chance of Great Depression Now 5%“, Brad DeLong (Prof Economics at Berkeley), 17 November 2009 — A valuable warning, both about the odds of a second wave to the recession and our weakened ability to respond if it ocurrs.   Best comment was by TJ :

“The witty part is where Prof. deLong suggested the Banks wouldn’t get bailed out again because the public wouldn’t like it. That was funny.”


(d)  “The illusion of improving global imbalances“, Richard Baldwin and Daria Taglioni, 14 November 2009 — “Global imbalances are shrinking at a fabulous rate. This column argues that these improvements are mostly illusory – the transitory side-effect of the greatest trade collapse the world has ever seen. A global recovery will almost surely return the US, Germany, China and others to their old paths.”  In other words, we will have gained nothing from the recession, but set ourselves up for another (perhaps worse) one in the future.

(e)  Green good intentions cause chaos in two German towns“, Deutsche Welle, 12 July 2009 — “Residents near Dortmund were evacuated this week after the ground collapsed around a geothermal heat pump, while in another German town, almost 190 buildings have now been damaged by a geothermal project gone awry.”

(II)   Quote of the Day

A grim note, perhaps true.

“Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,” the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. “Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.”

— Robert E. Howard, “The Shadow Kingdom”, originally published in Weird Tales, August 1929

(III)  Feature articles – Good news for the Democratic Party

Since a large element of the conservative movement has gone nuts, this is also good news for America.  At least for the short-term.  Longer term it’s bad, as we need both sides to be vital and thinking.

(a)  The Big Question: What must Palin accomplish on her book tour?“, The Hill, 16 November 2009 — Answer by Glenn Reynolds (law professor and blogger at Instapundit):

Whatever else Sarah Palin has done, she is positioned to be the kingmaker — or, more accurately, the kingbreaker — in the Republican 2012 contest. Even if she doesn’t run, she commands enough loyalty and support from the most committed voters and activists to ensure that any candidate she comes out against will be dead in the water for the GOP nomination. And, should she choose a third party run, she can doom the chances of anyone the GOP nominates. Expect to see a lot of GOP candidates sucking up to her in coming months and years. The GOP establishment treated her badly, and payback will be forthcoming, I suspect.

Ronald Goldfarb (Attorney and author)  gives a better answer:

Sarah Palin should lip synch her interviews.

Reynolds says the GOP establishment “treated her badly.”  Perhaps by putting her in a role for which she was manifestly unqualified.  Her behavior provided the margin of victory to Obama, so she seems to have no grounds for pique against the GOP.

This debate is absurd.   The American people have seen her, and all the flattery by the right-wing and faux-libertarians in America will not erase this impression. 

(b)  “Sarah Palin = Dan Quayle“, David Greenberg (Prof History at Rutgers), Slate, 17 Novwember 2009 — “There’s no way she will be president.”

(c)  Republicans heading for a bloodbath in Florida“, David Frum, CNN, 15 November 2009 — Frum is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was a special assistant to President George W. Bush in 2001-2002. He is the author of six books, including “Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again,”

(V)  Afterword

Please share your comments by posting below. Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post. Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.

11 thoughts on “FM newswire for 18 November – news you can use

  1. Palin in 2012 – maybe the Mayans were right. In third world politics there is always a tension between the bumbling popularist fool who appeals to the mass because they appear to be un-establishment, ordinary and even flawed just like ordinary people. And the elite candidate that needs to deliver and protect the upper classes from the ravages of the ordinary people – ie make sure the monopolies, graft, and corruption stays in place.

    This tension resolves itself in several ways but a popular one is the same as the American model – a popularist front man and a hand picked (and preferably unelected) administration that makes sure that power is not diluted.

    As the middle class declines the US political system really needs to make no changes the right system will already have been place for decades.

    FM: A grim note, perhaps true. “Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,”

    Nonsense, just shows a need to get out more. But last time I was in Chicago there were pictures of soup lines in the newspaper. You get a sense that American’s take a sort of enjoyment out of their own decline. They especially like telling you about how the ‘whole world’ is affected.
    The reality is much more humdrum – the US is just fading.
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    FM reply: Perhaps you need to more closely read your weekly Economist. The problems in America are far less than those of Japan, and those less than that of the EU’s borders (Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and eastern europe up thru the Baltics). Not to mention the long list of failed states, mostly invisible in the US news unless US troops are there.

    As for barbarism, I suggest you take a nighttime stroll though one of America’s inner cities. Report back on your findings.

  2. I understand why the religious right love Palin. She’s one of them: a classic American Taliban. A creationist. An abstinence-only zealot. She publicly proclaims that she’s doing the will of God.

    “I do know there is a God. My life is in His hands. I encourage readers to do what I did many years ago, invite him in to take over…then see what He will do and how He will get you through. Test him on this. You’ll see there’s no such thing as a coincidence.”
    — From Sarah Palin’s acknowledgements to her book. (Source).

    If you are an evangelical, what’s NOT to like? She’s perfect for that crowd.

    What I don’t understand is why the faux-libertarian wing of the Republican party hasn’t just crawed into a corner to cry at this development, and her ever increasing public profile.

    She’s a hugely corrupt big-government conservative (aka, “Spends like a drunken democrat, but spends on the credit card”): look at the gas pipeline deal, the bridge to nowhere, the Wassalia hockey arena, the massive pork that she’s endorsed and attracted and participated in both as mayor and governor, and her overall gross incompetence.

    About the only thing Sarah Palin is fit to be is a bad Tina Fey impersonator.
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    FM reply: For more on this line of thought see “What’s the difference between Palin and Muslim fundamentalists? Lipstick – A theocrat is a theocrat, whether Muslim or Christian.“, Juan Cole, Salon, 9 September 2008.

  3. “Perhaps by putting her in a role for which she was manifestly unqualified.”
    Kind of like the we did in the last election with Obama! Except he’s President
    and she’s selling books.

    I really don’t understand the fear, from both Democrats and Republicans, of Palin. If she ever gets elected to anything she will generally have the same advisors as our current group of elites so much would’nt change. It would probably be more of the same, which is not a positive.
    The reality is she’s not that important.
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    FM reply: That’s bizarre. Why bother with elections? We could choose the president by drawing logs, as they did in Athens — before they were devastated by defeat during the Peloponnesian Wars. History clearly shows that poor leaders tend to select incompetent advisors, that neither threaten them or challenge their ignorant theories.

  4. fxconde: I wish I could believe that.

    But that is what was said about George W Bush. Instead, we got 8 years of an administration where ideological purity was considered vastly more relevant than competence when filling positions.

  5. If the economy re-inflates, the employment engines re-start, the Wall Street musical chairs game resumes: in short, if it’s back to business as usual, Sarah Palin is toast.
    IMO that ain’t gonna happen. We are entering a sustained period of painful de-leveraging(i.e. a second Great Depression). Obama will likely function as Hoover did, taking advise from men who don’t understand what is happening, turning the useless knobs and levers presented to him as policy options, and soon things will get much worse. Like it or not, Sarah Palin is well positioned to exploit this , and if she’s as smart as I think she is, her options will continue to improve path forward. For brevity, I will not begin every subsequent sentence with, “Like it or not”.
    Sarah Palin has an iron clad base of support among evangelicals and “Right to Life” single issue voters, a formidable constituency. Sarah Palin will continue stating the obvious; that oil and gas we produce is better than oil and gas we import, that health care resource allocation by government raises very icky questions no one wants to talk about, that everything Obama is doing appears not to be working, and that things are quickly getting worse.
    Sarah Palin will stay on message. Her Down’s baby will persist as a living symbol of her moral integrity. She will stress “frontier values”; independence, self reliance, persistence, confidence, innovation, and hard work. The working middle class(that would be your Tea Partiers) will embrace this message.
    Meanwhile, her opponents, already a fractious lot, will be under growing duress. The poor will become increasingly miserable and disillusioned. Public anger and resentment against public employee unions will increase, even as the rank and file comes to feel betrayed by their leaders. The urban centers will finally experience the pain and economic dislocation Obama’s policies have largely shielded them from so far. Many oligarchs, their wealth embedded in the FIRE(Finance Insurance Real Estate)segment will be very unhappy. It may be “Musical chairs for oligarchs!”, where the oligarch without a chair when the music stops gets shredded.
    And some hate her because she’s so stupid she still believes in God. She panders to her base by spouting platitudes about the sanctity of life. She(correctly IMO)thinks she’s been treated unfairly by her opponents, in a country who’s single remaining unsullied value and guiding principle is apparently fairness.
    Like it or not, we are all going to be seeing more of Sarah Palin, and compared to what other son of a bitch out of a hole might be showing up, that’s OK by me.

  6. Stephen King did it better: The Stand.

    But this is scary too. From Zero Hedge:

    “Last week TWIM reported that a possible new strain of influenza had broken out (or was released) in Ukraine.”

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    FM reply: I read Zero Hedge daily, but recommend believing nothing on it until verified. New information is often found on the margins, but these wilds are filled with fog and fakes.

  7. About comment #5:
    Both FM and nweaver expressed skepticism, but really, it is not as if Bush personally chose, by his wisdom, the majority of advisors and nominees. Well perhaps his puppeteers let him select Harriet Meiers just to prove to him what a boob he was.

    I dare say that ideology has recently been the key factor, and that the decisions mainly have come from the power brokers behind the political parties (ie, the $ supporters, not the figureheads).

    I think it is clear that Obama got a few picks but in most cases the choices were brokered or leveraged by others.

    I don’t think it would be much different with Palin were she anointed.

    FM sez: “History clearly shows that poor leaders tend to select incompetent advisors, that neither threaten them or challenge their ignorant theories.

    Hmm. Was Lincoln the last President to intentionally set up a challenging cabinet? I will defer to anyone who can cite a more recent example. When was the last time that the choice was actually up to the president himself, and not to his ‘handlers’?
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    FM reply: Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy all had exceptionally strong cabinets. As for who picks them, choosing the sernior advisors is perhaps the most important and power the President excercises, IMO. Look at the past 40 years, where the advisors clearly reflect the President’s beliefs and often geographic roots.

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