FM newswire for April 1, interesting articles about geopolitics

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis, collected from around the Internet. If you find this useful, pass it to a friend or colleague.

  1. Should be required reading for the Tea Party movement:  “The myth of rugged American individualism“, Charles Austin Beard, Harper’s Magazine, December 1931
  2. Death Threats Against Bush at Protests Ignored for Years“, Zomblog, 19 August 2009 — Left and right justify their actions by pointing to the other side.  Here’s evidence of the Left’s guilt.
  3. Technological progress comes only slowly to the US automobile fleet, as we own cars far longer, The Polk Blog, 15 March 2010
  4. State Debt Woes Grow Too Big to Camouflage“, New York Times, 29 March 2010 — For more information see here.
  5. Who is a Female Suicide Bomber?“, Slate, 30 March 2010
  6. How the Left Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the FBI“, Anthony Gregory, The Beacon of The Independent Institute, 30 March 2010
  7. Iran Nuclear Scientist Defects to U.S. In CIA ‘Intelligence Coup‘”, ABC, 31 March 2010 — “Shahram Amiri Disappeared Last June in Saudi Arabia, Reportedly Now Resettled in U.S.; Wife Says He Was Taken Against His Will.”
  8. Tidal power? No thanks“, New Scientist, 31 March 2010
  9. Good news:  Arctic Sea Ice almost back to normal, Steven Goddard and Anthony Watts, Watts Up with That, 31 March 2010  — George Will was right, as discussed here.
  10. Support for the war requires media blindness about its cost:  “When Military Moves a War, There Are No Shortcuts“, New York Times, 31 March 2010 — No mention of sordid money to ruin the rah-rah tone of the article.
  11. Today’s photographs in the media of civilian casualities from US actions in Afghanistan:

Today’s feature articles:  fears of the US government defaulting

Why is the Term Risk on Long Term US Debt So High?“, Megan McArdle, blog of The Atlantic, 29 March 2010 — “… it’s not unreasonable to assume that there’s at least some default risk pricing in.”  No, it is unreasonable.

  • The financial condition of the US closely resembles that of many other developed nations (Japan is in far worse shape). 
  • There is little evidence that market rates include any measurable default risk.  For details about this see “Department of ‘Huh?’: Default Discounts in U.S. Treasury Interest Rates????????? Edition“, Brad Delong (Prof Economics, Berkeley), 30 March 2010.
  • These low rates result from the recession:  loose monetary policy plus collapse in demand for credit (at least from credit-worthy borrowers).  Recovery means normalization of rates (i.e., higher rates).  Plus fear of rising inflation — as the deflationary collapse fades into the past.
  • For more about this see these articles.

Quote of the day, about the new health care bill

The University of Washington billed it as a debate among distinguished law faculty over whether the new federal health-care law is constitutional. But while the four panelists at a packed event Tuesday may have differed on some of the finer points, they all agreed on the big question:  They said the new law passes constitutional muster and that various lawsuits arguing the opposite — including the one joined last week by state Attorney General Rob McKenna — have little merit or chance of success.

Even John McKay, the former Republican U.S. attorney for Western Washington (who was forced out in 2006 under contentious circumstances) said that while he sympathized with some of the political issues in play, he thought the lawsuits lacked merit. In fact, he questioned the timing and thrust of the cases: “One way to say it is, that this has to be seen as a political exercise,” he said.

Moderator Hugh Spitzer noted the lack of a vigorous dissenting voice. “I will say that we tried very hard to get a {law} professor who could come and who thinks this is flat-out unconstitutional,” he said. “But there are relatively few of them, and they are in great demand.”

— “UW panelists say lawsuits challenging health bill lack merit“, Seattle Times, 30 March 2010

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