FM newswire for April 21, interesting articles about geopolitics

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis. If you find this useful, please pass it to a friend or colleague.

  1. We’re amnesiacs, so it works:  “Author, Author – A conservative think tank indignantly denies influencing Obamacare“, Timothy Noah, Slate, 19 April 2010
  2. American Kleptocracy – How Fears of Socialism and Fascism Hide Naked Theft“, William J. Astore, Tom Dispatch, 20 April 2010 — “From Each According to His Gullibility — To Each According to His Greed”

Today’s feature excerpts

(3)  From “Lucy And The Football“, Paul Krugman, blog of the New York Times, 20 April 2010:

Talking Points Memo reports that Democrats are largely unprepared for the possibility that Republicans will filibuster financial reform. Is this really possible? I’m afraid it is. My own conversations with administration officials over the past few weeks have given me the sense that they were quite sure that FinReg wouldn’t be like health care — and that they didn’t seem to take seriously those (including me) who thought they were taking too much for granted.

I have a theory about the problem here. My understanding is that Obama officials have looked at the polls, which show that the public overwhelmingly favors cracking down on Wall Street; so they assumed that the GOP wouldn’t dare stand in the way. But they seem not to have learned, even now, that the right has an awesome ability to create its own reality: that Mitch McConnell et al would stand in the way of reform while claiming to be taking a stand against Wall Street.

Nor can you count on the truth to sink in with the public. The conventions of he-said-she-said reporting, among other things, make it surprisingly easy to get away with even the most obvious hypocrisy. … To break through that, you need hard-hitting campaigns and simple slogans. And I have a sinking feeling that once again, the Obama team is going straight for the capillaries. Let’s hope they prove me wrong.

(4)  “Pitchforks, Vampire Squids, and Simon Johnson’s Robespierre Moment“, Edward Harrison, Credit Writedowns, 19 April 2010 — Excerpt (red emphasis added):

We have had an economic crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. People are still losing their jobs and homes as a direct result of the boom and bust caused by the financial sector. Yet, we have bailed the banks out with taxpayer money and the bankers act like they never needed the bailout, didn’t cause the crisis or some other ridiculous argument of that ilk. In fact, they are rewarding themselves with huge bonuses while everyone else is still in a world of hurt.

Forget about whether these arguments make any sense. They don’t. The only thing ordinary Americans need to know is that these people are paying themselves obscene amounts of money while everyone else is suffering despite the fact that we bailed them out of the crisis they caused. That’s the pitchfork thesis in a nutshell. All of the other stuff is a sideshow.

… Goldman is the vampire squid in mainstream America’s eyes and the Feds know this. That is why they have been targeted. However, remember that this is a civil case of a mid-level employee. This is not a criminal case. No bigwigs have been charged.

(5)  Status report about libery in Canada:  “True North strong not free“, Mark Steyn, Macleans, 8 April 2010 — “Strange that the more Canada congratulates itself on its ‘tolerance’ the less it’s prepared to tolerate”  Excerpt:

“Let’s} consider instead whether the Canada on display during {Ann Coulter’s} 96-hour layover actually works to Canadians’ advantage. Which was the claim advanced by the eminent Canadian “feminist” Susan Cole appearing on U.S. TV to support the protesters’ shutdown of Miss Coulter’s Ottawa speech:

“We don’t have a First Amendment, we don’t have a religion of free speech,” she explained patiently. “Students sign off on all kinds of agreements as to how they’ll behave on campus, in order to respect diversity, equity, all of the values that Canadians really care about. Those are the things that drive our political culture. Not freedoms, not rugged individualism, not free speech. It’s different, and for us, it works.”
Does it? You rarely hear it put quite that bluntly—“Freedoms”? Ha! Who needs ’em?—but there was a lot of similarly self-regarding blather in Coulter Week euphemizing a stultifying, enforced conformism as “respect” and “diversity” and whatnot. “I therefore ask you, while you are a guest on our campus, to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind,” wrote François Houle, the provost of the University of Ottawa, addressing Miss Coulter in the smug, condescending, preening tone that comes so naturally to your taxpayer-funded, tenured mediocrity. “There is a strong tradition in Canada, including at this university, of restraint, respect and consideration in expressing even provocative and controversial opinions and urge you [sic] to respect that Canadian tradition.”

Because, after all, nothing says “restraint” and “respect” and “civility” more than a snarling mob using the threat of violence to shut down those it dislikes—and all for that beloved “Canadian tradition.” Strange that the more Canada congratulates itself on its “tolerance” the less it’s prepared to tolerate. “If any Canadian spoke like Ann Coulter,” wrote Denise Cooke-Browne, “he’d be jailed.” And she says that like it’s a good thing. And she also says it as a former investigator for the Newfoundland “Human Rights” Commission. In Denise Cooke-Browne’s Canada, there are now not unfashionable or dissenting or wrong opinions, but criminal opinions.

… As for Ottawa’s coppers, they certainly demonstrated that famously Canadian “restraint.” Faced with a law-abiding group engaging in legal activity and a bunch of thugs trying to prevent it, the police declined to maintain order. As George Jonas wrote, “Ottawa’s finest exemplified Canada’s definition of moral leadership by observing neutrality between lawful and lawless.” Allan Rock’s weasels attempted to defend themselves by pointing out that it was not the university but the organizers who cancelled the event. They did so because the police said they could not “guarantee security.” You’re certainly free to proceed, but, as David Warren pointed out, your liability insurance will decline to cover any damage if you go ahead against the coppers’ advice.

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