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Politics

Conservatives eating one of their own?

Go read Christopher Buckley’s explanation of his NR resigation – its a fascinating look at how one conservative thinks of the “modern conservative movement.”  The latter now apparently means, think as we tell you to think, and disloyalty must not be tolerated.  A lot of people are realizing that the current Republican leadereship, with its concentration of executive power, expansion of government spending, and theocratic totalitarian tendencies is not what used to be called the “Republican Party” just a few decades ago.

Buckley Bows Out of National Review – The Daily Beast

While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case.

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Yeah, about that bailot/rescue plan …

Seems it probably won’t work so good. Glad to see Bolivia bucking the trend here. Seems like privatizing, oops, I mean purchasing shares in a bank is more effective.

RGE – Nouriel Roubini’s Global EconoMonitor

But government purchase of bad assets was the exception rather than the rule. It was used only in Mexico, Japan, Bolivia, Czech Republic, Jamaica, Malaysia, and Paraguay. Even in six of these seven cases where the recapitalization of banks occurred via the government purchase of bad assets such recapitalization was a combination of purchase of bad assets together with other forms of recapitalization (such as government purchase of preferred shares or subordinated debt).

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Power Plants in China

Market forces could be used to clean up power plants in China by encouraging the use of cleaner burning coas. We need China to clean up its power sector if we want to make a real dent in global Carbon emissions. On CARMA, you can see the best publicly available data on the Chinese power sector’s emissions. There are over  are 2,162 plants, emitting 3.12 billion tons of CO2.

MIT report debunks China energy myth – MIT News Office

New market pressures encourage plant managers to buy the cheapest, lowest quality and most-polluting coal available, while at the same time idle expensive-to-operate smokestack scrubbers or other cleanup technologies. The physical infrastructure is advanced, but the emissions performance ends up decidedly retrograde.

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Unintended consequences of relaxing lending standards…

If you’re trying to figure out why we’re in the financial mess we are in, I highly recommend reading the report linked below. From what I can gather, its a systemic failure, and one cause came from relaxing lending standards. While it helped many people who couldn’t afford a home afford one, a lot of them, obviously couldn’t keep their homes once their adjustable rate mortgages readjusted. I think a lot of people had an interest in a few metrics focused on measuring home ownership and didn’t consider other potential effects of their policies, namely the influx of speculators and flippers who took advantage of said standards.

The weakening of mortgage-lending standards did succeed in increasing home ownership (discussed in more detail later). As home ownership rates increased there was self-congratulation all around. The community of regulators, academic specialists, and housing activists all reveled in the increase in home ownership and the increase in wealth brought about by home ownership. The decline in mortgage underwriting standards was universally praised as an “innovation” in mortgage lending.

Read it here: Anatomy of a Train Wreck: Policy Reports: The Independent Institute

The recent rise in foreclosures is not related empirically to the distinction between subprime and prime loans since both sustained the same percentage increase of foreclosures and at the same time. Nor is it consistent with the “nasty subprime lender” hypothesis currently considered to be the cause of the mortgage meltdown. Instead, the important factor is the distinction between adjustable-rate and fixed-rate mortgages. This evidence is consistent with speculators turning and running when housing prices stopped rising.

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Free Speech, and Its Discontents

“publications that see large chunks of their readership drop away due to an offense to a community might self-censor to avoid further damage to their balance sheet. I don’t think this threat outweighs the need of citizens to have a way to express their own viewpoints in opposition.”

There’s some evidence that one of the Danish papers involved had 3 years earlier refused to run some cartoons depicting Jesus unfavorably for fear of offending their Christian readers. So what other motive other than offending could they really have by running the Mohammed cartoons?

“Which leads to my final principle, and the one that the most people will have trouble swallowing: you have no right to be protected from offense.”

I agree, this is the critical building block of a democratic, liberal society that all radical fundamentalists do not accept. By radical fundamentalists, I don’t just mean muslims but the Christian-Talibans we have here in the United States. Exhibit A: the astro turf campaigns against indecency via the FCC

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Meet the new Pope, same as the old Pope

Super conservative and former Hitler Youth, Joseph Ratzinger has been elected pope by the college of Cardinal. Has the Church missed an opportunity for some much needed change? Only time will tell.

Although there is no suggestion that he was involved in any atrocities, his service may be contrasted by opponents with the attitude of John Paul II, who took part in anti-Nazi theatre performances in his native Poland and in 1986 became the first pope to visit Rome’s synagogue.

Post title inspired by The Who’s Won’t get Fooled Again.

In the Vatican, he has been the driving force behind crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional moral teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and dissent on such issues as women’s ordination.

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Osama bin who?

Found via Stupid Security, Mr. bin Laden, you’re clear to fly

Insight recently learned that scenario was tested at a U.S. airport in the South during January. The result was troubling: America’s most-wanted fugitive is cleared to fly. According to airline-security documents obtained by this magazine, the name Osama bin Laden was punched into the computer by an airline official and, remarkably, that name was cleared at the security checkpoint all passengers must pass through before being issued a boarding pass.

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Earth’s-A-Shaking

Apparently the Washington DC area felt an earthquake today. My friend Nyk thought I was making fun of his boots when I asked him if he had noticed it. Luckily I was alerted by my Eddie Pope and Bobby Convey bobbleheads. The movement was very subdued, not enough to move books or anything on my desk but enough to cause it to humm.

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Politics

Bush has put civil liberties in a lock box

Al Gore is calling on el presidente to rescind the Patriot Act:

He said terrorism-fighting tools granted after Sept. 11, 2001, amount to a partisan power grab that has led to the erosion of the civil liberties of all Americans.
The Senate minority leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, said Monday that while he’s not ready to support repealing the Patriot Act, he is skeptical of the way it’s been used by the White House and said there is "a lot of concern about the assault on civil liberties."

The EFF has a section on the USA Patriot Act and why you should be concerned about it.

PATRIOT gives sweeping anti-privacy powers to domestic law enforcement and international intelligence agencies and eliminates checks and balances that previously gave courts the opportunity to ensure that those powers were not abused. PATRIOT and follow-up legislation now in development threaten the basic rights of millions of Americans.

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The Debatey Bunch

Courtesy of my friend Sandy:

It's the story
of Carol Mosley
who was bringing up 3 white men on her own
all of them
were congressmen
the youngest one was old
She met a man
by the name of sharpton
who had three pols of his own
and they knew
they must somehow beat up Clark
and that's how they became the debatey bunch