“Blue” News

The color blue is associated both with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which is the democratically elected governing party of Taiwan, and the People’s Armed Police, a paramilitary force in the party-dictatorship of mainland China.

Strange Blue Men
Strange Blue Men

The Olymics thus was a very “blue” event, as it featured KMT support of Beijing ’08 as well as the People’s Armed Police distrupting anti-Communist protests in the West.

Now, Michael Totten lets us know that the KMT will be inviting the People’s Armed Police to opan an office in Taiwan.

The possibility of great power war in the Pacific is evaporating before our eyes.

Marriage

A post by Soob (and several thoughtful comments, notably excluding Adrian’s) have got me thinking.

  1. Is there a coherent argument for homosexual marriage that does not lead to father-daughter marriages?
  2. Is there a coherent argument against first-cousin marriage that does not lead to a ban on marriage between 40 year olds?

Fannie Mae abandons hope of protecting taxpayers or returning to profitability

Instead, Fannie Mae is repudiating the goal of limiting the Treasury’s exposure, and instead is asking for $19 billion to subsidize people barely able to afford houses.

The Obama Administration is favorable to welfare receipients — both rich and poor — because unlike the middle class, welfare recipients are already trained to do what the government wants them to do.

Book Progress

Those following me on twitter know that a draft of The Handbook of 5GW: A Fifth Generation of War? is currnetly being edited.  As soon as I get the last of the chapters emailed to me, I will circulate a “writer’s draft” so that contributors can read each other’s work, and put the final touches on their chapters.

Another book may also be coming out…  by Catholicgauze!  Here is part of the post announcing Popular Geography Manifesto:

Catholicgauze and a friend are currently contacting bloggers, graduate students, educators, and professors to see if they want to author chapters for the “Popular Geography Manifesto” (tentative title). The book is about how geography can be better integrated into education, daily life, hobbies, geopolitics, etc. Any profit made from publication would be given to various geography educational and/or world helping charities.

Already we have some important and well respected individuals who have signed up for the project. However, in the spirit of TDAXP we are issuing an open invitation to everyone; including to those who “only” have a passion for geography.

Read the rest over at Geographic Travles with Catholicgauze!

Obama’s Brilliant Foreign Policy

After I wrote my reaction to Obama’s first hundred days, two people wrote me privately to chide me for my high assessment of President Obama. “We are only 100 days in,” they both said, in essence. “It is much to soon to call Obama’s foreign policy ‘Absolutely brilliant.'”

Nonetheless, the fact remains: Obama’s foreign policy has been absolutely brilliant.

Like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama is lucky enough to take office after a Bush. The Bush family is not just one of the most successful political families in American history. More importantly, both Presidents Bush had administrations which oversaw dramatic and uncertain times: George H.W. Bush oversaw the fall of the Soviet Union and the creation of a new world order, George W. Bush orchestrated the implosion of Iraq and gave China the breathing space needed to become a major power.

Like Bill Clinton, Barack Obaama only needs not to screw up to reap the dividends that grow from investments made by an early President Bush. Bill Clinton, by not screwing up, saw the creation of NAFTA and the WTO. Bill Clinton will be remembered as an ‘institution builder,’ less because of his own ability or interests, and more because of his ability to get out of the way while mechanisms put in place by a predecessor naturally play out.

While Bill Clinton was lucky enough to inherit a world shaped by George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama is lucky enough to take over after President Bush. Our brilliant and successful takedown of Saddam Hussein, combined with our painful but successful build-up of a new Iraq, demonstrated our absolute conventional military supremacy and the weakness of our unconventional troops. The appropriate response is to buy less F-22s (which are overkill against any conventional opponent, and completely worthless against unconventional opponents) and invest more in soldiers and veterans. Bush’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, is just the man to do that. Bush named him and got him confirmed. Obama was smart enough not to fire him.

Another area where Obama is lucky is the diplomatic pressure Bush used to encourage the election of Taiwanese President Ma Yingjeou (KMT – Taipei). Bush’s hard work has resulted in Chinese and Taiwanese that are evaporating the prospect of great power war by the day. Obama merely needs to not screw up foreign policy, and the world becomes dramatically safer for American lives and American power.

Obama’s great screw-up was naming Tim Geithner to Treasury.

Obama has avoided screwing up the fantastic trends that Bush set in motion. And because of the brilliance of Bush’s foreign policy, those benefits are compounding rapidly.

Good job, President Obama.

So far, your foreign policy has been absolutely brilliant.

FDIC Needs a New Credit Card

Paul Geithner acolyte Sheila Bair has blown through the FDIC’s fortune in her quest to make sure politically powerful speculators don’t lose the money they bet before the financial crisis.  Therefore, she had to go beg Congress for more money.

Predictably, Congress is giving it to her:

Besides raising the cap on FDIC borrowing, the bill gives the federal insurer a $500 billion credit limit that will sunset at the end of next year.

Part of this is for the PPIP, see: Sorkin’s ‘No-Risk’ Insurance at F.D.I.C.

[The F.D.I.C. is] going to be insuring 85 percent of the debt, provided by the Treasury, that private investors will use to subsidize their acquisitions of toxic assets. The program … is the equivalent of TARP 2.0. Only this time, Congress didn’t get a chance to vote.

Congress talks tough, but has little interest in opposing the speculators who pay for their reelection campaigns.

How long before the Oligarchs run out of governmental agencies to raid?  (I don’t think it will get that far.  Eventually, Geithner will be forced to resign.)

The opponents of “torture”

During the Bush administration, opponents of torture* were making absurd claims about how torture does not work. These claims were absurd because there was no way the people making the claims could know if torture worked or not. Some blogger claiming “torture does not work” is like me claiming “hash arrays are relatively inefficient in C++ programming.” Just because I know the definition of every word in a sentence that states a technical problem does not mean that I know the answer to that technical problem.

Now that Obama is in charge, I do not hear people saying that torture does not work.

Maybe these people are delusional or optimistic enough to believe that no one is being tortured. Ha.**

These same people probably think there are no extraterritorial prisons besides the one or two they know about. Ha.

Now that Bush is out of office, I do not hear those people saying torture does not work. Instead, they want to imprison Bush administration officials. The people who once took the moral high ground now reveal themselves to be proponents of rule-by-law, and the subjugation of the court system to political revenge.

Instead, I know hear opponents of torture say that torture can work. But, they say, the only case where it would need to be used is to save an American city from a nuclear bomb, and in that rare event, it would be fine to force some guy to commit criminal acts and send him to prison, because, after all, he would be a hero.

These opponents of torture suffer from the delusion that victims of terrorism would be sympathetic to the guy who is trying to save them.

birmingham_bombing

 

Instead, imagine that a terrorist has planted a bomb, which will likely kill some black children. Not many. Say four. Maybe this is happening in Sudan in some attempt to save the Darfuris. Or Somalia, in an attempt to protect an anti-pirate village. Or Alabama.

And it is some guy’s job to keep this from happening. Some guy who is professional, who is trained, and does not particularly care for the people he has to protect. He would die for his mission, of course. But not put his career at risk in a fit of zealousness.

He is too well trained for that.

So this guy captures the terrorist who planted the bomb, and has very few minutes to determine where it is. Or four kids die. And they’re not even the same race of the American — they are just black — so it’s not like a career-ending decision is going to be made here.

This is what the torture debate comes down to. Not college-age rallies against 24. But a boring, real case, of the kind that you would even hear about.

Because you have better things to do than keep up with acts of violence against black kids.***

Or acts of violence that save them.

Opponents of torture say that the right of the terrorist to avoid painful interrogation techniques trumps the right of those four black kids to live, and the power of the guy whose job is to save them.

They are fine with that logic.

I am not.

[ * By “torture,” read “painful interrogation techniques.” Every recent Administration has been forceful in its condemnation of “torture,” whatever that is.]

[** By “ha,” read” the opinions of these people are ridiculous. ]

[*** If you disagree, what are the name of the last four black kids killed by violence in Darfur? Or Omaha? ]

How to treat the Oligarchs

The Oligarchs are those members of the politically powerful speculator class who can count on being bailed out by the Treasury, because of their political connections. Large investors and high-ranking officers in firms such as Citi, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs are Oligarchs. Officials like former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and current Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner support them.

paul_bernake_geithner

The Treasury is going to give the oligarchs more capital. this will be done by makign the cash we already gave them unsecured, like we did with Chrysler.

How else are the oligarchs going to afford their second mansions?

Why is Geitner doig this? One commentator on this blog claimed that the Oligarchs should be an unofficial branch of government, as it was only because of the Oligarchs that we won the Revolution against Britain (!). The pro-Geithner crowd can barely be bothered to come up with a coherent argument, excecpt to cite bizarre historical theories and assert insider information (If you only knew…).

I think it is simpler to safe this is a case of regulatory capture.

Meanwhile, one Fed chief wants to shut the Oligarchs down. I agree.