Friday, May 27, 2011

Top 10 Reads of the Week (May 27, 2010)

Left Still Clueless About Financial Crisis - Peter Wallison [Enterprise Blog]
Last week, the left-wing blogs were abuzz with renewed criticism of Ed Pinto’s data on subprime and Alt-A lending. Mike Konczal and Paul Krugman triumphantly displayed a graph from a February 2011 paper by David Min of the Center for American Progress that they claimed as proof that Pinto’s numbers—which I relied on in my dissent from the majority report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission—were fraudulent. The graph is copied below.
Honestly, it’s hard to believe anyone gives these characters the time of day, let alone reads their work. The Min graph is grossly deficient in almost every way possible, and the fact that it would be cited by both Konczal and Krugman confirms their utter ignorance of this subject... Read the Rest
The Problems With Precaution: A Principle Without Principle - Jonathan Alder [The American]
It’s better to be safe than sorry. We all accept this as a commonsense maxim. But can it also guide public policy? Advocates of the precautionary principle think so, and argue that formalizing a more “precautionary” approach to public health and environmental protection will better safeguard human well-being and the world around us. If only it were that easy.
Simply put, the precautionary principle is not a sound basis for public policy. At the broadest level of generality, the principle is unobjectionable, but it provides no meaningful guidance to pressing policy questions. In a public policy context, “better safe than sorry” is a fairly vacuous instruction. Taken literally, the precautionary principle is either wholly arbitrary or incoherent. In its stronger formulations, the principle actually has the potential to do harm... Read the Rest
An Honest Obama Campaign - Victor Davis Hansen [National Review Online]
Given what we know now, I think Obama’s summer-2008 campaign speeches should have sounded something like this:
The Economy: “Make no mistake about it — we must have critical new investment and government priming to free us from the Bush recession. Therefore, if America is willing to embrace such Keynesian spending, I will promise to keep our unemployment rate below 10 percent, while my team borrows no more than an additional $5 trillion for new shovel-ready stimulus. I envision our national debt rising to no more than $16 trillion over my tenure. I also promise to take over any corporation that explores bankruptcy as a way to default on what it owes its union members and pensioners, who will always have a higher claim than any creditors or Wall Street speculators. I have already talked of spreading the wealth; but as president I promise to extend food stamps to more Americans than at any time in history"...Read the Rest.

Don't Underestimate Republicans in 2012 - Ramesh Ponnuru [Bloomberg]
The 2012 presidential race has barely begun, but it is already time to retire one of its cliches: the much-repeated claim that "the Republican field is weak." Liberals say it with a smirk, because they think it will guarantee President Barack Obama’s re-election. Conservatives say it while begging someone else to enter the race and rescue them.

Maybe Congressman Paul Ryan. Or Governor Chris Christie. Or Senator Marco Rubio. Or some other shiny new face. Governor Mitch Daniels’s decision not to run is sure to make this clamor louder.

But the Republican field isn’t weak. The three people most likely to win the Republican nomination -- Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman, according to Intrade.com -- have all been governors. Two of them were governors of states that Obama carried in 2008. By contrast, the top three candidates for the Democratic nomination last time around (Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards) had a combined zero days of executive experience. This time, even some long-shot Republican candidates have stronger resumes than that: Libertarian gadfly Gary Johnson, for example, was a two-term governor of New Mexico...Read the Rest
What Obama Did to Israel - Charles Krauthammer [Washington Post]
Every Arab-Israeli negotiation contains a fundamental asymmetry: Israel gives up land, which is tangible; the Arabs make promises, which are ephemeral. The long-standing American solution has been to nonetheless urge Israel to take risks for peace while America balances things by giving assurances of U.S. support for Israel’s security and diplomatic needs.

It’s on the basis of such solemn assurances that Israel undertook, for example, the Gaza withdrawal. In order to mitigate this risk, President George W. Bush gave a written commitment that America supported Israel absorbing major settlement blocs in any peace agreement, opposed any return to the 1967 lines and stood firm against the so-called Palestinian right of return to Israel... Read the Rest
Economists Gently Suggest American Manufacturing Maybe Start Again With Something Simple Like A Ball - [Onion]
WASHINGTON—After conducting an in-depth analysis of the nation's industrial output and long-term economic future, leading economists delicately suggested this week that maybe American manufacturers might want to think about abandoning their current products and start over with something nice and simple, such as a ball.Claiming that the nation's standing within the increasingly competitive global marketplace was perhaps not what it once was, the economists gently encouraged American producers to "wipe the slate clean" and rebuild their confidence by starting fresh with a plain, basic ball... Read the Rest
 The Die is Cast - Jonah Goldberg [National Review Online]
Alea iacta est. That’s what Julius Caesar proclaimed as he crossed the Rubicon River in 49 B.C. It means, “The die is cast.” By crossing the Rubicon with his army — against Roman law — Caesar guaranteed a head-on conflict with the overconfident Roman ruler Pompey. Outnumbered, Caesar was presented with the choice: win or die.

The recent special election in the 26th congressional district of New York was a political Rubicon. The Democrat, Kathy Hochul, ran against the Republican budget, specifically Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to save Medicare by turning it into a voucher program starting 10 years from now (excluding all current beneficiaries)... Read the Rest
Rich Irony - Christopher Caldwell [Weekly Standard]
A mystery lies at the heart of America’s budget politics. In the weeks since debate began on raising the debt limit, President Obama has faulted Republican budget plans as a way of giving favors to “millionaires and billionaires” at the expense of the poor and aged, just as he did during last winter’s quarrel over retaining the Bush tax cuts. He does this because it places the public firmly on his side. In a time of sharp divisions on almost all policy questions, tax hikes on the rich are about the only tool of fiscal policy that the public professes to like... Read the Rest
5 Ways Obama Could Lose in 2012 - Marc Ambinder [The Atlantic]
Democrats are more confident about President Obama's chances for reelection than at any point since the economy bottomed out in the summer of 2009. Arguments used to batter him, like his inability to make a decision on a tough issue, have been neutralized by the daring raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

None of Obama's potential opponents have made any particularly bold moves, save Tim Pawlenty's promise to wean Iowa off of ethanol subsidies. Mitt Romney fell on the grenade representing his support for an individual mandate in Massachusetts early in the campaign, alienating the conservative intelligentsia in the process.

And though Republicans forced the president to cut spending, they're not reaping any political benefit, thanks to a stiletto-knife-to-Medicare budget that all but four GOP House members signed on to as their own... Read the Rest
An Anti-Israel President - Bret Stephens [Wall Street Journal]
Say what you will about President Obama's approach to Israel—or of his relationship with American Jews—he sure has mastered the concept of chutzpah.

On Thursday at the State Department, the president gave his big speech on the Middle East, in which he invoked the claims of friendship to tell Israelis "the truth," which to his mind was that "the status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace." On Friday in the Oval Office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his version of the truth, which was that the 1967 border proposed by Mr. Obama as a basis for negotiating the outlines of a Palestinian state was a nonstarter... Read the Rest
And, the funniest thing I saw this week...


Predator Drone TR425 Takes The Stand

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