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April 01, 2010

Comments

Lind: It is gradually dawning even on former free-trade fundamentalists that you cannot have a liberal global trading system in which three of the four largest industrial capitalist countries -- China, Japan and Germany -- pursue policies that permit them to enjoy perpetual trade surpluses, which require perpetual trade deficits by the U.S. and other countries.

Um, yeah.

Remarkably, pointing out this fact has for a long time been enough to get you called, variously, economically illiterate, nativist, racist, bent on destroying world peace, insufficiently sympathetic to inhabitants of underdeveloped countries, etc.

By declaring that the new deficit commission would not consider any cuts in military spending, only in entitlement spending, President Obama reflected the preferences of America's policy elite.

Oh come on, given a choice between cutting things that benefit fat, ugly, old, ungrateful Americans of the lower social classes, or things that let you PROJECT POWER ACROSS THE GLOBE, what kind of wimp would cut the latter?

However, I'm not sure how much I buy the major argument being made, which is that trade arrangements are driven by military considerations. I mean it sort of falls down in 2/3 cases - Germany's trade surplus is primarily with the rest of the EU, and the degree of influence that the US has over the internal economic arrangements of the EU is minimal; it is not clear to me that US basing in Germany is part of some economic-access quid pro quo.

And we certainly don't get military cooperation or very much diplomatic cooperation from China in exchange for asymmetric market access, and so far as I can see we never really expected to.

So you're down to Japan. Now why does Japan permit US basing there? Is it because of US market access? I think it has more to do with getting protection from a friendly superpower at low, low prices.

I think the simpler explanation for the state of trade arrangements is that a religious belief in free trade has dominated economic thinking for decades now, and it is nearly impossible for economists to differ from it and remain respectable. The reason for this is probably that the US was a surplus nation for a long time and promoted free trade rhetoric to get market access for its exports, during which period the US did in fact benefit disproportionately (compared to its partners) from trade. The continuance of this belief into the deficit era is the salesman mistake of believing your own BS.

Hey it's Friday (or it is for me at least) that means baby picture posting time.

Ugh Jr. after ordering HAMBURGER KETCHUP:

I thought this was the best news of the day.

xkcd.com has your April 1 freakout edition.

Thought this was pretty funny:

Response

Though, of course, not as funny as this:

Kareoke boy

My wife says I should have pointed out that's karaoke night at the Bellmore household, not an everyday occurrence. (Don't worry, he's 18 now.)

That's a very cute cartoon, Brett. It's almost cute enough to make one forget that what's at stake in this little discussion isn't the "advice" that we're giving to Israel, but rather the billions of dollars collected from American taxpayers every year to fund their military.

If Israel doesn't want to listen to the "advice" of the US government, it should be willing to find another financial benefactor and go on its happy way. You can't have it both ways.*

*Rhetorical, of course: They obviously can have it both ways, and will continue to do so, because everyone involved in this particular piece of theatre knows that the repercussions of Israel doing whatever the hell it wants to will never go beyond furrowed brows and friendly pieces of "advice."

I agree that the "golden rule" applies to some extent here, but even the guy with the gold can make unreasonable, hypocritical demands. It's just he can expect them to be complied with...

Global warming update which shows new theory sweeping across the blogal landscape.

Your kid is shamelessly cute, Brett.

HAMBURGER KETCHUP!

(sounds like a good name for a kid's show!)

looks like he's having a swell time with it, tho

The cartoon is racist in that unthinking sort of way where it doesn't occur to the idiot who drew it that if Israel considers the West Bank its territory, then it has to give the Arab residents Israeli citizenship or else practice a form of apartheid. Many Israelis recognize this, including Ehud Barak. And so far Israel has chosen to do the latter.

personally, i'm 10000% fine with Israel ignoring our advice. i just wish we'd take their declaration of independence as a sign that we could stop funding their adventures.

wanna be the big boy? no more allowance!

"Your kid is shamelessly cute, Brett."

Climbs the side of his high chair, and buckles himself in, too, when he's hungry. Mother says she's having just the vengeance on me she wanted: I, too, am going to have to deal with a child who's smarter than me. He's already starting to read, and I wasn't doing that until 3 or so.

I could see the cartoon the opposite way.
Why not take the cartoonist at his word. Given all the secession talk from the South and the unsavoryness of some of their policies/politics the proposal should be given serious consideration.
Or in short: Do we have a deal? ;-)

I'm with Hartmut. Next talk of secession I hear from Steve King or any other dipwad, my reaction is, fine, GTFO. Good riddance. But here are the stipulations:

1. All US military installations of any kind in your state are to be closed and their personnel redeployed immediately.
2. All infrastructure build and maintained with federal tax dollars is to be reduced to rubble. Roads, sewers, buildings, all of it. Get your engineers on it posthaste.
3. All equipment and personnel in local police, fire and safety forces that are funded or supplemented by federal tax dollars are to be returned or deployed outside your state.
4. If your state has been a net recipient of federal tax dollars over the past ten years, you owe us some money.

Then let's see how eager they are to make tracks.

DJ's answer is best:

if Israel considers the West Bank its territory, then it has to give the Arab residents Israeli citizenship or else practice a form of apartheid.

Right. If you want to annex territory, then you either give the residents therein citizenship, or you practice apartheid.

Israel can ignore our advice and continue to run an apartheid state, but if a friend were making that decision, wouldn't YOU try to counsel a saner course?

GTFO. Good riddance. But here are the stipulations:

I say let them keep the infrastructure. They chipped in for it.

I'd also let them keep any net positive balance on fed tax payments vs fed dollars received. Just as a gesture of good faith, no hard feelings.

I still doubt they'd take the deal.

Next talk of secession I hear from Steve King or any other dipwad, my reaction is, fine, GTFO.

Erm, can we break it down into smaller units than states? I'd hate to have all of Iowa kicked out of the Union just because the southwestern part is full of proudly ignorant authoritarian subsidy-sucking parasites. Especially given that it might cast doubt on my eligibility for the Presidency, since I wouldn't be running as a Republican.

"Right. If you want to annex territory, then you either give the residents therein citizenship, or you practice apartheid."

Or you are an occupation force until everyone recognizes your right to keep the territory anad then you give the residents citizenship.

It seems reasonable that the constant clamor to negotiate the status of the territory certainly delays the granting of citizenship.

I say let them keep the infrastructure. They chipped in for it. I'd also let them keep any net positive balance on fed tax payments vs fed dollars received. Just as a gesture of good faith, no hard feelings.... I still doubt they'd take the deal.

If you throw in all the federal land holdings, you might find a surprising number of takers in the 11 western states (among the contiguous 48). They would pick up anywhere http://strangemaps.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/map-owns_the_west.jpgfrom 30% to 85% of the land in their state, a fair amount of it containing valuable natural resources.

Marty: It seems reasonable that the constant clamor to negotiate the status of the territory certainly delays the granting of citizenship.

According to international law, of course, while Israel may be still in the process of "negotiating the status of the occupied territories" that means Israel is absolutely forbidden from allowing Israeli citizens to build settlements there.

As you must be aware, Israel is in flagrant breach of international law in that respect, and has been for over 40 years.

The removal of the illegal settlements from the Gaza Strip was in order to turn the Gaza Strip into the largest and most crowded prison camp in the world. Settlements and settler-only roads have been built strategically through the West Bank, and Israel has never agreed to remove them. Israeli settlers on the West Bank are legally still Israelis, defended by the IDF and entitled to vote in Israeli elections and receive all benefits of Israeli citizenship.

For four decades, Israel has been allowed to stand between two crimes: either the settlements are illegal and Israel should remove them, or the Occupied Territories are part of Israel and Israel is an apartheid state.

The US routinely blocks all Security Council votes of censure against Israel for its breaches of international law.

Oops. Let's try that http://strangemaps.wordpress.com/2008/06/17/291-federal-lands-in-the-us/>link on federal land ownership again.

I would just point out that the cartoons assumption is inaccurate. The US did not take Texas from Mexico.

They would pick up anywhere from 30% to 85% of the land in their state

That's cool, if they want to leave it's their land to do with as they wish. As far as I'm concerned.

If you don't want to be in this country, my personal opinion is you should get the hell out.

Another personal opinion of mine is that talk of secession is, by and large, just talk.

"For four decades, Israel has been allowed forced to stand between two crimes: either the settlements are illegal and Israel should remove them, or the Occupied Territories are part of Israel and Israel is an apartheid state."

Fixed that, pick one to complain about, you don't get both.

1)The settlements are illegal or 2) the res1dents should be citizens.

Everyone agree that the first isn't true and and I will agree that the second should get fixed.

The US did not take Texas from Mexico.

Perhaps this was merely an attempt at shorthand for "Immigrants and squatters from the US rose in rebellion when Mexico banned slavery, leading to a short-lived republic which decided the advantages of joining the US outweighed the disadvantages." This would be somewhat difficult to fit into the space provided. Of course, given the thrust of the cartoon, the author is more likely ignorant about these relevant details, too.

Everyone agree that the first isn't true

This use of "Everyone" actually excludes almost anyone. It's as if Gilbert and Sullivan were making the argument. To seize lands that are on the other side of the established border under international law, forbid the original owners from building anything there, and then point to how it's empty to justify building a settlement on it, is actually a bit weak on the legal details in a couple of places.

... Aaaand just after I hit "Post," I realized that it was "Everyone agree," not "Everyone agrees," and part of a conditional. And now I have that Gilbert and Sullivan bit stuck in my head.

Perhaps this was merely an attempt at shorthand for "Immigrants and squatters from the US rose in rebellion when Mexico banned slavery, leading to a short-lived republic which decided the advantages of joining the US outweighed the disadvantages."

or, the US did not take Texas from Mexico.

????


If the Occupied Territories don't belong to Israel, then the residents aren't citizens of Israel by virtue of living there. I am not sure how that gets translated any differently despite any "weak legal details in a couple of places".

If the Occupied Territories don't belong to Israel, then the residents aren't citizens of Israel by virtue of living there.

True, but then Israel is perpetrating criminal acts and war crimes in so occupying and brutalizing.

My advice would be to get out. Absent that, my advice would be to annex and grant citizenship.

The worst of both worlds is occupy, brutalize and deny rights.

"my advice would be to annex and grant citizenship."

Agreed, I would support this also.

"my advice would be to annex and grant citizenship."

Agreed, I would support this also.

So no more Jewish state?


So no more Jewish state?

Yeah, that's why it won't happen - and Israel will have to choose either option A or option C.

B is off the table, though I personally support it as a viable option.

????

Yes, it's tricky. A bunch of US citizens relocated to a sparsely-populated territory of the Empire of Mexico, then seceded by force. Had residents of the US not relocated to Mexico and raised rebellion, with additional manpower and artillery thereafter arriving from the US, Texas would likely have remained part of Mexico in the near term. Hence, "US took Texas from Mexico" as sloppy condensation. But again, I actually agree that it's probably just a mistake by someone with an egregious inability to grasp subtlety or context.

" But again, I actually agree that it's probably just a mistake by someone with an egregious inability to grasp subtlety or context."

Sorry you didn't understand. I thought a rabble of expatriated Americans who homesteaded vast tracts of the southwest,built homes, ranches, forts etc. and then decided to secede from Mexico despite a severe military disdavantage, fairly isolated the US from having attacked Mexico in any way that would have been considered "taking" Texas from them.

But I can see how, as it relates to the cartoon, they are really the same thing. Unless, of course, you can understand the intricate subtleties of:

"The US didn't take Texas from Mexico".

a rabble of expatriated Americans who homesteaded vast tracts of the southwest,built homes, ranches, forts etc.

Why be so PC? Let's just call them what they were--illegal aliens.

decided to secede from Mexico despite a severe military disdavantage

Which was quickly overcome by the appearance of many volunteers from the US, whom the US government made no effort to stop or discourage. The same US government that had made repeated offers to purchase Texas from Mexico. No, "the US" had nothing to do with it.

And on another topic, thank goodness the President had a stern talk with President Karzai while in Afghanistan:

In a speech to officials from the country’s Independent Election Commission in Kabul Thursday, Karzai said that "foreign embassies" tried to bribe IEC officials to delay the election results so as to force Karzai into a coalition government[...]

“In this situation there is a thin curtain between invasion and cooperation-assistance,” Karzai said in this New York Times translation, saying that if US troops are perceived as “invaders” the insurgency “could become a national resistance.”

Gibbs said today that the White House, working through the State Department, is “seeking clarification from President Karzai about the nature of some of his remarks. And I think the president was quite clear with President Karzai over the weekend of the necessary steps that have to be taken to prove governance and corruption in order to deal with the problems that we face there.”

Perhaps they didn't get the post-meeting messaging clear between the two of them?

I would just point out that the cartoons assumption is inaccurate. The US did not take Texas from Mexico.

Correct. Texans took Texas from Mexico, and the US annexed it shortly thereafter.

IIUC, however, Mexico did relinquish claims to Texas as a result of losing the Mexican American War.

Perhaps the cartoonist misspoke, and meant to say California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.

It is an ongoing tragedy that inhabitants of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona remain non-citizens and unable to vote, though. I think we can all agree on that.

1)The settlements are illegal or 2) the res1dents should be citizens.

Everyone agree that the first isn't true and and I will agree that the second should get fixed.

The settlements are illegal UNTIL Israel formally annexes the Occupied Territories as part of Israel.

I think it's reasonable to argue that Israel has de facto done this - no one seriously believes that Israel will ever remove the illegal settlements from the West Bank or take down their illegal walls around the Gaza Strip.

But that means Israel is an apartheid state, treating about half the inhabitants with disgusting brutality and denying them citizenship.

Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa is my nominee for April Fool, a day late. Yahoo/AP has the sad tale of self-pity, how the poor Roman Catholic Church is being treated just like Jews in Europe.

Per Free Lunch on Cantalamessa -- every time I think these people can't sink any lower, they prove me wrong.

I was raised Catholic, and a child more eager to swallow the guilt-tripping swill could not have been found.

And yet, I left the church in my late teens and never looked back. Why? Because I decided that an institution that said what the priests and teachers of my childhood said about sex couldn't be any good. (For example: you will burn in hell in unimaginable torment for all eternity for the heinous sin of ... kissing your boyfriend. This, to children!.)

Yet forty years later, I go cold when I hear this stuff. The abuse is bad enough. The cover-up is in a way worse; it's the institutionalization of the abuse. The defining of the church as the victim is, or so I would have thought, too heinous for even the church hierarchy to sink to (at least out loud and in public). A Good Friday sermon in which the church is framed as the victim and not a word is said about the children who were abused?

This is what comes of people convincing themselves that they speak for God.

Which is why the Reformation didn't do a whole lot of good. Instead of one Pope, we now have every d*mned backcountry preacher thinking he's got the market on the inerrant word of God, which, by the way, so often seems to come down to the backcountry preacher thinking he has the right to get the government to run my life according to his precepts. They's God's precepts, don't you know.

(Yes, there are some female backcountry preachers too. But all the incendiary ones I've heard, and I've heard quite a few, happen to be male.)

"And yet, I left the church in my late teens and never looked back. Why? Because I decided that an institution that said what the priests and teachers of my childhood said about sex couldn't be any good."

Really? I left the church in my late teens because it suddenly occurred to me that I'd never been presented with one rational reason to believe this "God" actually existed. So I started reading up on theology, and 'proofs' of God's existence, and they were all crap. It was like a freaking catalog of logical fallacies.

Of course, this was about the time of my final confirmation, and I had to submit a religious essay. I wrote up my conclusions and submitted them, and... nothing. Don't think they actually bothered reading the essays.

Brett, "God" isn't as important as sex. ;)

I like the new Doctor Who more than I thought I would. And I like the new Companion more than I thought I would.

*looking forward to next episode*

And I like the new Companion more than I thought I would.

Well, that's a relief. I wasn't as worried by Matt Smith as some haircut-obsessed peers of mine, especially given the choice of such tweedy attire. But I feared that the Amy Pond character would be too much of a step backwards into the old days. Now I must wait until later this month, when the episode reaches BBC America. You'd think they'd have found a way to increase the speed through the transatlantic cable by now.

1)The settlements are illegal or 2) the res1dents should be citizens.
Everyone agree that the first isn't true and and I will agree that the second should get fixed.

I would take that deal, if it also meant reparations for the Palestinians (now Israelis) whose land was taken from them by Israeli settlers.
But since that is profoundly unlikely (with or without reparations), there's not much point in raising it as a possibility. Except to point out that, really, it's withdrawal, apartheid, or mass expulsion. If the latter two are rejected on moral grounds, we're left with withdrawal.

And I like the new Companion more than I thought I would.

So was it the uniform or the short dress? ;-)

Ok, it doesn't hurt that she is smart and, for lack of a better word, spirited. The red(ish) hair doesn't hurt either.

Oh, mds, if you don't mind being an international copyright criminal, torrents can be your friend.

So was it the uniform or the short dress? ;-)

Oh, I guess you're a guy. And not, frankly, a very nice one either.

I'm attempting to avoid spoilers in a non-warning thread for the benefit of those who won't yet have seen the episode. Not everyone has the capacity to download (or wishes to!) so I'll leave it at that.

Now, if it were the Doctor in a short dress, I would say "Finally!"

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