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India wants Pak declared terrorist state
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Page 1: WoT Operations
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Page 6: Politix
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So much for our honeymoon with Obama
By Jove, I do believe the British left is figuring it out ...
by Nick Cohen

Stories not only grow in the telling, but change their moral as well. The tale of how Hank Paulson begged Alistair Darling to help with the rescue of Lehman Brothers last autumn was once an affirmation of British good sense. Now it is a lament for lost certainties.

As the doomed firm creaked and splintered, it seemed as if the chance of picking it up on the cheap might tempt Barclays or another British bank. Paulson wanted the chancellor to give his blessing. But Darling did not think Lehmans was a bargain. He thought it was a basket case. He refused and, for good measure, warned British bankers that if they bought Lehmans, they could expect no help from the taxpayer if it went down.

You can imagine the relish with which civil servants repeated the story. The unilateralist neocons of the Bush administration were asking for help from foreigners. They had reckoned without a Britain that was not going to allow itself to be dragged into a madcap Republican scheme.

The collapse of Lehmans also made the victory of Barack Obama certain and that, too, was a comfort. Everyone thought they knew that the Democrats were civilised men and women who drank our lattes and drove our dinky, fuel-efficient cars. Soon they would be in the White House and the world would return to normal.

I cannot overestimate the strength of the government's belief that it can restore the status quo ante. Obviously, ministers understand the scale of crisis. At its peak, financiers told Darling that the bank with his current account was 20 minutes away from collapse, news which must have concentrated the mind. Nor have Labour and the Bank of England been frightened of making the vast but necessary interventions to stop a disaster turning into a catastrophe. But they do not think that the crash is like the fall of the Berlin Wall or 9/11, an event from which there is no going back. They still hope that the model of free trade and globalisation can be put together again. Property prices will shoot upwards. The tax receipts from financial services will flow. The City will resume its primacy and all will be right with the world.

In this intellectual climate, reforms that appear obvious to social democrats remain unthinkable to insiders. Closing tax havens, regulating hedge funds and stopping high street banks behaving like investment banks so that never again do we have the obscenity of taxpayers bailing out speculators are items the agenda-setters have no wish to put on the table.

Much to their discomfort, however, our leaders are realising that although the Washington consensus lives on in London, it is dying in Obama's Washington. Now when they talk about Paulson there is a faint whiff of nostalgia. Say what you like about old Hank, but at least he wanted to consult us. We wish we could say the same about his successors.

Press and public are still so in love with Obama that they barely noticed that Congress ordered the US government to spend American taxpayers' money on American goods last week. True, senators watered down the measure and Obama insisted that existing trade treaties must be respected. Nevertheless, protectionism triumphed and profoundly unsettled European policy makers as it did.

In their minds, Republicans were the "stupid white men" who cared nothing for foreigners. Now, they find that the Democrats are the real America Firsters, not only in Congress but also at the Doha talks, where an agreement on freeing up world trade seemed within reach. It is in the balance, because Democrats want to protect the American economy against foreigners dumping subsidised goods and to hold countries to account for their environmental standards and respect for labour rights.

Obama came to power with more international goodwill than any president since Eisenhower, mutter angry ministers. Do not think his popularity will last if he keeps on indulging the protectionists. If Obama is hearing their warnings, he is clearly paying them no heed. Every day brings news from Washington our rulers find profoundly unsettling. Conceivably, Labour may have to imitate Obama's pay cap on executives of firms that have taken public money. The power of the American example, combined with the public's disgust at the remarkably dumb yet brazenly rapacious executives of Lloyds, Barclays and RBS, could be too much for any government to resist.

But, trust me, they will hate intervening if they forced into it. They still yearn for the roaring days when the moneymen were getting richer and Labour was winning elections. Salary caps and bonus bans are alien inventions from a strange, new world they neither like nor understand.

You can sense the ambivalence in a letter Alistair Darling sent to the G20 leaders ahead of April's economic summit in London. He argues for international co-operation to stop the banks bringing the roof down again, but there is no echo of the talk in Washington about closing tax havens or regulating hedge funds. Instead, the chancellor worries that "heavy-handed regulation can lead to sclerosis in financial markets where the ultimate losers are pensioners, savers and businesses".

For what it is worth, although I believe in free trade, I also think it a scandal that the World Trade Organisation allowed China to join when it sends trade unionists to the camps. In my view, tax havens are centres of organised crime and, like everyone else, I find the sight of bankers enriching themselves at public expense revolting.

I also know, however, that Whitehall regards such social democratic views as naive and extremist. Once-respectable Washington society had no time for them either, but now its resistance is melting.

Maybe Labour is right to think we can get back to normal. It is not an ignoble aspiration when "normal" means secure jobs, safe homes, growing businesses and well-financed pensions.

But I sense as I watch startled ministers react to the changing line from Washington that they are beginning to suspect that perhaps normal is dead and gone; that maybe, just maybe, there is no normal to get back to.
Posted by: Steve White || 02/08/2009 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [10793 views] Top|| File under:

#1  What honeymoon? Only ignoramuses experienced anything like a honeymoon. The rest of us are just waiting for them to pull their heads out.
Posted by: gorb || 02/08/2009 3:17 Comments || Top||

#2  Shock horror: UK Labour politicians are ignorant and naive, and like the media didn't bother to put two and two together as regards Obama's (unionist, not "America-First") loyalties and mindset. They bought into the vacuous rhetoric instead.
Posted by: Bulldog || 02/08/2009 4:36 Comments || Top||

#3  Groovy.
Posted by: g(r)omgoru || 02/08/2009 5:07 Comments || Top||

#4  The honeymoon is over? We all got screwed pretty quickly--not much love involved.
Posted by: JohnQC || 02/08/2009 8:11 Comments || Top||

#5  Unfortunately, this is going to be one of those messy, long drawn out, nasty divorces too.
Posted by: Procopius2k || 02/08/2009 8:35 Comments || Top||

#6  I still think the best comment about the One's first couple of weeks is one that I saw on another political commentary site (maybe here at the 'Burg'?)

"I knew the Obama Administration was gonna be a train wreck... but I thought it would get out of the station, first."
Posted by: Sgt. Mom || 02/08/2009 10:03 Comments || Top||

#7  "There are two kinds of voters. Those who remember how bad Jimmy Carter was, and those who are about to find out."

Last week on Politico.
Posted by: SR-71 || 02/08/2009 13:40 Comments || Top||

#8  So the Europeans are worried about The One's economic plans.

Wait until they find out that he is less concerned about their national security than he is about America's ...
Posted by: Marilyn Unoting3261 || 02/08/2009 18:44 Comments || Top||

#9  Unfortunately, Marilyn, he's not particularly interested about America's security, either, except if he can use it to stay in power and damage our liberty even more. >:-(
Posted by: Barbara Skolaut || 02/08/2009 19:12 Comments || Top||

Home Front: Politix
Is a White House take over of the census constitutional?
Teh One wants Rahm to run the Census. Nothing could go wrong with that, right?
Posted by: Frank G || 02/08/2009 10:25 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [10793 views] Top|| File under:

#1  "Is a White House take over of the census constitutional?"

Posted by: Barbara Skolaut || 02/08/2009 11:04 Comments || Top||

#2  It really doesn't take much analytical strain. I believe we all know why the "White House" took over the census process. And I think we all know what may happen in major metropolitan areas when the free money and gov't cheese runs out, or some natural or man-made disaster takes place. General Tommy Franks said that "the United States came very close to martial law following 9/11." These socialist buggers will seize the moment and the American Constitution will be out the window completely. They've got it all set and exercised as well. Even the Canadians are on board:

Execution. Para 3. Execution, Sub paras a.(4)(2) Commander, US Northern Command (CDRUSNORTHCOM)
(b) Coordinte planning for the possible employment of Canadian forces in support of USNORTHCOM's support of primary civil agencies in the United States.

Posted by: Besoeker || 02/08/2009 11:52 Comments || Top||

#3  I think it is Constitutional. The Census has been run through the Executive branch, and will continue to be. There was not a Secretary of Commerce assigned to run the Census in the Constitution in the first place, IIRC.
It's wrong, and possibly illegal, but not un-Constitutional.
Posted by: Glenmore || 02/08/2009 12:10 Comments || Top||

#4  Is a census constitutional?
Posted by: Bright Pebbles the flatulent || 02/08/2009 12:42 Comments || Top||

#5  Is a census constitutional?

Yes. In fact it is Constitutionally required.
Posted by: Glenmore || 02/08/2009 12:48 Comments || Top||

#6  There was an article linked via Instapundit today - it is most definitely not constitutional. The Constitution says the census is regulated via laws passed by Congress and those laws specify that the census be run by the Secretary of Commerce. The President has no role.

Does this guy's over-reaching remind anyone of a young Chavez?
Posted by: Omeaque Hapsburg8150 || 02/08/2009 12:48 Comments || Top||

#7  Look, it has been quite appearant to me that these people care nothing about the Constitution or Bill of rights.
The only thing they care about is europeon socialism and power.
Posted by: newc || 02/08/2009 14:20 Comments || Top||

#8  It's the Chicago way. Remember, it's not the voting (or in this case the apportionment), it's the counting.
Posted by: DMFD || 02/08/2009 15:56 Comments || Top||

#9  the fact that it is unconstitutional may be irrelevant

who has standing to sue?

this is a bit similar to the Hillary Clinton for Sec of State issue where the constitution seems to clearly say (or at least arguably says) she was ineligible (because the Sec of State salary had increased while she was a Senator)

but if no one has standing to sue, it really doesn't matter whether the constitution is busted or not
Posted by: mhw || 02/08/2009 19:55 Comments || Top||

#10  #7: Look, it has been quite appearant to me that these people care nothing about the Constitution or Bill of rights.

That's exactly why there's a Second Amendment. We may need it before this year's out.
Posted by: Old Patriot || 02/08/2009 21:02 Comments || Top||

New Obama challenge: Rise of Israeli hawks
Analysts fear that a possible power shift in the Israeli government in favor of hawks would foil US plans for the Middle East peace.
What plans? And why is it 'hawkish' to defend yourself?
Opinion polls ahead of Israel's general elections indicate that Israelis will likely to vote for right wing politicians, a shift which might pose challenges to the Obama administration's Mideast plans.

The likely change in public opinion reflects Israelis' dissatisfaction with the Kadima government's failure both in economic and security fronts.

Moreover, two consecutive defeats of the Israeli army in its war against Hamas and Hezbollah seem to have changed tilted the situation against the centrist Kadima party.
Defeats? Oh right, this is presstv.ir we're reading ...
Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the right wing Likud party, which is likely to win the general elections, is known for taking a hard line against the Palestinians and peace initiatives.

In confronting one of Israel's main critical issues, Netanyahu has vowed to adopt an aggressive policy toward Iran's nuclear program. Analysts believe Netanyahu would forge a coalition with Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas parties, which are against ceding occupied West Bank to the Palestinians.

US President Barak Obama, meanwhile, has pledged to pursue the prospect of a two state solution to the Middle East conflict.

The elections for Knesset (parliament) seats which will decide the next Israeli prime minister are scheduled for February 10. The problem, Israeli analysts say, is that nobody really knows what the election is about.
Posted by: Fred || 02/08/2009 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [10793 views] Top|| File under:

#1  There is only one condition that I would be in favor of the Palestinian terrorists getting their hands on a nuke. Premature detonation.
Posted by: Tyranysaurus Angegum9270 || 02/08/2009 0:30 Comments || Top||

#2  Jews refusing to go to gas chambers quietly is quite a problem for Tranzies.
Posted by: g(r)omgoru || 02/08/2009 5:05 Comments || Top||

#3  Why not simply back away from meddling in Isreal's affairs and let them do what they do best; defend themselves against terrorists and thugs. Just sayin', ya' know.
Posted by: WolfDog || 02/08/2009 9:56 Comments || Top||

#4  Opinion polls ahead of Israel's general elections indicate that Israelis will likely to vote for right wing politicians, a shift which might pose challenges to the Obama administration's Mideast plans.

How about "Obama's mideast plans cause shift to right wing politicions".
Posted by: DoDo || 02/08/2009 10:32 Comments || Top||

#5  It is interesting that these tools thinks the Zero's peace plan is more important than the beliefs of the people who live there.
Posted by: SR-71 || 02/08/2009 16:16 Comments || Top||

Home Front Economy
Our Epistemological Depression
Posted by: tipper || 02/08/2009 15:32 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [10795 views] Top|| File under:

#1  This webpage is not available.

The webpage at http://american.com/archive/2009/our-epistemological-depression might be temporarily down or it may have moved permanently to a new web address.
Posted by: Glomotch Thavise2856 || 02/08/2009 16:19 Comments || Top||

#2  I just accessed that page with no difficulty.
Posted by: lotp || 02/08/2009 16:21 Comments || Top||

#3  This isn't a failure of capitalism, it's a failure of currency regulators. Specifically BASEL2 and credit-creation by mandating fixed reserve-levels.
Posted by: Bright Pebbles the flatulent || 02/08/2009 18:39 Comments || Top||

Home Front: Culture Wars
Name That Incompetent Boob!
Can anyone think of a person, male or female,that found him/herself perched above a large system, large and in charge as it were, such as an army or a nation, or a corporation who did not belong there, and was not competent to be there but was there to run the thing nevertheless; whose leadership of said large system eventually proved to be that person's or that system's undoing?

You can go back as far as 3000 BC, but you can't name Obama, one glaringly obvious answer.

One answer I have would be Xerxes
Posted by: badanov || 02/08/2009 12:40 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [10798 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Tzar Nicholas II.

Destroyed Russia from a great power to a remnant.

Encouraged Japanese expansionism by losing the Russo-Japanese war.

His pogroms drove Jews out of Russia.

Blew the east front in WW1.

Gave Communism a nation.

Got himself and his family executed.

Basically, the echoes of his failures dominated most of the 20th century.
Posted by: OldSpook || 02/08/2009 13:59 Comments || Top||

#2  Alcibaides.
Stephen Plantagenet.
Charles I (Stuart).
Takeda Katsuyori.

Seems to be a symptom of humanity, not culture.
Posted by: Slerong Fillmore3596 || 02/08/2009 15:23 Comments || Top||

#3  I dunno. I kinda like Alcibiades. He had a lot of notable victories, and was a capable commander. His downfall was his habit of making powerful enemies. And he was rather quick to go somewhere else to get a command once his enemies pushed him out.

But incompetent? No. Not in my opinion.
Posted by: OldSpook || 02/08/2009 17:12 Comments || Top||

#4  Much like Tzar Nicholas II -- King Louis XVI of France, although in fairness he took a bankrupt monarchy and watched in bewilderment as it slid into the Reign of Terror, taking his family's heads with it. The man was competent neither at governing the country he'd inherited nor the wife he'd been given.
Posted by: trailing wife || 02/08/2009 18:50 Comments || Top||

#5  Alan Greenspan.
Posted by: Bright Pebbles the flatulent || 02/08/2009 19:16 Comments || Top||

#6  Charles I (Emperor Charles V) and Phillip II of Spain, whose neglect of Spain's infrastructure in favor of Habsburg dynastic policies set the precedent for centuries of royal stupidity in Spain.

The loot taken from the New World went not to Spain, but to pay for various Habsburg dynastic wars and wars against the Reformation. So European bankers got rich while ordinary Spaniards suffered appalling poverty. No middle class arose in Spain after Ferdinand and Isabella kicked the Jews out; and Habsburg economic policies didn't encourage a new middle class. The Inquisition stifled intellectual development.

Meanwhile, the Spanish govt became top-heavy with clergy, bureaucrats, and other hidalgos (Hijos de Algo, literally, "Sons of Something") who became a parasitic lot that sapped Spain's energy, leading to its decline into a third class power.

Subsequent Habsburg rulers of Spain continued the policy, and inbred the royal family into extinction too.

Louis XIV went to war with Spain to put one of his relatives on the throne, and the resulting Spanish Bourbons, with the possibly exception of Charles III, had the brains of turnips. See Goya's painting of the Royal Family of Charles IV. They were too dumb to see that he painted them as the conniving jerks they were. These are the fools Napoleon deposed.
Posted by: mom || 02/08/2009 20:06 Comments || Top||

#7  Maximilian I of Mexico.
Posted by: Pappy || 02/08/2009 20:33 Comments || Top||

#8  I learn something worth remembering every time you post, mom dear. Thank you.
Posted by: trailing wife || 02/08/2009 23:22 Comments || Top||

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Meet the Mods
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Two weeks of WOT
Sun 2009-02-08
  India wants Pak declared terrorist state
Sat 2009-02-07
  Russia allows transit of US military supplies
Fri 2009-02-06
  Islamabad High Court frees AQ Khan
Thu 2009-02-05
  Thirty dead in Pakistan blast: hospital
Wed 2009-02-04
  Bridge Attack Severs Afghan Supply Route
Tue 2009-02-03
  Somalia orders recapture of Baidoa
Mon 2009-02-02
  Bomber in police uniform kills 21 Afghan policemen
Sun 2009-02-01
  Sheikh Sharif elected as Somalia's president
Sat 2009-01-31
  Polls Close in Iraq Elections, No Major Violence
Fri 2009-01-30
  'Incompetent' Hamid Karzai's political future in doubt
Thu 2009-01-29
  Pakistan busts suicide bomb gang
Wed 2009-01-28
  Yar! French navy nabs 9 Somali pirates
Tue 2009-01-27
  Al-Shabaab fighters seize Somali parliament headquarters
Mon 2009-01-26
  GSPC founder calls for al-Qaeda surrender in Algeria
Sun 2009-01-25
  Lanka troops enter final Tiger town

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