Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 21, 2009

The Waltz’s Faults

In two separate posts on Friday, I wrote about the real reason the Israeli Left is in decline:

Making peace with the Palestinians and “ending the occupation” have become the Left’s overarching goals – to be achieved at all costs. That’s the real reason most Israelis – even some who are generally sympathetic to the Oslo days’ principles – are uncomfortable with its platforms. They want leaders working toward peace while keeping clear priorities: Israel first, the rest of the world second; Israel first, “ending the occupation” second; Israel first, making life better for Palestinians second.

And David Hazony wrote about the problematic political message of the Israeli Oscar nominee, Waltz with Bashir:

Waltz with Bashir has been a smashing success in Europe and stands a chance at winning an Oscar. Israelis, who are rightfully proud of their open society and culture of self-criticism, are beside themselves with joy. Should they be?

Enter Gideon Levy, one of the Israeli Left’s most eloquent (and most radical) champions. Levy also claims that Waltz is problematic — because it is not critical enough of Israel!

Hollywood will be enraptured, Europe will cheer and the Israeli Foreign Ministry will send the movie and its makers around the world to show off the country’s good side. But the truth is that it is propaganda. Stylish, sophisticated, gifted and tasteful – but propaganda. A new ambassador of culture will now join Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, and he too will be considered fabulously enlightened – so different from the bloodthirsty soldiers at the checkpoints, the pilots who bomb residential neighborhoods, the artillerymen who shell women and children, and the combat engineers who rip up streets. Here, instead, is the opposite picture. Animated, too. Of enlightened, beautiful Israel, anguished and self-righteous, dancing a waltz, with and without Bashir. Why do we need propagandists, officers, commentators and spokespersons who will convey “information”? We have this waltz.   

Apparently, the Europeans funding the film were tricked by the pro-Israeli propaganda machine. You can call it another victory for Israeli ingenuity. Or you can adduce it as another indication of the Israeli Left’s inability to convince voters that it can be trusted with the all too important task of governing.

In two separate posts on Friday, I wrote about the real reason the Israeli Left is in decline:

Making peace with the Palestinians and “ending the occupation” have become the Left’s overarching goals – to be achieved at all costs. That’s the real reason most Israelis – even some who are generally sympathetic to the Oslo days’ principles – are uncomfortable with its platforms. They want leaders working toward peace while keeping clear priorities: Israel first, the rest of the world second; Israel first, “ending the occupation” second; Israel first, making life better for Palestinians second.

And David Hazony wrote about the problematic political message of the Israeli Oscar nominee, Waltz with Bashir:

Waltz with Bashir has been a smashing success in Europe and stands a chance at winning an Oscar. Israelis, who are rightfully proud of their open society and culture of self-criticism, are beside themselves with joy. Should they be?

Enter Gideon Levy, one of the Israeli Left’s most eloquent (and most radical) champions. Levy also claims that Waltz is problematic — because it is not critical enough of Israel!

Hollywood will be enraptured, Europe will cheer and the Israeli Foreign Ministry will send the movie and its makers around the world to show off the country’s good side. But the truth is that it is propaganda. Stylish, sophisticated, gifted and tasteful – but propaganda. A new ambassador of culture will now join Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, and he too will be considered fabulously enlightened – so different from the bloodthirsty soldiers at the checkpoints, the pilots who bomb residential neighborhoods, the artillerymen who shell women and children, and the combat engineers who rip up streets. Here, instead, is the opposite picture. Animated, too. Of enlightened, beautiful Israel, anguished and self-righteous, dancing a waltz, with and without Bashir. Why do we need propagandists, officers, commentators and spokespersons who will convey “information”? We have this waltz.   

Apparently, the Europeans funding the film were tricked by the pro-Israeli propaganda machine. You can call it another victory for Israeli ingenuity. Or you can adduce it as another indication of the Israeli Left’s inability to convince voters that it can be trusted with the all too important task of governing.

Read Less

Russia Sinks a Chinese Ship

Yesterday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that China was “shocked” by a Russian warship firing upon and sinking a Chinese cargo ship near Vladivostok on the 15th of this month.  At least seven of the crew were missing and undoubtedly died in the incident.  Beijing lodged a formal protest.

The New Star, flying a Sierra Leone flag, was leaving Russian waters and apparently ignored warning shots.  What happened next is in dispute.  Moscow’s story is that the ship kept trying to outrun two Russian coast guard vessels, which eventually opened fire.   The Russians, it appears, fired more than 500 rounds at the bow and the stern of the New Star.  An early Interfax report claims the Chinese ship actually responded to the warning shots by turning around but then sank in rough seas.

In any event, the Chinese are outraged, the Foreign Ministry saying that Russia’s attitude was “hard to understand and unacceptable.”  Moreover, Beijing claims the Russian ships did not do enough to save the crew.  Moscow, for its part, says the New Star’s captain “behaved extremely irresponsibly” and “is fully to blame.”

The Chinese and Russian governments have many reasons to put this incident behind them.  They see the world in common terms and share many interests.  Both of them are deeply suspicious of the West and want to reorder the international system.  They share many friends.  They are developing trade ties.  They call themselves “strategic partners.”

But that’s only half the story.  Almost two decades of economic development have made both the Dragon and the Bear prosperous and, as a result, increasingly arrogant, assertive, and self-centered.  Now, the global downturn has shaken their economies especially hard and made their governments vulnerable.  So both Beijing and Moscow have reasons to create a foreign enemy to rally their restive populations.  Even as fraternal communists they were often trading barbs and sometimes gunfire.  And after this month’s New Star incident, they just might turn on each other again.

Yesterday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that China was “shocked” by a Russian warship firing upon and sinking a Chinese cargo ship near Vladivostok on the 15th of this month.  At least seven of the crew were missing and undoubtedly died in the incident.  Beijing lodged a formal protest.

The New Star, flying a Sierra Leone flag, was leaving Russian waters and apparently ignored warning shots.  What happened next is in dispute.  Moscow’s story is that the ship kept trying to outrun two Russian coast guard vessels, which eventually opened fire.   The Russians, it appears, fired more than 500 rounds at the bow and the stern of the New Star.  An early Interfax report claims the Chinese ship actually responded to the warning shots by turning around but then sank in rough seas.

In any event, the Chinese are outraged, the Foreign Ministry saying that Russia’s attitude was “hard to understand and unacceptable.”  Moreover, Beijing claims the Russian ships did not do enough to save the crew.  Moscow, for its part, says the New Star’s captain “behaved extremely irresponsibly” and “is fully to blame.”

The Chinese and Russian governments have many reasons to put this incident behind them.  They see the world in common terms and share many interests.  Both of them are deeply suspicious of the West and want to reorder the international system.  They share many friends.  They are developing trade ties.  They call themselves “strategic partners.”

But that’s only half the story.  Almost two decades of economic development have made both the Dragon and the Bear prosperous and, as a result, increasingly arrogant, assertive, and self-centered.  Now, the global downturn has shaken their economies especially hard and made their governments vulnerable.  So both Beijing and Moscow have reasons to create a foreign enemy to rally their restive populations.  Even as fraternal communists they were often trading barbs and sometimes gunfire.  And after this month’s New Star incident, they just might turn on each other again.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Larry Sabato writes on the New York Times and its settlement with Vicki Iseman: “While proof is the most important determinant of publication, broadcast and print journalists must continue to be appropriately aggressive and properly suspicious of the official version of anything. Or do we just want everyone in the tank for the powerful?” Well, we have our answer and Chris Matthews has his.

Harvard  professor Robert Barro didn’t get the White House memo that every economist was supposed to agree that the stimulus plan was a good idea. Actually he thinks it is a “terrible piece of legislation.”

“The general consensus right now among the student body is that they are a bunch of idiots.” That’s the pithy take on the student demonstrators at NYU who had to be removed by force from the university cafeteria. Their concerns seem to have evolved from  transparency in budgeting to “solidarity with Gaza.”

It sure is the beginning of the end, according to Don Luskin.

First Rush Limbaugh and then Rick Santelli. The White House seems intent on elevating their media adversaries and losing the high ground.

Larry Kudlow is steamed at the White House for attacking Santelli and bullying the media, but isn’t this more fodder for Santelli and more exposure for his complaints? Gibbs’s ouburst  is defensive, unseemly and petty but I don’t think it’s going to discourage any reporters from going after the president’s policies.

Hey, they better not mess with Eric the Trader.

Marc Ambinder begins to dutifully spin that this was actually a smart thing, but can’t quite get past the part about potentially catalyzing the opposition.

Sort of like all of this.

Or this: “Populist anger is a great tool to get elected. But it is nearly impossible to control. The very change that swept Democrats into D.C. will surely sweep them away again if they squeeze ordinary citizens too much to pay for the failings of others. We’re still mad as hell. And now Democrats can’t blame anyone else for a change.”

Speaking of righteous anger, Sen. Arlen Specter gets booed for his stimulus plan vote.

Jonathan Chait writes that Senators Chris Dodd and Charles Schumer “have now both opened the door to temporary nationalization of the banks. This is really starting to look like something that could happen.” Which explains in part why the stock market and bank stocks are crashing. If the Democrats are going to give up on the markets, the markets are going to give up on them.

Rep. Adam Schiff discovers he’s helped run up a big tab: “It’s really staggering to think we’re going to have trillion-dollar deficits for the next several years.” Really?

Guantanamo fully complies with the Geneva Convention. But we have to close it because. . .  because why? Oh, yes, it got a terrible reputation when the press misreported what was going on there.

From the “This governing stuff is hard” file: “Mr. Obama spent Thursday reassuring Canadians that his campaign talk of reopening the North American Free Trade Agreement would not actually impede free trade. His budget writers are struggling to square promises of rolling back George W. Bush’s tax cuts with combating the recession. One campaign applause line — about ending tax quirks that he said encourage U.S. corporations to move jobs overseas — is facing a wall of opposition from companies pleading for relief in a global downturn.”

The Wall Street Journal editors echo Pete Wehner’s evisceration of Bill Moyers.

Larry Sabato writes on the New York Times and its settlement with Vicki Iseman: “While proof is the most important determinant of publication, broadcast and print journalists must continue to be appropriately aggressive and properly suspicious of the official version of anything. Or do we just want everyone in the tank for the powerful?” Well, we have our answer and Chris Matthews has his.

Harvard  professor Robert Barro didn’t get the White House memo that every economist was supposed to agree that the stimulus plan was a good idea. Actually he thinks it is a “terrible piece of legislation.”

“The general consensus right now among the student body is that they are a bunch of idiots.” That’s the pithy take on the student demonstrators at NYU who had to be removed by force from the university cafeteria. Their concerns seem to have evolved from  transparency in budgeting to “solidarity with Gaza.”

It sure is the beginning of the end, according to Don Luskin.

First Rush Limbaugh and then Rick Santelli. The White House seems intent on elevating their media adversaries and losing the high ground.

Larry Kudlow is steamed at the White House for attacking Santelli and bullying the media, but isn’t this more fodder for Santelli and more exposure for his complaints? Gibbs’s ouburst  is defensive, unseemly and petty but I don’t think it’s going to discourage any reporters from going after the president’s policies.

Hey, they better not mess with Eric the Trader.

Marc Ambinder begins to dutifully spin that this was actually a smart thing, but can’t quite get past the part about potentially catalyzing the opposition.

Sort of like all of this.

Or this: “Populist anger is a great tool to get elected. But it is nearly impossible to control. The very change that swept Democrats into D.C. will surely sweep them away again if they squeeze ordinary citizens too much to pay for the failings of others. We’re still mad as hell. And now Democrats can’t blame anyone else for a change.”

Speaking of righteous anger, Sen. Arlen Specter gets booed for his stimulus plan vote.

Jonathan Chait writes that Senators Chris Dodd and Charles Schumer “have now both opened the door to temporary nationalization of the banks. This is really starting to look like something that could happen.” Which explains in part why the stock market and bank stocks are crashing. If the Democrats are going to give up on the markets, the markets are going to give up on them.

Rep. Adam Schiff discovers he’s helped run up a big tab: “It’s really staggering to think we’re going to have trillion-dollar deficits for the next several years.” Really?

Guantanamo fully complies with the Geneva Convention. But we have to close it because. . .  because why? Oh, yes, it got a terrible reputation when the press misreported what was going on there.

From the “This governing stuff is hard” file: “Mr. Obama spent Thursday reassuring Canadians that his campaign talk of reopening the North American Free Trade Agreement would not actually impede free trade. His budget writers are struggling to square promises of rolling back George W. Bush’s tax cuts with combating the recession. One campaign applause line — about ending tax quirks that he said encourage U.S. corporations to move jobs overseas — is facing a wall of opposition from companies pleading for relief in a global downturn.”

The Wall Street Journal editors echo Pete Wehner’s evisceration of Bill Moyers.

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Remember When Everything Was So Certain?

Michael Gerson notes how surprising the first month of the Obama administration has been:

Thirty days after Obama’s inauguration, everything old is new again. While the administration has not undone the 1996 welfare reform (the entitlement, for example, was not restored), it has weakened that landmark reform and given conservatives back their issue. The Pelosi stimulus package seemed more like the Christmas wish list of a greedy child than a sober, necessary economic measure. Its excesses – and the arrogance of Democratic leaders in the process of constructing it – managed to unify and encourage the Republican caucus on their defining ideological commitment: limited government. Fear of massive debt and resulting inflation is now undermining the reception of Obama spending initiatives across the ideological spectrum. And it was a remarkable confirmation of stereotypes for liberals to propose condoms as “stimulus” spending and to refer to the home of the brave as “a nation of cowards.”

Once again we see how misplaced and premature was much of the post-election chatter. For weeks the pundits raged. The Republicans needed to undergo a massive ideological transformation. The Democrats had a new permanent majority. The country had shifted left. Obama was a political genius in the mold of FDR or Reagan. Maybe some of this is true, but it seems far less certain than it did in November. (And some of it, such as the prospects for a civil war between secularists and the religious right seems bizarrely irrelevant.)

As I and some others have argued, politics in the real world (rather than in pundits’ columns) is about how parties and leaders perform in a given set of circumstances. The course of the Republican Party in the near term won’t be determined by some arcane argument between camps of bloggers. It will largely depend on how successfully the Obama administration navigates through the next few years and whether the GOP can maintain principled opposition, provide reasonable alternative strategies, and ultimately find a credible national leader.

Their task may be made easier by the Obama team’s over-interpretation or misinterpretation of the election results as a mandate to lurch to the left on domestic policy and by its startling incompetence (on everything from vetting to Tim Geithner’s disastrous roll-out of his bank bailout plan). Neither weakness of the current administration may last, which would go to show once again that nothing is permanent in politics.

Moreover, the burden is on those in power to govern wisely and well. So long as the Obama administration keeps fumbling and bumbling along, hope stirs among Republicans for a swift revival. Given all that has occurred over the last month, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched as it did in November, does it?

Michael Gerson notes how surprising the first month of the Obama administration has been:

Thirty days after Obama’s inauguration, everything old is new again. While the administration has not undone the 1996 welfare reform (the entitlement, for example, was not restored), it has weakened that landmark reform and given conservatives back their issue. The Pelosi stimulus package seemed more like the Christmas wish list of a greedy child than a sober, necessary economic measure. Its excesses – and the arrogance of Democratic leaders in the process of constructing it – managed to unify and encourage the Republican caucus on their defining ideological commitment: limited government. Fear of massive debt and resulting inflation is now undermining the reception of Obama spending initiatives across the ideological spectrum. And it was a remarkable confirmation of stereotypes for liberals to propose condoms as “stimulus” spending and to refer to the home of the brave as “a nation of cowards.”

Once again we see how misplaced and premature was much of the post-election chatter. For weeks the pundits raged. The Republicans needed to undergo a massive ideological transformation. The Democrats had a new permanent majority. The country had shifted left. Obama was a political genius in the mold of FDR or Reagan. Maybe some of this is true, but it seems far less certain than it did in November. (And some of it, such as the prospects for a civil war between secularists and the religious right seems bizarrely irrelevant.)

As I and some others have argued, politics in the real world (rather than in pundits’ columns) is about how parties and leaders perform in a given set of circumstances. The course of the Republican Party in the near term won’t be determined by some arcane argument between camps of bloggers. It will largely depend on how successfully the Obama administration navigates through the next few years and whether the GOP can maintain principled opposition, provide reasonable alternative strategies, and ultimately find a credible national leader.

Their task may be made easier by the Obama team’s over-interpretation or misinterpretation of the election results as a mandate to lurch to the left on domestic policy and by its startling incompetence (on everything from vetting to Tim Geithner’s disastrous roll-out of his bank bailout plan). Neither weakness of the current administration may last, which would go to show once again that nothing is permanent in politics.

Moreover, the burden is on those in power to govern wisely and well. So long as the Obama administration keeps fumbling and bumbling along, hope stirs among Republicans for a swift revival. Given all that has occurred over the last month, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched as it did in November, does it?

Read Less

The Empty Cabinet

The Cabinet’s members — the top officials of the Executive Branch — are, in theory, the closest advisors to the president. They not only control large swaths of the government, they also collectively can remove the president from power.

Over the years, though, the role of the Cabinet in advising the president has diminished, as presidents have chosen to have a “kitchen cabinet” of subservient advisors. President Obama is moving a step further in this direction.

The Secretary of State is the preeminent Cabinet officer (arguably ahead of the Vice President), in charge of managing America’s relations with the rest of the world. Hillary Clinton is viewed by some as Obama’s most successful pick so far.

Yet one of the conditions for Clinton’s nomination seems to have been her acquiescence to the stripping away of much of the traditional powers of her office. Obama has appointed “special envoys” to manage the Israeli-Palestine situation, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and elevated the Ambassador to the United Nations to a cabinet-level position — all competing roles with that of the Secretary of State. Furthermore, Obama is gratuitously insulting Clinton by rehabilitating his former advisor Samantha Power, who resigned during the campaign after calling Clinton a “monster”: Obama appointed Power to the National Security Council, where she sits next to Clinton.

So far, Obama has yet to find a Secretary of Commerce. He initially nominated New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, who later withdrew, citing as one of the main reasons his disagreement with the president over the upcoming Census’s procedure.

The Census is one of the few constitutionally-mandated activities assigned to a Cabinet secretary. Congress has assigned the Department of Commerce to conduct it, but Obama plans to have the Director of the Census report not only to the Secretary, but to the White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. The potential for political exploitation and manipulation is tremendous — and comes at the expense of the Secretary of Commerce. It is no wonder that Gregg refused to accept such a gelded office.

Traditionally, the Vice-President has had very little to do. He or she has two duties, described most eloquently by John McCain as “breaking tie votes in the Senate and  inquiring daily as to the health of the president.” In the 80’s and 90’s, the most common function of the Vice-President was to attend state funerals — which meant having some nice suits handy at a moment’s notice and an ability to maintain a somber expression.

So far, Vice President Biden’s main function seems to be to swear in various Obama appointees. And even with such limited function, Biden’s track record of gaffes continues to grow (e.g. he took a dig at Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts that left President Obama nonplussed).

Prior presidents have gone out of their way to give their vice-presidents something to do. The first President Bush put Dan Quayle in charge of the space program. Bill Clinton put Gore in charge of governmental restructuring. And the latter President Bush used Dick Cheney as something of a co-president.

It’s hard to see Joe Biden being entrusted with these kinds of responsibilities.

Obama described his ideal Cabinet as “a team of rivals,” in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln. It appears he plans to achieve this dynamic by chiseling away at the power of each member and encouraging rivalries and conflicts.

That doesn’t seem like a good recipe for success. On the contrary, it seems almost designed to reinforce the absolute power of the President — he is the ultimate arbiter of policy, he decides just how much authority each officer holds, and he can give or take away that authority at his whim.

On the surface, this approach seems to signal insecurity in a man who feels the need to constantly reassert that he was, indeed, the “winner” of the last election, and who must constantly remind everyone else he is the top dog.

And sometimes, the surface impression is the most accurate.

The Cabinet’s members — the top officials of the Executive Branch — are, in theory, the closest advisors to the president. They not only control large swaths of the government, they also collectively can remove the president from power.

Over the years, though, the role of the Cabinet in advising the president has diminished, as presidents have chosen to have a “kitchen cabinet” of subservient advisors. President Obama is moving a step further in this direction.

The Secretary of State is the preeminent Cabinet officer (arguably ahead of the Vice President), in charge of managing America’s relations with the rest of the world. Hillary Clinton is viewed by some as Obama’s most successful pick so far.

Yet one of the conditions for Clinton’s nomination seems to have been her acquiescence to the stripping away of much of the traditional powers of her office. Obama has appointed “special envoys” to manage the Israeli-Palestine situation, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and elevated the Ambassador to the United Nations to a cabinet-level position — all competing roles with that of the Secretary of State. Furthermore, Obama is gratuitously insulting Clinton by rehabilitating his former advisor Samantha Power, who resigned during the campaign after calling Clinton a “monster”: Obama appointed Power to the National Security Council, where she sits next to Clinton.

So far, Obama has yet to find a Secretary of Commerce. He initially nominated New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, who later withdrew, citing as one of the main reasons his disagreement with the president over the upcoming Census’s procedure.

The Census is one of the few constitutionally-mandated activities assigned to a Cabinet secretary. Congress has assigned the Department of Commerce to conduct it, but Obama plans to have the Director of the Census report not only to the Secretary, but to the White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. The potential for political exploitation and manipulation is tremendous — and comes at the expense of the Secretary of Commerce. It is no wonder that Gregg refused to accept such a gelded office.

Traditionally, the Vice-President has had very little to do. He or she has two duties, described most eloquently by John McCain as “breaking tie votes in the Senate and  inquiring daily as to the health of the president.” In the 80’s and 90’s, the most common function of the Vice-President was to attend state funerals — which meant having some nice suits handy at a moment’s notice and an ability to maintain a somber expression.

So far, Vice President Biden’s main function seems to be to swear in various Obama appointees. And even with such limited function, Biden’s track record of gaffes continues to grow (e.g. he took a dig at Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts that left President Obama nonplussed).

Prior presidents have gone out of their way to give their vice-presidents something to do. The first President Bush put Dan Quayle in charge of the space program. Bill Clinton put Gore in charge of governmental restructuring. And the latter President Bush used Dick Cheney as something of a co-president.

It’s hard to see Joe Biden being entrusted with these kinds of responsibilities.

Obama described his ideal Cabinet as “a team of rivals,” in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln. It appears he plans to achieve this dynamic by chiseling away at the power of each member and encouraging rivalries and conflicts.

That doesn’t seem like a good recipe for success. On the contrary, it seems almost designed to reinforce the absolute power of the President — he is the ultimate arbiter of policy, he decides just how much authority each officer holds, and he can give or take away that authority at his whim.

On the surface, this approach seems to signal insecurity in a man who feels the need to constantly reassert that he was, indeed, the “winner” of the last election, and who must constantly remind everyone else he is the top dog.

And sometimes, the surface impression is the most accurate.

Read Less

Nice Job, Fellas

Even the New York Times can’t avoid the obvious:

Once again, investors are losing confidence in the nation’s beleaguered banks — and, this time, experts say, in Washington’s ever-changing plans to rescue the banks as well.

Despite somber assurances from the White House that the industry is sound, shares of bank companies plunged to new lows Friday on fears that some of the nation’s largest banks, including Citigroup and Bank of America, eventually could be nationalized.

Even though both companies said that was not the case, investors pointed to a seemingly offhand remark by Senator Christopher J. Dodd — to the effect that the administration might assume ownership of certain banks for a short time — as cause for concern.

The Times quotes a former bank regulator: “People are getting spooked… When you have the government coming out and saying that they are not thinking about nationalization, I think it falls on deaf ears.”

In other words, the Obama administration, and specifically the boy genius Treasury Secretary, succeeded in wreaking havoc on the markets in a matter of weeks. It is rather remarkable that they thought they’d spur a recovery by talking down the economy, providing no clarity to investors and financial institutions in dire need of some, and coming up with pork-a-thon “stimulus” bill. One wonders how much wealth has been incinerated (and how long the recession has been prolonged) by a government-induced panic. As one columnist noted:

But the bottom line is this: Obama’s economic plans cannot work with the cooperation of the markets. Falling stock prices mean people and business will continue to cut back on spending, and eventually higher interest rates will slow borrowing due to fear of monstrous deficits.

Apparently it’s not just about campaign rallies and who won the election.

Even the New York Times can’t avoid the obvious:

Once again, investors are losing confidence in the nation’s beleaguered banks — and, this time, experts say, in Washington’s ever-changing plans to rescue the banks as well.

Despite somber assurances from the White House that the industry is sound, shares of bank companies plunged to new lows Friday on fears that some of the nation’s largest banks, including Citigroup and Bank of America, eventually could be nationalized.

Even though both companies said that was not the case, investors pointed to a seemingly offhand remark by Senator Christopher J. Dodd — to the effect that the administration might assume ownership of certain banks for a short time — as cause for concern.

The Times quotes a former bank regulator: “People are getting spooked… When you have the government coming out and saying that they are not thinking about nationalization, I think it falls on deaf ears.”

In other words, the Obama administration, and specifically the boy genius Treasury Secretary, succeeded in wreaking havoc on the markets in a matter of weeks. It is rather remarkable that they thought they’d spur a recovery by talking down the economy, providing no clarity to investors and financial institutions in dire need of some, and coming up with pork-a-thon “stimulus” bill. One wonders how much wealth has been incinerated (and how long the recession has been prolonged) by a government-induced panic. As one columnist noted:

But the bottom line is this: Obama’s economic plans cannot work with the cooperation of the markets. Falling stock prices mean people and business will continue to cut back on spending, and eventually higher interest rates will slow borrowing due to fear of monstrous deficits.

Apparently it’s not just about campaign rallies and who won the election.

Read Less




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