America's worst addiction may be lying to itself.
House Rules: Hamid Karzai believes that as President he has some say about what goes on in Afghanistan. Naturally General Petraeus, who is actually in charge, was surprised when Karzi said he wanted to send a lot of US troops home pretty damned soon and wanted the rest of them to stop knocking down doors at 3 AM. Petraeus claimed that this would undermine whatever it is the US hopes to do there over the next decade or so.
Stirrings: Retail sales were up 1.2% m/m and 7.3% y/y in October. Without car sales, the increase was only 0.4%. S ales are back to within 2% of the pre-recession peak. Where's the money coming from?
Day Care For Adults: One way to cut government waste would be to dismantle TSA. (1) True. (2) Very True. (3) Step over here...
Thimblerig: Last Friday the government pointed at a shell and told you an incredible number of jobs had been created by the economy in October. They also told you not to pay any attention to the stodgy old household survey, which didn't agree. Turns out the pea wasn't under that shell – instead, they changed the way 'seasonal adjustments' are made and created 100,000 jobs. Right out of thin air, just like dollars.
Bottom Line: Rather than extend the Bush tax cuts to everyone including the obscenely rich, it would be far better to let the cuts expire for everyone. The rich benefited most from the cuts and would lose the most from their expiration.
Special Pleading: According to Vikram Pandit, “There is a point beyond which more is not necessarily better. Hiking capital and liquidity requirements further could have significant negative impact on the banking system, on consumers and on the economy.” Mr Pandit should have added “and especially on Citigroup”, of which he is the head. Add salt as necessary.
Flailing: It really isn’t going to end, is it? Not in Iraq in 2011. Not in Afghanistan in 2014. Not ever. Yemen's just getting underway. Wars without end, Amen.
Reality Check: The simple fact is we are spending too much on health care. The health care cost discussion remains facile, avoiding the hard edges of the decision-making process. Health care costs consist of 1) profits, mainly those of insurance companies and for-profit hospitals, 2) administrative costs, and 3) the cost of health care itself. We can cut 1 and 2 by going to a national single payer system and reverting back to community owned non-profit hospitals, ambulances, and clinics. Controlling the actual cost of health care would require rational rationing (instead of rationing by money, which is what we have now) and a strong, tough-love approach to preventive health to cut the costs of obesity, diabetes, slothfulness and nutritional suicide. And yes, death with dignity as opposed to plug 'em in and let 'em linger would have to be part of the solution.
Actions, Not Words: Senator John Ensign (R-NV), who voted against the health care bill and speaks often and loudly against earmarks, got a $960,000 health care earmark for the University of Nevada.
Feedback Loop: Science makes progress by discovering that it had previously made mistakes. For example scientists have thought that the gigantic ice sheets in Greenland would take thousands of years to melt and that the seas would only rise a few inches, maybe a foot in a century. Recent studies show that ice sheets know a few tricks about melting that the scientists are just learning, and that makes them pretty sure that the change in sea level will be at least three feet by 2100. And while that's bad enough, check back in a little while – there is every chance that the three feet will become six.
Quoted: "The only way you generate wealth is you make it, you mine it or you grow it. Just exchanging things back and forth, services, it doesn't generate wealth. It just moves it.”