Saturday, November 27, 2010

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

If Obama does not constantly mention his Christianity and chooses to stay above the pernicious rumors about his faith, nearly 1 in 5 Americans choose to believe he is a Muslim

These are the unanswered, possibly unanswerable, questions in a new report released today based on surveys analyzing the mid-term elections by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Brookings Institution.

Religion was not a major factor in the economics-dominated vote but views on God, faith, politics, moral issues in the public square and on Islam still have significant impact. And for President Obama, the results track a potentially troubling faith-gap between him and most Americans, a "religion dilemma," the report says.

Most Americans (51%) say President Obama has religious beliefs somewhat or very different than their own while 40% say their views are somewhat or very similar, according to the American Values Survey of 1,494 Americans by the PRRI.

If he does mention his strong Christian faith, he is attacked for being arrogant because a "real Christian" has "no need" to proclaim his faith to others, or people simply don't believe him.

Obama has been dogged by criticism about his faith since he took office. A poll released in late August showed that a growing number of Americans — one in five, up from one in ten in March — say he is a Muslim.

When asked if he prays himself, the president said: "I do. Every night."

He also says that he reads the Bible, and, asked to explain why so many Americans deny that he is a Christian, blamed the internet.

"Well, you know, the Internet has a powerful effect these days, and so, the way rumors can take on a life of their own ends up being very powerful," he said.

Millions of our friends and neighbors will hate Obama no matter what he does.  I honestly don't understand how he copes with it, and I'm a large African-American man who has seen more than his fair share of irrational hatred growing up in North Carolina.  When before has our President ever, every had his faith so openly questioned as being the enemy?  Even our first Catholic President, John F Kennedy, was able to put aside criticisms of his faith.

People keep telling me Obama's race has nothing to do with it.  And no offense, but every person I've heard that from happens to be white.

Irish Eyes Are Crying, Part 9

Meanwhile, Ireland's got a few problems with that whole austerity thing leading to national riots.

After a week that brought Ireland a pledge of a $114 billion international rescue package and the toughest austerity program of any country in Europe, tens of thousands of demonstrators took to Dublin’s streets on Saturday to protest wide cuts in the country’s welfare programs and in public-sector jobs.

The protests centered on a milelong march along the banks of the River Liffey in central Dublin to the General Post Office building on O’Connell Street, the site of the battle between Irish republican rebels and British troops in the Easter Uprising in 1916 — an iconic event that many in Ireland regard as the tipping point in Ireland’s long struggle for independence.

The choice of venue for the protests by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, coordinating the march through the city, reflected the mood of anger, dismay and recrimination in the wake of the economic shocks of the past 10 days. Those shocks have been the culmination of two years in which the economy has shrunk by about 15 percent, faster than any other European economy.

Before that, Ireland enjoyed more than a decade of unprecedented prosperity, so the rescue package being worked out by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union and the austerity program the Dublin government has been forced to adopt to secure the bailout loans have come as a deep jolt.

Among other things, the austerity package will involve the loss of about 25,000 public-sector jobs, equivalent to 10 percent of the government work force, as well as a four-year, $20 billion program of tax increases and spending cuts like sharp reductions in state pensions and the minimum wage. One Dublin newspaper, the Irish Independent, estimated that the cost of the measures for a typical middle-class family earning $67,000 a year would be about $5,800 a year. 

Again, this is the kind of pain that the Village centrist say we must go through in order to "regain our country".  The problem is this Irish bailout is literally jacking up taxes and killing social spending in order to save the country's bankers.   Remember, it wasn't public debt that was Ireland's problem, it was debt created by the Irish banks to fund their own version of Big Casino.

Before the bank bust, Ireland had little public debt. But with taxpayers suddenly on the hook for gigantic bank losses, even as revenues plunged, the nation’s creditworthiness was put in doubt. So Ireland tried to reassure the markets with a harsh program of spending cuts.

Step back for a minute and think about that. These debts were incurred, not to pay for public programs, but by private wheeler-dealers seeking nothing but their own profit. Yet ordinary Irish citizens are now bearing the burden of those debts.

Or to be more accurate, they’re bearing a burden much larger than the debt — because those spending cuts have caused a severe recession so that in addition to taking on the banks’ debts, the Irish are suffering from plunging incomes and high unemployment.

But there is no alternative, say the serious people: all of this is necessary to restore confidence. 

No wonder Irish are taking to the streets, some 50,000 in Dublin alone.  Their entire economy was screwed over to support the bankers, and the Irish taxpayer is being put on the hook to pay for it.  So not only do they have a recession thanks to the banks exploding, they now have to pay for the banks' mistakes on top of everything else.

Yeah, I'd be pissed too.  And remember...our own political class is expecting us to do the same thing.

Korean-ning Off The Rails

So while we were busy over here with mock bombs, TSA groping, basketball injuries and iPads, certainly Korea has found a way to calm down after last week's artillery incident, right?  The business of Asia is business, and my friend Asariel has his own econ blog, The Great Redoubt taking a hard numbers look at the world of finance and politics from a practical perspective.  So is it business as usual over there this weekend?


Well, at least there's some good news. North Korea apparently expressed regret for the civilian deaths. In this regard, a spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea released a statement on Friday.
The recent military provocation by the puppet group is a product of the deliberate and premeditated plot hatched by it to save its smear confrontational campaign from total bankruptcy, tarnish the daily rising might of the DPRK, scuttle the efforts for improving the north-south relations and tide over the domestic and international isolation and crisis, it points out, and says: 
The group perpetrated the recent provocation prompted by a sinister calculation that in case the DPRK did not make any reaction it would take it as "a tacit recognition" of the illegal "northern limit line" and make it a fait accompli and in case the DPRK took a military counter-action, it would use it as a pretext for kicking up anti-DPRK smear campaign.
I give up. Watch for the Asian markets to tank on Monday.

Yeah.  Agreed.  This is thirteen flavors of bad right here folks, and with Asia and Europe all going haywire (like myself, Asariel believes all eyes should be on Portugal next) it's not going to be good for us over here.  Not to mention as Asariel reminds me "The Korean War never officially ended."

StupidiNews Focus: A Tree-Mendous Effort

We're already hearing how "Obama got lucky again" stopping last night's attempted car bomb at a tree lighting ceremony in Oregon.  Luck had nothing to do with it.  The FBI had this guy cold and the public was never in danger.  Procedure triumphed here.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, was arrested on suspicion of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He is a resident of Corvallis, Oregon, and a student at Oregon State University, according to the FBI.

Mohamud was arrested by the FBI and Portland Police Bureau after he attempted to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van that was parked near the tree-lighting ceremony in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Justice Department said in a written statement. However, "the materials were not explosive," said Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd, who called the device a "mock bomb."

"The threat was very real. Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale," said Arthur Balizan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. "At the same time, I want to reassure the people of this community that, at every turn, we denied him the ability to actually carry out the attack."

The arrest was the culmination of a long-term undercover operation during which Mohamud had been monitored closely as his alleged bomb plot developed, the Justice Department said. Officials said the public was never in danger from the device.

Law enforcement worked here.  The FBI should be commended for doing its job admirably and gathering overwhelming undercover evidence at every step of the way.  Hopefully this guy will go away for a very, very long time and this will send a message that yes, we know we're onto people who would harm Americans this way.  I have zero sympathy for these terrorist bastards or their agenda, but the point here is that our existing law enforcement procedures worked perfectly here.

That's something we should all be proud of.  Government worked to protect us as it should.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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