Remarks And Asides, International Edition

Come on, peoples, we’ve gots to keep up with The World:

Vladimir Putin is back as president of Russia, pledging to “strengthen Russian democracy, constitutional rights and freedoms.”  Yes, and free vodka for everyone!

The new president, whose election was no doubt fraudulent, was greeted by protesters on Sunday with a hardy, “Putin is a thief!,” after which the man who pledged to strengthen democracy, rights, and freedom had police bash the protesters’ heads and arrest them by the hundreds.

Now, that is the Russian democracy we all know and love! Welcome back, Pootie-Poot!


Ah, that European debt crisis thingy: The French have given the finger to the Germans and other austerity fanatics in Europe by electing a real honest-to-goodness Socialist to run the country. Francois Hollande promises to renegotiate the deal the outgoing president, Nicolas Sarkozy, made with Germany’s Angela Merkel on government debt.

I for one am glad that the world now has another prominent socialist making decisions, as Barack Obama is certainly getting tired of carrying the load.


And the Greeks have also sort of flipped the bird to their austerity-minded handlers in high places like Germany by abandoning in droves their two main political parties in parliamentary elections.

Nobody now knows what will happen to the cut-your-way-to-prosperity philosophy imposed on the Greeks and across Europe, but the hardliners are vowing that Greece must stay the course.

A very critical Michael Brenner put it nicely recently:

Europe in effect has been locked into a fiscal chastity belt made in Germany according to German specifications.

Which means, Brenner argues,

relegating Greeks, Irish, Portuguese, et. al. to a condition of debt servitude for the foreseeable future. Severest penalties will be imposed on the poor and those of modest means, on the old, on the sick, on all whose well-being depends on the network of social programs which, all across the continent, has made Europe the most enlightened and humane society the world has ever known.

Yes, but the banks will come out okay, so all is good!


And speaking of the leader of Europe’s anti-Keynesian fiscal policy, there is some trouble brewing at home:

Voters in Germany’s northernmost state ousted a governing center-right government made up of the same parties as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s federal coalition, according to exit polls based on partial results.

For Merkel, the defeat of her local allies in Schleswig-Holstein state could be an omen of worse to come.


Now, after having read all that, aren’t  you glad you live in America, where our only real problem is our Kenyan socialist president who hates the country and apologizes for us everywhere he goes around the world?


And speaking of the Kenyan socialist who hates America, Big O followed yet another terrorist SOB to Joe Biden’s “gates of hell” and killed an al-Qaeda leader who may have thunk we had forgotten all about him.

This time it was Fahd al-Quso who enjoyed the brief company of a U.S. drone before the missile sent him packing, piece by piece, to Allah.

Of course it will take some time before Allah gets the pieces put back together, but when he does I am sure he will have a nice heavenly reward for Quso, who was wanted in connection with the bombing of the USS Cole way back in 2000.


Finally, I think it is important to note that Big O, who Republicans claim is weak on national security issues, has now sent more fragments of anti-American terrorist leaders to an afterlife with Allah than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney ever dreamed of.  Okay, okay, Bush and Cheney probably did dream big dreams about killing terrorists, but Big O is gittin’ ‘er dun!



  1. jdhight01

     /  May 7, 2012

    1. I will be curious how the socialists work out in Europe. Of course, the big banks and others will assure that they fail.

    2. I wonder if Romney and other Republicans will criticize Obama for killing another al-Qaeda leader for politicizing terrorism. Have they forgotten that G. W. Bush said that he had forgotten about bin Laden? The apologist moron Karl Rove seems to have forgotten that, too. Hopefully the American people will see Rove, Romney, the Koch Brothers, the teabaggers, and the Republican Party in general for what they are–whiners who care for only the very wealthy in this country and how they can pad their pockets. How else did Roy Blunt’s net worth go up 5.5 million dollars while a Congressman?


    • Jim,

      The only estimate on Blunt’s wealth I could find was from Open Secrets for 2010. It averaged out the minimum and maximum reporting ranges to come up with $3,717,509, In any case, that ain’t bad for a guy who has had the following career:

      1972-1984 as Greene County Clerk.  (The current County Clerk makes $71,714, so it would take a pretty disciplined guy to stash away almost $4 million on that salary, particularly throughout the 70s and early 80s, when the economy wasn’t exactly roaring.)

      1984-1992 as Missouri secretary of state (The current salary is $107,746, which again even if you saved every penny for the four years wouldn’t even total half a mill.)

      1993-1996 President of Southwest Baptist University (I don’t know what the Baptists are paying their leaders these days, but maybe they made it worth Roy’s time to run the “Christ-centered” school. After all, what would Je$u$ do?)

      1996-2010 as representative in U.S. House (We all know there’s no money there, right?)

      2010-present as U.S. Senator

      So, Jim, I’m with you on scratching my head as to how Roy could have done so well as both a public servant and as a servant of the Lord’s.



  2. ‘more fragments of anti-American terrorist leaders to an afterlife with Allah than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney ever dreamed of.’

    And in less than 4 years.

    Furthermore, I think the legal proceeding against KSM is being complicated late last week by the torture that W used on him without finding Osama.


    • My understanding, Bruce, is that KSM’s trial will commence next year. I thought they had been arguing about the constitutionality of the military commission and hadn’t even got to the issue of torture-tainted evidence.

      In any case, if some New Yorkers and Republicans hadn’t objected to his being tried in federal court in Manhattan, we’d might be done with that phase of it by now.



  3. I’m not sure that Pooti-Poot is as poorly thought of in Mother Russia as in the states.


    • You’re probably right because despite “irregularities” in the last election, he may have not needed to cheat after all. Many Russians seem not to mind much their masters.



  4. ansonburlingame

     /  May 8, 2012

    To all,

    A long standing dispute herein is Obama’s “socialist” status. Duane insists that he is in the center of American politics and thus cannot be a socialist. but then he writes above”

    “I for one am glad that the world now has another prominent socialist making decisions, as Barack Obama is certainly getting tired of carrying the load.”

    I agree that Obama is “tired” of carrying the load of “prominent” socialism. He would like to come out of his political closet and call his views for what they really are, movement toward socialism.

    Strip away all the rhetoric and spin and that is exactly what Duane, Obama and the American political left want in America. But they insist that is the center of American politics today.

    God help us if that is true.



  5. France’s change to a socialist government is an opportunity for economists to compare the two styles, but if M. Hollande wishes to actually succeed he needs to show some restraint. You simply can’t have people retiring in their 50’s, taking two-month guaranteed vacations every year, and still pull a country out of recession. Even John Maynard Keynes wouldn’t expect that.


    • Jim,

      I think Hollande’s election provides France with some leverage, just as Greece’s turmoil gives that country some bargaining power over the austerity hounds. In the case of Greece, withdrawing from the eurozone just might crash the whole experiment, a prospect that may give them more time to pay off loans and get their finances in order.

      As for two-month vacations and the retiring early, I agree that most societies are not designed for such things, but is that a problem with the design or with the nature of the case? Who says that we shouldn’t try to construct societies such that folks get long vacations and retire when they still have time to enjoy life?



      • Well, sure. All things in moderation, right? But somebody has to do the work too. I understand that France practically shuts down in the summers because everybody is down sunning on the beaches.

        Comparably, here at home in the U.S. of A. it is getting more and more difficult to find people to do actual physical labor. Crops are rotting in the fields in Alabama, Georgia and California for want of someone to process them. I have been trying unsuccessfully here in Joplin to get some landscaping work done. Meanwhile, 40% of the populace is predicted to be obese by 2030 – that’s not just fat, that’s fatter than fat. The point is about human nature.

        Take college for example. The majority of young people now view it as a right rather than a privilege I think, and most take easy rather than hard curricula, liberal arts rather than engineering or accounting. Higher-skilled jobs are going begging despite the unemployment rate. And college now is mostly under-written by government-guaranteed loans, so this is social change engineered by government. Do I think every kid has the right to the opportunity? You bet. But when you make it too easy, people take the easy way. That’s what I see happening, and the result is another debt crisis looming.

        What would happen if the government not only let the student loan rate rise but actually stopped guaranteeing student loans altogether, say over a period of several years? I predict that fewer people would still go to college, but the ones who did would be the more ambitious and more capable of the crop. Also, they would then be saving up more in advance and shopping for value a lot more than they do now. Instead, a lot of the tuition increases are now going not into better quality of education but straight into the pockets of administrators and the tenured elite of academia.

        I think it’s easy to forget the strength of the societal pressures that motivated people to get where we are today and if we become too entitlement-minded, the safety net will fray for everyone. Moderation, that’s all I’m saying.



        • Jim,

          I share most of your reasoning here, in terms of moderation between the two extremes of near-impossibility and too-easy. For instance, instead of racking up massive student loan debt (the government involvement, by the way, wasn’t so much an “engineered” social change as a response to a societal need, at least as I see it), the government ought to loan money to kids and at least part of the payback would be community service (you have suggested as much as far as medical education, no?), say, at reduced wages or for a two-year commitment in some location (or vocation) that is desperate for help.

          And since there is a need for engineers, say, why hasn’t the market corrected for that? In other words, why aren’t the best and brightest going into engineering instead of high finance? Why can’t an engineer make a million or more a year? Seems to me that his or her services are more valuable to modern society than much of what happens on Wall Street. How’d that get so mucked up?

          And why don’t firms who need such engineers offer degree help to prospective employees? Or should it be on the government’s shoulders? Can we make engineering more attractive by, for instance, the government making loans for engineering degrees less costly? And should we?

          I don’t know what moderation in all things would mean in terms of how to motivate young people to go here or go there, nor do I know what exactly is the proper motivation to get folks not to take it too easy either in their youth or middle age. But I do know that moderation, at least for me, is that people shouldn’t have to work until they drop. Life is too short to spend it all behind a desk, or a drill press, or a keyboard for that matter, unless those are things one likes to do anyway.



        • @ Duane,

          I’m honored that you recall some of my past opinions on education, Duane, and I appreciate your flexibility of thought on the subject. I agree with your philosophy as expressed.

          I too have wondered about engineering and why the market hasn’t, as you say, “corrected for it”. I don’t know the answer, but I can speculate of course.

          1. Engineering is hard course work, and a lot of it. This probably derives from the nature of the profession – when bridges fall down, it’s bad for business.
          2. It’s the kind of stuff that’s hard to cheat, er, fudge on. Engineering calculus usually separates the talent from the rest the first semester in college. The permutations and the test answers can be varied easily.
          3. Engineering usually takes at least eight full semesters of work, so kids need to be committed right from the beginning or take extra expensive time.
          4. The market doesn’t need a whole lot of engineers, just a few really good ones. Jobs like monitoring, assembling and repairing go mostly to technicians, not engineers.
          5. I have the impression that foreign competition from places like India has made the profession less competitive for higher salaries.


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