Monthly Archives: December 2011
Don’t worry, be happy – It will soon be a bright and happy day in that benighted land:
Relations between Egypt‘s military rulers and the United States threatened to hit a new low after Egyptian security forces launched unprecedented armed raids on a series of high profile human rights and pro-democracy organisations.
The raids included targeting the US-government funded National Democratic Institute – founded by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright – and the International Republican Institute, whose chairman is Republican senator John McCain. Both organisations are affiliated with the two major US political parties.
The orchestrated move by Egypt’s generals, apparently keen to play up to anti-US and nationalist feelings in the country, will be seen as highly provocative in Washington, which underwrites military aid to Egypt to the sum of $1.3bn (£843m) annually.
"We are deeply concerned," a State Department official told the Guardian.
Are we? So no more applauding the “revolution” in Egypt and what it has brought?
Or are we still breaking eggs so the omelet of freedom can be made?
Al Qaeda’s leadership has sent experienced jihadists to Libya in an effort to build a fighting force there, according to a Libyan source briefed by Western counter-terrorism officials.
The jihadists include one veteran fighter who had been detained in Britain on suspicion of terrorism. The source describes him as committed to al Qaeda’s global cause and to attacking U.S. interests.
The source told CNN that the al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, personally dispatched the former British detainee to Libya earlier this year as the Gadhafi regime lost control of large swathes of the country.
The man arrived in Libya in May and has since begun recruiting fighters in the eastern region of the country, near the Egyptian border. He now has some 200 fighters mobilized, the source added. Western intelligence agencies are aware of his activities, according to the source.
Well aren’t you comforted by the fact that Western intelligence agencies are “aware” of his activities. Aren’t you also completely surprised by this turn of events?
If you are, you’ve just not been paying attention.
In a video message to fellow Libyans distributed on jihadist forums earlier this month, al-Libi said: "At this crossroads you have found yourselves, you either choose a secular regime that pleases the greedy crocodiles of the West and for them to use it as a means to fulfill their goals, or you take a strong position and establish the religion of Allah."
Anyone want to wager on the outcome?
Today’s economic statistical releases:
In a Dec 24 week clouded by the need for estimates, initial unemployment claims rose 15,000 to 381,000. Despite that, the 4-week moving average fell 5,750 to a 375,000, the eighth decline in 9 weeks.
The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index remains steady at 62.5 this month, but new orders are especially strong at 68.0.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index dropped to -47.5 last week, down from a reading of -45.0 last week.
Low prices and mortgage rates are boosting the housing sector, pushing the pending home sales index up 7.3% to 100.1.
The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index was supposed to be released this morning, but apparently, the Fed is delaying the release. Probably holiday-related issues.
UPDATE: The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index was much lower than expected, coming in at -4, vice analysts’ expectations of 6.
Mr. Fast and Furious –, whose idiotic operation supposedly (and officially) designed to trace firearm flow in Mexico (there is a very strong case for a political gun control agenda actually driving the operation) has led to one and possibly two deaths of Border Patrolmen — is suddenly concerned about criminals and their access to “illegal firearms”:
The number of officers killed in the line of duty jumped 13 percent in 2011 compared with the year before — and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder condemned the increase as “a devastating and unacceptable trend” that he blamed on illegal firearms.
The number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty rose to 173 this year, from 153 in 2010, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund announced Wednesday. This year’s figure is 23 percent higher than 122 killed in the line of duty in 2009.
Yes, law enforcement is dangerous work. Yes, I feel for the families of those officers slain. This, however is not some sort of record year (see 2001) and in fact, in most years more officers are lost to traffic accidents than to “illegal firearms”.
Additionally, I’m sure the Mexican law enforcement officers killed by the guns Holder’s department allowed to flow into their country find this concern of his particularly hollow. Why it could even be considered … wait for it … racist. I just throw that out there as an example of what some GOP AG would have been hit with by the left had he or she been so stupid as to run an operation like Fast and Furious. Anyway:
Holder said “too many guns have fallen into the hands of those who are not legally permitted to possess them,” in explaining the increase.
Yes, Mr. Holder, that’s why they are called “criminals”. In case you haven’t figured it out criminals are scofflaws. Like the criminals you supplied with guns and ammo in Mexico.
Criminals break the law. So obviously passing laws making it a criminal offense for criminals to possess firearms doesn’t work, huh? It also is a problem when you just hand them firearms as well.
But, as we’ve surmised, Fast and Furious was supposed to set up a “better case” for more gun control, right? And one can assume the stealth premise, soon to be obvious, is the way to keep criminals from getting illegal firearms is to more tightly control them. That, of course, means more “gun control”, doesn’t it?
“This is a devastating and unacceptable trend. Each of these deaths is a tragic reminder of the threats that law enforcement officers face each day,” Holder in a statement. “I want to assure the family members and loved ones who have mourned the loss of these heroes that we are responding to this year’s increased violence with renewed vigilance and will do everything within our power — and use every tool at our disposal — to keep our police officers safe.”
You mean just like you did for Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Mr. Holder?
Incompetent political hack.
The weekly retail sales reports are the only releases today. Both ICSC-Goldman and now Redbook report strong sales during the last week. Redbook reports a strong year-over-year sales rate increase of 4.3%. ICSC-Goldman has store sales up 0.9% for the week and 4.5% for the year.
e may not have meant too (because doing so undermines the liberal shibboleth that government intervention via the New Deal is what turned the economy around), but Paul Krugman did indeed admits that WWII saved our economy after the Depression, not the policies of the "New Deal":
All around, right now, there are people declaring that our best days are behind us, that the economy has suffered a general loss of dynamism, that it’s unrealistic to expect a quick return to anything like full employment. There were people saying the same thing in the 1930s! Then came the approach of World War II, which finally induced an adequate-sized fiscal stimulus — and suddenly there were enough jobs, and all those unneeded and useless workers turned out to be quite productive, thank you.
All true, but then the US wasn’t carrying a $15 trillion dollar debt load (think huge financial drag) or its equivalent then either. That single fact makes a world of difference. But again, as you can tell, it’s Mr. One Trick Pony again pushing for an “adequate-sized fiscal stimulus”. In the absence of a world war I think it should be clear by now what he’s asking for … again. I mean what’s $16 trillion among friends, right?
He gets a bit cryptic about it, but it’s the same old demand:
There is nothing — nothing — in what we see suggesting that this current depression is more than a problem of inadequate demand. This could be turned around in months with the right policies. Our problem isn’t, ultimately, economic; it’s political, brought on by an elite that would rather cling to its prejudices than turn the nation around.
See … government can fix this, if it just would. So says Paul Krugman. Interesting …”the right policies” were admittedly not the reason for the recovery of the US after the Depression but they are what can save us now. Because, you know, the two situations are just alike, right? WWII and the “right government policies”? Or did I miss something?
And this guy likes to think of himself as an “economist”?
Today’s economic statistics releases:
S&P/Case-Shiller reports home prices are still trending downwards, with prices down -0.6% last month, following last month’s -0.7% decline.On a year-over-year basis, prices have dropped -3.4%.
Optimism on jobs and income resulted in a 9.3 point rise in consumer confidence, with the index at 64.5 for December.
The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index came in at 3, showing mildly positive manufacturing expansion in the Richmond Fed district. This confirms similar readings from both the Philly Fed and Empire State surveys, both of which also showed mild manufacturing expansion. Conversely, the Dallas Fed reports that manufacturing activity in Texas declined in December as the general business activity index dropped to -3.0 from 3.2 in last month.
Investor confidence remains steady according to the State Street Investor Confidence Index, which holds steady at 99.3.
I guess some people have to have a whack over the head with a clue bat before they begin to realize that Egypt is headed down an Islamist path with a military twist:
Gaza’s Hamas premier was in Egypt Monday on his first trip outside the blockaded territory since the Islamists overran it in 2007, saying his meeting with his Islamic ideological mentors threatens Israel.
Ismail Haniyeh discussed Mideast politics with the leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has emerged as the biggest winner in the first parliamentary elections in post-uprising Egypt, capturing nearly half of the seats so far.
Hamas is considered an offshoot of the Brotherhood.
Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie met Haniyeh at the group’s newly inaugurated headquarters in a Cairo suburb.
But, but … the Muslim Brotherhood is a “moderate” organization. Why? Uh, because they said so.
I don’t know about you but I’ve always believed that actions speak louder than words.
The Brotherhood center has always embraced issues of liberation, foremost the Palestinian issue," Badie said, according to Egypt’s state Middle East News Agency.
The Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s, but it supports Hamas in its "resistance" against Israel.
That’s how the “Brotherhood” can continue to claim it is a “moderate” organization while still remaining a radical terrorist organization … simply do the terrorism by proxy. Hamas is their terror organization and it is fully funded and supported by the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood. Oh, and by the way, don’t be surprised if you see a Hamas presence established in Egypt now. The “moderate” Brotherhood will need a means of plausible deniability when acts of terror are perpetrated on enemies of the Brotherhood in days to come. And of course Hamas will provide that means and, of course, the Brotherhood can then condemn its actions in public for the Western press even while giving it the next mission.
That way the can keep the façade of moderation alive among those gullible enough in the West to still believe that.
It’s that time of the year again when all prognosticators love to trot out their predictions for the coming year.
What about you? Have some ideas of what is likely to happen in 2012?
Plenty of thinks to predict. For instance:
The presidential election – close or landslide? Which side takes it? Oh, and who will the GOP nominee be? Third Party?
What will the make up of Congress be when the electoral dust settles?
What shape the economy will be in?
Will Fast and Furious finally be Eric Holder’s end?
Then there’s Iraq … what shape will it be in this next year?
How about the EU?
Solve the crisis?
Anything to throw out there on China?
As you can see, plenty to “prognosticate” upon. Pick your topics from the list or something else altogether and give it a whirl.
I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and other appropriate greetings of the season. I also want to take time to thank QandO’s loyal readers and commenters for another wonderful year. A couple of weeks ago we rolled past 8 million unique visitors on Site Meter. Since that’s always been the way we’ve celebrated another million unique visitors, we’ll continue the tradition.
What it tells me, since we average about a million a year, is that QandO is and remains relevant after all these years. That’s nice to know.
We look forward to another great year in 2012 and a very interesting political season as well.
The best to you and your family … may this be the merriest of Christmases and all the best from the QandO gang. Here’s hoping for a very happy New Year as well.