Archive for September, 2012

Fed: Quantitative easing now, quantitative easing tomorrow, quantitative easing forever

The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee today said it will keep trying to print money until the economy recovers. In short, the Fed said it will increase its purchases of mortgage-backed securities by $40 billion a month until employment improves. So, indefinitely. Combined with other maneuvers, the Fed said its asset holdings will increase by about $85 billion a month through the end of this year. And the money-printing may not end there; from the Fed’s statement:

The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments in coming months. If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the Committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability. In determining the size, pace, and composition of its asset purchases, the Committee will, as always, …

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From Benghazi to Cairo to Jerusalem to Damascus, a question: Where does America stand? (Updated)

In March 2011, the U.S. and our allies intervened in Libya’s burgeoning civil war to prevent a massacre of civilians by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi in the coastal city of Banghazi. Yesterday, militants in that city — including, perhaps, some of the more extremist elements of the rebels whose cause we took up last year — showed their gratitude by killing four Americans, including our ambassador to Libya.

“Lafayette, we are here,” it was not.

The murders in Benghazi followed a siege earlier in the day of the U.S. embassy in Cairo in neighboring Egypt. Both attacks were blamed on Islamic extremists angered by a film hardly anyone in America had heard of, made by someone hardly anyone in America had heard of or discussed, that purportedly insults the Muslim prophet Muhammad. (See screen grab below, a Google search for the name of the movie in question. Note: I stopped at Sept. 5 because results in the days after that date begin to include references to the attacks, which …

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On writing on 9/11, on and on

I’m not going to lie: I have a hard time writing about 9/11.

This is (for the most part) a political blog, but politics seems like a very small topic for a day like today. 9/11 is a messy day, not just because it’s still full of sorrow and anger for so many people who lost loved ones that day or any of the hard days that followed, but because still it is not a closed case.

On a micro level, there are still discoveries, such as the note that a Connecticut man dropped from a window on the 84th floor of Two World Trade Center that day, and which reached his family just before last year’s decennial remembrance, and which finally made it into the press this week. A fresh wound for them and, albeit on a much smaller scale, for the rest of us, too.

On a macro level, there’s a war in Afghanistan that began shortly thereafter and continues to this day. There are still tens of thousands of Americans fighting in that war, being shot at by our enemies and our alleged friends. Their …

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When it comes to intelligence briefings, Obama isn’t even voting ‘present’

Marc Thiessen asks a good question in the Washington Post today: Why is President Obama skipping more than half of his daily intelligence meetings?

Writes Thiessen:

Clint Eastwood re-enacts a scene from the president's daily intelligence briefings. (AP Photo)

Clint Eastwood re-enacts a scene from the president's daily intelligence briefings. (AP Photo)

President Obama is touting his foreign policy experience on the campaign trail, but startling new statistics suggest that national security has not necessarily been the personal priority the president makes it out to be. It turns out that more than half the time, the commander in chief does not attend his daily intelligence meeting.

The Government Accountability Institute examined President Obama’s schedule from the day he took office until mid-June 2012, to see how often he attended his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) — the meeting at which he is briefed on the most critical intelligence threats to the country. During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. …

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Obama’s unremarkable speech

To put President Obama’s unremarkable speech last night to the Democratic National Convention in full context, you have to pair it with this morning’s jobs report, which fell short of analysts’ expectations. Here’s how the Wall Street Journal put it:

U.S. job growth slowed in August, a sign of a slack recovery that could slow any postconvention momentum for President Barack Obama and spur the Federal Reserve to take further steps in an effort to stimulate the economy.

U.S. payrolls increased by a seasonally adjusted 96,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said Friday. The politically important unemployment rate, obtained by a separate survey of U.S. households, fell to 8.1% from 8.3%, mainly because of more people dropping out of the work force.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expected a gain of 125,000 in payrolls and an 8.3% jobless rate.

That growth is below this year’s monthly average (139,000), which is below last year’s monthly average (153,000). The only …

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Georgia charter schools amendment gets boost from RNC

In a state as red as Georgia, local suspense concerning the presidential race died with March’s GOP primary. Nor will any coattails worn by Mitt Romney sweep across our red clay: The only contested statewide races for November are the oft-neglected ones for the Public Service Commission.

No, the only question facing everyone from Trenton to Thomasville whose outcome is unclear is the charter-schools constitutional amendment. One surprise from last week’s GOP convention was that champions of the amendment, and school choice more broadly, got a three-pronged boost.

Let’s hope they paid attention. And are cutting ads from the video.

It came from the very top of the party, as Romney himself said education reform would be one of his tools for reinvigorating the economy. Specifically, he said, “When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance.”

Florida’s Jeb Bush, whose gubernatorial record on …

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On night 1 of the DNC, Democrats must think only Democrats were watching

If the first night at the Democrats’ Charlotte convention is any indication, their message boils to: There’s still Hope, and the president hasn’t Changed.

That, plus an unhealthy side dish of the culture wars.

Democrats did their best Tuesday night to relive the glory days of 2008 and convince you happy days are just around the corner. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick gave an impassioned effort at portraying the past 3.5 years as a success. His delivery was quite good — probably the best of the night from someone who presumably aspires to a career in national-level politics — but his material was nothing you haven’t already heard:

This is the president who delivered the security of affordable health care to every single American after 90 years of trying. This is the president who brought Osama bin Laden to justice, who ended the war in Iraq and is ending the war in Afghanistan. This is the president who ended “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that love of country, not love of …

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2012 Tuesday: What will we hear from Charlotte?

Last week in Tampa, the Republicans made significant progress toward their main objectives: revealing more of the personal side of Mitt Romney, and clearly communicating their pitch to voters in this election.

This week in Charlotte, it’s the Democrats’ turn. What will President Obama and his party try to accomplish? Will they continue to play defense against the GOP or try to seize the initiative?

Going into today’s opening events, it would appear it’s the former, with Democrats trying to neutralize the Republican message. Here’s part of today’s curtain-raiser from the Wall Street Journal:

The Democratic Party’s goals for the three-day gathering include widening its advantages among female and Hispanic voters while limiting Mr. Obama’s losses among white, working-class ones. At the same time, its overarching ambition is to rebut Mr. Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, who used last week’s Republican National Convention to try to pry away the president’s 2008 voters by casting him …

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