George Soros: China Rising, US Declining

Funny, how what sounded like such a crazy notion to some just a year ago now seems to be pretty much accepted as a given the world over. Soros saying as much gives the point – obvious as it always was to the prescient – added weight.

China will be the biggest winner of the current financial crisis, US billionaire and philanthropist George Soros said. The financier gave an interview to Germany’s Die Welt, in which he told of the roots of the crisis and said that the mortgage bubble only triggered the process, which entailed the economic collapse. The businessman also explained the reason why the Bush’s administration proved to be unable to cope with the crisis.

The United States and a part of Europe will have nationalized banks and huge debts. China will become the new global financial empire….

“The USA’s influence has already begun to decline. For the past 25 years, we have been running a constant current account deficit. The Chinese and the oil-producing countries have been running a surplus. We have consumed more than we produced. While we have run up debt, they have acquired wealth with their savings. Increasingly, the Chinese will own a lot more of the world because they will be converting their dollar reserves and US government bonds into real assets. The power shift towards Asia will occur as a result of the sins which America committed during the recent 25 years,” Soros said.

You can ignore Soros at your own risk. His track record has been nothing short of astonishing. And for my right-wing friends who fell for the Fox News smears of Soros as a deranged leftist, all I can say is do your homework. Soros is a man of principle, a great philanthropist and a huge friend to liberal causes. Yes, he has a few – very few – skeletons in his closet (insider trading in 1988) like other billionaires do, but all in all he is a hero, and a role model for other billionaires.

We all know how much China sucks in so many ways. Most of us also know what an amazing country it is, how splendid many of its people are and what promise it holds for the future. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, we are in decline while Asia in general and China in particular are rising. That is not a judgment call on whether China should hold this honor. It’s just the way it is, like it or not. And in a lot of ways I don’t like it. It’s just what’s so. They were smarter than we were. I have to hand it to them.


Colin Powell Endorses Obama

Along with just about everybody else. The Houston Chronicle, LA Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune (!) and and The Peking Duck all have endorsed Obama. Colin Powell’s endorsement is significant because he is widely respected across traditional divides, and he was, if anyone remembers that far back, one of Bush’s top cabinet members. He made some bad mistakes, but he always struck me as the pearl among the swine, a person of integrity who, tragically, let his soldier’s loyalty override what he knew was the right thing to do when it came to Iraq.

Powell had the courage to criticize the McCain camp for being needlessly negative, and singled out McCain’s attempts to tie Obama to Bill Ayers as “not what the American people are looking for.” Another great day for Obama.

Update: Excellent, concise analysis of why this is so catastrophic for McCain, who had considered Powell as a running mate. Do read it. Closing arguments:

I’d just add that Powell didn’t just tacitly offer a vague endorsement, he offered his unapologetic support to Obama, while blasting what’s become of his old friend, John McCain. He sounded like a man who barely recognizes what’s become of today’s GOP. For self-described moderates and independents, Powell remains a widely admired figure. What’s more, few if any Americans enjoy the media adulation that Powell has, which means coverage of this morning’s announcement is likely to be very strong.

With that in mind, Powell’s endorsement this morning may very well have a significant impact.


Today’s GOP: A class act

That’s from a Republican newsletter. Fried chicken, ribs, watermelon, Obama’s face on a donkey all superimposed on a food stamp. Yes, I really can’t wait for the stables to be cleaned.

And Sam, I know some dumb liberals spray painted a car in Santa Monica and two teenager wore Sarah Palin T-shirts with dirty words on them. There will always be idiots in this world. But this is institutionalized bigotry from an actual Republican voters’ group. This is the kind of mentality today’s GOP reflects with it’s somewhat subtler but equally insidious message, “He doesn’t see the world the way you and I do.”


Palin as President

Thanks to Lisa for leading me to this site. Just keep clicking. Brilliant.

Kind of eerie, how she seems to have totally disappeared from view. I think most people now think of her as some bad dream that luckily seems to have vanished, crept back under its rock. The notion of her every being anywhere the White House was so absurd, so untenable….



I came down with a vicious cold and sore throat yesterday but had to schlepp into work to get a proposal done anyway. You know how it is. So on top of feeling miserable, I had to face the anguish of hearing that Daisy, one of my two cats back in the States, died today. We adopted Nick and Daisy (named after characters in The Great Gatsby) in 1991 when they were tiny kittens. Nick is still fine, a bundle of energy. Sometimes too energetic, even at 17. But Daisy had been sick for nearly a year, having gone bind last November and then rapidly deteriorating – we knew it was coming.

My friend Lisa went through a similar trauma just a few weeks ago, and I knew it would be Daisy’s turn soon. I know, it’s a cat, but the difference these beautiful creatures can add to our lives….

Alright, I’ll stop before I get too sentimental. Let me just say I loved Daisy and she had a special story. The week we adopted her she got violently sick and was diagnosed with feline leukemia. The vet suggested we put her to sleep. I couldn’t do it, and said if she had to die, better it be at home with people who loved her looking after her. Well, that was in 1991, and she recovered and did great for the next 17 years. So we can’t really complain. But still…but still…. It’s just that you feel like part of you died with her. Even though she’s “just a cat.”

Bad timing, though I guess there’s never really a good time to die. Okay, I’ll go back to sipping tea and and get to bed early. Three people from my office were sick with the same thing today so there’s definitely “something going around.” I can’t say how much I’ll miss Daisy, and am thankful she died painlessly in her sleep, under the watchful eye of a wonderful person who loved her as much as I do.

No comments on this. Maybe when I recover from the cold and the news. Thanks.


Wingnut asshattery at its zenith: Obama had gay affair – when he was 10

Can you believe a political blogger, Erick Erickson, at a “serious” right-wing Web site actually wrote this?

The National Enquirer now suggests Barack Obama had an underage, gay affair with a pedophile. Yup. That Frank Marshall Davis guy Barry says was his good friend? Turns out he was a perv of the first order and liked young boys.

This post is not intended to spread that rumor.

Let’s look at this at a few levels. First, a 10-year-old child can’t have a gay or straight love affair with an adult man. They can be the victim of that man, they may have been molested by that man, but they were not carrying on an affair with them. As if – were this story to have any plausbility at all – this would count as something to damn Obama for. As this awesome response points out:

That’s a pretty interesting way to describe what may have happened between the two. Obama met Frank Marshall Davis when Obama was ten years old. When people discuss (possible) sexual contact between ten-year-old boys who are not their political enemies and grown men, they usually refer to the “underage gay affairs” as sexual abuse. They also recognize that adults who have been abused may or may not wish to tell the whole world the details, and they respect it. Admittedly, most people are not members of the NAMBLA wing of the Republican Party, or, failing that, curdled into pure meanness. Maybe Erickson just holds with the more sweeping theories about the cultural construction of the age of consent. Whatever the reason, he’s sure that that little vixen, ten-year-old Barry Obama, was asking for it man.

On another level, do you believe the claim, made while blasting the story around the world, that the post “is not intended to spread that rumor”? I mean, can the writer truly believe we are all birdbrains?

And on another level, it just tells us how far the far-right is willing to go to make any claim no matter how looney, no matter how spurious – toss as much shit at the wall and hope some of it sticks. Where there’s smoke there’s fire, right?

There has never been an election like this one. I actually remember when elections were about issues and economics and laws and causes and people. Huge kudos to Obama for keeping calm and never responding with anything even close to the rancor or hysteria displayed by the other side. A dark, ugly day in American politics. What can they possibly do next?


Counting to 10

I stumbled upon a site today and found this quite disarming. (And can anyone tell me what a “blandare” is?) Especially nice after the Harbin post below got me thoroughly depressed. These videos got me to smile – just a sweet thing to do.

(A friend listening with me tells me he’s definitely from Taiwan.)

Blog was liquidated shortly after I linked. Kiss of death?


Death in Harbin

Check out these exraordinary posts over at China Smack – both the video and the post. Shocking. And get a load of those comments. Some try to justify it (of course). But I don’t think there is any way to justify what the police did, even if the 22-year-old student was being a violent jerk. Nothing can justify this. Nothing.

Just rewatched the video. Unfuckingbelievable. Maybe it’s an Internet hoax? Something about it doesn’t make sense, especially the student’s sudden lunge and punch… Why?


Black Jails: China’s Gulag Archipelago

One of my favorite bloggers has translated some materials that all of you have got to see. We thought sinister places like these were “reformed away” after the brutal murder of Sun Zhigang and that they no longer exist. They weren’t reformed and they still exist. The posts take you on a guided tour of the “Hutong Hiltons.”

I was going to give a long snip, but that’s kind of pointless. Go there and read it for yourselves. This medieval practice is taking place right here, in our lovely, prosperous, reform-oozing Beijing. He even has photos that show exactly where they are.


Paul Krugman wins Nobel Prize for Economics

Hallelujah. There really is a god.

The American economist Paul R. Krugman won the Nobel economics prize on Monday for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity.

Mr. Krugman, 55, a professor at Princeton University in New Jersey and a columnist for The New York Times, formulated a new theory to answer questions about free trade, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

“What are the effects of free trade and globalization? What are the driving forces behind worldwide urbanization? Paul Krugman has formulated a new theory to answer these questions,” the academy said in its citation.

“He has thereby integrated the previously disparate research fields of international trade and economic geography,” it said.

Mr. Krugman was the lone of winner of the 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) award, the latest in a string of American researchers to be honored.

This is long overdue. Krugman called all the shots on the dangers of “free trade,” which was actually unregulated connivery and mayhem. Finally, some good news.

The Democrats about to win in a landslide. Krugman winning the Nobel Prize. Is our faith in humanity actually about to be restored?