Tag Archives: media fail

Debt good. But, dear Elvis, don’t tell the American people

Here’s a year end roundup (aka The Wonky Awards) from Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog at The Washington Post. While wonky indeed, he’s presented it all in such a way that even we economically illiterate get the drift. It’s a terrific piece of work and challenges much of  the conventional narrative, but don’t expect any corrections in the media script – plain facts aren’t sexy.

This one strikes me as the most revealing example of media failure – every time a politician or partisan warns we’re going to become Greece!!!, the punditocracy ought to use this information to inform any discussion.

wonky

As we endlessly debated deficits and debts this year, every so often it was worth surfing over to the neglected corner of the Treasury.Gov Web site where they track the inflation-adjusted yield on government debt. Those quick jaunts were always a good reminder that everyone in politics was completely insane.

The thing you worry about when you have high deficits is that the market will lose its confidence in your ability to repay your debts. The place you’d see the market losing its confidence is in high interest rates on government debt — that would be a signal that the market is pricing in some risk of default. But all this year, the real yield on three- , five- , seven- and, occasionally, even 20-year government debt has been negative. Negative! The world is so dangerous that the market will literally pay us to keep their money safe.

If any corporation could borrow for less than nothing, they’d see that as the opportunity of a lifetime. We can borrow for less than nothing at a moment when our infrastructure is crumbling and millions are out of work. But instead of taking advantage of this amazing opportunity, we’re actually cutting our support to the economy and arguing exclusively about how to reduce our deficits. It’s embarrassing.

Twelve attacks on US embassies – 2001 to 2008

Attacks on US embassies from 2001-2008 killed a total of 35 people. Of course they weren’t Americans so it doesn’t matter. Plus, Bush. From here.

Paris, France, September 13, 2001: Four men were arrested in Rotterdam on conspiracy to plant a suicide bomber in the U.S. embassy in Paris. The NATO headquarters in Brussels was also targeted. The plot was discovered in July 2001 when a conspirator named Djamel Beghal was arrested in Dubai for passport fraud. He confessed after an interrogation. All the conspirators were part of a small satellite of Al-Qaeda.

Karachi, Pakistan, June 14, 2002, February 28, 2003, March 15, 2004, and March 2, 2006: The string of bombings and attempted bombings outside the U.S. consult in Karachi were thought to be in retaliation for the War on Terror in Afghanistan, and later Iraq.

  • The first bomb in June 2002 was a suicide bomber, who killed 12 and injured 51 people.
  • In February 2003, a gunman killed two police officer and injured five others outside the consulate.
  • In March 2004, an attempted bombing was stopped when police discovered 200 gallons of liquid explosives in the back of a truck.
  • In March 2006, another suicide bomber killed six people outside a nearby Marriott Hotel.

Tashkent, Uzbekistan, July 30, 2004: The U.S. and Israeli embassies were targeted by suicide bombers. Two security guards were killed.

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, December 6, 2004: Militants breached the outer wall of the U.S. consulate and began shooting, but did not enter the consulate. Five civilians and the gunmen were killed. Ten people were wounded.

Damascus, Syria, September 12, 2006: Three gunmen were killed after they tossed grenades over the embassy’s outer wall and a car bomb exploded outside the embassy. A Syrian security guard and a Chinese diplomat also died.

Athens, Greece, January 12, 2007: A rocket-propelled grenade was fired into the front of the U.S. embassy around 6 am in the morning. No one was killed or hurt. A Greek terrorist group called “Revolutionary Struggle” claimed responsibility.

Istanbul, Turkey, July 9, 2008: Kurdish Turks open fired around 11 am, killing six people and injuring one. The three men had suspected Al-Qaeda links, but this was never proven.

San’a, Yemen, September 7, 2008: 19 people died and at least 16 were injured when a group of men disguised at police attacked the outer security rim of the U.S. embassy. Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic Jihad of Yemen claimed responsibility.