Defending the Syria Red Line

President-On-The-Way-Out Barack Obama (D) has now decided to defend his red line and take overt action in response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his citizens.

The Obama administration sanctioned 18 senior Syrian officials Thursday in response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians.

And

the Obama administration sanctioned a Syrian technology company it says has supported the country’s ballistic-missile program.

Ooh.  That’s got to sting.  Excitingly firm action.  Be still, my heart.

Gatekeeper

Howard Kurtz decried the loss by the press of its gatekeeper status, exemplified by the response to CNN‘s recent smear by innuendo piece against President-Elect Donald Trump and Buzzfeed‘s immediately following overt smear piece that enumerated the carefully unsubstantiated salacious rumors about Trump which CNN had preciously withheld in its innuendo.

And with that dismay, Kurtz displayed for all to see the self-important arrogance of the press.

But with distrust of the media at record highs, the game is increasingly being played without an umpire to call balls and strikes.

Fiat Chrysler, the EPA, and Diesel Engines

The EPA has decided to accuse Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV of using software to cheat on diesel emission limits during tests, sort of reminiscent of Volkswagen’s peccadillo.

The problem for the EPA, though, is that

the EPA is not yet accusing Fiat Chrysler of installing illegal software patches on its diesel engines, but of failing to disclose potentially legal ones.

Never mind that if the software is legal, there’s nothing to disclose.  Not to fear, though, the problem with Fiat Chrysler is that

[i]t’s the company’s finances that make it vulnerable.

Hurted Feewings

don’t make for lawsuits, even in New Jersey.

Former Democratic Councilman Dennis Kleiner quit his elected position in 2012. He then sued the municipality, the mayor, and another councilman claiming he had been forced to resign because of the rumors and false charges they made about him.

Fortunately, the New Jersey courts are a bit more grown up than this little boy.

The judge overseeing the case said Kleiner’s “complaints over his hurt feelings, damaged reputation, and potential embarrassment fall far short of violation of his First Amendment rights.

This Is Not Your Grandfather’s EU

I hope, because EU, look at you now (OK, some of you following along at home might see that I’m mixing ads and old songs.  Noted.)

Mady Delvaux, a Socialist MEP from Luxembourg, thinks robots should be considered to be persons and have rights.

Delvaux authored a report that proposes giving legal status to robots and categorize them as “electronic persons.”

But we should be able to kill those robot persons solely on our say so.  They should have kill switches which we can activate when we think they’re going to cause “dangerous damages.”  And this requirement of Delvaux’:

“How Barack Obama rescued the US economy”

That’s the headline on a recent Financial Times piece (sorry, the FT has a paywall) by Martin Wolf.  It’s a silly headline, for a silly article.

How should we assess the economic success or failure of Barack Obama’s presidency?

This is a difficult question to answer.

Linkages

They didn’t work when Nixon and Kissinger tried it, even though the Soviet Union generally complied, because the revolutions that the USSR was fomenting continued to occur apace after the Soviets stopped fomenting in return for nuclear and economic concessions.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned ignoring recent steps by Beijing to liberalize its economy would endanger Chinese cooperation on other major geopolitical issues, particularly containing North Korea’s nuclear program.

They’re not working now with the People’s Republic of China, but for a different reason.

And

The departing Treasury secretary further warned against steps that would prompt China to withdraw its support for tougher sanctions against North Korea.

Polemics vs Reasoned Argument

As the Congress considers import taxes as part of its general tax reform agenda, toy sellers are expressing their concern: they import most of what they sell; their products are manufactured overseas.  Import taxes are surely a thing worth discussing and debating thoroughly, whether they’re essentially cost of goods sold neutral, as Doug Holtz-Eakin argues (the dollar will rise from the tax change and economic growth, and so the dollar cost of imports will fall; the cost of goods sold will simply emphasize taxes more and import costs less), or they’re dangerously like protectionist tariffs, as others argue.

It Takes One to Know One?

Several municipalities in New Jersey have taken to painting a blue line down the middle of their Main Streets as a show of support for their police and police departments.  The image below is an example of that.

President-On-The-Way-Out Barack Obama’s (D) Department of Transportation has decided to take a dim view of this move.

There are many appropriate and fitting ways to recognize service to the public that do not involve the modification of a traffic control device, which can put the road user at risk due to misinterpretation of its meaning[.]

Growing Irrelevance of the World Economic Forum

The rising income gap and growing rifts in Western societies that led to the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote are the main global risks, according to a report by the World Economic Forum ahead of its annual forum in Davos next week.

Climate change and technological disruption were also listed as important risks in a survey of 750 law makers, business leaders and academics carried out by the WEF….