Archive for December, 2008

December 31, 2008

I’M WATCHING PEOPLE SAY “WHAT A CRUMMY YEAR.” But it wasn’t so bad for me. Work was good. The Insta-Daughter’s health problems were more or less resolved, and the rest of us, including the Insta-Wife, are healthy. Plus, it was the year we won in Iraq. I hope 2009 ends as well.

UPDATE: Yes, Bill’s leather jacket is nice. And he and Hillary look awfully cheerful tonight. Maybe their 2008 was better than we thought.

December 31, 2008

LIVEBLOGGING NEW YEAR’S at Ann Althouse’s. “How cold is it in New York? Look at that jacket! What a candyass!” Plus, Anderson Cooper and Pap smears.

December 31, 2008

MICKEY KAUS: Suffering to save the economy! Plus, the search for — well, you’ll see.

December 31, 2008

HAPPY NEW YEAR: “Massive rescue efforts by the US government and central bank in recent months helped avert a ‘financial collapse’ and are working to stabilize the economy, a Treasury report said Wednesday.”

December 31, 2008

NATIONALIZING THE PRESS? A call for a government newspaper bailout. Yeah, what could possibly go wrong?

December 31, 2008

TOM BLUMER: A Toast to Old Media’s — and Old Medea’s — Defeat in Iraq.

December 31, 2008

GAZA COMES TO AMERICA.

December 31, 2008

PICKING THE WRONG WOMAN TO ROB, in Berkeley. But “police do not recommend” fighting an attacker.

December 31, 2008

JAKE TAPPER: Minnesota Secy of State Not Happy with ‘Premature’ Franken Claim.

December 31, 2008

MAJ. JOHN TAMMES: 2008: Not such a bad year.

UPDATE: A different take from Iain Murray: “For supporters of freedom and markets, the Year of Our Lord 2008 has been close to a disaster. As D:Ream used to sing, things can only get better, surely? Ah, if only…” If we make them better, they’ll get better. If we wait for them to get better on their own, not so much.

December 31, 2008

MORE ON MUNICIPAL FINANCE: Framingham Caught in Employee Benefits Trap. “The FTA report says it appears the town placed undue emphasis on how much money happened to be available and insufficient emphasis on how much was justified by actual changes in the cost of living and what was sustainable given the up and down nature of the economy.” (Via PensionWatch).

December 31, 2008

CHARGE: RACHAEL RAY is trying to kill your dog.

December 31, 2008

SOME THOUGHTS FOR THE NEW YEAR, from Fabius Maximus:

As we start a New Year I find it useful to review my core beliefs. It is easy to lose sight of those amidst the clatter of daily events. Here is my list:

1. We are a people with a great past.
2. The challenges ahead are no greater than those behind us.
3. The American people can surmount these challenges if we work together.
4. We will be what we wish to be, if we but make the necessary effort.

Everybody expects the next year to suck. Given the record of recent predictions, that means it’s got a decent chance of being pretty good . . . .

December 31, 2008

LAST MINUTE TAX TIPS: Hey, you’ve got until midnight.

If you’re looking for charitable contributions to make, you might consider the Foresight Institute or the Lifeboat Foundation.

December 31, 2008

THE “WEAPON OF CHOICE” FOR BUREAUCRATS is apparently misrepresentation: “The demonization of ordinary firearms for the next ‘assault weapon’ ban is picking up steam with the help of the ATF.”

December 31, 2008

FOR “CLEANLINESS AND SECURITY:” Bathroom Cams.

December 31, 2008

MORE ON THOSE UNDERFUNDED / OVERGENEROUS PUBLIC PENSIONS: A “looming crisis” in Nevada’s public pension system. Where there’s no minimum age for retirement!

December 31, 2008

BARRY RUBIN: The Gaza War: Is It Really So Hard to Understand? “When you are attacked, you fight back.”

But when you’re Israel, fighting back is immoral. It’s disproportionate — though that always struck me as the best way to fight back against an existential threat. More on morality from Phyllis Chesler, who asks, Who Are The “Peace Activists,” Anyway? My suspicion is that, once again, they’re not so much “anti-war” as just on the other side.

December 31, 2008

DEVIL’S ADVOCATE: What Conservative Bloggers Can Learn From Israeli YouTube Public Relations.

December 31, 2008

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU: A proposed GPS-based mileage tax in Oregon.

December 31, 2008

TODAY’S JOURNALISM: Comforting the Comfortable?

December 31, 2008

BANKS BLOWING IT ON FORECLOSED PROPERTIES? I had thought that one business opportunity would involve hiring some laid-off construction workers and doing quick facelifts on repoed houses so that banks could sell them faster. But if the banks are this inept at dealing with their foreclosed properties, there’s probably nobody to talk to.

December 31, 2008

BILL BRADLEY on Obama’s Adroit Symbolism.

December 31, 2008

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI WORRIES about debasing his “cable currency”? Nice to see he’s got his priorities straight. Plus, from the comments: “If only he’d showed such mettle when advising Carter…”

December 31, 2008

APPARENTLY, THE EDROSO COLUMN WASN’T ENOUGH TO TURN THINGS AROUND: Layoffs at the Village Voice.

December 31, 2008

BAY AREA HATEWATCH UPDATE: Tensions Heightened as Blacks Move In. “As more and more black renters began moving into this mostly white San Francisco Bay Area suburb a few years ago, neighbors started complaining about loud parties, mean pit bulls, blaring car radios, prostitution, drug dealing and muggings of schoolchildren. In 2006, as the influx reached its peak, the police department formed a special crime-fighting unit to deal with the complaints, and authorities began cracking down on tenants in federally subsidized housing.”

UPDATE: “Black Flight” from San Francisco.

ANOTHER UPDATE: For some less snarky background on what’s going on, see this article from The Atlantic that I linked a while back.

December 31, 2008

CONN CARROLL: Did Harold Meyerson Really Just Compare Toyota to a Slave Owner?

December 31, 2008

EVAN COYNE MALONEY: Pepsi, Hope, and Obama.

December 31, 2008

BECAUSE THEIR APPROVAL RATINGS AREN’T LOW ENOUGH YET: One Group That Is Still Getting a Raise: Congress. “The general public can’t help but think that lawmakers are patting themselves on the back, and padding their wallets, for presiding over the worst fiscal-policy blunders in recent history.” Plus this: “Finding anyone brave enough to defend the pay hike in Washington these days is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. When they’re asked to comment, usually accessible members quickly go missing, are on vacation, are extremely busy with family members or can’t be reached on their cell phones because they’re in remote locations. Some congressional aides, however, speaking privately, said they wouldn’t be surprised if public pressure forced Congress to revisit the issue when members returned to work next week.”

UPDATE: Reader Barry Dauphin writes: “Weren’t these the same guys complaining about the Big Three CEOs coming to DC on corporate jets? The pay raise in the middle of a financial downturn ought to be a much bigger story.”

December 31, 2008

IN THE MAIL: From Doug Schoen and Michael Rowan, The Threat Closer to Home: Hugo Chavez and the War Against America.

December 31, 2008

POWER LINE SUFFERS A denial-of-service attack but is undeterred.

December 31, 2008

MICHAEL TOTTEN: What would a “proportionate” response look like? “The Israel Defense Forces might have launched thousands of air strikes against targets in Gaza to match the thousands of Qassam rockets fired at the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon. It’s unlikely, however, that this is what Israel’s critics have in mind.”

UPDATE: Alan Dershowitz on “moral idiocy” that encourages terrorists.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Fred Lapides writes: “It is WWII. The Americans are about to launch an atom bomb to try to end the war that is killing so many. The voices of compassion say: no atom bomb because it is not proportionate. You must wait till they get their own super weapon.”

No, thank you.

December 31, 2008

KASS ON BLAGOJEVICH: For sheer brazenness, nobody surpasses Rod.

December 31, 2008

INSTA-POLL:

Will the Senate seat Roland Burris?
Of course not. We have Harry Reid’s word.
Of course they will. It would be racist not to.
I’m voting present on this one.
  
pollcode.com free polls

December 31, 2008

THE “BUMBLER OF THE YEAR” Award is announced. “In this period of ‘Obamamania,’ it is easy to forget that a year ago, the president-elect was a long shot for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sen. Clinton was a huge favorite to win both the nomination and the November election. . . . How she lost the nomination and her shot at becoming the nation’s first female president will go down in political history as one of the great campaign screw-ups of all time.”

December 31, 2008

YOU THINK IT’S BAD HERE: A real-estate crash in Spain.

December 31, 2008

THE HILL: “Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s appointment to President-elect Obama’s Senate seat has prompted a flurry of legal questions about the Senate’s ability to block it.”

Brian Kalt writes: “Under Powell v. McCormack, the ability of the Senate to exclude someone would seem to be limited to judging that he hadn’t won the election (not applicable here) or that he is not qualified (30 years old, a resident of Illinois, and a U.S. citizen for nine years). Their discomfort with Burris’s appointer doesn’t enter into it.” Eugene Volokh agrees.

December 31, 2008

WESTHAWK: Will Obama’s team find any answers to America’s IO problems?

December 31, 2008

CHRIS DODD UPDATE: The Hartford Advocate writes:

Sen. Chris Dodd never stood a chance at the Democratic nomination, much less the presidency. But that didn’t stop the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee from fleeing Washington during the prelude to the biggest banking collapse of our lifetime and moving his family to Iowa for the caucuses. Once Dodd did finally come to earth (and back to D.C.), we learned he’d received special low-interest mortgage deals from Countrywide Financial, a company that made huge profits off predatory subprime loans and which his committee was supposed to regulate. Dodd first said he’d make public the details of the loan, then backpedaled and stonewalled reporters seeking answers. Dodd’s up for re-election in 2010 and his approval rating’s sunk below 50 percent. After a year like this, he might find winning another term a rocky ride.

He still won’t release those documents.

December 31, 2008

THE CBS FOLKS SEND THIS TRANSCRIPT of Bobby Rush on The Early Show, discussing Blagojevich’s appointment of Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama’s seat.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ, co-host: We’re joined now also from Chicago by Congressman Bobby Rush, whom you just heard from in the piece. Good morning, Congressman.

Representative BOBBY RUSH (Democrat, Illinois): Good morning, Maggie. How are you?

RODRIGUEZ: I’m fine, thank you. Yesterday we heard you say that they shouldn’t hang and lynch the appointee to punish the appointer. But do you believe that this is the way the only African-American Senator should be seated? Tainted, rightly or not, by a scandal and against the objections of most of his own party?

Rep. RUSH: Well, let me just say this, you know, the recent history of our nation has shown us that sometimes there could be individuals and there could be situations where school children–where you have officials standing in the doorway of school children. You know, I’m talking about all of us back in 1957 in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’m talking about George Wallace, Bull Connors and I’m sure that the US Senate don’t want to see themselves placed in the same position. I know my friend Harry Reid…

RODRIGUEZ: But it’s not just the Senate, Congressman. It’s Barack Obama who is African-American also who disagrees with this.

Rep. RUSH: Well, I think what needs–what needs to happen now is that all these folks who are opposed to Governor Blagojevich, they need to take a chill pill. We’re still a nation of laws and I believe that Roland Burris and Governor Blagojevich, they’re on solid constitutional grounds in terms of them being–of him being selected. I think that the US Senate will have to accept him. Let me just say this, you know, the real political tragedy, the real political issue, the moral issue that we face is why in the US Senate there are no African-Americans? There are two Asians, three Latinos, 11 women, but no African-Americans. And I just must applaud the people of the state of Illinois because in the last 150 years, we have sent two of the three African-Americans to the Senate over a period of 150 years. Now something is really, really wrong with that. So are you saying is this–is this…

RODRIGUEZ: But shouldn’t Governor–let me interrupt you for a minute and ask you this.

Rep. RUSH: Yes.

RODRIGUEZ: Shouldn’t Governor Blagojevich maybe have given Roland Burris the chance to go in as the only African-American senator in a legitimate way that everyone would approve of?

Rep. RUSH: Well…

RODRIGUEZ: Is he being selfish here by appointing him this way? By remaining so defiant?

Rep. RUSH: Well, you know, he has the constitutional responsibility as governor of the state of Illinois to appoint. The General Assembly met a week or so ago, they passed the buck, they shifted, they punted, they did not declare a special election. Let me just say this. On January the 20th, President-elect Obama wants on his desk the Congress to deliver to him a stimulus package, hundreds of millions of dollars, and the people of the state of Illinois should not be deprived of a representative in the US Senate to be at the table to help decide where that money should go.

RODRIGUEZ: All right.

Rep. RUSH: We have many other issues and I just think that it is incumbent upon the US Senate and President Reid and others to make sure that Illinois is not short-changed as it relates to representation.

RODRIGUEZ: OK, Congressman Rush.

Looks like we’ll have fun in the new year. Plus, “President Reid?” I know it’s just a verbal stumble, but don’t scare me like that.

December 31, 2008

MORE ON THAT Houston eminent-domain scandal. “If the Chronicle’s description is accurate, this is a typical case of the use of eminent domain for the benefit of private interest groups under a thin veneer of advancing the public interest.”

December 31, 2008

THIS IS INTERESTING: Consumers Union to Buy Gawker Blog Consumerist.

December 31, 2008

MEAT PLUS BEER EQUALS BETTER HEALTH: “Marinating a steak in red wine or beer can cut down the number of cancer-causing agents produced when it is fried or grilled, research suggests.” Plus, this no-brainer: “The researchers also found that tasters preferred the smell, taste and appearance of beer-marinated steak.” Post-consumption marination was not researched. . . .

December 31, 2008

YOUR QUESTIONS, ANSWERED: “Have you noticed that Instapundit always has a post that goes up in the middle of the night? Think he’s really up and writing then?” Those are scheduled posts, for the benefit of people in the other hemisphere, or people who are up late and bored.

UPDATE: Yes, I am a great humanitarian. But you knew that.

December 31, 2008

FROM ISRAEL: The Stories You Won’t See on CNN.

UPDATE: Golfing while Gaza Burns.

December 31, 2008

GAZA UPDATES: PJTV direct from Israel.

December 31, 2008

SHANNON LOVE on diplomacy and terrorism.

Plus, “The vile Cynthia McKinney.”

December 30, 2008

TOBY HARNDEN: The race card is played: Don’t “hang or lynch” the black man chosen by Rod Blagojevich.

December 30, 2008

MORAL AGENCY:

Those quick to point out how Olmert’s miscalculations have hurt the people he governs will typically suggest that military incursions “radicalize” Arab sentiment, leading to more suicide bombers and more dead Israelis.

Assuming this is true, why is it that the corollary is never asked: namely, how does Hamas radicalize Israeli sentiment? A much remarked-upon fact of the last 72 hours is that Israel’s ultra-left-wing party Meretz has endorsed Operation Cast Lead, a development that should concern partisans of both sides. If there is merit to the “root causes” argument, then surely it applies to the decisions undertaken by a Jewish polity as much as it does to those undertaken by a Muslim one. Or does a belligerent Israeli consensus form in a vacuum? Honest sympathizers of the Palestinian cause should inquire as to what culpability Ismail Haniyeh and Khalid Mashaal bear for the all-but-certain election of Benjamin Netanyahu, who is sure to continue – to coin another witless cliché of this ageless debate – the “cycle of violence.” If, as Hannah Arendt once phrased it, Theodore Herzl and Bernard Lazare were “turned into Jews by anti-Semitism,” why would their empowered disciples be any less susceptible to external threats?

From India to Northern Ireland, no colonized population has ever been deemed immune from having the pursuit of its own political interests held up to scrutiny. Indeed, complaints in the Western media about the staggering corruption and incompetence of Fatah have given way to an almost total absence of any serious evaluation of Hamas’s many blunders and failures of foreign policy. Either this indicates an unpardonable bias, which many supporters of Israel allege, or the implicit acceptance of a disturbing reality — that Hamas is still too recalcitrant a political entity to effectively barter with.

Read the whole thing. “Cycles of violence” continue until one side wins decisively. Personally, I’d rather that were the Israelis, since they’re civilized people and not barbarians.

UPDATE: Greenwald vs. Goldfarb. Hilarious that Greenwald is offended by calling Hamas “barbarians.” If only I could be as temperate in my approach as he is!

December 30, 2008

PALESTINIAN PROPAGANDA 101.

December 30, 2008

FOUAD AJAMI on Samuel Huntington.

December 30, 2008

A PROGRESS REPORT on SpaceX’s Falcon 9, with photos.

December 30, 2008

ANNOUNCING THE 2008 White Collar Crime Awards.

December 30, 2008

GO TO TRIAL QUICK, WHILE THEY STILL HAVE SOME MONEY: Washington lobbyist sues The New York Times over article linking her with McCain.

December 30, 2008

“WE ARE SO VULNERABLE, to so many things.” Plus, some thoughts on responding.

December 30, 2008

MICKEY KAUS: “One seemingly sure sign Obama is actually, really not going left, at least on economic policy.”

December 30, 2008

A BAD DAY FOR HARRY: Reid Balks at Blagojevich Senate Choice.

December 30, 2008

A BUNCH OF steep after-Christmas markdowns on men’s and women’s clothes. Nothing says “recession” like $80 leather jackets.

UPDATE: Reader Darren Miller emails:

There’s a chain of stores called Leatherworks–I’ve seen them in Virginia City and Reno, Nevada, and Old Sacramento, CA–in which *everything* in the store is $20 or under. Leather jackets, “chaps”, laptop cases, briefcases, you name it.

Don’t trust those discounted chaps. They don’t hold up under hard use.

December 30, 2008

JOHN WEIDNER: Richard Cohen – the intellectually insulated man.

UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

December 30, 2008

ANGRY BLOG COMMENTS: They are, indeed, a world apart.

December 30, 2008

GENE THERAPY reverses heart deterioration in rats. Faster, please.

December 30, 2008

STUFF I THOUGHT EVERYBODY KNEW: “Just because your car has been repossessed doesn’t mean you don’t still owe the bank money on it.”

December 30, 2008

PREACH WHAT YOU PRACTICE: The gospel of leisure.

December 30, 2008

USING NANOTECHNOLOGY to make teeth too slippery for harmful bacteria.

December 30, 2008

ADVICE ON toy storage.

December 30, 2008

BY CONTRAST, I’m sure Richard Cohen makes a point of seeking out people who write that he’s an idiot . . . .

December 30, 2008

JOHN TIERNEY: “If I’m serious about keeping my New Year’s resolutions in 2009, should I add another one? Should the to-do list include, ‘Start going to church’?”

December 30, 2008

PRESIDENT OLIVER WENDELL DOUGLAS: A symbolic White House farm?

December 30, 2008

LAW TALES: Speeding in an electric car.

December 30, 2008

WHAT HIGH TAXES DO: The example of New Jersey.

December 30, 2008

MORE ON THOSE OVERGENEROUS / UNDERFUNDED PUBLIC PENSIONS: Public pension scandal investigations mushrooming.

December 30, 2008

IN CASE YOU DIDN’T HAVE ENOUGH TO WORRY ABOUT: Yellowstone Earthquakes Under Supervolcano Caldera. More here.

December 30, 2008

JOHN HAWKINS: The Seven Biggest Political Blunders of 2008.

December 30, 2008

THE LATEST Grand Rounds is up!

December 30, 2008

FEASTS AND FAMINES for farmers. “The chance of red ink returning to the Farm Belt is prompting rural bankers to tighten their lending standards, which could force farmers to draw down their savings in order to stay in business. Bankers already expect some of their most indebted farmers to get out of the business next year.”

December 30, 2008

DAVID BERNSTEIN: “Still waiting for Glenn Greenwald to tell us what would be a ‘proportionate’ Israeli response to the launching of hundreds of missiles at its civilian population from Hamas-controlled Gaza, as opposed to what he calls Israel’s current ‘massively disproportionate response.’” An update shows that Bernstein can call spirits from the vasty deep bloggers from the vasty blogosphere — and they will come.

December 30, 2008

ANOTHER CHANCE TO PLAY NAME THAT PARTY! “Puerto Rico’s governor, indicted on corruption charges, posted a video on the popular social networking site Facebook admitting to making mistakes.”

December 30, 2008

SOME EXCITEMENT FOR THE NEW CONGRESS: Blagojevich will name Burris to Obama’s seat: “Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected today to name former Illinois Atty. Gen. Roland Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate. The action comes despite warnings by Democratic Senate leaders that they would not seat anyone appointed by the disgraced governor who faces criminal charges of trying to sell the post, sources familiar with the decision said.” Will Harry Reid seat Burris, allowing Blagojevich the last laugh? Or will he refuse to, putting the Democratic Senate in the position of saying no to an African-American? Blagojevich has certainly managed to stink up the place further, anyway.

UPDATE: A delightful Burris tidbit.

December 30, 2008

HIGH-TECH AND LOW-TECH health care innovation.

December 30, 2008

KICKING THE ISRAELIS off of YouTube.

December 30, 2008

IN THE MAIL: Dead Easy, by William Mark Simmons.

December 30, 2008

CHARLES RANGEL UPDATE: Newshounds should stay on Rangel’s scent.

With a new president coming to the White House and an expanded Democratic congressional majority whose leaders are eager to enact lengthy lists of proposals, it would be easy to forget the Rangel scandals. Despite calls from fellow lawmakers and news outlets, including this one, Rangel hasn’t resigned from his chairmanship, much less from Congress. So it is appropriate to review what has been reported thus far. Among the most serious revelations are these:

* Rangel used official House stationery to seek contributions to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York. House rules forbid use of official stationery for such appeals.
* Rangel led a successful congressional effort to protect a tax break that benefited a oil company after the firm’s chief executive pledged a $1 million contribution to the Rangel Center at City College.
* Rangel failed to properly report income he received from a vacation property in the Dominican Republic.
* Rangel failed to comply with state law regarding his ownership of four rent-controlled apartments in New York City.
* Rangel improperly claimed a tax deduction for a primary residence in D.C., despite also claiming his primary residence back home in his New York congressional district.
* Rangel routed $80,000 from his campaign committee treasury to his son for virtually no work on a web site.

Rangel of course has denied all wrong-doing and claimed that many of the problems uncovered by the media were either a product of innocent confusion on his part or mistakes by others preparing his official documents. Until only a few years ago, a congressman enduring the kind of attention that has focused this year on Rangel might actually have reasonably hoped to survive, once the heat was off. But Allison points out another critically important factor in Rangel’s media coverage – much of it was made possible by online resources such as the congressional financial disclosure forms archive maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics. Rangel would do well to ponder the prospect of further revelations, thanks to such online resources. The window of opportunity for a “clean” resignation is narrowing by the day.

Indeed.

Meanwhile, here’s a new headline: Rangel Pays Parking Tickets With Campaign Funds. “Regardless of any potential legal issues, the congressman is paying parking tickets with other people’s money.” Other people’s money — it’s pretty much a lifestyle!

December 30, 2008

MICHAEL SILENCE spots some, er, silence: “Unfortunately, all this does is reinforce Congress’ image of being slow, inept and ineffective.”

December 30, 2008

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: A Fatah Friend Writes: I’m Supporting the Israeli Air Force. “I’ve been talking to friends of mine, former Palestinian Authority intelligence officials (ejected from power by the Hamas coup), and they tell me that not only are they rooting for the Israelis to decimate Hamas, but that Fatah has actually been assisting the Israelis with targeting information.”

December 30, 2008

EXTREME MORTMAN: Top Ten Marketing Flops Bigger Than Caroline Kennedy. Ishtar is Number Two.

December 30, 2008

THE FIGHT OVER NASA’s future.

December 30, 2008

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK — for tax purposes. Sorry, Adrienne Barbeau not included.

December 30, 2008

MICKEY KAUS on Life In The Left Cocoon. Plus, “The Arbitrariness of Wagner Act Redistribution. . . . If you organized the operators of drawbridges going into Manhattan, under the Wagner Act your union will be able to extract quite a premium by striking. If you organize fast food workers, not so much. I’ve never understood why leftish idealists ever bought into the idea that this is distributive justice.”

December 30, 2008

CONGRESSIONAL PAY RAISE MEETS WITH OPPOSITION. “In a situation where there aren’t many people in this country who are seeing their salaries go up, and in fact a lot of people are losing their jobs, the notion that Congress should be having an automatic pay raise without even a vote just doesn’t pass the smell test.”

December 30, 2008

ARNOLD KLING on bailout rage.

December 30, 2008

BEWARE OF malware-infected digital photo frames.

December 30, 2008

HMM: From the left, a call to end the current Dutch notion of tolerance.

December 30, 2008

CNN:

Congressman Charles Rangel’s fate hangs in the balance as a report concerning the Ways and Means Committee chairman is being prepared for release in early January.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she is waiting for the report from the House Ethics Committee before deciding what to do about several allegations against Rangel.

He’s under investigation for allegedly using formal letterhead to solicit donations to a school to be named in his honor; helping one donor’s company keep a tax loophole; having unreported income from a vacation villa; and having several rent-controlled apartments at below market rates, including one set up for his campaign operations in violation of state and local laws.

Democrats will have to decide what to do with Rangel. But it would be a mistake to only focus on punishing Rangel, if he is guilty, and not on the underlying issues that have been raised by this scandal.

We should remember that Rangel is not the first chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to find himself in political hot water. Rangel could join a cohort of powerful Ways and Means chairmen who have met notorious fates.

The chairmanship is a position that elevates legislators to the nexus of political and private interest group power. The temptation to abuse the position has been overwhelming to some.

Give the government less power, and it will be less of a magnet for corruption. I doubt, though, that Speaker Pelosi will favor that remedy.

December 30, 2008

BRET STEPHENS: Hamas Knows One Big Thing.

Michael Ledeen: The Battle of Gaza and the Real War.

December 30, 2008

CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY: Dodd’s Dealmaking Skills Tested by Financial Crisis.

His diminished popularity in his home state will complicate his work as he seeks a sixth term in 2010. A Hartford Courant/University of Connecticut poll in October 2008 found 48 percent of residents disapproved and 42 percent approved of his performance, a dip Dodd said did not surprise him. “People are angry,” he told the newspaper. “This is the most difficult time economically in my political life.” . . .

Another negative for Dodd was the controversy over whether he received a sweetheart deal on two mortgages in 2003 from Countrywide Financial Corp., a lender. The Senate ethics committee said in June 2008 that it began an initial investigation into whether Dodd and North Dakota Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad got preferential treatment. Dodd said that even though he had been told he was put in a “VIP program,” he did not assume he would get any special favors.

He also promised to release the documents, but has never done so.

December 30, 2008

UNDERFUNDED? MAYBE NOT. OVER-GENEROUS? Seems likely: “One Texas legislator who never made more than $7,200 annually as a legislator retired after 39 years of service with an annual pension of $92,704. Not bad for a session that lasts 140 days every other year.”

December 30, 2008

MORE VANITY FAIR FUMBLES: “The shredding of civil liberties? You guys must be referring to that FISA law that Barack Obama voted to keep in place?”

December 30, 2008

RETAIL SALES DROPPED: “But it seems to me that this is actually good news for consumers and, in the long run, the economy. Americans are massively over their heads in debt, and have been consuming beyond their means for a long time. The data shows them cutting back their spending to more reasonable levels, and cutting back the most in the most discretionary categories. I feel bad for Hermes and all, but we couldn’t keep propping them up forever.”

So my suspicion that jewelry sales were off, mentioned earlier, seems to have been right — but not as right as it would be if this headline accurately reflected the story!

UPDATE: They’ve fixed the headline now. It used to say that jewelry sales dropped 80%; now it says they dropped for 80% of jewelers, which is what the story actually reports.

December 29, 2008

ANTISEMITISM AT Vanity Fair? “One would have thought that this sort of ‘humor’ died out at a country club in Greenwich around 1958, but I guess not.”

December 29, 2008

SARAH PALIN’S NOT JUST A GRANDMOTHER — she’s a popular one: “Word came this weekend that a new USA Today – Gallup Poll found the 44-year-old Palin, a mother of five, is the nation’s second most-admired woman, behind only Hillary Clinton and ahead of someone named Oprah Winfrey.”