March 16, 2008
OBAMA DIDN’T HAVE TO ATTEND THE SERMONS: He had the tapes.
OBAMA DIDN’T HAVE TO ATTEND THE SERMONS: He had the tapes.
YOU DON’T GET TO BE the same again.
JEFF JACOBY: “Nowadays, the thought of losing a war isn’t as hateful to some Americans as the thought of losing an election. . . . Were Patton alive today, his opinion of such defeatism would assuredly be unflattering – and unprintable. But his conviction that Americans have no patience for losers would be reinforced by the public’s mounting confidence that the war in Iraq will be won.”
One understands why that might not seem obvious to black people of a certain age: Condi Rice, for example, has childhood memories of a segregated south and racial violence. But that’s what makes Obama’s association with Wright so significant. He’s not from Alabama. He’s a biracial middle-class Kenyan-Kansan Hawaiian-born Indonesian-raised Columbia and Harvard graduate who chose to immerse himself in the most corrosive and paranoid end of a racial-grievance ghetto mentality that is nothing to do with him, his family or his upbringing. He doesn’t have the same excuse as a Jackson, Sharpton or Farrakhan.
Read the whole thing.
JAMES LILEKS COULD DO A LOT WITH THIS COMMERCIAL. Actually, it already sounds like his voice asking “It’s a what?”
UPDATE: Oh nooo! Reader Lawrence Person emails:
So I submitted your Swing Wing link to Fark, and it got greenlighted:
Which led inexorably to this:
I hope you’re happy with what you (and Amazon) have unleashed on the
I feel kinda guilty. Not, you know, Robert-Oppenheimer-guilty. But still, I can sort of see how he’d feel . . . . (Bumped).
AT THE MOMENT, the Fed’s rate cut isn’t doing the markets any good.
UPDATE: Kudlow comments.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Asian stocks tumble, dollar sinks.
David Bernstein: “I’ll say it again. I simply didn’t, and still don’t, understand how anyone could have thought that giving people, often people with terrible credit histories, mortgages with no money down and often with no documentation of income–and after an unprecedented increase in prices left the market especially vulnerable to a downturn in prices–was a good idea.”
AN OPRAH, OBAMA, WRIGHT UPDATE: “It has been reported that Oprah Winfrey, who endorsed Obama, is the other famous member of Wright’s now controversial church. However, she seems to have moved away from that church quite some time ago.”
SUPERDELEGATES in a quagmire.
THE CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT AGAINST THE RIAA is now available online.
BRINGING BACK THE 1960S (CONT’D): Searching for bodies of Manson victims.
A LOOK AT HOW information can leak from black holes.
JAMES LILEKS on Naked Sushi. Hey, they had that in New York in the ’80s.
THE IRAQ WAR FADES AWAY: “News directors say they are putting more effort into covering the presidential election, and the usual stories (celebrity scandals, disasters of any sort, notorious criminals). But there are other reasons for ignoring Iraq. Since last Summer, more good news than bad news began to come back from the front. This was not useful for news organizations. Bad news makes money (by attracting larger audiences for advertisers), good news is useless. Moreover, only about five percent of Americans (military personnel and their families) have any personal interest in Iraq.”
WHERE WE ARE this Sunday. Plus, a response to Matthew Yglesias.
WHY PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON opposed Obama’s Social Security approach back in 1998.
LOTS OF INTERESTING EMAIL on the Glass-Steagall post, below.
SO THIS IS PRETTY COOL: The folks at Draft Magazine (“Life on Tap”) sent me a year’s worth of back issues to peruse and I like ‘em. Their website is at DraftMag.com.
NEWSWEEK EXAMINES ELIOT SPITZER’S LIFE: Jeralyn Merritt observes: “I find it more likely he got drunk with the power of being Governor and thought he was invincible. Today he knows differently. It’s just too easy to blame the parents.” Or he could just be a jerk.
ANOTHER FED RATE CUT: Will it help? Beats me. It sure won’t help the dollar.
THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE: Trendspotting in Iraq. No surprise, he’s outperforming Reuters.
Overall, I still think that the Asus EeePC is better for about the same money — but you can’t slip the Asus, small as it is, into a shirt pocket. And it doesn’t have GPS. My Nokia review is here, my Asus review is here.
BOBBY JINDAL GETS good reviews as the first legislative session of his governorship concludes.
MORE EFFICIENT SOLAR CELLS, though quantum dot nanotechnology.
DANIEL DREZNER: Good gossip from Brussels.
JULES CRITTENDEN on the Democrats’ PC primary problems.
REBECCA MACKINNON: “The Chinese system of Internet censorship and media propaganda may have a lot of holes, but when tested by events like the Tibet unrest this past week, so far it’s holding up well enough for the regime’s purposes.”
GERMANY DECLARES economic war against its neighbors? At least it’s just economic war.
ROGER KIMBALL: “Soft Jihad,” the next phase.
DOUG BERMAN: Why the #$@! is AG Mukasey speaking out against execution for 9/11 plotters and suggesting US justice is sadist? Just more evidence — along with the Heller debacle — that the DoJ isn’t running right.
UPDATE: At TalkLeft, a Mukasey defense.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Related thoughts from Profesor Bainbridge.
THOUGHTS ON THE BEAR STEARNS COLLAPSE, from Megan McArdle.
ERIC SCHEIE: “Might it be that there is something inherently corrupting about crossover voting? I don’t know.”
Obama’s going to have a hard time explaining that I take to be the truth, namely that his relationship with Trinity has been a bit cynical from the beginning. After all, before Obama was a half-black guy running in a mostly white country he was a half-white guy running in a mostly black neighborhood. At that time, associating with a very large, influential, local church with black nationalist overtones was a clear political asset . . . . Since emerging onto a larger stage, it’s been the reverse and Obama’s consistently sought to distance himself from Wright, disinviting him from his campaign’s launch, analogizing him to a crazy uncle who you love but don’t listen to, etc.
The “real” Obama, in other words, probably looks a lot like the “real” person inside most politicians — somebody who mostly cares about Number One and will do and say what it takes to get elected. The problem for Obama is that Bill Clinton, who ran as a likable rogue, could get away with this sort of thing to an extent that someone who runs as a force for “unity” and “a new kind of politics” can’t, since this looks a lot like — well, actually it looks exactly like — the old kind of politics.
UPDATE: Obama’s problem is pithily summarized here:
Yglesias may well be correct about Obama, but when you’re left with the choice of either acknowledging that you had sincere close, personal, and political ties with a minister whose views most Americans find beyond the pale, or defending yourself by using the “hey, I’m just a cynical politician who uses religion to get votes just like anything else, and I don’t believe in it any more than I really believe that NAFTA is bad” excuse, I think you may be in for some trouble.
We are seeing a pattern of double-talk. Of course, the big question is what’s Oprah’s excuse?
WHEN A HEART ATTACK isn’t a heart attack.
Buffeted by criticism of his controversial Christian pastor while continuing to quell rumors that he is a Muslim, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) took a bold step today to settle questions about his religious faith once and for all.
“I am converting to Judaism, effective immediately,” Mr. Obama told reporters at a press conference in Scarsdale, New York, adding that he would change his middle name from “Hussein” to “Murray.”
The way this election’s going, it makes perfect sense.
ED CONE: Bring back Glass-Steagall. Kind of a horse/barn-door thing, but read it.
UPDATE: Dave Price emails:
I know a few other CPAs who shake their heads when the subject is brought up.
Repealing Glass-Steagal may someday be viewed as the most catastrophic mistake of our generation.
Conflict of interest is not why, however. Most everyone has forgotten the primary reason why Glass-Steagal was so important: it separated banks, insurers, and businesses so that a failure in one area could not cascade into a Panic and collapse the entire economy.
After most of a century, people are once again assuming a systemic collapse is impossible, even as they remove the mechanisms that prevented it for so long.
It’s an unnecessary gamble. Pray we never pay the price.
That’s usually how things work. “Who needs these fireproof drapes? — We never have fires!” We see this in all sorts of areas.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Rippey emails:
You and a bunch of other high-minded thinkers are leaning toward the view that the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act was a mistake. Your thinking is based on . . . well, gee, I don’t know. The idea is just plain dumb.
The Thursday report of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets (PWG), available on Treasury’s web site, lists the causes and proposes cures for what has been happening in the financial markets since last summer. Nowhere is it suggested by the regulators that the existence of Glass-Steagall would have ameliorated present market woes, nor does the report suggest that its reenactment would provide relief.
Note that JPMorgan-Chase has been Bear-Stearns banker, in other words JPM-C this month is doing exactly what commercial banks have been doing for decades, i.e., providing short-term credit for investment banks (otherwise known as commercial loans)–an activity always permissible under Glass-Steagall. (Albeit this time, the Fed has stepped in to guarantee the transactions for 28 days.)
If there is a culprit in commercial banking, it is, per usual, lax supervision of national banks (e.g., Citi) by the Comptroller of the Currency (think Franklin National Bank), coupled with counter-productive capital requirements cooked up in Basel.
Are large state member banks experiencing life-threatening problems? No. Significantly, the Comptroller was left off the working group, but the Fed was not. Please, professor, before latching on to platitudes, examine the facts.
Bottom line: I’m wrong. Well, that’s hardly a man-bites-dog event. One of my hedge-fund readers agrees, albeit a bit more politely:
The Bear Stearns crisis du jour is not at all related to the Glass-Steagall separation of commercial from investment banking. Bear has always been an investment bank, and its current fragility is entirely a consequence of bad decisions made in the running of its standard, core businesses.
If one wants to point a finger at regulations for the present mess, look at the green eyeshade boys who decided on mark-to-market asset pricing for items lacking a market, and international capital rules that drive institutions to move stuff off balance sheet while demanding paper be rated AAA whether merited or not.
Stay tuned, as we’ll probably be hearing more about this.
A VERY UNFORTUNATE WORKDAY for Sgt. Mom.
JEROME ARMSTRONG NOTES good polls for McCain: “On the heels of a Rasmussen poll showing McCain leading Obama or Clinton by a 46-40 margin in Iowa, Zogby includes Nader in a national poll. Now, Zogby loves to make news, so I wouldn’t put it past him to have polled for a sample showing Nader doing well, and he did, showing McCain, Clinton, Nader at 45, 39, 6 and McCain, Obama, Nader at 44, 39, 6.”
More an indicator of the Democrats’ troubles at the moment than a predictor of what will happen in the fall. Still, better news for McCain than anyone would have expected a few months ago. Of course, things could reverse again in the next few months.
A ROUNDUP OF interesting new videogames.
SEX EARLIER IN LIFE REDUCES DELINQUENCY? Makes sense to me. Most of that juvenile-delinquent behavior is just an effort to get laid anyway, so . . . .
“ALMOST BELIEVABLE.” John Kass writes: “Barack Obama looked me straight in the eye. I heard him speak. Yet unlike some other pundits, I felt no thrill going up my leg. . . . I wanted to believe Obama, and almost did.” (Via TalkLeft).
UPDATE: Gerald Posner at the Huffington Post: “I’m still in the Barack camp. But, as a vocal supporter, I’d like just a couple of answers about the flap over Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr, the former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, the Chicago megachurch where the Obamas have been members for 20 years. . . . Barack is not responsible for Wright’s views. However, how he responds to those views – and whether he is being straight with us, the voters – is critical as to whether he should lead our country.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Oprah Winfrey goes to Wright’s church, too? “Wright, 65, is a straight-talking pragmatist who arrived in Chicago as an outsider and became an institution. He has built a congregation of 8,500, including the likes of Oprah Winfrey and hip-hop artist Common, by offering an alternative to socially conservative black churches that are, Wright believes, too closely tied to Chicago’s political dynasties.” That’s from a 2007 Chicago Tribune piece via Hot Air. This kind of makes me see Oprah a bit differently, too. “Not many people would associate Oprahâ€™s easygoing nature and warm, welcoming appeal with the kind of oratory provided by Wright.” As with Mitt Romney on guns, I’m starting to think that they haven’t been entirely straight with us.
INSTAPUNK has added a not-really-necessary apology to this post. He got kind of cranky because I didn’t link it last night. But, see, blogging — my kind, anyway, not essay-blogging like his — is sort of like DJ’ing. It’s not just what songs you play, but in what order. Sometimes a song’s good, but it just doesn’t fit into the mix.
UPDATE: More on the blogging/DJ comparision.
JERRY POURNELLE continues to blog his radiation treatments, along with much else. If you’re a fan and would like to help him out, hit the PayPal subscription button. I did. (Bumped).
THE FORCES OF DIVISION are raising their ugly heads again.
WHY AREN’T THE VIETNAMESE more grateful to Tom Hayden?
MEGAN MCARDLE IS overcome by lust.
AN ARMY OF SPITZERS?
JUDGMENT: Obama: I Trusted Rezko.
A WRITERS’ STRIKE AT DAILYKOS: No, they’re not demanding money. Just respect for Hillary supporters from the Obama crowd. “Would Obama encourage that sort of anger, bullying, intimidation and hate from his followers toward another Democrat and her supporters? Do those followers of his help his cause at the end of the day?” (Via Joe Gandelman, who observes: “This might seem to be a provincial conflict, but it is highly significant. In political terms, it underscores the raw, angry and bitter rivalry between supporters of Obama and Clinton.”)
ED MORRISSEY: “The reaction of Obama supporters to Jeremiah Wright has certainly been instructive, especially those who had plenty to say about Mitt Romney and Mormonism last year.”
UPDATE: I don’t recall Mitt Romney nodding in agreement with racist or anti-American statements.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Contrast.
MORE: An Obama defense from Cass Sunstein. “This is the Barack Obama I have known for nearly 15 years — a careful and evenhanded analyst of law and policy, unusually attentive to multiple points of view. . . . Obama has a genuinely independent mind, he’s a terrific listener and he goes wherever reason takes him. . . . In recent weeks, his speaking talents, and the cultlike atmosphere that occasionally surrounds him, have led people to wonder whether there is substance behind the plea for ‘change’ — whether the soaring phrases might disguise emptiness and vagueness. But nothing could be further from the truth. He is most comfortable in the domain of policy and detail.”
EARMARKS AS USUAL: “For Congressional Appropriators, Thursday night’s vote cashiering the earmark moratorium was an embarrassment of riches, with some 71 Senators endorsing Capitol Hill’s spending culture. For everyone else, it was merely embarrassing.”
THE SHADOW OF SPITZERISM: Prosecutorial misconduct in the Enron case? “‘The brief reveals suppression of exculpatory evidence by the Enron Task Force of a massive scale. The entire brief is devastating to the Task Force’s prosecution of Skilling and the late Enron chairman, Ken Lay.’ . . . I’m still waiting for this to capture the attention of the press, which had been so rivited on Fastow’s testimony at the trial.”
HOW TO BUY A PERSONAL WATERCRAFT — plus video of sawing one in half.
A LOOK AT VOLVO’S PLUG-IN HYBRID.
ICEBERGS in Lake Michigan?
AN OPEN LETTER to white people.
STORMS IN ATLANTA: Reader Curt Matern emails: “I live about ten blocks away from the Georgia Dome. I’ve got to tell you, that was one scary damned storm. My car was really whacked by concrete, which is fixable. However, I thought the building would come down around me. I have lived in Atlanta since ’73. Un-freaking-believable! And here comes another one.” Hunker down.
THRILLING MEMORIES OF the Subaru XT.
YOUR MONEY BACK, if not satisfied.
A LEPRECHAUN in the White House?
WHEN A MEDIA ORGANIZATION DOES IT TO AN INDIVIDUAL, IT’S NOT COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT: At least, that seems to be the Associated Press’s position.
Jules Crittenden comments:
Of course the key words re the AP are not â€œnews valueâ€ or â€œpublic needed to see,â€ but â€œlegal department.â€ When youâ€™re a multi-million-$$$ corporation and you have one of those, then you get to decide what the public needs to see and where they get to see it.
That may turn out not to be the case . . . .
And some worm-turns thoughts over at the AP-silenced Snapped Shots, which has a much better claim of “fair use” than the AP did.
ANOTHER UPDATE: HEH:
In disputes of this kind, one would normally bet on the multinational megacorp with the big legal department. But it’s pretty clear from her general philosophy that “Kristen” doesn’t give away much for free, and certainly not “exotic photographs”. And, given what one of my readers calls her “fully-funded mandate” from the Governor of New York, she presumably has the pockets to take AP to court. You go, girl! It’s not often you get a case where there’s someone in the room with a higher hourly rate than the lawyers.
She may find lawyers willing to represent her on quite favorable terms.
GEE, D’YA THINK? Maybe China shouldn’t be hosting the Olympics.
INSTAPUNK ON OBAMA: Including that often-sound phrase, “Glenn Reynolds is wrong.”
MEDIA BATTLESPACE PREPARATION in advance of Petraeus’s testimony. “I think it will take a willing suspension of disbelief to trust much of what you read about it in the MSM.”
MOANING IN AMERICA: Shockingly, no Eliot Spitzer jokes are involved.
Plus this: “What would Barack Obama look like if he were a woman? Would he look like Susan Estrich, Geraldine Ferraro, or Oprah Winfrey? When Oprah endorsed him, ‘race rushed in.’”
YEP: “What does this all have to do with my blog…nothing really, except that there’s a lot going on in these clubs, and that a bubbly little girl with an innocent smile running around the club might blow down the walls of Jericho someday.”
THE UNIVERSAL SPITZER: “We ought to think of all politicians as Spitzers. No, they don’t all have lurid involvements with prostitutes. But they all have an inflated view of their superiority over the rest of us. . . . What about the rest of us? To the extent that we root for strong politicians, join political cults, invest our hopes and desires in charismatic leaders, all of us are Spitzer wives.”
OBAMA RESPONDS ON THE JEREMIAH WRIGHT SCANDAL, and Tom Maguire has it unpacked. “Whoa. It is hardly as if this is the church Obama’s parents selected and he inherited. He sought out Wright, was moved by Wright, and is now pretending he had no idea Wright said these things.”
UPDATE: It’s coming fast-and-furious: Obama Says Rezko Played a Bigger Fundraising Role Than Previously Known.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Morrissey emails: “I sat in his church, but I didn’t inhale.”
MORE: Airbrushing the “radical roots” at Rolling Stone?
STILL MORE: “A very temporizing sort of visionary.”
MORE STILL: Richard Miniter writes In Defense of Obama’s Pastor: “It is a lack of understanding of the black church that contributes to the blogosphereâ€™s and MSMâ€™s mistaking Rev. Wright for a hate-monger. The time has come for some balance.”
But John Hinderaker has questions about AIDS.
HARRY REID’S Fireside Chat.
AN OBAMA SUPPORTER describes Hillary as “Eliot Spitzer in pants.” Double-ouch.
MORE ON THE JEREMIAH WRIGHT SCANDAL, from Juliette Ochieng.
THIS SHOULD BE INTERESTING: Larry Kudlow interviews Bush on the economy on his show tonight. CNBC at 7 pm Eastern.
SPRING BREAK: Not really living up to the hype:
Out of the over 11 million full-time college students in America, only tens of thousands make it to the kinds of places documented in the Girls Gone Wild series. According to a survey conducted this year by the National Association of College Stores, 37 percent of students who responded said they were going home for the break and 28 percent said they would work, while 5 percent were going on volunteer trips and 6 percent simply said they would â€œdo nothing.â€ Just under a quarter said they were â€œtaking a special trip.â€
Rough estimates provided by Jeff Jacobsen, president of the college tour operator Student Travel Services, suggest that 85,000 to 95,000 students visit CancÃºn, Acapulco, Jamaica and the Bahamas combined each year.
So if you’re a student and feeling left out, you’re not as left out as you think.
HOUSE PASSES FISA BILL without telecom immunity. I love this passage from the story:
Congress then defiantly left Washington for a two-week spring break.
My spring break’s only one week. Maybe if I were more defiant . . . .
GOOD POINT: “Furthermore, the cherry-picking defense, even when plausible, has never been accepted when it comes to racism. Don Imus, for example, has received widespread condemnation for very occasional statements that showed racial insensitivity. Trent Lott was condemned for one statement praising Strom Thurmond’s 1948 presidential campaign.”
UPDATE: Having it both ways. The Internet makes it harder to tell different audiences different things.
PREDICTING THE FUTURE, with the help of asparagus.
NORMAN HSU IS BACK IN COURT: “As the trial of embattled Illinois political insider Tony Rezko creates headaches for Sen. Barack Obama, the legal fate of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s famously disgraced campaign financier is playing out as well. Norman Hsu, who on Feb. 28 pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he cheated investors out of $20 million, appeared in the Southern District of New York on Friday. There was no trial. Rather, the former Clinton backer and his lawyers were there to structure the process for upcoming legal proceedings.” Hillary will love those.
UPDATE: From the comments: “As usual, there are no penalties for foolishness. The people like me who made rational housing/mortgage decisions and make their payments on time get to bail out the fools.”
IS “FANNIE MAE” TOAST? Plus, “lush executive compensation.” Which is only bad in the non-government-related corporate world . . . .
WHY GREEN CARS NEED to be sexy. Indeed.
A SURPRISE GUILTY PLEA from famed trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs.