April 27, 2008
TAXES AND THE “two-income trap.”
TAXES AND THE “two-income trap.”
POLITICO: OBAMA STARS in Mississippi attack ad. “The ads are a mark of how difficult, with the nomination apparently within his grasp, Obama will find it to stay above or outside the traditional, bitter partisan divisions he so often deplores.” Well, yeah. It’s hard to stay above the fray when you’re, you know, in it.
OUCH: “Heâ€™s looking less like Kennedy, and more like Steve Urkel.”
GRILLBLOGGING: Okay, I’m finally getting to following up on Kaliph’s question about gas grills. The response was so overwhelming that I still haven’t read it all, but here goes. First, reader Bill Faith wants to know who made my gas grill that’s lasted four years. It was a Kenmore Premium from Sears. Still works fine, though the little electric lighter is getting kinda iffy.
Moved to “extended entry” because it’s so long. Click “read more” to read it!
PAMELA BONE has died.
MARK STEYN EXPLAINS IT ALL: “In a scrupulously politically correct age, it’s not offensive to organize a ‘Kill the police!’ demo or to preach that the government invented Aids in order to perpetrate an African-American genocide. You can pull that stuff and still be part of respectable society, hanging out with presidential candidates and whatnot. What’s grotesquely offensive is the chap who’s insensitive enough to point out such statements and associations.” Yeah, well, he’s ruining the deal for everyone.
NATURALLY, THE ROBOPHOBES ARE TRYING TO MAKE HAY OUT OF THIS: Robot lawnmower safety recall.
WE’RE SEEING MORE OF THIS KIND OF THING: Single Mother Gets RIAA Suit Dismissed, Sues Them Right Back. And I suspect they’re vulnerable.
THIS SOUNDS LIKE GOOD NEWS: Colombia and the United States announce biofuel cooperation agreement.
SALENA ZITO: Obama’s big disconnect. “This nation has a history of looking closely at its candidates and taking their measure before they vote for them. It is a process that Obama shuns and rival Hillary Clinton thrives on — and therein lies the problem for Democrats.”
HOLOGRAPHIC STORAGE becomes a commercial reality. This sounds very cool. When the price drops, which probably won’t take all that long, I’ll be interested.
NICK GILLESPIE AND MATT WELCH: How “Dallas” won the Cold War. But did the show really “demystify wealth production”?
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING: Well, reporting of sorts, anyway. I made a rare visit to Sam’s Club today, and noticed that they seemed to have plenty of giant bags of basmati rice, though there was a sign noting that purchasers were limited in how many they could buy (no more than 4 bags to a customer). Since one of those bags would probably supply my household’s rice needs for a year, the limit didn’t seem too onerous, and probably more aimed at resellers than anything else.
On the other hand, there’s this: Head for the hills!
GIVING A PASS TO FRANKLIN GRAHAM in Knox County Schools? On the other hand, my daughter’s geography teacher spends most of his time telling her about the evils of western civilization, with special emphasis on George W. Bush and conservative Christians. So maybe they’re just too distracted from, you know, actual teaching in general.
SARKOZY BREATHES NEW LIFE into Atlanticism. “It was hugely symbolic that his first two state visits were to America and Britain, doing nothing to dispel German nervousness at a potential weakening of the axis between Paris and Berlin.” But, as always with politics, especially the French variety, there are actions, and there are words.
AUSTIN BAY on North Korea and Syria.
“WE’RE NOT QUITTERS:” Bill Clinton encourages Hillary to push on. “Mr. Clinton has been deeply involved in the campaign since the days after his wife’s surprise third-place finish in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. With the Secret Service taking positions in and around campaign headquarters, he showed up for meetings, even bringing in bagels and chicken nuggets for the staff. He also brought in his own people, including former advisers Howard Paster and Steve Richetti and his foundation’s chief of staff, Laura Graham.” I’ve been wondering what that foundation did. (Via Josh Marshall).
MIKE RAPPAPORT: “I wonder what percentage of the Jewish vote Obama will get. My guess is that it will be the lowest of a Democratic candidate in many years, if not in several generations.”
OBAMA ON FOX: Here’s the transcript. (Via MyDD, where Jerome Armstrong observes: “Obama is trying to separate himself from the most strident parts of his base, and he does this pretty effectively throughout the interview.” But read the whole thing.)
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reviews from the Rightosphere aren’t much better: “I supported Roberts when I opposed him.” Plus this: “He called Wright a ‘legitimate’ campaign issue, which will seem rather shocking to the New York Times, the McCain campaign, and others who have demanded an end to the North Carolina GOPâ€™s television ad.. . . . Obama sounded a lot less convincing when it came to responding to the William Ayers controversy.”
POSSIBLY: What if you could make fuel for your car in your backyard for less than you pay at the pump? Would you? Federal laws may interfere.
IN THE MAIL: Jonathan Rosen’s The Life of the Skies. It’s very well-blurbed.
PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ASKING for more campus pics, so here’s one.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ex-Fugitive Put Up Homes to Spring Rezko. “The three homes belonging to former Iraqi Electricity Minister Aiham Alsammarae — a dual U.S.-Iraqi citizen who broke out of a Baghdad jail in 2006 — are part of a long list made public in Rezko’s case Friday following a Sun-Times request. Six of the other individuals who pledged property to get Rezko out of the Metropolitan Correctional Center on April 18 are current or former state employees.” Hmm. (Via Newsalert).
ALT-ENERGY LOOKS A BIT MORE REAL: A reader sends a link to this solar sale at Amazon. My guess, though, is that it’ll be disaster-prep people who are most interested.
ROGER KIMBALL: Grasping at Straws: The NY Times on McCain.
A LOST-AND-FOUND RECORDING of a Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey reunion.
AT CHICAGOBOYZ, a contest on eating cheap. The Insta-Wife’s chicken soup yesterday, made from the leftover Insta-Chicken, worked out to about a dollar a head. People are beating that, though.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR AMERICA’S SWOLLEN PRISON POPULATION? Bill Stuntz says it’s pretty much everyone: “The best answer is probably: everyone in a position of political or legal authority over the last thirty years. But Iâ€™m pretty sure one common answerâ€”we have a huge, disproportionately black prison population primarily because of the policy choices made by conservative Republicans like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bushâ€”is wrong. The political right plainly contributed, and contributed a lot, to the generation-long run-up in our prison population. But the political left probably contributed even more.”
Read the whole thing. Including this: “Criminal justice works badly when the voters whose preferences govern the system are not the voters who feel the effects of crime and punishment most directly.”
HILLARY HAS OBAMA WHERE SHE WANTS HIM on the whole debate question, according to Ann Althouse.
THE TALIBAN SOLD OUT: For peanuts.
YES, THIS IS REALLY A STORY FROM THE BBC: “Despite the fact there are more than 200 million guns in circulation, there is a certain tranquility and civility about American life. . . . I have met incredulous British tourists who have been shocked to the core by the peacefulness of the place, the lack of the violent undercurrent so ubiquitous in British cities, even British market towns. . . . It is a paradox. Along with the guns there is a tranquillity and civility about American life of which most British people can only dream.”
An armed society is a polite society.
LACK OF SEASONING SHOWS AGAIN: Obama Calls Bloggers Liars for Accurately Reporting His Words.
The distinction between the legal order in Western democracies and the tyrannies of Stalinist Russia or modern China or the Arab gulf states, is often thought to be stark. In Britain in particular, we are complacent that 800 years of the common law will protect us against the overreaching power of state functionaries.
Today comes a case that shows this conceit to be ill-founded.
Read the whole thing.
I THINK THIS WOULD BE A BIGGER STORY if he were a Republican:
Struggling to confront a worsening homicide rate, the mayor asked pastors and citizens Friday to don burlap sacks and ashes Friday in an Old Testament-style sign of biblical repentance.
Mayor Larry Langford said his “sackcloth and ashes” rally at Boutwell Auditorium was inspired by the Book of Jonah, where residents of the ancient city of Ninevah wore rough fabric and ashes as a sign of turning away from sin.
A pastor who helped organize the rally said Langford purchased 2,000 burlap bags that will be handed out at the event. . . . Since he took office last year, Langford has held three prayer rallies as a way of addressing crime and violence. Bibles were handed out at one of the events.
“This city needs to humble itself,” said Langford, a professing Christian.
Instead, his party isn’t mentioned. You have to go to Wikipedia to find out that he’s a Democrat.
At any rate, this is the worst sort of politico-religious pap. The problem isn’t that Birmingham isn’t humble enough. The problem is that it’s got thugs on the streets that it’s not controlling. That doesn’t call for self-abasement by the community, though the Mayor and the Chief of Police might consider dropping to their knees and begging forgiveness — from the community, not God — for failing to do their jobs.
UPDATE: Reader Jeff Schultz emails:
I am a pretty conservative, evangelical Christian (and a pastor). Thanks for your words on the “sackcloth and ashes” stunt by Birmingham’s mayor.
Repentance might be appropriate for a community-wide spiritual response to the community’s injustice and oppression, but not for a crime wave. The people who repent are supposed to abase themselves. Are the burlap sacks for the thugs? And who in our culture even understands the imagery of sackcloth and ashes? And even if there was wholesale revival in Birmingham, why is it the Mayor and not the religious leaders calling for this?
As you rightly point out, “…this is the worst sort of politico-religious pap. The problem isn’t that Birmingham isn’t humble enough. The problem is that it’s got thugs on the streets that it’s not controlling.”
As I said, I’m an evangelical Christian, and I find this embarrassing, stupid, and pointless.
No argument here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. Seems like Langford has a lot more sin on his soul than just other people’s crimes:
Two private charities controlled by Larry Langford collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen and companies he approved for government work as Fairfield mayor and Jefferson County Commission president, records show. . . . Langford’s financial arrangements with bankers, lobbyists and others who received government business with his help have come under scrutiny from federal investigators. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawyers began digging in 2004 into bond deals, many championed by Langford, that since have led the county to the brink of bankruptcy.
SEC investigators asked Langford last year about charitable contributions he solicited from county vendors, including those involved in the bond deals.
It’s like all this God stuff is just a smokescreen to cover up his own sins. Do you think it’s possible?
CINDY SHEEHAN FILES to run against Nancy Pelosi. “I’ll represent everyone in San Francisco, not just the corporate elite.”
AL SHARPTON VOWS TO close New York City.
UPDATE: Reader Edward Friedman emails: “This cannot help Obama or Hillary. The more anti-police, anti-white rhetoric, the more the unwashed bitter people flock to McCain in November.” That’s probably right. As with Jeremiah Wright, it’s almost as if Sharpton is trying to hurt Obama.
ANOTHER UPDATE: TigerHawk: “The elevation of Barack Obama to the presidency would vastly diminish the influence of leaders who have built up their power by stoking, rather than alleviating, the grievances of African-Americans. The era of the ‘civil rights’ leader would be over, perhaps sooner by decades than if Barack Obama loses. Even if Al Sharpton believes that would be a good thing — and that is surely looking on the bright side of Sharpton — it has to be unnerving for him. It is not a great stretch to suppose that Sharpton is rationalizing his way to public eruptions that frustrate Barack Obama’s need to win votes from the vast American center.”
MORE: A reader who (understandably) prefers anonymity emails: “I agree with Edward Friedman. Same with Bill Ayers, come to think of it. Don’t these people have the sense to stop digging?” Apparently not. Or they’ve got an agenda that makes digging the sensible thing.
CAR LUST: Driving very fast in the Ariel Atom. “It is one of the very few cars that can make the Caterham Super Seven look like a safe, sedate, practical family car. . . . You can even carry a passenger–great for those first dates if your date is the type of person who prefers roller coasters to fine French dining.” Video at the link.
UPDATE: Reader James Fuerstenberg writes: “A friend gave me a ride in one at Blackhawk Farms race track…holy crap!…an amazing car. I own two race cars…neither is as fast as the Atom. The cornering and braking are more impressive than the acceleration. You need a neck brace due to the g forces.”
RON ROSENBAUM on the Bell verdict and the tragic folly of vice squads.
RON ROSENBAUM on the Bell verdict and the tragic folly of vice squads.
WASHINGTON POST: “The Democratic presidential candidates have some big plans — with big price tags attached. By our calculations, using figures supplied by the campaigns, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) has proposed new spending and tax breaks that would amount to almost $265 billion a year when fully implemented, while the initiatives proposed by Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) total nearly $333 billion.”
How about a 10% across-the-board cut in discretionary spending and a freeze on entitlements, instead?
FIGHTING BLEEDING with nanoparticles.
PAYBACK TIME: Eleanor Clift observes: “I’m beginning to think Hillary Clinton might pull this off and wrestle the nomination away from Barack Obama. If she does, a lot of folksâ€”including a huge chunk of the mediaâ€”will join Bill Richardson (a.k.a. Judas) in the Deep Freeze. If the Clintons get back into the White House, it will be retribution time, like the Corleone family consolidating power in ‘The Godfather,’ where the watchword is, ‘It’s business, not personal.’”
MICHAEL WEISS ISN’T BUYING Obama’s new strategy.
FOR THE GUY WHO HAS EVERYTHING: Tool-o-rama.
AMY ALKON ON “Deadbeat Dads” who are actually moms. But that doesn’t alliterate!
THE NEW YORK TIMES says that the Jeremiah Wright ad in North Carolina is “race-baiting.” But Ann Althouse disagrees:
But look at the ad! It’s about left-wing politics and anti-Americanism. . . . Is it racism simply because Jeremiah Wright and Obama are black? It would make more sense to accuse the NYT of racism for thinking that that anything that black people say or do is about their race.
Watch it for yourself. Note that the impact of these denunciations is to discredit those who reflexively play the race card on Obama’s behalf, and to ensure wide circulation of the ad beyond North Carolina.
RADLEY BALKO: Should prosecutors be immune from civil lawsuits?
I’ll just note that such immunity is a judicial invention, as much the product of judicial activism as any other doctrine that gets more complaint. Judges have been similarly generous with absolute immunity for judges, something also not found in the Constitution. In my opinion, such immunities should exist by statute, if at all.
No, actually that’s just Chicago.
UPDATE: Stephen Green on dubious reports of famine.
ANDY MCCARTHY WONDERS what the State Department is thinking. People seem to wonder that a lot.
NEW IDEAS ON THE NEW ORIGINALISM: Some thoughts from Larry Solum.
MORE ON THE TEXAS POLYGAMY CASE: “Instead of being judged on an individual basis – each parent considered separately from the rest of his or her community – the state is treating the sect as a whole. Kids are being removed on the basis of their cultural background, not because they are in immediate danger. . . . Iâ€™m sympathetic to what a sudden influx of more than 400 kids must do to an overburdened system but Iâ€™m more sympathetic to the children especially given that the kids shouldnâ€™t have been removed in the first place, not without proof of immediate harm.”
As I noted before, this is looking more and more like a screw-up of the first order.
BEWARE THE Detroit zombies.
IN THE MAIL: Daniel Flynn’s new book, A Conservative History of the American Left.
A FRIEND I MADE, while taking pictures down at Cherokee Park.
THOUGHTS ON the professionalization of blogging.
THE FORGOTTEN X-PRIZE: The one that can save your life.
ARTHUR CAPLAN ON LIFE EXTENSION: “Despite a lot of hand-wringing and finger-pointing, it is not obvious that wanting to live a lot longer is evil or immoral. The case against trying is not convincing.” Indeed.
CHRIS WILSON: It is time for Barack Obama to drop out.
HEH: “It seems to me that based on their low-class behavior, the protesting UGA faculty deserves to have Jerry Springer as their Commencement speaker.”
MORE ON PROBLEMS IN AFGHANISTAN, at Abu Muquwama:
Doctrine, as Colin Gray once wrote, is the skeleton upon which the sinew and flesh of armies are built. Perhaps then, with no NATO doctrine for the conduct of a war among the people, it should be no surprise that the NATO-led ISAF in Afghanistan has often appeared spineless.
Read the whole thing.
I’d say it’s the reverse. The Men’s Room in my local mall has ‘em, and one or two are always covered with big plastic bags. The old, flush-type urinals seemed to have a lot less downtime.
A REPORT ON sports in outer space. No, really.
KILLING RESISTANT CANCER CELLS with nanotechnology.
MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT BERNARDINE DOHRN.
TODAY IS ANZAC DAY!
Democrats seem to be drifting toward the concept of prosecution of former office holders by criminalizing policy differences. That’s a certain formula for civil war; perhaps not immediate, but inevitable. The absolute minimum requirement for democratic government is that the loser be willing to lose the election: that losing an election is not the loss of everything that matters. As soon as that assurance is gone, playing by the rules makes no sense at all.
UPDATE: Mark Lardas emails:
The best example of what happens when you criminalize political opposition is the Roman Civil War.
Gauis Julius Caesar was a republican to the core. He believed in the Roman Republic, and its unwritten constitution. When his political opponents, the Optimates, made it clear that they were going to prosecute him and either exile or execute him, the moment Caesar set down his military command they made war inevitable. Especially since it was clear that they were not interested in following the law, except at their convenience.
Caesar was not given a choice between going to war and destroying the republic or preserving it by going quietly to his doom. He could see that the republic was doomed no matter what his choice was. He could either start a civil war or let Rome slide into a tyranny run by the Optimates. Given that choice, let the dice fly and hope you can put the pieces back together after you win. At least, you can die trying.
The Democrats remind me of the Optimates in many ways. William Clinton seems like a 21st century version of Pompey Magnus. That Bush has not played Caesar is a tribute to two things: George W.’s fundamental decency, and the fact that the United States is yet not in as bad a shape politically as the late Roman Republic.
The ability of Presidents to pardon themselves, and others in their administrations, before leaving office is more evidence of the Framers’ wisdom. They were not unaware of classical politics.
TALKLEFT HAS MORE on Obama’s “all-over-the-place” gun stance. Though there’s one place he won’t go, which is to offer an opinion on whether the DC gun ban is unconstitutional.
CLINTON/OBAMA IN ONE SENTENCE: “It always amazes me how swiftly the narrative can change.”
SO WHEN DOES THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT GET INVOLVED? We’ve already heard that pro-biofuels policies in Europe are a “crime against humanity” according to UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food Jean Ziegler.
Now Al Gore’s acting nervous:
Mr. Senauer said climate change advocates, such as Vice President Gore, need to distance themselves from ethanol to avoid tarnishing the effort against global warming. â€œCrop-based biofuels are not part of the solution. They, in fact, add to the problem. Whether Al Gore has caught up with that, somebody ought to ask him,â€ the professor said. â€œThere are lots of solutions, real solutions to climate change. We need to get to those.â€
Mr. Gore was not available for an interview yesterday on the food crisis, according to his spokeswoman. A spokesman for Mr. Goreâ€™s public campaign to address climate change, the Alliance for Climate Protection, declined to comment for this article.
First they came for John Yoo, but Al Gore said nothing because Al Gore was not a law professor. Then they came for Al Gore . . . .
Regardless, Al can’t escape his past.
UPDATE: Calling for a posse!
ANOTHER UPDATE: Heightening the contradictions.
MORE: Reader Scott Cram sends this original limerick:
There once was a man named Gore,
who thought he had a climate change cure,
then things like grain and rice,
went far up in price,
now he’s to blame for starving the poor!
Happily, this is one limerick in which the island of Nantucket does not appear.
STILL MORE: In response to an irate email from Clark Stooksbury, let me be clear (or maybe I should say clearer since I thought it was pretty obvious) that the above is tongue-in-cheek, a mockery of certain lefties’ overuse of terms like “crimes against humanity” and their eagerness to resort to international law against people they dislike for political reasons.
It’s also worth noting that Al Gore — now that he’s no longer running for anything — has in fact distinguished between food-based ethanol and ethanol from more practical sources like waste biomass.
STILL MORE ON CONGRESSIONAL BLUENOSE STUPIDITY, from The Mudville Gazette. So Maxim is too dirty for our troops?
I’M WATCHING A KUDLOW DISCUSSION OF ETHANOL and I think that most of the panelists — except for Frank Gaffney — are bashing ethanol rather uncritically. The problem with ethanol is a government-subsidy problem, and a trade-barrier problem. It’s not a problem with ethanol itself. Make it out of something other than food, and lower the barrier to Brazilian ethanol imports, and it would help our current situation a lot. We’re not doing that because of farm-subsidy politics. The problem is, basically, the Iowa caucuses and the pandering that results. But simply bashing all biofuels uncritically is dumb.
UPDATE: On the other hand, the new farm bill demonstrates that Congress is dumber:
We have a program that makes us overpay for sugar, and now we’re going to start a new program to subsidize the ethanol we create from it â€” because without the subsidy, the inflated sugar price we’ve created will make the ethanol unprofitable.
Upside: Everybody involved has an incentive to pay off some Senators.
ROGER SIMON: On the phone with John McCain. But as for Roger’s suggestion — perish the thought!
RATEMYPROFESSORS.COM — better at rating professors than professors think? Well, possibly. Some say that professors’ looks play a big role. But what happens when “Professor McDreamy” becomes Professor McMohawk?
MARKETS WORK. GO FIGURE: “Businessweek reports that Americans appear to be burning less gasoline as a result of driving less.”
CRIMES AGAINST NATURE: A Unicycle-Motorbike-Segway Hybrid.
ADVICE TO HILLARY AND BARACK ON How to win Indiana.
RACHEL LUCAS WEIGHS IN on prissy bluenose Congressman Paul Broun. “Wanna know what I think, as a bona fide military girlfriend? I think they should have porn in the PX, especially if all weâ€™re talking about is Playboy and Penthouse. Men need to see naked women, and these men happen to be spending months at a time in forced celibacy, and if they want to look at a pretty girlâ€™s boobies and release some of that, uhhh, energy, more power to â€˜em.”
DON’T DAMAGE ITS fragile metal ego: “If you are a piece of steel, I implore you not to watch the YouTube clip. If you are in the room with a piece of steel, divert its attention, send it out of the room for ice cream, do what you can to insure it doesn’t see this. The clip shows a steel bar being turned down like it was soft butter being cut by a hot knife. It is humilating if you’re a piece of steel. It makes you look like a piece of free-machining aluminum.”
KEITH OLBERMANN: The first thing we do, let’s kill all the Hillarys. Er, or something like that.
FRED THOMPSON’S not interested in being Vice President. Hell, I don’t think he was that interested in the number-one job.
BLUENOSES IN CONGRESS are taken to task by Patrick Lasswell. But if the availability of Playboy and Penthouse on base is our biggest military worry, then Congress can just go home. Things are going well.
THE FIRST LITHIUM CHEVY VOLT is now running.
DREW CAREY TAKES ON THE FOOD POLICE: The battle of the bacon dogs!
INTRODUCING A “PLUGLESS” PLUG-IN HYBRID. No, really.
“I WILL BE HAMAS’ WORST NIGHTMARE:” Sean Hackbarth reports from the McCain blogger conference call.