January 31, 2009
FEELING THE HOPE AND CHANGE: Iran says Obama’s offer to talk shows US failure. Wait, I thought only an evil neocon would have suggested this reaction . . . .
FEELING THE HOPE AND CHANGE: Iran says Obama’s offer to talk shows US failure. Wait, I thought only an evil neocon would have suggested this reaction . . . .
TOM MAGUIRE ON TOM DASCHLE’S TAX PROBLEMS: “Daschle supported Obama, eventually opposed the war after falling victim to Bush’s lies in 2002, and has been reliably pro-choice and in favor of legislating higher taxes on high earners (despite a more flexible attitude about actually paying them), so I assume he will get a pass on this. Obviously, if he were a greedy Republican this would be disqualifying.”
And evidence of the hypocrisy and dishonesty of his entire party!
LIST: The 100 Greatest Romantic Albums of All Time. Okay, Marvin Gaye is obligatory, and I was glad to see Thievery Corporation — but The Carpenters?
AMY ALKON: What’s wrong with looking beautiful? Nothing, it just attracts a certain amount of leveling behavior from those who aren’t . . . .
STATE DEPARTMENT PRESS CONFERENCE: A bad review.
DAN RIEHL ON THE G.O.P.: Some Old Dogs Have No Tricks.
FOR C.A.I.R., “major damage control.”
OUTRAGE: Obama and FEMA leave Americans to die in Kentucky. Media firestorm in . . . well, never.
Plus, “Obama dozed, people froze.” And Juliette Ochieng emails: “President Obama doesn’t care about white people…and neither do the MSM.” Well, that wouldn’t fit the narrative.
EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY: Not as reliable as some suppose?
THE LATEST CONSUMER REPORTS has a big section on recommended TVs that makes me think two things: (1) I wish everything got better and cheaper as fast as electronics do; and (2) brand-dominance seems to be the thing of the past.
This time around, Samsung leads in most categories. Sorry, Sony and JVC! Plus, things are so much cheaper. The top-rated 58″ plasma TV is cheaper than my 46″ LCD JVC was a couple of years ago. And the 50″ version — also top-rated in its category — is absurdly cheaper.
Likewise in LCD TVs, the top-rated 52″ (as big as they get), also by Samsung, is much cheaper, and probably better, than my JVC 46″. Are these ratings reliable? I think so. The JVC that I own was their top choice when I bought it, and it did look better than the other sets I compared it to. And we have this relatively cheap Panasonic (42″ and under $700) in our bedroom, and it’s their top set in its category and I think the picture is great. If only, say, medical care were improving as fast. Or politicians . . . .
UPDATE: Yes, I know LCD TVs get bigger than 52″. (Here’s a 108″ model!) That’s just as big as the ratings went.
It was not for lack of effort on the part of the new president. Obama went to the Capitol to visit Republican as well as Democratic lawmakers, and he encouraged the Democratic draftsmen to scrap a couple of egregiously irrelevant spending programs they had penciled into the bill. But the complaint I heard from Republicans was that Pelosi and her lieutenants, committee chairmen Charlie Rangel and David Obey, had used the tight timetable and their control of legislative procedures to block virtually all efforts to open the bill to compromise.
Obey and Rangel say that’s not the case, but I’m skeptical even if David Broder is not.
HOPE AND CHANGE: Obama praises Iraqis on provincial elections.
“TANGIBLE PROOF” that “the news is propaganda?”
OBAMA’S PLAN HAS ALREADY BOOSTED TAX COLLECTIONS!
In office less than two weeks, President Barack Obama has already increased tax receipts at the U.S. Treasury with an innovative plan to get tax-dodgers to pay up, in full, immediately.
“The president’s plan is simple but ingenious,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, “He targets wealthy individuals who filed inaccurate tax forms, cheating the government out of tens of thousands of dollars. Then he just nominates them for cabinet positions. They suddenly see the error of their ways, and they cut checks for the full amount owed, plus interest.”
Now that really is a new kind of politics!
UPDATE: Jim Treacher emails: “Has David Corn sneered about Joe the Plumber’s taxes lately?”
MORE MEDIA RETRENCHMENT: L.A. Times to cut 300 more jobs.
ALREADY? Love affair between Canada and President Obama appears to be coming to an end. “The honeymoon appears to be over between Canada and newly elected U.S. President Barack Obama, as Obama’s first foreign visit to Ottawa in February will likely focus on a protectionist bill now before Congress. The $820 billion American economic stimulus package will have some strings attached. The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that includes a provision barring foreign iron and steel for infrastructure projects.”
OUCH: “Tom Daschle never met a tax hike he didn’t like for us. But why the hell can’t he pay his own taxes?”
WHERE’S FEMA? Nearly 1M without power 5 days after ice storm. “Local officials grew angrier at what they said was a lack of help from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”
Obama’s turning up the thermostat, and Taylor Marsh is already snarking: “Well, this certainly seems fitting in the afterglow of Republican stiffing the new, popular President, all the while people are freezing because of a failed power grid. Nope, can’t spend money on that.”
UPDATE: Bill Quick:
“Where’s FEMA?” is not the appropriate question. The appropriate question is, “Where is the mainstream media, screaming in one united voice, that the absence of FEMA demonstrates the utter fecklessness and failure of the current President and all his policies?”
Plus his barely concealed racism, of course.
Yeah, not seeing much of that.
MURTHA UPDATE: Federal raid on plant has residents worried. “Much of the speculation centers on the company’s multi-million dollar federal defense contracts, among the hundreds of millions steered into this region by its powerful congressman, John P. Murtha, a Democrat from neighboring Johnstown. Kuchera began as a modest, computer-based business in 1985 and has since grown into a major contractor that does work on weapon guidance systems and recently developed a bomb-searching robot for the defense department.”
AZIZ POONAWALLA: Dump Daschle – Howard Dean for Health and Human Services.
ILYA SOMIN: Why the size of government matters:
In his inaugural address, President Obama said that “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.” This is a commonly heard argument in response to concerns about the growth of government. Who could possibly be against government when it “works”? Why not instead consider each proposed expansion of the state on a case by case basis, supporting those that “work” and opposing any that don’t?
Taken seriously, this argument leads to the rejection of any systematic constraints on government power. Why should we have a general presumption against government regulation of speech or religion? Why not instead support censorship when it “works” by improving the marketplace of ideas, and oppose it when it doesn’t? Think of all the misleading speech and religious charlatans that government regulation could potentially save us from! The answer, of course, is that government regulation of speech and religion has systematic dangers that are not unique to any one particular regulation. Given those systematic flaws, it makes sense to have a general presumption against it.
The same holds true for government intervention more generally, including in the economy. It too has systematic flaws that justify a presumption against it. Three of those flaws are particularly relevant to current policy debates.
Read the whole thing.
IN THE MAIL: By Larry Niven et al., — mostly the et al. — Man-Kzin Wars XII. The Kzinti are very interesting aliens, and Larry Niven has done better than most in creating a shared universe where other writers can do interesting work.
TIGERHAWK: Tom Daschle’s tax fraud. “There is no ambiguity in the law, or no theory that he did not know that he owed the money. It is obviously an in-kind payment for services. Of course he knew he owed the taxes. Finally, there is no tedious extra bureaucratic obstacle to paying this tax. You just drop a number right on to the 1040. You know, that document that you signed under penalty of perjury.”
Really, I’m starting to wonder if anybody in this crew is paying all their taxes.
BITES FROM THE APPLE: A roundup of news from the Apple Empire. Including a look at the new iLife ’09.
WHILE POLITICIANS COMPLAIN ABOUT WALL STREET BONUSES, WHAT ABOUT THIS? Hidden Bonuses Enrich U.S. Government Contractors.
U.S. Senator Kit Bond shifted in his chair at a 2005 congressional hearing, poised with a question on national security. He turned to Treasury Secretary John Snow, who was seated at a witness table.
Was Snow sure, asked Bond, a Missouri Republican, that a Treasury Department computer on order for $8.9 million would help detect terrorist money laundering?
“Yes, absolutely,” Snow said.
A year later, in July 2006, the U.S. Treasury Department abandoned the project. The computer didn’t work. The department had spent $14.7 million — a 65 percent increase above the original budget — for nothing.
There was a final ignominy: Under the terms of the contract, Electronic Data Systems Corp., the vendor, collected a bonus of $638,126.
As the federal government’s $700 billion bailout of banks sputters, there’s an object lesson for the new administration of President Barack Obama: Federal departments, including Treasury itself, routinely squander tens of billions of dollars a year in taxpayer money as they farm out public business to private corporations.
Obama, like presidents before him, said during his bid for the White House that he wanted to curtail waste in government. With contracting, he faces a mismanaged system that accounts for almost 40 cents of every federal dollar spent outside of mandatory obligations such as Social Security and Medicare.
Pot, meet kettle. But wait, there’s more:
In many cases, bureaucrats are motivated to give millions of dollars in bonuses to contractors no matter how poorly a company performs because generosity with taxpayer money may help them land better-paying jobs after they leave the government.
Contractors on dozens of jobs at federal departments collected more than $8 billion in what federal auditors said were unwarranted bonuses from 1999 to 2005.
I wonder what 2009 will look like.
SO, WAIT, ALL THAT TALK ABOUT THE “VANISHING RAIN FORESTS” WAS CRAP?
These new “secondary” forests are emerging in Latin America, Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest — an iconic environmental cause — may be less urgent than once thought. By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster.
“There is far more forest here than there was 30 years ago,” said Ms. Ortega de Wing, 64, who remembers fields of mango trees and banana plants. . . . About 38 million acres of original rain forest are being cut down every year, but in 2005, according to the most recent “State of the World’s Forests Report” by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, there were an estimated 2.1 billion acres of potential replacement forest growing in the tropics — an area almost as large as the United States.
The regrowth will take years to turn into mature rain-forest, of course — but it will do so if left alone. (And the new growth is actually better at sequestering carbon.) And, ironically, it’s all because, instead of people staying quaint, primitive, and agrarian, they’ve gotten richer. “In Latin America and Asia, birthrates have dropped drastically; most people have two or three children. New jobs tied to global industry, as well as improved transportation, are luring a rural population to fast-growing cities. Better farming techniques and access to seed and fertilizer mean that marginal lands are no longer farmed because it takes fewer farmers to feed a growing population.”
The word for that is “progress.” And, overall, it’s actually good for the environment.
Why then it wouldn’t be newsworthy, of course.
BUT, ALAS, NOT NOW: “In my day we were brought up to have a go.”
The corruption of a culture, illustrated.
RAND SIMBERG: Lies, Damned Lies, and “Tax Cuts.”
SAY UNCLE on a group that is:
and I am not making this up, protesting that ROTC offers arms training. Two things leap out at me here. One is that they really think military training is equal to criminal activity. And two that they don’t seem to think learning about arms is educational. Familiarity with arms is a skill that can save lives, in more ways than one.
STILL MORE ON TOM DASCHLE’S TAX PROBLEMS IN CONTEXT: “As a life-long politician, Tom Daschle never earned much money. But he retired from the Senate, after being defeated for re-election by John Thune, as a multimillionaire. He retired to Georgetown, of course, not to South Dakota. This happens a lot in Washington, and Daschle’s case is pretty typical. His wife Linda is or was a lobbyist, and she was the one who reported the family’s income. . . . Another thing that happens a lot in Washington is that when Democrats get appointed to visible, high-ranking positions in the Executive Branch, they suddenly discover that they owe a lot more money in taxes.”
Hope, change, and a new kind of politics!
UPDATE: Reader Dave Bosserman emails:
I hope we get more stories like this; keep ‘em coming! I think we all know that not paying over $100K in taxes isn’t a ‘mistake,’ it’s just something they figured they could get away with. The stories have the added benefit of helping the saps figure out that there’s a deal here, and they aren’t in on it.
Yes there is, and no,
they we aren’t.
YEAH, the PJM ad-network model isn’t working. I don’t have much to do with the PJM business side, but online ads just aren’t producing revenue like they were a few years ago, and the blog-network thing was apparently a tough sell. Hence the emphasis on PJTV. How will that work out? Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Thoughts from longtime PJM critic Ann Althouse.
STILL MORE: Roger Simon: “We disbanded the ad network part of our business for a simple reason: it was losing money and we couldn’t see how in the reasonable future that would change.”
MORE STILL: Some business points from Tim Oren, including this one: “Anyone who’s paid attention knows that the effective CPM for both click-through and exposure ads on blogs s***s. I mean really s***s – like up to an order of magnitude less than run-of-site ads on big, topically diffuse web properties.”
FINALLY: Bob Owens reminds people that it’s just the ad network that’s ending in April, not PJ Media.
A DASCHLE TAX PROBLEM ROUNDUP, at TaxProf.
UPDATE: Reader Michael Stein writes: “You think instead of the stimulus bill, Congress might instead pass an initiative requiring Democrats to just pay the taxes they owe?” The way things are going, that would fix the deficit . . . .
MEGAN MCARDLE: The labor movement takes its pound of flesh.
ROGER KIMBALL ON self-indulgent wallowing in economic gloom.
SENATE DEMOCRATS WAVERING ON THE STIMULUS: “Sen. Conrad: ‘I’d have a very hard time voting’ for recovery package as it stands.” Likewise for Ben Nelson. If you’re from their home states and don’t like the stimulus, it might be worth telling them.
A LOOK AT statin side effects.
ANOTHER GEITHNER PROBLEM, this time for Tom Daschle:
It seems Tom Daschle recently paid a little over $100,000 in back taxes and interest after failing to tell the IRS that he was receiving a free car and driver from a Wall Street friend for three years. If you’re keeping track, that’s a little over twice the amount Tim Geithner paid in back taxes and interest.
Don’t any of these people pay their taxes?
UPDATE: Athena Runner emails: “Nope, but they sure as heck want to tax the hell out of the rest of us who would not be able to get off so lightly.”
CAR LUST: Remembering the 1969-1973 Dodge Polara. I knew a guy who had one of those in high school — everybody called it his “narc car.” Some commercials at the link.
A BIOFUEL-POWERED Bentley GT.
HMM: Oil rises after better-than-expected U.S. GDP data. Funny, most of the U.S. media reported the GDP as bad news, and you had to scroll way down to see that the data were better-than-expected. I guess the markets pay closer attention to the actual numbers . . . .
UPDATE: James Holloway emails: “GDP of -3.8 was below the -5.5 consensus only because of a buildup in business inventories — ie, stuff that’s gonna sit unsold on shelves and in warehouses. Back out the buildup — a one-time event that won’t be repeated — and GDP was down 5.1.” Okay, so how come oil went up on the news?
CIRCLING THE EAST BY BOAT: “Our Great Loop trip took us from Fort Loudoun Lake to Mobile, Key West, up the east coast to New York City, then across Canada including Montreal, Ottawa, Georgian Bay, the North Channel of Lake Huron, then south across Lake Michigan to Chicago, and down a system of six rivers back to Knoxville. It was a yearlong journey of 6,800 miles.”
PJTV: Leon De Winter on Geert Wilders. Free with registration.
ASKING THE UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTIONS: Reader Cathy Neall writes: “Doesn’t the fall-off in economic growth of the last quarter correspond directly to the gloomy and alarming comments the inexperienced president (president-elect) has been making about the the economy? ‘It’s going to get worse…unemployment could get to 10%!’ We’re all terrified to spend anything – which perpetuates the problem.” Yeah, it’s like they don’t mind the downturn.
COOL: Suntan drug greenlighted for testing. “A drug that stimulates the body’s tanning response — turning pasty skin caramel for up to two months — has been approved for human trials, but not for tanning.”
WHY OBAMA IS TARGETING LIMBAUGH: “Here’s my take: The ongoing bailout of banks and business executives is not only wrong, it is deeply, deeply unpopular. By taking potshots at executives—their salaries, their corporate jets, their redecorated offices—Obama hopes to deflect the unpopularity of his actual policies onto his opponents. . . . Republicans should be the ones making Obama pay for bailing out wealthy business failures with OUR money.”
THE WORLD’S SMALLEST wearable TV set. Its real application will be with wearable computers, though.
HARVESTING ENERGY from human bodies. Hey, wait, isn’t this how The Matrix got started? . . .
HEALTHCARE NATIONALIZATION PROVISIONS in the “stimulus” bill?
We’ve watched the press pretend to beat their breasts for “not asking the tough questions of Bush” in the time leading up to the invasion of Iraq. . . . Now, we’re watching the press show zero curiosity about this “stimulus” package. They don’t appear to even know what is in it, or want to know.
MILITARY PLEDGING LOYALTY TO OBAMA INSTEAD OF CONSTITUTION? I’ve been getting email on this for a few days and regarded it as bogus, but Blackfive debunks it.
CHRIS DODD UPDATE: Wall Street bonuses and sweetheart mortgages: Compare and discuss.
Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd has been in typically indignant form this week, opining on the financial crisis. Before his Tuesday hearing on Bernard Madoff, he demanded that regulators get to the bottom of any crime: “American investors deserve an explanation and the responsible parties must be held accountable!” And yesterday the Connecticut Senator denounced Wall Street bonuses and said, “I am urging — in fact, not urging, demanding — that the Treasury Department figures out some way to get the money back.”
Pardon us, Senator, but how about taking your own advice?
We refer to his promise to release mortgage documents for the two properties that he and his wife refinanced with Countrywide Financial in 2003. In June a former Countrywide loan officer charged that Mr. Dodd received preferential rates and had fees waived on those loans as part of a VIP program the company had for “friends” of the company’s then-CEO Angelo Mozilo. Mr. Dodd first issued a denial and then, days later, acknowledged that he was a “VIP” with Countrywide but said he thought it was “more of a courtesy.” In late June he pledged to make all pertinent documents public “at some point.” We’re still waiting.
It has now been 189 days since Dodd promised to release his mortgage documents.
PAGING STEPHEN GREEN: Teetotalers are not quite as successful as moderate drinkers. Why? Oh, wait, they said “moderate.” Never mind, Stephen.
While excessive drinking is of course dangerous and unwise, moderate drinking is, for most people, a lot better than abstinence. There are tangible benefits for health, career and happiness associated with sensible partaking. The benefits are not just personal: Strange as it sounds, moderate drinkers are inclined to be more philanthropic than nondrinkers.
Read the whole thing.
EARLIER TODAY I MENTIONED Netflix streaming via the Roku device, but now reader Denise Stevenson emails: “Amazon just released a beta version of their streaming service on the Roku on Tuesday. Works great, with better selection and quality than the Netflix stuff.” That’s cool. Maybe they can put PJTV on the Roku, too . . . .
UPDATE: Jim Treacher emails: “I got a Roku for Christmas and it’s fantastic. You don’t get the full selection of movies they’ve got on DVD, but there’s a hell of a lot. Waiting for discs to go back and forth in the mail seems silly now. I say go ahead and let the Postal Service go to 5 days a week.”
IGNORING LARRY SUMMERS’ ADVICE: “Summers was proposing bold action, but his concept came with safeguards: focus on the task at hand, prevent the usual Washington splurge and limit long-term fiscal damage. Now Barack Obama is president, and Summers has become a top economic adviser. Yet the stimulus approach that has emerged on Capitol Hill abandoned the Summers parameters.”
That’s because the “usual Washington splurge” is the whole point.
UPDATE: A cynical take: “What’s strange to me is the democrats can’t look 2 years ahead and see this pork bill not only bankrupted this country but did absolutely nothing to employ people. No one can possibly be that stupid. So I wonder if they are pigging out one last time before the whole shooting match goes down?”
CHANGE FOR THE WORSE: “Buried deep inside the massive spending orgy that Democrats jammed through the House this week lie five words that could drastically undo two decades of welfare reforms.”
TEENAGERS ARE HAVING LESS SEX: “How did this turn into another occasion for hand-wringing? Is that a liberal disease? If there isn’t one problem, quick, see another problem, because programs will be needed to solve them?”
Meanwhile, people wonder why teenagers are having less sex, but that’s silly — it’s obviously because of the explosion in porn and videogames over the last 20 years. Which occurred at no cost to the taxpayers!
UPDATE: Okay, in this legislative environment, it’s probably risky to link to anything containing this advice: “The solution is thus obvious — we need a massive government program to ensure that no American teenager goes without porn and videogames Let no child be left behind!” Oh, well, it’s probably already in the bill anyway . . .
IOWAHAWK: It Takes a Proverb to Run a Village.
DAN CLEARY: Keep an eye on Bob Corker.
UPDATE: A Corker spokesperson emails: “As I’ve told Fox, we were invited late yesterday to a meeting in Sen. Ben Nelson’s office and were surprised to learn by reading the news this morning that by accepting the invitation we had joined a gang. That’s not accurate and we did not attend the meeting.”
WAY OUT IN FRONT: China tops list of foreign visitors to ORNL.
NOT THE JUDICIARY’S FINEST HOUR:
The setting is Pennsylvania coal country, but it’s a story right out of Dickens’ grim 19th-century landscape: Two of Luzerne County’s most senior judges on Monday were accused of sending children to jail in return for kickbacks.
The judges, Luzerne County President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., 58, and his predecessor, Senior Judge Michael T. Conahan, 56, will serve seven years in jail under a plea agreement.
They’re alleged to have pocketed $2.6 million in payments from juvenile detention center operators. . . .In asking the court to intervene in April, the law center cited hundreds of examples where teens accused of minor mischief were pressured to waive their right to lawyers, and then shipped to a detention center.
One teen was given a 90-day sentence for having parodied a school administrator online. Such unwarranted detentions left “both children and parents feeling bewildered, violated and traumatized,” center lawyers said.
“Very few people would stand up” to the Luzerne judges, according to the law center’s executive director, Robert G. Schwartz.
Obviously, we need more people willing to insist on their rights. These guys should be tarred and feathered.
UPDATE: Various readers point out that this is another case of Name That Party! Reader Paul Risenhoover adds: “Since they didn’t name it, I knew they were Democrats.” Ouch.
ANOTHER UPDATE: “I wonder why the Inquirer didn’t tell us this?”
TARGETING BRAIN CANCER CELLS with nanotechnology.
JUDD GREGG FOR SECRETARY OF COMMERCE? Dan Riehl thinks it’s just a trick to give the Democrats another Senate seat. Also, it gives them a Republican to blame if the economy continues to get worse. . . .
A DISMAL TRACK RECORD OF “do as I say, not as I do.” And it’s still January!
7 OUTDOOR GEAR PICKS for 2009.
HAS THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS CORPS BEEN GANNONIZED?
STICKING IT TO RAHM. “Rahm told the president that he can take care of Congress . . . He said, ‘These guys will roll over, they’re afraid of being called the party of No. Believe me, I know them. They’ll be easy.’” Plus this:
“We gave the president what he asked for, a temporary stimulus bill,” said a senior Republican, “at half the cost of what the Democrats wrote. He knows it. They handed him a monster of spending. Rahm did this, and now he takes this to the Senate. Does Rahm want to be an honest broker, or does he want to be the guy who socks Republicans in the face? He isn’t helping with the Democrats, and he’s hurting with the Republicans.”
Obama couldn’t control the House Democrats; why should he expect to do better with the House Republicans?
WHO WANTS ELECTRIC CARS? Rich people!
IN THE MAIL: From Don Brockette, America Falling.
OBAMA’S LOBBYING RULES: Destined to fail? “This culture has created multimillionaires and provided a grand style of life to thousands. It has helped moneyed interests protect their status and privileges, undermined government regulation of business and turned our elected officials into chronic money-chasers.”
REPUBLICANS AND THE STIMULUS VS. THE DEMOCRATS AND IRAQ: “If Republicans in the coming months fear public backlash and begin softening their position, they face the threat the Democrats did when they voted for the Iraq War in 2002.”
I think the stimulus is objectively a bad idea. But politically, opposing it seems like a no-brainer: If it passes and the economy gets better it’s old news, and who’s to say the economy wouldn’t have gotten better on its own? If it passes and the economy doesn’t get better, it’s an issue for the GOP.
WAIT, I THOUGHT URBAN LIFE WAS AUTHENTIC AND SATISFYING, and suburbia was sterile. But look what this Pew poll found:
“City residents disproportionately are more likely than people living in other types of communities to say they would prefer to live in a place other than a city,” Morin says. “Fewer than half of all city residents say there is no better place to live than in a city.”
A smaller proportion of women express the desire to live in the nation’s largest cities. “Women are less drawn to big cities,” says Robert Lang, co-director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech. “It could be safety.”
It could be. Also, the larger the urban area, the worse the local government tends to be.
HOPE AND CHANGE: Clyburn scoffs at Iraq withdrawal timetables. “Rep. Jim Clyburn, one of Obama’s key allies in Congress, waltzes away from Obama’s commitment to a 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. This doesn’t displease me, of course, except for the rank hypocrisy of Democrats like Clyburn during the campaign. . . . Talk about sunshine patriots! When Bush was in the White House, Clyburn did everything he could to undermine the war effort. Now that his ally has the job, Clyburn suddenly wants to play Wise Old Man. Feh.”
JUSTICE DELAYED: Jules Crittenden writes: “It’ll be interesting to see how people who previously applauded dissent in the Pentagon, and military insubordination, refusal to follow orders, desertion, etc., respond as this case develops.”
READER MARK LITTLEHALE WRITES FROM MADISON, KENTUCKY: “Please let everyone know that we have been without power since Tuesday. We have over two thousand poles down. My hospital has been on backup power since tuesday . Send generators and gas cans.” But he can still communicate via iPhone.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Who’s undercutting Obama? “This might be the simply the problems of a new administration struggling to cope with a flood of calls and perhaps the complex machinery of the modern office. But it might also indicate that President Obama’s messages about open government have not reached press secretary Robert Gibbs and his staff. While it is too early to judge just how this will work out, the early signs are troubling. And interviews with a dozen Washington reporters indicate that the Obama press operation tends to embrace friendly questions, while treating skeptical questions as not worth their time or, worse, as coming from an enemy.”
KNOXVILLE CHEF CAROL SCOTT is on “Hell’s Kitchen.” I liked her restaurant, Edison Park, and was sorry it closed. Glad she’s landed on her feet.
WIL WHEATON on the Roku Netflix Digital Video Player. “It’s a tiny little box that streams anything from Netflix’s on-demand library straight into your television, and that’s all it does.” More bad news for broadcast and cable networks, I’d say.
UPDATE: Reader Stephen DeMaura writes: “My girlfriend and I got one for Christmas and it has been the best gift in years. The picture quality is fantastic and the only issues we have experienced have been with Comcast not the device.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Hiawatha Bray wrote on the Roku.
HARTFORD COURANT: National Review Needles Dodd Over Mortgages. “One flaw in the NRO piece. It seems to be written from a Washington point of view. In D.C., it does, indeed, seem that the mortgage flap has dropped off the screen. But there is no evidence that Dodd’s constituents are forgetting about his favorable mortgage terms from Countrywide. His approval ratings are at an all-time low, and Dodd is at the most vulnerable juncture of his latest six-year term — the two years before re-election.”
Meanwhile, will someone with website design skills go over and offer the folks at DumpChrisDodd.com some help? It’s like they’re stuck in 1995.
WAIT, I THOUGHT EVERYBODY HATED HIM: A standing ovation for George W. Bush.
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Six Degrees of Alan Mollohan.
On March 22, 2004, Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) collected just over $300,000 for his re-election campaign, more than half the total that he spent for the two-year election cycle.
Of the donations he collected that day, at least $100,000 came from individuals tied to companies that have addresses in the office park built around the Alan B. Mollohan Innovation Center and operated by the West Virginia High Technology Cooperative, a foundation that Mollohan helped create.
The list of tenants in the office park reads like a who’s who of Mollohan campaign donors. But the connections between Mollohan and the building named after him don’t end there.
The office park is at the center of a web of relationships among a dozen or so individuals and companies that support Mollohan’s campaigns, his local booster organizations and the Robert H. Mollohan Family Charitable Foundation Inc. Mollohan has provided many of these same companies with millions of dollars of federal earmarks, and announced millions more in grants to these companies from government agencies and larger federal contractors.
Read the whole thing. Somehow I don’t think that Nancy Pelosi lived up to her promise to “drain the swamp.”
Eight hours of debate in the HR to pass a bill spending $820 billion, or roughly $102 billion per hour of debate.
Only ten per cent of the “stimulus” to be spent on 2009.
Close to half goes to entities that sponsor or employ or both members of the Service Employees International Union, federal, state, and municipal employee unions, or other Democrat-controlled unions.
This bill is sent to Congress after Obama has been in office for seven days. It is 680 pages long. According to my calculations, not one member of Congress read the entire bill before this vote. Obviously, it would have been impossible, given his schedule, for President Obama to have read the entire bill.
For the amount spent we could have given every unemployed person in the United States roughly $75,000.
We could give every person who had lost a job and is now passing through long-term unemployment of six months or longer roughly $300,000.
There has been pork barrel politics since there has been politics. The scale of this pork is beyond what had ever been imagined before — and no one can be sure it will actually do much stimulation.
Wall Street didn’t have Obama’s chutzpah. And it didn’t do nearly the damage to the nation that this bill will do. (Via Dan Riehl).
U.S. OUT OF North America!
FIRED OBAMA ADVISER hired by Obama.
Hope, change, and every action or promise has an expiration date!
ABE LINCOLN’S honest words.
RECESSION ROMANCE: Valentine’s diamonds under $100.
TRUE LOVE BETWEEN Williams & Connolly and the Obama Administration.
BARACK OBAMA, thermostat hypocrite? Also, Ann Althouse piles on: “Never lecture me again about global warming, Barack Obama.”
He should try the thermostat in my office. I wore a North Face fleece jacket today.
DEBUNKING cold-weather car myths.
I DUNNO, WHAT DOES IT PAY? Kaus nominates me to fill Kristol’s slot at the NYT.