March 31, 2009
PUTINISM: “Another ally-turned-enemy of the Kremlin is offed, this time in Dubai.” Meanwhile, Katrina van den Heuvel runs interference. I guess it’s just a habit at The Nation.
PUTINISM: “Another ally-turned-enemy of the Kremlin is offed, this time in Dubai.” Meanwhile, Katrina van den Heuvel runs interference. I guess it’s just a habit at The Nation.
CAPTAIN’S JOURNAL: Baitullah Mehsud Threatens Washington. I seem to remember similar threats from Mullah Omar. Remember him?
JOE BIDEN CHARGED WITH drug warrior hypocrisy. “If Bristol Palin’s actions reflect badly on her mom, why don’t Ashley Biden’s actions reflect badly on her dad?”
BRITAIN’S CULTURAL COLLAPSE — A VIGNETTE: “At one time they would have have gone inside themselves to try and rescue them.”
Meanwhile, Mark Steyn comments: “The characteristically moronic behavior of the braindead British coppers transformed it from a family tragedy to a national metaphor. I have written recently in Canada of the disturbing passivity of the ‘citizenry’, but Britain’s nudged it on a stage: Even if you understand the obligation to act in such a situation, the state will forcibly prevent you and (if recent form is anything to go by) ensure that if you disobey them you’ll be prosecuted – pour encourager les autres to remain obedient sheep to the government shepherd. . . . New Hampshire’s great motto, ‘Live free or die’, is not just a bit of bloodcurdling stemwinding but a real choice that Britons, Canadians and, alas, Americans ought to ponder: You can live as free men, with all the rights and responsibilities and vicissitudes of fate that that entails. Or you can watch your society decay and die before your eyes – as England, once the crucible of freedom, dies a little with every day.” Advice to the Brits: Tar, and feathers. At the very least. They’re cowards, after all. Let them fear you.
UPDATE: James Rummel wonders if this story is really true. Well, I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary, but I’d be relieved to know that it’s false. Unfortunately, it’s rather believable in light of other idiocies we’ve seen . . . .
EUROPE FREE RIDES AGAIN. “We pay for their military protection, we pay for the profits that develop the drugs and consumer goods they happily consume, and now we’re supposed to pay for their economic bailout too. Europe could liberalize its markets, let in immigrants, develop a real military, instead of just critiquing the way we do it. We’ll continue to let them free ride, because there’s no way to stop it. But I’m starting to think we should rub it in a bit more.”
FREE HEALTHCARE: Not from Obama, but from Walgreen’s.
AZIZ POONAWALLA IS CRITICAL OF OBAMA over the Afghan “rape bill:”
Let’s not mince words. It’s doubtful that President Obama’s administration was unaware of the rape bill. It’s more likely that they are intent on sticking by Karzai and supportive of whatever he needs to do to get re-elected, Secretary Clinton’s rhetoric about elevating women’s rights in foreign policy during her confirmation hearing aside. This kind of ends-justify-the-means foreign policy is essentially realpolitik revisited – the exact kind of short-term “great game” thinking that created the Taliban itself. It’s a disgrace and an embarassment to Obama’s entire Afghanistan policy, and the domestic economic crisis is no excuse for such a craven failure to stand up for the values we purport to uphold.
Well, the Obama pledge was to replace those idealistic neocons with realists. This is what that looks like.
SMART DIPLOMACY: “Slightly smaller than Oregon.” To me, the striking thing is that most of the press to whom this stuff is addressed probably has a better idea of Britain’s size than Oregon’s anyway . . . .
I can second the Slashdot poster’s observation about the MSI Wind being a chick magnet. I’ve been very surprised about how much attention it gets from women. Not that this bothers me too much (or, er, matters, since I’m happily married. Hi, honey!).
Guys aren’t all that impressed unless they see OS X running on it. Then they get interested…
Vive le difference.
KNOXVILLE WILL BE HAVING A TEA PARTY PROTEST ON APRIL 15, and I’ll be covering it for PJTV. Here’s the website.
GERMAN HOMESCHOOLERS SEEK POLITICAL ASYLUM:
Homeschooling is so important to Uwe Romeike that the classically trained pianist sold his beloved grand pianos to pay for moving his wife and five children from Germany to the Smoky Mountain foothills of Tennessee.
Romeike, his wife, Hannelore, and their children live in a modest duplex about 40 miles northeast of Knoxville while they seek political asylum here. They say they were persecuted for their evangelical Christian beliefs and homeschooling their children in Germany, where school attendance is compulsory. . . . Bernadette Meyler, a Cornell Law School professor who has studied differences in religious liberty between the U.S. and Europe, said she’s never heard of another case like this in the U.S.
TAXES ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE. And people named to the Cabinet. “Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius recently corrected three years of tax returns and paid more than $7,000 in back taxes after finding ‘unintentional errors’ _ the latest tax troubles for an Obama administration nominee.” I notice that H&R Block has been claiming that when they review people’s tax forms they typically find a lot of missed deductions. I can only conclude that they’re not checking Obama Administration nominees’.
UPDATE: A reminder from the L.A. Times:
Sebelius was actually a replacement Obama nominee for ex-Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle, who admitted paying about $140,000 in back taxes and penalties from recent years. Others, including Treasury Secy. Timothy Geithner, performance officer Nancy Kelleher and ex-Democratic Rep. and now Labor Secy. Hilda Solis, also had back tax problems, which were paid up and disclosed after their nominations.
Kelleher, like Daschle, withdrew her name. The others were confirmed anyway.
Read the whole thing. More here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Rand Keller writes:
According to the article:
Sebelius said she sold her home in Topeka, Kan., for an amount less than the outstanding balance on the mortgage. She continued paying off the loan and the interest for which they continued to claim a deduction.
Did the bank(s) know that they were holding loans with no collateral? Inquiring minds, you know.
Good question. Meanwhile, TigerHawk has thoughts.
MORE: Reader Tom Getchell writes:
Whatever else one makes of the serial tax dodgers nominated by this administration, the message comes through loud and clear that we have a federal tax system that is either so unjust that it invites cheating, or so complex that even the smartest among us can’t figure it out. Neither alternative is a good one. And I say that as an estate planning lawyer.
ANOTHER COOL NETBOOK COMPUTER: I’ve been using the HP Mini 1035 for about a week now. It’s extremely slick-looking, and has a great keyboard. How does it compare to the 10″ Asus Netbook? Interestingly. The HP is considerably thinner and lighter. It has a better keyboard — the best I’ve seen on a netbook so far. On the other hand, its battery life is less — 2-3 hours instead of 4-5 in my usage — and it’s so light that it’s actually a bit unsteady on your lap. Or at least mine. On the other hand, it’s really small and pretty. My review of the 10″ Asus is here, and some reader comments on netbooks can be found here and here.
UPDATE: Reader Andrew Murphy writes:
Bought a HP 1035 for my wife – and she loves it. The battery issue aside, the 60G hard drive has plenty of room for most normal work.
Overall, she rates it highly. I offered to get her a HP pavilion like mine but she deferred. At nearly 6 pounds and even worse battery life she decided smaller was better – and when this one dies my next road computer will definitely be the 1035.
Wish it had a 6-cell battery, but it’s a great machine.
In forcing the resignation of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, President Obama said he was seeking a fresh start, a “new vision and new direction,” for the beleaguered automaker.
But some critics are questioning why the president of the United Auto Workers union didn’t meet the same fate, to signal a fresh start on the other side of the bargaining table.
Even though UAW President Ron Gettelfinger argues that his workers have made significant concessions in recent years, critics say Gettelfinger should have gone the way of Wagoner — whose ouster could be seen as the final judgment for GM’s pursuit of gas-guzzling SUVs at a time when foreign manufacturers were winning over their customers with fuel-efficient cars.
Read the whole thing.
RESCUE BAILOUT. It’s a lot harder to find words that rhyme with bailout, though.
NETANYAHU TO OBAMA: Stop Iran — Or I Will.
JOHN TIERNEY: The God-Einstein-Oppenheimer Dice Puzzle.
THE HILL: TARP taxpayer commitment $2.9 trillion.
The country’s in the very best of hands.
TOM MAGUIRE NOTES A PAUL KRUGMAN BELLYFLOP on the PBGC story. With a huge supporting cast! “My free advice to my friends on the left – sometimes reporters exaggerate and hype their story a bit (really!), so critical reading skills should be applied even if the reporter is bashing Bush. In the Globe story, to pick an example almost at random, the reporter explained breathlessly that the PBGC had decided to invest in equities but waffled on whether the decision had actually been implemented. Looks like April Fool’s came early for some people.”
BIAS AT THE BAR: I was going to try to work in a “we don’t serve their kind here” joke, but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.
PJTV: ANDREW KLAVAN on the culture and the argument to “shut up.”
HOW WE FELL.
WHAT I GOT WRONG about Bush’s second term.
EEOC: FOX GUARDING THE HENHOUSE? “The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, responsible for ensuring that the nation’s workers are treated fairly, has itself willfully violated the Fair Labor Standards Act on a nationwide basis with its own employees, an arbitrator has ruled. . . . The EEOC has a much worse record of labor and civil-rights violations than most corporations and agencies with a similar-size workforce.”
Fair employment practices, like taxes, are for the little people.
BLOOMBERG: Home Prices in 20 U.S. Cities Fell by a Record 19%. I think they need to. The people I know who have sold houses lately have done so after cutting the price sharply. I still see a lot, though, who seem to think that they deserve to get more than they paid in 2006. Houses priced on that assumption don’t seem to be moving.
WARDING OFF Asteroid Apophis.
UPDATE: Wrong link before. Fixed now. Sorry!
I recently purchased a 10 inch white MSI wind. As you can see it’s a small computer and it’s good for what I use it for. I get a lot of comments from women saying it is ‘cute’ or ‘adorable.’ Not the good kind of cute that will get me the attention I want though, the kind of cute that says they think I have a different presence than I actually want to portray. So how can I make my netbook more manly, or at least have some witty line to respond to the their comments?
This never worried me. Some good advice in the comments — and some bad!
A ROUNDUP OF affordable fly-fishing gear.
STAYING PUT ON EARTH, but taking a step toward Mars. “On Tuesday, six people will be voluntarily locked into a cloister of cramped, hermetically sealed tubes woven inside a Moscow research facility the size of a high school gymnasium. They will eat dehydrated food, breathe recycled air and be denied conversation with practically everyone else but one another. And they must stay inside for 105 days.” This is good research, but I wonder how realistic such tests are — given that the participants’ knowledge that they’re not really bound for another planet must surely color everything?
VETTING? Nominee For Treasury’s Number Two Helped Draft Legislation Deregulating Banks “Tim Geithner’s new nominee for number two at the Treasury Department, Neal Wolin, played a key role in drafting legislation in the late 1990s deregulating the banking system, a former Treasury Department official confirms to us. The law that Wolin helped draft has been blamed by some critics, many of them Democrats, for easing up regulatory pressure on huge financial institutions, tangentially helping create today’s mess — and his role drafting it could come under questioning at his upcoming confirmation hearings.”
IN THE MAIL: From Gary Reback, of Microsoft antitrust fame, Free the Market!: Why Only Government Can Keep the Marketplace Competitive.
ECONOBLOGGING FROM Keith Hennessey, formerly of the National Economic Council.
POLICY HUBRIS and the current financial unpleasantness.
IN CQ, BILL PASCOE ON MURTHA AND CORRUPTION:
Murtha’s critics aren’t opposed to his ability to bring home the bacon; as the chairman, and then ranking member, and then chairman again of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee for the last two decades, Murtha’s control over the Pentagon’s purse strings is legendary, and the torrent of cash he has directed back to his 12th District makes the Johnstown Flood look like a spring drizzle.
His critics don’t begrudge him his pork. But they are questioning how close he has come to the line of ethical propriety.
And it’s fair to ask whether Murtha remembers any of the lessons he learned during that big of unpleasantness known as Abscam.
Read the whole thing.
AN INTERVIEW WITH BOB WALKENHORST, who’s now performing Government Cheese again. Excerpt:
Give a man a free house and he’ll bust out the windows / Put his family on food stamps, now he’s a big spender / No food on the table and the bills ain’t paid / ’cause he spent it on cigarettes and PGA / They’ll turn us all into beggars ’cause they’re easier to please / They’re feeding our people that government cheese / It’s the man in the White House, the man under the steeple / Passing out drugs to the American people.
Read the whole thing.
FINANCIAL TIMES: Europe Spurns The Beloved Obama. “Europeans have long worshipped Barack Obama from afar. Now the beloved one is paying his first visit as US president to the old continent. Yet there is every indication that Europe’s leaders are about to stiff him.” Hey, this isn’t what I was promised by the punditocracy . . . .
MAYBE HE’S ANGLING FOR A CABINET SLOT: Calif. IRS agent admits cheating on his own taxes.
PENSION PANIC: Tom Maguire tells Josh Marshall to calm down. “Speaking only for myself, I intend to refrain from tearing out what is left of my hair over this miserable misallocation of assets until I see a few more facts, starting with determining whether the PGBC has actually implemented this dubious strategy.”
DETROIT (AP) — Many assembly line autoworkers reacted with skepticism and anger Monday to the Obama administration’s tough tactics, which stoked long-simmering feelings that the people who put the country on wheels get treated differently than the wizards of Wall Street. . . . Many workers — not generally known for their affection toward executives — even sympathized with Rick Wagoner, who was forced to step down as chief executive of General Motors Corp. He was by turns called a “sacrificial lamb,” “scapegoat” and “fall guy.”
And Rick Wagoner was fired not because he did a bad job, but because Obama wanted to look tough. Is that the kind of management that will get us out of this problem?
ANGIE HARMON: I’m Not Racist Because I Disagree With Obama.
A TEA PARTY PROGRESS REPORT, with lots of links and information.
HE’S RIGHT, I’LL WARRANT! Bob Krumm on the new Federal Unionized Bureau of Auto Repair.
IN TENNESSEE, a bill to allow licensed gun carry by faculty on campuses is up for a hearing. I’m for it, though I’d extend permission to licensed students. As I’ve noted before, I have a number of students with carry permits and I’d feel safer, not less safe, if they were carrying on campus.
REVIEWING THE REVIEWERS: A roundup of book reviews from all over.
FUNERAL FOR THE EMPTY WALLET: A tax protest in New Jersey. “The New Jersey 101.5 Empty Wallet Convoy has collected thousands of wallets along the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike to let Governor Corzine know there’s nothing left to pay. Now, we’re bringing the wallets to the Statehouse with the Empty Wallet Funeral Procession at high noon on Tuesday.”
JOSH MARSHALL ON the Kindle’s frightful impact.
ARNOLD KLING: “For quite a while, but especially over the last nine months, the best way to predict developments in politics and finance has been to ask: what will do the most to increase the concentration of power? Every headline, from the Geithner regulatory plan to the proposed cap on the charitable deduction, to the resignation of the General Motors CEO, should be viewed in that light.”
CHRIS DODD UPDATE: Sen. Dodd’s Cavalcade of Scandal.
LOOKING AHEAD TO The U.S. Manufacturing Rescue Act of 2009.
AFTER A LONG HIATUS, Virginia Postrel is back posting at her Dynamist blog.
A BIG PAYDAY for public-sector workers in New York. (In Tennessee, not so much.)
RUSSIA BACKS a return to the gold standard.
MURTHA UPDATE: Is Flake picking up momentum on PMA probe?
DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL, don’t change a thing.
ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS THE NARRATIVE? ‘New York Times’ Spiked Obama Donor Story.
A BIG GROCERY SALE at Amazon. I’ve started buying a lot of staples from them, as the free Amazon Prime shipping makes it worthwhile.
MICHAEL BARONE: U.S. Not Yet Ready For Welfare State.
ANOTHER OBAMA NOMINEE with problems?
MORE FROM Daniel Hannan.
PJTV: Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute talks about Obamanomics vs. GM & Chrysler and The Proper Role of Government.
ANN ALTHOUSE on marriage and respect.
INDEED: Real outrage is Senate’s fiscal waste. “As the furor over AIG and bonuses settles down, the larger offense has still not been discussed. People should be focused on the outrage of the government throwing around trillions of dollars with little regard for either accountability or any plan of repayment.”
TAHLEEBAN: The new “nucular?”
SPRINGTIME FOR NEW ENGLAND REPUBLICANS? “Green Republican shoots are emerging from the spring muck. The most conspicuous one involves the falling fortunes of embattled Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, up for re-election next year. A new poll has the once seemingly invincible Democrat tied with former Congressman Rep. Rob Simmons, a Republican from eastern Connecticut.”
THE WORLD’S most advanced mixing board.
MEGAN MCARDLE ON THE AUTO BAILOUTS: “The more I read about these plans, the more I wonder what the end game is supposed to be. The administration is acting serious: firing Wagoner, and threatening to cut off funds if Chrysler doesn’t make a deal with Fiat. Then you read the report, and the government’s statements seem . . . kinda silly.”
IOWAHAWK VIDEO: The country’s in the very best of hands.
HOSPI-BLOGGING: The Insta-Mom just got her hip replaced; she’s recovering nicely now. They’re already starting physical therapy, just a few hours after the surgery. Got some posts scheduled; back later.
DANIEL ROTHSCHILD: Whitewashing FDR? “A New Deal apologia arrives just in time for Barack Obama.” How convenient.
THE CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS IS UP!
IN THE MAIL: Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed: A Novel.
NEWSPAPERS AND ANTITRUST: Concentrated Media is Something We Can’t Ignore: A Response to Speaker Pelosi.
Here is where we could use your help. Submit your t-shirt ideas. Send us articles about dumb government. Even send us pictures of you and your neighbors at a tea party, esp. if you are sporting a Simon Jester! We will publish your pictures down there in the gallery, investigate your articles and give our take on them, and some new designs are already in the works. We aim to be a source of information and a rallying point for citizens who love the liberty inherent in all men and codified in our founding documents.
I suspect they’d really appreciate pics of you wearing Simon Jester gear . . . .
FRANCIS CIANFROCCA: Whose Money? The New Debate About Freedom.
TAXES ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: Marion Barry Owes $277k in Back Taxes; Government Seeks Revocation of His Probation.
FROM HOPE TO CHANGE: Obama Faces Cold Reception in Europe: Support Has Turned to Opposition Over Stimulus Plan. Hey, wait, I thought everybody around the world was going to love him. . . .
UPDATE: Barack Obama, Global Community Organizer. Hmm. How did his Chicago efforts work out for the communities he organized?
RAND SIMBERG: More campus disarmament foolishness. It’s about religion. The “candlelight vigils” against violence, noted in the comments, ought to be a tipoff . . . .
FORTUNE: Chris Dodd’s loyalty test. “The senator, who will play a pivotal role in salvaging the financial system, is, for good or ill, a man of contradictions and compromises. He has written consumer-protection legislation but has also helped himself to enormous campaign contributions from his state’s insurance companies and hedge funds. He’s the longest-serving congressman in Connecticut history, scion of a New England political dynasty, but he’s been losing ground lately and may soon face his toughest campaign since he was first elected to Congress in 1974. He’s an idealist – a former Peace Corps volunteer – but he’s been involved in dubious real estate deals with close pal Edward Downe Jr., an admitted felon, and may have received preferential treatment on his mortgage refinancing from Countrywide’s Angelo Mozilo. He was a prodigal senator for several months, moving his family to Iowa in a quixotic presidential bid, but now has been entrusted to focus on the details of reinventing the U.S. financial system. He is one of the Senate’s masters of procedure, but, man, he sure blew it with the AIG bonus loophole.”
ROGER KIMBALL: Why I like Angela Merkel (and you should, too).
THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEKEND if you were off, you know, having a life:
More on Chris Dodd: Dodd’s Troubles Open Debate on Congress’ Ties With Special Interests. “Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd has become the poster boy for critics who say the inevitable ties between longtime members of Congress and special interests are undermining efforts to revive the economy.”
The most expensive home in America was built by a TV producer, not a Wall Street financier or industrialist. Is there a double standard on wealth?
The Washington Post’s anti-semitic cartoon.
More on booming ammo sales from ESPN.
A coming nuclear renaissance?