Archive for April, 2009

April 30, 2009

HEH: “The airlines, not exactly flush with capital at the moment, can’t be happy. At least the VPOTUS can take comfort in the fact that this will quickly be forgotten, as compared to, say, if Dan Quayle had made the same statement under the same conditions.”

Plus this: “Joseph Biden is frankly a comic character and we are lucky to have him. Things are just too grim these days – what with the putative swine flu catastrophe, the economic decline and Islamopsychos on the rise in Iraq again. We need a little Biden in our life.”

Also, “Tapper to Gibbs: Can you clarify Biden’s moronic comment about subways?” “This makes twice now in four days that Team Barry has panicked New York City while providing rich fodder for gallows humor. What do they have planned for the weekend?” Something . . . wonderful!

April 30, 2009

COMPARING ISRAELIS TO NAZIS.

April 30, 2009

HMM: FBI Looks Into Losses at Freddie. “Federal investigators looking into possible accounting violations at Freddie Mac are raising questions about whether the giant government-backed mortgage company improperly delayed the recognition of billions of dollars of losses, according to people familiar with the matter.”

April 30, 2009

COMPARING Bush’s polls to Obama’s.

April 30, 2009

MICKEY KAUS: Scariest Thing I’ve Heard About Obama. “He reads Andrew Sullivan’s blog. … The Churchill/torture anecdote Obama told last night (from ‘an article I was reading’) apparently came from Sullivan. Not surprisingly, the ‘facts had altered slightly’ by the time they’d made their way through Andrew to Obama.” I can see why Obama prefers Sullivan. But he’d help himself more by reading InstaPundit. No “bubble” here.

UPDATE: Related item here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kathleen St. Onge writes: “Obama reads Andrew Sullivan? Isn’t that kind of like Zac Efron reading Tiger Beat?” Heh.

April 30, 2009

SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH a bearskin rug?

April 30, 2009

HOPE AND CHANGE: Consumer spending dips in March as recession persists; jobless claims stuck at elevated levels. “Consumer spending fell more than expected in March after two straight monthly gains, a stark reminder of a fragile economy that has pushed a record number of Americans to draw jobless benefits.”

April 30, 2009

NPR: Justice Souter to retire.

UPDATE: Interesting angle here. Specter’s defection bad for the Dems?

April 30, 2009

OBAMA VS. FOX: Ratings war.

April 30, 2009

THE TERRORIST THREAT from within our own borders.

April 30, 2009

MEGAN MCARDLE: Obama needs to ask the public to make sacrifices. Hey, didn’t they say that about Bush?

April 30, 2009

TEXAS: It’s like a whole other country. Even to the State Department!

April 30, 2009

POCKET-SIZED HD CAMCORDERS. Plus, get 720p for $140. The more these things proliferate, the better it is for blogospheric newsgathering.

April 30, 2009

bakercenter

I’M AT THE FABULOUS BAKER CENTER on the University of Tennessee campus, where we’re talking about journalistic ethics and the Internet. That’s Jack McElroy of the News-Sentinel and Richard Griffiths of CNN in the foreground. The panel starts in a minute.

April 30, 2009

ELECTRICITY FROM THE DEEP: A look at Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion.

April 30, 2009

VOTING RIGHTS, and “unusually labored breeziness.”

April 30, 2009

TEXTS FROM LAST NIGHT.

April 30, 2009

NINTH CIRCUIT SECOND AMENDMENT RULING: Not newsworthy?

April 30, 2009

JOE TRIPPI: John Edwards shouldn’t have run.

April 30, 2009

WINE ADDS YEARS TO YOUR LIFE: And life to your years! Not sure about the dosages here, though.

April 30, 2009

MARK MCKINNON: Internet Consumer Groups Should Put Consumers First.

April 30, 2009

CORY DOCTOROW: Chunky crapgadget used to conduct the US census (kind of).

April 30, 2009

THE REAL CULTURE WAR is over capitalism.

April 30, 2009

NAME THAT FLU: Various suggestions, but I got an email from a friend recently suggesting “Chupacabra Flu.” Works for me!

April 30, 2009

PRESIDENTIAL SWAGGER: Once a bad thing, now a good thing.

April 30, 2009

THE HITS KEEP COMING! They told me that if I voted for McCain we’d have a Vice President who was a moron… and they were right!

April 30, 2009

UH OH: Petraeus Gives Stark Warning of Potentially Imminent Pakistani Collapse.

April 30, 2009

FEDERAL INTERNET SPEECH REGULATION, via making it a Federal Felony To Use Blogs, the Web, Etc. To Cause Substantial Emotional Distress? Dumb idea. “What are Rep. Linda Sanchez and the others thinking here?” Thinking?

April 30, 2009

NEUROTIC MEN IMPROVE THE HEALTH OF WOMEN, but not vice versa.

April 30, 2009

FACEMASKS ARE top items on Amazon. (Via Drudge). As I suggest below, the panic may be excessive. But maybe people will keep these on hand for later. Some good-news/bad-news perspective here. “Now of course, we have no idea currently what kind of levels of illness or hospitalization H1N1 would cause if it becomes established in the population, but this is a situation where there’s a small chance of a very bad situation, and so we need to prepare for it as best we can. . . . for now, we’re still seeing cases increase, and the prudent thing to do is be careful and prepared. Weren’t any of these nay-sayers ever Boy Scouts?” Seems sensible. And I do like the term “aporkalypse.”

UPDATE: Mexican Ambassador Says Flu’s Reach Exaggerated.

April 30, 2009

BOSTON GLOBE: Murtha: Redefining Corruption.

Plus, Mother Jones: John Murtha Airport: Earmark Reform Poster Child. “I consider that money stolen from the American taxpayers.”

April 30, 2009

AN INEXPENSIVE PORTABLE ROUTER that turns 3G into WiFi.

April 30, 2009

REASON TV: Obama’s French Toast: Just Say Non.

April 30, 2009

WHEN ROBOTS ATTACK: “Man is apparently no match for machine. Although the worker tried to defend himself, he suffered four broken limbs and nearly lost his life. The company was fined 25,000 kronor ($3,000) for negligent safety precautions, but the robot managed to evade assault charges.”

Gosh, I hope he was insured.

UPDATE: A couple of readers point out that the original source says broken ribs, not limbs as in the quote above. Either way, remember: When robots grab you with their steely claws, you can’t get away, because they’re stronger than you, and they’re made of metal.

April 30, 2009

HAVING A SERIOUS CONVERSATION with President Obama about the budget.

Plus, Tea Partiers accept Obama’s invitation.

And, has Obama reached the “bargaining” stage?

April 30, 2009

THE KOH NOMINATION: Sovereigntism’s Last Stand? Many Americans will be surprised to hear that there is such a thing, or that it’s having its last stand.

April 30, 2009

RATTNER / QUADRANGLE UPDATE: NM firing financial adviser mentioned in NY probe.

April 30, 2009

PUSHING PLASTIC SOLAR CELLS.

April 30, 2009

AIR FORCE DEVELOPS nano-based artificial muscle.

April 30, 2009

SWINE FLU VICTIM: “It’s not so terrible.” It’s just the flu. Well, “just the flu” still kills a fair number of people, but on the other hand, with only seven deaths reported so far this may turn out to be an Emily Litella crisis. Let’s hope — though if there’s a lot of overreaction, followed by a fizzle, it’ll make it harder to get people to cooperate next time, when things might be more serious.

April 30, 2009

NANOTECHNOLOGY: Bubble, Bust . . . Boom?

April 30, 2009

TOM MAGUIRE: Some Enchanted Evening (With A Tortured Finish). And a Trig Palin angle!

April 30, 2009

GOOGLE COULD HAVE caught Swine Flu early.

April 30, 2009

CAN THE TESLA MODEL S BE PROFITABLE at $57,400?

April 30, 2009

C-SPAN: Newt Gingrich on the RNC.

April 30, 2009

IN THE MAIL: From David Drake, In The Stormy Red Sky.

April 30, 2009

SOME MORE BUSSARD / POLYWELL FUSION NEWS. Lawrence Livermore Los Alamos is lending a hand.

April 30, 2009

WAS HARRY TRUMAN a war criminal? In the future, everyone will be a war criminal for fifteen minutes.

April 30, 2009

MORE JOY from Joe Biden.

April 30, 2009

BANK OF AMERICA’S SHAREHOLDERS vote for change! “After months of anger at Bank of America (BAC) chairman and CEO Ken Lewis, shareholders voted to fire him as board chairman yesterday at the company’s annual meeting in Charlotte. Lewis had a terrible year in 2008, as did everyone in the banking industry, but he had the added baggage of having withheld material adverse information from his shareholders about the forced merger of BAC with Merrill Lynch late last year. . . . Ken Lewis’s shareholders have now taken their revenge for what Paulson forced him to do. (They’re within their rights, of course, and I’m not arguing any differently.) The SEC now has to decide whether to bring enforcement action against Lewis and the BAC board. That would be a distinct injustice, unless they also choose to go after Paulson (not bloody likely). . . . One hundred days ago, we entered a new era, in which heavy government intervention in American industry is considered normal, rather than for emergencies only. And so far, the signs are that both Congress and the Administration are entirely willing to intervene heavily and unilaterally, not only in governance decisions but even in management decisions.”

Plus, from Megan McArdle: “Right now, Ken Lewis remains CEO–the board expressed unanimous support. But at this point, it seems likely that it’s only a matter of time. (If it isn’t, it will become a famous business school case on the Principal-Agent problem.)”

April 30, 2009

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE: “Workers demolishing the wall of a building that once belonged to the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp have found a message in a bottle written by prisoners 65 years ago, Auschwitz museum officials said.” I send my SOS to the world . . ..

April 30, 2009

AMERICA’S best restroom.

April 30, 2009

WORRIES ABOUT coming hyperinflation. No sign of it at the moment, though, even in gold prices.

April 30, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, COMRADE!

April 30, 2009

IS ATHEIST ACTIVISM increasing?

April 30, 2009

JAY LENO SAYS Goodbye to Pontiac: A Tribute to GM’s Performance Brand. “I thought—that’s just the coolest wheel I’ve ever seen. So I really liked those big Pontiacs. And, of course, what kid didn’t go crazy for the GTO—the car that started the whole muscle car craze. The first few years of the GTO were great.”

April 30, 2009

ERIC POSNER on the Economics and International Law of Flu Pandemics.

Plus, Kenneth Anderson on Swine Flu, Pandemics, and Transnational Regulatory Networks.

April 30, 2009

STRATFOR: A Chilling Effect on U.S. Counterterrorism.

April 30, 2009

OH, GOODY: Tennessee officials nearly sure of the state’s first swine flu case.

UPDATE: Helpful advice from Joe Biden. Avoiding subways won’t be hard for Tennesseans . . . .

Plus, prepare for the long haul.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bad news for travelers to Cancun. And for people who live there, even though no swine flu has been spotted there.

April 30, 2009

DOES G.M. NOW STAND FOR Gettelfinger Motors? Actually, I like the idea of the unions owning the car companies — or I would, if they then had to stand on their own instead of getting still more bailout cash. I’m afraid we’re in for a decade of politically propped-up zombie carmakers, a sort of American Leyland.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus is taking a positive view: “Let the UAW, as new owner of GM, pay the price for the overgrown work rules of its locals. Let the UAW demand above-market raises from itself. Let the UAW try to raise money from new lenders after the previous round of lenders has been royally screwed (thanks, in part, to the UAW). And then let the UAW try to sell the cars that result.” So long as friendly politicians don’t protect them from the consequences of their actions with other people’s money.

April 30, 2009

MORE ON THE Tea Party Protesters outside Obama’s speech yesterday. No wonder he was defensive.

April 30, 2009

STAGES OF DENIAL: In Reason, Matt Kibbe writes, Take pity on the left as it grapples with the tea party revolt. “Judging from the left’s hysterical reaction, something really big must have happened. But the only way to really understand the left’s misinformed and paranoid attacks is to realize that the protests represent tangible proof that basic libertarian values continue to resonate with the American electorate. That, apparently, is a difficult thing for some to accept.”

Plus this:

What were the tea parties about? Reading the signs and talking to people (unlike CNN’s incredibly hostile Susan Roesgen, I actually let folks answer my questions in their own words), the “agenda” was crystal clear. Tea party activists were worried and angry about government bailouts for the irresponsible, about spending that “stimulated” record growth in government and not much else, and about government borrowing that will place unconscionable burdens on future generations of Americans. My favorite sign of the day: “Give Me Liberty, Not Debt.”

Some tried to diminish the tea parties as misguided tax protests. In reality, the protestors demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of economics that went well beyond objections to higher tax rates. You can’t spend money you don’t have, the tea party attendees understood, and government spending above current revenues must be paid for with higher taxes, more borrowing (to be paid for with higher taxes in the future), or artificial government expansion of money and credit, which can only debase the currency and make everyone poorer through inflation.

Indeed.

April 30, 2009

TAINTED MONEY FROM POLITICIANS:

Ellen Roman, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Connecticut, said her organization got $4,000 from Senate Banking Committee chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who received the funds as a donation from fallen mortgage giant Countrywide Financial Corporation. Roman said if she had known where the contribution originated she might have asked her charity’s national office to review it, but added that “it’s very challenging times right now [and] I do have to look at what kind of resources I have.” . . .

Deciding which donations to accept, especially at a time when public sensitivities about financial improprieties are running high, can be a complicated calculus for charities and nonprofit organizations. “Organizations weigh how much of an assault on their integrity this is, and whether they have the credibility to withstand that assault,” said Gene Tempel, president of the Indiana University Foundation. “You either damage your integrity a little bit, or you don’t serve some people.”

What’s a little damage to integrity, if there’s money in it? Nothing that bothers our leaders!

April 30, 2009

HOUSE APPROVES FEDERAL HATE-CRIME EXPANSION BILL. Jacob Sullum comments: “Aside from the usual problems with hate crime laws, which punish people for their ideas by making sentences more severe when the offender harbors politically disfavored antipathies, this bill federalizes another huge swath of crimes that ought to be handled under state law, creating myriad opportunities for double jeopardy by another name.”

April 30, 2009

HMM: Mexico Limits Public Services As Flu Alerts Are Increased.

April 30, 2009

EXAMINER: Court records contradict Obama HUD nominee Sims.

April 30, 2009

JUSTICE SCALIA RESPONDS TO A BLOG INQUIRY.

And, speaking of privacy, news about Miss California that — I’m fairly certain — has no counterpart with Justice Scalia. But what about President Obama’s Facebook Friends?

April 30, 2009

FABIUS MAXIMUS on American sentiments on torture.

Plus, what Obama got wrong about the British.

April 30, 2009

CREDIT MARKETS GO JOHN GALT?

People are reeling from having their 401ks wiped out in the current market slide. And now those who had for years bought what they thought were “safe” blue-chip corporate bonds are discovering they were only safe until they were told by the government to go fly a kite because government wants to pay off the unions instead. That is deeply unfair to small bondholders, and it’s dreadful economic policy. As a friend of mine put it to me, “Who in their right mind will buy corporate bonds now? And if nobody’s buying bonds, how exactly are our debt markets going to get humming again? What a mess.”

Indeed. This could be the continuation of the Tea Party phenomenon, manifesting itself in a different way.

If you set out to wreck the non-governmental parts of the economy, you could hardly do a better job. And, frankly, the governmental parts aren’t being handled much better. I mean, how much safer are U.S. Treasury bonds in the face of this attitude, and towering piles of debt?

UPDATE: TigerHawk emails:

Yes, the situation with the auto workers is a mess and the small bondholders are getting whacked, but it is far from clear that the example of the GM situation will hurt credit markets. First, the credit markets have actually been improving in recent weeks (while the automakers have been understood as zombies), with more money flowing in to mutual funds that invest in bonds, yields on corporate bonds (among other instruments) slowly declining (meaning bond prices are going up), and, finally, a few original issuance “high-yield” bond deals actually getting done. So I am not sure the auto deal is in fact causing the credit markets to go “John Galt,” for which we should all be grateful. Second, in general the Paulson/Geithner era has been extremely solicitous of bondholders and other creditors. The equity has gotten crushed, the executives have been taken to the woodshed, but the government has been all about protecting the creditors, even to the point of serious moral hazard (thinking primarily of the AIG counterparties, who are the main and possibly only beneficiaries of the AIG “bailout”).

Well, I hope that’s right.

April 29, 2009

I GUESS OBAMA KNOWS ABOUT THE TEA PARTIES NOW: “He’s not really all that gracious when it comes to dealing with people that don’t already love him, is he? Kind of smirky, with a faint flavor of exasperation.” Say what you will about George W. Bush, he had a skin whose thickness wasn’t measured in Planck lengths.

April 29, 2009

HMM: Analysts Dispute Charge by Specter of GOP Moving Rightward. I think it’s more like what Neil Sorens said: “The reason for the change in perception is that with fiscal conservatism abandoned, the only distinguishing characteristic of the Republican Party is now social conservatism.” So, tepid as that is, it dominates. Also, there has to be some reason to tell college students that Republicans are uncool. . . .

April 29, 2009

IS THE NRSC ABOUT TO abandon Pat Toomey? That wouldn’t be nice.

April 29, 2009

IT’S INEXPLICABLE! Illinois Lawmakers Strangely Uninterested in Fighting Corruption.

April 29, 2009

MEGAN MCARDLE: “Doctors are not, by and large, altruists who dream of living on a GS-13 wage. Nor can I blame them.”

Neither are politicians.

April 29, 2009

THE DANGERS OF A narcissistic political class.

April 29, 2009

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Fact Check: Obama Disowns Deficit He Helped Shape.

“That wasn’t me,” President Barack Obama said on his 100th day in office, disclaiming responsibility for the huge budget deficit waiting for him on Day One.

It actually was partly him – and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years – who shaped the latest in a string of precipitously out-of-balance budgets.

And as a presidential candidate and president-elect, he backed the twilight Bush-era stimulus plan that made the deficit deeper, all before he took over and promoted spending plans that have made it much deeper still. . . . His assertion that his proposed budget “will cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term” is an eyeball-roller among many economists, given the uncharted terrain of trillion-dollar deficits and economic calamity that the government is negotiating.

Calamity, indeed.

UPDATE: Oh, what the hell — let’s run that graphic again.

April 29, 2009

CAN NEWS find a business model in the digital age? Good question. I think that people are still willing to pay for trustworthy factual reporting — it’s just that not many seem willing to supply it. But it’s also possible that, because of bundling, people have been buying more news than they wanted all along, and now that media delivery is unbundled, they’re only buying as much as they want, and that’s a lot less. I’m not sure.

April 29, 2009

STEPHEN GREEN IS drunkblogging Obama’s big primetime presser.

Plus, a question: “The president said something about bringing down the budget deficit? How exactly is quadrupling the deficit bringing down the deficit?”

April 29, 2009

IS IT TOO SOON FOR SUMMER TOYS? Pick stuff that lets kids play outside, so they can get some fresh air and vitamin D.

April 29, 2009

PJTV: I talk with Mark Levin about his new book, Liberty and Tyranny, about the Tea Parties, and about what people should be doing in politics today.

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April 29, 2009

DINNER FOR FOUR, for under ten dollars. “Chicken Thighs with Brazilian ‘Vinaigrette’ Salsa.” I much prefer cooking chicken thighs to breasts — first, you get breasts everywhere, and second, the thighs have much more flavor.

April 29, 2009

CAYMANS FACING A Tamiflu shortage.

April 29, 2009

HOPE AND CHANGE: “Unemployment rose again in the Chicago area last month, and is now approaching the 10 percent mark. . . . But compared to some metro areas, Chicago isn’t faring badly. There are 109 metropolitan areas in the country that posted unemployment rates of 10 percent or more in March, up from a mere 14 such areas in 2008. The highest was in El Centro, Calif., where unemployment stood at 25.1 percent – as bad as the national average during the depths of the Great Depression in 1933.”

April 29, 2009

HMM, THIS DOESN’T SOUND GOOD: WHO raises flu threat level, warning pandemic imminent.

UPDATE: On the other hand, there’s this: Only 7 swine flu deaths, not 152, says WHO. Maybe we should rename it the Litella Flu?

April 29, 2009

POPULAR SCIENCE: Why Are Airplane Seats So Miserable, And What Can Be Done About It?

April 29, 2009

ANOTHER ONLINE POLL ON OBAMA, over at CNN. (On the right, scroll down a bit).

April 29, 2009

EPIDEMIC OF FEAR: Austin Bay on Swine Flu.

UPDATE: Link was wrong before. Fixed now. Sorry!

April 29, 2009

WHO CARES ABOUT the invention of the sewing machine?

April 29, 2009

ALFONZO RACHEL TALKS ABOUT LIFE AND ART, on the latest Ask Dr. Helen.

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April 29, 2009

CAR LUST: The joys of the world’s most famous Pontiac Trans-Am. Back, you know, when there were Pontiacs. . . .

April 29, 2009

MATT WELCH AND NICK GILLESPIE ON THE 100 DAYS: After 100 days, the new president has revealed himself as an effective salesman of exhausted ideas.

On issue after issue, Obama has made it clear that instead of blasting past “the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long,” (as he promised in his inaugural address), he’s moving full speed ahead toward policy prescriptions that already had less fizz than a case of Billy Beer back when Jimmy Carter was urging us all to wear sweaters and turn down our thermostats. Instead of thinking outside the box, Obama is nailing it shut from the inside. . . . For those Americans who voted for Obama, a question: Is this the change you had in mind?

Well, hey, if they can bring back the jumpsuits . . . .

April 29, 2009

JOHN GALT, GONE: Mack, Lewis Blame Pay Limits for Executive Departures. “’We have lost strong revenue generators over the past three months to competitors that are not facing the same compensation restrictions that we are,’ Lewis said.”

April 29, 2009

SWAP YOUR OLD HD-DVDs FOR BLU-RAY, courtesy of Warner Brothers. Well, it’s not exactly a “swap,” since you get to keep the old one. Will other studios follow this lead?

April 29, 2009

MSNBC IS RUNNING an online poll on Obama’s performance.

April 29, 2009

FROM THE WAPO, More Murtha Earmark News. “Some locals call the Johnstown airport ‘Fort Murtha’ because of the steady stream of wartime projects announced at the facility. Although its runway is capable of servicing the largest airplanes in North America, the airport is used only by small commuter airplanes that make six trips a day back and forth to Dulles International Airport. Many of the commercial flights, which are subsidized by federal transportation dollars, carry only a handful of passengers. On a recent visit, all of the flights departing the airport were less than half-full, and one had only four passengers — screened by seven federal airport workers. All told, Murtha has steered about $150 million in federal funds to the airport. This spring, it was among the first four in the country to receive stimulus funds.”

April 29, 2009

HYPERMILING WITH THE Ford Fusion Hybrid: “The final number: 1,445 miles on a tank of gas.” Good grief.

April 29, 2009

NO WONDER OBAMA WAS ATTACKING THE TEA PARTIES: Hundreds of Tea Party Protesters Greet Obama in St. Louis. It would be amusing if this happened everywhere he went. Hope and change! And a new kind of politics. . . .

UPDATE: Video. “We’d like to thank the national media for talking to those 6 Obama supporters.”

April 29, 2009

NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE VOTES TO legalize gay marriage. It’s already passed the House, so it seems very likely to become law. I support gay marriage, of course, but I’m much happier to see it happen by legislation than by judicial decision.

April 29, 2009

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Fat droplet nanoparticle delivers tumor suppressor gene to tumor and metastatic cells. Clinical trials are underway.

April 29, 2009

REMEMBERING THE BEST PONTIACS in film, music, and TV. Video at the link.