June 28, 2009
YET ANOTHER CELEBRITY DEATH: Sky Saxon drops the tambourine for good.
YET ANOTHER CELEBRITY DEATH: Sky Saxon drops the tambourine for good.
SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Obama to Colombia: Military base now, free trade later.
TWITTER: Revolution, or fad?
A JOHN EDWARDS / RIELLE HUNTER SEX TAPE? What is it with these politicians?
EDITORIAL: The Democrats’ FOIA Problems: “President Obama’s promises of greater government transparency haven’t panned out. Multiple transparency problems afflict the Obama administration.” Indeed.
OBAMA VS. THE WATCHDOGS: A roundup on the Inspector General firing scandal.
Plus, growing legs? “There is no need to worry that IG-Gate will disappear. The story may stay below the MSM radar for a few weeks, but if you’ve spent years watching how scandal stories unfold in Washington, IG-Gate looks like one that will keep making headlines for months. . . . There are experienced, energetic investigators diligently at work on IG-Gate, and there will be plenty of headlines to come. . . . Whether your own members of Congress are Republicans or Democrats, you should call or e-mail them, or speak to them in person when they hold a town-hall meeting or appear at your local Fourth of July parade. They’re all about transparency, right? Ask your members of Congress what they’re doing to safeguard the independence of the inspectors general.”
UPDATE: In Honduras, not a coup. Well, it wouldn’t be a coup here if the President tried to stay on past two terms and the other branches of government deposed him.
HMM: AXELROD: OBAMA WON’T RULE OUT MIDDLE-CLASS TAX HIKE. That’s funny. I thought he already had. Guess that one’s hit its expiration date . . . .
LUCKILY, SWINE FLU DOESN’T SEEM TO BE ALL THAT BAD: U.S. Has Passed Its Millionth Swine Flu Case. But, of course, if it had been more lethal, we’d be in big trouble. This is a good one to take lessons from, in terms of future preparedness. And, of course, this is made more urgent by the fear that it could come back in the Fall as something worse, as happened in 1918 and other pandemic flus.
NOT WAITING UNTIL THE FOURTH OF JULY: Tea Party rally set for noon Monday in Nashville. At the Legislative Plaza, where the last one was held. Bet people won’t be dressed nearly as heavily this time around . . . .
Meanwhile, here’s a report from Sarasota today, from reader Peter Rice:
More than 600 attended. The event was organized by Gene Sweeney (see his Internet site address below). The event began at 1 PM Sunday, June 28 and ended at 4:15 PM.
Lloyd Marcus sang several of his Tea Party songs (see his site for details). Among the several speakers was Frances Rice who gave a speech about why Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican and why we must fight to save our country.
Gene Sweeney is chairman of the local Tea Party Organization (Bradenton, FL) and his Internet site is www.SaltOfTheEarthUSA.org
Great credit goes to Gene Sweeney for making this a wonderful Tailgate Tea Party possible.
Lloyd Marcus’ Internet site is www.LloydMarcus.com
Frances Rice is Chairman of the National Black Republican Association and her Internet site is www.NBRA.Info
Here’s a photo he sent:
CASS SUNSTEIN UPDATE: Chambliss blocks regulatory pick over animal lawsuits. “Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) has blocked President Obama’s candidate for regulation czar, Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein, because Sunstein has argued that animals should have the right to sue humans in court.”
MY WHOLE LIFE MIGHT HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT, if I’d known as a kid that it would one day be possible to gain employment as a professional LEGO builder.
SO HOW’S THAT WAR ON CANCER GOING? Grant System Leads Cancer Researchers to Play It Safe.
The cancer institute has spent $105 billion since President Richard M. Nixon declared war on the disease in 1971. The American Cancer Society, the largest private financer of cancer research, has spent about $3.4 billion on research grants since 1946.
Yet the fight against cancer is going slower than most had hoped, with only small changes in the death rate in the almost 40 years since it began.
One major impediment, scientists agree, is the grant system itself. It has become a sort of jobs program, a way to keep research laboratories going year after year with the understanding that the focus will be on small projects unlikely to take significant steps toward curing cancer.
This is exactly what one might have predicted from a big government program of this sort, of course. On the other hand, big private entities get bureaucratized, too: “The private American Cancer Society follows a similarly cautious path. Last year, it awarded $124 million in new research grants, with some money coming from large donors but most from events like walkathons and memorial donations.”
Key bit: “There is no conversation that I have ever had about the grant system that doesn’t have an incredible sense of consensus that it is not working. That is a terrible wasted opportunity for the scientists, patients, the nation and the world.”
POSSIBLY PROMISING: Newly Uncovered Enzymes Turn Corn Plant Waste into Biofuel. Waste-biomass fuel is probably a good idea; food-based biofuel is clearly a bad one.
A LIST OF DEMOCRATS thought vulnerable due to cap-and-trade votes.
AN OVERSEAS TEA PARTY QUESTION, from reader James Spiller: “Do you know of any tea parties for Americans abroad? I’m in London, where there must be an awful lot of people who’d be interested in attending one. Heck, I’m guessing a fair number of students here from red states are just dying to get to a space not drenched in Obama love. I can’t find one, though.”
FIRST FARRAH, THEN MICHAEL, now Billy. Celebrity deaths come in threes, they say . . . .
UPDATE: Or maybe fives, as various readers email to point out that Ed McMahon and David Carradine died recently, too.
ANIMAL HOUSE AT THIRTY: College students find new ways to channel their inner Bluto. But it’s kind of a sad story, on several levels.
THE DUTY OF THE WEALTHY is to be robbed by the government. Lie back and try to enjoy it. . . .
IRAN UPDATE: 7,000 Protesters Clash With Police In Tehran–Tear Gas, Broken Arms. “Another report says possibly 20,000 people were at the protest.” Video and more at the link.
TRAILER PARK: Trailers for The Time Traveler’s Wife and My Sister’s Keeper.
BOSTON GLOBE: The Forbidding Arithmetic of Health Care Reform. “The fuzzy math behind the Massachusetts universal healthcare law is starting to add up – just as Washington studies the law as a possible model for the nation. Because of a recession-related drop in state revenues and a surge in enrollment by the recently unemployed, the truth is emerging at an inconvenient time. Massachusetts doesn’t have enough money to pay for the coverage envisioned by the law.”
ADVICE TO THE REPUBLICANS: “They need to become hard line zealots against the ‘public option’ health care ‘reform’.”
A “WAR AGAINST SCIENCE?” E-mails indicate EPA suppressed report skeptical of global warming. Chris Mooney, call your office!
IS DUMBER REGULATION BETTER REGULATION? Well, it matches the regulators more closely. . . .
DEREK LOWE ON THE ZICAM DEBACLE: “At any rate, snorting zinc salts has actually been known, for some time now, to injure the sense of smell in some people. So it’s proved with Zicam, with several hundred victims. The moral? If you’re going to sell homeopathic medicine – and boy, is it a lucrative business – make sure that you don’t put anything in there except sterile water. That’ll cut down on your expenses, too, since most ingredients cost more than water, anyway. Stick with that strategy, and you can be absolutely sure that nothing bad will happen to your customers. Nothing good will happen to them either, but they won’t know that. When their cold/headache/whatever goes away of its own accord, they’ll ascribe it to your miracle product.”
THE SIX WILDEST BUG ZAPPERS you can actually buy now.
IN THE MAIL: From Paul Gottfried: Encounters: My Life with Nixon, Marcuse, and Other Friends and Teachers. I think Nixon and Marcuse had more in common than is generally appreciated.
ZONATION: AlfonZo Rachel Schools a Naughty Gov. Sanford: Plus, advice to others.
BARNEY FRANK UPDATE: Barney’s Back.
Rep. Barney Frank says that unless Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac relax their recent tightening of mortgage standards on new condominiums, the economic recovery could be threatened.
That would be the same Barney Frank who famously boasted that the two federal agencies — which lost billions by making improvident loans — were “fundamentally sound financially and [can] withstand . . . disaster scenarios.”
Then came the disasters.
But to Barney Frank, Fannie and Freddie are essentially taxpayer-funded social-service agencies whose mission is to turn all Americans into homeowners — whether or not they can afford it.
Rebekah Allen of Concord came to Market Basket yesterday to do her shopping, and planned to look for the new trash bags required by the city’s pay-as-you-throw system. The bags were not there.
Market Basket, alone among Concord’s major supermarkets, has decided not to stock the trash bags. Their logic is simple: Why sell an item for which the store gets no profit?
Allen, when told of the decision, said she would still shop at Market Basket, and she did not mind going to another store for trash bags.
“I think it’s a bad program anyway,” Allen said of pay-as-you-throw. “I agree with (Market Basket).”
By refusing to sell the purple pay-as-you-throw bags, Market Basket has inserted itself into the controversy over a new trash system that will require Concord residents to pay for each bag of trash they throw out, beginning July 6.
Market Basket’s decision was made on the corporate level, not at local stores. David McLean, operations manager for Market Basket, said the company is reviewing its policy in Concord and in multiple other communities where pay-as-you-throw has been instituted. Market Basket has 59 stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
“All of a sudden, all these towns are taking on these programs and wanting businesses to subsidize the towns and do it for nothing, and have their customers foot the expense of carrying those products,” McLean said. . . . “They want businesses to buy the product, pay for the product, pay for losses incurred if bags disappear, to manage the product, warehouse the product, and then turn all the money over to a company in South Carolina that sends most of it to the towns or cities,” McLean said. “There’s no profit, no gain.”
Well, good for them. Let the towns pay for their own programs.
JIM GERAGHTY ON NEXT WEEKEND’S TEA PARTIES: “When they held the first Tea Parties earlier this year, I noted the inherent challenges of organizing working people who hate higher taxes on a weekday (and the day taxes are due). The next round of nationwide events will be on July 4 — bringing its own challenges of time conflicts with parades and barbecues, but at least almost everyone has the day off.”
Quite a few of ‘em seem to be in the works.
AS LONG AS THESE THINGS ARE SELLING, the economy can’t be totally in the tank. On the other hand, they are marked down . . . .
They do look rather comfy. Hmm.
OBAMACARE: Doing for healthcare what Fannie Mae did for mortgages? “In sum, a public plan would possess formidable and perhaps overwhelming competitive advantages — generated not by efficiency but by the artificial advantages of ‘public’ status. This would have two disastrous consequences. The first will be to cause most Americans now covered by private insurance to move to public insurance — one step away from single-payer health care. The second will be to undermine incentives to develop more of the immensely valuable medical technology that is central to all of health care.”
I’m particularly worried about undermining new lifesaving medical technologies, just as we reach a point where big things are in the offing.
FINANCIAL TIMES: “Once merely a worthy subject of concern, America’s fiscal outlook has rapidly become the object of widespread alarm. . . . Even on its existing course, many economists believe the US is heading for a debt crisis. The most pressing anxiety is over the declining confidence of foreign investors, whose support for the dollar has helped fund America’s growing trade deficits over the last decade. In the last three months, the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond has almost doubled from just above 2 per cent to almost 4 per cent.”
TAKING AN “ARMY OF DAVIDS” APPROACH to business regulation?
WANTING AN EDEN, without Adam or Eve.
TOBIN HARSHAW ON OBAMACARE AT THE NYT’S “WEEKEND OPINIONATOR:”
It was a bit like planning the dream wedding only to have a hurricane rip away the chapel roof as you make your way down the aisle. ABC News and the White House probably thought they had scored a coup in arranging “Questions for the President: Prescription for America,” a prime-time opportunity (with a followup session on “Nightline”) for Barack Obama to explain his health care proposal to the voters and for ABC to monopolize an hour-plus with the most famous man in the world. And then came Iran. And Mark Sanford. And, well, there was the fact that it was about health care reform. The result: the 10 p.m. show drew 4.7 million viewers, or nearly 3 million fewer than a competing repeat of CBS’s “CSI: New York” and less than half what the evening’s top draw, NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” attracted in the previous hour. Well, could the president’s plan have got a second-day bump at at America’s water coolers? Not likely.
But read the whole thing.
AT THE BERMAN POST: Iranian Revolution (Day Fifteen): A Roundup. Attacks on Iranian embassies in a couple of countries, which is an amusing turnabout.
MICHAEL JACKSON’S SAD STORY, and weird connections.
WELL, GOOD, I GUESS: Charm Overcomes Comic Anarchy at U.S. Box Office.
DER SPIEGEL: Obama’s Mistakes: Chancellor Merkel Visits the Debt President. “The occupant of the White House may have changed recently. But the amount of ill-advised ideology coming from Washington has remained constant. Obama’s list of economic errors is long — and continues to grow.”
Reader Erik Fortune, who sent the link, comments: “The piece drips with der Spiegel’s typical anti-Americanism, but when your spending alarms even the Europeans, it’s time to reconsider.”
And this bit from the article is worrisome: “It is often said that the Chinese and the Japanese will buy government bonds. But the truth of the matter is that trust in the gravitas and reliability of the United States has suffered to such a great degree that fewer and fewer foreigners are purchasing its government bonds. That’s why the Federal Reserve is now buying securities that it has printed itself.”
IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE AT ONE OF THE JULY 4TH TEA PARTY PROTESTS, please sign up as a citizen reporter for PJTV.
YOUR NEXT HOUSE could come out of a printer.
GREETINGS FROM the future of filmmaking. “Right now, if you have a creative idea, you can produce it and get it to an audience for under a thousand dollars. Right now, you can get your very own HD video camera for about the cost of feeding one of those kids in Africa for two months. Right now, if you have a Mac, it ships with everything you need to cut and finish your story. Right now, you can have a screening for more people, more easily, than at any other time in history, and they don’t even have to be in the same room. In the 1960s, film stock, sound equipment, and cameras became (relatively) cheap and affordable. This put advanced tools into the hands of creative people, and lead to the greatest decade of filmmaking in history: 1970s. I think we’re poised for a similar revolution.”
GLOBAL-WARMING DENIERS on the rise?
TAXPROF: A look at Income Redistribution Under Obama’s Budget.
MATTHEW SHEPARD FOUNDATION won’t take Perez Hilton’s money. Though I doubt much will ever materialize anyway . . . Plus this: “If you’re a gay guy in the news because someone punched you, and the most prominent gay rights organization has asked you to apologize, and a charity who works to end violence against gay people won’t take money from you, I think it’s safe to say you’re a piece of sh*t.”
MICHELE CATALANO: All Michael Jackson, All The Time. Yeah.
NEWS BLACKOUTS: Bill Whittle on the Michael Jackson Effect:
JERRY BROWN VS. GAVIN NEWSOM: The Tale of the Tape.
BEN CUNNINGHAM: Would DHS classify the Tennessee Constitution as a terrorist document? I guess it depends on how much they know about history. Perhaps they should brush up on their Eleanor Roosevelt.
READER MICHAEL BONDOR IS REPORTING VIA IPHONE from the Olympia, Washington Tea Party: “There are about 300 people here. There are many speakers. It’s a warm sunny day. People are relaxed and picnicking (uh..not picketing).”
LIKE ALIEN V. PREDATOR, ONLY DIFFERENT: “Ever wonder what would happen if Care Bears and My Little Ponies clashed? If the Smurfs rose up and fought Gargamel? If Teddy Ruxpin had his own Wes Anderson movie?” Video at the link.
DARREN HUTCHINSON: Indefinite Detention By Executive Order: Another Looming Disappointment for the Left? Hope and
CAP AND TRADE: BILL? WHAT BILL?
CLAUDIA ROSETT ON NORTH KOREA: About That “Fire Shower of Nuclear Retaliation”.
RALLYING ON CAP-AND-TRADE: The Tea Party Patriots.
HIGH-TECH TELESCOPES YIELD NEW GALACTIC PHOTOS: A cool picture gallery.
PALIN TO KERRY: “Why the long face?”
PLANS FOR A BIG Birmingham / Shelby County Tea Party on July 4th. At the Verizon Center in Pelham — a town where my dad was once a preacher, about the time I was born.
IN THE MAIL: From Martin Clark, The Legal Limit.
MICHAEL YON IS BACK IN AFGHANISTAN. Remember, he’s supported by reader donations, so if you like his work consider hitting the tipjar.
THE SILENCE OF THE REGULATED. “You’re one of Fred Smith’s, I expect.” Heh.
CHANGE SAME! FBI compounds mystery with secret justification of gag order. “The FBI continues its secrecy binge by filing a classified justification of its use of a gag order on an ISP in the ongoing Doe v. Holder battle. . . . Clearly, the FBI isn’t ready to give up its Bush-era secrecy addition just yet. As we reported earlier, the EFF is also on the Bureau’s case over fact that the internal guidelines that govern its domestic surveillance practices are also secret.” Remember when getting rid of this kind of thing was a matter of fierce moral urgency?
President Obama has bet the economy on his program to grow the government and finance it with a more progressive tax system. It’s hard to miss the irony that he’s pitching this change in Washington even as the same governance model is imploding in three of the largest American states where it has been dominant for years — California, New Jersey and New York.
A decade ago all three states were among America’s most prosperous. California was the unrivaled technology center of the globe. New York was its financial capital. New Jersey is the third wealthiest state in the nation after Connecticut and Massachusetts. All three are now suffering from devastating budget deficits as the bills for years of tax-and-spend governance come due.
These states have been models of “progressive” policies that are supposed to create wealth: high tax rates on the rich, lots of government “investments,” heavy unionization and a large government role in health care.
And they’ve done badly. But well-connected politicos with “flexible” ethics have done very well, which no doubt accounts for much of their allure to similar politicos at the national level. . . .
UPDATE: Rand Simberg: Why not try the Austin cure?
But whatever you do, don’t emulate Illinois. “The governor’s attempt to create political chaos by placing high-profile, ‘feel good’ programs on the chopping block is disingenuous. By failing to address the state’s fundamental spending and inefficiency problems, Quinn is setting up Illinois taxpayers for even greater future fiscal disasters.”
MICKEY KAUS: “The U.A.W., now a major GM shareholder, has delivered its final punishment to those auto workers who dared move to Spring Hill, Tennessee and show up the rest of the union by building reliable car without Wagner-style work rules. GM’s new small car will be made in Michigan, and the Spring Hill plant will close. …. P.S.: Nikke Finke has a better chance of making money producing this car than GM does.”
FARRAH FAWCETT, American Ambassador.
HEH: “I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, because it’s gone under-reported by the news media, but we lost both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett yesterday.” Why wasn’t I told?
HYPERLOCAL BLOGGING / NEWSPAPER REPLACEMENT at Howard Owens’ The Batavian.
HOPE AND CHANGE! Earlier this week, the White House officially abandoned President Obama’s “Sunlight before Signing” pledge. Those pledges all have expiration dates. All of ‘em.
A BILLION DOLLARS? “It’s totally temporary.”
THE MYSTERY OF CHEAP LOBSTER. “Way before our current recession began, lobstermen were doing such a good job conserving their resource that beginning in the 1990s, they were already catching more lobsters than the market could sustain. There’s never been enough demand for all those live lobsters.” Well, I’ve done my part. I sent my brother and his wife live lobsters via Amazon not long ago. They showed up in perfect shape, and were reportedly delicious.
1) The stimulus failed to meet Larry Summers’ famous criteria of timely, targeted, or temporary.
2) The cap and trade legislation maximizes rent-seeking (favoritism toward particular businesses) and minimizes carbon reduction.
3) The proposed financial reforms are mostly cosmetic and fail to address the key issues of housing policy and regulatory capital arbitrage.
4) In championing health care reform, the President stresses the unsustainability of our current system, while insisting that nothing will change (you can keep your insurance, keep your doctor, etc.).
The pattern that I see is one of following the path of least political resistance, even if it means failing to make any significant contribution to solving the actual public policy problem. I cannot say that I am completely shocked by this. It is sort of Public Choice 101.
FROM CHARLES AUSTIN, an S.A.T.-type question: “Smoot-Hawley is to Waxman-Markey as …”
CONGRATULATIONS, MICKEY! It’s Kausfiles’ Tenth Anniversary! With a listing of greatest hits!
CAP-AND-TRADE passes House in close vote.
CHANGE SAME! Obama Will Hold Terror Detainees Indefinitely. And yet, I remember a lot of fierce moral urgency on this subject, back before the election. . . .
UPDATE: Obama prepares to hold Gitmo guys indefinitely, just as Bush did. “Ex-Vice President Dick Cheney will be so pleased that the Obama-Biden folks finally accepted his advice to protect national security.”
IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE AT ONE OF THE JULY 4TH TEA PARTY PROTESTS, please sign up as a citizen reporter for PJTV. (Bumped).
HMM: Teenage ‘baby’ may lack master ageing gene. A sad case, but one that — perhaps — might lead to some further understanding of aging processes.
BRAIN GENE boosts risk of obesity.
KEITH HENNESSEY: How much bailout money will taxpayers get back? The real answer, though — in terms of what taxpayers will see in terms of reduced taxes or other actual as opposed to notional returns — is probably “bupkis.” Money returned to the Treasury will, I suspect, just get spent on whatever the politicians’ pet projects are at the moment . . . .
WARNING: Energy Rationing Ahead.
WATCH OUT for ticks.
MORE ON THAT UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS ADMISSIONS CORRUPTION SCANDAL, in the Chicago Tribune. “The documents show for the first time efforts to seek favors — in this case, jobs — for admissions, the most troubling evidence yet of how Illinois’ entrenched system of patronage crept into the state’s most prestigious public university.”
IDENTIFYING high-altitude wind-power hotspots.
IT MAY BE A PHOTOSHOP, but I still like it.
SWINE FLU: Apocalypse Not.
SCHOOL SECRETARY MOM CHANGES DAUGHTER’S GRADES IN COMPUTER. And lowers those of other students to improve her daughter’s standing. Tacky, as well as felonious.