July 12, 2009
HOPE AND CHANGE: As large retailers shut doors, warehouse-like buildings sit unused. Well, change.
HOPE AND CHANGE: As large retailers shut doors, warehouse-like buildings sit unused. Well, change.
TIGERHAWK: Obama’s popularity declines, and the investigations begin. “Call me a cynic, but I am not in the least surprised that a couple of weeks after Barack Obama’s strong approval/disapproval ratings took a turn to the unfavorable and Obamacare is looking less like a lead pipe cinch it is suddenly time to investigate the Bush administration.”
MARKDOWNS ON electric razors.
THE BRIGHT SIDE TO OBAMA’S OPED: “But the most important thing is the rejection of the second stimulus. By Paul Krugman’s lights that means the president doesn’t understand basic logic, but it’s a relief nonetheless.” It shows that Obama understands the polls, anyway.
JEFF JACOBY: Lawmakers, read the bills before you vote.
Hoyer conceded that if lawmakers had to carefully study the bill ahead of time, they would never vote for it. “If every member pledged to not vote for it if they hadn’t read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes,’’ he said. The majority leader was declaring, in other words, that it is more important for Congress to pass the bill than to understand it.
“Transparency’’ is a popular buzzword in good-government circles, and politicians are forever promising to transact the people’s business in the sunshine. But as Hoyer’s mirth suggests, when it comes to lawmaking, transparency is a joke. Congress frequently votes on huge and complex bills that few if any members of the House or Senate have read through. They couldn’t read them even if they wanted to, since it is not unusual for legislation to be put to a vote just hours after the text is made available to lawmakers. Congress passed the gigantic, $787 billion “stimulus’’ bill in February – the largest spending bill in history – after having had only 13 hours to master its 1,100 pages. A 300-page amendment was added to Waxman-Markey, the mammoth cap-and-trade energy bill, at 3 a.m. on the day the bill was to be voted on by the House. And that wasn’t the worst of it.
If companies that are “too big to fail” are too big to exist, then bills that are “too long to read” are too long to pass. This sort of behavior — passing bills that no one has read — or, that in the case of the healthcare “bill” haven’t even actually been written — represents political corruption of the first order. If representation is the basis on which laws bind the citizen, then why should citizens regard themselves as bound by laws that their representatives haven’t read, or, sometimes, even written yet?
UPDATE: Reader Julie Pascal writes:
You wrote “If representation is the basis on which laws bind the citizen, then why should citizens regard themselves as bound by laws that their representatives haven’t read, or, sometimes, even written yet?”
Makes me think of The Princess Bride….
*Westley:* Did you say I do?
*Buttercup:* Uh…no. We sort of skipped that part.
*Westley:* Then you’re not married. You didn’t say it. You didn’t do it.
There is no reason I can see to be worried at all about following laws that weren’t read… if they weren’t *read* how could they have been voted on?
Hmm. Well, it’s no stranger than many constitutional arguments that have succeeded in court.
FLASHBACK: Panic At The Anti-Disco Rally. The ’70s anti-disco movement — then seen as rock’n'roll rebellion against commercialized phoniness — is now regarded by academics as racist. Just so you know . . . .
SO WHILE JACK LAIL, MICHAEL SILENCE, AND I WERE ON GEORGE KORDA’S SHOW TALKING ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA, Jack Lail was taking video and uploading it to YouTube.
WHAT LARRY SUMMERS AND ROBERT RUBIN did to Harvard. The same thing they’re now doing to America. A “Ferrari without the engine.”
IRAN UPDATE: Candidate Declares Iran May Face ‘Disintegration’ . “In an implicit rebuke to Iran’s ruling elite, a conservative presidential candidate warned Sunday that the political and social rifts opened by the disputed June 12 vote and subsequent crackdown could lead to the nation’s ‘disintegration’ if they were not resolved soon.”
EVERYTHING SEEMINGLY IS SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL: Potato famine disease striking home gardens in U.S. I blame Global Warming! Oh, wait: “This year’s cool, wet weather created perfect conditions for the disease.” Okay, I blame Climate Change!
WSJ: SMALL INVESTORS are hoarding gold. “Individuals’ bullion purchases almost doubled last year, amid apocalyptic panic over the financial system, to 862 metric tons. Lately, that panic-driven demand has given way to a more subdued, yet still potent, fear that stocks will suffer as the recession grinds on for a long time, so gold makes sense. At the same time, there’s a rising anxiety about inflation among people like Dr. Van Steyn, resulting from the Obama administration’s massive stimulus spending.” Hmm. Are they right, or are they paranoid? Or are they paranoid and right?
THE END of Obamania?
GIVING A WHOLE NEW MEANING to the term toe shoes. “Vibram FiveFingers are little more than flexible plastic soles with just enough cloth to hold them snugly on your feet. They have little individual pockets for each toe, making the FiveFingers into a sort of foot glove. The resulting footwear feel less like shoes and more like tougher, more invulnerable versions of your feet.” But there’s a downside: “Ugly as a bucket of vomit.”
10 WIND TURBINES that push the limits of design.
STIMULUS! Victor Davis Hanson on The War Against The Producers. “Ponder a simple fact: The Obama administration is dispersing income lavishly to those who do not pay taxes and it will have to be paid for by those who do. For all the talk of that awful percentile who make over $200,000, this administration has not distinguished the hyper-rich 1% that make untold money (e.g., the Buffets, Soroses, Turners, Gateses, Kerrys, Gores, etc), from the much more demonized, larger 5% of the population whose income does not come from investments and insider influence and deal-making, but rather from providing more tangible goods and services–the family doctor, the plumbing contractor, the small lumber company owner, the car dealer, the local family-held insurance company, the airline pilot, the car-leasing firm, the patent attorney, etc.”
A QUESTION FOR DAVID BROOKS. I think the simple answer is that the habit of deference to power has become ingrained. . . .
ED MORRISSEY HAS more thoughts on Obamacare and the threat to medical innovation.
MORE TROUBLE AHEAD for housing?
CUT-PRONE FIGHTERS turn to surgery to stop the bleeding.
A PRIMARY-CARE PROVIDER’S DILEMMA: The decision to opt out of Medicare.
We opted out of Medicare because the service won’t pay for phone consultations, won’t pay for email consultations, barely pays for an office visit, and does not pay nearly enough to cover a house call.
All of these services are critical to our medical practice. Medicare would require us to hire too many staff, as well as require us to do too much paper work and administration. I cannot afford to invest in either and still manage to operate in the black. Medicare has too many regulations and rules; we can’t understand a lot of them, and frankly, Medicare doesn’t seem to understand them most of the time either.
And yet if you make a mistake, you face possible criminal prosecution.
THE BELMONT CLUB: Left Brain / Right Brain.
KEITH HENNESSEY responds to President Obama’s oped on the economy, with an old-fashioned Fisking. Devastating graphic.
SCOTT JOHNSON ON NATIONAL SECURITY: How Much Damage Did
TOMORROW’S TODAY’S WASHINGTON EXAMINER, I write on The Hidden Cost of National Health Care. With a personal angle. (Bumped).
A GROWING DISCONNECT? Frank Wilson looks at the surging popularity of Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek. “There is a growing disconnect between the country’s political class and its citizens. It was manifestly on display last month when the House approved the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, which in its final form was longer than Atlas Shrugged and which none of the members voting on it had read. That the free citizens of a free country would be served so cavalierly by their elected representatives is the sort of thing any good novelist would hesitate to invent, for fear it would seem too implausible.”
SPACE COMPANIES eye Hawaii as a potential new frontier.
MORE TEA PARTY NEWS: “The Portage County Courthouse lawn in Ravenna was filled with people attending the Portage County TEA Party Saturday evening. Several people held signs proclaiming the theme of the rally: ‘Taxed Enough Already.’”
BEWARE THE Neo-Nazi boogeyman. Nazis. I hate those guys. Especially the Illinois Nazis.
IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, Virginia Postrel reviews Chris Anderson’s new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price. Well, that’s what I charge for InstaPundit! I haven’t really exploited the paid-public-speaking angle, though. Maybe I should. The Insta-Daughter will be in college before I know it . . . .
CONGRESSMAN TAKEN TO CLEANERS IN PONZI SCHEME: “Freshman Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) lost $3 million in a stock swindle between 2000 and 2005, a Florida television station reported this week.” Well, it’s only fair, since that’s what Congress has been doing to us for years . . . .
But here’s the punchline: “He is a member of the Financial Services Committee.” The country’s in the very best of hands!
TEN OF THE worst restaurant names ever.
THE HEIDELBERG THINGPLATZ: I visited this place a number of times as a kid; we lived in Heidelberg and often hiked up the Heiligenberg, and this place wasn’t far off the path. I found it a bit creepy — the under-stage area had steel bars, and I wondered who was kept there, and why. This account, at least, makes it sound less creepy than I remember.
UPDATE: A couple of readers want to know what I was doing in Heidelberg. My dad taught at the University of Heidelberg for a year when I was a kid. I learned a little German, pretty much all of it forgotten now. I still have fond memories of Kinderbier. I wonder if they still have that.
ROBERT MAYER WRITES: “Thought you might enjoy this! At Rep. Raul Grijalva’s (D-AZ) socialized health care rally, one of our guys gives him… the bunny ears. I sense a rising tide of political elite mockery…” Well, there’s certainly a rising tide of mockability.
HONDURAS: DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS backing away from Zelaya? I hope.
ED DRISCOLL: Getting Squeezed By The Parentheses States.
EVEN LESS SUNLIGHT IN THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: “A few weeks ago, the Obama Administration officially abandoned the President’s ‘Sunlight before Signing’ campaign pledge that the White House would post all legislation passed by Congress for at least five days before the President would sign it. In making this announcement, the Administration maintained that it would comply with the spirit, if not the letter, of the original commitment by posting legislation on the White House site once it became clear legislation would eventually pass and make it to the President’s desk. This new commitment, they suggested, would actually provide even greater sunlight, as some bills would be available for review earlier and for a longer time. Well, this promise is no longer operative either, as the Cato Institute’s Jim Harper details. Since the White House announced its new sunlight policy, nine additional pieces of legislation have been signed into law by the President and yet, as of yesterday, not one had been posted on the White House web site.”
Maybe this kind of thing is why the stimulus isn’t creating many actual jobs.
A.P. CORRESPONDENT BEN FELLER is clearly aiming for an invitation to the next White House off-the-record party.
GETTING MORE OUT OF A BARREL OF CRUDE OIL. We’d better, since we don’t seem to be doing much new drilling.
A SERENDIPITY TECH BLEG from Tom Elia.
BITES FROM THE APPLE: A roundup of news from the Apple empire.
TASER’S extended-range shock shotgun.
HOW TO CLEAN, WAX, AND DETAIL YOUR CAR. These tips are nice, but for me the key is motivation. That was supplied this week by a stack of law-review comments I had to read. Suddenly, the car really needed to be clean. Then there was the suddenly urgent dishwasher-repair . . . .
PROTEST IS PATRIOTIC! demonstrating against Obamacare in San Diego.
REX MURPHY ON THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY: “We’ve seen him in action for a bit more than six months. What we can say with confidence, now that we have the evidence of his actions, is that had he run on (a) transforming the U.S. economy by massive federal government intervention, (b) taking an owner’s stake in the automobile industry, (c) transforming the rules of America’s energy economy, (d) instituting a national health-care system – all of these simultaneously and in the centre of a financial meltdown – Barack Obama wouldn’t merely have lost the election, he wouldn’t have got as many votes as gnarly old Ross Perot did in an election long past. . . . Mr. Obama has taken the real crisis of the U.S. (and world) economy and used it as the screen and lever for a massive agenda of transformation, a transformation that calls for expenditures on a scale never before seen in the history of government on this planet.”
REMEMBERING the original G.I. Joe.
CHARLTON HESTON: My cold, dead hands. People called that speech “extremist,” but now the views Heston championed are looking pretty mainstream . . . .
RADIO ADDRESSES: Obama still clearing wreckage; Cantor asks where are the jobs?
WASHINGTON POST: The stumbles that led to an ethics blunder.
If it were some other business, we’d be hearing about “greed,” not “stumbles.”
PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH:
No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves — (applause) — or if police — if police can be bought off by drug traffickers. (Applause.) No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top — (applause) — or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. (Applause.) That is not democracy, that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there.
American businessmen, meanwhile, are exclaiming, only twenty percent?
Related item here.
WHY BUSINESSES ARE LEAVING L.A.
IN THE MAIL: From George Gilder, The Israel Test.
STUART TAYLOR: How the Ricci Case Almost Disappeared.
THE FEDERALIST SOCIETY IS HOSTING AN ONLINE DEBATE ON THE SOTOMAYOR NOMINATION, featuring Thomas C. Goldstein, Wendy Long, Louis Michael Seidman, David Stras, and M. Edward Whelan III.
THE POLITICS OF PERSONAL DESTRUCTION? McClatchy: Sotomayor backers urge reporters to probe New Haven firefighter. (Via NewsAlert).
Well, it’s not like they’re going to be busy looking into her tax problems.
SO HOW’S THAT STIMULUS THING WORKING? (CONT’D): Stocks post 4th straight week of losses.
I’m beginning to feel that this business of shoveling money out to cronies isn’t really helping the economy as much as was promised.
MEGAN MCARDLE: “There’s a reason that most countries do not attempt to fund large welfare states with a very progressive income tax, the way we do*. The income of the wealthy is fungible, mobile, and volatile. These are not strengths from the vantage of the tax system.”
INDEED: “But people, even liberals, are starting to get unnerved by the cost of all this. We now talk of trillions the way, even a few months ago, we spoke of billions. In mid-June, the Senate health committee put out its version of reform and was horrified when the Congressional Budget Office figured that it would cost a trillion dollars over 10 years (over current spending) and would still leave millions uninsured.”
This is particularly true because — despite all the “line-by-line” promises — the money seems to just be being shoveled out to political interest groups.
BLACK CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP DIVIDED OVER GAY MARRIAGE.
Mr. Lee, the former pastor of In His Steps, an African-American Wesleyan church in Los Angeles that he described as “very conservative,” said he saw failures both in the leadership of the conference (“Dr. King would be turning over in his grave right now,” he said) and the largely white anti-Proposition 8 movement that did not more actively seek the support of church-going African-Americans.
“The black church played a significant role in Proposition 8 passing,” Mr. Lee said. “The failure of the campaign was to presume that African-Americans would see this as a civil rights issue.”
Hope and change.
VISUAL ECONOMICS: HOW AVERAGE U.S. CONSUMERS spend their paychecks.
HEH: It Would Have Been Nice to Hear This Before We Spent $787 Billion. “I understand Nouriel Roubini just told him to cheer up.”
SO HOW’S THAT STIMULUS THING GOING?
Fortune magazine recently reported that the number of U.S. companies in the world’s top 500 fell to the lowest level ever, while more Chinese firms than ever before made the list. Thirty-seven Chinese companies now rank in the top 500, including nine new entries. Meanwhile, the number of U.S. firms has fallen to 140, the lowest total since Fortune began the list in 1995. This is not good.
China also surpassed the U.S. as the world’s biggest automaker in the first half of 2009, with June sales soaring 36.5 percent from a year earlier. The Chinese registered 6.1 million car sales for the first half of the year. That way outpaced American sales, which were only 4.8 million. . . .
Here’s the clincher: Year-to-date, Dow Jones stocks are off 7 percent, while China stocks are up 71 percent. The world index is up 4 percent. Emerging markets are up 25 percent. They’re all beating us. None of this is good.
Hope and change!
ASKING SERIOUS QUESTIONS about David Brooks’ inner thigh.
LIFE ON MARS.
PAPER TIGER? (CONT’D): “A health care rally drew only four people to U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker’s office Thursday. Sponsored by MoveOn, a national public policy advocacy organization, the rally was intended to support expanded health care for the poor.”
TOP FIVE new small appliances.
MARTIN PERETZ: Christian Believers Would Be Excluded From Government If The Left Liberals Had Their Way. So maybe Christian is the new gay?
THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE: Nazi! It’s the new gay! So if I still hate Illinois Nazis, does that make me a bigot now?
POUNDING THE TABLE.
A ROUNDUP ON THE Uighur Crisis in Xinjiang.
THE HILL: Congressman: Michigan could hit 20% jobless thanks to Obama. Yeah, but the unemployed will mostly be men, so no worries.
PJTV: Communism and Consequences in Honduras. Chris Burgard and Sean Fairburn, reporting from Tegucigalpa.
REPRESENTATIVE EMANUEL CLEAVER thinks poor people can’t be trusted with guns. Perhaps we could have an income test for gun ownership. Then we could extend it to voting. Hope and change!
THE BEATLES: Remastered and Rock-Banded!
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: SEIU’s Chavista Legal Team Cribs from Obama, Threatens Broadcasters.
More at Talking Points Memo.
UPDATE: Remember the Barack Obama Truth Squad?
ANOTHER RUBE GETS A CLUE:
A Democrat of my acquaintance, who makes something, but not a huge something, over $200,000 a year while living in Manhattan, was recently grousing to me about the surtax. “My taxes on a marginal dollar are going to go up almost 1000 basis points!” said he.
This is true, I agreed. And just what, I wondered, had he thought was going to happen if he elected Obama? Not clear. Our subject had listened to Obama talk about taxing people who made more than $250,000, which seemed entirely reasonable; he hadn’t realized that being single, his tax hikes would start much lower than that–that he, too, was “the rich”. Mentally speaking, the rich don’t live in eight hundred moderately roach-infested square feet in an unfashionable neighborhood of New York.
Hope and change.
ANNALS OF MY PROFESSION: Lawyer asks judge to force rival to wear nicer shoes. “A lawyer in Florida filed a motion to force his rival to upgrade to newer shoes, on the grounds that his homely old hush puppies gave him an unfair advantage by projecting an air of unsophisticated honesty to the jury.”
DOING SOMETHING ABOUT KIDNEY DONATIONS: An important piece from Virginia Postrel.
In the United States, more than 80,000 people are on the official waiting list, all hoping that someone will die in just the right circumstances and bequeath them the “gift of life.” Last year, only 16,517 got transplants: 10,550 with the cadaver organs allocated through the list, and 5,967 from living donors. More than 4,000 on the list, or about 11 a day, died. And the list gets longer every year. . . .
The list doesn’t have to exist. It is a result not of medical necessity or economic constraints but of public ignorance, conscious policy, and complacent institutions. Too many people are suffering unnecessarily.
Plus this: “To people who like to celebrate living donors as heroes, payment seems terribly crass. But the vicarious thrill of someone else’s altruism comes at a terrible cost.” Read the whole thing. As I say, it’s important. (Bumped, because it’s important).
PJTV: An interview with Cyrus Nowrasteh, director of The Stoning of Soraya M.
WELL, DANG: No women’s ski jumping at Olympics. “Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon wrote that the 2006 International Olympic Committee decision against adding a women’s division was discriminatory, but it did not breach Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ gender equality guarantees. . . . Fenlon found that VANOC is subject to the Charter when it carries out the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the 2010 Games, but it is not government-controlled.”
My PJTV report on this lawsuit is here. Complete with video of spandex-clad women athletes.
UPDATE: More here. I agree with the suspicion that one problem the IOC has with this sport is that it’s one in which the women can surpass the men.
IN THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, Katherine Mangu-Ward and I talk about the G.O.P. “brand” and 2012.
THE HITS JUST KEEP COMING. This reminds me of a Seinfeld episode.
UPDATE: Yes, good guess: the Fusilli Jerry episode. It was a million-to-one shot.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Forensics: A Frame-by-Frame Analysis of Obama’s Alleged Ass-Peek. Plus, from the comments: “Americans have spent more time looking at this girl’s ass than they have looking at Obama’s Health Care plan.”
IS YOUR CITY PREPARED FOR A HOMEMADE NUKE? “For many people, the safest option would be to seek shelter in buildings or underground. Just staying inside could slash the immediate death toll from radiation by up to a factor of 100, or even 1000, Mettler says. However, people must be told this in advance. ‘Without prior education, it would be a horrible issue,’ he says.” I was discussing fallout in Administrative Law class — talking about Gott v. Walters, the radiation-vets case — and realized that today’s law students have virtually no understanding of things that were common knowledge in my Cold War childhood. I suppose that’s a good sign overall, but . . . .
AL SHARPTON ON MICHAEL JACKSON: Then, and now.