February 1, 2009
YEAH, THOSE LIMITS WORKED OUT GREAT IN CHINA: Two children should be limit, says green guru. I think all “green gurus” should be sterilized first. As an example.
YEAH, THOSE LIMITS WORKED OUT GREAT IN CHINA: Two children should be limit, says green guru. I think all “green gurus” should be sterilized first. As an example.
POLITICO: Daschle takes ‘a bad first-day hit’. “If a Bush appointee got rich off of Wall Street in this climate, had a chauffeur from one of his fat cat cronies, had unpaid taxes that amounted to more than what most people make in a year, and then the administration tried to fix it behind closed doors. Democrats would call for his head and would demand ‘accountability.” But will Republicans have the guts to do the same?
ANOTHER CONNECTICUT PAPER calls on Chris Dodd to release his mortgage documents. “The Wall Street Journal said it well: ‘Rare is the politician who could clear his name overnight and chooses not to.’ We again ask Sen. Dodd to release the information. He must know that the continued stalling looks very bad.”
KENTUCKY: Many pleading for faster response: “Smith said FEMA was still a no-show days after the storm.”
SO THE INSTA-DAUGHTER HAS BEEN ILL, and the Insta-Mom came over to spend the night with us. I went shopping for breakfast stuff and saw this: “Batter Blaster” spray pancakes. It’s a spray can like those that dispense whipped cream, only it’s full of pancake batter. And it’s organic!
The pancakes were pretty good (though the Insta-Daughter, a Nina Planck devotee, wouldn’t touch them), but we had more fun imagining similar products, like “BaconBlaster” — sprayable bacon in a can! Wouldn’t that make Scalzi jealous!
HMM: Putin faces signs of mutiny as protests break out in east. “As Russia’s economy begins to implode after years of energy-driven growth, Mr Putin is facing the germs of an unexpected power struggle which could hamper his ambition to project Russian might abroad.”
CONGRATULATIONS TO the Steelers.
WILDCAT STRIKES in Britain. “There were also appeals for the campaign to be stepped up, with one user recalling the fuel protests in 2000 that Tony Blair, then prime minister, at one stage feared could bring down the Government.”
And Janet Daley comments in the Telegraph: “What the strikers at the Lindsey oil refinery (and their brother supporters in Nottinghamshire and Kent) have discovered is the real meaning of the fine print in those treaties. . . . In the grand abstract terms of the enlightenment, the legitimacy of government derives from the consent of the governed, and therefore no government should have the right to hand over its authority to some external body which is not democratically accountable to its own people. So when the framers of the EU arranged for the nations of Europe to do exactly that, they were repudiating the two centuries old political struggle for the rights and liberties of ordinary citizens.” Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Here’s some background on those fuel protests.
ED CONE REMEMBERS the Greensboro sit-ins. “The Greensboro Four chose a strategy of nonviolence, which made it easy for others to rally to their cause. They showed great physical courage and perseverance, which allowed the spark they had struck to catch and spread. And they sought inclusion in an America that had made them second-class citizens, which helped America become what it had pretended to be.”
In light of Geithner, Daschle, Rangel, and the other shenanigans in Washington, I’d like to see angry taxpayers staging sit-ins at federal buildings around the country. It would be another effort to see America live up to its ideals, and see that the same rules apply to everyone, without discrimination . . . .
MICHAEL SILENCE on old media and new media.
UPDATE: Reader C.J. Burch emails: “If there’s nothing in here about ‘stop lying’ then nothing much is going to get accomplished. Just saying…”
GEE, DO YOU THINK? Big shots on Wall Street, in Congress still don’t get it.
New York’s Charles Rangel and five other Democratic members of the House enjoyed a trip to the Caribbean sponsored in part by Citigroup (see above) in November – after Congress had approved the $700 bailout for financial firms (including Citigroup).
The members no doubt will object to the terms “junket,” but that shoe fits. The National Legal and Policy Center, a watchdog group, has asked Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to investigate the Nov. 6-9 excursion to the island of St. Maarten.
It was called the Caribbean Multi-Cultural Business Conference, but “the primary purpose … for most participants appeared to be to take a vacation,” said the NLPC. And not only was the timing lousy, but “corporate sponsorship of such an event was banned by House rules adopted on March 1, 2007, in response to the (lobbyist Jack) Abramoff scandal,” the group pointed out.
Joining Rangel on that trip were Donald Payne of New Jersey, Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Donna Christenson, delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands.
There are calls for them to reimburse the taxpayers — but of course, paying the money back once you’re caught isn’t the same as not having done something wrong, however much folks in Washington like to pretend that it is.
I THINK THE ANSWER IS, “because they don’t care what happens to Israel.” How Can the World Be Blind to Israel’s Existential Threats?
KENTUCKY: No power, no FEMA. “Where is the outrage?”
Plus, Kentucky freezes; Obama dines on $100 a pound steak. Reader C.J. Burch emails: “What Katrina taught the media was that they could hurt Bush by lying. What 2008 taught them was that they could help Obama by not reporting at all. What will 2009 teach them? I shudder to think.” A lesson, one hopes.
HMM: Senators to grill Daschle on taxes, clients. “Although not a registered lobbyist, the South Dakota Democrat over the last two years earned more than $2.1 million as a ‘special policy adviser’ at Alston & Bird, a law firm with more than 50 lobbying clients in the health care industry. According to financial disclosure forms filed with the Office of Government Ethics, Daschle also earned $153,200 in 2008 for giving speeches to health care companies and industry groups such as GE Healthcare, a leading manufacturer of medical devices.” Then there’s that whole income-tax thing. . . .
Meanwhile, reader Dale Britton emails: “I think it is incumbent upon Obama to nominate Wesley Snipes for something immediately.”
And reader Thomas Prewitt writes: “I suspect that Daschle will be the new HHS secretary despite his tax fraud. The Senate will accept any excuse Daschle offers for one simple reason: they all are doing the same thing. I vote that we audit everyone in Congress and the Administration and see how many other tax cheats we have.” Works for me.
UPDATE: Dan Riehl notes that Daschle was providing advice on “issues related to taxes” to Alston & Bird clients. Heh. I can see the meeting now: “Just say ‘I forgot.’” . . . .
A 10% CUT AT THE PENTAGON? Well, most of those folks didn’t vote for him, after all.
CHARLES DARWIN, abolitionist.
GAZA UPDATE: ‘Palestinians’ get SMS’s to evacuate their homes.
MICKEY KAUS: “Buried Lede? WaPo reports that ex-Sen.Tom Daschle, while serving his patron Leo Hindery since 2005, was ‘rewarded handsomely’ for the investments ‘in small niche media corporations.’ Wait a minute … Daschle made money in media in the past three years?”
I think the key phrase is “rewarded handsomely.”
HARTFORD COURANT: Sen. Dodd, Stop Waffling:
U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd says he’s got nothing to hide. Yet for months he’s issued confusing and conflicting statements on whether he’ll publicly release documents relating to two loans he and his wife received from failed mortgage giant Countrywide Financial Corp.
He still hasn’t released them. On Jan. 23, Mr. Dodd was asked if he intends to await the conclusion of a Senate ethics inquiry before making the documents public. “Not necessarily,” he told a reporter for The Courant. “At some point soon we’ll do it.”
Mr. Dodd should have released the documents months ago. Countrywide was a major player in the subprime mortgage debacle. Five years ago, it issued the loans to Mr. Dodd, then a member of the Senate banking committee, as part of the company’s VIP program, trimming the upfront costs for refinancing two of the senator’s homes and allowing the rates to “float down” as interest rates dropped.
Countrywide collapsed last year and was acquired by Bank of America. Its failure sent shock waves through the economy and raised the question of why Congress didn’t act sooner to curb subprime lending by Countrywide and others.
That question becomes even more pointed when directed at Mr. Dodd — now chairman of the Senate’s banking committee — in light of his preferential treatment from Countrywide.
Indeed. And in light of his stonewalling.
HMM: Daschle Delayed Tax Revelation. “Former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle waited nearly a month after being nominated to be secretary of health and human services before informing President Obama that he had not paid years of back taxes, the Washington Post reports.”
IT’S A SMALL WORLD, AFTER ALL.
IN THE MAIL: John Birmingham’s Without Warning, which comes out Tuesday. It’s not a sequel to his Axis of Time books, but a different story. I read the manuscript last year, and here’s my blurb: “What would happen if America vanished? Some would like to find out, but John Birmingham’s Without Warning suggests that the Pax Americana would soon be sorely missed. It’s a gripping story, for Americans and non-Americans alike.” I liked it a lot. One of my colleagues borrowed the manuscript and agreed that it’s a tremendous page-turner.
ON THE SOUND PRINCIPLE THAT LAW PROFESSORS SHOULD BE RUNNING AS MUCH OF THE WORLD AS POSSIBLE: “Harvard Law Professor Jody Freeman will join the Obama Administration as counselor to energy empress Carol Browner in the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change.”
INDEED: “Obviously, Daschle was trying to hide a lot! . . . I guess Gibbs means that nobody is trying to hide anything now… now that what they were trying to hide has been brought to light and there’s no way to hide it.”
And, from the comments: “Watching Gibbs at work makes me yearn for the smooth self-assurance and commanding presence of Scott McClellan.” Ouch.
UPDATE: Tom Maguire notes an uncanny coincidence:
He became concerned in June? Call it Uncanny Coincidence, but it was early June when Hillary conceded and it became crystal-clear that Obama would be the Democratic nominee. And since Daschle had been an early and important Obama supporter, it also became clear that Daschle himself might need to start thinking about his possible role in a Obama administration.
As to the idea that it took his accountant six months to resolve these questions, please – is this the sort of glacial progress we can expect as Daschle oversees the transformation of the US health care system? For any Democrats out there not familiar with the process by which the rest of us pay our taxes, most returns are filed by April 15; summertime is the slow season and one would hope that as important a person as Tom Daschle could have gotten an answer promptly, if he had so desired. In fact, Daschle only got his answer after he had been tapped for a post requiring Senate confirmation; if Daschle had gotten the nod for a consigliere spot in the White House, I have no doubt his accountant would still be researching this.
Let’s recap for folks who are having trouble keeping up – Geithner, our new Treasury Secretary and overseer of the IRS, learned by way of a 2006 IRS audit that he had a tax problem for 2001 through 2004, but relied on the three year statute of limitations to avoid payment on the 2001 and 2002 liabilities; he resolved these only after his nomination in late 2008.
Daschle “became concerned” last June but dragged his feet on resolving the issue until after he had been nominated to a post requiring Senate confirmation.
Read the whole thing.
GORDON SMITH on the House “stimulus” vote:
This was a big whiff for Obama. And if the Reagan and Clinton Administrations are the guide, this may be a tone-setter for the next eight years.
Well, we’ve always got Geithner, Rangel, Dodd, and Daschle to set a tone of public-spiritedness and shared sacrifice. And don’t forget Kent Conrad!
A BIZARRE STORY on those California octuplets.
THE MAKING OF a football.
IN THE WORKS: Super Bowl coverage in 3D?
ZIMBABWE WINS: “Now, I’m very much a ‘let’s not dwell only on the bad news from Africa’ kind of guy. But’s let’s face it, this is a total disgrace. The Mugabe regime now qualify as the most incompetent economic managers in modern history. Congrats, guys — it’s a hard won title, but well deserved.”
UPDATE: The competition isn’t over! Attali Warns of ‘Worldwide Weimar’ as Governments Print Money.
KENYA’S ANSWER to Billy Carter?
DON’T BE EVIL. Or run over Bambi.
FEELING THE HOPE AND CHANGE: Iran says Obama’s offer to talk shows US failure. Wait, I thought only an evil neocon would have suggested this reaction . . . .
TOM MAGUIRE ON TOM DASCHLE’S TAX PROBLEMS: “Daschle supported Obama, eventually opposed the war after falling victim to Bush’s lies in 2002, and has been reliably pro-choice and in favor of legislating higher taxes on high earners (despite a more flexible attitude about actually paying them), so I assume he will get a pass on this. Obviously, if he were a greedy Republican this would be disqualifying.”
And evidence of the hypocrisy and dishonesty of his entire party!
LIST: The 100 Greatest Romantic Albums of All Time. Okay, Marvin Gaye is obligatory, and I was glad to see Thievery Corporation — but The Carpenters?
AMY ALKON: What’s wrong with looking beautiful? Nothing, it just attracts a certain amount of leveling behavior from those who aren’t . . . .
STATE DEPARTMENT PRESS CONFERENCE: A bad review.
DAN RIEHL ON THE G.O.P.: Some Old Dogs Have No Tricks.
FOR C.A.I.R., “major damage control.”
OUTRAGE: Obama and FEMA leave Americans to die in Kentucky. Media firestorm in . . . well, never.
Plus, “Obama dozed, people froze.” And Juliette Ochieng emails: “President Obama doesn’t care about white people…and neither do the MSM.” Well, that wouldn’t fit the narrative.
EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY: Not as reliable as some suppose?
THE LATEST CONSUMER REPORTS has a big section on recommended TVs that makes me think two things: (1) I wish everything got better and cheaper as fast as electronics do; and (2) brand-dominance seems to be the thing of the past.
This time around, Samsung leads in most categories. Sorry, Sony and JVC! Plus, things are so much cheaper. The top-rated 58″ plasma TV is cheaper than my 46″ LCD JVC was a couple of years ago. And the 50″ version — also top-rated in its category — is absurdly cheaper.
Likewise in LCD TVs, the top-rated 52″ (as big as they get), also by Samsung, is much cheaper, and probably better, than my JVC 46″. Are these ratings reliable? I think so. The JVC that I own was their top choice when I bought it, and it did look better than the other sets I compared it to. And we have this relatively cheap Panasonic (42″ and under $700) in our bedroom, and it’s their top set in its category and I think the picture is great. If only, say, medical care were improving as fast. Or politicians . . . .
UPDATE: Yes, I know LCD TVs get bigger than 52″. (Here’s a 108″ model!) That’s just as big as the ratings went.
It was not for lack of effort on the part of the new president. Obama went to the Capitol to visit Republican as well as Democratic lawmakers, and he encouraged the Democratic draftsmen to scrap a couple of egregiously irrelevant spending programs they had penciled into the bill. But the complaint I heard from Republicans was that Pelosi and her lieutenants, committee chairmen Charlie Rangel and David Obey, had used the tight timetable and their control of legislative procedures to block virtually all efforts to open the bill to compromise.
Obey and Rangel say that’s not the case, but I’m skeptical even if David Broder is not.
HOPE AND CHANGE: Obama praises Iraqis on provincial elections.
“TANGIBLE PROOF” that “the news is propaganda?”
OBAMA’S PLAN HAS ALREADY BOOSTED TAX COLLECTIONS!
In office less than two weeks, President Barack Obama has already increased tax receipts at the U.S. Treasury with an innovative plan to get tax-dodgers to pay up, in full, immediately.
“The president’s plan is simple but ingenious,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, “He targets wealthy individuals who filed inaccurate tax forms, cheating the government out of tens of thousands of dollars. Then he just nominates them for cabinet positions. They suddenly see the error of their ways, and they cut checks for the full amount owed, plus interest.”
Now that really is a new kind of politics!
UPDATE: Jim Treacher emails: “Has David Corn sneered about Joe the Plumber’s taxes lately?”
MORE MEDIA RETRENCHMENT: L.A. Times to cut 300 more jobs.
ALREADY? Love affair between Canada and President Obama appears to be coming to an end. “The honeymoon appears to be over between Canada and newly elected U.S. President Barack Obama, as Obama’s first foreign visit to Ottawa in February will likely focus on a protectionist bill now before Congress. The $820 billion American economic stimulus package will have some strings attached. The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that includes a provision barring foreign iron and steel for infrastructure projects.”
OUCH: “Tom Daschle never met a tax hike he didn’t like for us. But why the hell can’t he pay his own taxes?”
WHERE’S FEMA? Nearly 1M without power 5 days after ice storm. “Local officials grew angrier at what they said was a lack of help from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”
Obama’s turning up the thermostat, and Taylor Marsh is already snarking: “Well, this certainly seems fitting in the afterglow of Republican stiffing the new, popular President, all the while people are freezing because of a failed power grid. Nope, can’t spend money on that.”
UPDATE: Bill Quick:
“Where’s FEMA?” is not the appropriate question. The appropriate question is, “Where is the mainstream media, screaming in one united voice, that the absence of FEMA demonstrates the utter fecklessness and failure of the current President and all his policies?”
Plus his barely concealed racism, of course.
Yeah, not seeing much of that.
MURTHA UPDATE: Federal raid on plant has residents worried. “Much of the speculation centers on the company’s multi-million dollar federal defense contracts, among the hundreds of millions steered into this region by its powerful congressman, John P. Murtha, a Democrat from neighboring Johnstown. Kuchera began as a modest, computer-based business in 1985 and has since grown into a major contractor that does work on weapon guidance systems and recently developed a bomb-searching robot for the defense department.”
AZIZ POONAWALLA: Dump Daschle – Howard Dean for Health and Human Services.
ILYA SOMIN: Why the size of government matters:
In his inaugural address, President Obama said that “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.” This is a commonly heard argument in response to concerns about the growth of government. Who could possibly be against government when it “works”? Why not instead consider each proposed expansion of the state on a case by case basis, supporting those that “work” and opposing any that don’t?
Taken seriously, this argument leads to the rejection of any systematic constraints on government power. Why should we have a general presumption against government regulation of speech or religion? Why not instead support censorship when it “works” by improving the marketplace of ideas, and oppose it when it doesn’t? Think of all the misleading speech and religious charlatans that government regulation could potentially save us from! The answer, of course, is that government regulation of speech and religion has systematic dangers that are not unique to any one particular regulation. Given those systematic flaws, it makes sense to have a general presumption against it.
The same holds true for government intervention more generally, including in the economy. It too has systematic flaws that justify a presumption against it. Three of those flaws are particularly relevant to current policy debates.
Read the whole thing.
IN THE MAIL: By Larry Niven et al., — mostly the et al. — Man-Kzin Wars XII. The Kzinti are very interesting aliens, and Larry Niven has done better than most in creating a shared universe where other writers can do interesting work.
TIGERHAWK: Tom Daschle’s tax fraud. “There is no ambiguity in the law, or no theory that he did not know that he owed the money. It is obviously an in-kind payment for services. Of course he knew he owed the taxes. Finally, there is no tedious extra bureaucratic obstacle to paying this tax. You just drop a number right on to the 1040. You know, that document that you signed under penalty of perjury.”
Really, I’m starting to wonder if anybody in this crew is paying all their taxes.
BITES FROM THE APPLE: A roundup of news from the Apple Empire. Including a look at the new iLife ’09.
WHILE POLITICIANS COMPLAIN ABOUT WALL STREET BONUSES, WHAT ABOUT THIS? Hidden Bonuses Enrich U.S. Government Contractors.
U.S. Senator Kit Bond shifted in his chair at a 2005 congressional hearing, poised with a question on national security. He turned to Treasury Secretary John Snow, who was seated at a witness table.
Was Snow sure, asked Bond, a Missouri Republican, that a Treasury Department computer on order for $8.9 million would help detect terrorist money laundering?
“Yes, absolutely,” Snow said.
A year later, in July 2006, the U.S. Treasury Department abandoned the project. The computer didn’t work. The department had spent $14.7 million — a 65 percent increase above the original budget — for nothing.
There was a final ignominy: Under the terms of the contract, Electronic Data Systems Corp., the vendor, collected a bonus of $638,126.
As the federal government’s $700 billion bailout of banks sputters, there’s an object lesson for the new administration of President Barack Obama: Federal departments, including Treasury itself, routinely squander tens of billions of dollars a year in taxpayer money as they farm out public business to private corporations.
Obama, like presidents before him, said during his bid for the White House that he wanted to curtail waste in government. With contracting, he faces a mismanaged system that accounts for almost 40 cents of every federal dollar spent outside of mandatory obligations such as Social Security and Medicare.
Pot, meet kettle. But wait, there’s more:
In many cases, bureaucrats are motivated to give millions of dollars in bonuses to contractors no matter how poorly a company performs because generosity with taxpayer money may help them land better-paying jobs after they leave the government.
Contractors on dozens of jobs at federal departments collected more than $8 billion in what federal auditors said were unwarranted bonuses from 1999 to 2005.
I wonder what 2009 will look like.
SO, WAIT, ALL THAT TALK ABOUT THE “VANISHING RAIN FORESTS” WAS CRAP?
These new “secondary” forests are emerging in Latin America, Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest — an iconic environmental cause — may be less urgent than once thought. By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster.
“There is far more forest here than there was 30 years ago,” said Ms. Ortega de Wing, 64, who remembers fields of mango trees and banana plants. . . . About 38 million acres of original rain forest are being cut down every year, but in 2005, according to the most recent “State of the World’s Forests Report” by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, there were an estimated 2.1 billion acres of potential replacement forest growing in the tropics — an area almost as large as the United States.
The regrowth will take years to turn into mature rain-forest, of course — but it will do so if left alone. (And the new growth is actually better at sequestering carbon.) And, ironically, it’s all because, instead of people staying quaint, primitive, and agrarian, they’ve gotten richer. “In Latin America and Asia, birthrates have dropped drastically; most people have two or three children. New jobs tied to global industry, as well as improved transportation, are luring a rural population to fast-growing cities. Better farming techniques and access to seed and fertilizer mean that marginal lands are no longer farmed because it takes fewer farmers to feed a growing population.”
The word for that is “progress.” And, overall, it’s actually good for the environment.
Why then it wouldn’t be newsworthy, of course.
BUT, ALAS, NOT NOW: “In my day we were brought up to have a go.”
The corruption of a culture, illustrated.
RAND SIMBERG: Lies, Damned Lies, and “Tax Cuts.”
SAY UNCLE on a group that is:
and I am not making this up, protesting that ROTC offers arms training. Two things leap out at me here. One is that they really think military training is equal to criminal activity. And two that they don’t seem to think learning about arms is educational. Familiarity with arms is a skill that can save lives, in more ways than one.
STILL MORE ON TOM DASCHLE’S TAX PROBLEMS IN CONTEXT: “As a life-long politician, Tom Daschle never earned much money. But he retired from the Senate, after being defeated for re-election by John Thune, as a multimillionaire. He retired to Georgetown, of course, not to South Dakota. This happens a lot in Washington, and Daschle’s case is pretty typical. His wife Linda is or was a lobbyist, and she was the one who reported the family’s income. . . . Another thing that happens a lot in Washington is that when Democrats get appointed to visible, high-ranking positions in the Executive Branch, they suddenly discover that they owe a lot more money in taxes.”
Hope, change, and a new kind of politics!
UPDATE: Reader Dave Bosserman emails:
I hope we get more stories like this; keep ‘em coming! I think we all know that not paying over $100K in taxes isn’t a ‘mistake,’ it’s just something they figured they could get away with. The stories have the added benefit of helping the saps figure out that there’s a deal here, and they aren’t in on it.
Yes there is, and no,
they we aren’t.
YEAH, the PJM ad-network model isn’t working. I don’t have much to do with the PJM business side, but online ads just aren’t producing revenue like they were a few years ago, and the blog-network thing was apparently a tough sell. Hence the emphasis on PJTV. How will that work out? Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Thoughts from longtime PJM critic Ann Althouse.
STILL MORE: Roger Simon: “We disbanded the ad network part of our business for a simple reason: it was losing money and we couldn’t see how in the reasonable future that would change.”
MORE STILL: Some business points from Tim Oren, including this one: “Anyone who’s paid attention knows that the effective CPM for both click-through and exposure ads on blogs s***s. I mean really s***s – like up to an order of magnitude less than run-of-site ads on big, topically diffuse web properties.”
FINALLY: Bob Owens reminds people that it’s just the ad network that’s ending in April, not PJ Media.
A DASCHLE TAX PROBLEM ROUNDUP, at TaxProf.
UPDATE: Reader Michael Stein writes: “You think instead of the stimulus bill, Congress might instead pass an initiative requiring Democrats to just pay the taxes they owe?” The way things are going, that would fix the deficit . . . .
MEGAN MCARDLE: The labor movement takes its pound of flesh.
ROGER KIMBALL ON self-indulgent wallowing in economic gloom.
SENATE DEMOCRATS WAVERING ON THE STIMULUS: “Sen. Conrad: ‘I’d have a very hard time voting’ for recovery package as it stands.” Likewise for Ben Nelson. If you’re from their home states and don’t like the stimulus, it might be worth telling them.
A LOOK AT statin side effects.
ANOTHER GEITHNER PROBLEM, this time for Tom Daschle:
It seems Tom Daschle recently paid a little over $100,000 in back taxes and interest after failing to tell the IRS that he was receiving a free car and driver from a Wall Street friend for three years. If you’re keeping track, that’s a little over twice the amount Tim Geithner paid in back taxes and interest.
Don’t any of these people pay their taxes?
UPDATE: Athena Runner emails: “Nope, but they sure as heck want to tax the hell out of the rest of us who would not be able to get off so lightly.”
CAR LUST: Remembering the 1969-1973 Dodge Polara. I knew a guy who had one of those in high school — everybody called it his “narc car.” Some commercials at the link.
A BIOFUEL-POWERED Bentley GT.
HMM: Oil rises after better-than-expected U.S. GDP data. Funny, most of the U.S. media reported the GDP as bad news, and you had to scroll way down to see that the data were better-than-expected. I guess the markets pay closer attention to the actual numbers . . . .
UPDATE: James Holloway emails: “GDP of -3.8 was below the -5.5 consensus only because of a buildup in business inventories — ie, stuff that’s gonna sit unsold on shelves and in warehouses. Back out the buildup — a one-time event that won’t be repeated — and GDP was down 5.1.” Okay, so how come oil went up on the news?
CIRCLING THE EAST BY BOAT: “Our Great Loop trip took us from Fort Loudoun Lake to Mobile, Key West, up the east coast to New York City, then across Canada including Montreal, Ottawa, Georgian Bay, the North Channel of Lake Huron, then south across Lake Michigan to Chicago, and down a system of six rivers back to Knoxville. It was a yearlong journey of 6,800 miles.”
PJTV: Leon De Winter on Geert Wilders. Free with registration.
ASKING THE UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTIONS: Reader Cathy Neall writes: “Doesn’t the fall-off in economic growth of the last quarter correspond directly to the gloomy and alarming comments the inexperienced president (president-elect) has been making about the the economy? ‘It’s going to get worse…unemployment could get to 10%!’ We’re all terrified to spend anything – which perpetuates the problem.” Yeah, it’s like they don’t mind the downturn.
COOL: Suntan drug greenlighted for testing. “A drug that stimulates the body’s tanning response — turning pasty skin caramel for up to two months — has been approved for human trials, but not for tanning.”
WHY OBAMA IS TARGETING LIMBAUGH: “Here’s my take: The ongoing bailout of banks and business executives is not only wrong, it is deeply, deeply unpopular. By taking potshots at executives—their salaries, their corporate jets, their redecorated offices—Obama hopes to deflect the unpopularity of his actual policies onto his opponents. . . . Republicans should be the ones making Obama pay for bailing out wealthy business failures with OUR money.”
THE WORLD’S SMALLEST wearable TV set. Its real application will be with wearable computers, though.
HARVESTING ENERGY from human bodies. Hey, wait, isn’t this how The Matrix got started? . . .
HEALTHCARE NATIONALIZATION PROVISIONS in the “stimulus” bill?
We’ve watched the press pretend to beat their breasts for “not asking the tough questions of Bush” in the time leading up to the invasion of Iraq. . . . Now, we’re watching the press show zero curiosity about this “stimulus” package. They don’t appear to even know what is in it, or want to know.
MILITARY PLEDGING LOYALTY TO OBAMA INSTEAD OF CONSTITUTION? I’ve been getting email on this for a few days and regarded it as bogus, but Blackfive debunks it.
CHRIS DODD UPDATE: Wall Street bonuses and sweetheart mortgages: Compare and discuss.
Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd has been in typically indignant form this week, opining on the financial crisis. Before his Tuesday hearing on Bernard Madoff, he demanded that regulators get to the bottom of any crime: “American investors deserve an explanation and the responsible parties must be held accountable!” And yesterday the Connecticut Senator denounced Wall Street bonuses and said, “I am urging — in fact, not urging, demanding — that the Treasury Department figures out some way to get the money back.”
Pardon us, Senator, but how about taking your own advice?
We refer to his promise to release mortgage documents for the two properties that he and his wife refinanced with Countrywide Financial in 2003. In June a former Countrywide loan officer charged that Mr. Dodd received preferential rates and had fees waived on those loans as part of a VIP program the company had for “friends” of the company’s then-CEO Angelo Mozilo. Mr. Dodd first issued a denial and then, days later, acknowledged that he was a “VIP” with Countrywide but said he thought it was “more of a courtesy.” In late June he pledged to make all pertinent documents public “at some point.” We’re still waiting.
It has now been 189 days since Dodd promised to release his mortgage documents.
PAGING STEPHEN GREEN: Teetotalers are not quite as successful as moderate drinkers. Why? Oh, wait, they said “moderate.” Never mind, Stephen.
While excessive drinking is of course dangerous and unwise, moderate drinking is, for most people, a lot better than abstinence. There are tangible benefits for health, career and happiness associated with sensible partaking. The benefits are not just personal: Strange as it sounds, moderate drinkers are inclined to be more philanthropic than nondrinkers.
Read the whole thing.
EARLIER TODAY I MENTIONED Netflix streaming via the Roku device, but now reader Denise Stevenson emails: “Amazon just released a beta version of their streaming service on the Roku on Tuesday. Works great, with better selection and quality than the Netflix stuff.” That’s cool. Maybe they can put PJTV on the Roku, too . . . .
UPDATE: Jim Treacher emails: “I got a Roku for Christmas and it’s fantastic. You don’t get the full selection of movies they’ve got on DVD, but there’s a hell of a lot. Waiting for discs to go back and forth in the mail seems silly now. I say go ahead and let the Postal Service go to 5 days a week.”
IGNORING LARRY SUMMERS’ ADVICE: “Summers was proposing bold action, but his concept came with safeguards: focus on the task at hand, prevent the usual Washington splurge and limit long-term fiscal damage. Now Barack Obama is president, and Summers has become a top economic adviser. Yet the stimulus approach that has emerged on Capitol Hill abandoned the Summers parameters.”
That’s because the “usual Washington splurge” is the whole point.
UPDATE: A cynical take: “What’s strange to me is the democrats can’t look 2 years ahead and see this pork bill not only bankrupted this country but did absolutely nothing to employ people. No one can possibly be that stupid. So I wonder if they are pigging out one last time before the whole shooting match goes down?”
CHANGE FOR THE WORSE: “Buried deep inside the massive spending orgy that Democrats jammed through the House this week lie five words that could drastically undo two decades of welfare reforms.”
TEENAGERS ARE HAVING LESS SEX: “How did this turn into another occasion for hand-wringing? Is that a liberal disease? If there isn’t one problem, quick, see another problem, because programs will be needed to solve them?”
Meanwhile, people wonder why teenagers are having less sex, but that’s silly — it’s obviously because of the explosion in porn and videogames over the last 20 years. Which occurred at no cost to the taxpayers!
UPDATE: Okay, in this legislative environment, it’s probably risky to link to anything containing this advice: “The solution is thus obvious — we need a massive government program to ensure that no American teenager goes without porn and videogames Let no child be left behind!” Oh, well, it’s probably already in the bill anyway . . .
IOWAHAWK: It Takes a Proverb to Run a Village.