December 12, 2010
AT AMAZON, Christmas markdowns on watches.
AT AMAZON, Christmas markdowns on watches.
DON SURBER: The Presidential Succession Begins. “The truth is Clinton took over the presidency on Friday when Obama just walked away. Leadership is about symbols. Mommy — Michelle Obama — called and Obama had to go home. He let Clinton take over and clean up the mess. . . . Being president sucks right now. It will get worse. His programs are a failure. His party does not like him. So he sent Biden to talk to the party and Clinton to talk to the press. At this point, it is merely symbolic of a resignation. A bad weekend. But it certainly is not something I have seen before in presidential politics.”
They’re taking bets on Obama’s departure. But he’s got an ace in the hole — he only has to run against the Republicans. . . .
THOUGHTS ON CONSENSUAL ADULT INCEST, from Eugene Volokh. Who doesn’t teach at Columbia.
AT AMAZON, Christmas markdowns on books.
THE MANOLO: Worst Cruise Entertainer Ever.
DON’T STOP THINKING ABOUT . . . YESTERDAY? Pejman Yousefzadeh on that Obama/Clinton press conference. Well, back in the 1990s, all our troubles did seem so far away. . . .
THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN, we’d have an underqualified Vice President wielding outsized influence. And they were right!
HOW TO MAKE a secret book safe.
A CRISIS IN THE MIDDLE CLASS.
The unemployment rates are part of a growing divergence between the fortunes of the college educated and the rest of the country, including proverbial Middle America. In his new study, “When Marriage Disappears,” University of Virginia scholar Brad Wilcox details how the college-educated have embraced traditional mores and habits — especially the formation of stable families — while they erode among everyone else.
Kay Hymowitz has made the same point.
TAKE THAT, POTATO BLIGHT: Scientists Find Weakness of Infamous Blight-Causing Microbe. “A year ago, scientists sequenced the genome of the nasty microbe that caused the Irish potato famine in the mid-1800s. Now they have uncovered how this destructive bacterium spreads and adapts to new species so quickly—and how to stop it.”
UPDATE: Kenneth Anderson writes:
And note that the rule of New Class experts, seeking what Telos used to call “the wholly-administered society,” is not a function of greater coherence. It is actually what happens when institutions of ordered liberty falter, and create gaps that the mandarin-experts, replacing democratic legitimacy with technocratic claims of expertise, rush to fill in governance. In that sense, coherence within institutions, in the libertarian and democratic sense, is that which protects against the alternative claims of technocratic, expert — but let’s be real, today merely credentialled — legitimacy that arise when the former lags. I believe that what I have said here is quite consistent with, and indeed required by, Hayek’s political economy.
“Coherence” is a big problem for the United States at this moment, let alone Europe. China has coherence, at this moment, but only of a kind that Thomas Friedman could admire. The task, rather, is how to achieve coherence, “ordered liberty” to use the constitutionalist phrase, in a democracy. Because it is quite certain that less coherence does not automatically equal more democracy, and that more coherence automatically equals less democracy.
REPORT: GAWKER HACKED: “Gawker.com has apparently been the victim of a pair of security compromises this weekend, one of which put reader’s data at risk.” If you’ve got a Gawker password that you use on other sites, too, you should change posthaste.
THIS WEEK IN THE FUTURE.
CAPITAL COURTSHIP: Above The Law now matching up lawyers in DC.
REPORT: My HTC Evo Got Me Busted in Court. “From the bench, in the afternoon on Day No. 1 of the trial, the judge asked me to rise and state my name. After seeing my hotspot (with the perhaps-suspicious ID of ‘gethacked’) show up on his computer at the bench, the judge demanded to know whether I was transmitting a signal.”
CHANGE: “Mancession” Threatens American Dream. “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when the labor market deteriorated in 2009, men felt the brunt of it. Some 3.1 million jobs held by men were lost last year compared to only 1.6 million jobs for women.”
A WHEY TO LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE.
I BLAME THE ADMINISTRATION’S VIOLENT, ELIMINATIONIST RHETORIC: Arsonist Strikes on Cape Cod, Leaves Calling Card: ‘F–k the Rich’. When will they be called to account for their inflammatory hate speech, which is producing acts of violence across the country?
NISSAN LEAF UPDATE: First Nissan Leaf delivery happening on Facebook today, but are there major delays nationwide? Reportedly, there are “many angry people.” I’m at least highly peeved — I signed up, but have gotten nothing but spam and unanswered email from Nissan.
MAIL ISSUES: For some reason, mail isn’t coming to me via the pundit -at- pjmedia.com/instapundit address right now. You can still email me at mail4instapundit -at- gmail.com. (Bumped: Still working on this. Sorry).
ENTREPRENEURS BRINGING TRANSPARENCY AND ORDER TO THE STUDENT LOAN BUSINESS: “Let’s hope the new House leadership understands this concept.”
IN THE MAIL: From Dr. Adrian F. Manz, Around the Horn: A Trader’s Guide to Consistently Scoring in the Markets and Trade Secrets: Powerful Strategies For Volatile Markets.
ROGER SIMON: Should We Gloat Over Obama’s Childish Behavior?
It’s easy enough for conservatives, libertarians, et al, to gloat about Barack Obama’s recent petulant, child-like performances — at first unable to be even slightly gracious in compromise with Republicans on the tax bill and then, only a few days later, fleeing in panic when Clinton acted the real president, fielding questions with a relaxed authority so surpassing Obama’s it was almost comical.
But there is a bigger reason not to gloat. We are stuck with this odd duck for another two years at minimum and now everyone, the entire world really, knows what he is like. They also know, if they have been paying the slightest attention, the etiology of his behavior: the man never had to face serious adversity until he was elected POTUS. And now he can’t deal with it. . . . We need a leader and don’t have one. This is extremely bad news for our country, especially now.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: John Avlon unconvincingly argues that Obama’s press conference was his most presidential moment ever. Of course, it would be worse for Obama if he were able to argue that convincingly . . . .
HISTORY: Muslims Save Jews in Untold WWll Story. “A wealthy man who worked in a tobacco factory took in the Colonomos family. Unlike many Jews in other parts of Europe who survived the war in cellars and attics, Jews in Albania were given Muslim names and treated as honored guests. Colonomos explains that under Besa, Albanians put their guests before their own family.”
UPDATE: Michael Totten emails:
Albanians are still defenders of Jews and also of Israel even today. I was in Tirana, the capital, a few years ago and heard a speech from prime minister Sali Berisha about the Holocaust and the Arab-Israeli conflict. “Israel will accept an independent Palestinian state,” he said. “But Israel cannot accept the fundamentalists amongst Palestinians because their ideology is identical to that of the Nazis.”
Most Albanians are (nominal) Muslims, but they aren’t Jew-haters.
MICHAEL BARONE: Obama riles Dems by spurning New Deal complacency. “Perhaps the president is learning that you can’t plunder the private sector endlessly, Chicago-style, without ill effects.”
AT AMAZON, recommended gifts for gadget lovers.
THE SHAME OF BEING JONATHAN TURLEY: Wait, Birmingham, Alabama is now run by black people? Why wasn’t I told? Well, maybe not shame. But at least deep embarrassment.
THE GROWTH OF Chinese inflation?
TOM MAGUIRE: Running On Empty. Heh.
MICKEY KAUS: Obama An Unconvincing Triangulator:
If you suggest, as the president did, that the seemingly moderate plan you agreed to is awful and you’ll try to rescind it in two years, you won’t leave the center thinking, “He’s our guy!” You’ll leave them thinking, “Note to self: Remove Obama in two years.”
UPDATE: Mickey emails: “The sentences you generously excerpt from my triangulation item are, alas, from Peggy Noonan’s column. The problem is that the Newsweek layout software eliminates the indent that is there to indicate it’s a quote. This only seems to happen when it is next to an ad, making the column narrow.” Oops. Oh, well, they’re still good sentences.
MICHAEL TOTTEN: Iran’s Other War.
25% OFF WOMEN’S INTIMATE APPAREL. You know what’s better than women in “intimate apparel?” Women out of “intimate apparel.”
UPDATE: Reader Charles Hill writes:
This reminded me of something I found in one of James Lileks’ books:
“Let us be frank about the purpose of lingerie…. It is not normal clothing. It exists for one purpose: to be, eventually, visible for a very short time. If it is visible for a very long time – and I am trying to be delicate about this – then it is not doing its job.”
Also, why are they only charging the man in what’s said to have been a consensual relationship between adults? Isn’t that an equal protection violation? Where’s the civil rights community on this?
RAND SIMBERG IS DISAPPOINTED: “Kristi Noem hasn’t even taken office yet, and she’s already defending home-grown pork as ‘stimulus.’”
THE EDUCATION BUBBLE AS A DEBT TRAP: “I’ve long thought that history would view the modern debt trap as a more sophisticated indentured servitude, and higher education is a central gear in that machine, with paper and plastic credit as the oil that makes the crank easier to work than it ought to be.”
AT AMAZON, Top Christmas Deals.
ED DRISCOLL: Rage Inside The Machine.
FEDERAL RESERVE: To the Cayman Islands, with love.
UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS being held hostage. “With rising gas and food prices and the holidays quickly approaching, the Democrats zeal for taxing the rich has eclipsed the need to stimulate the economy and create jobs with unemployment compensation. As Pelosi states, it is ‘cruel’ not to extend the benefits and typically the Republicans are blamed for this cruelty. But, now it is the Democrats holding up the unemployment benefit extension. And no one seems to even notice.”
WHAT EVERY MAN NEEDS: Star Trek-style bedroom doors. I’m sure the chicks dig ‘em.
16 UNEXPECTED health and beauty benefits of sex.
TIM NOAH: Ban The Benjamins! Hundred-dollar bills are for criminals and sociopaths. Why do we still print them? Actually, a lot of people use them. And when inflation takes off soon, we’ll be using them for Big Macs. We already quit making $500 bills for Noah’s reasons. But they make 500-Euro notes. And why is it the government’s business how we spend money?
UPDATE: Reader Daniel Maher writes: “I am a cashier at a supermarket. I see the $100 bill all the time. They are quite useful, actually, for families buying groceries. Two bags full of groceries and you’re almost at $100.00. We use the $20, $10, and $5 bills for change. It may be that some writers at Slate are so embedded in environmental chic that they see people who have children as criminals and sociopaths.” Or maybe they’re just big credit/debit card users. Not many Dave Ramsey cash-envelope budgeters at Slate, I’d guess.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A hedge-fund reader emails:
In monetary theory land, there’s a steady drumbeat of efforts to force all transactions into electronic form, for obvious surveillance and reporting reasons.
A cashless society would cut millions of people out of the economy…those who live the fringe, working “underground”. Folks like Noah will literally have blood on their hands if they get their way, and our poorest folks are simply severed from the economy.
They won’t be severed from the economy. They’ll be forced into dependence on the government. To the gentry class, that’s not a bug, but a feature.
MORE: Reader Jeff Brown notes another downside of a cashless economy:
For days, perhaps even a couple of weeks, after Katrina you couldn’t get make a charge purchase or get money from an ATM on the Gulf coast of Mississippi. It was cash on the barrel head if you wanted to buy plastic to cover exposed roofs, food, beer, etc. Unless of course, you just sat around and waited for the government man to come around and put you on the list for some help in a week or ten.
And from what I heard, if you banked at one of the local banks you were out of luck for quite a while since their processing centers were flooded.
Electronic money means you have to have the network, the bank and the transaction terminal all working at the moment of purchase. Cash requires the presses to work when the money is printed but after that it is asynchronous and fungible. Quite useful in a rough and tumble world.
I remember as a kid, when my grandmother would go to the bank only to be unable to make a withdrawal because the computers are down or having to go back in to reconcile her bank book with their computer for deposits.
IS GETTING DUMPED EASIER, when your partner is gay?
WASHINGTON POST: Lights, Camera, Clinton! “If not a transfer of power, the whole show seemed at least a temporary handoff. An embattled president, fresh off an electoral shellacking and struggling to sell a controversial tax deal to members of his own party, turned to a former president who, exactly 16 years ago, was struggling to right his own presidency after a defeat of almost similar magnitude.”
Clinton said “I’m still relevant.” Faced with a similar situation, Obama said, “I’m outta here.”
PERRY DE HAVILLAND: Why I Support WikiLeaks.
ANOTHER VICTORY FOR F.I.R.E.: NIU Recognizes Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
I have to say, though, that with violent assaults on atheists in deep-blue Hawaii, and high-profile incest at Columbia University, the old red-state stereotypes are sure taking a beating this weekend . . . .
AT TAXPROF, a roundup on the Obama/GOP tax compromise.
OH, ABSOLUTELY: Democrats hurl f-bombs at Obama. Are they racist now? Racist, racist, racist. Also, racist. And there’s nothing worse than being racist, believe me. Stupid Democrat racists.
IN THE MAIL: From Dave Landry, The Layman’s Guide To Trading Stocks.
I HOPE MY NEXT BOOK IS this big a failure.
PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH throws pearls before swine.
SCIENCE: Moderate drinking can be good for relationships, heavy drinking not so much. But it’s more complicated than that.
GOOGLE’S NEW COMPUTER: The Browser Takes All. “Chrome OS assumes that applications and users can’t be trusted. And it has just one application: the browser.”
PEGGY NOONAN: From Audacity To Animosity: No President has alienated his base the way Obama has. Given Noonan’s inexplicable enthusiasm for Obama in 2008, she should know . . . .
STEPHEN KRUISER IS BACK.
MORE MINNEAPOLIS POLICE PROBLEMS? Chief Dolan Not Addressing Minneapolis Police Misconduct Problems Says Review Board. “There are few if any consequences for Minneapolis police misconduct, and that’s fostering more police misconduct according to a report from the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority Board (CRA).”
I think that Joel Rosenberg would agree.
DON SURBER: How Kurtz Spun The News.
WHITE HOUSE ADVISERS surprised by Obama’s handoff to Bill Clinton. Ya think?
Related: “This has to be one of the worst PR moves in the entirety of the administration. Obviously, Clinton is probably a more popular Democratic figure right now, but they had to imagine this would hurt Obama. I mean, letting a former president explain your tax bill while you head to a Christmas party? A Christmas party?” Plus this: “I guess it could have been worse. Obama could have left to go play hoops.”
UPDATE: Somehow, Bill Clinton Is Now President. “Why did Obama leave himself vulnerable to this grotesque upstaging, and why did Clinton do it? Was Clinton unaware of how this looked? Was Obama? Maybe Obama realized he’d made a mistake sharing the stage with Clinton without any ground rules, and walking out on Clinton was the best idea he had at that point. And maybe Clinton decided to deliberately show off the way a real President talks to the press because he actually wants to weaken Obama and create an opening for Hillary to challenge him in 2012.”
LOOKING AT the Navy’s railgun.
JESSE JACKSON, JR.: “Obamanomics” Is Just Warmed-Over “Reaganomics.”
Two thoughts: (1) If only. (2) This isn’t a good sign for Obama, despite its falsity.
MARCIA MORRISSEY: Less later, more now. Everyone’s life is a challenge, whether it shows or not.
SWINE FLU is back.
Ending weeks of speculation and rumors, President-Elect Barack Obama today named Bill Clinton to join his incoming administration as President of the United States, where he will head the federal government’s executive branch.
“I am pleased that Bill Clinton has agreed to come out of retirement to head up this crucial post in my administration,” said Obama. “He brings a lifetime of previous executive experience as Governor of Arkansas and President of the United States, and has worked closely with most of the members of my Cabinet.”
Clinton said he was “excited and honored” by the appointment, and would work “day and night” to defeat all the key policy objectives proposed by Mr. Obama during the campaign.
Heh. Read the whole thing.
AT AMAZON, it’s the holiday toy list. I ordered my six-year-old nephew the Snap Circuits SC-750 electronic project kit. I’ve ordered him the junior versions in the past, but he seems to be such a prodigy that this year I’m taking him up to the big version.
UPDATE: Science fiction writer Sarah Hoyt (author of Darkship Thieves) emails:
On the snap-circuits toy — not only did my younger son love it, but shortly after we moved to this house (when he was eight) we had a power outage and couldn’t find our battery radio to figure out what was going on and if there was any real danger/need to evacuate. The kid assembled us a “radio” in minutes. Okay, you had to put your finger on it and serve as a living antenna to hear it, but it served its purpose. So, it’s a toy AND disaster preparedness equipment. :)
Great story, and I’ll bet he’ll remember that he did that for the rest of his life.
HEH: Great news: Bill Clinton apparently now president again. “I can’t do justice to what you’re about to see. The spectacle of the president bugging out of his own press conference to go to a Christmas party is weird enough, but having Clinton back at the White House podium fielding questions on the hottest domestic issue of the day shoots past deja vu and lands firmly in ‘am I hallucinating?’ territory.”
WAR AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Black teen who filmed an LAUSD campus cop hitting a student faces bizarre charges and years in prison.
On Dec. 2, Jeremy Marks, a Verdugo Hills High School special education student, was offered a new plea offer by the L.A. County District Attorney: If he pled guilty to charges of obstructing an officer, resisting arrest, criminal threats and “attempted lynching,” he’d serve only 32 months in prison.
That actually was an improvement from the previous offer made to the young, black high schooler — seven years in prison.
The D.A. then handed Angela Berry-Jacoby, Mark’s lawyer, a stack of 130 documents, and the message within those thick files was clear: She says District Attorney Steve Cooley’s prosecution team plans to try to discredit Marks, and several other Verdugo Hills High School students on the witness stand, by dragging out misbehavior incidents from their school records over the years.
Marks, 18, has been sitting in Peter Pitchess Detention Center, a tough adult jail, since May 10. Bail was set at $155,000, which his working-class parents can’t pay to free their son for Christmas. His mother is a part-time clerk at a city swimming pool, his father is a lab tech.
The first thing to understand is that Jeremy Marks touched no one during his “attempted lynching” of LAUSD campus police officer Erin Robles.
The second is that Marks’ weapon was the camera in his cell phone.
There’s an “attempted lynching,” all right, but . . . .
UPDATE: Reader C.J. Burch emails: “Campus cops, like teachers, only have the nerve to make trouble for the kids they think won’t give them a bad time back.”
JIM TREACHER: Did Obama Just Quit? “Say what you want about Sarah Palin quitting her job, but at least she finished her own press conference.”
GOOGLE’S CRUSADE AGAINST CAPSLOCK.
THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST at Columbia University.
Plus, from the comments: “Us folks down here in Arkansas want signed apologies from the Ivy League for all the nasty jokes. As do the people in the Appalachians, probably.”
A NEW, IMPROVED VW Microbus? The neo-retro approach somehow makes me think of a Ford Flex. Which is a compliment.
UPDATE: Reader Erik Fortune writes: “Speaking as a Flex owner, thanks for saying thatJ. We absolutely love ours!”
They seem like good vehicles. I’ve never driven one, but I like their looks and everyone I’ve spoken to who owns one likes it. When I was toying with the idea of replacing my Toyota Highlander Hybrid the Flex was on the shortlist, but I decided to hang on to it a while longer.
IS SPENDING THE G.O.P.’S GLOBAL WARMING?
See, no one believes the Democrats on Global Warming. Why? Because they live in big houses, fly on their private jets, and consume more than the average aggregate of a third world country.
Liberals aren’t using outhouses. They drive Hummers. They have fleets of submarines. They cool their homes. They are, in short, unserious about the Cataclysm That Is Upon Us.
So, we don’t take them seriously and go about living our lives.
The Republican version of The World Is Going To End, has been spending. And, for once, it’s not hyperbole. The United States is in a very precarious financial position. . . . The Republicans risk undermining their credibility. The bill before Congress RAISES taxes on estates by 35%–so those farms that change hands? Yeah, the taxes will put many of them out of business.
There will be pork and spending and as soon as January rolls around, we’ll hear about all these cutting ideas that the Democrats will hate.
So, while I see the reasons for passing the bill right now, I worry about the Republicans undermining themselves long term.
GOP leaders should be worrying about that. But they may just be thinking, hey, Al Gore made a lot of money before his credibility was lost. . . .
CALIFORNIA’S HIGH-SPEED RAIL OFF TO AWFUL START: “There are a lot of critics when it comes to high-speed rail. So what does California do? They approve the first section of HSR rail to be built without trains or electricity. This has bad idea written all over it. . . . No trains, no maintenance facilities, just empty tracks and stations. Que?”
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE? Utah Regents adopt plan to push most adults through college by 2020.
On Thursday, the Regents approved the 100-page Higher Ed Utah 2020 Plan, crafted at the request of Gov. Gary Herbert, after months of meetings and consultations. The plan seeks to get more students into college and earning degrees — currently less than 50 percent graduate — while promoting the role of higher education in economic innovation and workforce development.
How? By expanding need-based aid, embracing instructional technology and conducting classes online, shoring up the community college mission at the state’s regional universities, and subsidizing associate degree-seeking students, among dozens of other recommendations.
Then there is the unaddressed question of how to pay for it.
Hmm. Maybe they should read this, first.
UPDATE: Utah Tea Party organizer David Kirkham emails:
When I first went to Poland I could not believe how many people had advanced degrees. Phd’s abounded everywhere I went. But stop and think. Why was I there in Poland in the first place? I was there to make cars in a once mighty MiG fighter factory that was desperate for work. PZL-Mielec was a company that was “too big to fail.” I was there the day it crashed. Our arrival offered hope in a factory that was long forsaken by its government.
How did I get there? I convinced a wealthy friend of my father’s to loan me the money to start our company. If all his money had been taxed away, I could have never started our company and hired all the people we now employ today. Even in this economy we are still hiring.
All those degrees didn’t make Poland, or any other country in the Soviet Bloc, prosper. Only freedom will lift a nation–and its people–from poverty.
You wrote, “Hmmm, maybe they should read this first…”
How about, “Maybe they should remember what the Utah Tea Party thought about Senator Bennett.” We won’t stand for overspending in Utah any more than we will in the US Senate.”
AT AMAZON, it’s the Friday Sale.
HELP ME BUBBA-WAN, YOU’RE MY ONLY HOPE! “This afternoon, President Barack Obama held a White House meeting with the last Democrat to hold that office, and the only Democrat to win re-election to that office since LBJ, Bill Clinton. After the meeting, the two held a brief press conference in which Obama offered a quick introduction before turning the Q&A over to Clinton. . . . And then, an extraordinary thing happened. Obama said he had kept the First Lady waiting for half an hour, and told the press they were in ‘good hands.’ And he left the briefing. Clinton did not. The former President continued the press conference, the logo of the White House behind him in what looked like a flashback to his pre-Monica days.”
Those rumors that White House insiders are worried by Obama’s disengagement just got a lot more credible . . . .
UPDATE: Reader Bill Gasper (along with several other readers) takes issue with the quoted passage:
“The only Democrat to win re-election to that office since LBJ”, I don’t think so, he was only elected once, don’t recall a 1963 election. Truman wasn’t reelected either, no 1945 election, FDR would be the last one before Mr Clinton.
Well, LBJ, like Truman, was an incumbent whom the voters returned to office. That’s not quite re-elected, but it’s awfully close.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Matt Miller emails:
Maybe they need to create another phony seal to put on the podium, something like “The Office of the Stand-in for the President of the United States”.
Let’s face it this guy has never held a real job for any length of time before moving on to something else. Accountability is tough.
Indeed. And unfamiliar.
CHICAGO’S GUN CATCH-22: You Must Get Gun Range Training. But You Can’t Get Gun Range Training.
JOEL ROSENBERG: The Empire Strikes Back.
AN INFRARED ADD-ON could let standard digital cameras diagnose cancer.
OBAMACARE UPDATE: White House Concedes Individual Mandate Is Not Severable.
SOME BACKGROUND on WikiLeaks.
LIFEHACKER’S guide to weblog comments.
JONAH GOLDBERG: “If Obama had pushed a one-year suspension of the payroll tax instead of the first stimulus, wouldn’t the country — and Obama – be much better off right now?” That approach was always a non-starter. Insufficient opportunities for graft.
BECAUSE THE LAST THING THEY NEED IS NEW ENTRY-LEVEL JOBS: New Fast Food Restaurants Banned in South L.A.
LOOKING FOR A YEAR-END CHARITABLE DONATION? Consider donating money to The Foresight Institute, which does useful work on nanotechnology and related technologies.