March 30, 2011
WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Message To Republicans: Show Us The Cuts.
WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Message To Republicans: Show Us The Cuts.
THE HILL: Obama Considers Arming Libyan Rebels.
LIBYA: Serious, Or Not?
STATING THE OBVIOUS.
SYRIA UPDATE: Syrian president blames protests on ‘conspirators.’ Can we get some conspiring going on for Iran, then?
Syrian President Bashar Assad blamed a wave of protests on “conspirators” who are trying to destroy the country, giving his first address to the nation Wednesday since the demonstrations erupted nearly two weeks ago.
As he entered Parliament for the speech, legislators chanted “God, Syria and Bashar only!” and “Our souls, our blood we sacrifice for you Bashar.”
Sounds like the media at an Obama press conference.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Viewership for President Obama’s speeches keeps slipping. “The speech was down 12% from Obama’s address on Iraq last August (29.2 million), which fell 9% from his speech on the Gulf Coast oil spill in June (32.1 million), which in turn dropped 21% from his Afghanistan speech back in December of 2009 (40.8 million).”
AMAZON RELEASES new Cloud Drive service. “Amazon Cloud Drive is your hard drive in the cloud. Store your music, videos, photos, and documents on Amazon’s secure servers. All you need is a web browser to upload, download, and access your files from any computer.”
SURVEY: Majority Of Experts Predict Government Shutdown. Key bit: “The current crisis has its genesis in the failure of the Democrats to pass spending bills for the fiscal year that began last Oct. 1 before Congress adjourned for the mid-term elections.”
TOM COBURN RIPS GROVER NORQUIST for supporting ethanol subsidies.
PARKING LAWS, LIKE TAXES, ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: Anthony Weiner’s Parking Tickets.
UNEXPECTEDLY! Consumption Spending Slowing Down.
VERONIQUE DE RUGY: Pension-Crisis Deniers Never Sleep. “I always find it surprising that the people who really believe that state employees should get very generous pensions from state governments aren’t the ones who are sounding the alarm about the upcoming pension crisis. I would assume that they understand that reforming the pension system today is key to preventing some rather dramatic consequences in the near future when states run out of money on their pension plans — which 8 states are scheduled to do by 2020. No matter what data you look at, you can see that many state pensions — led by Illinois and New Jersey — have underfunded their liabilities for years, which means that when their pension plans run out of money, these states will have to either raise taxes dramatically, cut non-pension spending massively, or alter their pension formula for current employees. The question of whether states will be allowed to change the benefits for current retirees will depend on the courts, but the reality is that when there is no more money, there is no more money.”
SO IS THIS THE HOPE, OR THE CHANGE? Housing market: 13% of all U.S. homes are vacant.
UPDATE: Reader Stephen Siegel writes: “You have to be careful with real estate statistics, especially when the government is involved. In the story you linked, the census bureau includes any home not a primary residence as ‘vacant,’ including beach, mountain, and other vacation homes. That is not a relevant marker when we’re trying to evaluate the state of the housing market. Perhaps it just goes into the category of ‘close enough for government work.’”
LISTENING TO ANTHONY WEINER: “My oh my how they change their tunes when the shoe is on the other foot.”
CHUCK SCHUMER MESSAGE CONTROL: On a Senate Call, a Glimpse of Marching Orders. “Moments before a conference call with reporters was scheduled to get underway on Tuesday morning, Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, apparently unaware that many of the reporters were already on the line, began to instruct his fellow senators on how to talk to reporters about the contentious budget process.”
AT AMAZON, a sale on knives.
MICHAEL BARONE ON WISCONSIN: Has The Tea Party Given Up? Allah comments: “The difficulty here isn’t convincing grassroots righties that they need to get their message out 24/7, it’s figuring out how to raise that temperature again to the point where people are out in the streets, knocking on doors, volunteering, organizing, donating, and so forth. Candidly, I don’t know how you do it; the best fuel is anger, but having just won a major legislative victory in Wisconsin — imperiled though it may be — some conservatives just may not be feeling the rage right now, no matter how vicious or intimidating the left tries to be. To see just how vicious, have a look at the sort of sleazy attack ads they’re running against Wisconsin Justice David Prosser.”
Also, the Tea Party people have real jobs. Unlike the unionized public employees in Wisconsin, they can’t just call in sick so they can spend a week in the streets. Plus, from the comments: “Isn’t the chairman of the RNC from Wisconsin? Couldn’t he pony up a bit or steer some donors that way so his state doesn’t go to hell in a handbasket?” Yes, a loss there — especially a loss without a big fight — will make Rience Prebus look bad.
UPDATE: Or maybe it’s stuff like this that has Tea Partiers discouraged: “Unable to find consensus within their own ranks, House Republican leaders have begun courting moderate Democrats on a budget deal to avoid a government shutdown at the end of next week. The basic outline would involve more than $30 billion in cuts for the 2011 spending package, well short of the $61 billion initially demanded by Republican freshmen and other conservatives.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jody Green writes: “Can’t speak for the whole tea party but I can speak for many of those with jobs, kids, limited resources and true love for this country. The issues facing this country at the federal level are so large and complex that only honest people have a chance of fixing the problems. We all know that we are not dealing with an honest opposition. We are dealing with people who are only trying to maintain their disgusting grip on the levers of power. See Shumer just today. This country is about to crash in a horrible “Man caused disaster” and we can not get that message to the vast majority of people. Our leadership plays games while we know the Titanic is sinking. The question is do we actually get pitch forks and march on Washington and gig them (If we did we would be terrorists) or do we hunker down and prepare for the worse. Unfortunately, most people are doing the later and it is only a matter of time before they will be proven right. If you publish this, I want our leaders in Washington to hear only one thing. Stop the games and the power grabs and do what it right. The future of your country and your children/grandchildren are depending on you and you are play politics. Shame on you. Wake up and do your duty.”
A LOOK AT ROTC and the liberal arts.
MICKEY KAUS: Is the Davis-Bacon Act unconstitutional?
TALKING CARS, with the Car Lust guys.
THE INSTAWIFE: Why I Like Donald Trump. “He may be a media savvy pimp but what’s wrong with that? Apparently, being media savvy is what it takes to get elected President these days.”
UPDATE: Reader John Marcoux writes:
I’m with Instawife on Trump. Listened to him on Greta last night and he just comes off as a guy that will stand up to the Democrat spinners, something our wishy-washy Republican leaders won’t do (Pawlenty trying to sound like Palin won’t do). Trumps wholehearted adoption of the birther cause is great political theater. Besides, as busy as he is, he is a sub-par golfer on tough courses. Totally impressed.
Well, he’ll be fun to watch.
WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE ON What Not To Wear. “Every day was epically long. Day one was watching the secret footage they filmed of me hanging out with friends in my neighborhood looking like an absolute lazy schlub.”
FASTER, PLEASE: A genetic test for organ rejection.
PLAYED-OUT SCHTICKS: John Avlon goes to Minnesota. Let me guess–-he finds “wingnuts”! Am I right? ….
REVIEWING THE REVIEWERS: A roundup of book reviews from all over.
USING GPS “CHECK-INS” for disaster relief.
FOREIGN COUNTRIES buying academic influence? “Adversaries have been buying sway in Congress and the public eye by funding American professors who advocate for them, to the tune of $600M.”
RISHAWN BIDDLE: Return Of The One-Room Schoolhouse.
TODAY ONLY, a Casio digital camera for 79 bucks. It’s amazing how good the cheap cameras have become.
BIG EARTHQUAKES ARE NOT LINKED. “Big earthquakes like the Sendai quake that devastated Japan in March don’t cause similar disasters on the other side of the globe, a new study suggests.” Well, good.
SUSANNAH BRESLIN: How To Get A Job Because You’re A Woman. “Purportedly, this is sisterhood. What it looks like is secession. Where’s the empowerment in that?”
A GRIM FUTURE?
Is Prof. Dyson’s assessment an accurate description of the current state of Western civilization in general and the US in particular? My (thoroughly non-scientific and limited) casual observations suggest that it is. The workhorses of the scientific enterprise are postdoctoral research associates (and to a lesser extent, graduate students). When I began my research career in the early 70s most postdocs were American and most of the ones who were not were European. When I (briefly) attempted to get back into research last year nearly all the postdocs I saw were Asian (not Americans of Asian descent, but visitors from Asia). It is wonderful that American universities attract such talented, energetic visitors, but worrisome that we are no longer “growing our own”. Is the US making the necessary effort to “show up” for the future?
Plus this: “You know what? I’m gonna call it. Bill Maher is the de facto leader of the Democratic Party.”
MORE ON the Henry Granju story.
I THINK I’VE SEEN THIS MOVIE: Who needs a battery? iPod and other gadgets could soon be ‘charged by the human heart’.
OPEN SOURCE WORDS and Ilg Blerps.
SO IS THIS THE HOPE, OR THE CHANGE? Home prices falling in most major US cities. “Home prices are falling in most major U.S. cities, and the average prices in four of them are at their lowest point in 11 years. Analysts expect further prices declines in most cities in the coming months.”
CREATING A SUPERCOMPUTER from linked Playstations. “I guess it would have good graphics.”
SYRIA UPDATE: Syrian Cabinet Resigns After Huge Protests. “Syria’s Cabinet resigned Tuesday to help quell a wave of popular fury that erupted more than a week ago and is now threatening President Bashar Assad’s 11-year rule in one of the most authoritarian and closed-off nations in the Middle East. Assad, whose family has controlled Syria for four decades, is trying to calm the growing dissent with a string of concessions.”
TOM BLUMER: Obama And The Democrats Dodging Social Security Reform. “These people know the truth, and they’re deliberately dodging it. They’re cynically hoping to ride a wave of ginned-up opposition to any and all entitlement reform in hopes of getting across the finish line in the 2012 elections. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a more cynical strategy on a problem so important in my lifetime. I hope they fail.”
IN THE MAIL: Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric.
JUST A REMINDER: When you buy through the Amazon links on this page, or through the search box in the right sidebar, you’ll be putting a little money in my family’s pocket at no cost to yourself.
JUST A FEW DAYS LEFT TO APPLY for the Institute For Humane Studies summer seminars.
KIRK VICTOR: Senators Toss Budget Ball To Obama, Who Fumbles. “Nobody wants to step out with what might be a controversial position.”
IN CONGRESS, pushback against labor.
AN INCOHERENT POLICY? Byron York: Jihadis Who Killed Americans Get U.S. Support In Libya.
IN A NATION OF COWARDS, thuggery is a high-yield investment.
JENNIFER RUBIN INTERVIEWS RomneyCare author Jonathan Gruber.
EDWARD TENNER: The Worldwide Ripple Effect of Japan’s Disaster. “The tsunami has exposed a weakness in global logistics long recognized in principle but disregarded in practice. Lean manufacturing plus heavy reliance on a single plant equals vulnerability to disruption.”
It’s not just industrial stuff, either. And how much food do we have stored against emergencies here in the United States? Much less than a few decades ago, or I miss my guess.
MICHAEL YON: Calling BULLSHIT on Rolling Stone. What? Rolling Stone is still publishing? Who knew?
THE STATE OF WISCONSIN HAS stopped withholding union dues from employee paychecks. And despite all the sound-and-fury, this is what the Democrats are really upset about. Plus this: “With the law now in effect and paychecks getting an increase since union dues are not being withheld, Democrats are the party arguing for a reduction in state worker paychecks.”
VIDEO: US Navy pilots surprise Japanese with food and water. (Bumped).
THE HILL: Dems Adopt Divide-And-Conquer Strategy On Spending Cuts. This is why across-the-board cuts are a better strategy, as I’ve noted before. Nobody is going to convince voters that government agencies can’t take a 5% cut.
SUPPLY CHAIN PROBLEMS: As Japan shutdowns drag on, auto crisis worsens. “Because parts and supplies are shipped by slow-moving boats, the real drop-off has yet to be felt by factories in the U.S., Europe and Asia. That will come by the middle of April.”
Related: Japan’s Automakers Painted Into Corner By Shortages. “For many automakers, it was a big challenge just to pinpoint where the supply chain had snapped. . . . And because the worst-hit suppliers are in the electronics and chip-making sectors, getting them back up to speed is a big hurdle. Vehicle assembly lines are relatively easy to stop and restart, but chip-making equipment is far more sensitive and can get really messed up by an unscheduled shutdown.”
DONALD SENSING: The Speech: There Is No Plan A. “Obama got rolled by the Europeans. This is an after-affect of French and Italian colonialism. The Libya war is neo-colonialism by the Europeans. And the United States is like fraternity pledges that the brothers make mop up the frat house floor on Sunday morning after an all-night kegger that they didn’t attend.” I thought we weren’t supposed to have wars for oil.
Related: A topsy-turvy world on MSNBC.
UPDATE: A roundup of reactions.
Plus, Obama’s “InstaWar.” Hmm. “InstaWar?” Catchy name! I kind of like the sound of that. . . .
LOOKING FOR WAR ON TERROR NEWS? Check out Fred Pruitt’s Rantburg.
MICKEY KAUS on the causes of “Black Flight.”
REPORT: ‘Don’t panic’ over plutonium in soil at Fukushima plant. I’ve got a button that says “Don’t Panic” on my office bulletin board. It’s usually good advice.
AND FOR THIS REASON, I PREDICT SWIFT REGULATORY APPROVAL FROM THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: AT&T merger could swell ranks of union that backs Democrats.
OBAMA GOES AFTER Libya’s WMDs.
POLL: Most Americans Still Angry At Washington. “Anybody in Washington who thought the 2010 election would be sufficient to vent a significant portion of voter anger away from Washington had better think again because the latest Rasmussen Reports survey finds nearly three-fourths of those questioned still hot under the collar.”
No surprise there. What have they done that would give people reason to be less angry?
UPDATE: Prof. Stephen Clark writes:
Nothing surprising in Rasmussen to me either. However, folks should not lose sight of the fact that the road to Washington runs through local and statewide elections. As you’ve noted earlier, one of the underreported stories of the 2010 elections was the realignment that took place in many statehouses: Wisconsin to name one. To have a lasting impact on national politics, those changes need to be held and reinforced.
WHAT’S AT STAKE, if Assad’s regime falls.
BRITAIN: The Tory Party’s Secret Weapon.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Obama’s dilemma: Is Libya mission a success if Qaddafi stays?
No. Next question?
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Obama Still Murky On Libya.
OBAMA’S relentless hand gestures.
SO I KEEP SEEING SURIVIVAL BLOGS saying that freeze-dried foods are in short supply. But there seem to be plenty available here. So is there really a shortage?
UPDATE: Reader Brian Zachary writes:
After seeing your link to Mountain House foods on Amazon, I browsed to mountainhouse.com, and sure enough the top of the home page is a notice regarding overwhelming demand for their #10 cans, and that they are only selling them through certain dealers at this point. They’re all listed as out of stock on mountainhouse.com. Just throwing my 2 cents in.
Huh. But reader Paul Lindsey emails: “I’d say there is still plenty available. Here is a 40 person-year supply from Sam’s Club.” Good grief. My pantry isn’t that big. I’m not sure my house is. . . .
STACY MCCAIN on epistemic closure.
C.J. BURCH SAYS THANKS to everyone who bought his books.
A BREAK IN Japan’s supply chain.
FOOD PRICES ARE skyrocketing in Syria. Plus this: “What might emerge from the Arab world two or three generations from now is beyond anyone’s capacity to foresee. As individuals, Arabs are as talented and productive as anyone on earth. For the time being they are caught in the maelstrom of a failing culture.”
UPDATE: A look at the world food situation. “Anybody following the current unrest in North Africa and the Middle East will immediately note that the area is bathed in red. Add in the percentage of a person’s income spent on food and the picture looks even worse. For example, both Spain and Algeria are dark red, yet the Spanish spend only 14.6% of their incomes on food, while Algerians spend a whopping 44% on food. That means that if world food prices go up they’ll cut into the discretionary spending of the Spanish, while they’ll cut to the bone in places like Algeria.”
FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS work in Finance. “An analysis of MIT’s graduate-employment data shows that the financial sector increased its hiring from 18 percent of its graduates in 2003 to 25 percent in 2006. So not only are the investment banks siphoning off hundreds of billions of dollars from our economy with financial gimmicks like CDOs; they are using our best engineering graduates to help them do it.”
I had some related thoughts here.
MARKDOWNS ON emergency jumpstarters and power supplies. I’ve got one of these with a builtin air compressor, and it’s proven quite handy.
WHY WOMEN don’t like nice guys.
LIVE COVERAGE AND FOLLOWUP OF OBAMA’S LIBYA SPEECH, at PJTV.
UPDATE: My take: Eerily like a Bush speech, but without the conviction.
Full text of speech here.
And Jody Green emails: “Am watching the speech on PJTV and Direct TV and PJTV is about 2 seconds faster. Well I guess PJTV does not have to go to geostationary orbit and back but still, nice technology.”
And Ann Althouse comments: “Isn’t that what the United States said to the Iraqi people after the Gulf War?”
MEDIA MATTERS IS really bad at what it does. “I mean, as a professional journalist, I’m not sure how I feel about James O’Keefe’s methodology. But with a few hidden cameras and next to no money, he’s taking a wrecking ball to some of liberal America’s biggest institutions. MMFA blows $10 million a year and what do they have to show for it?”
JOHN MCCAIN is attacking the Goldwater Institute. That seems unwise.
We’ve already seen it, on a smaller scale, in Wisconsin, during the recent battle over Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to rein in the public-employee unions. In Madison, the capitol was occupied by hordes of protesters and the lives of some Republican state legislators were threatened.
This is no way to run a democracy. Peaceful protests are one thing, but massed force and ominous warnings about dire consequences are another. Throw into the mix the free-floating anarchists who routinely show up at such events — most recently at the G-20 summit last year in Toronto — and you have a prescription for serious trouble.
Yet, all too often, any attempt to open a civil discussion about the future is met with the same dreary charges that “hateful” conservatives want to kill old people and steal candy from babies.
For some on the left, too much is never enough — because, by definition, it can’t be. They operate on a modified version of the old Brezhnev Doctrine, which stated that once a country went communist, it could never go back: Once a government program is in place, it can never be cut or rescinded, only fattened. It doesn’t even matter whether it’s effective. The self-interested and the self-deluded have too much to lose to give up the fantasy of the perfect nanny state.
It’s LePetomaine Syndrome.
WHY EXERCISE WON’T MAKE YOU THIN: Well, I think it helps, though possibly just because you look at the Italian Cream Cake and think that if you eat it, all that suffering at the gym was wasted . . . .
SAVING MONEY with a freezer: “I think it’s time to defrost our attitude towards frozen foods and get in the game when it comes to sensible culinary resource management! If foods are frozen properly, they can be a great resource for budget-strapped cooks.”
THE WORLD’S WORST environmental villain?
MARKDOWNS ON office supplies and electronic equipment.