October 2, 2011
ENOUGH WITH THE RACE CARD: Rex Murphy on Morgan Freeman.
ENOUGH WITH THE RACE CARD: Rex Murphy on Morgan Freeman.
YEAH, BUT YOU’RE ONE OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE: “This morning it took me two hours to get to work. Why? Because Obama had to have a fundraising breakfast with yet more liberal millionaires with more money than sense at the Beverly Wilshire, after which he motored through Beverly Hills to the VA facility in Westwood to board Marine One. Again, massive street closures.”
ANN ALTHOUSE ON A WAPO HIT PIECE: “Lots of photos of Perry having nothing whatsoever to do with this story, and not a single one of the rock. Well done, WP!”
The first comment at a Washington Post article about how Rick Perry, early in his career, used to host events at a hunting camp where there was a rock that had the word “Niggerhead” painted on it. . . .
Reading on, we see that — according to Perry — Perry’s father leased the property in 1983, and the first thing he did was paint over the word on the rock. And every time Perry saw the rock, it was painted over. But WaPo found 7 individuals who say they remember seeing the name on the rock during the time when Perry’s father’s name was on the lease.
Funny that they never found Obama’s background this interesting.
UPDATE: Washington Post Now Literally Looking Under Rocks in West Texas to Find Dirt on Perry. “The Post knows all too well how this game is played. The original story will get major play, and while the follow up and its own climbdown will attract less attention, a lot of dust gets stirred up and most of it ends up on the Post’s target, in this case, Perry. What’s left in the mind of those who don’t follow the facts is that Perry is somehow associated with racism.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails: “The Post failed to mention that Perry was a Democrat throughout most of – if not all – the period in question. Just saying.” Heh.
MORE: I think that Herman Cain hurts himself by joining in on these attacks. His big appeal is that he’s not just another black race-card-playing politician. Climbing on board with the Post’s hit piece suggests that actually, he is. It reminds me of Tim Pawlenty’s weak and opportunistic reaction to the attacks on Sarah Palin. I think that’s what killed his campaign. If you side with the media establishment against other Republicans, you won’t help yourself in this election cycle.
SALENA ZITO: TOO MANY YES-MEN, NOBODY TO SAY NO:
Every U.S. president needs people around him who are not afraid to tell him that his latest idea is terrible. Otherwise, he just keeps getting into trouble.
“Presidents are cut off from reality when they don’t have some trusted adviser willing to save them from their own worst instincts,” said Mark Rozell, public policy professor at George Mason University.
And if a president elevates himself too far above the people who were hired to help him out, then how can those people presume to challenge him? . . . In Rozell’s opinion, Obama “has this tendency to claim that he is a better speechwriter than his own speechwriters, or a better policy analyst than any of his own policy advisers.
“With all respect to the man, no one is that good at everything.”
Such behavior is only a slight variation on what President Lyndon Johnson did in the 1960s, according to Zelizer: “Oh, he put a variety of voices in the room on Vietnam and public policy, and then would get a lot of pleasure out of arguing them out of their concerns.”
LBJ wound up being a one-termer, after committing the country to a disastrously expensive project that failed miserably.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
“LBJ wound up being a one-termer, after committing the country to a disastrously expensive project that failed miserably.”
That’s true, but what drove him out of office was VIETNAM.
VIDEO: Herman Cain’s TeaCon Press Conference. “Herman Cain clearly was the favorite of the convention, primarily because he was the only presidential candidate to show up.”
GOOGLE OPENS ITS first retail outlet in London.
“GIRTHERS.” According to reader Bill Rickords, that’s what they’re calling the folks making Chris Christie fat jokes. I like it.
THE SMART and the dumb.
Obviously, those Wall Street guys need more encouragement.
SOLYNDRA and the scandal of Tomorrowland. “The most feasible alt-energy remains nuclear, but American greens are bitterly divided on nuclear power, leaving them with solar and wind (which should embarrass on both counts those claiming to be the Party of Science). The hardest of hardcore greens will admit they want humanity to make do with less; the rest dress up this political poison in fuzzy notions of “sustainability.” Pretending that solar and wind are the near-future allows progressives to avoid the appearance of luddism and pose as leaning forward, rather than the movement of 20th century nostalgia they really are. It is not unlike the way Walt Disney’s original vision of Tomorrowland in his theme parks has morphed into a quaint retro-futurism that never was and never will be. That is the larger scandal behind giving money to companies that sound whizzy.”
AT PRINCETON, a real-life flying carpet.
UPDATE: A critique.
AT AMAZON, it’s the Musical Instruments Outlet Sale.
OBAMA SPREADS A LIE ABOUT GAY SOLDIER-BOOING, INCOHERENTLY: Ann Althouse: Obama must serve something to the assembled hungry masses, and this infected red meat is the best he’s got. “There is a contagious lie and the President — he who often speaks of transcending divisiveness — is enthusiastically spreading it… while — ironically! — posing in the mantle of oneness, E pluribus unum. The crowd goes wild, by the way. Listen to the audio. They find the infected red meat scrumptious! And can you blame the poor man? He must serve something to the assembled hungry masses, and this — this! — is the best he’s got. And what does ‘We don’t believe in them being silent since’ mean? It’s not a transcription error. I’ve checked the audio (at the link). Did he misread the TelePrompTer? There’s no simple fix, like combining it with the next line, “You want to be Commander-in-Chief?” The pronouns don’t match up. But the crowd loves it. This gibberish is quite delicious!”
Enthusiastically received gibberish. That’s all they’ve got. Resist we much!
Meanwhile, Prof. Jacobson notes when Obama thought it was okay to sit silently through slurs.
UPDATE: Gay Patriot: Obama’s anti-Republican demagoguery at HRC fundraising dinner. “He didn’t need to attack Republicans. He could have simply highlighted his accomplishments on issues of concern to the gay community, notably repeal of DADT (which even yours truly believes is a feather in his cap). . . . The president’s mean-spirited attack shows his eagerness to repeat the talking points of left-wing pundits. He is attempting to hold Republicans responsible for the actions of perhaps not more than one boorish individual. This demagoguery, having defined the president’s governing style for these past several months, has also begun to define his re-election campaign.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Community and collectivism are opposites.”
IOWAHAWK HAS the Fast and Furious phone transcripts.
OF COURSE, YOU CAN HIDE SOME SERIOUS IRON UNDER A BURQA: “I saw this story today about the NYPD telling women what to wear to avoid sexual predators in the area. Just imagine if the women could carry concealed instead.”
ENGINEERING HEART PATCHES with gold nanowires.
STARSHIP DREAMS: A look at DARPA’s 100-year starship.
MORE ON THAT ATF GUN-SMUGGLING SCANDAL: Gunwalker Under White House Control? New documents reveal extensive White House communication with the ATF head behind the scandal.
PREFERENCES: 1 in 5 Bought Ford Because It Didn’t Take A Bailout.
CHANGING THE CONSTITUTION: My Sunday Washington Examiner column is up.
We often hear lamentations about declining educational quality, but the focus is usually misplaced on SAT scores and graduation rates. Missing from the conversation is the quality of what’s being taught. Meanwhile, we are mistakenly wed to the notion that more people going to college means more people will find jobs.
Obviously the weak economy is a factor in the highest unemployment rate for those ages 16 to 29 since World War II. But there’s more to the story. Fundamentally, students aren’t learning what they need to compete for the jobs that do exist.
Sachs is ready to do for America’s economy what he did for Russia’s in the 1990s. Is that too mean? Nah.
MIKE RIGGS: Update on Wrong-House Raid in Alameda: “I remember the guns pointing at my face when I look at my front door. Every. Single. Time.” There should be no official immunity for no-knock raids. Get the wrong house, and you’re naked.
UPDATE: Reader Ron Shrewsbury corrects me, noting that this was a wrong-house raid, but that they did pound on the door according to the report, adding: “It’s not clear if he answered the door or if they then broke in. The real question in this story is whether or not it’s proper to have firearms drawn and ready to use when conducting an arrest of someone who ‘…made bail after being arrested in August in connection with an indoor marijuana-growing operation….’” And who wasn’t there, which they could have discovered with a little basic pre-raid research.
AT AMAZON, it’s a coupon-a-rama.
WELL, WE’LL KNOW TUESDAY: Even The Experts Can’t Call West Virginia’s Gubernatorial Race. “This unsettled race matches acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, 59, against Republican Bill Maloney, 52, of Morgantown. Tomblin is a teacher and businessman from Chapmanville who spent 36 years in the legislature. Maloney, an industrial engineer and drilling company owner, is making his first run for political office. . . . Analysts consider Tomblin and Maloney, conservatives with similar campaign platforms, to be likeable candidates. Yet this election, they say, might not be about just the candidates. It could be colored by anti-incumbency filtering down from an increasing dislike of Washington’s economic and domestic policies.”
The key question: “People have been voting for Democrats in this area for generations, and where’s it gotten them?” Well, a whole bunch of buildings named after Robert Byrd, for one thing.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): House Is Gone but Debt Lives On. “Some close observers of the housing scene are convinced this is just the beginning of a surge in deficiency judgments. Sharon Bock, clerk and comptroller of Palm Beach County, Fla., expects ‘a massive wave of these cases as banks start selling the judgments to debt collectors.’ In a paradox of the battered housing industry, trying to squeeze more money out of distressed borrowers contrasts with other initiatives that aim instead to help struggling homeowners, including by reducing what they owe.”
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD DEFENDS OBAMA against charges that the President is an “assassin.” But Mead also observes:
The President has created some of the confusion in our debate. Frequently during the campaign, sometimes even in office, he has spoken as if he is the head of a criminal investigation team. When it comes to actual decisions, however, he acts like a military leader at war. Greenwald and Paul appear to believe that he is a policeman and needs to start acting more like one; I believe he is a war leader and needs to start talking more like one.
An odd omission for such a famous communicator.
UPDATE: Brian Dunn on responsibility to protect.
DRONE KILLS: More on the legality of the Al-Awlaki killing. “The US position is that the standard for addressing non-state actor terrorists taking safe haven somewhere depends on whether the sovereign where the terrorist is hiding is ‘unwilling or unable’ to address the threat. No, there won’t be Predators Over Paris; Yemen or Somalia is another matter, as President Obama has repeatedly and without cavil said in speeches over the last few years. And indeed, as the President said in his statement yesterday on the raid – no safe havens anywhere. . . . The reality, of course, is that this is not like any other armed conflict. Though the US government had firm grounds domestically and internationally to target Al-Aulaqi simply as an operational participant in a group engaged in armed conflict against the United States, as a matter of forward-looking legal policy, the US should elaborate more extensive and explicit oversight procedures in the case of targeting of US citizens, in part to ensure the domestic legitimacy of the process and in order to ensure the buy-in of the political branches.”
In the comments, I note some discussion about whether “incitement” to terrorism could constitute a sufficiently direct participation in hostilities. I express no opinion on that subject, but I’ll note that the International Tribunal For Rwanda convicted government officials for incitement to genocide and sent them to jail for 30 years. If incitement is sufficiently direct to support such a conviction by an international human-rights tribunal, then why wouldn’t it be sufficiently direct to justify a killing in self-defense? There may be a good argument in favor of this distinction, but — at least while still on my first cup of coffee — I can’t think of one offhand.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): 5 Weird Things People Are Stealing While the Economy’s in Bad Shape.
INFOGRAPHIC: The Obama Presidency, By The Numbers.
FROM THE GO-LONG-ON-TAR-AND-FEATHER-STOCKS DEPARTMENT: The Latest Crime Wave: Sending Your Child to a Better School. “An African-American mother of two, Ms. Williams-Bolar last year used her father’s address to enroll her two daughters in a better public school outside of their neighborhood. After spending nine days behind bars charged with grand theft, the single mother was convicted of two felony counts. Not only did this stain her spotless record, but it threatened her ability to earn the teacher’s license she had been working on. . . . Only in a world where irony is dead could people not marvel at concerned parents being prosecuted for stealing a free public education for their children.”
Related: Scottsdale man could face jail time over tree that violates city code. Even threatening jail time over offenses such as these should be punished by tar and feathers, or some other suitable public humiliation.
UPDATE: Reader John Steakley writes:
So let me get this straight: Elizabeth Warren says the kids at the better school should pay higher taxes (as adults) because everyone contributed to funding their school, but when one of the contributors wants to send her own kids there, it’s “stealing?”
Ms. Bolar-Williams either funded that school or she didn’t. If she did, it isn’t “stealing” to send her children there. If she didn’t, then those kids at the better school wont “owe” her their taxes as adults.
It can’t be both, if you ask me.
Which is why, John, you’ll never rise high in government . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Mark Davis emails: “Two responses: 1) Does that mean all those illegal aliens sending kids to public school should be prosecuted for theft since they don’t legally reside in the district? 2) I thought an essential element to the crime of theft is the taking of some thing of value. Doesn’t that exclude public education?” Heh.
MARK STEYN: Finally, The Cognoscenti Ask: What Could We Be Thinking? “Occidental, Columbia, Harvard Law, a little light community organizing, a couple of years timeserving in a state legislature: That’s what America’s elites regard as an impressive resume rather than a bleak indictment of contemporary notions of ‘accomplishment.’”
IS A NEW RECESSION UNAVOIDABLE? I’m not sure we ever got rid of the old one.
A FISH, A BARREL, A SMOKING GUN: Andrew Breitbart vs. Martin Bashir. Just for some Saturday night fun.
SO DOES THIS MEAN WE’LL WIND UP WITH AN ISLAMIC THEOCRACY AND AN EVEN WORSE ECONOMY? “Wall Street Protest Starting To Look Like Egypt?”
I don’t think it looks at all like Egypt — for one thing, our corrupt and increasingly unpopular ruler is in DC, he just works for Wall Street, and for another, Egypt didn’t offer nearly so much comic relief — but those who think that Egypt is a good model might want to ponder for just a moment how that’s worked out.
A DAY LATE AND A TRILLION DOLLARS SHORT: Just a reminder: Obama’s jobs bill still has no cosponsors. In either house. “We have a federal system, not a parliamentary system, so our legislature doesn’t take votes of no-confidence to force an executive out of power. But given the high-profile rollout of the AJA by Obama, including his demand for a joint session to escalate pressure for action, the lack of any co-sponsors on these bills is about as close as we’ll get to a vote of no confidence in this executive short of an outright floor-vote failure in the Senate on the bill.”
Somebody should start calling Democratic members and asking why they haven’t signed on as cosponsors to their own President’s urgent bill. . . .
There seems little reason to shed tears for Al-Awlaki, a human pustule of at least the second order. But the drone-killing business raises questions. The questions have less to do with the human rights of folks like Al-Awlaki, though, and more to do with fears of abuse in the future. Those require some due-process regulation, which should come from Congress.
Of course, to all those lefties who told us that Bush’s drone-kills were unnaturally evil and that Obama would bring change, well . . . eat it.
UPDATE: Professor Bainbridge: “If George Bush had killed Anwar al Awlaki … People like Andrew Sullivan and left-liberals (or is that redundant these days?) would be having a fit. After all, assassinating an American citizen without anything remotely approaching due process of law is stretching the bounds of lawful warfare to the breaking point. But because Barak Obama did it, it seems to be okay. Which is damned lame.”
YOU MUST BE ON CRACK: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has ‘same effect on men as cocaine.’
JOHN HINDERAKER: Peppered In NYC. “One can only assume that this kind of police abuse has been going on for a long time, but was not often revealed–at least, not this starkly–before the era of ubiquitous digital photography and video. But the days are gone when a policeman can wantonly assault protesters, no matter how obnoxious they may be–let alone photographers. That’s a good thing.”
SETH GODIN: The Forever Recession? “Why do we believe that jobs where we are paid really good money to do work that can be systemized, written in a manual and/or exported are going to come back ever? The internet has squeezed inefficiencies out of many systems, and the ability to move work around, coordinate activity and digitize data all combine to eliminate a wide swath of the jobs the industrial age created. . . . Factories were at the center of the industrial age. Buildings where workers came together to efficiently craft cars, pottery, insurance policies and organ transplants–these are job-centric activities, places where local inefficiencies are trumped by the gains from mass production and interchangeable parts. If local labor costs the industrialist more, he has to pay it, because what choice does he have? No longer.”
I remember Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, in which we’re told that globalization had smeared things out into a worldwide layer of “what a Pakistani bricklayer would consider prosperity.” But Godin’s not so pessimistic. I think his optimism is justified where the right half of the bell curve is concerned, but . . . .
Some earlier thoughts on this subject are here.
AT AMAZON, Warehouse Deals.
SCOTT JOHNSON ON THE is Chris Christie too fat to be President question: “I think the answer to the question is, obviously, no. Voters are in a mood for the anti-Obama. Christie would provide the perfect contrast, right down to the waistline. Christie’s weight isn’t a glitch; it’s a feature. His weight is an element of his authenticity.”
This goes back to the Insta-Daughter’s theory of presidential opposites, in which each President is chosen to be the opposite of his predecessor. What’s the opposite of a skinny black guy from Hawaii? A fat white guy from New Jersey!
UPDATE: Roger Simon emails: “What’s the opposite of a phony black guy from Hawaii? A real black guy from Georgia.” Good point!
RICK PERRY: What we have is a soft President. Don’t be talking about President Golfpants that way.
LITERARY B-SIDES: Five of the Most Under-Rated Books from Famous Authors.
DAN MITCHELL: Happy Fiscal New Year (with an Unhappy Obama Hangover). “Today, October 1, is the first day of the 2012 fiscal year. And if you’re wondering why America’s economy seems to have a hangover (this cartoon is a perfect illustration), it’s because politicians had a huge party with our money in FY2011.”
UPDATE: A devious and unprincipled suggestion from a reader: “To guarantee that the economy does not pick up, the GOP Congress should pass Obama’s tax hikes, etc.” That would be evil.
FOR PROFESSORS AT COLUMBIA, new disclosure rules.
SAY IT AIN’T SO! Seeking Alpha: The Upcoming Crash Of Apple And Amazon. I don’t think the sales tax “loophole” is that crucial to Amazon, but I could be wrong. In its early days, though, Amazon’s biggest appeal came from the discounts. Now it comes from the service. I think that means that they could raise prices and still do well. Just look at this chart of Kindle book sales vs. physical book sales.
UPDATE: Reader John Miller writes:
Denninger claims Amazon has a 6% sales tax advantage over “everyone else” – which is patently untrue. They have a 6% (plus or minus) sales tax advantage over the local brick-and-mortar store, and over those online vendors who happen to be located in your state.
But would that 6% matter that much?
For me, Amazon’s “competition” is the gas station.
Attempting to shop locally loses a lot of its luster when you’re spending the entire trip to the store thinking in terms of what percentage of a UPS shipment it’s costing you to get there and back.
Broadly speaking, local shopping is now for immediate needs, things that cannot economically be shipped, and things that require hands-on evaluation before purchase.
Yeah, that’s my take too.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Wes Taylor writes: “I live in Washington state, and due to the presence of Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, I have had, from the time Amazon went online, to pay the state’s 8+% sales tax on everything I buy from Amazon. I still shop Amazon because they have selection I can’t find locally, and often their price is less than 92% of the local store’s price, so even with sales tax, it’s cheaper. I do have to keep my orders over $25 in order to get free shipping.” Or you could get Amazon Prime.
MORE: Reader David Newton writes: “I would very much agree with your correspondents on the question of whether a sales tax advantage is crucial to Amazon. I live in the UK and it does not matter where a business is physically based, if it has sufficient sales in the UK it has to pay VAT. At the moment VAT here is at 20% for most things with some things that are considered “vital” such as books at 0% and a few other things (which Amazon doesn’t tend to sell) at 5%. Even without a sales tax advantage Amazon still consistently has lower prices than high street stores and also has a better selection. In the UK we even get free shipping on anything dispatched by Amazon, although naturally the free shipping is by a slower service. Regardless of how they started their brand reputation is now based on both good price and good selection, with reliable delivery thrown in as well.” Good point.
AT AMAZON, Markdowns in Patio & Garden.
NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME: Occupy Wall Street protest, swelled by Radiohead hoax, marches on NYPD HQ, but gets lost. I would be harsher on these people, but given how thoroughly Obama has been in bed with Wall Street, and vice versa, it’s hard for me to get very excited.
HOW NORTH DAKOTA became Saudi Arabia. Only with women who can drive and everything.
NONE OF THE POLICIES WE’VE SEEN UNDER THIS ADMINISTRATION HAVE BEEN ABOUT EQUALITY: The Fed’s Twist May Increase Inequality. “The past recession has been particularly hard on middle- and lower-income Americans. The millions of people who suffered foreclosure were mostly in these groups. Millions more remain unemployed. So as the Federal Reserve steps back in to provide more action meant to fuel the economy, we should ask whether its policies will really benefit those who need assistance the most. Unfortunately, it will instead benefit the relatively affluent.”
MEXICO CITY CONSIDERS temporary marriages.
THE KINDLE FIRE gets more praise — from an Apple fan. “Amazon built an alternative to the iPad, rather than a direct competitor. It’s a different market segment. As Steve Jobs explained back in 2010 at the introduction of the original iPad, there’s unexplored territory between smartphones and laptops. Apple and Amazon are approaching this tablet territory from opposing sides. . . . The iPad and Kindle Fire are emblematic of their makers. Apple’s primary business is selling devices for a healthy profit, and they back that up with a side business of selling digital content for those devices. Amazon’s primary business is as a retailer, including as a retailer of digital content. They back that up with a side business of low-cost digital devices that are optimized for on-the-fly purchasing of anything and everything Amazon sells. The Kindles are to Amazon what the printed catalog was to Sears a century ago.”
HMM: Antisocial personality traits predict utilitarian responses to moral dilemmas. “A study conducted by Daniel Bartels, Columbia Business School, Marketing, and David Pizarro, Cornell University, Psychology found that people who endorse actions consistent with an ethic of utilitarianism—the view that what is the morally right thing to do is whatever produces the best overall consequences—tend to possess psychopathic and Machiavellian personality traits.”
EATING INVASIVE SPECIES: Making Chorizo Sausage With Asian Carp. “For the record, the Asian carp chorizo sausage that Liceaga cooked up this week had no fishy taste or bony texture — at least none that this reporter could detect.”
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Green Energy Staggers. Actually, it’s the corruption that’s staggering . . . .
IN THE MAIL: From Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder, How to Win a Fight: A Guide to Avoiding and Surviving Violence.
COPPER: Manhattan Project artifacts up for sale; but history’s not the big attraction. “Nine really big magnetic coils, once part of the World War II calutrons that enriched uranium for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, are up for sale. The attraction to bidders, however, is apparently not the history of the Manhattan Project units, but rather the value of the metals. Each of the ‘D-ring coils’ reportedly contains 11 tons of copper. Copper has been trading at $3.15 to $3.25 a pound in recent days, so there’s obviously some money to be made there.”
ROGER SIMON: Will Morgan Freeman Answer Ali Akbar?
TIM CAVANAUGH: Steven Chu’s Not The Solyndra Fall Guy.
So the actual news here boils down to: Steven Chu still has not said anything about Solyndra.
The head of a cabinet-level department is too high-ranking to be a “fall guy” anyway. He may get in trouble for decisions he makes, and his boss the president may get in trouble too, but he is not a fall guy; he is the person in charge of the department. Nothing about Chu’s responsibility for the Solyndra loan has changed in the last 48 hours – but you’d have a better understanding of that fact if you had not been looking at the news than if you had. So maybe it’s a good thing that most Americans are paying no attention to Solyndra coverage.
Journalism at work.
TODAY ONLY: A Brother monochrome laser printer for $49.99. This looks like a non-wireless version of the one I’ve got, which has been an excellent printer.
Plus, while they last, a “lightning deal” on an elliptical trainer for $169.99.
FAST-AND-FURIOUS FALLOUT? DoJ Considering Elimination of ATF. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving agency. I agree with the suggestion, though, that such a move would likely be part of a cover-up, rather than an effort at government streamlining, or accountability.
MORE ON THAT ATF GUN-SMUGGLING SCANDAL: New Fast and Furious docs released by White House. “The documents show extensive communications between then-ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office Bill Newell – who led Fast and Furious – and then-White House National Security Staffer Kevin O’Reilly. Emails indicate the two also spoke on the phone. Such detailed, direct communications between a local ATF manager in Phoenix and a White House national security staffer has raised interest among Congressional investigators looking into Fast and Furious. Newell has said he and O’Reilly are long time friends.”
MEGAN MCARDLE: Why the Solyndra Loan Wasn’t Like a VC Investment.
Now, maybe you think that there is some unpriced social return of these investments. But then this has nothing to do with VCs, portfolios, or risk; it’s a subsidy. And loan guarantees are not a very good way to structure that subsidy.
Here’s why: at the company level, there’s no difference between an optimal market outcome, and an optimal social outcome (from the DOE’s point of view); both investors and society benefit if more solar cells are sold. If the solar cells are unlikely to be sold to many people, than the loan guarantee is not a good idea–it will not foster much environmental benefit. If the solar cells are likely to be sold to many people, than the loan guarantee should not be needed; private investors should be easily found to back the manufacturing.
The loan guarantees may help make the product slightly cheaper, of course. But again, if the product is sufficiently likely to be popular, capital should be available in the marketplace at a fairly decent price; the difference in interest rates should not be the difference between success and failure unless the loan itself represents an unsustainably large portion of the company’s assets and income.
At any rate, it does not make sense to issue a massive loan guarantee in order to make a company’s solar panels slightly cheaper; that’s maybe a case for subsidizing solar panel installations, but it’s not a case for guaranteeing the loans of a particular solar panel manufacturer.
So no, this isn’t much like a VC. Or anything else that makes financial sense in the private sector. It’s like . . . the government giving money to companies that sound whizzy.
Actually, that’s the charitable explanation. A more cynical explanation is that the “sound whizzy” is just meant to be a distraction from what’s really no more than a payoff to political supporters.
BYRON YORK: “Soft” America — What Obama Really Means. “Look at Obama’s speeches in the last couple of months, and he has repeatedly scolded audiences for not working hard enough and for not sacrificing enough to achieve the goals he has set for his administration. He’s done it with both supporters and with adversaries. With friends, his message has been: Nobody told you this would be easy, and you’ve got to work harder to enact my agenda. With adversaries, his message is: You’ve had it too easy, and you’ve got to make sacrifices to enact my agenda. Obama’s ‘gotten a little soft’ remark fits into that theme: A soft America is one that is insufficiently willing to work and sacrifice to enact the Obama agenda.” Let’s just say that I’m not inspired to sacrifice for President Golfpants.
UPDATE: Reader Kevin Walsh emails: “In other words BHO is saying, ‘The beatings will continue until morale improves’.” Heh. Pretty much.
MICHAEL LEDEEN: Totalitarian Temptations From Carter To Obama.
DOING THE SAME THING WHILE EXPECTING A DIFFERENT RESULT: Energy Department approves $4.7 billion in solar loan guarantees. Hey, it’s only taxpayer money.
AHISTORICAL LITTERING in Mad Men.
JOHN HINDERAKER: Bloomberg: Legitimate News Story, or Liberal Smear? “For more than a week, it has been rumored that Bloomberg Markets is preparing a hit piece on Koch Industries. Mark Tapscott of The Examiner wrote on September 19 that ‘[a] couple of Bloomberg reporters have been digging dirt on the Kansas brothers who own one of the world’s largest private corporations.’ According to Tapscott, Bloomberg is looking into an incident several years ago in which employees at a Koch subsidiary in France were found to have made illegal payments overseas, which violates Koch policies, but is not, unfortunately, uncommon in many parts of the world. . . . What is striking about the emerging outlines of the Bloomberg story is how non-newsworthy it appears to be. Employees of a Koch subsidiary in France were caught making illegal payments in 2008, and therefore were fired by the company. Is that news?”
More media battlespace preparation. Or perhaps the creation of a failure narrative: Obama lost because of those mean libertarian billionaires!
UPDATE: Reader Barry Dauphin writes: “I suspect that the Bloomberg piece on the Koch brothers will also be reported on by the usual suspects, cue NPR. The report will go into all of the seemly details for 95% of the piece, told in an ominous voice, hinting that this is simply the tip of the iceberg. Right at the end, they will mention that the employees were fired, as if an unimportant afterthought. The theme will be corruption in the Koch brothers world, even the the actual details could suggest a theme of sticking to company principles and firing folks who violate them. It will be designed to gin up outrage among contributors during pledge week. Hey, maybe they can even figure out a way for Nina Totenberg to do the piece, just to emphasize the righteous indignation at the evil Koch brothers.”
WHITE HOUSE WITHHOLDING “Fast and Furious” Documents.
THE RETURN OF Catiline.
FAMILY SAVES lost, dying dad.
Some background on Aguilar’s prior behavior. But I’m okay with her approach, so long as we can call them “undocumented firearms” instead of “illegal guns.” You know?
KEVIN WILLIAMSON ON THE AL-AWLAKI KILLING: “A U.S. citizen has been assassinated, apparently by the U.S. government, which had earlier placed him on a hit list. Washington celebrates. I suspect we will regret this precedent.”
Yeah, it almost makes me wish I’d voted for a Democrat in 2008. . . .
CAREER ADVICE: I’m 22 and I Have No Idea What to Do.
THERE’S A SPINAL TAP JOKE IN HERE SOMEWHERE: Heavy Metal Stars Produce Earth-Like Planets.
LATE NIGHT COMICS suffer ratings slide. They quit doing their job when Obama was elected.
AT AMAZON, up to 50% off on Men’s Clothing.
THE KINDLE FIRE has ‘em excited over at Wired: Amazon’s Android Tablet May Be the Best and Kill the Rest. Well, I pre-ordered one the first day.
GOING POSTAL: Mail worker unions overload tea party group with more than 100 pounds of mail. Just be glad that they’re not just letting it pile up in the garage . . . .