And that’s according to the deck-stackers at the Washington Post. Read:
A plurality of Americans–47%–say they are either “angry” or “disappointed” with the Senate’s action on gun legislation, far different from the amount of people who strongly approved the proposal before the vote. Meanwhile, 39% say they are “relieved” or “happy” about the vote.
Maybe the President’s post-vote temper tantrum had something to do with the previous “90% support” getting cut very nearly in half.
I have a real thumb-sucker for you from today’s New York Times. That’s probably a dog-bites-man lede, but you might get a kick out of the sheer blatancy of this piece by Michael Shear and Peter Baker on the president’s big gun-control fail. Here’s how it opens:
Senator Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, asked President Obama’s administration for a little favor last month. Send your new interior secretary this spring to discuss a long-simmering dispute over construction of a road through a wildlife refuge, Mr. Begich asked in a letter. The administration said yes.
So the premise is, Begich asked the administration for a favor, and the administration obliged. But what did that nasty closet-Tea Party ingrate do? I won’t keep you in suspense:
Four weeks later, Mr. Begich, who faces re-election next year, ignored Mr. Obama’s pleas on a landmark bill intended to reduce gun violence and instead voted against a measure to expand background checks. Mr. Obama denounced the defeat of gun control steps on Wednesday as “a shameful day.”
Mr. Begich! Prisoner of the NRA! Shameful ingrate!
Thank goodness Shear and Baker are here to connect those dots for us, to smoosh those Venn circles together into one big blob of… evil.
See, the bill was intended to reduce gun violence, and who cares if it wouldn’t. Because of intentions, you see. But how did the bill play back home in Alaska? What were Begich’s constituents telling him? Does Begich have any strong convictions regarding expanded background checks? Let’s see what Shear and Baker reported on those questions:
[SMALL CHILD COVERS EARS AND SHOUTS "NANANANANA I CAN'T HEAR YOU"]
[FULL-ON SERGEANT SCHULTZ SAYING HE KNOWSSS NOZHING!]
Everyone knows you never go full Sergeant Schultz. Anyway, let’s see what was in the story’s third graf:
But Mr. Begich’s defiance and that of other Democrats who voted against Mr. Obama appear to have come with little cost. Sally Jewell, the interior secretary, is still planning a trip to Alaska — to let Mr. Begich show his constituents that he is pushing the government to approve the road.
Golly-gee-gosh-darn it, that Obama is just too geewilickers nice to everybody. Why, sequester ungrateful vote or not, the president is probably going to get that road built. And maybe hand-paint smiley faces along the length of it.
See? The president is just too good, too sweet, too flawless to play the Washington game — and that’s the only reason he ever loses.
And if The One is just too driven-snow pure to twist Begich’s arm? Well, then the NYT is more than happy to do the job for him.
It’s more than you wanted to see, but less than you feared.
His single tweet so far is a link to his 64-point plan to “keep New York City the Capital of the Middle Class,” which probably involves shoveling more money at Wall Street.
I’m also assuming another good step is to not post pictures of your junk to Twitter.
Michael Barone looks at President Obama’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week, and… well, I’ll just give you the bullet point version of events “spinning out of control”:
• The Second Boston Massacre was a “reminder that this free and open country remains a soft target. There is no way we can be entirely safe.
• The Senate voted down gun control proposals, with the closest vote coming on the background check provision sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin.
• In the Rose Garden, Obama spoke angrily and called the votes “pretty shameful.”
• This was a test of Organizing for America, the offspring of the Obama presidential campaign.
• In the Senate Finance Committee’s hearings on Obamacare, as committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “I just see a train wreck coming down.”
• Similar disarray was apparent on foreign policy in hearings Thursday, as noted by the American Interest’s Walter Russell Mead.
Barone concludes, “George W. Bush and his party suffered at the polls in his second term after things seemed to be spinning out of control in New Orleans and Iraq.”
Being President is hard. Being a lame duck — especially one with still-immodest ambitions — is harder.
What Barone didn’t mention is the likely effect of the Boston bombing on Obama’s next big push, for the Gang of Eight immigration reform. Poll after poll shows that Americans want increased border security first. And what we had in Boston was a case where we couldn’t keep terrorists out, even when the FBI gets a tip from the Russians.
But the Democrats have got to keep making Democrats out of “victims” groups, so Obama can’t afford to let immigration go. That’s unlike his big gun control fail, which was strictly optional. Entertaining, but optional.
Pass the popcorn?
“Since President Obama came into office, SNAP participation has increased at 10 times the rate of job creation, the annual spending on SNAP has doubled, and one in seven Americans now participates in SNAP,” [GOP Senator John] Thune said in a statement.
“This explosive growth in both the SNAP enrollment and federal cost of the program is alarming and requires lawmakers to take cost-effective legislative control measures,” he added.
Obviously the problem is that Republicans are mean.
So here’s a thing the Media Matters “Senior Fellow” tweeted today, screencapped for all eternity.
Just like Columbine. Just like white, suburban, Christian kids. You know, the real enemy.
I didn’t think Boehlert could stoop any lower than he does every two weeks, just cashing his paycheck.
I was wrong.
So, ObamaCare is unloved by the public, it’s small-business protections can’t be implemented on time, has its pilot program already running out of money, has the Fed squealing that it’s costing jobs, screws the young, hurts the poor, is reducing fulltime workers to parttime drudgery, is forcing premiums to go up-up-up, is adding more than $6 trillion-with-a-T to longterm deficits, will force seven million workers off private insurance, is eliminating coverage for spouses and dependents, and has at least one union screaming for relief, all to the point where even Democrats are calling for at least a partial repeal…
…and this has Kevin Drum saying, “I’ll bet that by this time next year it will be up and running and basically doing its job.”
Actually, the problem might be that ObamaCare is doing its job.
Over at Politico, here’s how Glenn Thrush and Reid Epstein see yesterday’s Senate vote on gun control:
Never before had President Barack Obama put the moral force and political muscle of his presidency behind an issue quite this big — and lost quite this badly.
The president, shaken to the core by the massacre of 26 innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School, broke his own informal “Obama Rule” — of never leaning into an issue without a clear path to victory — first by pushing for a massive gun control package no one expected to pass, and then sticking through it even as he retrenched to a relatively modest bipartisan bill mandating national background checks on gun purchases.
Ignore the spin there, where they claim that Obama made his big push because he just cares so much, unlike all you mean conservatives who want children to die of gun poisoning or whatever. But the fact is, yes, Obama spent a lot of his political capital, maybe all of it, for nothing. He got the vote he demanded, but couldn’t get the votes he needed.
But there’s more to it, and for that let’s go to Powerline’s John Hinderaker:
But why was Obama so angry? I wrote here that it was odd for Obama to make gun control the signature issue of his second term, since there has never been any chance of significant gun control legislation being enacted. It couldn’t possibly get through the House. So why, today, was he so irate about its failure in the Senate?
As we have noted more than once, pretty much everything Obama does is intended to stir up the Democratic Party’s base to drive turnout in 2014. Obama knows he can’t do much of anything as long as the GOP holds the House, so his primary goal is to stoke outrage on the left, in hopes that 2014 will look like 2008 and 2012, and not like 2010.
It’s a strange strategy, especially given that only 4% of Americans think gun control is the top issue facing the nation — and those 4% were likely Democrat voters in 2014, anyway. And then there’s the other risk Obama took and lost: GOP voters saw their Senators — most of their Senators — stand firm on an issue they care deeply about.
But Obama only knows how to stir up his base by using anger, fear, and resentment. Instead, he’s inadvertently given conservatives a positive reason to show up at the polls next year, while simultaneously demonstrating to his base that their duck is very lame indeed.
The Conference Board’s leading economic index declined 0.1% in March to 94.7, following a 0.5% increase in February, and a 0.5% increase in January.
“The leading indicator still points to a continuing but slow growth environment,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at the Conference Board. “Weakness in consumer expectations and housing permits was offset by the positive interest rate spread and other financial components.”
The coincident economic index, a measure of current conditions, is down since December due to a large decline in personal income, he said.
White House economic advisor Rosy Scenario could not be reached for comment.
United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers International President Kinsey M. Robinson issued the following statement today calling for a repeal or complete reform of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA):
“Our Union and its members have supported President Obama and his Administration for both of his terms in office.
But regrettably, our concerns over certain provisions in the ACA have not been addressed, or in some instances, totally ignored. In the rush to achieve its passage, many of the Act’s provisions were not fully conceived, resulting in unintended consequences that are inconsistent with the promise that those who were satisfied with their employer sponsored coverage could keep it.
The official White House response came from spokesman Eric Stratton, who said, “You f—– up… you trusted us.”
Why was the death-to-injury ratio so low in Boston? Because the terrorists wanted it that way:
The explosives that killed three people and injured more than 170 during the Boston Marathon on Monday were most likely rudimentary devices made from ordinary kitchen pressure cookers, except they were rigged to shoot sharp bits of shrapnel into anyone within reach of their blast and maim them severely, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
It takes a fiendish kind of sadism to come up with the idea of ripping the legs off of runners, and then to figure out the exact best way to do it.
Bombshell from LifeSiteNews.
At some point, the mainstream media has got to run out of squirrels, yes?
UPDATE: I’d originally read the linked story to mean Gosnell was involved. My mistake.
From The Telegraph:
In a country whose attitude to wealth is deeply ambivalent, the move has sparked a political row over whether it is a bold move towards greater transparency and accountability or a populist, counterproductive act of voyeurism.
The government hopes the measure will help turn the page on a hugely damaging scandal over tax fraud charges meted against former-budget minister Jerome Cahuzac, the man tasked with fighting tax evasion, after he admitted having a secret Swiss bank account.
My first thought was, you just knew this had to be an article from The Telegraph because it opened with a dig at French ethics. I’ll add my own and mention that “French ethics” is probably an oxymoron.
My second thought was that this new rule both goes too far — and doesn’t go far enough. I don’t need, or even have any prurient want to know, exactly how many Picassos Nancy Pelosi has stashed in her golden San Francisco underground treasure halls. You know, the one with the Hope Diamond knocker on the platinum gates.
But we do know that an awful lot of politicians go to Washington with only modest means, and come out multimillionaires. I’m looking at you, Harry Reid — even though it makes my contact lenses shrivel. And let’s not forget that there are probably privacy penumbras emanating all over DC, which just absolutely require that our betters keep all the details to themselves.
So instead I’d like to propose a different solution than the one France just embraced, and I can sum it up with a single sentence:
Enter Washington, and your assets enter a blind trust.
All of them? All of them. Oh, maybe exclude a primary residence, so long as it isn’t worth 50% more than the median home price of the district or state they represent. But anything more than a simple passbook savings account goes into a blind trust for the duration of their public service — plus an extra quarter for each year served.
Failure to disclose would result in expulsion from office.
It should probably be applied to bureaucrats at or above the rank of GS/GM-15, too.
The hallowed halls of Congress have become a horrible insider trading center, with the people writing the laws practically sexting their stockbrokers as they were writing the laws. And that was before Congress just niftily voted to relax the rules even further. Wouldn’t you just love to see Pelosi’s shorts — short trades, that is — in the weeks leading up to the passage of ObamaCare? I bet it would be no wonder that she so ruthlessly twisted so many arms to get the thing passed.
There are makers and takers and breakers. For too long, the Insider Party running Washington has acted as all three — they make the laws to break our backs so they can take what they want.
If lawmakers want to control the public purse, they should lose control of their own.
At least “Plugs” Biden wasn’t making any penis comparisons. But how about a Ferrari? Here’s the Veep:
Vice President Joe Biden this morning said that the “cultural norm” about gun ownership has changed, arguing that many people buy guns, not for protection or hunting, but because “it’s like driving a Ferrari.”
“It used to be we were dealing almost exclusively with hunters,” Biden said on MSNBC. “There’s a whole new sort of group of individuals now who, I don’t know what the numbers are, that never hunt at all but they own guns for one of two reasons: self protection or they just like the feel of that AR-15 at the range.”
“They like the way it feels. You know, it’s like driving a Ferrari,” he said, raising his arms as if shooting a gun.
Actually, the Veep is right — shooting is a bit like driving a Ferrari. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re going to get somebody killed. That’s why we learn range safety. That’s why the owners of supercars take high-speed driving lessons. Fast cars and projectile weapons are serious business, and serious people treat them as such.
But they’re also both a whole helluva lot of fun.
Any activity that requires skill and practice to do well becomes fun. It’s fun to go to the track and perform a perfect bootlegger turn at high speed. (Or at least I imagine it would be.) It’s fun to put steel downrange on target.
It has nothing to do with penis size, no matter what a liberal might think about a powerful rifle or a fast car. It has everything to do with obtaining a difficult skill, and then honing it over time to do it as best you’re able.
But liberalism has become a philosophy of enforced mediocrity, so of course Biden belittles those who take difficult task seriously, and then take pleasure in making it look easy.
Jake Tapper and Jennifer Rizzo reporting for CNN:
U.S .troops, he said, had immediate problems surging into the North Korea-like country. V-22 Ospreys zoomed U.S. soldiers deep beyond the border, but with reinforcements so far behind they were quickly surrounded by the enemy and needed to be pulled out. American troops eventually made it over the border, but with nuclear sites located in populated areas, their mission became more difficult. U.S. forces made humanitarian aid drops to draw people out of the cities.
“They made the game as difficult as possible to really test their capabilities,” said McLeary. “They’re very concerned about being able to get troops who can deal with nuclear and chemical weapons where they need them quickly. And the fact [is] that over the past ten or twelve years, they haven’t really invested in that capability so much. They’ve invested in counterinsurgency, ground vehicles, IED threats, but they haven’t really spent a lot of time and money modernizing their nuclear and chemical troops.”
In the end it takes the U.S. a force of 90,000 troops and 56 days to secure “North Brownland’s” nuclear weapons.
A lot of bad can happen in eight weeks.
According to two GOP operatives with knowledge of Crossroads’ operations, Barbour was upset with the way the new affiliate, the Conservative Victory Project, was rolled out on the front page of The New York Times in early February by the group’s president, Steven Law. “Barbour was blindsided and appalled at Law’s announcement in The New York Times about taking on the grassroots,” said one of the operatives. The three GOP operatives who spoke to The Huffington Post all requested anonymity to preserve their ties to the Crossroads groups.
Still, Barbour has indicated that he sees a rationale for the new victory project, calling it “a bad idea whose time has come.” Barbour’s comment was cited in an email that Law sent to Crossroads donors, according to a Politico report.
Barbour, who took on his part-time fundraising mission largely to oust Obama, is focusing more on the lobbying business he co-founded in the early 1990s, now called BGR Group, and giving speeches.
After last November’s debacle, I’m convinced American Crossroads does little more than use half-minute movies to funnel money from political donors to local TV station, so I’m not sure this is any big loss for the organization.
Newly disclosed documents prepared by IRS lawyers says that Americans enjoy “generally no privacy” in their e-mail, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and similar online communications — meaning that they can be perused without obtaining a search warrant signed by a judge.
That places the IRS at odds with a growing sentiment among many judges and legislators who believe that Americans’ e-mail messages should be protected from warrantless search and seizure. They say e-mail should be protected by the same Fourth Amendment privacy standards that require search warrants for hard drives in someone’s home, or a physical letter in a filing cabinet.
An IRS 2009 Search Warrant Handbook obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union argues that “emails and other transmissions generally lose their reasonable expectation of privacy and thus their Fourth Amendment protection once they have been sent from an individual’s computer.” The handbook was prepared by the Office of Chief Counsel for the Criminal Tax Division and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Back in the ’90s, the Clinton Administration was looking to install back door keys like the Clipper Chip in everyone’s computer and the NSA was reportedly using its supercomputers to scan jillions of emails for anything suspicious. So I had AOL (yes, I had AOL) add a custom signature to the end of my outgoing messages. Just a string of words like “bomb” and “IRS” and “fertilizer” and “marijuana” and “border” and “Colombia” and whatever else my devious little mind came up with at the time.
Let them chew through “Where do we want to go out drinking?” emails until the cows come home, I figured. Then 9/11 happened and security got serious and I stopped attaching those signatures.
Right now, though, I’m giving serious thought to bringing them back.
President Obama has spent weeks now pushing for gun control legislation which will do one of three things:
• Not make it out of the Senate.
• If it does, it won’t make it out of the House.
• If it makes it out of the House, it will be so watered down that it will annoy his base.
And then there’s the fourth thing, which will happen no matter what:
• Second Amendment voters will be energized like they haven’t been since that other off-year election against a gun-grabbing Democrat President in 1994.
Meanwhile, voter interest in gun control is waning, as it always does after spiking in the wake (can support really spike in a wake?) of a shooting tragedy like Newtown. Passions cool, legislation dies. Just the way it’s supposed to.
Instead, Obama is out there making big gun control speech after big gun control speech, trying to keep that support from flagging. Hey, it worked for ObamaCare!
It didn’t? Oh. Anyway.
I didn’t think the GOP had a puppy’s chance in an industrial blender of re-taking the Senate next year, but Obama’s big push might just help them do the impossible.
But gun control is so earlier-this-week. Just today, the President belatedly released his 2014 budget — which is DOA in the House and which already has the Progressive Left up in arms-they’d-like-to-ban. Here’s the skinny:
But Republicans argue they already consented to increased taxes as part of the fiscal crisis deal and have expressed little interest in negotiating another hike. And liberal Democrats — particularly powerful advocacy groups — have launched a series of campaigns to oppose the changes to Social Security.
Obama’s budget has enough tax hikes and smoke & mirrors for Republicans to reject it outright, and enough Social Security “cuts” to outrage the welfare peddlers. He’s like the donkey that starved to death in between two piles of other people’s money.
This makes two long and drawn-out battles where the President failed to pick a side and stick to it. He’s not in the “sensible middle,” as he likes to claim, but standing on the center line of a dodgeball court, shouting to both teams, “Hey, guys — don’t throw so hard!”
It’s difficult to imagine such tone-deafness coming from the same team that perfectly fixed and froze Mitt Romney almost a full year before the election with distractions like birth control and the phony “War on Women.”
One of those sad-because-its-true observations is that second presidential administrations rarely live up to the first. You’d think that with record long-term unemployment, anemic growth, failures in the Mideast, dangers in the Far East, and all the rest, that Obama in his second term would have nowhere to go but up.
Maybe he’s just hoping we’ve been down so long the bottom looks like up.
If not, then four more years ought to do it.
Now this is rich:
Pro-Obama group Organizing for Action lost a bid to take over the domain name organizingforaction.net from a computer technician in Colorado, the LA Times reports.
The technician, Derek Bovard, registered the name in January and configured it so that all visitors were immediately redirected to the web site of the National Rifle Association.
Pretty sloppy work for the group that pioneered postmodern e-electioneering.
From the official White House statement on Margaret Thatcher’s death:
Here in America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history—we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will. Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Thatcher family and all the British people as we carry on the work to which she dedicated her life—free peoples standing together, determined to write our own destiny.
Because returning Churchill’s bust and giving the Queen an iPod of Teh Won’s speeches is exactly like Thatcher & Reagan.
The last of the Big Three who took us to victory in the Cold War is gone. Reagan, then John Paul II, and now Thatcher. I haven’t googled it, but I doubt I’d be the first to call them the might, the soul, and the brains behind saving Western Civilization from its demented half-brother.
The fight isn’t over yet, of course. Culturally, progressives of the Left and the Right rule the day in most of Europe. And they’re well on their way to cementing their hold on this country. The threat of instant global nuclear annihilation is over, but the slow “ratchet” of vile progressivism remains. Mister, we could use a gal like Maggie Thatcher again.
I call her “the brains,” not because I fall into the old smear of Reagan as an “amiable dunce,” but because she wore hers on the outside where Reagan instead wore that sunny smile. And also because, given the nature of parliamentary politics (and British culture), Maggie could say impolitic things Reagan just couldn’t. “If you want to cut your own throat, don’t come to me for a bandage,” remains one of my favorites. Thatcher certainly destroyed more Tory men than she ever did men from the Left.
Thatcher joked that “When I’m out of politics I’m going to run a business, it’ll be called rent-a-spine.” While she was still in politics, she lent hers out for free. It was Thatcher who reminded President George HW Bush not to “go wobbly” in the face of Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait. It was her example that lent Helmut Kohl the courage and the cover to face down his own people and allow Reagan to deploy Pershing II missiles in West Germany. Those super-accurate, nuclear-tipped missiles went a long way to scaring the Soviets into signing the INF treaty. Moscow was revealed to be a paper tiger.
The Dour Old Men of the Conservative Party finally got their revenge on Thatcher at the end of 1990. A revolt led by Michael Heseltine forced Maggie out, and then she was succeeded by the deeply uninteresting John Major. While they might have had the last laugh, I’ll give Thatcher the last word:
If… many influential people have failed to understand, or have just forgotten, what we were up against in the Cold War and how we overcame it, they are not going to be capable of securing, let alone enlarging, the gains that liberty has made.
Thatcher was the first major western leader to roll back the “gains” made by the Left. Reagan was the last. I fear we may not see their likes again.
[Cross-posted from VodkaPundit.com.]
Jeremy Irons has come out of the closet — as a Hollywood libertarian. Check this out:
Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons ripped into New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, likening his proposed restrictions on cigarettes and soda to a “nanny state.”
“I’m a complete libertarian,” the “Brideshead Revisited” star said in an interview Wednesday with HuffPost Live. “I think it’s very, very dangerous. I really mean that. I think the smoking ban is a tip of an iceberg of society — the leaders of society telling us how to be.”
“I think it’s not [the government’s] business,” Mr. Irons said. “I think it is their business to tell us to care for and respect each other and each other’s happiness and each other’s health, and we are responsible enough to do that … It’s an attitude, it’s an attitude where the governors think ‘we know what’s best for people, and they’re so stupid that they would only not do it if we ban it.’”
I just started into Season 2 of The Borgias the other night, and I was, as always, completely drawn in by yet another entrancing performance by Irons. Now I have yet another reason to be a fan.
If you’re up for something that will make your skin crawl, check out Irons as troubled twin gynecologists in David Cronenberg’s 1988 movie, Dead Ringers. It’s not for everyone, but it’s the movie that made me an Irons fan.
Simon & Schuster announced Thursday that it will publish the former secretary of State’s memoir next year.
The tentative publication date is June 2014, and will likely inspire a book tour that will be filled with speculation about whether Clinton will seek the presidency in 2016.
Financial terms were not disclosed; Clinton received $8 million for her 2003 memoir Living History, also published by Simon & Schuster.
Maybe this time she’ll remember to thank her ghostwriter.
The Walt Disney Company is to shut down LucasArts, the games developer responsible for the Star Wars series of games.
The company plans to licence the Star Wars games brand to other developers…
“Both current Star Wars games projects have been halted,” Mr Perkins confirmed.
Full Throttle, Sam & Max, TIE Fighter, and Civilization pretty much defined gaming for me in the ’90s. All but Civ were created by LucasArts.
This is all we have so far. Stay tuned.
Business Insider reports that White House communications honcho Dan Pfeiffer is no fan of Matt Drudge:
Pfeiffer said that he’ll often be approached by reporters who say they have a question strictly because “it’s on Drudge.”
“What do you say to that?” Allen asked him.
“I sort of ask them to repeat themselves — say that to themselves out loud again and think about it,” Pfeiffer said. “And everyone’s always a little embarrassed about it and says, ‘My boss — my assignment editor’s on me about this.’”
I say, make it official. Pfeiffer needs to start a Drudge Shaming tumblr, just like they do for bad dogs.
I’ll even go first.
Witness yet another dance in the Revolving Door Tango between Washington and K Street.
That’s Jake Tapper from his new CNN show, and here’s an excerpt of the transcript from his blog:
Today CNN learned the former head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Mary Schapiro is joining a consulting firm which advises financial firms.
The mission of the S.E.C. is “to protect investors and maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets.” Schapiro took the helm at the embattled S.E.C. in June 2009. And while many praise her for restoring the reputation of the agency at that time, she has also been criticized for never fully holding Wall Street accountable for the worst misdeeds that caused the financial crisis.
A conservative or libertarian reads stories like this and says, “Well of course rent-seeking big businesses find willing accomplices in big government — the money is just too good.”
It’s always nice to see a mainstream reporter at a major network (if we can stretch the definition of major to cover CNN these days) take on a corruption story like this one. But there’s something missing from the outrage, whether it’s genuine or just a bit of cover for everything else CNN does.
So what’s missing? An exploration of how this kind of corruption is routine and inherent to a massive regulatory state. Outrage over a singular case is easily forgotten, and I can’t help but think that’s part of the larger strategy with busting these cases — the authorities have to let a Christian beat the lion once in a while.
If the MSM would show how the system was rigged for and by Big Government and Big Business, people would demand change. Instead, we get the occasional virtual perp walk to keep our frustrations in check.
You’re a good reporter, Jake — so now show us the really big picture. Here are a few questions to get you started:
• Why really is the tax code so complicated — who benefits?
• What effect does massive regulation have on massive businesses — who loses?
• What makes people like Schapiro worth so much in the private sector — what are their skills?
That ought to keep you busy for a while, Jake. Now get at ‘em.
Even the AP calls it Obama’s “image machine.” Here’s how it works:
A photo of the Obamas hugging that was released on Election Day 2012 has become the world’s most popular tweet on Twitter. A dressed-up version of Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, packed with charts and graphs, is huge on YouTube. A playful picture of the president cavorting with a 3-year-old in a Spiderman costume is a favorite online.
It’s all courtesy of the Obama “image machine,” serving up a stream of words, images and videos that invariably cast the president as commanding, compassionate and on the ball. In this world, Obama’s family is always photogenic, first dog Bo is always well-behaved and the vegetables in the South Lawn kitchen garden always seem succulent.
You’ll have to look elsewhere for bloopers, bobbles or contrary points of view.
Capitalizing on the possibilities of the digital age, the Obama White House is generating its own content like no president before, and refining its media strategies in the second term in hopes of telling a more compelling story than in the first.
Maybe I’m a cynic, but at some point won’t somebody demand that he actually [REDACTED] deliver?
Move over Cyprus, the looters are swarming over Stockton. The city is in bankruptcy, and an important decision will come down today:
Bond-holders, taxpayers and government officials throughout the country will be listening to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein’s expected ruling on Monday as he decides whether the city may remain in bankruptcy and pursue a plan that stiffs its bond-holders.
If Klein sides with the city, then municipalities will face a disturbingly low bar for pursuing bankruptcy. They will be emboldened to choose Stockton’s course—i.e., using bankruptcy as a strategic policy tool to offload debts without having to confront the main reasons that they went bankrupt in the first place, such as lush pensions. Bankruptcy will no longer be a policy of last resort. This should have an impact on bond markets.
If the city wins the case, argued March 25-27 in the Sacramento federal courthouse, then the public-sector unions and the scandal-plagued California Public Employees Retirement System are right. No matter what problems befall a city, public services and taxpayers suffer first while union members and public retirement systems are protected.
Just ask Chrysler bondholder if it’s possible to have the law set aside to protect the unions in Obama’s America.
UPDATE: As if on cue, the bankruptcy judge moves against the bondholders.
It doesn’t make the news like the Great GOP Civil War, but fissures are showing up amongst Democrats, too. Jack Kelly has the bullet points:
• Unions want the Keystone XL pipeline.
• Liberals exploded in outrage last week when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he wouldn’t schedule a vote on a bill to reinstate the “assault weapons” ban, forcing him to back down.
• Another fracture is between black parents in big cities, who desperately want their children to get a good education, and teacher unions, the chief reason why they don’t.
• The Congressional Budget Office has nearly doubled (to $1.6 trillion from $898 billion) its estimate of Obamacare’s cost over 10 years.
That last point is a curious one, because it’s hardly a real matter of contention amongst Democrats. Breaking the health insurance system — and then, by golly, using the resulting crisis to institute single payer — is a beloved feature of ObamaCare. If anything, that’s what will bring them back together.
In the end, the unions will get bought off of Keystone, and cheaply, too. They simply don’t have the clout they once enjoyed. Gun control will is off the table and will stay there, because Harry Reid doesn’t want to lose the Senate, and this is the issue which could make it happen. And until blacks give up Democrat identity politics and start voting for some Republicans, they’ll never get what they want on education.
So going forward, as they like to say, the Democrats are looking pretty solid. Nothing is going to change that until the GOP steps up and starts winning some contested elections.
California hiked taxes and now everything’s fine there. No, really.
Look, as a professional blogger I have to read a lot of stupid… stuff. But it’s been a long time — I mean, we have to go back almost two years — since I’ve read anything so brain-puddingly dumb as Timothy Egan’s column for the New York Times “Opinionater.”
Bear with me now as we journey inside:
Right on cue, just as the chorus of California-hating naysayers have signed off on yet another obituary — It’s Greece! A liberal nightmare! Everyone’s leaving! — the Golden State is dreaming once again.
Following a tax hike backed by voters last year, California is projecting a budget surplus in the near future, and big pockets of the state are national leaders in job creation and population growth.
Those “big pockets” are, from top to bottom, San Diego, Los Angeles, and the western half of the San Francisco Bay Area. And that’s about it, except maybe for the nicer bits of Sacramento. The rest of the state, as our own Victor Davis Hanson has illustrated, is exactly the basketcase everybody (but Egan) knows it is.
The California of middle-class dreams is dead. Those “pockets” are of the increasingly rich, taxed increasingly high, to keep at bay an increasingly dependent underclass. The rest of the state is hollowing out, as small business flees Sacramento’s increasingly Byzantine diktats. Of course, that is the Progressive vision of political perfection.
And yet it gets worse. Egan’s column, I mean:
Of greater significance, two of the biggest public works projects in American history — a $68 billion bullet train that will speed people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2 hours and 38 minutes, and a huge re-plumbing of the state’s biggest river and delta system — are moving forward. If they come together as planned, these ventures will lay the foundation for a California of 60 million people that may actually be more livable than the state that now has 38 million.
60 million people taking the high-speed train, huh? That boondoggle that might never get built? I’m curious where those extra 22 million are going to come from, after reading this report from Bill Watkins:
California’s poverty statistics are just as depressing. The state now is home to one-third of all US welfare recipients. According to a Census Bureau report, The Research SUPPLEMENTAL POVERTY REPORT: 2011 California has the nation’s highest poverty rate of any state. By its Supplemental Poverty Measure, 23.5 percent of California’s population is poor, while only 15.8 percent of the nation’s population is poor. No other state is above 20 percent.
Because of its aging and increasingly poor population, its dearth of young people and migratory trends, demand for government services in California will be increasing as the number of people available to pay for those services will be decreasing. Financing concurrent expenses will be hard enough. Paying for today’s excesses may prove impossible…
Domestic migration is important because it should be seen as an early warning signal of eventual decline. Migrants are the proverbial “canaries in the coal mine”. When domestic migration is negative, people are voting with their feet. They are saying that California doesn’t provide enough opportunity to stay, particularly given its high cost of living. Given how comfortable it is to live in California, I think they make that decision reluctantly.
Egan’s view of California is no different from standing in the well-appointed living room of a well-to-do serial killer, and congratulating him on his good taste — while ignoring the screams of the coeds chained to the water heater in the dank basement.
And yet Egan’s column gets even worse, letting loose cries of right-wing racism and accusations of being unpatriotic:
But there is something irrational, indeed unpatriotic, in rooting for California to fail, as so many conservatives are now doing. Sure, they are upset that the Republican Party is dead in this state — R.I.P. G.O.P. And, among the fringes, there are those who cannot accept that California is a minority-majority state, with whites making up about 39 percent of the population. They’ve seen the future and don’t like it one bit.
I won’t even bother trying to trump Egan’s race card, because it has lost its sting. But I will finish with one last thought.
We on the right aren’t rooting for California to fail. But we are desperately afraid that it will — and take the rest of the country with it.
Francois Hollande lurches Right in historic U-Turn to save French economy
French president François Hollande has bowed to massive pressure for business tax cuts to pull France’s economy out of slump and stave off industrial decline, ditching a core element of his socialist platform.
Hollande, unlike certain other presidents I won’t name, seems able to learn from his failures.
A quick search of America’s “newspaper of record” shows… nada.
And do please enjoy the free British press while there still is one.
Here’s the ‘Hammer on Special Report:
“What’s amazing here I think is how small Cyprus is and how relatively small the problem is,” Mr. Krauthammer told Shannon Bream, was filling in for host Brett Baier.
“I mean, this is one country that Apple could purchase, and have a lot left,” he continued. “It could own the island and call it, you know, iCyprus or something, and have all this cash left over.”
Nah. The looters would never tolerate the competition.
There’s video at the link, but this quote from Steve Forbes ought to shock you right down to your socks:
Before a final deal was done, Forbes penned a piece explaining why Cyprus could be a disaster for all of us, lamenting the attempt to seize depositors money. But with a final bailout agreed upon that saves insured depositors, is it less of a disaster?
“Not really,” he tells The Daily Ticker. “Because the idea’s out there that now in a crisis politicians won’t hesitate to seize any asset they can lay their hands on. So it just guarantees more fear in the future when a crisis comes, which it will come.”
On the other side of the Atlantic, the European Central Bank isn’t allowed to run the printing presses like Ben Bernanke has been doing at the Fed these last few years. So, the grubby statists will seize whatever assets they can get their panicked little hands on.
On this side of the Atlantic, the grubby statists will keep the printing presses running until the value of your assets (and their debts) is inflated away.
I’m reminded of Ellsworth Toohey’s big speech to Peter Keating in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. Only instead of the examples being Eastern Europe and Western Europe, it’s the eurozone and Obama’s America. Here he is:
Look at Europe, you fool. Can’t you see past the guff and recognise the essence? One country is dedicated to the proposition that man has no rights, that the collective is all. The individual held as evil, the mass – as God. No motive and no virtue permitted – except that of service to the proletariat.
That’s one version. Here’s another. A country dedicated to the proposition that man has no rights, that the State is all. The individual held as evil, the race – as God. No motive and no virtue permitted – except that of service to the race. Am I raving or is this the harsh reality of two continents already ? If you’re sick of one version, we push you in the other. We’ve fixed the coin. Heads – collectivism. Tails – collectivism.
One way or another, the State will take what it likes.
For a book written before the Second World War, I’d say it’s aged pretty well — wouldn’t you?