Get PJ Media on your Apple

VodkaPundit

Monthly Archives: February 2009

She Does Have a License for That

February 11th, 2009 - 8:40 am

You’ve got to be kidding:

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — The city of Lakewood has passed a new law regulating escort services as a way of cracking down on prostitutes who place ads or make deals on the Internet.
“The market is transitioning from the streets to the internet,” said Lakewood Police Chief Kevin Paletta.

With just a few clicks of the mouse, you can find it all on the internet. Exotic dancers, VIP packages and the list goes on. All of them showing addresses close to W. Colfax.

“They hide behind the ‘escort’ title as a way to try and legitimize an illegal activity,” said Paletta.

That’s right: They’ve finally found a way to tax… thingy

Tuesdays Suck

February 10th, 2009 - 8:35 am

Wow. Whatever the new bug is, it’s not fun. You know you’re sick when you put on a heavy robe and long underwear to get in to bed. Better today, thankfully. Just can’t wait (probably March) when the new endocrinologist decides to go ahead and kill off my thyroid. ‘Cause this whole extra-susceptibility-to-colds-and-flu thing is driving me nuts.

Mondays Suck

February 9th, 2009 - 7:51 am

Lost my voice after the blogger bash Saturday night. Figured it was just a case of talking too much politics with too many guys in too noisy a bar. Woke up this morning without so much as a squeak for a voice.

That said, I’m pretty sure I can still type. Back in a a few after I catch up with the news and take the dog to the vet. And gargle a little more saltwater, just in case.

Once More, With Feeling

February 6th, 2009 - 11:10 am

[This makes twice this week that VodkaPundit Perma-Co-Guest-Blogger Will Collier has snuck out of his undisclosed location to file another great post. Take it away, Will...]

All of this has happened before; all of this will happen again.

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for the bygone days of 1993, which up until last month was the last time a Democratic president took office accompanied by Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.

After campaigning for a year and a half decrying “the worst economy in the last 50 years”–despite the fact that the mild recession of 1990-91 actually ended in March of ’91–one of Bill Clinton’s first priorities was to try and ram through (wait for it) a “stimulus package.” Back in those days, politicians hadn’t yet realized that they could add another three zeroes to their raids on everybody else’s pockets, so the Clinton bill was by today’s outlandish standards relatively modest, starting at a mere $30 billion dollars. Most of that was sold as “targeted stimulus,” which meant it was carefully targeted to pay off Democratic grandees and constituencies that had contributed to the 1992 campaign

All of this has happened before; all of this will happen again.

Things did not go all that swimmingly for the Clinton “stimulus” package. By the middle of February, the bill had stalled in the Senate thanks to a Republican filibuster, and the White House sent out its chief economic advisor, Laura D’Andrea Tyson, to warn of the wonderful results should this recalcitrance end:

“The administration estimates that the stimulus package, taken by itself, will add about 0.3 percent to the annual growth rates of real gross domestic project in 1993 and 1994, creating 500,000 additional jobs by the end of 1994,” Tyson said. She forecast economic growth of 3.1 percent this year and 3.3 percent in 1994 if the package is approved.

The Clinton “stimulus” bill failed, going down to final defeat on April 22, 1993. It was never revived. As we all know, the American economy never recovered–oh, wait, that’s not correct. A year later, despite the non-presence of a federal “stimulus” law, unemployment had dropped from 7.1% to to 6.6%. Tyson’s growth prediction was not quite correct, either; the US GDP positively boomed in the fourth quarter of 1993 to the tune of 5.5%, and rose by 4% in 1994–all without the help of Clinton’s “stimulus” package.

The boom accelerated in the second half of the decade, with the greatest gains being realized from 1995 onwards–after the Democrats had been swept out of Congressional power, and as a result, Clinton’s penchants for tax hikes and big spending packages were effectively neutered. There were no grand “stimulus” packages from that point on, only good, old-fashioned gridlock that kept the government from raising taxes or spending to outrageous excess.

All of this has happened before… and if we’re very lucky, all of this will happen again.

You’ve Got to be Kidding Me

February 6th, 2009 - 10:19 am

Well, this might explain all those pictures of Vladimir Putin posing shirtless.

Must-See Opining

February 6th, 2009 - 6:42 am

This week’s column is up on the PJ Media home page.

“We created this mess.”

February 5th, 2009 - 12:30 pm

Senator Tom Coburn on the Pork Package:

You cannot fix a problem until you know what the problem is. And the problem is us. We created this mess.”

Amen.

Paying the Piper

February 5th, 2009 - 11:44 am

Should Keith Olbermann’s salary be capped? Conservativepunk explains.

From Will Collier via Remote Control

February 5th, 2009 - 11:13 am

[VodkaPundit's perma-co-guest blogger Will Collier checks in from an undisclosed location...]

The current debate over the monstrous and misnamed “stimulus bill” is bringing out the worst of the established Washington press corps. For a group that up until three weeks ago prided itself on “speaking truth to power,” this bunch is awfully comfortable with unexamined ideological assumptions, so long as power is in the hand of people who share those assumptions.

At Newsweek and the Politico, it’s taken as a given that the House Democrats’ monster of a spending bill is a benign attempt to save a faltering economy, and that any opposition to it is by definition illegitimate “playing politics.” Here’s Politico’s Jeanne Cummings, pausing in a column full of hosannas for The One to toss out a 20-year-old leftoid gripe about those meanies on the AM dial:

Despite Obama’s sky high personal approval ratings, polls show support has declined for his stimulus bill since Republicans and their conservative talk-radio allies began railing against what they labeled as pork barrel spending within it.

[snip]

[W]hile the White House team struggled to adapt, it was business as usual on Capitol Hill for Republicans.

They could practically sleep-walk through their attack plan once House Democrats began to fill in Obama’s broad outlines for a stimulus with a few pet projects of their own.

It required two simple steps: Scream pork, call Rush Limbaugh.

Actually, Jeanne, it was The Savior who quite stupidly called out Limbaugh, bringing him back to the forefront of national political scene after several years in relative obscurity (although anybody with an audience the size of Rush’s–easily comparable to Obama’s vaunted 13 million email addresses–is never going to be all that far away from the political center ring). It’s also worth noting that Cummings assumes as a matter of course that any accusation of “pork” from the right must be false–but she can’t even keep her own narrative straight. Further down in her “analysis” piece, she notes,


[I]t’s hardly a secret that the president found unhelpful the House Democrats’ decision to slip funding for special groups into its version of his stimulus bill.

Funding to allow Medicaid programs to provide contraceptives as part of its family planning services to low income recipients was the Republicans’ first easy mark for attacking the legislation.

“How you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives — how does that stimulate the economy?” House Minority Leader John Boehner asked.

With a phone call from the White House, Obama had that provision stripped from the legislation but the damage was done and Republicans soon moved to the next so-called pork project to launch a new attack.

Um, which is it, Jeanne? Is the bill larded up with “funding for special groups,” as you note in one sentence, or is all that just blithely dismissible as “so-called pork,” just a couple of lines later? Why exactly is it out of bounds to point out–or God forbid, get rid of–money being appropriated for no particular good use?

Ah, well. Like they say on The Simpsons, cartoons don’t have to be consistent.

Even more laughably, Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh manages to double-back on himself at least twice in this convoluted graph:

Obama’s desire to begin a “post-partisan” era may have backfired. In his eagerness to accommodate Republicans and listen to their ideas over the past week, he has allowed the GOP to turn the haggling over the stimulus package into a decidedly stale, Republican-style debate over pork, waste and overspending. This makes very little economic sense when you are in a major recession that only gets worse day by day. Yes, there are still some very legitimate issues with a bill that’s supposed to be “temporary” and “targeted”—among them, large increases in permanent entitlement spending, and a paucity of tax cuts that will prompt immediate spending. Even so, Obama has allowed Congress to grow embroiled in nitpicking over efficiency when the central debate should be about whether the package is big enough. When you are dealing with a stimulus of this size, there are going to be wasteful expenditures and boondoggles. There’s no way anyone can spend $800 to $900 billion quickly without waste and boondoggles. It comes with the Keynesian territory. This is an emergency; the normal rules do not apply.

I really love all that. Hirsh walks right up to considering the idea that the Pelosi payoffs might be just kind of unwarranted, but than shrugs it off with a “Nah, it’s more important to just borrow and spend a buttload of money and not worry too much about where it’s going.” It’s as perfect an expression of establishment Washington groupthink as you’re ever likely to read. Any consideration that this monstrosity wouldn’t do much of anything to help the economy at large is brushed away as “stale, Republican-style debate over pork.”

Here’s Beltway grandee Norm Ornstein in The New Republic, bemoaning the growth in lobbyists and their salaries relative to Congresscritters and staffers:

In 1969, a member of Congress earned $42,500. Today, the pay is nearly four times that, $169,300. But in 1969, the salary of a first-year associate at prime Washington firms was around $10,000–while today, the starting pay for a first-year associate is $160,000, not including hefty bonuses for those who have clerked for a federal judge. Back then, a senior partner in a Washington law firm would earn a bit more than a member of Congress; today, that partner might make ten times a congressional salary.

The disparities have grown even sharper with lobbyists. In 1969, a newly minted lobbyist with solid Capitol Hill experience could count on making a touch more than the $10,000 they earned as congressional staff. Today, the congressional staffer making $50,000 can look at a peer making five or six times that much as a lobbyist. An assistant secretary in an executive department can make similar multiples upon leaving office and taking up lobbying. The explosion of public relations and lobbying firms has meant that huge conglomerates like Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy, Hill & Knowlton, and WPP have bought up boutique firms created by former executive branch and congressional staffers, turning these staffers into instant multi-millionaires.

To his credit, Ornstein does admit just why there’s been so much growth in lobbyist and lawyer salaries:

In 1970, the federal budget was all of $195 billion. Today, the budget is over $3 trillion.

With so many federal dollars at stake, the capital injected into the system to influence government decisions has exploded.

… but, captive as anybody else to the Washington spend-first-ask-questions-later mentality, he never draws the obvious conclusion: if you want to get money out of Washington, then the government should take spend a whole hell of a lot less of it. Instead, Ornstein goes off on the normal goo-goo tangent, talking about restrictions on lobbyists and ethics reform packages and such. All well and good, I suppose, but also nowhere near as necessary if we simply had a government that didn’t trowel out so damn much cash, and exert so damn much influence over individuals and businesses, who then think they have to hire lobbyists to protect themselves–or try and get their own piece of the piggy pie.

Scare Tactics

February 5th, 2009 - 10:35 am

And now we know just how low a brand-new president can go:

President Barack Obama warned on Thursday that failure to act on an economic recovery package could plunge the nation into a long-lasting recession that might prove irreversible, a fresh call to a recalcitrant Congress to move quickly.

In an op-ed piece in The Washington Post, the president argued that each day without his stimulus package, Americans lose more jobs, savings and homes. His message came as congressional leaders struggle to control the huge stimulus bill that’s been growing larger by the day in the Senate. The addition of a new tax break for homebuyers Wednesday evening sent the price tag well past $900 billion.

Well, no.

The solution isn’t easy, but there is a solution — and one where future generations won’t have to pay for the President/Pelosi Political Payoff Pork Package.

1. Keep the banking system solvent, and quickly. Federal assistance to write off bad debts is probably necessary — and TARP probably has that covered. Speed here is of the essence.

2. Take our lumps. A nasty recession where individuals put off consumption and pay off debts simply has to happen.

3. We have charities and a social safety net to make sure individuals and families aren’t going hungry.

4. After the hangover, we can start spending like sailors again.

And there you have it.

Outrage

February 5th, 2009 - 9:33 am

Now you know just how low a terrorist organization can sink:

After Samira Jassam (or Jassim) was arrested by Iraqi police, she admitted to arranging the rapes of 80 women in an effort to prepare the women to be suicide bombers in Iraq. The confession is captured on video tape.

The rapes were apparently used as a means of shaming women into being more likely to commit suicide. After putting the women through such torture, Jassam took the women to their targets.

There’s really nothing else to say.

Pricing Signals

February 5th, 2009 - 8:42 am

Ken Salazar certainly knows how to lengthen a recession:

Scolding the Bush administration for rushing in its final days to drill near treasured Utah national parks, President Barack Obama’s new Interior secretary Wednesday shelved oil and gas leases sold during a chaotic December auction.

Ken Salazar’s action — which drew cheers from conservationists and sneers from industry representatives — triggered questions about the validity of costly land-use plans governing development and recreation on federal lands in the Beehive State, the fate of a University of Utah student who sabotaged the disputed lease auction and the future of drilling in the West.

Falling commodity prices — especially for oil — are a great way to get people spending money again, or giving them enough extra income to pay down some debts. Instead, we seem determined to send the message that we just love expensive energy. I’d expect the oil markets to respond accordingly.

Must-See PJTV

February 4th, 2009 - 2:32 pm

Live in five on today’s Blogger Roundtable. All stimulus, all the time!

Take the Money and Worf

February 4th, 2009 - 1:22 pm

No way. Yes way:

Colorado Springs police are looking for a man who hit two 7-Eleven convenience stores early Wednesday, armed with a Klingon sword.

The first robbery was reported at 1:50 a.m., at 145 N Spruce St. The clerk told police a white man in his 20s, wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and wearing a black mask, entered the store with a weapon the clerk recognized from the Star Trek TV series.

The robber demanded money and left with an undisclosed amount.

Police do not believe the suspect to be dangerous, and have set their phasers on “stun.”

And Now for Something Completely Different

February 4th, 2009 - 12:12 pm

He beat a very brave retreat,
Bravest of the brave, Obama!

Navigating the Red Planet

February 4th, 2009 - 11:22 am

Google Maps isn’t just limited to Earth any more. You can now take a 3D tour of Mars:

Besides providing a rich, immersive 3D view of Mars that will aid public understanding of Mars science, the new mode, Google Mars 3D, also gives researchers a platform for sharing data similar to what Google Earth provides for Earth scientists.

The mode enables users to fly virtually through enormous canyons and scale huge mountains on Mars that are much larger than any found on Earth. Users also can explore the Red Planet through the eyes of the Mars rovers and other Mars missions, providing a unique perspective of the entire planet.

Probably the coolest thing you’ll see all week.

All’s Well That Plays Well

February 4th, 2009 - 10:03 am

Did you see this ad the New York Times has been running online? A simple banner, with very few words — but it’s pretty effective at getting its message across, I think.

Maybe a little too effective, if you know what I mean. Is it just me, or has the NYT ad department just given the President a ringing endorsement? It’s one thing when the editorial page makes an endorsement, but a banner ad? Really?

All’s Well That Spends Well

February 4th, 2009 - 9:03 am

Rasmussen’s tracking polls show support for the President/Pelosi Pork Package is slipping:

Fifty percent (50%) of U.S. voters say the final economic recovery plan that emerges from Congress is at least somewhat likely to make things worse rather than better, but 39% say such an outcome is not likely (see crosstabs).

Twenty-seven percent (27%) say the final legislation is Very Likely to make things worse, while just seven percent (7%) say it’s Not at All Likely to have that effect, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Support for the legislation has been slipping over the past two weeks and a plurality now oppose it.

It’s going to be difficult to sell the Senate on a trillion-dollar gamble that’s opposed by a near-majority of voters.

All’s Well That Ends Well

February 4th, 2009 - 8:28 am

Hollywood has lost its bailout money. Sniff.

(Hat tip, Agent Bedhead.)

What Else Can You Buy for $20 Million?

February 3rd, 2009 - 12:50 pm

Hollywood “investments” in government garner a 12-fold return:

A provision in the current “stimulus” bill would allow Hollywood moguls to write off half the production and filming costs of big-budget films and TV shows.

Backed by Walt Disney and the Motion Picture Association of America, the provision amounts to an estimated $246 million Hollywood tax break over 11 years.

It’s the least Democrats can do for some of their richest and most generous supporters, who gave nearly $20 million in campaign contributions to Democrats during the 2008 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Stimulating.

Breaking

February 3rd, 2009 - 10:50 am

Just seen on Twitter — Daschle is out.

Lessons Learned

February 3rd, 2009 - 10:37 am

After the 2006 debacle in Lebanon, the Israeli Air Force changed its ways in time for the Gaza War:

The air force tracked targets outside areas where Israeli ground troops were operating, and trained to find, and keep tabs on, key Hamas personnel and weapons (like rockets), and hit them when there weren’t many (preferably any) civilians around. Each brigade also had its own attack helicopter squadron, which the brigade commander could use any way he saw fit. But he also had in his headquarters, an experienced attack helicopter pilot to advise on how best to use the gunships. Again, the idea was to use aircraft and helicopters more quickly and accurately.

Unlike 2006, the air force did not underestimate the enemy this time.

That last bit was probably the hardest lesson to learn.

A Taxing Issue

February 3rd, 2009 - 9:46 am

Senator Jim DeMint wants Tom Daschle to just go away already:

DeMint told FOX News that Daschle’s failure to pay $134,000 in federal taxes reflects a “problem with integrity” that the government cannot afford to tolerate. DeMint spoke out against Daschle as a number of prominent newspapers, including The New York Times, called for the South Dakota Democrat to drop his bid.

Obviously, Daschle’s got problems. Chief among them is: How can still claim to be from South Dakota when he’s been an (unregistered, unapologetic) Washington lobbyist for the last five years? We need to stop pretending these revolving-door politicians (of any party) represent anyone’s interests other than Washington’s. And their own, of course.

Set the Way-Back Machine

February 3rd, 2009 - 9:24 am

Heh.

Another One Bites the Dust

February 3rd, 2009 - 9:04 am

One more Obama nominee with tax problems.

This one might be really serious — she withdrew. How much worse than Tom Daschle’s little hundred thousand dollar rounding error can you get?

Whose Budget Is It Anyway?

February 3rd, 2009 - 8:29 am

In Washington, it’s often hard to tell a budget cut from a budget increase. Max Boot takes a look at proposed Pentagon spending and finds… confusion:

The nub of the controversy comes down to how you define a budget “cut”? CQ notes that the proposed Obama budget “would be about $14 billion more than the $513 billion allocated for fiscal 2009 (PL 110-329), including military construction funds, and it would match what the Bush administration estimated last year for the Pentagon in fiscal 2010.”

But while being an increase in absolute terms, this still represents a substantial cut from the $584 billion in spending that the Joint Chiefs of Staff believe is necessary. CQ tries to spin the story in a pro-Obama direction by suggesting that the higher figure is a “wish list” from the “Defense Department’s entrenched bureaucracy” that was not signed off by the Bush OMB and is “designed to pressure the Obama administration to drastically increase Defense spending or be forced to defend a reluctance to do so.”

If you give the Pentagon everything it asks for, we’d end up with solid gold tanks and hover submarines. And our procurement process is a mess — almost certainly an unfixable mess. That said, it seems hard to justify cuts while we’re at war, and when groups like ACORN are being promised billions in “stimulus” cash.

Required Viewing

February 3rd, 2009 - 7:45 am

Vice President Biden screws up Hillary Clinton’s swearing in.

It went totally underreported a couple weeks back, when Biden apologized to Chief Justice Roberts. Heck, I even forgot to blog about it. Think he’ll have to apologize again?

Nah.

Back in a Bit

February 2nd, 2009 - 8:25 am

Does anyone ever say, “I get to go to the dentist today.”?

Required Reading

February 2nd, 2009 - 5:05 am

Michael Ruhlman on food, bugs, and eating healthy dirt:

Of course there are real dangers from microbes— E. coli, salmonella, listeria can make people really sick. But you need to know when to account for them to prevent their growth (with help from McGee, I wrote a concise description of bacteria and their prevention in Sous Vide). It’s not very complicated and mainly a matter of common sense.

But all these immune disorders. All these allergies to foods that kids have today. When I was growing up, I never heard of a kid who couldn’t eat peanut butter. Now, I have close friends whose two boys are seriously allergic to so many foods, cooking a single dinner for all of them is near impossible. This is not another America-is-a-bunch-of-picky-eaters rant—the kids’ allergies are real. Ming Tsai, a chef, has such kids and has become a huge spokesman for understanding and working with these allergies.

But when did they begin and why? My guess is that they began around the time their parents began to consume vast quantities of industrial, processed foods. Sterile food. Food that can sit on a shelf for a lifetime.

There’s got to be something to this.

Sometimes I feel old, with 40 staring me down in less than 90 days, but I’m still fairly youngish. And when I was a kid, there was no such thing as a peanut allergy. Peanut butter was served at school and at day camp and everywhere in between, and not one kid dropped dead. Or blew up. Or even needed to go to the nurse’s office.

Today, peanuts are banned from almost every public place where kids congregate. And they are dropping dead.

Asthma is up, diabetes is up, Snickers are deadly.

What the hell happened?