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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Get Over It: They Won

March 24th, 2009 - 2:07 pm

Senator Patty Murray on creating an open dialogue about the President’s $3.5 trillion budget:

“Now is not the time to sit back and criticize,” Murray said in a open warning to Republicans.

Then how about if we get in your face and do it?

Balancing the Books

March 24th, 2009 - 11:34 am

Nothing wrong with printing up a couple trillion dollars out of thin air, when you’re cutting spending to match:

Riki Ellison, who heads the industry-supported Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said last month the White House asked the Pentagon to cut nearly $2 billion, or up to roughly 20 percent, from missile defense in its fiscal 2010 budget.

Two billion from missile defense, designed to prevent America’s foreign policy from being held hostage by happy friendly smiley places like Iran or North Korea. Two trillion from our grandkids to Nancy Pelosi.

Seems fair.

Jane, Stop This Crazy Thing

March 24th, 2009 - 10:00 am

Yet another example of not letting a good crisis go to waste:

The Obama administration is considering asking Congress to give the Treasury secretary unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy, according to an administration document.

The government at present has the authority to seize only banks.

Giving the Treasury secretary authority over a broader range of companies would mark a significant shift from the existing model of financial regulation, which relies on independent agencies that are shielded from the political process. The Treasury secretary, a member of the president’s Cabinet, would exercise the new powers in consultation with the White House, the Federal Reserve and other regulators, according to the document.

I know there’s a crisis, but it’s time to become a little wary. Past time, in fact.

Remember that TARP I and TARP II have yet to remove a single toxic asset from the portfolio of a single bank, despite extraordinary new executive power and superextraordinary Congressional spending. And now they want more of everything — money, power, the works. All while taking on health care and putting off fixing Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid.

How much more before people shout, “Enough!”?


Deus ex Galactica

March 23rd, 2009 - 8:36 am

Yeah, what he said.

Reality (Imitates) Television

March 23rd, 2009 - 6:55 am

The blogs were created by man.

They rebelled.

They evolved.

They have a plan.

Weimar Redux

March 23rd, 2009 - 5:36 am

A trillion here, a trillion there — pretty soon, you’re talking enough money to buy a loaf of bread.

Will the Real Obama Please Shut Up?

March 22nd, 2009 - 6:36 pm

Here’s President Obama on 60 Minutes tonight:

“Well, I think that— as a general proposition, you don’t want to be passing laws that are just targeting a handful of individuals…And as a general proposition, I think you certainly don’t want to use the tax code—is to punish people.”

And here’s candidate Obama last year:

Mr. Obama, by contrast, started out much more directly, suggesting that if you make $150,000 or less you may be poor or middle class. A family with an income above $250,000, he went on to say, is “doing well.” And if you find yourself in that category, he’s going to target you for a tax hike — all in the name of creating “a sense of balance, and fairness in our tax code.”

So — what will Obama actually do? He talks a great centrist game, even to the point of hiring all kinds of former Clintonites. But when push comes to shove — and these days, that happens almost hourly — President Obama rarely misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to swing to the left.

Taxes are going up. Sometimes directly, as “on the rich.” Sometimes indirectly, as the savings of the middle class are inflated away. And mostly way-indirectly, as the poor are kept poor thanks to Obama’s budgets putting the economy on permanent slowdown.

Deal with it: He won.

Failure to Launch

March 22nd, 2009 - 3:54 pm

That’s gotta hurt:

After signaling its intent to follow Apple’s wildly successful iPhone into the smartphone business, Dell’s first attempts to produce a phone have been rejected by the carries for being too dull and lacking enough differentiation to stand out in a competitive environment, according to a report.

A research note published today by Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu said that Dell’s new prototypes, capable of running both Windows Mobile or Google’s Android, simply didn’t interest the carriers.

You can’t just slap a touch screen on something and call it an iPhone killer, not even when it runs Google Android.

Little Timmy Is Stuck in the Well

March 22nd, 2009 - 10:04 am

I know this assessment is coming from an evil Republican thug, but still:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is on “shaky grounds” these days with Congress and many in the country, according to the Senate Banking Committee’s top Republican.

Sen. Richard Shelby said Sunday he doesn’t think Geithner will last long unless he starts doing a better job.

Riddle me this, Batman — who is the shortest time a cabinet-level official has served a new administration before being forced out? And is it too late for Geithner to beat the record?


Must-See Radio

March 21st, 2009 - 4:42 pm

We have an all-new edition of PJM Political ready for you. On the show this week:

James Lileks talks TOTUS.

Allen Barton of PJTV interviews Yaron Brook, the president of the Ayn Rand Institute, to discuss why Atlas Shrugged is enjoying a remarkable resurgence in sales.

Roger L. Simon and Lionel Chetwynd talk about their old friend, the late Ron Silver.

Plus, producer Ed Driscoll and I talk money, money, money and politics. And somehow managed to get through without one mention of Tim Geithner’s winky.

Remember, you can also subscribe to the podcast, absolutely free, at the iTunes Store.

Putting the President on Hold

March 21st, 2009 - 3:12 pm

Gosh, if only somebody had seen this coming — President Obama got rejected like the Math Club treasurer asking the head cheerleader out to the prom:

The Iranian leader’s rebuff on Saturday to President Barack Obama’s offer for dialogue was swift and sweeping: Words from Washington ring hollow without deep policy changes.

But Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s response was more than just a dismissive slap at the outreach. It was a broad lesson in the mind-set of Iran’s all-powerful theocracy and how it will dictate the pace and tone of any new steps by Obama to chip away at their nearly 30-year diplomatic freeze.


“This is why this will be a very slow, very complicated process between Iran and the United States,” said Abdulla. “Even the theocracy can be pragmatic. When they feel it’s in the national interest to reach out to America, they will find a way.”

Shouldn’t that read, “if they feel…?” Iran’s interest is in expanding its influence in the Middle East (and, eventually, beyond). Our interest is to stop that from happening. Iran is showing strength. We’re showing weakness. Who’s best serving their own interests?

CORRECTED: I’d left out the link before.

They All Look Alike to Me

March 21st, 2009 - 11:45 am

Don Surber is having trouble telling apart the real Barack Obama from the fake John McCain.

Of course, I have trouble telling apart the fake McCain from the real one. Throw a third guy into the mix and things get even more confusing.

Or Maybe That Was Me

In any case, I’m pretty sure “back-alley bikini waxers” would make an excellent porn title.


March 20th, 2009 - 3:42 pm

I’d been reading The Speculist for ages, never knowing that one of its bloggers, Michael Sargent, was practically a neighbor of mine. Small world, as they say. Sargent was killed in a car accident yesterday. And without his entertaining vision, the world has become regrettably a bit smaller.

Now This Is How You Do It

March 20th, 2009 - 1:03 pm

A snarky blog gets serious for a moment:

I work with special needs kids every day. During the fall we go bowling on Fridays. There is no doubt in my mind that many of these kids would destroy Barack in this sport. There is one difference though between these kids and the President. They wouldn’t laugh at him. They wouldn’t make fun of him. As a matter of fact, they would cheer for him every time he was lucky enough to knock down a pin, and pat him on the back when he didn’t knock down any at all.

Read the rest here.


March 20th, 2009 - 5:04 am

I’m really excited about this little project.

VP reader RB launched CorruptionDatabase.com. In RB’s words, it a wiki for tracking “corruption info for any politician you’d like to throw in there. Feel free to mess around with it – I find it cathartic!” I think we all might.

Set your bookmarks, please. Better yet, log in and contribute to the wiki.

From the Mouths of Total Babes

March 19th, 2009 - 9:14 pm

My bride comments on the President’s primetime press conference next Tuesday pushing the new episode of “Bones” back a week:

I think the President should only be allowed to interrupt my television when he’s doing something right.

Amen, honey.

Get the Hell Out of My Way

March 19th, 2009 - 1:09 pm

We’ve got a corporation so out of control, that it thinks handing out bonuses while bankrupt is A-OK. We have a Congress so out of control, that it hands out billions of bailout dollars — with an implicit okdey-dokey for said bonuses. Our Congress then goes even further out of control, and passes a law taxing those bonuses at 90%.

Here’s a little tip for the congenitally clueless in Washington: Nothing destroys wealth creation like uncertainty, and you guys make the Three Stooges look like Kabuki theater.

I’m OK with this, so long as at no time in the next four years are we given a peek at Tim Geithner’s winky.

Required Reading

March 19th, 2009 - 10:51 am

Lileks comes up with a few art-type items Americans managed to make without NEA funding:



Rock and Roll

Every movie made in America


Painting that looks like something

Sculpture that looks like someone

Of course, he left out this*, which can’t be right — and on so many levels. With that one caveat, the new Screed is today’s Required Reading.


Spoiler Alert

March 19th, 2009 - 10:23 am

Here’s the last panel of today’s Day By Day.

Click to see the whole thing, but it stands alone just fine.

That’s No Typo, It’s an Outrage

March 19th, 2009 - 8:38 am

President Obama and the no good, very big, 2,159% tax increase.

(Hat tip, Katie Favazza.)

The Smartest Man in the Reading Room

March 19th, 2009 - 7:11 am

So. The President can’t manage his time well enough to fill 17 of the top 18 positions in the Treasury Department, but will get paid half a million dollars to write a children’s book. Well, not exactly write it, per se:

The project calls for an abridged version of his book “Dreams From My Father” for middle-school-aged children, according to the disclosure.

A White House aide said that the deal had been in the works for weeks and that the publisher will abridge the book. The aide, speaking on a condition of anonymity, said the publisher will get half of the money while Mr. Obama will sign off on the final version.

Obama will get a quarter million to give his (presidential) seal of approval to a book he didn’t write, to sell to schoolchildren whose curriculums are set, in part, by the Department of Education he runs.

Well, it’s hard to deny that Obama seems a bit unseemly, or that Crown Publishing looks like it’s currying favor, or that schoolchildren everywhere won’t be subtly “encouraged” to buy the book. “Library card check,” anyone?

This stinks.

The Facts of Life

March 19th, 2009 - 5:42 am

John Murtha explains Article I of the Constitution:

The region’s outspoken congressman is in the national lens again – this time CBS News television cameras – in a report Wednesday that calls him “the king of earmarks who wastes a lot of taxpayer money” and implies that the FBI is investigating.

U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown, responded by waving the Constitution at the camera, saying: “What it says is the Congress of the United States appropriates the money. Got that?”

“The money,” says Murtha. The money. There’s just this money out there, floating around in the magic zone, and Congress appropriates it. At least that’s how Congressman Murtha seems to see things.

Well — guess what? We make the money that senile, corrupt, and anti-American bastard appropriates. Our work gives it its value. And so I’d like to think we get some say in how it gets spent. And we even get some say in who spends it.

If the Republicans can’t get their act together long enough to make Murtha their Number One Incumbent to Beat in 2010, then they deserve to stay the minority party for a very, very long time.

(Hat tip, Insty.)

Set Your Bookmarks

March 19th, 2009 - 5:15 am

Traci Skene: Stand-up comic, sensible righty, blogger.

You’ve Been Punk’d Mr. President

March 18th, 2009 - 11:50 am

The language isn’t entirely worksafe, but the plan is brilliant — and the kitty is up to almost $600.


March 18th, 2009 - 10:09 am

So it just became a very simple decision, what movie to take our son to for his first big-screen experience.

People Will Pay for Content?

March 18th, 2009 - 9:59 am

Jules Crittenden compares the internet to Amazon’s Kindle 2:

It’s kind of how I feel about sailboats and 747s. Sometimes I like to feel the wind and spray. Other times I need to get across the ocean fast. This thing sounds a little more pleasant than being jammed in a can full of strangers at 30,000 feet … which now that I think of it, sounds a lot like the Internet.

I don’t know what he’s talking about. Now if you’ll get your elbow out of my tiny package of peanuts, please.

Bomb’em All Out

March 18th, 2009 - 9:29 am

Bad news for hopey-changey peaceniks, good news for the civilized world:

In what would be a major escalation of the “war on terror”, the New York Times reported that the US may push its firepower into Pakistan’s vast, economically backward, Baluchistan province.

Washington has so far targeted militants based in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas, which run along Afghanistan’s eastern border. Baluchistan, however, is a “settled” region and considered a regular part of the country. However, the province, and especially its capital, Quetta, has long been considered the home of the Afghan Taliban and an important sanctuary for al-Qaida.

Now that Islamabad has pretty much given up any pretense of governing anything much outside of, well, Islamabad (and that only in daylight), we’ve gained the freedom of action to pursue the Taliban/al Qaeda pretty much anywhere. I’m glad to see President Obama taking advantage.

Vote’em All Out II

March 18th, 2009 - 9:22 am

Who’s running Congress? Kitties!

And to think this is the same woman who absolutely rolled John McCain back in September.