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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Vote’em All Out

March 18th, 2009 - 7:44 am

Rasmussen reports his latest numbers:

Support for the Democratic Congressional candidates fell to a new low over the past week, allowing the GOP to move slightly head for the first time in recent years in the Generic Congressional Ballot.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 41% said they would vote for their district’s Republican candidate while 39% would choose the Democrat.

Investors now favor Republicans by a 46% to 36% margin, while non-investors would vote Democratic by a 45% to 33% margin.

The question remains if Republicans will prove honest, tough and smart enough to take advantage of the Democrats’ many missteps. The evidence so far isn’t very encouraging.

Must-See PJTV

March 17th, 2009 - 1:55 pm

Today’s Meet the Bloggers show starts — live! — in just a few minutes, with Jeff Emanuel, Andrew Ian Dodge and myself.

You can watch on digital delay, too, but they then they’ve edited out all the curse words and gratuitous nudity. The tasteful nudity I think they leave in, if it’s essential to the plot.

A Blogger Can Dream

March 17th, 2009 - 12:24 pm

I don’t yet know enough about Meg Whitman’s politics to decide if she’d make a good governor of California, but there’s no denying she’s one brave gal. Check out the mess she’s willing to try and clean up:

Whitman’s living room – for now her campaign office – is the starting block of what is certain to be one (no, make that two!) of the most dramatic reinvention efforts in a long while. One reinvention is California, which is more critical to the recovery of the U.S. economy than any other state. Twelve percent of Americans live here. Ten percent of Fortune 500 companies have headquarters here. California’s GDP, at $1.8 trillion, makes it the eighth-largest economy in the world. In the past year more people have lost jobs here than in any other state. More homes have gone into foreclosure. More banks have failed. And as Whitman notes, businesses are moving out at an alarming rate, most often citing excessive regulation and intolerable taxes. For top earners, California’s taxes are the highest in the U.S. And to what end? California’s credit rating is the lowest in the nation.

And she’d take a giant-ass pay cut for the thankless task. I’d wish her, or whoever her opponent is, well — except for one little thing: California is too broken to fix. Trying to fix California by sticking someone new, no matter how ballsy, in the governor’s office is like changing the oil in an engine in need of a total rebuild.

California voters run the budget process, thanks to the state’s initiative process. And judging by their current situation, California voters are big stupid idiot dummy heads, for whom the words “basic accounting” and “prioritizing” are even more alien than “coat and tie required.” If you want to fix what’s wrong with California, scrap the state’s constitution and start over.

And if you’ll allow me, a few modest proposals:

1. No provision for an initiative process.
2. No amendments to the new constitution without the approval of two-thirds of both houses of the legislature and three quarters of the county governments, ala the federal constitution.
3. A 25-year-long 5% budget surplus requirement, to inculcate some decent spending habits, and to provide for an emergency reserve in a state with lots of potential for natural disasters.
4. A taxpayer’s bill of rights, modeled on Colorado’s, minus the stupid loopholes we left in.
5. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars will be required to send a case of Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon each year that it’s produced, to a certain Stephen Green of Monument, Colorado.
6. The new Constitution should be short enough to fit on a few sheets of notebook paper.
7. Limit state spending to 5-7% of state GDP. A hundred billion dollars ought to be enough spending for anyone sane.

With 35+ million people, California might be just too big to govern effectively on the state model. I’d advise authors of the new constitution to try a sort of “mini federalism,” treating the counties as the US Constitution used to treat the states — with strong protections against encroachments from Sacramento. Simple laws, laboratories of democracy, a nice cash reserve? It wouldn’t be long before California returns to being the envy of the nation instead of the laughingstock.

Why I Just Don’t Do St. Patrick’s Day

March 17th, 2009 - 10:10 am

It’s nothing against the Irish. It’s just that heredity is utter BS.

Look. Three of the nationalities I come from are German, French, and Jewish. So if national origin actually meant anything, I should have some special day just for me to invade myself then stick my head in an oven.

Obviously, none of that is going to happen.

And yet here’s a special day for one particular group (or even those who just want to pretend — huh?) in what might be the world’s most mixed-up, polyglot republic. It’s the drink-until-you-puke bacchanalia of identity politics. It’s silly. And in some ways, it ought to be seen as slightly offensive to the Irish. Imagine if everybody was supposed to spend Black History Month dressed like a Hollywood version of a ’70s pimp, carrying around a 40oz in a paper sack.

I say: We’re all Americans; be that. Our special day is Independence Day — which, considering the drubbing we gave the English, ought to be plenty enough for everybody, even the Irish.

The Buck Stops Over There Somewhere

March 17th, 2009 - 8:14 am

People everywhere: President Obama, will you tax our health benefits?

President Obama: Present!

The New Boss Is the Old Boss

March 16th, 2009 - 2:09 pm

Well:

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has told American International Group he wants details about employees set to receive millions of dollars in bonuses on his desk by Monday afternoon or he will subpoena the company.

Cuomo said his office will investigate whether the employees were involved in the insurance giant’s near-collapse and whether the payments are fraudulent under state law.

Yes, this is the same Andrew Cuomo whose policies at Freddie & Fannie helped get us — and AIG — into this mess.

Not that I’m defending AIG, mind you — broke companies suckling on the public teat have no business paying out bonuses. Then again, had AIG been allowed to go broke, they’d have new management and new contracts. And their troubles would be their own, not ours.

An Evening (Wasted) at the Improv

March 16th, 2009 - 2:01 pm

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Hat tip to The Conservative Comeback, who also has an interesting theory about cokeheads and A/V equipment.

Hitting the Snooze Alarm Since 1999

March 16th, 2009 - 12:20 pm

Via Jay Rosen on Twitter, comes an unintentionally revealing news item about the new, all-digital Seattle P-I:

Hearst said it will maintain seattlepi.com, making it the nation’s largest daily paper to shift to an entirely digital news product. “Tonight we’ll be putting the paper to bed for the last time,” editor and publisher Roger Oglesby told a silent newsroom Monday morning.

Television news quit sleeping with the launch of CNN almost 30 years ago. Print journalism never figured out how to respond effectively to that. And failed even more miserably when it gained the same kind of technological insomnia when the web became both practical and widespread.

Anyone still thinking of “putting the paper to bed” in 2009 is at least ten years late to the party — in an age where business mistakes get punished almost immediately.

Wake up, fellas.

Fair Question

March 16th, 2009 - 11:47 am

Dick Morris accuses President Obama of being an incompetent socialist.

Uh… is there any other kind?

Bleg

March 16th, 2009 - 8:29 am

The Truth About Cars is the best automotive site on the web. And although it’s never been printed, it’s the best auto magazine, too. And their reporting beats the bought-and-paid-for auto section of any newspaper in the country. But their ad revenue is hurting.

So click on over, read some great stuff, and while you’re there, please click on an ad or three.

Quote of the Day

March 16th, 2009 - 8:09 am

Will Collier on the decline of newspapers, “Unless you have a monopoly, you can’t get away with sneering at your customers for very long.”

Read the whole thing here.

Happy-Happy, Spend-Spend

March 16th, 2009 - 7:51 am

Here are a couple of happy-fun spending items to make your Monday morning chipper and cheerful. First up, a little line buried at the bottom of a Politico report from the weekend:

Obama’s budget calls for the largest deficit in U.S. history and a doubling of the national debt to $23 trillion in 2019.

That’s assuming, of course, that the government doesn’t grow any faster than promised (but it will) and that the economy will grow as fast as promised (but it won’t). So how long before the debt doubles? Who knows! But we do know that even if we assume a generous 3% growth every year –including this one — out to 2019, the Federal deficit will balloon to about 125% of GDP.

Then there’s this treat:

Government spending on most domestic programs is growing at its fastest pace in nearly 30 years.

Who was President 30 years ago? If memory serves, it was this strange looking fellow.

Which brings us to this week’s Relevant Monty Python Sketch — killer bunny!

Rest in Peace

March 15th, 2009 - 6:34 pm

My boss remembers his good friend, Ron Silver.

Headline of the day:

Guantanamo inmates no longer “enemy combatants”

President Obama waved his hopeychangey wand, and now they’re just “little inconveniences” we can forget about for a year or longer.

(Via Instapundit) So it’s come to this:

Of course, what the Chinese are worried about is not that the United States government will default on its bonds. That obviously won’t happen. The Chinese concern, now being expressed openly for the first time, is that the U.S. will adopt the standard debtor’s remedy of inflating its currency and paying back its debts in shrunken dollars. Why are the Chinese worried about this? Because Barack Obama’s budget proposes to borrow trillions of dollars, injecting them into the U.S. economy without any offsetting wealth being created. The inevitable result, as any economist not in the pay of the Obama administration or the Democratic Party will tell you, is inflation.

For years, various scaremongers on the right and left warned us that selling so much debt to China would mean surrendering some of our sovereignty to Beijing. Usually, the warning was that we’d lose control of our foreign policy — China would invade Taiwan, then threaten to dump US securities if we sent the 7th Fleet anywhere near the Taiwan Straits. American foreign policy hobbled by foreigners? “It would be the end of the world!”

Instead, China might just be proving helpful on our domestic front.

When inflation strikes, borrowers benefit and lenders take it right in the nads on the chin. And, well, China is one big-ass lender to the US. And now they’re warning us, quite publicly, that they’re not very fond of the idea of us inflating away the savings they have socked away the last thirty years. Can’t blame a country for that, can you? And you certainly can’t blame Beijing for reminding Washington, somewhat subtly, that if we can destroy their holdings, they can ruin our credit. Since American voters show no willingness or ability to rein in Washington, it’s up to China to provide a little tug on the leash.

It’s the end of the world — and I feel fine.

Must-See Radio

March 14th, 2009 - 11:06 am

On this week’s PJM Political:

James Lileks expands upon his “Screed” this week on Tony Ward, President Obama’s nominee to head the Justice Department’s Civil Division–and former attorney for John Walker Lindh.

Glenn Reynolds and Michelle Malkin on the pros and cons—and internecine struggles—of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Steele.

Dr. Helen Smith interviews Megan McArdle of the Atlantic magazine on “Going John Galt.”
PJTV’s Bill Whittle talks with Pajamas Express blogger Claudia Rossett about her Forbes column, “Can We Give To Gaza Without Giving To Hamas?”

Plus, the usual shop talk between producer Ed Driscoll and your lovely hostess, Vanna White.

Er, uh, me, actually.

Required Reading

March 14th, 2009 - 11:03 am

Mark Steyn reports that America’s young people are even dumber than they appear:

Just between you, me, and the old, the late middle-aged and the early middle-aged: Isn’t it terrific to be able to stick it to the young? I mean, imagine how bad all this economic-type stuff would be if our kids and grandkids hadn’t offered to pick up the tab.

Well, OK, they didn’t exactly “offer” but they did stand around behind Barack Obama at all those campaign rallies helping him look dynamic and telegenic and earnestly chanting hopey-hopey-changey-changey. And “Yes, we can!”

Which is a pretty open-ended commitment.

Like others, they asked for it.

Must-See PJTV

March 14th, 2009 - 9:02 am

It’s the Blog Week in Review — which must be gaining some traction, because this week it’s behind the subscriber wall.

But subscriptions are pretty cheap these days, so why not treat yourself?

No Comment

March 13th, 2009 - 5:04 pm

fail owned pwned pictures

Must-See PJTV

March 13th, 2009 - 3:26 pm

On today’s Blogger Roundtable, Powerline’s John Hinderaker and myself dissect Rush Limbaugh and perform an emergency tracheotomy on Obamanomics. Plus, later in the show, Andrew Ian Dodge and our own Rick Moran.

Blogaversary

March 13th, 2009 - 6:39 am

Congrats to the guys at GayPatriot, for their 2.5 millionth visitor!

Click on over and help them make it to an even three million.

Fool Me Twice

March 13th, 2009 - 6:17 am

I’ve been a fan of Megan McArdle’s since way back in ’02, when we blogged using nothing more complicated than an abacus, smoke signals, and a well-trained chimp. (Don’t ask exactly how that worked — my memory has dimmed through the years.) So it’s not without some small amount of disappointment that I read this from her:

Having defended Obama’s candidacy largely on his economic team, I’m having serious buyer’s remorse. Geithner, who is rapidly starting to look like the weakest link, is rattling around by himself in Treasury. Meanwhile, the administration is clearly prioritized a stimulus package that will not work without fixing the banks over, um, fixing the banking system. Unlike most fiscal conservatives, I’m not mad at him for trying to increase the size of the government; that’s, after all, what he got elected promising to do. But he also promised to be non-partisan and accountable, and the size and composition stimulus package looks like just one more attempt to ram through his ideological agenda without much scrutiny, with the heaviest focus on programs that will be especially hard to cut.

Honestly, Megan — there’s any shock at all that this is the behavior you’re getting out of a politician? When McCain campaigned as a social conservative and a fiscal UFO, at least I kept the courage of my convictions and voted for Bob Barr.

I have a nasty case of Loser’s Remorse, but everybody suffers that from time to time. Buyer’s Remorse, however, I would hope comes with a wet, hacking Cough of Shame.

Um… Nope!

March 13th, 2009 - 5:55 am

Doesn’t Anyone Want a Job in the Treasury Dept.?

Bum Ba Da Da Dum

March 12th, 2009 - 1:50 pm

All you need is Tweet!

Obviously We Need More New Bastards Again

March 12th, 2009 - 8:37 am

Here’s some change you can believe in:

Just 27% of voters nationwide favor passage of a second economic stimulus package. The latest Rasmussen Reports nationwide telephone survey found that 55% are opposed and 19% are not sure.

Despite the public opposition, 74% say it’s likely that Congress will try to pass another stimulus plan before the year is out. That figure includes 45% who say it’s Very Likely that Congress will do so.

That’s right, by pretty big margins, Americans believe their government is going to do lots of stuff they don’t want it to do. And that’s different how?

It’s Far Too Early for Clever Metaphors

March 12th, 2009 - 8:13 am

If you think we’ve got it bad, check out what’s going on in Japan. Rather, what’s not going on:

Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 12.1 percent in the three months ended Dec. 31, less than the 12.7 percent reported last month, the Cabinet Office said today in Tokyo. The median estimate of economists was for a 13.4 percent decline.

Factory output and overseas shipments plunged by records in January and Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s biggest automaker, will cut production by more than half this quarter. Real-estate company Pacific Holdings Co. filed for bankruptcy this week, becoming the 12th publicly traded firm to fail this year.

“Japan’s economy is falling off a cliff,” said Kyohei Morita, chief economist at Barclays Capital in Tokyo, who correctly forecast the size of the contraction. “The revision to GDP doesn’t change our basic assessment.”

Auto sales — or lack of them — is really killing the Japanese economy. A big chunk of their manufacturing base is dedicated to American tastes and needs — so when we get a sniffle, Japan catches the flu. Or in this case, when we get the flu, Japan catches, uh, cancer or something.

That’s a Whole Lotta Pr0n

March 11th, 2009 - 10:30 am

John Dvorak on hard drive storage:

Back in 1979 when a 5MB drive (yes, five megabytes!) cost over $1,000, I never imagined I’d someday be paying $50 for a terabyte. What comes after terabyte? Well there’s the petabyte—1,024 terabytes. Then comes the exabyte (1,024 petabytes). Then the zettabyte, followed by the yottabyte. At the rate of growth (no letters, please) beginning with the 1979 5MB drive, we went from a 5MB to a terabyte desktop drive in 30 years. That means an increase in capacity of over 200,000 to 1. And a decrease in price of 10 to 1. I reckon, roughly, that by 2039 we will be looking at having a 200-petabyte drive and it will sell for $10.

My current project is ripping every single one of our DVDs onto a hard drive and into our iTunes library. For really pretty stuff — special effects extravaganzas, period movies, etc — we’ll stick to physical media on Blu-Ray discs. But your typical rom-com or kid’s movie is perfectly fine in DVD resolution. And it’s a lot more convenient to have them accessible from the sofa via the household wifi network and an Apple TV unit. Especially if, like us, you’ve got 1,000+ DVDs taking up valuable real estate in your family room.

So as you can imagine, I’ve spent some serious time pricing hard drives lately. For a thousand movies, you’re looking at about three terabytes of storage, give or take. And that’s not including backups. (Although in this case, your old physical media, tucked into the attic, can be your backups. Not that you’d want to re-rip a couple hundred movies every time you have a hard drive fail.) Six terabytes is a little more money than I want to shell out just now — but that’s OK, because at a movie or two a day, this project is going to take a couple years. At which point, I’ll probably need another two-four terabytes because of how many damn movies we’ll buy in the next 24 months.

If Dvorak is right — hey, it’s happened before — 10 terabytes could go for a couple hundred bucks in the next few years. Which means that, even by my insane needs, storage will be virtually free. DSLR cameras probably won’t go much higher than 24-30 megapixels, you’ll still be able to compress a DVD down to 2-3 gigabytes, and music encoded at a perfectly-acceptable 256 kbps will still take up only about 10MB per song. A petabyte of storage is enough room for thousands and thousands of movies, more pictures than you could ever take and more music than you’ll ever like.

So what’s next? Shrinkage. Get that petabyte onto something the size of a thumb drive, and every bit of entertainment you could ever dream of will dangle off your keychain, playable anywhere.

The future is looking pretty bright.

Recognizing the Inevitable

March 11th, 2009 - 8:56 am

The Los Angeles Times to become a non-profit? Makes sense to me, given that there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of profits to be made in the newspaper industry anymore.

Cut Spending? In Our Moment of Triumph?

March 11th, 2009 - 7:53 am

That’s no moon… it’s a debt bomb.

Catch & Release & Kill Kill Kill

March 11th, 2009 - 7:42 am

Well that’s nice:

The Taliban’s new top operations officer in southern Afghanistan had been a prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the latest example of a freed detainee who took a militant leadership role and a potential complication for the Obama administration’s efforts to close the prison. U.S. authorities handed over the detainee to the Afghan government, which in turn released him, according to Pentagon and CIA officials.

Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, formerly Guantanamo prisoner No. 008, was among 13 Afghan prisoners released to the Afghan government in December 2007. Rasoul is now known as Mullah Abdullah Zakir, a nom de guerre that Pentagon and intelligence officials say is used by a Taliban leader who is in charge of operations against U.S. and Afghan forces in southern Afghanistan.

After nearly eight years, I’ve come to the conclusion that guys with guns who shoot at you while hiding amongst civilians and/or hospitals and such, who brainwash impressionable teens into becoming walking bombs just can’t be trusted.

Either that or, on his release, the guards at Gitmo forgot to tell Rasoul, “run along, play nice.”