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Monthly Archives: April 2009

Bailout Blues

April 30th, 2009 - 11:11 am

Does anyone honesty believe that a UAW-owned and -operated carmaker will ever be required to pay back the $12 billion it owes to American taxpayers?

There He Goes Again

April 30th, 2009 - 9:36 am

From USAToday:

Appearing on The Today Show, Biden said this when asked about commercial air travel and Mexico: “I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now … (If) you’re in a confined aircraft, when one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft.” He also warned against subways.

Just as The Oval and others started re-thinking travel plans to anywhere, Biden spokesperson Elizabeth Alexander e-mailed an update, noting that the specific question dealt what he would tell a family member making an air trip to Mexico this week.

Said Alexander: “The advice he is giving family members is the same advice the administration is giving to all Americans: That they should avoid unnecessary air travel to and from Mexico. If they are sick, they should avoid airplanes and other confined public spaces, such as subways.”

I see these “revise and extend” stories most every time they let Biden out in front of the cameras.

At Long Last

April 30th, 2009 - 8:36 am

Finally, a release date for the Mad Men Season 2 DVDs. I’ve got about ten weeks to stock up on skinny ties.

I Thought Hats Went Out With Kennedy*

April 30th, 2009 - 8:33 am

The AP’s Steve Holland says that President Obama is a man of many hats:

The 500 Hats of Barack CubbinsFrom reluctant CEO to chief U.S. medical adviser, President Barack Obama showed how many hats he wears at a news conference marking his 100th day in office on Wednesday.

Shrugging off critics who say he has taken on too many tasks in his young presidency, Obama said all the issues had landed in his lap at the same time and had to be dealt with simultaneously

Then the predictable litany — auto CEO, banking chief, de facto surgeon general, etc. What’s missing, of course, is any discussion over why this much power has accumulated in one man, and whether that’s a wise thing.

Oh, we had this discussion in the media lots when Bush was President, and with good reason, too. But just because a Democrat is in the White House doesn’t make executive overreach cute again.

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This is Going to Hurt

April 29th, 2009 - 12:03 pm

After 100 days in office, President Obama is finally holding a primetime press conference. I kid, of course — this will be his 103rd.

But it’s no joke that I’ll be drunkblogging it, starting sometime before 8PM Eastern.

Must-See PJTV

April 28th, 2009 - 5:11 pm

On this week’s Hair of the Dog:

Larry Summers as Eeyore.

Carl Levin threatens to let the dogs out.

Parsing Farsi.

John McCain Endures.

And, at the Obama White House, the buck… mysteriously vanishes. All of that for absolutely free, and in under ten minutes.

Minority Report

April 28th, 2009 - 2:22 pm

The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait isn’t exactly welcoming Arlen Specter on board:

I think it’s pretty clear that Specter is an unprincipled hack. If his best odds of keeping his Senate seat lay in joining the Communist party, he’d probably do that.

To be sure, Specter is a real moderate on some issues, but his contortions are so comical that no principled read on his actions is very plausible. Specter favored the Employee Free Choice Act favored by labor, turned against it when he faced a primary challenge, and then abandoned his party altogether when it became clear he couldn’t win his primary. In the meantime, he came out in favor of a Hooverite spending freeze after backing the stimulus bill.

I wonder if the Democrats will be able to wrangle him any better than the Republicans could. Doubtful, for the same reason no one from either party can nail Jell-O shots to the wall.

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan calls Specter “my kind of Republican in many ways.”

So true.

Rim Shot

April 28th, 2009 - 1:47 pm

Wow, Arlen Specter is crass and opportunistic, even for a politician. His own words, reported by the New York Times:

At a news conference this afternoon, Senator Arlen Specter said that he switched to the Democratic Party because his prospects for re-election next year as a Republican were “bleak” and he didn’t want to leave his fate in the hands of the conservative Pennsylvania Republican electorate.

(He released his decision in a statement earlier today that stunned Republicans and Democrats alike, and positioned the majority to get ever closer to the magic number of 60 votes needed to Senate avert filibusters.)

“I’m not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate, not prepared to have that record decided by that jury,” he declared in a rather defiant tone at the conference.

“Rather defiant?” Can you imagine how the press would treat this guy if he were a Republican?

Breaking

April 28th, 2009 - 10:16 am

Arlen Specter to make it official and switch parties?

Either Harry Reid offered him something juicy, or Specter developed a conscience. You make the call!

UPDATE: Conservative Southern Democrats must be scared witless by that filibuster-proof majority. Time to make some serious overtures down south.

Making Good

April 28th, 2009 - 10:05 am

George Will on the first hundred days:

Toward the end of his first 100 days, Obama heeded the better angels of his administration regarding free trade: He will not press for renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The long-stalled (by organized labor’s opposition) agreements with Colombia and South Korea may now advance. Labor’s “card check” plan for abolishing secret ballots in unionization decisions in order to make it easier to herd workers into unions cannot currently be passed. Labor is the big loser of the first 100 days.

Makes you wonder if Treasury’s “gift” of Chrysler (and maybe GM, too) to the UAW is a payoff for failing to get card check passed…

“Plane Dumb”

April 28th, 2009 - 10:00 am

Someday, we might look back at President Obama’s “flyover photo-op” as his Mission Accomplished moment.

Product Placement

April 28th, 2009 - 9:17 am

Rob Sama asked for some links to the stuff I shave with. Now why didn’t I think of that?

I’m still experimenting with double-edge shaving, but I really do like Merkur’s Futur. Pricey, but the cheaper blades will pay for it in just a few months. That the blade adjusts to exactly how “aggressive” a shave you like is just icing. Oh, and this is a precision German instrument, probably earning a mention in my will.

Blades: Feather, from Japan. Very sharp. Very, very sharp. Too sharp? Jury’s still out on that one. But I’ve got some Merkur blades on deck to try out next week. From everything I’ve read, these two are the brands to try first.

Pre shave: Truefitt & Hill Ultimate Comfort Pre-Shave Oil. If I had any childhood barbershop memories, they’d feature T&H’s classic lime scent. And again, this stuff only looks expensive. After months of use, I can barely tell there’s any less oil in the bottle. I expect it to last for years. Call it 1,000 shaves — or 3¢ per application. Cheap.

Shaving soap: This sandalwood stuff from Taylor. I just wish I could find it in a travel size, too.

Brush: Anything badger hair. Honestly, just buy something well made and use it for a few decades.

Aftershave balm: When I bother with cologne, it’s either Egoiste Platinum or Antaeus, both by Chanel — and post-shave lotions are available in both scents. But that’s probably overkill. Just get some decent alcohol-free lotion.

Aftershave: Here’s where you’ll want something bracing. About 40 proof, I think. And again, buy it in your cologne, or maybe just Aqua Velva. Although I’m so enjoying Taylor’s sandalwood soap, that I just ordered some of their sandalwood aftershave. If it’s as good as the soap, I might give up on the Channel stuff altogether.

I have no idea who makes my straight razor, just that it’s from Solingen, Germany, and that I need bifocals badly enough that I can’t read the name of the maker. If you want a straight razor, just buy something from Solingen and you can’t go wrong.

Party Time, Latin America Style

April 28th, 2009 - 8:48 am

The worst of all possible bailouts:

What is going on in this country? The government is about to take over GM in a plan that completely screws private bondholders and favors the unions. Get this: The GM bondholders own $27 billion and they’re getting 10 percent of the common stock in an expected exchange. And the UAW owns $10 billion of the bonds and they’re getting 40 percent of the stock. Huh? Did I miss something here? And Uncle Sam will have a controlling share of the stock with something close to 50 percent ownership. And no bankruptcy judge. So this is a political restructuring run by the White House, not a rule-of-law bankruptcy-court reorganization.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — Washington is bailing out the UAW, not General Motors. But it gets worse than even Kudlow recognizes above.

It’s true that the UAW ranks only fourth or fifth of GM’s five worst, structural problems — but that doesn’t mean that if GM can fix the top three or four, then the UAW can continue with business as usual. General Motors will continue to be a high-cost producer trying to compete on price. Now, you can succeed as a high-cost producer — look at any of the German firms — but only if you’re at the higher end of the market. GM gave away quality, cachet, or any other competitive advantages years ago; price is all they have left. But they’ll never get their costs under control while Washington is pulling the strings.

In other words, there’s no “bridge loan” to get GM “over the hump” or “through the temporary crisis” or any other lame excuse. GM is a bottomless pit. But instead of taking down foolish investors, now GM gets to suck taxpayers dry.

Maybe this pseudo-bankruptcy is the first step in turning GM into an employee-owned company. Surely, the UAW guys couldn’t do a worse job of running the company than the current management has. But in a rule-of-law country, these matters are supposed to be decided by the workers and investors under the aegis of Chapter 11. Instead, GM is going there (if that’s where they’re going) by political fiat.

Welcome to the Banana States of America.

(Hat tip, Glenn.)

A Close Shave

April 28th, 2009 - 5:28 am

The Most Controversial Item Ever Posted on Any Weblog Ever

Our fathers and grandfathers shaved better than we do. They had better equipment, honed sharper skills, and I’d bet they enjoyed themselves more, too. That’s no small thing, either, for something you’ll spend five or ten minutes doing almost every morning for your entire adult life. And I’d bet, too, that the same held true for our mothers and grandmothers.

I should know — because I’m the perfect test case.

When you’ve got baby butt skin and a barb wire beard, getting a good shave takes years of practice and a willingness to experiment. Near endlessly it sometimes seemed. Two things helped: No teachers and no preconceived notions. Shouldn’t those be hindrances? Not when it comes to a good shave.

Look. Most guys just drag whatever razor is popular across their faces. And when their sons come of age, they teach them to do the same thing. This is the blind leading around the blind — with sharp objects in hand. No good can come from this.

NOTE: I’ve also included a couple items for the ladies, so just keep reading, girls.

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Unsolicited Advice

April 27th, 2009 - 4:20 pm

Gentlemen, ditch that those overpriced, underperforming cartridge razors and get yourself an old-fashioned double-edge razor already.

This morning was my first-ever shave with a double-edge, and ten hours later my face is smoother than it used to be immediately after shaving with a Gillette Fusion.

I’m never going back.

Required Reading

April 27th, 2009 - 1:12 pm

Hitchens on torture and institutional dysfunction at the CIA:

Here is a seldom-mentioned reason why the CIA might go crazy in this way, to the point where even the FBI and other agencies were cripplingly (for us) reluctant to cooperate with it. On 9/11, according to Bob Woodward, George Tenet audibly hoped that the suicide-murderers of al-Qaida were not connected to the shady-looking pupils at those flight schools in the Midwest. The schools, that is to say, about which only the CIA knew! In other words, and not for the first time, the CIA (which disbelieved the evidence of Saddam’s plan to attack Kuwait in 1990 and continually excused him as a “secularist”) had left us defenseless and ignorant. Unprofessional and hysterical methods of interrogation, therefore, were unleashed in part to overcompensate for—and to cover up—a general lack of professionalism at every level of the agency from the top down. The case for closing and padlocking Langley and starting all over again with an attempt at a serious national intelligence body becomes more persuasive by the day.

It’s amazing, given everything we know to be wrong at Central Stupidity, that we aren’t attacked more often. Credit the folks at the FBI and our troops in the middle east for that.

Don’t Be Too Sure

April 27th, 2009 - 8:23 am

The Politico can usually find the dark cloud behind any silver lining, which explains Ben Smith’s and Jonathan Martin’s take on the current discord within the GOP:

Asked about how a presidential candidate urging the party toward the middle on cultural issues would fare, [head of the Iowa Christian Alliance Steve] Scheffler said flatly: “They’re not gonna go anywhere.”

In one sense, Republican leaders face the same challenge their Democratic counterparts did during the Bush years: how to effectively channel the deep emotion of the base while tamping down its excesses.

Of course, Scheffler has a pretty big dog in that fight, and Iowa went pretty solidly for go-nowhere loser Mike Huckabee in the ’08 caucus. So to him I say: Thhhhhhpht.

More seriously, there’s a decent chance the Republicans in ’12 will be feeling a lot like the Democrats in ’92 — willing to nominate pretty much anybody who looks like a winner. It took twelve years of Reagan and Bush 41 for the Democrats to give up on the likes of Dukakis and Mondale and pick a moderate winner like Clinton.

And if President Obama turns into Carter 44, then it might only take four years for the Republicans to get desperate enough to — brace yourself — nominate a winner themselves.

Global Warmening FAIL

April 27th, 2009 - 8:15 am

The View from My Friggin' Window

C’mon, weather. I’m too old for this… stuff.

Too Big a Win?

April 26th, 2009 - 12:59 pm

South Africa continues its 15-year-slide into virtual one-party rule:

The Congress of South African Trade Unions, allied to the ANC, said that after the ruling party’s 65.9 percent election victory, it was time to do more to address inequality.

Um… how about back a different party every now and then, so that the ANC doesn’t become too complacent and corrupt? It’s difficult to have a healthy democracy without at least two healthy political parties.

Macho, Macho Man

April 26th, 2009 - 11:24 am

What’s more manly than Jimmy Carter? (I mean, except of course for lovely lace doilies.) Why, it’s Jimmy Carter on steroids!

Beating the Odds

April 26th, 2009 - 9:06 am

A Brief Reminiscence Upon Turning 40

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Must-See PJTV

April 25th, 2009 - 10:38 am

If it’s Saturday, it must be time for Meet the Blogs — the Sunday morning chat show so ahead of the curve, it runs on Saturday. Damn, we’re good.

Scott Ott, Andrew Ian Dodge, and one martini-swilling blogger riff on President Obama’s 87-digit Misery Index, how to torture your enemies and infuriate people, and lots more.

Plus — a pickle surprise!

Must-See Radio

April 25th, 2009 - 10:20 am

This week’s big Sirius/XM PJM Political radio show signal has been bootlegged and made available for your downloading or streaming pleasure. Huge show today. Check this out:

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.com interviews National Review’s Jim Geraghty and Justin Higgins, the organizer of the Columbus Ohio Tea Party, on the aftermath of last week’s Tea Parties.

James Lileks on the pros and cons of “torturing” captured terrorists.

Ed Driscoll interviews Jennifer Rubin, Pajamas’ DC editor, on President Obama and the return of “That ’70s Show.”

And recorded live at the United Nation’s Orwellian Durban II conference, from PJTV.com, Pajamas CEO Roger L. Simon interviews:

Alan Dershowitz
Jon Voight
Shelby Steele
Pajamas’ own Claudia Rosett
And Anne Bayefsky of the Hudson Institute

And a recap of the events of the conference from Jennifer Rubin.

Plus, Ed and I do some cybercrimes (“Yeah, let’s get bandwidth and not pay.”), and discuss President Obama’s very good call and the dangers of political proctology. It’s a helluva show.

Punishment, Cruel and Unusual

April 25th, 2009 - 8:26 am

Big news from Big Sky Country:

Economic development officials in Hardin are looking at the soon-to-close detention facility in Guantanamo Bay as a possible fix for the jail sitting empty in Hardin.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Jan. 22 to close the Guantanamo detention facilities in Cuba where hundreds of enemy combatants have been held since 2002. The closure is to occur in a year, during which time remaining detainees must be returned to their home countries or detained elsewhere.

Meanwhile, a 460-bed detention facility sits empty in Hardin. Built by Two Rivers Authority, the city’s economic development arm, the facility was meant to bring economic development to Hardin by creating more than 100 high-paying jobs.

So moving guys from the Cuban beaches to the Montana badlands is supposed to make people like us more? What part of that do you get?

Epic Fail

April 24th, 2009 - 2:56 pm

You’ve seen that Microsoft “Surface” touchscreen computer? The one that’s (literally) the size of a coffee table? And you’re keeping in mind right now that it’s a giant touchscreen?

Yeah, you can’t get it working without a keyboard.

You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly

April 24th, 2009 - 2:40 pm

Coolest backyard project ever? Maybe, folks. Maybe.

Must-See PJTV

April 24th, 2009 - 2:09 pm

Free to nonsubscribers, it’s The Week in Blogs. On today’s segment:

Protest apparel.

Warren Buffett suffers a total existence failure.

Republicans start making sense.

An embarrassing high school picture of VodkaPundit?

Plus, Andrew Sullivan takes a one-two twofer. Check it out.

It’s a Mercy Killing

April 24th, 2009 - 1:57 pm

After years of being the ugliest service on the innerwebs (until MySpace got big, anyway), Yahoo! is closing up shop on GeoCities.

I’ve Been Trekked

April 24th, 2009 - 1:50 pm

(Give it a minute to load — it’s a toy, not an ad.)

Create Your Own

Hat tip, Glenn.

Taking One for the Team

April 24th, 2009 - 1:05 pm

Our own Charlie Martin is offering himself up to be waterboarded for charity.

Nope, that’s no joke. Spread the word.