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Monthly Archives: June 2009

Just a thought to start you on your week.

You know what makes people risk-averse?

Reality.

The real world includes earthquakes and tornados and cancer and broken bones and lost jobs and bounced checks and and cheatin’ wives and dumb dogs. Reality is a country song.

And not one of those nice ones by Garth Brooks. Reality is Willie Nelson in a foul mood, looking to kick in some teeth.

You know what makes people take dumb risks?

Government.

Government is tax breaks, tax credits, tax shelters, transfer payments, subsidies, exemptions, special favors, competition-stifling regulations, unsafe hurricane & flood insurance, overhead, triplicated paperwork, fat-cat bailouts, and every other dumb stupid idea that makes it profitable for dumb stupid people to do dumb stupid things on your dime. Pay up, sucker — your neighbors might be dumb, but they’re smart enough to sell their votes to your congressman. And you’re the one stuck with the double-trillion-dollar chit.

Government is Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny all wrapped up into one — but you’re the one stuck nursing his drink and listening to Willie Nelson. Everyone else is out having a much better time.

So think about that as Washington thrills in the chance to put a whole lot more regulations on top of Wall Street — and Main Street, and your street — to protect poor little you from the big, bad men who would do you wrong.

If you think the IRS put Willie through the wringer, wait until the whole of Washington gets done with you.

The Tax That Refreshes

June 20th, 2009 - 8:11 pm

Under the Obama Plan, 95% of Americans will receive a tax cut, except for the ones who drink soda.

Must-See PJTV

June 20th, 2009 - 1:22 pm

It’s an all-new VodkaPundit’s Week in Blogs on PJTV.

Also, PJTV now has an entire page dedicated to… me! (I kid, I kid.) It’s still under construction, but from now on all my PJTV appearances will be collected on one page. Set your bookmarks. Oh, and is it just me, or does Stacy Tabb‘s brilliant VP banner look even better against black?

Must-Tan Radio

June 20th, 2009 - 1:09 pm

I’m roasting on the beach. You, on the other hand, should tune in to the all-new edition of PJM Political. On the big show:

Five Questions for James Lileks.

Reut Cohen, host of PJTV.com’s daily Sharia and Jihad Review, talks with James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation on the role that Twitter is playing during the turmoil in Iran.

Radio talker, author, blogger and PJTV.com host Hugh Hewitt on the role that the rest of the Blogosphere and broadcast media is playing in disseminating information about Iran.

PJ Media’s DC editor Jennifer Rubin interviews Marlo Lewis Jr., senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and DC-area auto dealer Geoffrey Pohanka on “Government Motors” and the future of the American auto industry.

Novelist/screenwriter/ PJ Express blogger Andrew Klavan on the “Bumper Sticker Police.”

I’m really loving doing the Five Question for Lileks segment, and I’m only half kidding when I call it the toughest five minutes in radio. Going in, Lileks has no idea what I’ll ask him, and the questions can be about absolutely anything. The kicker? There’s no editing. What you hear is what Lileks got on the first take — and it’s all pretty good.

Plus, Ed Driscoll and I dissect the Iranian protests, explain why Obamacare is a lot like Bush’s Social Security reform (remember that?), and try to figure out how to fit Howard Stern in your iPhone.

Check it out.

Squeal Like a Pig

June 18th, 2009 - 10:44 am

It’s fun to hear the Democrats do just that as they watch health care reform unravel:

So now we have another Democrat in the White House trying to push reform. Tom Daschle – who was elected Democratic Senate Majority Leader in 1994 and had to deal with Dole in the last effort to get this done – is now working hand in glove with the guy who blocked efforts 15 years ago.

Yes, Daschle is a turncoat conservative mole! Or something. Or it could just be that the public is rightly suspicious of a plan set to cost at least $1.6 trillion, and that even Daschle knows there’s no way to get something like that big passed through Congress.

Burn, baby, burn.

Day By Day

June 18th, 2009 - 9:04 am

It’s true — ABC News won’t be making an informercial in the White House. More like an ABC After School Special.

This Deal is Getting Worse All the Time

June 18th, 2009 - 8:38 am

Under the Obama Plan, 95% of all Americans will receive a tax cut. Unless he decides he really, really needs the money.

By the Numbers

June 18th, 2009 - 8:06 am

Once again, the American people have it all wrong:

A substantial majority of Americans say President Obama has not developed a strategy to deal with the budget deficit, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Obama certainly does have a plan for dealing with the deficit, easily summed up in three words: Spend, spend, spend.

Dumber Than Deng

June 17th, 2009 - 12:05 pm

A little compare & contrast that made me feel a little angry and a lot sick. Or maybe it was the other way around.

Next: Dario Argento’s Fraggle Rock

June 17th, 2009 - 11:03 am

It’s the David Lynch cut of Dirty Dancing.

(Hat tip, Agent Bedhead.)

One Point Six Trillion Dollars Later

June 17th, 2009 - 10:43 am

David Harsanyi answers Virginia Postrel on health care reform:

As the writer Virginia Postrel points out, we already have Medicare, a massive single-payer, government-run program and a “perfect environment for experimentation.”

“If more-efficient government management can slash health-care costs by addressing all these problems,” wrote Postrel, “why not start with Medicare? Let’s see what ‘better management’ looks like applied to Medicare before we roll it out to the rest of the country.”

As Postrel probably already knows, the effort to empower government with control of medical care is ideologically driven, making it impervious to experimentation. Socializing medicine is the grand prize for the left.

I still want one example of a program where the government spent less on something to give us more of it. Hell, I’d settle for an example where the Washington just spent less, period.

Required Reading

June 17th, 2009 - 8:41 am

Will Collier time travels back to 1979:

Rather than offering any crumbs of support to the Iranians who are literally putting their lives on the line for their own freedom, Barack Obama could only manage “deep concerns.” In Obamaland, it’s not as important to offer even moral support to people trying to shake off the yoke of a barbaric dictatorship as it is to not appear to be “meddling.”

This all sounds quite familiar, and everyone over 30 has seen it before. Did somebody replace the “community activist” with a self-righteous peanut farmer while we weren’t looking?

Read the rest here.

Little Wee Tiny Review

June 16th, 2009 - 10:06 pm

First thought upon seeing the new, super-thin aluminum Mac keyboards last year, when they were introduced with the new iMacs: “Guess when I upgrade to a new Mac whenever, I’ll be buying a third-party keyboard.”

First thought after spending a while actually using one: “Touch my new keyboard and die.”

Seriously. It looks like hell to type on, but it isn’t. The action is fast, and the clicks are so solid they remind me of an IBM Selectric II, only not quite so noisy. Still haven’t found the perfect elevation — although I suspect part of why my wrists aren’t comfy is that, until I get 11,000 boxes cleared out of my office, my desk is a Sam’s Club plastic folding table.

But the keyboard rocks. If for whatever sad, pathetic, lonely reason you’re stuck using a Windows machine, at least be good enough to yourself to switch to a Mac keyboard.

That Explains a Lot

June 16th, 2009 - 12:53 pm

Revealed in full detail, President Obama’s plan for gay rights.

Imperial Washington

June 16th, 2009 - 9:31 am

Nancy Pelosi goes back on her promise to reveal how Washington is spending your money on cars.

Make Mine a Double

June 16th, 2009 - 8:42 am

Some headlines from RCP, Drudge, and elsewhere this morning:

ABC TURNS PROGRAMMING OVER TO OBAMA; NEWS TO BE ANCHORED FROM INSIDE WHITE HOUSE

Obama seeks to ‘give government new powers to seize key companies’

Stimulus Program Full of Waste

Backsliding on Terrorism

Health Reform is All Downside for Most Americans

US industrial output tumbles 1.1 percent in May

And yet the big protest planned for today is against… David Letterman? I’m starting to think we’ve already been bought off with bread and circuses.

UPDATE: This sounds about right, but apparently some folks won’t be pleased until Letterman has a “Apology accepted, Captain Needa” moment.

Must-See PJTV

June 15th, 2009 - 9:00 pm

If it’s Monday, it must be an episode of Hair of the Dog — the Monday morning quarterback for the Sunday morning chat shows. This week:

Senator Dick Durbin has no clue what President Obama will do.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius won’t say what Obama will do.

How do you spell Arlen Specter? C-H-U-C-K G-R-A-S-S-L-E-Y

Plus, the secret connection between VodkaPundit and… Mitt Romney?

The show is free, no registration required. And if you enjoy it, why not give it a nice star rating?

Don’t Get Cocky Kid

June 15th, 2009 - 11:05 am

On the run again:

Losing their support in Pakistan, Al Qaeda operatives are moving to the Horn of Africa. Dozens of al Qaeda fighters and a handful of commanders have fled Pakistan for Somalia and Yemen in the last few months. They’re leaving their former stronghold in the tribal region of Pakistan after months of increased drone attacks in the region have disrupted their local networks killing. 11 of 20 top Al Qaeda commanders. The Pakistani Army’s recent campaign against Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists has further threatened Al Qaeda’s local network.

Couple of things here. First, it’s a lot easier finding people – and blowing them up – in Somalia than in the mountains of Pakistan. Second, is it too early yet to call it the Swat Awakening?

The Revolution Will Be Tweeted II

June 15th, 2009 - 9:07 am

Here’s an aggregator of tweets from Iran.

Slow Down There Pardner

June 15th, 2009 - 8:55 am

One of the statistics getting thrown around during the health care reform debate is that Americans, unlike our wiser European brethren, spend close to 50% of all the money they’ll ever spend on health care, in the last six months of life.

Seems like a waste, doesn’t it?

And the President’s “rationing board,” (or whatever he’s calling it), will ration a lot of that away. The government will decide which treatments you really need, when you’re going to die soon anyway.

But let’s think about this for just a moment.

If 50% of the money is being spent, you can bet close to 50% of the profits are being made. And if that’s where the profits are, Big Pharma will – surprise! – want some more of that. And that means research. And research means new treatments.

New treatments means your last six months of life now happen around age 75 or 80, instead of around 60. Or 50. Or 35.

Someday, maybe those last six months will come at age 100. Or 120. Or longer. Who knows? What we do know is, given a chance to make a buck, American medicine has led the world in extending life. Sure, life expectancy might be longer in Japan or France. But that’s mostly due to American know-how combined with healthier lifestyles. If we cut out the fat (literally), we’d live longer, too.

The President is promising to save money by eliminating a lot of those seemingly pointless end-of-life treatments. But that’s also going to mean an end to end-of-life profits. And, well, you can bet our life expectancy will get frozen in place as a result.

Sure, we all pay for expensive treatments for other people who are going to die soon, anyway. But we also all get to enjoy the benefits of a industrious and profitable health care industry. And even if we ourselves don’t get to live to be 90 or 100 or more, there’s a much better chance that our kids or their kids will.

And yet Washington is in such a rush to “fix” what’s not broken, that six weeks is all we have to stop this madness. Just yesterday Joe Biden admitted the Porkulus Bill was pretty much a waste. That was nearly $800 billion down the drain, because we “needed” to pass a bill so quickly that no one had the time to figure out what was really going on. Now we’re talking another $1.5 trillion in nationalized health care spending.

Shouldn’t we take a little longer than six weeks to talk about it?

UPDATE: Debate? We don’t need no stinkin’ debate.

The Revolution Will be Tweeted

June 15th, 2009 - 8:41 am

Interesting Twitter feed on events in Iran. Is it reliable? There’s no way to tell. Use your own best judgement.

What follows is a repost from July 10, 2003 — the last time Iran seemed on the verge of revolution.

Before becoming one of the first Americans launched into space, Alan Sheppard prayed, “Dear Lord, please don’t let me fuck up” while sitting atop his rocket. Think of those words now as the people of Iran struggle for freedom.

But don’t pray for them — pray for us not to fuck this up.

Win or lose, the people of Iran can’t fuck up. They’re fighting for their freedom, and whether they live or they die, they’ll have done so as free men. An Iranian student executed at dawn is every bit as free as you or me. The only difference is, we get to live free, but he has to die for it.

All we can do is put our fingers lightly on the scales of injustice, and help decide in some small measure how many young Iranian men and women must die, and whether their jail keepers will someday soon find justice in this world, rather than in the next.

So what can we do? How can we put our fingers on the scales without the butchers catching us?

The most important thing is what we don’t do. Don’t send letters to President Bush, telling him to point Third Infantry Division east towards Tehran. First off, we more than have our hands full already in Iraq and elsewhere. But more importantly, let’s not try to turn their revolution into our occupation. Iranians are a proud people, and rightly so; this is their country, their fight, and their future to win.

Don’t take a bunch of the Shah’s old cronies, happily ensconced in LA or who-knows-where for the last 25 years, and prop them up as the new leaders of a Free Iran. Free Iran already has its leaders – they’re organizing the protests and the rallies, they’re sending out emails and faxes and running blogs, they’re licking their wounds in dungeons and awaiting, perhaps, their own executions.

The new leaders of Iran are women wearing some makeup and showing their faces in public. They’re parents with covert satellite dishes, letting their children see the better world outside the mullahs’ reach. They’re college students brave enough to risk their young lives for “an outcome dubious.” They’re army leaders not cowardly enough to shoot their own people.

They are people not much different from you and me, except they’re risking everything to take for themselves all those freedoms we take so much for granted.

Let’s not take all that away from them, OK?

When they win – and I hope like hell they do – the government they establish might not be the perfect one we’d hope for. Democracy, after all, is a far-from-perfect process. But it’s a good process, and one they’re entitled to work out day by day, just as we do.

The day I look forward to is the day when Washington and Tehran each look at some important issue and respectfully disagree. That day may be soon.

I promised to tell you how we can hasten that day. Here’s how.

Use that freedom of speech you possess, but Iranians don’t. If you have a blog, then blog. Write a letter to the editor of your hometown newspaper. Call your favorite radio show. Use it to tell your President, your Senators, your Congressman, and your Secretary of State that they need to speak out. And more importantly, tell them they need to speak to Iran. Tell those freedom fighters we want them to have their rights, we want them to enjoy their freedoms, we want them to build a better nation, and, should worst come to worst, we’re not afraid to stand with them, shoulder to shoulder.

And tell your leaders to tell Iran that we’re going to try real hard not to fuck this up.

A man who wants to be free can become an unstoppable force, if he knows that other free men are on his side. And the mullahs are no immovable object; they bleed just as easily as free men do – and there aren’t nearly as many of them.

So speak out, by telling your leaders to speak out, too.

Required Reading

June 14th, 2009 - 10:00 pm

Will Collier penned an open letter to the President, regarding Iran.

Don’t Click on a Weak Stomach

June 10th, 2009 - 12:58 pm

There’s a very good reason it’s called a fright wig.

Do Not Question the One

June 10th, 2009 - 12:35 pm

They told me if I didn’t vote for Obama, then anti-torture protesters would be silenced – and they were right!

But He’s Big in New York!

June 9th, 2009 - 12:45 pm

Some solid advice from Stacy McCain: “Always do the opposite of whatever David Brooks says, and you can’t go too far wrong.”

President Who?

June 9th, 2009 - 10:50 am

America is respected again!

Party at Ground Zero

June 9th, 2009 - 9:09 am

My faith that the American people are generally more sensible than our leaders remains strong:

Sixty-two percent (62%) of U.S. voters say Iran should be required to stop developing its nuclear weapons capabilities before a meeting is allowed between the Iranian president and the president of the United States, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

This finding is up six points – from 56% – in late January just after President Obama signaled a willingness to talk to his Iranian counterpart without preconditions. A year ago, 59% agreed with the Bush administration position that Iran must stop its nuclear weapons program before direct talks were possible.

Just 23% of voters now say a meeting between the two presidents should go ahead without any preconditions, and 15% are not sure.

Really, this is where Obama lost me last year. The first time Obama promised to meet with Iran, Cuba, etc., “without preconditions” was in a debate with Hillary Clinton and the other candidates, and it was obvious that he misspoke. But rather than backtrack or issue a “restatement” or any of the other many things politicians do to admit they’re wrong without admitting they were wrong, Obama solidified his position.

And that’s when it became all-too-clear that this guy had a lot more ego than sense. Let’s hope now that the election is behind him, the President can back off from his silly, stubborn mistake.

Grounded

June 9th, 2009 - 8:47 am

Bye-bye manned space flight? From Slashdot:

“Other recommendations contained in the bill include a $77million reduction in NASA’s proposed space operations budget, which includes the space shuttle and international space station; a $6 million reduction in science; and a $332 million shift in funds from the Cross Agency Support account to a new budget line-item included in the subcommittee’s mark. Dubbed Construction and Environmental Compliance, the new account would be funded at $441 million. Congressional aides said the new line item and accompanying funds are aimed at consolidating NASA’s various construction efforts into a single pot of money.”

I’m a small government guy, but NASA is one place I’d hesitate to make cuts – especially in an age when government is learning to make do with more, more, more. Why? Because space flight is one area where we get something unique for our tax dollars — a sense of wonder, unaccompanied by dread or disgust.

(Hat tip, Glenn.)

No Standing

June 8th, 2009 - 5:49 pm

Bush and Cheney are long gone, but the Unitary Executive lives on:

The Obama Administration argued Monday that no court, including the Supreme Court, has the authority to hear a challenge by Indiana benefit plans to the role the U.S. Treasury played in the Chrysler rescue, including the use of “bailout” (TARP) funds. The Indiana debt holders, U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan wrote, simply have no right to raise that issue, thus putting it out of the reach of the courts.

“Don’t like the way we run things?” asks the Obama Administration. “Then we’ll see you in court — not!”