The Boston Herald is collecting Thanksgiving weekend TSA horror stories.
You and your crotch could help make history!
Unearthed a gem from Ben Smith’s Politico report on President Obama’s counterproductive Middle East diplomacy:
“Israelis really hate Obama’s guts,” said Shmuel Rosner, a columnist for two leading Israeli newspapers. “We used to trust Americans to act like Americans, and this guy is like a European leader.”
We know exactly how you feel, buddy.
Greg Hill left the Happy Fun Comment of the week, and it goes a little like this:
Had an absolutely fascinating dinner conversation with a couple of guys who manage a decently sized portfolio here in the mid-Atlantic region. At its peak it was over $1B in value. It has dropped some, but they managed to get out before the big crash, and have done well compared to others.
Anyway. They were explaining the logic behind TARP, and the reality behind its implementation, and what we should be expecting. They are not happy at all. The simple fact of the matter is that the toxic assets (remember what the “T” in TARP stood for originally?) are still on the books for most banks. And even though the auditors are telling the banks to unload, it’s not happening in any kind of rapid order. There is a whole new round of audits coming due, and mark-to-market is going to create an absolute shit storm all over again.
The simple fact of the matter is that the Fed is buying Treasuries because they’re terrified that the foreign market is about to dry up. We apparently experienced a near miss in September, which scared the living crap out of Bernanke. We tried to sell a batch of Treasuries, and nobody came to buy them. We had to “delay” the sale for “technical reasons”, or something like that.
The next six months are Big Ben’s attempt to shore up the markets so that the wheels keep turning. And the
$600B $800B$1T+ dollars is really an open-ended promise by Ben to keep buying if nobody else does.
My guys say pay attention to what happens leading up to the May/June Treasury sales. If the foreign concerns are legit, then Bernanke will get mealy-mouthed about how much more he’s willing to spend.
We’ve got six months, gang. Fall of ’08 may have simply been the shot across the bow.
Ed Driscoll might be on the National Review Cruise, but that didn’t stop him from producing another big, big edition of PJM Political. On this week’s big show, we have big-time Tea Party guys David Kirkham and Mike Wilson, the future of the world’s once-biggest car company, Hollywood’s big course correction, and Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Issues Conversation.
OK, so I made up that last bit — but we do have Roger L. Simon and Joe Hicks talking about the end of DADT and other stuff.
What came out of the Democrats’ Raucous Caucus? An understanding about the need for… better communications! No, I’m not kidding. Here’s the key bit from Politico‘s report:
If Democrats keep losing the message war, they worry, they will be wiped out in 2012.
“There was a lot of passion in that room,” one senator said. “The reason is because the public is with us on our policies, but they’re not getting the message.”
And who will lead the effort to improve The Message™? You know, The Message™ about how Democratic policies are all rainbows covered in unicorns smothered in bacon, and how the GOP is “beholden to special interests?” Well, it’s none other than that trusted and beloved elder statesman of the Democratic caucus: Chuck Schumer.
If you thought the last couple weeks were bad for the Democrats, you ain’t seen ugly yet.
And this time, it wasn’t even done through legal channels. Read:
I have a different explanation for the Fed’s latest easing program: Without another $600 billion floating through the economy, Mr. Bernanke must believe that real estate (residential and commercial) would quickly drop, endangering banks.
The 2009 quantitative easing lowered mortgage rates and helped home prices rise for a while. But last month housing starts plunged almost 12%. And in September, according to Core-Logic, home prices dropped 2.8% from 2009. Commercial real estate values are driven by job-creation and vacancy rates, both of which are heading the wrong way.
Because of unexpectedly bad construction loans, the staid Wilmington Trust was sold to M&T Bank earlier this month in a rare “takeunder”—what Wall Street calls a deal done below a company’s stock value, in this case by 40%.
In other words, real estate is at risk again. But Mr. Bernanke would create a panic if he stated publicly that, if not for his magic dollar dust, real estate would fall off a cliff.
Does anyone remember what TARP was supposed to do? It was the Troubled Asset Relief Program. It’s aim was to “unbundle” the bad home loans from the good ones. Not to get too technical here, but good loans and bad ones had been bundled together, to make the bad ones palatable to investors. You know, “There’s so much horse shit, there must be a pony here somewhere!”
Or, as Wikipedia has it, TARP was to allow “the Treasury to purchase illiquid, difficult-to-value assets from banks and other financial institutions.” So why are the banks still exposed, if the Treasury is holding the bag of horse shit while the bankers all sit on the ponies?
Well, because TARP — if it had ever been anything else — quickly turned into a slush fund, and the banks figured they didn’t have to sell their bad assets at fair prices, so long as their bottoms were covered with easy money. And besides, the Treasury wasn’t all that interested in buying them up.
So — now that we’ve exhausted our legal means for saving our financial system, the Fed is resorting to extra-legal means.
But if Bernanke has done anything other than ever-so-slightly put off Doomsday while increasing our risk of a massive inflation… Well, I can’t figure out what it is.
I kid, of course — you don’t have to have a break from reality to be a progressive. (But it doesn’t hurt!)
It’s just that liberals have opened themselves up to this kind of attack — even if, like mine, it’s in jest — by making the exact same claim about conservatives, again and again. And in all seriousness, too.
Let’s play a game of “What’s Wrong With This Headline?” Ready? OK, here we go!
How about keeping dangerous people off our airplanes? And how many people have we caught with porno scanners? Finding dangerous people, rather than “dangerous” objects, is far less time consuming, and far less intrusive, than what we’re doing now.
Folks, I spent much of the ’90s sans trou and on display, and yet I find these new scanners highly objectionable.
Unemployment remains mired at nearly ten percent. Taxes are set to go up on everybody on January 1. And what’s the President working on? I mean, other than his golf game? This:
During the G-20 meeting last week, Obama told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev—with whom he co-signed the treaty in April—that getting New START ratified would be his top priority during the lame duck session.
Obama’s “top priority” right now is a treaty described as “benign” at best. Yes, we have lots of room to cut our nuclear arsenal (and even more room to modernize it), but right now, nobody cares.
The President was going to “pivot” back the economy in December — last December, 2009. Then he was going to “pivot” back the economy once he got Obamacare rammed through. Then he was going to “pivot” back the economy once the election was over. Now, his party and his policies received a stinging rebuke from the House down to the governor’s mansions and especially in the state assemblies — and he still won’t get his priorities in line with what the American people want and expect.
I think we’ve gone past tone-deafness and are well into recalcitrance.
Nancy Pelosi, the gift that keeps on giving:
WASHINGTON—Democrats in the House of Representatives voted 150-43 Wednesday to keep House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as their leader in the new Congress, a number of lawmakers said as they emerged from the caucus meeting.
Ms. Pelosi survived a challenge to her leadership and will keep her job as the top Democrat next year when Republicans take control of the chamber.
Honestly, I haven’t seen a Congress this corrupt and self-defeating since… well, since the GOP was in charge of it. The other thing I don’t understand is this: If each Congress is sovereign, why does the Democratic caucus of the next Congress, have to stick with the minority leader picked by the Democrats of this Congress?
It seems even the outgoing Congress has gained some small willingness to listen. Read:
During a one-minute speech on the House floor, Rep. Ted Poe (Texas) also blasted former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as a “political hack” and accused him of profiting from the proliferation of the devices.
“There is no evidence these new body scanners make us more secure. But there is evidence that former Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff made money hawking these full body scanners,” Poe said.
He went on to explain that Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, had given interviews promoting the scanners while he was “getting paid” to sell them.
Meanwhile, here’s a related item from Ron Paul’s Twitter feed:
I will introduce legislation later today addressing TSA abuses. Look for my floor speech on C-SPAN, probably between 5-6 PM EST…
This really ought to be a bipartisan issue, but so far the Democrats don’t seem willing to buck Obama or Napolitano. How much longer can that last, do you think?
Trifecta: Scott Ott continues his exploration of the nether regions of Janet Napolitano’s touchy-feely efforts to improve the TSA, while Stephen Kruiser and I accept our pat-downs.
Oh, and I might have to provide a transcript for a couple of my answers, just to help folks follow along.
The Wall Street Journal broke the story last night, that Apple’s iTunes Store had finally secured the rights to sell the Beatles’ catalog. I’m no big Beatles fan — sue me, I’ll take the Stones — but the Beatles Box Set looks impressive.
$149 for every album, remastered, plus video documentaries and all the extra digital goodies we’ve come to love and expect from iTunes?
I’m not plunking down the money just yet — but I am putting it on my iTunes Wish List.
UPDATE: One last thing. Obviously, iTunes has been working on this release, very hard, for months. Kudus for keeping it under wraps until the very last minute.
Last night, the booze didn’t help. This morning the coffee isn’t helping. Is there no way to rid my brain of the memory of Paul Krugman on Sunday morning, lecturing Britain on deficit reduction? Doing Hair of the Dog every week is starting to affect my health.
In other news, PJ Media turns five years old today, and PJTV has been going strong for just over two years. About three years prior to PJM’s founding, I told my then-fiancée that I was going to start a blog. And she said, “A what?” Hardly anyone asks that question anymore, and it’s been that way for years now.
When I got into this newfangled blogging thing on January 10, 2002, I had a desk in my basement with a Dell Pentium III desktop computer, wired into the internet courtesy of AOL’s dialup service. Today, it’s a Mac Pro workstation with a high-speed cable modem, and wifi through the rest of the house. And there’s a dedicated, bonded T1 line for the little TV studio next to my desk. But I’m still down in the basement — some things don’t change all that much.
Eight years ago, “online video” meant some grainy thumbnail-size moving picture of something, at maybe 15 frames per second — if you could find any online video, that is. Now I stream 720p HD right out of my basement. Yeah, the T1 line is strictly for pros (or paid amateurs still learning the ropes, like myself), but it can’t be too much longer before my setup becomes mundane. And then it will become obsolete. All, I’m sure, in very short order.
What’s next? I have no idea. But if the next five years are anything like the first five, it’s going to be a helluva lot of fun.
I’ll bring the flask.
So, Facebook is entering the messaging business. Here’s how it works:
The new service, which will provide users with an “@facebook.com” email address, is designed to meld email, instant messaging and SMS text messages so that users can manage their communications through a single inbox.
“This is not an email killer. This is a messaging system that includes email as a part of it,” said Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg.
The company was launching the new service because many young users don’t use email because it is too slow and formal, he said. The company unveiled its new messaging service at an event in San Francisco.
Mr. Zuckerberg said the service, which has been under development for about one year, will also maintain users’ conversation histories so that members can keep track of all the communications they have had.
No thanks — I’ll take a pass on this one. Zuckerberg, whom Fake Steve Jobs properly skewered the other day as a “that quasi-autistic little sociopath,” is simply not to be trusted. Facebook is happy to take your personal data, and even store it free of charge — but good luck ever getting it back out.
Case in point. Earlier this year, I took my son to see How to Train Your Dragon. A fine, fun little movie, and his first on the big screen. As usual, I’d purchased our tickets online. Days later, when logging into Facebook for work, I learned that the entire world knew what movie I’d gone to, which theater, and what time, too. What would a stalker have done with this information?
I’d never given Facebook or Fandango permission to publish that information. I’d never given either site permission to share any information. And yet there it was, for all the world to see.
Facebook has since promised never to do that kind of thing again. But I made my own promise, which is to give Facebook as little information as I can. And that means giving a big Thumbs Down to letting Mark Zuckerberg have access to each and every one of my electronic communications.