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Monthly Archives: December 2010

Not a Rhetorical Question

December 31st, 2010 - 11:37 am

That lovely warm winter I was bragging about just a couple days ago?

Yeah, that’s over.

The snow slunk in yesterday afternoon. The cold came with it. As in, two days ago, I was running around without a jacket. Today, I had to take the Wrangler into town because there was no way my wife’s car was going to make it to Whole Foods to pick up the New Year’s oysters and the tenderloin for the carpaccio.

I wore two pair of socks, waterproof winter hiking boots, long underwear, heavyweight jeans, a long-sleeved henley, a flannel shirt, a down ski jacket zipped up to the chin, glove liners, ski gloves, ear muffs and a hat. Long before I got back home — this was only an 80 minute trip, 20 spent indoors — my fingers and toes literally ached with the cold.

OK, I was so cold partly because the Wrangler has an unlined canvas top, so you couldn’t heat the thing if you set fire to it. But the sun was out and I was protected from the wind. In other words, that’s just how damn cold it was without shade or wind — and with the Jeep’s meager heater doing what it could.

May we please go back to the global warmening now?

It’s a Rhetorical Question

December 31st, 2010 - 11:30 am

Do we really need TNRand nearly 1,200 words — to tell us that there’s not much chance for bipartisanship in 2011?

What — No Frickin’ Side-Boob?*

December 30th, 2010 - 10:28 pm

Some things cannot be explained by human logic. Other things cannot be explained by divine inspirations. There are even things that cannot be explained by either.

So when you get to that third category, and weave in Natalie Portman and Bob Guccione and silver screen lesbian sex… well, for that, you pretty much can count on Stacy McCain to explain.

*Stacy fans will “get” the headline. Everyone else needs to become a fan.

Freezing in Phoenix

December 30th, 2010 - 6:02 pm

Yeah, but it’s a dry snow.


December 30th, 2010 - 1:48 pm

There’s no point in picking on Ezra Klein any further over his whole “the Constitution is HARD” whine this morning — not after Iowahawk has done it.

Ed Driscoll: It’s only Christmas when there’s a Democrat in the White House.

There’s a Santa Claus joke to be made here, but it’s just too easy.

Made in China

December 30th, 2010 - 12:02 pm

An Android botnet?

You Could Really Be a Beau Brummell, Baby

December 30th, 2010 - 11:56 am

From the Economist, a brief history of the men’s suit.

…Don’t Try Turning the Tables Instead

December 30th, 2010 - 11:26 am

Trifecta: Scott Ott, Bill Whittle and I turn the eye in the sky back on Big Sis.

A Brief Time of History

December 30th, 2010 - 10:10 am

Ten in Two: Is it really possible to explain the entire Tea Party movement, from 1773 through 2010, to conservatives and liberals — in under two minutes?

Sure, if you’re like me and you really have your glib on.

A Fisking

December 30th, 2010 - 9:27 am

Hey, kids! Lookit here — the world’s first self-fisking newspaper column! It’s a real juicy one by Colman McCarthy in today’s Washington Post. Now, McCarthy used to be a Post columnist, but that job was a little bit too rough and tumble for his untainted hands. These days, he finds work at the Center for Teaching Peace. But McCarthy was kind enough to take the time out of his busy schedule to throw up on your breakfast table, and so I thought I’d return the favor.

Sure, I know I told you it was a self-fisking model, but you’ve got to let a pundit have some fun now and then.

Let’s begin:

Now that asking and telling has ceased to be problematic in military circles, ROTC has resurfaced as a national issue: Will universities such as Harvard, Yale and other Ivy League schools be opened to Reserve Officers’ Training Corps since colleges can no longer can argue that the military is biased against gays and therefore not welcome?

Yes, we’re going to find out if our Ivy League schools are merely anti-military, or anti-military and hypocritical. I can hardly wait.

McCarthy describes an interview he conducted with Notre Dame’s Theodore Hesburgh, concluding thusly:

When I suggested that Notre Dame’s hosting of ROTC was a large negative among the school’s many positives, Hesburgh disagreed. Notre Dame was a model of patriotism, he said, by training future officers who were churchgoers, who had taken courses in ethics, and who loved God and country. Notre Dame’s ROTC program was a way to “Christianize the military,” he stated firmly.

So far, so good, I suppose — although Hesburgh might be shocked at just how many men and women of faith already serve. Even in the Seventies. But I digress, so let’s get to McCarthy’s point:

I asked if he actually believed there could be a Christian method of slaughtering people in combat, or a Christian way of firebombing cities, or a way to kill civilians in the name of Jesus. Did he think that if enough Notre Dame graduates became soldiers that the military would eventually embrace Christ’s teaching of loving one’s enemies?

Well. That mask came off rather quickly, didn’t it? According to McCarthy, the United States military is all hoo-rah for slaughtering people and firebombing cities and stacking up civilian skulls into mighty pyramids to Jesus. Never minding, of course, that after the American military is done doing all those nasty things, it then prefers to pack up and go home and lets the foreign survivors — if any! — go back to running their own countries.

OK, so Germany and Japan were special cases, occupied for years. But since those countries actually invented modern city-smashing and civilian-slaughtering, they were very special cases, indeed. Besides, Germany and Japan became much more civilized — thanks in no small part to that hootin’, hollerin’, and killin’ American military.

But again I digress. Back to McCarthy:

The interview quickly slid downhill.

You don’t say.

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Dude, Where’s My District?

December 29th, 2010 - 2:59 pm

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Venus), tells his supporters he’s running for reelection — even if he isn’t quite sure exactly where.

(Hat tip, Melissa Clouthier.)

Irrational Exuberance Returns

December 29th, 2010 - 1:37 pm

Hussman offers a sobering analysis of the Fed’s massive QE2. There’s a lot of technical language, but here’s what it boils down to:

In short, the main effect of QE2 has not been monetary but has instead been rhetorical – and that rhetoric may very well be nearly empty.

The key event related to QE2 wasn’t its formal announcement, but was instead the Op-Ed piece that Ben Bernanke published a few days later in the Washington Post, which essentially advanced the argument that the Fed was targeting a “wealth effect” in stocks and other risky assets, in hopes of getting people to consume off of that perceived wealth. At that moment, Bernanke unleashed a speculative bubble in risky assets, and a selloff in safe ones. This has rewarded risk-seeking and punished risk-aversion, but it has also unfortunately driven the markets into an overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yields condition that has historically ended in steep and abrupt losses.

Take away the recent QE2-fueled stock market “rally,” and the great Housing Bubble of the Naughts, and the Dot Com Bubble of the Nineties, and I’m hard-pressed to remember a time we had any real, honest growth.

Do you remember?

There Must Be a Bottom Around Here Somewhere

December 29th, 2010 - 8:46 am

House prices due to fall another 20%?

Are we done now trying to prop them up? Because it looks like all we’re getting for our money is still-falling values and colossal debt.


December 29th, 2010 - 8:17 am

Earlier this month, RIM CEO Jim Balsillie said his company’s PlayBook is “way ahead” of Apple’s iPad. Except, of course, that there aren’t any apps, they won’t go on sale until after the new iPad is presumably available and, oh yeah, the battery life sucks.

Wisdom Gained From Assembling a Child’s Desk

December 28th, 2010 - 9:15 pm

If it comes in a flat box labeled “Made in China,” it is not furniture. It is, at best, a short-lived assemblage of questionable durability, limited usefulness and endless headaches.

Name That Party

December 28th, 2010 - 10:33 am

Horrible news out of Texas, by way of a Colorado lawmaker:

A vehicle driven by Colorado state Sen. Suzanne Williams collided with another on a Texas highway, killing a pregnant woman from Amarillo, the Department of Public Safety said.
Williams, of Aurora, Colo., was treated at Northwest Texas Hospital and has been released, Trooper Gabriel Medrano said Monday.

He said the woman who died was 30-year-old Brianna Michelle Gomez and her baby boy was in critical condition after being delivered via cesarean section.

Medrano said the 65-year-old senator was driving northbound on U.S. 385 in Hartley County when she veered onto southbound traffic “for an unknown reason” and collided with the vehicle in which Gomez was riding.

Can you name Williams’ party? The Houston Chronicle couldn’t.

Buying Your Way Into Trouble

December 28th, 2010 - 9:21 am

At Forbes, Hilary Kramer says “2011 will be the year of the M&A.” Here’s why:

The Obama administration has recently been pushing for businesses to use the $1.9 trillion in untapped corporate cash to help jump-start the recovery. President Obama would like to see that money used for hiring and organic growth strategies. Excess cash, however–like the extra dollars in your wallet–often finds a way to get spent. In the case of corporations, much of it will be used for acquisitions. After the corporate cash building over the last years, many dollars will likely find a new home in 2011.

Moreover, with the economy certainly improving on numerous metrics, timing is now positive for the M&A market. Companies are more confident about the future–both their own and that of the macro economy. Those who have survived and emerged from the downturn are now poised to take advantage of opportunities. These opportunities are often in the form of strategic and value-adding deals.

“With the stock market rallying and CEO and Board confidence on the rise, I think the M&A business will be quite active in 2011,” says Steve Lipin, senior partner at the global corporate communications powerhouse, the Brunswick Group.

There’s nothing wrong with a nice, strategic acquisition — think of Apple’s purchase of Intrinsity earlier this year. Apple needs very specialized processors for its iOS lineup, so having its own in-house low-power chip-designers can help their bottom line and potentially hurt their competitors.

But mergers? Watch out — the big ones rarely work as well as advertised. Think DaimlerChrysler. Or AOL/Time-Warner. There’s an article by Steve Tobak from 2007 I keep handy. In it, he lists ten reasons mergers fail:

1. Flawed corporate strategy for either or both companies
2. One company sugarcoats the truth, the other buys a PowerPoint pitch
3. Sub-optimum integration strategy for the situation
4. Cultural misfit, loss of key employees after retention agreements are up
5. Acquiring company’s management team inexperienced at M&A
6. Flawed assumptions in synergies calculation
7. Ineffective corporate governance, plain and simple
8. Two desperate companies merge to form one big desperate company
9. CEO of one or both companies sells board and shareholders a bill of goods
10. An impulse buy or panic sell gets shoved down the board’s throat

The sixth item is the kicker, and remember it well if you’re looking to make money of a big merger. “Synergy,” I’ve long maintained, is a word whose real meaning is: “Interminable boosterism” in the best case, or “word used to explain why one company purchased or merged with another company, when there is no rational justification for the move” in the worst.

Still businesses have to do something with all that cash. And if they aren’t convinced they can grow their own sales in this economy, they might try to buy some growth.

Bureaucratic Slight of Hand

December 28th, 2010 - 9:02 am

Kathleen Sebelius, the most powerful woman in America:

Our civics textbooks tell us we have a system of representative government, accountable to the people, to adjudicate just such intensely contested questions. The textbooks are wrong: They fail to account for the Rule of Sebelius. Her HHS decided Medicare would cover end-of-life consultations as part of Obamacare’s annual “wellness visits.”

Sebelius not only gets to make this call, she gets to don the Dick Cheney Shroud of Secrecy to do it. As the New York Times notes: “Congressional supporters of the new policy, though pleased, have kept quiet. They fear provoking another furor.” The office of Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon who supports the HHS decision, sent an e-mail apprising advocates of the new rule, yet warning them “not to broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists, even if they are ‘supporters’ – e-mails can too easily be forwarded.”

Ah, yes, the danger of public information: It might crimp the work of Kathleen Sebelius.

The “death panels” language, was, as Rich Lowry points out, stripped out of the Obamacare bill before passage. But Sebelius went ahead and conjured them up anyway.


There Can Be Only One

December 27th, 2010 - 2:04 pm

Trifecta: Meet our Man of the Year.

Dear Elderly Toyota Camry Owners Everywhere,

Whoever told you it was safe to merge onto a 75 MPH interstate highway at 40 MPH was clearly mistaken, OK?



The New Devil’s Dictionary

December 27th, 2010 - 12:58 pm

Global Warming |ˈglōbəl wôrming|
1 a planetwide anthropogenic climate phenomenon occurring somewhere else.

(Hat tip, Aaron.)

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

December 27th, 2010 - 9:07 am

Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.
-Lazarus Long (1912 – )

It was a white Christmas in Atlanta for the first time since 1882. Columbia, SC had its first one since record keeping began over a century ago. Snow has blasted through the entire northeast, leaving a foot here, two feet there, stranding travelers, caving in roofs — the whole blizzard works, in other words.

On the other side of the country, California is under a deluge of near-Biblical proportions. In Fresno, I think they’re building arks. Just in case.

Meanwhile, here in the Rocky Mountains, I can’t remember a winter this warm and dry. La Niña, apparently, has something to do with that. Unless, of course, it doesn’t. Don’t hate me because my heating bill will scarcely be half of last year’s –this winter weather follows on the heels of the coldest summer I’ve ever experienced up here, which followed the coldest winter we’ve had in ages. My fingers didn’t thaw out until June.

So can we please stop pretending we know much at all about the climate? We can barely figure out the weather.

Insure THIS!

December 27th, 2010 - 8:41 am

Under ObamaCare, if you like the plan you have, you can keep it — provided you don’t mind becoming a criminal.

Ho Ho Heh

December 26th, 2010 - 6:54 pm

Santa Claus: A career assessment.

Must-See Radio

December 26th, 2010 - 3:23 pm

It’s another mondo-size PJM Political, with James Polous, the WSJ‘s Stephen Moore, Bill Whittle, the return of James Lileks, Joe Hicks and the Pigford Settlements, and some Christmas dish from the Poliwood guys.

In the Spirit of Christmas… Being Over

December 26th, 2010 - 3:19 pm

Dana Loesch gets feisty, Nancy Pelosi gets revealed and WTF is up with Wikileaks — all on another exciting episode of… The Week in Blogs!

Merry – Gag – Christmas

December 25th, 2010 - 9:17 pm

The next time you hear anyone brag that the Fed must have saved the economy (again), because the stock market is up 17 or whatever percent since Bernanke conjured up $600,000,000,000 out of thin air, just haul out this depressing and revealing little statistic.

Because in real terms, the stock market is up exactly bupkis.

And up the bupkis is exactly where you’re taking Bernanke’s Keynesian wet dreams.

Pearls Before Swine

December 24th, 2010 - 3:42 pm

Change in the 112th Congress:

The Constitution frequently gets lip service in Congress, but House Republicans next year will make sure it gets a lot more than that – the new rules the incoming majority party proposed this week call for a full reading of the country’s founding document on the floor of the House on Jan. 6.

Are you serious?


December 23rd, 2010 - 9:24 am

Trifecta: Does President Obama have any friends left at all? I mean, other than loudmouth peasants, masochists and of course, Spanish hermaphrodite YouTube pop stars?