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Monthly Archives: December 2010

All That Ends Well

December 23rd, 2010 - 8:30 am

To China, North Korea is a worrisome nuisance — but also a convenient thorn in our side. While the Norks keep us busy up here, China can poke around down there, around Taiwan. But the balance might be changing, at least if this WSJ report is accurate:

hina has made a public show over the past two weeks of urging all sides to show restraint, but to Washington’s chagrin has refused to blame North Korea for the sinking of a South Korean ship in March or the Nov. 23 artillery attack that killed four people on a South Korean island in the Yellow Sea.

In a departure from the sharp tone Washington has taken lately toward China, U.S. officials credited Beijing with playing a central role in helping convince the North not to retaliate—as it had earlier suggested it would—to an artillery exercise South Korea held near the island Monday.

A senior Obama administration official portrayed China as increasingly frustrated with the North’s actions, which also included its disclosure in November of a new uranium-enrichment facility, and said China’s “view has been changed about the need to act” by the “sheer outrageousness” of the North’s moves.

As I’ve argued for a while now, the best end to North Korea’s succession crisis might be PLA paratroopers descending on Pyongyang to deliver the coup de grace to this unstable and evil regime.

And the Winner Is…

December 23rd, 2010 - 8:22 am

PJTV rounds out the year with a series of shorts called 10 in 2. That’s 2010 in two-minutes segments. Altogether, we must’ve made 15 or 20 or more of the things. My first contribution is up, and it’s “The Biggest Loser.”

Alabama Duck Hunt

December 23rd, 2010 - 7:28 am

Trifecta: Scott Ott hosts, and takes Bill Whittle and me down to Alabama, where the lame ducks neutered the mad union dogs.

Rim Shot

December 22nd, 2010 - 3:15 pm

The Washington Post headline reads, “No looking back for Pelosi,” and I can’t say I’m too surprised — she never struck me as a very reflective creature.

But then again, most vampires aren’t.

Seasons Greetings

December 22nd, 2010 - 3:09 pm

A special holiday message to the 111th Congress, from Ferris Bueller.

Another Colossal Clunker from Sony

December 22nd, 2010 - 11:55 am

Thirty years ago, Apple wanted to be just like Sony. That hasn’t been true in a long time, and Sony is still trying to play catch up. Here’s the latest attempt:

Sony on Wednesday launched a new streaming music subscription service which it hopes will take on Apple’s iTunes by offering a different approach to digital music sales.

“Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity” is a cloud-based digital music service. Unlike iTunes, users do not purchase and download tracks. Instead, they stream them.

The service is not available on portable devices, meaning users can’t take their music on the go. The service debuted Wednesday in Ireland and the U.K., and will launch in the U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and New Zealand in 2011.

Kazuo Hirai, executive vice president of Sony, said the initial focus of the product is to enhance the appeal of Sony products versus competitors like Apple and Microsoft, according to The Associated Press. But he said “over time” the service would need to “stand on its own.”

So Music Unlimited is just like every other failed subscription service, only you can’t stick it in your portable.

This has “win” written all over it.

But Some Are More Equal Than Others

December 22nd, 2010 - 8:42 am

Trifecta: Bill, Scott and I take on Net Neutrality, and “bureaucratic lawlessness” at the FCC.

A Major Declaration

December 21st, 2010 - 5:29 pm

Meet Trifecta‘s permanent new host.

You Say Projection, I Say Projection

December 21st, 2010 - 12:55 pm

Cynthia Tucker: GOP resistance to New Start is “unpatriotic.”

All Too Easy

December 20th, 2010 - 7:06 pm

Hair of the Dog: It’s a gimme this week, as Joe Biden spends a half hour talking to David Gregory. But there’s still great stuff from my secret bromance with Juan Williams and George Will gets down with the Tea Party.

December 20th, 2010 - 5:58 pm

Coast to Coast Tea Party: The national movement is going… hyper-local?

Must-See Radio

December 19th, 2010 - 8:22 am

This week’s PJM Political is hot off the Sirius/XM satellite and ready for your internet streaming pleasure.

The Meme That Would Not Die

December 18th, 2010 - 8:51 am

WaPo’s Dan Balz on President Obama’s “resilience” after last month’s shellacking:

What seems clear is that Obama has begun to position himself back on more comfortable ground in the wake of the self-described shellacking Democrats took in the midterm elections. By instinct and demeanor, he is a politician who prefers finding common ground with his opponents. At a moment of political weakness, the tax package provided him the vehicle to quickly reassert that part of his political personality at a time when he needed the public to take a fresh look at him. [Emphasis way added.]

They’ve said this about Obama for years, that he’s some sort of Great Compromiser, who would bridge the gaps between Left and Right, between Black and White, and all the other chasms of American political and social life — like… I dunno, like some miraculous kind of spackling paste.

The same Obama whose (admittedly thin) Senate voting record was to the left of Vermont Socialist Bernie Sanders. The same Obama who called his GOP opponents “enemies” in the run up to the above-mentioned “shellacking.” They’ve said this about the Obama who’s first attempt at compromise as President was just a flat reminder that “I won.” The same Obama who pushed through life and death legislation on a strict party line vote, and abusing the bipartisan Byrd Rule to do it? The same Obama who, when faced for the first time by real opposition, put on the most petty and petulant press conference performance in presidential history. The same Obama who, just days later, walked out on another briefing, blaming his wife.

I could go on, but why? The “instinct” part is demonstrably false, and the evidence for Obama’s “demeanor” isn’t much stronger. The question is, where did this meme come from and why does the press keep insisting that it’s true?

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I find the global warming, Jimmy Carter blames the Jooooos, and the worst-ever Monty Python impression — all on another exciting episode of… The Week in Blogs!

Quote of the Day

December 18th, 2010 - 7:37 am

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid could do themselves and the country a lot of good by brushing up on their Heinlein. Especially that Lazarus Long quip that “a motion to adjourn is always in order.”

Leading the Way — Off the Cliff

December 17th, 2010 - 11:07 am

Sacramento finally did it:

California regulators Thursday voted to cap the greenhouse gas emissions of the state’s major industries and establish the nation’s first broad-based carbon trading program.

The move marks another bellwether moment for a state that has led in environmental policy, coming as national climate legislation to regulate greenhouse gases and curb climate change has stalled in Congress.

“This is an historic venture,” said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, as the panel voted 9 to 1 to approve some 3,000 pages of regulations and supporting documents, crafted over three years of intense negotiations with businesses and public interest groups.

The move is also being cheered by businesses in places as far away as Arizona and Nevada.

RELATED: Senator Jay Rockefeller is seeking to block the EPA’s power grab (pun entirely intentional), but he can’t do a damn thing to put a stop to California’s foolishness.

Twenty Reasons “Primary” Became a Verb

December 17th, 2010 - 10:46 am

Via Roger, the Top Twenty Senate Earmarkers:

Cochran (R-MS) 230
Wicker (R-MS) 199
Murray (D-WA) 172
Harkin (D-IA) 152
Reid (D-NV) 129
Menendez (D-NJ) 123
Feinstein (D-CA) 121
Lautenberg (D-NJ) 120
Lincoln (D-AR) 114
Inouye (D-HI) 113
Schumer (D-NY) 106
Johnson (D-SD) 105
Landrieu (D-LA) 104
Specter (D-PA) 103
Pryor (D-AR) 96
Levin (D-MI) 93
Stabenow (D-MI) 91
Boxer (D-CA) 90
Brown (D-OH) 87
Grassley (R-IA) 86

Would any of these guys be missed?

Word Lens uses the video camera in your iPhone or iPod Touch to translate Spanish-to-English (or the other way around) in realtime, using augmented reality. That’s right, you take video and Word Lens instantly and automatically replaces the language it sees with the language you want to read — no network connection required. That kind of CGI used to be done by giant server farms in Hollywood during post-production. Now your phone does it for you effortlessly, anywhere.

The future just arrived.

“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

December 17th, 2010 - 8:27 am

Fred Kaplan summarizes the White House’s summary of its Afghan War review:

Six times in the course of five pages, the report’s authors note that, unless Pakistan does a better job of controlling its borders—the western tribal areas, where Taliban leaders find safe haven and move reinforcements and supplies into Afghanistan and back again—the U.S. military successes of recent months are for naught.

I never did understand the need for the Afghanistan Surge, nor the drawn-out ramp-up. And the will-we/won’t-we indecision on the drawdown this summer is yet another puzzling bit in our puzzling strategy.

Looking over my own links in the graf above, I guess it goes like this:

We’re doing fine in Afghanistan.

Unless we pull out.

Which we’re going to start doing this summer.

Unless we don’t.

There’s strategic ambiguity, and then there’s… this.

All Styles Are Good Except the Tiresome Kind

December 17th, 2010 - 7:45 am

What’s up with Krauthammer? Last week, he made the case that maintaining GOP tax rates was somehow a Democrat stimulus, and I’m still scratching my head over that one. This week, while Obama was “holding no high cards, he nonetheless managed to resurface suddenly not just as a player but as orchestrator, dealmaker and central actor in a high $1 trillion drama.”

I’m scratching my head again. Obama, holding a veto pen and whose party still holds both houses of Congress for another two weeks, gave the GOP damn near everything it wanted — in exchange for extending unemployment benefits, which the Republicans were almost certainly going to do anyway. Obama got a bunch of pork, too, but that goes without saying. (See? I told you he wasn’t a Muslim.)

Oh, and the President made himself look small and petulant in the process.

If that’s triangulation, it certainly isn’t the Clintonian form. As Mickey Kaus noted, when Clinton triangulated, he fought the extremist on both sides to protect “the little guy” in the middle, there with Clinton. Or at least that’s how he presented himself — and Clinton was usually magnanimous in victory, too.

When Obama triangulates, the case he makes is, “I wanted what the left wants, but I couldn’t get it.” And he’s nasty about it. So Obama makes himself appear weak and petty.

So even if Krauthammer is right — and he’s a far sharper political thinker than I am, and much closer to the action, too — Obama’s act is going to wear thin, long before 2012. That is, if it hasn’t already.

The Gordian Tax Bill

December 16th, 2010 - 12:14 pm

Leadership: “House Democrats were forced to delay consideration of the president’s tax bill on Thursday as party leaders figure out a way to mollify the bill’s opponents.

How bad is it, really? Read on:

The decision to delay the debate is mired in procedural arcana, but the underlying issue is that Democratic opponents of the bill want to vote for an amendment changing the estate-tax without voting to approve the bill itself.

Did you catch that? Liberal Democrats are, to borrow a phrase, holding hostage those middle class tax rates so that they can support the bill without voting for it. Or maybe to vote for the bill without supporting it. Or maybe there’s some clever maneuver where the House can “deem it sucks” and send everybody home for Christmas.

Dry Run

December 16th, 2010 - 11:20 am

Will Collier found… well, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

Just Like a Farmer is Pro-Cow

December 16th, 2010 - 7:58 am

Dana Milbank reports on the President’s Big Business Summit or Whatever:

The president was not about to answer questions because he didn’t want to do anything to upset the choreography of the day. It was a chance for Obama to show, in contrast to the perception that many voters had last month, that he is a big fan of the free market and private industry. And it was a chance to have a mostly friendly crowd of CEOs (there wasn’t an oil man or a health-insurance boss among them) validate Obama’s pro-business bona fides.

No, no, a thousand times, no. Nobody doubts that Obama is anti-business. Rent-seeking corporations and great big government go hand-in-hand. What we need is a President who is pro-markets.

And good luck with that.

I Got Yer Equal Rights Right Here

December 16th, 2010 - 7:24 am

Apparently, the TSA thinks there’s a “you have boobs” exception to the Fourth Amendment.

Just abolish the TSA and announce a do-over already. This organization is inept and willfully stupid right to its core.

Do I Hear $6.50 for this iPhone?

December 16th, 2010 - 7:05 am

How do we calculate the trade deficit? Incorrectly, according to a report in today’s WSJ. Read:

Two academic researchers estimate that Apple Inc.’s iPhone—one of the best-selling U.S. technology products—actually added $1.9 billion to the U.S. trade deficit with China last year.

How is this possible? The researchers say traditional ways of measuring global trade produce the number but fail to reflect the complexities of global commerce where the design, manufacturing and assembly of products often involve several countries.

“A distorted picture” is the result, they say, one that exaggerates trade imbalances between nations.

Trade statistics in both countries consider the iPhone a Chinese export to the U.S., even though it is entirely designed and owned by a U.S. company, and is made largely of parts produced in several Asian and European countries. China’s contribution is the last step—assembling and shipping the phones.

So the entire $178.96 estimated wholesale cost of the shipped phone is credited to China, even though the value of the work performed by the Chinese workers at Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. accounts for just 3.6%, or $6.50, of the total, the researchers calculated in a report published this month.

And further down:

“The concept of country of origin for manufactured goods has gradually become obsolete.”

Mr. Lamy said if trade statistics were adjusted to reflect the actual value contributed to a product by different countries, the size of the U.S. trade deficit with China—$226.88 billion, according to U.S. figures—would be cut in half.

We’re using 19th Century accounting to track 21st Century design, manufacturing and trade. Something’s gotta give.

Second Thoughts on TARP?

December 15th, 2010 - 4:16 pm

Coast to Coast Tea Party: I sat down this morning with Seantor Orrin Hatch to talk Tea Party politics and the Mad Duck Congess.

The Boy is Back in Town

December 14th, 2010 - 8:11 pm

Trifecta: Bill Clinton is in charge of press relations, Michelle Obama runs the President’s schedule — so who is in charge of the White House?

This Is an Ex-Parrot

December 14th, 2010 - 8:05 pm

Trifecta: Is ObamaCare dead, or just pining for the fjords?

It’s Television for All Your Senses

December 13th, 2010 - 3:38 pm

Hair of the Dog: See Austan Goolsbee’s not-so-secret tell, hear the secret story behind that Obama press conference, touch that thing on David Axelrod’s lip, feel Mara Liasson’s glee at the return of Bill Clinton, and smell what’s wrong with This Week.

Mandate THIS!

December 13th, 2010 - 11:11 am

It’s one small step to getting this ObamaCare beast off our backs:

RICHMOND – A federal judge in Virginia ruled Monday that a key provision of the nation’s sweeping health-care overhaul is unconstitutional, the most significant legal setback so far for President Obama’s signature domestic initiative.

U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson found that Congress could not order individuals to buy health insurance.

In a 42-page opinion, Hudson said the provision of the law that requires most individuals to get insurance or pay a fine by 2014 is an unprecedented expansion of federal power that cannot be supported by Congress’s power to regulate interstate trade.

“Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market,” he wrote. “In doing so, enactment of the [individual mandate] exceeds the Commerce Clause powers vested in Congress under Article I [of the Constitution.]

There’s still a long way to go.