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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Another Jobsian Email

April 25th, 2011 - 11:07 am

Steve Jobs: “We don’t track anyone.”

Hard Times, Hard Currency

April 25th, 2011 - 9:14 am

So – the dollar is safe because there’s nothing good enough to replace it? I can think of a couple of things that fit the bill…

…and apparently I’m not the only one.

A Pundit Scorned

April 25th, 2011 - 8:01 am

Let’s play Name That Author. Check out this blistering open:

Stylistically speaking, Barack Obama could hardly be further from Jimmy Carter if he really had been born in Kenya. Carter was a born-again Baptist who was raised on his father’s peanut plantation and supported George Wallace on the road to the Georgia state house. Barack Obama—well, you know the story. But the two men have a great deal in common in their approach to the presidency, and not one of these similarities is good news for the Democrats or even for America. Both men rule without regard to the concerns of the base of their party. Both held themselves to be above politics when it came to making tough decisions. Both were possessed with superhuman self-confidence when it came to their own political judgment mixed with contempt for what they understood to be the petty concerns of pundits and party leaders. And worst of all, one fears, neither one appeared willing to change course no matter how many storm clouds loomed on the horizon.

Ouch! So who is? Krauthammer? Will? Hanson?

Try Eric Freaking Alterman.

Hit me like a fourth cup of coffee — and I need that this morning.

Why Read When You Can Watch?

April 23rd, 2011 - 11:01 am

Union thugs have taken over The Week in Blogs! It’s a star-studded episode with Sarah Palin (nearly), Adolf Hitler (sort of), and Jennifer Beals (really!).

Don’t miss a single action-packed second.

Beat Me to It

April 22nd, 2011 - 3:01 pm

I’d been making notes for handicapping the GOP field, but Krauthammer has already done a solid and amusing job of it.

Best part? The field doesn’t look quite as weak as my gut has been telling me.

Required Reading

April 22nd, 2011 - 12:15 pm

I praised Sarah Hoyt last year for her excellent reader service — not to mention her fun, fun fiction — and now her “Jurassic President” column is up on the PJM homepage. Check it out.

To continue the namedropping just because I can, last weekend we got to have dinner with Sarah, her novelist husband Dan, their two sons, and some of our bestest friends — and a fine time was had by all. So fine, we’re going to make it a regular event. It’s not very often you get to meet old friends for the first time — but it’s always a pleasure.

Good News on the Job Front?

April 22nd, 2011 - 10:45 am

Let’s hope this pans out:

The financial institution surveyed 375 U.S.-based, private, VC-backed software, hardware and cleantech companies, and found that startups are generally optimistic about current business opportunities and that they will continue to hire throughout 20111 to support the expected growth.

In fact, 83 percent of surveyed startups said they planned to hire this year, up significantly from the 73 percent of startups that reported plans to hire in last year’s report.

Start-up hires tend to be more recession-proof than others, as the struggling new company can’t afford to just let people go before the product ships or the service is ready. That’s one of the big reasons small businesses and entrepreneurship are so important to our overall economic health.

Now if only the Administration would get out of bed with big business, and lay off the heavy regulation and outright big business/big labor rent-seeking, we might get rising employment back on the fast track.

Let the Terraforming Begin

April 22nd, 2011 - 9:23 am

Whoa:

Using radar data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have now found a potential resting place for some material that was once in the Martian atmosphere: a huge deposit at the south pole that holds nearly as much CO2 as the planet’s current atmosphere.

I imagine somebody will eventually put all that to good use.

I do this one every other Thursday — and would do it more often if Melissa would let me.

You’ll need:

1/3 cup light olive oil.
1 medium white onion, diced.
1 clove garlic, minced.
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes.
1 14-oz can crushed tomatoes.
1 handful basil leaves, torn to about the same size as the onion.
1 tbsp Chianti.
1 tsp tomato paste.
1/2 pound lean ground beef.
1/2 pound ground sweet italian sausage.
1 pound quality spaghetti noodles. We like De Cecco.

Put your pasta water on to boil in a very large pot.

Bring the olive oil, in a saucepan big enough for everything, up to medium heat. Dice the onion. Toss in the oil and let simmer for eight minutes. While simmering, mince the garlic and toss in with the onions. Crack some pepper in there. Open your two cans of tomatoes and have at the ready. At the eight minute mark, pour in the tomatoes and add the tomato paste, too.

If the onions aren’t yet semi-translucent, give them another minute or maybe two before adding the tomatoes.

ASIDE: Most people use a single 28-oz can of tomato sauce, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But — diced tomatoes add some extra texture and a nice sweetness when you bite into them. By themselves, however, the sauce is too dry. So I go 50/50 between those and the crushed tomatoes. Why crushed? Less sodium than canned sauce, and I’m on a low-sodium diet. Stupid middle age.

Tear the basil and add it, too, then the wine. Let simmer uncovered for ten minutes. You’ll probably need to turn the heat down to Low, especially if you live at high elevation.

That Chianti you opened for the sauce? Now it’s for the chef.

Brown your meat in a medium-high frying pan, strain off excess grease, add to sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too acidic, add the wee tiniest pinch of sugar. A quarter teaspoon is too much.

Add a half tablespoon of kosher salt to your pasta water and put the spaghetti in. Boil for 9-10 minutes. Or for 11 minutes, if you’re at 7,500 feet. Cooking’s just a little bit different up here.

It ain’t pretty, but it’s pretty darn good.

Just before the pasta is done, take a ladle full of pasta water and add it to the sauce.

Strain pasta and allow to rest for 60 seconds, then mix into the sauce.

Total simmering time for the sauce shouldn’t be too much longer than 20 minutes — if you like your onion to still have some firmness. Other folks like to simmer it an hour or all day, until the onion is unrecognizable, but I think that’s a real shame.

Pour the whole mess into a large bowl and set on the table to serve family style. Have some Parm and pepper handy, too.

ALSO: If you missed last week’s triumphant return of the Friday Recipe, it’s the All-American Steak & Salad. Anybody can bake a potato, but a perfect Caesar is art.

The Buck Stops A-Ways Over There

April 21st, 2011 - 1:48 pm

Conspiracy-Theorist-in-Chief:

Faced with the prospect of $5-a-gallon gas this summer, President Obama said today his Justice Department is creating a team to “root out any cases of fraud or manipulation in the oil markets that might affect gas prices.”

“That includes the role of traders and speculators,” Obama said at a town hall in Reno, Nevada. “We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of American consumers for their own short-term gain.”

Translation: Jooooooooooooos!

Hey, Mr. President — want to know why gas prices are so high? Then take a look at what you’ve done to the dollar.

Slouching Towards Calcutta

April 21st, 2011 - 12:03 pm

That six-dollar gasoline is looking more and more likely:

The U.S. dollar tumbled for the third straight day on Thursday, as super-low interest rates and the crushing weight of a massive budget deficit pushed the greenback closer to an all-time low.

But, hey — the trade gap is narrowing!

The United States trade deficit shrank in February, government figures showed on Tuesday, but economists said the trend could be short-lived as a surge in oil prices affects future reports.

OK, so it’s narrowing for now, and mostly because we can’t afford to buy anything from overseas anymore! By the way, this is exactly how Greece and Italy used to stay competitive, before they got locked into the euro — they’d devalue their currencies to make their exports cheaper. Welcome to Athens on the Potomac.

So don’t you worry about that weak dollar, because Ben Bernanke is going to keep on making more of them.

Apple Tops Nokia in Wireless Wars

April 21st, 2011 - 11:37 am

It took less than four years, but Apple has overtaken Nokia as the number-one handset maker by revenue — and it wasn’t even a squeaker:

The significant achievement was noted on Thursday by research firm Strategy Analytics. According to Reuters, Apple’s iPhone revenue of $11.9 billion surpassed Nokia, which saw its revenue shrink to $9.4 billion.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — Google makes Android, but Apple makes money.

Also, Nokia appears to be doomed. They’ve bet the farm on Windows Phone 7, which is on almost nobody’s radar. At best, WP7 might slip in below Android, giving Google somebody to beat them in the race-to-the-bottom.

How About Termination Commissions?

April 21st, 2011 - 10:36 am

Trifecta: Whatever you do, don’t call them death panels.

Slip, Sliding Away

April 20th, 2011 - 4:03 pm

Does President Obama need to shore up the liberal base? That’s what John Fund argues in today’s WSJ:

But Mr. Obama’s tone makes more sense when one realizes that his sinking poll numbers also indicate an erosion in support with his liberal base. Only about three-quarters of self-identified liberals approve of his job performance, a number that has drifted downward since Mr. Obama compromised on tax cuts and decided to keep Guantanamo open. His latest budget deal with House Republicans only further confused his base. “I have been very disappointed in the administration to the point where I’m embarrassed that I endorsed him,” one senior Democratic lawmaker told the Daily Beast last week.

It seems likely, especially given the next graf:

Mr. Obama is also hurting with another key element of his coalition: Hispanics. His job approval with them is now only 54% in the latest Gallup poll, down from 73% two years ago. Similarly, voters under the age of 30 give him a tepid 55% approval rating.

Obama’s problem with his base isn’t that he might face a serious primary challenger next year. That’s the case Roger Simon (not our Roger Simon) made over at Politico last week — but it’s just silly. Primary challengers almost never win. Primary challengers short on money and winning electoral experience, up against someone who has both and the minority vote locked up in a party heavy with minorities… fuggidaboudit. Howard Dean’s next stop would be oblivion, not the nomination.

No, Obama isn’t worried about a primary challenger; he’s worried about dispirited liberals and progs staying home on November 6 for the general election. But there’s another problem: It’s the middle of the electorate that will determine the outcome of the race. How much propping up can the President do to his left before completely alienating the middle?

That’s a tough tightrope act for anyone, and the best chance it has for winning is the GOP nominating a real loser. Which is probably why the smart money is still on Obama.

Jaw, Jaw is Better Than Cut, Cut

April 20th, 2011 - 2:52 pm

What if they threw a budget war and nobody came? That about sums things up in Washington today:

House and Senate Republican leaders announced Tuesday that their sole appointees to the May 5th meeting would be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)–neither of whom are budget leaders and both of whom function largely as political mouthpieces for their party. GOP leaders also each opted to send only one appointee, instead of the requested four, to the meeting.

“I remain skeptical that the administration will take this effort seriously, especially after it all but ignored its previous debt commission and President Obama had to be dragged kicking and screaming to consider minimal spending cuts for the rest of this fiscal year,” Cantor said in a statement.

The Democrats, too:

Pelosi’s picks for the talks make the meeting “look silly” because Van Hollen and Clyburn “are just going to do what Pelosi wants, and she’s not interested in compromise,” said a senior Democratic aide. “The picks for this task force all reflect a lack of seriousness.”

Maybe because they’re getting advice like this from Heather “Digby” Parton:

It’s clear everyone understands the debt limit will be raised. The crazy Republicans aren’t completely crazy (and according to The Washington Post, Wall Street is having a very special chat with those who are). Nixon’s “madman” theory looks a little bit silly when both sides already agree on the outcome. So the only real question is why the White House and the Democrats are pretending that they need to negotiate at all.

And advice like this from Matt Yglesias:

You have a government set to steadily increase spending on autopilot as a result of demographic change and rising health care costs. And you have a Democratic President urging congress to enact spending cuts. But you have conservative politicians refusing to make a serious effort to reach an agreement out of some blend of taxophobia and fear of giving the President a win. The result, again, whether the right realizes it or not, is a gift to the wing of the Democratic Party that disagrees with Obama about the desirability of enacting spending cuts.

Please note that even Yglesias admits right up front that we “have a government set to steadily increase spending on autopilot.” But in the very same paragraph, he treats the President’s non-existant cuts seriously and accuses the Republicans of “taxaphobia.” If only Obama were serious and if only the GOP was actually taxaphobic, we might get the kind of deal (Ryan’s plan is decent) which would allow us to grow our way out of our debt.

Instead, the Democrats offer pretend cuts and very real tax hikes — even as we continue to pile up $1.5+ trillion dollars in new debt each year and the Federal behemoth squashes employment and growth.

Left unsaid by any of the lefty punditariat is that the financial crisis could come as soon as this summer, even if the debt limit is raised to a squijillion dollars.

We are going to get smaller government. The only question is whether we get there prudently or via more drastic means.

Why Start Now?

April 20th, 2011 - 1:16 pm

Trifecta: Man up, Mr. President! Will Obama ever take responsibility for his policies?

Uh… no.

Much more exciting than I’ve made it sound. Bill is in top form, Scott is damn-near sublime, and I get to do my best Olbermann.

Still Waiting

April 20th, 2011 - 10:51 am

BlackBerry PlayBook — sleek hardware… and that’s about it.

No native mail, no native contacts, no native calendar. And it’s supposed to be aimed at the enterprise user. If you want to do basic business stuff, you must tether it to your BlackBerry. No, I’m not making this up.

Where is the legit iPad competitor?

It’s a Feature Not a Bug

April 20th, 2011 - 9:15 am

Trifecta: We’ve become a nation of spending addicts. Will Americans suffer government withdrawal?

Who Bails Out the Bailers?

April 20th, 2011 - 8:23 am

Todd Zywicki just demolished the narrative on the GM & Chrysler bailouts in a lengthy piece for National Affairs. I must have spent an hour reading it –slowly– yesterday, but here’s the conclusion:

Sold as a means of revitalizing the economy, they are in fact a means of transforming the relationship between the state and the market in a way that empowers large players at the cost of economic growth. The overall effect of such state capitalism is a kind of controlled stasis, in which the preservation of old jobs takes priority over the creation of new ones. Managed decline, rather than dynamic growth, is the defining feature of the Obama economy.

But there’s more. At The Truth About Cars, Edward Niedermeyer is keeping a close eye on Washington’s “exit strategy” for Government Motors — and it ain’t pretty:

Will increased demand from institutional investors as a result of an S&P500 listing be enough to buoy GM’s stock? Maybe not. But then, the White House has insisted for some time that recouping its investment was not the main point of the bailout, and that as an emergency economic measure, it was already “worth it.” At this point, there’s not much choice but hope they’re right, but the very question about how to time the government’s exit raises an interesting point: even after a government-backed bankruptcy and a cash injection of tens of billions of dollars, GM’s position remains uncertain and its future remains unclear. If The General collapses again, and investor pessimism indicates that it’s a possibility, will the “emergency economic measure” still have been “worth it?” Will another such measure be forthcoming? Regardless of how much the treasury loses when it exits GM, this question will dog the auto industry for some time to come.

Niedermeyer estimates that we, the taxpayers, will lose about $11 billion on GM. The reality, however, is much worse. From the comments:

You can bet that the $11 billion figure doesn’t include the $45 billion tax loss carry-forwards that GM was gifted by the Obama administration (normally accumulated tax losses are washed out in bankruptcy).

So we taxpayers are paying a very, very heavy price to bailout the UAW (which is really what this all was about) and so preserve a multi-million dollar donor to the Obamas / Democrat Party.

We’ve been had.

Can We Get an Editor in Here?

April 19th, 2011 - 2:07 pm

Jim Jubak has a Don’t-You-Worry-Your-Pretty-Little-Head piece on MSN today, about what happens when the Fed (presumably) stops printing free money this summer. Here’s his weakest argument:

The world’s bondholders recognize that the United States will have to let the dollar depreciate in order to reduce the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit with the rest of the world. An orderly reduction of that deficit because of a slipping dollar would, in fact, be a good thing in a world that can’t keep running huge surpluses in some economies and a huge deficit in the United States.

Why so weak? Well, read the very next line:

Whether the world can engineer that kind of orderly rebalancing is an open question. Right now the odds aren’t good. [Emphasis added]

Jubak just demolished his own theory. Comforting stuff.

How About Raising the Two-Drink Minimum?

April 19th, 2011 - 12:48 pm

Trifecta: This week’s grab-bag episode is available to members and non-members alike. We answer your questions about Andrew Breitbart and his new book, lowering the drinking age, and those millions of missing “climate refugees.”

Hair of the Dog: The Sunday shows presented an embarrassment of riches for the mocking. We had Tea Party copycats, Tim Geithner and the Big Lie, President Do-Over, Mike Lee’s poker face, sleepy air traffic controllers and solid proof that Bob Schieffer is the densest substance known to science.

Bonus: Paul Ryan is a closet Marxist.

Live Tax Day programing, now, on PJTV. I’ll be on shortly with Kruiser, Katz & Poulos — which I’m pretty sure is a law firm.

It’s a Bug Not a Feature

April 18th, 2011 - 12:45 pm

Now that’s it’s finally available, how well does Flash work on Android tablets like the Xoom? Not very:

As it stands, Flash support offers no reason for buying a Xoom instead of an iPad. If you were hoping the Flash player would enable a whole new world of content, you will be disappointed. Flash sites on Android devices are utterly hit or miss. And if you’re deploying Flex applications for your business to be accessed on mobile devices, my advice is to switch to HTML immediately. On the other hand, if you’re enthralled by animated Web advertising, the Flash Player will be right up your alley.

Surely, though, it must work better on the BlackBerry PlayBook, since RIM and Adobe have been working together for two years on mobile Flash. Not really:

During a round of Plants vs. Zombies, gameplay bogged down whenever the animation got intense. Every time I tried to access a Flash game on Facebook, the browser crashed. Yes, every single time. Say goodbye to your well-tended crops, Farmvillians.

RIM delivered several software updates during our tests, showing that the company is still ironing out bugs. Flash stability increased with each update, and may well be even more stable by the time the PlayBook ships on April 19. But the fact that a marquee feature is strapped with such stability problems so close to the ship date is troubling.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Flash is malware masquerading as a vital part of the web experience. I won’t have it on my desktop, and I certainly wouldn’t want it taking over my tablet.

Explains a Lot, Actually

April 18th, 2011 - 9:31 am

Barrack Hussein Magoo?

Ignore the Fed Chairman Behind the Curtain

April 18th, 2011 - 7:52 am

The Fed isn’t worried about QE2 causing inflation, because the high price of oil is due to increased demand from developing countries. It’s not, Bernanke assures us, because excess dollars and low interest rates are conspiring to force investors to speculate on commodities. You know, instead of seeking solid-if-modest returns in our oh-so-robust economy.

Well.

The Saudis — who know a thing or two about oil — disagree:

Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said on Sunday the kingdom had slashed output by 800,000 barrels per day in March due to oversupply, sending the strongest signal yet that OPEC will not act to quell soaring prices.

If the demand were there, the Saudis would not be cutting supply, not given the fragile health of the global economy. Prices look to me like they’re up on a combination of local unrest and Federal Reserve profligacy.

Mugged by Reality

April 17th, 2011 - 10:56 am

Wyblog: Everyone is a Tea Partyer at tax time.

Aaron C sent over the link to today’s NYT column by Princeton economist Alan B. Krueger. In his email, Aaron’s only comment was, “Who say liberals don’t have a sense of humor.” So I clicked and found this:

In one important respect, however, Mr. Obama’s deficit speech disproves the caricature, and contains a bold, serious and timely proposal.

I’m not talking about the president’s plan to curb the growth rate of Medicare expenditures beyond what is already included in health care reform, or his renewed pledge to allow the Bush tax cuts on top income earners to expire — both of which will be difficult to achieve. (An earlier version of the Medicare proposal was projected by the Congressional Budget Office to produce only modest savings, and we all know what happened the last time the top tax rates were held hostage to middle-class tax cuts.)

What I have in mind is his endorsement of a trigger that would automatically kick in to reduce spending and tax expenditures if Congress and the administration fail to bring the debt under control.

It was a deeply unserious speech, no matter what Krueger might say. Then again, Krueger has written a deeply unserious column. Because while Obama’s “trigger” is a means of automatically increasing taxes to match expenditures (think of Congress’s automatic pay raises), Krueger never once uses the phrase “tax increase” or anything like it.

Don’t read the whole thing.

Teh Won Whines to Tapper Too

April 16th, 2011 - 10:41 am

Birther porn, killer nurses and Chris Matthew’s mysteriously shrinking audience — all on another exciting episode of… The Week in Blogs!

Bonus: A truly lovely rendition of “Moon River.”

Photos from Denver Tea Party Tax Day Rally

April 16th, 2011 - 9:01 am

All pictures are click-to-embiggen, so click away.

We’re pro-capitalism, so of course we had some capitalists.

You have no idea how disappointed I was to discover this wasn’t a brewery.

The birthers were out in force.