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Monthly Archives: April 2011

It Really Is Spectacular

April 15th, 2011 - 3:52 pm

Just back from the Denver Tax Day Tea Party Rally. Loads of pictures to follow — but not until I’ve had a chance to unwind with a cocktail and chatted with Tony Katz on his Radio Spectacular.

The Children Are Worried

April 15th, 2011 - 10:00 am

Have you seen this superpower: America, 67, missing, suicide suspected.

Friday Recipe — The Return!

April 15th, 2011 - 8:15 am

It’s been too long, so let’s get back to basics with an all-American classic.

The Perfect Steak & Salad

Go see your favorite butcher and tell her you need a one-pounder of God’s own cut: The ribeye.

This first step is vital. 24 hours before you grill this beauty, pat it dry with paper towels, season it liberally with kosher salt and coarse-ground pepper. Place uncovered on a plate in the fridge. Go to bed. In the morning, give it a flip. An hour before grilling time, remove it and let it come to room temperature.

Why so important? You’ll be doing a mini-dry age on the beef, reducing the moisture in the outer surface. That will make it sear in less time, allowing you to move it to the indirect heat sooner. I picked this trick up from Michael Symon, and it’s brilliant.

Also, even smart people have this idea that you should leave the beef in the fridge until the last minute, to reduce your chances of accidentally overcooking it. No, no, no! Cold beef cools off your cooking surface, resulting in a second-rate sear. And it’s all about the sear.

You’ll also need a salad.

This Is What We Get for $77 Billion?

April 14th, 2011 - 2:39 pm

Trifecta: Would abolishing the Department of Education pop the education bubble? Let’s find out!

Bonus: Epic finish from Scott.

Sign O the Times

April 14th, 2011 - 1:24 pm

So where did Former Madam Speaker go? Away:

When President Barack Obama, Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hammered out a deal last week to avert a shutdown and fund the government for the rest of the year, Pelosi was delivering a speech at Tufts University near Boston.

But her hands would have been idle if she had stayed in Washington: The White House didn’t want her involved in the talks.

In fact, Democratic and Republican sources tell POLITICO, none of the power brokers wanted her in the room. They feared that her presence and her defense of liberal values would have made it impossible for Obama to cut a deal with Boehner. The sources say Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also was excluded so the White House could justify keeping Pelosi out.

Was John Boehner there to defend conservative values? Dunno. But whatever happened to the meme that it was the GOP all full of ideologues?

Every Silver Cloud Has a Dark Lining

April 14th, 2011 - 8:42 am

Your wages are hurting. Here’s George Will:

As the global recovery gains strength, the prices of three things will rise – oil, food and money. David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff in Toronto reports that in the last three months, 100 percent of the $55 billion increase in aggregate U.S. wages and salaries has been matched by increased grocery and gasoline prices. They are absorbing 22 percent of wages and salaries, a portion matched only twice in the past two decades – both times presaging recessions.

But the workforce is still shrinking:

The share of the population that is working fell to its lowest level last year since women started entering the workforce in large numbers three decades ago, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Only 45.4% of Americans had jobs in 2010, the lowest rate since 1983 and down from a peak of 49.3% in 2000. Last year, just 66.8% of men had jobs, the lowest on record.

Meanwhile, Washington continues to grow faster than revenues:

And ever-increasing Federal regulations continue to hinder employment and growth:

“Our statistical analysis of historical data indicates that federal expenditures on regulatory activity have a significant impact on the size of the private-sector economy and private-sector employment,” says Dr. George S. Ford, chief economist of the Phoenix Center. “While the entire federal budget must be cut to address the deficit problem, the evidence indicates that reductions in the overall federal regulatory budget may substantially impact the growth of economic output and employment.”

Put it all together and what have you got?

Fewer American workers must navigate ever-more labyrinthine rules to make their ways home with a smaller paycheck to support an enlarged dependent class while making higher payments on unmanageable debt.

Something’s gotta give.

Oprah, Obama, Oprah, Obama

April 13th, 2011 - 4:56 pm

Trifecta: it’s another members only grab bag with your questions about Losing the Oprah vote and more.

Bonus: Sage advice for The Donald.

It Was a Mercy Beating

April 13th, 2011 - 1:43 pm

Trifecta: Are we not men? We are Trifecta! Girly men are apologizing to all womankind — for being too manly. And so we beat them up.

I’m Listening

April 13th, 2011 - 12:11 pm

Shorter Obama: We can’t balance the budget on discretionary spending, but entitlements are off-limits.

UPDATE: Huh. I thought ObamaCare was supposed to do all the savings he’s talking about right now.

Another Program Note

April 13th, 2011 - 9:24 am

Well, isn’t that interesting — President Obama’s little speech on budget cutting tonight will actually happen this afternoon. 1:30PM Eastern time. Or as my boss put it in an email just now, “This is not a prime time speech. It is only for inside the beltway consumption.”

And there’s a very good reason for that. By jumping on the budget cutting bandwagon, Obama is essentially repudiating two years of Obamanomics. Although Obama will be much smoother, today’s speech is the equivalent of Ronald Reagan getting up in front of an audience in 1983 and declaring, “My plan is not working. I’m going to have to tax you bastards back to the Stone Age.”

Instead, here’s an educated — and distressingly sober — guess on what the President will say.

My fellow Beltway Insiders Americans. There are some on the left who say we need a “People’s budget,” with huge increases in taxes and spending. And there are others on the right, who say we need to eliminate everything buy the military and reinstitute slavery. But I say, let us make intelligent cuts, let us eliminate waste and fraud, and let us have those at the top contribute their fair share to our financial recovery. This moment is too important for us to let it waste away in partisan bickering. So I urge congressional leaders from both parties to sit down together and reach an agreement to move America forward and win the future.

This stuff is also distressingly easy to write.

Needless to say, I won’t be drunkblogging this one. But I will be watching — with one eye on the bottle I keep on the desk.

Program Note

April 12th, 2011 - 4:45 pm

I’ll be on The Rick Moran Show at 8PM Eastern, along with all-stars Jazz Shaw and Richard Baehr.

Tonight, it’s all about the budget fight, the debt ceiling deadline and, oh yeah, Donald Trump.

We Just Finished Taping Moments Ago

April 12th, 2011 - 3:45 pm

Trifecta: Budget battle 2011 is sorta-kinda over — but the battle for 2012 is just beginning. Find out who’s winning and who’s losing.

Trump, Card

April 12th, 2011 - 9:19 am

Two things you need to know this morning:

1. Donald Trump will not be elected President — he might not even run.

2. Be awfully glad he’s doing what he’s doing.

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking after reading a Joseph Curl op-ed from Sunday’s Washington Times:

Mr. Trump is doing the one thing all the other candidates are terrified of: Going straight at Mr. Obama. He doesn’t believe the oft-repeated claim by the MSM that Mr. Obama is “unbeatable” in 2012. He doesn’t think Mr. Obama is the greatest orator since Cicero (you don’t see Mr. Trump with a teleprompter). And he thinks voters will understand when he lays out the complexities that America now faces.

For those GOPers huddled and shivering in the wings, take note. Americans hate timidity – and they hate being talked down to, lied to. Fail to heed Mr. Trump, and you’ll find yourself stumping for him next fall.

Yes, Trump indulges in birther nonsense. And, yes, Trump likes to play in the “secret Muslim” dirt. But he is taking Obama head-on on pocketbook issues, in a way I think will likely stick in voters’ memories. And he’s the only one of the GOP field doing it effectively.

Now, there’s no denying that this is much more about Trump’s ego than — well, there really isn’t much outside Trump’s ego. It encompasses all. Nevertheless, I’m reminded a bit of “B-1″ Bob Dornan’s longshot presidential run in 1996. There’s no link to this, but I saw him on C-SPAN or somewhere that year, and he was asked why he was in the race. No money, no support — why are you running? And Dornan said, and I paraphrase here, “I want one person in this race attacking Clinton instead of each other.”

And that, whether he means to or not, is exactly what Trump is doing. Will it work? Who knows — Clinton would have coasted to victory over Bob Dole even with a hundred Dornan’s nipping at his heels. Most everything depends on the eventual GOP candidate.

In the meantime, Trump is generating headlines by reminding people that Obamanomics has been a total failure — and that’s a song we all need to be singing.

It’s a Mixed Up Muddled Up Shook Up World

April 12th, 2011 - 8:03 am

George Friedman wrote yet another brilliant-but-needlessly-wordy piece for STRATFOR. But that’s why you read blogs, isn’t it — to cut to the chase? Here it is:

Hamas appears to have plenty of rockets, and it will use them until Israel responds. Hamas will use the Israeli response to try to launch a broader Arab movement focused both on Israel and on regimes that openly or covertly collaborate with Israel. Hamas hopes above all to bring down the Egyptian regime with a newly energized movement. Israel above all does not want this to happen. It will resist responding to Hamas as long as it can, but given the political situation in Israel, its ability to do so is limited – and that is what Hamas is counting on.

Hamas might also be rightfully counting on an American administration highly-selective in enforcing its “responsibility to protect” doctrine. The idea of American warplanes defending Hamas positions isn’t all that far-fetched.

That’s Entertainment

April 11th, 2011 - 5:11 pm

Hair of the Dog: Top Obama advisor David Plouffe made the rounds of three of the top Sunday shows, and Christiane Amanpour provided oral service for Robert Redford.

Bonus: You’ll be shocked to learn who played the part of Chuck Schumer.

Don’t Give Them Any Ideas

April 11th, 2011 - 4:44 pm

Julian Zelizer looks at the budget fight and the President’s assertion that he’s a part of the cutting game and says:

The compromise revealed just how far congressional Republicans have been able to shift the debate since the 2010 midterm elections. This week, President Obama will make a proposal of his own to lower the debt, which will include the politically difficult call for higher taxes.

I’m not sure “politically difficult” means what he thinks it means. Obama has threatened to tax pretty much everything except for thingy.

They Just Can’t Help Themselves

April 11th, 2011 - 8:24 am

Via Glenn, comes the dumbest thing I’ve read in a while — and I’m paid to read dumb things all day long. Anyway, here’s one of the many reasons the economically-illiterate Gerald E. Scorse wants to eliminate Roth IRAs:

Then, too, Roths could be a drag on the U.S. economy. Since no withdrawals are required, assets can lie idle indefinitely.

For the last time, I want the idiot Keynesians to sit down, shut up and listen: You don’t get rich by spending money. Savings generate the investments necessary for wealth creation. And Roth IRAs encourage lots and lots of savings.

As for this “idle” business, it simply isn’t so. When a financial institution holds your savings, it does not stuff the money under a mattress and wait for you to come ask for some of it back. No, the bank loans the money out to people who will, it is hoped, use it for a little wealth creation. That ain’t idle.

And the loans aren’t made at some cheap dollar-for-dollar rate, either. To keep the math simple, let’s say a bank’s legal capitalization requirement is ten percent. That means, for every dollar you park in savings, the bank can lend ten. Nine dollars for wealth creation, created out of thin air. If you have a million bucks in your IRA — you wise devil — that’s ten million dollars for people to buy homes or start new businesses.

That’s your “multiplier effect,” right there. Washington doesn’t have one — you do.

Now let’s look at things from the other side. Every dollar you take out of savings does get spent and stimulate the economy — sure, yeah, great. But every dollar you take out of savings also sucks out nine dollars from the pool of capital available for wealth creation. Spend a million, and nine million dollars simply vanish.

But modern statists such as Scorse and the execrable Paul Krugman would rather get Washington’s filthy hands on your dollars because, well, they’re statists. That’s what they do.

Demagoguery’s Greatest Hits

April 8th, 2011 - 2:08 pm

David Corn: Mugging the poor.

Paul Krugman: Ludicrous and cruel.

Marian Wright Edelman: Robbing poor children.

Jonathan Chait: Wildly cruel.

Reps Keith Ellison & Raul Grijalva: Roadmap to ruin.

Ezra Klein: Leaving the old and poor without health care.

Left unsaid: How we save the country from Washington’s gaping maw.

With Portugal asking to go on the ECB dole, is the euro doomed? Maybe not, says Wolfgang Münchau:

As long as there’s no bank resolution — one that disentangles national debt from the financial sector’s problems — the European crisis will continue until a cascade of national defaults becomes inevitable. It’s true that cleaning up the banking sector will be costly and unpopular, but it need not be crippling for the eurozone as a whole. Even my maximum estimate of a bank recapitalization costing some €500 billion is still less than 10 percent of the eurozone’s total GDP. This should be manageable — on aggregate — since the eurozone has a lower debt-to-GDP ratio than both the United Kingdom and the United States. But it might not be manageable for each individual country to handle its share of recapitalization costs. That’s why the banking crisis will inevitably have to be solved through the cooperation of all the countries that use the euro.

Then again, you have to believe Europe has developed a lot more political will since the crisis first hit in 2008 — and there’s precious little evidence of that.

Why — Yes!

April 8th, 2011 - 11:43 am

Trifecta: China’s ghost towns — is Obama trying to bring them here?

County in the Hands of Petulant Teens

April 8th, 2011 - 9:35 am

A little screencap from Drudge:

War on women? Civil war? Trash dumping?

Really, Democrats — is that all you’ve got?

Let’s talk Democratic demagoguery. Briefly, because I’m nice like that.

In those rare sessions when the GOP decides to fight seriously for deficit reduction — the last time was 16 years ago — the Democrats demagog the issue. You’re killing old people, you’re starving children, you’re raping puppies, etc. The script hasn’t changed one bit. The only thing different this time around is some of the particular demagogs — oh, and the stakes today are much higher.

In 1995, all we had to do was restrain spending to keep interest rates in check and the bond traders happy to set the stage for some spectacular growth. Today, we have to tame a ravenous beast that will destroy the country, sooner rather than later. So it’s good to see (some in) the GOP rediscover their testicles.

But what amazes me is this: The sheer ineptitude of the demagoguery this time around. Did I right that right, that the President is threatening to veto a bill to keep military paychecks going out?

Look here. The President’s approval numbers are down, down, down, even among blacks and Latinos. The Congress remains about as popular as tropical fungal infections. But our armed forces? Americans love our armed forces. We love them better than small business, churches, and the police. We like them 2-1 over the Supreme Court, fer cryin’ out loud.

And President Obama, who just sent them into yet another unpopular war in the Middle East, is threatening to cut off their paychecks? John Boehner and Paul Ryan set up a trap so obvious it couldn’t fool a blind bear with a stuffy nose — and Obama stepped right into it.

They’ve got to be kidding. I remember when the Democrats were good at this stuff. Of course, I also remember when the Democrats used to nominate presidential candidates with proven political experience and executive credentials — and, boy, does that make me feel old this morning.

So listen to me now, GOP: If you can’t use this to defuse the Democrats and their demagoguery, you don’t deserve to be the opposition.

Get to work. You have a country to save.

We Answer Your Tough Questions

April 6th, 2011 - 4:04 pm

Trifecta: Watch this week’s members only grab bag for the latest lunacy from Lindsay Graham, birther sense & nonsense, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s triumphant return to big small screen.

Xoom Stalled at Launch

April 6th, 2011 - 3:08 pm

Consumer Reports: Motorola Xoom is just as good as an iPad!

Last year’s iPad, that is.

I’ve been telling you for a while now that Xoom wasn’t going to do very well — and Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette says sales have been “disappointing.”

Listen up, would-be Apple competitors: If you can’t beat iPad on price, you have to beat it on ecosystem.

You can expect to see a lot of bargain-bin tablets in the coming months.

Hope and Change and Doom and Gloom

April 6th, 2011 - 1:10 pm

Inflation sucks. We know this. Inflation destroys savings, and without savings there can be no investments. No investments means no new jobs or economic growth. It also means no new productivity gains, which makes everyone richer in real terms.

There’s one other tiny little detail: Inflation makes you poorer, in very real terms. Six dollar gas, eight dollar milk, hundred dollar Levi’s 501s — they might be closer than you think. They might also be a short pause on the road to jillion dollar shoes.

Voters usually deal harshly with politicians who can’t or won’t tame it — look at what happened to Jimmy Carter in 1980, or to Sacramento after the inflation-inspired Tax Revolt of the year before.

These are my happy thoughts when I look at the mess Congress and the Fed have made of our finances. As I argued last week, only the weak job market seems to be keeping a lid on wage inflation. Its absence is about the only thing keeping 2011 from being worse — far worse — than 1979.

A crippling bout of stagflation may be on the way, perhaps as soon as this summer. It seems likely that the Fed will raise interest rates and launch the Good Ship QE3, in an attempt to disinflate consumer prices while re-inflating housing prices and maintaining inflation in equities. You read that right: I fully expect the Fed to try and disinflate, re-inflate and continue inflation all at once.

This is madness.

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Now a Major Motion Picture Event!

April 6th, 2011 - 11:45 am

Trifecta: Going Galt — can America restore fiscal sanity?

Something’s Gotta Give

April 6th, 2011 - 10:55 am

Wow — 87% of Android developers say fragmentation is a problem for them. Simply put, making apps for Android is harder because each handset maker uses their own hardware specs. Imagine if Playstation 3 was just an OS, and anybody could make the hardware for it. That’s the situation with Android — right now.

Google has clamped down on Android 3.0, to keep the tablet-only OS off of cell phones. In other words, openness — supposedly Android’s biggest advantage over Apple’s iOS — is being closed off.

The Six Trillion Dollar Man

April 5th, 2011 - 4:01 pm

Trifecta: How Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget plan reshapes the political playing field — and the disaster that awaits if it fails.

This Is Some Sunday

April 4th, 2011 - 4:58 pm

Hair of the Dog: General Jim Jones doesn’t know jack, Congressman Paul Ryan channels Ron Popeil, and Christiane Amanpour is back without Jake.

Bonus: You’ll never guess this week’s surprise guest.

That’s One Expensive, Knocked-Down Fence

April 4th, 2011 - 1:23 pm

With a tip of the hat to Will Collier, here’s one educated guess about how the New York Times managed to spend $40 million putting up its paywall:

I can actually see how this happens. Large organizations spending millions and taking years to do something a small team could whip up (and probably do a better job of) in a few months.

Different team sizes are required for different tasks. Some companies get this and put small teams together and have flexible processes that can scale to project size. Other companies can only do things one way, and that’s where you end up with insanity such as this.

You end up with layers and layers of process controlling huge unwieldy teams. You spend months just drafting the process by which you’ll operate under, and then it needs to be reviewed and this is before development even begins! You end up with 5 layers of management, each providing no real value to anything… but adding lots of time and cost.

You’ll need to gather metrics of course, so you need to figure out what metrics you need, and how you will analyse them, and how they will feed back into the dev process. And of course you’ll need someone to actually facilitate all this with some kind of metric crunching tool (which has to be bought and admined as well).

And from the comments, “I actually use to work for the Times as a tech and all I can say is, man you nailed it.”

UPDATE: Speaking of Will… ouch.