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Monthly Archives: June 2011

FTC is on the Warpath Again

June 30th, 2011 - 5:30 pm

First they came for the AT&T,
and I didn’t speak out because I didn’t like AT&T.

Then they came for Microsoft,
and I didn’t speak out because I was a Mac guy.

Then they came for the internet service providers,
and I didn’t speak out because my employer put a T1 in my house.

Then they came for Twitter,
and who the hell thinks that’s a good idea???

Buh-Bye, Timmah!

June 30th, 2011 - 2:35 pm

Bloomberg says SecTreas/TaxCheat Timothy Geithner is “considering leaving the administration” as soon as a debt deal is done.

Let me translate that quote for you: He’s gone.

If I had to guess, he doesn’t want to stick around for the hard, unpopular work to come. Also, you can be sure he wants to “spend more time with family.”

And let’s not forget that all this being in the spotlight has been expensive, paying-his-taxes-wise.

Tax THIS!

June 30th, 2011 - 1:47 pm

The California Assembly has gone and killed a few thousand more jobs in the Golden State (11.7% unemployment) with the new internet tax. Amazon thinks the tax is “unconstitutional and counterproductive” and so has killed its Affiliate program, effective today.

Ken Rockwell is my favorite sources for photography advice, and he’s long made a nice income as an Amazon affiliate — and he lives in San Diego. I hope he can make up the lost income, because I’d hate to see him close up shop. But his one-man shop has been going strong since 1999, so I suspect he’ll weather the storm.

Smaller, younger Affiliates won’t do nearly as well.

Some interesting goings-on in the world of high-tech finance:

China wants to buy a huge chunk of Facebook, a source at a fund that buys stock from former Facebook employees tells us.

This source learned of China’s interest when it approached him to see if he could help put together a stake large enough “to matter.”

Seperately, a second source tells us there is a rumor going around Facebook that Citibank is at this very moment trying to acquire as much as $1.2 billion worth of Facebook stock on behalf of two sovereign wealth funds – China’s and another from the Middle East.

China and the Arabs want Facebook? My first instinct is, let ‘em have it.

President Clinton has a plan to solve our very immediate spending crisis: Do nothing. Seriously:

Former President Bill Clinton sees a possible way past the bipartisan impasse over raising the debt limit: agree to cut spending AND raise taxes, but do neither until later, after the economy improves.

“If they [the Republicans] said, look, that now is not the time for big tax increases to harm the recovery, they would be right,” Clinton told ABC News in an exclusive interview at the Clinton Global Initiative America conference in Chicago. “But it’s also right to say that now’s not the time for big spending cuts.”

Be like Uncle Willy, kids — never put off until tomorrow that which can be put off until the day after tomorrow. Even if it can’t be!

Trifecta: Guns don’t kill people; gun laws kill people. The strange case of “government-sponsored racism” in Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago.

So I’m not even through my first cup of coffee when I read that Mark Halperin called President Obama a dick on national TV. Well — on MSNBC, which is pretty much the same thing. Politico is calling it a “gaffe,” but let’s look at the context. Mediaite has the rough transcript:

oe Scarborough: Mark Halperin, What was the president’s strategy? We are coming up on a deadline and the president decided to please his base, push back against the Republicans.I guess the question is, we know a deal has to be done. Is this showmanship? A lot of times you go up there and both sides and they act tough so their base will be appeased, then they quietly work the deal behind the scenes.

Mark Halperin: Are we on the seven second delay?

Mika Brzezinski: Lordy.

Halperin: I wanted to characterize how the president behaved.

Scarborough: We have it. We can use it. Go for it. Let’s see what happens.

Brzezinski: We’re behind you, you fall down and we catch you.

Halperin: I thought he was a dick yesterday.

That was no slip of the tongue. Halperin knew exactly what he was going say, so much so that he even first asked his host if the censor had the traditional seven second delay to work with. It wasn’t even a “Kinsley gaffe,” defined by Mike Kinsley as “when someone in Washington speaks the truth by accident.”

Nope.

Halperin thought the President had been a dick. Halperin said he thought the President had been a dick. And I watched that press conference yesterday, and the President was well and truly a dick. That’s no gaffe, and I’m sorry Halperin felt the need to apologize for speaking the truth.

But that’s been SOP in Washington for decades now.

Decisions, Decisions

June 29th, 2011 - 4:59 pm

Long-range planning in the Obama White House:

From the White House, National Journal’s Marc Ambinder reports that Obama believes he can get the Republicans to cave on taxes if he first lets the bond markets panic in late-July. Obama then hopes that Wall Street and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will force Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to compromise, like he did on the FY 2011 budget deal earlier this year.

Outside the White House, more and more prominent Democrats are questioning whether the debt limit is even constitutional. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., became the latest Democrat to raise the argument yesterday. If there is no debt deal, and bond markets do panic, what is stopping Obama from just ordering Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to issue more debt? If Obama can just ignore the War Powers Act, why not the debt limit too?

So the choice is between spooking the bond markets or shredding Article One of the Constitution? Say — why not do both!

You Have Questions, Trifecta Has Answers

June 29th, 2011 - 2:33 pm

Trifecta: We answer your questions on the Supreme Court and violent video games, if Blagojevich is a bigger putz than Weiner, and the AFL-CIO’s attempt to build a top-down answer to the Tea Party.

From the Notebooks of Lazarus Long

June 29th, 2011 - 12:37 pm

Quote of the Day: In a mature society, “civil servant” is semantically equal to “civil master.”

Just finished reading Time Enough for Love for the umpteenth time, and that one stuck in my head. Again.

Liberty the Victim in 6th Circuit Ruling

June 29th, 2011 - 12:00 pm

I don’t understand this 6th Circuit Court ruling on ObamaCare at all. Haven’t read the whole thing yet, but a one bit stands out:

“The provision regulates active participation in the healthcare market, and in any case, the Constitution imposes no categorical bar on regulating inactivity.”

Even one-time visiting constitutional law lecturer Barack Obama understood that the Constitution is a “charter of negative rights.” But the 6th doesn’t seem to comprehend any limits to federal power, which seems to be saying, “That which is not mandatory is forbidden, comrade.”

Pass This One Along

June 29th, 2011 - 11:00 am

Tech giant organizational charts, from Alex Rainert.

The one for Microsoft is so dead-on accurate it’s gone from “funny” to “tell my broker to sell.”

Whoa:

John Lennon was a closet Republican, who felt a little embarrassed by his former radicalism, at the time of his death – according to the tragic Beatles star’s last personal assistant.

Fred Seaman worked alongside the music legend from 1979 to Lennon’s death at the end of 1980 and he reveals the star was a Ronald Reagan fan who enjoyed arguing with left-wing radicals who reminded him of his former self.

In new documentary Beatles Stories, Seaman tells filmmaker Seth Swirsky Lennon wasn’t the peace-loving militant fans thought he was while he was his assistant.

He says, “John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter.

It’s almost enough to make you wonder if Mark Chapman was a patsy.

Trifecta: She wore a raspberry burqa — what Prince can teach us about lefty hypocrisy.

Bonus: First-ever mention on PJTV of Superfunkycalifragisexy.

President Obama is having troubles with his Jewish supporters:

One said he had the sense that Obama “took the opportunity to throw Israel under the bus.” Another, who swore he wasn’t getting his information from the mutually despised Fox News, admitted he’d lost faith in the president.

If several dozen interviews with POLITICO are any indication, a similar conversation is taking place in Jewish communities across the country. Obama’s speech last month seems to have crystallized the doubts many pro-Israel Democrats had about Obama in 2008 in a way that could, on the margins, cost the president votes and money in 2012 and will not be easy to repair.

“It’s less something specific than that these incidents keep on coming,” said Ainsman.

This report comes from Obama-friendly Politico, so you have to wonder if the problem is even worse in reality.

Or as Roger Simon (ours, not Politico‘s) wrote not long ago:

Returning to the “perhaps, maybe, perhaps” of my opening, whenever I post on here that Jewish voters are finally starting to move away from the Democratic Party, I get a chorus of “It’ll never happen… they all come back for the election… self-destructive… etc., etc.” Well, as I said, “perhaps, maybe, perhaps.” But I would remind the naysayers of one thing — their reaction is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nothing happens unless you do it. Or as the zen monks would say, “You can’t get there by trying. But you won’t get there if you don’t try.”

It’s foolish to think that Jews — especially the wealthy Jews who make up such an important part of the Democrat constituency — will suddenly flock to the GOP next year. Especially if the Republicans nominate a social conservative, as seems likely.

But Jewish voters don’t have to switch teams to hurt Obama; all they need to do is abandon him. And with the growing sense that Obama has already abandoned Israel, perhaps they’ve already begun to do so.

Heads Up

June 28th, 2011 - 7:28 pm

Ed Driscoll and I are about to take over The Jimmie Bise Show from Jimmie Bise.

Hey, it’s his own fault for inviting us on at the same time. Tune in at 9:45 Mountain.

OOPS: That’s 9:45PM EASTERN. Eight minutes away. Sorry.

The chatter today has been all about Lawrence Lindsey’s WSJ column about our dire fiscal situation. Excuse me — the meaningful chatter. The meaningless chatter has been about Michele Bachmann, and whether she’s the Gaffe-O-Matic or merely gaffetastic. After watching her embarrassing campaign launch yesterday, I can’t say I much care. Honestly, it was the worst GOP presidential announcement since the last one. Bachmann and Jon Huntsman might turn out to be the Dueling Flame-outs, bookending the left and right of the party.

But I digress, and we have serious business to cover. What Lindsey says about our spending problem comes down to: We are so screwed.

Some facts and figures for you:

The president’s budget of February 2011 projects economic growth of 4% in 2012, 4.5% in 2013, and 4.2% in 2014. That budget also estimates that the 10-year budget cost of missing the growth estimate by just one point for one year is $750 billion. So, if we just grow at trend those three years, we will miss the president’s forecast by a cumulative 5.2 percentage points and—using the numbers provided in his budget—incur additional debt of $4 trillion. That is the equivalent of all of the 10-year savings in Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget, passed by the House in April, or in the Bowles-Simpson budget plan.

Here’s what I got out of that: If the Ryan or Bowles-Simpson budgets were to become law, our economy would quickly right itself — and the resulting increase in interest rates would eradicate all the savings.

Did you get that? Without seriously drastic cuts — cuts that would make Paul Ryan blanch — we can’t fix this economy without wrecking the government. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Can we tax our way out? Back to Lindsey:

The tax-the-rich proposals of the Obama administration raise about $700 billion, less than a fifth of the budgetary consequences of the excess economic growth projected in their forecast. The whole $700 billion collected over 10 years would not even cover the difference in interest costs in any one year at the end of the decade between current rates and the average cost of Treasury borrowing over the last 20 years.

Clinton-era tax rates won’t even begin to cover the spending problem. Not even close.

That leaves us with three possible outs: Cut the budget to the bone, hyperinflate away our debts, or default.

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Never Straight But Gayly Forward

June 28th, 2011 - 1:25 pm

Trifecta: Gay marriage came to New York courtesy of a GOP assembly and a Democratic governor — not by judicial fiat. Is this a glimpse into the future of marriage across the country?

Bonus: You probably won’t be shocked to learn I’m pretty far to the left of my lovely and talented co-hosts on this one.

The Party Line

June 28th, 2011 - 1:02 pm

AOL/HuffPo is reorganizing again, and this tidbit from BI caught my eye:

The re-org simplifies the company’s reporting structure, and in so doing, tightens the relationship between sales and editorial. In a prior re-org, the company separated editorial management into a separate reporting line than the business side. Editorial will now continue to report to Arianna Huffington–and, through her, to Tim Armstrong. Tim, meanwhile, will directly oversee 5 General Managers, who are responsible for the business side of the content business.

Sales and editorial, linked at Ariana’s hip. That just reeks of… reekiness.

Cease and Desist or Maybe Just Cease

June 27th, 2011 - 5:09 pm

Fear not, comrades!  Jefe Chavez is “energetically giving us instructions.”

That’s the message from Chavezista lawmaker Cilia Flores, as the Venezuelan strongman continues to not recover under the care of Cuban state healthcare. 

Honestly though, aren’t “energetic instructions” pretty much the crux of what’s wrong with big government?

The Prophet of Profit?

June 27th, 2011 - 3:55 pm

Hair of the Dog: There’s no such thing as a stupid question — unless you’re Bob Schieffer or Chris Wallace interviewing Michele Bachmann.

Bonus: Chris Christie shows President Obama how to lead from somewhere other than his behind.

Bad sign: Developers abandoning RIM for iOS and Android. The reasons will shock you — if you haven’t been paying attention. Among them:

“You have to put your resources where the growth is,” Seesmic Chief Executive Officer Loic Le Meur said in an interview. “It’s coming down to the explosive growth of the iPhone and the Android operating systems.”

And:

“As soon as RIM brought in a touchscreen and mixed it with a thumbwheel, a keyboard and shortcut keys, it made it really difficult and expensive to develop across devices,” said Purple Forge CEO Brian Hurley. “What Apple scored big on is having a touch screen and a button and that’s it.”

And:

“In deploying Apple applications, there are very few surprises,” said Hurley. “In Android, there are increasingly more surprises. But in BlackBerry, there are immediately lots of gotchas across the board.”

One developer couldn’t even get his app to load on RIM’s best-forgotten PlayBook.

RIM’s major problem versus iOS and Android has been its incomplete ecosystem. And the problem is getting worse, not better.

GTA: SCOTUS

June 27th, 2011 - 9:15 am

Score a win for liberty:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a California law banning the sale of violent videogames to minors is unconstitutional.

The court, in a 7-2 vote, said the law violated First Amendment free-speech protections. “Even where the protection of children is the object, the constitutional limits on governmental action apply,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in an 18-page opinion, which was joined by four other justices.

Message to parents: It’s your job to be the parents.

Strangest bit? Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer dissented. That’s a pairing you don’t see very often.

Billy Crystal Runs the World

June 27th, 2011 - 7:54 am

Oftentimes progressivism is little more than a slight reworking of Billy Crystal’s Fernando character from Saturday Night Live: “If it makes you feel good, you must be doing good — and baby, you feel maaahvelous.” Anyway, that’s what I thought upon seeing the latest inanity out of the ICC:

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, his son and his intelligence chief for crimes against humanity in the early days of their struggle to cling to power.

Is the idea to stop the slaughter and remove Gadhafi from power? Fine. Let him keep his money — or at least enough of it — and find a nice beach to retire to. Maybe the Saudis will have him; they took Idi Amin.

Instead? Let some ICC justices issues warrants. Let the Pentagon admit that we’re trying to kill him. Freeze his accounts. Give him every possible incentive to hang on to power for as long as possible, even if it means killing every single person in the country.

But that’s OK, because the right people must feel maaahvelous today.

The Drudge link doesn’t have the flashing police light, but the text is in blaring red:

First Lady Admits: ‘Fortunately, We Have Help From The Media’…

Oh my goodness. There it is at long last — the stunning admission that the media is in cahoots with the Democrats. And the call is coming from inside the White House! The link takes you to Real Clear Politics, with same red text headline screaming “Michelle Obama: ‘Fortunately, We Have Help From The Media’”

Only, not so much. Read the whole quote:

CNN reporter: “How’s the family ready for this [the election]? It’s going to be quite vicious, isn’t it? How do you prepare for that?”

First Lady Michelle Obama: “You know, it’s … we’re ready, you know. Our children, you know, could care less about what we’re doing. We work hard to do that. Fortunately, we have help from the media. I have to say this: I’m very grateful for the support and kindness that we’ve gotten. People have respected their privacy and in that way, I think, you know, no matter what people may feel about my husband’s policies or what have you, they care about children and that’s been good to see.”

Imagine that. Reporters respecting the privacy of a couple of young girls. Sorry, folks — but that’s the kind of media we do want. We don’t always get it, but those girls deserve to have lives as close to normal as can be managed.

And I’m frankly ashamed by the good folks at Real Clear Politics, who usually shy away from that kind of sensationalism.

Glenn Reynolds on our Great Libyan Misadventure:

Libya is a “dumb war” — because it’s halfhearted, half-assed, and run by committee, and the President can’t even articulate the national interest involved. Obama the candidate said he was smarter than that. Obama the President is proving the candidate wrong.

Not quite. Candidate Obama was shrewd enough to say whatever he needed to get elected. President Obama is in over his head. “Half-assed” is his preferred method for waging war, as we’ve seen now in Afghanistan and in Libya. A surge with an end-date is not a surge. “Leading from behind” is not leadership. Especially when you prod your allies — the ones you’re “leading” into doing your dirty work — into upping the ante to “regime change,” without dedicating the necessary assets.

Can we call that “half-asser?” Half-assest? Fully-assed? I await your suggestions.

Meanwhile, the GOP has proven itself, yet again, to be the Stupid Party — and Congress has shown itself so risk-averse as to be useless.

First, Congress voted on a toothless resolution “scolding” the President for waging war on Libya in violation of the War Powers Act. That made them look even more ineffectual than usual. But given a chance to vote on a resolution with some teeth — to defund the Libya War — Congress punted.

Big surprise.

What we have here is a President with balls enough to behave with more brazen lawlessness than any president since Nixon, and a cowardly Congress unwilling to do much more than emit the occasional squawk.

From Libya to the debt ceiling negotiations to simple day-to-day governance — if there’s a way our lawfulness & leadership vacuum serves us well, please let me know.

Michael Moore: Warmonger

June 25th, 2011 - 10:00 am

The scariest tsunami video ever, Teh Won punts, and news from the future — all on another exciting episode of… The Week in Blogs!

Bonus: We’ve found the end of the internet. That is all.

“As You Wish”

June 25th, 2011 - 8:55 am

Peter Falk is gone. Rather than mourn, we’ll spend some quality time on the sofa this afternoon with The Princess Bride.

IF you Can’t Buy an Election, Steal It

June 25th, 2011 - 6:58 am

Well:

A small tax-exempt political group with ties to wealthy liberals like billionaire financier George Soros has quietly helped elect 11 reform-minded progressive Democrats as secretaries of state to oversee the election process in battleground states and keep Republican “political operatives from deciding who can vote and how those votes are counted.”

Known as the Secretary of State Project (SOSP), the organization was formed by liberal activists in 2006 to put Democrats in charge of state election offices, where key decisions often are made in close races on which ballots are counted and which are not.

The group’s website said it wants to stop Republicans from “manipulating” election results.

The fact that SecState offices are the perfect place from which to cover up Democrat ballot-box stuffing is, I’m sure, a coincidence.

Unnatural Acts

June 24th, 2011 - 2:04 pm

Trifecta: Fareed Zakaria wants to do what to the Constitution?