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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Friday Night Videos

September 30th, 2011 - 7:42 pm
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The late, great Jim Carroll.

Programing Note

September 30th, 2011 - 3:53 pm

I’ll be on the Tony Katz Radio Spectacular just after 6PM Eastern. And a little birdie told me Tony is mad today.

Now This is Just Silly

September 30th, 2011 - 12:36 pm

Stephen G. Smith isn’t the first guy to peddle this theory, but it’s the first time I’ve noticed it coming out of a right-leaning publication. Brace yourself:

It may sound counterintuitive, but here’s betting that President Obama wouldn’t be at all upset if the high court rules that his health plan is unconstitutional.

By urging an expedited review by the U.S. Supreme Court, the president knows that the politics cuts his way. If the court strikes down the plan, then Obama won’t have to defend it in the fall campaign, robbing the Republicans of one of their two lines of attack, the other being the moribund economy. He could rally his base by arguing that he had pushed through a great “progressive” reform only to be foiled by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court. People, like markets, hate uncertainty, and the presumed swing vote by Justice Kennedy could settle the issue.

To buy this, you’d have to beleive that Progressives would rally around a failed President and Conservatives would sit back and give him a chance to do it again.

Not. Gonna. Happen.

Unleash the Power of the Pyramid

September 30th, 2011 - 9:37 am

POSSIBLY RELATED: Buy a Samsung washer & dryer, get a free Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Something smells like desperate.

An Open Letter

September 30th, 2011 - 8:44 am

We’ve gone “a little soft,” have we, Mr. President? I have a thing or two to say about that, but first, here’s what Jonah Goldberg thinks:

Interesting perspective. I wonder where America could have lost its competitive edge. It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with a government that blows billions on green energy boondoggles while making it harder to drill for oil while trying to make electricity rates “skyrocket.” It couldn’t have to do with extending unemployment benefits to 99 weeks (and rising), or to bailouts.

Jonah has more to say, Mr. President, and I think you should read the whole thing — even if it does make you a little uncomfortable. Jonah is a pretty smart guy, too. He’s only written one book so far, but it wasn’t about himself.

You might also want to read what my coworker Roger Kimball thinks. Here’s a taste:

What’s “gone soft” and lost its “competitive edge” is American government, which can’t see a pile of money it doesn’t wish to expropriate in order to feed its “spread-the-wealth-around” socialist appetite and which sees government as the adversary rather than the enabler of business. That’s the rotten softness we have to worry about.

So please, Barack, don’t tell us that America has “gone soft” or “lost its competitive edge” when it’s you and your policies that are as soft and edgeless as a freshly shucked oyster.

Now, Roger runs a big, mean, right-wing publishing company, so maybe you’ll just discount what he has to say. So instead, let me tell you what I’ve seen the last few years.

In 2008, we elected a man who promised us “a net spending cut,” a guy who would go “line by line” through the budget with steely eyes under his green eyeshade and trim Washington down to the bone. We elected — we thought we elected — a tough man to do a tough job. Who is soft, Mr. President, the electorate who went crazy for the tough guy, or the president who broke his promises while refusing to make a single tough decision about spending?

I saw the rise of a new political movement, a new Tea Party. This Tea Party didn’t throw fits. The rest of American didn’t have to endure tantrums as they went out on the streets, Greek-style, to demand more and more largess. No. They assembled peacefully, quietly, and asked you to do less to try and “help” them. That doesn’t seem soft to me, Mr. President.

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Fill to the RIM with FAIL

September 29th, 2011 - 3:17 pm

BlackBerry PlayBook owners — and I’m assuming here there are some — still hoping for that Android app player are going to be disappointed:

According to thinq_, RIM will remove all support for widgets, apps created with the Native Development Kit, Live Wallpaper support, SIP and SIP VoIP support, Google Maps, text-to-speech, cloud-to-device messaging and in-app billing services. Distimo recently reported that 68% of the 25 top-grossing apps in the Android Market offer in-app purchases, so the omission of in-app billing services is a particularly big blow, though it could certainly be seen coming.

So the PlayBook will — eventually — run Android apps as promised. It just won’t run the ones people like.

RELATED: Following the Kindle Fire announcement, RIM knocked $200 off the price of the PlayBook. If you’ve just hit your head on something hard, you can stagger down to Best Buy and get one for just $299.

Sorry, but as of yesterday, Amazon is the Android tablet maker — and me-too tablet makers like RIM are history.

PETA is Cheering for the Sharks

September 29th, 2011 - 1:13 pm

No kidding: “Payback is Hell. Go Vegan.”

This ad is in response to an actual person almost losing his life in a shark attack.

Disgusting.

In Defense of Crony Capitalism

September 29th, 2011 - 10:54 am

Jonathan Cohn, The New Republic, “The Case for Solyndra.”

Michael Grunwald, Time, “I doubt the facts are going to matter much now that Republicans have latched onto the Solyndra solar “scandal.”

Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, “Conservatives have been trying to paint this as a big scandal of some kind.”

Rick Holmes, Holmes & Company, “Joe Nocera does a good job, I think, explaining and defending the Solyndra deal.”

Joe Nocera, New York Times, “That’s how Washington works in the modern age: the party out of power gins up phony scandals aimed at hurting the party in power.”

Keep digging, boys.

How much trouble are the Democrats in? That’s an excellent question, and I’m glad I asked it.

Before we answer it though, first a little background. I think Larry Sabato is the best left-leaning independent pollster out there. His numbers are always solid, and his analysis is usually spot-on. Although there was that time back in 2004 he was doing everything he could to show how John Kerry was going to win — even though his own numbers didn’t support his conclusion. But, hey, that was years ago and we all have our weak moments. He’s still one of my top three or four go-to guys.

The latest issue of Sabato’s Crystal Ball showed up in my inbox this morning, and I read it straight away as I always do. Today’s topic was the 1980 election, and how an incumbent President got spanked and so did his party. Then he went on a bit longer about the 1992 election, and how an incumbent President got spanked and so did his party.

Of course, the whole thing included the usual disclaimer:

The [1980] hostage crisis provides a lesson for election-watchers: We have no idea at this point what event might change next year’s election.

True dat. Of course, election surprises usually don’t help an already-floundering incumbent. The breakdown of the hostage negotiations with Iran sank Jimmy Carter’s last hopes in the last days of the campaign. And Cap Weinberger got tangled up in the Iran-Contra investigation just four days before George H.W. Bush’s ignominious defeat. Both men were probably doomed anyway — but those events do show that big surprises rarely act like a life preserver for a drowning man.

Come to think of it, the biggest surprise in 1992 was the rise and fall and near-re-rise of Ross Perot, none of which did Bush any good. Perot managed to make Bill Clinton look like the most trouble-free of the lot of them. Now that’s a surprise for you.

Anyway, what big surprise could help President Obama next year? The sudden discovery of a giant vein of gold and oil and Twinkies just feet below the surface of every battleground state? Hell, the EPA wouldn’t let him dig it up. Peggy Noonan called him “snakebit,” and I think that description might just stick.

So why is Sabato going on already about incumbents in trouble? As a warning to his fellow Democrats about their chances of winning back the House or even keeping the Senate. Here are few select passages:

With Carter captaining the Democratic ship, election night in 1980 was Titanic-esque. Democrats lost 12 Senate seats and 33 House seats…

Since 1860, an incumbent president has never lost the White House in the same election that his party won control of either house of Congress from the other party. Similarly, the House and the Senate flipping in opposite directions has never happened in the same election in the same timeframe. In other words, regardless of what happens in the presidential race, a scenario in which Democrats captured the House next year and Republicans captured the Senate would be, in a word, historic.

So history tells us that Democrats need Obama to roar back and win a second term in order to flip the House. And even that might not be enough…

…Like 1980 (and now), the country was in a funk, and voters took out their ire on the incumbent president, George H.W. Bush. However, Republicans netted a 10-seat gain in the House, thanks in part to redistricting and changing regional politics (the Democrats retained the House but then lost it in the 1994 GOP wave). If Obama gets Carter-ized next year — or Bush-ized — Democrats, like the GOP 20 years ago, might still pick up a few seats. But almost assuredly not 25.

…If he [Obama] does well, his fellow Democrats should have a decent chance to also do well. If he doesn’t, he’ll open perhaps not a bottomless pit underneath Democratic candidates, but maybe a sinkhole. In any event, the Democrats’ success, or failure, next year cannot be separated from that of their standard-bearer, the president.

Everything is riding on Obama’s performance in the election, isn’t it?

I think the message to congressional Democrats here is: “Get behind your President. Running from Obama won’t improve your chances of keeping your seat. And sniping at him will hurt his chances — and voters will bring you down with him.”

That’s probably solid advice, too. But will downticket Democrats heed it?

As a whole, it would make sense for the Democrat caucus to stick with Obama. But individual members might find it well-nigh irresistible to keep their distance, especially as they start getting earfuls from their constituents next spring and summer.

In fact, I can’t think of a single example of rank & file House members standing by their man en masse, after the public had soured on him. So if Obama’s numbers stay in the tank next year, his worst critics might be the desperate members of his own party.

I’ll bring the popcorn.

CORRECTION: This Crystal Ball was written by Sabato’s House Editor, Kyle Kondik.

Browncoats, Unite!

September 29th, 2011 - 8:02 am

Trifecta: Freedom of speech, freedom of humor, and Captain Malcolm Reynolds are all under assault at the University of Wisconsin.

Well, something sure the hell ain’t right.

The Upside of Collectivism

September 28th, 2011 - 4:34 pm

Elizabeth Warren thinks more hot women should be having sex with you.

Yes, with you.

It’s only fair.

Hat tip, Liberty Papers.

Sign “O” the Times

September 28th, 2011 - 1:05 pm

It’s a very merry Christmas — unless you were hoping to score a temp gig:

Best Buy will hire fewer temporary workers for the 2011 holiday season compared to last year, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The nationwide electronics retail chain will take on 15,000 new temporary employees, compared to the 29,000 it hired in 2010. Best Buy is not alone in its decision.

That’s pretty much a sign of the apocalypse right there.

Amazon Is on Fire, Baby!

September 28th, 2011 - 11:46 am

I’ve got a first look at Amazon’s entire new Kindle lineup, from the insanely great to the what-were-they-thinking?

Introducing Our Co-Dependent Recession

September 28th, 2011 - 9:44 am

Trifecta: Tough love — is it time to let the economy hit rock bottom?

A Few Hairs of the Dog What Bit You

September 28th, 2011 - 8:18 am

It’s a smug column — and given our circumstance, why shouldn’t it be? — in which Martin Hutchinson explains what Germany got right and what America got wrong. Oh, and what everybody else got wrong, too, including Greece:

Greece must be expelled from the euro and allowed to find its own level with a new drachma. Interest rates must immediately be brought up to well above the level of inflation while rigorous programs of public spending cuts must be combined with the closure of tax loopholes to restore integrity in public finances. Slush funds for housing and green energy must be wound down immediately. The Volcker Rule must be rigorously enforced on the largest global banks, so that trading is pushed off into systemically insignificant hedge funds where it belongs.

Something like this almost certainly will happen — if by default rather than by design. And, yes, the pun was intended.

On the US’s woes, Hutchinson is a bit too smug. He discounts the importance to the global economy of American entrepreneurship and risk-taking. Germany manages steady growth with its consensus-driven management, where government, business and labor are all glommed together. What the Germans don’t do very well, grading on a curve, is innovate. But surely we’ve enjoyed a little too much innovation on the financial side. What Apple does in the field of consumer electronics, maybe Bear-Stearns shouldn’t have been doing with our rent money.

So we know how Greece gets out — badly. How can we do better?

The way I see it, Americans need to deleverage more quickly than we’ve been able to with high unemployment and shrinking wages. We need the financial sector to get back in the business of lending — and lending sanely. 14 million Americans need to get back to work. And Democrats and Republicans alike are going to get pissed off.

Here’s my proposal — and it’s a package deal. You can’t really separate any of it out.

• Repeal ObamaCare. Job creation fell of a cliff immediately after ObamaCare became law. It is a jobs-killing program. Reform of Medicare/Medicaid and employer-based insurance must still come, but it can wait for a strong recovery.

• Repeal Dodd-Frank. What ObamaCare does to jobs, Dodd-Frank does to lending.

• Reinstate Glass-Steagall. Sorry, my Republican, Libertarian, and DLC friends — but letting deposit-taking banks get into high-risk investing was just plain stupid. This might not be an ideal solution, but it will reduce systemic risk to the banking system.

• Dissolve Fannie, Freddie, and get the government out of the mortgage business. Twisting banks’ arms to get them to finance bad loans got us into our housing mess. The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act of 1999, which effectively repealed Glass-Steagall, is what allowed the housing mess to infect the entire economy and send us spiraling into the Great Recession.

• Mortgage relief and restructuring. It’s probably impossible for the housing market to find a bottom — and then start growing again — while a quarter of all mortgages are underwater. Restructure the adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) to fixed-rate instruments, and lop off a fixed percentage of the value of all underwater, low-or-no-money down, ARMs. Recapitalize the stupid banks if needed. Let the Big Brains figure out the details on those last two items. I’m sure they’ll get them wrong, but this is a rare case of something being better than nothing.

What we’re suffering from now is the worst of three worlds. We have a government-created financial crisis and recession. We have government making both situations worse. And we have a private sector too hobbled and too scared to grow our way back out.

So — and it pains my free-market self to say this — it’s going to take government to start undoing some of the damage. But, predicating the last item on dissolving Fannie & Freddie ought to go a long way to insuring that this never happens again, and restoring some sense to our banking system.

I know, I know, it sound a lot like “let me have just one more hit and I swear it’ll be the last time.” But I’m not sure there’s a better solution. If I’ve missed anything, please tell me.

Programing Note

September 27th, 2011 - 4:56 pm

I’ll be on The Rick Moran Show tonight at 8PM Eastern/5PM Pacific with fellow all-stars Jazz Shaw and Jeff Dunetz. Pretty sure we’ll be talking politics — if we can get a full hour out of that.

Zombie Hitler Gives Beverly Perdue Two Thumbs Up

September 27th, 2011 - 3:05 pm

The totalitarian impulse is alive and well:

As a way to solve the national debt crisis, North Carolina Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue recommends suspending Congressional elections for the next couple of years.

I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover,” Perdue said at a rotary club event in Cary, North Carolina, according to the Raleigh News and Observer. “I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.”

We might need to suspend the First Amendment and stuff to really make it work, though.

Trifecta: What does President Obama has in common with Black Dynamite? More — and less — than you’d think.

But What If Mummy Mao Wins the Nomination?

September 27th, 2011 - 1:16 pm

Doug Mataconis just put up one of those “Hey, that’s what I was thinking but hadn’t written it down yet posts.” The penultimate graf tells the tale:

The Mitt Romney of 2012 is essentially the same Mitt Romney who was endorsed by National Review and lauded at CPAC 2008 when he stood in a ballroom and announced that he was withdrawing from the Presidential race. There are, no doubt, plenty of regular non-activist conservatives out there who are wondering how they guy everyone loved in 2008 has suddenly turned into Public Enemy No. 1 (or maybe No.2, after Obama). The main reason, of course, his health care reform, but it seems odd to punish Romney for something he did many years ago when he was Governor of a state where the legislature was controlled by a large enough Democratic majority to override any veto he would make. Yes, Romney embraced the plan but what else does one expect a politician to do, especially when it contained elements that had been advanced by groups like the Heritage Foundation only a few years previously? I’m not really much of a Romney fan personally, but when I hear some conservatives say that there’s no difference between him and the President, I just roll my eyes. That statement is not only wrong, it’s ridiculously wrong.

Like I said to Tony Katz Friday afternoon. The GOP could raise Hitler from the dead and run Zombie Hitler at the top of the ticket, running on a platform of “BRAAAAAAAAINS!” and I would vote for Zombie Hitler before I would vote for President Obama to take another term.

I never stopped to think, what if the GOP ran someone worse than Zombie Hitler, which, knowing the GOP, is entirely possible. But I know Zombie Hitler. Zombie Hitler is a friend of mine. And Mitt Romney is no Zombie Hitler.

I wouldn’t do it with much enthusiasm, but I would vote for Romney — and hope and pray that a Tea-infused Congress would keep him from acting on his worst instincts.

Pre-Pre-Pre-Pre-Pre-Spin Cycle

September 27th, 2011 - 12:20 pm

Howard Kurtz wrote a surprisingly upbeat profile of Fox News honcho Roger Ailes — mostly, I suspect, because Ailes has been toning down FNC and riding hard on the GOP candidates. But then there’s a very curious bit on the first page:

As he embarks on his last hurrah—Ailes’s contract is up in 2013—he is acting not like a political operative but as a corporate chieftain who knows that fostering friction and picking fights make for good television—and good business. Next fall’s election could well pivot on whether Ailes is more interested in scoring political points or ramping up ratings and revenue.

If I’m reading this correctly, Kurtz is setting the narrative early: That if President Obama loses next year, it will be because the New Nicer Roger Ailes turned back into the Old Evil Roger Ailes.

He’s become the Dick Cheney of the new decade.

I don’t know what to tell you about Hair of the Dog this week, except that we had to bring in legendary announcer Don Pardo just to do justice to David Gregory.

Meanwhile, California is Still Broke

September 26th, 2011 - 3:27 pm

Amazon and Jerry Brown have reached a deal on some compromise legislation that will bring Amazon’s Associates program back to California.

We’re from OnStar and We’re Here to Help

September 26th, 2011 - 11:17 am

GM’s OnStar shenanigans aren’t getting a whole lotta love in the Senate:

Three Senators have raised concerns about an announcement by GM’s OnStar’s subsidiary that it would continue collecting data from customers’ cars even after they cancelled their OnStar service. In a Wednesday letter to the company, Al Franken (D-MN) and Chris Coons (D-DE) warned that “OnStar’s actions appear to violate basic principles of privacy and fairness.”

On Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) raised objections of his own. He released a letter he has written to the Federal Trade Commission seeking an investigation of OnStar’s privacy practices. Schumer described OnStar’s new policy as “one of the most brazen invasions of privacy in recent memory.”

It’s nice to know that Schumer, Franken and Coons can be on the right side of an issue. Now let’s see where they stand on restoring GM’s former bondholders after they got shafted by President Obama in favor of the UAW.

We’ll Just Glide, Starry-Eyed

September 26th, 2011 - 10:12 am

Upbeat story from Bloomberg on the delivery of the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner to All Nippon airline. The global manufacturing process had delayed delivery for three years. Now this:

“We’ve developed a set of technologies that will serve as the backbone of our airplanes for the next 30 years,” Scott Fancher, the 787 program chief, told reporters yesterday at a briefing in Everett.

The twin-engine 787 is Chicago-based Boeing’s best-selling new jet ever, with 821 orders from 56 customers. Boeing is working to boost production to 10 a month, a record for wide- body aircraft, after the setbacks increased costs, sent 787 inventory ballooning to $16.2 billion through June and upset airlines’ timetables for adding new routes.

What I don’t understand is how Bloomberg managed to leave out the most important detail about ramping up production. Of those ten jets to be manufactured each month, seven will be put together in Washington State, and three in South Carolina. But that’s if Boeing is allowed to continue operating its South Carolina plant.

We should also be asking ourselves why a private corporation in a right-to-work state needs permission to capitalize its billion-dollar investment and keep on its 1,000 employees because of a suit filed by a temporary recess-appointment to the nearly-ungoverned NLRB.

And if you think that last sentence did some damage to sensible writing, it’s nothing compared to what Obamanomics is doing to private enterprise.

This is the Case of the UN Doing Its Job

September 26th, 2011 - 8:41 am

Niall Ferguson gives about as succinct an explanation for the Palestinian failure at the UN this weekend, as you’re likely to find:

They will get their own state eventually. But not until all the permanent members of the Security Council are convinced the Palestinians will not abuse the privileges of statehood.

The UN was founded on the idea — on the mostly-naive hope, really — of collective security. New nations don’t get to join, predicated on the idea of the destruction of another member.

Jumping the Shark and/or the White House Fence

September 24th, 2011 - 8:47 am

The downside of upsizing, reinstating slavery, and how to tax rich people — all on another exciting episode of… The Week in Blogs!

Bonus: Introducing the photobomb of the week.

Drunkblogging is Live!

September 22nd, 2011 - 6:47 pm

Here’s the link. I started drinking early. Don’t look at me like that.

Programing Note

September 22nd, 2011 - 2:36 pm

I feel like a pincushion after today’s visit to the endocrinologist. Stupid middle age. But is that going to stop me from drunkblogging tonight’s GOP presidential debate?

Are you kidding me — there’s going to be YouTube questions. And that means an extra field of pure mockery. Would I let something like a little blood loss and a flu shot and some boring new medications make me miss that?

Hell, no!

The fun starts on the PJMedia home page at 8:45 Eastern/5:45 Pacific.

Funny, He Doesn’t Look Jewish

September 21st, 2011 - 2:51 pm

Trifecta: Is Barack Obama our first Jewish president?

Reelect Me So I Can Sign Even More Bad Laws

September 21st, 2011 - 11:44 am

Mickey Kaus parsed President Obama’s veto pledge, and came to a very different conclusion than most people about his reelection strategy:

That also means Obama hasn’t chosen a Trumanesque “run against Congress” strategy over a statesmanlike “grand bargain with Boehner” strategy. He’s still trying to keep both strategies in play. I suspect he still wants a grand bargain even if he gets stiffed on his tax increases on the rich. Monday’s speech looks like mostly a show to please the left. ** The loopholes give it away.

I can count on the fingers of one… finger, the number of times Mickey has missed an angle — and here it is.

The President has a third choice, which is to sign whatever grand bargain comes out of the supercommittee, in the name of averting catastrophe. But that doesn’t mean he has to like it. Obama can still rail against the deal, can still run against Congress. This is exactly what Obama did when Congress extended the Bush tax rates last year: He signed it and used it as a cudgel to beat the GOP.

I can’t think of another President with the chutzpah to campaign against laws bearing his own signature, but Obama might just make a habit of it going into election day.