April 29, 2009
GETTING DEFENSIVE? Obama targets “tea parties.”
GETTING DEFENSIVE? Obama targets “tea parties.”
ZONATION: Under My Bus: A musical theme for the first 100 days!
SELLING THE GREEN ECONOMY: “Candor and common sense are in short supply.”
LYING TO SHAREHOLDERS, but in a good cause.
COLLEGES ELIMINATE CAFETERIA TRAYS to save water. But what will people use if they want to go sledding?
NAPOLEON’S ADVICE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA about the financial crisis.
CHRIS DODD UPDATE: “Already weakened politically by his quixotic presidential candidacy in 2008 and his ties to the failed mortgage giant Countrywide, Dodd found himself at the center of the storm caused by the massive bonuses given to AIG executives. His poll numbers in reliably Democratic Connecticut have tanked badly and he is certain to face serious Republican opposition — in the form of former Rep. Rob Simmons or former Ambassador Tom Foley — in 2010. The good news for Dodd? The bleeding has stopped (for now).” And don’t forget the Irish “cottage” scandal!
Meanwhile, I note that John Murtha, Pete Visclosky, Jim Moran, and Charlie Rangel seem to be keeping a low profile.
SO I HEARD SOME GUY ON THE RADIO saying that the Republicans have changed from the Reagan era — now they’re a bunch of social conservatives. But back during the Reagan era, I remember hearing that the Republicans were . . . a bunch of social conservatives. And back then they were pushing the abortion-banning Human Life Amendment — hard — along with a statutory end-run (the Human Life Bill) that simply declared life began at conception. Also school prayer and all sorts of stuff. I’m not actually hearing much along these lines from today’s Republicans, for whom tepid efforts at limiting late-term abortions are a big deal — but who are nonetheless stone-age troglodytes on social issues because they’ve got the same position as Barack Obama on gay marriage — and I’m wondering where this big shift to the right really is. It’s certainly true, of course, that the GOP wasn’t much good on small government under Bush, though they’re looking better in retrospect as Obama spends and spends. But on social issues I’m not seeing it — is this a real shift, or an imaginary one?
UPDATE: Reader Neil Sorens writes:
You are right about this issue. The Republican Party is less socially conservative now than in the past. You don’t hear a lot of support for anti-sodomy laws nowadays, for example, or opposition to civil unions.
The reason for the change in perception is that with fiscal conservatism abandoned, the only distinguishing characteristic of the Republican Party is now social conservatism.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Dan Riehl thinks that the culture has changed:
I think the real shift has been cultural and in media. For espousing ideas that were reasonably mainstream during the Reagan Era, one is promptly labeled a religious kook today. While the Republicans have been and remain the more socially conservative party, the Left has been effective in their demonizing of that aspect, especially every time a social conservative Republican goes astray with a hooker, or in a men’s room, for instance. Lastly, televangelists and some notable moderate Republicans have helped demonize this over time, too.
An interesting aside, compare the average televangelist during Reagan to a Rick Warren and you can see how large parts of the religious community have changed, as well. Then there’s Huckabee.
Read the whole thing.
HOPE AND CHANGE: IRS Releases New Five-Year Plan.
READER MICHAEL RONAYNE SUGGESTS “GOING GALT” WITH YOUR NEXT CAR:
Has anyone considered the opportunities for Going Galt with our car purchases? All we have to do is not buy any General Motors or Chrysler products? And just not new cars, let the old clunkers sit on the car dealer’s lots as well; the used parts business is a very locative revenue stream for the car industry. Don’t buy any socialist American cars. Don’t support the looter socialist state!
What percent of the population would have to support us for this to be effective?
Given that most people will be understandably skeptical about these cars on simple practical grounds, I’d say two or three . . . .
OUR POST-RACIAL POLITICS: The Black-White Divide in American Politics.
HEY, WAIT, I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO SAVE THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY: “GM wouldn’t be in quite so deep a hole if it had not sunk a billion dollars, and much of its corporate reputation, into a not-very-realistic plug-in electric hybrid vehicle known as the Chevrolet Volt. Likely to cost consumers more than $30,000 even after a big government tax rebate, the little four-seat Volt ‘is currently projected to be much more expensive than its gasoline-fueled peers and will likely need substantial reductions in manufacturing cost in order to become commercially viable,’ President Obama’s automobile task force reported on March 30.”
I might still have bought one, as an early-adopter type, had GM stayed solvent. I’m much less likely to buy one now, given my moral qualms with GM’s takeover, and my practical concerns about the quality of work likely to come out of the automotive equivalent of a VA hospital. Oh, well, there’s always an Aptera!
HOPE AND CHANGE: U.S. Economy Shrinks More Than Expected. “The U.S. economy contracted at a steeper-than-expected pace in the first quarter, weighed down by sharp declines in exports and business inventories, according government data on Wednesday that showed the economy was still deep in recession.” It’s as if shoveling money into the pockets of political supporters isn’t enough to produce growth . . . .
A SHOCKING DEVELOPMENT: Former Barney Frank staffer now top Goldman Sachs lobbyist: “Goldman Sachs’ new top lobbyist was recently the top staffer to Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., on the House Financial Services Committee chaired by Frank. Michael Paese, a registered lobbyist for the Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association since he left Frank’s committee in September, will join Goldman as director of government affairs, a role held last year by former Tom Daschle intimate, Mark Patterson, now the chief of staff at the Treasury Department.” It’s as if they’re all in bed with each other — bankers, regulators, legislators, all of ’em! Go figure. (Via NewsAlert).
DAVID FIDLER: The Swine Flu Outbreak and International Law.
ADVICE TO REPUBLICANS: “Relax, the Dems will screw up.” Rather unwise to count on that, though . . . .
30 DAYS IN JAIL for texting in court?
THE PAST AS PROLOGUE: Detroit Edition.
WHAT DO THEY TEACH THE CHILDREN IN SCHOOL THESE DAYS? “We have the video from the interview with Cam last night. I am still speechless. A high school teacher who doesn’t realize that federal law applies to the whole country, including New York. A high school teacher who took what New Yorkers Against Gun Violence said about the law at face value, and who pretty clearly hasn’t researched the topic at all. This is what’s teaching the next generation? God help us.”
I SEE THIS AS A POSITIVE: “A rifle behind every blade of grass.” However, this statement — “In just 3 months Americans bought enough guns to outfit the entire Chinese and Indian armies combined” — doesn’t seem quite true. At least, the claim is that in three months Americans legally bought 3,177,256 guns, but according to this, the combined size of the Chinese and Indian armies is 3,575,000. On the other hand, this article gives China’s army size as considerably smaller. And it’s undoubtedly true that the owners of these guns are at least as knowledgeable in their care and use as the average member of the Indian or Chinese army. Anyway, to paraphrase Bogart, there are some sections of the United States I would advise you not to invade — and that would be, basically, all of them.
ECONOMIC FORECAST REVISED DOWNWARD: “The German government Wednesday sharply revised its forecast for the economy this year to a 6.0% contraction from a 2.25% decline expected previously, saying the economy is going through its worst recession since World War II but will recover mildly in 2010.”
I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE USE hot babe pics to boost traffic. It’s just so cheap and tawdry.
CDC CONFIRMS first swine flu death in Texas. It’s the first U.S. death from swine flu.
Plus, U.S. officials want you to drop the “swine.” “U.S. pork producers are finding that the name of the virus spreading from Mexico is affecting their business, prompting U.S. officials to argue for changing the name from swine flu. At a news briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack took pains to repeatedly refer to the flu as the ‘H1N1 virus.'”
A SWINE FLU PRECURSOR OUTBREAK in Ohio?
MORE EVIDENCE THAT THE 1970s ARE BACK: My brother sends this disturbing image, and comments: “Told ya it was the 1970’s all over again! I’m gonna fire up a doobie and relax. Oh, crap, wait… this means that hair bands will be back in style in a few years. Damn. That’s worse than a recession.” I know I threw away the leisure suit, but what did I do with those skinny ties? It’s only a matter of time now . . . .
THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW: Specter condemned Jim Jeffords’ party switch in 2001.
Of course, this then was a lot closer to now: “In a March 17th interview with The Hill, Specter said he absolutely would not switch parties.” I’m sure the Dems will find him every bit as much a man of his word as did the Republicans.
Plus, from Will Bunch: “Arlen Specter: Now just another cog in the Philly Democratic machine.” But on Will Bunch’s advice!
And some campaign supporters are asking for refunds!
OH, GET REAL — that makes it sound like it’s just a bunch of media hype: “President Obama’s media cheerleaders are hailing how loved he is. But at the 100-day mark of his presidency, Mr. Obama is the second-least-popular president in 40 years.”
AHMADINEJAD: Yes, we can!
AMUSEMENT FOR WHILE YOU HUNKER IN YOUR FLU BUNKER: A Blu-Ray sale. Your bunker does have Blu-Ray, right? You wouldn’t want to ride out the end of the world with mere standard-def.
IT’S ALL PART OF THE STIMULUS PLAN! Swine Flu Increases Demand for Face Masks, Antivirals.
Plus, Mexicans put faith in masks, but do they work? “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is not a lot of evidence that masks do much good, and have pointedly not recommended their use by the general public. Swine flu is thought to be transmitted in much the same way as seasonal flu, by touching something with the virus and then passing it to the nose or mouth or through coughing or sneezing.”
UPDATE: A hidden benefit of masks: “If things get bad, I’m wearing a thin, comfortable mask that covers my mouth and nose, and maybe even a pair of goggles. My goal is not to prevent aerial transmission, but to keep my own grubby hands from touching my mouth, nose, and eyes.”
FROM TARA SMITH AT AETIOLOGY, A Swine Flu link roundup.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Feds Knew NYC Flyover Would Cause Panic, Proceeded Anyway.
A GOOD QUESTION: “Who wanted new pictures of Air Force One against the New York skyline?” And why?
And reader Matt Fay writes: ‘Were there passengers on the flight? If there were, who were they? I’d bet dollars to doughnuts there were campaign contributors on the flight.” Hmm. Perhaps someone will dig into this and find out. Robert Gibbs said that only Air Force personnel were aboard, but he’s not exactly been on top of this story, so I wouldn’t take that to the bank just yet.
UPDATE: More from Rand Simberg: “Why was it to be kept secret, particularly given that it’s hard to keep secret a 747 dressed as Air Force One flying down the Hudson, particularly being tailed by a military fighter?”
And various readers would like to see the photos that were taken. . . .
A CARD-CHECK PREVIEW? The debate isn’t free or wide-open, but there is a degree of robustness to it.
IS TWITTER CAUSING Swine-Flu Panic?
BE PREPARED: In flu crisis, US has planned for the worst. “Government leaders at all levels, and major employers, have spent nearly four years planning for the worst in a series of exercises. Their reports, as well as interviews with policymakers, paint a grim picture of what could happen if the swine flu gets severely out of control. . . . Even if the new swine flu from Mexico turns out to be especially aggressive, the worst consequences could be averted. The nation has made strides in stockpiling antiviral medicines, speeding the production of vaccines and laying down basic public health guidelines. The government got serious about worst-case planning during the 2005 bird flu scare, as the lessons of Hurricane Katrina loomed large.”
From the details in the story, I’d call the worst-case scenario they’ve prepared for more of a moderately-bad case, but still it’s something.
UPDATE: Why is the swine flu killing only Mexicans? “It’s a confounding question on the lips of disease detectives: Why have the only deaths from the swine flu outbreak happened in Mexico? . . . There are no hard answers, but a consensus is emerging: The disease in Mexico has likely been around longer and infected more people than investigators can confirm.” I suspect that’s right, and that — unfortunately — the numbers in the United States will start to look more like Mexico’s as the cases grow in number.
Mexican Reports: Flu Much Worse Than Reported. We’ll see. Stay tuned.
THE LARGEST, HEAVIEST amateur rocket ever launched. A 1/10 scale model of a Saturn V.
THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT AND UNAPOLOGETIC John Howard.
GAS HYDRATES: Alaska’s untapped energy source.
REVIEWING THE REVIEWERS: A roundup of book reviews from all over.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE to sequence an influenza virus? Plus, the importance of getting the right samples.
BRUCE STERLING: Practical Tips for Combatting Swine Flu In Your Home. Including useful advice on not panicking.
PRESS AND PUBLIC KICKED OUT of DVD copying trial.
TIGERHAWK: The GM bankruptcy and a test for American socialism. “The federal government and the workers will own one of our largest and most storied industrial companies. That has never really happened before. In other words, the governmental restructuring of General Motors is a social experiment that will shortly teach us two things: Whether businesses can be managed to a profit when in the hands of bureaucrats and union officials, and whether American consumers will trust such people to stand by the products that they make. I, for one, am eager to learn the answer, because it will tell us what we should and should not do about health care.”
HOW SWINE FLU SPREADS. Link is safe for work, but if you go to the whole blog you’re on your own . . . .
TOP TEN THINGS FROM YOUR 20S that you’ll regret when you’re 40.
OBVIOUSLY, THE GOVERNMENT MUST REGULATE THIS FOR OUR OWN GOOD: Salads on menus result in more french fry sales?
SCOTT RASMUSSEN: “To be relevant in politics, you need either formal power or a lot of people willing to follow your lead. The governing Republicans in the nation’s capital have lost both on their continuing path to irrelevance. The disconnect between D.C. Republicans and Republicans throughout the country has been growing for nearly 20 years, but it became more intense and noticeable during the waning years of the Bush administration.” Plus, what the “tea party” protests mean. His conclusion: “The future for the GOP is beyond the Beltway.”
TRUTH IN LABELLING: Specter switches to Democrat. Given how miserably he was doing in primary-polling against Pat Toomey, this is no surprise. Of course, this gives Obama a filibuster-proof majority.
THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS CORPS: Dying For An “A.”
UPDATE: Charles Austin writes: “Apparently grade inflation is much more serious and pervasive than I thought.” Heh.
IN THE MAIL: Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town.
CHENEY FOR PRESIDENT: “Watching Dick Cheney defend the Bush administration’s interrogation policies, it’s been hard to escape the impression that both the Republican Party and the country would be better off today if Cheney, rather than John McCain, had been a candidate for president in 2008.”
PANDEMIC POLICE: A look inside America’s top infectious disease laboratory.
ROBERT GIBBS, buffoon. Janet Napolitano wasn’t much better. The country’s in the very best of hands.
UPDATE: Reader Stephen Eisenbies writes: “I suppose the administration just got a reality check that people really do actually remember that 9/11 happened.” Indeed. The administration, it seems, not so much . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Press spin: “I have to say I’m fascinated by how the media create distance between this truly outrageous administration behavior and President Obama. . . . Why do I think that if this had happened during the last administration, no one would know the name of the guy running the ‘White House Military Office’?”
ANDREW IAN DODGE’S TEA PARTY VIDEO, CRY FREEDOM:
JOHN GALT MICHAEL CAINE. “The 76-year-old film star has revealed in colourful terms that he has had it, and will leave Britain if taxes get any higher.” Plus, what New Labour has wrought: “Everything Sir Michael has made, he made by his hard work. That his story is much more difficult to imagine in contemporary Britain demonstrates how far backwards we have slid. Privilege is once again becoming the key that unlocks the right doors.” That’s how it will be here, too, it the current crowd gets its way. All in the name of equality!
NEWS-BOOSTED BOOK OF THE WEEK: Flu : The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic.
DAN RIEHL: Get a clue, Republicans.
SWINE FLU UPDATE: Use antiviral drugs carefully, health officials warn.
BORDERS ARE TIGHTENED as flu cases rise.
CHEESINESS ALERT: MacBook Air hinge defect not covered by Apple’s warranty?
CHRIS DODD UPDATE: Nobody Wants to Be Part of the ‘Friends of the Indicted Guy’ Program. “So if, hypothetically, Mozillo were to be indicted, what could he tell prosecutors in exchange for a reduced sentence?”
HAND SANITIZER, FLU, and frontiers in germicidal living.
UNVEILING the new and improved BlogCritics site.
WHAT NANCY PELOSI doesn’t remember anymore.
A TODDLER, AN OPEN WINDOW, and an amazing catch.
GUNS AND HOSES: More on Pirates.
INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Nancy “Scooter” Pelosi.
“100 DAYS OF DISASTER:” THE ST. LOUIS TEA PARTY COALITION IS observing the end of Obama’s first 100 days
UPDATE: Related thoughts from Michele Bachmann.
AT THE VOLOKH CONSPIRACY: Ireland v. United Kingdom and the prosecution of Bush officials. Plus, More Thoughts on the Legal Barriers to a Torture Prosecution. I think there will be fewer barriers to TARP misconduct prosecutions . . . .
NEW YORK POST ON THAT PHOTO-OP FLYOVER: “Plane Dumb.”
STAYING CALM: “Tennessee health officials expect to find cases of swine flu in the state in coming days, but they see no cause for alarm and say prevention and treatment are the same as for seasonal flu.” Plus, keeping an eye on long-haul truckers’ health, and the importance of washing your hands frequently or using hand sanitizer. That last can’t be stressed enough.
ANDY MCCARTHY ON ERIC HOLDER: I told you so.
LARRY KUDLOW: Geithner: The Fox Guarding the Henhouse? “What is going on in this country? The government is about to take over GM in a plan that completely screws private bondholders and favors the unions. Get this: The GM bondholders own $27 billion and they’re getting 10 percent of the common stock in an expected exchange. And the UAW owns $10 billion of the bonds and they’re getting 40 percent of the stock. Huh? Did I miss something here? And Uncle Sam will have a controlling share of the stock with something close to 50 percent ownership. And no bankruptcy judge. So this is a political restructuring run by the White House, not a rule-of-law bankruptcy-court reorganization. . . . With Geithner running the Treasury and the potentially criminal enterprise called TARP, is his incestuous relationship with Wall Street bigwigs a perfect example of the fox guarding the henhouse? Was he too cozy to keep a critical eye on the very institutions that blew up later?” I think I’ll invest in China, where they respect private property . . . .
BUSTING BANK OF AMERICA: “The cavalier use of brute government force has become routine, but the emerging story of how Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke forced CEO Ken Lewis to blow up Bank of America is still shocking. It’s a case study in the ways that panicky regulators have so often botched the bailout and made the financial crisis worse.” As I’ve said before, I’m surprised that we haven’t seen shareholder suits already.
RATTNER UPDATE: “The White House is standing behind its auto industry adviser whose company is accused of paying more than $1 million to win a lucrative deal with the New York state pension fund.”
TORTURE: Pelosi becomes the story? “Minority Leader John Boehner is asking the Obama administration to release the CIA’s notes briefing Nancy Pelosi. Whether the Obama team does so or not seems irrelevant. It is enough for the public now to know that Pelosi and others were briefed and that no meaningful objections and steps to halt the CIA (e.g. cutting off funding) were ever raised. The GOP, with moves like this and in interviews such as the one Sen. Kit Bond gave today, is trying to make Pelosi the story now.”
CQ POLITICS: Will Murtha Scrutiny Lead Anywhere?
The watchdog groups are following up on the investigation surrounding the PMA Group and, reportedly, three key lawmakers closely tied to it — Reps. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., Peter J. Visclosky, D-Ind., and James P. Moran, D-Va.. . . . Interestingly, under House rules that were in existence until 1997, the outside groups could have filed an actual complaint with the ethics panel itself.
That complaint would have required action of some form — even a cursory investigation before dismissal. But the rules changed in 1997.
Under a change that was adopted that year, outside groups and private citizens were barred from actually filing complaints with the ethics committee. Now, only individual members of the House of Representatives can file a complaint with the Ethics Committee against a fellow member.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the result: The number of complaints (and, therefore, the number of investigations) dropped substantially.
And who was the mastermind who pushed through the change, so that outside groups and private citizens could no longer file complaints with the House Ethics Committee?
Why, none other than Murtha himself.
It’s like he knew what was coming . . . .
TARP: The Looming Debacle.
A PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS fingerpointing roundup. The more they do this, the more I figure they’re hiding something. That’s certainly how it worked with Fannie Mae . . . .
UPDATE: A reader writes:
How about a simpler explanation? Did you notice the AP story today on how the Democrats in Congress have agreed to push through Obamacare on a “reconciliation” basis that would severely limit debate and prevent filibuster? No? Probably no one else did, either, what with the sixteen above the fold stories about the Pink Death now kinda sort maybe sweeping the globe.
It is certainly consistent with the Obama modus operandi to spread much FUD just before rolling out some huge government expansion. Recall the grim economic rumor-mongering before Stimulusaurus.
WATCHING KUDLOW TONIGHT, I saw he thinks that many of the bailout shenanigans involve potential 10b-5 violations, as well as wire and mail fraud issues. That seems likely. I’m wondering why there aren’t more lawsuits. It’s not as if there isn’t plenty of money on the table . . . .
COOL AND DETACHED: “US reaction to swine flu more muted than elsewhere. U.S. airports and border agents waved people through Monday with little or no additional screening for Mexico’s deadly swine flu—a far more muted reaction than the extreme caution elsewhere around the world.”
WHY IS SWINE FLU MORE DEADLY IN MEXICO? Four theories.