Monday, March 30, 2009

And the Europeans Chortle

I gotta say, if I was Fiat, I'd tell Chrysler to eff off. After seeing what happened to companies that took TARP money (and how desperate they are to give it back) why would I want to get involved in a company that is effectively under US governmental control?

I wouldn't.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Good Move

Microsoft has targeted Apple on price. It's not a bad move. It's a little odd that the video really says nothing about Windows, and is basically an add for "I like the look of the HP best among the computers I can afford," rather than "Windows machines are better than OS X machines," but that will be lost on the average viewer.

In a down economy, cheaper is generally better—and I imagine that Microsoft will do better for the next few years than they have been, at least relative to Apple.

That being said, it's important to remember one key tenet of purchasing: You get what you pay for.

And yes, in case you've forgotten, I own a Mac. And it's the first one I've ever owned. And it is FAR superior to any PC I have ever used.

So while the campaign by Microsoft is smart, it will only sway the uninformed.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Am I A Jerk?

Maybe I'm an asshole, but I think this guy deserved the ticket. I'm sorry his mom died, and I'm sorry the ticket-writing took 13 minutes. That being said, a guy who speeds deserves a ticket. If the law said "unless he's rushing to the hospital," then that would be fine. But why have laws if you leave it to the cops to make exceptions?

Technology and Courts

I don't really have much to say on this, because so much time has passed. Either way, I noticed an interesting pattern in technology news last week. First, there were theiPhone mistrial pieces that popped up everywhere. Then Twitter began interfering in trials.

And finally, CourtToons had their own commentary.

Practicing law in the modern age has gotten weird.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rep. Frank is an Asshole

The attempt to play the sexuality card is transparent and embarrassing. But I particularly like Prof. Althouse's classification of the statement.

Frank said:
Justice Scalia "makes it very clear that he's angry, frankly, about the existence of gay people. If you read his opinion, he thinks it's a good idea for two consenting adults who happen to be gay to be locked up because he is so disapproving of gay people."
Althouse replies:
Well, Barney, I have read that opinion many times, and I know that you are either lying about having read it, lying about what Scalia wrote, or an embarrassingly incompetent reader.
There ought to be a Godwin's Law corollary for making accusations like this. Frank can't hold up against a textualist, originalist interpretation of the constitution, so he accuses Scalia of bigotry.

That's just sad.

Grammar Nerds Unite

And take a look at our President's off-the-cuff speechifying.

Now it's not really fair to single out Obama, as this is what anyone will sound like in a press conference. Still a remarkable illustration of the way he speaks when lacking a teleprompter.

Monday, March 23, 2009

60 Minutes

Watched it last night, and wanted to throw something at the screen. I simply could not believe that he was laughing about the economy, in any context. And when confronted about that laughter, he attributed it to gallows humor.

Gallows humor includes a sense of irony. It's not full-on laughter, it's awkward laughter. Obama did not seem uncomfortable with the chuckling—he seemed to be enjoying himself. That may be an act, but it's disturbing either way.

It seems that John Hawkins was equally frustrated. In particular, I agree with this sentiment:
Obama is a silver-tongued political novice who has managed to be in the right place at the right time.

Now, if you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. And if you’re a politician like Barack Obama, who has gotten everything he has in life by being slick and sounding confident, every problem looks like something that can just be talked away.
He's very smooth. He's easy going. You watch him interviewed, and you want to like him. But if you actually listen to what the man says, it's impossible not to come away thinking:
Now at first glance, that might seem to be a thoughtful answer. However, when you delve down into it, what you find is that is like many of Barack Obama’s comments, it’s utterly divorced from what he intends to do, while giving people on both sides of the case the impression that he agrees with them.
Read the whole thing, especially page 2.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

First Sentence!

Sigh. Must the bias be so obvious that it arrives in the first sentence of a column? Eleanor Clift:
Who would have thought 55 days into this administration we would be asking the question, what did he know and when did he know it?
Um, anyone who had a realistic view of how politics in Washington operates, and knew that the O is not infallible?

If you need an example, kindly look this way.

More on the O

So I finally watched Obama's appearance on Leno. (Ain't DVR grand?)

I think this assessment is not far off. At the very least, I think the Carter comparisons seem pretty apt.

Now I must concede that I was not alive when Carter was in office, so I cannot make any direct comparisons. But I have read extensively on his presidency, and I base these comments on that background of information. Okay? Okay.

As I mentioned the other day, I think that the key to these communication shortcomings from Obama, and that paralysis of decision, is a lack of ideology. We (and I use the term "we" loosely) have elected a man who has never been forced to make a decision, take a stand, and defend it vociferously. It has always just been good enough for him to be an intelligent black man running in a district that wanted an intelligent liberal.

I think this was true even last year. The country got on board with "hope & change" because they wanted the anti-Bush. But instead of a different ideology, a different governing philosophy, we got no ideology or philosophy. And this is going to continue to cause problems for the President.

Think I'm alone in seeing it this way? After I'd drafted the above, I stumbled across David Warren, writing from Canada. It seems that Mr. Warren has reached the exact same conclusion I did:
Again, to my mind -- and it is the only one I have with which to write this column -- we would be wrong to think of Mr. Obama as an ideologue. I think he was perfectly sincere in denying that he was anything of the sort, and in claiming that he would be looking for bipartisan consensus. I also think he is sincere in proceeding with an agenda -- on bail-outs, the environment, Medicare, life issues, foreign policy, etc. -- that leaves most Republicans, and quite a few of the more conservative Democrats, utterly aghast.

How to explain this apparent contradiction? I'm afraid it is easy. As I mentioned during the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama was seriously unqualified for the job of president. He had no practical experience in running anything, except political campaigns; but worse, his background was one-dimensional.

All his life, from childhood through university through "community organizing" and Chicago wardheel politics, through Sunday mornings listening to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to the left side of Democrat caucuses in Springfield and Washington, he has been surrounded almost exclusively by extremely liberal people, and moreover, by people who are quick and clever but intellectually narrow.

He is a free soul, but he is also the product of environments in which even moderately conservative ideas are never considered; but where people on the further reaches of the left are automatically welcomed as "avant-garde." His whole idea of where the middle might be, is well to the left of where the average American might think it is. To a man like Obama, as he has let slip on too many occasions when away from his teleprompter, "Middle America" is not something to be compromised with, but rather, something that must be manipulated, because it is stupid. And the proof that it can be manipulated, is that he is the president today.

It is at this point that the phenomenon known as "too clever by half" sets in. Technically, it is indistinguishable from arrogance and hubris, but it is unnecessary to stress the point. Sixty days into his first term (and I begin to doubt there'll be a second), he would seem already to have dug a hole from which no rhetorical skill can lift him.
Smart guy, that David Warren.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Moving the Goalposts

Alan Wolfe argues that our President is not a socialist. His opening:
The world 'liberal' first used in its modern political sense in 1812, when Spaniards wrote a new constitution liberating themselves from monarchical rule. As it happens, the word 'socialism' originated in roughly the same period; it came into existence to describe the utopian ideas of the British reformer Robert Owen. Such timing suggests two possibilities: Either the fates of liberalism and socialism are so interlinked that one is all but synonymous with the other--or the two are actually competitors developed to meet similar conditions, in which case victory for one marks the defeat of the other.

These days, one could be forgiven for believing that the former conclusion is correct. It was not so long ago that conservatives were equating liberalism with fascism; today, they have executed a 180-degree swing in order to argue that liberalism is actually synonymous with socialism.
This is a very easy argument to make, if you avoid stating the original meaning of liberalism.

I quote from Milton Friedman's introduction to Capitalism and Freedom:
Jealous of liberty, and hence fearful of centralized power, the nineteenth-century liberal favored political decentralization. Committed to action and confident in the beneficence of power so long as it is in the hands of a government ostensibly controlled by the electorate, the twentieth-century liberal favors centralized government. He will resolve any doubt about where power should be located in favor of the state instead of the city, of the federal government instead of the state, and of a world organization instead of a national government.

Because of the corruption of the term liberalism, the views that formerly went under that name are now often labeled conservatism.
In other words, the modern liberal is more properly a socialist.

Support

Looks like Mr. Krauthammer sees things pretty much the same way I do.

You're Damned Right I'm Angry

I greatly admire Peggy Noonan. And since I read her book What I Saw At The Revolution, has been one of my favorite political authors. But my friends can vouch for the fact that I thought she went a little nuts during the election. I honestly thought something had snapped, the way she was desperate for optimism wherever she could find it. And, based on her political principles, could not believe that she seemed to be endorsing Obama—fawning over him may be more accurate. I was even more shocked, when, the day after the election, she admitted on Oprah that she had in fact voted for McCain.

But now, she's joined the steady flow of columnists with buyer's remorse. Maybe not as openly as Chris Buckley or David Brooks (who has since at least partially rescinded). But she does have this to say:
The president seems everywhere and nowhere, not fully focused on the matters at hand. He's trying to keep up with the news cycle with less and less to say. "I am angry" about AIG's bonuses. The administration seems buffeted, ad hoc. Policy seems makeshift, provisional. James K. Galbraith captures some of this in The Washington Monthly: "The president has an economic program. But there is, so far, no clear statement of the thinking behind the program."
This, dear friends, is why I had concerns about Obama from the start. This is why many of us had concerns from the start.

Because you know what I don't want to believe, but find myself concluding more and more often? That their policy is ad hoc, is merely reactive. I'm not sure that Obama believes in any particular ideology or way forward. I think he has some basic liberal reflexes, but has never tested or challenged those beliefs to find a core understanding of the world around him. As a result, he picks and chooses from the options presented based on what "makes sense" at the time. This is not the way to lead a country, and certainly not the way to lead a country out of an economic quagmire. In fact, this is the way to take what may have otherwise been a minor recession and turn it into an enduring crisis—not in the sense the media is using it currently, but in the Jimmy Carter sense.

There's nothing wrong with hope. And I'm not asking the President to claim that he knows how to fix the mess that he deepens by the day. But the American people do not need the leader described above, because he's not leading. Heck, we'd be better off with a President running into walls with his proposals. As things stand now, we have a President paralyzed by reactivity, resulting in a public paralyzed by not knowing what's coming next. That stokes fear, and anger. So the President responds to that, hesitantly, and the cycle starts again.

Each reaction seems to be scarier than the last! A 90% tax on bonuses to TARP employees? Are you kidding me?? This is punitive. This is wrong. This is a posse led from Capitol Hill.

Before that bill passed, the WSJ has some comments on that posse dynamic, with an important historical note:
This is all too much even for Rep. Charlie Rangel, the House's chief tax writer, who says the tax code shouldn't be deployed as a "political weapon." He's right. AIG's managers may be this week's political target of choice, but the message to every banker in America, indeed every business in America, is that you could be next. At least we haven't yet seen the resolution that was proposed in the English parliament, in 1720 in the aftermath of the South Sea bubble, that bankers be tied in sacks filled with snakes and tipped into the Thames. But it's still early days.
And the people are following their leaders:
Now these executives are toxic, and those communities are rattled and divided. Private security guards have been stationed outside their houses, and sometimes the local police drive by. A.I.G. employees at the company’s office tower in Lower Manhattan were told to avoid leaving the building while a demonstration was going on outside. The memo also advised them to avoid displaying company-issued ID cards when they left the office and to abandon tote bags or other items with the A.I.G. logo.

One A.I.G. executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared the consequences of identifying himself, said many workers felt demonized and betrayed. “It is as bad if not worse than McCarthyism,” he said. Everyone has sacrificed the employees of A.I.G.’s financial products division, he said, “for their own political agenda.”

The public’s anger, he said, “is coming from bad facts as a result of someone else’s agenda — or just bad facts period.” Instead, he said, the so-called bonuses were in fact just payments that had been promised long ago to workers, including technical and administrative assistants.

A.I.G. employees are not the only ones seeking protection: An executive at Merrill Lynch, where bonuses have also come under fire, said that some employees had asked whether the firm would cover the cost of private security for them.
Reading that makes me seethe.

If this is Obama's America status-post Hope & Change, then I fear what comes next. To update a classic:
In America, they came first for the Bankers. And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Banker;
And then they came for the business executives. And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a business executive.
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.
I'm not trying to invoke Godwin's Law against myself here, and I certainly don't mean to compare any of this to Nazi Germany. But we are living through a witch hunt. And witch hunts always need new people to blame when the first crop of targets is exhausted.

So who's next on the chopping block?

Don't believe me? Think I'm taking it too far? Pissed at what A.I.G. has done to the economy and think that they deserve to catch a little flak for it? Well here's you don't know:
The handful of souls who championed the firm's now-infamous credit-default swaps are, by nearly every account, long since departed. Those left behind to clean up the mess, the majority of whom never lost a dime for AIG, now feel they have been sold out by their Congress and their president.

"They've chosen to throw us under the bus," said a Financial Products executive, one of several who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals. "They have vilified us."

They say what is missing from this week's hysteria is perspective. The very handsome retention payments they received over the past week were set in motion early last year when the firm's former president, Joe Cassano, was on his way out the door. Financial Products was already running into trouble on its risky credit bets, and the year ahead looked grim. People were weighing offers from other firms, and AIG executives feared that too many departures could lead to disaster.

So AIG stepped in with an offer to employees of Financial Products. Work through all of 2008, and you'd get a lump payment in March 2009. Stick around through 2009, and you'll get paid through 2010. Almost all other forms of compensation -- bonuses, deferred payments and the like -- have vanished.
That's right! These people we're burning in effigy aren't even the ones responsible. They are the ones that have been retained to try and clean up the mess. This is like arresting the fire department for arson while they try to put out the fire!

And our government is leading the mob.

-------

The Politico offers an alternative scenario: Obama is having trouble communicating.

I don't buy it. Actions speak louder than words, and I've followed his actions pretty closely in the past few days. Obama isn't having trouble explaining what he's doing or why he's doing it; he's stumbling over each step he takes. The Politico:
It was brilliant communications skills that carried Obama to the presidency, with a national campaign built on the strength of his personal story and the clarity of his promise to transform politics. On the rare occasions when he was thrown on the defensive, he quickly turned problems into opportunities and regained control of his public image.

What’s different now? The polished phrases and unflappable delivery haven’t gone away. His prime-time news conference and speech to Congress drew the usual praise.
What's changed is that the man is now being asked to lead, not just talk about leading. And he never had a plan for that. He was not ready for it. And we're reaping the whirlwind now.

God help us.

But read The Politico's entire take on his communication problems, and see if you don't notice the common thread that I do. It could be that the authors are right, and he's running into a variety of issues (mixed messages, too cool for his own good, hiding the bodies, an off-key chorus). But think on this as you're reading it: wouldn't a man who was unqualified for his job, in over his head, and unsure what to do next be facing exactly the same "communication" issues?

Doesn't this kind of political move suggest the same thing?

Maybe Jennifer Rubin has a point. She says it's the failure of the premise of the Obama administration:
Obama’s mantra about collecting the “best and the brightest” for his cabinet was not just puffery. It was a message: we’re smarter than those fools who messed up the economy. We have the answers and can devise exquisitely refined solutions, with thousands of interconnected parts, to do what the “broken” free market system cannot. But how credible is that? [...]

The lesson from AIG is that the entire premise of the Obama administration — we know better — is fundamentally flawed. The Obama team can’t effectively manage a single troubled company without getting itself and the whole country tied up in knots. The notion that we should invest the federal government with authority to control vast swatches of the economy can now be seen for what it is: madness. We should consider ourselves lucky that the public is getting a glimpse of its government in action on a (relatively speaking) low-dollar item of limited consequences.
I think that dovetails nicely with what I said above: without an ideology, without a focused plan, Obama ran on the idea of "smarts." And when you don't know anything about the subject at hand, it doesn't matter how "smart" you are—you're going to blunder your way through it for a while, at the very least.

I can't imagine what comes next.

Meet the New Gaffe

The Anchoress calls it "not pretty." I'd say it appears to have been full-on ugly:
Towards the end of his approximately 40-minute appearance, the president talked about how he’s gotten better at bowling and has been practicing in the White House bowling alley.

He bowled a 129, the president said.

“That’s very good, Mr. President,” Leno said sarcastically.

It’s “like the Special Olympics or something,” the president said.

When asked about the remark, the White House had no comment.
Beyond the inappropriate Special Olympics joke (which is absolutely something my friends and I would say to each other, so I'm willing to give him a bit of a pass), it's hard for me to feel comfortable knowing that he's taking time out to work on his bowling.

It makes me wonder what someone like the author of the following, about W, would say:
It is an awful movie, and as it drags on I feel increasingly uneasy. Surely the president should be doing something else. Occasionally he gets a phone call from Andy Card, his chief of staff, who, as I understand it, is in the West Wing meeting with the head of the F.A.A. to determine when Washington’s Reagan National Airport will be safe to completely re-open (some flights began operating earlier in the week). Each time the phone rings, I hope the president will excuse himself to join them. But he doesn’t. Over the phone, the president tells the men to “get that airport opened up!” and then heads to bed.
I also very much want to see this video, and can't imagine a situation in which the press would have locked down such a video for W.

My point is not that Obama shouldn't be bowling. Nor that he should be castigated for making a fairly innocuous off-color comment on Leno, that I could very easily have made myself. My point is, simply, that there is a clear double-standard in the way people regard the O from the way they regard the W.

And that we need to prepare ourselves for the fact that we're going to see far more gaffes of this nature in the future. Let's just hope (contrary to my current impression) that he's a little better with the actual governing than W was portrayed.

Mark Steyn has a brief take on another Obama Administration gaffe from a few weeks back:
But don't forget, folks: Somewhere in Texas a village has been reunited with its idiot, and we now have the whip-smartest administration of David Brooks' lifetime.
Pretty witty. Also pretty disturbing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

So...

Does this mean Franken would be in favor of loser pays tort reform?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Eternal Life Through Facebook?

This is something that I found myself thinking about the other day:
With online social networks becoming ever more important in our lives, they're also becoming an important element in our deaths. Spangenberg, who died suddenly from an abdominal aneurysm at 57, was unprepared, but others are leaving detailed instructions. There's even a tiny industry that has sprung up to help people wrap up their online contacts after their deaths.
Fascinating that some entrepreneurs have moved into the area.

It came to my mind the other day when Facebook suggested as someone I might know a former professor of mine who died last fall. His profile is still there, sitting idle.

Hahaha

Sounds like a plan to me.

Although it would make it harder for me to end disagreements with "lawyered" like I do now...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sorry.

You can't always have things the way you want them to be. Even if you go to Yale Law School. Click the link, read it, then come back here.

Back? Okay.

Here's the key bit in Mr. Zelinsky's piece:
In Gordy Tire Co. v. United States (155 Ct. Cl. 759, 1961), the United States Court of Claims declared that determinations of the reasonability, and thus the tax deductibility, of compensation should consider the "foresightedness and business acumen" of the individuals receiving such compensation. AIG's head honchos exhibited about as much foresightedness and business acumen as the captain of the Titanic. Larry Summers himself declared the AIG bonuses to be the 'most outrageous' event of the 'last 18 months.'

If the AIG bonuses are determined to be unreasonable compensation, AIG would be unable to deduct such compensation for federal income tax purposes.
Here, Mr. Zelinsky skips a few important steps in legal analysis. For one thing, it is not at all clear that the AIG bonuses are analogous to the bonus at issue in Gordy Tire. There was no contract in the latter; there are contracts in the former. If those contracts set up a structure for bonuses, and the workers performed according to the terms of those contracts, then AIG is in fact bound to pay those salaries. It is highly unlikely that AIG can get around this by claiming the bonus structure they set up constitutes "unreasonable compensation."

Further, Gordy Tire found the salary to be reasonable, and did so merely based on the testimony of witnesses friendly to the executive in question. The burden for showing reasonableness is not set all that high by Gordy Tire, and Zelinksy is misleading people by implying that this would be an easy way out for AIG/Summers. It's possible that cases that follow Gordy Tire do set a clearer standard, and make a better case for withholding the bonuses—I don't know and at the moment I don't have time to find out. But Zelinsky's reliance on that case alone implies that it's unlikely. And his reliance, I believe, is misplaced.

Look, I don't know if these guys (not executives, by the way, but derivatives traders) really deserve their bonuses or not. But if they have a contract that says they do, then they should get paid them. And if they don't, AIG is going to wind up spending far more in legal defense fees than they would have if they'd just paid them. And let's also not forget that these aren't massive bonuses going to a few top executives. These are more likely the minimum bonuses allowed by the contract going to a whole lot of guys at the bottom of the totem pole. Frankly, I'd rather they have the money in their pockets to spend than the government.

Trying to block this is absurd.

Rest In Peace.

A sad loss. One of many in Hollywood who woke up on 9/11 and saw a changed world—then had the guts to speak out about it.

And let's not forget that he played a few decent roles in his day.

For a better eulogy than I can offer, from a friend of his, read Roger Simon.

I will say, however, that I saw him speak at the 2004 Republican National Convention. His speech brought down the house. After the convention, I downloaded it from iTunes, and it's still remarkable. Quite a man.

Hmmm.

It seems to me that if a woman has a right to an abortion, justified with the slogan "keep your laws off my body," that she should certainly have a right to a good wax? Apparently the New Jersey Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling disagrees.

Talk about invasive legal restrictions...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Interesting.

So Ken Starr and Viet Dinh think that Congress has the authority to give DC a voting seat in the House.

Let's dispense with the Constitutional argument first. This is the first defense of the idea that I have seen as yet, and I think it's a pretty good one. I need to give it some thought, but it's intriguing.

However. Viet Dinh and Ken Starr? I have no major objections to Mr. Starr, but I think the pairing is odd. Dinh (disclaimer: a professor at my law school) is the architect of the Patriot Act. Starr was the chief prosecutor of Clinton's impeachment.

Is this really the illustrious pair, politically speaking, that should be teaming together to make this argument?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In the Absurd Lawsuits Bin...

We find a massive overreaction to some lost luggage.

I'm sorry, I don't care how the kid mod-ed his xBox. It ain't worth a million bucks in damages.

Do It!

This is what's wrong with NASA. If he wins, name it after him! You'll get massive publicity, and people might actually appreciate what you do. It's in poor taste not to give it to him if he wins the vote.

Just do it!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Lesson

Read the whole thing. Money quote:
It is amazing how fast people learn when they are not insulated from the consequences of their decisions.
Unfortunately, the insulators don't understand this concept.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bang.

Watching The Big Bang Theory. Summer Glau guest starring as herself.

Fantastic quote:
Of course, if Skynet actually did exist in the future, a perfect way to infiltrate and destroy mankind would be to send terminators back posing as actors who've played terminators in popular films and televisions series, lulling us into a false sense of security, i.e. "That's Summer Glau from the Sarah Connor Chronicles. No, Summer, don't kill me, I'm pro-robot."
Brilliant. I love this show.

And any excuse to post a picture of Ms. Glau.

But then I keep watching, and after a few references to George Smoot, my jaw hits the floor when Smoot himself walks on screen.

Why do I know what George Smoot looks like? Thank you TEDTalks!

Then we move on to How I Met Your Mother.
Ted: She really wasn't that bad.

Lily: Of course you think that. She turned you into one of her douche zombies.

Marshall (in monster voice): I want to eat your brain, but only if it's organic and grass fed.
CBS is really doing right by me tonight. Hot terminators, nerdy astrophysics, zombies and making fun of hipsters. What else could I ask for?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Whoops.

Does Gibbs have any common sense whatsoever? It's fun to see Tapper visibly lose it when challenged as to his understanding of Obama's opinions and then again when asked if he has a "more pertinent" question.

Friday, March 6, 2009

So...

Homeless people have cell phones now? I'm sorry, I don't understand that picture at all.

What?

Does the State Department have no one who speaks Russian?

I don't really blame Clinton for this, but I can't understand how this kind of mistake can be made.

So I'm Sitting Here

I'm watching this clip from the Daily Show. I think it's brilliantly written and very funny. But I can't laugh at it. It's too depressing what they're making jokes about. People are suffering, people are losing their jobs. Hell, I can't find a summer job no matter what I seem to try (so far). It's not funny. I've lost as big a percentage of my net worth as anybody. It's not funny.

Until the very last joke of the segment.

Watch the whole thing to get the full effect, but wow.

Umm...

Seriously, they couldn't come up with a better excuse than this?
The Obama administration confirmed that Gupta, a neurosurgeon, had taken himself out of the running because he wants to focus on his medical career and spend more time with his family.
That's an acceptable cover-up when a guy resigns from a position. But when he withdraws before the confirmation hearings after already having accepted the nomination? It's pathetic.

If these were true, he would not have accepted the nod in the first place. What do you want to bet we eventually find out he's got tax troubles? Didn't declare some public appearances?

I'd put money on this one—but then I'd have to declare my winnings.

I miss Dean Barnett

If you don't know who he was, read this.

Once you know who he was, read this.

Oops.

No, seriously, oops.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Good to Know

In college, I took a seminar with a professor who banned note taking. His theory was that he wanted a conversation, and if people were furiously scribbling, they would not engage as well. Fair theory. A bit harsh on visual learners, but okay by me, in principle. Problem is, I have always believed that I learn more when I am doodling in class than when I'm not. And if we weren't allowed to have pads in front of us (yes, I was in college before laptops caught on), I was in trouble. My theory was predicated on some kind of ADHD where I needed to distract my easily distractible side of the brain with doodling, so my smart, focused side could pay attention.

It may seem a little ridiculous, but I was so concerned about this that I took it to the professor after the first class and asked for a special dispensation if I promised to contribute and not write any actual words on the pad. He agreed on a probationary basis, with the right to revoke at any time in the semester. He never did.

Well, it turns out I was onto something. Who knew?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Is This A Joke?

I think somebody must have put David Brooks up to writing his column today:
Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was. His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice. As Clive Crook, an Obama admirer, wrote in The Financial Times, the Obama budget “contains no trace of compromise. It makes no gesture, however small, however costless to its larger agenda, of a bipartisan approach to the great questions it addresses. It is a liberal’s dream of a new New Deal."
Seriously? Who, exactly, did he think Barack Obama was? Did he just accept that a guy who says "I believe in hope and change and that we need to move past partisan squabbling" must be a moderate because he implied he was? Even though his record (however little it was) showed nothing but radical liberalism?

As someone wise just pointed out to me, John McCain must be losing his mind—this is precisely what he spent the last month of the campaign trying to tell people.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not sure McCain would be doing any better in Obama's shoes. But at least people weren't fooled into believing he was something he wasn't. How many people are waking up across this country right now wondering what they've done, as David Brooks is?

Again?

Love the Red October reference in the first line, but seriously: WHO IS RUNNING THE VETTING for the Obama administration?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Second Thoughts?

So it appears that the lesser Buckley has some doubts about our President's plan to deal with the economy, particularly regarding the extent of planned spending. Interesting.

Read the whole thing, but here's a bit:
If this is what the American people want, so be it, but they ought to have no illusions about the perils of this approach. Mr. Obama is proposing among everything else $1 trillion in new entitlements, and entitlement programs never go away, or in the oddly poetic bureaucratic jargon, “sunset.” He is proposing $1.4 trillion in new taxes, an appetite for which was largely was whetted by the shameful excesses of American CEO corporate culture. And finally, he has proposed $5 trillion in new debt, one-half the total accumulated national debt in all US history. All in one fell swoop.

He tells us that all this is going to work because the economy is going to be growing by 3.2 percent a year from now. Do you believe that? Would you take out a loan based on that? And in the three years following, he predicts that our economy will grow by 4 percent a year.
Let's not forget who Chris Buckley is. That's right, he's the guy who endorsed Obama without having anything positive to say about Obama.

Okay, so that's not quite fair. He did have a bit to say:
I’ve read Obama’s books, and they are first-rate. He is that rara avis, the politician who writes his own books. Imagine. He is also a lefty. I am not. I am a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets. On abortion, gay marriage, et al, I’m libertarian. I believe with my sage and epigrammatic friend P.J. O’Rourke that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away.

But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.

Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.
Think about this folks. This is what I said all along. We elected a man who gave us no idea what he wants to do, no idea what he believes in, and communicated nothing regarding how he would govern in the midst of an economic crisis.

And now, Mr. Buckley who bought into the audacity of hope, finds himself clinging to the hope that maybe we'll get through this okay.

Well, asshat, when you vote against your principles you, to borrow a phrase you used in both articles, "reap the whirlwind."

You Know Why?

Because Microsoft sucks.

It's a Canard

Don't fall for it. E.J. Dionne is attempting to frame the debate over Obama's budget:
But his overall approach to taxes is frankly redistributionist: even as much of the middle class gets a tax cut or no increase, the well-off will pay more. And before the howling on the right gets too loud, consider that we have just gone through a long era involving a far less frank form of redistribution -- upward.

'Over the past two or three decades, the top 1 percent of Americans have experienced a dramatic increase from 10 percent to more than 20 percent in the share of national income that's accruing to them,' said Peter Orszag, Obama's budget director. Now, he said, was their time 'to pitch in a bit more.'
There is a lot that can be said to dispute the claim made about the top 1% of Americans, but I'll set that debate aside. I want you to instead focus on what Dionne is claiming.

He is comparing the increase in wealth experienced by wealthy Americans, calling it "redistribution upward" with Obama's plan to seize their money and hand it out to some portion of the rest of the country. This is, pure and simple, theft. It is the taking, by force, of something that does not belong to the government.

Now Dionne wants to frame this for you as making the country "moderately more equal." And again, he may or may not have a valid argument there. There's also an argument to be made that executing petty criminals would reduce the overall crime rate—but it would still be wrong to do so. Theft is wrong, and taking money from people because they have been successful under competitive circumstances is nothing but theft.

Sure, sure, people will pull at your heart strings and give some Robin Hood story about taking from the undeserving rich to give to the poor. And it's a nice story. But remember what's at the root of that fairy tale: Robin Hood was trying to help an overtaxed people who were being bled dry by the Sheriff of Nottingham's overbearing taxes. Now maybe the Sheriff wasn't redistributing those taxes the way President Obama wants to.

But is the failure to redistribute the problem? Or is it the taking by force that is wrong, under any circumstances.

I say it's the latter.

Familiar

Sounds like something I would write.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hmmm.

Hehe. Probably not, but still... it's an interesting question.