Monday, March 30, 2009
Website is up.
I don't know who else is running in the primary but Hoekstra has to be the big dog in this race. The guy might have been McCain's veep pick if he had been constitutionally eligible.
Regime change is coming to Michigan, and not a moment too soon.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
My family knows all too well the death embedded in the evil weed. Still, I break out a cigar once or twice a year, and bars just aren't the same anymore without secondhand smoke.
The blog post is very well written, so just forget all that stuff about cancer for a moment and enjoy:
Burning tobacco became like burning sacred incense on the altar of freedom, the special effects of the American Spirit, a uniquely American substance which, as with everything uniquely American, can either liberate if used consciously or destroy if used in excess.(via AlexC)
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
WaPo accounts for the difference between the Q-poll showing Toomey beating Specter 41-27 versus an F&M poll showing Specter 28, Toomey 18, with 44% undecided.
It's a lesson in the importance of how one phrases the question. I think the Quinnipiac language is more common in political polling, but the contrast with the F&M poll is interesting.
(I think this is the first time I've used the "media" tag to actually praise the media. H/t to grassrootspa.com)
I mean, I've heard it all before. How much more to I want to subject myself to this?
... We must spend eleventy bajillion dollars on Chinese condoms and dog parks in order to preserve jobs... problem we inherited... greed... must take action... won't solve the problem overnight... everything I have proposed must be enacted immediately, and to suggest otherwise is just being Negative Nancy and offering no solutions...
Blah. Blah. Blah. Is this record skipping? Somebody Fonzie the jukebox for me.
Ace sums up my feelings nicely:
Am I the first to pronounce this? I believe I am: I officially have Obama Fatigue (TM).
I don't think that will work in his interests, though one could postulate he could somehow win simply by exhausting his opponents with one eye-popping spending initiative after another.
I was already against him. I can't get more against him and there's no way in hell I'm getting on his side.
Monday, March 23, 2009
How sad is it that this has to come from a Dem strategist?
Imagine how different things might be right now if there were a Republican Party. I mean a party like the one led by Ronald Reagan, George Bush or Newt Gingrich; a party with a program, a single set of talking points, and the technological and communications advantages to get their message across. That kind of Republican Party. The kind that doesn't exist right now.
If there actually were a Republican Party, they'd be having a field day right now. Not a Glenn Beck field day, but the Washington-politics kind, where you hold hearings and press conferences and announce alternate legislation; where you run ads in key districts making clear what's wrong with their approach; where you do radical things like unify to oppose earmarks, renounce all of your own and become a party that stands for something. Imagine that.
This is maddeningly obvious. And yet, here we are with Estrich throwing us a bone. For the love of Pete, there are oodles of people capable of doing this, but apparently none of them work at the RNC, NRCC, or NRSC.
She goes on:
Consider this AIG bonus mess. Could the Democrats have done more to assume the position of sitting ducks than they have on this one? Could you get a better symbol to bang over their heads than knowingly allowing hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to be paid while people are losing their jobs and struggling to hold on to their homes?Wow, it's almost like I said that a couple of days ago. ("...put out the idea that it's unconstitutional and BLAME THE DEMOCRATS for not solving the problem...")
But neither of them [Palin or Jindal], as recent history has painfully proved, have the experience, gravity, understanding or credibility to go toe to toe with Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and the rest as to what the economy needs, and doesn't.
What a pathetic statement - we don't have somebody who can counter "Obama's Rumsfeld".
I am really tired of yelling at my TV.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
... One major problem with regulations is the regulators themselves. They get caught up in the same bubble mentality as private investors and consumers. For this and other reasons, they fail to use the regulatory authority available to them. This implies that as much as possible, new regulations should more or less operate automatically rather than requiring discretionary decisions by regulators. ...
...I believe capital requirements should be imposed on investment banks, hedge funds, and other financial institutions in the form of maximum allowable ratios of assets to capital. One major advantage of such a requirement is that it can operate rather automatically rather than requiring regulators to make discretionary choices. The extremely high leverage in many financial institutions during the past few years created a fundamental instability in the financial sector regarding its ability to respond to large negative aggregate shocks to the system rather than only individual firm idiosyncratic shocks....
...One-way to reduce the likelihood of a too-big-to fail-problem is to impose higher capital requirements relative to assets on larger financial firms. That is, to implement a progressive set of capital requirements relative to assets that would increase as the size of a bank or other financial firm increased....
...A natural response is to tighten up regulation. In the case of commercial banks, this would not require new legislation. (emp. added, though to make regulation more automatic as Becker proposes would require some new legislation - Joe)...
...To tighten regulation of banks at this point would thus not only be a case of closing the barn door after the horses have escaped, but also would undermine the government's policy of encouraging banks to lend...
...I would prefer to see, at least as an initial step, requiring greater regulation of specific financial instruments, in particular credit-default swaps, which are at present unregulated credit-insurance undertakings often with no backing in the form of either reserves or collateral. (This is the AIG problem - Joe) ...
...The problem of excessive borrowing can be addressed both by the Federal Reserve, which exercises a high degree of control over interest rates, and by the government's placing limits on credit-card and mortgage debt, for example by repealing the deductibility of mortgage interest from taxable income... (Not only would this be politically difficult to do, but Becker's limitations on bank leverage would go a long way towards dampening this problem. - Joe)
...But the most important point I would make is that there should be no new regulatory measures until the depression reaches bottom and recovery begins (not that there can be certainty about when that point has been reached--there were several false bottoms in the 1930s depression)...
Granted that it's a preliminary release, but you'd think somebody might have noticed that.
Being post-election data, there's a possibility of some winner's bias. Need to check back with previous data sets before I get too riled up.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
House Min. Whip Eric Cantor was on Morning Joe today (among other shows) and let Larry O'Donnell beat him over the head for not promising to vote along with Democrats to go after AIG bonuses.
Taking these bonuses back probably amounts to a bill of attainder, prohibited by the Constitution, which is why a number of Republicans are reluctant to support such a bill even if they believe the SCOTUS would strike it down. (aside: Weren't we promised that more of McCain-Feingold would be struck down? Relying on the court to do the right thing is not a sound strategy.)
If it does not technically amount to a bill of attainder, then the whole idea of barring bills of attainder is a dead letter, easily circumvented by carefully chosen statutory language.
But Cantor promised he would do all he could to get the bonuses back without committing to the Democratic bill. The deplorable O'Donnell sarcastically asked whether Cantor was just planning on asking for the money... which sounds to me all the further Cantor was willing to go.
The Republicans ended up with the worst part of both sides of this issue. They can't articulate a good reason to vote against the Democratic bill, but neither can they support it.
The solution, to the extent that anybody cares, is to put out the idea that it's unconstitutional and BLAME THE DEMOCRATS for not solving the problem... whether it was the Dodd amendment, or the fact that the Dodd amendment was in the massive stimulus bill that nobody got to read, they need to really put the Democrats on the defensive on this for having put the country in an impossible situtation.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Don't look now, but the economy is starting to turn. Recent data suggest it may start making up lost ground as early as the third quarter. A triumph of government policy? Hardly.
I think they're right that the stimulus and a lot of the profligate spending is going to hurt the economy. But the blanket statements about the bank bailouts are wrong, and the idea that the economy is recovering sans government is mistaken. Where do they think the positive yield curve and the M1 and M2 increases came from? The Fed, that's where. Is the Fed "government"? Depends on your definition. It is distinct from the Obama administration, but it isn't exactly a private actor either.
IBD points to nascent signs of bank profitability as a leading indicator... but at least two of the three banks they mention would likely be out of business if not for the TARP bank capital program.
The most constructive thing the Obama administration could do is to fix the banking system, or at least put out a scheme for the banking system that would bring some level of clarity on which investment plans can be built. (Has Obama been delaying this needed action in order to cram through his other "necessary" policies?)
Fix the banks and you're most of the way there. Fix the banks and the economy will recover without further government central planning.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Ok, and how did the real political media cover that event?
The Hill captured the tone a little more accurately: "Obama axes GOP in new budget push"
President Obama ditched his bipartisan budget sales pitch Tuesday and went on the offense against his Republican critics.CNN, always good for a chuckle.
Monday, March 16, 2009
What in the world are you people thinking?
I like Coleman ok, but he's got the charisma of a carrot. This is a guy who lost to a pro-wrestler, squeaked out his Senate seat when Dems turned Paul Wellstone's funeral into a union rally, and essentially tied a no-longer-funny comedian.
So that would be no charisma and weak organizing skills... for RNC chair?
No thanks. At least Steele has some pizzazz.
I'm a fan of Altucher's -- the guy is really smart, and he's not a typical media stock pumper.
I don't know if the uptick rule is going to do much good, though I don't think it will do too much ill either.
There's some chance the writers have Bush-on-the-brain. A war run by an absolute monarch who claims divine providence? Yeah. (A war, I should add, without any mention of particular purpose or context.) The re-start of a war at the behest of the military industrial complex? The writers seem to have salvaged that last one by weaving it into a major character conflict, but my concern should be obvious.
On the upside, there's somewhat of a Battlestar Galactica-esque mythos developing, and the tenor of the show seems like a cross between Shakespeare, a soap-opera, and a Bible story. I don't care if it's a political show -- in fact I welcome that -- but if it turns into a ham-fisted political commentary I'm bailing.
All in all, the premiere did its job. It established the major characters and the conflicts that will propel the show through the first season and potentially beyond. We started the premiere with one king -- we end it with a king, two would-be kings, and a glimmer of a third would-be king should the series play out.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
MR. GREGORY: Really? What's the historical parallel when you don't have any of your top people that you've nominated in the Treasury Department serving during the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression?
DR. ROMER: I mean, you're absolutely right that this, this is a very serious crisis and we certainly, you know, need all, all hands on deck. The Treasury secretary is working as hard as he can to get those people into place.
MR. GREGORY: Is part of the problem that the administration or, or the more political advisers in the administration don't want people from Wall Street, don't want people who are experienced, because they think they're tainted?
DR. ROMER: No, of course not. We want--right? We want the best people to be dealing with things, and...
MR. GREGORY: Right. So what's the problem? Where are they? You just had four people withdraw their nomination, including, including Rodge Cohen, who is one of the most senior people on Wall Street as a lawyer with Sullivan & Cromwell, who's advised all of these, all of these banks, and now he's pulled out.
DR. ROMER: I think one thing to realize, the--that the Obama administration is doing business in a different way. And we do have very strict rules on, you know, sort of the, the kinds of vetting requirements and whether you can have been a lobbyist and things like that. And it does tie your hands on some of the people you can hire. But we think the, the administration has made the decision it's worth it to have honesty and accountability and, and a sense of confidence for the American people.
Yeah, tough vetting and "no lobbyists". Ok, sure. (MWAAA HA HA HA!)
The first person who (a) has paid their taxes plus or minus $10k, (b) hasn't murdered anybody, and (c) doesn't have a child labor sweatshop in their basement is pretty much going to skate through vetting to a Treasury job, mmmkay? And let me tell you, Republicans are not going to care.
Of course, there was no follow-up to that laughable answer. Thanks, David Gregory!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
One of the various recent updates to VirtualBox seems to have borked up my previous Debian installation... Stable 5.0 (lenny) is about a month old, so I went to download that and noticed there's a lightweight version of Lenny with the lxde desktop for old computers and netbooks. Cool - perfect for running in a virtualization-stunted environment.
It is pretty lightweight. I had to fight with the X config file a little, and some standard issue software is not installed by default. No apparent gui package managers... all aptitude and the like, which I'm fine with, but some might not be. Midnight commander ("mc") not installed. Vim is installed, but emacs and joe are not. No IM clients, no PDF viewers. Some of that stuff is probably on the install disc (which in my case is just a disc image), but isn't installed by default. Pretty much just OpenOffice, Iceweasel, GIMP, and a few basic other tools. And the archive program (Xarchive) isn't installed properly... one needs to go into aptitude and install "unzip" in order to unzip anything.
Debian has been working on an open java solution (openjdk-6-jre), which isn't installed by default. Seems to work with a binary, doesn't seem to integrate w/ Iceweasel.
Update 8/14/09 -- Since this page seems to get a trickle of hits now and again, here are two screenshots:
The desktop environment behaves roughly like Windows or GNOME.
Like the recently announced "twitterview", wherein George Stephanopoulos will interview Sen. John McCain via Twitter.
I think Twitter's utility will vary by individual. In some ways it fills some holes that nobody bothered to fill in RSS -- users get more or less instant notification of updates (closer to "push" than "pull"), users can respond to the message either publicly or privately, and the sender has some general idea of who is "following" them and receiving the messages.
Twitter is purposely limited to 140 character messages. This limits it primarily to (1) status updates (e.g. "just landed at the airport"), (2) links to websites (including RSS blog feeds translated into Twitter accounts), and (3) short catchphrases, slogans, and ephemera.
And this makes it terribly unsuited for an interview format.
An interview limited to 140 character questions and answers might be interesting in a gimmicky kind of way, but it’s probably not going to be Earth-shattering. Still, it’s good to see big media and politicians using the service in an effort to be more transparent.Glad that Siegler sees its gimmicky nature, but I fail to see the good -- aside from the self-interested promotion of all things new and twittery by the would-be political geekery consultants.
In what way is a "twitterview" "more transparent"? If anything, it is obfuscatory -- Nobody who bothers to follow the interview will be assured that either Stephanopoulos or McCain is even participating in the interview! Each man will likely have a team of individuals working the interview, attempting to game each other. Given his injuries, McCain is guaranteed to have at least a typist.
We have technologies for interviews -- television, radio, even long-form print, all of which work better than Twitter for the task at hand.
Quite a few politicians have twitter accounts. Are we to believe that what they (or their staff) choose to share with the public adds to government transparency? Twitter is just another medium that is being gamed by those using it, often giving a misleadingly close sense of community, connectedness, and transparency.
There are people out there in the political consulting universe who "get it", there are those who are snake oil salesmen, and there are a lot of folks in between. Those who say the Republicans lost because we got killed on the internet are the snake oil salesmen, ignoring dozens of other much more salient flaws in the McCain candidacy. Those who say politicians must learn to navigate new media as they come along in order to enhance and magnify existing brands, messages, and communities are much closer to the truth. The distance between these two concepts is light years abroad.
Friday, March 13, 2009
"... fundamentally sound aspects of our economy..."
Oh, and does anybody else think Obama is going to repeal boom and bust economic cycles? Dampen, perhaps. Stop, not a snowball's chance in hell.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Five. All in southern(ish) states - Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia.
Somebody dropped the ball big time.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
In perhaps his most ridiculous, hateful, and insane action as president yet (and that’s saying something), Barack Obama has reversed an executive order calling for more research with forms of stem cells which do not involve destroying human embryos. So much for embracing science. Barry is embracing abortion while ignoring the type of stem cell research which actually works.
It's my understanding (though I am certainly open to some more informed opinion on this) that while non-embryonic stem cell research might not have the same range of potential that embryonic cells have, certain adult cell applications are more promising in the short term due to their increased stability -- the flip side of reduced pluripotency -- not to mention the research that has been done on non-embryonic stem cells in the supposed Dark Ages of the Bush administration's funding ban.
With all the waste that has been promoted by this administration I find no reason to not pursue both lines of research other than a petty hostility to all things Bush. Why would we not want to at least explore a stem cell solution that avoids ethical concerns?
Good Lord, man! Think you might have come up with something before we elected President SpendsALot?
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Krauthammer, (via Ham)
I'll add to this the idea that Obama has done no such thing as remove politics from science. His decision is equally as political as Bush's. The argument about what is in-bounds is an inherently political decision, no matter which side one supports. His needling of Bush only makes it that much more apparent.
As this relates to present day debate, the above theories are all effectively Keynesian. To the extent that Republicans support the idea that WWII got us out of the Depression, Democrats can somewhat logically claim a "gotcha", that large government spending did the trick after all.
I've finally seen some push back.
From Amity Shlaes (author of The Forgotten Man) and the revered Thomas Sowell, we're getting this argument: The war and the lead-in to it forced FDR to scale back his New Deal policies, allowing the economy to recover. Shlaes further argues that anticipated Republican mid-term gains stifled intervention and eased business concerns.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
From Steyn's "Prime Minister Obama" in the March 23 NR:
Most Americans don’t yet grasp the scale of the Obama project. The naysayers complain, Oh, it’s another Jimmy Carter, or It’s the new New Deal, or It’s LBJ’s Great Society applied to health care. You should be so lucky. Forget these parochial nickel’n’dime comparisons. It’s all those multiplied a gazillionfold and nuclearized — or Europeanized, which is less dramatic but ultimately more lethal. For a distressing number of American liberals, the natural condition of an advanced, progressive Western democracy is Scandinavia, and the U.S. has just been taking a wee bit longer to get there. [...] Anyway, under the Swedish model, state spending accounts for 54 percent of GDP. In the U.S., it’s about 40 percent. Ten years ago, it was 34 percent. So we’re trending Stockholmwards.Steyn goes on to cite rather depressing statistics about unemployment, fertility, and worker/retiree ratios.
And why stop there? In Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, government spending accounts for between 72 and 78 percent of the economy, which is about the best a “free” society can hope to attain this side of complete Sovietization. Fortunately for what’s left of America’s private sector, “the Welsh model” doesn’t have quite the same beguiling euphony as “the Swedish model.” Even so, if Scandinavia really is the natural condition of an advanced democracy, then we’re all doomed. And by “doomed” I’m not merely making the usual overheated rhetorical flourish in an attempt to persuade you to stick through the rather dry statistics in the next paragraph, but projecting total societal collapse and global conflagration, and all sooner than you think.
And if there was any doubt that Europe is "socialist" with all the mocking scare-quotes often associated with that accusation, let's see who's in the Socialist International?
The Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, known better in the Anglosphere as the SPD, with its bright red logo -- the sign of a left leaning parties everywhere save the US post November of 2000.
And the UK's Labour Party, also sporting a red logo.
And France's Parti Socialiste, party of Ségolène Royal, and the major opposition to Sarkozy, having... you guessed it... a red logo:
Member parties of the Socialist International are either in power or are part of a ruling coalition in the following states: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovena, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, and a number of other less impressive nations around the world.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Mild content warning for language.
One potential criticism of this view is that expanding our capacity to do this will enable us to do it when we shouldn't. Not sure how to get around that.
I've thought for a long time the failure of the Bush administration w.r.t. Iraq was not the decision to go in, but the attempt to hybridize two incompatible strategies. Shinseki == heavy force, occupation. Rummy == Light force, no occupation/quick transition. Bush == Light force, occupation.
Friday, March 06, 2009
No, no, no.
He's just that stupid.
(h/t Hyacinth Girl)
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Amongst the shtick of his CPAC address (which was pretty typical Rush), there's a real and salient criticism of the freedom-destroying ideology of the Obama administration. The O-bots risk an actual confrontation of ideas if they take this too far, and Obama's personal approval rating has nowhere to go but down.
The DNC would be wise to stop while they're ahead, which right now they are.
So, by all means, please attack Rush. Make it personal. Elevate his status so that he has an even bigger stage from which to mock and evicerate your policies.
UPDATE 3/6/09 -- Limbaugh's audience nearly doubles. Gibbs says attacking Rush may end up being "counterproductive".
The next time a liberal spending program is proposed, we will have to ask: How worthless must this program be if it could not make it into the stimulus?
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Actually there's one (purposeful) primitive there that I sorta like. But generally they're pretty awful. (h/t Federalist Paupers)
Before Brown went all global-socialist, he actually started out with a more pro-American speech than I think I've ever heard Obama deliver.
The "special relationship" is alive and well, though it has a distinct leftward tilt.
Obama really dropped a lot of stuff on the public in the last week. I sorta laid out the "Obama is a socialist" argument before the election, and caught some flak for it. And to think I was disturbed before! Right now I'm working past the point of rage and entering a numb, shocked phase with the budget plan (and the stimulus, and the health insurance plan, and the tax changes...). Wow. I'm feeling increasingly vindicated by my previous assessment, which let me tell you is not a good feeling.
I'm not as far along as Pat Buchanan ("We are not 'headed down the road to socialism.' We are there."), but it's increasingly obvious that we've has shifted into second gear on that road.
Anyway, Ace of Spades is all over the similarities between the ARRA symbol and the hammer and sickle with the twin shout-outs to agriculture and industry:
I personally would have gone with the Blue Eagle (perhaps modernized):
I mean, Barack is the reincarnation of FDR, is he not?
Sunday, March 01, 2009
During his recent appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, a wildly popular reality-TV show in the U.K., he was greeted by a snotty British punk-rock singer, who announced: “It’s Dirk [expletive redacted] Benedict.” Without missing beat, Benedict replied, “I seldom use my middle name.”