Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cash for Clunkers #FAIL

This is a prime example of why the "cash for clunkers" is a bad idea.

From the facebook status of a car salesman, Joe Adams:
Today is a sad day... We need to destroy an 88 BMW 535is 5 speed, mint, with only 80k on it for the cash for clunker program... such a beautiful piece of workmanship should never be destroyed :(

Cash for Clunkers destroys value.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Huckabee and Coulter on Birthers

For once, Huckabee makes a good point. (This may be the only time you see me acknowledge that.)



Via HotAir

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kings Finale

The very promising series Kings ended with a whimper, not a bang. Such is the fate of a show axed before its time.

In the same way that the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica was premised on the idea of eventually finding Earth, Kings was premised on the idea that David should eventually become king. Battlestar had a three hour miniseries, four seasons, and two "TV Movies" (one yet to be released) in which to find its destiny. Kings was likewise dependent on a longer arc.

Ending the show after one season was impossible to accomplish satisfactorily, and the audience was left unfulfilled. To do otherwise would have been like Mulder unraveling all the alien secrets at the end of the first X-Files season, or Dr. Kimble finding the one-armed man in the first season of The Fugitive -- it wouldn't leave anywhere else to go. So the show was left open-ended with the hope that it could resume at some later point. Perhaps so open-ended that the actors could age notably between seasons without breaking the plot.

There is some hope that SyFy (the mutated Sci Fi Channel, an NBC/Universal property) might pick up Kings with the idea that it "could fill the sucking vacuum left by Battlestar Galactica". (And let me tell you, that is quite a sucking vacuum indeed.) This would probably be a good idea, but I'm not holding my breath.

Despite my problems with the finale, the show had real potential, and I'll miss it. I thoroughly enjoyed it right up until the penultimate episode, and even then I still thought it was one of the better things on television. Well, up until the last scene between Silas and David, which was quite awkward and forced. But I blame that on NBC moreso than the writers.

Remind me again why this show didn't catch?

Quote of the Day: Particulars

Hillary Clinton on Meet the Press, speaking about health insurance legislation:
And what's important here is that people are always for change in general, and then they begin to worry about the particulars.


That, dear readers, is a serious contender for Quote of the Year. Though offhanded and intended to be narrow in scope, it is a brilliant summation of the story of Barack Obama's Presidency.

No Honduras Questions on #MTP

This is a truly pathetic statement about our political and media environment - David Gregory had Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for an entire hour on Meet The Press and didn't ask one single question about Honduras.

About 2/5 of the program was domestic politics or fluff about Sarah Palin and women in politics.

Are Henry Louis Gates, Sarah Palin, and Clinton's sixth grade dreams for the future really more important subjects for the Secretary of State than her misguided policy on Honduras?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quote of the Day: Jersey

Jim Geraghty is really on a roll lately:
"After corruption sweep in New Jersey, dozens of state and local officials remain unindicted."

(source)

UPDATE:
Geraghty does it again:
Only New Jersey manages to mix in _human organ trafficking_ into its political corruption scandals. Paid $10k for a kidney, sold for $160k.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fascinating Focus Group Result

Byron York at the Washington Examiner (formerly of NR) reports that one particular word in a recent GOP group really moved the needle for independents and leaners. That word is "experiment", and led to the recent GOP ad against Obamacare. While the focus group results are somewhat interesting and useful in their own right as a short-term matter, the results speak to a broader issue.

Here's the fascinating part -- "experimentation" was a key component of the international progressive movement in the early 20th century. Many Soviet projects (and indeed, the whole Bolshevik government) and Italian Fascist programs were referred to as "experiments" in accordance with an atmosphere of (quasi-) scientific technocrat-ism. And they weren't just referred to as experiments by the experimenters, but also Americans who visited and observed these experiments, including W. E. B. DuBois and some of FDR's Brain Trust-ers.

I don't want to ring the death knell of progressivism prematurely, but I find it interesting that such a philosophically charged word is, at least for now, toxic.

Still wrong on Honduras

Reuters: "US warns Honduras' de facto leader on economic aid"
WASHINGTON, July 20 (Reuters) - The United States has warned Honduras' de facto government it could face cuts in economic aid if it fails to reach a deal with ousted President Manuel Zelaya on restoring democratic rule. The government that took power when Zelaya was toppled in a June 28 coup has flatly refused to allow his return to power, and negotiations mediated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias collapsed on Sunday.

Once again, the de facto leader of Honduras is also the de jure President. Zelaya was not ousted in a "coup", but a constitutional action initiated by the Honduran Supreme Court, endorsed by the democratically elected legislature, and executed by a civilian controlled military. Planned elections have not been canceled or delayed.

Why does the Obama administration and the Clinton State Department seem more concerned with interfering in the internal disputes of Honduras rather than real dictatorships like Iran, North Korea, or Venezuela?

What would it take to get a policy reversal here? Evidence of Zelaya planning to rig an election? Oh wait, no, we already have that.

Maybe they feel they can score a "win". In doing so, they risk further alienation of friendly Latin American nations.

Defending the Cambridge Police

Cambridge police get a call about a man breaking into a house. They find the man at the house, and he refuses to identify himself. He says to the cops, "This is what happens to black men in America", and repeatedly calls the cops racists. Suspect also says, "You don't know who you're messing with."

So, because the suspect happened to be Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. trying to get into his own home, the Cambridge police are now racists.

Sorry, but if anybody is racist, it's the neighbor lady who called the cops. And I'm not necessarily willing to go that far.

Here's a sample of the write-up from The Root, where Gates is Editor-in-Chief (bold added):

Henry Louis Gates Jr., the nation's pre-eminent black scholar, is accusing Cambridge police of racism after he was arrested while trying to force open the locked front door of his home near Harvard University.

Cambridge police were called to the home Thursday afternoon after a woman reported seeing a man "wedging his shoulder into the front door as to pry the door open," according to a police report.

An officer ordered the man to identify himself, and Gates refused, according to the report. Gates began calling the officer a racist and said repeatedly, "This is what happens to black men in America."

Officers said they tried to calm down the 58-year-old academic, who responded, "You don't know who you're messing with," according to the police report.

Gates was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after police said he "exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior." He was released later that day on his own recognizance and arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 26.

With all the real racism in America, is it really helpful to call the cops racist when you act like a jackass?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Risky Experiment

It's not my preferred language of "risky scheme", but this RNC ad launching today uses "risky experiment". Close enough I guess.



Aesthetically, it could have been better. No particular use of narrative, which is part of what made the old Harry & Louise ads work.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Opposition language for Obamacare: Scheme

The GOP could learn a thing or two from Democrats when it comes to opposing legislation. Take Dubya's Social Security partial privatization -- Not only did we lose the language debate on "partial privatization" versus "personal accounts" (or whatever it was), but the Democrats called it something else that really stuck...

A "risky scheme".

"Scheme" is a technically accurate term for just about any government plan. It's used freely in UK politics without any negative connotation. But of course, in the good ol' U.S. of A., "scheme" sounds rather devious.

So why haven't we been calling Obamacare "a risky scheme"?

Friday, July 17, 2009

New virtual stomping grounds: DPUD

In addition to my usual haunts here and at PAWatercooler, I'm now posting on Doubleplusundead. Here's the inaugural bit.

I'd probably describe DPUD as similar to Ace of Spades with a more intimate commenting environment. Which is to say at any point in time there could be an extremely profane post there of the "make a sailor blush" variety. Let's just say they're proudly banned by NetNanny.

Follow the DPUD Twitter feed @itsvintageduh

Winning message from Toomey

I read this headline and thought to myself, "Toomey gets it."

Toomey big on cutting taxes, not on saving big businesses
"For the amount of money they are spending in this so-called stimulus bill, you would be able to cut the taxes in half for a couple of years. That would give every worker an immediate take-home raise. It would make it less expensive for every employer to hire the next worker, and it would almost certainly provide much more stimulus than this bill that they passed."
From the context, it looks like Toomey is referring to a payroll tax holiday like the one championed by Lawrence Lindsey back in January.

Be the enemy of corporate welfare. That is exactly where the Republican party needs to go on economic issues. If big business can sell out the Republican party, the GOP can just go ahead and return the favor, taking the high ground while doing so.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Expectations game

The Washington Post hails the GOP failure to "pin down" Sotomayor in testimony.



What a lose-lose situation for Republicans... nail her and be tarred as grumpy old racists. Let her skate, and you're a failure.

But if Republican Senators made her lie through her teeth, did they really fail to pin her down?

Lindsay Graham actually did pretty well with his questioning, as opposed to Franken (asking about Perry Mason) and Klobuchar (asking about the All Star game).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In plain sight

Update: As Samay points out, IBD is wrong. Heritage has the analysis.

Original post:
===============================


Congressional Dems aren't even bothering to hide their attempts to destroy private insurance.

IBD editorial, via Todd Herman
Under the Orwellian header of "Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage," the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:

"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.


So, "you'll be allowed to keep your existing coverage" is pretty weak soup. As if the private market wouldn't be undermined enough by the tax-supported government plan, they're going to make it illegal for the market to function at all, even for those who don't want the subsidized government plan and are willing to pay up for it.

Guys, "Orwellian" is not a compliment.

Mister Franken

Just think, this guy has been seated as a Senator.

added - video from the Soto hearings:

Reason Number Ten - Uncertainty

Pethokoukis lists "9 reasons Pelosi's healthcare surtax is disastrous".

Here's reason number ten: The proposal not only raises taxes, but introduces uncertainty about how high they could go in the future. Uncertainty is toxic to markets.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Where has this John McCain been?

My love-hate assessment of John McCain shifts to love this week on his Meet the Press appearance. Where was this McCain last October?

Defending Palin:


On the stimulus and Obama's straw man crutch:

Cutting through the rhetoric

Here's the set-up:
Republicans complain that the stimulus wasn't focused on tax cuts, Democrats complain that the Republican philosophy got us in the hole the last eight years (or more).

(The "or more" is something I heard recently, though it's not in wide circulation yet.)

The problem is that tax cuts are not a part of anybody's story about the housing bubble. We hear stories about the easy money Fed (i.e. "the Greenspan put"), Fannie and Freddie and the implied federal guarantee, the SEC rule about debt-to-capital ratios, the Community Reinvestment Act, lack of regulation, the wrong kind of regulation, the mortgage interest deduction, the orgy of credit default swaps, etc.

Most of those things contributed to some extent, with a horrendous cumulative effect --which items contributed in what proportions will be argued until the end of time--, but tax cuts aren't anywhere on the list. And yet, the Bush tax cuts are still a rhetorical bludgeon Democrats routinely use to skate by on the deeply flawed stimulus. Congressional Democrats seem immune to the idea that incentives matter in the economy. How can having the highest corporate tax rate among major economies be a good thing?

I don't know how Republicans can encapsulate all of the above into a pithy sound bite, but they'd better get cracking. The Dems' only defense of the failing stimulus is that our way supposedly didn't work. Destroying that defense is an important step towards regaining a coherent economic message.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Speaking of Miguel Estrada

The Honduran native explains why a coup d'etat did NOT occur in Honduras, but a perfectly Constitutional ousting of the President:

What you'll learn is that the Honduran Constitution may be amended in any way except three. No amendment can ever change (1) the country's borders, (2) the rules that limit a president to a single four-year term and (3) the requirement that presidential administrations must "succeed one another" in a "republican form of government."

In addition, Article 239 specifically states that any president who so much as proposes the permissibility of reelection "shall cease forthwith" in his duties, and Article 4 provides that any "infraction" of the succession rules constitutes treason. The rules are so tight because these are terribly serious issues for Honduras, which lived under decades of military rule.


I've been aware of this for maybe a week or so, but just today I read AP reports referring to a "military coup".

And I still haven't heard President Obama acknowledge his error in supporting Zelaya. Funny how pronouncing "Pakistan" with a near-native inflection shows Obama's incredible attention to detail, yet supporting a would-be Chavez style Honduran President despite his Constitutionally defined treason is no big deal.

To paraphrase some recent criticism of the supposedly terminally unqualified Sarah Palin, it's almost like Obama is proud of his ignorance of the Honduran Constitution.

Estrada:
It cannot be right to call this a "coup." Micheletti was lawfully made president by the country's elected Congress. The president is a civilian. The Honduran Congress and courts continue to function as before. The armed forces are under civilian control. The elections scheduled for November are still scheduled for November.


President Obama, please acknowledge your error and support the lawful President of Honduras. As I recall from your campaign, Presidents are supposed to admit their mistakes, no?

(via NRO)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Quote of the Day: Palin Two-fer

A double dose of QOTD, both in a deliciously sarcastic Politico column by Roger Simon, The Sins of Sarah Palin.

Simon responding to CNN's Rick Sanchez' speculation on a Palin pregnancy:
Could be, Rick. Or maybe it was just her time of month, because, hey, that’s why woman politicians make the decisions they do, right?


The second shot:
She is a dumb hick, a nobody from nowhere. She hunts moose with a chainsaw from the back of a snowmobile or something.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

What problems with the stimulus?

Despite increasing evidence that the stimulus isn't working (either because it can't work or isn't being spent fast enough to work -- take your pick), Obama sez: "There’s nothing that we would have done differently".

Really? Nothing? Not one project in that $787 billion?

I understand he needs to talk a good game, but to pretend that the stimulus was immaculate is more than I can handle.

Wouldn't shift more to tax cuts? Wouldn't make it spend faster? Wouldn't have given it a couple more days to work out a better plan? Wouldn't have had fewer strings attached to state funding? (I could keep going here...)

Who's disconnected from reality now?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Unremarkable

We heard quite a bit today about Obama and the START negotiations. I heard the word "breakthrough" used a lot. Not really.

Some other things that happened in Moscow were indeed notable, like Obama calling out Russia on the Georgia/Ossetia issue (finally), and the negotiation for use of Russian airspace in missions related to Afghanistan, and probably one or two other things I can't recall right now. Just not the nuclear disarmament issue. That was a complete no-brainer.

A nuclear stockpile costs a lot of money to maintain. Old missiles must be decommissioned and new ones built to replace them. Our own stockpile has been gradually diminishing as we replace fewer than we retire. And basically everybody is cool with that because we have more than enough nukes for a sufficient deterrent. Also, the Russians are in exactly the same position.

Everybody saves money, nobody loses any real military standing in the world, leaders smile on camera, dutiful media reports on non-event.

This was the easiest arms agreement EVAH.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

RIP Mollie Sugden

a.k.a. Mrs. Slocombe



1922-2009

Thanks for the laughs.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sending a Message

Some Palin-ites say the media fears her. I don't think that's it at all. They mostly just hate her -- hate her with the burning heat of a thousand suns. If they have any "fear", it's about future candidates who happen to stray from the white male Republican archetype. No prominent minority or woman Republican is going to get anything less than the full media work-up. The recent Vanity Fair hit piece against Sarah Palin, "It Came from Wasilla", is only the latest instance of this.

White male Republicans, of course, are guilty of being white and male. Anybody else though, must be treated as some exotic creature to be probed, dissected, and ultimately destroyed -- like cattle mutilated by extraterrestrials.

I stopped reading the Vanity Fair piece after this, found in the third paragraph:
What does it say about the nature of modern American politics that a public official who often seems proud of what she does not know is not only accepted but applauded? What does her prominence say about the importance of having (or lacking) a record of achievement in public life? Why did so many skilled veterans of the Republican Party—long regarded as the more adroit team in presidential politics—keep loyally working for her election even after they privately realized she was casual about the truth and totally unfit for the vice-presidency? Perhaps most painful, how could John McCain, one of the cagiest survivors in contemporary politics—with a fine appreciation of life’s injustices and absurdities, a love for the sweep of history, and an overdeveloped sense of his own integrity and honor—ever have picked a person whose utter shortage of qualification for her proposed job all but disqualified him for his?

Though I stopped after this, others didn't, and from what I've read second-hand it seems I chose wisely.

I don't even know where to start on that, so I won't bother. It's not worth my effort. There's just no rational reason for this level of vile, feverish hatred to be displayed so prominently nearly eight months post-election. (Five months and some days, Anno Obama.)

My take-away is that the prevalence of such naked character assassination like that found in VF and elsewhere sends a message to anybody who isn't a white male -- Don't be a Republican, you traitorous garbage, and particularly not a conservative one.

Clarence Thomas anyone?

How much flak did Chuck Schumer catch for saying that Miguel Estrada was, "like a stealth missile — with a nose cone — coming out of the right wing’s deepest silo"? Schumer's vehemence surely had nothing to do with the observation by Senate Democratic Judiciary Staff that "he is Latino".

Let the message be sent to all women and minorities -- your life will be ruined if you dare gain prominence as a conservative Republican.

----

Addendum: Jim Gerhaghty has the "low-lights" --
[T]here’s room in this world for a profile that is critical of Palin, but that preferably didn’t begin with the supposition that she is the root of all evil in the political world.