Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mudge's CY 2010 Predictions

1. February sues January and March for equal calendar space. Citing leap year as "a quadrennial patronizing monthist ploy to keep me from spotlighting the grave injustice perpetrated on me", February's action becomes the basis for a class action suit on behalf of April, June, September and November. After consultations with Tiger Woods, President Obama appoints Miss February as Calendar Czarina and declares February "February Month". Time and Newsweek select February as "Month of the Year" and the Nobel Committee awards February the 2010 Peace Prize. Congress in a joint bill that passes strictly along party lines reassigns days of the year on a "more equitable basis" with all months having 30 days with the exception of February who has "equal distribution of days with all months plus one day of reparation". The new year of 361 days requires elimination of Christmas and Easter as being "inconsistent with the founders' intention of separation of church and state" and Columbus Day and Thanksgiving as "inappropriate glamorization of caucasian imperial domination of indigenous people".
2. Levi Johnston throws his hat in the ring in a bid for Wasilla Town Council. NBC and CNN contribute free national ad time to his campaign, WaPost and NYT endorse his run as "a popular and much-needed rebuke of Sarah Palin and her failed Alaska policies" and Pelosi, Reid, Letterman and Fey all make campaign fund raiser appearances. In a last minute surprise reversal of his political commitment, Mr. Johnston announces his withdrawal from the election "to pursue my dream of becoming an adult film actor". Ten days later, Larry Flynt Productions announces release of "Levi's Johnson." The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences establishes an adult film category and Mr. Johnston and his film sweep the category with three Oscars.
3. Rahm Emanuel fires the entire White House Secret Service staff and replaces them with TSA Screeners from Chicago OHare following yet another White House Protocol slip up where a striped-shirted, bespectacled gent in a knit cap identifying himself only as "Waldo" seated himself without placecard between Bahbah Streisand and Bahbah Walters during a White House fundraising dinner for Levi Johnston. Despite long lines for scheduled tours due to interrogations and strip searches of infants in strollers and elderly people with walkers, a tall, bearded, white-robed, man of Arab origin is able to draft on an Iranian Dominos deliveryman who was waved through and gains access to the Oval Office wearing C-4 plastique undergarments. Fortunately, "the system worked" when, due to a raging case of sand lice, the would-be terrorist's vigorous scratching dislodged the blasting cap, rendering the skivvies of mass destruction inert.
4. All the bridges to and from the Nation's Capital collapse despite having been declared "shovel ready" in 2009.
5. A massive 7.9 earthquake with its epicenter directly beneath the H O L L Y W O O D sign causes the entire community of Hollywood, along with its residents, to break free of the continent and, after a brief period at the mercy of the sea, sinks to the permanent darkness of the deep, killing the entire population of this center of American film and television.
6. Following a massive 7.9 earthquake in southwestern California in which no lives of importance were lost, millions of fish and endangered marine mammals wash ashore along the coast. Marine biologists discover extraordinarily high levels of cocaine in the ensuing necropsies.
7. Despite widespread scientific endorsement of the technical viability of a new "green" power source, pioneer developers are unable to secure investors. Engineers at Founders Power, Incorporated, of Charlottesville, VA who developed and patented the "tomb turbines" (or, their trademarked name, ToTus) stated that although numerous investors had approached them with offers of more than sufficient investments to tap this revolutionary power source, none were willing to commit until the November 2010 elections, citing concerns that the American electorate might possibly come to its senses and vote a GoP majority into both houses of Congress. If that were to happen, the ToTus, which extract power through electromagnets strapped to the buried remains of our nation's founders, would lose their motive force when our founders stop spinning in their graves.
8. Charlie Sheen will refuse to appear on The View.
9. Tiger Woods will take out a restraining order on Bill Clinton on the grounds that his continuous requests to "hook a brother up" amount to harassment.
10. The United States of America will continue its inexplicable descent toward collapse with the regressive policies of "progressive" politicians.

Robert Thorn's Predictions for 2010

- We get the second dip of our recession. Commercial real estate will lead the way.
- The Bokanovsky process will be perfected.
- A new show called "Oww! My Balls!!" will debut, beginning its run as the most popular entertainment of the next three decades.
- The Crimson Tide will win the BCS Championship, but later be stripped of that title due to some sort of rules violation.
- Congress will pass a law forgiving all student debt incurred in pursuit of graduate and undergraduate studies between 2008 - 2012.
- The pop/R&B group Black Eyed Peas, Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice, and actor-cum-musician, Kevin Bacon will kick off their annual January 1st musical collaboration with a concert to raise awareness for world hunger. The collaboration will be called Hopping John.
- Trojan Condoms will announce their new line of prophylactics called Tiger Woods.
- By the Fall, Asif Zardari will no longer be president of Pakistan.
- The Department of Energy and the Department of Health and Human Services will issue the results of a joint study that will find the largest impact to our nation's carbon emissions is the increased work required of all manner of conveyances due to Corpulent-Americans.
- We will discover and thwart a plan by terrorists eunuchs to detonate explosive faux-testicles at various targets.
- Congress will pass a law adding Corpulent-Americans as a protected class. Government contractors will rush to add persons of said distinction to their ownership or take credit for those already in their ranks.
- CW will fall just shy of his sub 150 goal due to his addiction to blue crabs.

CW's 2010 Predictions

1. On December 31, 2010, the Dow Jones Industrial Average will be within 200 points of whatever its level is on December 31, 2009.
2. In the November 2010 Congressional Elections, Republicans will make significant gains, but will not take either chamber.
3. Lindsay Lohan will marry a man, probably the father of the child she will conceive.
4. Hillary Clinton will not be Secretary of State on December 31, 2010.
5. There will be a successful attack by Islamic extremists on US soil, but it will not involve the transportation system, and it will not involve a major city. Think “soft target”.
6. The Colts will win the Super Bowl
7. Tiger Woods will play in at least one major championship this year.
8. The Yankees will repeat as World Series Champs
9. Janet Napolitano will not be Secretary of Homeland Security on December 31, 2010
10. On December 31, 2010 the unemployment rate will be 8.7%

The National Review Online Crowd does their predictions here.

Readers should feel free to post their predictions as comments to this post.

Sally's 2010 Predictions

-Marco Rubio will defeat Charlie Crist in the FL GOP Senate Primary. Conservatives will cheer, and gallons of ink will spill to again ask the question ‘is there room in the Republican Party for moderates?’

-Brett Favre, in a departure from his previous five off-seasons, will NOT hold forty-nine press conferences to announce he hasn’t made a decision about retirement yet. He will return to the Vikings. But in keeping with his previous five off-seasons, the diva will find a way out of training camp.

-Michael Steele will finally do or say something so outrageous that he must step down.

-Ben Bradlee will pass away. Media figures nationwide will gather to effusively praise him and by extension themselves for their belief in their own greatness. Sally Quinn will be feted like Mother Teresa.

-Philip Rivers will edge out Drew Brees as NFL MVP.

-Robert Gibbs will step down as White House Press Secretary. Chuck Todd of NBC will replace him.

-Ann Coulter will not become the fifth co-host of The View. (I needed to guarantee I got at least one right).

-Mitch Daniels and John Thune will replace Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty as the most discussed GOP prospects for 2012.

-Harry Reid will be defeated in a squeaker…and Chuck ‘I don’t need to turn my phone off, bitch’ Schumer will become the new Senate Majority Leader. God help us.

Goldwater's Ghost: 2010 Predictions

- Republicans will capture at least eight of the 15 or so incumbent Democrat Senate seats up for re-election in 2010; they will lose only one - Arizona

- Of the 40 or so Democrat seats up in the House, Republicans will win 18; they will lose only three of their incumbent seats

- Sensing a moment of confusion within the current Iranian regime, Israel will attack nuclear facilities within that country sometime in the first half of 2010. The price of oil and gold will skyrocket from current levels as a result...

- ...only to have gold crash in the 3rd quarter of the year

- One prominent member of the Obama Cabinet will resign under a cloud of suspicion

- Ben Bernanke will face a contentious Senate re-confirmation process. News will leak that Bernanke will withdraw his nomination, touching off a minor market panic. The Senate re-considers, votes to confirm overwhelmingly and Bernanke accepts

- Sarah Palin, perhaps in a deal brokered through Rush Limbaugh, will announce plans for a syndicated radio talk show

- There will be at least three more major snowstorms (12 inches or more) that will pound the mid-Atlantic states between January and March

- A major media fixture/celebrity will come out of the closet

- Economic growth will be sluggish, hampered in part by rising oil prices and other commodities; the unemployment rate will continue to rise to over 11% before falling back down to 10.5% by the end of the year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Baggage Handling

The idea that having an appointed head of TSA would have averted last week's close call is a little stupid, but it hasn't stopped Democrats from slamming Jim DeMint for holding up the president's appointment for TSA head, a Mr. Erroll Southers. On an unrelated note, there really should be more men named Erroll.

Outrageous that those nasty GOP obstructionists would play politics with national security, right? Unbelievable that this vital position would go unfilled, thanks to the Republicans, right?

Well, not really. This job is so vital to national security that a nominee was picked in September. I'm not a math whiz, but September minus January=8 months. His nomination was not voted out of committee in mid-November. And DeMint's issue with Mr. Southers is that he wants to unionize the airport screeners. DeMint's stance is perhaps a system that rewards longevity instead of performance wouldn't make for the most diligent baggage and passenger screeners.

The Wall Street Journal captures the saga well.

Greg Mankiw Strikes Again


Greg Mankiw's blog has the graphic reproduced here on it today. He wonders aloud why consumers aren't more cost conscious--and then gives us the answer....

Maureen Dowd--I'm Sorry, But She Wrote Something Worth Sharing

Most of you are familiar with my disdain for the snarky, embittered, talentless, Maureen Dowd. But this editorial contributes (among its tired tripe) a paragraph that neatly summarizes the US approach to airport security:

"If we can’t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didn’t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?"

Nicely said, what?

We've spent $40B on airport security since 9-11. And since this $40B has been spent in a way that seems to treat everyone on earth as equally likely to commit terrorism, we've essentially spent about $7 per person in 8 years. Until we wise up and realize that profiling IS REQUIRED, we'll continue to have a system designed only tangentially for security, moreso for simply bothering people.

Terrorist Headline


The NY Post is without equal.

Monday, December 28, 2009

'Let's Roll' Obama-style


Interrupting his Hawaiian holiday Monday afternoon to address the events surrounding the failed Christmas Day terrorist bombing of an airliner over Michigan, President Obama vowed an all out pursuit of those responsible, vowing "we will not rest" until they are captured and tried.



Whoops, wrong picture:


There, that's better. Nothing says steely resolve quite like the sight of a man in his Tevas.

Indian Politician In Sex-Tape Scandal

Though I hope not to run across this tape myself, the fact that the fellow is 86 years old and was in bed with three women certainly caught my eye.

Airport Musings....

So I'm at BWI awaiting my flight. No posh club here to hang out in, I'm chilling on the Southwest Concourse next to a gentleman who is jealously surrounding his Washington Post with his arms, as if I were tying to read surreptitiously. Dude, I have a computer....I can read online.....

Long-time readers know I am wont to post from airports. I used to travel a good bit in my last job, and it afforded me a good bit of time in the Admiral's Club, a perch from which I could pass along my thoughts gathered during my standard two hours of dead time before boarding.

I'm here not quite 2 hours prior, but there is plenty to talk about. So here goes.

Security: Thought things would be ridiculous after the Nigerian adherent of peaceful religion attempted to blow himself and 200 others up. But it was the same old, same old. Which brings me to my second point.

The traveling idiots: We've been at this airport security stuff hammer and tong for eight plus years now. I am astounded by the number of people who continue to have some difficulty getting with the program. Shoes in the box. Coats off. Cell phone, watch, jewelery in the box. Computer out of the case. Bagged liquids. I manage to get stuck behind the traveling idiot with startling frequency.

Airport wheelchairs: This is the biggest traveling scam there is. If you emptied this airport out, perhaps you'd find oh, 20,000 people. If you compared the frequency of the wheelchair bound in a community of 20,000 with the number who claim this conveyance in an airport, you'd find a statistically significant increase in "free riders", that is, folks who generally don't use the wheelchair but then choose to in airports. Front of the line on security, get onboard early, etc. I know, I know--just be happy I'm not in a wheelchair. I'm just sayin'. Additionally, there should be wheelchair security entrances--ways to enter the general terminal for the wheelchair bound and their traveling companions only. Same with SUV strollers....

Fancy men's stores in airports: Jos A Bank, Brooks Bros.....great decisions to place stores in airports. Dudes are ALWAYS forgetting things. Like ties.

Cinnabon: Why is there no Cinnabon here? Why must I be denied the glories of the 1200 calorie gut bomb, the nation-feeding sweetmeat, the insulin atomic blast? Why dear Lord, why?

On the Road Again...

I'm off to do a little work for "the man" on the road. Things could be a little slow from me for a few days. Then again, who knows.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

David Broder and William Daley With Advice to Dems

David Broder's got an editorial in this morning's WaPost in which he recycles former Clinton Administration official (and long-time Chicago pol) William Daley's Christmas Eve editorial warning Democrats that they risk returning to the minority if they forget to take care of that which put them in the majority--the great middle. Daley cites the retirements (and recent defection) of Democratic moderates in the House (good for Daley--calling them moderates--that's what they are in a party that has swung so far left) and the venom of those on the far left who would purge the party of its remaining moderates.

As I sat nodding my head and harumphing with my coffee this morning, thinking William Daley was incredibly insightful and particularly intelligent, I was struck by how others on my side of the aisle might have read it. For some reason, I see even the most rabid, ideologically conservative reading Daley's words and nodding and harumphing like I was--yet many on the ideological right cannot see the wisdom of his advice for our own party. I'm talking about PARTY here--the organs we use to participate meaningfully in the political process that leads to governing. I'm not talking about ideology.

We can either be ideologically pure (and "right"--in all meanings of the word) and perpetually be in the minority--or we can aim at voters in the "muddled middle" and become a governing majority. This is the heart of my "Ten Principles for a Republican Renaissance. " Let's face it--this approach won George Bush two elections. Although some may quibble with how he won in 2000, we should never forget that he beat a seated Vice President who sat atop an administration that had presided over a good deal of peace and prosperity. Bush brought strong conservative credentials PLUS an emphasis on issues that appealed to the middle--remember? He was one of the first major Republican Presidential candidates to freely acknowledge a Federal role in education--nay, to embrace a Federal role in education. His "compassionate conservatism" (a bit of a sham as far as I'm concerned) appealed to voters in the middle who WANTED to be compassionate and who cheered his effort to get the government OUT OF THE WAY of private efforts to be more compassionate.

It's all fun and good to get your butts kicked in two straight elections and spend your time on ideological purification. When a party gets serious about governing, it aims at swinging swing voters to its side--and this is something we need to do in the Republican Party. That doesn't mean supporting Democrats who think it is electorally favorable to run as a Republican (Madame Scozzafava comes to mind). But it does mean looking at the totality of a candidate's positions and assessing them on a general approach to governing.

Exactly Who Do You Have to Piss Off Around Here to Make the List?

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who did a really bad Richard Reid impersonation in a plane on approach to Detroit Christmas morning, reportedly was not listed on any US "no fly" lists. That doesn't really cause me any great concern. How are we supposed to root out every one of these international misfits worldwide? I mean, it's not as if these terrorists' loved ones are walking into our embassies and reporting their own son to a foreign (USA) government.

Nigeria's This Day newspaper cited family members as saying that the suspect's father, Umaru Mutallab, the retired chairman of First Bank in Nigeria, has been uncomfortable with his son's "extreme religious views" and had reported him to the US embassy and Nigerian security agencies six months ago.
Uh....well, let's read on...surely we did something about that...

The US government created a record on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab last month in the intelligence community's central repository of information for known and suspected international terrorists
See, not so bad. Someone took that information and apparently passed it on to the right folks.

...but there was not enough negative data to place him on a no-fly list, a US official said.

Please do not tell me that there is some concern about a non-US citizen's "right to fly" into the United States of America after his own father reports him to his own nation's security forces AND to our embassy. I hope Speaker "You Lied, CIA" Pelosi insists on an investigation to shine some light onto the Administration's handling of this intelligence critical to domestic security.

After all the light we saved by not shining it on the health care "reform", there ought to be a surplus of it for this. Oh, wait, main stream media? Are you back from your post-inauguration slumber yet? Got a light?

(Source: Guardian.co.uk)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Another Downtrodden Muslim Attempts An Act Of Terror...Whoops; Wrong Again!

Nigerian would-be martyr Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has much in common with many other members of the Islamo-fascist terror movement--and that is, he has little or no direct experience with ANY of the many excuses that are put forward to explain the rise of Islamic terror. In his case, he's the son of a Nigerian Banker (perhaps you've received an email from him?) with a degree in mechanical engineering and a buff flat in London-town. The 19 September 11 hi-jackers? Well-educated middle and upper middle class gents. Khalid Sheik Mohammed? Middle class, educated in the good ole US of A. And then there is the dynamic duo, Messers Bin Laden and Zawahiri--one, the scion of a Saudi construction conglomerate and the other, an Egyptian doctor. These aren't Palestinians living under the Israeli boot; they aren't downtrodden proles loving under the thumb of authoritarian strongmen. They are the elite of Islamic society, and they use the problems of the poor as cover for their stated desire to establish the New Caliphate--at the expense of the West.

Update: The great Mark Steyn agrees with me.

Newt Gingrich For RNC Chairman

Newt Gingrich fascinates me. He's a hyper-intelligent, historically minded political tactician, and perhaps the best spokesman that limited government conservatives have. Just watch this bit of a speech he gave recently (passed along to me by my boss, so forgive a bit of shameless ass-kissing). THIS is what we need setting the strategy, making the difference.

A Great Letter to the Editor

Philip Terzian, Literary Editor of the Weekly Standard, reminds us all once again of Senator Byrd's checkered past.

Mike Wise is Tiger Woods

Haven't heard of Mike Wise? Well, don't be hard on yourselves. He's a sports columnist for the Washington Post. And in this bit of day after Christmas of over the top exhibitionism, he reveals to readers his link to Tiger Woods (and Rick Pitino, and Mark Sanford et al) by making tangential references to his own weakness (several times, while each time assuring us that this was not the place to discuss such failings).

What was the point of this? After reading and re-reading several times, I just can't figure it out. Is it an act of public contrition, made as an offering to she who was hurt? Is it an act of public masturbation by a dweeb who desperately wants all the boys in the sports page to read that he is some kind of Casanova?

No Mike--you're not Tiger Woods.

HuffPo Comes Close To Dropping The "F-bomb"

The Weekly Standard links to an interesting article up over at the Huffington Post entitled "The Democrats Authoritarian Health 'Reform' Bill and the Ascendency of Corporatism in the Democratic Party" concerning the Obama Administrations' apparent shift toward a policy of "corporatist liberalism". Key passages from the article:

"For the first time in American history, Democrats are about to pass a bill that uses the coercive power of the federal government to force every American - simply by virtue of being American - to purchase the products of a private company. At heart, the Democrats' solution to 48 million uninsured is to force them to buy inadequate private insurance - with potentially high deductibles and co-pays and no price controls - or be fined by the federal government...In effect, this represents a historic defeat for the type of liberalism represented by the New Deal and the Great Society and the ascendency of a new type of corporatist liberalism."

Corporatist liberalism, liberal fascism...toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe.

Now even the choir is getting restless. This health care 'reform' hymn may not be over just yet.

Terror Plot Foiled?

News today of yet another person bearing a name that sounds remarkably like that of an adherent to a "religion of peace" attempting to blow himself and a few hundred others to smithereens, this time on a flight bound for Detroit. A combination of 1) his stupidity 2) and a fast acting passenger seem to have averted another terrible outcome.

I'm awfully glad we continue to come up against idiots--either they are running out of smart people or they are doing things we have not sense of.

Perhaps Jay Rockefeller will get to the bottom of it. If you read the link through to the end, you would have seen that Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) is on the J-O-B, having announced "hearings" to look into this matter when the Senate returns from its break. Don't you just feel safer already?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas To All and To All A Good Night


There are presents to be wrapped, cookies to be made (and eaten), and a great feast to be prepared. Once again, the Kitten has made our house in to a veritable Christmas Wonderland. I'll take my leave of the blog until the day after Christmas; until then, the happiest of Christmases to all .

Luke 2:1-20 (New International Version)

Luke 2
The Birth of Jesus
1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.


Watercolor Nativity here. video

What's The 411 On 911?

On Drudge the other day, there were at least two stories (apparently, a slow news cycle) where someone used the emergency call number 911 to report a non-emergency. Doing a quick search on Google, I came up with at least a dozen similar stories about 911 on a variety of topics:


- woman calls 911 three times over Chicken McNuggets
- woman calls 911 to get her burger made correctly
- woman calls 911 to report that her daughter is better at oral sex (I didn't make that up)
- woman calls 911 because boyfriend won't marry her
- woman calls 911 over lack of shrimp in her shrimp fried rice
- woman calls 911 to ask for a "cutie pie" officer to escort her home

And lest you think men are immune from this stupidity:

- man calls 911 after Subway left sauce off of sandwich
- man calls 911 and asks for sex
- man calls 911 for escort to Lil Wayne concert
- man calls 911 to report his marijuana stolen
- man calls 911 to complain over Wendy's menu prices
- man calls 911 to protest missing juice box from drive-thru order

I can't figure out if this is more a damning indictment of the dumbing down of our society or our sheer laziness (or both).

At the very least, its a clarion call for some sort of national fast food complaint reform.

NJ Man Re-united With Son In Brazil

I've watched this story brewing over the past couple of weeks. While it's not usual CW fare, it captured my attention for one reason--and that is, the media's refusal to use the word "kidnap" to describe what Mr. Goldman's ex-wife did when she brought their son to Brazil. Is it so that they do not speak ill of the dead?

I feel bad for everyone here--the boy, who no longer speaks English and is being separated from the only family he has any real knowledge of. The father--whose heart was broken by his ex-wife's perfidy. The relatives in Brazil, who did their best to raise the boy.

I hope this all works out. But it was kidnap--plain and simple.

New US Attorney for the Western District of Virginia


I'd heard my friend Tim Heaphy was nominated as the US Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, but hadn't seen that he was confirmed. This little story confirms that he was, and that he is in the job.

Tim and I don't share a whole lot of political ideology, but he's a very good man and a very smart man. He's a Wahoo, a Psi of Sigma Chi, and a huge Virginia Sports fan. I'd be surprised if we weren't hearing his name in Democratic political circles in the Commonwealth of Virginia for years to come.

Congrats, Tim. Proud to be a Sig.

Obama: I Was Against The Public Option Before I Was For It

Lefty wunderkind blogger-turned-columnist Ezra Klein is calling b.s. on President Obama's recent statement that he "didn't campaign on the public option":

"But speaking as someone who did a lot of reporting on their health care plan, they [the Obama campaign] emphasized it privately quite a bit. Obama's latest statement on this is hair-splitting at best and misleading at worst."

Did candidate Obama ever campaign on a public option, or speak publicly about his support for one? At 2:35 of this clip, it certainly sounds like he does:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What was your favorite Christmas toy?


Mine was this silly Toss Across game. Did anyone ever play this? Why this stands out among all the abundant Christmases I was lucky to have growing up, I have no idea...but I LOVED that game.


Are Kurt and Goldie Next?







Sad news, folks. The always delightful Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins have called it a day.

Always thought those crazy kids would make it.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 Predictions Reviewed

I just sent my co-bloggers a note urging them to think of their 2010 predictions so that we might have an all prediction day on the 31st. I made some predictions last year-- and here's how they stack up:

--On December 31, 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial average will be above 10,200
Yep
--On December 31, 2009, unemployment will be at 6.6%, on a downward trend
Way wrong
--The BCS will announce a playoff system to begin with the 2011 season
Wrong
--Israel will not attack Iran (directly) in 2009, Iran will not attack Israel (directly)
Yep
--Israel will be involved in another war in Southern Lebanon
Wrong
--Brad Pitt will win a "Best Actor" Oscar
Wrong
--Hillary Clinton will withdraw her name from consideration for Secretary of State after an uproar following new disclosures of her husband's post-presidential dealings with foreign powers
Wrong
At least one major newspaper (that is, one of the top ten in circulation) will cease to publish in 2009. No one will notice.

Wrong
--Ten thousand US troops will be deployed somewhere in the world in support of some humanitarian operation (not in the US)
Wrong--I was thinking Sudan here.
--The average price of unleaded regular in the US will be $2.96
Wrong--$2.58
--The US will announce unilateral reductions in its Strategic Nuclear forces to less than 1400 warheads. The nuclear triad will be disestablished, with all our strategic forces moving to submarines and manned bombers.
Wrong, but close--we will have a new deal with the Russians soon.
--Lindsay Lohan will return to a strictly heterosexual life
Apparently correct
--On 31 December 2009, there will be less than 90,000 US troops in Iraq, but there will be 45,000 in Afghanistan
Wrong on Iraq (not that low yet) and Afghanistan (higher)

Alternative Energy vs. The Environment, Round 59

Senator Feinstein (D-CA) acts to take prime solar/wind farm land out of contention.

Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) says it best: "I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who keep telling me it’s a crisis start acting like a crisis."

Comments, Please.


Here are some updated variants of the Conservative Wahoo. I'd be interested in your comments. But just so we're all straight on this, it is going to be a fish.

Humbug

Angels can't fly.

Blue Dog Comes Home


Alabama freshman House Member Parker Griffith is switching to the Republican Party. He's from a conservative district, and he voted against the stimulus.

This is a good sign.

Oh--and he's a Doctor. Some traction will come of this one....

Ah.....Now I Know Why......

It seems that "Rock the Vote" has a new campaign out that urges its young, trendy, progressive, and sexually active groupies to withhold sex from those who do not agree with healthcare reform.

Fido Is Worse Than Hitler

In news that will certainly stir the pot between cat and dog lovers, a study released by New Zealanders Robert and Brenda Vale claims that dogs are one of the worst eco offenders, surpassing the environmental damage of SUVs.

The study estimates that a medium sized dog equates to an annual footprint of 0.84 hectares, twice that of the footprint left by an SUV driven 10,000 kilometers a year. Cats fare much better, with an eco-footprint of about 0.15 hectares. But unfortunately, they don't fetch sticks are are twice as likely to save themselves while allowing you to perish in a barn fire.

I was a bit dubious about the "credentials" of the study authors, so I did a bit of Google sleuthing and, sure enough, found that the study was underwritten by none other than....Mr. Tinkles.

What Was That Again About "Shredding The Constitution"?

Sen. Jim DeMint(R-SC) notes that language in Sen. Maj. Leader Harry Reid's health care bill makes several changes to Senate rules (which normally takes 2/3 majority to do), and declares that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (created by the bill) cannot be repealed by future Congresses.

It's no wonder he doesn't want anyone to read the bill before voting on it.

H/T: The Weekly Standard

Monday, December 21, 2009

Do Not Pass Go

"We cannot continue to spend as if deficits don't have consequences; as if waste doesn't matter, as if the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people can be treated like Monopoly money." - President Obama, December 21, 2009

From your mouth to Harry Reid's ears, Mr. President.

Some Biofuel Common Sense

Here's a link to an interesting blog piece on biofuels, specifically ethanol. Conflict of interest alert: I am an investor in an ethanol distribution business, so I am definitely interested in market news/forces that impact its uses.

One of the big hits that ethanol takes is the charge that the use of foodstuffs (mostly corn) raises food prices. Folks point to recent spikes in corn costs and say "see, there you have it". As the blog piece ably points out, those spikes were far more attributable to transport costs driven by OIL prices than they were by any demand issue driven by competition by ethanol distillers.

H/T Instapundit

Medicare Shocker....

According to this, medicare denies claims twice as often as the worst private insurer. Sure glad Dems want to make this model around which our entire nation's health care is provided.

H/T Instapundit

E.J. Dionne on Dems and Healthcare

E.J. Dionne is a dangerous man because he is a smart and sensible man who is mostly wrong most of the time. Yet he sounds so smart and sensible that folks nod their heads and pay him more money to be mostly wrong most of the time.

Here he is telling Dems this morning to suck it up, vote for the Senate bill (imperfect as it is--because it isn't "progressive" enough) and savor your victory. Come back to fight another day and get the rest of the progressive program through other policy initiatives. From a Democratic tactical standpoint, he's absolutely right. They stand ready to pass the most extensive overhaul of healthcare in two generations, along with a great expansion of government influence over everyday life--these are huge progressive goals, and they Dionne is right in urging them to accept half a loaf (though we all know it is half a loaf--of guano).

But the way he looks at the bill and the process that got it here is just plain wrong.

Just read Dionne here, telling us how the public option and the medicare buy-in were just so darn popular! And those pesky Senators who stood in the way--FOR PERSONAL GAIN (one wonders what Joe Lieberman really had to gain from all this)? Horrible! And that Senate itself--how un-democratic it is. How ridiculous that 60 votes are required to move legislation to votes (believe it or not, for decades it was 67!). Why even the requirement to get 60 votes is CONSERVATIVE, slowing and or killing legislation that so obviously has majority support (that it works equally well--and has--to slow or kill Republican legislation when the GOP was in the majority is of no consequence to Dionne)!

I listened to Public Radio on the way to the Farm on Friday--to a show broadcast out of DC called "The Diane Rehm Show" or something like that. The hostess--with an odd, stammering, perhaps post-stroke way of speaking--has a "roundup" on Fridays, with Dionne serving as the leftie in residence and this week, Ross Douthat of the New York Times as the rightie. What killed me was how Douthat let Dionne statements just pass without pointing out how ridiculous they were. Dionne got on a riff about Republican delaying tactics on the healthcare bill, especially Tom Coburn's forcing of Bernie Sanders' amendment to be read--all 700 pages plus of it--on the floor of the Senate. He was aghast--he referred to Republican tactics as "unprecedented". This is hogwash! This is not the first time in our nations history that a minority has asserted its rights in the Senate--and Dionne knows this. Additionally, Dionne continued there with the theme he reinforces in this article--that the public option and the medicare buy-in were really common-sense no brainer pieces of legislation that the Republicans are a bunch of druids for opposing and Democrats were disloyal for not getting behind. Douthat let it all pass buy--I suppose because Rehm doesn't want her show to be disagreeable. But my goodness, he could have said SOMETHING about how either a public option or a medicare buy-in would have been bad ideas.

Dionne really is dangerous--and not only because he's sensible and smart. It is because he's intellectually dishonest--he knows his history (of Democratic parliamentary stonewalling in the Senate) yet refuses to acknowledge it. And he knows that a government option is not an end unto itself for the progressive movement, but the first step to single payer.

Samuelson on the Senate Healthcare Bill

A must-read. Key graph:

"So Obama's plan amounts to this: partial coverage of the uninsured; modest improvements (possibly) in their health; sizable budgetary costs worsening a bleak outlook; significant, unpredictable changes in insurance markets; weak spending control. This is a bad bargain. Health benefits are overstated, long-term economic costs understated. The country would be the worse for this legislation's passage. What it's become is an exercise in political symbolism: Obama's self-indulgent crusade to seize the liberal holy grail of "universal coverage." What it's not is leadership."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Senate Dems On Track To Pass Healthcare Bill

Now that Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson have made their stands against the Democratic Caucus in the Senate and gotten what they wanted out of and into the bill, it appears that Senator Reid has cobbled together a coalition that achieves the 60 votes necessary to end debate on the measure. A vote on the measure itself is expected on Christmas Eve.

For those unfamiliar with the legislative process, a bit of explanation follows. What we have now are essentially two different healthcare bills; one produced in the House, one produced in the Senate. They are very, very different bills. The bill the House passed cannot pass the Senate. The bill the Senate passed would have a difficult time passing in the House. The Speaker and the Senate Leader will now appoint "conferees" who will make up a conference committee. It will "reconcile" the two bills. It can do this by 1) throwing one out and adopting the other--which is unlikely but possible--Pelosi may recognize that the only way she gets the Blue Dogs is to accept the Senate bill--though this could cost her a lot of liberal votes 2) throwing both bills out and starting over with a clean slate--even more unlikely or 3) creating a new bill that is a series of compromises hammered out between the two--most likely.

The interesting thing about what comes out of this conference committee is that it (I don't believe) is not subject to amendments. It must be voted up or down. Whether or not it must also pass a "motion to proceed" in the Senate (raising the specter of another filibuster fight) is unknown to me--perhaps someone more familiar with Senate rules could comment.

The bottom line here: I believe conservatives have fought the good fight. I believe we rode the zeitgeist about as far as it could go. I believe we did a wonderful job of keeping this monstrosity of a bill from being more egregious than it is. But--there will be healthcare reform, it will look much like whatever comes out of the Senate, and it will happen by the end of January.

We must not accept this; we must make "tearing down this wall" a rallying cry for the next Congress, one we usher in with an overwhelming Republican victory in 2010. Time to get to work.

The View From The Farm


We got at least a foot; really beautiful, but in an area like this, I can only imagine it will bring an already leisurely pace to a crawl. I've got things to do in DC this week, and while the Kitten and the kittens can snugly hunker down (no school), I've got to find a way to get mobile. Perhaps I'll avail myself of the Land Cruiser.....here's the view from my garage mancave--you're looking at a soybean field with the farm lane in the distance.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hey Ayatollah! Get a load of this one...


It must be fun being President for a country where you can just sit back and torment the hand-wringing international community with outrageous crap that leaders of old would have either ignored or, if they got tired of hearing it, sent a couple sharpshooters to mute.

Following Madeline Albright's lead during her tenure as one of the worst Secretaries of State in memory (I'm being uncharacteristically kind to Secretary Clinton here), and keying off the proclivity of the current Administration to send public apology cards for unforgiveable things like sending our nation's blood and treasure to save the world from tyranny, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is yukking it up again with a request to the Secretary General of the UN to reimburse Iran for damages from WWII.

Count down to UN approving reparations?

Count down to public apology and accompanying requisite bow?

Count down to US actually paying its share of UN-approved reparations?

Don't underestimate the extent to which this Administration will go to be able to say they got Iran to reduce its nuclear weapon development.

I'm starting to think Mahmoud is not quite the mad man people make him out to be. He's just a funny guy trying to have a good time.



Oh! I thought you meant that other kind of "player"

Wow! In a year that Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for well-below par performance, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that Tiger Woods was selected by his golfing almost-peers and wannabe-peers as Player of the Year for actually golfing (and golfing pretty darned well just coming off a major surgery on his knee).

That said, I'm surprised the PGA concurred in setting itself up for some almost certain backlash from all manner of groups comprised of those who "hath fury".

Should be fun to watch while waiting for Tiger to return to golf.

Nativity Naiveté

What's not to like about a church's live display of the creche, with volunteers from the congregation dressing up to play the parts of the wisemen, Joseph and Mary? If you are one of those who believes our democracy will collapse if we allow a community to show the predominant religion's Savior's birth at a time of year that we celebrate the predominant religion's Savior's birth, well, this isn't on public land, it is on church land so, if you don't like that, go smite thyself.

It turns out, however, that our ever alert friends at pETA or is it PeTA, or...well, whatever annoying literary nuance it is, these idiots are now, and apparently have been, claiming that the use of livestock in these live displays puts animals at risk of every horrible crime against non-humanity ranging from forced labor (I made that one up) to rape (I didn't make that one up). As in most everything they do, PeTA got it wrong. Idiots.

Warning (aka h/t): hyperlink takes you to an MSNBC website.

David Brooks On The Senate Healthcare Bill

David Brooks does a pretty good job of teasing out the good and the bad in this bill. Additionally, he reminds us that a Republican President and a Republican Congress passed a prescription drug benefit without really figuring out how to pay for it (as opposed to the proponents of this measure who seem to have thought through offsets, though they rely on Congress resisting the urge to act like itself). The current fascination among Republican leaders with deficit neutrality rings somewhat hollow in the face of that vote.

2010 Could Be A Good Year To "Off" Grandma...

Since Congress has been kinda busy lately, there's a chance that the "inheritance tax" (hereafter referred to as the "death tax") will temporarily expire in 2010, providing an added incentive to hide Grandma's medicine or maybe to remove those little rubber sticky things from the bottom of her shower.

The Death Tax is an absolute favorite among Dems. They simply abhor the thought of inherited wealth, and are all too happy to redistribute the leavings of estates to the general funds of the US. Republicans on the other hand, aren't too happy with the Death Tax. They see--rightly--that the assets passed along in an estate have already been taxed--either as income, interest or capital gains held by the decedent.

Here's the lay of the land from the article: "Currently, the value of inheritances above $3.5 million for individuals and $7 million for couples are taxed at a 45 percent rate by the federal government. Smaller estates are exempt from the tax, leaving less than 1 percent of all inheritances subject to the tax. Because of the lack of action by Congress, the estate tax now goes away only to reappear in 2011 with a higher, 55 percent rate. "

That's right, folks. Nearly HALF of any estate about $3.5M goes to Uncle Sam CURRENTLY. If Congress does nothing, these estates would be untaxed in 2010, then the rate would go to 55% in 2011. I suppose there are alternate views of what "fairness" is, but I don't consider it fair for a man and woman to work hard their whole lives to create wealth (paying taxes along the way) only then to have Uncle Sugar step in and scoop up half of it for his coffers when they die. Libs/Dems would have you believe that "it is ONLY the top 1% of estates" that would fall under this tax. So I guess that makes it fair. By this logic I suppose (or an extension thereof), the gubment should be able to take ALL of the money--why leave any of it?

Snow

It appears much of the East Coast of the US is finding itself under a blanket of snow this morning, one that will only get deeper through the day. We here in Maryland's Eastern Shore are getting our share. The Kitten's Farm is a wonderful place, and a snowstorm brings out hidden beauty. I'm sorta hoping the swirling winds and cold keep the Kitten's kittens from raising a ruckus about playing in the snow (so I can work...lots to do), but I am prepared to do my duty and frolic and gambol. Maybe I'll take a few photos of day. If you know me and my email address, send photos along of snow hijinks in your hood and I'll post them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Jonah Goldberg Tour de Force

Nice work here from my favorite modern Conservative thinker--a thoroughgoing skewering of environmentalism and its ties to/cover for more nefarious movements.

Keith Olbermann Is A Pompous Ass

I don't often watch Keith Olbermann; actually, this little clip is probably the most my eyes have rested on his visage in years--since he left ESPN.

Just watch this video. Is this guy full of himself, or what?

Let's see---if he WERE fairly treating the subject--this is what we're left with. He's mad at a mandatory insurance requirement, without a 1) single payer plan 2) government option or 3) medicare buy-in. One of the FEW things in this entire mess that has a prayer of bringing premiums down for the vast majority of people who are already carrying insurance (deepening the risk pool by requiring healthy people who choose not to obtain coverage to do so), and Olbermann's ready to go to jail over it? Any one of the the three things left out would almost certainly RAISE premiums for people who already have insurance--but then again, as we've seen with "progressive" universal coverage is their real agenda; cost savings have little to do with it.

When The Gene Pool Is More Like A Birdbath...

You get stories like this: "Drunk 4-year-old dressed in drag steals Christmas presents"



Following in his father's footsteps, indeed.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Al Gore: Beatnik Poet



Former Vice President Al Gore has apparently taken to poetry to get the AGW message out.
Cool daddy.

HT: National Review Online


Random Thoughts

I'm crunching hard for the job that pays the bills, so I've been a little negligent of my duties here. Sorry. Hope to be back strong tomorrow.

There aren't a lot of things I miss about the Navy--but one is the salute. The simple act of recognizing another person. Non-military folks think that officers get off on salutes--I suppose they may be right--but the simple truth is that you have to return any salute rendered you--so it is a mutual obligation.

I take the Kitten's kittens to school some mornings when I'm in our bucolic little town of Easton. As I leave the parking lot to head home, there is a crossing guard posted--an older man, probably in his late sixties. He's a bit of a fixture here in Talbot County--and can be found directing traffic most summer weekends in St. Michaels, the local tourist village.

He carries out his duties with military precision; his movements are akin to those of the soldiers at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington. I am fascinated by this fellow to whom I've never spoken. Though we do not speak, we do communicate. As he turns to me to wave me out into the road, I render him a salute. He comes to attention and returns it--and I am on my way. This little act of respect--me for him, him for me, and probably by the transitive property--both of us for the country we represented--never seems to fail to make my morning.

But Don't Take Their Word For It...

ABC News:

President Obama: Federal Government Will Go Bankrupt if Health Care Costs Are Not Reined In

I'm glad the President is above cheap political scare tactics to further his agenda.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Now This Is A Moral Dilemma

Do I celebrate the social skewering the Senator (should) receive for his remark? Or should I cheer him on as he "speaks truth to power"--a.k.a the Air Gestapo. Who among us hasn't wanted to take a swipe at one of these self-important glorified waitstaff, serving as we are constantly reminded "for our safety". Humbug. They are there to bring me a pillow and a cup of water.

Standing by for GHP rounds.....

Time's Man of the Year--Ben Bernanke

The 2009 Time Man of the Year (yes, sorry--I'm using the traditional title of the award because I am apparently a sexist) has gone to Ben Bernanke--the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. I applaud this choice, as the more I research into the near collapse of our economy the more I come to respect the actions he and Hank Paulson at Treasury (who also would have been an inspired choice) took to right the ship. Oh--and the more I respect President Bush who had the insight into finance to realize these guys weren't woofin' him.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's time to write the letter

No, not the cheery family Christmas letter. The one to kill health care. Seriously people, get in touch with your senators, especially the squishy ones--maybe I'm delusional, but I firmly believe it'll make a difference (unless your senators are a lost cause). Just cut and paste the one below that I sent this morning (make the appropriate modifications). You're welcome.

Sir, I understand you're going to hear from the President this afternoon that it's 'now or never' for this health care bill. You've been a brave Democrat voting for some of the GOP amendments on this bill which we greatly admire and you've never struck us as one who would succumb to pressure. Please, Senator Webb, do not vote for this monstrosity-it's not now or never for health care reform, it's only now or never for this particular iteration of it. It can be done so much better and with a far smaller price tag. I assure you that you will have our undying support if you vote no on this bill and we'll happily contribute to your next campaign. If you vote yes, we'll knock on every door in the Commonwealth in 2012 to remind Virginians of your vote.

VA Seeing More Female Patients--Stand By!

I debated whether to post this here or at the Navy blog I guest on; I decided to do it here because it is primarily an entitlement and government spending thing, with some Navy/military thrown in.

Here's a story from the AP that tells us that the VA's patient load is growing younger and increasingly female. This is--in and of itself--uninteresting, as the opening of many military roles to women in the 7o's-90's is now resulting in a greater number of females eligible for treatment in the VA medical system.

No--what makes this interesting to me is the application of my N=1, anecdotal experience with females in the military medical system. The bottom line--they are voracious consumers of medical care, and I hope the VA is factoring into its future planning considerations an explosion in the cost of caring for an increasing number of them.

I was the Operations Officer on a ship that went "co-ed" in 1995. We basically swapped out 50 males for 50 females--and those 50 females comprised approximately 1/7 of the crew. If my memory serves me correctly--we calculated after a year of co-ed operations that the 1/7 of the crew that was female accounted for nearly 40% of all visits to shipboard medical.

More anecdotal evidence....as CO of a Destroyer, I conducted "check-in" interviews with every crewmember, working my way through the entire crew in a month after taking over, and then seeing each new crewmember within 24 hours of their reporting aboard thereafter. Often times, they would show up with their medical records in their hands, as I was just a stop on a dizzying array of check in activities they had. It never ceased to amaze me how thick the medical records of my female sailors were. I spent 21 years on active duty and accumulated enough wear and tear to have the VA bestow upon me a fat monthly check for my deterioration--but at the end of it all, my medical record--the accumulated paperwork of 21 years of medical care--was about an inch thick. The average female second class petty officer (say, 5-8 years of service) would show up with a medical record much thicker than that--some went into a second file altogether.

Well--some of you may be thinking (and I hope you are, because it is good and logical), "they (females) shouldn't be faulted for seeking medical care when they need it. Guys are just dumb for not going to see the Doc when something ails them. " And to that, I would respond--right you are. I'm not faulting them. I'm trying to provide you with evidence as to why I feel this is a tidal wave that has yet to hit the VA, and it is something they are just going to have to plan for.

The President and The Fatcats

President Obama had the heads of the Five Famil...whoops, the heads of the largest banks over to the White House yesterday for a chat, a few hours after calling them "fatcats" in a 60 minutes interview. Ever the populist (puke), the President has firmly affixed blame for our fiscal crisis on these men, and then takes great pleasure in criticizing their bonus structure and other aspects of their compensation. A few thoughts.

Firstly, I suppose I wouldn't make a very good Fortune 500 CEO, because if this President ever hauled me in for a chat, I have a feeling that I might not actually be a very pliant guest. Over at Tigerhawk, there's a great post on what someone WISHED Jamie Dimon (of JP Morgan Chase--and by the way Jamie--how about getting that stock price up a bit?) had told the President. My favorite part:

"Also, you sent a clear, unspoken message today that you'll put a big surtax on my bonus if I resist your putting in a new federal bank consumer protection agency -- why don't you just call this new agency ACORN and be done with it? I spent years putting up with Sandy Weill. I already have my "fuck you" money. You may be President, but you aren't President for Life."

Next, it strikes me as impolitic to have call a bunch of people fatcats on one night and then try to persuade them to save your bacon domestically by loosening their loan practices to small business.

Moving on, I am struck by the moral dimension being applied here--which goes something like this. "You got the taxpayers into this mess and they bailed you out. Now you have a moral obligation to loosen your credit rules in order to fund small business loans and help get this economy out of dire straits." Where to begin, where to begin....

First of all, yes, Wall Street has blame in where we are. They saw an opportunity to make money, they failed to accurately and adequately assess risk, and they ignored for too long signals that now appear obvious that their business model was flawed. And secondly, yes, the Federal Government did intervene to shore up the nation's banking system in an effort to stave off systemic failure.

But where we are today is far more complicated than just "burn the bankers". How about John Q. Public's role? You know, the lady we covered here just yesterday, who blatantly speculated in real estate and then decided to simply walk away from their obligations? What about the politicians (on both sides, mind you!) who sought to curry favor with their constituencies by trumpeting "home-ownership" as if it were a human right, only to create a market of people who never should have been mortgage holders to begin with?

Furthermore, this suggestion that "the taxpayers" bailed out Wall Street is way overdone--especially when one remembers that four in ten workers PAY NO FEDERAL INCOME TAXES, and more to the point, it is far more likely that CHINESE TAXPAYERS ought to be thanked for the money, as it is they who bought our debt like it was coming back in style....

Finally, let's say for the sake of argument that everything the President says here is right. That STILL does not levy a moral mandate on the bankers to do anything except PAY THEIR OBLIGATION TO THE GOVERNMENT BACK. That is the most moral thing they could do, and it is to be honest--exactly what they are doing. Are we setting a new precedent here? Is there a suggestion that when someone obtains a $10,000 credit consolidation loan from a bank--that they are somehow MORALLY obligated to do business with that bank EVEN AFTER THE LOAN IS PAID BACK? Because at some level of abstraction, that's what we're saying to the bankers. Worse, the President is criticizing them primarily for failing to do exactly what it is that put us into the place we are--and that is make risky loans. Does anyone really think that these "fatcats" would avoid making a buck if there were a buck to make? Does the President have no sense that his business unfriendly policies are at least as responsible for small businesses not growing as any lack of capital there may be?

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Post Sees A Coming Debt Panic--Can't Seem To Identify Sources

Two cheers for the Washington Post, which this morning ran an editorial giving full voice to the coming dangers of mounting debt. I am a "Johnny Come Lately" to the anti-debt crowd, thinking for years that our debt as a percentage of GDP was reasonable (others, like frequent poster JPH have been warning me of the problems of debt for years). Clearly though, we have accelerated the debt problem and it is a sea anchor that will slow and ultimately doom our economy.

Noticeably absent from this editorial is a single word....Obama. There's nothing here to tie our President---you remember him, the Hopey/Changey guy....to the debt explosion. Nothing about an $800B non-stimulating stimulus. Nothing about $1T health care proposals. Nothing about the largest expansion of government (read: spending) in recent memory. Yes, yes, we were on the debt gravy train when he took office (yet another thing he can blame on Bush), but it is presumably his job to do something about it--well, something other than triple it.

Wahoo Men Win NCAA Soccer Championship

Great day to be a Hoo on Sunday, as the Men's soccer team beat previously undefeated and top-ranked Akron to win the NCAA Soccer Championship. Played right down in the hear of North Carolina (Cary--near my folks, brother, sister and The Hammer), the game ended in a 0-0 tie, then there were two scoreless overtimes. UVA won on penalty kicks, an admittedly crappy way to win--but that's the way the game is played.

Wahoowa, Wahoowa, Uni-V Virginia, Hoo Rah Ray, Hoo Rah Ray, Hey, Hey UVA!

Shatner, Palin--What's Not To Like?

Here's a clip from a recent Tonight Show starring...um...well I don't really remember that big guy's name, but in it, William Shatner does a bit of dramatic reading from Sarah Palin's recent autobiography (H/T Instapundit). He's wonderful. The creepy modern Shatner who was only hinted at on the bridge of the USS ENTERPRISE, but who--in his dotage--has carved out a very lucrative career being--William Shatner.

Not to be outdone, The Barracuda herself shows up and reads a few choice bits from Shatner's autobiography. One thing we've seen from Palin that is interesting (though I'm not sure how useful it is politically) is that she's still very much the competitor who earned the Barracuda nickname in high school basketball. She doesn't take attacks lying down--she comes back guns blazing--and this autobiography tour is a sign of that.

She's interesting. But so is Shatner.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Megan McArdle on a New Breed of Deadbeats

Sometime contributor Robert Thorn is a big megan McArdle fan--and I am increasingly becoming one myself. In this little piece, she hits upon one of my favorite themes--the blatantly irresponsible among us making things worse for the hard-working and honorable.

Defaulting on a mortgage must be a painful and horrific thing to go through--at least that's the way I think it should be. So does McArdle. But not so for the turd of a human McArdle cites in her post. Where is the shame? Where is the responsibility?

I have no time for the "upside down" mortgage crowd, those who believe that their monthly payments were predicated on a home valued differently than it currently is--leaving them in a situation in which they owe more than the house can currently be sold for. If you are in a position to HAVE to move--this is certainly a bad spot to be in. But if you're not moving, who cares what your house is worth on that day? You are making a mortgage payment (read: rent to own), you are getting the same "shelter value" that you were when the house was more expensive--so why is being upside down on one's mortgage ANYTHING the rest of us should give a crap about.

Yes, yes, I know--some would say we should care because this crowd has a higher propensity to default, and that of course, isn't good for anyone. I say--they have a higher propensity to default because IT ISN'T PAINFUL ENOUGH to do so. There simply must be more social shame AND financial injury accruing to someone who walks away from a mortgage. The person written about in McArdle's post should wear the Scarlet "D" for Deadbeat.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

AP: Climategate Scientists May Be Devious, But AGW Science Beyond Reproach

The AP's climate guy Seth Borenstein attempts to rally the AGW faithful against a rising tide of skepticism:


After an "exhaustive review" of the "stolen" (some say leaked) Climategate emails, Borenstein and his staff conclude that scientists may have indeed engaged in deliberate stonewalling of skeptics and mismanagement of data, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the science behind AGW conclusions was faked.

Or does it? The folks over at Watts Up With That? examine some of the raw data vs. the "smoothed" data and some away with some different interpretations.

The Kitten And I At Christmas


Well no, not really. A look inside the parlor of Secretary of War Newton Baker in 1919. The comments in the story from which the photo comes are pretty interesting--especially the extent to which we've become convinced of the perfectability of the Christmas Tree.

Went out yesterday en familie to cut down a beast for ourselves late in the afternoon yesterday, and there were rows and rows of nearly perfect trees--which of course, made the selection difficult as we had to find one that WAS in fact, perfect.

Instead, we got two---one, a small nicely shaped fella--will go, well, I don't really know where. But the big Douglas Fir--'bout a 9 footer--will go in our Christmas parlor--a la Secretary baker.


Once again, HT--Instapundit.

Krauthammer Calls It "New" Socialism; I Call It "Neo-socialism".

Dr. K had a nice piece in the Washington Post yesterday talking about the "new" socialism afoot in the world, rising primarily from the elevation of environmentalism to the level of secular religion. I think what Dr. K is trying to describe fits better in my construction of "neo-socialism" than in any attempt to classify what we have out there as some kind of latest iteration of socialist wave theory. What the good Dr. K misses here is the extent to which the huge transfer of wealth advocated by environmentalism is being aided and abetted not ONLY by pliant, lefty governments around the world (ours included), but also by BUSINESS....this is where things begin to show some scary likeness to Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" thesis (or part of it), where big business recognizes which way the wind is blowing (or is being blown by government), then colludes with government in order to set the conditions for that business or industry to thrive in the new environment (see "Immelt, Jeffrey (GE)) . Put another way, this is neo-socialism's blending of government and capitalism--that of course--devolves eventually to fascism.

Tall, Tanned Bush Accepts Peace Prize


A little parody from IOwnTheWorld.com, Hat Tip: Instapundit

Friday, December 11, 2009

They Teach Economics At Berkeley, Don't They?

The AP is reporting that police stormed a campus building at UC Berkeley and arrested 65 student demonstators who had been holed up in the building for several days to protest campus cuts and rising fees.

My favorite line of the story: "Student protestors said they were caught off-guard by the raid and complained the police had not warned them."

That's why they call 'em raids.

Big Fat Friday Free For All


All Time High (April 1 2009): 192.2
Diet start (June 1): 189
Last Friday: 170.2
Today: 171.0
Goal: Sub 150

Ok, step one to resuming the weight loss is getting back on the scale--and I'm pleasantly surprised at the lack of damage.

What's on your mind this week? Anything you want to talk about? GHD's all aflutter about Navy Seals and CEOs....anything there for you to chime in on? Busy month in CW real-life work-land, maybe you can spur the discussion on with your own issues.

Talk amongst yourselves....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Catching Tiger By His Tail...

My last post on this, I promise.

But c'mon, this is getting a little out of hand (figuratively and literally). Number 10 has come forth (or eleven, I've seen conflicting numbers). She's a...ahem...professional actress named Joslyn James. That's two professional actresses by the way (what an arts patron).


For those of you keeping score, here's Tiger's front nine scorecard:

















What's up with Number 4?

The President Goes To Oslo

The President of the United States accepted the Nobel Peace Prize this morning, a prize of which he acknowledged being undeserving.

As is customary, he gave an acceptance speech, a speech that I unfortunately did not watch. I have read the text and I include it for you here.

I have read it through all the way only once; I will come back to it later today. All I can give you right now is my initial reaction: President Obama gave one of the most effective speeches I've ever read; it was not soaring and lofty--it was tough and sensible. It--dare I say it--made a clear case for American exceptionalism--and issued a challenge to the world to meet our standards in an effort to make us less exceptional (while he acknowledged that we don't always uphold our own standards).

I am proud of the President, and I congratulate him on his award. More than that--much more than that--I congratulate him for the way he represented our country today. It was superb.

GE's Immelt: Greed Not Good For Business…But Obamanomics Certainly Is

General Electric (GE) CEO Jeffrey Immelt launched a blistering attack yesterday on his fellow executive brethren for their part in fostering an era of greed, culminating in a widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Speaking at West Point, Immelt said that the previous generation's "tough mindedness" in business dealings was replaced by a philosophy of "meanness and greed, both terrible traits." It is this greed that Immelt feels was the driving force in last year's financial collapse (engulfing GE Financial as well).

What does Immelt feel will bring us to spiritual and economic salvation? Why, big government of course. Immelt said that business should welcome government as a "catalyst for leadership and change." This is the same "government" to which financial visionaries like Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank claim a parking space.

It sounds a bit fascistic to me. But then again, my company doesn't stand to gain billions of dollars from proposed Cap and Trade requirements, as well as infrastructure and "green" projects emanating from new administration stimulus economic proposals.

Oops, actually my company does stand to gain. I own GE stock. He's a genius!

Sanford Will Keep His Job

It looks like embattled Governor Mark Sanford in South Carolina will keep his job, as the Republican-dominated (yet hardly friendly) State Legislature has voted not to impeach him. He still faces a variety of ethics charges stemming from his use of official time and resources to carry on an affair with a woman in Argentina. This has all been very sad.

I am personally biased and unable to be anything but that in this matter. Mark Sanford reached out to me to help him think differently about how to organize his staff, he provided me with superb access, and he invited me into a world in which I have a great deal of interest. In the process, we became friendly, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations. I will not soon forget how dedicated he was to improvement, in some cases listening without anger or delusion, to hard words about his personal management style and the need to change. Putting aside this personal aspect of the matter, I am saddened for the Republican Party and for the country that a sane voice of reason in the mounting crisis that is our addiction to debt is likely to be sidelined politically. Sanford was anti-debt when being anti-debt wasn't cool--he looked at the stimulus as the pig in a poke that it was, and he sounded the alarum that the country must move from its entitlement addiction to a position of fiscal responsibility. To be honest, I was always pretty soft on debt and the deficit--until I began listening more closely to Sanford and others explain how our mounting debt was the ticking timebomb that would lay this economy low--even lower than it has recently been. Had this most unfortunate personal failing not occurred, I would have been a huge supporter of a Sanford run for the White House, as his candidacy would have FORCED the Republican field to face a number of very hard questions. Had he run, I would very likely have sought a leave of absence from my job to join the team and do what I could to help him win.

I'm glad Mark Sanford will keep his job. I hope he keeps talking about debt and fiscal responsibility. I hope he finds personal happiness. And if there are--contrary to conventional wisdom--second acts in American politics, I'll be there with him to see how I can help.

Senate Healthcare Bill Changing--Still Bad

Senate Democrats have begun to alter their healthcare bill in the hopes of getting the support of 60 Senators to move past filibuster threats. I'll wait on the incomparable Keith Hennessey's detailed analysis (not up on his site yet) and the CBO scoring of the bill to go completely right wing nutjob on it, but there is enough coming out for me to already have some questions.

Firstly--the Senate's dropping of a "Public Option" (theirs was a watered down one already, with healthcare "cooperatives" subbing for a straight up Public Option) is interesting--I imagine Reid didn't have the 60 votes with it in there--otherwise, he wouldn't have scrapped it. That said--the House bill is vastly different. The conference committee to reconcile whatever comes out of the Senate (if anything), with the House bill is going to be bloody among Democrats.

But as for the changes to the Senate legislation, there are two biggies. First, instead of the cooperatives, the Feds would set up two private, but national health care plans modeled after the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), in which presumably, the insured would pay a portion of their premium and the federal government would pay a portion (probably the lion's share). Also presumably, the amount one pays in premiums would somehow be tied to one's economic conditions.

The second big change in this plan is to allow individuals as young as 55 to "buy in" to Medicare--the federally funded program for healthcare for Seniors.

In each case--what we see at work is the triumph of "universal coverage" over "controlling costs". And this must be what Republicans and conservatives use to defeat the plan ultimately.

I'll leave it again up to CBO to help us determine the number of uninsured that this will take off the streets, but I don't believe it will be substantial. What will happen though is a huge increase in the number of people on medicare (how were you going to pay for this all again Senate Dems? Reductions in medicare, right? Whoops--not with millions of new people in the system!), and a huge increase in the number of people in federally sponsored insurance plans. Put another way, the Federal Government will gain additional coercive power to set prices and compensation levels for those their programs. Doctors and hospitals will have little choice but to swallow hard and accept the Feds mandates--and then pass the costs along to everyone else with private health insurance (i.e--YOUR costs go up). Additionally, YOUR costs will go up in the form of the taxes you will pay to fund the government's share of the FEHBP-like programs AND the increased number of people within the Medicare system.

Is there ANYTHING good in the changes the Senate is making? I think so, and it would be worthwhile to figure out how to sustain it--and that is, the decision to extend Medicare eligibility to those older than 55 would make insurance available to a group of people particularly vulnerable to the "pre-existing condition" stigma. That is, if you get laid off, fired, etc at 57 years of age--and you then re-enter the work force--you are far more likely (I am guessing here) to be denied coverage by your new-employer due to pre-existing conditions than if you had lost your job as a 34 year old (see this post for the horrors of aging). I see the Feds as the "insurer of last resort" in this case, and as long as we as a society are repelled by the notion of someone being denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions, this seems like a worthwhile step.

Stay tuned for more and better analysis as greater understanding of the bill's changes come available.
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