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Sestak admits WH offered him job; Democrats lament potential electoral risk

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Democrats want to nip this in the bud before the rubes begin to notice come election time:

Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner (N.Y.) called on the White House on Monday to detail conversations it allegedly had with Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) to try to convince him to drop his Senate bid.

Weiner said that allegations that White House officials had offered Sestak an administration job in exchange for his dropping of his primary bid against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) had become a growing political liability.

[…]

Weiner said that he saw it as likely that nothing inappropriate did happen, but reasoned that this was why the administration needed to be more forthcoming about the case.

“When we’re having conversations like this three days after the nomination, that’s a problem,” said Weiner, who also expressed support for Sestak’s Senate campaign.

But the New York Democrat said the best way to do that was with some sort of release of information, which he said would bury the story.

“Someone has to help us out here, and I think the White House and Congressman Sestak need to make sure we’re not talking about this next week,” Weiner explained.

Are we allowed to refer to Democrats as “corrupt” yet?  Or is corruption just a label for the Republican party?

It isn’t so much about the potential violation of Federal law, or the continuation of politics as usual in Washington.

No, it’s not just that.

I don’t hear any Democrats going on about how unethical this all is–the White House handing out official administration jobs  like candy on Halloween, just as long as it gets its way.  Not to mention interfering with a Senate primary.

We hear none of that.  What we do hear is Democrats lamenting the fact that this “issue” could be damaging to their electoral prospects come this November.  You know, priorities.

Congressman Weiner and the rest of these corrupt Democrats can take a hike.

Kudos to Congressman Issa who’s been pounding the table on this issue for months.

What’s the deal with the White House? Leftists want to know…(Gulf Oil spill edition)

May 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Browsing the blogosphere, I’m starting to get the feeling that the hard left is none too happy with the Obama administration’s lackadaisical response to the oil spill in the gulf.  Exhibit A here

Then there’s prominent leftist Peter Daou’s piece in the Huff Po, in which he clearly has a case of  the vapors:

The Gulf disaster is a singular moment – an opportunity to bring the human race together to save itself, to protect its only home.

This should be a rocket-boost for the environmental movement, a time to finally put to rest the notion that environmentalists are misguided alarmists, a chance to finally marginalize green-bashers and put an end to their fatal obstructionism.

Instead, this grand debacle will gradually fade into the background once some political gaffe or sports game or celebrity scandal occupies us.

But kudos to Daou for laying blame at the feet of the administration:

[…]President Obama can launch as many fact-finding commissions as he sees fit. But we shouldn’t be impressed that they are doing what we elected them to do – it’s their job to deal with emergencies promptly and effectively.

[…]

The administration seems miffed and mystified that it is being criticized. After all, it can reel off dozens of swift actions taken in the aftermath of the spill.

[…]

The White House’s defenders want the spotlight aimed exclusively at BP. But this is a situation where body language and words are just as important as actions.

Scheduling an ‘angry’ presidential news conference weeks after oil started gushing into the Gulf waters is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Authentic anger isn’t something you turn on for the cameras and leak to the press the previous day. Indignation and defensiveness are precisely the wrong message…

Two things here. 

First, I agree with his take on American ambivalence towards crises facing the country.  The looming debt crisis, financial and mortgage crises of the last two years might as well be ancient history for example.  And I’m in the camp that these are merely in remission and they will rear their ugly heads yet again.  It’s speaks volumes of our political class’ whatever attitude and their unwillingness to make hard and uncomfortable decisions. 

Which brings me to the second point.  Despite campaigning as a different politician, one who was willing to make these hard decisions and change the way “Washington works”, Barack Obama is proving to be the complete opposite–your standard fare for DC. 

This is nothing new.  But it presents an interesting dynamic.  The memories of the Bush administration are just beginning to fade, but the Left’s gnashing of teeth over perceived errors and bureaucratic hubris over Hurricane Katrina, the wars, etc. is essentially what got Obama elected.  Obama was the anti-Bush.

So now you have the Left getting agitated over the White House sticking its thumb in their collective eye over a disaster that makes Katrina look like a spring shower.

Part of the problem is that the left assumes government can “solve” these problems.  Hence, their aneurysm over Bush and Katrina.  In reality, there’s not that much the federal government can do and government bureaucracy is horribly inefficient in these situations.  And one could make the argument that Republicans lost the White House for less.

All I ask is for consistency from the Left on their moral equivalencies.  Time will tell.

NYT: The reckoning is coming to Europe

May 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Hey, guess what?  LIBERALISM. DOES. NOT. WORK. 

Across Western Europe, the “lifestyle superpower,” the assumptions and gains of a lifetime are suddenly in doubt. The deficit crisis that threatens the euro has also undermined the sustainability of the European standard of social welfare, built by left-leaning governments since the end of World War II.

Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism.

Europeans have benefited from low military spending, protected by NATO and the American nuclear umbrella. They have also translated higher taxes into a cradle-to-grave safety net. “The Europe that protects” is a slogan of the European Union.

But all over Europe governments with big budgets, falling tax revenues and aging populations are experiencing rising deficits, with more bad news ahead.

With low growth, low birthrates and longer life expectancies, Europe can no longer afford its comfortable lifestyle, at least not without a period of austerity and significant changes. The countries are trying to reassure investors by cutting salaries, raising legal retirement ages, increasing work hours and reducing health benefits and pensions.

[…]

In Rome, Aldo Cimaglia is 52 and teaches photography, and he is deeply pessimistic about his pension. “It’s going to go belly-up because no one will be around to fill the pension coffers,” he said. “It’s not just me; this country has no future.”

Changes have now become urgent. Europe’s population is aging quickly as birthrates decline. Unemployment has risen as traditional industries have shifted to Asia. And the region lacks competitiveness in world markets.

According to the European Commission, by 2050 the percentage of Europeans older than 65 will nearly double. In the 1950s there were seven workers for every retiree in advanced economies. By 2050, the ratio in the European Union will drop to 1.3 to 1.

[…]

In Athens, Mr. Iordanidis, the graduate who makes 800 euros a month in a bookstore, said he saw one possible upside. “It could be a chance to overhaul the whole rancid system,” he said, “and create a state that actually works.”

At the end of the day, two plus two always equals four, no matter which country you live in.

Europe is only beginning to realize the big steaming pile of crap it’s gotten itself into.  Meanwhile, here in the United States our elected overlords would rather not get into the lifeboats, but are content to climb back onto the Titanic.

During the healthcare debate, the favorite mantra of the pro-reformers was that the United States was “the only Western nation” that didn’t “provide” healthcare to its citizens.  This is emblematic of the entire progressive doctrine–that government not only can provide for the cradle-to-grave well-being of its citizens, but it’s imperative that it must do so.  All of it of course, paid for by taxing the productive class and/or public debt.

This is a recipe for a Euro-style disaster.

I like books. REAL books.

May 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Not e-books.  I don’t care for reading books on Kindles and Nooks, although I tip my hat to the technological advances that make it possible–I think it’s all fascinating (seriously). 

I like the iPad, and it’s e-book reader, but I can’t see myself getting into a book with that either.

The die is cast however, for actual books:

…[T]he digital revolution sweeping the media world is rewriting the rules of the book industry, upending the established players which have dominated for decades.

Electronic books are still in their infancy, comprising an estimated 3% to 5% of the market today. But they are fast accelerating the decline of physical books, forcing retailers, publishers, authors and agents to reinvent their business models or be painfully crippled.

“By the end of 2012, digital books will be 20% to 25% of unit sales, and that’s on the conservative side,” predicts Mike Shatzkin, chief executive of the Idea Logical Co., publishing consultants. “Add in another 25% of units sold online, and roughly half of all unit sales will be on the Internet.”

Maybe the 25% number that Mr. Shatzkin is forecasting is a bit steep, as that’s a huge swing towards e-book consumption in a relatively short time frame.  Progress is progress, however.  As much as I hate to admit it, the death march of the book has begun.

Categories: Everything Else Tags: , , , , ,

FinReg passes with help from Senator Brown

May 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Caveat emptor:

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) said Thursday that he flipped his vote on the financial regulatory overhaul because of assurances he received from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Brown on Wednesday voted against cloture to move to a final vote on the bill, saying that he had reservations with the flawed bill. The motion failed, which upset Reid.

But on Thursday, Brown said he received enough guarantees from Reid to feel confident about crossing the aisle.

“I supported moving the financial bill forward today because I received assurances from Senator Reid and his leadership team that the issues related to Massachusetts in the financial reform bill will be fixed before it is signed into law,” he said in a statement. “We are still working to ensure these commitments are fulfilled prior to a final vote.”

You just have to laugh.  Maybe it’s just the greenness of being a first term senator, but seriously man….Harry Reid?

The consensus on FinReg seems to be that it’s a toothless “reform” bill, a bill passed just so Democrats and the President can say they “did something” on reforming the financial industry while campaigning for the midterms.

But the merits of the bill notwithstanding……Harry Reid?  You took “assurances” from Harry Reid?  Maybe it’s just that he’s a rookie senator.  Or maybe he’s trying to flex his bipartisanship muscles for the constituents back in the Massachussets.  I can’t tell for sure.

But I do know that taking any sort of promise from Harry Reid will not end very well.

UPDATE. It’s getting clearer now:

So why did Brown buckle, after voting to uphold the filibuster on Wednesday?

For starters, he received 3,000 phone calls to his office over the last week, all of them by supporters of Organizing for America, the apparatus that sprung out of President Obama’s campaign for the White House that is now housed inside the Democratic National Committee.

Brown received around 900 calls on Thursday alone, a DNC source said.

Then there is guilt. Reid all but called Brown out by name on Wednesday when he said that the Senate did not move forward on a procedural vote to end debate and overcome the filibuster because a senator had “broken his word.”

So Senator Brown, who campaigned as a rebel-in-a-blue-state type, hero of the resurgent conservative movement, who promised he would stand up to the statist agenda of the Democratic majority in Washington, is easily led around by the nose by said Democratic party.  Lovely.

As I noted in the original post, perhaps this is to be expected from a Republican from the Bay State.

Allahpundit ponders the same, which leads to an interesting, if not unwelcome, question:

The left knew they could make things uncomfortable for him in Massachusetts if he didn’t cave, so they turned the screws — and he caved. Which, admittedly, was fully expected after the first filibuster, but is no less depressing for having been predictable.

Exit question: Forgivable offense for a blue-state Republican worried about reelection or primary-worthy sin that’ll have Red State pounding the table tomorrow?

This is the last thing the Republicans need right now.

Ineptitude abounds in Europe

May 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Markets are down big all over the world and Wall Street opened sharply lower.

Worries about Europe’s sovereign debt crisis are the backdrop for all of this, precipitated earlier this week by Germany’s decision to place a ban on all naked short selling, in an attempt to stop the bleeding.  The fools.

The market overlords are scratching their heads, wondering why their magic pixie dust isn’t working.  If you want to attempt to understand why markets are crumbling, look at idiocy like this:

Asian stocks tumbled, with the Nikkei at a three-month low, amid worries there about the European debt crisis, market regulation and growth in China. Plus, riots in Thailand that saw 30 buildings torched including the stock exchange, a massive shopping mall and a TV station, added a layer of unease to the region.

“I’m convinced the markets are really out of control,” said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. ” That is why we need really effective regulation, in the sense of creating a properly functioning market mechanism.”

And this:

[…]The German government faces a stormy debate in parliament this week over its participation in the €750bn stabilisation plan for the eurozone and the move on a transaction tax could persuade the opposition Social Democrats to support it.

Berlin has promised to give credit guarantees up to €150bn as part of the stabilisation package, if weaker eurozone economies come under renewed pressure in the capital markets. The finance minister rejected domestic criticism of the rescue, saying it was essential to preserve the stability of the euro.

[…]

He expressed disappointment at the market reaction. “We would rather see the markets react a bit more positively,” he said. “But when the euro was launched, its exchange rate to the US dollar was lower. So we’re not getting too worked up about it.”

Got that?  It’s the MARKETS that are the cause of the problem.  Those silly markets, refusing to abide by the temporary bandaids bailouts and other lame measures that Europe’s central bankers have put in place to try and stop the sell-off.

Of course, they want to use the volatility to take more control, implement more regulation on the markets.

Such hubris and arrogance.  The “markets” are not acting “out of control”.  The markets are RE-acting to the ineptitude and ignorance of central bankers and European leaders!   The out-of-control spending, the deficits, all of it unsustainable.  The markets (investors) realize this and are acting accordingly.  There’s a big difference.

Republicans take note

May 20, 2010 1 comment

Congratulations to Rand Paul for winning the Republican primary for Kentucky’s senate seat this week.   I will admit I wasn’t paying much attention to this particular race, and have been more or less indifferent to Paul as a candidate.

But he made some noise with some comments he made after his victory, which made me happy:

Dr. Rand Paul, the Tea Party darling who convincingly won Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary Tuesday, has a message for his Democratic foes: “Please, please bring President Obama.”

Paul triumphed over Secretary of State Trey Grayson, the GOP establishment candidate, with nearly 60 percent of the vote and said opposition in the state to President Obama gives him an excellent chance in the fall.

“President Obama’s less popular in our state than he’s ever been. And he never was very popular in Kentucky,” he said Wednesday on CBS’ “The Early Show”.

His words are directed at the Democratic party but it’s also a jab at the President, one I don’t think our narcisstic Commander-In-Chief is taking very lightly. 

If Obama and his cadre want to use the Alinsky rules of political combat, his opponents should feel free to do the same.  One of the rules is to use the weapon of ridicule, which “infuriates your opponent” and causes him to act irrational.  This is essentially what Rand Paul did with his comments. 

Sure he will earn the hatred of the liberal blogs and the media, but they would have hated him either way.  It’s time the Republicans start following his lead and push back to the media infrastructure built up against them.

KFC’s Double Down sandwich is on fire

May 19, 2010 Leave a comment

We can’t get  enough of our recommended monthly allowance of sodium in one craptastic sandwich:

KFC says Americans are gobbling down so many Double Down sandwiches that the fast-food chain will offer the bunless, meaty sandwich longer than it had planned.

Originally the sandwich — bacon and cheese surrounded by chicken filets — was to have been available through Sunday.

But KFC said Wednesday that the sandwich will be available now for as long as customer demand remains high.

The Double Down came onto the market on April 12 and was supposed to have lasted about six weeks.

[…]

KFC said it has been one of its most successful sandwich launches ever. Later this month, KFC expects to sell its 10 millionth Double Down. They cost about $5.

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the utter crap that the American people are willing to eat.

The great Obama/Pelosi/Reid-Keynesian government stimulus experiment is not so great

May 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Historically weak:

The U.S. economy may return to its pre-crisis peak next quarter after a recovery former Federal Reserve official Peter Hooper calls “surprisingly strong, historically weak,” which has seen corporations and the rich prosper while small companies and the unemployed struggle.

The economy has expanded an average 3.7 percent a quarter since the middle of last year, two-and-a-half times more than the median forecast of 58 economists surveyed in June 2009 by Bloomberg News. That still left first-quarter GDP shy of its previous pinnacle, according to Commerce Department data — the only time since 1955 the U.S. hasn’t gained back all the ground lost in a recession during the first nine months of a rebound.

The advance has “substantially exceeded expectations but remains well behind the norm,” said Hooper, chief economist for Deutsche Bank Securities in New York.

It would seem to me that, in the words of our benevolent Democrat overlords, “the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression” would require an even greater response, one that would not only work, but grab the economy by the scruff of the neck and haul it to some serious growth.

But we have none of that.

And when you start from economic contraction, any move to the upside can be spun as great and be seen as “coming back from the brink”.  Which is why the administration can blabber on with nebulous phrases like “moving in the right direction” and so forth.

But it’s all a crock.  The normal ebbs and flows, the peaks and troughs of the economic cycle will see growth and contraction on its own.  The job of any economic policy is to encourage the peaks and minimize the troughs.

As the experts are saying, to the extent that the stimulus had any effect on the economy, the results are less than inspiring.  No matter how the White House’s propaganda machine tries to spin them.

Elections, shmelections—tomorrow’s primaries and special elections mean nothing

May 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Our national media is on the case to explain why tomorrow’s primary results should be ignored.

Newsweek leads the charge with this horrible piece from its blog.  Read it at your own peril, you could lose some grey matter. 

The money quote:

Despite recent GDP growth, job gains, and stock-market rallies, whatever economic recovery we’re currently supposed to be experiencing hasn’t really trickled down to Main Street.

Most ordinary Americans are still stuck in the Great Recession—still struggling to find work, still tightening their belts, still worried about paying the bills. And so, as poll after poll has shown, they are angry, agitated, and restless.

See, everything is going great.  The economy’s booming, companies are the government is hiring, the stock market is breathing life into our 401(k) accounts, the birds are chirping, etc.  So why are we rubes so pissed off?  

Well, according to the geniuses at Newsweek, we’re so agitated and angry because we don’t understand that the wonderful trickle down effects of liberal utopianism take forever to um….trickle down.  Dumb rubes! 

So the results of tomorrow’s primaries and elections are irrelevant, because we’re too dumb to know how to vote and what to expect from our benevolent Democrat overlords.

Expect to see more of this preemptive sore loser crap from our media into tomorrow.

[Via]