Archive for January, 2011
25 Jan 2011

Library of Congress Hawk

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The Library of Congress isn’t sure, but they think that they have a Cooper’s Hawk (Accipter cooperii) currently in residence in the main reading room. (You’d think there’d be a copy of Roger Tory Peterson in there somewhere.)

They also don’t know how to catch it.

The preferred method of reducing raptors to possession is a device called a bal-chatri, a small wood or metal cage covered with loops of monofilament (in the old days, horsehair). You place a pigeon in the cage, drop the cage on a reading room table, and go away. The hawk goes for the pigeon and gets his feet entangled in the loops. You return and there’s your hawk.

24 Jan 2011

Epitaph For Olbermann

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The heartless Capitalist system recently claimed another victim, in the person of declining-ratings MSNBC’s voice of progressive outrage Keith Olbermann, who was eased out the door (severance package in hand) by Comcast.

Bill Schmalfeldt draws upon his own industry experience to describe the probable final moments.

To say that Olbermann’s departure from MSNBC was a “mutual agreement” strikes me as being “mutual” in the same sense that executions are “mutual.” The state agrees to put the needle in your arm, the prisoner agrees to be strapped to the gurney, have the needle inserted, and die without a great fuss.

My reasons for coming to this conclusion? Been there. Done that. …

It’s Friday. You’ve just wrapped up your show and are tying up loose ends to get ready for the weekend. The program director pops his/her head into the bullpen and tells you the station’s General Manager wants a word with you. You and the program director walk, together, to the GM’s door. You enter first. The PD shuts the door. Everyone sits.

The GM has a grim but friendly look on his/her face. And it begins.

“Bill, we couldn’t be happier with the job you’ve been doing for us, but we’ve decided to take the station in a different direction. So we’re going to have to let you go. Rest assured this doesn’t reflect on your performance, you did a wonderful job. But you just don’t figure into our future plans.”

As the condemned man, you try to ask why… to plead your case… but the GM cuts you off.

“Bill, Bill, Bill… the decision’s been made. Please turn over your office keys to the program director and thank you for your service.”

You give your keys to the PD, he/she shakes your hand and wishes you good luck. The PD opens the office door and you see the cardboard box that the station secretary has filled with your personal effects while you were chatting with the GM. As the PD marches you to the door, you hear the station loudspeaker airing the promo about the show that will be replacing you starting Monday in your time slot. The door shuts behind you and the cold wind blows, chilling your skin.

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And Howie Carr, in the Boston Herald provides the definitive obituary.

We all know the real reason why Comrade Keith sleeps with the fishes. Gore Vidal wrote what could serve as his epitaph years ago.

“No talent is not enough.”

Especially when you combine no talent with no ratings. And now “Countdown” is down for the count.

Not that his replacements at the cell, I mean network, will be any improvement. Lawrence O’Donnell is a hater of the barstool variety. And then there’s Ed Schultz, known variously as “Sgt. Schultz” or “Special Ed.” And Rachel Maddow — you’ve seen her crewcut type before, in Jamaica Plain, driving around a beat-up Volvo with a bumper sticker that says, “Hatred is Not a Family Value.”

All of them are alumni of Air America, which failed when the funds that were being siphoned off from the Boys and Girls Clubs finally ran out. What a novel programming strategy for GE: Put failed radio hosts on TV and expect . . . ratings magic!

Every morning the overnight numbers came out and someone high up in TV got a tingle up his leg. Only it wasn’t Comrade Chris Matthews, it was Roger Ailes, the boss of Fox News. The further left MSNBC and CNN veer, the wider Fox’s lead became.

Isn’t it ironic that Olbermann was crushed by a fellow alumnus of Ch. 5 — Bill O’Reilly. What did Olbermann used to call O’Reilly — the Worst Person in the World?

People forget sometimes that Olbermann started out in sports, as a run-of-the-mill homer, a high-pitched screamer, a Chris Berman wannabe. In other words, he had the exact same background as Sarah Palin, although in her case MSNBC wants you to think that proves she’s a lightweight, not to mention another of the Worst People in the World.

As for Olbermann’s career as a rah-rah boy — nothing to see here folks, move along.

Whenever I’d watch him (very briefly, as I desperately searched for the remote control) pontificating on some issue he had absolutely no clue about, I’d think about Hunter S. Thompson’s attorney in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

He hears John Lennon on the radio singing “Power to the People – Right On!” The lawyer shakes his head sadly and delivers another epitaph, not just for John Lennon, but for Comrade Keith, the ex-ESPN shill.

“That poor fool should have stayed where he was. Punks like that just get in the way when they try to be serious.”

At the end, Olbermann had dispensed with almost all the usual TV production values. He’d just sit there on the set and spin out his paranoid, hate-filled fantasies. Talk about vitriol. Not to mention boring TV — Fidel could get away with four-hour speeches because no one in Cuba had anywhere else to go. I heard Comrade Keith did a 12-minute, spittle-streaked screed last week right out of the box. By the seven-minute mark, even Barney Frank had changed the channel.

Time to go back to sports, Keith.

24 Jan 2011

NAACP Hides George Washington, Then Lies

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Free North Carolina reports on an interesting (and unseemly) symbolic aspect of the NAACP’s MLK Day festivities in South Carolina.

Monday, January 17, 2011, 2:17 PM

The annual MLK observance at the state house in Columbia SC had an interesting twist this year. The event is held on the north side steps of the statehouse. Prominent at that location is a large bronze statue of George Washington. This year, the NAACP constructed a “box” to conceal the Father of His Country from view so that participants would not be offended by his presence.

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The South Carolina NAACP found itself then in an embarassing position when its nasty little gesture attracted media attention, and responded by lying about what it had done and why.

Rock Hill Herald
:

The S.C. NAACP said Tuesday it was not trying to hide a Statehouse statue of George Washington at its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally Monday.

The group has draped the founding father’s statue at previous rallies. It did so again this year, and questions quickly arose about whether Washington was being slighted.

Not so, says the NAACP.

A three-sided structure that covered the front and sides of the statue was intended to display a rally graphic and serve as a photo-and-television backdrop for the event’s speakers, said S.C. NAACP executive director Dwight James. However, the graphic was not finished before the rally and could not be put in place. …

King Day organizers have built similar structures around the statue dating back at least to 2007, according to The State newspaper’s archives.

24 Jan 2011

Ninja Parade Slips Through Town Undetected

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24 Jan 2011

Time to Change Relations With China

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Pianist Lang Lang playing at the White House

Chairman Hu Jintao and the visiting Chinese delegation deliberately insulted the United States by arranging for a Chinese pianist to play a Korean War-era anti-US propaganda song in the White House.


Epoch Times
:

Lang Lang the pianist says he chose it. Chairman Hu Jintao recognized it as soon as he heard it. Patriotic Chinese Internet users were delighted as soon as they saw the videos online. Early morning TV viewers in China knew it would be played an hour or two beforehand. At the White House State dinner on Jan. 19, about six minutes into his set, Lang Lang began tapping out a famous anti-American propaganda melody from the Korean War: the theme song to the movie “Battle on Shangganling Mountain.”

The film depicts a group of “People’s Volunteer Army” soldiers who are first hemmed in at Shanganling (or Triangle Hill) and then, when reinforcements arrive, take up their rifles and counterattack the U.S. military “jackals.”

The movie and the tune are widely known among Chinese, and the song has been a leading piece of anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades. CCP propaganda has always referred to the Korean War as the “movement to resist America and help [North] Korea.” The message of the propaganda is that the United States is an enemy—in fighting in the Korean War the United States’ real goal was said to be to invade and conquer China. The victory at Triangle Hill was promoted as a victory over imperialists.

The song Lang Lang played describes how beautiful China is and then near the end has this verse, “When friends are here, there is fine wine /But if the jackal comes /What greets it is the hunting rifle.” The “jackal” in the song is the United States.

Song segment from “Shang gan ling” [Battle of Triangle Hill] (1956)

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Claire Berlinski has the best response:

I know, I know, this morning I was fretting about nuclear war. But after reading this, I think it’s time to just flatten China completely. …

Just flatten the whole Middle Kingdom. What do you say? So it would be the end of the world. At least we’d go down with honor.

Well, maybe Claire is being just a little extreme. But I do think a responsible American administration would make a point of teaching China a lesson by sinking the next Chinese naval vessel that decides to play war games with the US Navy, by swatting down hard immediately one of China’s naughty little surrogates in the Axis of Evil, by arranging to supply Taiwan with some extra special kind of advanced weaponry that China really really wouldn’t like, by hosting the Dalai Lama at the White House as soon as possible, and by making a seriously punitive change in the American economic relationship with China.

23 Jan 2011

Death Panels Revisited

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Harvard researcher Mike Stopa, in the Boston Globe, argues that American’s concerns about bureaucratic rationing in a socialized heath system and the conflict of interest in end of life counseling sponsored by the government provider are entirely rational and legitimate.

Supporters of President Obama’s health care reform law have relentlessly derided Sarah Palin’s notion of “death panels’’ as a vulgar rhetorical technique, with no basis in reality, devised merely to scare a gullible, uneducated citizenry into rallying to repeal the law. The death panel notion persists, however, because it denotes, in a pithy way, the economic realities of scarcity inherent in nationalizing a rapidly developing, high-technology industry on which people’s lives depend in a rather immediate way. G.K. Chesterton once wrote that vulgar notions (and jokes) invariably contain a “subtle and spiritual idea.’’ The subtle and spiritual idea behind “death panels’’ is that life-prolonging medical technology is an expensive, limited commodity and if the market doesn’t determine who gets it, someone else will. …

The resistance to incorporating end-of-life planning into Medicare is based on the rational fear that such planning will be used to coax patients into forgoing life-extending technologies that Medicare administrators may deem risky, of marginal benefit, or unlikely to succeed — an estimation that could be based in part on the cost of the technology.

Moreover, the suspicion that such programmed advance planning conceals ulterior motives is exacerbated by the fact that relatively few patients will ultimately benefit from it. It is mainly of value for those who do not die suddenly, who have no trustworthy relations to maintain their power of decision, and who lose their wits a potentially long time before their death.

Opposition to government-funded end-of-life planning does not imply ignorance of the indignity or discomfort of having one more tube placed into one’s body to buy an extra few days of painful life. (Although one can imagine concluding that dignity is a highly overrated virtue when the alternative is death). But when a massive government bureaucracy, tasked with determining medical “best practices’’ and controlling costs, announces a policy that “wellness visits’’ should have us chatting with our doctors about what technologically invasive, life-extending procedures we would just as happily do without, we are not supposed to be suspicious?

Read the whole thing.

23 Jan 2011

Fox Rejects “Jesus Hates Obama” Superbowl Ad

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The rejected ad was for a web-site selling mugs, hats, and t shirts. They managed to offend the hyper-sensitive Ann Coulter, but really, I think Fox rejected the ad for the same reason pretty much everbody is going to reject their product offerings: they are just not sufficiently creative or funny enough.

NY Daily News

23 Jan 2011

Letters of Marque

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Lynx, a 2001-built replica of a sharp-built Maryland schooner commissioned for service against Britain in the War of 1812

As the official American covert intelligence grows larger, more politicized and sclerotic, and increasingly circumscribed in its operations by congressional oversight and media hostility, there is increasing evidence the US government is covertly delegating some hazardous and controversial operations to private contractors, and that these private companies are becoming a modern intelligence equivalent of the naval privateers of yore, similarly supplying smaller, faster, and more manueverable vessels capable of meeting operational needs the official service finds it inconvenient to address.

In the Washington Post, Jeff Stein recently identified one of these.

Mullah Omar, the elusive, one-eyed leader of the Afghan Taliban, had a heart attack Jan. 7 and was treated for several days in a Karachi hospital with the help of Pakistan’s spy agency, according to a private intelligence network run by former CIA, State Department and military officers.

The intelligence network, operating under the auspices of a private company, “The Eclipse Group,” said its source was a physician in the Karachi hospital, which was not identified in the report, who said he saw Omar struggling to recover from an operation to put a stent in his heart. …

The Eclipse Group is run by Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, a former head of the CIA’s Latin American operations who was the first chief of the CIA’s counterterrorism center; Kim Stevens, a retired U.S. diplomat who served in Bolivia and Italy; and Brad A. Patty, a civilian advisor to the U.S. Army’s 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team in Iraq from 2007 to 2009.

The Eclipse Group’s reports are available “by invitation only” on its Web site, Stevens said.

By all appearances, the Eclipse network is the just the latest iteration of a shadowy, Pentagon-backed operation that began contracting with former CIA and military operatives to supply intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009. Amid adverse publicity last year, the Pentagon supposedly cut off its funding.

Stevens declined to discuss The Eclipse Group’s financing, except to say it has “no DoD clients.”

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US Intelligence adversary Mark Mazzetti, at the New York Times, is doing his best to expose and discredit Mr. Clarridge’s operation.

Over the past two years, he has fielded operatives in the mountains of Pakistan and the desert badlands of Afghanistan. Since the United States military cut off his funding in May, he has relied on like-minded private donors to pay his agents to continue gathering information about militant fighters, Taliban leaders and the secrets of Kabul’s ruling class. …

His dispatches — an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports — have been sent to military officials who, until last spring at least, found some credible enough to be used in planning strikes against militants in Afghanistan. They are also fed to conservative commentators, including Oliver L. North, a compatriot from the Iran-contra days and now a Fox News analyst, and Brad Thor, an author of military thrillers and a frequent guest of Glenn Beck. …

On May 15, according to a classified Pentagon report on the private spying operation, he sent an encrypted e-mail to military officers in Kabul announcing that his network was being shut down because the Pentagon had just terminated his contract. He wrote that he had to “prepare approximately 200 local personnel to cease work.”

In fact, he had no intention of shuttering his operation. The very next day, he set up a password-protected Web site, afpakfp.com {Does not seem to be accessible to outsiders –JDZ], that would allow officers to continue viewing his dispatches. …

It is difficult to assess the merits of Mr. Clarridge’s secret intelligence dispatches; a review of some of the documents by The Times shows that some appear to be based on rumors from talk at village bazaars or rehashes of press reports.

Others, though, contain specific details about militant plans to attack American troops, and about Taliban leadership meetings in Pakistan. Mr. Clarridge gave the military an in-depth report about a militant group, the Haqqani Network, in August 2009, a document that officials said helped the military track Haqqani fighters. According to the Pentagon report, Mr. Clarridge told Marine commanders in Afghanistan in June 2010 that his group produced 500 intelligence dispatches before its contract was terminated.

When the military would not listen to him, Mr. Clarridge found other ways to peddle his information.

For instance, his private spies in April and May were reporting that Mullah Muhammad Omar, the reclusive cleric who leads the Afghan Taliban, had been captured by Pakistani officials and placed under house arrest. Associates said Mr. Clarridge believed that Pakistan’s spy service was playing a game: keeping Mullah Omar confined but continuing to support the Afghan Taliban.

Both military and intelligence officials said the information could not be corroborated, but Mr. Clarridge used back channels to pass it on to senior Obama administration officials, including Dennis C. Blair, then the director of national intelligence.

And associates said that Mr. Clarridge, determined to make the information public, arranged for it to get to Mr. Thor, a square-jawed writer of thrillers, a blogger and a regular guest on Mr. Beck’s program on Fox News.

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Our friend Mark Mazzetti is also gravely concerned the Blackwater‘s founder, Eric Prince, now a resident of Abu Dhabi, may be involved with anti-piracy activities not specifically authorized by the residents of Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Erik Prince, the founder of the international security giant Blackwater Worldwide, is backing an effort by a controversial South African mercenary firm to insert itself into Somalia’s bloody civil war by protecting government leaders, training Somali troops, and battling pirates and Islamic militants there, according to American and Western officials. …

With its barely functional government and a fierce hostility to foreign armies since the hasty American withdrawal from Mogadishu in the early 1990s, Somalia is a country where Western militaries have long feared to tread. The Somali government has been cornered in a small patch of Mogadishu by the Shabab, a Somali militant group with ties to Al Qaeda.

This, along with the growing menace of piracy off Somalia’s shores, has created an opportunity for private security companies like the South African firm Saracen International to fill the security vacuum created by years of civil war. It is another illustration of how private security firms are playing a bigger role in wars around the world, with some governments seeing them as a way to supplement overtaxed armies, while others complain that they are unaccountable.

Mr. Prince’s precise role remains unclear. Some Western officials said that it was possible Mr. Prince was using his international contacts to help broker a deal between Saracen executives and officials from the United Arab Emirates, which have been financing Saracen in Somalia because Emirates business operations have been threatened by Somali pirates. ..

Somali officials have said that Saracen’s operations — which would also include training an antipiracy army in the semiautonomous region of Puntland — are being financed by an anonymous Middle Eastern country.

Several people with knowledge of Saracen’s operations confirmed that that was the United Arab Emirates.

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The rest of us can only nod with approval, and raise a glass to Dewey Clarridge and the Eclipse Group, Eric Prince and Saracen, comment quietly, “Well done,” and drink to them.

22 Jan 2011

No Birth Certificate Release

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Some news agency reports that Hawaii’s governor is abandoning his effort to release Obama’s mysterious long-form birth certificate.

A privacy law that shields birth certificates has prompted Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie to abandon efforts to dispel claims that President Barack Obama was born outside Hawaii, his office says.

State Attorney General David Louie told the governor that privacy laws bar him from disclosing an individual’s birth documentation without the person’s consent, Abercrombie spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said Friday.

Obama is not only not releasing his birth certificate, college transcripts, and medical records, he is also not releasing his detailed legal bills, but Obama’s campaign organization is required by law to divulge what it does with its money, and World Net Daily is able to report:

President Obama has paid nearly $1.7 million to his top eligibility lawyer since the election.

Obama for America, Obama’s 2008 political campaign, merged with the Democratic National Committee in January and is now known as Organizing for America. The grass-roots army that some refer to as “Obama 2.0” is still collecting financial contributions.

Federal Election Commission records for “Obama for America” show that the lobby organization has paid international law firm Perkins Coie exactly $1,666,397.01 since the 2008 election. …

The FEC shows Obama’s campaign has made regular payments to Perkins Coie since Jan. 1, 2007 – the month he formed a presidential exploratory committee and only weeks before he formally announced his candidacy for president.

In total, Obama has paid Perkins Coie, a single law firm, $2.6 million since he announced his campaign for presidency. …

Robert Bauer of Perkins Coie – top lawyer for Obama, Obama’s presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee and Obama’s Organizing for America – is the same Washington, D.C., lawyer who defended President Obama in lawsuits challenging his eligibility to be president.

Mother Jones’ Stephanie Mencimer argues that the $1.7 million spent on Perkins Coie’s legal services since the election cannot possibly all have been for costs related to keeping that birth certificate out of public view.

WorldNetDaily has noted that FEC filings show that Obama’s presidential campaign has paid out more than $1.7 million since the election to the law firm of Perkins Coie. Until recently, that firm was home to Obama’s campaign lawyer, and now White House counsel, Robert Bauer—the very same DC lawyer, says WND, who has defended Obama in many of the birther lawsuits. Ergo, WND concluded, Obama must be devoting that entire $1.7 million to crushing birthers in court. This is a ridiculous claim: Even after an election is over a presidential campaign has plenty of need for lawyers as it winds down operations and meets campaign finance law requirements.

I think she has a point. There must have been some legal filings and reports that had to be done but, $1.7 million is a lot of money and obviously represents a great deal more in the way of legal services than routine, post-election paperwork.

How much money would you or I spend to avoid releasing our original and complete birth certificate so that every Tom, Dick, and Harry could pore over it to his heart’s content (as part of our ascension to the highest office in the land)? The obvious answer, in my own case, is not a dime. Why would I care?

Barack Obama clearly has spent very large and substantial sums of money on legal efforts to prevent that birth certificate’s public release. It is clearly in his interest to release it, to end law suits and put a stop to speculation and charges that he is somehow unqualified for the office he holds but, as we see again, despite encouragement from his own friend and ally, Hawaii’s Governor Abercrombie, Obama is not releasing it.

I don’t think Obama was born in Kenya, but it is only too obvious that Obama must have something to hide. Something sufficiently embarrassing or damaging that it is worth spending a great deal of money to conceal it.

22 Jan 2011

Not Far Behind

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Image 82 of Karen L. Myers’s photo essay on the Blue Ridge Hunt’s meet last Monday at Locust Hill (photo: Karen L. Myers)

Last Monday was cold, and this fox must have been reluctant to move from his comfortable hiding spot among the cedars at Federal Hill. He waited until the hounds were nearly on top of him before leaving, producing this photo by Karen including the head of the lead hound.

He ran right up the hill past the ancient manor house, crossed the road in the direction of Farnley, then circled back through Cedarwood back into Federal Hill where he went to ground in a tremendous sink hole, partially covered with a variety of large stones and other debris, presumably to keep the cattle from falling in.

One of the knowledgeable old timers told me that foxes tend to head for that particular sinkhole only when they are unusually hard pressed. I thought this fox was pretty close to getting caught, and we were all glad to see such a handsome fellow get away.

22 Jan 2011

Sarah Palin, Superhero and Fetish

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Steampunk Sarah

Leftwinger Chris Murphy, at Comics Alliance, has suffered a near mortal blow to his political sensibilities in having to review a new comic book featuring a Steampunk version of Sarah Palin as the superhero star. The new comic contains “fifteen pages of story, followed by eight pages of pin-ups of Sarah Palin.” And Murphy does not like it one bit.

The story starts in the near future, in the immediate aftermath of a war that has destroyed all the Earth’s oil. A new power source is needed, and Sarah Palin steps forward to suggest steam power as a replacement. A conglomerate consisting of big oil and nuclear power interests makes a counterproposal by blowing her up with a bomb at the meeting where she suggests this. …

Six months later Sarah Palin wakes up to find that she now has body more than half made of robot parts. Powered by steam. … Obama blew up in the explosion too, and is now part machine and called “Robama.” … They (including John McCain. now equipped with a robot arm) network a bunch of robots that can be controlled by Palin’s robot body and they all go off to save the world from the evil oil/nuke organization. … [a]nd [from] the Russians, who, as Robama informs us, have assembled a force along their border with Alaska. … They then defeat the evil organization run by the the oil/nuke conglomerate. Whose soldiers kind of dress like Cobra. And which is led by Al Gore. That’s followed by the aforementioned pages upon pages of pin-ups, which continue the book’s cash-in on the fetishization of Sarah Palin.

The theoretical publication date was January 19th, but Steampunk Palin is not yet available at TFAW or at Mile High Comics.

21 Jan 2011

Civility Hypocrisy

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National Journal’s Michael Hirsh wants to raise the bar on metaphorical speech to an entirely new level.

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Charles Krauthammer comments on liberal hypocrisy, noting just how uncivil the left was in the case of George W. Bush.


2006 Leftwing Mocumentary Film

21 Jan 2011

Barack Obama, Centrist Deregulator

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Where was the cost/benefits analysis on all the new regulations Barack Obama already signed?


Dan Mitchell
argues that Barack Obama’s new alleged centrism, as manifested by his WSJ column about deregulation, is not sincere, was accompanied by his usual factual misstatements, and is flagrantly contradicted by his policies.

The President garnered some attention for his January 18 column in the Wall Street Journal, in which he said we need to control the regulatory burden.

Let’s start with the insincere part. He praised capitalism.

America’s free market has not only been the source of dazzling ideas and path-breaking products, it has also been the greatest force for prosperity the world has ever known. That vibrant entrepreneurialism is the key to our continued global leadership and the success of our people.

I’m not really sure how to analyze this passage. Let’s just say it is akin to George W. Bush talking about the need for small government and fiscal responsibility.

Obama then talks about the need for balance, saying that regulations sometimes are too onerous, but then he gets to the inaccurate part.

…we have failed to meet our basic responsibility to protect the public interest, leading to disastrous consequences. Such was the case in the run-up to the financial crisis from which we are still recovering. There, a lack of proper oversight and transparency nearly led to the collapse of the financial markets and a full-scale Depression.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this statement. A part of the government, the Federal Reserve, creates far too much liquidity with an easy-money policy. Other government-created entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, then create enormous subsidies for bad housing loans. These combined policies lead to a bubble that bursts, and Obama wants us to believe it was a problem of inadequate regulation?!? For those who are interested, here’s a good article from the American Enterprise Institute explaining how government caused the financial crisis.

Now let’s get to the hypocritical part, where the President issues a new executive order, asserting we need to balance costs and benefits.

As the executive order I am signing makes clear, we are seeking more affordable, less intrusive means to achieve the same ends—giving careful consideration to benefits and costs. This means writing rules with more input from experts, businesses and ordinary citizens. It means using disclosure as a tool to inform consumers of their choices, rather than restricting those choices.

I suppose we should give the President credit for chutzpah. Less than one month ago, his Administration proposes an IRS interest-reporting regulation that, in a best-case scenario, will drive tens of billions of dollars out of the U.S. economy. That regulation does not even pretend there are any offsetting benefits, yet Obama says his Administration will be diligent in applying cost-benefit analysis. This is sort of like a kid murdering his parents and then asking a court for mercy because he’s an orphan.

Read the whole thing.

Another column or two like that, though, and David Brooks and Peggy Noonan will be signing Obama’s praises again.

20 Jan 2011

Mall Fountains Need Piranhas

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It started out, a few days ago, when an inattentive woman walking and texting in a mall near Reading, Pennsylvania obliviously proceeded to walk into the side of a decorative fountain and fell in. Her minor, but embarrassing, mishap, recorded on security cameras, was posted on YouTube and became the viral humor item of the week. At that point, it was simply mildly funny.

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But add the mainstream media, represented by George Stephanopolous and ABC News, and a local lawyer talking about investigating who is responsible, and we have a sad commentary on today’s America.

The inattentive woman eagerly embraces victim status, her lawyer pompously promises to investigate who exactly was responsible (as if that was not perfectly evident from the video itself), and finally George Stephanopolous, having listened to all this, proceeds to congratulate her for being a good sport. If she is a good sport, you certainly wouldn’t want to run into a whining idiot.

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