Sunday, January 31, 2010

Has anyone seen this man?

Poor old David Brooks, the NYT’s Op-Ed token continues his stumbling around in the wilderness searching in vain for coherent rationalizations for his Obama vote, and this time lashes out indirectly at the tea party movement. Though, he never mentions them by name, it is clear who he is talking about.

Both attitudes will always be with us, but these days populism is in vogue. The Republicans have their populists. Sarah Palin has been known to divide the country between the real Americans and the cultural elites. And the Democrats have their populists. Since the defeat in Massachusetts, many Democrats have apparently decided that their party has to mimic the rhetoric of John Edwards’s presidential campaign.
They’ve taken to dividing the country into two supposedly separate groups — real Americans who live on Main Street and the insidious interests of Wall Street.

It’s easy to see why politicians would be drawn to the populist pose. First, it makes everything so simple. The economic crisis was caused by a complex web of factors, including global imbalances caused by the rise of China. But with the populist narrative, you can just blame Goldman Sachs.

John Edwards will apparently be making appearances in more places than just Massachusetts.

The populists have an Us versus Them mentality. If they continue their random attacks on enterprise and capital, they will only increase the pervasive feeling of uncertainty, which is now the single biggest factor in holding back investment, job creation and growth. They will end up discrediting good policies (the Obama bank reforms are quite sensible) because they will persuade the country that the government is in the hands of reckless Huey Longs.

Again, he never comes out and says tea party but his analysis is unmistakable and unmistakably wrong.

That the tea party movement is making random attacks on enterprise and capital and increasing this feeling of uncertainty is certainly news to us. That the tea party movement should have such an impact on the economy!

The tea partiers are by and large free-enterprise capitalists who believe that for the most part, at the small and medium-sized businesses, the attacks on enterprise and capital stem from excessive regulation.

What the tea party movement champions above all else is limited and responsible government – to say that we have any of that right now is delusional when we have federal and state governments that are drunk with power and swimming in debt. And for standing up to that, the partiers are branded as un-American, an angry mob, racist and the now apparently pejorative, populist.

And to the extent that a responsible government enacts sensible reforms without demonizing Wall St. with us against them rhetoric and by enacting politically-motivated excise taxes against the banks (what was Brooks saying again about random attacks on enterprise and capital?), the issue of pending cyclical bailouts of our too-big-too-fail financial institutions should take care of itself. Reform is inherently neither good nor bad and to use it as a political tool will backfire.

Brooks finishes with this:
They will have traded dynamic optimism, which always wins, for combative divisiveness, which always loses.

Poor old David Brooks. By his very own definition of populism he is describing and vilifying the very man he voted for.

Your NFL Sunday fix

Something called the Pro Bowl will be played later today. They have rescheduled this glorified two-hand touch in pads exhibition from a week after the Super Bowl in Hawai’i to the week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl at the site of the Super Bowl (Miami) in an effort to boost interest. In our mind they are simply rescheduling a crappy view.

At any rate, we’re currently out in San Diego’s big desert-mountain backyard taking in the air and the sights and have a scheduled post later on with what has become a semi-regular feature of taking down the New York Times’ Op-Ed staff, or shooting fish in a barrel.

Until then, enjoy this classic NFL Films selection from Sam Spence from an age when dames, martinis and unfiltered camels were the order of the day.

Haiti is Obama's Katrina


We don’t know quite when this meme got started but we’ve been hearing more and more of it lately and frankly, we think it’s shameful.

There is no shortage of things in which to criticize the President and his administration’s decisions and policies but his “handling” (whatever that is supposed to mean) of Haiti is definitely no one of them.

We’ve been hearing stories coming out of Haiti regarding the bottleneck at the airport, the lack of security, the looting, the inability to get needed medical supplies and food and water to where it’s needed but for the life of us we cannot figure out what the hell President Obama is supposed to do about that.

This just in: Haiti was a train wreck before that train wreck was visited by a 7.0 earthquake.

This just in Pt. II: Haiti is a sovereign nation. As such, we have to ask permission in order to help. We have to ask permission to do a lot of things down there. We are taking heat as it is from the international set for a perceived military take-over of Haiti but regardless of how weak, ineffectual and corrupt Haiti’s government is, we must respect the nation’s sovereignty and if that results in delays and hang-ups, that is on the Haitian government.

Are there possibly competing agendas among international aid agencies and governments and even among U.S. government agencies down there right now? Bet on it but what is the President supposed to do about entrenched bureaucrats thousands of miles away trying to offer help in the most trying and difficult of circumstances.

Yes, Bush got a raw deal on a hurricane-ravaged city that is built below sea-level but trying to vindicate Bush by slamming Haiti over Obama’s head is petty, lame and flat-out wrong.

So, please just knock it off.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Straight pimpin'

… or just a really strong book recommendation.

We’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to a private reception and book signing for "The Only Thing Worth Dying For” this evening.

It is the story of an 11-man squad of U.S. Army Special Forces infiltrating southern Afghanistan just weeks after 9-11 in order to destroy the Taliban from within in the Taliban’s own Pashtun stronghold as well as keep alive a little-known Pashtun statesman, Hamid Karzai as he tries to rally militias against the Taliban.

Three weeks later, Karzai is the interim leader of Afghanistan and every member of the SpecOps squad is either injured or dead.

The author, Eric Blehm, is the brother-in-law of a good friend of ours and his last book “The Last Season” was an outstanding read. Eric has had interviews on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show as well as Dennis Miller’s radio show.

Barnes and Noble is featuring Eric’s book which can be ordered online through B&N here.

To family members: hold off on ordering and keep your eye on the mailbox.

"Obama the populist" to take on the BCS?


The Obama administration is considering several steps that would review the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series, the Justice Department said in a letter Friday to a senator who had asked for an antitrust review.

In the letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote that the Justice Department is reviewing Hatch's request and other materials to determine whether to open an investigation into whether the BCS violates antitrust laws.

"Importantly, and in addition, the administration also is exploring other options that might be available to address concerns with the college football postseason," Weich wrote, including asking the Federal Trade Commission to review the legality of the BCS under consumer protection laws.

File this one under be careful for what you wish for.

A couple of things to start off with if you are new to this site and/or are not familiar with our positions regarding the news item above from the AP.

First, we despise the BCS. Our stated position is to either scrap the thing entirely and go back to the old bowl system where the national champion is voted on at the end of the bowl season or.... scrap the thing entirely and go with an 8 or 16 team playoff system. This bastardized hybrid of old bowl system and quasi-playoffs (conference championship games in the Big 12 and SEC have served as de-facto semifinals in recent years) needs to be junked.

Secondly, and we know you were asking yourself the question as you read that news item, doesn’t our government and particularly Congress have better things to do than screw around with amateur athletics?

Congress has a long and proud (and perfectly legal) tradition of injecting itself into this country’s sporting pastimes. Congress has granted anti-trust exemptions for professional football and baseball and have never shied away from threatening to remove the same in order to leverage action from the NFL and MLB in way of things like free agency and drug testing.

Of course, the flip side to this is that Congress has done such a bang-up job of late with things like the economy and healthcare legislation, what could possibly go wrong?

At this point, and we hate to be this way, we’re going to take the squishy middle ground and just see how this plays out.

The President, in taking leadership in this issue, is after all, fulfilling a campaign promise to “throw his weight around a little” with respect to the BCS and the cynic in us believes that a distraction towards college football and away from the economy is just what the economy needs currently.

However, the degree by which the government intervenes is going to be key. We’re all in favor of a little saber-rattling in way of Congressional hearings with the anti-trust exemptions held aloft. Saber-rattling effected some positive change with respect to the BCS a few years ago by opening the door for “little guys” namely from the Mountain West Conference to participate in BCS bowl games (BYU and Utah, two MWC schools, are in Hatch’s home turf) and with drug testing in baseball. Without that Congressional leaning-on a recalcitrant BCS and MLB would not have made those changes.

What we don’t want to see though, and the track record thus far is atrocious, is a top-down cram-down approach like which was taken with General Motors, Chrysler, the Wall St. bailouts (started under Bush and continued under Obama), healthcare and cap and trade legislation where bullying, smear campaigns, backroom deals, bribes and blunt force politics of the worse manner were the order of the day. Again, these are legislative bodies currently run by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi – think of the possibilities.

It will be fascinating to see just how this all unfolds. Trust us, we’ll keep you posted.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Radio KBwD is on the air

Found this on Youtube just last night. It’s the studio version because the versions of the preferred live performances of this selection are not high quality.

Ladies and Gentlemen, from a Southwestern desert ghost town buried deep in your sub-conscience, it’s Calexico performing “The Ride (Pt. II)”

More fun with adverbs

Sales of new homes in the US unexpectedly dropped in December, the latest sign that government support is causing swings in the performance of the housing market.

New home sales fell by 7.6 per cent last month after falling by a revised 11.3 per cent in November, commerce department figures showed. Wall Street analysts predicted an increase.

The decline follows disappointing performances for existing home sales and home prices, which dipped after the original expiration date of the first-time homebuyer tax credit. Economists have argued that the credit, which was extended from last November to April, gave housing a false boost and ‘’stole from future demand’’.

“The hangover from the ‘end’ of the first-time homebuyer tax credit continues,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics.

Again with the “unexpectedly”…. again. Gotta hand it to these experts and analysts, though – the fact they are able to stay employed for being as wrong as they continually are is a testament to their raw survival skills.

Want to bet that 7.6% figure gets unexpectedly revised upwards once more data comes rolling in?

Of course, this article confirms what we’ve been bitching about from the beginning: these horrible demand side prop-up programs have distorted the market by spiking the demand curve to the left and have exacerbated an already bad market situation by encouraging bad risks to enter the market and bad risks to stay in the market.

Some random thoughts that may or may not be tangential to the State of the Union speech a couple nights back.

In bemoaning the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down portions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, the liberal-Left and even some on the right have claimed the floodgates of money from corporations will overwhelm the body politic threatening American democracy itself. Funny how this fear of evil corporations is never, in the breathless rhetoric, extended to the unions of Big Labor to which the Supreme Court decision also applies.

Also, we all would scream bloody murder if Cogress ever tried to put speech restrictions on newspapers, and rightly so, but is not, say, the New York Times a corporation? Leaving the parsing of who can say what and when up to Congress would not be a favorable development for freedom and liberty in this country.

B-Daddy wonders just how much of a Constitutional scholar one can be if said scholar vows to get laws passed to get around laws that… just got smacked down by the Supreme Court. Read more, here.

Said scholar, himself, eschewed public financing of his campaign to go swimming in oceans upon oceans of cold hard campaign cashe.


More Cowbell?

Trust us, the irony that Obama’s supporters (including Obama, himself) who believe that one of his greatest traits is his oratory and communication skills, think that the reason Obama’s policies have not gained traction with the general public is because Obama has not been able to adequately articulate his positions is not lost on us.
(H/T: The Corner)

And finally this:

(H/T: KT)

You’re kidding. This has got to be photoshopped, right? The teleprompter at the kickoff meeting for the Middle Class Task Force? But enough about the teleprompter how about that Task Force, huh? Retarded or condescending? You’re call. These people have proven thus far they don’t posses the collective wherewithal to fix a flat tire and now they convene a Middle Class Task Force? Guys, you’ve done quite enough already. Seriously. It’s OK, just leave us alone.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Honduras update (UPDATED)

(please scroll down for update. thanks)

With all this excitement going down stateside, we don't want to forget about a neighbor to the south. Previous posts on Honduras, here.

At what point do you think the State Department might have enough egg on its face to call it quits with respect to their embarrassingly political handling of Honduras? They’re calling for another carton.

Honduras will inaugurate president-elect Porfirio Lobo this week, two months after one of the world's most recently famous little countries held a successful democratic election. So we are left to wonder why the United States State Department is still trying to hammer anyone there who dared to participate last summer in the constitutional removal of President Manuel Zelaya from office.

What’s truly amazing is that this fiasco looks to have a happy ending even after the bullying and meddling of super-powers like the U.S. and regional bad actors like Cuba and Venezuela. In a move that for this part of the globe looks damn-near Washingtonian, the interim President and member of the disgraced Zelaya’s own party, Roberto Micheletti, will step down from power so that Lobo can assume the office of president just as Micheletti promised when this whole thing blew up last June.

A smooth transfer of power should be something to be celebrated yet a spiteful State Dept. has refused to re-instate the visas of Micheletti, his cabinet and advisors and the entirety of the Honduran Supreme Court and, last week, the State Dept. continued its spite-fest by yanking even more visas from members of the interim government.

The bullying doesn’t end there as Lobo, under pressure from our government, has agreed to let Zelaya, despite the legal charges against him, go to the Dominican Republic where he will no doubt consort with the likes of Chavez and Brothers Castro to foment discontent towards and within Honduras.

What a tremendous example we have set for burgeoning and struggling deomcracies in the hemishere who will now think twice before turning to the great United States for assistance.

(UPDATE #1):Don’t think for a moment the citizens of Honduras have forgotten about this country’s attempts to interfere with that country’s ouster of Zelaya and the subsequent elections that saw a peaceful transfer of power in the executive branch to a different political party.

Mr. Zelaya's ouster, widely condemned as a coup, plunged Latin America into a diplomatic crisis. No country recognized the new government, the Organization of American States suspended Honduras, and governments and international financial institutions canceled aid. But neither sanctions nor intense diplomatic negotiations were enough to return Mr. Zelaya, a close ally of Venezuela's populist President Hugo Chávez, to power.

The crowd attending Mr. Lobo's inaugural booed mentions of the OAS, U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens, and Costa Rican President Óscar Arias, all of whom tried to arrange for Mr. Zelaya's return to power.

The Honduran crisis also created tensions between the U.S. and Brazil, Latin America's emerging heavyweight. Brazil strongly criticized what it said was U.S. reluctance to apply tougher sanctions against Honduras, which depends on U.S. trade and remittances from Hondurans living in the U.S.

(italics, ours)

Terrific. At the end of the day we wind up pissing off everybody.

The more we think about this, the more we cannot believe that with the deck stacked against Honduras as it was, this potential meltdown is going to have a happy ending. Props to the interim president, Roberto Micheletti, who stayed the course by not giving into overwhelming and near-unanimous pressure from without to re-instate Zelaya and who kept his word by holding elections and stepping down when Lobo won the election. That Washingtonian moment of holding a nation together and graciously and lawfully stepping down when the time came will represent Honduras’ finest hour.

God bless the people and country of Honduras for showing courage and a commitment to the ideals of sovereignty and democracy.

Exit thought: Iran got all the ink with respect to the administration’s handling of the two international crisis but this was far worse as the response to Iran was a sin of omission rather than the sin of commission that was Honduras.

Exit question: For the lefties that write history and love to paint America as the meddling and imperialist bad guy, how will they write the Honduras chapter? Democratic president aligning with the hemisphere’s socialist goons in order to keep another socialist goon in power and ultimately losing out when Honduras elects a conservative to the office of president. That ought to be good read.

“I want to get the lesbian perspective”* **

We were discussing the President’s call during his SOTU speech for ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military with some colleagues at lunch today and wondered aloud if DADT was one of those cards the President would hold on to and play it only if his approval numbers were tanking to the point that he was starting to lose some of his progressive base (kinda like, now). They didn’t think so because repealing DADT “wasn’t a big deal”. Don’t know about that because if it wasn’t a big deal, how come it hasn’t been done already?

We understand Porkulus, healthcare and cap and trade were higher on the legislative agenda but we also can’t help but think that the man who (currently) opposes gay marriage would use DADT and by extension the gay community as a political tool to shore up support on his left. Generally speaking, we wonder if the gay community feels the same way and we wonder if they even care as long as the President is pushing for an end to DADT.

* Years ago, local sports talk show host, Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton (pictured), blasted that across the airwaves in a request for some specific insight regarding a sexual orientation-related issue, the details of which are lost to time and memory.

** Any Hacksaw reference automatically increases the quality of the post, no matter how sketchy, between 15-20%

Outsmarting one's self

We’re big fans of the concept of not overthinking things.

Example #1: The bar and restaurant at Stone Brewery up in Escondido is libations and gastronomic wonder. It carries a tremendous array of not only Stone brews but other local and in-state microbrews as Stone has always been a champion of and down for the struggle. Each menu item has a suggested wine and beer pairing for the best dining experience and the layout and furnishings of the restaurant and patio area is unparalelled here in the San Diego area.

Alas, there are no T.V.s in the bar. Not even a nice simple 19” monitor tucked away un-obtrusively so the men-folk can keep an eye, if not full rapt attention, on the ball game. The bartender informed us after we inquired, “That’s not the sort of atmosphere we want to create here.” Dude, you serve beer, you serve food… don’t overthink things.

Example #2: The Neighborhood in East Village is a chic diner establishment that serves up neveau-comfort food along with its own outstanding beer lineup (yes, it is frequented by black horned-rim glasses-wearing scenesters drinking pints of Pabst Blue Ribbon but the awesomeness of the beer lineup makes up for any lame faux irony factor). They are quite proud of the fact that they do not provide catsup for any of the 4 styles of burgers they make, instead featuring a homemade sauce for each one of the burgers. Those sauces may be the greatest developments in the history of condiments but quite frankly, we don’t care as besting catsup for a hamburger just isn’t going to happen. Besides, we the customer like and want catsup for our burgers. Again… don’t overthink things.

Which brings us to the picture below which is what greeted us in the hallway of our offices when we came into work on Monday and which replaced the standard bulkhead-mounted water fountain unit. After coming back in from the yard or the ship, we have invariably worked up a little bit of a thirst and are looking forward to nothing more than a satisfying quaff from the water fountain.

It’s got some really cool features like a hot and chilled water option and some other buttons we haven’t yet figured out but coming back in from the yard what the heck are we supposed to to with this when carrying around a paper or plastic cup is not part of our uniform? Nice try with the HAL 9000 water dispenser but….. don’t overthink things.

The man with the plan

Awesome. In a nut-shell, here is the campaign questionnaire that Robert Menendez, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman, is issuing to Democratic candidates in an effort to wedge Republicans from the “far right” “extremists” in the Party before the 2010 midterms.

1. Do you believe that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen?
2. Do you think the 10th Amendment bars Congress from issuing regulations like minimum health care coverage standards?
3. Do you think President Obama is a socialist?
4. Do you think the country should return to the gold standard?

Yep. That’s the Big Idea being advanced by Democratic Party leadership that will decimate Republican hopefuls as their apostasy to the conservative base of the Republican Party is revealed.

We’ve got one of our own for the Republicans candidates to use on their Democratic opponents:

1. Do you support the President’s spending freeze proposal?
2. Do you support the continued bailouts of Wall St. financial institutions?
3. Do you support the excise tax on banks whether they have received TARP money or not to the exclusion of bailout recipients General Motors and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?
4. Do you support healthcare reform in its current state and do you support the deals, bribes and give-aways, including those made by the President himself, in order to fashion it?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Radio KBwD is on the Air: Special Edition.

We’re continuing our special edition of Radio KBwD in order to feature some of our favorite cuts from The Who, who have been chosen to perform at half-time of the Super Bowl, and of which you may not be familiar.

“I suppose I like this least of all the stuff”, wrote Townshend. “It suffered from being the first thing we did after Tommy, and also from being recorded a few too many times. We did it once at my home studio, then at IBC where we normally worked then with Kit Lambert producing. Then Kit had a tooth pulled, breaking his jaw, and we did it ourselves. The results are impressive. It sounded great in the mosquito-ridden swamp I made it up in, Florida at three in the morning drunk out of my brain with Tom Wright and John Wolf. But that’s always where the trouble starts, in the swamp. The alligator turned into an elephant and finally stampeded itself to death on stages around England."

Uhhh…. sure, Pete.

Off of their compilation album Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy, here’s the lads performing “The Seeker”

The sadly obligatory State of the Union checklist post

When “Obama the populist” is unveiled tonight as he touts his administration’s success in curbing the influence of “special interests” in Washington politics, please bear in mind this track record over the past calendar year:

1. Big Pharma has spent $150 million in advertising in support of Obamacare after a White House deal was cut behind closed doors.

2. The President personally oversaw and negotiated the gift to the unions that would exempt them from paying the 40% excise tax on their “Cadillac” health plans.

3. The President raised no objections to the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker kickback and the myriad of other closed-door deals that were cut in order to pass healthcare legislation.

4. The President has packed his economic advisory team with the very Wall St. insiders he now derides as “fat cats”.

5. The President oversaw the takeover of 2 auto manufacturers (GM and Chrysler) which included bankruptcy proceedings that shafted secured creditors in favor of the labor unions.

6. The President signed a $787 stimulus bill which has not had the promised effect on unemployment and has, in fact, been merely political payoff to favored constituents.

7. There does not appear to be any plans to halt, suspend, delay or otherwise put a bullet in the head of TARP that has propped up Wall St., the President’s latest villain or any other element of Bailout Nation.

8. The excise tax that will be exacted on the nation’s largest banks (many of whom have repaid the TARP money with interest or received no TARP money at all) will be done so to the exclusion of other bailout beneficiaries such as aforementioned union-dominated auto manufacturers and mortgage-crisis black holes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

This is by no means a comprehensive list - it was cut short for the sake of brevity and so as to not embarrass the President on his big night.

So, while “Obama the populist” makes his inaugural appearance please keep in mind the above which have been the deeds not the words of someone who campaigned on the themes of “changing the way Washington does business” and who is claiming his administration’s success against “special interests”.

Because "National Left-wing Hate Movement" just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

It's a small sign igniting a big debate. An official state of Colorado Adopt-a-Highway placard announcing that a one-mile long stretch of US Highway 85 is sponsored not by the Boy Scouts or the Lions Club, but by the Nazi Party of Colorado.

And to think that some people would get these guys confused with a bunch of stinky, bearded hippies from Boulder.

When the Nazi's first applied for the stretch of highway just south of Bromley lane in Brighton, the Colorado Department of Transportation called to say thanks, but no thanks.

But the law, it turns out, was on the Nazi's side.

"Courts around the country have allowed white supremacists to sponsor highway signs," says Anti-Defamation League Director Bruce DeBoskey. So although the Anti-Defamation League couldn't be more opposed to the Nazi movement, it advised the state to put the application through.

"To have our freedom we have to have all kinds of speech, and this is a case where hate speech is protected," DeBoskey said. "This organization stands for hate. It's a white supremacist group. It is a neo-Nazi group."

No one ever said the defense of free speech was going to be a clean, tidy or an enviable task, so props to the ADL for standing on principle.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On tap for the Angola State Prison menu: White meat?

James O’Keefe, the guerilla videographer who along with his partner, Hannah Giles, caught ACORN employees last year giving advice to their pimp and prostitute personas with respect to setting up prostitution rings is in a wee bit a trouble.

Alleging a plot to tamper with phones in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans, the FBI arrested four people Monday, including James O'Keefe, 25, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group's credibility.

Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. All four men were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.

O’Keefe who was making conservative insurgency tactics hip, was fond of quoting leftist community organizing pioneer, Saul Alinsky. Allow us to offer one up on O’Keefe’s behalf: You do the crime, you do the time.

Can’t say as there’s anyone less we would want to trade places with considering he and his merry band of “plumbers” are looking at fines, jail time and a disgraced legacy. Heckuva job, guys.

Exit question: does this mean Hannah Giles is available?

You can take the candidate out of Chicago but you can’t take Chicago out of the Oval Office

A former Congressional staffer, Whalen laments the politicizing of these events because the theatrics mask the bigger issue: "We can't control ourselves in terms of the fiscal functions of our government," he says. "We're a mess. We can't even have a process in place that is transparent and easy for people to understand. That's why we have a problem - this was all done in the dead of night."

We’ve seen and read enough in the wake of Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts to divine the Democratic strategy for 2010 and the approaching midterms: equal parts blame Bush and attacks on Wall St.

The attacks on Wall St. prong will be particularly interesting as the White House and the Democrats will leverage efforts to reform regulation governing the financial giants against Republicans, conservatives and the tea party movement. The response to the pushback against the clearly naked political ploy of demonizing Wall St. will be who’s side are you on, Wall St. or Main St?

That is why the Republicans would be wise to get out in front of this issue and craft a reform plan of their own so they cannot be painted into a corner. We encourage you to read B-Daddy’s piece here on some sensible reform measures for our “too-big-to-fail” financial institutions.

As to the overall strategy of whining about Bush and demonizing Wall St., neither of which will be doing a damn bit of good to improve the economic situation in this country, you should not be surprised as this is simply the game plan of big city micro-politics applied at a national level.

Despite the visionary rhetoric of post-partisanship and moving beyond the Bush years we heard from candidate Obama, he is simply a product of his environment: a Harvard-educated dandy who made his bones in the brass-knuckle world of Chicago politics.

Expecting the President to open up his aperture to see the big picture for the long-term health of this country is spitting into the wind as it’s election season and political survival is paramount. Why anyone would expect anything else from the President and the Chicago hacks that have his ear in the White House is beyond us.

Joe Klein takes a very dim view of your skepticism, America.

Forget the tea partiers and the voters of Massachusetts, you know who else is throwing a righteous fit these days? Obama-phile columnists like Joe Klein who are convinced we are not worthy of our government’s magnanimous beneficence and let's all of us really have it in a blog post titled "Too Dumb to Thrive".

Absolutely amazing poll results from CNN today about the $787 stimulus package: nearly three out of four Americans think the money has been wasted. On second thought, they may be right: it's been wasted on them.

Take that, you knuckle-dragging mouth breathers. But then, inexplicably, Joe trips up by admitting what we’ve known all along.

Remember all those "shovel-ready" projects? Well, they didn't exist. The big jobs-creating projects like the rebuilt "smart" electric grid, major highways and fast trains will come on line during the next year.

We’ve always thought that it was hard to qualify as a “stimulus” bill when the allegedly heavy-hitting portions of porkulus don’t get turned on for a full two years after the bill has been signed into law.

But then again, what do we know? Just consider us among Joe Klein’s unwashed and ungrateful masses in America, circa 2010.

... sneaky little Asians

For a nice little microcosm of the current state of inner city public education and the media, please check out KT's post on school violence in Philadelphia, here and please also check out some of the brilliant insight in the comments.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Hey, do you remember when they told us that a vote for John McCain would just be a continuation of the Bush era policies of giving out fat no-bid contracts to cronies for the express purpose of war-profiteering? Well, they were right.

Despite President Obama’s long history of criticizing the Bush administration for “sweetheart deals” with favored contractors, the Obama administration this month awarded a $25 million federal contract for work in Afghanistan to a company owned by a Democratic campaign contributor without entertaining competitive bids, Fox News has learned.

The contract, awarded on Jan. 4 to Checchi & Company Consulting, Inc., a Washington-based firm owned by economist and Democratic donor Vincent V. Checchi, will pay the firm $24,673,427 to provide “rule of law stabilization services” in war-torn Afghanistan.

A synopsis of the contract published on the USAID Web site says Checchi & Company will “train the next generation of legal professionals” throughout the Afghan provinces and thereby “develop the capacity of Afghanistan’s justice system to be accessible, reliable, and fair.”

The legality of the arrangement as a “sole source,” or no-bid, contract was made possible by virtue of a waiver signed by the USAID administrator. “They cancelled the open bid on this when they came to power earlier this year,” a source familiar with the federal contracting process told Fox News.

“That’s kind of weird,” said another source, who has worked on “rule of law” issues in both Afghanistan and Iraq, about the no-bid contract to Checchi & Company. “There’s lots of companies and non-governmental organizations that do this sort of work.”

It’s a double-whammy: a no-bid contract… for lawyers.

Full disclosure: We aren’t expressly objectionable to no-bid contracts. During the Balkan crisis in the 90s, President Clinton re-upped Haliburton’s contract (yes, that Haliburton) without an open compete. Federal acquisition rules almost guarantee a long drawn-out process and switching horses in midstream for an outfit that was providing housing, food, transportation and other logistical support for our troops (and by all accounts was performing admirably) may not have been such a great idea.

Full disclosure II: Tough. Alinsky’s rules for radicals dictate that you hold the opposition to their own standards. Remember this guy?

H/T: Hot Air

Getting it? Don't count on it.

Article out of Politico on Friday illustrates perfectly the disconnect between the political/economic landscape in this country and the administration’s and Congressional Democrats’ understanding of it. This lack of understanding the reality of the situation goes a long way towards explaining why the great Blame Bush tour of ’09 has spilled over into the new year and shows no signs of slowing down

“What happened was they got so caught up in all these other issues like health care and cap and trade and all this other stuff, that because of that they maybe didn’t put enough focus on the economy,” said Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, a moderate who represents a conservative, rural district hard-hit by the economic crisis.

That’s funny because we thought the very first piece of legislation that Obama was able to push through was Porkulus. You remember Porkulus? $787 billion to ensure that employment would not go over 8%. Seems to us that over three quarters of a billion dollars would qualify as “focus” on the economy.

Administration officials say they get it — with Axelrod recently admitting that Obama’s team is recalibrating and refocusing on the economy. Emanuel, for his part, is now pushing for a stripped-down health care bill that could be passed within a few weeks and force Republicans, for a change, to take a few tough votes.

This exposes health care reform for what it really is. Emanuel sees health care as nothing more than a political tool with which to wield power. He apparently is incapable of grasping the fact that Americans have seen enough already with respect to health care and that the administration has blown through all the political capital that would make a “stripped-down health care bill” a possibility in even a more favorable political climate.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who supported Obama’s $787 billion stimulus a year ago, says the president needs to be much more forceful about how, where and why the money was spent if Democrats are going to get credit for attacking the recession in an era of double-digit unemployment.

DiFi sure as hell doesn’t get it, either. Part of the problem with porkulus that was entirely predictable is that no one knows how, where and why the money was spent. When you’ve got money going to congressional districts and zip codes that don’t even exist that ought to be a big hint that porkulus is not the job-creating or saving bill you have been waiting for.

“I think the administration needs to be much more aggressive, and hopefully the president will outline some of this in his State of the Union address,” she said. “We very much need leadership from the executive on this. You can’t just put money out there — even if we had it to put it out there — unless it’s going to produce an actual new job.”

Obama fatigue. When isn’t this guy on television? We’re flat worn out. And aggressive? From what we've seen aggressive translates into attacks on Fox News, Rush, Sarah Palin and demonizing Wall St. Stand by for more of the same.

At the moment, the whole cacophonous crew seems to be united by the fear that no one is safe if a tea party-backed Republican can win the Senate seat the late Ted Kennedy held for nearly 50 years.

Wow. First whiff of legitimacy we’ve witnessed in a straight news item.

As one can readily see from the paragraphs above, they actually don’t get it one bit and we will all be suffering for it.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

The current Obama administration policy of blaming Bush is a curious one indeed. Not only does the rhetoric, one year into the current administration, sound whiny and gutless it’s also highly ironic as the way we and many others see it, Obama’s domestic policies are nothing if not Bush’s domestic policies on human growth hormones.

B-Daddy has more here.

Doing what it does

Last Tuesday morning the Comfort was sitting at pier 11 in Baltimore with no power or people or supplies. A big chunk of cold steel. From the time the President said go, in 66 hours we were turning knots. That means getting all the people and supplies and getting the ship seaworthy. This was a major accomplishment!

We sailed with almost 500 crew on board. The remainder of the crew will be flying into Haiti over the next few days. Some crew members will be hot racking. That means two people will share a bed on different shifts. For the first two days the crew ate MREs. We’ve got meals now as they’ve brought up the galley.

When the ship has its full compliment, with the water requirements of the patients and the water making capabilities of the ship at anchor, the crew will probably not be able to shower every day. And when we do it’ll be a ‘Navy shower.’ Turn the water on and get wet then turn it off. No more than 15 seconds. Soap down and wash, then turn it on and rinse. No more than 30 seconds. And by the way, the water may not always be very warm… oh well.

I started to write, “So that’s the bad side.” But that’s not the bad side. It’s just the way things are. And I’ve not heard a single complaint from anybody on this ship. I say again these are professional caregivers. The best the country has to offer.

The USNS COMFORT, one of two Navy hospital ships (the other is the San Diego-based USNS MERCY) is in Haitian waters as we speak providing medical care, making clean water and dispensing food and medical supplies to that quake-ravaged country.

Read more here from one of the volunteers aboard the ship.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

So, how are we coming along with that war on terror thingy?

Let’s look at some recent developments with respect to the war on terror and see if we can gage by some degree or another if we really are serious about fighting terror.

Back in December, Homeland Secretary, Janet Napolitano said that the Christmas crotch bomber was not part of a larger terrorist plot to which we replied:

Oh, really?

Every single jihadist on the face of this planet be they trained and funded by or affiliated with Hamas, AQ, Hezbollah, the Taliban… even if they are “lone wolves”… whoever, is part of “a larger terrorist plot.”

That larger terrorist plot is called Islamic extremism and every single one of its minions is unified in its hatred for the West and its institutions and belief systems and are fatally committed to its destruction including all who live within it who are not found to be in sufficient compliance to Sharia law.

But if Napolitano and the other powers that be can’t quite grasp that concept, other detained terrorists who have since been able to lawyer-up are making the distinction a little bit easier.
A Tennessee man accused of killing a soldier outside a Little Rock, Ark., military recruiting station last year has asked a judge to change his plea to guilty, claiming for the first time that he is affiliated with a Yemen-based affiliate of Al Qaeda.

In a letter to the judge presiding over his case, the accused killer, Abdulhakim Muhammad, calls himself a soldier in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and calls the shooting “a Jihadi Attack” in retribution for the killing of Muslims by American troops.

If your memory is a little hazy on the above, don’t be alarmed because this incident which involved the assassination of one Private William Long and the injury of one of Long’s colleagues at the hands of an obvious Islamic jihadist back in June of last year has been effectively swept under the carpet as the Commander-in-Chief who couldn’t get out of his way fast enough to condemn the murder of abortionist, Dr. George Tiller, has still failed to make a single comment regarding the murder of an idividual in his chain of command.

And for some news from a more recent event; from Time Magazine:
The U.S. military's just-released report into the Fort Hood shootings spends 86 pages detailing various slipups by Army officers but not once mentions Major Nidal Hasan by name or even discusses whether the killings may have had anything to do with the suspect's view of his Muslim faith. And as Congress opens two days of hearings on Wednesday into the Pentagon probe of the Nov. 5 attack that left 13 dead, lawmakers want explanations for that omission.

(John Lehman, a member of the 9/11 commission and Navy Secretary during the Reagan Administration, says a reluctance to cause offense by citing Hasan's view of his Muslim faith and the U.S. military's activities in Muslim countries as a possible trigger for his alleged rampage reflects a problem that has gotten worse in the 40 years that Lehman has spent in and around the U.S. military. The Pentagon report's silence on Islamic extremism "shows you how deeply entrenched the values of political correctness have become," he told TIME on Tuesday. "It's definitely getting worse, and is now so ingrained that people no longer smirk when it happens."

The apparent lack of curiosity into what allegedly drove Hasan to kill isn't in keeping with the military's ethos; it's a remarkable omission for the U.S. armed forces, whose young officers are often ordered to read Sun Tzu's The Art of War with its command to know your enemy. In midcareer, they study the contrast between capabilities and intentions, which is why they aren't afraid of a British nuclear weapon but do fear the prospect of Iran getting one.

(italics, ours)

And this from USA Today:
In the wake of a mass shooting allegedly by a military psychiatrist, the Army's top doctor acknowledged his service needs to improve how it manages medical officers, including using more candor in reviewing their officers' performance.

But Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, the Army surgeon general, told USA TODAY there's no evidence his staff "could have predicted" that Maj. Nidal Hasan, the man accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas, "could have become a mass murderer."

(italics, ours)

Because nothing says inactionable intelligence like having a business card that says, “servant of Allah”, a shoddy record of medical performance and inappropriate discussion of his Muslim faith at work, email exchanges with a radical Yemeni cleric and reportedly shouting “Allah Akbar” while he was shooting up Ft. Hood.

Missing all that is one thing. To perpetuate that incompetence once you’ve been caught with your pants down, though, is entirely another and because of that this jack-ass Schoomaker ought to be relieved of his command immediately.

OK. So there you have it. Looks like we’re pretty much on our own and dependent upon the likes of citizen-heros like Todd Beamer and the Flying Dutchman in our fight against Islamic jihad.

We're in the best of hands.

Radio KBwD is on the Air. Special Edition

Back in high school, one of our good friends, Murph’, came from a very strict religious household that did not take one bit to the devil’s music and, in fact, forbade rock'n'roll from being played in the house or listened to by any of the children.

This did not deter Murph’s undercover love affair with the Scorpions, Van Halen and particularly The Who. We jokingly likened Murph’s clandestine trysts with his transistor radio and smuggled tape cassettes in his room to teenagers and other young people in the Soviet bloc turning down the volume on their radio in order to secretly listen to Voice of America broadcasts during the Cold War. The sounds of freedom!

In related news, the NFL has decided to let The Who perform at half-time of the Super Bowl which we think is a fantastic idea. Last year, we nailed our prediction that Bruce would open with “Tenth Avenue Freezeout” and we’re predicting “My Generation” will be the opener at this year’s Super Bowl.

After that, the field’s wide open with many great songs from which to choose and over the next couple of weeks, between now and the Super Bowl, Radio KBwD will be featuring some of our favorite Who tunes with which you may not be entirely familiar…. like this one which was one of Murph’s favorites as well.

Murph’, wherever you are, this one’s for you.

“Tomatoes…. Potatoes…. Stew…”

Forget John Galt.... who is Ellie Light?

Like a clarion call, the identical language has been popping up in letters to the editor across the nation as a defense of the President:

Today, the president is being attacked as if he’d promised that our problems would wash off in the morning. He never did. It’s time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can’t just wave a magic wand and fix everything.

The Philadelphia Daily News, the San Francisco Examiner, Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal, South Carolina’s Sun News, the Washington Times, a blog at USA Today, Wisconsin’s Sheboygan Press and Stevens Point Journal, Good Times of (of course) Santa Cruz, CA., Daily Breeze in Long Beach, CA., and even The Bangkok Post… all these and more have featured the pennings of one “Ellie Light” who, in each instance, has claimed to be a local resident.

Of course, someone as ubiquitous as Ms. Light must be a networking demon and sure enough, she has her own Facebook profile.

Sweet! We’re so “friending” Ellie.

H/T: Hot Air

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A So what's so horrible about the occasional apocalyptic struggle for the soul of the Party update*

Combined with a quote of the day wrapped up in a oh goody – another John McCain-related knock-down drag-out.

With all due respect to McCain’s past noble war service, it’s time to head to the pasture. As the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, he was wrong on the constitutionality of the free-speech-stifling McCain-Feingold campaign finance regulations. He was wrong to side with the junk-science global warming activists in pushing onerous carbon caps on America. He was on the wrong side of every Chicken Little-driven bailout. He was wrong in opposing enhanced CIA interrogation methods that have saved countless American lives and averted jihadi plots. And he was spectacularly wrong in teaming with the open-borders lobby to push a dangerous illegal alien amnesty.

No sooner than Sarah Palin announced she would campaign for the re-election of John McCain, former Arizona congressman and conservative Phoenix-area radio show host, J.D. Hayworth, has announced his own primary challenge to McCain.

Talk about crappy timing. Drop the person of John McCain from the equation and this is precisely the sort of primary fight where Palin, darling of the Tea Party movement, would be campaigning on behalf of the challenger.

We totally understand how Palin may have accepted McCain’s offer out of a sense of loyalty but, honestly, this doesn’t quite look or feel right.

* Original post can be found here.

H/T: Hot Air

Great moments in the history of Google search engine steering

When we were searching for a news article on the backroom give away that President Obama personally offered up to the unions that would exempt them from having to pay the 40% excise tax on their “Cadillac” health plans we punched in “Obama” and “unions” and this is what Google thought we might like to see to the exclusion of all else:

(click on image to enlarge)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Radio KBwD is on the air

It’s rock’n’roll. It’s not supposed to be good.
- Tom Petty

What does it say about the current state of rock and roll that one of our 20-ish nephews very excitedly turned us on to this garage gem that is going on 40 yrs. old?

Not ever letting any merely competent musicianship get in the way of success, these guys remain one of our all-time favorite bands and we’re kind of embarrassed that we we’re unaware of this song's existence.

Ladies and Gentlemen: from El Cerrito, California it’s Creedence Clearwater Revival performing “Pagan Baby.”

They certainly don't behave like it's the economy, stupid

The number of newly-laid off workers seeking jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week, as the economy recovers at a slow and uneven pace.

Layoffs have slowed and the economy began to grow in last year's third quarter, but companies are reluctant to hire new workers. The unemployment rate is 10 percent and many economists expect it to increase in the coming months.

“Unexpectedly”, as in, “it wasn’t supposed to be this way” and “they said it would never be this bad” and “we can’t keep providing cover for these incompetents much longer”.

We noted, anecdotaly, in a previous post some time back that during the Bush years, the GDP figures were constantly being revised upwards in a somewhat "unexpected" fashion also. We're not suggesting anything untoward but when GDP figures from last quarter where revised downward not just once but twice from 3.5 all the way down to 2.2, we were curious as to who was doing the books and wondering if they weren't swayed possibly by the false promises of high expectations.

In other economic-related news today...

Someone named Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist, was on O’Reilly’s show a couple nights ago and he was asked by the host, in the wake of the Massachusetts miracle and the apparent(?) demise of Obamacare, what should the administration should focus on.

After some perfunctory remarks, the Big Idea that the administration should pursue entering their second year, according to Trippi, would be to “go after the banks and the insurance companies.”

(sound of crickets)


Terrific. Unemployment is at 10 percent and “expected” to rise and this clown is promoting more class warfare.

Exit question: Is it stupidity or merely rigid and inflexible adherance to ideology that creates a hostile business climate via horrible legislation (and even the threat of horrible legislation) and useless faux populist saber rattling at Wall St. which in turn puts a freeze on companies hiring people?

Free speech a' gogo

Large portions of the McCain-Fiengold campaign finance law were struck down by the Supreme Court yesterday as they ruled against CFRA (Campaign Finance Reform Act) restrictions on labor and corporate political contributions.

The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.

By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

The last paragraph interested us the most because it involved a group called Citizens United and their movie, an anti-Hillary bit, “Hillary: the Movie” (clever) and the question of whether they could air that movie within 30 days of a general election as prohibited by CFRA.

Here’s Justice Stevens writing for the dissent:
The real issue in this case concerns how, not if, the appellant may finance its electioneering. Citizens United is a wealthy nonprofit corporation that runs a political action committee (PAC) with millions of dollars in assets. Under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), it could have used those assets to televise and promote Hillary: The Movie wherever and whenever it wanted to. It also could have spent unrestricted sums to broadcast Hillary at any time other than the 30 days before the last primary election. Neither Citizens United’s nor any other corporation’s speech has been “banned,” ante, at 1. All that the parties dispute is whether CitizensUnited had a right to use the funds in its general treasury to pay for broadcasts during the 30-day period. The notion that the First Amendment dictates an affirmative answer to that question is, in my judgment, profoundly misguided.

Of course, the 1st amendment does not give an affirmative answer as to whether its lawful to run this movie within 30 days of an election – the 1st amendment is negative in nature, as in, Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech which 5 of the Supremes have rightly concluded includes politically-themed movies from corporations whose owners wish to run 30, 25, 1 day before or even on the day of an election.

If CFRA dictates that free speech is prohibited within 30 days of a general election, it most certainly qualifies as banning free speech. How can it not be?

And why does Stevens see fit to mention that Citizens United is wealthy? What bearing does that have in his decision?

Years back, a local pol, in defending CFRA cited all those commercials the public is bombarded by both on T.V. and radio in the closing days of an election cycle. It’s like an overwhelming amount of information or something. Well, excuse us for objecting to what you may think we find objectionable. It was nanny-state politics at its worse. If you don’t like all those commercials on T.V. then turn the channel or, better, turn it off. And too much information? Its called democracy and it’s not supposed to be easy. Turn off the damn television, pick up the voter guide and educate yourself.

And cue howls of outrage from the Left about how elections will now be hi-jacked by corporations, Wall St. and big business, in general, which all dovetails quite nicely with the President’s current War on Wall St.

However, the idea that CFRA did anything at all to curtail the amount of money being spent on elections was illusory, anyway. If records are made to be broken, then laws were made to have loopholes. One of the feel-good elements of CFRA was that it would cut back on negative attack ads. Because CFRA restricted how much money could be donated to a candidate, 527s like sprung up and started shoveling money into efforts that were against candidates resulting in a proliferation of the very negative campaigning that CFRA was supposed to tamp down.

At the end of the day, the appearances of too much money in politics is not the problem, it is merely the symptom of the problem.

We’re breaking out a truism regarding politics that has been on ice for a while as we’ve been tackling other issues but it goes something like this: You will never curtail the amount of money in poltics until you curtail the power and influence of politics/government by a corresponding degree.

Money in politics is a quid pro quo arrangement and until you dial back that return on investment ratio, you will never, repeat, never, dial back on the amount of money that flows into politics.

B-Daddy, who has been a strident critic of CFRA has his thoughts on the matter here.

P.S. Efforts are underway as we speack to amend the 1st amendment so that corporate speech is deemed separate from individual free speech and letting Congress dictate what is and isn't free speech. Gulp.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The obligatory when you lose Paul Krugman post

Maybe House Democrats can pull this (healthcare reform) out, even with a gaping hole in White House leadership. Barney Frank seems to have thought better of his initial defeatism. But I have to say, I’m pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.

But enough about Krugman…

We were reading the comments to this piece and a general theme was a lamenting a lack of strength or resolve by Obama himself to see through his agenda. We didn’t expect anyone to really criticize the content of the legislation on Obama’s slate but what had us mildly surprised is that no one seemed objectionable to the tawdry, unseemly and outright corrupt manner in which Obamacare was fashioned.

Sure, there is always going to be a degree of “the end justifies the means” among acolytes of any political figure but Obama who fashioned himself as a pragmatic centrist made the “means” the focal point of his campaign. Hope and Change weren’t end states but rather the road or journey that would expose “the process” of Washington to the sanitizing effects of sunlight.

Maybe we need to get out more but the fact that growing criticisms of Obama from his left lock on to his lack of resolve and political experience (we knew all this already) rather than his complete and total abrogation of his campaign meme’ is, well, disappointing.

Great moments in the history of American journalism

File this one under “one stop shopping” or “posts that write themselves” because on the very same page of yesterday’s fish wrap we had our "Exhibit A” in Eugene Robinson’s “Column Left” piece and "Exhibit B” in David Brook’s, ahem, “Column Right” piece.

First, Robinson in the Washington Post:

The health care reform legislation that the administration and Congress have worked so hard to achieve is ending up being perceived as “the best we could hope for.” The Senate bill is in many ways a breakthrough, especially in covering 31 million uninsured Americans and ensuring that no one can be denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions. But progressives had to give up the idea of a public insurance option, and organized labor had to compromise on taxing “Cadillac” health plans. When all is said and done, these activist constituencies may applaud the final result, but they won’t be jumping for joy.

(italics, ours)

That’s an interesting application of “compromise”. However, Robinson is the one with the paying gig so giving him the benefit of the doubt, if he meant compromise in the context that the unions accepted Obamacare in return for not paying the 40% excise tax that every other swinging dick possessing a “Cadillac” health plan will be required, then yes, the unions did indeed compromise.

Oh for cryin’ out loud. Who is Robinson trying to fool? Spinning for your position on policy is one thing but Robinson eschews flirtation and fast tracks to full blown intercourse with intellectual dishonesty with that statement.

One gets the sense that the apologist brigade has run out of steam and is just mailing it in at this point.

On to our old friend David Brooks…

Poor ol’ David Brooks, the token on the NYT Op-Ed columnist line-up. For the past 6-7 months he’s been stumbling around in the wilderness fashioning rationalizations for his vote for and now continued support of President Obama. It’s really been quite sad to witness a respected journalist carry-on like this and not have the brass to come out and say, “Hey, I effed-up. My bad. The guy has been a disaster thus far”. No such as Brooks continues to twist himself into some embarrassingly tortured logic with respect to Obama’s first-year performance.

When the Pilgrims left Britain to come to America, they left behind that metaphor as well. For these settlers, and the immigrants who have come since, the American nation is not a body with the government as the brain. Instead, America has been defined by its vast landscape and the sprawling energy of its entrepreneurs, scientists and community-builders.

In times of crisis, Americans rally around their government, but most of the time they have treated it as a supporting actor in national life. Americans are an unusual people, with less deference to central authority and an unparalleled faith in themselves. They seem to want a government that is helpful but not imperious, strong but subordinate.

Over the years, American voters have reacted against any party that threatens that basic sense of proportion. They have reacted against a liberalism that sought an enlarged and corrosive government and a conservatism that threatened to dismantle the government’s supportive role.

OK. So far so good. A little American exceptionalism-lite.

But here’s where he completely weirds-out:

A year ago, the country rallied behind a new president who promised to end the pendulumlike swings, who seemed likely to restore equilibrium with his moderate temper and pragmatic mind.

In many ways, Barack Obama has lived up to his promise. He has created a thoughtful, pragmatic administration marked by a culture of honest and vigorous debate. When Obama makes a decision, you can be sure that he has heard and accounted for every opposing argument. If he senses an important viewpoint is not represented at a meeting, he will stop the proceedings and demand that it gets included.

If the evidence leads him in directions he finds uncomfortable, he will still follow the evidence. He is beholden to no ideological camp, and there is no group in his political base that he has not angered at some point in his first year.

(jaw hits floor)

It’s like Brooks fell into a 15 month coma and when he came to and was ordered to assess the President one year in, he panicked and for research material grabbed whatever was setting on the bed stand which happened to be Obama campaign flyers circa October ’08.

How one can write that after witnessing the countless backroom deals, bribes and strongarming in which this administration has engaged without any regard for transparency or accountability defies logic.

If and when the NYT begins charging for online content as they have threatened to do, they may want to keep in mind that a large portion of their subscribers may be doing so only to keep tabs on what a train wreck their Op-ed staff has become. And that’s a charm that only lasts for so long.

Special guest feature

For a little more post-game analysis of the Hail Mary Coakley v. Brown Massachusett(e)s miracle we turn it over to…. Coakley’s housekeeper?

When I am getting back, I am surprise to see Senora Coakley very happy. "Oh Rosa, oh Rosa!" she say. "El Presidente is coming for to campaign rallies for me! We are save! We are going to the Washington!"

In the next days Senora Coakley and her campaign peoples are very excited to prepare for El Presidente and for to make the attack ads. It is very busy in the house and I am try to make sure there are enough ashtrays for El Presidente, but the attack ad people keep to ask me, "Rosa! How do you spell Massachusettes?"

But when Senora Coakley and the people are come back from the rally with El Presidente, they are all being very quiet with the angry looks. The next days before the election days the house is like the funeraria, and all of the people are making the updating resumes on the computers. Senora Coakley is alone in the kitchen practicing the smiles and throwing the Ben and Jerrys.

Get some more, here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A couple of after-school feel-good stories on a rainy Wednesday evening

Two children. One heart. Read more here about a parents’ commitment and devotion, private citizens banding together to do good and performing miracles via the current state of American medicine.

Anecdotal talk radio moment that is to be taken for what it’s worth:

Dave from Pennsylvania called into Hedgecock’s show yesterday from Florida as he was there with his daughter visiting a limb-correcting specialist. Many other people from out-of-state were there also as this doctor is recognized as one of the best in the field. Many people from out of state and out of country as well. A mother-daughter tandem came down from Canada to see this doctor. Dave spoke to them at length at the clinic to get their story.

Long story short: At one time the Canadian health care system did indeed offer limb-correcting procedures performed by specialists in that field. Because the expense of these procedures was borne by “the system” it became increasingly prohibitive for the service to be offered to Canadian citizens. Credit the Canadian healthcare system for not scrapping the limb-correcting program, though, as they made some tweeks to their procedures to lower the costs. Instead of undergoing the costly corrective procedures along with the arduous physical rehab afterwards, the Canadians eliminated all of that and simply started amputating the limbs instead.

Makes sense, right? Hell, you've got two of each. And why should we all be paying for someone else’s costly medical procedure?

After all, its about equality, right?

Poll results

Despite our implicit attempts to sway public opinion on our latest polls, the Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, has been voted by you, the readers, as the biggest hack in the Obama administration garnering 38% of the vote in a very impressive field of hacks.

The readers of BwD have shown an independence that would not be influenced by this pages outright contempt for its vote for biggest hack and because of that we are proud to announce the Secretary as the people’s hack!

Congratulations, Mr. Secretary, you certainly have earned it.

Economics 101: Skin in the game

All the ranting and raving we’ve been doing about sound vs. doomed-to-fail economic policy on these pages for the past two years is summed up in a succinct, 3-1/2 minute manner in this video below from

We’re glad she hits on the concept of skin in the game, for an economic system cannot operate as it should if there are no consequences for risky business practices which is precisely what we have seen in this country’s own economy since the advent of Bailout Nation.

The endless bailouts and horrible demand-side programs like Cash for Clunkers have distorted the markets and have prolonged this recession and, in fact, are leading it to a double-dip recession.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We're all pick-up truck drivers, now! (UPDATED..again)

(UPDATE #1): Please check out B-Daddy's excellent wrap-up/analysis of Scott Brown's monumental victory in Massachusett(e)s last night, here.

Allow us to pull a quote from B-Daddy's piece:

"(Chris) Matthews (of MSNBC) did say something that I think was correct. He said that people support big government when it works, when it builds highways that work and universities that are good. He implied but did not state that people would support big government run health care if it worked. But we know that will never happen. Further, the things he discusses happened in an era of much smaller government. Today, government is so large, it can't even do it's traditional job well, which seems to be lost on Matthews..."

(UPDATE #2): How predictable has the liberal-Left media establishment become?

Before we answer this question you need to check out this exchange last night on MSNBC between Keith Olbermann and Newsweek’s Howard Fineman:

KEITH OLBERMANN: One last aspect, and this is not necessarily pretty. 1964, 1965 the greatest years of civil-rights change in this country since Emancipation and in the 1966 midterms the Republicans took 47 seats from the House from the Democrats, and most of those elections had clear racial undertones, man had overtones.

The Republicans and the Tea Partiers will tell you what happens with Scott Brown tonight whether he wins or comes close is a repudiation of Obama policies. And surely one of Obama's policies from the viewpoint of his opponents is it's OK to have this sea-change in American history--to have an African-American president. Is this vote to any degree just another euphemism, the way 'states rights' was in the '60s?

HOWARD FINEMAN: Wow, that is a good question. I would look first at the polls. If you look at polling, all the new polls including the NBC poll and the CBS poll, Barack Obama is overwhelmingly liked personally by the American people. I think for most of the American people race is no respect a part of the equation. Maybe not in Massachusetts but maybe in some places there are codes, there are images, there are pick-up trucks. You can say there's a racial aspect --

OLBERMANN: O-o-o-f. What were the Scott Brown ads, though? Every one of the Scott Brown ads had him in a pick-up truck.

(italics, ours)

Yes, you read that correctly. Pick-up trucks are code for I don’t cotton to the darkie.. But back to the question of the utter predictableness of Olbermann and his ilk.

Their act has become so draw by the numbers that a genius like Iowhawk can parody the act a full week before they give in any material by which to parody.

Smack of the day...

... and the inexact science of burger polling

"The Coakley burger used to be called the Gisele Bundchen burger, after Tom Brady's girlfriend," says Bartley. "It's strange: The Gisele used to actually sell but since the name change, no one seems to want a Martha."

That from Karen Bartley of Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage

In all fairness to Ms. Coakley, would you buy that burger? Just goes to show, having the goods does make a difference.

Whither Fannie and Freddie

Something called the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has convened a dog and pony show to beat up on Wall St. while giving public forum for a plan to enact a 10 yr. tax on banks which we blogged about here on Friday. Incredibly, this tax would apply both to banks that have repaid TARP money (with interest) and even to those banks that never received a single dollar of TARP money.

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has started its work with a highly publicized two-day hearing in Washington, D.C. The Commission is supposed to find out what caused the financial crisis, but it seems like they are trying to enact Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. Among all the bankers and regulators on stage during the hearings, there was not a single representative of the government-sponsored mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were major causes of the housing bubble.

The reason for the omission is disturbingly obvious. When Congress created the Commission they wanted a crisis narrative of greedy bankers and passive regulators. In other words, they wanted to put the blame somewhere else. Fannie Mae ( FNM - news - people ) and Freddie Mac ( FRE - news - people ) are creatures of Congress and it was Congress that pushed them to undermine underwriting standards and increase lending to low-income households while stalling reform.

(italics, ours)

Fannie and Freddie have completely run amok and continue to do so as we speak. After having been effectively nationalized back in September of ’08, there was a $200 billion cap on government aid to each company put in place. Right before New Year’s, however, beyond which time it would need Congressional approval, the Treasury Department lifted those caps indefinitely. (We blogged about that particular Friday evening dump, here asking the question that with no spending cap, no effective Congressional oversight and in Fannie's case, no Inspector General, what's to keep the two from their continued misbehaving?)

What is truly disturbing about the caps being lifted is not necessarily that more tax dollars will be poured into a financial blackhole but rather this merely re-enforces the mentality within both Fannie, Freddie and Wall St. as a whole that there will still be no real consequences for risky behavior or bad business practices in the future. Amid overwhelming justifications to the contrary, there is not a single shred of evidence that would suggest the government will not bailout the financial/mortgage lending sector if this all turns south again.

And with the myriad of home-owner assistance programs that are keeping people in their houses who have no business doing so (which results in simultaneously pouring more of their own and tax-payer dollars into a black hole and depriving other sectors of the economy capital/spending if the homeowner was in a cheaper rental), the housing sector is being denied an opportunity to unwind, allowing the bad actors to exit, gracefully or otherwise, so we can truly locate where the baselines are in the housing market.

As it stands currently and because of all these life-support programs, we still do not have a solid estimate for the amount of toxic assets that are still on the books and we will continue to have a “shadow inventory” of millions of zombie homes that are teetering on the brink of foreclosure inviting the near-inevitability of a second bubble.

The relationship between the federal government and Wall St. is reminiscent of that between the feds and Big Tobacco. The government will demonize the two entities, fining and taxing them along the way but never doing it to a degree that will ruin them as the federal government, in the case of Big Tobacco and soon Wall St., like a strung-out junkie depends on these evil entities for its habitual fix.

If you do find any between the seat cushions let us know

An Obama administration official’s spin on the possibility of a Scott Brown victory today in Massachusetts and how it will affect their uphill climb in achieving their legislative agenda:

“The painstaking campaign for change over two years in 2007 and 2008 has become a painstaking effort in the White House, too,” the official said. “The old habits of Washington aren’t going away easy.”

Pathetic. Honestly, it’s stomach turning.

Speaking of old habits, let’s remember this d-bag’s boss, the one who promised an unprecedented degree of transparency, not even just one week ago cut a deal behind closed doors that would exempt labor unions and government workers from the 40% excise tax on their “Cadillac” health plans to help pay for Obamacare. That’s right – the man who said that healthcare reform was all about equality and for that we’ll be picking up Big Labor and Nebraska’s portion of the tab.

And this guy’s boss is the same man who promised to usher in a new era of unity and post-partisanship but to the contrary has embarked on campaigns to attack news organizations and demonize the financial sector making Wall St. the fall guy for our current (and soon-to-be double-dip) recession, a problem created more by his administration’s actions than any other entity.

This would also be the same guy that promised “no more business as usual” yet orchestrated the firing of the CEO of Chrysler and led a cramdown bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler, strong-arming and threatening character smears of secured creditors to accept terms favorable only to the unions. Now, never having seen that before, we guess we could classify that as “no more business as usual”.

We gotta ask: “What change?” Seriously, what fundamental change to how politics is done in D.C. has there been? Seems to us that this is Washington and good ol’-fashioned machine politics but on Human Growth Hormones.

Damn, if that dude isn’t right. Guess old habits do die hard in that town, afterall.