Black Friday

| March 20, 2009
That's funny, the damage doesn't look as bad from out here.

That's funny, the damage doesn't look as bad from out here.

MORNING LINKS.

ITEM: That didn’t take long: President Obama apologizes for his “Special Olympics” remark on the Tonight Show last night. In the meantime, the New York Times beclowns itself (hat tip to Strategy Memo at Real Clear Politics) by saying: “In his appearance with Mr. Leno, Mr. Obama walked a tightrope between projecting good humor and projecting a presidential air.” Yeah, joking about handicapped people falls under “projecting good humor”. Oh, and the NY Times article quotes almost every Obama clip except the Special Olympics one. No selective reporting there. Philip Klein (The American Spectator) notes that CNN gave Obama a pass as well. The LA Times did cover it, but only at the very end of a long story.

ITEM: Remind us again why Barack Obama was a better choice than Sarah Palin?

ITEM: Also from Philip Klein: “8 of 10 Americans happy with their health care”. So why exactly are we looking at spending over a trillion dollars on “health care reform”? Also, Philip Klein (man keeps popping up, doesn’t he?) addresses the myth of the 46 million Americans without health insurance.

ITEM: From the I-am-not-making-this-up Department: Countrywide sues AIG. May they both lose.

ITEM: Speaking of the New York Times and clowns, the NYT managed to run an extensive profile of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-PMA) and his various troubles without once mentioning that he’s a Democrat.

ITEM: Not only are most Americans happy with their health care, a majority now values economic growth over environmental protection for the first time ever. Yeah, when you’re unemployed and facing foreclosure it’s hard to care about a hypothetical 3-foot rise in sea levels 100 years from now.

ITEM: Speaking of environmentalism: urbanization is a good thing, while moving out to the countryside damages that which we strive to preserve.

ITEM: The law of unintended consequences continues to trip up good (or bad) intentions: Will bonus fix slow recovery? Furthermore, will the idiotic legislation passed by Congress damage the companies that the US Government is now buying up? As Noam Scheiber at TNR says,There are third-world juntas that would think twice before doing this.”

ITEM: xkcd weighs in with a plea for journalistic honesty:

Now let’s talk about the difference between a million and a trillion.

Hail to the Chip!

Hail to the Chip!

ITEM: If you’re not reading this blog, you should be.

ITEM: Also, that dawn-of-a-new-era Obama outreach to countries such as Iran? How’s that working out?

ITEM: Oh, and that “[lobbyists] won’t find a job in my White House” pledge? How’s that working out?

ITEM: And then there’s the “most open and transparent Administration in history” pledge. How’s that working out?

ITEM: The Rasmussen Obama Approval Index dropped 3 points back to its lowest level ever, +4. What’s most telling is the slow erosion of the “Strongly Approve” and “Total Approve” numbers, which are both at their lowest points ever (35% and 55%, respectively). The glow of the One appears to be fading a bit.

ITEM: Speaking of which: as Drew over at Ace of Spades notes, this is “about the only thing John McCain got right last year”:

ITEM: I never thought I’d see the day when the European Union demonstrates more financial wisdom than the US.

ITEM: Morning headline: “More people in love than previously thought”. Than who previously thought?

ITEM: There are a number of editorials and articles that are beginning to echo the fundamental question, “What the hell is happening in America?” Here’s one from our Neighbors to the North:

Helicopter Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve is dropping trillions of fresh paper dollars on the world economy, the President of the United States is cracking jokes on late-night comedy shows, his energy minister is threatening a trade war over carbon emissions, his treasury secretary is dithering over a banking reform program amid rising concerns over his competence and a monumentally dysfunctional U. S. Congress is launching another public jihad against corporations and bankers.

As an aghast world — from China to Chicago and Chihuahua — watches, the circus-like U. S. political system seems to be declining into near chaos. Through it all, stock and financial markets are paralyzed. The more the policy regime does, the worse the outlook gets. The multi-ringed spectacle raises a disturbing question in many minds: Is this the end of America?

As they say, read the whole thing.

ITEM: In the meantime, the “Throw Geithner Under The Bus” clock keeps ticking. This is not the sort of article you want to read about yourself on the web (the writer even mentions the C-word):

I used to think that it would be a long, long, long time before I would witness a Cabinet official make as spectacular a mockery of himself as Alberto Gonzales did when he was at the Department of Justice.

Then, Timothy Geithner came along. . . .

Now, after two months on the job, Barack Obama has had to come out and tell people that he has every confidence in Geithner’s ability to serve. As just about everyone in Washington knows, once the President has to express confidence in the abilities of a Cabinet officer, that Cabinet officer is under a deathwatch.

And here’s another one from the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, that great bastion of retrenched conservatism:

But as the debacle over the American International Group bonuses has made clear, Geithner’s knowledge about Wall Street is matched by his ignorance about the political culture of Washington. And the blunders committed by Geithner (and others, including the Federal Reserve and previous Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson) could undermine key elements of President Obama’s economic recovery plan.

ITEM: In the meantime, the Financial Times — another publication that has lurched to the left in recent years (probably due to Bush disapproval) and to which I subscribed in years past — stands athwart the current overheated populism and clears its throat:

Capitalism has been wounded by the global recession, which unfortunately will get worse before it gets better. As governments continue to determine how many restrictions to place on markets, especially financial markets, the destruction of wealth from the recession should be placed in the context of the enormous creation of wealth and improved well-being during the past three decades. Financial and other reforms must not risk destroying the source of these gains in prosperity. . . .

Partly owing to the collapse of the housing and stock markets, hostility to business people and capitalism has grown sharply again. Yet a world that is mainly capitalistic is the “only game in town” that can deliver further large increases in wealth and health to poor as well as rich nations. We hope our leaders do not deviate far from a market-oriented global economic system. To do so would risk damaging a system that has served us well for 30 years.

ITEM: The number of voices speaking out against the punative (and quite possibly unconstitutional) actions of Congress continues to increase. Here are a few: the (UK) Daily News; the Economist; Michael Lewis at Bloomberg.com; and Charles Krauthammer. In the last case, you can almost hear Krauthammer’s quiet yet pungent voice:

A $14 trillion economy hangs by a thread composed of (a) a comically cynical, pitchfork-wielding Congress, (b) a hopelessly understaffed, stumbling Obama administration, and (c) $165 million. . . .

And there is such a thing as law. The way to break a contract legally is Chapter 11. Short of that, a contract is a contract. The AIG bonuses were agreed to before the government takeover and are perfectly legal. Is the rule now that when public anger is kindled, Congress summarily cancels contracts?

Even worse are the clever schemes now being cooked up in Congress to retrieve the money by means of some retroactive confiscatory tax. The common law is pretty clear about the impermissibility of ex post facto legislation and bills of attainder. They also happen to be specifically prohibited by the Constitution. We’re going to overturn that for $165 million?

Nor has the president behaved much better. He too has been out there trying to lead the mob. But it’s a losing game. His own congressional Democrats will out-demagogue him and heap the blame on the hapless Timothy Geithner.

ITEM: Doug Johnson thinks that yes, indeed, March 9th may have represented the bottom of the bear market. While I truly hope he’s right, all I can say is:

newbullmarketmar2009.gif

ITEM: We all need a reason to laugh, and this is one of the funniest and most amazing stunts I’ve seen in some time (hat tip to Rachel Lucas):

OVERNIGHT LINKS. I stay up late so that you can wake up early.

ITEM: Congress seem determined to prove Mark Twain right: “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” And speaking of which — “When they came for the Merrill Lynch bonus recipients, I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a wealthy Wall Street trader.” You know the rest.

ITEM: Meanwhile, Obama appears on the Tonight Show and indicates that he’s trying to get ahead of the backlash backlash. Smart man; he must have watched the Congressional hearings involving AIG.

ITEM: On the other hand, Obama made a joke about the Special Olympics and his lack of bowling skills. If Bush had done that, ten national organizations would have been up in arms, and it would have dominated the mainstream media for at least 72 hours, with the clip being played over and over. Obama’s teleprompter has issued a statement disclaiming all responsibility. Meanwhile, Jim Treacher has come up other suggested witticisms that Obama could use.

ITEM: On the other hand, I’m not sure having your aides tell the press how much President Obama has been in the dark about critical and controversial issues is a winning strategy. In the end, the choices boil down to appearing ignorant (and thus incompetent) or dishonest.

ITEM: When will Barack Obama stop campaigning and actually govern the United States?

ITEM: Obama appears to be losing Peggy Noonan. I’m just not sure most Republicans want her back.

ITEM: The fascist overtones of Obama and Congress in berating AIG executives as individuals have real-world consequences (read the whole thing):

The A.I.G. executive who was nicknamed “Jackpot Jimmy” by a New York tabloid walked up the driveway toward his bay-windowed house in Fairfield, Conn., on Thursday afternoon. “How do I feel?” said the executive, James Haas, repeating the question he had just been asked. “I feel horrible. This has been a complete invasion of privacy.”

Mr. Haas walked on, his pink shirt a burst of color on a slate-gray afternoon. The words came haltingly. “You have to understand,” he said, “there are kids involved, there have been death threats. …” His voice trailed off. It looked as if he was fighting back tears.

“I didn’t have anything to do with those credit problems,” said Mr. Haas, 47. “I told Mr. Liddy” — Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G., the insurance giant — “I would rescind my retention contract.”

He ended the conversation with a request: “Leave my neighbors alone.”

And here’s more.

ITEM: Give credit where credit is due: AG Eric Holder is making the right move in changing the US Government’s basic attitude towards Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Gee, I’m so used to seeing bad moves (deliberate or erroneous) out of the Obama Administration that I feel downright giddy seeing one I like and thoroughly approve.

ITEM: And now I can say the same thing about Congress: Rep. John Conyers (D-Moon) is actually calling for hearings about ACORN’s various criminal and quasi-criminal activities. However, the other Democrats on the committee are suddenly finding all sorts of reasons why ACORN shouldn’t be investigated:

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and civil liberties that hosted Thursday’s hearing, suggested there was not enough “credible evidence” to warrant a hearing focused exclusively on ACORN.

Rep. Melvin Watt said he would concede that ACORN and some of its members engaged in voter fraud. But he said voter fraud was already covered by existing law and Congress has not further role in the matter. “I’m not coming to a hearing to have a trial on ACORN. That’s not my job,” the North Carolina Democrat said

Not enough “credible evidence” about ACORN? Give me a break.

ITEM: Like it or not — and whether China likes it or not — we’re in bed together.

ITEM: Hey, let’s bail out newspapers! Talk about burying the lede — you have to get halfway through this very long article before you get to this key suggestion:

Going backward is not an option; nor is it desirable. The old corporate media system choked on its own excess. We should not seek to restore or re-create it. We have to move forward to a system that creates a journalism far superior to that of the recent past. We can do exactly that–but only if we recognize and embrace the necessity of government intervention. Only government can implement policies and subsidies to provide an institutional framework for quality journalism. We understand that this is a controversial position.

Help us, Oba-ma Kenobi! You’re our only hope!

ITEM: But just don’t ask him for DVDs. Yes, that’s write, the “25 Classic American Films” that Pres. Obama so generously gave the visually-impaired UK PM Gordon Brown won’t even work in Brown’s DVD player. Wrong region. Cheap and incompetent — just what we like to see in a President and his staff.

That’s it for now; I’ll post some updates in the morning.  ..bruce w..

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Category: 2008 Election, Business, China, Dogs, Economics, Environment, Geopolitics, Humor, Information Technology, Journalism, Links roundup, Main, Media, Obama Administration, Science, Stimulus, US Politics, Video

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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