EARLY MORNING LINKS — they’ll still be brief, because I’m still busy
ITEM: Think of it as evolution in action: Josh Freeze comes up with a novel (and brilliant) tiered pricing structure for his new solo album:
At the cheaper end of the tier, $50 will get you the digital download, a double disc set, a t-shirt, and a 5-minute phone call with Freese to discuss anything you like—including what you liked or didn’t like about the album. Too boring? Buy the $250 package and you’ll get signed drumsticks, plus you can have lunch with Freese at The Cheesecake Factory or PF Changs. The $5,000 package includes (among other things) a letter from Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam telling you about his favorite song on the album.
But wait there’s more! If you’re willing to spend a sizable amount of money, the perks get even weirder: there’s only one $10,000 package, but that’s because included alongside the foot massage and day at Disneland, Freese will give you his Volvo station wagon, of which he obviously only has one. The $20,000 package includes 2 original songs written for or about you, and you get sing back up or play (“the drums, triangle, whatever”) on them.
ITEM: Political geeks (and Democrats themselves) usually point to the 1994 mid-term elections as a cautionary tale for Obama and Congress, but Jeffrey Lord goes back to 1966.
ITEM: Somewhere in here, it’s important to remember that the Democrats have controlled Congress for two years, not two months:
ITEM: As I recall, when Bush did this, it was decried as an attempt to snub the mainstream media and manipulate the news. Now it’s described as Obama seeking “filter-free” news coverage. And the State Department is having its own problems with the press.
ITEM: Creeping socialism/fascism update: the House votes to create a national youth corps under Federal control with mandatory service requirements. Now, who was it who did that several decades back? (UPDATED: And let’s not forget the Soviets!)
ITEM: Pres. Obama has an editorial published today in a variety of countries around the world. Frank Gaffney worries that we’re actually sending the wrong message.
ITEM: So, ‘resetting’ the US relationship with Russia — how’d that work out?
The profound differences in psychology, philosophy and policy that have been the central source of friction between the American and Russian governments for the past decade remain very much in place. Sooner or later, the Obama administration will have to grapple with them.
Anyone who doubts the truth of this need only look at remarks Lavrov himself made last weekend in Brussels, where he presented a vision of the world utterly unchanged by the events of Jan. 20. Speaking to past and present policymakers — several of whom had helped dismember the Warsaw Pact and expand NATO in the 1990s — he offered his own version of those developments, as well as of some more current. Among other things, he said, or implied, that the West lied to Russia; that NATO remains a threat to Russia; that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe should replace NATO as the primary Western security organization; and that, by the way, Russia has plenty of potential clients for its gas in the Far East should its Western clients ever become problematic. As for Russia helping to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons — an Obama administration suggestion — Lavrov’s only comment was that “there is no proof that Iran even has decided to make a nuclear bomb.”
The transcript of his remarks, and those of other Russians attending the same conference, do not capture their snide tone, or the scorn with which they dismissed suggestions that Russia’s neighbors might have wanted to join NATO because they were afraid of Russia. To return to the metaphor: If that is how the Russian government sounds after pressing the reset button, I’m not sure that the technical complications that caused the screen to freeze have gone away.
ITEM: Investors Business Daily asks the legitimate question, “If Geithner’s Plan Is Bad, Why Do Markets Like It?” One answer: we’re back to the Greater Fool theory: if investors think that other investors like it, then they’ll buy stocks in anticipation of selling them to those other investors. The question is, will yesterday’s rally be sustained? [UPDATED: Nope.] Noam Scheiber (at The New Republic) thinks the Geithner plan can work, but doesn’t really address the additional cost to taxpayers.
ITEM: Yet another tragic story of someone feeling solidarity with a “revolutionary” movement, only to be brutalized by that same movement. In the words of 60s liberal Pete Seeger, “When will they ever learn?”
OVERNIGHT LINKS — they’ll be brief, because I’m busy
ITEM: Well, Obama is losing Congress for going back on his promises regarding signing statements.
ITEM: And Zogby says Obama’s approval numbers are down to around 50%. On the other hand, I’m not sure I trust Zogby polls much. [MORNING UPDATE] Of course, even his Rasmussen numbers aren’t looking all that good:
ITEM: On the other hand, Obama still has the late-night comedians in his pocket. Obama just had possibly the worst week of his career, providing tons of comic fodder, and what did Jay Leno feature on the Tonight Show? An idiotic “What’s George Bush Doing Now?” skit (Bush and Cheney fighting with light sabers). That’s almost as pointless and pathetic as Jacob Weisberg over at Slate continuing his “Bushisms” feature.
ITEM: The Senate shows some remarkable good sense and puts a hold on the idiot House Bonus Tax Bill for now. Betcha those AIG execs who gave back $50 million in bonuses are kicking themselves right about now.
ITEM: Creeping socialism/fascism alert: the Obama Administration wants more power to seize businesses. I thought that’s what got us into this mess in the first place.
ITEM: George Will may appear mild-mannered, but he’s mildly wielding a mean baseball bat in this column.
ITEM: “Investors offered toxic mortgages” — Is that where you’d put your money? So why does the government thing the investors will buy these assets? That’s what Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) wants to know:
“The plan seems to offer little incentive for private investors to participate unless the subsidy is made so rich that it comes at the expense of the taxpayer,” Mr. Cantor said in a statement.
And here are the likely incentives, which pretty much mean the taxpayers are screwed again.