Monday, Monday . . .

| March 16, 2009
I think I saw one of these on Outer Limits once

I think I saw one of these on "Outer Limits" once

. . . can’t trust that day . . .

Obama & Company are trying to figure out how to get out in front of taxpayer anger rather than be the target of it. Good luck with that! On the other hand, if Obama had been honest before the election last fall . . .

Obama Approval Index is back down to just +6 down to an all-time low of +4. That’s as opposed to +30 two days after his inauguration (which was less than two months ago). Lo, how the mighty have fallen . . .

Speaking of taxpayer anger, expect a big explosion in San Diego Country. Home prices have dropped nearly 25%, but property taxes are going to go up because someone cleverly put in an automatic increase tied to inflation (and independent of changes in property values). In particular, I like this statement:

“We don’t have a choice,” said Jeff Olson, chief of county property assessment services.  . . . “I always say I’m not a policymaker, I’m a policy follower – we just follow the rules,” Olson said.

Also from San Diego, the following is not, I repeat, not an Onion article:

Trevor Hadrian started collecting Hot Wheels when he was 6. They were toys then, the key props in imaginary police chases, construction projects and ambulance runs.

When he got too old to play in the yard, he kept buying the miniature cars but left them in the packaging, preserving their value and his memories of a purer, less complicated time.

Now Hadrian, 22, a Vista resident, is scrambling to survive the economic downturn – looking for work, moving to a smaller apartment and “selling pretty much everything.”

Even his Hot Wheels, all 400 of them.

“It’s killing me,” Hadrian said. “But I’ve got to eat.”

All across San Diego County, people trying to make ends meet are facing hard decisions about what stays and what goes. The choice can be especially painful for those who have spent years cultivating collections that feel like part of the family.

We’re no longer dealing with “enemy combatants” at Gitmo, and in fact, according to our new Homeland Security Sec’y Janet Napolitano, we’re not even dealing with terrorism any more, but merely “man-caused disasters”.  You can’t make this stuff up. Besides, Napolitano is being sexist here; it should be “human-caused disasters”.

I’m not a big fan of ex-Presidents and ex-Veeps running around bad-mouthing the current Adminstration. But after the last eight years of Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and (occasionally) Bill Clinton doing just that to the Bush Administration, I figure that it’s only karma for the Obama Administration to have to deal with Dick “Darth Vader” Cheney. Particularly when (according to a breathless Keith Olbermann) Mr. Cheney ran his own secret assassination squad.

Speaking of idiot journalists, Kathleen Parker (of “oogedy-boogedy” fame) argues with a straight face that newspaper journalism was destroyed by . . . (wait for it) . . . Rush Limbaugh! (Hat tip to Kevin Williamson.) This is a logical and conceptual non sequitur of such staggering extent as to be admired even as it is ruthlessly mocked.

If you want some intelligent and supportable insight as to the problems facing newspapers, here’s a great start (hat tip to Metafilter).

Who exactly is the card-check (anti-secret-ballot) legislation intended for? “Just 9% of Non-Union Workers Want to Join Union”.

And there are some real-world headlines you just can’t make up: “Leftist Ex-CNN Reporter Wins El Salvador Presidency”. No, really.

Last week, I recommended (and I recommend strongly) the film “The Lives of Others”. Here’s an essay from someone who has lived under socialism.

And more European second-thoughts about Obama and his plans: “Euros Backing Away From Gitmo Prisoners”.

In the meantime, Obama throws Mexico under the bus.

We get blatant racism and not-even-coded code words from...a liberal talking about GOP Chair Michael Steele:

You can’t put a colored face out and think that black people and brown people and women are coming just because you got a colored face out front.

So if the economy is going to recover by the end of 2009, just why did Congress pass and Obama sign that trillion-dollar train-wreck of a “stimulus” bill and put us on the path for massive long-term deficits? (Note that Fed Chief Bernanke says nothing about the stimulus bill helping; he only talks about getting the banks and financial markets back on track.)

But wait! “Top administration economic advisors” say that a quick turnaround is unlikely!

Even the AP (no fan of Republicans or free markets) is starting to wonder about the contradictory economic stories of the Obama Administration.

You know all that talk about nationalizing banks here in the US? Well, take a look at what has happened with nationalized banks in the UK (hat tip to Ace of Spades) as someone tries to open up a credit-card transaction account for his mother-in-law’s business:

FN: Could you repeat the exact question again?

RBS: Is she a member of any political party, basically? (note: he was referring to my mother-in-law)

FN: I must admit I’m not entirely happy with answering that question. I don’t see what relevance it has to…

RBS: [He says a supervisor will call me back, as one of the company directors lives abroad]

FN: But listen, I mean when you call back, we may be prepared to answer that political question. But can you explain again one more time why it’s relevant?

RBS: It is put upon us by the Financial Services Authority to try and omit any money laundering and things like that.  It helps us crack down on fraudulent merchants by asking these types of questions.

FN: But I don’t understand why, say, if she is a member of the Conservative Party or Labour Party, that is related to fraud?

RBS These are questions thrust upon us by the Financial Services Authority, sir. It would be the same no matter where you apply for merchant services, the same question would be asked. It is legally binding. It’s to try and omit any fraudulent activity. I presume the reason why we ask that question is because there is a high volume of fraud in that sector. Where people who are of that sort of nature maybe are inclined to commit fraud. I’m not for a minute implying that she will do. But that’s just trying to protect us and you, as well, you see.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Rubin points out just how useless (if not downright destructive) the stimulus package is turning out to be (hat tip to Transterrestrial Musings):

In an interview with the New York Times we heard from the president:

President Obama can’t assure that the economy will bounce back this year, but he says he will “get all the pillars in place for
recovery this year.”

But that prediction and the job calculations cooked by the president and his economic advisers have already been proven wrong. A Republican insider on Capitol Hill explains that the “forecast for saving or creating jobs is based on the stimulus ensuring that the unemployment rate not exceed 8% between now and 2014.” But we are already passed the 8% mark.

What would have happened without the stimulus? According to the administration’s calculations, we would then hit 9% unemployment. But that is the very figure that many economists now predict we will hit in a matter of months. Some predict we will hit 10%. Four states have already hit that figure. . . .

. . . we have already entered the very territory (namely, 8%-plus unemployment), which the stimulus was designed to prevent. In short, we have paid more than a trillion dollars (including interest) and are no better off than where we would have been by the administration’s own calculations without the stimulus plan.

It looks as though Obama is losing David Broder already — or, at least, Obama is losing some of the DC types who spoke to Broder:

Meantime, on the main challenge — fixing the economy — the criticism has begun to infect the mainstream media, as well as the conservative wing. I was struck last week to read heartfelt pleas to Obama from David Ignatius of The Washington Post and David Brooks of The New York Times to get his priorities straight and concentrate on the crucial task of rescuing banking, credit, housing and jobs.

These are people who deeply admire and respect Obama and wish him nothing but success. But, like some thoughtful congressional Democrats with whom I have spoken, they worry that he has bitten off more than he can chew.

Criticism of this kind is not an augury of failure. But it does signal that the honeymoon is over.

Ditto for the Dem pols speaking to Michael Goodwin:

Not long ago, after a string of especially bad days for the Obama administration, a veteran Democratic pol approached me with a pained look on his face and asked, “Do you think they know what they’re doing?”

The question caught me off guard because the man is a well-known Obama supporter. As we talked, I quickly realized his asking suggested his own considerable doubts.

Obama has lost Dan Gillmor as well, over civil liberties issues. (Well, I know who Dan Gillmor is, even if you don’t.)

I may not agree with much that Robert Reich has to say, but he’ll get no arguments from me on this.

On the other hand, I very much disagree with Robert Reich in almost everything he writes here — particularly in premises and consequences — with the exception of this: I think Obama’s strategy is revolutionary as well. But I think it’s a disaster, while Reich wants more of it.

Woman on Fire (Part Deux): Megan McArdle, statuesque libertarian economist, answers the very real question, “What difference does it make to the recession if Citibank and Bank of America fail?”

On another front, here’s more on the simmering-and-almost-boiling maritime issues regarding China vs. the rest of the world. And speaking of China: there are some major economic issues brewing over there as well. Still the Chinese have been wiser than us in some matters:

[The Chinese real estate glut is] a chilling echo of what happened in the United States over the last decade. But there are important differences in the two markets. For one thing, Chinese by law must have “skin in the game.” The absolute minimum down payment on a new house or apartment is 20% of the purchase price, and for most buyers it’s usually closer to 30%. And a large percentage of Chinese — upwards of 40% according to some estimates — pay cash for new apartments, because in a high savings economy, housing is widely seen as a safe investment. That means, in China, you don’t have the real estate equivalent of “dine and dash”: people don’t abandon houses the minute they think the price level is lower than what they paid, leaving it to the mortgage company or the banks to sort out. There’s no sub-prime, zero-percent-down U.S.-style debacle here.

Counterintuitive trends: crime rates in several Colorado cities are falling as the economy has grown worse.

Also from my local newspaper: “When will Atlas shrug?” (Hat tip to Instapundit, who saw it before I did.)

Last of the local news: Denver community hires coyote hunter. Think of it as evolution in action.

Canada is ripe for a political revolution of its own:

A Canadian court has ruled that an immigrant who beheaded a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus and then ate his eyeballs is not criminally responsible for his actions because he has a “mental disorder.” The decision, which follows a series of spectacularly lenient judicial rulings in Canada in recent years, has outraged ordinary Canadians, who say that left-wing judges increasingly are sacrificing justice and common sense on the altar of bleeding-heart political correctness.

That was not parody, but this is, sort of:  if you’re young, enthusiastic, and hopeful, this piece from the Onion should be enough to depress you.

This is not parody, but might as well be: Gerard Vanderleun samples the lastest Warmist fruitcake and finds him, well, rather fruity and nutty.

Speaking of depressing — Ron Silver has died at age 62.

And if you really want to be depressed: “The Size of Derivatives Bubble = $190K Per Person on Planet” (hat tip to Boing Boing).

From Lifehacker: How to make your own sports drink.

Didn’t we see this device in the last “Wallace and Gromit” movie?

That’s it for today — see you tomorrow.  ..bruce w..

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Category: 2008 Election, Business, China, Climate Change, Colorado, Credit Backlash, Economics, Environment, Geopolitics, Humor, Journalism, Links roundup, Main, Media, Obama Administration, Recession Watch, Science, Stimulus, US Politics

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, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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