Tuesday afternoon . . .

| March 17, 2009

Walking in a winter wonderland!

And the luck of the Irish to you!

. . . will be later today. Right now, it’s Tuesday morning, so it must be link time:

President Obama’s War on Business continues. As I noted yesterday, I’m not happy with the AIG payout, but it is both unseemly and dangerous to have the President of the United States singling out and using taxpayer dollars and government officials to attack specific private businesses for clearly legal actions, just as it is even more unseemly and dangerous for him to single out private individuals who are exercising free speech.  Obama’s actions are beginning to smack of some of the worst abuses during the Wilson and Roosevelt administrations (such as actively investigation and prosecuting people who were using legal tax loopholes; cf. The Forgotten Man by Amity Schlaes, pp. 205-208).  It frankly smacks of true fascism, as this report by Ace of Spades shows the consequences of such an approach (viz., angry mobs outside of AIG offices).

Meanwhile, Megan McArdle looks at the outrage (real or fake) over the AIG mess and asks the profoundly pertinent question, “Do we want to make a point, or do we want to make money?” Sadly, I think the Democrats (including Obama and the current Congress) have answered that question repeatedly.

And even more meanwhile, Patterico reminds us just which Noble Government Servants received lots o’ money from AIG.

And still meanwhile, Conor Clark notes the introduction of an unconstitutional effort in the House to tax those AIG bonuses, but what else is new?

And, of course, we have people like Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to remind us that Republicans can be grandstanding idiots as well.

The real irony is that it was the ethically-challenged Sen. Chris Dodd (D-finance industry) who put the compensation guarantee into the bailout bill. And guess, just guess, who was the single largest recipient of campaign donations from AIG last year?

When Grassley isn’t ranting like a loon, he makes a very good point about the continuing tax problems of Obama nominees:

“I want to stress that the Finance Committee is not doing anything different now from what it has always done under the leadership of either Senator Baucus or me,” Grassley said, referring to Democratic chairman Max Baucus of Montana. “We are vetting nominees for the current administration the same way we vetted nominees for the previous administration.”

“The tax issues of the nominees considered by the committee this year came to be public only because the nominees chose to proceed.”

Grassley said the committee has always requested three years of tax returns from nominees, and always employed experts to review them. And in the past, he added, “many nominees” faced questions based on their tax returns. The reason tax problems seem more prevalent now, Grassley explained, is that in previous administrations those nominees chose to quietly withdraw. Now, they try to stick it out, leading to sometimes embarrassing controversy. “Chairman Baucus and I agree that if a nominee chooses to proceed after tax issues are identified, then the public should be informed of those issues,” Grassley said.

Read the whole thing.

Richard Cohen defends . . . Jim Cramer. And he does so using the remarkably logical and simple explanation that the executives of most of the failed or damaged financial firms held onto their own stock. If they thought their firms were OK, then how could anyone else have known (as Jon Stewart claims) that there were serious problems? Kudos to Cohen for going with logic over cheap shots.

Here’s a debate. Robert Shrum is arguing that Obama is doing the right thing by tackling all of his policy initiatives at once, and that his real risk is from recalcitrant Democrats. On the other hand, Clive Cook is arguing that Obama is creating a “log jam” of policies and at the same time is quickly squandering his political capital. My money’s on Cook.

Obama may be close to losing Ed Koch, who pointedly supported Obama over McCain despite his focus on national security issues.

And speaking of national security issues — gee, I feel safer already.

Speaking of which . . . shall we start a pool on when the Obama Approval Index goes negative for the first time? I’m willing to be it’s before April 1st.  (On the other hand, he did bounce back to +5 today!)

Y’know, once again, this is the very thing that the Left accuses the Right of — probably because the Left is already doing it.

And speaking of the press, the New York Times editorial staff has flip-flopped so often depending upon who’s in power that this hardly seems like news. But it’s important to document their hypocrisy.

A return of “that 70s horror show, economically speaking? I remember it well, since I graduated from college in 1978 and almost immediately faced double-digit inflation, followed by double-digit interest rates, followed by double-digit unemployment.

Forget Afghanistan (well, not really, especially since my nephew is headed there and my son [they’re both Marines] is likely to follow): the next hot spot for the US is likely to be along the Mexican border. Mexico may not be a “failed state”, but it sure is a troubled one.

As my good friend (and former boss) Tony Gibson likes to say, when times are tough, cash is king. And China appears to understand that very well.

Well, with the shoe on the other foot, the Republicans are changing their tune on filibusters of judicial nominees. The Democrats have no room for complaint, since they started this whole mess during the Bush Administration. And, of course, the Democrats are now considering new “end runs” around normal legislative procedures. They may want to rethink that, since there’s a good chance that Republicans are going to gain ground in Congress next year and in 2012.

On the other hand, Red State warns the Right against schadenfreude. Yes, Obama’s poll numbers are dropping, but the Republicans numbers are worse. I fully blame Bush and the idiot Republicans in Congress during the 2000-2006 period for the current Congress and Administration; it’s going to take more than a few votes against the wretched Simulus package to regain the public’s trust and good opinion.

On the other hand, the Right can probably indulge in schadenfreude regarding the drop in traffic on liberal blogs.

Doesn’t anyone in the Obama Administration remember that the Smoot-Hawley Act made the Great Depression ever worse? So why are we looking at a new round of trade protectionism? And the backlash is already beginning.

“The Media loves conservatives, but only if they hate Republicans”. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

“How elite environmentalists impoverish blue-collar workers.” Not news by any stretch, but a good thing to remember in our current crisis.

And speaking of environmental idiocy: we’re turning away from nuclear power right when we should be embracing it.

Here’s a new kind of environmental protest:

A Halifax bus driver will be suspended with pay while Metro Transit investigates why he jumped out of his bus and used a stick to beat a toy seal being used as a prop by anti-seal hunt protesters.

Someone needs to track down this man’s address so that we can all send him thank-you cards.

The sun is blank--no sunspots.

The sun is blank--no sunspots.

Climate report from Spaceweather.com:  “The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in almost 100 years.” But of course, this has nothing to do with the general cooling of the earth that’s been going on for the last several years, does it?

Meanwhile, folks at Edmonton are wondering why they keep seeing record low temperatures.

Oh, and by the way, it turns out that the Sun was pouring more energy into the Earth’s climate system back when “global warming” was going on in the 20th Century.

But, of course, the science on anthropogenic global warming is settled and unanimously agreed upon — except for a few crackpots here or there.

Weird link of the day: Cow abducted by UFO? (from the Tiffany of news networks, MS-NBC)

As someone who runs his own firm, I like the site Freelance Folder, but I do have to say that right now finding more personal time is not the pressing challenge for most freelancers; it’s finding more work, clients, and billable hours.

And for your St. Patrick’s Day enjoyment (hat tip to Ace of Spaces):

Have a great St. Paddy’s Day!  ..bruce w..

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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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