Tuesday, March 31, 2009


So I'm supposed to be impressed because Rush Limbaugh is proclaiming that he'll no longer work in New York now that state taxes are being raised on rich people? I'm supposed to believe this proves a point about how rich people flee when taxes go up?

Here's my question: Why has Limbaugh continued to do some shows out of a New York studio all this time? New York didn't just suddenly go from being a low-tax state to being a high-tax state. Why did he ever work here in the first place? Why didn't the taxes motivate him to shut down his New York operation the second he found out what they are? Why has he kept his New York condo? Doesn't that disprove his economic theory?

Here's an except from what he said on the radio:

.. I'm telling you, these [rich] people have been paying a lot of tax freight. There is no way Governor Paterson's going to raise $4 billion a year on this. Because, folks, it's axiomatic: when you raise taxes on an activity, you reduce that activity. People start doing that activity less. In this case: working.

... I'm leaving. I'm leaving. I am seriously....

When I am there working I pay whatever, you know, my rate is based on income for that day in New York. And I try to go as little as possible. If it weren't for hurricanes down here [in Florida], I would never go up there. New York is the escape valve in case hurricanes are showing up in our area, because of the loss of electricity. So I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to look for an alternative studio somewhere outside New York, perhaps Texas -- another no-income-tax state -- and I'm going to get the hell over there, when a hurricane starts coming our way, 'cause I told Mayor Bloomberg: I'll be the first to lead the way. You know, this is just... I'll sell my apartment. I'll sell my condominium. I'm going to get out of there totally, 'cause this is just absurd, and it's ridiculous -- and it isn't going to work....

Two points, Limbaugh:

(1) You haven't heard that they have hurricanes in Texas, too?

(2) You just now noticed that New York has a state income tax and Texas doesn't?

See, point (2) is all the proof I need that you're wrong -- because if taxes were the sole determinant of economic activity, you wouldn't have done any work in New York all this time. You could have set up multiple studios anywhere. So why didn't you? Maybe because it's harder in, say, Texas to get the Wagyu beef you crave? Maybe you actually like being surrounded by Eastern Establishment swells?

I noted a couple of weeks ago that studies show rich people don't move in response to tax increases, at least not in numbers that neutralize the effect of those increases. Here's the article I cited. I guess Limbaugh won't be reading it on the air anytime soon.

From the homepage of Fox Nation, Murdoch's new Free-Republic-with-production-values:

Booga-booga! The Taliban has a nuclear bomb! And the means to detonate it in Washington! We hope!

(Go here for the story that inspired this.)

I guess now we know what Dick Cheney's favorite porn site is.

Look, I hope Scott Murphy, the Democrat, beats Republican Jim Tedisco in today's special House election in New York's 20th District -- the polls are tight, Kirsten Gillibrand used to hold the seat, and Barack Obama won the district in 2008. On the other hand, Republicans have about a 3-to-2 voter registration advantage in the district. So I'm not going to tear my hair out if Tedisco wins.

However, I am informed by CQ Politics that this race

has been described as a litmus test, a referendum and a bellwether for Democratic agendas and Republican political fortunes.

Yeah, I've heard that kind of talk before -- specifically, in the two congressional elections that took place immediately after Obama won. After the GOP incumbent, Saxby Chambliss, beat Democrat Jim Martin in a Georgia Senate runoff in December, The Washington Times told us this:

"It's huge," said Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, adding that the Georgia victory... planted the seeds for a Republican comeback.

After Republican Joseph Cao beat scandal-plagued Democrat William Jefferson for a Louisiana House seat a few days later, James Pinkerton of Fox News crowed,

Don't look now, but the Republicans are making a comeback.

Er, how's that comeback working out?

... according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. ... [t]wo-thirds of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling the country's top job....

Obama maintains a strong hand in his dealings with congressional Republicans. The public prefers his approach [on the economy] to that of the Republicans by more than two to one....

Oh, and Democrats have an 11-point advantage in party identification, according to the same poll. That's up from 9 points just before the election last November.

So remember this if Tedisco wins and you hear that "the GOP is back!"

Matt Drudge's latest "scoop":


The U.S. government is set to offer an online emotional rescue kit!

"Getting Through Tough Economic Times" will launch Tuesday with a media push across all platforms.

The site is meant to help people identify health concerns related to financial worries.

The feds will warn of depression, suicidal thinking and other serious mental illnesses. It will raise warning flags for: Persistent sadness/crying; Excessive anxiety; Lack of sleep/constant fatigue; Excessive irritability/anger.

The guide will be available starting at midnight at http://www.samhsa.gov/economy.


Oh, give me a break.

SAMHSA, which approaches these issues from a public-health perspective, has been generating material like this for years. Most of it is for mental-health professionals, but some of it is aimed at the general public. I don't recall a big Drudge headline, when, during Katrina (you'll recall that the president at the time of Katrina was a presumably non-nanny-state cowboy named Bush), SAMHSA offered the general public a number of lists of recommendations for recognizing and dealing with stress, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse in the wake of disasters. Scroll down here for more SAMHSA fact sheets and publications aimed at the ordinary citizens; let's see, this one ("Care Tips for Survivors of a Traumatic Event: What to Expect in Your Personal, Family, Work, and Financial Life") is from 2003, this one ("How Families Can Help Children Cope with Fear and Anxiety") is from June of 2002, and so on.

Gee -- what might have motivated a government agency focused on mental health to prepare lists of coping strategies back in 2002 and 2003? Could it have been a certain traumatic incident in 2001? In fact, SAMHSA published Mental Health Response to Mass Violence and Terrorism, a 192-page training manual for professionals, in 2004 (PDF). Page 17 lists some possible emotional reactions to terrorist acts, which include "Sadness, grief," "Anxiety, fear, worry about safety," "Anger, rage, desire for revenge," and "Irritability, short temper." Sound familiar, Matt?

Look, if you want to be libertarian about this, you can argue that this sort of thing, or maybe just the outreach to the general public, has always been a waste of tax dollars -- I won't agree with you, but you can make that argument.

But Drudge is implying that this is a new Obama-era nanny-state absurdity. And that's a damned lie.

Monday, March 30, 2009


The organizers of New York City's anti-Obama Tea Party really landed an A-lister:

We are having our NYC Tax Day Tea Party, Wednesday, April 15th at City Hall Park, 7pm-9pm with many high profile speakers! ...

Our speakers include:

- Andrew Wilkow of Sirius Radio

- KT McFarland, Security Adviser in the Reagan Administration and regular Fox News contributor....

What, you don't remember Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland?

Well, she's an investment banker's wife who lives on Park Avenue. She sought the Republican ballot line in 2006 in New York, hoping to run against Hillary Clinton. Shortly after announcing her candidacy, she claimed that Clinton operatives were spying on her, looking in her bedroom window and flying a helicopter over her house in the Hamptons.

Wait, there's more. She boasted on her resume that she'd "Drafted President Reagan's Star Wars Speech" and said that during the Reagan years she'd been the highest-ranking woman in the Pentagon -- but it turned out that she hasn't written the "Star Wars" part of the "Star Wars" speech and that a couple of other women in the Pentagon actually outranked her.

Oh, and she became estranged from her gay brother as he was dying of AIDS in the 1990s, and wouldn't let her children visit him.

(And there's more, including the story of why her father threatened to beat up a reporter and why a surviving brother calls her "evil.")

Oh, she's now a Fox News "National Security Expert."

And, I guess, an economic champion of the people, too (who better than a Park Avenue investment banker's wife with a house in the Hamptons?).

April 15. Be there!

At Commentary's blog, J.G. Thayer seems to acknowledge what you've probably long suspected: Democrats are in favor of auto safety, so Republicans are against it. Emphasis mine below:

Wagoner's head is most likely the first demand from the Obama administration. It's not hard to see future demands GM may face:

• The death of SUVs.

• More development resources into hybrid, electric, hydrogen, and other alternative-fuel vehicles.

• More concessions to the UAW and other unions.

• GM changing its tune on a host of issues, such as fuel efficiency standards, tightening emissions, and safety regulations.

In other words, GM will be used to pay off various Democratic interests and constituencies.

That's right -- according to Thayer, people who don't want to die or be seriously injured in unsafe vehicles are a Democratic interest and/or constituency. Republicans, one can only infer, are pro-auto injury and pro-auto fatality.

Glad to have that cleared up.

Andrew Breitbart -- pal of Matt Drudge and proprietor of the righty site Big Hollywood -- has a piece in The Washington Times that claims right-wingers have been losing politically over the past several years because of all-powerful, sneaky left-wing blog commenters and other "multimedia" "hooligans":

A digital war has broken out, and the conservative movement is losing. Read the comment sections of right-leaning blogs, news sites and social forums, and the evidence is there in ugly abundance. Internet hooligans are spewing their talking points to thwart the dissent of the newly-out-of-power.

We must not let that go unanswered.

Uninvited Democratic activists are on a mission to demoralize the enemy -- us. They want to ensure that President Obama is not subject to the same coordinated, facts-be-damned, multimedia takedown they employed over eight long years to destroy the presidency -- and the humanity -- of George W. Bush....

Yes, our sinister cabal destroyed Bush -- facts be damned!

Did you know that he actually stabilized Iraq in three or four months, then pulled all the troops out? Of course not! We on the left launched a disinformation campaign that led the American people to believe thousands of U.S. troops were dying there for years!

And those so-called Katrina victims on roofs? We faked them digitally using CGI technology, then distributed the video to every news organization in the world! Bush's ratings plummeted! Facts be damned!

But our most sinister technique involves recruiting an army of online commenters to cause trouble at right-wing sites -- many of which won't even allow such commenters to post! Talk about evil brilliance!

Much of Mr. Obama's vaunted online strategy involved utilizing "Internet trolls" to invade enemy lines under false names and trying to derail discussion. In the real world, that's called "vandalism." But in a political movement that embraces "graffiti" as avant-garde art , that's business as usual. It relishes the ability to destroy other people's property in pursuit of electoral victory.

Hugh Hewitt's popular site shut off its comments section because of the success of these obnoxious invaders. Breitbart.com polices nonpartisan newswire stories for such obviously coordinated attacks. Other right-leaning sites such as Instapundit and National Review Online refuse to allow comments, knowing better than to flirt with the online activist left.

An army of Web site saboteurs who don't really get to commit sabotage! That must be what led to massive electoral losses for the GOP in 2006 and 2008!

And don't forget our disinformation campaigns:

The left also uses disinformation to inundate the advertisers of conservative-leaning talk shows to intimidate them from financially supporting popular mainstream shows.

Media Matters even offered its services to an autism support group in its attempt to bring down talk-show host Michael Savage. It had nothing to do with Mr. Savage's underlying offense.

Yes, it was "disinformation" for Media Matters to say that Michael Savage called autism "a fraud, a racket.... In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out"! In fact, that was such effective disinformation that Savage actually believed he'd said it and told The New York Times he stood by the remarks!

Or maybe the Times quote was even more disinformation!

A conspiracy so vast....

Matthew Vadum, blogging for The American Spectator:

There is a whiff of Fascism emanating from the Obama White House.

Reports say that the head of GM is quitting under duress from the Obama administration....

For the president of the United States to be able to, effectively, fire the head of a major corporation is not a road America has ever headed down before.

This outrage is widely shared in the right blogosphere, although there's the usual fierce disagreement over whether this is "fascism," "socialist dictatorship," or behavior worthy of the Corleone family. (Who said the GOP isn't a big tent?)

I'm straining to recall a similar reaction last fall when Bush's treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, forced out AIG's CEO and chose Edward Liddy as a successor. I'm drawing a blank.


UPDATE: I see that the GOP's Thad McCotter is taking the opposite tack, according to the Huffington Post:

Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, a Detroit-area Republican and member of the House Financial Services Committee, was critical of the White House decision, claiming that Wagoner was a victim of a double standard:

"Mr. Wagoner has been asked to resign as a political offering despite his having led GM's painful restructuring to date. Mr. Wagoner has honorably resigned for the sake of his company's working families.

When will the Wall Street CEOs receiving TARP funds summon the honor to resign? Will this White House ever bother to raise the issue? I doubt it."

I'm happy to have a Republican focusing on the abysmal and destructive job Wall Street CEOs have done, though Mr. McCotter is a bit late in showing up:

... A Michigan Messenger investigation has found that, in two years of membership on the House Financial Services Committee, McCotter failed to attend a single committee or subcommittee hearing on topics directly related to the current financial crisis.

As a member of the two most important subcommittees -- the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises and the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity -- McCotter paid little attention as the financial hurricane gathered and grew.

He did not attend any of 13 committee or subcommittee hearings for which there are transcripts available on issues directly related to the current crisis....

McCotter’s interests seem to lie elsewhere. In the 2007-08 session of Congress, McCotter sponsored resolutions supporting National Dog Bite Prevention Week and the pope’s visit to the United States, and also the establishment of a National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month. He sponsored a resolution to wish hockey star Gordie Howe a happy birthday and submitted a bill to prohibit all government employees from attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics....

In short, McCotter has made no effort to regulate the industries whose massive losses have led to such devastating consequences for the country. Indeed, he scorned the idea of regulation. “Big government doesn’t stop chaos,” he declared in a speech on the House floor [in] December [2007]. “Big government is chaos.” ...

McCotter, by the way, was a signer of the House Republicans' sort-of budget, which called for lowering the top marginal tax rate on high-earners (Including, presumably, most of those CEOs) from 35% to 25%. And he sent a cryptic tweet earlier this month to promote one of his TV appearances:

On Fox Business, how can our economy with the burden of taxation, regulation, and litigation?

(This is either a sentence he never got around to finishing or a mysterious allusion to the equally cryptic art-rock band Yes, which once asked the immortal question "How can the wind with its arms all around me?" McCotter does, in fact, regard himself as somewhat of a rock god.)

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Drudge right now:

PAPER: White House entourage of 500+ staff to Europe... Developing...

The link goes to a story from The Guardian, which is not a right-wing paper, but I fear it's going to be righties who aren't going to let this die -- we're going to get days of yammering from them about wasteful rock star Barack Obama and the huge crew that's accompanying him.

Er, I take you back to the November 19, 2003, issue of, um, The Guardian;

George Bush was safely installed behind the high walls of Buckingham Palace last night at the start of a controversial state visit...

Mr Bush, his wife, Laura, and a 700-strong entourage worthy of a travelling medieval monarch, flew into Heathrow airport....

Oh, and here's a New Zealand Herald story from September 5, 2007:

...The United States President, who arrived in Sydney last night, brought not one Jumbo jet, but three, as well as another two aircraft that carry aircraft. The President's Jumbo has a back-up, and the back-up has a back-up....

The Jumbos are carrying 700 of the President's closest friends, including a doctor, nurse, personal chef and four cooks....

His entourage includes 50 White House political aides, 150 national security advisers and 200 specialists from other government departments.

POTUS, as he is known in Secret Service jargon (President Of The United States), is getting by with a mere 250 protective agents....

So please, righties -- don't start with this nonsense. This is simply how presidents travel -- regardless of party.

News from Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post:

... Republicans have lost one of their more generous contributors.

In what one might call a biblical move, Christian philanthropist Howard Ahmanson -- one of three major funders of the campaign for California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages -- has abandoned the GOP for the Democratic Party.

... he was offended by the California Republican Party's insistence during a recent state budget battle that there would be no tax increases for any reason, no matter what. "They're providing one issue, and it's just a very silly issue," Ahmanson told me by telephone....

He's not moderating his politics in any significant way, though -- far from it:

Ahmanson certainly doesn't believe that homosexuals should be executed, as some of his critics have suggested, but he does believe that gays should "come to Christ and then recover."

... Yes, he liked Sarah Palin all right, but he favors Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. "I'm now a blue-dog Democrat for Bobby Jindal in 2012." ...

The Daily Beast has more of Parker's interview.

My first thought was that this was a ploy -- some attempt to turn Ahmanson into someone about whom it could be said that "even the Democrat Howard Ahmanson thinks..." He'd join Tammy Bruce and Joe Lieberman and other "Fox News Democrats." But I sense from this 2004 Salon story by Max Blumenthal that Ahmanson, who inherited a large chunk of change from his S&L-tycoon father, may be showing a bit of genuine rich kid's guilt (though that doesn't mean his politics aren't still offensive):

[Ahmanson] found his salvation in the church and in R.J. Rushdoony, a prolific author and an influential theologian of the far right....

Ahmanson ... told me he prefers books by Rushdoony that deal more explicitly with ethical and moral issues. One such book is "The Politics of Guilt and Pity" ... In this book, Rushdoony writes: "The guilty rich will indulge in philanthropy..."

... Rushdoony's scathing critique of "the guilty rich" resonated with the young man constantly beset upon by human parasites seeking a chunk of his money....

So he's come to the bizarre conclusion that the Democratic Party is the right place for him -- and he'll probably start writing checks to Democrats.

Please, Democrats, please -- don't fall for the notion that if you refuse those checks you're a religion-basher.

I just want to make the point that two Republicans -- Governor Linda Lingle of Hawaii and Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia -- have returned his contributions.

For, um, good reason:

"For years Ahmanson funded Rushdoony and his Chalcedon Foundation and, indeed, was on its board from the mid-1970s until 2001. Ahmanson has never repudiated that he believed in what Rushdoony was promoting. Indeed Ahmanson and his wife were at Rushdoony's bedside when he died in 2001.

"Admittedly, Ahmanson is on record as saying in 2004 that he had rejected Rushdoony's view that gays should be stoned to death. However, that was 30 years after his association with Rushdoony started...

"Ahmanson also contributes heavily to the Discovery Institute, the 'intellectual' flagship of the Intelligent Design movement, and the George C. Marshall Institute, which disputes research indicating that human activity contributes to global warming...."

Oh, and beyond that and the tremendous amounts of support he's given to anti-gay and anti-abortion candidates, he also once published an article suggesting that there were biblical reasons to oppose the minimum wage.

Look, Dems -- just don't take the man's money.

The most important story in the blogosphere right now, according to Memeorandum, is this, from the Catholic News Agency:

Hillary Clinton leaves flowers for Our Lady of Guadalupe, asks 'Who painted it?'

During her recent visit to Mexico, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made an unexpected stop at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and left a bouquet of white flowers "on behalf of the American people," after asking who painted the famous image.

The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was miraculously imprinted by Mary on the tilma, or cloak, of St. Juan Diego in 1531....

Msgr. Monroy took Mrs. Clinton to the famous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which had been previously lowered from its usual altar for the occasion.

After observing it for a while, Mrs. Clinton asked "who painted it?" to which Msgr. Monroy responded "God!" ...

Yeah, I guess that's still the official Catholic answer -- that the image was miraculously imprinted on the cloak of a peasant named Juan Diego in 1531 (and that's just one more reminder of how embarrassingly superstitious my former church is). Sure, the secretary of state should be briefed better about the lore before doing one of these photo ops. But no one's going to tell me that all the righty bloggers snarking off about this knew the first thing about the painting 24 hours ago, or had even heard of it. (I had, but that only because my in-laws live in New Mexico, and the image is reproduced everywhere Mexicans have migrated, from sacred spots to, near my in-laws' place, the side of a liquor store. It's a popular tattoo as well.)

But, you know, there is an answer to Clinton's question that apparently isn't the Church's:

... recent studies of the image are feeding centuries-old uncertainty over its origin, says Leoncio Garza-Valdes, 61, who in 1999 was part of a team that evaluated the cloth.

"The cloak of Our Lady of Guadalupe is not one painting but three paintings, and one is signed and dated. So this is not a miraculous image; it was created by man," Garza-Valdes said.

... In the earliest painting, Garza-Valdes says, the female figure was quite different, and one can see the shadowy presence of a naked baby Jesus, reclining in the Virgin's left arm.

He believes this original image was borrowed from a well-known statue in a basilica in Extremadura, Spain, which he recently inspected. And he says the initials of the artist, M.A. for Marcos Aquino, a historical figure, can be seen in the corner of the painting, next to the date: 1556.

... In photos of what the scientist calls the second and third Virgins, distinct changes to the figure's facial features are easily seen. In the final image, the eyes of the Virgin have become smaller, and her features are less Indian. And, Garza-Valdes says, her face has been moved roughly 6 inches on the canvas.

... This conclusion corresponds with those of a church-commissioned study by Jose Sol Rosales. The Mexican expert in art restoration concluded the painting was the work of human artists, using identifiable 17th-century materials and techniques, and was not the result of a supernatural event....

But if you're a Catholic, watch what you say:

Many historians and some clerics, including the U.S. priest-historian Fr. Stafford Poole and former abbot of the Basilica of Guadalupe, Guillermo Schulenburg, have rejected the historicity of the apparition accounts. Schulenburg in particular caused a stir with his 1996 interview with the Catholic magazine Ixthus, when he said that Juan Diego was "a symbol, not a reality." Schulenburg was not the first to disbelieve the traditional account nor the first Catholic prelate to resign his post after questioning the Guadalupe story. In 1897, Eduardo Sanchez Camacho, the Bishop of Tamaulipas was forced to leave his post after expressing similar disbelief.

I assume Clinton just didn't know any of this and hadn't been properly briefed, but maybe she naively thought that the folklore had, in the church's official story, given way to a less ridiculous account, and wanted to talk about that.

Oh well -- at least she didn't ask how condoms cause AIDS.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Look, I know this Economist cover story is very impressive to right-wing bloggers and Mark Halperin, but I'd take it a bit more seriously if it didn't include nonsense like this:

...if Mr Obama had done a better job of selling his [stimulus] package, and had worked harder at making sure that Republicans were included in drafting it, they would have found it more difficult to oppose his plans.

Look, I know Britain is an ocean away, but it's on the same planet. Obama was never going to get GOP support unless he dropped trou and let John Boehner personally spank him on national television for proposing any stimulus whatsoever that wasn't in the form of tax cuts. This is knowable, even by the British.

And this is just silly:

... polls show that independent voters again prefer Republicans to Democrats, a startling reversal of fortune in just a few weeks. And the fact that Mr Obama’s once-celestial approval ratings are about where George Bush’s were at this stage in his awful presidency.

On the first point, the right-leaning Rasmussen poll started showing the parties approaching parity in the congressional generic-ballot question a week after the November election. Rasmussen gave Democrats a 2-point lead on November 9 -- so why is it a "startling reversal of fortune" when Republicans briefly got to 2 points up on March 15? (Democrats are up by 3 as I type this.)

And as Nate Silver reminds us, it's perfectly normal, not "startling" at all, for the president's party to lose seats in midterms -- the average number of seats lost is 23. (Even Saint Reagan saw his party lose a lot of seats in 1982.)

And Bush's ratings at this time in his "awful presidency" probably weren't awful because he hadn't yet pushed through any legislation controversial enough to be regarded by a significant portion of the electorate as awful -- remember, his first tax-cut bill wasn't signed into law until early June of 2001. Also, remember that the country thought its biggest problems in the pre-9/11 months of 2001 were shark attacks and the fact that Chandra Levy's murderer was still at large.

The rest of this is basically grumbling about the fact that Obama hasn't (a) solved all of America's economic problems already and (b) hasn't single-handedly suppressed all liberalism and capitalist-bashing populism in America. If those were the criteria, I'm sure Obama will be happy to cede The Economist's endorsement to Mark Sanford or Mitt Romney next go-round.

Ya think?

Right-wingers think capitalism is perfect in every way -- utterly incapable of error -- and yet some of us stubbornly resist the True Faith. Why on earth would we do that? Well, beyond the obvious economic horrors we're experiencing now, it's stories like this, from yesterday's New York Times:

Rising Fear of a Future Oil Shock

Sharp reductions in investments and low oil prices could curb future supplies by almost eight million barrels a day within the next five years, according to a study scheduled for release Friday, the latest warning that the world could face a new energy shock when the economy picks up....

The global slowdown has forced oil companies to slash their investments, postpone or cancel expansion plans, or delay drilling in many corners of the world....

Excuse me -- "forced"? "Forced"?

What we're being told here is that even though they know it could easily lead to an energy crisis a few years from now, oil companies can't possibly increase drilling for oil now because the price they're getting for oil right now is too low. They simply can't afford it!

These are the same oil companies that made gargantuan profits in 2008. ExxonMobil made $45.2 billion last year -- the largest annual profit ever for a U.S. firm. The French energy giant Total had the largest annual profit in French history, the equivalent of $18 billion. Chevron's profit for the year was a record $23.93 billion. And on and on. But they can't possibly afford to think long-range and stick with expensive drilling projects to stave off entirely predictable future shortfalls?

...The report says about 7.6 million barrels a day of future supplies are "at risk" of being deferred or canceled, like heavy oil or deepwater projects, and which could bring total supplies to 101.4 million barrels a day by 2014. Last year, the group projected that capacity would rise to 109 million barrels a day by then.

...Christophe de Margerie, the chief executive of French oil company Total, recently said that producers would find it challenging to bolster supplies even to 90 million barrels a day by the middle of the next decade as projects get canceled.

I love that passive voice. The projects "get canceled." They "are 'at risk' of being deferred or canceled." No -- you are planning to defer or cancel the projects. This is your choice.

... many producers warn that oil prices remain too low to sustain increased investments.

"Sustain"! Yes -- the oil companies are living paycheck to paycheck! They're just barely hanging on!

..."I have often described unsustainably low oil prices as carrying the seeds of future spikes and volatility. In a low-price environment, the trend is often to focus on survival instead of expansion," Ali al-Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, said recently.

"Survival"! Yes -- God only knows how the oil giants will manage to hang on!

"The lower that oil prices drop now and the longer they stay low, the greater the negative impact on future supply," John Lipsky, the first deputy managing director of the I.M.F., told an OPEC conference in Vienna this month. "In other words, today's low prices could be setting the stage for another price run-up in the future."

Oh, please. These people are either children or scoundrels. They claim they can't possibly engage in real long-range thinking, but it's their decision to focus on short-term quarterly profits to the exclusion of all else. I know, I know -- that's what investors supposedly demand. But do you think no one would buy oil company stock if the returns were up and down from quarter to quarter but still massive over the long haul?

Of course, I'm overlooking the obvious point: an oil-price shock is what's likely to make the profits massive, if last year is any indication. And that, obviously, is where the scoundrel part comes in.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention before, but it seems to me that Fox News has been making an extra effort lately to attract the paranoid, black-helicopter strain of right-winger. Fox's new star is, of course the utterly unhinged conspiracy-monger Glenn Beck; Fox's White House correspondent, Major Garrett, asked a question Tuesday at the Obama press conference about a fictitious plan to replace the dollar with a "global currency"; and now there's this at the Fox News site:

U.N. 'Climate Change' Plan Would Likely Shift Trillions to Form New World Economy

A United Nations document on "climate change" that will be distributed to a major environmental conclave next week envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes -- all under the supervision of the world body....

Holy crap! This is what right-wingers have been fearing for sixty years -- a takeover of the global economy by the One Worlders of the United Nations!

Except it isn't.

One problem is with that word "envisions." If you're a right-wing paranoid, it suggests a sinister plan; in fact, as the linked report (PDF) makes clear, the "envisioning" is just a process of weighing the pluses and minuses of any action taken to mitigate climate change -- and the report is listing these possible consequences so the various nations can talk about them.

From the report, which is the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (click to enlarge):

Omigod! It's "a description of a possible approach to group actions"! Hitler talked like this!

And here's a bit of a chart from the report. This is what the climate-change group "envisions" (again, click to enlarge):

This isn't fascist -- it's deliberative. It's talk leading up to a mutually agreed-upon treaty, fer crissake. And as for the bit about all this being (gasp!) "under the supervision of the world body," this is from the UNFCCC page at the Australian government's Web site:

How does the UNFCCC operate?

Decisions under the UNFCCC are made on the basis of consensus according to current operating practice. This means that, rather than voting, Parties aim to reach agreement through discussion and negotiation. The main negotiating forum is sessions of the Conference of the Parties (COP), which typically take place at ministerial level.

Parties also negotiate in the two subsidiary bodies of the UNFCCC, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). Other matters, such as the development of technical guidelines for implementing COP decisions, are dealt with at UNFCCC workshops....

Discussion! Negotiation! Workshops! At the ministerial level!

Pure CommunoFascoAlinskyACORNism, I tell ya.

Apparently, when totalitarianism comes, it will be wearing power company coveralls:

Who is ready for their smart meter?

It's already in the porkulus.......it's going out.

Who is ready for the government to determine what is comfortable energy usage?....

That's from a discussion thread at Hannity's site. Some replies:

Hate to break it to'em, but my meter is in the backyard with the dogs.
They got to knock on the door to be allowed back there safely.
If they've got one of those damn things with them, I guarantee they won't be getting back there safely.
Their commie ass will be on their own.
Otherwise known as "Loin of Long Pig" will be on the puppy plate menu.


Is there ONE rational idea in the Libs secret file, or are they ALL straight out of


The day they put a meter on my home is the same day I dress my kids up to do mandatory community service.

And my favorite:

If a politician is demanding these new meters that means we are in for the nightmare of burcratic taxes and constant "global warming" pariniod laws we would find the dark more often than having the eletricity. Want to listen to the radio they shut it off if they know what you are listening too.Watch TV they shut it off so you cant watch certian politicly charged shows that dont reflect well on politicians. Then they might go and use the law enforcement to punish for some infraction they remove the use of eletricity.
The present leadership would use this meter as a weapon with out any doubts in my mind.

The answer remains NO.

Objection noted.

I presume these guys are just blowing smoke, but I don't know for sure what would happen if anger got ginned up nationwide by some posturing member of Congress or radio or TV crank (one commenter in the thread says this D-list talker is yammering about the subject on Sirius). Installers of these things, at least pack the pepper spray, and don't be surprised if some upstanding patriot takes a shot at you.

In a speech at George Washington University last night:

There is a "100% chance that there will be ... an attack on U.S. soil," conservative author David Horowitz said Thursday.

...In the event of such a terror attack against the American homeland, Horowitz predicted, there will be widespread public outrage against U.S. liberals.

"I don't think leftists will be found hanging from lamp-posts ... but close," said Horowitz, speaking to the GWU chapter of Young America's Foundation....

After saying that, I bet he needed a cigarette.


And Davey, um, your lead story at Front Page Magazine right now is about ... Teresa Heinz Kerry? Really?

I imagine that, if I were to visit Front Page's subterranean bunker, I'd find that the calendars still read "2004" -- the last year when a significant percentage of voters actually believed your nonsense about an idea pipeline extending from Waziristan to Berkeley, and cast their ballots accordingly. I imagine your other fantasy is running the '04 Bush campaign every two years forever.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


From the House Republicans' 19-page semi-budget plan:

With regard to entitlements, Republicans support the notion that wealthy seniors like Warren Buffett and George Soros can afford to pay $2 per day more for their Medicare prescription drug coverage.

What? Really? If Republicans didn't support means-testing Medicare and Democrats did, wouldn't Republicans call it a tax increase, and an attempt to pit class against class and punish success?

(In case you weren't paying attention, this was a change Bush supported also.)

Yes, the House Republicans did manage to get in a swipe at Antichrist Soros. There's an ACORN reference in there, too. In fact, Soros and ACORN are mentioned once each -- exactly as many times as Social Security, which you'd think would come up a few times in, y'know, a budget. Or even a 19-page semi-budget.

A word that does not appear even once in the document is "Democratic" -- it's always the "Democrat budget," the "Democrat plan," and (of course) the "Democrat spending binge." Yeah, this is a really new, fresh Republican Party, isn't it?

Oh, and here's my favorite passage:

Democrats assume that the free-market system has failed and that a more robust federal government must now rescue the nation. The American people reject that notion and know, as Republicans do, that government has failed and that this financial crisis is the result of decades of misguided government policies that interfered with the free-market.

Yup, that's right. Capitalism has worked just fine! Republicans know that -- and the American people agree!

Delusional. Delusional.

Drudge is pointing us to this story from The Hill:

Gregg: U.S. couldn't even join E.U. due to debt levels

The United States wouldn't even be eligible to enter the European Union if it wanted to because of its debt levels, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) claimed Thursday.

"We won't even be able to get into the EU if we wanted to," Gregg said this morning on MSNBC, "because our government is so large and so huge."

The European Union's Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) adopted in 1997 requires a budget deficit to be less than three percent...

Here's the reality (emphasis mine):

European Union rules require governments to keep their deficits below 3% of gross domestic product, though the rules allow some flexibility in times of economic stress.

...Ireland ... is likely to see its budget deficit balloon to 11% of GDP in 2009 and 13% in 2010....

And Ireland isn't being kicked out of the EU, though it is being asked to get its deficit down to 3% ... by 2013. Not immediately. Because, you know, we're in a very severe global freaking recession.

Nor are any of these countries being booted:

The commission forecasts budget shortfalls this year of ... 6.2 percent in Spain, 5.4 percent in France and 4.6 percent in Portugal...

Judd, I know you're quitting the Senate soon and you're probably looking to hoover up some Murdoch money or another form of wingnut welfare when you retire. And yes, I'm sure Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh will lavishly praise your inevitable memoir, My Few Days Waiting to Work in the Scary, Spendthrift, Anti-American, Fascist Obama White House. But even if all that works out for you, you're still full of it.


Oh, and by the way, the U.S. budget deficit was more than 3% of GDP in 2003, 2004, and 2008. Who was president in those years, Judd?

Well, via Lucianne.com, I see that they're freaking out about a bill reauthorizing and expanding AmeriCorps, which is sailing through Congress, and which they consider part of Barack Obama's fascist/communist/Alinsky-licious plan to take over the world. From the wingnut Examiner.com:

Expanded Americorps has stench of authoritarianism

... Lurking behind the feel-good rhetoric spouted by the measure's advocates is a bill that upon closer inspection reveals multiple provisions that together create a strong odor of creepy authoritarianism....

To begin with, the legislation threatens the voluntary nature of Americorps by calling for consideration of "a workable, fair and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people." It anticipates the possibility of requiring "all individuals in the United States" to perform such service, including elementary school students....

Er, as even a skeptical Fox News story acknowledges, the bill merely calls for a "bipartisan commission" that "will be tasked with exploring a number of topics, including 'whether a workable, fair and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the nation.'" I'm trying really hard to recall any totalitarian dictatorships that traced their origins to a "bipartisan commission," and I'm drawing a blank.

Ah, but wingnut-friendly columnist Melanie Phillips, writing for Britain's Spectator, fully understands the dimensions of the Octopus:

...straight after he was elected President Obama launched Organising for America, a formal infrastructure of activism built upon his campaign's extensive database of supporters. This was ostensibly all about encouraging the public to tell Obama about the issues that concerned them.

... It seemed to me that such a street-force could be used to undermine the established constitutional order -- by creating pressure upon Congress, for example.

Omigod! Citizens putting pressure on elected legislators! What could be more fascist?

Phillips goes on to cite reports that last Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama -- a city of a quarter of a million people -- a whopping thirty (30) volunteers from Organizing for America headed to malls and other venues, presumably armed with jackboot-wearing clipboards on which sat armband-flashing petitions. I'm sure it was, at worst, approximately as fascist as the process of handing out cheese samples at Trader Joe's.

Ah, but one Organizing for America volunteer made a perhaps ill-advised remark:

"We're looking for supporters," said DeHaven of Hoover, one of the event's organizers. "We're not looking for a fight. That will come later, when we have an army."

And this, according to Phillips, can only mean a literal army. Because no one in the history of the English language has ever used this word metaphorically.

And Obama, Phillips informs us, has already leaked plans of just the army he wants to construct, of which AmeriCorps and Organizing for America are clearly a part:

There was also his deeply troubling suggestion during his presidential campaign – which received virtually no attention – of creating a civilian national security force that would be as powerful, strong and well-funded as the half-trillion dollar Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force, although he subsequently refused to elaborate upon this distinctly chilling suggestion (and indeed, according to this report these remarks actually vanished from the published transcript of Obama’s speech).

Except that (as I noted at the time of the speech), the remarks can be heard in a YouTube video posted by the Obama campaign, and still available. And the remarks were a reference to Obama's desire to fully fund the diplomatic corps -- which was and is obvious to anyone who isn't a wingnut, or a clinical paranoid.

But I repeat myself.

I love the way, according to this interpretation, President Ohitler and his Ohitler Youth alternately take great pains to conceal their sinister plans for world domination ... and then boast about them. And then conceal them. And then boast about them. The secrecy/candor double-reverse, you see, is all part of the nefarious scheme to throw us off guard. Or something like that.

Wow, the Republicans aren't even trying to conceal the fact that Obama has them playing his game on his terms. They're not making the slightest effort to deny that Democratic criticism of them has set the terms of all discussions about them. They're completely on the defensive: We do so have ideas! We're totally not the party of no! Ignore Politico's absurd headline -- "GOP gloves off for budget brawl." These guys are acknowledging that that they're back on their heels:

...House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the housing proposal that he rolled out with eight other House Republicans on Tuesday was "in response to the administration -- and the president himself, who continues to say that Republicans don't have any ideas."

"We’re here today to say yes we do," Cantor said....

[A Republican] official said: "We need to hold something up and say, 'Here are our charts. Here are our graphs. It's real.'" ...

Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Conference, said at the news conference with Cantor: "Welcome to the next installment of the party of yes: yes to better solutions. Yes to alternatives that will resonate with millions of Americans because they are grounded in the timeless values of personal responsibility." ...

"Contrary to the administration's straw man diversions, Republicans do have our own ideas," Pence said....

After Obama releases his detailed budget later this spring, House Republicans will do the same -- matching his graphs with their graphs, his charts with their charts.

"Welcome to the next installment of the party of yes": When your fancy new slogan is a slight twist on a big insult direct at you, you're losing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


People say the Vienna Philharmonic is such a great orchestra, but how good can the musicians be if every time they perform they have to use sheet music as a crutch?

Added to the blogroll: The Impolitic, Greg Sargent's Plum Line, and (because its source material is increasingly indistinguishable from mainstream conservative punditry) MyRightWingDad.net. And, what the hell, I'll throw Wonkette up there after all these years, because I've been digging it lately, especially the Ed Henry post, which is infinitely better than my Ed Henry post.

These people really don't have a clue, do they? Do they really believe we want to read a play-by-play of Ed Henry's decision-making process before he asked his question at the Obama press conference?

Behind the scenes: Ed Henry's take on exchange with Obama

Ed Henry, CNN's senior White House correspondent, got a tough answer from President Obama when he asked Tuesday night why Obama waited days to express outrage on the AIG bonuses. "Because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak," Obama said. Here's Henry's take on what happened.

... After frantic preparation for the prime-time newser with several colleagues, especially lead CNN White House producer Tim McCaughan, I had several provocative questions in my pocket.

...The pressure was on now because the president had called on me....

But it's fun to gamble and like any good quarterback (though I was never athletic enough to actually play the position), I decided to call an audible.

So I went hard on the AIG question....

I waited patiently and then decided to pounce with a sharp follow-up....

Sorry, I can't bear to quote it at any greater length than that.

Ed --and all the rest of you -- listen to me: you are not the heroes of this story. You had a chance to be Woodstein-style heroes when the worst president of all time sat in the Oval Office, but you botched that opportunity. So just ask your damn questions and don't treat the process of doing so like the freaking Super Bowl until you actually score some points for the country.

Zillionaire hedge-fund managers pay federal tax at the capital gains rate, which -- at 15% -- is much lower than the marginal tax rate paid by ordinary schmucks like you and me on wages and salaries over $32,550. One of the unintended consequences of the GOP's unswerving opposition to closing this tax loophole is that a guy many Republicans consider the embodiment of pure evil makes out like a bandit:

The financial crisis may have turned much of Wall Street's wealth into dross, but a select group of hedge fund managers has managed to maintain a golden touch that might make King Midas blush.

... 25 top managers reaped a total of $11.6 billion in pay by trading above the pain in the markets, according to an annual ranking of top hedge fund earners by Institutional Investor's Alpha magazine, which comes out Wednesday.

James H. Simons, a former math professor who has made billions year after year for the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, earned $2.5 billion running computer-driven trading strategies. John A. Paulson, who rode to riches by betting against the housing market, came in second with reported gains of $2 billion. And George Soros, also a perennial name on the rich list of secretive moneymakers, pulled in $1.1 billion....

So Republicans feel like this about Soros ...

... and yet Republicans pols (with the help of a few bought-and-paid-for Democrats) continue to coddle Soros on tax day. Do GOP-base voters understand this? Do they realize their favorite pols are helping give Satan dominion over America?

The Future Of The GOP, Bobby Jindal, gave a speech last night:

The governor's speech ... took on a serious tone when he emphasized the need for Republicans to put the 2008 election behind them and embrace the role of loyal opposition party.

"It's time to declare our time of introspection and navel-gazing officially over," Jindal said. "It's time to get on with the business of charting America's future. So, as of now, be it hereby resolved that we will focus on America's future...."

And what does getting on with the business of charting America's future consist of exactly?

More whining about nonexistent fascism!

Jindal described the premise of the question -- "Do you want the president to fail?" -- as the "latest gotcha game" being perpetrated by Democrats against Republicans.

"Make no mistake: Anything other than an immediate and compliant, 'Why no sir, I don't want the president to fail,' is treated as some sort of act of treason, civil disobedience or political obstructionism," Jindal said at a political fundraiser attended by 1,200 people. "This is political correctness run amok."

... Jindal, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, told the Republican audience he would "not be brow beaten on this, and I will not kowtow to their correctness."

Yes, folks, Republicans look at the 2008 election and can't grasp the simple fact that Barack Obama won in large part because he didn't whine endlessly about the unfairness of the other side's tactics -- in fact, he did about as little of that as humanly possible. They just don't get this.

Oh, and I'll note that Jindal is almost taking my advice -- I said a month ago that if he were smart he'd go on a TV comedy show and joke about his bad "Kenneth the Page" speech. He did a bit of that last night --

"Many of you have asked that I reprise my State of the Union response speech," Jindal said. "That was a joke by the way. It's OK to laugh about it.

"I have just learned that because of President Obama's opposition to torture, it is now illegal to show my speech to prisoners at Gitmo," he added.

-- but note that he did it in front of an exclusively Republican audience, at a $2500-a-plate fund-raising dinner. He still doesn't want to do anything like this outside the safety of the He-Man Obama-Haters' Club. This is another lesson the would-be saviors of the GOP have failed to learn: months after Barack Obama won election by taking his act to places such as Virginia and Indiana, Jindal and Sarah Palin are taking us back to the Bush-Rove days of zero outreach to the center, in the belief that playing exclusively to the base will win them 50% plus one vote. Given the GOP's horrible party-identification numbers right now, good luck with that, guys.

(Jindal story via the Huffington Post.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


A minute or two ago, the president called Fox's Major Garrett "Garrett" rather than "Major." Are Drudge and Politico and Murdoch going to turn that into a multi-day "gaffe" story? Are we going to be reading that this is a major act of rudeness that explains why Obama's poll numbers are down in the next Zogby or Rasmussen poll?

...No, they're going to shriek about "human life sciences." And, well, fine -- let them. They're completely out of step with the country in their disgust at the use of embryonic stem cells.


UPDATE: Oh, right, of course:

They were bitching about two seconds of laughter a couple of days ago, so now they're bitching about a lack of emotion. Whatever.

And, of course, since these are Obama-bashers (the Drudge headline goes to an AP story by Ron Fournier), the obsession is with ... THE TELEPROMPTER!!!!

...he didn't look angry. Nor did he sound much like a pitchfork-wielding populist.

"At the same time, the rest of us can't afford to demonize every investor or entrepreneur who seeks to make a profit. That drive is what has always fueled our prosperity, and it is what will ultimately get these banks lending and our economy moving once more," he said.

It was a carefully modulated statement, and Obama -- relying on a familiar crutch -- read it off a flat-screen monitor perched at the back of the East Room.

The teleprompter was no help during the question-and-answer session (reporters don't signal their intentions), but Obama was no less careful during that give and take.

...Calm. Cool. Careful.

One of the few times he summoned raw emotion came after a reporter demanded to know why it took him so long to express outrage over the AIG executive bonuses.

"It took a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak."

Even better, he likes to have it up on the teleprompter.

May I just say that right-wingers are reacting to Obama's teleprompter these days the way the monkeys respond to the monolith in the early scenes of 2001?


UPDATE, WEDNESDAY MORNING: Drudge said "boring"? From Drudge's lips to the "liberal media's" ears.

New York Daily News:

President Obama's dull delivery during press conference fails to inspire

...Having been chided for laughing off some serious questions on "60 Minutes" last weekend, Obama seemed intent on stifling virtually all emotion -- and running out the clock with a flurry of wonkish explainers and recycled answers....

Daily Beast:

New York Times:

...This was Mr. Obama as more enervating than energizing, a reminder of the way he could be in his early days as a presidential candidate, before he became defined by rapturous crowds.

... Throughout his time in public life, Mr. Obama has confronted questions about whether he was too detached, too analytical, too intellectual. In the campaign, he was as likely to be compared to Adlai E. Stevenson as he was to John F. Kennedy....

Drudge -- ruling our world again....

(And to Kenneth Bazinet and David Saltonstall of the Daily News: did you watch the damn 60 Minutes interview? Or did you just get all your information on it from the orchestrated-rage performance-art piece in the right blogosphere? Obama was just like this throughout most of that interview -- hell, Obama was just like this throughout most of the Jay Leno interview. You could look it up.)


UPDATE: Silly me -- even though I've seen enough horror movies to know that you can never be sure the villain's really dead, for some reason I didn't recognize the stinking corpse-hand rising up out of the grave. But DougJ did:

It’s not an accident that so many righties settled on the "Obama is boring" meme this morning....

This is a classic Rovean technique -- attacking your opponent where he is strongest....

Rove! Of course! His technique, if not his direct guidance. And I missed it.

Last night and earlier today, when the Boston Herald, Jules Crittenden, and a passel of righty bloggers were telling us OMG OMG Obama's honeymoon is over he's dropped to 50% in the new Zogby poll!!!!, somehow they neglected to mention what Zogby himself helpfully told when he finally posted his write-up of the poll (emphasis mine):

Under our long-standing measure of job performance (excellent, good, fair, poor), Obama's positive ratings have dipped just below 50%. Likely voters choosing excellent or good fell three points from another Zogby Interactive poll concluded on March 5, going from 52% to 49% excellent or good; while 11% said fair and 38% poor.

In other words, Zogby isn't suddenly claiming that Obama's not popular -- Zogby is always claiming that Obama's not popular. Zogby -- unlike just about every other pollster in America -- was claiming that Obama wasn't popular weeks ago. His previous (anomalous) number was only 52%.

So it's not just that (as Nate Silver explains) Zogby's methodology is suspect, or that (as new polls from Gallup and CBS make clear) this new Zogby poll is a huge outlier -- it's that Zogby's been an outlier all along.

But why would wingnuts let something like the truth prevent them from disingenuously announcing a drop in popularity that wasn't a drop at all?

In case you thought the Beltway press couldn't get any more masturbatory or self-regarding, check out this Politico story by Mike Allen, which breathlessly answers the question that's been on, well, absolutely nobody's lips: just how on earth do journalists manage to prepare those fabulous questions they ask at presidential press conferences?

CBS's Chip Reid jots the gist of his questions on a legal pad. CNN's Ed Henry writes them word for word on white paper torn from the notebook he's using, so there's no danger of cards dropping to the ground. Fox's Major Garrett has three word-for-word questions and three "concept questions" in reserve.

ABC's Jake Tapper comes with about a dozen questions, including ones he's gathered from colleagues, bosses, his blog and Twitter.

Like athletes limbering up for the big game, White House reporters have been going through elaborate preparatory rituals as they bone up for tonight's prime-time news conference with President Obama, the second formal "presser" of his presidency....

Yes, Allen actually wrote that: Like athletes limbering up for the big game. As Dana Carvey's Church Lady used to say, "We like ourselves, don't we?"

And boyoboyoboy, does all that exhausting preparation pay off. Here, Major Garrett of Fox News explains his special method of ensuring that we have a well-informed citizenry:

"The questions must fence off as much of the talking points as possible, essentially conceding them in the question to limit the president's ability to repeat them," Garrett said. "So I push him in an explanatory direction. He loves to explain things, and sometimes in the explaining he makes news.

At Obama's last news conference, six weeks ago, Garrett read the president a quote from Vice President Biden about an Oval Office meeting he had with the president, and then asked: "Can you tell the American people, sir, what you were talking about?"

Obama's answer was widely seen as a quip at Biden's expense, and aides said the president later felt badly about the way it was covered. "You know," the president said, "I don't remember exactly what Joe was referring to. [Laughter.] Not surprisingly."

The Fox correspondent explained: "My Biden question fit this method. I read Biden's comment in full -- no dodging with 'I'm not familiar with that.' I then made it clear, so the audience knew, [that] Obama was in the room during the meeting Biden referenced, and asked him to explain to the country what the issue was."

Yeah, that was one of the all-time great contributions of a free press to the general welfare.

In a speech to a retreat of House Democrats, Biden had spoken of an earlier White House meeting:

He recalled a recent White House meeting with the president and senior aides in which they were discussing the many challenges the country faces.

"If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there's still a 30 percent chance we're going to get it wrong," was his message at the meeting.

I know, I know: another ill-advised Biden remark. But here's the thing: whatever Biden meant, it didn't matter. He was engaging in pure speculation about the future. What the hell difference did it make what he meant?

Under those circumstances, you'd think Garrett wouldn't be bragging about the brilliance of the question. It didn't tell Americans anything it's useful for us to know. And Obama, understandably, sidestepped the question.

Ah, but in sidestepping it he embarrassed himself -- or, at least, his answer was made into an embarrassment by Fox News and others in the press and (especially) the Obama-bashing precincts of the blogosphere, all of whom shrieked in unison that Obama had "thrown Biden under the bus." (And maybe I'm just being a blinkered Obamaniac, but I think that was based on a misunderstanding -- I think what Obama was saying was "Not surprisingly, given the fact that I have actual problems to deal with, I don't recall the circumstances surrounding that remark.")

But hey, Garrett got a trivial gotcha! Isn't that the whole point of the exercise?

Let's see ... there are two possible ways to interpret the Obama administration's contacts with media figures who aren't part of the Washington press corps: a somewhat sinister one and a not-so-sinister one. Hmmmm ... which will Politico choose for the lede of its top story right now?

Obama seeks filter-free news

At a time when his Washington honeymoon is turning into a hazing, President Barack Obama and his team are launched on a strategy to sail above the traditional White House press corps by reaching out to liberal commentators, local reporters and ethnic media.

The highest-profile moments in the new approach have been well-noted, such as the president giving an interview to progressive radio host Ed Schultz and Obama calling on a reporter from the liberal-leaning Huffington Post at his first news conference....

Oh my God! We, the Beltway press corps, are America's guardians of liberty, the people who keep Washington's politicians honest -- and Obama wants to evade our filter! He wants to sail above us! The fiend!

Excerpt that, er, he doesn't. We're told this a few paragraphs later:

... however, Obama and his aides tend not to boast about their media strategy or publicly exalt in how they are confronting or marginalizing the traditional news media.

To the contrary, Obama has continued to engage aggressively with the establishment outlets. The New York Times recently had an interview, and CBS News' "60 Minutes" has conducted two long interviews with Obama since Election Day.

These sessions reflect Obama's belief, according to aides, that in a fragmented media universe, presidents must communicate nearly constantly across an array of platforms, both traditional and new.

... [A] top aide used a sports analogy for the comprehensive strategy: "Flood the zone."


So he's not "sailing above" -- at times he's venturing above, but then he's coming right back down to talk to the same damn people he was allegedly trying to evade. (And, um, I think that should be "exult," not "exalt.")

But ... but saying it that way won't get us a Drudge link! So we had to make it sound as if he's being sneaky and evil!

(Alas for you guys, you didn't get a Drudge link anyway.)

Monday, March 23, 2009


Michelle Obama told D.C. schoolkids that she didn't let being told "You talk like a white girl" prevent her from trying to do well at school -- and now Democrat and feminist leader turned right-wing attack dog Tammy Bruce has gone ballistic, calling the first lady (or both Obamas) "trash." I want to point out (see below) that this fits right into a Bruce pattern of gutter-level attacks on black people.

Media Matters and the Huffington Post have the audio clip of the current attack:

BRUCE: It's all about her....

BRUCE: What a shame. That must've just ruined her damn day. "I wanted the A for myself, and I wanted to do it, and ooh, they said you sounded like a white person, I don't know what that means, but uhh." Huh?

Man, oh, man. That's who he's married to, what does that tell you? This is what we've got -- you know what we've got? We've got trash in the White House. Trash is a, is a thing that is color blind, it can cross all eco -- ecosocionomic kind of categories, you can work on Wall Street or work at the Wal-Mart. Trash are people who use other people to get things, who patronize others, who consider you bitter and clingy.

Bob Somerby saw the pattern years ago:

... In 1989, Bruce, then 27, became head of the Los Angeles branch of NOW. But she was forced from her post in 1996 -- canned for making racially naughty remarks about the O.J. Simpson case. On December 7, 1995, Marc Lacey gave an overview in the Los Angeles Times. "Bruce was quoted in an Associated Press report as saying she did not want to discuss the O.J. Simpson case on a TV program because she did not want ‘to argue with a bunch of black women,'" Lacey wrote. "Bruce also said her domestic violence message provided ‘a needed break from all that talk of racism.'" ...

Bruce made news again in the summer of 1998, when she was canned as a radio host at L.A.'s KFI -- for making racially naughty remarks! On July 8, Camille Cosby, Bill Cosby's wife, published an op-ed in USA Today. One day earlier, 19-year-old Ukrainian immigrant Mikail Markhasev had been found guilty of murdering the Cosbys' son, Ennis. "I believe America taught our son’s killer to hate African Americans," Camille Cosby wrote, citing a racial remark by Markhasev and his previous criminal assault on an African-American. After reading Cosby's column, T-Bruce swung into action. Six weeks later, KFI program director David Hall apologized for Bruce’s remarks. Judith Michaelson described the action in the Los Angeles Times:

...MICHAELSON: "Specifically," Hall said, "Mrs. Cosby was characterized as 'incredibly unstable, crazy, paranoid, delusional, just nuts' and the like. It was suggested that Mrs. Cosby seek therapy. We had no information about Mrs. Cosby's mental health...We wish to apologize.

"Similarly, in challenging Mrs. Cosby's assertion that her son's killing was racially motivated, we suggested that Mrs. Cosby caused her son's death by giving him access to an expensive car. Those comments were remarkably insensitive...Ours were cruel statements to make to parents whose son had recently been murdered."

As for Bill Cosby, Hall said statements by Bruce about him were "false, offensive and unnecessarily hurtful. And they too need to be retracted." Hall cited "our statements" that Cosby had "multiple illegitimate children as a result of multiple extramarital affairs with white women," and another that he "secretly funded the criminal defense of O.J. Simpson."

...Bruce began to re-emerge in 2001 with her incoherent book,
The New Thought Police. ... by page 18, she had trashed both Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, [saying that] King and Parks did show their "preference for deceit in the pursuit of power" ... More specifically, Rosa Parks had "pushed us into the maze of Thought Police totalitarianism that we face today." ...

My only regret about the recent attempts to focus anger on Rush Limbaugh is that he's been singled out while other sick, evil crazies and hatemongers -- Bruce, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck -- continue to be ignored by the public at large. Please, shine a spotlight on the whole damn disgusting lot of 'em.

I think I have an explanation for this little item from Talking Points Memo:

You might get the feeling that Michael Steele is going out of his way to please the religious right -- to the point of really laying it on thick -- in the wake of his flap over abortion.

The RNC just sent out a press release announcing the appointment of former Microsoft executive Todd Herman as the RNC's new media director. This is a key part of Steele's efforts to get the Republican Party tuned in to digital media and its place in modern politics.

Now take a look at the very last sentence: "He currently lives in Washington State, where he works at his most important roles: Christian, husband and father."

Why would Steele stress "Christian" in that press release? I'd say it's not a coincidence that the announcement comes a day after The Washington Times reported this:

A Roman Catholic bishop in Indiana will shun a pro-life banquet if Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele addresses the sold-out event, The Washington Times has learned.

The other honoree at the April 16 Vanderburgh County Right to Life (VCRL) banquet is Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and the snub by Bishop Gerald Andrew Gettelfinger of Evansville over Mr. Steele could embarrass Mrs. Palin, a hero to pro-lifers, and reverberate throughout the movement.

"At this point, the bishop's intention is not to attend the dinner he would normally attend," Paul Leingang, communications director for the diocese and editor of its weekly newspaper, the Message, said....

Evansville Catholic Charities Director Jim Collins also plans to boycott the gathering, saying he was "shocked" by Mr. Steele's answers on abortion during a recent interview....

This is the shindig I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the one I said he'd duck if he knew what was good for him. (I don't think he knows what's good for him.) I also said I didn't think Steele's days were numbered, mostly because the GOP wants to be able to say "LOOK! WE HAVE A NEGRO TOO!" -- but the anti-abortion folks don't play that way. They've enforced ideological rigidity in the national GOP for two generations and they're not going to loosen the screws now. He really might be in serious trouble if he shows up in Indiana and faces cancellations, nasty hecklers, and walkouts. And he's dumb enough to run that risk.

"The main thing we can do right now is be foreign correspondents reporting to you from enemy lines....

"I want people ... armed and dangerous on this issue ... because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us 'having a revolution every now and then is a good thing' ... I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States."

Shocking! It's shocking that he continues to say these things. Why does he hate America?

...Whoops! Sorry, that wasn't Jeremiah Wright -- it was rock-ribbed Republican congresswoman Michelle Bachmann.

Never mind -- my mistake. Obviously, what she said is perfectly acceptable.

Michael Goodwin of the New York Daily News now:

From anger to madness: A class-warfare crazed government mob is running amok

... our representatives are gangsters in pinstripes and pearls. They are petty tyrants and the more power they grab, the more at risk we are....

It is twilight in America now. The House vote to use the tax code to retroactively punish bonus babies was an act of sheer madness. What started as phony outrage at AIG has crossed the line into insane policy. It is stunning that the vote was lopsided and bipartisan.

The Senate is itchy to go along, and President Obama says he's ready to tighten the thumbscrews on the banks. Is there no adult who will bring a straitjacket?

We should all be very afraid. Class warfare is mere predicate for a witch hunt that, once unleashed, will not stop with misbegotten wealth. It will punish success and stifle innovation. Dissent will invite dishonor....

The members of Congress, of course, are responding to anger from people who were Michael Goodwin's BFFs a year ago:

Snob-ama slight a big-time error

... Having grown up in one of those small Pennsylvania towns Sen. Barack Obama sneers at, I know what really makes people there "bitter." It's slick-talking politicians who look down on their beliefs and values.

... Snob-ama ... should get off his Ivy League horse and apologize to the millions of Americans he insulted. As it stands, he has confirmed he doesn't understand or respect them.

... In one sentence, Snob-ama de-legitimized every choice people in America are free to make. It's arrogance on steroids, fueled by a secular, elitist view of middle America as filled with ignorant red-necks....

Now that the ox being gored belongs to Goodwin's elitist pals on Wall Street, in response to Main Street anger, his message is: Leave the rich alooooooone!

Oops -- what did I call these people? Because I just found out from the other New York tabloid, the Post, that people who make half a million dollars a year or more aren't rich, they're "rich," in scare quotes:

(Right-wingers will howl at the notion of such a tax on the wealthy, arguing that it will drive them out of the state or compel them to "go Galt" and curtail their richification activities. But, as I told you last week, studies show that these predicted negative outcomes don't actually happen.)

And speaking of the rich and taxes, that Michael Goodwin "Snob-ama" column was published two days before Tax Day in 2008. By the way, what was tax policy like in the last year of the Bush administration?

Millionaires' audit chances fell 36% last year

IRS audits of taxpayers with income of $1 million or more declined by more than a third last year....

Audits of wealthy taxpayers dropped at least 36% in fiscal 2008 from 2007, according to a report released today by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. TRAC is a research group affiliated with Syracuse University.

The drop in audits affected returns filed by taxpayers who earned income at the height of the real estate boom, before the economy turned sour, the report said....

Several studies have shown that wealthy taxpayers are more likely to hide income from the IRS. Taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $500,000 to $1 million fail to report 21% of their income on average, vs. 7% for those earning $40,000 to $50,000, according to a 2008 analysis by Joel Slemrod, a University of Michigan economics professor, and IRS economist Andrew Johns....

Several times during the Bush years, the IRS claimed to be getting tough on the wealthy -- even as we saw stuff like this in 2006:

The federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those who are subject to gift and estate taxes when they transfer parts of their fortunes to their children and others....

Now, I suppose if we were being truly Randian, we wouldn't tax the rich at all -- in fact, we'd give the rich money from government revenues, as a reward (a retention bonus, if you will) for creating wealth. Only wage slaves should be taxed! We create no wealth whatsoever! The guy who cleans a gazillionaire CEO's toilet should pay more taxes than the gazillionaire CEO -- a toilet-cleaner creates no wealth! It's obvious! Non-wealth-creators are vermin!

(Except in election season, when rural non-wealth-creators are the salt of the earth, unlike those evil arugula-eating liberal elitists.)