Archive for November, 2008

Small Ball?

Hard to get up early enough to beat Michelle Malkin to the punch. I’ve been thinking about a post on the grandiose plans for the In-O-guration for some time, and thought today might be the time after hearing a radio report on all the trouble the District government is being put through to deal with crowds that could top 5 million.

The Divine Ms. M points out that the  protesters who called for George Bush to scale back his Inaugural in 2005 at a time of war and in the wake of the tsunami disaster are nowhere to be seen this year.

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Friday, November 28th, 2008 Election 2008, Politics 87 Comments

Help Wanted

So today’s Wall Street Journal reports that the Treasury Bailout Team is a little stressed because they are working at “half staff.”   I’ll pass over the death-related symbolism of that term for a moment.

Seems like 40 staffers — many of whom are only at Treasury on a temporary basis — aren’t enough to handle the deluge of applications for relief.

Welcome to the world of planned economies.  It seems like government can’t ever get enough employees to do the job — like allocate capital and resources — that markets are intended to do.

Friday, November 28th, 2008 Economy, bailout 634 Comments

Ham-dumb

Didn’t the U.S. military see Saving Private Ryan?  Don’t they remember how the intepreter Upham argues for the life of a German captive, whom Captain Miller (the Tom Hanks character) ultimately releases … only to see the guy come back and ultimately deliver the round that fells Miller as well?

It was all I could think of when I read that Salim Ahmed Hamdan … onetime driver for none other than Osama bin Laden … would be sent back home to Yemen to serve out his sentence.

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Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 national security, terrorism 86 Comments

Does He, or Doesn’t He? Only Nancy and Harry Know for Sure

Yo-bama!

Can I believe my own Barry-sized ears?

Did you really repeat the following riff at your press conference today introducing your budget director?

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“We will go through our federal budget - page by page, line by line - eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way.”

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Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 Economy, Politics 68 Comments

Elites at Sea: More Water, More Bailing

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 30 years hanging with elites, both in politics and in so-called C-Suites in Corporate America.

Two toys that are greatly prized by such types (and that, like the size of their bank accounts and summer homes, serve to separate them from me) are planes and boats.

The latter category, it strikes me, provides spectacular opportunity for metaphorical riffs in the current economic crisis.  Because the elites in Washington and on Wall Street are not only spending an inordinate amount of time bailing these days — they also seem increasingly at sea.

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Monday, November 24th, 2008 Economy 83 Comments

Coming to a Church Near You: eTyranny

My column today speculates on the implications of eHarmony’s unfortunate capitulation to a “gay rights” activist.

http://www.northstarwriters.com/rm015.htm

Here’s Michelle Malkin’s take.

Monday, November 24th, 2008 Culture War, Uncategorized 1009 Comments

What is Our World … Our Nation … Coming To?

No jokes or clever commentary about this one.  It speaks for itself.

Are we a sick country?  A generation ago, Ronald Reagan answered, “no.”

I’m not so sure what he would say if he were alive today … and knew that people were cracking wise and egging a teenager on as he committed suicide over the web.

Defining deviancy down?  I’d say so.

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 Uncategorized 652 Comments

The Next Bailout: Healthcare

Business is discovering that bailouts can be fun and profitable … unless, that is, you are a taxpayer or are counting on the dollar to have any credibility remaining as a store of value.

That’s good news for Barack Obama, who can now count on various businesses and their lobbyists to line up behind his ambitious agenda to remake America in FDR’s image (certainly not Lincoln’s).  The latest to belly up to the trough, nosing in next to the financial and auto sectors:  the health insurance moguls.

According to today’s Wall Street Journal, both America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, and the”prescription drug lobby” are ready to buy into Obama’s plan requiring universal coverage, stating, “Business groups want to reduce the cost and improve the quality of care.”

Like that’s gonna happen.

Lower costs?  In a USA Today op-ed today, my pal, former colleague and cogent analyst of just about every subject, John Merline, puts his dazzling and daunting reportorial skills to work to burst the bubble surrounding Prezelect O’s promise of an average savings of $2500 on health insurance.

The stat, it seems, was pulled out of the air based on inflated estimates of savings from increased use of information technology, reduced paperwork (yeah … a government program is going to produce that) and better disease management and coordination of care.  And any savings would almost certainly be offset by the cost of covering more Americans.

But hey, who cares?  Whatever the ultimate costs of O’s plan — the Journal story estimates $100 billion annually — insurers and major employers recognize that they will save beaucoup bucks by dumping their exploding costs onto the taxpayer.  After all, companies have been doing it with pension plans for years.

And amid the more than $1 trillion being devoted to the financial bailout and Fannie/Freddie cleanup and the probable second tranche of an auto industry bailout whose first helping was a cool $25 billion, who’s going to notice a loose $100 billion a year jangling around the Treasury?

Higher quality?  Ask them about that in Britain … or Canada.

You can expect more of this enlightenment about the benefits of government involvement — formerly known as corporate welfare — to spread throughout industry.

Want greener energy?  Hey, the oil and gas industry is in reverse sticker shock, having seen the prices of its products drop faster than W’s approval ratings.  Why not a few favors to them in exchange for reformulated fuels and investments in alternative fuel boondoggles … oops, initiatives?

Barry O and his team are into net neutrality?  Sure, if you’re willing to grease the skids with some subsidies for rural broadband penetration or other pet projects.

So what’s the problem?

Well, besides the fact that someday, the bill is going to come due for this Miracle on Pennsylvania Avenue, the opportunity for abuse is gi-normous.  $250 million for a Bridge to Nowhere?  Chump change compared to $700 billion being handed out, no longer to buy up and provide a floor for troubled assets, but rather to pay bank executives’ bonuses and allow them to swallow smaller rivals.

Earmarks for parks, bike trails, federal buildings and research projects?   Mere blips on the radar compared to the bottomless money pit into which the government is about to fall when it starts running auto companies and telling them what kind of cars to turn out.

Wasteful defense spending?  Ha.  Just wait until rich Uncle Sam completes his no-longer-hostile takeover of the $2.3 trillion-a-year healthcare biz.

In fact, wait till all that money is sloshing around the halls of power on the Potomac to be doled out favored industries … which these days looks like just about every industry other than being a taxpayer (if there will be any of those left after Sleek Barry implements his 95 percent solution).

Gucci Gulch is about to widen into the Grand Government Goodie Canyon.

Where are those lobbyist registration forms?

UPDATE:  So right on cue, Michelle Malkin reports on a Pennsylvania state bailout of Boscov’s (where I once bought a Phillies hat for a dollar.  Where the heck is it now?).  Heck, I completely forgot about retail in my laundry list …

Thursday, November 20th, 2008 Economy, Politics, healthcare 90 Comments

The Gee 20 and the “Partnership with Death”

Gee.

I guess I wasn’t paying attention to what went on with the G20 summit this weekend … other than the gawdawful traffic jam it caused Friday night when I was trying to get into town for a dinner.

But if Dick Morris has it right, the Bush Administration has bought into a global regulatory regime that could substitute international standards — in his view, “European socialism”– for US-driven ones.

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Wednesday, November 19th, 2008 Economy, Politics 42 Comments

Free My 401(k)

Just a quick thought before bedtime…

I was glancing through the Wall Street Journal as I raided the kitchen for late-night snacks … as I frequently do … when a letter to the editor by Monique Morissey of the Economic Policy Institute caught my eye.

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Wednesday, November 19th, 2008 Economy, Politics 78 Comments