Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lightning Round - 063010

Not a cloud in the sky. Still, there's lightning:
  • Mark Dayton may have lost the crucial support of Satveer Chaudhary, but he's managed to get the endorsements of Bill Luther and Mike Hatch, which is excellent news, because you should never underestimate the importance of the support of politicians who are otherwise long forgotten. He's also working on getting the endorsements of Roger Moe, Ann Wynia, Dee Long and this guy, which should put him over the top. It's likely that he also has Arne Carlson's support.
  • As expected, the pointless kabuki of the Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan provide very little insight about how she would judge or her relative fitness for a lifetime appointment to the nation's highest court. Being forthright is not allowed. We have learned a fair amount about Al Franken, though.
  • Andrew Breitbart, bless his heart, understands that money talks. And his offer of $100,000 for the archive of the "Journolist" is yet another brilliant publicity stunt. While I'm guessing none of the participants would want to risk their careers by collecting the money, there are any number of enterprising hackers out there who would be happy to pocket 100 large. Meanwhile, the always-enterprising Iowahawk would like a cashier's check. Alas, that last link is NSFW. But it is funny as hell and spot-on.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chaudhary With a Chance of Meatballs

The die is cast:

Culminating a month of harsh criticism of his political tactics, Sen. Satveer Chaudhary was stripped Monday of his DFL endorsement for reelection, jeopardizing the career of one of Minnesota's leading politicians on outdoors issues.

But Chaudhary, standing alongside his attorney after the DFL action, said he would contest the 32-to-12 vote, saying it fell two votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to take away his party's endorsement. Promising he wanted to unite the party, but also make sure "the processes are fair," Chaudhary predicted he would win the DFL primary in August.

Some comedy at the outset: either the Star Tribune got the vote totals wrong (they didn't) or Sen. Chaudhary needs some help with his math skills, as 32-12 is well above a two thirds majority. Now, if the vote was 22-12, he'd be correct. Of course, his lawyer has an explanation, offered in this report from Minnesota Public Radio:

And while Chaudhary is working hard to convince likely primary voters that he should keep his job, his attorney, Brian Rice, said he intends to appeal the decision to the DFL Party's State Central Committee on technical grounds.

"The rules say that it had to be two-thirds of those eligible to vote. At the beginning, they established the record that there were 51 people eligible to vote and they just based it on those people who showed up," Rice said. "I think legally it's an issue we'll raise with the party that it took 34 votes. They didn't reach that number tonight so we'll contest it."

You have to love that logic -- apparently the votes of people who don't vote matter as much as the votes of people that do. Whether Chaudhary has lost the endorsement or not, he's clearly thinking like a DFLer. If this Senate thing doesn't work out for him, he might try running for Secretary of State in the next cycle. But I digress.

The upshot of the not-so-friendly activities in Fridley is this: the new DFL endorsed candidate is Barb Goodwin, who left the legislature four years ago. She will have the support of at least 32 people as she tries to win the primary.

One other thing that had been an open secret before has now become clear: this move was also about Chaudhary not supporting Margaret Anderson Kelliher. From the Star Tribune report:

Party leaders in the predominantly DFL district that arcs across the northern Twin Cities suburbs seemed to be angry with Chaudhary on several fronts, including his decision to support former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton for governor instead of the DFL's endorsed candidate, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

In an apparent last-minute attempt to make amends, Chaudhary sent Kelliher a letter and a $100 check dated Sunday, informing her that he now is officially supporting her and wishing her "the best of luck." He told Kelliher she could "publicly use my name as a supporter/host/sponsor in any and all publications." As the controversy surrounding Chaudhary has increased over the past month, Dayton has distanced himself from the senator.

This is comedy gold, too. So, how much do you want to bet that Kelliher is going to use Chaudhary's endorsement "in any and all publications?" The DFL endorsed candidate for governor would surely welcome the support of a guy who had his own endorsement stripped. Makes perfect sense.

So where are we? Goodwin has a month to convince the voters that she should win the primary. She'll have support on her side of the district (Columbia Heights and Fridley), but she's largely unknown in New Brighton and Arden Hills. Chaudhary has a fair amount of money to spend, which he'll now have to use to get past August 10. The most interesting thing to watch is this: what will the state DFL apparatus do? Will they sink resources into a district that they've been able to take for granted for over a generation? The fun is just starting.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Night of the Short, Dull Knives

Apparently the Democratic apparat here in Senate District 50 will meet tonight to decide the fate of Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, who has run afoul of Senate ethics panels and the apparatchiks.

Well, at least the SD 50 Democrats think they are deciding his fate. Chances are pretty good that they aren't. Here's why:

1) From what I understand, the purpose of the meeting is to decide whether to withdraw the DFL endorsement from Chaudhary and instead bestow it on Barb Goodwin, who served in the House on the 50A side of the district for a few terms but left nearly 4 years ago.

2) Goodwin is a loyal member of the DFL apparat but isn't all that well known on the 50B side of the district. She is also a singularly unimpressive figure. Watch as Cathy Wurzer and Eric Eskola struggle mightily to help her through an interview on a recent edition of Almanac.

3) The most interesting part of the Almanac interview is when Goodwin talks about other issues that trouble the DFLers in the SD 50 apparat. What that really means is this: Chaudhary didn't fall in line and support Margaret Anderson-Kelliher. Instead, he publicly threw his support to Mark Dayton, who is likely to win the DFL primary. Chaudhary Must Be Punished for that and the ethics issues are an excellent pretext.

4) Still, the burden is to get 2/3 of the votes at the meeting in order to strip Chaudhary of endorsement. And while Goodwin calls on Chaudhary to step aside if the endorsement is stripped, there's not a chance in hell that Chaudhary will do that. A fellow that looks in the mirror and sees an indispensable man won't do that. UPDATE (8:20 a.m.): I would consider the two huge campaign signs that Chaudhary has placed at the corner of 5th Street and Silver Lake Road in New Brighton over the weekend, as pretty much definitive evidence that he is going to stay in the primary regardless. (H/T to Mrs. D for spotting those).

The guess here: Chaudhary will find a way to get enough supporters to the meeting to foil the attempt to strip him of endorsement. And in either event, he wins the primary, once again proving the toothlessness of many DFL endorsements. This will further anger the DFL apparat, by the way. Meanwhile, the highly capable Republican nominee, Gina Bauman, watches and waits.

RIP, Robert Byrd

He died overnight at the age of 92. Far too complicated a legacy to discuss here, but let's just say this: instead of a hearse, his funeral procession ought to include a road grader, a backhoe and a cement truck.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Have a little custard

Joe Biden, man of the people, visits a Kopp's Frozen Custard stand in suburban Milwaukee. Hilarity ensues.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker doesn't find it very funny. And he's armed with bar graphs. Guess Slow Joe hit a nerve with this one. Here's the ordinarily mild-mannered attorney's summation:

A simple way to think about the Democratic Party is, you're the human being, they're the tapeworm. Yet they claim a weird sort of parasite's moral superiority over you: if you point out that they have their hand in your pocket, you're a "smartass." The Democratic Party needs to be torn, root and branch, from our public life.

On the bright side, Joe can count of the support of other well-informed Wisconsinites, including public officials.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I really hope

that the Dutch are a bunch of liars, that the writers and editors of the Financial Post are gullible as hell and that the article I'm linking here is 100% false. Put it this way: it had damned well better be:

The Dutch know how to handle maritime emergencies. In the event of an oil spill, The Netherlands government, which owns its own ships and high-tech skimmers, gives an oil company 12 hours to demonstrate it has the spill in hand. If the company shows signs of unpreparedness, the government dispatches its own ships at the oil company's expense. "If there's a country that's experienced with building dikes and managing water, it's the Netherlands," says Geert Visser, the Dutch consul general in Houston.

In sharp contrast to Dutch preparedness before the fact and the Dutch instinct to dive into action once an emergency becomes apparent, witness the American reaction to the Dutch offer of help. The U.S. government responded with "Thanks but no thanks," remarked Visser, despite BP's desire to bring in the Dutch equipment and despite the no-lose nature of the Dutch offer --the Dutch government offered the use of its equipment at no charge. Even after the U.S. refused, the Dutch kept their vessels on standby, hoping the Americans would come round. By May 5, the U.S. had not come round. To the contrary, the U.S. had also turned down offers of help from 12 other governments, most of them with superior expertise and equipment --unlike the U.S., Europe has robust fleets of Oil Spill Response Vessels that sail circles around their make-shift U.S. counterparts.

Why does neither the U.S. government nor U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn't good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million -- if water isn't at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.

When ships in U.S. waters take in oil-contaminated water, they are forced to store it. As U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the official in charge of the clean-up operation, explained in a press briefing on June 11, "We have skimmed, to date, about 18 million gallons of oily water--the oil has to be decanted from that [and] our yield is usually somewhere around 10% or 15% on that." In other words, U.S. ships have mostly been removing water from the Gulf, requiring them to make up to 10 times as many trips to storage facilities where they off-load their oil-water mixture, an approach Koops calls "crazy."

Crazy is being charitable. Read the whole infuriating thing.

Take Up the Weigel's Burden

UPDATE: Welcome, MinnPost readers!

I've been trying to figure out how to write about the curious saga of Dave Weigel, the young journalist who landed a plum new beat at the Washington Post, covering the strange cultural rituals of conservatives, or something like that. Weigel had worked for a time at Reason magazine, a libertarian journal that I've subscribed to periodically over the years, so someone at the Post apparently thought that he might have insight into what conservatives are thinking.

As you've learned if you've been following the matter, and I don't blame you if you haven't, it didn't work out so well. Weigel resigned or was sacked yesterday after disparaging comments he made about various conservatives were leaked to the Daily Caller website and subsequently published. Weigel made the comments on the Journolist, a e-mail circle (jerk) of prominent lefty journalists that was the province of Ezra Klein, another young journalist who has risen to prominence in the last decade. The Journolist is sort of a combination of the Dead Poets Society and the He Man Woman Hater's Club, near as I can tell.

Does that seem pretty convoluted to you? Me too. The upshot was this -- Weigel was saying things like this on the Journolist, in which he bemoans his fate covering the knuckle-draggers:

“Honestly, it’s been tough to find fresh angles sometimes–how many times can I report that these [tea party] activists are joyfully signing up with the agenda of discredited right-winger X and discredited right-wing group Y?” Weigel lamented in one February email.

Can't say I blame him for that one -- I've denounced "right-wing group Y" any number of times myself. They are scoundrels. Then there was this observation concerning Matt Drudge:

Of Matt Drudge, Weigel remarked, “It’s really a disgrace that an amoral shut-in like Drudge maintains the influence he does on the news cycle while gay-baiting, lying, and flubbing facts to this degree.”

Okay, that's impolite, but it's not 100% wrong by any means. Drudge doesn't get out much and sometimes I've wondered about that, too. But then there's this:

After Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat, threatening to kill the health care legislation by his presence, Weigel stressed how important it was for reporters to highlight what a terrible candidate his opponent Martha Coakley had been.

“I think pointing out Coakley’s awfulness is vital, because it’s 1) true and 2) unreasonable panic about it is doing more damage to the Democrats,” Weigel wrote.

From what I could tell, Scott Brown ran a better campaign than Martha Coakley. She may have been an awful candidate. But why on earth would Weigel care whether or not Coakley's loss "is causing unreasonable panic" or that it "is doing more damage to Democrats?" When you hear conservatives complain about how MSM journalists create a narrative, this is how it's done.

And this complaint of Weigel's might be most meaningful one of all, but not for the reasons he imagines:

“There’s also the fact that neither the pundits, nor possibly the Republicans, will be punished for their crazy outbursts of racism. Newt Gingrich is an amoral blowhard who resigned in disgrace, and Pat Buchanan is an anti-Semite who was drummed out of the movement by William F. Buckley. Both are now polluting my inbox and TV with their bellowing and minority-bashing. They’re never going to go away or be deprived of their soapboxes,” Weigel wrote.

I don't know that Newt Gingrich is a racist. Perhaps he is, although I recall his disgrace stemmed from a zipper problem rather than racial animus. But the point about Pat Buchanan is more interesting. Weigel is correct that William F. Buckley ran off Pat Buchanan 20 years ago when it became clear that Buchanan was pretty much straight up anti-Semitic. That move hardly hurt Pat Buchanan's career at all -- he managed to have nearly a decade-long run opposite Michael Kinsley on CNN's Crossfire program and later ran for President against George W. Bush in 2000. Pat Buchanan hasn't been part of the mainstream conservative movement for a very long time, but he's always available to present the "conservative view" in the MSM. Why do you suppose that is?

The larger point is simple -- the Washington Post may have claimed that they wanted to cover the conservative movement, but they never really wanted to explain it to their readership, for the same reason that someone like Pat Buchanan can have a long career as a conservative commenter in the MSM long after he is drummed out of polite conservative circles. The Post and most of the MSM prefers that conservatives are forever in caricature, not portrait.

If the Post had really wanted to give their readership a better understanding of conservatives, they could have hired someone like the veteran conservative reporter Byron York, who has had a long and successful career writing for a variety of conservative journals and now writes for the online Washington Examiner. Instead, they hired a young snarkmeister in Dave Weigel, who treated his job as a matter of cultural anthropology, and especially dismissive cultural anthropology, not as journalism. Weigel was giving his audience the Rudyard Kipling "take up the white man's burden" approach to his reporting. Ed Morrissey used the term "conservatives in the mist" to describe Weigel's reportage. That's exactly right.

Take up the White Man's burden--
Have done with childish days--
The lightly proferred laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lightning Round - 062510

Seems like we get a thunderstorm every other day this summer. So that means lightning:
  • My guess is that, in the end, nothing that happens in the Rod Blagojevich trial will ultimately bite Barack Obama. There's little interest in pursuing the broader implications of What It All Means. Still, it's a useful window into the world from which the Leader of the Free World emerged. The Chicago Tribune offers a useful compendium of its coverage here.
  • It's always good news when we are able to resolve our views amicably, especially when we show proper deference to the judiciary.
  • I have to study the results of the NBA draft in further detail, but based on early reports it seems that the two teams I follow most closely, the Bucks and the Timberwolves, have taken different paths. The Bucks, oddly, seem to have selected Garry Shandling, while the Wolves have selected Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson, Marquette's Lazar Hayward and various people currently playing in the World Cup. As I said, I need to study this a little more closely.
  • You can click this link if you'd like. Really, I'm not going to stop you. Obviously not nearly as important as tapping your foot in a bathroom stall at the airport, anyway.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Even Mo McChrystal

President Obama went ahead and sacked Gen. Stanley McChrystal yesterday, replacing him in the Afghan theater with Gen. David Petraeus. A few observations:
  • We have always been at war with Eastasia, Winston: now that the president has chosen Petraeus, it's both highly amusing and sadly quite typical that erstwhile critics of Petraeus have decided to airbrush their criticisms away. I guess this is another way to MoveOn.
  • The thing is, there really isn't any way to have a memory hole any more -- the internet is forever. It would be good if someone in the White House press corps would ask the president about this video.
  • Meanwhile, our pal Gino makes a sage observation.
  • Our other regular California commenter Amanda said something earlier this week that merits a little more discussion, to wit: "you throw in that last line, continuing to signal the same sort of doomsday schadenfreude you use with every mention of the President." The last line in question was saying that Barack Obama wanted to be president in the worst way and he's getting his wish. While I can see why Amanda might have interpreted the statement as schadenfreude, it wasn't. There's no joy in watching someone flounder in the most important job in the world. Barack Obama's misery, such as it is, is something we all share. And while I think Obama is in way over his head, we are hardly in anything approaching a doomsday scenario. This nation survived Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan in the 1850s. We survived a horrific Civil War and two World Wars. We will survive our current travails.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer of His Discontent

Another day, another epiphany:

"Coddsie, it's not just the boat," he sniffed. "It's the whole damned world. Have you been to the continent lately? The economy is moribund, the Euro is falling apart, and the underclasses are too lazy to do anything but riot for longer holidays. I wrote half the EU regulations on immigration and pensions, and how do they thank me? If I moor at St. Tropez, my yacht will be confiscated by the French tax officials. If I stop at the old family island I'll be attacked by rampaging Greek postal carriers. If stay out of harbor, I risk getting mistaken for an Israeli navy ship and blown up by some Palestinian peace flotilla. And this -- this president of yours doesn't seem to have a single idea what to do about it."

I and my guests were momentarily stunned, this being the first time any of us had heard an ill word spoken about Mr. Obama by a European of impeccable intellect with the Hermes ascot to match. This was followed, understandably, by muffled sobs. It was left to me to gamely break the lachrymose silence. "Perhaps Kloonkie is right," I said. "Perhaps the President has not quite turned out to be the Reagan reincarnation we all expected, and in some ways I am beginning to believe this Obama fellow is unequal to the task. As the intellectual conscience of the conservative movement, and whatever our previous enthusiasm for the chap, we ought have the courage to point out those rare instances where his performance has been found wanting. Such as foreign and domestic policy. The important thing is that we not end up implicated in his shortcomings."

Read the whole thing — it's like Dubliners on Montauk, I'm tellin' ya.

Mo McChrystal

The reverberations surrounding the Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal continue. I've now heard and read quite a lot of commentary on the matter and one meme that has developed seems especially silly to me. Among others, Hugh Hewitt has argued that since the most damaging quotes aren't attributed to McChrystal directly, but rather to his aides, McChrystal should somehow get a pass. Writing in Slate, Fred Kaplan demolishes that meme quite well, I think:

Nonetheless, and this is the damning third point, the fact that it's "just staff officers" talking like this doesn't let McChrystal off the hook. In fact, the story suggests that, on some level (and how serious a level is something for Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to find out), McChrystal's operation is out of control.

How so?

In some scenes in the Rolling Stone story, aides make jabs at civilian authority in McChrystal's presence—with, apparently, no approbation or dissent on the general's part. (In a statement issued this morning, McChrystal didn't deny any part of the story; instead, he apologized and expressed "enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team.")

What seems clear is that McChrystal has sown, or in any case tolerates, an atmosphere of disrespect for the civilian chain of command. And the fact that his entourage feels free to talk like this in front of not just him but a reporter—much less a reporter from Rolling Stone—speaks volumes about how far they've burrowed into their cocoon.

Now it's too easy for me, from the safety of my dining room table in a comfortable Twin Cities suburb, to cast aspersions on the command structure of an amazingly complex military operation half a world away. Still, Kaplan's observation seems correct to me. We don't necessarily pay generals to see the bigger picture, but the best ones always do. And while I fully support the notion that one ought to cast a gimlet eye at the governing class, especially the current one, it's always the better course of action to handle your disputes through the chain of command. If McChrystal feels that Obama and his civilian team are incompetent, he ought to resign his commission and then tell the world from outside the command structure. He shouldn't job his concerns out to his underlings and reporters from a magazine that features a pantsless Lady Gaga on the cover.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Job One, Left Undone

One of the things we heard incessantly in the past two election cycles is that we needed to elect Democrats to return competent governing to Washington. Behold competence in action:

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer made official Tuesday morning what most insiders have known for months: Congress won’t do a budget this year.

Instead, Democrats are pushing an alternative route that falls well short of the more rigorous annual budget resolution — a short-term resolution that will call for discretionary spending lower than in President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget. But he said Congress wouldn’t take longer-term budget action before hearing from Obama’s fiscal commission in December. Republicans have lambasted Democrats for not passing a budget resolution, saying that’s the first time it’s happened since 1976.

I think we can give that competence thing a rest, Democrats. My goodness. How in the world can you not pass a budget? The business about waiting to hear from a commission is ludicrous -- we don't elect commissions, we elect a Congress to make budgetary decisions.

So let's see if we have this straight -- our solons aren't capable of devising an operating budget for those matters that are within their purview, but they are fully capable of passing a bill that completely changes the health care industry in this country. And Steny and his pals also feel they are somehow capable of making decisions about how every American should use energy, with a coercive regulatory scheme to undergird their decisionmaking process and to enforce compliance with their dictates. Yeah, that should work out well.

You're Damned Right I Ordered That Code Red

You see, we can't handle the truth. The Rolling Stone article that is likely to blow up Stanley McChrystal's military career like a Predator drone is now available. As my favorite poet would have it, a terrible beauty is born:

The general's staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. There's a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. They jokingly refer to themselves as Team America, taking the name from the South Park-esque sendup of military cluelessness, and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority. After arriving in Kabul last summer, Team America set about changing the culture of the International Security Assistance Force, as the NATO-led mission is known. (U.S. soldiers had taken to deriding ISAF as short for "I Suck at Fighting" or "In Sandals and Flip-Flops.") McChrystal banned alcohol on base, kicked out Burger King and other symbols of American excess, expanded the morning briefing to include thousands of officers and refashioned the command center into a Situational Awareness Room, a free-flowing information hub modeled after Mayor Mike Bloomberg's offices in New York. He also set a manic pace for his staff, becoming legendary for sleeping four hours a night, running seven miles each morning, and eating one meal a day. (In the month I spend around the general, I witness him eating only once.) It's a kind of superhuman narrative that has built up around him, a staple in almost every media profile, as if the ability to go without sleep and food translates into the possibility of a man single-handedly winning the war.
That's one of the few passages I can quote without working blue. You should definitely read the whole thing, but several things are quite clear.
  • McChrystal is pretty sure of himself. He has to be, considering what an impossible job he seems to have. He's also amazingly dismissive of his boss.
  • Then again, he's pretty much dismissive of anyone who would stand in judgment of his efforts or his mission. While that single-mindedness is certainly desirable when your mission includes killing some of the worst bad guys extant, it runs afoul of our history and our traditions in any number of ways, most importantly that our military remains in civilian control.
  • McChrystal has been summoned to Washington to meet his boss. While many of us on the starboard side of the blogosphere tend to be pretty dismissive of Barack Obama, especially in his role as Commander in Chief, he remains the CIC. And while President Obama needs the benefit and counsel of generals who understand the many, many things he does not understand, he does not need loose cannons who shoot off their mouths to Rolling Stone magazine. Gen. McChrystal has put his boss in a very difficult position and I don't see any good solution for Obama other than relieving this general of his command.
  • The problem with ashcanning McChrystal is evident, though: there's really not an obvious candidate to take over the job. Most likely Obama would need to have David Petraeus step away from his current role running CENTCOM. He's the one figure in the Pentagon structure who would bring instant credibility to the effort. My guess is that Petraeus would agree to this if Obama asked him to take over. It's not desirable to change commanders in the middle of an exceptionally complicated military campaign, but what else do you do?
I've said it before: Barack Obama wanted to be president in the worst way. He continues to get his wish.

Subject for further research

Is Stanley McChrystal the new Douglas MacArthur, or something far, far less? Allahpundit follows the trail to date.

il miglior fabbro

I noticed this exercise in nonsense from Washington Post columnist Colbert King and was thinking to myself, this would be an excellent piece to fisk. My good friend Brad Carlson must have noticed it, too, because he's already done the work. Well played, Brad. Well played.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bork Me Amadeus

Why Washington is the way it is, Chapter MDCCCLXXXIV,

Prospective Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, 1997:

I loved what happened in the Bork hearings. I wrote a review of Stephen Carter’s book recently where I said, "no, he has it all wrong. The Bork hearings were great, the Bork hearings were educational. The Bork hearings were the best thing that ever happened to Constitutional Democracy."

Robert Bork, having been "educated," offers Elena Kagan a chance to learn all about it, 2010:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Failed conservative Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork is joining anti-abortion activists to publicly oppose confirming Elena Kagan as a justice.

Bork plans to detail his criticisms of Kagan during a Wednesday news conference organized by Americans United for Life. The group calls itself the country's first national pro-life organization, and brands Kagan a pro-abortion activist.

On the bright side, attempting to Bork a fan of Borking should be fascinating, if nothing else. Kinda like the way a nine-car pileup on the Interstate is fascinating.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dawn Breaks Slowly

Who knew?

The reviews of Obama's performance have been disappointing. He has seemed uncomfortable in the role of leading other nations, and often seems to suggest there is nothing special about America's role in the world. The global community was puzzled over the pictures of Obama bowing to some of the world's leaders and surprised by his gratuitous criticisms of and apologies for America's foreign policy under the previous administration of George W. Bush. One Middle East authority, Fouad Ajami, pointed out that Obama seems unaware that it is bad form and even a great moral lapse to speak ill of one's own tribe while in the lands of others.

And then there's this:

Obama clearly wishes to do good and means well. But he is one of those people who believe that the world was born with the word and exists by means of persuasion, such that there is no person or country that you cannot, by means of logical and moral argument, bring around to your side. He speaks as a teacher, as someone imparting values and generalities appropriate for a Sunday morning sermon, not as a tough-minded leader. He urges that things "must be done" and "should be done" and that "it is time" to do them. As the former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Les Gelb, put it, there is "the impression that Obama might confuse speeches with policy." Another journalist put it differently when he described Obama as an "NPR [National Public Radio] president who gives wonderful speeches." In other words, he talks the talk but doesn't know how to walk the walk. The Obama presidency has so far been characterized by a well-intentioned but excessive belief in the power of rhetoric with too little appreciation of reality and loyalty.

The challenge for an increasing number of Obama supporters is this: how much loyalty is owed to someone who has "too little appreciation of reality an loyalty." There's a lot more at the link -- worth your time.

Friday, June 18, 2010

And You'd Better Damned Well Have Completed Form 297J-KT, Schedule 3, Governor

Your federal government at work:

Eight days ago, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered barges to begin vacuuming crude oil out of his state's oil-soaked waters. Today, against the governor's wishes, those barges sat idle, even as more oil flowed toward the Louisiana shore.

"It's the most frustrating thing," the Republican governor said today in Buras, La. "Literally, yesterday morning we found out that they were halting all of these barges."

Sixteen barges sat stationary today, although they were sucking up thousands of gallons of BP's oil as recently as Tuesday. Workers in hazmat suits and gas masks pumped the oil out of the Louisiana waters and into steel tanks. It was a homegrown idea that seemed to be effective at collecting the thick gunk.

"These barges work. You've seen them work. You've seen them suck oil out of the water," said Jindal.

Surely there was an excellent reason to halt this effort, right?

So why stop now?

"The Coast Guard came and shut them down," Jindal said. "You got men on the barges in the oil, and they have been told by the Coast Guard, 'Cease and desist. Stop sucking up that oil.'"

A Coast Guard representative told ABC News today that it shares the same goal as the governor.

"We are all in this together. The enemy is the oil," said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Dan Lauer.

That's great, Lt. Cmdr. Lauer. So what was the reason?

But the Coast Guard ordered the stoppage because of reasons that Jindal found frustrating. The Coast Guard needed to confirm that there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board, and then it had trouble contacting the people who built the barges.
Now, that might seem outrageous to you, but there is historical precedent for such a thing. I can't link to this because it's only available on microfiche, but here's a report from London Daily Mail, dated May 29, 1940:

DUNKIRK, FRANCE (Reuters): Efforts to continue the evacuation of Allied Forces hit a snag today when 375 of an estimated 700 small commercial boats that have formed a makeshift flotilla to aid in the evacuation were ordered back to England. British Home Secretary officials indicated that the boats were ordered to return because they were unable to verify that they had sufficient supplies of ring buoys and non-flammable blankets on board their vessels.

"We are all in this together. The enemy is the Germans," said the unnamed senior Home Secretary official. "Still, we have these these safety regulations in place for a reason and we need to verify compliance before we can entrust someone to participate in an evacuation."
Well, Dunkirk worked out okay despite all that, so I guess we shouldn't really be so hard on these guys. OSHA regs are a life vest to them.

The Governor's Race -- DFL

KSTP had a poll on the governor's race. The ever-industrious Luke Hellier at MDE has the numbers. First things first -- nothing really matters until the DFL settles its catfight. We still have nearly two months to the primary, but it's not looking good for the endorsed candidate, Margaret Anderson Kelliher:

In the DFL Primary Mark Dayton led Margaret Anderson Kelliher by 13 points.
Matt Entenza also closed the gap and was only four behind Kelliher.

Dayton – 39
Kelliher – 26
Entenza – 22

A few observations:

  • As is often the case, being the DFL nominee doesn't really mean much. Kelliher called in an enormous amount of chits and had to expend a lot of energy to fend off R.T. Rybak to get the endorsement, only to find herself in a primary with two exceptionally profligate limousine liberal candidates who are more than willing to spend millions for air time that she cannot match. Not that she merits much sympathy.
  • Entenza has been spending a ton of money for his ads and it hasn't gotten him very far. There's a reason that I refer to him as "Don Quixote de la Entenza" -- he's a rich dude with a fondness for windmills who is involved in a very quixotic quest. As long as his wife doesn't pull the plug, he'll continue to erode Kelliher's vote totals, even though there's no reason to think he'll win.
  • Mark Dayton is winning this on name recognition alone. Should he win, he'll be an exceptionally easy candidate to run against.
  • What's most interesting is this: despite the near-constant attention the DFLers are getting, Tom Emmer is in a statistical dead heat with each of them right now. We'll talk more about that anon.

Hard to argue

Generally speaking, Ann Coulter isn't one of my favorites, but I thought these two observations were spot-on. She's writing about the topic of Alvin Greene, the out-of-nowhere (in more ways than one) candidate who is now the Democratic standard-bearer in the South Carolina senate race. First she takes a well-deserved shot at the egregious David Axelrod, who recently gave the commencement address at my alma mater:

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said Greene was not a "legitimate" candidate and called his victory "a mysterious deal." (Yes, how could a young African-American man with strange origins, suspicious funding, shady associations, no experience, no qualifications, and no demonstrable work history come out of nowhere and win an election?)

And this:

They're hopping mad, these liberals, but it's not clear what their theory of the crime is. Before accusing Republicans of committing a dirty trick, apparently no one asked the question: "OK, but what was the trick?"

The key to Greene's victory, you see, is that he got more votes. How do liberals imagine Republicans pulled that off? Mesmerize the Democrats into voting for an idiot? If they could do that, John McCain would be president.

More, including a useful history lesson from 1998, at the link.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Question for the audience

I thought about this the other day. What is the greatest American rock and roll band?

It's a tougher question than one might think. When I think about rock history, the best bands are almost all British: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Clash, etc. American bands tend to have a frontman (Buddy Holly, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Bob Seger, Sly Stone etc.) or are individuals with, in the main, a varying cast of sidemen (Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley).

So when I think about it, the bands that come to mind are:

Creedence Clearwater Revival
Beach Boys
Allman Brothers
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Velvet Underground

Whom would you pick?

Might as well

Here's good news:

Reeling from public criticism - of everything from a chaotic foreign policy to mishandling the oil spill crisis to sponsoring ineffective or, as some say, disastrous economic initiatives - President Obama told reporters today that he planned to name a "competence czar".

Second look at Dick Cheney? Read the whole thing (H/T: Instapundit)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More of the same

As I mentioned, I spent the better part of yesterday evening coaching baseball so I missed the address that President Obama gave last night. I've now had a chance to read the address -- the transcript is here. So what to make of it?

My first impression is that it was pretty perfunctory. There was nothing new in the speech. We heard that BP is gonna pay and all that weeks ago. They would have, anyway -- there are squadrons of tort lawyers who will see to that.

Some passages of the address were, frankly, ignorant. Consider this one:

So I'm happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party -– as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels. Some have suggested raising efficiency standards in our buildings like we did in our cars and trucks. Some believe we should set standards to ensure that more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power. Others wonder why the energy industry only spends a fraction of what the high-tech industry does on research and development -– and want to rapidly boost our investments in such research and development.

The "addiction to fossil fuels" trope is really tiresome. There's an excellent reason why we use so many fossil fuels; they are a highly efficient way to power automobiles, provide electricity and create items that make our lives easier. Wind and solar power have applications in some areas but there's always going to be a limit to places where you can use them. The most sophisticated amorphous solar panels will not deliver much energy in the Pacific Northwest and wind power doesn't work well in the southern part of the United States. President Obama knows these things, or he should -- there are myriad scientists in his employ who can tell him. And what sorts of research and development does the president want from the oil companies?

Meanwhile, consider these two paragraphs in sequence:

That obviously was not the case in the Deepwater Horizon rig, and I want to know why. The American people deserve to know why. The families I met with last week who lost their loved ones in the explosion -- these families deserve to know why. And so I've established a National Commission to understand the causes of this disaster and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we need to put in place. Already, I've issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. I know this creates difficulty for the people who work on these rigs, but for the sake of their safety, and for the sake of the entire region, we need to know the facts before we allow deepwater drilling to continue. And while I urge the Commission to complete its work as quickly as possible, I expect them to do that work thoroughly and impartially.

Commissions -- that'll solve the problem! I hope it's a blue ribbon commission. Those are the best ones. But who will staff the commission? Hope he doesn't use these guys:

One place we've already begun to take action is at the agency in charge of regulating drilling and issuing permits, known as the Minerals Management Service. Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility -- a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves. At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations.

As usual, you couldn't have an Obama address without a handy straw man -- all regulations are viewed with hostility. Who says that, really? The more uncomfortable truth about MMS and many federal agencies is this: when the task is regulating a highly technical and sophisticated industry or process, who has the knowledge base to understand what's going on? Well, it's usually someone who was, at one point or another, an industry insider.

While we'd like to think there's some sort of Solomonic consortium of liberal arts majors who can divine the deeper meaning of an industry's protocols and practices, that's not how it works in the real world. Expertise matters and it's hardly surprising that MMS was a bit of an old boy network with incestuous relationships to the industries it is tasked to regulate. It's the same thing across the board -- if you doubt that, check with a federal bank examiner; it's just about axiomatic that any examiner you meet once worked in the banking industry.

So here's a question that you can ponder, even if the president would prefer not to: if we know that regulators are going to have ties to the industry they regulate, why do we suppose that adding more regulators or commissions is going to make the regulatory process more effective?

I could go on for days about this, but let's leave it there for now.

Subject for further research

We've had baseball every night this week, so I was standing in the third base coaches' box at Greenfield Park in Mounds View while the president made his speech last night concerning the ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. I intend to read the speech in full, but I've been amazed at how negative the reactions have been.

It's becoming increasingly clear that for many liberals in the punditocracy, they sense something almost existential about how this is playing out. Writing as guest at Powerline, William Voegeli has his finger on the reason. First, Voegeli quotes New Republic writer Noam Scheiber, who wrote the following in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005:

Noam Scheiber, then and now a writer for The New Republic, rejected such fatalism. The real lesson of Katrina, he insisted, one that justified all the denunciations of George W. Bush and his administration, was "that a robust, efficient government can mitigate, if not completely eliminate, much of the chaos and nastiness in the world." (Emphasis added.)

There's little doubt that President Obama has been trying to make the already gigantic federal government even more robust. Efficiency is another matter. Voegeli makes the point well:

It's not hard to understand why, less than five years after Katrina, Barack Obama's maladroit response to the Gulf oil spill is causing so much agitation among his admirers. Obama was supposed to be the un-W., fluent where his predecessor was tongue-tied, affirming in word and deed that a sufficiently robust and energetic government could rid the world of chaos and nastiness.

The impotence, confusion and cluelessness of the Obama administration's response to the oil spill present liberal America with a painful dilemma. Those who admired and verged on worshiping Obama during 2008 and 2009 have to wonder whether the oil spill is Obama's 3:00 a.m. phone call, and Hillary Clinton's warnings that the kid just wasn't ready to hit big-league pitching have been proven correct.

There's a lot more at the link and it's worth your time.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Who are you?"

Assuming he looks in the mirror, Cong. Bob Etheridge will not like the answer. Althouse has the video.

Let's set aside partisanship for a moment. The problem here isn't what side of the aisle this dude sits on. The problem is that he seems to think, assuming he was thinking at all in this incident, that he's entitled to live by a different standard of behavior than other people. We always need to keep in mind the difference between a governing class and a ruling class. It's this sort of behavior that leads to Tea Party movements.

If you choose to be part of the governing class, you can reasonably expect scrutiny, whether it's from dudes in blue blazers with flip camera, or from Code Pink or SEIU or any number of other people. It's a blood sport and given the enormous amounts of money and power involved, that shouldn't surprise anyone. But the minute one of our representatives, regardless of party affiliation, begins to act as though they are part of a ruling class, they need to go away.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lightning Round - 061410

Fighting a week-long case of writer's block but there are things to discuss:
  • Mike Kaszuba moved the continuing saga of Satveer Chaudhary's ethical myopia forward again yesterday in this Star Tribune article. Chaudhary really has got to go and the replacement ought to be Gina Bauman, a genuine reformer, rather than the DFL placeholder who is now challenging Chaudhary in the primary.
  • Ann Althouse takes a long look at Sarah Palin's breasts and the boobs who obsess over them. Sorry, that was too easy.
  • A helpful explanation of what "bipartisanship" actually means, from noted partisan James Clyburn, D-SC.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

In the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to reconnect with quite a few friends and relatives. Many of them have told me how things are going in their lives.

The issues several of them are facing are difficult. Potential layoffs at work. Health problems. Car repairs. Worries about school next year. Unemployment. Death of a loved one. Marvin Gaye sang it this way:

Oh, make me wanna holler
And throw up both my hands
Yea, it makes me wanna holler
And throw up both my hands

I'm trying to offer what I can, a hug, a sympathetic ear, an email or note to let you know that I am thinking about you. Everything feels inadequate since I can't solve everyone's problems.

Love to all who feel they are currently on an uphill journey.

A Feature, Not a Bug

Anyone surprised?

Internal White House documents reveal that 51% of employers may have to relinquish their current health care coverage by 2013 due to ObamaCare. That numbers soars to 66% for small-business employers.

The documents — product of a joint project of the Labor Department, the Health and Human Services Department and the IRS — examine the effects new regulations would have on existing, or “grandfathered,” employer-based health care plans.

It's pretty easy to see why. Regulations kick in for these reasons, and there are others:

Under interim regulations, current employer-based coverage would not be grandfathered and hence subject to the health care laws’ consumer provisions if:

* The plan eliminates benefits related to diagnosis or treatment of a particular condition.

* The plan increases the percentage of a cost-sharing requirement (such as co-insurance) above the level at which it was on March 23, 2010.

* The plan increases the fixed amount of cost sharing such as deductibles or out-of-pocket limits by a total percentage measured from March 23, 2010, that is more than the sum of medical inflation plus 15 percentage points.

* The plan increases co-payments as a total percentage measured from March 23, 2010, that is more than the sum of medical inflation plus 15 percentage points or medical inflation plus $5.

* The employer’s share of the premium decreases more than 5 percentage points below what the share was on March 23, 2010.

Health care plans operate at very low profit margins. These requirements pretty much guarantee that most plans will have the choice of operating at a loss or going out of business, unless the medical providers are willing to take a haircut. Ask the nurses who went on strike this week how they'd like that.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Same Old Same Old

The news from the Gulf doesn't get any better, nor do the responses to the ever-burgeoning disaster. It really shouldn't surprise us: some problems are beyond the ability of politicians to solve, especially the current crop we have. It's a matter for engineers and project managers to solve and all the government can really do is give them the means to solve the problem and then get the hell out of their way.

There's plenty of news about the governmental response that could merit a denunciation or two, but frankly my heart isn't in it. I hated it when the Left excoriated Bush during the aftermath of Katrina and while it's understandable why some of my colleagues on the Right would feel the need and the justification to return the favor to Barack Obama, it really doesn't do much to solve the problem.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I'll admit I laughed

Apparently some on the portside have been speculating on whether or not Sarah Palin has recently had some work done on her, ahem, physique. Which leads to the bon mot of the day, from Gerard vander Leun:

I am, however, amused by the frothing search on the Left for whether or not Sarah Palin's pair has grown.

Seems to me what the Left should be asking is not if Sarah Palin's pair has grown, but when their president plans to grow a pair.

Open thread

Haven't done one of these in a long time. What's on your mind, readers? Let fly in the comment section.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Benster and D Discuss Your Big Ten Expansion HYYYYPE!

Benster is here and you know what that means: it's time to bring the HYYYYYPPPEEE! What's the story, Seabiscuit?

Well, Decrepit, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Nebraska is joining the Big Ten. I've even linked it for you. I've also seen it on SportsCenter and the Omaha newspaper. Also, it looks like the Pac 10 is going to go ahead and take Texas, Texas A & M and some other combination of Big XII schools, most likely Texas Tech, Colorado and maybe the Oklahoma schools. This is news that is really worth the HYYYYYYYPPPPPPEEEE!

Indeed, Grasshopper. I will say this: for my part, I don't think that Nebraska would have been my first choice, but I do see the wisdom of it: while Nebraska is a small television market, they do have a national following, especially in football, and they are one of the better academic schools in the Big XII, so they at least fit. There are other schools that I think are better fits, but we'll get to that.

I've got to say that Nebraska is a good fit academically, but I do have some theories on expanding out East, since I assume that the Big Ten is not done yet.

So, who do you think should also join the big party, young fella?

Nobody has even considered taking Duke, North Carolina, Virginia or Maryland. Unless they don't care about basketball and this thing is strictly about football. Which it might be, old fella.

That's an interesting theory, Benster. The ACC has been pretty much sitting this one out, although I did think of Maryland as a dark horse in an earlier post. All of those schools would be a good fit academically, but I'd be really surprised to see the Dukies or North Carolina line up with the Big Ten.

Or, if you want to look at a different ACC school that would make sense, consider Boston College. The Eagles would give you access to New England, they are a fairly good school academically and they compete well in all sports.

Boston College is a more plausible long shot than the other schools, because their history with the ACC has been short in duration. And there's the problem -- they've been in the ACC and the Big East in recent years and you wonder if the Big Ten would want a school that seems to hop from one train to another so much. I do think that the Big East will be raided, though. Shall we talk about some of the possibilities, Youngblood?

Sure. But first, I dug out my massive coffee table book about college football and in it, I noticed an essay about how John Paul Stevens, who recently retired from the Supreme Court, basically set off a chain of events that helped to create the Bowl Championship Series, or as I like to call it, the Bad Computer Syndrome. I noticed that the key thing here is money, specifically the Big Ten Network. We could see the same expansion wave that we saw in the early 1990s, when Penn State came to the Big Ten and the other independents, mostly schools like Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College, joined conferences like Big East and the ACC. There's only one real independent left.

Notre Dame?

You picked right up on that, old fella! Notre Dame will never give up its national television contract with NBC, a/k/a the NotreDame Broadcasting Company. So I wouldn't be surprised if we see a wave of expansion that does not include Notre Dame in the next few years.

It's already happening, apparently. So, let's get the expert on HYYYYYYPPPE! to weigh in on the relative merits of potential candidates for Big Ten expansion beyond Nebraska. Are you ready for the lightning round, Lightning Bug?

Bring it on, old dude. We're not picking your games right now.

Okay. How about Missouri?

It all depends on Kansas.

That's funny, because I thought that what Kansas does all depends on Missouri.

Well, you're right, Early Bird Special Fan, because those two schools ought to travel together, wherever they go. It's obvious that Mizzou is the bigger draw, because you get access to St. Louis and Kansas City. But remember this: Kansas City is just as much of a KU market as a Mizzou market. Sorry to break it you, old fella. Remember when Jack Harry explained all that to us when we were in Kansas City last year? With his pal Scary Gary?

That's a good point and an excellent way to feature obscure Kansas City news personalities, but what about Mizzou? Should they go to the Big Ten?

Sorry, Scary Gary scared me for a minute and knocked me off-topic. Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I don't think the Pac-10 has any interest in KU, so it's really up to Mizzou if they want to take a chance on losing their archrival. It would be like if the Cowboys moved to the AFC and left the Redskins behind. It may happen, but it would be weird.

Okay. I think Mizzou is coming to the Big Ten and I hope KU does, too. But those are the only schools to the West that make sense. So let's turn our attention to the East. How about Rutgers?

It makes sense academically, but there's no guarantees on the playing field. Rutgers is not a dominant football school and as much I want the aforementioned ACC schools, they aren't football powers, either. Since this is about football, I highly doubt Rutgers is going to join. I still think Boston College makes more sense and it's going to have to be an even number of teams, because that way you can have traveling partners in basketball. But if the Big Ten takes a school to the East, they'll need a partner. So while I highly doubt this, I'd make an offer to Syracuse and Cincinnati.

Syracuse makes sense to me. I don't see Cincinnati, but who knows? Here's my suggestion: Rutgers and UConn. What do you think of that?

If you want to go to New England, it has to be Boston College. UConn has zero football history and the only thing it really has going for it is proximity to ESPN. Yeah, they have a great women's basketball program, but that's not going to decide this, old fella. Also, BC would get you Hartford and Providence, anyway.

Maybe. That's the fun of this, the speculating.

I agree, but making fun of Kansas City newscasters is pretty fun, too. Anyway, were you going to ask me about some other schools?

Yes. Quick answer on each of the following. We'll start with Pittsburgh:

Pittsburgh doesn't get you Philadelphia. I don't see it.


Syracuse doesn't play football well these days. They used to, but you have to wonder.


Possibly. The Terps can play football and they would give you Baltimore and Washington, DC. That means something.


No, I don't see it and Virginia doesn't really give you anything to work with, although it's a great school academically.

Virginia Tech.

Maybe. They play great football, but they are kind of like the East Coast version of Boise State, since they don't really have a home.


Yes and no. They are a great school and have a huge national following in basketball, but they are a terrible football school and you would have to bring North Carolina with them to make it work.

North Carolina.

Same as Duke, although they're much better at football, which makes them interesting.


So you want to bring in a school with a bad football team and that cheats in basketball? Pass.


No. Terrible football. Duke with worse school colors.

I saved the big one for last. Notre Dame.

They won't give up their t.v. contract, old fella! Won't happen.

Any other ideas before I give you my theory?

If you want to be bold, go after the Florida Gators. They are solid in all sports, especially football, and among the academic weak sisters of the SEC, they are one of the stronger schools. That would really shake things up and get you a lot of attention. You know what, old dude? I'd love to be Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany right now. It's like being in a football buffet and I get to pick whatever I want.

Bold thinking, Seabiscuit. Here's my proposal, amended to reflect the new reality of Nebraska.

Add Rutgers and UConn in the East

Add Mizzou and Kansas in the West

The Big Ten would then look like this:

East: Rutgers, UConn, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, Indiana

West: Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas

Now that would be a fun league.

Do you know what would really be fun, Decrepit? Hijack Duke, North Carolina, Maryland and Florida and line 'em up this way:

East: Duke, North Carolina, Maryland, Florida, Penn State, Ohio State, Indiana, Purdue

West: Northwestern, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State

Now, imagine the hoops in that league. Hoo! And the football would be pretty good, too. And the other sports, who cares!

Benster, I thought you were a big fan of Nebraska's rowing team.

I repeat, who cares! Anyway, let's see what everyone else thinks. Why don't you get into the discussion and offer your very own HYYYYYYYPPPPPE!

Sounds good. Let's play.

Hot Rod Lincoln

It's a rule around here that we try, whenever possible, to avoid schadenfreude. I will cop to amusement, however:

A senior White House official just called me with a very pointed message for the administration's sometime allies in organized labor, who invested heavily in beating Blanche Lincoln, Obama's candidate, in Arkansas.

"Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise," the official said. "If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November."

The back story: for reasons that aren't entirely clear, Big Labor went all-out to defeat Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the Arkansas primary yesterday, but failed. As noted above, they spent about $10 million on a primary race and their candidate, Bill Halter, lost anyway.

Here's the thing: I'd be hard pressed to think of a less propitious place for Big Labor to get involved in a campaign. Arkansas is a Right to Work state and the unions there are fringe players, at best. Arkansas has also become fairly reliably Republican since the Clintons left Little Rock nearly two decades ago. The only sort of Democrat who can win down there is someone like Lincoln, who toes the party line but then makes a show of regretting it later. Even if Big Labor had pushed Halter over the top, he would have been crushed in the general election. So why go through the exercise? I'll bet Tarryl Clark would have liked some of that money. Meanwhile, Lincoln had to blow through most of her campaign funds just to get to the general election. Now she'll get crushed. Pretty much a win-win from my perspective.

It appears that the idea here was to Teach Wayward Democrats a Lesson. As often happens, the lesson taught varies widely from the lesson learned.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

How Do You Solve the Problem Called Bureaucracy?

Forget the ass-kicking and false bravado for a moment. How do you get action going in the Gulf, really? Byron York identifies a real problem:

The oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is gushing out of control. The Obama administration is at first slow to see the seriousness of the accident. Then, as the crisis becomes clear, the federal bureaucracy becomes entangled in itself trying to deal with the problem. "At least a dozen federal agencies have taken part in the spill response," the New York Times reports, "making decision-making slow, conflicted and confused, as they sought to apply numerous federal statutes."

For example, it took the Department of Homeland Security more than a week to classify the spill as an event calling for the highest level of federal action. And when state officials in Louisiana tried over and over to win federal permission to build sand barriers to protect fragile coastal wetlands from the oil, they got nowhere. "For three weeks, as the giant slick crept closer to shore," the Times reports, "officials from the White House, Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Environmental Protection Agency debated the best approach."

There's a lot of bashing of President Obama's leadership, or lack thereof, in the Gulf right now. Here's the question I ask: why the hell are there a dozen or more federal agencies that all need to weigh in before any work gets done?

Two quick questions for the audience

1. Have you ever heard of Tom Horner?

2. If you have, what do you know about him?

Anatomically Improbable

So, how do you kick your own ass?

“I was down there a month ago, before most of these talkin’ heads were even paying attention to the gulf. A month ago I was meeting with fishermen down there, standin’ in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be. and I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar, we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”

Here's some advice, Mr. President. Solve the problem first and save the ass-kicking for later. And solving the problem means getting the bureaucracy out of the way and letting people do what needs to be done. If the Army Corps of Engineers is a problem, tell them to knock it off. Posturing with Chuck Todd isn't especially helpful.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Hamilton, Joe, Frank & Reynolds would like you to know they are available

I know they're sad down in Arizona to hear about this:

The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today that Daryl Hall and John Oates canceled their post-game concert at Chase Field that was to take place following the D-backs game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 2 because of their personal stance against Arizona's new immigration law.

On the bright side, Hall and Oates have a better gig lined up, as the opening act for the Starland Vocal Band at this venue. And I'll admit I was pleased to find out that Hall and Oates are actually still alive. Live the dream, fellas. Live the dream.

Back on the air

Blogger was down most of today. Regular posting will begin anon. Two things on my mind right now, very briefly:

  • The college sports realignment seems to be picking up steam, especially since it appears that the Pac-10 has invited half of the Big XII to join. It sounds like the linchpin of the whole thing is Nebraska. Nebraska? Yeah, Nebraska.
  • Helen Thomas's career is ending in shame. Can't say it bothers me, since she's been shameful for rather a long time, as Tony Snow pointed out all those years ago. Remember -- just because something (or someone) is considered an institution, it doesn't follow that said institution is an honorable one.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Iowahawk is a Genius, Volume XXXVIII

Or something like that. He tells the terrifying tale of Crudezilla here. And you'd better read it. Savor the opening, in which he works in Isaac Hayes and the Ballad of Jed Clampett into a Godzilla movie script in less than 200 words:

NARRATOR: This is the sea. Beneath its depths lies a fantastic secret world hidden to mankind for millions of centuries. And now, armed with the latest technology and rush drilling permits, mankind is about to awaken that world from its long slumber -- and unleash its oily fury.

WORKER #1 (saluting, bowing, throwing fist in air): Most honored supervisor! Reporting drilling shaft ready. For the glory of Nippon Petroleum!

WORKER #2: Sir! Truly this shaft is one bad mother...

SUPERVISOR: Shut your mouth!

WORKER #2 (bowing profusely): But honorable supervisor! I speak only of shaft!

SUPERVISOR: You men have performed honorably. Tonight there will be extra rations of sake and blowfish! And now as we lower the shaft, let us gather to sing the anthem of Nippon Petroleum Heavy Industries.

WORKERS (singing): Nippon Petroleum, pride of Japanese nation
Forever we shall strive for greater lubrication.
With stalwart hearts we drill for shareholder good
'Til up from the depths comes the bubbling crude.
Black gold, Texas tea!

As the worker continue to sing, the spinning diamond-tipped shaft burrows ever lower into the watery depths. When it hits the ocean floor, a mysterious black oily flume is unleashed. Under the intense subsurface pressure the flume begins to coagulate into a hideous 500-foot tall monster -- Crudezilla has been awoken.

And he's just getting started. Read the whole thing.

VDH offers a rhetorical quiz

What would be your answers?

Yes, yes, I know — faulting Israel is hardly anti-Semitism. But note the obsessive focus on Israel, especially from the left. So take any issue: occupied land? Why do we not evoke Ossetia, Tibet, or Cyprus? Or for that matter Prussia?

Take a divided city? How about Nicosia?

Take disproportionate force? Try the leveling of Grozny?

Targeted killing? Our own Predators have killed more than Israeli air attacks.

The killing of Muslims? India and China trump Israel.

Wait — the issue is U.S. aid? OK, are we “shocked” that Egypt gets billions and harasses human rights activists, stifles democracy, and tortures its own?

No, the issue is blockading Gaza? So Turkish and European flotillas are off the Egyptian coast?

No, no, the problem is the detention of third parties in international waters? So President Obama has ended, as promised, rendition (remember the movie?)? Hardly.

Yes, the Arabs have hundreds of millions, Israel seven. Yes, they have oil, the Israelis none. Yes, libel a Jew and it’s cute, libel the prophet and go into hiding. And yes, Israel is a surrogate often for anti-Americanism. But all that said, it is still strange that so many Westerners focus such antipathy and attention on Israel over precisely the topics that they otherwise ignore in other countries.

It is not anti-Semitic to discuss divided cities, occupations, the use of force, blockades, refugees, etc. It is, when all these topics mysteriously appear only in reference to Israel so as to suggest it is somehow singular in its transgressions. I somehow know who Rachel Corrie is, but not any of the names of tens of thousands of Kurds in Turkey, or Chechens in Grozny, or Tibetans in China, or Egyptians in Cairo. Why?

Why indeed? Much more at the link. Read the whole thing.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Just read it

For those people who get their understanding of the French from Groundskeeper Willie, just read this piece from my friend Mitch Berg. Highly, highly recommended.

This is the moment

Allahpundit points us to this report from The Daily Beast, which falls under the "really interesting if true" category:

Critics have bashed President Obama for being slow to seize the political initiative in combating the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast, now widely believed to be the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. The White House has battled back, releasing a timeline of events showing that Obama was briefed—and deploying the Coast Guard—within 24 hours of the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

What has not been previously disclosed: The president was not only briefed on the real-time events of the spill, but also on just how bad it would be—and how hard it would be to plug the hole.

So what did the president know and when did he know it?

Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, told Obama at one of the earliest briefings in late April that the blowout would likely lead to an unprecedented environmental disaster, senior White House aides told The Daily Beast. Browner warned that capping a well at such depths had never been done before, and that they ought to expect an oil spill that would continue until a relief well was drilled in August, the aide said.

That early briefing on the scope of the spill—and enormous technical challenges involved in fixing it—might help explain the sense of fatalism that has infused Obama's team from the start.

Little that has happened since has changed their mind-set. Now six weeks later, the president’s top advisers expect the oil spill—and the negative stories—to continue through August.

Wow. Just wow.

If I remember correctly, one of the primary ideas animating the Obama campaign is that it would replace the sclerotic Bush administration with a new, can-do spirit. Obama pretty much said as much himself two years and two days ago on a stage in St. Paul:

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

Emphasis mine. It's a little hard to square this vision with "the sense of fatalism that has infused Obama's team from the start." Fatalists are rarely willing to work or fight for much of anything. Did we really think we were electing an administration of fatalists?

Here's the part that rankles me: if the Obama administration knew what was likely to happen, why did it not act to help the states on the Gulf Coast mitigate the damage more quickly? Allahpundit makes the point well:

The real disgrace here is why, if he really did know right away that this was the oil equivalent of an asteroid strike, he didn’t scramble some sort of all-hands-on-deck emergency operation to protect the coastline. Remember, Jindal reportedly requested five million feet of hard boom back on May 2, long after Obama (according to Wolffe) knew about the magnitude of the disaster. By May 24, not even 800,000 feet had arrived. What happened?

There's probably an answer to those questions. But it better damned well not be fatalism.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Just so you know

This blog stands with Israel for a variety of reasons. And while I understand that Israeli behavior has been harsh at times toward the aggregation of people that we have come to know as the Palestinians, I want one thing to be clear -- I will not tolerate anti-Semitism on this blog. I had to nuke a pretty vile comment on a thread today. Robust debate is always welcome, but don't bring that crap in here. M'kay?

Lightning Round 060410

Have to go fast again:

  • David Broder, who has been reporting on politics in Washington since about the Taft adminstration, gives Barack Obama a warning:

Nothing is going to help Obama unless and until the engineers come up with a method for shutting down this gusher of pollution. He clearly couldn't prevent it, and he was slow in signaling its severity. But he owns it now, and until it is over, the man who aspired to be the next John Kennedy or maybe Franklin Roosevelt will have to hope he doesn't end up as Jimmy Carter.

That's putting it mildly.

  • Meanwhile, Satveer Chaudhary gets a wrist slap from the Senate Ethics Committee. Apparently the Ethics Committee couldn't figure out the blindingly obvious conflict of interest, either, since the thing that Chaudhary apparently did wrong is that he "threatened public confidence" in the legislature. So it's not about doing the right thing, really: it's about perception. No surprise there, since it comports with what I've been seeing in the various comment sections in online articles concerning Chaudhary. From many commenters, it's pretty clear that what bothers them about Chaudhary is not his behavior so much as two other things: (a) he's apparently not been loyal enough to the DFL apparat, doing things like supporting Mark Dayton; and (b) the real issue isn't that he deserves to lose, but that he could lose and that keeping the seat is of paramount importance. I'll be working on a post with a few relevant examples in the coming days. Let's put it this way: as is often the case, the use of "ethics" is profoundly cynical.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

They can throw in a free Ottoman

Here's an idea (H/T Instapundit):

Turkey’s Islamist government, not known for its compassion to, say, Kurds in Turkey, has been shedding crocodile tears over Gaza for several years now, and helped instigate the flotilla fiasco. So I have a modest proposal: if Turkey is so concerned with the welfare of Gazans, why not let Turkey run the place. Israel doesn’t want it, and never has; it tried to give it back to Egypt several times, but Egypt doesn’t want it, either. Meanwhile, Gaza is controlled by a terrorist government that is both cruel and incompetent; and Israel is not going to lift its siege to long as Hamas is in charge.

But maybe Hamas, which of course is concerned with nothing more than the welfare of its subjects, would be willing to turn the administration of Gaza over to Turkey. Gazans would benefit from Turkey’s trade ties with the rest of the world; Gazans and Israelis would be rid of Hamas; and Turkey would be able to send all the aid it wants to Gaza! Win-Win-Win! And if Hamas doesn’t agree, let’s just say that Turkey, or at least its Ottoman predecessors, has been in charge in Gaza before, and knows how to deal with violent local factions.

It would just like old home week for the Turks. Read the whole thing.

Your Mama Don't Dance

And your daddy don't rock and roll. But apparently that's not how the Obama administration rolls:

U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff said publicly for the first time Wednesday that a White House deputy discussed three specific jobs that "might be available" if Romanoff dropped a primary challenge to a fellow Democrat, Sen. Michael Bennet.

Romanoff, responding to increased pressure from national media and Republicans attacking the Obama White House, released an e-mail sent to him Sept. 11, 2009, by administration deputy chief of staff Jim Messina describing two possible jobs with the U.S. Agency for International Development, affiliated with the State Department, and one with the U.S. Trade Development Agency.

Well, the problem is, you can't do that. It's against the law. As it happens, Romanoff got an e-mail from Messina with job descriptions. You can read the e-mail here (it's a PDF).

Is this a smoking gun? Maybe, maybe not. If no formal offer is made, one could argue that the law was not broken. And since we're sure to get a "well, Republicans do it too" argument, we'll go ahead and post a link to an ancient article from 1981, in which then California Senator S. I. Hayakawa describes how he spurned a potential ambassadorship to continue a Senate run for reelection.

So here are the questions. Does this sort of patronage bother you? Is the problem with the politicians or with a law that apparently is ignored? And if a law is routinely ignored, why is it on the books?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Chicago Way

I lived in Chicago for five years. Michael Barone has it pegged:

Anyone who has spent much time in Chicago knows the city has impressive civic and business leaders, talented and cultured people who creatively support charities and the arts. But they also play team ball.

One measure of that is the $25.6 million that the 2008 Obama campaign raised from metro Chicago. An even more meaningful measure is the $5 million that Hillary Clinton's campaign raised there -- a virtual shutout in a city where the Clintons once raised huge sums. The word obviously went out: You back Barack and you don't back Hillary.

He then asks the question that needs to be asked:

To some it may seem anomalous that Obama, who began his Chicago career as a Saul Alinsky-type community organizer, should have taken to the Chicago Way. But Alinsky's brand of community organizing is very Chicagocentric.

It assumes that there will always be a Machine that you can complain about and that if you make a big enough fuss it will have to respond. And that the Machine can always get more plunder from the private sector.

The problem with Obama's Chicago Way is that Chicago isn't America. The Chicago Way works locally because there is an America out there that ultimately pays for it. But who will pay for an America run the Chicago Way?

Needless to say, read the whole thing.

You're On Your Own, Pal

In the end, the message of the latest incident, in which a flotilla that was supposedly filled with aid for the people of Gaza, but in fact had weapons and a crew full of thugs and jihadists, is pretty simple. For the most part, the world has turned its back on Israel. This cartoon from Michael Ramirez pretty much sums up the state of play.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Enter Goodwin

You could see this coming right down Central Avenue:

Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, the DFLer from Fridley being criticized over a possible conflict of interest case, has a new challenge: Former state legislator Barbara Goodwin.

Goodwin, a six-year House member who left office in 2008, filed Tuesday to challenge Chaudhary in the DFL primary in August. She is currently a school board member in Columbia Heights and an adjunct professor at Hamline University.

It was hardly surprising that Goodwin would be the candidate that the DFL would want in this instance. Although Goodwin served with little distinction in her three terms in the Minnesota House, she pretty much kept her nose clean and was a reliable DFL vote. She's been around local politics for a long time and is by all accounts well-liked in Columbia Heights. It will be interesting to see what Chaudhary does next, especially if the local DFL strips his endorsement, which now seems likely.

Lunchtime Reynolds Wrap

Too much going on right now. I'll probably revisit some of these topics, but for now we'll give them the Instapundit treatment:

Remember when the Obama administration claimed ownership of the oil spill? Apparently they meant to say they're borrowing the problem.

You keep saying that Word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

For all my friends who think single-payer will solve our healthcare problems, here's one way the problems might be solved. As has been noted elsewhere, putting an 85-year old on a 5-year waiting list is a real cost saver.

The choice in the Illinois senate race: a guy whose family ran a bank that has been seized by federal regulators, or a guy who lies about his military record. I don't envy my friends down there.

Forget global warming -- are we in for a bout of global cooling? The good news for Kate Knuth is that a lot of deer hunting gear is in orange and it tends to be pretty toasty, which will make it easier for her to update her wardrobe.