Saturday, January 17, 2009

So: Unemployment Won't Be "Going Down" Either...

D.C. enacts "Prostitution Free Zone" for Inauguration

Lindsey Mastis of has the full story here.

In a related story, former N.Y. Governor Elliot Spitzer announced he would not be in D.C. for the inauguration of the new president.


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Submitted for your approval...

AuH2O's Stimulus Plan: Triple the Personal Exemption

by AuH2O, Editorial Board Member, The Rapier.

We hear a great deal about Obama's plan to stimulate the economy out of rescession with a $850+ billion plan full of new federal spending, a great deal of which is grants to state governments. (More info on all that here).

This writer disagrees and proposes a far simpler stimulus: Immediately TRIPLE the current $3,650 per-family-member "personal exemption" in the tax code, and eliminate the phase-out on high income individuals. Change payroll withholdings on paychecks immediately. This requires NO new federal bureaucracy, and would immediately inject cash directly into consumers' pocketbooks.

A family of 4 currently gets to "exempt" (not count) $14,600 in income ($3,650 x 4). Under the AUH2O plan, that family would instead exempt $43,800 ($10,950 x 4). Working backward, that is something like an immediate $4,380 tax cut at a 15% marginal rate -- putting $365 per month back into the economy for each family. And this author hasn't done all the calculations, but Lord knows it couldn't hurt the deficit more than what's being proposed (not to mention TARP).

Because it is an exemption of earnings PER FAMILY MEMBER, it would help larger families more help, and presumably they are hurting more in this rescession. But with a direct flow of cash and no "phase out," it would immediately help those paying for groceries, college, mortgaqes, and those owners of independent businesses without anyone in Congress trying to decide how it should be spent.

Oh, and make it permanent, thank you very much, not just a temporary thing.

No this isn't as good as a flat tax, or even as good as an across-the-board cut in marginal rates for those on the right, and it doesn't directly help those who have no income which will disappoint the left, but liberals should like it because it helps families who breed with great frequency, and conservatives should like it because it takes the decisionmaking away from Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and The One.

So there. Discuss amongst yourselves...

Respectfully submitted,


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Friday, January 16, 2009

Slate's Jack Shafer Predicts Obama - Press War

Shafer: "In a November column, I predicted that despite Obama's skill and luck at managing the press, a war between the two was inevitable. Even though few of my predictions ever come true, I'm willing to double down on that original prophecy."

Even Obama's recent outreach to the press may not be enough to ward off the backlash:

"The new romance goes only so far. He's still avoided the "traditional" pre-inauguration interview with the New York Times, as Politico's Michael Calderone reported yesterday. Calderone catalogs the four substantive interviews Obama has given the Times over the last 18 months or so and notes the welter of miniature press conferences Obama has given to make transition announcements. What seems to irritate the Times the most is the president-elect's dismissal of the order of things, which mandates a sit-down session with reporters."
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Introducing the "Barack-Hillary Ratio"

If you were to search for a tipping point, the moment when the Democratic Party became the party of Barack Obama, no longer the party of the Clintons, you would pinpoint May 2008.

In that month, Barack Obama received 385 mentions in The New York Times. Hillary Clinton received 365 mentions.

This turned out to be more than a tip. Everything toppled.

Post-May 2008, Obama soaked up greater and greater shares of the spotlight. As you'd expect, he shone brightest in the month of his General Election victory, with 973 mentions in The New York Times. By then, Hillary was down to a measly 176.

Obama's takeover was methodical. Starting with January 2006, an exclusive Rapier analysis shows Obama creeping up closer and closer to Hillary, in terms of New York Times mentions.

A theory: Going forward, the Barack-Hillary Ratio will provide a leading indicator on Obama's hold on his presidency. Obama and Hillary are the two power centers of the Democratic Party. To the degree that Obama is in control, he should be holding onto his lead in New York Times mentions. If Hillary closes the gap, watch out for fireworks in the administration.

Click on the graphic at the top of this entry for a better view of the data. At zero, Obama and Hillary are getting equal numbers of mentions in The New York Times. In the blue shaded area, Hillary is leading in mentions. The line graph shows Obama's rising mentions as a ratio of Hillary's mentions.

Obama briefly passed her in April 2007, when he won the SC Democratic Party debate (click here for a detailed timeline of the election).

Hillary pulled ahead after that, until Obama caught her with primary wins in Oregon and North Carolina in May 2008. This locked up the hearts and minds of superdelegates and the attention of national media.

The Rapier will update the Barack-Hillary Ratio monthly and will take a look at the wild card tangled up in all of this media coverage: Bill Clinton himself.

Methodology note:

Using The New York Times online "advanced search" feature, The Rapier tallied the number of mentions of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for each month, from January 2006 through December 2008. For Obama, the tally included the number of mentions of "Barack Obama" and "Barack Hussein Obama" but did not count mentions alone of his first or last names. For Clinton, the tally included the number of mentions of "Hillary Clinton" and "Hillary Rodham Clinton" but did not count mentions alone of her first or last names.

The Rapier created the ratio by taking the number of Barack Obama mentions and dividing this number by the tally of Hillary Clinton mentions. The Rapier then took that ratio and subtracted 1. This created a value where negative numbers indicated a greater number of Hillary Clinton mentions. A positive number represents more Barack Obama mentions.

Raw data below. First column is the date searched. First number is the tally of Barack Obama mentions. Last number is the tally of Hillary Clinton mentions.

Jan-06 2, 52
Feb-06 7, 69
Mar-06 9, 84
Apr-06 7, 39
May-06 13, 79
Jun-06 5, 64
Jul-06 6, 52
Aug-06 2, 73
Sep-06 7, 70
Oct-06 23, 111
Nov-06 39, 94
Dec-06 47, 70
Jan-07 89, 118
Feb-07 113, 147
Mar-07 84, 113
Apr-07 112, 105
May-07 92, 112
Jun-07 82, 124
Jul-07 87, 119
Aug-07 76, 120
Sep-07 94, 174
Oct-07 94, 188
Nov-07 110, 206
Dec-07 164, 225
Jan-08 336, 429
Feb-08 450, 497
Mar-08 399, 410
Apr-08 361, 396
May-08 385, 365
Jun-08 408, 218
Jul-08 379, 90
Aug-08 433, 160
Sep-08 475, 115
Oct-08 603, 94
Nov-08 973, 176
Dec-08 658, 157
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And Obama will then bitterly cling to his nuclear codes like a redneck clings to his religion. . .

"On Tuesday, Special Agent Donald White of the U.S. Secret Service will shadow President Bush, sit in the customary front 'shotgun' seat of the limousine, and guard Bush until noon. At 12:01, Agent White will step over to a position behind Barack Obama."

Read more from

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Don't forget to flush...

Bush to give 10-15 minute farewell speech to nation on television at 8 p.m. tonight.

More about it here.


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Did the New Deal Help?

Thomas Firey on The Cato Institute's blog questions the Obama stimulus model, revisiting old questions on whether the New Deal was as good as advertised.

Firey: "Long before she was named chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer wrote a short paper for the Journal of Economic History titled “What Ended the Great Depression?” The paper provides empirical evidence that FDR’s fiscal policy provided little stimulus during the Great Depression."
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What the World Needs Now: Schmuck-o-Meter

Slate's Chadwick Matlin introduces the Madoff Schmuck-o-Meter, a device that helps us figure out the difference between regular schmucks and the devil.

Matlin is looking for readers to submit ideas for tallyin Schmuck points, so fire away.
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More on Obama and the Right to Dine

The Post's Howard Kurtz reports the Tuesday night dinner at George Will's house included Larry Kudlow, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, David Brooks, Paul Gigot, Peggny Noonan and Michael Barone.

Perhaps Obama's charm is working, as New Republic's Michael Crowley says "it buys him some pulled punches."

Other comments:

"He's making good on his promise to reach out to Republicans and conservatives and this post-partisan stuff, whatever that means," Kudlow said. "I was very impressed. He's a nice guy, terribly smart, well-informed, great smile. He just really engaged. He said he likes to know the arguments on all sides."

Barone called Obama "an attractive person in a small setting. It's harder to hate someone you've had close contact with and who has pleasant characteristics."

To spread the love, Obama visited with 11 liberal pundits on Wednesday, including Eugene Robinson, Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, E.J. Dionne, Rachel Maddow and Andrew Sullivan. No word if David Brooks made this event, also.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Of course, the earlier statement was before he met Barney Frank...

on Gay Marriage:
Yes and No

Barack Obama, 1996: "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages."

Barack Obama, 2008: "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage."

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We understand that Rev. Jeremiah Wright was asked to test the food first...

Obama has dinner at George Will's house with major conservative commentators.

Conservative commentator Larry Kudlow tells CNBC that Obama had a private "off the record" dinner last night at George Will's house, with Kudlow, Will, Peggy Noonan, Paul Gigor, Bill Kristol, and Charles Krauthammer in attendance. Alleged "conservative" New York Times columnist David Brooks was also in the mix.

Kudlow said, "This was a good conservative group, and we just had a great back and forth [with Obama] , and he wants to keep the dialogue going with conservatives. Kudlow could not recall what was served for dinner, which may say something about Mr. and Mrs. Will.

Interesting, on the same day, Rush Limbaugh had a private one-on-one dinner with President Bush in the Oval Office. Perhaps W is trying to clean out the pantry before he moves next week...


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After John Edwards, this could be a GOOD thing...

Obama Pick for Government's Top Courtroom Lawyer has Never Argued a Case to an Appellate Court...

Top-drawer legal practices have been built based on a proposition that is rarely disputed: Arguing before the Supreme Court ain't for amateurs.

However, if confirmed, Elena Kagan will soon walk into this club as solicitor general, without a single Supreme Court oral argument to point to in her past -- or, it appears, any other appellate experience. President-elect Barack Obama said last week he would nevertheless nominate the Harvard Law School president to the position. has the story.


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Of course, this is all coming from GOVERNMENT employees...

Influential REPUBLICAN Prosecutors Say Obama's Attorney General Choice is THE MAN to Keep us Safe from Terror

‘We are profoundly aware of the challenges that the [Justice] Department and the country are facing,” especially “the constant threat posed by Al Qaeda and Islamic extremists.”

So wrote a group of “former federal prosecutors and senior officials of the Department of Justice,” as they accurately described themselves in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. The authors include several friends and cordial acquaintances of mine. They are all Republicans.

The Wall Street Journal has more here.


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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

He's now eligible for Joe the Plumber's job...

Obama Treasury Pick Failed to Pay Taxes

Still Willing to Spread your Wealth Around, Geithner Reassures Voters

President-elect Barack Obama's choice to run the Treasury Department and lead the economic rescue effort disclosed to senators Tuesday that he failed to pay $34,000 in taxes from 2001 to 2004, a last-minute complication in an otherwise smooth path to confirmation.

Read more here.

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Perhaps Rev. Wright Can Help Re-Write the Scout Oath...

Will Obama Serve As Honorary Presidenet of the Boy Scouts?

A coalition of 19 agnostic and atheist organizations has asked Barack Obama to decline any invitation to be the honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), as has been tradition since the presidency of William Howard Taft.

Read more here.


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So only the modestly successful can leave something to the kids...

The first tax increase of the Obama era

Mark it down as the first tax increase of the new Democratic era. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that President-elect Obama and Congressional leaders intend to maintain the estate tax rather than let it expire on schedule in 2010.

Read more here.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

And with Hillary at State, we think it will get even colder

Sea Ice Now at Same Levels as in 1979.

Rapid growth spurt leaves amount of ice at levels seen 29 years ago.

Thanks to a rapid rebound in recent months, global sea ice levels now equal those seen 29 years ago, when the year 1979 also drew to a close.

Daily Tech has the full story.


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But the REALLY damning fact is that she used to work for Bill Clinton...

Obama's New "Energy Czar" Member of Socialist Organization

Carol Browner, tapped by President-Elect Obama to be "Energy Czar" -- and who served as head of the EPA from 1993-2001, has been confirmed as a member of Socialist International's "Commission for a Sustainable World Society." Whatever THAT is...

Being able to call herself "Czar" was perhaps what attracted Browner to her new post.

See the proof here.


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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Coo-Coo-Ca-Choo, Mrs. Robinson...

It will be just like the Walton's:

It’s official. Marian Robinson, the 71-year-old mother-in-law of President-elect Barack Obama, will be moving into the White House, transition officials said on Friday.

The New York Times has the story.

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I Was For Being The President Before I Was Against It

One President at a Time? Obama Can’t Have It Both Ways

By Oliver North
Host, “War Stories with Oliver North“

Over the course of the last two months President-elect Barack Obama and the Presidential Transition Team (PTT) have replaced their campaign maxim, “Change We Can Believe In,” with a new mantra: “We Only Have One President at a Time.”

It is a slogan that has already worn out.

Obama and the PTT have used this phrase repeatedly in response to reporters’ questions on the economy, federal bailouts, foreign policy, national security, the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, the future of “Gitmo” and the Russian decision to shut down the delivery of natural gas to Western Europe through Ukrainian pipelines.

• Catch the ‘War Stories Classic: Running the Gauntlet: The Merchant Marine,’ Monday, January 12 at 3 a.m. ET

During this week’s Oval Office photo-op with President George W. Bush and former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and William Jefferson Blyth Clinton, Obama used the “one president at a time” dodge to avoid answering a reporter’s hurled interrogatory about Israeli military operations in Gaza. The response from those in the lineup, and apparently most in the mainstream media, is to nod approvingly at Obama’s sagacity every time they hear him say it.

The only trouble is — it simply isn’t true.

While the current, former and future commanders-in-chief went off to snack and chat, Senator Joe Biden, the soon-to-be vice president of the United States, headed off to Andrews Air Force Base to commence a hastily convened, week-long “congressional fact finding mission” to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Absent from the secret itinerary divulged by Mr. Biden were other places with even more pressing problems: India — a U.S. ally still recovering from the brutal Mumbai terror attack and on the brink of attacking Pakistan. The Ukraine — a NATO applicant, threatened by interference from Moscow and this week’s natural gas cutoff. And Israel — an American ally facing the threat of U.N. sanctions for acting in self defense to protect its citizens from Iranian-supplied rockets and mortars being fired from Gaza by Hamas, and which now faces attacks from Iranian-supported Hezbollah terror in Lebanon.

While the potentates of the press gush over the forthcoming “history-making inaugural,” the Biden “Codel” — Washington-speak for “congressional delegation” — to select trouble-spots has made some little-noted history of its own. Unlike Obama, Biden did not surrender his Senate seat. This week, when Congress reconvened, Biden insisted on being sworn in as Delaware’s senior senator and retaining his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Unlike Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Dan Quayle and Al Gore — who all ascended to vice presidency of the Unites States from the Senate and did nothing to interfere in diplomatic issues between election and inaugural — Biden is now dabbling about in the affairs of state.

Biden defends his actions by pointing to the company he is keeping on this trip: fellow Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lindsay Graham, R-S.C. Earlier in the week, perhaps forgetting the post he will occupy on Jan. 20, Biden said, “I’m a still a Senate man.” None of the media all-stars covering the PTT thought to ask Obama what he thought of this response. Notably, Hillary Rodham Clinton — soon to become the next secretary of state — was neither included in the CODEL nor available for comment about the propriety of such an unprecedented adventure.

None of this bodes well for the new administration or for America’s interests in a very dangerous world. The situations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are certainly important. But so too are outcomes in Gaza and Lebanon, our relationship with India and the effects of an increasingly tense standoff between Russia and Ukraine. All of these places and problems matter to U.S. national security, and all are perhaps in more urgent need of attention.

Obama can’t have it both ways. He cannot claim on the one hand that “we have only one president” and then dispatch his future vice president on a thinly-disguised CODEL to diddle in diplomacy without having world leaders take note of what the incoming administration considers to be important. In permitting the Biden CODEL to go forward and approving the itinerary, Obama has sent a signal — intentionally or not — to allies and adversaries alike.

From Moscow to Tehran, Caracas to Beijing, London to Delhi, in virtually every world capital, foreign leaders and their intelligence services are now making judgments about the next leader of the free world. They learned something about his wisdom, seriousness and maturity this week when he picked Leon Panetta, a man with “intelligence deficit disorder,” to head the CIA. Perhaps they also had a little chuckle when he chose a TV celebrity doctor to become surgeon general to deal with bio-terrorism and possible pandemics. Hopefully the Biden CODEL trip to Southwest Asia did not lead them to conclude that Obama is not a man of his word.
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Okay, he can be a senator so long as he keeps his ego in check

Though Still Kicking, Blago Senate Nominee Burris Has Erected Mausoleum Engraved with His Entire Resume

The Associated Press reports that Roland Burris, the man appointed to replace Barack Obama as an Illinois Senator, has erected a grand mausoleum for himself, carved with the words "TRAIL BLAZER" and a long list of his accomplishments, with a space left for his more recent achievements. The etchings record not just such notable accomplishments as being the first black national bank examiner for the U.S. Treasury Department, but, among other things, that he was the first black Southern Illinois University exchange student to the University of Hamburg in Germany.

Roland Burris also named his children Roland and Rolanda.

Newsday has the full story here.


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