May 30, 2009

HopeChange! NewSpeak Edition

Update on Recovery Act Lobbying Rules: New Limits on Special Interest Influence
...we will expand the restriction on oral communications to cover all persons, not just federally registered lobbyists. For the first time, we will reach contacts not only by registered lobbyists but also by unregistered ones, as well as anyone else exerting influence on the process. We concluded this was necessary under the unique circumstances of the stimulus program.

Translation: Even as a completely private citizen, you are now barred from communicating with ANY government offical about ARRA stimulus policy and funding and projects unless you do so in writing, on government forms. In triplicate, no doubt. Orally petitioning the government or expressing one’s views through speech under the First Amendment is now a no-no in this context. All in the interests of "transparency," of course!

Hope! Change! HopeChange™!

May 29, 2009

HopeChange! PollThug Edition

Career lawyers overruled on voting case
Black Panthers had wielded weapons, blocked polls

Justice Department political appointees overruled career lawyers and ended a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense of wielding a nightstick and intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place last Election Day, according to documents and interviews.

...Career lawyers pursued the case for months, including obtaining an affidavit from a prominent 1960s civil rights activist who witnessed the confrontation and described it as "the most blatant form of voter intimidation" that he had seen, even during the voting rights crisis in Mississippi a half-century ago.

...The career Justice lawyers were on the verge of securing sanctions against the men earlier this month when their superiors ordered them to reverse course, according to interviews and documents. The court had already entered a default judgment against the men on April 20.

IOW, the case was in the bag when political appointees of the Obama admin interfered.

Hope! Change! HopeChange™!

May 27, 2009

Color Me Unsurprised

Did anti-Obama campaign contributions dictate which Chrysler dealers were shuttered?
To quickly review the situation, I took all dealer owners whose names appeared more than once in the list. And, of those who contributed to political campaigns, every single one had donated almost exclusively to GOP candidates. While this isn't an exhaustive review, it does have some ominous implications if it can be verified.

...all were opponents of Barack Obama, most through sponsorship of GOP candidates and organizations, but a handful through Barack's Democrat rivals (Hillary Clinton and John Edwards in 2008, for example).

Yet major Democrat donors with Chrysler dealerships went untouched, and indeed have had competition eliminated.

Hope! Change! HopeChange™!

MORE: "Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., a businessman who has owned car dealerships since 1992, learned Thursday that his Venice, Fla., Dodge dealership was among those scheduled to be terminated....Buchanan's dealership is the first listed on the court document specifying the dealerships scheduled for closure."

Just a coincidence, I'm sure. It's not like anyone in the admin would put an opposition Congressman at the top of their "crush and destroy" list. Right?

Curiouser and curiouser: White House "car czar" Steven Rattner is married to Maureen White, the former national finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The criteria for deciding which dealerships would be closed have still not been released.

May 22, 2009

HopeChange Express!

Do You Want Your OTV?
Read the TV pool report: "Your Pool was not allowed to go over and shoot POTUS with the team shooting hoops. We protested loudly."

Now we know why: Obama White House officials decided to do their own media report on the visit, complete with cuts, interviews, and chyrons identifying who's speaking.

Also, just like a network, they have their own little logo!

NOT reported on OTV...
Sobbing Kindergarteners Snubbed for Steelers?
Kids locked out of White House; officials say they were too late

Thursday was supposed to be the highlight of the year for more than 100 kindergarteners from Stafford County, Va. They got up early and took a chartered bus to the White House for a school field trip. But when they arrived, all the 5-year-olds got was a lesson in disappointment. The buses from Conway Elementary arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue a little later than planned, and they were locked out.

Sounds like time for some new PR people.

May 21, 2009

Best Car Review EVER

Honda Insight 1.3 IMA SE Hybrid
Much has been written about the Insight, Honda’s new low-priced hybrid. We’ve been told how much carbon dioxide it produces, how its dashboard encourages frugal driving by glowing green when you’re easy on the throttle and how it is the dawn of all things. The beginning of days.

So far, though, you have not been told what it’s like as a car; as a tool for moving you, your friends and your things from place to place.

So here goes. It’s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It’s the first car I’ve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn’t have to drive it any more.

Smug Factor, 92. Overall rating, -147.

Read the whole thing. If you do so while drinking liquids, I am not responsible for your monitor and keyboard.

The Most Transparent Administration In History!

Tracking Stimulus Spending May Not Be as Easy as Promised
Shortly after the economic stimulus bill was signed, Vice President Biden was talking up the administration's Web site to track the spending,, when he accidentally directed people to

As slip-ups go, this one had an upside: Unlike the government site, the privately run is actually providing detailed information about how the $787 billion in stimulus money is being spent.

...three months after the bill was signed, offers little beyond news releases, general breakdowns of spending, and acronym-laden spreadsheets and timelines. And congressional Democrats, state officials and advocates of open government worry that the White House cannot come close to clearing the high bar it set.

What is immediately notable to me is that the ORG site is listing specific projects, where the GOV site is listing only general categories of grants allocation. This is an obvious artifact of the whole grants process. The idea that an existing program can take a big chunk of unexpected money and report exactly what (previously unforseen/unfunded) projects or specific expenditures can be and are applied for, evaluated, obligated and made inside of a few months is naive at best. The sub-grant process, even one as rushed as this one, still takes time, and often requires that those sub-grant projects move upward through a labyrinth of local, state, and federal approvals before any actual contracts can be issued or funds obligated.

It seems to me that ORG and GOV are nibbling at opposite ends of the same beast. ORG is identifying contracts as issued, and thus is listing mostly "shovel-ready" spending that was already on the books and authorized without funding, and thus capable of VERY quick movement (for government) whereas GOV is listing the area allocations, many of which may take additional weeks or months to trickle up into reporting on specific sub-grant projects and allocations.

From personal knowledge I can add that there are ARRA grants fundings out there that are not (yet) listed on either site. That hardly inspires confidence--these are dedicated general program allocations that are part of ARRA that SHOULD appear on the GOV site, at least. It's not as if they vanished from the published bill, and one would think the government capable of reading the bill. Well, now that it's been passed, anyway.

May 20, 2009

A Few Notes

Megan McArdle speaks wisdom

Is California Too Big to Fail?
California will go bankrupt, muni and state debt will spike, the federal government will backstop humanitarian programs and very possibly all state and local debt, and eventually, California will figure out whether it wants higher taxes or lower spending. But we will not actually make the world a better place by enabling the lunatics in Sacramento to pretend they can have both.


Keith Hennessey digs through the massive existing literature on the effects of the CAFE standard proposals so that you don't have to. He finds a notable lack of the rainbow unicorn farts and pixie dust that have typified admin rhetoric.

Understanding the President’s CAFE announcement

What's especially notable is that using the government's own research, the previous Bush proposal maximized net social benefits (whatever you think of the claimed benefits or the calculation thereof, the Bush admin DID maximize return against costs) whereas the Obama revisions push past the max social benefit peak and into zero-or-negative net-benefit territory, even perhaps into reduced benefit versus no CAFE increase at all.

In other words, societal net benefit is pushed aside as the proper metric in favor of special interest group empowerment. Which, as always, means we will be paying for a lot more than we get, while the favored are rewarded.

Let's also not forget that part of the price tag of smaller vehicles is paid in increased traffic fatalities and injuries. The first round of CAFE standards over a third of a century ago has cost roughly 3,000 American lives PER YEAR since it was implemented. For every 100 pounds of reduced fleet size resulting from the new plans we can expect an increase of roughly 250-300 additional traffic deaths, with that number increasing with each additional 100 pounds of fleet size reduction--there will be an increasing "rate of return" in additional fatalities as minimum possible size is approached.

The laws of physics are not subject to revision by Congress or the White House.

May 15, 2009

The New ODS

No, not Obama Derangement Syndrome, though that too is in bloom. I'm referring to Obama Delusional Syndrome, a condition in which the Obama-worshiper is completely unable to see the absurdity of their own claims that Obama is (fill in the blank), despite copious contrary evidence.

Witness, Brit journalist Martin Wolf's latest column in the Financial Times, entitled "Obama’s conservatism may not prove good enough." (Link requires free registration)

I'll skip getting into detail, and just point the interested at Professor Bainbridge's cogent snap rebuttal.

But either Wolf is sincere, in which case he's suffering from Obama Delusional Syndrome, or he's knowingly reclassifying the nanny-state Euro-socialist authoritarian impulse as conservatism. Call that latter Obama Orwellian Syndrome, or OOS. Pronounced "ooze." Or Liberal Orwellian Syndrome, LOS. (Yep, Ooze or Lose...)

It would take more examples to say that this is the same impulse as the Left's claiming that Bush was a far-right-wing uber-conservative, when he demonstrably wasn't. Or maybe "conservative" now means "not as completely left-radical as can potentially be imagined."

May 14, 2009

Wait, There's A Price Tag?

IBD/TIPP Poll: Cap-And-Trade A No-Go Once Costs Are Factored In
By nearly 3-to-1, Americans oppose a cap-and-trade system that, if opponents are correct, could add $800 to $1,200 per household to energy prices.

I would add that $800 to $1200 is a VERY modest estimate. Naturally, self-declared liberals are the only group actually in favor once cost is factored in. Even Democrats as a group are 4 to 3 against.

David Frum has more on the Cap & Trade Racket.
Tens of billions of dollars, possibly hundreds of billions, will be shifted from American consumers of electricity to shareholders of favored utility companies in primarily blue states. Under the leadership of uber-liberal Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Democrats are determined to make their plan so complicated that taxpayers will not notice the flocks of dollars migrating from the middle of the country to the coasts.

Read the whole thing. And consider the geographical concentration of liberalism....

May 13, 2009

Pigs Fly....

...and Hell has frozen over. Associated Press is fact-checking Teh ObaMessiah Administration.

FACT CHECK: Data belie Biden stimulus anecdotes
Many of the claims the White House is making are based on anecdotes selected to fit the Obama administration's message. For instance, the report cites a newspaper article about workers being rehired at a factory in Chicago. That account is true, but is no more an accurate snapshot of the nation's economy than a story, not cited in the report, about a Roanoke, Va., railcar factory closing.

Capturing the full effect of the stimulus at this early stage is difficult, but the administration has set high bars for success. In championing those successes, however, the White House plays a little loose with the facts.

They keep this up and they might improve from Flying Pig to Stopped Clock.

May 06, 2009

Sweet F***in' Irony

Eco-sailors rescued by oil tanker
The team, which left Mount Batten Marina in Plymouth on 19 April in a boat named the Fleur, aimed to rely on sail, solar and man power on a 580-mile (933km/h) journey to and from the highest point of the Greenland ice cap.

...But atrocious weather dogged their journey after 27 April, culminating with the rescue on 1 May after the boat was temporarily capsized three times by the wind.

In one incident Mr Stoddart hit his head and the wind generator and solar panels were ripped from the yacht.

I especially enjoy the "933km/h" thing. I wonder how fast they could do the Kessel run?


As Glenn Reynolds says, they told me if I voted for John McCain that there would be federal agents "Gitmoing" ordinary Americans on the flimsiest charges of "terrorism." And they were right!

The Lundeby home was stormed by federal agents, 16-year-old Ashton Lundeby was handcuffed and arrested on charges of making "numerous terroristic threats," moved hundreds of miles away from his family to a juvenile detention facility in another state, and has been held in tight federal custody ever since with his parents allowed very little access. His court date keeps being shoved back, and the case is under a federal gag order. Lundeby has an apparently air-tight alibi for the only known "crime time" in question, and no prior record of anything but being a normal and well-behaved home-schooled 10th-grader.

While we sure don't have all the facts yet (and under the federal gag order, little chance of getting them) at this point the kindest interpretation of what is known is that a 16-year-old is being held incommunicado in federal high-security custody for one of two things: either for making prank phone calls, or for having had his IP used OR FAKED by others to route prank phone calls. The latter looks about 100 times more likely than the former at this point.

I'd advise the Lundebys to get their Congresscritter on the ball, but it appears he's too busy telling the American people that when it comes to questionable government practices and Congressional oversight of same, we can forget it. We're on our own.

Magic Beans!

The New York Daily News has the story, and Scrivener has some choice insights. is nice to know that as President Obama leads our nation into by far its biggest spending-over-income deficits in peacetime history, he has ample experience in dealing with such situations in his personal life and a solution that's worked for him before: magic beans.

Hey, I want some magic beans too! Oh, wait, I've lived within my means, so I'm not entitled...

May 04, 2009

Media Bias, Demonstrated

Kinda says all you need to know, doesn't it? One gets the impression they'd be happy to bow and scrape as well.

May 01, 2009

Pot, Kettle

You're going to be hearing about Republican "obstructionism" in Congress quite a bit in the coming months, so here's a small May Day reminder.

Appeals Court cancels 300 NLRB decisions
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington said Friday that all the decisions handed down in 2008 by the National Labor Relations Board are invalid because they were made by just two members.

The board had three vacancies because Democrats who controlled Congress objected to President George W. Bush's labor policies and refused to confirm his nominees.

They did the same thing with the FEC, ensuring it could not act at all during last year's elections. I guess it's only really "obstructionism" when the minority does it, eh?