Archive for December, 2008

Unequivocal

While the rest of the world predictably condemns Israel for its supposedly “disproportionate” response in Gaza, here is the White House statement:

Hamas has once again shown its true colors as a terrorist organization that refuses to even recognize Israel’s right to exist. In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable cease-fire.

This from a President who is about to leave office, and who received minimal support from the Jewish community.

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Apologies, Please

For months, Andrew Sullivan and a host of other conspiracy theorists questioned whether Sarah Palin was really the mother of baby Trig, suggesting instead that she was covering up for the “real mother”, her daughter Bristol. Yes, some of the same people who call for more “civility” in our political discussions, and ask that campaigns be more “issue-oriented”, were engaging in this sort of disgusting and baseless insinuation.
Well now that Bristol has had a healthy 7-pound baby — just seven months after Trig’s birth, thereby rendering it impossible for Bristol to have given birth to Trig– I wonder if Sullivan et al will admit they were wrong, and apologize. Doubtful.

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At Least She’s Articulate

We know she has zero political experience. But Caroline Kennedy apparently couldn’t pass a high school debating class. Talking about New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, she offfered this gem:

“You know, I think, you know, we’re sort of, uh, sharing some of this experience. And um, as I’ve said, he was a friend, a family member, and um so, and uh obviously, he’s, you know, he’s also had an impressive career in public office.”

This was hardly an isolated moment- according to Politico.com, she managed to use the phrase “you know” 138 times during her interview with the New York Times. The folks at Gawker suggest she hire a vocal coach.

I have two thoughts on this. First, imagine how hard the media would have pounced if Sarah Palin sounded this idiotic.

My second observation is this: critics have always assumed that George W. Bush owed his Yale and Harvard degrees to his family connections. Judging from Ms. Kennedy’s inability to string together a sentence, can we now make the same assumptions about her?

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She’s A Joke

One would expect the New York Times to be a sympathetic outlet for Caroline Kennedy’s “candidacy”. Guess again. This article paints her as utterly clueless.

But the best part by far is when she insults the reporters:

But when asked Saturday morning to describe the moment she decided to seek the Senate seat, Ms. Kennedy seemed irritated by the question and said she couldn’t recall. “Have you guys ever thought about writing for, like, a woman’s magazine or something?” she asked the reporters. “I thought you were the crack political team.”

Smart move.

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Ouch!

“If [Hillary Clinton] gets a race against John Edwards and Barack Obama, she’s going to be the nominee. Gore is the only threat to her, then. … Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I’ll predict that right now.” —William Kristol, Fox News Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006

Oh my. To read this, and other amazing examples of poor foresight, check out the “10 Worst Predictions” here at Foreign Policy magazine.

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Yes on Teixeira

Great pick up for the Yankees. As Ben Shpigel points out here, Teixeira brings a powerful bat well-suited to the confines of Yankee Stadium, is also a Gold Glover, and at 28 he is just entering his prime.

And grabbing him right after the BoSox made a play for him, well that just makes it so much sweeter.

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No on Eric Holder

For years, the New York Times and others of its ilk have been complaining that President Bush’s Attorneys-General have been too loyal to the White House, and not sufficiently independent.

How ironic then that some of the Administration’s angriest critics are supportive of the nomination of Eric Holder, a man best known for his inexcusable acquiescence to Bill Clinton’s inexcusable granting (or should I say selling?) of a pardon to fugitive Marc Rich. Even the Times called the pardon “indefensible.”

In a letter published this week, the prosecutor who pursued Rich, former U.S. Attorney James Comey actually expressed support for Holder’s nomination. Here is how he addressed Holder’s actions in the Rich matter:

“I was stunned when President Clinton pardoned [Rich in 2001]. I have come to believe that Mr. Holder’s role…was a huge misjudgment, one for which he has, appropriately, paid dearly in reputation…Yet I hope very much he is confirmed.”

A huge misjudgment? Well, there we agree. But given that Holder has been making millions since then, and has been nominated for Attorney General, it seems to me he has not “paid dearly”, or at all.

With a “huge misjudgment” already under his belt, Mr. Holder can’t possibly be the best we can find.

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My Thoughts on the Rick Warren Controversy

I couldn’t care less.

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I Have The Power

Ask and ye shall receive.

In my previous post I stated:

I want all the people who knocked Sarah Palin’s credentials to now apply the same skepticism to Ms. Kennedy.

And sure enough, Rep. Gary Ackerman according to the Associated Press, made the comparison yesterday. Well, sort of. Here is how the AP described Ackerman’s comments:

A Democratic congressman compared Caroline Kennedy to Sarah Palin, saying the wannabe senator hasn’t proved she has the “guts and the gumption” to succeed Hillary Clinton.

If you read the full article, it seems Ackerman was comparing their handling and not their credentials. But Ackerman did throw in this nugget on the importance of genetics:

Rembrandt was a great artist. His brother Murray, on the other hand, Murray Rembrandt wouldn’t paint a house.

The criticism seems to be bi-partisan. Republican Rep. Peter King, who is considering running for the seat in 2010, offered his own take on Kennedy:

The last thing we need is a People magazine celebrity as our United States senator, especially someone who has no experience, who as far as I know has never held a real job, and now we’ve found that she hasn’t even voted half the time. She hasn’t voted in any of the Democratic mayoral primaries, she didn’t even vote the last time that Pat Moynihan ran for the seat that she’s looking for now, or when Mario Cuomo was running the race of his life and lost. She wasn’t there for that…How can the average New Yorker identify with Caroline Kennedy? She comes from an outstanding family, I’m sure she’s a wonderful parent, but she’s never taken a stand on any public issue. She’s never even held one news conference. She hasn’t gone to one American Legion hall or Knights of Columbus hall or Masonic temple, or one synagogue to answer questions. When she does go on her so-called listening tour upstate, she’s, like, running from city hall into the car to avoid reporters.

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Oh, and She Didn’t Vote

I don’t think it’s a big deal when a candidate has a spotty record of showing up at the polls over the years. But in the case of Caroline Kennedy, who is making the argument that her civic involvement somehow makes up for her total lack of experience in public office, this looks especially bad.

I want all the people who knocked Sarah Palin’s credentials to now apply the same skepticism to Ms. Kennedy.

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Bush Caves

I haven’t read the fine print, but it sure looks to me like the President caved in on the auto bailout. Earlier, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) said that the unions were not engaged in sincere negotiations with Congress about the package because they knew all along the White House would give them a better deal. But at least one website (here) is claiming that the new agreement is similar to the terms that Corker had proposed. More to come.

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WSJ: Bigger S.E.C. Isn’t The Answer

Even SEC Chairman Christopher Cox is admitting that the SEC dropped the ball on the Madoff Ponzi scheme. But before we conclude that the answer to the Madoff scandal is bulkng up the regulators, the Wall Street Journal points out in an editorial that the SEC’s budget has significantly grown over the last nine years. The Journal argues that the Commission’s failure to catch Madoff should not come as a surprise.

Mr. Cox and Congress will undoubtedly look for other conflicts of interest, but the larger truth is that the SEC’s failure is business as usual. The real news would be a case when the SEC did prevent a fraud.

The Journal points out that Madoff’s shenanigans, however, did not escape everyone’s notice:

The fact is that the only people who seem to have taken concrete action to protect investors from Mr. Madoff are private research shops like Aksia LLC. Its analysts did the real work of figuring out that Mr. Madoff’s claimed investment strategy couldn’t be happening at the volumes he claimed to be trading. Likewise, it was the short sellers who first blew the whistle on Enron, while the SEC was clueless and the firm’s auditors were asleep.

For an alternative viewpoint, you can check out the Washington Post’s editorial here. They reach a different conclusion:

Nevertheless, if this scandal demonstrates anything, it is how easily even the most sophisticated investors can be gulled — and that the general public needs alert and aggressive government regulation.

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Quick Question

If you drew up a list of the 50 New Yorkers who are most qualified to serve in the United States Senate, would Caroline Kennedy’s name be anywhere on that list?

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Against The Bailout

Let’s be clear: there is not a widespread problem in the automobile industry- Toyota, for example, will earn a profit this year of $5.9 billion.

Nor is there a widespread problem with the automobile industry in the United States- Volkswagen, for example, is opening a massive new plant in Tennessee.

The only folks in the auto industry in deep, deep trouble are the Big Three- Ford, Chrysler, and GM.

Want to know why? Well, this little graphic, from Investor’s Business Daily should help you figure it out:
Auto Bailout gap

As the accompanying editorial points out:

As the chart shows, gold-plated union contracts are a big reason for U.S. automakers’ woes (though managerial incompetence at the Big Three also played a role). The average Big Three worker made $73.26 an hour in 2006; the average worker at a foreign transplant, $44.20. Bailout foes wanted the gap to be shrunk by the end of next year.

A chart making the rounds on the Internet tells it all: Last year, Toyota made 9.37 million vehicles. GM, virtually the same number. Yet, Toyota made a profit of $38.7 billion on its global operations, or $1,874 per car, while GM lost $38.7 billion, or $4,055 a car, almost entirely due to its operations in the U.S.

Even so, the UAW vowed to make no big changes unto 2011, when their current deal expires. That basically would lock in the Big Three’s lack of competitiveness for at least three more years, requiring billions and billions more in bailouts or bankruptcy.

Columnist David R. Stokes notes the difference between union and non-union shops in cost:

Workers at a Toyota plant in Kentucky, a non-union shop, receive about $47.00 per hour in wages and benefits. That translates to about $98,000.00 per year (not counting overtime). Those doing essentially the same job at GM, Ford, or Chrysler – whose assembly line workers are members of the United Auto Workers union – receive roughly $71.00 per hour – or about $150,000.00 annually (again, minus any overtime).

And yet despite the obvious need for reform, I am doubtful the powerful United Auto Workers union will be forced to make the sacrifices needed to be competitive. Echoing a point I made before the election, Stokes explains why the UAW probably knows it will soon get whatever it wants:

The United Auto Workers is a formidable foe with a new best friend moving into the White House.

We will soon find out if President Bush or our new president intend to “reward failure.”

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Frank Rich: Blagojevich Scandal is Bush’s Fault

Seriously. Frank Rich found a way to blame the Rod Blagojevich scandal on George W. Bush.

Now I understand that it is difficult for a partisan Democrat like Frank Rich when, for an entire week, the news is dominated by a major scandal involving a fellow Democrat, and not just any Democrat, rather the governor of a large state and a one-time ally of the incoming Democratic President. And it’s quite clear Rich has a serious case of BDS.

But blaming George W. Bush for the misdeeds of Rod Blagojevich is seriously impressive. To spare you some time, I will walk you through his amazing alchemy:
1. Blagojevich was arrested and is up to his ears in corruption.
2. A couple of years ago, a member of the White House staff was convicted of a crime (a crime in no way, shape or form connected to, or resembling, the alleged crimes of Blagojevich, but that’s beside the point).
3. Events 1 and 2 took place during what Rich calls the “Bush Era.”
4. Hence, it’s all Bush’s fault.

See? All makes sense, right?

Now I was under the impression that corruption in Illinois politics dates back to 1869- at least that’s what Frank Rich’s own newspaper told me.

And while I don’t, at this juncture, blame Barack Obama for the crimes of Blagojevich, it would seem to me that since Obama endorsed and actively campaigned for Blagojevich’s election, Obama ranks higher on the culpability list than George W. Bush, n’est-ce-pas?

I leave you to ponder this: at what point does a columnist become so utterly predictable that he is just irrelevant?

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