Archive for April, 2009

Souter to Retire

The $64,000 Question.

Who will have the big­ger legal writ­ing trail: Souter, or his replacement?

Thanks Papa Bush and Papa Sununu.

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NYT Reporters Everywhere">This One Goes Out to NYT Reporters Everywhere

Enchanted?  (WTF?)

With apol­o­gizes to Rodgers and Hammerstein…

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Cartoon of the Day

aria09043020090429064748Maybe because I have access to a few national secu­rity and home­land secu­rity experts at Her­itage who have told me like­wise, but I don’t get the “Close the Bor­der” argu­ment when it comes to Swine Flu — sorry — H1N1.

This is a dis­ease which was orig­i­nally spread via trav­el­ers, specif­i­cally air trav­els com­ing home from Spring Break.  So far, most of the orig­i­nally affected have been vaca­tion­ers, high school­ers, col­lege stu­dents, appar­ently a Marine on Week­end Lib­erty, and those with extended expo­sure to the first groups I’ve listed.  There hasn’t been much proof of cross-border infec­tion here.

Finally, you ever see the movie “Twelve Mon­keys?”  Besides being the first film to high­light Brad Pitt was more than just a pretty face, it sort of showed us how in today’s world a super-bug is going to be spread.

Air travel, air travel, air travel.

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Chrysler Headed for Bankruptcy

So much for a mix of union and gov­ern­ment ownership.

Talks between Chrysler LLC’s lenders and the Trea­sury Depart­ment to reduce the automaker’s $6.9 bil­lion in secured debt and keep it out of bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion have dis­in­te­grated, a per­son famil­iar with the talks said early Thursday.

Chrysler’s fate was in the hands of about 40 hedge funds that hold about 30 per­cent of its debt. Although four banks hold­ing 70 per­cent of the debt had agreed to erase it for $2 bil­lion, the hedge funds were hold­ing out for a bet­ter deal.

To entice the hedge funds into going along with the banks, the gov­ern­ment on Wednes­day after­noon added $250 mil­lion to the $2 bil­lion that the banks had set­tled for and gave the hedge funds a 6 p.m. dead­line to work it out, two peo­ple briefed on the talks said.

All of the peo­ple spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity because the nego­ti­a­tions were private.

When cor­po­rate bank­ruptcy occurs, it’s typ­i­cal that the cred­i­tors are sup­posed to be the first ones in line to get what’s left.  Given what’s been rumored to be going on behind the scenes between what’s left of Chrysler, the UAW, the Trea­sury Depart­ment, and Chrysler’s cred­i­tor, one can’t blame them for balk­ing at the deal.

Chap­ter 11 isn’t the end, and frankly, it’s some­thing the auto com­pa­nies should have done a long time ago.

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A Total Lack of Truth on Deficits

Give me a G-Damn Break.

What sort of idiots does Steve Kagen try to take us for?  Seri­ously, after pass­ing a bud­get on a fairly straight-party vote, the Kagen Press Office (Which given the Apple­ton Post-Crescent will be tomorrow’s lead story) gave us this illog­i­cal state­ment.

Con­gress­man Steve Kagen, M.D. is pro­mot­ing fis­cal respon­si­bil­ity as we begin to put our econ­omy back on track. Kagen voted for a plan that will cut taxes for 95% of work­ing Amer­i­cans, reduce the deficit by two-thirds by 2013 and cut non-defense dis­cre­tionary spending.

This bud­get plan is fis­cally respon­si­ble and will enable us to work our way out of today’s reces­sion,” said Kagen. “I am work­ing hard to invest our hard earned tax dol­lars in cre­at­ing jobs and build­ing an econ­omy that works for all of us, while cut­ting our deficit over the long-term.”

Cut­ting our deficit over the long-term?’

They say pic­tures are worth more than words, so I might as well throw up this still reli­able, old standby from the crew at Her­itage the left has yet to debunk and its been out for a month.

obamadebt

Kagen — who has yet to have an orig­i­nal polit­i­cal thought since every­thing he tells his dis­trict is a well-scripted talk­ing point from either the DCCC, the White House, or House Demo­c­ra­tic lead­er­ship — hon­estly is try­ing to tell us that by blow­ing up the national deficit to nearly $2T from this fis­cal year and then cut­ting it to around a tril­lion dol­lars in four years (based by the way, on ‘assured sav­ings’ from the with­drawal of troops in Iraq), they are halv­ing the deficiting.

Logic like that would work if it weren’t for the fact the FY ’08 Deficit was in the neigh­bor of $500 bil­lion or so.  So even by the num­bers given by Kagen’s office (which again, is noth­ing more than talk­ing points), he’s dou­bling the exist­ing fed­eral deficit while claim­ing to be sav­ing tax­payer dol­lars.  Amaz­ing, sim­ply amazing.

And that’s not the best part.

As you likely heard, the econ­omy is still tank­ing (a 6.1% GDP drop in Q1 of 2009).  That means both the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Office — which is under the con­trol of the Democ­rats in Con­gress — and the White House are going to have to redo their num­bers since a shrink­ing econ­omy will no doubt shrink rev­enues to the gov­ern­ment.  With these shrink­ing rev­enues unable to match this Congress’s ram­pant spend­ing, the pro­jected deficit num­bers are going to get worse.

Of course, you don’t get such infor­ma­tion from the Kagen Press Office.  You instead get a line about ‘inher­it­ing a debt’ (nev­er­mind Kagen was a mem­ber of the 2007-08 Con­gress, but to hell with facts!), which is no doubt true.  But there’s a dif­fer­ence between inher­it­ing a prob­lem, and mak­ing it worse.

Kagen and his office are far, far from admit­ting the latter.

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PR War is Lost">Sorry, That PR War is Lost

ABC­News is report­ing the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion, which has finally started to engage the fact there is a virus spread­ing across the coun­try through Cancun-visiting Spring Break­ers, is try­ing to re-label “Swine Flu” to a series of let­ters and num­bers known as “H1N1.”

Why the change?  Well, no one real­ized the great­est sin­gle line ever from “Men in Black” was in play: A per­son is smart. Peo­ple are dumb, pan­icky dan­ger­ous ani­mals and you know it.

We “dumb, pan­icky dan­ger­ous ani­mals” got it in our brains that “Swine Flu” meant eat­ing pork would give you the virus.  It won’t.  In fact, the only thing pork will still give you is a nasty case of “trichi­nosis” if you don’t thor­oughly cook it.

Swine Flu” is no where on the menu of ail­ments you can get from eat­ing pork, but our col­lec­tive irra­tional­ity along with a media in “Thank God, some­thing else to talk about!” mode, appears to be doing dam­age to pork and swine farm­ers in the United States, Canada, Mex­ico, and other nations which have sus­pected or con­firmed cases.

In the Oval Office last night as Health and Human Ser­vice Sec­re­tary Kath­leen Sebe­lius was sworn in, Pres­i­dent Obama said, “we wanted to swear her in right away because we’ve got a sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic health chal­lenge that requires her imme­di­ate atten­tion, and that is the H1N1 flu outbreak.”

H1N1”?

Well, yes. That’s the virus sub­type the world is deal­ing with here.

Huh? Not “swine flu”?

On Sun­day, the White House held a “press brief­ing on swine influenza.”

On Mon­day, in his remarks before the National Acad­emy of Sci­ences, Pres­i­dent Obama used the unsci­en­tific name, refer­ring to the virus as “swine flu.”

What changed?

As has been noted by oth­ers, China, Kaza­khstan, the Philip­pines, Thai­land, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emi­rates have all banned meat and pork prod­ucts from some parts of the US, accord­ing to the office of US Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ron Kirk.

The World Health Orga­ni­za­tion reit­er­ated that one can­not con­tract the virus by eat­ing pork, and pointed out that no pig had been found yet with this par­tic­u­lar virus.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of cer­tain agri­cul­tural indus­tries made their dis­plea­sure known to the Obama admin­is­tra­tion, espe­cially Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Tom Vil­sack, who said dur­ing a brief­ing on Tues­day that “there are a lot of hard­work­ing fam­i­lies whose liveli­hood depends on us con­vey­ing this mes­sage of safety…and we want to rein­force the fact that we’re doing every­thing we pos­si­bly can to make sure that our hog indus­try is sound and safe and to make sure that con­sumers in this coun­try and around the world know that Amer­i­can prod­ucts are safe.”

This really isn’t swine flu. It’s H1N1 virus,” Vil­sack said. “We want to say to con­sumers here and abroad that there is no risk to you, there is no sci­en­tific evi­dence what­so­ever that there is any link between con­sum­ing pork, pre­pared pork prod­ucts, and the H1N1 virus.”

So far, the only U.S. con­firmed death was a 23 month old seek­ing treat­ment away from Mex­i­can social­ized med­i­cine by going to a Brownsville, TX hos­pi­tal before being moved to a more advanced facil­ity in Houston.

Some­thing I’ve come to real­ize out here in DC (and frankly, I can’t believe I wasn’t told this as a Mar­ket­ing Major at UW-Eau Claire…), is Mar­ket­ing Runs the World folks.  You say some­thing long enough, force­fully enough, sell it like its going out of style, and you have your­self made.  It don’t mat­ter what it is, a prod­uct, a politi­cian, an idea, a pol­icy, sell it so its bought, and the world is a lot easier.

We were sold the brand as “Swine Flu” by every­one deemed an “expert” in both gov­ern­ment and media so “Swine Flu” it is.  Hell, the CDC is still call­ing it “Swine Flu” after the “Call it H1N1” order came down.

Sorry Farmer Brown, the facts may be on your side, but the pub­lic rela­tions just isn’t in your favor.  Truth be damned, peo­ple think eat­ing pork is gonna kill them.

Even though it won’t.

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Confirmed: First U.S. Swine Flu Death

This was inevitable.

The CDC says swine flu has killed a 23-month old child in Texas.

It’s the first U.S. death in the cur­rent outbreak.

The flu death was con­firmed Wednes­day by Dr. Richard Besser, act­ing direc­tor of the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Prevention.

In an inter­view with CNN, he gave no other details about the child.

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Just Breathe Folks. Breathe.

So Brett Favre was released by the Jets yes­ter­day.  Sorry, been on this ride already, not get­ting in line.

Brett Favre was released from the reserve-retired list by the New York Jets on Tues­day night, mak­ing the quar­ter­back a free agent if he decides to again come out of retirement.

When Favre was dealt to New York from Green Bay in August, there were con­di­tions in the trade that required the Pack­ers to be com­pen­sated if the Jets moved the three-time MVP. Those no longer apply if he signs elsewhere.

The 39-year-old Favre, who spent one dis­ap­point­ing sea­son with New York, had requested the move sev­eral weeks ago through agent Bus Cook, but insisted he has no plans to come out of retire­ment for a 19th season.

Noth­ing has changed,” Favre said in a state­ment. “At this time, I am retired and have no inten­tion of return­ing to football.”

Jets gen­eral man­ager Mike Tan­nen­baum also said Favre had not indi­cated to him any desire to come back.

That, of course, won’t stop any of the likely spec­u­la­tion that Favre could end up with any num­ber of teams, espe­cially if the torn biceps ten­don that ham­pered him for much of last sea­son has healed.

After 16 sea­sons with the Pack­ers, Favre had a tear­ful retire­ment in March 2008, but decided to return to foot­ball a few months later. Green Bay had already moved for­ward, anoint­ing Aaron Rodgers the starter as a bit­ter falling out with Favre ensued.

The Pack­ers traded him to the Jets, inject­ing excite­ment into a fran­chise that hasn’t been to a Super Bowl since 1969. Things started off promis­ing as Favre played well and the Jets took over first place in the AFC East, with a play­off run in their sights. But Favre strug­gled down the stretch with the arm injury as the Jets fin­ished 1–4 and failed to make the play­offs, cost­ing coach Eric Mangini his job.

Favre announced his retire­ment on Feb. 11, say­ing he was done with foot­ball — this time for real.

I was told from friends and fam­ily, this was one of the lead sto­ries in the Green Bay news media.  (Good to see pri­or­i­ties never change back home…)

Frankly, I don’t think he’s com­ing back no mat­ter how many “dis­claimer lan­guage” code phrases to what­ever resis­tance is still faith­ful to the man in Pack­er­land.  First of all, the Vikings seem ready to start a legit QB war in their train­ing camp between Tarvis Jack­son and the recently acquired Sage Rosen­fels.  Bring­ing in Favre will both blow up that plan, but also be noth­ing more than a one-year project to pla­cate the future Hall of Famer’s ego and sense of revenge.  As much as Vikings die-hards would love to see Favre in their jer­sey, the real­ity is his addi­tion is more sub­trac­tion for the future of the franchise.

Sec­ondly, Favre has stated — as well as Jets team doc­tors — he would need surgery dur­ing the off-season to repair his shoul­der.  That hasn’t hap­pened, and the longer he takes to get that done (if he ever gets it done), the longer it is before his rehab is complete.

So please Green and Gold faith­ful and Brett Favre die-hards, relax, he’s done.  Cel­e­brate when the team finally retires his #4 and he enters Can­ton in five years.  That’s all we’re going to get from him in years to come; maybe some TV on ESPN or Fox, but noth­ing more.

So just calm down.

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Cartoon of the Day

The usu­ally depend­able Fire­fox is con­stantly crash­ing on my lap­top, so blog­ging may be lim­ited today.

sbr042809dapr20090428033554

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I Live to See the Day

Mike McCabe finally has an attack of hon­esty as the Wis­con­sin Democ­racy Cam­paign — the state’s self-appointed watch­dog on all cam­paign finance mat­ters — finally has called the Wis­con­sin Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion Coun­cil (WEAC), the state’s largest teach­ers’ union,  a smear group.

Spe­cial inter­est groups spent an esti­mated $1.27 mil­lion mostly on neg­a­tive tele­vi­sion adver­tis­ing in the two statewide races for the Wis­con­sin Supreme Court and state school super­in­ten­dent, accord­ing to a pre­lim­i­nary tally of total spring elec­tion spend­ing by the Wis­con­sin Democ­racy Campaign.

The Wis­con­sin Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion Coun­cil, the state’s largest teach­ers union, and the lib­eral Greater Wis­con­sin Com­mit­tee, a secre­tive Mil­wau­kee group that backs Demo­c­ra­tic can­di­dates in par­ti­san races, spent an esti­mated $1.03 mil­lion mostly on tele­vi­sion ads to sup­port the even­tual win­ners of the two sup­pos­edly non­par­ti­san races. WEAC spent $564,993 to help elected state school super­in­ten­dent can­di­date Tony Evers and Greater Wis­con­sin spent an esti­mated $465,000 to help elect incum­bent Wis­con­sin Supreme Court Chief Jus­tice Shirley Abrahamson.

Advanc­ing Wis­con­sin, a group orga­nized in 2008 to cam­paign on behalf of Demo­c­ra­tic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Barack Obama and Wis­con­sin can­di­dates for state and local offices, spent an esti­mated $200,000 dis­trib­ut­ing fliers that sup­ported Abra­ham­son and Evers.

The con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­ity doled out an esti­mated $25,000 for a 60-second radio ad to sup­port school super­in­ten­dent can­di­date Rose Fernandez.

For those need­ing to do the math, that’s a 50 to 1 ratio of lib­eral groups spend­ing to con­ser­v­a­tive group in the spring elec­tions.   I now sit back and wait for all those con­cerned about ‘out­side groups buy­ing the State Supreme Court’ to come out and denounce this spend­ing in an open and hon­est forum and debate.

Oh who the hell am I kidding?

By the way, still wait­ing for that apol­ogy for 2006 Mike.

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