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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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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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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.

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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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