Daily Archives: March 7, 2010

Animals lose big in Switzerland

Proposal to appoint them lawyers trounced at the polls. Maybe they can persuade some of those Great Whites to migrate their way.

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Obama setting up a health care sucker punch for Democrat reps?

The WSH sets up a plausible scenario where he does just that.

Last week President Obama sanctioned “reconciliation,” a complex tactic that would jam ObamaCare into law on sheer power politics. But what if this gambit is really a false-flag operation, meant to lure House Democrats into voting for a bill that they would otherwise oppose? That’s the question many rank-and-file Members are now asking themselves, and they’re right to be worried.

The cleanest option for Democrats would be for the House to pass the Senate’s Christmas Eve bill word for word, thereby bypassing a Senate filibuster under the normal rules and forwarding ObamaCare directly to the Rose Garden signing ceremony. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly said the votes simply don’t exist for the Senate bill as is.


Thus the convoluted scheme the White House has mapped out. The House would first pass the Senate bill, and then pass a reconciliation bill that addresses these objections—in effect converting the process into a makeshift and unprecedented vehicle for amendments. Mrs. Pelosi can’t rope in the 216 votes she needs without an iron-clad promise of another round of Senate action.

Iron-clad promise—or double-cross? After all, the White House would much prefer the Senate bill, because by its lights the cost-control programs are tougher than what the House prefers. And from a political perspective, a bill that can be signed immediately and that the press will portray as an historic achievement is far better than the drawn-out and gory battle that would be reconciliation. Republican Senators will have many procedural knives at their disposal, and the process will force Democrats to cast further votes and spend more months debating a deeply unpopular bill.

In other words, perhaps Mr. Obama has embraced this reconciliation two-step only to renege as soon as the House gives him what he wants. While some House Democrats would be furious, they’d soon be defending the Senate bill by necessity against the GOP. The moderates who vote for it might be collateral damage, but the White House has already concluded that this is the price of building its cradle-to-grave entitlement citadel.

Mr. Obama’s closing arguments are lending credence to rank-and-file fears that they’re getting played. Democrats are telling reporters that Mr. Obama has been telling them in private meetings that his Presidency, and the party’s claim to any achievement, rests on passing a bill. With barely any mention of substance, the right bill is any bill, by any political means necessary.


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Great White Sharks may migrate to dine on giant squid

National Geographic photo

Cool article here in the Los Angeles Times.

In what could be the ultimate marine smack-down, great white sharks off the California coast may be migrating 1,600 miles west to do battle with creatures that rival their star power: giant squids.

A series of studies tracking this mysterious migration has scientists rethinking not just what the big shark does with its time but also what sort of creature it is.

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Banks to be forced to write-down 2nd mortgages?

That’s what the WSJ is reporting.

Pressure is growing on U.S. banks to ease terms for distressed homeowners on home-equity loans and other second-lien mortgages.

Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, last week sent a letter to the four biggest U.S. banks demanding “immediate steps to write down second mortgages.” The Massachusetts Democrat sent the letter to the chief executive officers of Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is preparing to launch long-planned initiatives aimed at addressing these obstacles.

Many second liens have little value because of the plunge in home prices, Rep. Frank wrote, adding: “Yet because accounting rules allow holders of these seconds to carry the loans at artificially high values, many refuse to acknowledge the losses and write down the loans.”

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Chile gets back on its feet

After a slow start, it sounds like things are improving in Chile. I was struck, reading this report in the Ties, that DHL actually has a “director of humanitarian affairs” – that’s sort of neat.

Some disaster veterans say Chile’s disaster response has been remarkable, largely avoiding bureaucratic infighting and quickly patching up the international airport and main north-south highway to keep aid flowing.

”Could FEMA have done that?” said Chris Weeks, director of humanitarian affairs for the DHL delivery company, referring to the U.S. government’s disaster agency.

Weeks, the leader of a group of DHL volunteers who organize airport aid deliveries in major disasters worldwide, said, ”These Chileans are such can-do people. … I’ve seen damaged bridges with big metal slabs covering the gaps. If that were the States they would close the bridges for two months while structural engineers figured out if you could cross.”

Chileans also are helping themselves: Complementing Chile’s intensive military aid, volunteers have appeared all over to deliver clothes and food, and a national telethon collected $58 million Saturday — twice what organizers hoped for.


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The headlines emphasize bombs and mortars – reality sounds better

BBC reports on Iraq’s vote today . The print version doesn’t dwell on the huge turnout of citizens who have defied the terrorists but I’m listening to their reporter on the scene, Hugh Sykes, on the radio now and he is much, much more positive. It sounds like a great success, which is a relief. Here’s a bit of Mr. Syke’s report:

In a small village near Ramadi in Anbar province west of Baghdad, 300 of the 400 people on the electoral roll had already cast their vote by mid-morning.

It was like a party – hugs, smiles and animated conversations. Many parents brought their children with them. No sign that anyone had been intimidated by threats from al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Far to the south, in the holy city of Najaf, a similarly festive – and defiant – mood. The corridors of a Najaf school echoed with a babble of happy chat.

Three small boys crowded round their dad as he cast his vote, and then – like him – they dipped their fingers in the purple ink.

And a student of English, Zaid Mirza, said he had voted “for change, and new faces”.


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If you think things can’t get worse in Zimbabwe, you’re likely wrong

Mugabe says he’ll run again. And new laws are finishing off the few white businesses still standing. My mother had friends who left South Africa forty years ago, declaring that there was no future for whites in Africa (they were ardently opposed to apartheid, by the way). I’m surprised there are still whites in Zimbabwe who haven’t made that same discovery.

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