Archive for January 21st, 2009

January 21, 2009

Falling flat

Obama’s inauguration speech underwhelmed:

Despite nearly two months of fine-tuning, the man whose gift for oratory helped launch him into the White House gave a rather flat and unfocused talk without any memorable lines. It didn’t even generate much applause among the Obama die-hards who had waited outside in the bitter cold to be a part of history.
The 19-minute address was filled with trite metaphors from “the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms” to “let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.” At times, its somber tone recalled Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” talk rather than the sunny optimism of Ronald Reagan or Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Even a liberal blogger at Firedoglake called it the “Worst. Inauguration. Ever.” And here’s Christopher Hitchens (who voted for Obama):

It’s just that there’s an element of hubris in all this current hope-mongering and that I am beginning to be a little bit afraid to think of what Wednesday morning will feel like.

Via Instapundit, as also this absurd encomium from Walter Shapiro:

The graceful Inaugural poet, Elizabeth Alexander, spoke after the poetry. For it was Barack Obama’s long-anticipated speech that truly showed the writerly hand. There were echoes of prior inaugural addresses (particularly John Kennedy, but also flickers of Franklin Roosevelt and Bill Clinton) in the new president’s words, but repeatedly there were striking phrases and sudden bursts of imagery that made it Obama’s own. Whether it was through simple language about the “the still waters of peace” and the nation’s “patchwork heritage” or the angry evocations of “the lash of the whip” and “the bitter swill of civil war and segregation,” President Obama reminded the nation that here was a man who wrote himself into his job.

As the founder of Authors Against Obama, I merely note en passant this unsubstantiated attribution of literary prowess. Given the evidence that Bill Ayers ghost-wrote Dreams From My Father, I am naturally suspicious whenever Obama becomes too eloquent, but this speech wasn’t so good that Jon Favreau couldn’t have written it.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers. He calls it a “pretty good speech.” Watch out, Professor: “damning with faint praise” may soon be classified as a hate crime. You want to strive for the Kathleen Parker “puddles of Hope” worship of his awe-inspiring awesome awesomeness.

UPDATE II: “Churlish right-wingers” indulging in “easy cynicism” — that’s us! Me and Jonah Goldberg!

UPDATE III: Ace of Spades catches Garrison Keillor wading through the puddles of Hope — Ace, can you explain that joke to Dean Esmay?
January 21, 2009

They can’t spend it fast enough

Not enough “shovel-ready” projects on tap:

The government wouldn’t be able to spend at least one-fourth of a proposed $825 billion economic stimulus plan until after 2010, according to a new report that suggests it may take longer than expected to boost the economy.
A Congressional Budget Office analysis of President Barack Obama’s plan found that most of the approximately $355 billion in proposed discretionary spending on highways, renewable energy and other initiatives wouldn’t be spent before 2011. The government would spend about $26 billion of the money this year and $110 billion more next year, the report said.
About $103 billion would be spent in 2011, while $53 billion would be spent in 2012 and $63 billion between 2013 and 2019, the report said.

Hey, they could just cut me a check for a billion or two. I’m willing to do my part for Hope and Change.

January 21, 2009

Michelle Obama’s dresses panned

Ooooh, this is rich! Michelle Obama, who’s been compared to Jackie Onassis about 10 zillion times, is being criticized for her inaugural wardrobe. First, there was her Isabel Toledo dress, which Newsday describes as “jewel-collared, pale yellow-gold lace coat, sweater and sheath dress ensemble,” but which Amanda Carpenter describes thus:

The utter lack of ooh-ing and ah-ing over Michelle Obama’s inauguration wear should tell you something. It was bad. . . . That split-pea/yellow color she wore . . . is impossible for 95 percent of women to carry off. I’d say Michelle is included in that number. She sure does seem to like that chartreuse-y tone, though.
The famous JCrew outfit she wrote on Jay Leno has the same color scheme.
If that particular hue becomes a crayola crayon, I think it should be named “sour sunshine.”

Ooooh! Now, you may want to attribute Amanda’s criticism to ideological bias, but when it comes to Mrs. O’s ball gown designed by Jason Wu, the criticism was not limited to Fox News regulars. Newsday:

The dress, with a strap across one shoulder, ruched bodice, fluffy appliqués and sparkling beading, will (as tradition dictates) be donated to the Smithsonian. . . .
Not everyone loved it.
“It’s an inauguration, not a prom,” fashion personality and stylist Robert Verdi said.

And, as might be imagined, Amanda also gave thumbs-down to the gown:

I have nothing against an off-the shoulder, white gown (Nancy Reagan looked great in hers) but Michelle’s ballgown was simply not flattering. The cut didn’t do her statuesque figure any favors, in my humble opinion. . . .
Barbara Walters . . . said on The View, the other day, “I think you can tell what the Administration is going to be like by what the First Lady wears.”
I wouldn’t go that far, but it is fun for political women to talk political fashion. For all you men out there, understand clothes and makeup are like football for women. We can talk about it with anybody, it’s a good icebreaker, it’s always fun. We’ll be saying “What did you think of Michelle’s dress?” at the water coolers while you all are crying about your NFL team not making it to the Superbowl.

Or Alabama getting beat by Utah. But don’t bring up those painful memories again, Amanda.

Ace of Spades: “Hey, nice dress. Who shot the curtains?” As Dan Riehl says, “So much for the new Ace for the new age.’ “

Michelle Obama’s Isabel Toledo dress-and-long-coat combo, while beautiful, and a bold statement, I think was overkill for daytime. Too much sparkle.

It’s like a fashion Rashomon.

January 21, 2009

We’re still the Great Satan

Some things never change — or Change:

In Iran, protesters burnt posters of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and waved flags in support of Gaza, Reuters reported. . . .
Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and chanted “Death to Obama” . . .

Waiting for that historic moment, when Islamic fanatics burn in effigy our first black president.

January 21, 2009

$3.7 million virgin UPDATE

When last we heard from Natalie Dylan, she was auctioning her virginity online and bidding had reached $3.7 milion. Now, it appears, Xtreme Radio hosts Kevin McCullough and Stephen Baldwin may have convinced her to keep it:

Last night, quite late in the evening, and on the show, the girl who has pledged to sell her virginity for the highest bid, convinced her to not “give it up” if a higher bid – individual or cumulative comes in to top the present $3.7 million offer that has been registered.
Having done MANY interviews declining similar offers, Natalie Dylan (not her real name) has agreed to remain a virgin, and give ALL of the proceeds (that she had previously agreed to use towards graduate school) instead–to stopping the horrific practice of child sex trafficking.

Here’s the audio:

Somewhere, Eliot Spitzer is cursing his luck.

January 21, 2009

Bad credit, wrong school, student loan

You just got to love this story:

Tracy Kratzer, 27, enrolled in the International Academy of Design & Technology in Orlando, Fla. in 2003. With visions of making big bucks as a Web designer, she didn’t give much thought to the interest rate on her loan from Sallie Mae. . . . Kratzer didn’t know it at the time, but she was part of an experiment that has proved disastrous for borrowers and shareholders of Sallie’s parent, SLM Corp. It’s called “nontraditional” lending.
“That’s not a sociological term,” Albert Lord, chief executive of SLM Corp., told an audience of financial analysts last fall. “It’s basically kids and parents with poor credit who are at the wrong schools.” [emphasis added]
Sallie Mae . . . began nontraditional lending in the easy-money heyday of 2002, when it cut deals with dozens of trade schools to become their preferred subprime student lender. Over the next four years Sallie doled out about $5 billion to people like Kratzer, waiving the credit scores and cosigners formerly required for its loans.
The bill arrived last year after nontraditional borrowers began entering the workforce. . . .
Shortly after graduating with an associate of arts degree, she discovered that the high-paying jobs she’d hoped to qualify for go to people with bachelor’s degrees and years of experience. After a bout of unemployment, when she lived off credit cards, Kratzer recently found an hourly job as a clerk at a magazine, where she earns less than the average high school grad. In the meantime her $14,000 student loan has mushroomed to $27,000 — more than she makes in a year–and continues to accrue interest at 18% a year.

I mean, it’s like some kind of Aesop’s fable of economics, isn’t it? Loan thousands of dollars to poor kids with bad credit going to trade schools that won’t qualify them for any especially lucrative employment and in what sense are you “helping” them? Tracy Kratzer could have gotten that clerk’s job without ever setting foot inside the “International Academy,” but now she’s on the hook for $27,000 in loans she can’t repay. And yet you gotta know that Sallie Mae executives were trumpeting how this program was “helping” the loan recipients.

Hat-tip to Megan McArdle, who writes:

The question to contemplate is who benefitted from making it easier to pursue degrees that don’t get you very far? Not Ms. Kratzer, obviously, but not the “greedy” loan company, either. No, the beneficiaries are the schools that take peoples’ money in exchange for worthless degrees.

Megan tells her own interesting saga of paying $5,000 to get a worthless certification.

January 21, 2009

Quote of the Day

“Listen, I just want to say one thing. Having been in the South in the ’60s and Los Angeles, in Watts and northern urban areas, when we were evolving as a country, I’m thinking of all the bigots and rednecks and people I met along the way. I’m saying to them, ‘Take this.’ You know?”
Tom Brokaw, MSNBC