Archive for June 23rd, 2009

June 23, 2009

Blog Talk Radio: Live at 8 p.m. ET

Jimmie Bise of the Sundries Shack with join me on the Rick Moran Show at 8 p.m. ET on Blog Talk Radio. We’ll be all about the inspectors general story, and you can call in at 718-664-9764.

Usually, we’re joined by Stephen Green, but he may be feeling under the vodka weather.

UPDATE: We were unexpectedly — at least, unexpected to me — joined by Dan Riehl of Riehl World View. Dan’s a very good researcher and doesn’t get too excited by all the sturm und drang of the press corps. We also got a phone-in from a blogger named Lionheart, who got me talking about economics and, as Dan said, that would be a whole ‘nother show.

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June 23, 2009

IG-Gate: Asking the right questions

The unexplained resignation of AmTrak inspector general Fred Wiederhold raises an important question:

WHO IS ELEANOR ACHESON?

Exactly why that’s an important question . . . well, maybe Fred Wiederhold could explain that, but nobody’s heard a word from Fred since he resigned Thursday.

What we do know is that Wiederhold was asked to provide “specific examples of agency interference with OIG audits and/or investigations.” Maybe if somebody looked closely at those specific examples, they’d find Ms. Acheson’s fingerprints, but that’s strictly a hypothetical, because Wiederhold resigned before he could produce those specific examples.

What we do know is that Amtrak is Joe Biden’s favorite government boondoggle, that Ms. Acheson donated to Biden’s presidential campaign, and that Amtrak is budgeted for $1.3 billion in stimulus money — money that Wiederhold would have been watchdogging for “waste, fraud and abuse,” if he hadn’t resigned last week.

Another question that needs to be asked: When are Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins going to convene a hearing on the firing of AmeriCorps IG Gerald Walpin?

As Rick Moran notes at American Thinker, we’re now up to three ex-IGs in less than two weeks and there seems to be a pattern developing. This is to say nothing of the situation with Neil Barofsky, special IG for the TARP bailout money, who is at odds with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

You spend a little shoe-leather on Capitol Hill, and next thing you know, somebody’s explaining that the two questions for Timothy Geithner are “what did he know and when did he know it?”

Watch out for that bus, Mr. Geithner.

Thanks to Carol at No Sheeples Here for the artwork, which is merely hypothetical. Thanks to Jimmie Bise for paying close attention, and to Pundette for her praise of the old-fashioned shoe-leather method.

UPDATE: Jehuda the Rhetorican sees the plot thickening and, as predicted, Michelle Malkin likes the Ellie Acheson question.

The point is, it’s the right question. After I posted about Acheson, I made a phone call: “Am I right?”

“Even more right than you were a couple of hours ago.”

We’ll call that source Deep Cleavage. Throw ’em so far off the scent, they’ll need a map . . .

UPDATE II: More linky-love for the Amtrak IG story from Frugal Cafe and Fire Andrea Mitchell.

UPDATE III: Acheson was brought in as general counsel after Amtrak fired five top officials in December 2006. Thanks to Moe Lane for the tip.

June 23, 2009

OBAMAPHILIA: LIVE!

President Jonas Brothers meets the editors of his fan-club newsletter, and we’re liveblogging the screaming orgasmic thrill of the White House press conference . . .

12: 31 p.m. ET: He wants to address three issues . . .

12:32 p.m.: “Threats and beatings” — he’s talking about the Teamsters?

12:33 p.m.: “This is about the people of Iran . . .” Oh.

12:34 p.m.: Wow. No Teleprompter today.

12:35 p.m.: Iran must govern through “respect, not coercion.” But just wait until they pass Card Check.

12:36 p.m.: “Clean energy,” the kind that lobbyists and campaign contributors endorse!

12:37 p.m.: Health care — “We will not add to our deficits,” as opposed to everything else Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke have been doing for the past five months.

12:38 p.m.: “Reform is not an option, it’s a necessity” — hmmm. What happened to “respect, not coercion”?

12:39 p.m.: Iranian nukes. Softball.

12:40 p.m.: “An extraordinary debate now taking place in Iran . . . ” Yeah, blood in the streets is “extraordinary debate.” Except maybe in Chicago and Tehran.

12:41 p.m.: He calls on HuffPo!

12:42 p.m.: “We can’t say definitively what happened” when Ahmadinejad stole the election.

12:44 p.m.: “What we can do is to say unequivocally” that we’re not going to lift a finger to stop the brutal undemocratic crackdown in Tehran.

12:45 p.m.: “I’m not going to make news about Ben Bernanke . . .” because I understand that all these anonymous “administration officials” badmouthing Bernanke in the media are actually Tim Geithner trying to cover his skinny ass.

12:46 p.m.: “There’s got to be somebody who’s responsible . . . monitoring the systemic risks,” unlike Neil Barofsky, who’s getting stonewalled by Geithner.

12:47 p.m.: “Systemic risk. Yeah. Systemic risk. Rain man.”

12:48 p.m.: He’s talking AIG now.

12:49 p.m.: Major Garrett throws a 90 mph fastball at Obama’s left ear: “What took you so long?” Obama name-checks “Major,” just to signal to the MSNBC viewers that this is an evil necon question.

12:51 p.m.: More health care questions. Yawn. It’s DOA, because Geithner tanked the economy, and now we can no more afford it than Suderman can afford to marry McArdle.

12:53 p.m.: “Tinkering around the edges . . .” No, by God, we’re going to eviscerate the free-market!

12:54 p.m.: Notice that there’s no concern about “systemic risk” in nationalizing 1/7th of the American economy. . . .

12:55 p.m.: “I get two, three letters a day.” Right. You want to see my e-mail inbox, O?

12:56 p.m.: “Discipline health insurance companies” — with a ball gag and nipple clips.

12:57 p.m.: “Quality care for a reasonable price” — This is where Obama’s resemblance to the Allstate ad guy comes in so handy.

12:58 p.m.: “Legitimate debates” about health care. Let’s just hope it’s not an “extraordinary debate.”

12:59 p.m.: Another Iran question. Everybody laughs at Obama’s joke.

1:00 p.m.: Smitty’s on the phone! “Hey, I’m liveblogging . . .” Smitty says “Dude ain’t packin’ the gear.”

1:04 p.m.: Obama makes an ear joke.

1:05 p.m.: More health care. The Allstate guy sees a “legitimate concern,” but one he plans to ignore.

1:06 p.m.: “You can’t preclude people from getting health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.” Right. Like voting in Chicago, where death is not a “pre-existing condition” that disqualifies Democrats from casting a ballot.

1:07 p.m.: “Guarantee you . . . what’s going to happen is . . .” The Prophet has spoken!

1:08 p.m.: Asked about his smoking habit! Cool. Or, uh, Kool.

1:10 p.m.: This is the one thing I like best about Obama. He’s a nicotine fiend. Maybe after Geithner goes to prison, Obama can send him a carton of Newports every month . . .

1:12 p.m.: “The relationship that we have with Chile . . .” I did not have relations with that Latin American nation!

1:14 p.m.: I’m waiting for him to encourage “extraordinary debate” in Chile.

1:15 p.m.: A gay reporter asks about unemployment and the need for a second stimulus. . . . Obama talks about his inability to predict the future. As opposed to his ability to predict health care, “systemic risks,” etc. Nothing worse than watching an Ivy League law-school graduate talking economics.

1:16 p.m.: “We know for a fact . . .” Whenever a Democrat starts a sentence that way, look for a lie.

1:18 p.m.: “The American people have the right to feel this is a tough time.” Feelings, woh woh woh feelings . . .

1:19 p.m.: “I get letters every day . . .” And I’m in e-mail correspondence with the former oil minister of Nigeria.

1:21 p.m.: African-American unemployment question. Nothing worse than watching an Ivy League law-school graduate talking statistics.

1:22 p.m.: “We want to find tools . . .” Hey, the WH press corps is full of tools!

1:24 p.m.: Somebody tries to interrupt El Presidente!

1:25 p.m.: “We have to believe that ultimately justice will prevail.” This is actually a coded message: Hey, Geithner, get ready for the orange jumpsuit!

June 23, 2009

Megan McArdle ends the recession

Well, not exactly. That credit goes to the Koch Foundation, which just awarded a fellowship to Peter Suderman, paramour of the World’s Tallest Lady Blogger. Thus ends Suderman’s lame excuse for avoiding matrimony with the lanky libertarian lass.

Some bloggers may express concern about the so-called “ethics” of Suderman working for Koch cash. Ethics be damned — what about the sin?

“Oh, we can’t afford to get married — I’m unemployed,” the shamelessly cohabiting Suderman said the last time I cornered him at a Reason Happy Hour and warned him of the fiery eternal tortures that await fornicators.

How convenient that the Hindenburg-at-Lakehurst implosion of Culture 11 gave Suderman an opportunity to test an old adage of market economics, enjoying the milk without the responsibility of purchasing the cow, pleading poverty as an excuse for failing to make her an honest cow.

Well, no more excuses now, eh, buddy? June is a traditional month for weddings, so Suderman’s now got a full week to take his acromegalic inamorata to the courthouse and close the deal on this particular livestock transaction.

She took him under her roof when the alternative was for him to live under a freeway overpass and stand beside the on-ramp with a tin cup and a hand-lettered cardboard sign: “Unemployed Cultural Critic, Will Snark For Food.”

Koch is a 501(c) non-profit“The mission of the Foundation is to advance social progress and well-being . . .” — so Suderman’s gone from being McArdle’s rent boy to being Koch’s charity case.

Koch is all about capitalism (“social progress,” my butt) which means that this is an extremely lucrative fellowship for Suderman, even more lucrative than being McArdle’s gigolo. So if Megan is abandoned at the altar, while Fishbowl DC is gossiping about reports that Suderman has been seen wheeling around Dupont Circle in a sporty new convertible full of scantily clad 22-year-old Cato Institute interns . . .

Well, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Libertarians in the hands of an angry God!

P.S.: If you want to congratulate the soon-to-be Mrs. Suderman on the good fortune of her fiance’s Koch bailout, the wicked fornicators are expected to be in attendance at Wednesday’s Reason Happy Hour.

P.P.S.: Megan McArdle has never once linked me. I get more linky-love from Sully. NTTAWWT.

June 23, 2009

Dude ain’t packin’ the gear

by Smitty

If you give a game-changing speech in Cairo that, well, doesn’t change the game, you ain’t packin’ the gear.
If you’re suddenly calling a press conference after a week of vicious bloodshed, concerning which you’ve been aloof, you ain’t packin’ the gear.
If you’re even slightly worried about your name coming up in the same sentence as “Jimmy Carter”, you ain’t packin’ the gear.
If it looks like your policy has any remote resemblance to that of Hugo Chavez, you ain’t packin’ the gear.
If your old cronies have to change their name because their suspect activities resemble those of Iran’s regime, you ain’t packin’ the gear.
If you’ve blocked out major network coverage in a Cal Worthington-esque manner to sell your lousy medical coverage policy, you ain’t packin’ the gear.

June 23, 2009

More questions for Secretary Geithner

As predicted, some of the best reporting on the Barofsky/Geithner feud is coming from financial reporters:

The watchdog charged with investigating fraud in the government bailout programs is feuding with the Treasury Department about who he answers to.
The question revolves around whether Treasury should play any role supervising Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general overseeing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Since Barofsky took the job in December, he has launched at least 20 criminal investigations and six audits looking for wasted dollars. . . .
Barofsky said the question came up in early April when he sought to interview a Treasury attorney about the department’s role in controversial bonus payments made to the unit of American International Group . . . responsible for that company’s downfall. . . .

There’s much more, so read the whole thing. The criminal investigations are important, because any interference in such investigations could be considered obstruction of justice. And the Treasury angle to the IG probe bears close watching, because Geithner’s starting to look like an excellent candidate to become the next guy under Obama’s bus.

June 23, 2009

Once upon a time…

by Smitty (h/t GatewayPundit)

…we had a POTUS who was packin’ the gear…

Update: (h/t Dr. Sanity)

I think this is incomplete. My office mate was talking about this, and he mentioned that Senator McCain had said something akin to “Mr. President, it is no mistake that their protest signs are printed in English, not Farsi.”

June 23, 2009

Your Man In Washington

“Oh, I remember you,” said the receptionist. “You were here last week.”

Indeed, I replied, adding that I’m likely to become a familiar face. When she asked my name, I handed her a business card, and she bid me to have a seat while the person whom I’d come to see was summoned.

Monday afternoon found me on Capitol Hill, once more asking questions about the Obama administration’s campaign against inspectors general. As Smitty says, volume of fire has an accuracy all its own, and so I’ll be making more trips like this in the near future.

Sitting in the lobby of this office, I inquired about directions to another office. The receptionist gestured this way and that — “go down by the elevators and out that way . . . go left . . . past the Capitol and across . . .” — in such a manner that even an old Boy Scout like me might never get there in time for his appointment 45 minutes later.
“Hmmm, sounds complicated . . . do you have some kind of map?” I asked. She walked over to hand me a tourist-type 7″x14″ map bearing the motto “Getting Around Washington.”

This map was of such a scale as to have the intersection of Florida and New York avenues in the northeast corner and Arlington Cemetery in the southwest corner. The type was in a nearly microscopic font — 4-point Helvetica, I’d say, although I didn’t have a pica gauge handy.

With its itty-bitty buildings, teeny-tiny streets and miniature lettering, this map was unlikely to be much assistance to a guy from out of town trying to make his way hurriedly from one office to another. Yet the map could still be useful to an experienced Washington journalist.

“Now, which building are we in?” I asked, holding the map in front of me. The receptionist leaned over and pointed as she explained the directions again.
“Yes, I see,” I said with sincere appreciation.

Just then a door opened and the person I’d come to see entered the lobby, interrupting my cartographic inquiry. He and I spoke in a small conference room for about 15 minutes. There was someone else he wanted me to meet but, checking his Blackberry, he reported that this person did not seem to be returning his calls and text messages.

What is it with these young people in Washington nowadays? Must all communication be conducted by Blackberry and iPhone? Does it never occur to them that in certain circumstances the best method might be to do a little walking and knock on somebody’s door?

“Listen, if you know where this guy’s at, I say we go get him,” I suggested, but he balked.

We talked some more — I’ll tell you about it in an upcoming story — and then I mentioned my appointment in another building.

“What time do you get off work here? Maybe we could meet for beers and burgers later.” Alas, no — his girlfriend was returning from New York and they needed to catch up.

Drat. Well, another appointment awaited on the other side of the Capitol and who knew how long it would take to get there? The fellow walked me back into the lobby, and was prepared to take his leave, but I suggested he step out into the hallway with me.

“This Iran thing is sucking up all the media oxygen right now, but that won’t last forever,” I said, and explained what I intended to do. He agreed that more people ought to be doing it my way.

Was he just trying to humor me? Does he think I’m . . . OK, eccentric would be the polite way to say it, but “eccentric” is for rich folks. I’m just plain crazy.

No one could argue with that, but crazy works, if it’s the right kind of crazy. Walking up First Street toward Constitution Avenue, then cutting across the Capitol grounds toward Independence Avenue as if I knew exactly where I was going, I called my next appointment to inform her of my ETA. Then I immediately called another source, who also knows Capitol Hill like the back of his hand, arranging to have coffee Wednesday morning before Grover’s meeting.

The high temperature was 85 in D.C. Monday, and I was wearing a blue blazer, striped silk tie, button-down blue shirt, olive slacks and black leather shows. Crazy, but sharply dressed.

Considerations of honor require that a Georgian never complain about summer heat within earshot of a Yankee, and my next appointment was one such. So while going through the magnetometers — damn those terrorists, for imposing all these bothersome security hassles on a patriotic American journalist — I soaked up the air-conditioning and concentrated on becoming mentally cool. On the elevator up, I buttoned the blazer and wiped the sweat off my face.

Down the corridor, around the corner, into the office, poke my head in and ask to see the person with whom I had the appointment. She emerges wearing a T-shirt and shorts, since her next appointment is at the gym for an African dance class, to be followed by a jog around the Mall.

What is it with these young people in Washington nowadays? Exercise! I’d walked about seven blocks already since parking my car at Union Station, but that was mere transportation — utilitarian pedestrianism — whereas one can’t exercise without donning shorts and paying a gym fee.

Exercise is a form of conspicuous consumption, an ostentation of leisure: Look, I’m exercising! To qualify as exercise, the activity must never take the form of anything useful, remunerative or commonplace — pushing a lawnmower or moving furniture may have cardiovascular benefits, but are too plebian to be considered exercise. The roofer who totes shingles and swings a hammer for eight hours a day is not exercising, nor can the adult entertainer who does table dances between her stage routines on the stripper pole be said to exercise.

Well, never mind the sociological observations. I’m shown around the office and introduced. There’s a water cooler, so I get a cup of that. Then I offer to walk the health-conscious staffer to her gym appointment — another four blocks for me, but I’m not exercising, because it’s about finding out how the staffer can help me get the story. (Useful and perhaps remunerative, if less commonplace than it once was.)

The staffer gets to her gym, and I non-exercise three blocks up to the Tune Inn on Pennsylvania for a burger, fries and beverage. CNN is reporting the Metro crash, but my eyes are on the stock market news — the Dow’s off 200 points. Call Jimmie and ask him to post the “Wall Street P.M.” report at NTCNews.com. And, oh, yeah — the Metro crash, too.

Am I indifferent to death and grievous injury in a train wreck? No. But the slumping market is relevant to my business on Capitol Hill, you see. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is the genius who’s on the hook for the neo-Keynesian “bailout” that is manifestly failing to achieve its objectives as economic policy. (It Won’t Work.)

Geithner also appears to be on the hook for the suspicious shenanigans with TARP Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky. Heh heh heh. How would you like the be a Treasury secretary presiding over a stock market sell-off while, at the same time, you’ve got people on Capitol Hill poking around a potential scandal with your fingerprints all over it?

There’s plenty enough room under the Obama bus for Geithner, you see, and he’s starting to look like an increasingly convenient fall guy. So even if my Capitol Hill trip Monday wasn’t as fruitful as I’d hoped, the story continues developing, and I’m steadily accumulating more face-time with possible sources.

Maybe I wasn’t exercising as I walked back to Union Station, but I was certainly smiling. Ain’t no school like the Old School. And you’d be surprised what scandalous facts an experienced journalist can uncover.

All I need is a map.
June 23, 2009

Cynthia Yockey: Bravo!

by Smitty

It’s time for a Cynthia Yockey roundup. Here efforts have vast tactical and strategic importance.
Tactically, there is the obvious matter of the tasteless jokes. That horse has been thoroughly beaten. However, do not underestimate the value to women in general, and Governor Palin in particular, of Cynthia’s efforts. The Governor was flogged remorselessly in the press during the ’08 campaign. Letterman’s remarks are evidence that any previous defensive efforts were moot. This is not to sell any other efforts short, but there you have it.
Strategically, irrespective of Governor Palin and her family, Cynthia Yockey is holding a seminar in How Stuff Gets Done. Conservatives: in other than a handful of very narrow religious cases, I can recall scant evidence of “us” ever doing much to influence the culture. Lousier and lousier movies and shows come out, and there is some muttering, but little in the way of tangible feedback. Certainly, the world needs no more Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson “action figures” running around like solutions in search of problems. However, there is plenty of need for sincere, honest, positive leadership to alter the course of society back in the direction of simple courtesy.
In reverse chronological order, Cynthia has given us the following:

Support this effort, and salt away skills that will be crucial for everyone’s long term good.