Blogito, Ergo Sum

by Gregg Calkins


24 March 2009, a Tuesday

The Washington Post reports:

Reaction to Rescue Plan Mixed

Markets exult over plan to buy up toxic assets, but some investors, banks and taxpayers are wary.

Could you ever have a plan about anything in which that would not be the case?  Well, how about this headline item:

Academics, Financial Experts Express Skepticism

And we all know how safely we can rely on all of their evaluations, right?

Here in Costa Rica we don’t eat that much red meat on a regular basis:

Eating red meat increases the chances of dying prematurely, according to the first large study to examine whether regularly eating beef or pork increases mortality.

The study of more than 500,000 middle-aged and elderly Americans found that those who consumed about four ounces of red meat a day (the equivalent of about a small hamburger) were more than 30 percent more likely to die during the 10 years they were followed, mostly from heart disease and cancer. Sausage, cold cuts and other processed meats also increased the risk.

Previous research had found a link between red meat and an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, but the new study is the first large examination of the relationship between eating meat and overall risk of death, and is by far the most detailed.

"The bottom line is we found an association between red meat and processed meat and an increased risk of mortality," said Rashmi Sinha of the National Cancer Institute, who led the study published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In contrast, routine consumption of fish, chicken, turkey and other poultry decreased the risk of death by a small amount.

But pork is more common, I have to admit. 

There are many explanations for how red meat might be unhealthy: Cooking red meat generates cancer-causing compounds; red meat is also high in saturated fat, which has been associated with breast and colorectal cancer; and meat is high in iron, also believed to promote cancer. People who eat red meat are more likely to have high blood pressure and cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. Processed meats contain substances known as nitrosamines, which have been linked to cancer.

Although pork is often promoted as "white meat," it is believed to increase the risk of cancer because of its iron content, Sinha said.

I don’t think I remember reading about that part before.  Well, I like fish and chicken well enough.

Howard Kurtz is so caught up in himself that he doesn’t get it:

Obama's coolness in front of the cameras--he's done everything but show up in a leather jacket and shades--is helping him stay connected to the public (although at this pace he runs the risk of overexposure). And yet there's a growing sense that his young administration is in trouble. Why is that?

One reason, naturally, is that the economy remains in tatters. Another is the sense that Obama hasn't quite gotten hold of the job. And then there's the fast-forward news culture that started giving him poor-to-failing grades on Day 50. So the narrative has moved from "wow, an African-American president!" to "does this guy know what he's doing?"

For many of us, that was the question from the beginning, but the watch-dog press preferred the “wow, an African-American president!” and failed their responsibility.

The question is not why is the shift to that question so early, on Day 50, but why was it ignored so long? 

Howard continues with this report:

Politico declares that Obama has turned out to be a flawed messenger:

"Of all the pitfalls Barack Obama might face in the presidency, here is one not many people predicted: He is struggling as a public communicator. The sluggish and unsteady response to the uproar over AIG bonuses highlights a larger problem of his White House: Obama's surprisingly uneven campaign to educate people about the economic crisis and convince Washington and the broader public that he is in command of circumstances. It was brilliant communications skills that carried Obama to the presidency, with a national campaign built on the strength of his personal story and the clarity of his promise to transform politics. On the rare occasions when he was thrown on the defensive, he quickly turned problems into opportunities and regained control of his public image.

"What's different now? The polished phrases and unflappable delivery haven't gone away. His prime-time news conference and speech to Congress drew the usual praise. But the discipline and strategic focus of the campaign have yet to move into the White House. The story of the day often catches the president flat-footed or on the defensive -- and regularly undercut by fellow Democrats."  

Isn’t the image remarkably similar to that of a man in over his head?  Or a snake-oil salesman or a charismatic revivalist preacher who sway their audiences simply by the persuasiveness of their patter and the promise of change for the better if only you will buy and believe?

Andrew Sullivan, who emerged as a major O booster during the campaign, is a bit less enthusiastic:

"There's a case for feeling that Obama is floundering. He has yet to solve the banking crisis, his Treasury is horrifyingly understaffed and he somehow allowed a bunch of incompetents and thieves at AIG to walk off with massive bonuses under his nose. His stimulus package was too controlled by the Democrats in Congress and is too spread out into 2010 to have a big impact now, when it's most needed. He is trying to take on too many things at once -- from climate change and healthcare reform to engaging Iran and reforming Pakistan. The aura of his campaign has waned as the poetry of insurgency has segued into the deadly and often ungrammatical prose of government. He seemingly still can't speak without a teleprompter . . .

"He inherited the worst downturn in decades -- and timing matters. If he fails to relieve the decline, he will be thrown out and will probably deserve it. Only the gloomiest economic depressives, though, believe things won't be recovering by 2011."

Who remembers how Bush used to be trashed for the way he talked...and even the way that he walked?  Who remembers that Bush inherited a falling economy?  Who remembers that the worst of this downturn began the moment the Democrats gained control of both houses of Congress?

To be sure, Obama wasn’t responsible for any of those things, but he managed to get elected on a track record that was...on a track record...that...was...  Invisible?

The major, major problem that the media and the Democrats face today is that this was essentially the Republican warning about Obama, and they are still far too deeply invested in defending their own positions to ever to be able to afford admitting the Republicans may have been correct.

Typically we see gains in the ranks of the party out of control of the presidency in non-presidential elections, and we might see a very large swing in 2012.

The media love affair is over, says Jennifer Rubin:

"...the Obama press operation rivals the worst days of Scott McClellan. Every day brings a new cringe-inducing encounter with Gibbs who dodges and stalls, evades and robotically repeats the White House talking points. His tactic of villifying specific media figures -- from Rush Limbaugh to Jim Cramer -- is wearing thin."

Odd how Obama, who built his persona based upon his “communication skills” should stay so long with such a poor communicator as his public face.

And Howard Kurtz definitely gets defensive about this point:

Pajamas Media chief Roger L. Simon says it's ALL THE MEDIA'S FAULT

"Hello, children, you elected this guy. Take some responsibility!

"No, don't go complaining the people did that. You did it. Obama is your man, your hero. You never vetted, never examined him in any depth at all, even though the candidate had hardly any experience other than running for office. (Oh, yes, he was a "community organizer." So was I, in a sense. You want to elect me?)"

You may think I’m beating a dead horse, but he lost me the way he handled the ‘birth certificate’ issue and the way that the media has treated it as if it were all the stuff of nonsense simply because they found some fools they could concentrate upon.

Some of those fools played right into their hands by arguing that the ‘birth certificate’ was forged or altered or somehow wrong.  It was not, of course, but that allowed the media to overlook the valid basic question:

Why won’t Obama revel his original birth certificate?

Officials for the State of Hawaii acknowledge that THEY have seen the original, and the certified transcript Obama produced was accurate in the details it contained, but in doing so they revealed what the media should have pounced upon as a false flag, but did not.

Namely: there really was, in fact, an original birth certificate somewhere which was being kept out of public view.

This is quite obvious, but obscured by the people who made wild claims about Obama being a secret Muslim and all the rest of the things they could come up with, and the media gladly tarred all of the questioners with the same brush...all of you are nuts, they said, so the issue is dead and behind us.

For me, the cover-up was revealing, because it showed early how Obama thinks and what he discovered: he didn’t have to show anyone anything and the media would not only let him get away with it but also trivialize all of the honest questioners.

The original birth certificate exists, the State of Hawaii has declared that to be so, but the American people have seen only a certified transcript.  So why can’t we see the original?  How trivial a question is that to resolve, anyhow, and how easily could it be done?

I don’t really expect it will contain anything new or unusual, but the resistance raises a caution flag, especially in the case of a man who promises such exceptional transparency.  Shouldn’t that have tipped the media off to his view of what the meaning of “is” is?

And what’s all this about a lack of regulation, as a former SEC chairman points fingers?

On several issues, from the $64 billion Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Bernard Madoff to the failure to regulate financial derivatives, Mr. Levitt admitted his own culpability during his tenure as SEC chairman from 1993 to 2001.

“The Madoff problems” go back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. At least five SEC chairman, including himself, were at the helm when Madoff-related flags were flying. “There clearly was wrongdoing,” he said. “To some extent, everyone of those chairs bears responsibility,” he said.

Mr. Levitt lauded investment manager Harry Markopolis, who tried to alert the SEC as early as 1999 to the Madoff financial shenanigans.

Too bad W wasn’t president then so we could blame him.

Geithner: 'We are not Sweden'

Good to know.  Biden was confused...but neither is anyone else, he said, that’s why they all have different names...isn’t it?...


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