Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

By any measure Michelle Obama is a remarkable first lady. She is highly educated, with degrees from Princeton and Harvard, and professionally accomplished, having worked for a top law firm, a big-city government and a big hospital. And she is the first first lady who is the direct descendant of slaves.

Yet what have we heard about this paragon since her husband won the election? That she likes to display her "perfectly toned" arms in public. That she has a penchant for mixing designer clothes with J. Crew. That she and her husband had a romantic dinner together in a four-star Italian restaurant.


Has team Obama lost the communications magic that propelled it to the White House?

There are times when it's hard to believe that this is how my country acts now. That somewhere in government, some young bureaucrat had the idea that the President should publicly honor the Iranian New Year, and that bureaucrat felt that her superiors would also think this a good idea, and, indeed, the thought went all the way to the President, who agreed that a display of engagement and goodwill was consonant with our national values and foreign policy goals. It is hard to believe that five years after we were ordering "freedom fries" in the congressional cafeteria, we're posting Persian translations at

It's a fair bet that Jay Leno has not seen the last of Barack Obama. The TV couch is the perfect perch for a skilled presidential communicator who instinctively understands how to make the medium work to his advantage.
What's remarkable is that a mere two months into Obama's presidency we have reached a point where conservatives are well-advised to find their anti-Obama talking points by reading liberal blogs. We used to cringe whenever Democrat Joe Lieberman provided this same service to the Republicans. In fact, many of the people currently engaging in the harshest and least generous criticisms of Obama (thereby creating precisely the same kind of bipartisan cover Lieberman is famous for providing) were the most ardent supporters of Ned Lamont.
There's tone-deaf and there's just plain stupid. J.P. Morgan apparently is both.
One of the things I have never understood is the seeming breakdown on opposition to and support for the death penalty. I have never figured out why conservatives, the people who flip out about zoning boards and if their taxes are raised 3% and who shout limited government until they are blue in the face have absolutely zero problem with the government taking that which is most precious -- someone's life. All this posturing about the "ability to tax is the ability to destroy" just seems silly when you turn a blind eye to the government executing people.

Do you ever wonder how we can conquer the Middle East when we can't close our own borders?

State by state, the Recovery Scoreboard is lighting up with projects to be funded by some of the $787 billion Congress passed last month to get the economy moving again.

Just keeping track of the money, let alone spending it wisely, is going to be a monumental job as governors appoint overseeing groups and, in some cases, "czars" to make sure the money is not fraudulently or stupidly spent.

The web site is getting almost 4,000 hits a second, according to the chairman of the federal Transparency and Accountability Board, but it's not clear how many of the viewers are concerned citizens or job seekers looking to get to the money tap.

Congressional Republicans are telling Dick Cheney to go back to his undisclosed location and leave them alone to rebuild the Republican Party without his input.

Think of someone like Glenn Beck.

He sat back and watched Bush preside over the worst domestic attack in US history, explode the entitlement state, engage in unending projects of nation-building in two of the most dysfunctional countries on earth, rip up the Constitution, and bequeath as his legacy a trillion dollar deficit, unprecedented domestic discretionary spending, a banking collapse and the worst recession in many many years. The right will take some time to absorb this but Bush was Carter II -- with two full terms. All that rage at what has actually happened -- bottled up by rank partisanship for years -- has come bounding out. Hence the bizarre spectacle of a president just two months on the job being treated on the right as if he's already Robert Mugabe. Throw in a little racial and cultural panic, add a world of genuine economic pain . . . and you have the Malkin surge.

A Zogby poll is like Jim Cramer telling you to buy Bear Stearns but even less accurate.
It's over -- we're officially, royally fucked. No empire can survive being rendered a permanent laughingstock, which is what happened as of a few weeks ago, when the buffoons who have been running things in this country finally went one step too far. It happened when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was forced to admit that he was once again going to have to stuff billions of taxpayer dollars into a dying insurance giant called AIG, itself a profound symbol of our national decline -- a corporation that got rich insuring the concrete and steel of American industry in the country's heyday, only to destroy itself chasing phantom fortunes at the Wall Street card tables, like a dissolute nobleman gambling away the family estate in the waning days of the British Empire.
Top illustration by KAL/The Economist

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