Thursday, February 11, 2010

Last Call

Screw you Russia, this is how SKYNET got started.
An upstart Trojan horse program has decided to take on its much-larger rival by stealing data and then removing the malicious program from infected computers.

Security researchers say that the relatively unknown [Spy Eye toolkit] added this functionality just a few days ago in a bid to displace its larger rival, known as Zeus.

The feature, called "Kill Zeus," apparently removes the Zeus software from the victim's PC, giving Spy Eye exclusive access to usernames and passwords.

Zeus and Spy Eye are both Trojan-making toolkits, designed to give criminals an easy way to set up their own "botnet" networks of password-stealing programs. These programs emerged as a major problem in 2009, with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation estimating last October that they have caused $100 million in losses.

Trojans such as Zeus and Spy Eye steal online banking credentials. This information is then used to empty bank accounts by transferring funds to so-called money mules -- U.S. residents with bank accounts -- who then move the cash out of the country.

Sensing an opportunity, a number of similar Trojans have emerged recently, including Filon, Clod and [Bugat], which was discovered just last month.
Great.  Now the Russian botnets are fighting each other to become the ultimate data swiper, and the results will be Terminators.

If I get nuked by a Russian botnet that has achieved AI sentience, I'm going to be goddamn cross.

Political Cartoon Of The Moment

Joe Heller. More, as always, at Cagle Cartoons.

And The Winger Boycott Of The NFL Begins In 5..4..3..

Several months after the NFL kindly told Rush Limbaugh to go to hell over his failed bid to own the St. Louis Rams, the Rams have approved another deal...this time to a Pakistani-American auto parts magnate, Shahid Khan.
The sale of the Rams has been expected since Frontiere's death in January 2008. Her children are both involved in other interests and neither has ties to St. Louis.

A group headed by St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts was also interested in buying the Rams. Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was initially part of the Checketts group but was dropped in October after adverse publicity about his involvement.

The sale has raised concerns in St. Louis, which lost the Cardinals franchise after the 1987 season when Bill Bidwill moved the franchise to Arizona. Several games last season were not sold out, though that was partly due to the on-field performance -- at 1-15, the Rams had the worst record in the league.
Khan did not return calls to his home or company by The Associated Press.

According to federal court records in Illinois, the Internal Revenue Service has accused Khan and his wife, Ann, of improperly sheltering $250 million in income between 1999 and 2003, reducing their taxes by $85 million. In an interview with The (Champaign) News-Gazette in early 2009, Shahid Khan said the couple paid the IRS $68 million to settle the dispute, but insisted he'd done nothing wrong.

"There isn't a hint of a criminal issue here," Khan told the newspaper, saying he planned to try to get the money back through litigation. It wasn't clear whether he's taken legal steps since then to recover the money and an IRS spokesman declined comment Thursday.

Forbes last year ranked Flex-N-Gate as the 229th largest private company in the U.S., with an estimated $2.14 billion in annual revenue. The company says on its Web site that it has more than 9,500 employees at plants and other facilities in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Spain.
Huh.  With that IRS record being attacked by the mean old gubmint, you'd think he'd be right at home in the NFL owner's club and cool with the Wingers.

You know, except for the fact he's a Muslim.  Debbie Schlussel leads the blitz:
Normally those would be a problem with the NFL ownership committee.  But maybe the NFL makes exceptions in the interest of Muslim affirmative action.  Hey, it’s a good thing the football is no longer made of real pigskin, right?  And in case you were wondering, his first name means “martyr,” as in martyr for Islam.  Islamic terrorists call themselves shahids.
And nasty racist Wingers call themselves "Debbie Schlussel."  Your point?
Like I said, conservative minority owners in the NFL–verboten; but Muslim tax cheats named for Islamic martyrdom–YAY! Gee, I wonder if Mr. Khan will denounce HAMAS and Hezbollah. Actually, I don’t wonder because I know the answer: don’t bet on it.  And the spineless NFL and its owners won’t have the guts to ask him, either.
Well,  why does he have to denounce HAMAS just because he's a Muslim?  That would be like asking you to denounce the Klan because you're a white Christian.

I wonder if the Wingers really are this stupid to piss off the National Football League and its tens of millions of US fans.

The Big Dog Gets A Checkup

Bill Clinton checked into a hospital for chest pains and received two stents for his heart.
Clinton, 63, "was admitted to the Columbia Campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital after feeling discomfort in his chest," said Douglas Band, counselor to the former president, in a written statement.

The hospital confirmed that Clinton was admitted Thursday.

"President Clinton is in good spirits, and will continue to focus on the work of his Foundation and Haiti's relief and long-term recovery efforts," Band's statement said.

The White House was told of the situation, a source close to the former president told CNN.

A stent is a tiny tube that is inserted into a narrowed or blocked vessel to open it up and allow blood to travel through, according to CNN's chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta.
That was damn fast, even for a President.  Clinton clearly had some medical issues there for the speed of that procedure. Hope he recovers fast.

[UPDATE 6:42 PM] And the Wingers use this as an excuse to attack HCR.  Guess who?  Malkinvania, ghoulish as usual.
Now, a timely reminder: Stents don’t grow on trees. They were not created, developed, marketed, or sold by government bureaucrats and lawmakers.
Yes, because medical companies were never taxed one penny until the Democrats thought up health care reform.  It was a perfect free market utopia until, what, March?
A teachable moment: Taxing innovation in the name of “health care reform” has consequences.
Another teachable moment:  Correlation does not equal causation.

The Warren Report

And now, I sum up the 190 page PDF of the Presidential Oversight Report on the economy as presented by Obama adviser and TARP oversight head Elizabeth Warren:

Seriously.  Steven D takes a look:
The Congressional Oversight Panel's February oversight report, "Commercial Real Estate Losses and the Risk to Financial Stability," expresses concern that a wave of commercial real estate loan losses over the next four years could jeopardize the stability of many banks, particularly community banks. Commercial real estate loans made over the last decade - including retail properties, office space, industrial facilities, hotels and apartments - totaling $1.4 trillion will require refinancing in 2011 through 2014. Nearly half are at present "underwater," meaning the borrower owes more on the loan than the underlying property is worth. While these problems have no single cause, the loans most likely to fail are those made at the height of the real estate bubble.
I've been talking about the looming commercial real estate meltdown for over a year now.  It's depressing to see that my take on it was tame by comparison:
This report has outlined the risks posed by the current and projected condition of commercial real estate. A second wave of real-estate driven bank difficulties, even if not as large as the first, can have an outsize effect on a banking sector weakened by both the current crisis and by the economy remaining in a severe recession. In the same way, even if smaller absolute numbers are involved, a second wave of bank losses and defaults can have a serious effect on public access to banking facilities in smaller communities, lending to small business, and more importantly, on confidence in the financial system. The system, as noted above, cannot, and should not, keep every bank afloat. But neither should it turn a blind eye to the impact of unnecessary bank consolidation. And the failure of mid-size and small banks because of commercial real estate might even require a significant recapitalization of the FDIC with taxpayer funds.
Hooray!  Even more bailouts!  Even more consolidation!  Even more empty storefronts, mall slots, office buildings, executive parks and strip malls!

Folks, eventually we get to the point where enough individual systems fail that the existing system cannot reboot itself.  We're getting closer to that point daily.

Filibuster Futility

Democrats in the Senate are finally trying to tackle filibuster reform with a new measure from Sens. Tom Harkin and Jeanne Shaheen.  Steve Benen:
If approved, the measure would not do away with extended debate altogether. Harkin proposes a new procedural model: the first go-around, the minority could demand a 60-vote majority, as is the case now. But if 60 votes aren't there to end debate, a week or so later, 57 votes could bring the bill to the floor for a vote. If 57 votes aren't there, it drops again and again, and after a month or so, a bare majority could approve cloture.

Does Harkin/Shaheen stand much of a chance? It's best to keep expectations low -- it would take 67 votes to approve Harkin's measure, which makes it extremely unlikely that this will succeed. But I can't wait to see what kind of support this generates, and exactly who does (and does not) sign on as co-sponsors.

Also note, the existence of the legislation creates an opportunity for a larger public debate. Most of the public assumes that if a majority of the House, a majority of the Senate, and the White House all support a piece of legislation, the bill becomes law -- unaware of the fact that this is no longer the case. The more attention Harkin/Shaheen gets, the better the chance of informing the public.

Likewise, the public also doesn't realize that abuse has gotten completely out of control -- from 1949 to 1970, there were 30 cloture votes. In just 2009, there were 39. That's insane.
What's insane is that the Dems are trying this when all 41 Republicans will say no and kill this measure  It's fultile. Steve thinks it will help to draw attention to the optics of the filibuster itself:
My suggestion to Harkin's office is to come up with a helpful frame for the debate. I recommend: "restoration of majority rule." When a bill reaches the Senate floor, they should count up the "yea" votes, count up the "nea" votes, and the bigger total wins. This is the way the Senate was designed to operate; this is the way the Senate used to operate.
Republicans will in turn play the fascism card.  It'll be held up as the only way America has in order to stop the tyranny of the Democrats and King Obama.

It's a nice plan.  It will fail.  The best part will be the Village idiots clucking and fainting that the Dems are not giving their GOP betters the means to block any and all legislation.  That will mean a backlash from Dems against this measure too.  It'll fail   Evan F'ckin Bayh, Joe F'ckin Lieberman, Ben Nelson, etc will all hate this.  It'll fail 80-20 easy.

In the end, this won't matter at all.  It's futile.

Greek Fire, Part 6

FT's Niall Ferguson reminds us that eventually the Greek Fire will spread to the US.
For the world’s biggest economy, the US, the day of reckoning still seems reassuringly remote. The worse things get in the eurozone, the more the US dollar rallies as nervous investors park their cash in the “safe haven” of American government debt. This effect may persist for some months, just as the dollar and Treasuries rallied in the depths of the banking panic in late 2008.

Yet even a casual look at the fiscal position of the federal government (not to mention the states) makes a nonsense of the phrase “safe haven”. US government debt is a safe haven the way Pearl Harbor was a safe haven in 1941.

Even according to the White House’s new budget projections, the gross federal debt in public hands will exceed 100 per cent of GDP in just two years’ time. This year, like last year, the federal deficit will be around 10 per cent of GDP. The long-run projections of the Congressional Budget Office suggest that the US will never again run a balanced budget. That’s right, never.

The International Monetary Fund recently published estimates of the fiscal adjustments developed economies would need to make to restore fiscal stability over the decade ahead. Worst were Japan and the UK (a fiscal tightening of 13 per cent of GDP). Then came Ireland, Spain and Greece (9 per cent). And in sixth place? Step forward America, which would need to tighten fiscal policy by 8.8 per cent of GDP to satisfy the IMF.

Explosions of public debt hurt economies in the following way, as numerous empirical studies have shown. By raising fears of default and/or currency depreciation ahead of actual inflation, they push up real interest rates. Higher real rates, in turn, act as drag on growth, especially when the private sector is also heavily indebted – as is the case in most western economies, not least the US.

Although the US household savings rate has risen since the Great Recession began, it has not risen enough to absorb a trillion dollars of net Treasury issuance a year. Only two things have thus far stood between the US and higher bond yields: purchases of Treasuries (and mortgage-backed securities, which many sellers essentially swapped for Treasuries) by the Federal Reserve and reserve accumulation by the Chinese monetary authorities.
And speaking of Treasuries, today's 30-year auction was a bust. Tyler Durden:
Today, we saw a record explosion in the Direct take down for the longest bond purchasable. Just who are the Direct bidders? Whose orders are they executing? Are these merely a proxy for China or the Fed? What happens when that "mysterious" demand disappears? Nobody knows. Which is why Rick Santelli called this a failed auction.

All this is accompanied by a collapse in the Indirect bid (think foreign buyers) to the lowest levels since November of 2008. China is finally coming through on its Bond boycott promises.
In other words, China's starting to cut back on U.S. Treasury purchases.  Big time.  Today was a terrible auction in that respect.  And those Chinese bond purchases are the only thing keeping us from not having Greece's problems.  The GOP wants to play EU here, forcing America into a much lower debt percentage like Greece is being forced to by EU rules.

Something's got to give, and soon.  As goes Greece, goes the US when this bubble bursts again.

Thanks, Oliver Willis

For this.

Now I have to go get my soul cleaned.

On the other hand, we have kids who can't drive a car giving Republicans advice to the point where the kid can sell a book. The lesson here is like Sarah Palin, selling advice to really stupid Republicans with too much money on their hands is profitable.

Like, Ferengi profitable.

Alan Grayson Rocks On

On the Ed Show.  Alan takes on Wall Street bonuses.  It's a winning move.  Too bad Wall Street owns the Dems as much as they own the GOP.

More of this guy, please.

Pass The Damn Bill, Part 3

Today's Pass The Damn Bill argument comes to us from Nate Silver:
The near-term political case for passing health care, again, is not that the bill is magically going to become popular over the next eight months. Rather, it's that the Democrats are already in such bad shape among independents -- partly, no doubt, because of their bungled handling of what has become an unpopular health care bill -- that they may as well go ahead and give their base something to get excited about. Seriously, the Democrats' approval rating among independents in 19 percent. What more do they have to lose? 
19 percent?!?!  Pass The Damn Bill, guys.  It's the only shot you have.  If you do not, you lose in 2010.  Period.

One In Eight Is Enough

One in eight Americans are on food stamps.
A decade ago, New York City officials were so reluctant to give out food stamps, they made people register one day and return the next just to get an application. The welfare commissioner said the program caused dependency and the poor were “better off” without it.

Now the city urges the needy to seek aid (in languages from Albanian to Yiddish). Neighborhood groups recruit clients at churches and grocery stores, with materials that all but proclaim a civic duty to apply — to “help New York farmers, grocers, and businesses.” There is even a program on Rikers Island to enroll inmates leaving the jail.

“Applying for food stamps is easier than ever,” city posters say.

The same is true nationwide. After a U-turn in the politics of poverty, food stamps, a program once scorned as “welfare,” enjoys broad new support. Following deep cuts in the 1990s, Congress reversed course to expand eligibility, cut red tape and burnish the program’s image, with a special effort to enroll the working poor. These changes, combined with soaring unemployment, have pushed enrollment to record highs, with one in eight Americans now getting aid.

“I’ve seen a remarkable shift,” said Senator Richard G. Lugar, an Indiana Republican and prominent food stamp supporter. “People now see that it’s necessary to have a strong food stamp program.”
Now when Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan say the most important thing to do is to cut the deficit and to do that we need to take an "adult look" at what needs to be cut, guess what kinds of spending cuts they are talking about?

The other problem this reveals is that Americans are in real trouble from a paycheck to paycheck life.  Most of us don't have savings or any backup in case things really go wrong.  The jobs that Americans do have don't pay for what they need.  Yet we're told it's the fault of workers in union and government jobs that are destroying the American labor market for the rest of us.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

It depresses me that the race for Governor of Texas looks like it may be coming down to a contest between the Secessionist Tenther and the woman who believes the Secessionist Tenther is not hard core crazy enough.

Judd Gregg Is The New Olympia Snowe

Politico (metric ton of salt included) is reporting that Sen. Judd "I've Got Your Commerce Secretary Right Here" Gregg is the new centrist linchpin to passing HCR.
In a letter to Obama released late Tuesday, Gregg welcomed the meeting as a chance for “constructive dialogue” and is promoting his own lower-cost approach focused on preventive care and guaranteed catastrophic coverage for all families.

His letter warns the president that the House- and Senate-passed health care bills can’t be the sole basis for the discussions. But in a series of interviews with POLITICO, Gregg has been open to specific deficit-reduction and cost-containment steps that could be taken to win Republicans’ support for health reform.

“I’m not on their reach-out list, so nothing may come of this,” Gregg said in an interview Wednesday. “But I’m ready to sit down and try to be helpful.” 
Oh sure, this'll work fine.  It's not like Judd Gregg's burned Obama before on bipartisan reach-out or anything.  He's totally trustworthy.  Just like Olympia Snowe and Chuck Grassley.

And that worked out great and got us a stronger, more progressive health care bill that garnered broad bi-partisan support, right?

In all seriousness, if Obama's dumb enough to fall for this, I give up.  Gregg's just trying to kill the process the same way Snowe, Grassley and Mike Enzi have.

Retirement Village

House Democrat Diane Watson of California is announcing her retirement today.
Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., plans to announce her retirement this morning, according to the Los Angeles Times and others. The Times, citing a congressional source, says that the 76-year-old Democrat "was tiring of the cross-country trips and wanted to spend time with her mother, who recently turned 100."
On the other hand, news this morning is that GOP Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart is also announcing his retirement imminently.

18 Republicans now retiring from the House to 13 Democrats.  And Diaz-Balart's seat would be in play, surely.

[UPDATE 11:15 AM] Taegan Goddard reports that Lincoln's brother Mario will run in Lincoln's place in FL-25 and that the vacancy would move to Mario's current district (FL-21).

If It's Thursday...

Jobless claims for the week down 43k to 440k.  That's actually a pretty substantial drop.  Continuing claims down to 4.54 million.

It's not terrific news, but it's a little better.

Moose Tracks To Victory

Nate Silver games out the numbers on how Moose Lady could win the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, helpfully color-coding states into primary voting groups and coming up with three paths to the top:
Palin's path to victory, then, would seem to consist of one of the following scenarios:

Palin Plan A. Win Iowa. Win South Carolina. Clean up in orange states. You probably have enough momentum to survive the consolidation of the GOP field which is liable to occur at this point.

Palin Plan B. Lose Iowa narrowly, especially to a Midwestern candidate. Hope that a Southerner isn't running strongly and win South Carolina. Clean up in orange states. Then you anchor in the South, winning Texas (green group), Florida/Georgia (gold group) or Indiana/North Carolina (purple group). At some point, you need to break through and win a big Midwestern battleground like Ohio or Wisconsin.

Palin Plan C. Win Iowa. Lose South Carolina narrowly to a Southern candidate. Regain momentum in orange states. Hope that green states vote next and aim in particular for a big win in Texas. If it's the gold states instead, go all-in in Ohio and Pennsylvania. If it's the purple states, you'll need some help.
Weird, but doable.  On the other hand, BooMan thinks Nate's full of moose poop on the basic assumption that Palin's a credible candidate.
Nate Silver is awesome. I love him for doing first-rate progressive analysis. His piece on Palin's chances of winning the Republican nomination is very impressive and convincing on the merits. But I just don't think Palin has the work ethic to run a successful presidential campaign. Set aside what we already know about her (attending like six colleges before getting a degree, quitting in the middle of her term as governor). We just got through watching Obama and Hillary go toe to toe for two years. All those visits to Iowa and New Hampshire and Vegas and Elko and everywhere else...all those chicken dinners...appearances before political interest groups...fundraisers...20 debates...
I simply do not believe that you can win the nomination without doing most of those things. You need a relentless drive. Celebrity alone won't do it for you. And Palin will never do most (and certainly not all) of those things. She's making good money doing nothing right now, which is such a sweet gig that only someone even more foolish than Palin would give it up to do the primary grind.

I'm happy to be wrong. But I cannot envision Palin winning a single primary. It's not because she doesn't have a lot of support in the Republican Party. It's because she'd never make it to election day in Iowa without alienating everyone with her laziness and lack of respect. 
It's also worth noting that on a day where Dean Broder thinks Sarah Palin is the Most Bestest Candidate Ever, a new poll shows she doesn't have a snowball's chance up a moose's ass.
Although Palin is a tea party favorite, her potential as a presidential hopeful takes a severe hit in the survey. Fifty-five percent of Americans have unfavorable views of her, while the percentage holding favorable views has dipped to 37, a new low in Post-ABC polling.

There is a growing sense that the former Alaska governor is not qualified to serve as president, with more than seven in 10 Americans now saying she is unqualified, up from 60 percent in a November survey. Even among Republicans, a majority now say Palin lacks the qualifications necessary for the White House
It's hysterical.  Villagers seem to think Sarah Palin is the voice of the people.  The people on the other hand think she's a complete moron.

Greek Fire, Part 5

The Eurozone stands united to block the flames of Greek Fire.
European leaders have reached a deal to provide aid to Greece, EU president Herman Van Rompuy said on Thursday, in an unprecedented move to stave off a broader crisis in the 16-nation bloc that shares the euro.

"There is an agreement on the Greek situation. We will communicate now the agreement to the other leaders," van Rompuy told reporters gathered at an EU leaders' summit.

The agreement was forged in talks between Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. 

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters earlier that the aid, which would amount to the first bailout of a euro zone members since the currency was created 11 years ago, was likely to come in the form of loans. 

"It could be voluntary loans from member states. That seems to be the best option," Tusk said.

A Spanish source told Reuters that details of the aid would be worked out at the latest by Tuesday, when EU finance ministers are due to hold a meeting. 

"The general idea is to have broad European assistance with a tighter focus of assistance by euro zone countries," the source said, requesting anonymity. 
Greece now qualifies as Too Big To Fail. It too will be bailed out by the Eurozone, meaning Spain and Portugal will soon be getting aid as well.  As Tyler at Zero Hedge points out however, nobody's really sure where this aid will come from, or what the aid is.
The only thing in this world worse than Hank Paulson showing up in Congress with his initial 3-page TARP proposal giving him unlimited control over the US printing press? 12 non-Hank Paulsons, all of whom speak different languages, all of whom are hell bent on bailing everyone and everything out (just not on their political or physical dime...or 10 eurocents as the case may be), and all of whom have no idea how to bail out others' (and soon their own) economy... oh, and none of whom have access to Hank's reserve currency printer. In short, more than 24 hours after announcing a "bailout" of Greece, nobody in Europe has any idea what they need to do to actually "bail" Greece out. On the verge of tomorrow's summit during which it is widely expected that EU's new president Herman Van Rompuy will announce just what the details of [asset guarantee|debt purchase|IMF (aka US Taxpayer) to the rescue] plan will be, the utter cluelessness and confusion is unprecedented.
And with this morning's announcement...there's still no idea what the details are.  Standing athwart of a raging conflagration yelling "Stop!" is not a plan, folks.  The Greek Fire is just getting started.

Rule (Brittania) Of Law

Obama has quite a lot to learn about justice from our neighbors across the pond.
MI5 faced an unprecedented and damaging crisis tonight after one of the country's most senior judges found that the Security Service had failed to respect human rights, deliberately misled parliament, and had a "culture of suppression" that undermined government assurances about its conduct.

The condemnation, by Lord Neuberger, the master of the rolls, was drafted shortly before the foreign secretary, David Miliband, lost his long legal battle to suppress a seven-paragraph court document showing that MI5 officers were involved in the ill-treatment of a British resident, Binyam Mohamed.

Amid mounting calls for an independent inquiry into the affair, three of the country's most senior judges – Lord Judge, the lord chief justice, Sir Anthony May, president of the Queen's Bench Division, and Lord Neuberger – disclosed evidence of MI5's complicity in Mohamed's torture and unlawful interrogation by the US.

So severe were Neuberger's criticisms of MI5 that the government's leading lawyer in the case, Jonathan Sumption QC, privately wrote to the court asking him to reconsider his draft judgment before it was handed down.
And as disturbing and terrible as that is, the real revelation is what the Mohamed case says about the CIA.
The court's final ruling forced the Foreign Office to publish a seven-paragraph summary of 42 classified CIA documents that were handed to MI5 before Witness B travelled to Pakistan to interrogate Mohamed. These show that MI5 was aware that Mohamed was being continuously deprived of sleep, threatened with rendition and subjected to previous interrogations that were causing him "significant mental stress and suffering". If administered in the UK, the summary says, it would clearly be in breach of undertakings about interrogation techniques made by the British government in 1972.

The three judges referred to a recent case in a US court where the judge found Mohamed's claims about how he was tortured to be truthful. This vindicated his assertion that "UK authorities had been involved in and facilitated the ill-treatment and torture to which he was subjected while under the control of the USA authorities".
In other words, what the US did to Mohamed when he was in CIA custody violated British law.   It violated British law because it was torture.

Note to Eric Holder and Barack Obama:  this is what your findings should have looked like.  Britain had the courage to look into this abyss.  You do not.  Now the American people should demand answers and make you do so.

We tortured people.  Period.

Dean Broder Jumps The Moose

David Broder, Dean of the Village, has finally snapped.  Declaring Sarah Palin's muddled word-salad Tea Party Convention speech as "pitch-perfect populism" I finally have to admit the old man has blown a couple capacitors and needs to be taken into the shop for repair.
The snows that obliterated Washington in the past week interfered with many scheduled meetings, but they did not prevent the delivery of one important political message: Take Sarah Palin seriously.

Her lengthy Saturday night keynote address to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville and her debut on the Sunday morning talk show circuit with Fox News' Chris Wallace showed off a public figure at the top of her game -- a politician who knows who she is and how to sell herself, even with notes on her palm.

This was not the first time that Palin has impressed me. I gave her high marks for her vice presidential acceptance speech in St. Paul. But then, and always throughout that campaign, she was laboring to do more than establish her own place. She was selling a ticket headed by John McCain against formidable Democratic opposition and burdened by the legacy of the Bush administration.

Blessed with an enthusiastic audience of conservative activists, Palin used the Tea Party gathering and coverage on the cable networks to display the full repertoire she possesses, touching on national security, economics, fiscal and social policy, and every other area where she could draw a contrast with Barack Obama and point up what Republicans see as vulnerabilities in Washington.
We're supposed to take a woman who scribbled notes on her palm seriously.  A woman who flubbed and said "Alaska" when she meant "America."  A woman who was the headline speaker at a convention of six hundred nutbars, kooks, Birthers and idiots.  A woman who quit her job as governor to go on a book tour and join FOX News as a contributor.

David Broder says we need to take her seriously as a political populist force in this nation.  It's Broder who has the power to grant Palin this gravitas, where any sane, rational human being would laugh.  He does in spades with a Rich Lowry Starburst Special.

Broder hasn't just jumped the shark, he's put Joanie Loves Chachi on Blu-Ray.  God help us all.


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