Barbary Coast: What Happened When Libya Invested With Goldman Sachs

Today's Wall Street Journal had a long story about Libya's sovereign investment fund's misadventures in currency trading with Goldman Sachs during the fateful year of 2008. The Libyans invested $1.3 billion with Goldman and lost 98% of their investment. Then, after losing a fortune, GS tried to make up for it by offering the Mad Dog a sizable stake in the Vampire Squid. Who needs the CIA to undermine our enemies?

In early 2008, Libya's sovereign-wealth fund controlled by Col. Moammar Gadhafi gave $1.3 billion to Goldman Sachs Group to sink into a currency bet and other complicated trades. The investments lost 98% of their value, internal Goldman documents show.

What happened next may be one of the most peculiar footnotes to the global financial crisis. In an effort to make up for the losses, Goldman offered Libya the chance to become one of its biggest shareholders, according to documents and people familiar with the matter.

Apparently the poor GS executives who had to deliver the bad news to the Qadaffis needed an escort to the airport in order to leave Tripoli alive. Hey, you guys wanted to be big shot wizards of finance, right?

More seriously, I think this story, and a million more like it that haven't yet been told, gives you a real sense of the insanity that drove the Crash of '08. I mean, how do you "lose" 98% of a billion dollar investment? But that was the thing back then. Some of the world' wealthiest and sophisticated investors were throwing billions of dollars into a black hole. And the people running the black holes - those would be Lehman Bros, Goldman, et al. - were traveling the world looking for further billions. Not only that, they were contemplating going into business with a government that just a few years earlier had been caught developing nuclear weapons.

The history of Wall Street is filled with roguish characters, but a financial alliance with a man who once demarcated a "line of death" in the Mediterranean would seem to be too much, even for Goldman.

War & Remembrance: Iraq on Memorial Day

This essay by Walter Russell Mead is being linked around a lot, so I thought I'd join in. It's a Memorial Day reflection on the Iraq War that dares to say what should be obvious: America won the Iraq War, and the world is a better place for it.

The Americans who served, suffered and died in Iraq — and who still serve there today — changed the world and won a great and a difficult victory. No account of their service, no commemoration of the dead that ignores or conceals this vital truth is enough.

To celebrate a momentous victory in Iraq is not to acknowledge that President Bush was right to go into Iraq when and how he did; it is not to justify or excuse the years of poor choices and strategic fumbling before the President found the generals who knew how to win. (One can say the same thing, of course, about President Lincoln. Like most great leaders, he failed his way to triumph.) I supported the invasion because I believed Colin Powell’s solemn assurances about weapons of mass destruction; I continued to support the war despite the absence of such weapons and the chaos and incompetence attending the occupation because I believed that vital issues were at stake in Iraq, that defeat was unacceptable, that victory was not nearly as unattainable as the hand wringing, pseudo-smart choruses of despairing ex-hawks so cluelessly and insistently asserted, and that if nothing else we had a duty to the Iraqis and to ourselves not to leave the country without giving it a fair chance to shape the future for itself.

Because of President Bush’s steadfastness, because of the military genius of General Petraeus (or Betray Us as the keen wits and intellects at so memorably called him as, to their frustration and fury, the evidence of victory began to appear) and his associates, because of the professionalism and honor of American officers, and above all because of the dogged courage, patriotism and humanity of the extraordinary men and women who served in the ranks, we won the war.

Mead notes that the vociferous Iraq War critics will make it impossible to write a "true" account of the war and its aftermath because they will work desperately to preserve their talking point that George Bush "lied" us into an "illegal war" that we "lost." Honestly, do we really have to put up with that? Do the 4,000+ Americans who died in Iraq really have to have the value of their sacrifice dependent on the say-so of the Paul Krugmans of the world?

Democrats were, of course, scurrilous and perfidous in their opposition to the war. Many of them voted to approve the use of force, even as they clearly salivated at the prospect of finding a 21st century My Lai to wave in the face of those of us foolish enough to believe in American Exceptionalism. Yet that has been their pattern since Viet Nam: they are always against the wars that America is fighting at any particular moment. If the war is not in our national interest (Bosnia or Kosovo), or the war is never gonna happen in a million years (the invasion of Darfur), then liberals are all for it. If the war doesn't fit those criteria, forget it. None of this should be a surprise.

But you know who was surprised? Republicans in the Bush White House and in Congress. They never seemed quite able to fight back against the endless smears against the military, the intelligence services, government contractors, or anyone else brave enough to spend time in Mesopotamia. Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld have admitted as much to which I can only say: thanks a freaking lot. How can you send thousands of young men to one of the ass ends of the world only to let them be undermined by the likes of Ted "Open Under New Management" Kennedy? The anti-war crowd had the Lion of the Senate. We had...Scott McClellan?? Talk about a messaging problem.

I've made it a habit of referring to our having won the war in Iraq. I think it's something that everybody on the Right should be doing. Let the Left rant about WMD's and Abu Ghraib and Haditha until they are blue in the face. Then, calmly repeat that we won the war.

It's the least we can do for those who gave all.

Motorcycle Mama: Sarah Palin Rides With Rolling Thunder

While Democrat "rising star" (hello!) Anthony Weiner spent the day trying to explain how a picture of an erect penis ended up traveling from his Twitter account to that of a busty Seattle co-ed's, (Anthony's Weiner will now be joining El Topo and my dog getting hit by a truck on the list of things I can't unsee), Sarah Palin was riding on the back of a Harley in DC as part of the Rolling Thunder event on the Mall.

Is Palin running for President? I don't know. She's certainly not a "serious" person in the Mitt Romney/Mitch Daniels sense. Nor is she the "adult in the room," which is how we are told to appreciate the President. But, she is certainly something. I take it as a point of pride that she is on "our" side. Democrats can have their Anthony Weiners and like 'em.

In Our Hands: Why Crime Hasn't Gone Up As the Economy Has Gone Down

James Q Wilson looks at a phenomenon that has surprised many people: crime rates have not gone up appreciably during the Little Depression. In fact, they continue to fall. Wilson sorts through a number of factors, (including a reduction in lead poisoning. give me a break), but concludes that a "change in culture" is what really lies behind this trend.
At the deepest level, many of these shifts, taken together, suggest that crime in the United States is falling—even through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression—because of a big improvement in the culture. The cultural argument may strike some as vague, but writers have relied on it in the past to explain both the Great Depression's fall in crime and the explosion of crime during the sixties. In the first period, on this view, people took self-control seriously; in the second, self-expression—at society's cost—became more prevalent. It is a plausible case.
I'll agree that American society and popular culture is much improved from the loose and tacky Sixties and Seventies when the Great Crime Wave swept the nation. Just as an example, try to find some old World Series footage from Yankee Stadium. People were storming the field, scrambling around wildly, and looking generally like an out-of-control mob. Or look at the infamous "Disco Demolition" at Comisky Park. People laugh about it now, but what you are seeing is a thuggish, depressing riot.

By contrast, when a city-wide blackout hit NYC in 2003 (I think that was to year), nobody rioted, or smashed windows, or looted stores. Everybody quietly and calmly walked across the bridges to get home, or stayed put, but otherwise behaved themselves. The contrast with the Murder City of two decades earlier was stark, albeit in a good way.

Wilson identifies a Sixties-era social dynamic of self-expression uber alles as being part of the crime wave. And, yeah, people were expressing themselves, but more important, society's guardians failed to lay down a fundamental rule: stay off my lawn. This found expression in a myriad of ways. The most obvious were the Warren Court's criminal procedure reforms, which were widely seen at the time by liberals as being part of the civil rights movement, and widely panned by "right wingers" and other normal people as giving the criminal class too many undeserved rights. Well the wingnuts were right about that one. Reading a Miranda warning to low-lifes had very little to with Rosa Parks. It only placed her and her neighbors in greater jeopardy (since most crimes, then and now, were committed in poor neighborhoods). Nixon was running as a tough on crime candidate as early as 1972. As late as 1988, Republicans could tag a Democrat as "soft on crime" and torpedo his slim chances for winning the presidency.

As important, there was an explosion of drug use at all levels of society. While narcotics have never been legal, there was a de facto decriminalization back in those days. The quintessential event of the era was Woodstock, where celebrations of LSD and marijuana were as important as the music. Much of the crime of the era was related to drug use, from selling and distributing to collateral crimes like stealing TV's to score some dope. Setting the crime part aside, drug use contributed to a breakdown in society because the drugs themselves caused their users to break down in one way over another.

Mostly, though, there was a failure of leadership, especially in urban areas. Liberals were in charge of the most crime ridden areas of the country, whether NYC, Detroit, DC, or what have you. No matter how many innocent people were victimized, they never seemed comfortable with the idea of sending the police into a crime zone to knock heads, make some arrests, and send people to prison. Instead, they preferred to lecture us about poverty and "root causes" and how legitimate fears about crime were a figment of suburbanites' racist imaginations (that's the Bowling For Columbine theory).

And, liberals still don't get it. Just this week, the liberal wing of the Supreme Court ordered California to release tens of thousands of prisoners from its "overcrowded" prisons, a back door way of eviscerating California's effective and popular 3-Strikes initiative, which is based on the crazy theory that if you lock up criminals, you will have less crime.

The liberal approach to crime prevention, then and now, has been twofold: first, give us a ton of money so we can attack the "root causes" of crime by redistributing wealth downward. Second, restrain the police so they can no longer unfairly "target" minority communities. Unsurprisingly, this did not result in any reduction in crime, but rather to a disastrous increase. It took decades to dig ourselves out, but liberals seem hellbent to throw us back down.

War All The Time: AG Mukasey Defends CIA Interrogators

I know that we are all supposed to be talking about Paul Ryan and Medicare, but the other day saw an echo of the Bush years that Republicans, or at least conservatives, should be a lot more exercised over: the pending criminal prosecutions against CIA interrogators. Former AG Muskasey made some very pointed comments blasting the Obama administration for letting these men twist in the wind, so as to preserve the Democrat talking point about Bush-era "torture:" (h/t Powerline)

Attorney General Eric Holdercame under fire today from his predecessor at the Justice Department for pursuing criminal action against CIA employees involved in the enhanced interrogation of terrorists.

Following a speech at The Heritage Foundation, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey called Holder’s handling of matter “absolutely outrageous.” He said the cases involving CIA employees were settled by career prosecutors who determined the prosecutions should not go forward.

“The current attorney general, when he took office, without reading the memos, directed that those investigations be reopened,” Mukasey said. “I think that was an unconscionable thing to do — not only to the people involved, but also to the agency, which is demoralized by something like that. People were essentially told they can’t rely on opinions of the Justice Department.”

Mukasey added that Holder’s actions against the CIA operatives would stifle intelligence gathering by the United States.

You know, if Ramsey Clark goes out and denounces the US while standing next to this or that post-colonial dictator, it's Big News, and we hear all about how he is a "former Attorney General of the United States," rather than describing him as he really is: a sour old man who hates his country and hasn't held a real job in decades. Meanwhile, great former Republican AG's like Judge Mukasey go about their business in relative anonymity.

The better question is why isn't the Right treating this as a bigger deal? These interrogators apparently were some of the few effective CIA employees out there., They seem to have brought in a lot of useful intelligence through their interrogations. And they didn't torture anybody. George Bush said so. I realize that this might make me sound like a wing-nut, but I'll rely on W's assessment over Eric Holder's any day.

The Left spent the Bush years making dubious civil rights martyrs out of some of the worst of the worst: Jose Padilla, the Lakawana Six, the Flying Imams, and more. Where are the right wingers making these CIA guys into a cause celebre? They are certainly a lot more deserving than Osama Bin Laden's driver, who had enough legal assistance to take a case all the way up to the Supreme Court. But, American citizens who may have interrogated terrorists are spending a ton of money defending themselves against a left-wing revenge prosecution?
The Left's lawfare was some of the most destructive work of the Bush era. The term "shredding the Constitution" was on every Democrat's tongue. It was part of the overall narrative that something uniquely evil and untoward was going on in the Bush White House. Well, the exact same thing is going on in the Obama administration, but the right seems to be nowhere.

Raging Against The Wrong Machine: Code Pink vs. Netanyahu

Is it any surprise that a member of the Bay Area's Code Pink was the heckler who tried to shout down Benjamin Netanyahu during his speech before Congress*?

A San Francisco woman interrupted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday. Check out the video here of Code Pinker Rae Abileah's interruption -- and turn the volume up WAY high, because you can barely hear her say, "Stop Israeli war crimes."

The Pinkers describe the Half Moon Bay native as "a young Jewish American of Israeli descent" who now lives in SF.

Netanyahu briefly paused as Capitol law enforcement removed Abileah. He followed up with an ad lib about how great it was to be in a "real democracy" where folks can freely express their displeasure with government. She was charged with disrupting Congress.

why do I get the feeling that being charged with "disrupting Congress" is not something that is going to affect this girl's future prospects?

Code Pink has been pretty consistent in siding against Israel and the US in all things Middle East. They were caught donating money to Islamists during the February revolution in Egypt, among many other dubious acts. Yet, they are treated delicately. Why, because they're women? Because they wear funny outfits? Because they only "protest" right wingers?

This small group of middle aged, trust fund progressives is literally the only real protest movement in the United States. If you see a picture in the newspaper of "protesters," Code Pink is somewhere in the mix, usually in the forefront. Yet they are never identified as such. If they were, people would catch on pretty quick that, rather than protesters, what you are seeing are the same handful of tired looking women, going through the same routine. I guess you could say they are "media savvy," but part of that savvy is knowing that the media will never report any unflattering information about them.

*and is it any surprise that the reporter who wrote the linked article also referred to John Yoo as "the architect of the Bush Administration's "torture/enhanced interrogation policies?"

Bob Dylan Turns 70

Hey, Baby Boomers, feeling old yet? The original Voice of a Generation turns 70 today. I don't sit around waxing nostalgic for a Sixties I never experienced, but I do regret that I missed an era when the pop charts were ruled, at least temporarily, by a young guy who could barely sing and wrote songs of undeniable poetry. And, unlike virtually all of his peers, he produced vital music in every decade of his professional life, including this odd self-portrait from a few years back (try to imagine Louis Armstrong singing this tune)

I saw Dylan at a hockey arena back in 2003 when he was touring behind Love and Theft. He came out dressed as a Kentucky colonel, played many (not all!) of his hits, and was backed by a crack band of pros. But, it was those songs where he accompanied himself with his guitar and harmonica that were the most memorable moments. It's no wonder that there are still a lot of people who regret his turning away from folk music. He really is a master of that simplest of musical forms, even if his muse was much more complex.

The Free Will Dylan Top 12

1. the Freewheelin' Bob Dylan: where "it all began." "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" is haunting
2. Another Side of Bob Dylan: Dylan's poetry begins to flower.
3. Highway 61 Revisited: an out-of-control rock masterpiece with beautifully rustic melodies
4. Blonde On Blonde: Dylan said this came closest to the folk rock sound he was after. Regret getting rid of my LP because it sounded warmer than the CD (although the re-masters were an improvement)
5. John Wesley Harding: pure simplicity. the lyrics are the true beginning of Dylanology
6. The Basement Tapes: great fun.
7. Blood On The Tracks: Dylan at the height of his powers. people who think Dylan is a terrible singer need to listen to this.
8. Desire: Simultaneously contains one of his best songs ("Hurricane") and one of his worst ("Joey").
9. Slow Train Coming: his first "Christian" album was produced by Mark Knopfler and is very well recorded. Most of the songs from this unfairly maligned record have gone on to be gospel standards.
10. Infidels: a fascinating line-up: Sly & Robbie on rhythm and Mark Knopfler and Mick Taylor on guitars. Widely seen at the time as being "Reaganesque" believe it or not.
11. Time Out of Mind: murky ambient Dylan. Started a decade-long career revival
12. Love and Theft: very underrated concept album about the Deep South.

Death Wish VI: Supreme Court Orders The Release of 37,000 California Inmates

Looks like liberals are determined to bring back every social ill from the Seventies: inflation, an overweening regulatory state, racial tension, and now the return of mass prison releases. In a 5-4 decision (try to guess who joined the 4 liberals on this one), the US Supreme Court has declared California's prison health system to be unconstitutionally overcrowded.

The U.S. Supreme Court ordered California on Monday to reduce the population of its jammed prisons by more than 30,000 in two years to repair a health care system that lower courts found was defying constitutional standards and endangering guards as well as inmates.

Federal judges rightly found that overcrowding in a prison system that has held nearly twice its designed capacity for more than a decade was the main cause of "grossly inadequate provision of medical and mental health care," the court said in a 5-4 ruling.

"Needless suffering and death have been the well-documented result," Justice Anthony Kennedy said in the majority opinion.

He cited evidence from two decades of litigation: mentally ill prisoners waiting up to a year for treatment, suicidal inmates held for 24 hours in phone booth-sized cages without toilets, waiting lists of 700 inmates for a single doctor, and gyms converted into triple-bunked living quarters that breed disease and violence victimizing guards and inmates alike.

This is not just bad public policy. It is also a backdoor way to overturn California's Three Strikes Law, which is the sort of popular crime fighting initiative that we had to pass in order to clean up the after-effects of the Seventies crime wave.

What's really frustrating is how little effort seems to finding practical solutions to this problem. Has it occurred to anyone to release into half-way houses those prisoners who are terminally ill or permanently disabled such that they are no longer a menace to society? Has anyone thought of releasing prisoners who are either legal or illegal immigrants to the tender mercies of their home countries? I keep hearing that prison overcrowding is due largely to pot busts and the like. Can't we figure out who those guys are and release them first? And so on.

Two of the votes for this ruling came from Justices Kagan and Sotomayor. (You'll remember their performances before the Judiciary Committee where they paid lip service to the idea that they would be careful and judicious. The mass release of God knows who into a state 3,000 miles away from their homes would not seem to be in keeping with this, but that's the Left for you). I am sure the President who appointed them, and the millions of Californians who voted him into office, will be happy with this result.

Trust Buster: The Betrayal of the California GOP Voter

The Schwarzenegger love child story has triggered the expected sympathetic headlines for "betrayed spouse" Maria Shriver, but there's been relatively little said, at any point in the last 5 years, of the people whom the Governator truly betrayed: the hundreds of thousands of California Republicans who voted him into office. The SF Chronicle provides us with some room to vent:

Sacramento anti-tax advocate Ted Costa looks back at the events he set in motion when he helped kick off California's historic gubernatorial recall in 2003 - culminating in the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger - with more than a little disgust.

"He's betrayed the people who supported him from Day One," said Costa of the former GOP governor, who this week acknowledged betraying wife Maria Shriver by having an affair and an out-of-wedlock child with a housekeeper more than a decade ago. "I don't know why people are shocked."

Melanie Morgan, the former KSFO conservative talk show host who was dubbed the "Mother of the Recall," is also angry. "He squandered his marriage and the good will of the people of California," Morgan said. "And now, he's squandered any legacy."

If you are only now feeling betrayed, you need to stop voting or participating in public life. Schwarzenegger turned his back on Republicans starting in 2006, but when he began pushing global warming "solutions," high speed rail, and a debt & taxes solution to the state budget crisis, he literally turned into a Democrat. But, no matter how many times CA conservatives rolled their eyes and made little rabbit ears motions with their fingers about the "Republican" governor, the fact is that we were stuck with a guy with an "R" after his name who joined with state progressives to run the Golden State into the ground. I, frankly, don't see why the love child story is some major betrayal compared to the actual damage he did to his party and to the state. It's not like Schwarzenegger ever ran as the family values candidate.

And, as long as we're pointing fingers this morning, I'd like to extend a middle-fingered salute to the state GOP establishment who lined up behind Schwarzenegger back in 2003. Ah-nuld, we were assured, would govern as a fiscal conservative without all of that distracting social con stuff. Plus, he would give us a leg up in the culture wars. Made sense at the time, so more traditional types like Darrel Issa (who originally bankrolled the recall movement with the idea of becoming governor*) and the rock solid Tom McClintock were pushed aside withe the usual rationalization that a moderate Republican would be more electable. The old white guys sure were loud in promoting Schwarzenegger's ambitions, and then they sure were silent when he simply stopped governing as a Republican. Hard to know whether that was the silence of acquiescence or of embarrassment.

Incredibly, now that we have learned that a politician can run as a budget cutting conservative and win, but then lose when he governs as a member of the bi-partisan party of big government, the national GOP establishment seems determined to foist the likes of Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty on us while at the same time disparaging people like Herman Cain and Sarah Palin who can actually draw a crowd and whose conservative bona fides are beyond dispute. For heaven's sake Mitt Romney worked to pass left-wing health care reform within the past 5 years, and now he's supposed to be the GOP standard bearer? Why, because he's handsome and has lots of money? That's supposed to make him trustworthy? Forget it.

I get it that not every Republican can be Ronald Reagan. Even Reagan couldn't be Reagan, at least not in the WWRD? sense. But starting around 1994, Republicans have found repeated electoral success in running as conservative budget cutters with an overlay of social conservatism. Yet the results of those elections, whether the Gingrich Revolution or the California Recall or what have you, have been the opposite: revolutionaries (if you can call them that) becoming appropriators, tax raisers and deficit spenders, often within very short order.

The moderate wing of the GOP have gotten the candidates they've wanted for the past 15 years with the result that the size of government has increased along with the depths of our fiscal hole. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the ultimate "electable" Republican and look where that got us. And now we've been cordially invited to make the same mistake on a national scale.

*anyone else remember how an old drunk driving beef came out of nowhere to knock Issa out of contention, but not out of politics? Funny how that worked out.

Original Sin

The new Pedro Almodovar/Antonio Banderas film has won the coveted "booed at Cannes" award. When you read the plot summary, you may well boo, too.

Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's latest thriller, "The Skin I Live In," had filmgoers fleeing the theater Thursday night at its gala premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, due to some aggressively violent and disturbing content.

The film, which stars Antonio Banderas and budding actress Spanish actress Elena Anaya, focuses on a mad but brilliant surgeon (Banderas) who kidnaps a man who raped his daughter.

The doctor's daughter killed herself from the grief and it drives him to take very drastic measures. This is where it gets complicated and disturbing.

Banderas then gives the rapist a sex change and transplants his deceased daughter's face onto his body.

He later has sex with the man he has brutally experimented on and turned into a woman.

Wow! And people call Europeans decadent!

Now, it could be that this is some sort of bloody-minded satire in the vein of American Psycho, so I reserve the right to reverse my disgust, but still...just because you can make a movie doesn't mean you actually have to. You have to wonder what you have to do to convince a beautiful woman like Elena Anaya to be in such a warped piece of work.

Reportedly, the people who fled the theater were a group of Americans who had won some sort of "dream vacation to the Cannes film festival" prize and ended up playing the role of bourgeois squares. The critics are busy acclaiming the above and practically demanding that it receive the Palm D'or.


This is impressive. Bibi Netanyahu, in the Oval Office, tells Pres. Obama that, no, Israel will not go back to its 1967 borders, and, no, they don't intend to negotiate any "deals" with an enemy that has shown itself only capable of killing children and the elderly. It's six minutes of tough facts in the hopes of puncturing the dangerous balloon juice of "change."

Israel has always lived on the knife's edge, but now it finds itself with an unfriendly American administration that has fully bought into the idea that Palestinians are victims and the Israelis are bullies. It is the sort of academic Left vision of the Middle East that can be deadly for the Jewish state, and at odds with the vast majority of the American public, which supports Israel, not because of some Israel Lobby, but because the two nations share common social and and cultural values.

It's a shame Netanyahu has to speak this way to any president of the United States, but Obama has demonstrated over and over again that he lacks any basic understanding of history or human nature. There really isn't any time for the niceties.

And, yes, it would be nice if some of the Republican candidates for president could show this level of firmness and unsentimentality in confronting the dangerous illusions of the Left.

Voter Id: Crying Racism in Wisconsin

Looks like the Wisconsin GOP is at it again. This time they have passed a bill requiring voters to show ID before voting. Cue the violins. (h/t Althouse)

Amid chants of “Shame!” and “Recall!” from the gallery, the state Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a controversial bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. The measure now heads to Gov. Scott Walker, who said he plans to sign it next Wednesday.

“Requiring photo identification to vote will go a long way to eliminate the threat of voter fraud,” Walker said. “If you need an ID to buy cold medicine, it’s reasonable to require it to vote.”

Republicans in the state Assembly passed the bill in a late-night session last week. Debate in the GOP-controlled Senate began Tuesday, running until after 1 a.m. Wednesday, when Democrats used a procedural move to delay final passage.

On Thursday, Senate GOP leaders limited floor debate to one hour. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, defended the time limit saying the topic “has received a lot of debate,” and Democrats had had plenty of chances to speak on the floor.

When the call for a vote was made, Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, was speaking and tried to continue.

“In my 50 years, I’ve never had anyone cut me off!” yelled Risser, the nation’s longest-serving state lawmaker.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, moved to adjourn. Senate President Mike Ellis, R-Neenah, repeatedly banged his gavel and began the roll call over the protests of Democrats.

The bill passed 19-5 along party lines, with many Democrats refusing to vote. Some later said the GOP would not add their votes following the chaos

You might recall a funny story from back in the Fleabagger days last February when this bill was voted out of committee despite the plaintive cries from a Democrat trying to participate via telephone, even as he was hiding out in Illinois, or wherever. Pretty funny, but also a sign of the dysfunction that comes from having too many liberals in elected office: even common sense reform like a Voter ID law needs a bizarre circumstance like the mass decamping of the entire Democratic caucus in order to pass.

And, that's the most befuddling thing about the Voter ID movement: why all the vitriol and hysterics over "racism?" (yeah, yeah, I know "why." It's a rhetorical question). Are Democrats so wedded to half-assed balloting as a strategy for winning elections? I keep hearing how this will disenfranchise people who don't have ID. I'd say if you literally don't have ID, you are self-disenfranchising.

Having some form of picture ID is a basic of American life, thanks in part to the meddling administrative state so beloved of liberals. If there is one American citizen (we're the only ones who are supposed to be voting, after all) who lacks a picture ID, I'd like to know his name. On the one hand, he has to be so poor and out of it that he can't even bring himself to obtain basic documentation, but on the other he must have no need for welfare or other benefits, which - I presume - you need to show some form of ID to receive. This person does not exist, except in the fevered minds of the Left.

Spit It Out: How The Respectable Media Covers Republican Scandals

Good catch by Newsbusters: CNN covered the Schwarzenegger love-child story in every broadcast hour, but one. Care to guess which hour?

I won't even ask which recent sex scandal CNN failed to mention in one of those roll calls of recent political sex scandals.

Alas, Babylon: Governator Fathered Secret Love Child

Now that Arnold Schwarzenegger is out of office, I guess the truth can be told: he fathered a child with a member of the household staff (shades of DSK). Cue "The Fornicator" jokes:

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has acknowledged that he fathered a child with a member of his household staff, a revelation that apparently prompted wife Maria Shriver to leave the couple's home before they announced their separation last week.

Schwarzenegger and Shriver jointly announced May 9 that they were splitting up after 25 years of marriage. Yet, Shriver moved out of the family's Brentwood mansion earlier in the year after Schwarzenegger acknowledged the child is his, The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

"After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago," Schwarzenegger told the Times in a statement that also was sent to The Associated Press early Tuesday. "I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry.

The love child was born 10 years ago, which predated his disappointed term as governor. Turns out that the one thing he managed to accomplish during his seven years in Sacramento was keeping the lid on such an explosive story. The LA Times must kicking themselves today. They were writing these lame screaming headlines about "groping," while Arnold's secret child was going about his/her business right under their noses.

The "staffer," btw, continued to work for the Schwarzeneggers until January of this year when she retired. She also claimed that her husband was the "real" father, which means another family is breaking up today.

Schwarzenegger's term as governor was a disaster for the state and the GOP because he campaigned as a fiscal conservative and governed as a profligate member of the bi-partisan party of government. Now he's provided the left with yet another entry on the sarcastic "Party of Family Values" list. Thanks a heap.

UPDATE: Althouse is skeptical that Maria Shriver could not have known about Ah-nuld' affair and child until now. Hey, maybe they live in a really big house.

UPDATE 2: I've been hearing/seeing a lot of Edwards/Ah-nuld comparisons out there. I'll bet most people probably think John Edwards is "smarter" than Schwarzenegger, but (1) at least the Governator didn't bear a love child during one of his campaigns* and (2) Schwarzenegger managed, against all odds, to keep an explosive story like this hidden until he could reveal it at a time of his choosing, that time apparently being after the end of his political career when he wanted to get his wife out of his hair. Cold? You bet. But not dumb.

*yeah, yeah. That we know of...

Kobe Beef: Did The Head Of The IMF Really Rape A Hotel Maid?

Much as I would like to believe that the "socialist" (as if he could survive 5 minutes under real socialism) head of the IMF actually sodomized a hotel maid yesterday...I find it hard to believe.
The arrest in New York of one of France’s leading global figures and a possible next president, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, on charges of attempted rape produced an earthquake of shock, outrage, disbelief and embarrassment throughout France on Sunday.

The country woke up to the tawdry allegations that Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, a leading Socialist and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, had waylaid and tried to rape a maid in a $3,000-a-night suite at a New York hotel, and the reverberations were immediate.

The government of President Nicolas Sarkozy responded cautiously, saying the presumption of innocence must be maintained and the courts must be allowed to do their work, while the leader of the Socialist Party, Martine Aubry, admitted that she was “totally stupefied” by the charges against the man who had been considered most likely to bring her party back to power in next year’s presidential elections by defeating Mr. Sarkozy.

DSK is no stranger to sex-capades, which I have discussed before. That's the magic of being a "socialist." You can live like an old-fashioned potentate, so long as you mouth the right words about equality and justice.

Still, a rape accusation is a harsh thing, something that has already ended DSK's career at the IMF and likely ended his political career as well. The details are so bizarre - supposedly a naked DSK entered the room, found the maid, and ordered her to give him a BJ (what, no teabagging?) - as to be almost incredible. If he really did do this, it can't have been the first time.

To Damascus: David Mamet's Conversion Tale

David Mamet made a splash a few years ago for his essay "Why I Am No Longer A Brain Dead Liberal," which described how he became, maybe not conservative, but definitely was no longer a man of the Left. Now, the Weekly Standard has given Mamet the full cover story treatment, allowing him to expound at length on his intellectual journey. It began in 2004 during the Bush-Kerry election when everyone around him (presumably snobby jerks in Hollywood) was going on about the evils of Bushhitler. Mamet wanted to investigate further, but ran into a problem
“I’d never met a conservative. I didn’t know what a conservative was. I didn’t know much of anything.
Luckily, Mamet knew a Republican - his rabbi - who began peppering Mamet with reading material. Anyone who has "moved right" can relate to what came next

One of the first was A Conflict of Visions, by Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institution. In it Sowell expands on the difference between the “constrained vision” of human nature—close to the tragic view that infuses Mamet’s greatest plays—and the “unconstrained vision” of man’s endless improvement that suffused Mamet’s politics and the politics of his profession and social class.

“He came back to me stunned. He said, ‘This is incredible!’ He said, ‘Who thinks like this? Who are these people?’ I said, ‘Republicans think like this.’ He said, ‘Amazing.’ ” (emph. added)

Finley piled it on, from the histories of Paul Johnson to the economics of Milton Friedman to the meditations on race by Shelby Steele.

“He was haunted by what he discovered in those books, this new way of thinking,” Finley says. “It followed him around and wouldn’t let him go.”

"Who thinks like this," indeed. You also have to love Mamet's "Amazing." Turns out conservatives aren't all snake handling mouth breathers.

Mamet's story points to one of the biggest gaps between liberals and conservatives. While liberal ideas and literature are easy to come across - they are virtually all you see or hear in the public arena - conservative lit is an unknown country for everyone outside of the right wing. It's virtually impossible to graduate from an American university without reading Marx, or Derrida, or a million others (if you read anything at all). On the other hand, it's very easy to get through college without reading any Hayek, Sowell, Burke, or anyone else you could name. You literally have to seek it out or have it handed to you. But, when you find it, it can hit you like a ton of bricks. I remember being shocked when I first read Parliament of Whores, shocked because it had never occurred to me that (1) a conservative could be funny and (2) liberalism could be the subject of so much savage humor. While conservatives know at least something about liberalism, whether they like it or not, liberals are pathetically ignorant about conservative writers.

It's no wonder there's an unspoken cultural embargo of conservative books. If more people like Mamet read Thomas Sowell, rather than chuckling over the latest "Palin = Dumb" joke, the political character of the entertainment industry would change overnight.

Brainwash: Pointlessly Parsing Romneycare

While Blogger was down, Mitt Romney gave a "major" address trying to explain away the millstone of Romneycare. The reviews were...not good

It was a sincere, intelligent, cogent, informed political disaster.

The essence of Romney’s position is: I stand by my successful healthcare plan in Massachusetts, but ObamaCare is a disaster because it does all of the things that RomneyCare does, just on a national level. So, if I am elected president I will give waivers to states so they can repeat my mistakes if they want to, or, if they are smart, they will reject both my approach and Obama’s.

I don’t think it will work.

That's Jonah Goldberg. Here's the wonkier objection (one of many from the Right)

It’s hard to hate Obamacare and love Romneycare. For example, Romney continued to defend the individual mandate — the most despised part of Obamacare — as right for Massachusetts but wrong for the country.

Four years after reform, Massachusetts still has the highest health-insurance premiums in the country. For small employers, the rise is about 14 percent beyond those in the rest of the nation.

And it’s increasingly difficult to get a doctor’s appointment. A recent survey by the Massachusetts Medical Society reveals that fewer than half of the state’s primary-care practices are accepting new patients, and the average wait time to get an appointment with an internist is 48 days. The result: The use of hospital emergency rooms in Massachusetts by people seeking routine care has increased. This was another problem Romneycare was supposed to fix.

The five-point plan that Governor Romney outlined to structure the health-reform initiative he would undertake as president is sound and based upon solid principles. But it’s hard to see how voters will give him a chance unless he admits that the health plan he developed for Massachusetts went seriously wrong.

He was emphatic about calling for repeal of Obamacare and said he will issue an executive order paving the way for the states to get a waiver from the health-overhaul law while Congress works to repeal it.

But you can’t use an executive order to wipe out two massive new federal entitlement programs, $550 billion in new and higher taxes, a vast expansion of Medicaid, and federal mandates on individuals, businesses, and the states. Waivers are not a solution.

Actually, Romney's real problem with Romneycare was that he willingly worked to pass it in the first place. It really doesn't matter how well he can set out the differences between government run health care in Massachusetts versus the national model.

Health care reform was one of many top-down reform projects (cap&trade is another) originating from the Left, which claimed that there was intolerable injustice in America due to the inequalities in the health care system. To believe that the system needed reform was to believe that America's health care was "broken," that 40 million+ people went without health insurance (the real number was a fraction of this), and that only a top-down approach could solve every problem at once, and lower costs, too. To say all that is to wonder at the mentality - driven by "facts and data," of course - that could believe such a thing.

A true conservative response would be John Boehner's "Hell No!" Joe Wilson's "You Lie!" or Sarah Palin's "Death Panels." If you want to kick it up a notch, you follow the Paul Ryan approach and get out a calculator. Mitt Romney's response? "Hey, let's work together to solve this problem that doesn't really exist, but which gets hammered on in the media a lot!" In other words, he fell for the commonest form of political hype out there: that there is some injustice out there that only massive expansion of government can alleviate. I keep hearing about how Romney is this sophisticated businessman, but politically he's no different than Chuck Schumer or Dick Durbin. And now we have to nominate him as the GOP presidential nominee? No way.

This doesn't let the other "first tier" candidates off the hook. The reason they are "first tier" is because the media has annointed them as such. But the only way a Republican is considered electable in the media is if he first demonstrates his fealty towards the bi-partisan party of government. Tim Pawlenty is having to explain away his early support for cap & trade, but what he should really be explaining is why he fell for the global warming hoax in the first place. Newt Gingrich might have led the 1994 Revolution, but he also has a history of spinning grand schemes, especially in the "Green" arena. Again, this is a small government conservative?

We don't need more technocrats or moderates looking to comprehensively "reform" this or that area of the economy, and then are dubbed the "adults in the room" because they are willing to enable the Left's statist dreams. We need practical people who don't get caught up in a lot of media hype over the Left's latest "injustice."

Technical Difficulties

Blogger said the blog would be down "for about an hour" last Wednesday evening. 36 hours later, we are back on the block!

Normal blogging is imminent.

Silla Electrica

A good band from Madrid with Bay Area connections, believe it or not. Supposedly their sound is a revival of the "classic" early Eighties "Madrid Sound," which I am sure you are all familiar with. Two guitars, no bass, and a girl drummer who sings. Plus, they release records the old school way: their LP is one of those 180 gram jobs on clear vinyl in an edition of 500.

Punk may be mainstream, but, miraculously, the underground lives.

The Tragedy Of Sarah Palin

The Atlantic has a Big Essay titled "The Tragedy of Sarah Palin," the theme of which is that Sarah Palin governed Alaska in a manner many self-professed liberals would theoretically approve (mostly by taking on Big Oil), but then - for some mysterious reason! - became a "conservative firebrand," thus depriving America of a leader who could have solved all of our problems. No this is not a joke. (although, in a sense, the joke's on us).

From the moment Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech electrified the Republican convention, she was seen as an unbending, hard-charging, red-meat ideologue—to which soon was added “thin-skinned” and “vindictive.” But a look at what Palin did while in office in Alaska—the only record she has—shows a very different politician: one who worked with Democrats to tame Big Oil and solve the great problem at the heart of the state’s politics. That Sarah Palin might have set the nation on a different course. What went wrong?

Give me a break. That information was readily available in August 2008 when Palin hit the national stage. After John McCain first nominated Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, there was a scramble to put any information about Palin on the air. CNBC ran an endless loop of an interview that Palin did with Maria Bartiromo on the topic of energy. Have you ever seen it? I'll bet not, and if you see it, you'll know why. Palin is very impressive, speaking passionately and knowledgeably on energy policy in a way that would impress anyone not on the left side of American politics. Some of her verbal tics are present, of course - I remember chuckling at the time over her repeated use of the phrase "America's hungry markets"- but she goes toe to toe with the Queen of Wall Street, laying out the case for a free market, domestically based solution to America's energy problems - throwing in some criticism of the Bush Administration along the way. Here's the video if you don't believe me

But, we didn't hear much about that back in those days, did we? No, it was all "what's your favorite Supreme Court decision" and "I can see Russia from my house." In September and October 2008 when the American economy literally melted down right before our eyes, and the government's only reaction was to pass a $700 billion bailout opposed by wide majorities while a presidential campaign raged in which the #1 recipient of campaign donations from Goldman Sachs was running around talking about "spreading the wealth," pop culture and the media suddenly decided that the one thing that needed to be broadcast over and over again were "Sarah Palin = dumb" jokes. As if that weren't bad enough, her children were subjected to a level of scrutiny that would have made Bill Clinton's political career wither away to nothing.

Now, the Atlantic, which hosted Andrew Sullivan's literally deranged speculation about Trig Palin's "real" mother, says it's a big tragedy that "we" didn't learn more about the real Sarah Palin. I think most of us figured out well enough, thanks anyway.

Speaking of tragedy, this is what Palin was dealing with today. A family that was harassing her and her parents were hit with a restraining order, but when you see what they were doing, you think that restraining order is cold comfort.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin won another round in court on Monday against a Pennsylvania teenager accused of stalking the outspoken conservative, telling a judge, "I fear for my friends' and for my family's safety."

The three-hour Anchorage court hearing, with Palin and her antagonists testifying by telephone, ended with the judge renewing a previous restraining order against Shawn Christy, 19, and issuing a similar order against his father, Craig.

Shawn Christy admitted in court to having threatened to rape Palin but has denied her allegations he menaced her daughters. He also admitted sending Palin numerous e-mails and gifts, and to traveling to Anchorage earlier this year.

Craig Christy admitted to making more than two dozen early morning phone calls to Palin's parents over a two-day period in March. He also acknowledged organizing a support group for his son to stage protests at events attended by Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, and he maintains a Facebook page with numerous anti-Palin messages.

State Superior Court Magistrate Jonathon Lack said he found the repeated telephone calls to Palin's parents, some of them recorded and played at the hearing, to be "very disturbing."

Lack rejected Palin's request for a restraining order against the teen's mother, Karen Christy, who called Palin's parents only twice.

Honestly, does Mitt Romney have to put up with this sort of thing? Of course not. No one's afraid of him.

The tragedy of Sarah Palin is really a tragedy for the decent people of this country. She was the center of a vicious series of political attacks led by the president himself, joined in gleefully by the full range of the American political, media, entertainment, and academic elite. The predictable result is Palin finds herself dealing with all manner of invasive behavior from lunatic stalkers to hackers peering into her email and all the rest (that hacker kid, btw, went to jail for that caper, but I'll bet he'll be dining out on his antics until he's well into his thirties). No one's so "dumb" or "dangerous" to deserve that, at least as long as Al Sharpton is treated as some sort of elder statesman.

We have a bottomless supply of Mitt Romneys because the Sarah Palins are regarded as less than human and treated as such, even though we would all be better off with her practical approach to public policy, rather than the grand schemes of the bi-partisan party of government. That is indeed a tragedy because our "conservative" representatives end up not being as representative so much as they are able to adopt a passing complexion for the media, which would dehumanize them to the point of being "unelectable" and then lament over the tragedy of it all.

Left Tea Party: California Teachers Rally Against Reality

Watch out, wingnuts! California's teachers unions are organizing a week's worth of rallies, teach-ins, protests, sit-ins, and - who knows? - hunger strikes to protest against the usual "draconian" cuts against the education lobby. As there are no Republicans with any real say in the direction of the state's budget, this is more a civil war on the Left over diminishing spoils, rather than a war against Evil Plutocrats.

Thousands of California teachers are expected to take part in a weeklong series of rallies and sit-ins this week at the Capitol and throughout the state to protest possible spending cuts in the state budget.

Teachers face the threat of mass layoffs, larger classes and the elimination of myriad programs because of California's $15.4 billion budget shortfall.

The California Teachers Association is pressing Gov. Jerry Brown to back off his call for a special election and instead push GOP lawmakers to directly approve an extension of higher sales, income and vehicle taxes.

Union President David Sanchez says if the taxes aren't approved, 21,000 teachers will lose their jobs next fall. They've already received pink slips.

Freeway billboards bearing the campaign's tagline, State of Emergency, are up throughout the state.

I've been hearing radio ads all week about this. They're full of the usual querulous voices about how mysterious budget-cutting forces are threatening the state with doom and destruction. Back in the olden days (i.e. 2003 - 2010), they focused their ire on the Governator, which was simple enough. Now, it's just ... them. They're out to get teachers, don't you know.

In the past, the teachers' crocodile tears over draconian cuts have been enough to freak out parents. But at some point they have to realize that all of that education spending is not actually going to educate their kids, but to pay for the sinecures of the adults.

What The Heck Happened...

Herman's Hermits: The Short Knives Come Out For Herman Cain

Didn't watch the Republican debate the other night, but have been fascinated by the post-debate debate over Herman Cain. Cain is a favorite among some big league conservative bloggers, especially Erick Erickson and Stacy McCain. He did well enough at the debate (against experienced pols like Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum) that the Frank Luntz focus group declared Cain to have been the winner of the debate. Yet, Republican Establishment types have spent the days after going out of their way to declare Cain to be little more than a fringe 2%-er with no hope of prevailing over the likes of Mitt "Romneycare" Romney or Newt "1995" Gingrich. Hugh Hewitt is typical
This is why the GOP needs to rethink its debate schedule and why the RNC should take over the operation of the debates and exile Cain, Johnson and Paul as well as every other candidate without a prayer of winning. (Santorum is a long shot, but he has a realistic though small chance of winning the nomination, while the others do not.) The seriousness of the fiscal crisis requires the GOP and its candidates to act seriously, and allowing marginal candidates to eat up time and distract from the enormous problems facing the country is not serious.
This brought forth a strong dissent from Jeff Goldstein
Here’s an idea, Hugh: how about you let the market — in this case, GOP and independent voters, along with those voters horrified by what Obama has done since taking office — decide who they want to represent them. You know. Like, as if you actually believed in such a thing.

Or else knock it off with the freedom and individual liberty shit. Because you’re proving yourself to be every bit the out-of-touch political insider that the TEA Party rose up to knock on their arrogant asses in 2010 — and in so doing, proving yourself to be less a conservative than a political opportunist and GOP party lackey. And frankly, we don’t need you to tell us who our candidates can and cannot be — and we’ll thank you to stop trying to pare down the field artificially so that you can stick us with the next bunch of stiff-haired, milquetoast, neutered, poll-managed centrist duds that Democrats enjoy beating in November like rubber-suited gimps.

And Vox Day points out that at least one of the "marginal" candidates - that would be Ron Paul - is outpolling "major" players like Tim Pawlenty.
It not remarkable how a powerful congressman who performs well in the polls, raises more money than the other candidates, is more intellectually formidable than any of them, and was proven to be correct about both the endless nature of the foreign interventionism of the last decade and the fragility of the banking system is automatically deemed "unelectable" and a "minor candidate". What is remarkable is the large number of mindless, thoughtless Republicans who, despite their feigned disdain for it, blithely accept the mainstream media's assertions and obey the stage management of the party elders.
I can agree that you can't just have 20 or 30 people crowding the stage, but the idea that Romney, Gingrich, and Pawlenty are prohibitive favorites is wrong to the point of being touchingly naive. Where are the Romney people? The Gingrich warriors? The Pawlenty partisans? I don't think there are any, or rather there are no enthusiastic supporters of any of these men. But, that's not the case with every GOP presidential prospect out there.

Ron Paul has a passionate following that, I'll bet, will keep him in the race longer than Gingrich or Pawlenty. Yeah, Paul comes off as "fringe," but he's not a joke like the Democrats' fringe candidates. Paul spent the 2008 campaign ranting about banks, the Fed, out of control spending, and a failing economy. What was the reaction of the Establishment? Lots of "crazy uncle" jokes. Whoops. Is he the guy I'm going to vote for? Probably not, but I'm definitely not voting for the guy who signed Romneycare into law.

Herman Cain has low name recognition, but he is apparently a personally impressive man. Maybe Herman Cain hasn't impressed Karl Rove or Bill Kristol, but he's impressed people who have shown themselves to be more in touch with what kind of politicians have been able to win elections lately. Cain supporters like RS McCain and Erick Erickson were also quick to pick up on insurgents like Marco Rubio and Christine O'Donnell, which ought to give them more credibility than the pros who have picked a lot of bland, handsome losers the last few years.

Also, I keep hearing that Sarah Palin is "damaged goods" and "unelectable." But, announce that she's going to give a speech and you know two things will happen (1) a large boisterous crowd will show up and cheer her every word and (2) everything she says will make a lot more sense than Mitt Romney trying to explain away Romneycare or Newt Gingrich trying to explain why all of his wives began as his mistresses.

Are you starting to see a pattern yet?

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