The Barbershop has re-located

The proprietor has moved the shop to ChicagoNow, a Chicago Tribune site that showcases some of the best bloggers in the Chicago area. You can logo on to the Barbershop home page here. The ChicagoNow home page is here.

You'll still be able to post comments with the same ease as in this location. The proprietor also will keep this web site alive if you wish to review old posts.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Mistakes were made."

It has become a cliche, but whenever politicians are caught in a blunder, they can be counted on to revert to the passive voice. That's to avoid saying, "So, I made the mistake." Or: "The mistake was mine." Or to suggest that someone else made the mistake.

So how did Obama's Homeland Security boss Janet Napolitano respond when she was asked about the goofy Air Force One flyover of Ground Zero? Here is the text:

NAPOLITANO: My understanding is the FAA sanctioned that, but I share that concern. I don't know how that happened and we want to get to the bottom of that. You know, mistakes were made. Mistakes shouldn't be repeated.

Cost of the Air Force One fiasco: $325,000

According to the Associate Press. View here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Government, organized labor to run the Auto Industry

How scary is that?

By Dennis Byrne
Real Clear Politics

As the future of the domestic auto industry became clearer Tuesday, it appears that an unprecedented government and organized labor partnership would end up running the companies, and if that doesn't give you pause, nothing will.

Under proposed and tentative agreements, the government (meaning us taxpayers) would own half of General Motors and an undetermined slice of a 10 percent stake in Chrysler. In addition, the United Auto Workers Union would own 55 percent of Chrysler and 39 percent of GM.

There's some poetic justice in the possibility that organized labor, which had so much to do with the failure of the domestic auto industry, could end up holding so much of the bag for the mess it helped create. But how is it that we taxpayers now would have a share of two worthless companies that months ago should have gone into bankruptcy? The not-so-funny irony....

Read the rest in RealClearPolitics.

Bush didn't do it.

The East Coast, media and political classes are in the habit of blaming President George W. Bush for everything bad. But if something good has happened, Bush can't be in any way credited for it.

The latest example comes from Tom Friedman, a New York Times columnist who perfectly mirrors this sanctimonious know-it-all attitude.

Here he explains why we've had no more 9-11s during the Bush administration:
I believe that the most important reason there has not been another 9/11, besides the improved security and intelligence, is that Al Qaeda is primarily focused on defeating America in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world — particularly in Iraq. Al Qaeda knows that if it can destroy the U.S. effort (still a long shot) to build a decent, modernizing society in Iraq, it will undermine every U.S. ally in the region.
Sigh. Don't they ever get tired of writing the same thing, over and over again?

And speaking of trying to destroy "the U.S. [longshot] effort to build a decent, moderning society in Iraq," no one has tried harder than the East Coast, media and political classes.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's 10 a.m. Do you know where your Air Force One is?

When asked by reporters about the startling fly-over of New York City by a plane that serves as Air Force One, glib Robert Gibbs, President Obama's spokesman, said errr, I, I, uhh, I, hmmm and huh.

“I was working on other things," he finally said. "You might be surprised to know that I don’t know every movement of Air Force One."

Yes, well someone did at the White House. It was Louis E. Caldera, director of the White House Military Office and former secretary of the army in the Clinton administration. So, you can't blame the Pentagon or the Air Force. Now, we are supposed to buy the act that Caldera was working entirely on his own, as if he reported to no one in the White House, such as the acting communications director. After the furor dies down, Caldera undoubtedly will be gone. And if the media have their way, so will any remembrance of this major gaffe.

Torturous definitions of detainee "torture"

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

While reading those controversial, recently declassified memos that provide the Bush administration's legal justification for "torturing" terrorist detainees, I wondered why they had left out one called "On the Rocks."

My high school Spanish teacher imposed that particular type of torture on miscreants who failed to accurately conjugate estar or who were languidly gazing out the classroom window, picturing the beauties over at St. Scholastica. Rare was the student who at least once a semester didn't spend at least five minutes kneeling on his knuckles (the "rocks").

Ha, you say, that doesn't sound so bad, and certainly not as bad as the horrors the evil Bush administration inflicted on terrorists. To which I'd ask: Which horrors? Judging by the condemnations issuing forth from the American Civil Liberties Union and other professional rebukers, you'd think that our government had been jamming bamboo sticks under fingernails.

Too bad few of those who have railed against America's "crimes against humanity" have actually read the memos. What they would have found are variations of "On the Rocks." Here are some:

* A one-time face slap, but only with spread fingers and an open palm, being careful not to hurt the poor dear.

* Nudity, with "ambient temperature" at least 68 degrees, but not before fellow detainees, because that might embarrass him.

* Something called "flicking," which means dipping your hand in water and "propelling droplets" at the detainee's face.

* An "abdominal slap" that the interrogators carefully deliver above the navel and below the sternum from no more than 18 inches away. (No fists or rings on fingers allowed.)

* Of course, there's the infamous "water boarding," in which the detainee is made to feel like he is drowning, but he knows better (thanks to the disclosure of the technique). "A single application of water may not last more than 40 seconds" and the number of individual applications of water lasting 10 seconds or longer may not exceed six."

And so forth. You get the idea.

Only lawyers could have written all this and if you got through only one of the memos, you'd quickly realize that they bulged with caveats, qualifications, exceptions and conditions, all designed for one purpose: to protect the detainee from injury and even, in some cases, pain. If this is the kind of torture that we're wringing our hands over, then the memos reveal to the world that when it comes to interrogating captured enemy combatants, we're pussycats. It also reveals to our enemies that they really don't need to worry about real, honest-to-God torture at American hands.

Is another country as finicky as America when it comes to protecting the "rights" of its sworn and unrepentant enemies? Is any country as masochistic as America when it comes to flogging itself for its perceived flaws. Does any other county have as many loudmouths who would exploit such critical questions for their cheap political value?

So, where to from here? Prosecute Bush administration lawyers for providing requested legal opinions? If so, how many lawyers will sign up to give President Barack Obama their honest opinions about controversial policies? I'd love to see their memos redefining the limits of "enhanced interrogation" as envisioned by Obama and his brain, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: "Interrogations can only be conducted over three cups of tea in the presidential suite at the Drake Hotel. Care must be taken that the tea is not too tepid or too hot to cause discomfort to the detainee's lips. Interrogators who fall short of this standard will be shot."

For comments posted on the Tribune web site, go here. You are invited to join the discussion.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Glendon declines commencement honor from Notre Dame

Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican declines to accept the school's highest honor because it also is honoring the anti-life President Barack Obama.

Details are here.

Air Force One photo op panics NYC - finger-pointing begins

What nitwit came up with this idea?

The Obama White House says knows n-o-t-h-i-n-g about why Air Force One is flying low over New York City, panicking thousands. Bunk. Who would be more interested in this than the Obama White House.

In addition to all the other questions raised by this incident, the one I find most intriguing is why public money is being used for a "photo op." What possibly could be the reason for this, other than The One's hubris?

Here's a good report in the Christian Science Monitor

Support for Free Market Economy Up Seven Points Since December

Americans have had a taste of Obama's economic recipe and they don't like it.

Seventy-seven percent of U.S. voters say that they prefer a free market economy over a government-managed economy. That’s up seven points since December.

The latest Rasmussen national telephone survey also found that just 11 percent now prefer a government-run economy, down from 15 percent four months ago.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

No democracy among Democrats

Here Judd Gregg (the guy who jumped shipped after he found out what he was expected to do as the Commerce Secretary in the Obama administration) explains how the Democrats are trying to ram through a total makeover of health care. There are other insights as well that he gleaned from his short time on the inside.

Friday, April 24, 2009

This you've got to see.

Here is Barney Frank arguing that the "housing bubble" isn't at all like the "dot-com" bubble so he thinks that we should continue to promote home ownership.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

High school administrators accused of "censorship" for doing the right thing

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Daily Observer

Here we go again, as defenders of unbridled high school journalism ride in on their high horses, raising alarms over the “censorship” of school newspapers. The very Republic, we are obliged to believe, is “at risk.”

Their latest crusade was launched by the recent resignation of a student newspaper advisor at Stevenson High School in protest of the administration’s newly instituted “prior review” of the student newspaper before publication. She and like minds are censuring the school administration because, they assert, prior review amounts to “censorship.”

Wah, wah, wah.

Read more in the Chicago Daily Observer

60% Say Government Has Too Much Power, Too Much Money

Rasmussen Reports also finds that 85 percent of Mainstream Americans say that government has too much power and money, while only two percent of the "political class" agree.

Bad news for Obama?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Obama orders $100 million in office supply cuts

Wait. Does this mean that there's $100 million worth of paper, pens and paperclips that can be cut from the federal budget? So, how much does that leave that isn't cut?

Senator's husband's firm cashes in on crisis

Here's a story that I'll bet you won't see recovered by the network news shops.

Obama Open to Prosecution of Officials Who Cleared Interrogation Tactics

This defies all rational thinking. Never in our nation's history has one administration demonstrated such animus to a preceding one. Yes, Thomas Jefferson, for example, took the national on an entirely different path than his predecessor, John Adams, but as far as I am aware, there was never an effort to prosecute anyone in the Adams administration or Adams himself (which is the logical extension of what Obama is suggesting).

This is insanity. Would this set a precedent for the next president to prosecute someone in the Obama administration (or Obama himself) for their actions while in office? Obama needs to think long and hard about this.

Tea parties define mainstream America

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

If you just listened to unfair and unbalanced CNN as well as some Chicago media outlets, you'd get the idea that the growing number of "so-called" tea parties is just a right-wing conspiracy that managed to lure a few hundred impressionable loonies from their dark recesses.

No one in his right mind, we're told, would ever think that it's a manifestation of the growing split between mainstream Americans and the political class; a mushrooming fear of the out-of-control audacity of the Obama administration; or rising disgust with political machinations, no matter what the party.

Consider the numbers. Rasmussen Reports has tried to quantify the split between the political class and the rest of us using a "political class index." It shows:

•Three-quarters of the political class gives Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner rave reviews; only 12 percent of mainstream Americans did.

•Fifty-nine percent of "mainstreamers" think that troubled insurance giant American International Group Inc. should be allowed to fail; only 7 percent of the political class does. Sixty-seven percent of mainstreamers say politicians should give back any campaign contributions they received from AIG; only 29 percent of the political class agrees.

•Two-thirds of mainstreamers say that better protection for the nation's borders and reducing illegal Immigration is "very important." Only one-third of the political class does.

•More than half of Americans can be classified as "mainstream" or "populist." Only 7 percent identify with the political class.

Rasmussen found that Democrats, Republicans and independents generally share mainstream views in equal proportions. In other words, the greater divide in this country may not be between Democrats and Republicans or conservatives and liberals, but between the mainstream and the political class.

I think that the fundamental split between the political class and rest of us shows up in other ways: Rasmussen recently found that 62 percent of Illinois voters want Sen. Roland Burris to resign, 54 percent would definitely vote against him next year and only 19 percent have a favorable opinion of him. Only 4 percent will definitely vote for him. Lest we forget, Burris is a Democrat in a Democratic state, and Burris is a creature spawned by the political class. Could Illinois voters finally have had enough?

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was once the most popular choice to take President Barack Obama's place in the Senate, but after reports that the feds were looking into claims that Jackson's associates might have offered then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich as much as $5 million for the seat, 63 percent viewed him unfavorably. Seventy-four percent of the state's voters say future Senate vacancies should be filled by a special election, like the one that the state's political class—which happens to be mostly Democrats—blocked.

On the national level, only 27 percent of voters want a second economic stimulus package, but 74 percent say Congress likely will pass one anyway. Fewer than a quarter of Americans believe the federal government reflects the will of the people. Democratic congressional candidates now are regarded with about the same disdain as Republicans. While some polls show that Obama's approval ratings are generally high (as they are for most starting presidents), the percentage of people who strongly disapprove of his conduct in office now is just about equal to the number of those who strongly approve. (All of these polls were conducted by Rasmussen.) Obama's election has failed to mend the split between the mainstream and the political class. If anything, his wild, reckless economic policies are widening that split. The folks at the tea parties only confirmed it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It's about time

United set large charge for large travelers, reports Crain's Chicago Business

This can't be shown often enough

Democratic culpability in the mortgage mess:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Democrats hope to torch secret ballot

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

If anyone introduced legislation wiping out your right to vote secretly, he'd be run out of town. The secret ballot is cherished, ensuring that no person, organization or government can intimidate or threaten us in the free exercise of our right to choose. For this reason, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and a raft of other supporters of the ironically named Employee Free Choice Act deserve to meet the figurative tar bucket and rail.

This dramatic change in labor law would allow workers to form a union if a majority openly signed a card in favor of union representation. Not required is an election in which workers can vote confidentially without peer pressure.

As a former union officer, I can sympathize with the bill's purpose of facilitating union organizing. As a small businessman, I don't agree with so blatantly loading the dice in favor of organized labor. ( I am repulsed by a provision that would turn over certain contract negotiations to binding arbitration, a revolutionary government intrusion into private sector labor relations.)

But those are side issues. Nothing can justify any government stripping away the protections of a secret ballot. Ludicrously, some bill supporters say it wouldn't. "It would only give workers a choice to waive that right [to a secret ballot]," said Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.). And why, pray tell, would they do that? Because, Barrow continued, it would be "the price they'd be willing to pay in order to avoid a campaign that goes along with a secret ballot election." Such goofiness is a measure of how desperate organized labor and their toadies have become in trying to deny the obvious.

When Congress returns from its spring recess, it will be challenged to uphold the cherished principle of the secret ballot, and the betting is that only a Senate filibuster stands in its way. In that, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) is the deciding vote. He recently said he would vote against the bill, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said if Specter does, he would not be admitted into Democratic ranks, a move that supposedly would make it easier for the Republican to win re-election next year in the blue state.

Truth is, I wouldn't put money on anything Specter plans to do. President Barack Obama will sign the bill if it gets to his desk, but if it doesn't labor shouldn't feel bad; Obama already has bestowed bountiful blessings on it, although you might not have noticed unless you're an avid reader of the Federal Register. Almost the first thing Obama did as president was to sign executive orders that defer to organized labor's aggressive demands. The orders, reversing Bush administration policy, effectively increase the costs of taxpayer-funded projects and further complicate an already burdensome web of federal red tape.

Executive order 13502, which applies to all federal construction projects of $25 million or more, "encourages" federal agencies to require the use of controversial "project labor agreements." The philosophy behind the agreements is simple: If you can't organize an employer's shop, you can at least get your foot in the door by muscling labor agreements out of companies on a project-by-project basis. Open-shop companies would have to negotiate with whatever union shows up, even before a single employee is hired. It reduces competition for federal projects and weakens government neutrality in the bidding process. The order also mandates a study by administration officials to determine whether the agreements should be extended into other areas of government purchasing, and guess what they'll decide?

Another executive order removes a requirement that most government contractors post a notice on site of employee rights, including this important one: You don't have to be a union member to be hired. Another executive order requires a new contractor (on jobs of $100,000 or more) that is taking over a project from another contractor to hire the old employees first. The effect, again, is to make it harder for open-shop employers to compete for new contracts.

"To the victor belong the spoils," President Andrew Jackson famously said in defense of doing favors for his supporters, and it has been that way in the nearly two centuries since then; that Obama is showering boons on his supporters should surprise no one. Except that Obama, with his usual elan and growing disrespect for reality, declared these changes were done for, ahem, economy and efficiency. Aw, c'mon, Mr. President, don't insult us with your pretense. Your election has brought about a change in policies (for the worse, I'd say), but no change in the way things are done.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Obama administration charges juice loan interest rates

Some banks that initially received TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money from Washington want to return it. That should please everyone, especially taxpayers who are fronting the money in the first place.

But the Obama administration is reluctant to allow the repayments, figuring, I guess, that they have a lot more fiddling to do with the banks.

Here's the experience that one bank had when it returned its TARP money, according to the New York Times.

Douglas Leech, the founder and chief executive of Centra Bank, a small West Virginia bank that participated in the capital assistance program but returned the money after the government imposed new conditions, said he complained strongly about the Treasury Department’s decision to demand repayment of the warrants. That effectively raised the interest rate he paid on a $15 million loan to an annual rate of about 60 percent, he said.

“What they did is wrong and fundamentally un-American,” he said. “Even though the government told us to take this money to increase our lending, the extra charge meant we had less money to lend. It was the equivalent of a penalty for early withdrawal."

(The warrants he mentioned are the stock warrants the banks had to grant to the federal government in exchange for the loans. Now that the camel's nose is in the tent and the government has tasted the power of running the private sector, there's apparently no backing out.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hastert to lobby for Turkey

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a west suburban Repbublican, gets his due from Turkey. (Story here)

It's probably just a coincidence that he blocked--as the Speaker and at the request of then President Bill Clinton--a resolution condemning the Turks' killing of 1.5 million Armenians during the 1915-1916 genocide and that he shares (with former House Democratic Majority Leader Richard Gephardt) a $35,000-a-month contract to lobby Congress on behalf of Turkey.

True bipartisanship, that.

City 'wolfpacks' to hunt potholes

Wait, wasn't any "shovel-ready" project supposed to have "lasting impact," according to the Obama administration?

According to this, tens of millions of dollars of federal stimulus funding will go "resurfacing" Chicago streets. Considering the brief life-span of Chicago streets, how can the program meet the "lasting impact" standard. Unless, they meant a "lasting impact" that is political, and help get Mayor Richard M. Daley out of his pothole problem.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Frank never answers the student's question, and instead tries to make the student look like he has done something wrong merely by asking. Frank never explains his efforts to presure lenders into making loans to unqualified borrowers as part of the community reinvestment act.

For a response to Frank's dodging and weaving, watch this video:

Just 53% Say Capitalism Better Than Socialism

That's according to a new Rasmussen Reports. It makes me wonder what they're teaching in schools these days.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Big Victory for Daley in Suburban Elections

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Daily Observer

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley wasn’t on the ballots in Bensenville or Des Plaines, yet he won resounding victories in the northwestern suburbs when his candidates for town leadership swept away their competition.

Daley’s successful assault on the towns now leaves serious questions about the viability of any remaining opposition to O’Hare Airport expansion. For the Chicago Boss, it has to be a sweet climax to his decade-long campaign to silence elected suburban opposition to the $16-billion-plus airport enlargement.

In Bensenville, he broke the back of O’Hare Airport expansion opposition by vanquishing President John Geils and in Des Plaines, he strengthened his pro-expansion tentacles with the mayoral election of the pro-expansion Martin Moylan.

Read more in the Chicago Daily Observer

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Notre Dame is wrong

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

As a Marquette University graduate, I don't give a hoot what the University of Notre Dame does. It can endow an academic chair in honor of Attila the Hun for all I care, and my life would proceed apace.

But the Indiana school somehow has been crowned the "nation's pre-eminent Catholic university"—a dubious claim considering the quality of other Catholic colleges. So everyone must have an opinion on the honors it will award to President Barack Obama while giving him a commencement podium to expound, if he wishes, his extremist positions on "reproductive rights."

Thus, even secular columnists—well practiced in telling those papists, but not, say, Unitarian-Universalists what to do—have assigned themselves to defend Notre Dame. Don't give in, they say, to troglodytes who would sink academic freedom by demanding that an institution that bills itself as Catholic should honor one of the faith's central tenets: the inviolate right of every life created in its maker's image to enjoy all the inalienable rights bestowed on every person. Shame on those Catholics.

Social justice is another key teaching of the Catholic Church. (This will surprise some who have ignorantly categorized the Catholic Church as a bastion of oppression and indifference.) Now suppose Notre Dame decided to confer an honorary degree on an acknowledged opponent of that particular church teaching, someone like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, no adherent of social justice he.

Because it's always good to hear from "the other side" in academe, let's suggest more folks that Notre Dame should honor: North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Il, who can explain why his approach to social justice is beneficial to all mankind. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who can expound on why the deaths of more than 200,000 and the displacement of more than 2 million people in Darfur was an exercise in social justice. We can all learn from listening graciously to this criminal, recently indicted by the International Criminal Court. Then there's Osama bin Laden. . . .Well, you get the point, which you will protest is too easily made. After all, Obama is none of those characters, and to in anyway equate them with the president is insulting, outrageous. And so it is. But there's this:

It is a firmly held belief by millions of Catholics, hierarchy and laity alike, that the abortion of millions of unborn people is a catastrophe of Holocaust proportions. To them, the legalized slaughter of innocents brutalizes us all. You might not agree, you might argue that the church is wrong on matters of "reproductive rights" and, therefore, there's nothing wrong with Notre Dame honoring Obama. But don't you see? You're telling Catholics what they should believe. It's as arrogant as entering a temple or mosque and telling the adherents that their refusal to eat pork is wrong, so line up for your ration of bacon. So much for your precious "diversity."

You can argue that the purpose of any university is discourse and disputation, so Notre Dame should invite whomever it pleases. John Henry Newman, a respected Catholic scholar, has a deeper, less simple-minded take. In his essay "The Idea of a University," he calls the university a "tribunal of truth." It is arrived at, yes, by conversing and disputation.

But truth is a hard proposition for modern ears to hear. To them, the search for truth is the entire story; its discovery is not to be admitted because truth, say some, is unknowable.

Newman continues: "Truth, a subtle, invisible, manifold spirit, is poured into the mind of the scholar by his eyes and ears, through his affections, imagination and reason; it is poured into his mind and is sealed up there in perpetuity by propounding and repeating it, by questioning and requestioning, by correcting and explaining, by progressing and then recurring to first principles, by all those ways which are implied in the word 'catechizing.' " If, then, disputation is the reason for Obama's appearance, then let it be in a classroom or confrontational format, where the antagonists can fence. Honoring Obama is not the same as disputing him.

Disputation in the academic sense is not the reason for Obama's appearance. Notre Dame assuredly knew that the Obama honors would cause a massive controversy, one that would catch the nation's attention and divide the church. It was a cynical move by an institution captivated by its own "pre-eminence" to draw attention to itself. At the expense of its (now-dead) principles.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A rift in the Democratic Party?

After hammering away at Republicans for years about their split between moderate and conservative members, the media need to take note of the rift between moderates and liberals that is splitting the Democratic Party and has the White House worried about enacting the president's far-left agenda. Details in Rasmussen Reports

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Maybe Obama should stay in Europe

Rasmussen Reports finds that the number of Americans who strongly disapprove of Obama's presidential performance has jumped dramatically since his inauguration. The number who strongly approve has declined slightly.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dennis Byrne reviews the news tonight with Milt Rosenberg on WGN radio at 9 p.m.

It ain't working...

An item from the-chickens-have-come-home-to-roost department (Part 1):

AIG Rescue Has Failed, Greenberg Tells Lawmakers

Beware of Presidents Bearing Gifts

LONDON (API)—President Barack Obama, attending the G-20 summit, today presented Queen Elizabeth with a $250 gift certificate to Target stores as an “expression of American solidarity” with Great Britain.

At the same time, the president, responding to the uproar created by his chintzy gift of a bunch of old movie DVDs to British Prime Minister Brown weeks ago, sought to smooth things over by presenting him a with dozen White Castle Sliders. Brown cordially received the gift of Krystal’s miniature square hamburgers, wrapped in a tasteful paper sack.

However, a source familiar with the situation said the prime minister planned to “regift that crap” to the pet dogs at Number 10 Downing Street.

“We had planned to give the Queen an iPod, loaded with pictures of her last visit to America,” First Lady Michelle Obama later cheerfully explained to reporters. “But, we thought Her Majesty might already have one—you know she’s the queen and all that—so we just figured that if she did, she could use the certificate for whatever she wanted. Besides,” Mrs. Obama added, “we had already given recordings to the prime minister, and if we did the same for the Queen, some people might think we totally lack imagination in the gift-giving department.”

As it did after the DVD controversy, the British press was furious over the perceived slight to the Queen and regarded the hamburgers as only deepening what it called it the worst crisis since the War of 1812 between the two previously inseparable allies. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised intensified negotiations to restore normalcy. “We need to address the underlying causes of the problem that has festered over the past eight years of failed diplomacy,” said.

Clinton ignored media questions about whether a present she had earlier presented to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov bearing an incorrect translation that implied hostility rather than peacemaking was symptomatic of Obama’s own failed diplomacy.

In reaction, the New York Times opined editorially that the gift-giving brouhaha was a “tempest in a teapot,” a reference to the English taste for the beverage. Said the editorial: “We believe other overriding issues at the summit deserve greater coverage and more in-depth analysis, which is why we have assigned our best writers to report on Mrs. Obama’s outfits.

Congressional Republicans, meeting in caucus, could not agree about what to say.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Will the Senate approve a radical as Health and Human Services Committee?

Probably, but here is some interesting information on her.

Bensenville, DesPlaines: Chicago's new 51st and 52nd wards.

Daley is muscling into suburban elections near O'Hare, according to critics cited in a Tribune story.

A Daley spokeswoman said she didn't know any of the political operatives involved, although they worked for him politically. Sorry, Richie, the line that you've got no interest in the suburbs near O'Hare--where opposition to the airport expansion is strong--just doesn't work anymore.

No, a thousand times no

A poll shows some support for government bailouts for failing newspapers (which could be all of them). Thirty-three percent said they would support legislation that would allow newspapers become tax-exempt non-profit organizations as long as they don't endorse political candidates.

Thankfully, 51 percent oppose the legislation, introduced last week by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), thus showing that the entirety of the American public hasn't lost its mind. Besides some First Amendment questions, the very idea of a government-run media should set spines shivering. While the poll shows a slight majority believe that newspapers are essential to a democracy, the publications--like GM and banks--should rise or fall on their own merits. If all the people who believe that newspapers are essential actually were regular readers, newspapers probably wouldn't have the problems they're having.