Hooray for prescriptive grammar

July 16, 2014

OMG the emperor has no clothes!

July 12, 2014

It took six years, but the press corps is finally opening mocking President Obama.


Neatly tying two scandals together

July 4, 2014

Last summer, the Veterans Administration shifted staff from dealing with veterans to helping with Obamacare enrollment, charges a whistleblower due to testify before Congress next week.


Sonia Sotomayor is bad at logic

July 4, 2014

Justice Sonia Sotomayor (joined by Justices Ginsberg and Kagan), is upset with the rest of the rest of the Supreme Court:

Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word. Not so today. . . That action evinces disregard for even the newest of this Court’s precedents and undermines confidence in this institution.

The context of this bellyache is an injunction issued by the Supreme Court barring the enforcement of the Obama administration’s birth control mandate against Wheaton College. Myriad religious organizations, including Wheaton, complained that complying would violate their religious beliefs. The administration then responded with a bogus “accommodation”, wherein the organizations would file a form objecting to the mandate, at which point pretty much the same thing would happen: the health insurer would issue a separate policy just for birth control, and pass the cost on to the organization. The various religious organizations weren’t fooled by this legerdemain.

The basis for Sotomayor’s complaint was a section in the majority opinion in the Hobby Lobby case that read:

In fact, HHS has already devised and implemented a system that seeks to respect the religious liberty of religious nonprofit corporations while ensuring [blah blah blah]. . . We therefore conclude that this system constitutes an alternative that achieves all of the Government’s aims while providing greater respect for religious liberty.

Thus, Sotomayor, et al. complain, the majority already approved the “accommodation” and are now going back on it. But they are not.

Under the RFRA, the government cannot burden religious freedom unless it is the least restrictive means to accomplish a compelling state interest. Nothing here says that the accommodation is the least restrictive means. To the contrary, it says only that the accommodation is a less restrictive means than the mandate that the administration sought to impose on Hobby Lobby, and therefore the mandate cannot be the least restrictive means. (ASIDE: The majority opinion also never found that free birth control was a compelling state interest, either.)

It’s sad that three Supreme Court justices don’t understand the basic logical distinction between “less” and “least”.

TANGENTIAL POSTSCRIPT: However, if you want an example of the Supreme Court going back on its word, there’s New Haven v. Briscoe from 2012. In that case, Supreme Court waffling left the hapless city of New Haven with no way to follow the law. In 2009, the city set aside the results of a firefighters test because no black applicants passed the test and they were afraid of a discrimination lawsuit on the basis of disparate impact (the theory wherein you can find racial discrimination based purely on numbers, without any evidence of actual discriminatory policy or conduct). The Supreme Court said they were wrong to set aside the test, adding:

If, after it certifies the results, the City faces a disparate-impact suit, then in light of our holding today it should be clear that the City would avoid disparate-impact liability based on the strong basis in evidence that, had it not certified the results, it would have been subject to disparate–treatment liability.

This certainly sounds like the Court saying that New Haven was safe from a disparate impact suit. But when such a such a suit duly appeared, the lower court found for the plaintiff, and the Supreme Court wouldn’t even grant cert. The city, quite literally, was sued successfully for obeying the Supreme Court.

Strangely, I don’t remember a strongly worded dissent in that case.


There is no two-state solution

July 3, 2014

You can’t make peace in the Middle East with a two-state solution, because one of the parties — the Palestinians – doesn’t want it. A poll of Palestinians finds that only 27% favor a two-state solution. Even fewer (10%) favor a one-state solution in which Jews and Arabs have equal rights. The vast majority (60%) want all the Jews driven out.

The West persists in pushing a two-state solution because it seems really reasonable to us, but it’s doomed because the Palestinians don’t want it. Israel goes along with the negotiations in order to seem reasonable to us, but they know by now that those negotiations are pointless.

The only way Israel can have peace is to make the Palestinians unable to hurt them. One way to do that would be to wipe them out — that’s what 60% of Palestinians would do to Israel if they could — but the Israelis, being civilized people, won’t do that. Instead, they settle for a security fence and a blockade. Naturally, the Western left opposes the security fence and the blockade.

(Via ElderOfZiyon.)


Shocking

July 3, 2014

A White House panel appointed to approve President Obama’s domestic spying program has approved President Obama’s domestic spying program.


Killed by Obamacare

July 2, 2014

I believe this Nevada woman is the first to be killed by Obamacare:

A Nevada woman taking part in a class-action lawsuit against Nevada’s Obamacare exchange contractor over coverage delays passed away Monday due to complications from her illness, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. . .

The family says Rolain’s tumor was treatable last fall when diagnosed, but became fatal by this spring as she waited for the Obamacare exchange to communicate her coverage to the insurance company. Both Rolain and her husband’s health insurance took effect in March, according to the exchange, but the couple alleged that they were told the coverage wouldn’t be in effect until May, according to the Review Journal.

So this is great news. Obamacare is cutting health care costs already!


The anti-Roosevelt

July 1, 2014

When you talk tough and carry no stick at all, this is what happens:

John Kerry Told Russia It Had ‘Hours’ to Back Off in Ukraine. That Was Five Days Ago.


Cool

June 30, 2014

I want to be Iron Man too! (Via Instapundit.)


I scoff at the rule of law!

June 30, 2014

Reuters reports:

White House will consider whether president can act on his own to mitigate effect of Supreme Court contraception ruling


Hobby Lobby wins

June 30, 2014

The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby (and two other companies), ordering that HHS cannot force their owners to violate their religious beliefs and pay for abortifacients. The opinion is here.

The key argument made by the administration in defense of its policy is that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn’t apply to companies (even closely held companies), because corporations aren’t real people and can’t exercise religion. This is the same argument that they use to attack the free-speech rights of companies.

The Supreme Court majority, in the Citizens United case, rebutted this, pointing out that corporations are simply groups of people who choose to organize their efforts using a certain legal mechanism. It’s those people whose rights were implicated in Citizens United, and in Hobby Lobby. The Supreme Court reiterates their argument here:

As we will show, Congress provided protection for people like the Hahns and Greens by employing a familiar legal fiction: It included corporations within RFRA’s definition of “persons.” But it is important to keep in mind that the purpose of this fiction is to provide protection for human beings. A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends. An established body of law specifies the rights and obligations of the people (including shareholders, officers, and employees) who are associated with a corporation in one way or another. When rights, whether constitutional or statutory, are extended to corporations, the purpose is to protect the rights of these people. For example, extending Fourth Amendment protection to corporations protects the privacy interests of employees and others associated with the company. Protecting corporations from government seizure of their property without just compensation protects all those who have a stake in the corporations’ financial well-being. And protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga, and Mardel protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies.

In holding that Conestoga, as a “secular, for-profit corporation,” lacks RFRA protection, the Third Circuit wrote as follows:

“General business corporations do not, separate and apart from the actions or belief systems of their individual owners or employees, exercise religion. They do not pray, worship, observe sacraments or take other religiously-motivated actions separate and apart from the intention and direction of their individual actors.” 724 F. 3d, at 385 (emphasis added).

All of this is true—but quite beside the point. Corporations, “separate and apart from” the human beings who own, run, and are employed by them, cannot do anything at all.

The left railed against Citizens United for “making corporations into people,” and will doubtless do so here as well. But a moment’s consideration shows that exactly the opposite is true. Treating corporations as people is a “legal fiction” that serves to protect the rights of actual human beings. In contrast, the left believes that corporations really are actual entities (they would probably avoid using the word “people”), but ones without any rights:

HHS argues that the companies cannot sue because they are for-profit corporations, and that the owners cannot sue because the regulations apply only to the companies. . .

ASIDE: The dissent, apparently recognizing that terminating all civil rights for corporations might be bad, claim to limit the application of their principle to for-profit companies. The justify their entirely new carve-out by some sophistry (for-profit corporations, they claim, have no purpose whatsoever other than to turn a profit), but it’s hard to believe they are really in earnest. Their new rule against for-profit corporations wouldn’t last long once a for-profit corporation they like (say, the New York Times) was in the dock.

But, to make it crystal clear where they stand, the dissent also explains that, even if the rights of real human beings were implicated, the government would be free to trample those rights:

Accommodations to religious beliefs or observances, the Court has clarified, must not significantly impinge on the interests of third parties.

The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would override significant interests of the corporations’ employees and covered dependents. It would deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure.

This argument, which the dissent adopts from HHS, claims that accommodating Hobby Lobby’s owners’ religion would impinge on the interests of third parties. That’s true, in a sense. Yes, it would impinge on third-party interests that they HHS’s own policy created! If this were to stand, it would provide a blueprint for neutering any religious freedom claim: simply create a third-party interest against the religious practice, and then observe that accommodating religious would make it go away again.

This did not escape the notice of the majority, who observed:

In a related argument, HHS appears to maintain that a plaintiff cannot prevail on a RFRA claim that seeks an exemption from a legal obligation requiring the plaintiff to confer benefits on third parties. Nothing in the text of RFRA or its basic purposes supports giving the Government an entirely free hand to impose burdens on religious exercise so long as those burdens confer a benefit on other individuals.

To summarize, the left’s position now is that (1) corporations are people exactly enough to stand clear of their owner’s right, but not enough to have rights of their own, and (2) the government can burden religion, so long as in so doing it creates some third-party who benefits from the burden.

UPDATE: An interesting analysis from Mark Rienzi. It includes this observation:

It was well-established that corporations could exercise religion, and that profit-making ventures could also exercise religion. And as the Court pointed out today, the various opinions in Gallagher v. Crown Kosher Markets made it hard to conclude that putting the two together eliminated the ability to engage in religious exercise in the sense of the First Amendment and RFRA. But Hobby Lobby now establishes the point beyond any doubt.

Put that way, it sounds pretty obvious. Unless your school of jurisprudence is entirely ends-directed.

UPDATE: A lot of people on the left are attacking Hobby Lobby (the company), rather than Hobby Lobby (the legal opinion). I think those people are missing the point; what’s important here is the law as it pertains to religious freedom, not Hobby Lobby’s particular choices. But, for what it’s worth, this article addresses every attack against Hobby Lobby I’ve seen, as well as reiterate some of the key legal points.

 


QFT

June 27, 2014

Sad but true.


How Watergate proves the moral superiority of Republicans

June 27, 2014

Yesterday’s passing of two key Watergate figures — Sen. Howard Baker (R-TN), who famously asked “what did the president know and when did he know it”, and IRS commissioner Johnnie Walters, who refused to target Richard Nixon’s political enemies — highlights a key difference between our two political parties: The Republican party is filled with honorable people who stand up for the rule of law, even against their own party’s interests. The Democratic party has few such people, if any at all.

On October 19, 1973, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus (Republican political appointees each) both resigned in protest when Nixon ordered them to fire Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor who headed up the Watergate investigation. Richardson had appointed Cox to the position earlier that year. Alas, today’s Attorney General is no Elliot Richardson. He has no special prosecutor to fire — not for the IRS, not for Gunwalker, not for the HHS, etc. — because he refused to appoint one in the first place. Far from countenancing any kind of investigation into the Obama administration’s wrongdoing, Eric Holder sees his role as “scandal goalie”, protecting the Obama administration from any investigation.

Nixon ultimately was forced from office because he was abandoned by his own party. Republicans had more than enough votes to acquit Nixon in a Senate trial on impeachment articles, but Nixon resigned when informed that he could rely on no more than 15 votes.

Contrast that with today, with Democrats placing their party over everything. Far from holding the Obama administration to account — as Republicans did — they are on the team, doing what they can to obstruct the investigation. As the most pungent example, here’s Elijah Cummings’s (D-MD) abject apology to IRS Commission John Koskinen (no Johnnie Walters is he!) for the appalling nerve of GOP representatives asking tough questions about the IRS’s highly suspicious loss of years of subpoenaed emails:

Elijah Cummings’s role in the IRS investigation has been to blunt any impact it might have by portraying it as a partisan effort. He’s right, in a way. The House investigation of the IRS (etc.) has been partisan. Democrats won’t take part in it, and they have blocked any non-partisan investigation.

In Watergate, Republicans showed that they have principles higher than party loyalty. During the Obama administration, Democrats have shown they do not.


It’s hard to be cynical enough

June 27, 2014

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the New York Times bestseller list is fake, and yet I still am. Is anything they do legit?


Huh?

June 27, 2014

I had thought that the Red Cross was a worthy charity, but this makes me doubt it:

Just how badly does the American Red Cross want to keep secret how it raised and spent over $300 million after Hurricane Sandy?

The charity has hired a fancy law firm to fight a public request we filed with New York state, arguing that information about its Sandy activities is a “trade secret.” . . .

If those details were disclosed, “the American Red Cross would suffer competitive harm because its competitors would be able to mimic the American Red Cross’s business model for an increased competitive advantage,” Levin wrote.

The letter doesn’t specify who the Red Cross’ “competitors” are.

Competitive disadvantage? If the Red Cross’s business is helping people, how could it be bad for others to follow their model? It seems that the Red Cross has fallen victim to the iron law of bureaucracy.

(Via Instapundit.)


This sounds ominous

June 10, 2014

The Telegraph reports:

Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner has created a new post: secretary for strategic co-ordination of national thought.

Wow.

The government hastened to explain that the post isn’t what it sounds like. Then why make it sound like that?


NYT wants more guns for violent criminals

June 9, 2014

The New York Times doesn’t want you to have guns. They definitely don’t want felons to have guns. Except, as Ann Althouse notes, when the case can be used to attack a potential GOP presidential candidate. Then the NYT finds it outrageous that a felon cannot carry a gun. Get this:

Aware of the awkwardness, the two men [that is, the perpetrator and the victim] arranged to meet in the evening quiet of the local community center. Their only previous encounter, a decade ago, had ended with a thrown punch and a broken nose. . .

The punch they shared had come out of who knows where, maybe Iraq, to still a long-ago liquid night. But its impact was still being felt by the former Marine [Eric Pizer], who threw the right jab just days after returning from a second deployment; the victim, who has not breathed the same since; and the governor, who chooses never to exercise an executive power of ancient provenance.

(Emphasis mine.) “The punch they shared”!  Ordinarily a punch is thrown by one person and impacts another, but when we want to rehabilitate the perpetrator for political purposes, it was “shared” by both of them. “Sharing” sounds so much nicer than “maiming”. Naturally, the real culprit isn’t the culprit; no it’s either the booze or the Iraq War, and probably the latter.

Yes, I said “maiming”:

That pop pushed Mr. Frazier’s nose nearly two inches to the right. . . “Broken nose” is almost too flip a term for the damage done. Mr. Frazier says that his nose had to be broken and reset twice, but it remains a bit crooked, aches in the cold and feels constantly congested. “Migraines pretty much daily,” he said.

Pizer, who has a history of getting drunk and maiming people, now wants to be a police officer, but his felony conviction stands in the way. The New York Times thinks that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker should pardon him so that Pizer can realize his ambition of being a cop. Keep in mind, this is someone with a record of misreading a situation and responding with unjustified violence.

The NYT is able to offer the following evidence that Pizer has changed his ways: “”. No, that’s too glib. Let me quote, in their entirety, both of the article’s paragraphs on his post-conviction life:

The former Marine worked as a construction laborer before getting hired to lug Steinways and Schimmels up stairs and around corners. He completed probation and paid off the $7,165.59 in restitution. He met a woman with a child, married, fathered a son, and received joint custody in the divorce.

. . .

Mr. Pizer pushed on. Taking classes part time, he earned an associate degree in criminal justice. He also found allies in two Madison lawyers, David D. Relles and John R. Zwieg, who agreed to help him seek a pardon.

To summarize: he got a job, he got married, he got divorced, he got a community-college degree, and he hired lawyers. In an article about how Pizer deserves a pardon (and Gov. Walker is an awful human being for not giving him one), the NYT is strangely unable to produce even a single fact that would support such a pardon. Well, he does say he’s sorry, so there’s that.

What’s really striking about this piece is the comments from the NYT’s reader-idiots. They are eager to get in line with what they are told to believe. I’ll just quote one, which is typical of many:

I would be absolutely comfortable to learn that Eric Pizer was patrolling my community as a deputy sheriff. It would be even better if here were allowed to serve his own community that way.

Based on what? This is a guy who maimed someone for life because he “saw movement and reacted with his right hand.” Imagine if this guy had been carrying a gun, which is what you say you want!

In all seriousness, perhaps Pizer has turned his life around and is a really good guy now. I hope so. But if so, wouldn’t they be able to come up with some examples more compelling than his ability to hold down a job and get an associate degree part-time? The touching part of the story is how Frazier was willing to meet with Pizer and forgive him. That speaks well of Frazier, but it tells us nothing about Pizer.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, the New York Times is on the record as opposing the restoration of gun rights to felons, making this whole piece particularly bizarre.

(Via Power Line.)

UPDATE: By the way, it’s telling that after years of a massive, publicly-financed fishing expedition, this is all they can come up with.


What the world needs now is DDT

May 27, 2014

Google has seen fit to honor Rachel Carson today. To heck with that. Instead read this: “What the World Needs Now Is DDT.” Some choice quotes:

In her 297 pages, Rachel Carson never mentioned the fact that by the time she was writing, DDT was responsible for saving tens of millions of lives, perhaps hundreds of millions. DDT killed bald eagles because of its persistence in the environment. ”Silent Spring” is now killing African children because of its persistence in the public mind. Public opinion is so firm on DDT that even officials who know it can be employed safely dare not recommend its use.

And:

DDT is a victim of its success, having so thoroughly eliminated malaria in wealthy nations that we forget why we once needed it. But malaria kills Africans today. Those worried about the arrogance of playing God should realize that we have forged an instrument of salvation, and we choose to hide it under our robes.

As Josh Billings once wrote (but is often attributed to Mark Twain), it ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so. We know that DDT is dangerous, but, used properly, it just ain’t so.

POSTSCRIPT: In a Terry Gross interview I had the misfortune to hear on the radio, she alleged that DDT was toxic to humans. Not so. (That’s not even what Carson charged! Carson accused DDT of being bad for birds, not humans.) In fact, the best use for DDT is to use it precisely where humans reside. Alas, the interviewee failed to correct Gross, perpetuating this misinformation.


White House outs CIA station chief

May 25, 2014

As I’ve often said, the thing that was hardest to take about the Plame-Armitage was watching the left pretend that they cared about the identities of covert CIA agent being leaked. Now we have the opportunity to prove their hypocrisy, when we observe whether or not the left gets upset about this:

The CIA’s top officer in Kabul was exposed Saturday by the White House when his name was inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama’s surprise visit with U.S. troops. The White House recognized the mistake and quickly issued a revised list that did not include the individual, who had been identified on the initial release as the “Chief of Station” in Kabul, a designation used by the CIA for its highest-ranking spy in a country.

In the Plame-Armitage affair — the left’s mythology aside — Plame was only technically covert (she worked in America), and her name was accidentally leaked by the State Department. Here we have the CIA station chief in Afghanistan, a real target if there ever were one, being leaked by the White House. Of course, there’s no suggestion that his name was leaked out of malice, but that didn’t happen in the Plame-Armitage affair either.

Then there’s this:

The only other recent case came under significantly different circumstances, when former CIA operative Valerie Plame was exposed as officials of the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit her husband, a former ambassador and fierce critic of the decision to invade Iraq.

This is technically true, insofar as the Bush administration wanted to discredit Joe Wilson’s lies and contemporaneously Plame was exposed. But the clear implication, that the two events were connected, is an OUT-AND-OUT LIE.

The Washington Post, where the offending article appeared, knows this perfectly well. They ran this editorial lamenting the Democrats “myth-making” in 2010, so they have no excuse for signing onto the myth now.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: “When Bushies blew a CIA cover, it was ‘treason’; now, it’s a mistake.” Indeed.


What is censorship?

May 22, 2014

Ken White makes an interesting argument about censorship. It’s thoughtful, but ultimately dead wrong. Let me excerpt the start of it:

1. The First Amendment protects you from government sanction, either directly (by criminal prosecution) or indirectly (when someone uses the government’s laws and the courts to punish you, as in a defamation action). It is currently in vogue to exclaim “NOBODY IS ARGUING OTHERWISE” when someone makes this point. [Expletive.] People are consistently saying that private action (like criticism, or firings) violates the First Amendment, either directly or through sloppy implication. . .

2. The phrase “the spirit of the First Amendment” often signals approaching nonsense. So, regrettably, does the phrase “free speech” when uncoupled from constitutional free speech principles.

(This is all in the context of the A&E network’s brief cancellation of Duck Dynasty last year when it turned out that the Robertson family patriarch disapproved of sodomy.)

In regard to #1, he has a point. People often say “my First Amendment rights are being violated” when what they really mean is “I am being censored.” Some people with a weaker understanding of civics may actually be confused on this point, but most I think are just speaking sloppily.

But White goes wrong in #2. I’ve never heard the phrase “spirit of the First Amendment” used, and when I google it, the first hit is to a Cato Institute article that is clearly talking about government censorship, so let’s skip that point and move on to his next one: that “free speech” is nonsense when uncoupled from constitutional principles.

He is wrong on two levels. The first is legal. The First Amendment reads (in relevant part):

Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech. . .

Note the wording: “the freedom of speech”. The freedom of speech already existed in English law, and the First Amendment merely writes it explicitly into the US Constitution. (It’s a pity the English never did that!) It’s manifestly untrue that free speech is meaningless apart from the Constitution.

I think White would say that he already knew that, and was writing sloppily. But more substantially, he’s wrong a a philosophical level. White believes that free speech is coextensive with the First Amendment, but I think most Americans understand otherwise. Certainly I do. We ought not to conflate free speech with the First Amendment, because free speech is much broader than the First Amendment.

The First Amendment (together with the 14th) protect us from government censorship, but that doesn’t mean that government censorship is the only kind. So what is censorship?

Let’s go back to White’s straw man:

These terms [that is, "spirit of the First Amendment" and "free speech"] often smuggle unprincipled and internally inconsistent concepts — like the doctrine of the Preferred+ First Speaker. The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker holds that when Person A speaks, listeners B, C, and D should refrain from their full range of constitutionally protected expression to preserve the ability of Person A to speak without fear of non-governmental consequences that Person A doesn’t like.

I haven’t heard of this doctrine, and the first four pages of google hits all refer to White’s article or derivatives of it (or are random junk), but I’ll assume that it’s a real, obscure legal concept, and not something that White just made up. Anyway, I don’t think that’s what “free speech” means.

I think free speech means this: If person A wants to communicate with person B, who is willing to receive the communication, it is wrong for person C, a third party uninvolved in the communication, to interfere.

This is just a first-cut; it may need some refinement (national security, juveniles, crowded theaters, etc.), but I think it works pretty well. If Alice asks Charlie to carry a message to Bob, Bob has every right to refuse. But if Alice is speaking to Bob, Charlie has no right to stop her. Similarly, if David agrees to carry a message from Alice to Bob, it is wrong for Charlie to stop him.

This applies whether or not Charlie is the government. If Charlie is the government, the First Amendment applies. If Charlie is just an ordinary busybody, Alice doesn’t have any First Amendment protection, but it’s still wrong for Charlie to interfere with her speech.

That’s what was going on in the Duck Dynasty affair. Phil Robertson critics were trying to censor him; they had no part in his communication with Duck Dynasty’s audience. On the other hand, A&E was involved, so they had a right to cancel his program. (If the audience dwindles, they surely will.) Nevertheless, by doing so in that situation, they were knuckling under to censorship. As Americans they should have done better.

(Via Patterico.)


The scientific tea party

May 22, 2014

This will come as no surprise to actual Tea Party people, but a major shock to the left:

Yale Law professor Dan M. Kahan was conducting a n analysis of the scientific comprehension of various political groups when he ran into a shocking discovery: tea party supporters are slightly more scientifically literate than the non-tea party population.

Shocking? Well, maybe to readers of the New York Times and the Huffington Post (i.e., liberals):

I’ve got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I’d be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension.

But then again, I don’t know a single person who identifies with the Tea Party. All my impressions come from watching cable tv — & I don’t watch Fox News very often — and reading the “paper” (New York Times daily, plus a variety of politics-focused internet sites like Huffington Post & Politico).

I’m a little embarrassed, but mainly I’m just glad that I no longer hold this particular mistaken view.

(Via Monster Hunter Nation.)

In related news, conservative republicans are the most likely to know that the earth revolves around the sun, and the least likely to believe in astrology. Liberal democrats are the most likely to believe in astrology. Conservative and moderate Democrats are the least likely to know the earth revolves around the sun. (In fairness, liberal Democrats do decently well on heliocentrism.)

POSTSCRIPT: And, for the record: a rebuttal to a rebuttal of the Democratic astrology result.


A break in the space-time continuum

May 22, 2014

I’m catching up on a big backlog of articles to remark upon. Some of these aren’t very timely any more, but I still want to note them.


Coup in Thailand, no liberal freak-out

May 22, 2014

Fox News reports:

Thailand’s new military junta announced it suspended the country’s constitution Thursday. The news came a few hours after Thailand’s army chief announced a military takeover of the government, saying the coup was necessary to restore stability and order after six months of political deadlock and turmoil.

But, unlike the 2009 non-coup in Honduras, in which Democrats demanded that the ousted president be returned to office, no one seems to care much. Evidently coups (or, in Honduras’s case, extraordinary legal steps) are only a problem when communists are being turned out of office.


Does your family belong to the government?

April 30, 2014

Okay, so get this:

A Michigan branch of the powerful Service Employees International Union saw its membership and revenues plummet after the reversal of a measure that forced caregivers tending to friends or relatives to be members with their dues paid by those they cared for.

More than 44,000 home-based healthcare workers parted ways with SEIU Healthcare Michigan after learning they did not have to join the union or pay dues, according to reports the union filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. Thousands of the employees were allegedly forced into the union under a plan the SEIU successfully lobbied for that classified even unpaid family members caring for their elderly parents as “home health care workers.” Dues were then automatically collected from the care recipients’ Medicare or Medicaid checks.

“Family members were told they were public employees,” Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, a Michigan-based policy group, told FoxNews.com. “They are not public employees and this was not proper” . . .

Wright’s organization estimates that the SEIU reaped nearly $35 million from Michigan’s elderly and disabled from 2006 to last year. Of some 59,000 residents classified as home-based caregivers, about 80 percent stopped paying when they learned they did not have to.

The most charitable way to look at this scheme (promulgated by the former governor — Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat — and now repealed) is as a cynical scheme to allow a big Democratic interest to steal tens of millions of dollars from the elderly and disabled. Because if you suppose they were actually in earnest then what they’re saying is much, much worse.

If they were really in earnest, what Granholm’s policy was saying is that caring for people is the exclusive province of the government. The government will permit you to care for your family, but if you do, you work for the government. Implicit in that is the corollary: If you work for the government (by caring for your family), they can tell you what to do. Your family belongs to them.

Doubtless there are some progressives who see it that way, but I prefer to the Democratic party, in the main, is not yet fascist. I prefer to believe they are merely thieves.


Ah, the red line again

April 30, 2014

I don’t understand how this can be happening. They told us John Kerry made Syria get rid of its chemical weapons!

Independent tests have confirmed that Syrian forces have used chemical weapons on civilians in several attacks over the past three weeks, a British newspaper reported Wednesday.


The government is not your friend

April 30, 2014

There’s always the big national stories, like Obama taking away your health insurance, but the government attacks the people though malice or indifference in myriad smaller ways. Smaller, except for the people affected. Here’s a couple of stories from today alone. In Pennsylvania:

A widow was given ample notice before her $280,000 house was sold at a tax auction three years ago over $6.30 in unpaid interest, a Pennsylvania judge has ruled. . . The property sold for about $116,000, and most of that money will be paid to Battisti if further appeals are unsuccessful.

She owed $6.30, so the government sold her home out from under her, for $164,000 less than it was worth.

And in Florida:

A Florida mother is “beyond outraged” and still awaiting an explanation from school officials some two weeks after her son was allegedly ordered off a bus while in the throes of a diabetic seizure.

Cynthia Shepard of West Park, Fla., said her 16-year-old son, Andrew, suffered the seizure as he rode home from school. His 14-year-old sister, Jazmen, who was also aboard the bus saw her brother “twitching,” and promptly alerted the driver, who “did nothing,” according to Shepard.

“He was not helping her. She [Jazmen] went to the back of the bus to pick him up,” she told FoxNews.com. “The driver turned around and looked at him in his face and then told my daughter, ‘It’s your stop. You have to get off.’”

Once off the bus, Andrew continued to have a seizure on the side of the road, Shepard said. Paramedics were eventually called, and Andrew spent two days in the intensive care unit of a nearby hospital.

And there’s this postscript:

Each school bus is equipped with a security camera. But Shepard claims she was told footage from her son’s bus is “supposedly blank.”

I’m sure it was.


Lies, damn lies, and Paul Krugman

March 17, 2014

Paul Krugman, doing the old Paul Krugman thing, explains that nothing but racism can explain Republicans’ otherwise-inexplicable political views. He can produce two examples, the first of which is:

We are told, for example, that conservatives are against big government and high spending. Yet even as Republican governors and state legislatures block the expansion of Medicaid, the G.O.P. angrily denounces modest cost-saving measures for Medicare.

Now, let’s pretend, just for a moment, that the politics of Medicare isn’t much more easily explained by age politics than race politics. Krugman doesn’t specify what “modest cost-savings for Medicare” Republicans have angrily denounced. I assume he is referring to Obamacare’s deep cuts to Medicare Advantage, which — not modest at all — virtually kill the program. Krugman really can’t think of any reason other than racism why any Republican might oppose Obamacare.

In fact, he’s being even more dishonest than that, if you consider what Medicare Advantage is. Medicare Advantage allows the elderly to obtain private health insurance using Medicare. By killing Medicare Advantage, Obamacare forces all those people back onto the government plan, thereby increasing the reach of big government. But sure, the only reason a small-government Republican might oppose that would have to be racism. . .

Krugman’s other example is simply an outright lie:

Or we’re told that conservatives, the Tea Party in particular, oppose handouts because they believe in personal responsibility, in a society in which people must bear the consequences of their actions. Yet it’s hard to find angry Tea Party denunciations of huge Wall Street bailouts, of huge bonuses paid to executives who were saved from disaster by government backing and guarantees.

This is utter nonsense. It’s not remotely difficult to find Tea Party denunciations of the financial bailout. (Here’s a link, but no one who identifies with the Tea Party will have any need to click it.)  Obviously Krugman has never been to a Tea Party rally, and doesn’t watch Fox News, and I’m sure doesn’t have any Tea Party friends either. But that doesn’t let him off the hook; as a prominent political commentator, he ought to know something about the body politic, or at least he should find out before slinging spurious accusations of racism.

Unless he doesn’t care whether it’s true. After all, most of his readers don’t have any Tea Party friends either, so they won’t know any better.

(Via Instapundit.)


Ukraine update

March 6, 2014

The Russian Navy Some people having no connection to Russia whatsoever has sunk an old Russian warship to block the exit from Ukraine’s naval base in Crimea.


In loco parentis

March 6, 2014

In government-run schools, bureaucratically dictated procedures reign supreme, and common sense is nowhere to be found:

A Minnesota public high school was so committed to obeying its fire drill policy to the exact letter of the law that it forced a female student–dressed only in a swimsuit, and sopping wet–to stand outside in the freezing cold for ten minutes. As a result, she suffered frostbite.

Administrators wouldn’t let the student retrieve her clothes, sit in a car or wait inside another building, according to WCCO.

Someone ought to be prosecuted, but I expect no one will even be fired.

(Via Instapundit.)


Iron Beam

March 1, 2014

Years ago, liberals made an ideological commitment to the idea that missile defense was impossible. It’s easy to understand how: Reagan was for it, and liberals were against everything he was for. Why they’ve never been able to shed that position in the ensuing decades is truly a puzzler. Despite all the things modern technology has accomplished (including successes in missile defense!), missile defense is the one thing that liberals believe is impossible.

But while America’s implementation of missile defense has been desultory, Israel hasn’t had the luxury of being able to accommodate its defense nay-sayers. They have implemented a system, and it works. Their Iron Dome system shoots down incoming rockets from Gaza, allowing their citizens to live normal lives while under constant attack.

But it’s expensive, so the Israelis have developed a cheaper solution:

At $100,000 a pop, missile interception isn’t cheap. And that’s why Israel is investigating lasers. Last week Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd, the company behind the Iron Dome, unveiled its new Iron Beam system, a less expensive and more versatile laser-based addition to Israel’s defensive arsenal. The Iron Beam, which could be deployed as early as 2015, will reportedly vaporize short-range rockets, mortars, and even drones using high-kilowatt lasers.

“It’s exactly like what you see in Star Wars,” Amit Zimmer, a company spokesperson, told the Associated Press. “You see the lasers go up so quickly, like a flash, and the target is finished.”

I’ll be watching this with interest. The liberals have been very clear that shooting down missiles with lasers is impossible.


Kitty Genovese, a story of media dishonesty

March 1, 2014

The Kitty Genovese murder is the classic story of “bystander apathy”, the phenomenon that people are prone to do nothing when they think there are others around who could help. The phenomenon may well be real (psychologists say so), but it turns out the story was a lie:

Word of the attack spread though the building. A woman named Sophie Farrar, all of 4-foot-11, rushed to the vestibule, risking her life in the process. For all she knew, the attacker might have still been there. As luck would have it, he was not, and Farrar hugged and cradled the bloodied Genovese, who was struggling for breath. Despite the attempts of various neighbors to help, Moseley’s final stab wounds proved fatal, and Farrar did her best to comfort Genovese in the nightmarish ­final minutes of her life.

The murder of Kitty Genovese shifted from crime to legend a few weeks later, when The New York Times erroneously reported that 38 of her neighbors had seen the attack and watched it unfold without calling for help. The Times piece was followed by a story in Life magazine, and the narrative spread throughout the world, running in newspapers from Russia and Japan to the Middle East.

New York became internationally infamous as a city filled with thoughtless people who didn’t care about one another; where people could watch their neighbors get stabbed on the street without lifting a finger to help, leaving them to die ­instead in a pool of their own blood. . .

But as journalist Kevin Cook details in his new book, “Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America” (W.W. Nor­ton), some of the real thoughtlessness came from a police commissioner who lazily passed a falsehood to a journalist, and a media that fell so deeply in love with a story that it couldn’t be bothered to determine whether it was true.

The primary culprit? The New York Times, of course.

UPDATE: More here. (Via Instapundit.)


DOJ defends election fraud

March 1, 2014

The Obama administration, yet again, is taking steps to defend election fraud:

Justice Department lawyer Bradley Heard was in court today trying to stop Kansas from ensuring that only citizens register to vote. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, relying on a United States Supreme Court opinion of last year, asked the federal Election Assistance Commission to permit him to ensure that only citizens were registering to vote.

The Obama administration has been utterly consistent on this issue. They are always against any measures to protect the integrity of elections. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to draw an inference from that.


What?!

March 1, 2014

The New York Times says it had a reporter on the scene during the Benghazi attack.

There has been a bit of public interest in the Benghazi attack, so why haven’t we heard from this guy? One possibility — never to be discounted with the NYT — is they are simply lying. But suppose it’s true. They must not want us to hear what he saw! And, given the NYT’s well-known partisan stance, it’s not hard to draw conclusions.


Politics drove IRS scandal

March 1, 2014

The Democrats want us to believe that the IRS scandal had nothing to do with politics. This was never very plausible, but now is categorically contradicted by the record:

Mr. Obama wants Americans to believe that the targeting resulted from the confusing tax law governing nonprofits, which he says was “difficult” to interpret and resulted in mere “bureaucratic” mistakes. . .

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp blew up this fairy tale at Wednesday’s hearing with new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Mr. Camp unveiled a June 14, 2012 email from Treasury career attorney Ruth Madrigal to key IRS officials in the tax-exempt department, including former director Lois Lerner.

The email cites a blog post about the political activity of tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups and reads: “Don’t know who in your organizations [sic] is keeping tabs on c4s, but since we mentioned potentially addressing them (off-plan) in 2013, I’ve got my radar up and this seemed interesting.” . . . The IRS typically puts out a public schedule of coming regulations, and Mr. Camp noted that in this case “off-plan” appears to mean “hidden from the public.” . . .

The IRS hyper-scrutiny of conservative groups only began in 2010 amid the Obama Administration’s larger political attack on political donors like the Koch brothers, and emails show that IRS officials were acutely aware of this political environment. In February 2010, for example, an IRS screener in Cincinnati flagged an application to his superiors noting: “Recent media attention to this type of organization indicates to me that this is a ‘high profile’ case.”

What the Obama administration is trying to get away with here is a truly breathtaking exercise in political chutzpah. They are trying to use their own misconduct as an excuse to change the rules to codify their own misconduct.

What’s sad is they always do this, and usually get away with this. I remember how in the late 1990s or early 2000s, the Democrats, caught red-handed violating campaign finance laws, used their own crimes to justify “reforming” campaign finance to give themselves greater advantages.

(Previous post.)


Outside special interests

March 1, 2014

I forgot to crow about this when it happened a couple of weeks ago:

Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn., have rejected the United Auto Workers, shooting down the union’s hopes of securing a foothold at a foreign-owned auto plant in the South.

The vote was 712 to 626, said the UAW, which blamed the loss on “politicians and outside special interest groups.”

“Outside special interest groups”? The UAW is the outside special interest group.


The scientific method

March 1, 2014

The scientific method is about turning hypotheses into testable predictions, and then testing them. So who are the scientists here?

It turns out that a 200-year-old publication for farmers beats climate-change scientists in predicting this year’s harsh winter as the lowly caterpillar beats supercomputers that can’t even predict the past.

Last fall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) predicted above-normal temperatures from November through January across much of the continental U.S. The Farmers’ Almanac, first published in 1818, predicted a bitterly cold, snowy winter.

The Maine-based Farmers’ Almanac’s still-secret methodology includes variables such as planetary positions, sunspots, lunar cycles and tidal action. It claims an 80% accuracy rate, surely better than those who obsess over fossil fuels and CO2.

Now I can’t testify to the accuracy of any of these claims; they are — as they say — too good to check. But it is certainly the case that the climate scientists haven’t been making predictions that come true.

(Via Instapundit.)


News from the future

March 1, 2014

Soon, when the federal government is running all medical care in the United States, we’ll see stories like this:

Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told The Daily Caller. . .

“The committee was called System Redesign and the purpose of the meeting was to figure out ways to correct the department’s efficiency. And one of the issues at the time was the backlog,” Oliver Mitchell, a Marine veteran and former patient services assistant in the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center, told TheDC.

Oops, that’s not the future, that’s the past, coming from the VA, where the federal government already runs health care. In order to improve their “efficiency”, they cancelled exam requests, and then destroyed medical records so that no record of those requests would exist.

But since the federal government will be running all medical care before long, it’s also the future.


Democrats say criminals are qualified to serve in California senate

March 1, 2014

The Sacramento Bee reports:

Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a move to expel their Democratic colleague Sen. Rod Wright by sending a Republican proposal to the Rules Committee, where it could permanently stall.

Sen. Steve Knight, a Republican from Palmdale, introduced a resolution to expel Wright from the Senate because a jury found him guilty of eight felonies last month for lying about living in the district he represents.

There was a time that Democrats felt it necessary to maintain the appearance of decency, but now they are all about the naked exercise of partisan power. They have no other principles.

(Via Hot Air.)


The price of weakness

March 1, 2014

Russia invades Ukraine, President Obama wags his finger. Satisfied that Obama will do nothing (if he had had any doubt at all), Putin is now preparing to escalate his invasion:

Russian President Vladimir Putin received permission Saturday from parliament to mobilize the country’s military in Ukraine.

Putin says the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine’s strategic region of Crimea. The request comes a day after President Obama warned Moscow that “there will be costs” if it intervenes militarily in Ukraine.

Putin move appears to formalize what Ukrainian officials described as an ongoing deployment of Russian troops in the strategic region of Crimea. His motion loosely refers to the “territory of Ukraine” rather than specifically to Crimea, raising the possibility that Moscow could use military force in other Russian-speaking provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine where many oppose the new authorities in Kiev.

Obviously Putin doesn’t need parliamentary permission to do anything, so this amounts to an announcement.

As it turns out, the United States is obligated by treaty to come to Ukraine’s aid:

A treaty signed in 1994 by the US and Britain could pull both countries into a war to protect Ukraine if President Putin’s troops cross into the country. Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine – agreed to the The Budapest Memorandum as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Technically it means that if Russia has invaded Ukraine then it would be difficult for the US and Britain to avoid going to war.

Oh, please. Obama doesn’t even obey his own health care law that he advocated and signed himself. Do you think he’s going to war because of a treaty? Hardly.

POSTSCRIPT: Now we have to take a trip down memory lane. Remember this “gaffe”?

uh oh. New Romney gaffe. He just called Russia the “number one geopolitical foe” of the United States. @wolfblitzer called him out.

Ha ha, what a dope. To his credit, Romney stuck to his guns despite mockery from the liberal media.

And then there’s this:

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin warned that if Senator Barack Obama were elected president, his “indecision” and “moral equivalence” may encourage Russia’s Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine. . .

For those comments, she was mocked by the high-brow Foreign Policy magazine and its editor Blake Hounshell, who now is one of the editors of Politico magazine. . . Hounshell wrote then that Palin’s comments were “strange” and “this is an extremely far-fetched scenario.”

Far-fetched indeed. This reminds me of how Ronald Reagan understood the Soviet Union much better than any of the foreign-policy “experts” who mocked him.


“Gun safety demonstration”

March 1, 2014

The Huffington Post breathlessly headlines:

Man Accidentally Kills Self With Gun During Demonstration On Gun Safety

This sounded strange, since gun safety lectures generally comply with the rules of gun safety, so I clicked through to find out what they were talking about. Here’s what happened:

The 36-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was showing his girlfriend how his three handguns are safe when they aren’t loaded, according to the Detroit Free Press. He was attempting to demonstrate the safety of the handguns by holding them to his head and pulling the trigger.

So, this isn’t a gun safety demonstration. It’s the opposite of a gun safety demonstration. It’s a gun stupidity demonstration. There are various versions of the gun safety rules, but all of them include this one (this formulation is by the NRA):

ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage.

Clearly no one at the Huffington Post, from the article’s author to its editors (actually, does the Huffington Post have editors?), knows anything about gun safety. A better headline would have been:

Man Accidentally Kills Himself While Screwing Around With Gun


How do you say Obamacare in Spanglish?

February 14, 2014

The Spanish-language version of Healthcare.gov isn’t actually in Spanish:

The Associated Press reports “the translations were so clunky and full of grammatical mistakes that critics say they must have been computer-generated.” The situation is even worse when applicants begin digging into then nitty-gritty of the plans. “When you get into the details of the plans, it’s not all written in Spanish. It’s written in Spanglish, so we end up having to translate it for them,” Adrian Madriz, a health care navigator in Miami, told the AP.

From a Republican, this would be proof of racism.

(Previous post.) (Via PJ Tatler.)


Not a smidgen of corruption

February 14, 2014

Every single 501(c)(4) group that the IRS selected for audit was conservative. Imagine that.

And the Democrats want more:

Senate Democrats facing tough elections this year want the Internal Revenue Service to play a more aggressive role in regulating outside groups expected to spend millions of dollars on their races.

(Previous post.)


Schadenfreudelicious

February 14, 2014

This can’t help but bring a smile to your face:

It’s getting difficult and slinking toward impossible to defend the Affordable Care Act. The latest blow to Democratic candidates, liberal activists, and naïve columnists like me came Monday from the White House, which announced yet another delay in the Obamacare implementation. . .

The win-at-all-cost mentality helped create a culture in which a partisan-line vote was deemed sufficient for passing transcendent legislation. It spurred advisers to develop a dishonest talking point—”If you like your health plan, you’ll be able to keep your health plan.” And political expediency led Obama to repeat the line, over and over and over again, when he knew, or should have known, it was false.

Defending the ACA became painfully harder when online insurance markets were launched from a multi-million-dollar website that didn’t work, when autopsies on the administration’s actions revealed an epidemic of incompetence that began in the Oval Office and ended with no accountability.

Then officials started fudging numbers and massaging facts to promote implementation, nothing illegal or even extraordinary for this era of spin. But they did more damage to the credibility of ACA advocates.

Finally, there are the ACA rule changes—at least a dozen major adjustments, without congressional approval.

Read the whole thing, and enjoy.

(Previous post.)


Error and cover-up

February 14, 2014

Perjury is so common from this administration it hardly even seems notable any more. But let’s note it anyway:

After seven years of litigation, two trips to a federal appeals court and $3.8 million worth of lawyer time, the public has finally learned why a wheelchair-bound Stanford University scholar was cuffed, detained and denied a flight from San Francisco to Hawaii: FBI human error. FBI agent Kevin Kelley . . . checked the wrong box on a terrorism form, erroneously placing Rahinah Ibrahim on the no-fly list. . .

Instead of admitting to the error, high-ranking President Barack Obama administration officials spent years covering it up. Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and a litany of other government officials claimed repeatedly that disclosing the reason Ibrahim was detained, or even acknowledging that she’d been placed on a watch list, would cause serious damage to the U.S. national security. . .

Holder went so far as to tell the judge presiding over the case that this assertion of the state secrets privilege was fully in keeping with Obama’s much-ballyhooed 2009 executive branch reforms of the privilege, which stated the administration would invoke state secrets sparingly. . . In his declaration, Holder assured Judge Alsup that the government would not be claiming national security to conceal “administrative error” or to “prevent embarrassment” — an assertion that is now nearly impossible to square with the facts.

(Emphasis mine.)


The first rule of Obamacare job cuts is: do not talk about Obamacare job cuts

February 14, 2014

The latest in Barack Obama’s make-it-up-as-we-go-along approach to implementing the law:

You’ve no doubt heard about the latest ObamaCare “delay”–the announcement that the Internal Revenue Service will waive fines on certain employers that do not provide workers with medical insurance. That “employer mandate,” which by law took effect this year, had already been put off until 2015. Now it won’t be enforced until 2016 for companies with between 50 and 99 employees, and those with 100 or more will escape fines if they offer insurance to 70% of their employees rather than the 95% stipulated in the law.

Of course, they have no statutory authority for any of that. And yes, that’s still an outrage, however common it is becoming from this administration. But I want to look a different aspect of this. Employers can avoid the mandate until 2016 if they can get below 100 employees. And thus the administration responds:

Obama officials made clear in a press briefing that firms would not be allowed to lay off workers to get into the preferred class of those businesses with 50 to 99 employees. How will the feds know what employers were thinking when hiring and firing? Simple. Firms will be required to certify to the IRS–under penalty of perjury–that ObamaCare was not a motivating factor in their staffing decisions. To avoid ObamaCare costs you must swear that you are not trying to avoid ObamaCare costs.

The administration has no statutory authority to make any such demand, and even if it did, the statute would be unconstitutional. But that may not matter, because no one wants to be harassed by the IRS, even if they have the law on their side.

What the Obama administration is saying is this: go ahead and cut jobs to get under 100, but don’t tell anyone that’s what you’re doing. If we see any embarrassing stories about Obamacare job cuts, we’re siccing the IRS on you.

(Previous post.)


Milbank plays to type

February 14, 2014

milbank 001Dana Milbank, the notoriously biased Washington Post reporter, levels an accusation so flimsy it was debunked by MSNBC:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been caught using purloined passages in several of his speeches. Now the aspiring presidential candidate stands accused of filing a lawsuit stolen from its author.

Since December, the libertarian lawmaker, a tea party favorite, had been working with former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein to draft a class-action suit seeking to have the National Security Agency’s surveillance of telephone data declared unconstitutional. . . But when Paul filed his suit at the U.S. District Court in Washington on Wednesday morning, Fein’s name had been replaced with that of Ken Cuccinelli. . .

Fein, who has not been paid in full for his legal work by Paul’s political action committee, was furious that he had been omitted from the filing he wrote.

Milbank backed up his claim by quoting Fein’s ex-wife. Amazingly, he never verified it with Fein himself. MSNBC did, and found it was bogus:

Did Rand Paul lift legal work from a celebrated conservative lawyer without fully paying him? The attorney in question says he didn’t. . .

A spokesperson for RANDPAC forwarded an email from Fein denying Mattie Fein’s allegations. “Mattie Lolavar was not speaking for me,” Fein said in the email. “Her quotes were her own and did not represent my views.  I was working on a legal team, and have been paid for my work.” Bruce Fein confirmed to msnbc that the email was from him.

Seems convincingly debunked to me, but Milbank isn’t ready to give up. In a column entitled “E-mails back claim that Sen. Rand Paul ‘stole’ NSA lawsuit”, he dumped a bunch of internal emails (presumably leaked by the ex-wife) that indicate he was disgruntled about being left out of some key decisions. But they also make clear that Fein was indeed hired and paid for his work.

In Milbank’s original column, he claimed that Fein wasn’t paid at all. (ASIDE: I haven’t been able to verify this myself, since the Washington Post won’t let Archive.org crawl their site, but Milbank says so (“An early version of my Wednesday column said that Fein had not been paid and that Paul’s aides had not responded to inquiries.”), and I assume he wouldn’t lie about his own work in a way that makes him look worse.)

Now Milbank has edited his column to say that Fein “has not been paid in full,” as you see it in the quote at the top. That is technically true but deliberately misleading. What Milbank doesn’t say, but you can see in the emails he publishes, is that the outstanding payment isn’t even due until today:

My outstanding invoice for work indispensable to the lawsuit should be paid no later than Friday, February 14, an expectation which is completely justified in light of all the circumstances.

Truly shoddy work, and typical of Milbank. I’ll bet the Post is glad they have him off the news page and onto opinion.

(Via Instapundit.)


Demagogue

February 13, 2014

Barack Obama used to have this thing he did were he would give the opposing argument its due before disagreeing with it. It was the only thing I liked about him. For example:

[Theodore Roosevelt] believed then what we know is true today, that the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history. It’s led to a prosperity and a standard of living unmatched by the rest of the world.

But Roosevelt also knew that the free market has never been a free license to take whatever you can from whomever you can. He understood the free market only works when there are rules of the road that ensure competition is fair and open and honest.

But that was back when Obama thought he had the winning argument. Now he knows he doesn’t, so all he does is demagogue:

The bottom line is there are folks out there who don’t want to see this program succeed, and there are folks out there who don’t want to see you get health insurance if you don’t have it.

Yeah, right. We don’t want people to get health insurance. That’s exactly it. Geez.


Settled law

February 12, 2014

Barack Obama, October 2013, responding to Republican efforts to delay implementation of Obamacare:

Stop this farce. End this shutdown now. The American people don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their job. Neither does Congress. They don’t get to hold our democracy or our economy hostage over a settled law. They don’t get to kick a child out of Head Start if I don’t agree to take her parents’ health insurance away. That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work. That’s why I won’t pay a ransom in exchange for reopening the government.

February 2014, delaying implementation of Obamacare:

For the second time in a year, the Obama administration is giving certain employers extra time before they must offer health insurance to almost all their full-time workers. Under new rules announced Monday by Treasury Department officials, employers with 50 to 99 workers will be given until 2016 — two years longer than originally envisioned under the Affordable Care Act — before they risk a federal penalty for not complying.

Obamacare is “settled law” exactly as much as Obama wants it to be:

unilaterallychanged

 

(Via Instapundit.)

BONUS: News from an alternate universe:

In a move certain to please his conservative supporters and infuriate his critics, President Romney announced this afternoon that his administration would make yet another change to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In a terse release, posted without fanfare to the Department of Health and Human Services website, officials revealed that the law’s employer mandate would be suspended until 2016 for all businesses that employ between 50 and 99 people.

Read the whole thing.

(Previous post.)


“I can do whatever I want”

February 12, 2014

Yep, Barack Obama said that:

That’s the good thing as a president. I can do whatever I want.

The context was relatively benign, breaking the rules for Monticello visitors, or something like that. (It wasn’t like he was claiming the right to unilaterally alter the law or anything outrageous like that.) What’s troubling is the mentality that leads him to say things like that, out loud, in public.

This is America, and Obama is a president, not a king. You’re not supposed to talk like that. The president serves the people, he is not above the people. And he does not seem to understand that at all.


Was there ever any doubt?

February 12, 2014

The only surprising thing here is that someone wrote it down:

Shortly before Hillary Clinton’s effort to pass health care reform died in the summer of 1994, the first lady asked a close friend and confidant for advice on “how best to preserve her general memories of the administration and of health care in particular.”

When asked why, according to the friend’s June 20, 1994, diary entry, Clinton said, “Revenge.”

Hillary must be furious, because she knew better than to keep a diary:

“She told me she does not keep a diary and thinks it best not to keep one,” Blair wrote about Clinton in June 1994.

Blair later wrote in January of 1995 that Clinton said “she dare not… keep records of inti9mate (sic) thoughts and conversations” for fear of “subpoenas.”


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