The latest update for Skype for iPhone (1.0.3) finally fixes the contact bug.
Here’s (hopefully) the scariest story you’ll see in a long time:
Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, has told U.S. officials the next two weeks are critical to determining whether the Pakistani government will survive, FOX News has learned.
“The Pakistanis have run out of excuses” and are “finally getting serious” about combating the threat from Taliban and Al Qaeda extremists operating out of Northwest Pakistan, the general added.
But Petraeus also said wearily that “we’ve heard it all before” from the Pakistanis and he is looking to see concrete action by the government to destroy the Taliban in the next two weeks before determining the United States’ next course of action, which is presently set on propping up the Pakistani government and military with counterinsurgency training and foreign aid.
Petraeus made these assessment in talks with lawmakers and Obama administration officials this week, according to individuals familiar with the discussions.
They said Petraeus and senior administration officials believe the Pakistani army, led by Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, is “superior” to the civilian government, led by President Ali Zardari, and could conceivably survive even if Zardari’s government falls to the Taliban.
Not a Rick Perry joke, an embarrassing screwup at the State Department.
Boingboing takes a look at a gadget that the Census Bureau isn’t really using for the 2010 census:
They’re not making a whole lot of friends with this new device. Last year, the Government Accountability Office added the 2010 Census to a list of high-risk programs. Basically, it sounds like requirements changed several times, and Harris ended up very late to market, with a somewhat buggy device. This freaked people out, and the Census quickly announced that they wouldn’t actually be using the devices – they’d use them just to conduct the first stage of the census, checking addresses, while the actual census (conducted door to door, of people who hadn’t sent in the forms themselves) would take place using clipboards and paper.
In other words, the relatively lame device my friendly enumerator was carrying, which cost $600 million, doesn’t actually work well enough to use for its intended purpose.
Just to put this in perspective: simply by not purchasing this “chunky crapgadget,” the Census Bureau alone would have saved the government six times the amount that President Obama is ordering his cabinet to trim from the budget.
President Obama’s nominee for HUD secretary lied to the press about his involvement in a lawsuit over his office’s failure to follow the state’s Public Disclosure Act:
When [King County executive and HUD secretary nominee Ron Sims] was interviewed by a television crew the next day about a $120,000 fine, Sims denied concealing any records or having any personal involvement in the case. He also claimed no records linked him with the case.
“I didn’t conceal anything, so you’re absolutely wrong on that,” he said. “I was not fined $120,000. As a matter of fact, it’s interesting because there is nothing in the court record at all involving me personally. I never was involved in that at all. There’s nothing—nothing regarding my conduct. I didn’t conceal a thing. I did order the release of documents after they were discovered, but I never concealed anything.”
But Washington state court records flatly contradict Sims.
“The office of Ron Sims, King County Executive” was listed as the respondent in a January court ruling. Writing for the majority in Yousoufian v. Sims, Justice Richard Sanders said requested information was withheld from the plaintiff and fines should be levied.
“The unchallenged findings of fact demonstrate King County repeatedly deceived and misinformed Yousoufian for years. King County told Yousoufian it produced all the requested documents, when in fact it had not,” the opinion said.
A $123,000 fine was imposed on the county, and later rejected by a state appeals court as insufficient.
The U.S. economy contracted at a surprisingly sharp 6.1 percent rate in the first quarter as exports and business inventories plummeted.
The drop in gross domestic product, reported by the Commerce Department on Wednesday, was much steeper than the 4.9 percent annual rate expected by economists and followed a 6.3 percent decline in the fourth quarter.
So the first economic report of the Obama administration is worse than expected, despite a Brobdingnagian “stimulus” package. It’s almost as if throwing away government money to stimulate the economy doesn’t work.
POSTSCRIPT: Let’s not hear any nonsense about how the “stimulus” package was enacted too late (February 17) to have an impact in the first quarter. Virtually all its spending is in the out years anyway, so clearly the theory underlying the stimulus package must be that prospects of future deficit spending stimulate the economy now. Sounds like nonsense? Don’t blame me.
You would think this would be illegal, but in New Jersey, who knows:
Gov. Jon Corzine keeps saying he’s not running a campaign because he’s too busy governing. Apparently his staff didn’t get the memo. At 8:30 a.m. April 3, Corzine’s new deputy chief of staff, Mark Matzen, gathered a group of key agency staffers to go over ways to ensure their departments’ public statements and events were in sync with the governor’s (unofficial, so far) re-election campaign.
Matzen, according to two people familiar with what went on, told the group they need to keep in mind the campaign’s main themes and find events and programs that drive home those ideas. Matzen reiterated how important it is for commissioners and agency chiefs to stress the central plan of the Corzine effort to stay focused on the “Four Es’: economy, ethics, environment (and energy) and education. . .
“This meeting is for selected representatives from the departments. There are no substitutes,” Matzen wrote. He explained that he would “be briefing you on our budget communication plan and how each of you can help.”
(Via Campaign Spot.)
Ethics. That’s a good one.
Fox News reports:
Veteran GOP Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania intends to switch political parties and run in the Democratic primary in 2010, FOX News has confirmed.
Republican voters had sent him to the Senate five times. But faced with the prospect of a strong challenge from conservative Pat Toomey in the GOP primary and the state trending Democratic, Specter jumped ship.
It’s not immediately obvious that this changes much. Democrats didn’t need his vote for the leadership, and he’s been voting more Democrat than Republican on legislation already. But, this might change things if he has to move to the left to secure the Democratic nomination. He says his vote against card check won’t change, but we’ll see.
On other hand, this helps us after the mid-term elections. As much as I want to believe, Toomey isn’t likely to win statewide, which means Pennsylvania is probably electing a Democrat anyway. Better Specter than most other Democrats, I suppose. Also, the GOP won’t be wasting any money defending Specter.
Travel restrictions under consideration by the U.S. to prevent the spread of a new flu virus may be influenced by politics more than science, the World Health Organization’s chief said today.
WHO doesn’t recommend closing borders or restricting the movement of people or goods, Margaret Chan, director-general of the United Nations agency told leaders from health groups around the world in a conference call today. The disease, which may have caused more than 100 deaths and sickened more than 1,000 people, has spread too far and would be impossible to contain by closing borders, she said.
More politics than science? How could that be? Didn’t the president say he’d put a stop to that?
President Obama is still not observing his “sunlight before signing” pledge:
Sunlight Before Signing: Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.
According to the CATO Institute’s tally, President Obama has kept this promise on just one of eleven bills he has signed. (That one was the DTV Delay Act.) Five of the eleven were never posted at all.
The New York Daily News reports:
Mayor Bloomberg went ballistic Monday after the U.S. military – without any warning to the public – buzzed New York City with one of the presidential planes trailed by an F-16 fighter jet.
Flying in as low as 1000 feet to 150 feet above New York City and taking photographs along the way, the planes circled the Statue of Liberty and flew over Manhattan, Staten Island, and New Jersey – then vanished.
Before they were gone, hundreds of frightened people had jammed the emergency lines, thousands of terrified people evacuated from buildings in the city and across the river in Jersey, and many New Yorkers had flashbacks to the 9/11 attacks. . .
Angry that an unnamed but “dumb” city official failed to notify him of the Pentagon’s plans, Bloomberg said a flyover so close to Ground Zero was insensitive and showed “poor judgement.” He said the first he knew of it was when his BlackBerry began buzzing.
It “defies the imagination,” said Bloomberg, who insisted he would have tried to stop the shoot had he known about it.
The NYPD confirmed that it had been told of the Pentagon’s “aerial photo mission” last Thursday but ordered to stay quiet about it.
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has more:
The [FAA] email specifies that the information “only be shared with persons with a need to know” and “shall not be released to the public.” It also says that, “Due to the possibility of public concern regarding [Department of Defense] aircraft flying at low levels, coordination with Federal, State and Local law enforcement agencies…has been accomplished.”
The email’s author, James J. Johnston, of FAA air traffic, declined to comment.
An Obama administration official said the mission was “classified” by the military and that the FAA, which controls much of the airspace over Manhattan, did what the military asked.
(Via Campaign Spot.)
Democrats in Congress are joining Republicans in calling for tough new sanctions on Iran and warning the Obama administration that its policy of engagement shouldn’t last too long before turning to harsher steps aimed at halting Tehran’s nuclear program.
This week, as many as 20 senators, including several senior Democrats in the House and Senate, are expected to join in introducing a bill that would authorize sanctions against companies involved in supplying gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran.
A similar bill is also in the works in the House. Last month, seven senior Democrats, including Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), warned President Barack Obama against “open-ended engagement with Iran.”
The administration is so far moving on a slower timetable, refusing to commit itself to new sanctions until it sees whether its diplomatic outreach to Iran produces results.
I wonder what’s prompting this, new intelligence or new politics?
Taking its cue from that, the Associated Press Stylebook defines assault weapons as “firearms that feature two or more accessories such as a detachable magazine, folding or telescopic stock, silencer, pistol grip, bayonet mount or a device to suppress the flash emitted while shooting in the dark.”
This is basically the definition of “assault weapon” that was dreamed up by President Clinton in 1994. Many have noted the dishonesty of that definition, since the word is used precisely because of it sounds dangerous, but the actual definition is essentially cosmetic. (ASIDE: Merriam-Webster’s dictionary has a fairly useful definition for “assault rifle”, but sees “assault weapon” as a largely meaningless word.)
On closer look, the Plain Dealer’s definition is not only dishonest, but nonsensical. According to that definition, isn’t nearly any semiautomatic pistol an “assault weapon”? Firearm? Check. Detachable magazine? Check. Pistol grip? Of course! Language clarifying that a pistol’s grip doesn’t count as a “pistol grip”? Apparently not.
So it sure seems like the Plain Dealer and the AP are being profoundly stupid here. But here’s the interesting part, according to Ask the Editor at APStylebook.com (search on “assault weapon”), it’s not true:
What is AP style books definition of an Assault Weapon? And how can a firearm be defined now? Since the Assault Weapons ban sunsetted how can we decribe scary black guns? – from Denver, Co on Mon, May 15, 2006
An assault-style weapon is defined as any semiautomatic pistol, rifle or shotgun originally designed for military or police use with a large ammunition capacity. (See the “weapons” entry in the AP Stylebook.)
This is fairly close to the Merriam-Webster definition of assault rifle, and bears no resemblance to the definition claimed by the Plain Dealer’s ombudsman. Assuming APStylebook.com can be trusted, it looks like two counts of foolishness for the Plain Dealer, and the AP is off the hook.
As of today, the federal government has spent its revenue for the year.
The Washington Post reports that the current CIA director, Leon Panetta, and all of his last four predecessors strongly opposed the release of the interrogation memos. A new Rasmussen poll says that a majority (58%) agree with them. The poll also shows that 70% believe either that “the U.S. legal system worries too much about protecting individual rights when national security is at stake” or that the balance is about right.
Paul Mirengoff points out that, according to the Washington Post’s account, the arguments in favor were all based on what would help President Obama politically. If so, the Rasmussen poll suggests that Obama is making a big mistake. I was particularly struck by this non-sequitur:
A source familiar with White House views said Obama’s advisers are further convinced that letting the public know exactly what the past administration sanctioned will undermine what they see as former vice president Richard B. Cheney’s effort to “box Obama in” by claiming that the executive order heightened the risk of a terrorist attack.
The one has no bearing on the other, does it?
The Economist reports that Hugo Chavez is out of money for the social spending that props up his government. Viva la revolution!
The Obama Administration is stymied, politically and legally, from doing much to prevent legal gun ownership, particularly in the wake of the Heller decision. But they have found one way to hurt gun owners, and never mind if it makes no sense.
For some time the military has sold its spent brass to the private sector, which reprocesses it into ammunition for civilians. The military goes through a tremendous amount of ammunition in training exercises, and selling the spent brass recovers some of that cost. Also, of course, re-use is good for the environment.
The problem is, selling spent brass lowers the cost of civilian ammunition, and if you are an anti-gun ideologue, that’s a bad thing. So now, the DOD has determined that spend brass will be sold only as scrap, to be melted down for raw materials. The Shootist has the details. (Via the Corner.)
This decision costs the government money (the Shootist reports that shredding reduces the value of the brass by 80%), and it hurts the environment (it takes much more energy and resources to make a shell casing from scratch than to reprocess one). And there’s no possible reason to do so other than to drive up the cost of civilian ammunition. But it seems that’s reason enough for the Obama administration, and if it wastes taxpayers’ money and hurts the environment, well those are costs that must be borne. Priorities.
UPDATE: A commenter points out that this decision has been reversed. Good.
I’ve been thinking for a long time about how there ought to be a constitutional amendment to restore federalism and establish proper jurisprudence. Randy Barnett, in a piece for the Wall Street Journal, goes one step further and proposes actual text, and a strategy for getting it adopted:
Section 1: Congress shall have power to regulate or prohibit any activity between one state and another, or with foreign nations, provided that no regulation or prohibition shall infringe any enumerated or unenumerated right, privilege or immunity recognized by this Constitution.
Section 2: Nothing in this article, or the eighth section of article I, shall be construed to authorize Congress to regulate or prohibit any activity that takes place wholly within a single state, regardless of its effects outside the state or whether it employs instrumentalities therefrom; but Congress may define and punish offenses constituting acts of war or violent insurrection against the United States.
Section 3: The power of Congress to appropriate any funds shall be limited to carrying into execution the powers enumerated by this Constitution and vested in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof; or to satisfy any current obligation of the United States to any person living at the time of the ratification of this article.
Section 4: The 16th article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed, effective five years from the date of the ratification of this article.
Section 5: The judicial power of the United States to enforce this article includes but is not limited to the power to nullify any prohibition or unreasonable regulation of a rightful exercise of liberty. The words of this article, and any other provision of this Constitution, shall be interpreted according to their public meaning at the time of their enactment.
One very clever thing about this proposal is section 1, which actually expands federal power to grant it much of what is has already claimed. The power to regulate interstate commerce has been read expansively to constitute the power to regulate interstate anything, and a lot of important legislation (some of it even worthy) is based on that power. By explicitly giving the federal government such power, it removes one major pressure on the courts to do violence to the Constitution.
Sections 2 and 3 remove powers the federal government was never supposed to have (but explicitly allow it to continue paying social security and the like), and section 5 states that the Constitution means exactly what it says. I suspect that repealing the income tax (section 4) is a bridge too far, but it’s worthwhile as a starting point.
I think the biggest blunder in the framing of the Constitution was its failure to enumerate the federal government’s interstate commerce powers. By giving it a blanket power to regulate interstate commerce, it opened the door for most of the mischief the government practices today. If I could go back in time to the convention, that is what I would try to fix. But given where we are today, Barnett’s proposal is the best I’ve seen.
Good news, President Obama has elected not to initiate a trade war with our largest trading partner:
Three cheers for President Obama’s decision, announced quietly on Monday, to repudiate a campaign promise and not press for new labor and environmental regulations in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The last thing the Western Hemisphere needs are more trade barriers that would snarl supply chains and damage commerce.
Perhaps we should call this Austan Goolsbee’s revenge. Recall that last year the Obama economic adviser had told a Canadian diplomat to ignore Mr. Obama’s Nafta campaign rhetoric; the candidate was merely pandering to Big Labor. When that disclosure became news, Mr. Goolsbee was banished to the campaign’s isolation ward for imperfect spinners. Now we know Mr. Goolsbee — not the candidate — was the one telling the truth.
This would be unremarkable, except that, amazingly, this is a change in his position.
President Obama is doing to the intelligence services what Democratic presidents always do, demoralize them and discourage initiative. David Ignatius writes:
President Obama promised CIA officers that they won’t be prosecuted for carrying out lawful orders, but the people on the firing line don’t believe him. They think the memos have opened a new season of investigation and retribution.
The lesson for younger officers is obvious: Keep your head down. Duck the assignments that carry political risk. Stay away from a counterterrorism program that has become a career hazard. . .
For a taste of what’s ahead, recall the chilling effects of past CIA scandals. In 1995, then-Director John Deutch ordered a “scrub” of the agency’s assets after revelations of past links to Guatemalan death squads. Officers were told they shouldn’t jettison sources who had provided truly valuable intelligence. But the practical message, recalls one former division chief, was: “Don’t deal with assets who could pose political risks.” A similar signal is being sent now, he warns.
One veteran counterterrorism operative says that agents in the field are already being more careful about using the legal findings that authorize covert action. An example is the so-called “risk of capture” interview that takes place in the first hour after a terrorism suspect is grabbed. This used to be the key window of opportunity, in which the subject was questioned aggressively and his cellphone contacts and “pocket litter” were exploited quickly.
Now, field officers are more careful. They want guidance from headquarters. They need legal advice. I’m told that in the case of an al-Qaeda suspect seized in Iraq several weeks ago, the CIA didn’t even try to interrogate him. The agency handed him over to the U.S. military.
Agency officials also worry about the effect on foreign intelligence services that share secrets with the United States in a process politely known as “liaison.” A former official who remains in close touch with key Arab allies such as Egypt and Jordan warns: “There is a growing concern that the risk is too high to do the things with America they’ve done in the past.”
Some time down the road, we might wish we still had a counterterrorism program.
Anyone who exercises their right to carry a weapon in Milwaukee can expect to be roughed up by police. It’s official policy:
Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said he’ll continue to tell officers they can’t assume people are carrying guns legally in a city that has seen nearly 200 homicides in the past two years.
“My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it,” Flynn said.
Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Secretary Geithner may not know it yet, but his plan for resolving the toxic asset problem is dead. The Treasury department killed it with this announcement:
Treasury Department lawyers have determined that firms participating in a $1 trillion program to relieve banks of toxic assets could be subject to limits on executive compensation, contradicting the Obama administration’s previous public position, according to a report to be released today by a federal watchdog agency. . .
Speaking last month about the initiative to buy toxic assets, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said, “The comp conditions will not apply to the asset managers and investors in the program.”
But Treasury lawyers have told the special inspector general for the federal bailout that executives involved with that initiative and another $1 trillion consumer lending program “could be subject to the executive compensation restrictions,” according to the report from Special Inspector General Neil M. Barofsky.
(Via the Corner.)
The Geithner plan isn’t even fleshed out yet, and it’s already dead. Healthy trading companies (the kind Geithner needs to participate) are never going to accept these limitations. Even if the Treasury backtracks, no one will trust them now. As the Economist notes:
Is it really that surprising? Banks were pressured to take TARP money last fall and were quickly dismayed when the government started calling the shots on pay and making it harder to hire foreign labour. Now they can’t give the money back.
If you’re against the bailout, the death of the Geithner plan could be a good thing. But if you’re for it, as President Obama presumably is, then this is a disaster. It’s a disaster that is the direct result of the irresponsible populist hysteria promulgated by the president’s party, and by the president himself.
The Democrats simply couldn’t help themselves. They had an opportunity to meddle in private business, to stick it to the rich, and they just couldn’t resist. They were warned of the consequences, but their ideology simply carried them away.
I’m undecided about whether the Geithner plan was a good idea, but I’m delighted by the teaching moment it’s given us. It’s not often that the law of unintended consequences comes into play so quickly, with the same people in charge, and with the issue still fresh in the public’s mind.
POSTSCRIPT: Once you might have thought that the trading companies could be reassured by appropriate legislation to protect them, but no longer. The AIG bonus confiscation fiasco saw to that. The law is no protection any more. Nothing short of a change in lawmakers will reassure them now.
I wish that WordPress either (a) spell-checked your post title, or (b) didn’t use the title in the permalink. The way it works now, even if you fix a typo in a title, it lives on forever in the permalink.
This is stupid, but more than that, if we start down the path of political prosecutions of the previous administration, we will become a very different country than we have ever been. In the short run, Democrats should not delude themselves that they will never be on the other side. In the long run, if we create a system in which one side no longer feels they can risk losing an election, that will spell the end of the Republic.
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal weighs in.
UPDATE: Shannon Love takes a contrarian view. She thinks the administration wants to play up the supposed crimes of the Bush administration, but will stop short of any actual trials, which would exonerate them. (Via Instapundit.)
Jim Lindgren observes that the states with the highest unemployment all have high marginal tax rates, or high levels of unionization, or (most of them) both. Obviously, now is the time to hike taxes and pass card check, so that every state can enjoy Oregon’s economy.
IBD is praising President Obama for coming out in support of the Colombia free trade pact. (Via Wizbang, via Instapundit.) Obviously, I think that’s the right position, since the Democrats are opposing the deal for no reason whatsoever.
Still, I’m going to withhold my praise until I see that the president is willing to push congressional Democrats, who have gone so far as to change the House rules to avoid a vote on the pact. Supporting the right position is good, but it’s not enough. After all, President Bush supported the pact too.
Pittsburgh’s mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, is just too darn busy to debate. He had to cancel a debate due to the policy shooting tragedy, and he can’t reschedule it because of, er, all that other stuff he’s doing. When asked if he would release his schedule, so we can see all the stuff he’s doing instead of debating, he refused to answer. Given his predilection for going on junkets, I’m not surprised.
Frankly, Pittsburgh would be better off if the fools that run the city were all debating 24-7.
There’s an email making the rounds alleging that President Obama’s orders regarding the pirate hostage crisis earlier this month extended the crisis and endangered the captain’s life. I first saw it here. (Via Chaos Manor, via Instapundit.) I’m not going to repeat the whole thing, but it (one version, anyway) opens this way:
From some friends with ties to special ops who would like to remain under the radar: Having spoken to some SEAL pals here in Virginia Beach yesterday and asking why this thing dragged out for 4 days, I got the following . . .
This is an urban legend. There’s no way to know whether the underlying allegations are true, as the people who know aren’t saying. But the email is certainly bogus. First of all, these sorts of things nearly always are. Second, we can actually track the evolution of the email over time. If it ever started as a private email from someone with inside contacts (unlikely), it’s definitely not the same email now. Trying to use this to indict President Obama’s handling of the crisis isn’t just wrong, it’s embarrassing.
ASIDE: Incidentally, note that the email isn’t just an attack on the president. It’s also an insult to the SEALs, because it alleges that someone broke operational security.
President Obama didn’t handle the crisis the way I would have preferred. I think it would have been much better to use force as soon as we had a good likelihood of success. (From what we know now, that probably would have been days sooner.) But we cannot be surprised by what happened. Barack Obama is the president, and of course he ordered them to try to find a peaceful resolution first. That’s who he is. But he also gave them the latitude to use force if necessary. In the end, we have to judge the incident by its outcome, and the outcome was good.
Some bloggers on the left are trying to make Obama into some sort of David Palmer over this. That’s silly. Obama isn’t David Palmer; he isn’t even Bill Clinton. But it’s even sillier to try to make this success into a failure. On this occasion, Obama’s approach worked. Let’s not forget that this is a good thing. If we start begrudging the president even his successes, we start to look like the left has looked over the past eight years.
UPDATE: It’s on Snopes now.
Human Events is reporting that the White House is refusing to accept the findings of the inter-agency review committee on Guantanamo detainees:
White House lawyers are refusing to accept the findings of an inter-agency committee that the Uighur Chinese Muslims held at Guantanamo Bay are too dangerous to release inside the U.S., according to Pentagon sources familiar with the action. . .
After Obama’s promise to close Gitmo, the White House ordered an inter-agency review of the status of all the detainees, apparently believing that many of those held would be quickly determined releasable. The committee — comprised of all the national security agencies — was tasked to start with what the Obama administration believed to be the easiest case: that of the seventeen Uighurs, Chinese Muslims who were captured at an al-Queda training camp. . .
Reviewing the Uighurs detention, the inter-agency panel found that they weren’t the ignorant, innocent goatherds the White House believed them to be. The committee determined they were too dangerous to release because they were members of the ETIM terrorist group, the “East Turkistan Islamic Movement,” and because their presence at the al-Queda training camp was no accident. There is now no ETIM terrorist cell in the United States: there will be one if these Uighurs are released into the United States.
According to Defense Department sources, the White House legal office has told the inter-agency review group to re-do their findings to come up with the opposite answer.
(Via Power Line.)
This is a little bit hard to believe. If the committee did find that these people are too dangerous to release, and President Obama releases them into the United States anyway, he’ll be making himself a hostage to fortune. If (when) they subsequently start killing Americans, there will be hell to pay. It will be impossible for Obama to evade personal responsibility for whatever they do.
President Clinton would certainly never have allowed himself into such a situation. I wouldn’t think that Obama would either. If this report is true, he is actually enough of a true believer to bet his presidency that a bunch of terrorists won’t cause trouble. Lord help us if so.
UPDATE (5/30): The Justice Department is now arguing in court that it need not release these people, so if this story were ever true, it’s not any more.
Greg Mankiw puts President Obama’s $100 million spending cut in perspective:
Just to be clear: $100 million represents .003 percent of $3.5 trillion.
To put those numbers in perspective, imagine that the head of a household with annual spending of $100,000 called everyone in the family together to deal with a $34,000 budget shortfall. How much would he or she announce that spending had be cut? By $3 over the course of the year–approximately the cost of one latte at Starbucks.
(Via the Corner.)
UPDATE: Even Paul Krugman is calling the president out on this:
$100 million here, $100 million there. “Pretty soon, even here in Washington, it adds up to real money,” says the president.
Except, you know, really it doesn’t. Let’s say the administration finds $100 million in efficiencies every working day for the rest of the Obama administration’s first term. That’s still around $80 billion, or around 2% of one year’s federal spending.
(Via the Corner.)
Krugman calls it theater. That’s the polite word.
The Obama Administration is signalling that even healthy banks might not be permitted to repay the TARP “loans”, reports the Financial Times:
Strong banks will be allowed to repay bail-out funds they received from the US government but only if such a move passes a test to determine whether it is in the national economic interest, a senior administration official has told the Financial Times.
“Our general objective is going to be what is good for the system,” the senior official said. “We want the system to have enough capital.”
It’s obvious, I guess. TARP has given the federal government power over the banks; why would they give it up?
[Barack Obama's campaign architect David] Axelrod was asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” about the “spreading and very public disaffection” with the president’s fiscal policies seen at the “Tea Party” rallies around the country last week.
“I think any time you have severe economic conditions there is always an element of disaffection that can mutate into something that’s unhealthy,” Axelrod said.
A few short months ago, dissent was the highest form of patriotism. Change!
BONUS: At least he didn’t say it was was racism.
China’s official media and outspoken bloggers on Friday protested over a German advert promoting the use of condoms which shows revolutionary leader Mao Zedong as a sperm cell alongside Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden.
The Communist Party’s People’s Daily devoted a page to the storm, quoting internet commentaries which called for the makers of the advert to apologise to China.
(Via the Corner.)
Presumably, they are offended by the comparison of Mao — a truly accomplished mass murderer with 77 million murders to his name — with someone like Hitler (whose 21 million murders leave him a distant third place) or bin Laden (who hasn’t even come close to notching his first million, if not for lack of trying). I’m sure they feel that only Stalin (43 million murders) would be a worthy comparison.
POSTSCRIPT: For the record, I think the ad is in very poor taste, but certainly not because of any unfairness to history’s worst murderer.
A new article published in the journal Science claims a breakthrough improving the efficiency of the Fischer-Tropsch process, which converts coal to liquid fuel suitable for engines. The article itself is behind a registration barrier, so I can’t even read the full abstract, but the Armed and Dangerous blog says they’re reporting a 3-fold improvement in efficiency. (Via Instapundit.) The abbreviated abstract also reports a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
The United States has by far the world’s largest coal reserves. I’m not sure what level of efficiency is necessary before FT fuel is competitive with imported oil, but this has to get us much closer (at least to sour crude, such as from Venezuela).
Forgetting the first rule of holes, the White House is standing by President Obama’s citation of a bogus statistic on Mexican crime guns. The President said that 90% of guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States. That isn’t remotely true, the real statistic is either 36% or 17% depending on whose analysis you use. Either way, the 90% refers only to guns that are successfully traced, a sample that is heavily biased toward American guns.
The White House says that’s what he meant all along:
“By recovered he means traceable, guns traced back to the United States,” [NSC Spokesman Denis] McDonough said. “These are ATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) numbers. These are the guns submitted to the ATF for tracing. That’s what we mean by recovered.”
Oh, so “recovered” doesn’t mean “recovered”; it means “traceable.” Thanks for clearing that up; otherwise people might have assumed you were speaking English.
Reuters reports that President Obama would like to meet with Colombia’s President Uribe at the Summit of the Americas to discuss the stalled trade pact. (Via the Corner.) I wonder what he would say. All the agreement does is open Colombian markets to U.S. goods, and preserve Colombia’s access to U.S. markets. What could Uribe possibly concede to get Democrats to approve the pact when all its benefits accrue to the U.S. already? Democrats are opposing it for no reason.
ASIDE: Reuters suggests that Democrats want Colombia to harder to protect trade unionists from violence stemming from the civil war. That’s a strange requirement to place on a trade pact, particularly a one-sided one. ”You can’t open your markets to our exports unless you comply with our demands!” But anyway, the best way to protect people from the civil war is to win it, and that’s what Uribe is doing.
Keeping all that in mind, read the article’s conclusion:
The U.S. failure to approve the pact is seen in Latin America as a sign of Washington’s indifference to one of its staunchest allies in the region.
I wonder if the Democrats see it that way. Judging by their actions, it seems that Democrats see Colombia as an ally to Republicans, not to America as a whole.
Hugo Chavez’s political rivals continue to be arrested on trumped-up charges. The Economist reports the latest arrests under the heading “Venezuela’s endangered democracy.” Isn’t that a strange heading? Hasn’t Venezuela’s democracy been endangered since Chavez was given the power to rule by decree in 2000?
The only real limit to Chavez’s power has been the prospect that some day he might be forced from office. Now that presidential term limits has been revoked and his rivals are all being taken out of circulation, that prospect is all but gone. Democracy endangered? It’s over. It will take a revolution or a coup to oust him now.
Efforts to eradicate malaria by exterminating mosquitoes have always failed because the mosquitoes have evolved resistances to insecticides. A research group at Penn State has an ingenious idea for how to get around the evolved resistance problem. It turns out that only old female mosquitoes transmit malaria, because they first have to acquire the parasite and allow time for it to develop before they can infect a person. Thus, malaria can be controlled by killing only older mosquitos, and since those older mosquitos would already have reproduced, it would not trigger nearly as great of an evolutionary response.
The Annenberg Political Fact Check has taken on the “Mexican crime guns come from the U.S.” factoid and agree with Fox News that the 90% statistic cited by anti-gun politicians is bogus. They back up Fox News’s central contention that the 90% reflects only the guns that are successfully traced, a sample which is very heavily biased towards guns from the U.S. They estimate the true number at 36%, a bit higher than the 17% calculated by Fox News. (Annenberg says one of the figures Fox was calculating from is wrong.) Either way, it’s a long long way from 90%.