Elena Kagan, as dean of Harvard Law School, removed constitutional law from the required curriculum and replaced it with courses on international law. That’s an ominous indicator of the sort of jurisprudence she would bring to the high court.
A major factual error in the Supreme Court’s Graham v. Florida decision underlines the fact that the court should limit itself to questions of law, and should leave the gathering of facts to those who are qualified to do it.
The “humanitarians” attempting to run the naval blockade into Gaza got what they wanted: a violent confrontation, dead activists, and a propaganda victory. It remains only to refute the lies.
The Israelis say that their soldiers were attacked; the “humanitarians” say they never attacked anyone. This is a binary proposition; one of them is lying. We cannot fall back on the comfortable but false notion that the truth is somewhere in between.
The New York Times paints it as a he-said-she-said, who-can-say? situation:
The Israeli Defense Forces said more than 10 people were killed when naval personnel boarding the six ships in the aid convoy met with “live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs.” The naval forces then “employed riot dispersal means, including live fire,” the military said in a statement.
Greta Berlin, a leader of the pro-Palestinian Free Gaza Movement, speaking by telephone from Cyprus, rejected the military’s version.
“That is a lie,” she said, adding that it was inconceivable that the civilian passengers on board would have been “waiting up to fire on the Israeli military, with all its might.”
“We never thought there would be any violence,” she said.
But the NYT is ignoring the key piece of evidence, a video released by the IDF that proves they were attacked. As these things always are, it’s grainy and it’s somewhat hard to tell what’s going on, but you can clearly see the “humanitarians” swarming the soldiers, attacking them with clubs, and throwing things that explode:
Another IDF video shows the Israeli Navy offering to dock the ship at Ashdod and transport the supplies into Gaza under their observation. The “humanitarians” refused, because this mission wasn’t actually about getting supplies into Gaza.
At this hour the NYT is still running the same story, which does not mention the IDF video. One cannot adopt a position of “balance” between the truth and a lie (at least, not without lying oneself).
It does strike me that the Israelis committed a major tactical error in the way they boarded the ship. By rappelling onto the ship a few at a time, they created a situation in which their first soldiers were outnumbered and vulnerable to attack. That created a melee that led ultimately to deadly force.
I’m no expert, but it strikes me that they would have been better off approaching by boat, so they could board many soldiers at once with water cannons at the ready. I’m not sure why they didn’t. Perhaps they didn’t believe the “humanitarians” would attack them. If so, they won’t make that mistake again. (More here.)
UPDATE: A new IDF video is even clearer:
(Via Hot Air.)
UPDATE: IHH, the Turkish group that organized the “humanitarian” flotilla, is a branch of I’tilaf Al-Khayr (“Union of Good”), a group created by Hamas and designated by the US Treasury as a terrorist organization. More background on IHH here.
UPDATE: Changed the link for the Israeli account to a better story. The original link was to this story.
UPDATE: Paul Mirengoff makes a good point:
It’s easy to get your side of the story out first if (1) you already know you’re going to start a fight and (2) you are willing to lie about what happened. As ever, the Palestinian side met both of these criteria last night. The Israelis, by contrast, did not know in advance that they would be assaulted, though they probably should have placed a higher probability on this outcome than they did.
More importantly, the Israelis did not want to present an account of the battle until they could verify all of the details. This is understandable — the government stands to be crucified by the MSM and the international community if it gets any detail wrong. Hamas, the PA, and their supporters face no such risk.
UPDATE: This video shows that the Israelis did try to board by sea first, and were repelled. It still strikes me as odd that fast-roping from a helicopter would be easier, but I’ll admit that I know little about it.
An editor at the Atlantic writes a story relishing the arrest of Kenneth Starr for operating a Ponzi scheme. It never occurs to him that Kenneth Starr the crooked Hollywood investment adviser might not be the same person as Kenneth Starr the former Appeals Court judge and independent prosecutor.
So the editors are the big advantage of the mainstream media over blogs? Quis edet ipsos editores?
(Via Professor Bainbridge.)
Americans are increasingly optimistic about the economy, but that brightening outlook hasn’t softened their outrage over the country’s direction and its political leadership, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.
Two-thirds of those surveyed this week describe themselves as “angry” about the way things are going in the USA, the highest percentage in the decade the question has been asked. By nearly 2-1, they would rather vote for a candidate who has never served in Congress over one with experience.
President Obama is willing to meet with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, without precondition, because “the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them . . . is ridiculous”. In fact, “it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them”.
But he won’t meet with the governor of Arizona. Some regimes are simply beyond the pale.
In Peggy Noonan’s latest Wall Street Journal column, “He Was Supposed to be Competent”, she channels public dismay at the Obama administration’s lack of competence, most recently in regard to the Deepwater Horizon spill. She makes a good point here:
His philosophy is that it is appropriate for the federal government to occupy a more burly, significant and powerful place in America—confronting its problems of need, injustice, inequality. But in a way, and inevitably, this is always boiled down to a promise: “Trust us here in Washington, we will prove worthy of your trust.” Then the oil spill came and government could not do the job, could not meet the need, in fact seemed faraway and incapable: “We pay so much for the government and it can’t cap an undersea oil well!”
She’s right that Barack Obama promised that, under him, government could do pretty much anything. Merely by nominating him for president, “the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal”. He could not deliver on that promise.
But I’m with John Hinderaker in wondering why the public bought that Obama messianic nonsense in the first place. He was supposed to be competent? Why would we think that? This is a man who had no experience running anything before he was elected to the White House. His sole government experience was four years as a back-bencher in the US Senate, preceded by seven years of voting present in the Illinois Senate. His main qualification was delivering riveting speeches from the teleprompter.
The irony to this is that the discontent with President Obama’s performance is somewhat unfair. True, there are legitimate questions about why the administration exempted BP from environmental-impact analysis, how booms are being allocated, and about Obama’s strange disengagement and cluelessness. But ultimately there’s little that the federal government can do in a disaster like this.
In a different situation I would be defending the president, but in this case, Obama has made his bed. He over-promised what government can do, and he joined his party in shamelessly demagoguing Hurricane Katrina. In at least one speech he combined the two:
As we rebuild and recover, we must also learn the lessons of Katrina, so that our nation is more protected and resilient in the face of disaster. . . In Washington, that means a focus on competence and accountability – and I’m proud that my FEMA Administrator has 25 years of experience in disaster management in Florida, a state that has known its share of hurricanes. And across the country, that means improving coordination among different agencies, modernizing our emergency communications, and helping families plan for a crisis.
Now he is reaping the whirlwind.
The AP breathlessly reports that James O’Keefe has pled guilty to a misdemeanor:
Four conservative activists accused of trying to tamper with the phones in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges of entering federal property under false pretenses.
We all know that criminals who plead guilty to lesser charges are very often guilty of the more serious charges. That certainly seems to be what the AP is trying to insinuate by leading its story with the original charges against O’Keefe. Would you guess from this story that O’Keefe was actually exonerated of trying to tamper with the phones?
O’Keefe has always maintained that he was trying to orchestrate a conversation for a new hidden camera video, and had no intention of tampering with the phones in any way. What the AP doesn’t want you to know is that the government’s investigation confirmed O’Keefe’s story. The Assistant US Attorney, Jordan Ginsberg, conceded in court that:
In this case further investigation did not uncover evidence that the defendants intended to commit any felony after the entry by false pretenses despite their initial statements to the staff of Senatorial office and GSA requesting access to the central phone system. Instead, the Government’s evidence would show that the defendants misrepresented themselves and their purpose for gaining access to the central phone system to orchestrate a conversation about phone calls to the Senator’s staff and capture the conversation on video, not to actually tamper with the phone system, or to commit any other felony.
Again, O’Keefe was exonerated in court of any intent to tamper with the phones, or commit any other felony. But the Associated Press doesn’t think the reader need to know that.
And it’s not just the AP. Despite signing the document, Ginsberg tried to avoid reading the key paragraph in court. O’Keefe’s attorneys were forced to insist. And Ginsberg also left out of his press release the minor fact that O’Keefe had been exonerated of all the serious charges.
Why don’t the AP and the US Attorney’s office want the public to know that O’Keefe was exonerated? (Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.)
UPDATE: O’Keefe gives a full account of what happened.
The unauthorized biographer/stalker who rented the house next door to Sarah Palin is concerned about his privacy.
The New York Times reports:
The American Academy of Pediatrics has reversed its decision last month regarding the practice of female circumcision by immigrants from some African, Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. The academy had suggested in a policy statement that doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick or nick on girls if it would keep their families from sending them overseas for the full circumcision.
Background on what the academy had been saying here.
(Via Hot Air.)
I say we checked it out and stand by the story and really, and I mean this, can’t believe that anyone – congressman or garbageman – would make up this fact that one of the nastiest racist terms was hurled.
He simply can’t imagine that a Congressman could make up a racially charged incident for political purposes. In fact, he was so sure, he wouldn’t even talk to an eyewitness who contradicted his service’s reporting. This guy is in charge of investigative reporting.
The Economist has an interesting article on China’s oppressive Hukou system, which dictates where people are officially supposed to live. Half the people who live in China’s cities are officially rural residents. They live as second-class citizens, unable to obtain education, health care, housing, or good employment.
When Tea Party protesters gather in a public place to protest government overreach, it’s dangerous latent terrorism. But apparently it’s fine when the SEIU buses 500 protesters literally to the front doorstep of a bank executive’s home.
But here’s the particularly sinister aspect of this protest: it was not intended for media consumption. It was purely for intimidation:
Sunday’s onslaught wasn’t designed for mainstream media consumption. There were no reporters from organizations like the Washington Post, no local camera crews who might have aired criticism of this private-home invasion. With the media covering the conservative Tea Party protesters, the behavior of individual activists has drawn withering scrutiny.
Instead, a friendly Huffington Post blogger showed up, narrowcasting coverage to the union’s leftist base. The rest of the message these protesters brought was personal-aimed at frightening Baer and his family, not influencing a broader public.
(Via Power Line.)
Interesting. This seems to indicate a lack of confidence that their health care nationalization bill will prove to be a political plus.
The problem with an official policy of ignoring criminals is some criminals are actually dangerous:
In an alarming example of how sanctuary cities can protect terrorists, a Pakistani man arrested for the Time Square bombing admitted on a city license application that he entered the U.S. illegally and authorities took no action.
That’s because he applied for the cabbie license in a state (Massachusetts) that openly protects illegal immigrants from deportation. Local law enforcement agencies throughout Massachusetts have don’t-ask-don’t-tell policies regarding illegal aliens and in this case the Boston Police Department has for years known that the terrorist, So Pir Khan, was in the country illegally.
Khan was recently arrested in an FBI terror sweep for his involvement in the Time Square bombing earlier this month. The Boston cab driver is one of three men who funneled money to the fellow Pakistani terrorist (Faisal Shahzad) who tried to blow up New York’s Time Square with a series of bombs hidden in a sports utility vehicle.
The Boston Police is lucky that Shahzad’s bomb failed. If he had succeeded in his plans, heads would be rolling in Boston over this. As it is, it’s a non-story. Until the next time.
Ann Althouse notes that the Washington Post’s story on Texas’s new social studies curriculum is highly misleading. I was unimpressed by the author’s (Michael Birnbaum) earlier effort on the subject, but this one is even worse.
POSTSCRIPT: I’m not defending the Texas Board of Education. My earlier thoughts on the controversy (mostly that there shouldn’t even be a mandatory state curriculum) are here.
If the definition of a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth, Paul Volcker committed a major gaffe in a recent speech. Volcker (one of President Obama’s chief economic advisers) cited Hauser’s law and compared it to the current rate of federal spending. He noted that the federal government always collects about 18.5% of GDP in tax revenue regardless of tax rates. When spending was around 20%, this meant a modest deficit, but spending is now around 25% or more. That means enormous deficits.
Hauser’s law observes you can’t get tax collections to 25% by tinkering with tax rates or adding a few new taxes; we need a different system to fund today’s government. And that, Volcker concludes, means a VAT. He says there is no prospect of getting government spending back to 20%. (Well, he is a Democrat.)
POSTSCRIPT: I actually understood Hauser’s law to say that government collected 19.5% of GDP, but that difference doesn’t matter to Volcker’s point.
The Boston Globe reports:
Governor Deval Patrick, even as he decried partisanship in Washington, said today that Republican opposition to President Obama’s agenda has become so obstinate that it “is almost at the level of sedition.”
I guess that we are supposed to take comfort in the “almost”. The current level of dissent is okay, barely, but any more and it will be time for a crackdown.
(Via the Corner.)
In an article plugging Fair Game, the new Sean Penn alternate history movie, the LA Times has some trouble with the facts:
Starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, “Fair Game” is part spy thriller, part domestic drama, and tells the story of Valerie Plame, played by Watts, the undercover CIA operative whose name was leaked to the media by the Bush White House in an effort to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson (Penn). Wilson had publicly accused the administration of misrepresenting evidence of an Iraqi nuclear arms program in the run-up to the Iraq war. The administration retaliated by “outing” his wife as a CIA operative, ruining her career and, some argued, violating a law that forbids exposing CIA agents on the grounds it jeopardizes the lives of field agents.
Let’s see: Plame’s name was not leaked by anyone at the White House, but rather by Richard Armitage, who worked at the State Department. Armitage was a moderate and leaked her name accidentally, rather than out of any effort to punish anyone. It’s true that Wilson made various public allegations, but the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan report found that he lied. And, it’s awfully rich for the left to pretend, in this one case only, that they care about exposing the identities of CIA agents.
As they say, everything is spot on aside from that.
(Via Big Government.)
Seriously, why do people pay attention to this guy?
UPDATE: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell agrees that we should be China for a day.
UPDATE: By the way, how on earth does Friedman think that limiting our dictator to a single day is going to protect democracy? One day is enough. The first time the Venezuelan legislature made Hugo Chavez a dictator, he issued all his decrees in one month. The second time he issued all his decrees in a single day.
Rasmussen reports that opposition to Obamacare is nearing two-thirds:
Support for repeal of the new national health care plan has jumped to its highest level ever. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 63% of U.S. voters now favor repeal of the plan passed by congressional Democrats and signed into law by President Obama in March. Prior to today, weekly polling had shown support for repeal ranging from 54% to 58%.
Currently, just 32% oppose repeal.
Interestingly, strong support for repeal is holding steady at a near majority (46%). Weak opposition to repeal is also holding steady at hardly anyone (7%). The shift comes from a big drop in strong opposition to repeal, which fell from a third to a quarter, and a corresponding rise in weak support for repeal. Thus, it seems as though the key support for health care nationalization is eroding.
The shift could be explained by some major recent revelations that Obamacare is even worse than previously thought. On the other hand, it could be just a polling blip. If opposition falls back into the 54-58% range, you can count on the media reporting it as softening opposition.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission wants to ban manufacture and sale of drop-side cribs. But even that’s not enough for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who wants to get rid of the existing ones too.
In my last post, I argued that the network-neutrality proposal being pushed by the FCC is deliberately vague, and would give the FCC the power to do whatever it feels like. Consequently, to avoid costly litigation, ISPs would find it necessary to treat all packets identically, despite claims that the proposal would not do so.
I framed my post as a response to an open letter to the FCC written by Vint Cerf (often called the “father of the internet”) and others. Yesterday, Cerf (or someone identifying himself as him) wrote me to say:
Your blog offers nothing constructive. Have you a proposition?
Thanks for asking! Yes. I have two proposals. The first one will be no surprise to regular readers of this space, but I suspect that Cerf is not, so I’ll go through that one first.
My first proposal is: let people do what they want. The broadband providers own the wire/fiber; let them use it as they see fit. If they do something stupid, like block access to certain sites, allow the market to punish them accordingly. This proposal is very easy to implement, as it means preserving the status quo.
As I’ve written before, the threat of broadband providers shaking down content providers and blocking their sites if they don’t pay is entirely hypothetical. (The threat of government overreach, on other hand, is not.) No broadband provider is doing this now, and I see the likelihood of anyone doing it in the future as very slim. One reason providers are unlikely to try such a thing is the history of the Comcast incident. Some people suggest that the incident proves that the broadband companies are a danger to the free flow of information. Actually, the incident proves just the opposite. (First of all, Comcast was trying to improve user performance, and was simply doing it in a stupid way, but that’s not the point. The market does not require that participants be angels, which they most certainly are not.) Customers got angry when they found out that Comcast was throttling BitTorrent, and Comcast was forced to back down. The market process worked exactly as it is supposed to.
I don’t personally see the need for more than this, but many people do. Some simply want to extend government control over the internet, but others are in earnest.
For people in the latter category, I have a second suggestion: Use the power of the market to force broadband providers to commit to neutrality. The best way to do this would have been to trademark the term “internet” and not permit a broadband provider to use the term unless they abide by standards from some established body like the IETF. That way, network neutrality could be enacted by that standards body. Its decisions would be unlikely to stifle innovation because (1) it’s an open body, (2) it’s not run by the government, and (3) any future standards for Quality of Service would probably go through that body anyway.
Importantly, any broadband provider would be free to ignore the standard, but then they would be unable to market their product as internet service. In order to make a profit, they would need to convince customers that they were offering something better. If they were blocking sites that refused a shakedown, they would have a hard time making that case. On the other hand, if they were providing a new innovation forbidden by an ossified standards body, they probably could make the case.
It’s much too late to trademark the term “internet” now, but we can still do something similar: Have a standards body offer a network-neutrality seal-of-approval to providers that abide by neutrality. Customers would have to be taught to look for the seal, but I don’t think that would be a problem. If Google and others were to take the money that they are spending to lobby the government and instead spend it to advertise a neutrality seal, I think they would have a very easy time making the sale. (And if they couldn’t, that might just mean that the public doesn’t care about network neutrality.)
The broadband providers would be delighted to cooperate because (1) currently they would all receive the seal, and (2) it would lift the threat of government action.
This model has succeeded in the past. For example, Underwriters Laboratories is a private organization that has been certifying products (mostly electrical) for safety for over a century. No one is required to abide by their standards, but those denied the seal have a hard time selling their products.
So that’s my proposal: let free people do what free people will do, and leave the government out of it.
I was surprised to learn of a letter that Vint Cerf and others wrote to the FCC in support of network neutrality last October. Cerf wrote:
One persistent myth is that “network neutrality” somehow requires that all packets be treated identically, that no prioritization or quality of service is permitted under such a framework, and that network neutrality would forbid charging users higher fees for faster speed circuits. To the contrary, we believe such features are permitted within a “network neutral” framework, so long they are not applied in an anti-competitive fashion.
I was surprised by this, because my understanding is that’s exactly what network neutrality is. But rather than argue semantics, let’s go to the FCC’s proposed rules and see what they say. How do you write a rule that dictates that all traffic must be treated equally, while still allowing you to treat some traffic differently than other traffic where appropriate?
You can’t. So here’s what they say instead:
Subject to reasonable network management, a provider of broadband Internet access service must treat lawful content, applications, and services in a nondiscriminatory manner.
There are two keys phrases here, “reasonable network management” and “nondiscriminatory”. The latter is not defined at all. The former purports to be defined, but the definition is circular and in any case it leaves open the definition of “reasonable”:
Reasonable network management consists of:
(a) reasonable practices employed by a provider of broadband Internet access service to:
(i) reduce or mitigate the effects of congestion on its network or to address quality-of-service concerns;
(ii) address traffic that is unwanted by users or harmful;
(iii) prevent the transfer of unlawful content; or
(iv) prevent the unlawful transfer of content; and
(b) other reasonable network management practices.
So we can see that the FCC’s rule is no rule at all, because it never defines “nondiscriminatory” or “reasonable”. So how is the FCC going to enforce a policy that is ill-defined? The rule doesn’t say, but the FCC’s chairman Julius Genachowski explained at a speech at the Brookings Institution in September 2009 (page 13):
I will propose that the FCC evaluate alleged violations of the non-discrimination principal [sic] as they arise on a case by case basis, recognizing that the internet is an extraordinarily complex and dynamic system. This approach within the framework I am proposing today will allow the Commission to make reasoned, fact based determinations based on the internet before it, not based on the internet of years passed or guesses about how the internet will evolve.
Here’s the rub. Genachowski recognizes that there is no way to make a rule that ensures the good intended consequences of network neutrality while averting the bad unintended consequences. It’s good that he recognizes that, since legislators and regulators typically don’t, but what he proposes is even worse. He proposes, essentially, that there be no well-defined rule at all. Instead, the FCC will decide what’s okay on a case-by-case basis, using nothing but vague principles as a guide.
Returning to Cerf’s letter, he writes:
Many now-successful companies have deployed their services on the Internet without the need to negotiate special arrangements with Internet Service Providers, and it’s crucial that future innovators have the same opportunity. We are advocates for “permissionless innovation” that does not impede entrepreneurial enterprise.
I wholeheartedly agree with the principle of “permissionless innovation”, but that’s exactly not what the FCC’s policy would ensure. It does require that future innovators negotiate their innovations; it just makes the other party to the negotiation the FCC rather than ISPs.
Moreover, while the prospect of an ISP standing in the way of innovation is purely hypothetical, the prospect of a government regulator standing in the way of innovation is nigh inevitable. Those with political connections will have their way and any innovation that threatens them will be stamped out. Today’s innovator is tomorrow’s entrenched interest.
A few brave innovators may try to run the FCC gauntlet, but, for the most part, technology companies will avoid costly battles with government regulators. Rather than innovating, they will simply adopt a policy that they know will pass muster. And that means treating every packet the same.
That’s why Cerf is wrong. His internet expertise is unquestioned, but his faith in government regulators is naive. Empowering a government agency to pass judgement on future internet innovation is a terrible idea.
UPDATE: Cerf responds.
Tax cuts for business tend to be pro-growth, but it’s not hard to imagine one that would be anti-growth. For example, you could offer a tax cut for refusing to hire more workers. That would be stupid, right? No one would ever do such a thing.
Well, yes, it’s stupid, but that hasn’t kept Democrats from doing exactly that:
Zach Hoffman was confident his small business would qualify for a new tax cut in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law. But when he ran the numbers, Hoffman discovered that his office furniture company wouldn’t get any assistance with the $79,200 it pays annually in premiums for its 24 employees. “It leaves you with this feeling of a bait-and-switch,” he said.
When the administration unveiled the small business tax credit earlier this week, officials touted its “broad eligibility” for companies with fewer than 25 workers and average annual wages under $50,000 that provide health coverage. Hoffman’s workers earn an average of $35,000 a year, which makes it all the more difficult to understand why his company didn’t qualify.
Lost in the fine print: The credit drops off sharply once a company gets above 10 workers and $25,000 average annual wages.
A tax credit you lose if you hire more than ten workers, to encourage people to keep their businesses small. Brilliant!
The real problem here is nomenclature. In truth, tax cuts and targeted tax credits are entirely different things. Tax cuts are modifications to general tax policy. Targeted tax credits are government spending concealed in the tax code. It doesn’t even matter if the targeted recipient pays no taxes; usually they make them refundable.
Democrats are putting their payoffs in the tax code more and more often because it sounds better to the public to call them “tax cuts” than “government spending”. We need to stop letting them get away with that.
(Via Hot Air.)
An example of the high principles with which financial regulation is being considered:
Dan noted yesterday that Sen. Chris Dodd snuck in a (literally) eleventh-hour amendment to the Senate’s financial-regulation bill which would have allowed a group of federal officials who oppose Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s derivatives amendment to quietly “study” it to death.
Dodd apparently thought he could safely do this without affecting Lincoln’s chances in her primary race, but Lincoln failed to win outright and must win a runoff. So now Dodd has pulled a double reverse and issued a “nevermind” via Twitter: He will not bring up his amendment to Lincoln’s derivatives bill after all.
This is all about election posturing.
Steward Baker writes:
Imagine that data from your unsecured wireless router has been mistakenly collected by a Google Street View car as it trundles down your street. The company admits that it shouldn’t have done that. In order to cure the privacy violation, you want Google to:
(a) Destroy your data
(b) Turn all your data over to German government officials
You can learn everything you need to know about the European privacy bureaucracy from the answer to this question.
The Washington Post’s army of editors and fact-checkers seems to have fallen down when it comes to Tom Shales’s piece on the end of Law and Order:
Fred Thompson, who growled around for a few seasons as a DA and later ran for Congress, never seemed to be doing much beyond playing himself: an old grouch.
Let’s see. Thompson was first an attorney, then an actor (he got his start playing himself in a movie about a case that brought down a corrupt governor), and then he was elected to the US Senate. After eight years in the Senate, he retired and joined the cast of Law and Order. He played the DA for six seasons, and then retired to run for president.
I don’t remember much growling either, but I’ll agree Arthur Branch did have a lot in common with Fred Thompson.
(Via the Corner.)
A study finds that television viewers with DVRs still watch live TV almost all the time (85%). I find this simply astonishing. I don’t even know when the programs I watch come on.
Massachusetts’s health care law is destined to be a case study in Economics 101 textbooks:
- Massachusetts passes a law that mandates coverage of pre-existing conditions (and also institutes other expensive mandates).
- Adverse selection: People learn to game the system, by purchasing coverage when they need expensive treatment and dropping it immediately afterward.
- Prices skyrocket.
- Massachusetts imposes price controls.
- As always, price controls create shortages. Insurers refuse to issue new policies at the mandated rates.
- Massachusetts forces insurers to resume issuing new policies, at the mandated rates.
- Insurers post huge losses.
That’s where Massachusetts is now. In part 8, insurers stop doing business in Massachusetts. In part 9, Massachusetts institutes a public option. Since there is no private insurance, the public option is de facto single payer. In part 10, Massachusetts’s deficit skyrockets. In part 11, health care rationing is instituted.
Massachusetts could turn back at any point. But if they don’t, each step in this progression is inevitable. It’s basic economics.
The United States is still at step one. Let’s turn back now.
Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic nominee to succeed the corrupt Christopher Dodd in the Senate, lied about serving in Vietnam. The surprising thing is the New York Times reported it.
(Via Hot Air.)
UPDATE: Blumenthal’s effort to play this off as a misunderstanding of ambiguous statements isn’t going to wash.
UPDATE: More. Blumenthal is violating the first rule of holes.
The Economist reports:
ON A recent trip to America, Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president, could not resist the temptation to needle his hosts. Just before the visit his American counterpart, Barack Obama, had secured Congressional approval of a plan for a dramatic expansion of the country’s health-insurance market. Observing that America is the only wealthy country to lack universal health coverage, Mr Sarkozy sniffed: “Welcome to the club of states who don’t turn their back on the sick and the poor.”
Look here, Monsieur Grenouille Président. America does offer treatment to the sick and the poor through hospital emergency rooms. (And despite the new law, that’s where their treatment is likely to remain.) If you want to see what it looks like to turn your back on the sick and the poor, I suggest looking a bit closer to home:
The death toll in France from August’s blistering heat wave has reached nearly 15,000, according to a government-commissioned report released Thursday, surpassing a prior tally by more than 3,000. . .
The bulk of the victims — many of them elderly — died during the height of the heat wave, which brought suffocating temperatures of up to 104 degrees in a country where air conditioning is rare. Others apparently were greatly weakened during the peak temperatures but did not die until days later.
The new estimate comes a day after the French Parliament released a harshly worded report blaming the deaths on a complex health system, widespread failure among agencies and health services to coordinate efforts, and chronically insufficient care for the elderly. . .
The heat wave swept across much of Europe, but the death toll was far higher in France than in any other country.
How did it happen? Neglect:
The immediate flush of media attention last week centered on the sexier political debate over the slow and initially dismissive reaction by the conservative government of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, much of which was on holiday as the death toll mounted. Raffarin has refused to accept any blame, while President Jacques Chirac was bizarrely silent — and on vacation in Canada — for the duration of the heat wave. When he finally addressed the crisis in televised remarks last Thursday, Chirac avoided finger pointing, instead emphasizing that “family solidarity [and] respect for the aged and handicapped” are necessary to avoid future tragedies. Doctors and health experts, the people no one listened to during the heat wave, are telling a larger, darker story. The heat wave only made visible, they say, a crisis that had been under way for years: a chronically under-funded and understaffed elder care system combined with a national habit of shutting senior citizens out of sight and mind. . .
The majority of this summer’s victims were found dead in homes they occupied alone — or were brought to emergency rooms too dehydrated and weak to be saved. The August vacation period had lowered the staffing levels of rescue squads and hospitals. And well before that, many elderly people had already become cut off from regular human contact.
I hope we’re not joining Mr. Sarkozy’s club. I fear we are.
The United States and China reported no major breakthroughs Friday after only their second round of talks about human rights since 2002. . .
[Assistant Secretary of State Michael] Posner said in addition to talks on freedom of religion and expression, labor rights and rule of law, officials also discussed Chinese complaints about problems with U.S. human rights, which have included crime, poverty, homelessness and racial discrimination.
He said U.S. officials did not whitewash the American record and in fact raised on its own a new immigration law in Arizona that requires police to ask about a person’s immigration status if there is suspicion the person is in the country illegally.
This is appallingly stupid in at least three different ways:
- If they want to cite some fashion in which the United States violates its people’s rights, they have plenty of opportunities. Instead of any of those, they reached for the Arizona law, which merely requires that authorities check suspects’ immigration status when they have a reasonable suspicion they might be illegal aliens and it is practical to do so. (And checking immigration status is accomplished simply by asking for a driver’s license, which authorities do all the time already.)
- Even the ways in which the United States does violate its people’s rights bear no comparison to what China does.
- Suppose we pretend that the Arizona law actually is a human rights violation, and suppose further that we pretend it is a violation on a par with harvesting organs from political prisoners or various other atrocities regularly perpetrated by the Chinese government. How on earth does it benefit us to raise the issue?
I think there must be something in the water at Foggy Bottom that causes brain damage.
(Via Power Line.)
Wait, this isn’t what Democrats said would happen:
The new healthcare law will pack 32 million newly insured people into emergency rooms already crammed beyond capacity, according to experts on healthcare facilities.
A chief aim of the new healthcare law was to take the pressure off emergency rooms by mandating that people either have insurance coverage. The idea was that if people have insurance, they will go to a doctor rather than putting off care until they faced an emergency.
People who build hospitals, however, say newly insured people will still go to emergency rooms for primary care because they don’t have a doctor.
“Everybody expected that one of the initial impacts of reform would be less pressure on emergency departments; it’s going to be exactly the opposite over the next four to eight years,” said Rich Dallam, a healthcare partner at the architectural firm NBBJ, which designs healthcare facilities.
“We don’t have the primary care infrastructure in place in America to cover the need. Our clients are looking at and preparing for more emergency department volume, not less,” he said.
This is not a hypothetical; it’s exactly what happened in Massachusetts:
Massachusetts in 2006 created near-universal coverage for residents, which was supposed to ease the traffic in hospital emergency rooms.
But a recent poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians found that nearly two-thirds of the state’s residents say emergency department wait times have either increased or remained the same.
A February 2010 report by The Council of State Governments found that wait times had not abated since the law took effect.
Obamacare is a catastrophe in waiting. Fortunately, it’s not too late for us to repeal the thing and avert the catastrophe.
So claims a new article sanctioned by China’s communist party. According to the article, the USSR notified the United States of its planned attack against China and asked the US to remain neutral. Nixon responded that any Soviet attack on China would be deemed as the beginning of a general attack, and the US would respond.
I have no idea if it’s true or not, but it’s very interesting.
UPDATE: More here.
The Obama administration has “screwed up the messaging” about its support for Israel over the past 14 months, and it will take “more than one month to make up for 14 months,” White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said on Thursday to a group of rabbis called together for a meeting in the White House.
The administration is obviously not concerned with Israeli opinion. Israeli opinion on Obama fell to within the margin-of-error of zero nearly nine months ago, but that brought about no effort to improve the “messaging”. In fact, Obama delivered his most overt slight yet to Israel just two months ago.
The Finger-Pointer-in-Chief says:
“I will not tolerate any more finger pointing.”
I suppose he means finger pointing by other people.
Nancy Pelosi says the health care nationalization bill is “entrepreneurial”, because under it you can quit your job and still have health care.
Being a real entrepreneur is much, much harder under Obamacare because of the strangling web of regulations, mandates, and taxes. But to Nancy Pelosi, an “entrepreneur” is anyone without a real job.
Google has been collecting data on internet traffic passing over personal wi-fi networks:
Google Inc. said an internal investigation has discovered that the roving vans the company uses to create its online mapping services were mistakenly collecting data about websites people were visiting over wireless networks.
The Internet giant said it would stop collecting Wi-Fi data from its StreetView vans, which workers drive to capture street images and to locate Wi-Fi networks. The company said it would dispose of the data it had accidentally collected.
Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research for Google, wrote in a blog post that the company uncovered the mistake while responding to a German data-protection agency’s request for it to audit the Wi-Fi data, amid mounting concerns that Google’s practices violated users’ privacy.
Google had previously said it was collecting the location of Wi-Fi hot spots from its StreetView vehicles, but not the information being transmitted over those networks by users.
“It’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) Wi-Fi networks, even though we never used that data in any Google products,” wrote Mr. Eustace. “We are profoundly sorry for this error and are determined to learn all the lessons we can from our mistake.”
They say it was accidental, and maybe it was (although we have no way to know). But that doesn’t let them off the hook. Even in the most benign reading, this is a company that collects so much data that it can accidentally spy on you.
I also think they need to explain in greater detail how they are going to dispose of the data.
In the Obama administration, knowing what you’re talking about is optional:
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who has been critical of Arizona’s new immigration law, said Thursday he hasn’t yet read the law and is going by what he’s read in newspapers or seen on television.
Mr. Holder is conducting a review of the law, at President Obama’s request, to see if the federal government should challenge it in court. He said he expects he will read the law by the time his staff briefs him on their conclusions.
“I’ve just expressed concerns on the basis of what I’ve heard about the law. But I’m not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with people are doing the review, exactly what my position is,” Mr. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee.
This weekend Mr. Holder told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program that the Arizona law “has the possibility of leading to racial profiling.” He had earlier called the law’s passage “unfortunate,” and questioned whether the law was unconstitutional because it tried to assume powers that may be reserved for the federal government.
The law that he hasn’t had time to read is all of 18 pages long.
(Via Hot Air.)
The US government suffered a wider-than-expected budget deficit of 82.69 billion dollars in April, the Treasury Department said Wednesday. It was nearly four times the deficit chalked up a year earlier and the largest ever recorded in April. Most analysts had expected the April deficit, the 19th consecutive month of federal red ink, to be about 52 billion dollars. . .
“The federal government normally runs a surplus during April because of personal income-tax payments but is running a deficit now because of the recovery from the recession and the policy response,” said Augustine Faucher, director of macroeconomics research for Moody’s Economy.com.
That’s 59% higher than projected, and what’s particularly appalling is April includes tax day.
Over a year after President Obama disbanded the CIA’s interrogation program, we still have nothing to replace it:
In February 2009, after two wars and years of confusion over the best way to interrogate a terrorist, the U.S. created a special unit called the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) to relearn how to get critical information from suspects in custody.
Fifteen months later and in the wake of the failed car-bombing in Times Square, the question now is: where are they?
The HIG was supposed to bring together all that the U.S. had learned about getting prisoners to talk, the intent being to make the nation’s intelligence sector more effective. Based on a recommendation by a fact-finding intelligence panel, it was to be an interagency group staffed by the best interrogators in government — with broad powers to travel and decide interrogation techniques on a case-by-case basis.
More importantly, the HIG was to report directly to the National Security Council — ending a longtime bureaucratic war between the CIA and the FBI over who would control interrogations, a battle that had damaged intelligence operations.
Now, after a rocky start, sources say the secretive unit is almost up and running. But just how functional it is remains a matter of some dispute.
Five months ago, after the Christmas Day arrest in Detroit of the alleged “underwear bomber” Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab, intelligence watchers were stunned to learn that the HIG not only didn’t participate in his interrogation, but it was not yet operational. And now, despite reports that the HIG has been involved in the Times Square bombing case, intelligence sources say it is still a work in progress.
Marc Thiessen’s book explains how dangerous and inexcusable the administration’s failure is.
Delta Airlines loses a dog, lies about it, and finally offers a $200 refund (the charge to transport a dog). To add insult to injury, they offer the $200 refund in the form of a travel voucher.