Obama drilling moratorium loses again

July 12, 2010

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

A federal appeals panel in New Orleans on Thursday denied the federal government’s bid to reinstate a six-month moratorium on offshore deepwater oil drilling issued by the Department of Interior, as part of the Obama administration’s response to the ongoing BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

(Previous post.)


Government still blocking media from oil spill

July 12, 2010

Yes, I’ve used this title before, but it seems nothing has changed. CNN is the latest to complain that it is being denied access to the spill.

(Previous post.)


No right to jury trial in England

July 12, 2010

Another basic civil right discarded by the defunct Blair-Brown government: the right to trial by jury. For the first time in 400 years, four men have been convicted of a crime without a jury trial:

Four men were jailed for between 15 years and life after being found guilty today of carrying out a £1.75m robbery in the first English criminal trial to be heard without a jury in 400 years. . .

Blake was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 10 years and nine months, Twomey got 20 years and six months; Hibberd 17 years and six months; and Cameron, 15 years. . .

The four were tried, convicted and sentenced by Mr Justice Treacy after the previous three armed robbery trials collapsed, the last two amid allegations that the jurors had been “compromised” or tampered with. . .

The “hallowed principle” of trial by jury was set aside by the court of appeal in June last year, in the first case using powers under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, but campaigners called the decision a dangerous precedent.


Franken elected by felons

July 12, 2010

Fox News reports:

The six-month election recount that turned former “Saturday Night Live” comedian Al Franken into a U.S. senator may have been decided by convicted felons who voted illegally in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

That’s the finding of an 18-month study conducted by Minnesota Majority, a conservative watchdog group, which found that at least 341 convicted felons in largely Democratic Minneapolis-St. Paul voted illegally in the 2008 Senate race between Franken, a Democrat, and his Republican opponent, then-incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman.

The final recount vote in the race, determined six months after Election Day, showed Franken beat Coleman by 312 votes — fewer votes than the number of felons whose illegal ballots were counted, according to Minnesota Majority’s newly released study, which matched publicly available conviction lists with voting records. . .

“We aren’t trying to change the result of the last election. That legally can’t be done,” said Dan McGrath, Minnesota Majority’s executive director. “We are just trying to make sure the integrity of the next election isn’t compromised.”

Just think of all the votes, notably health care nationalization, for which Franken was the deciding vote.

Meanwhile, the US Justice Department is doing its part to make sure it does happen again:

The so-called Motor Voter Law of 1993 (a time when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency) . . . requires the states to purge their voter rolls of the dead, felons, people who have moved, and others not eligible to vote.

According to J. Christopher Adams, who recently resigned from the DOJ and has been testifying in front of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission — which the department had forbidden him to do when he was an employee, despite a subpoena — the Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes told the Voting Rights Section at a meeting that, “We have no interest in enforcing this provision of the law. It has nothing to do with increasing turnout, and we are just not going to do it.”


Trib misquotes Boehner

July 12, 2010

Democrats need to learn what the rest of us have learned already, the media cannot be trusted:

Democrats are slamming House Minority Leader John Boehner for reportedly saying the Social Security retirement age should be raised to pay for the war in Afghanistan — though Boehner’s office vehemently denies he made that connection.

The comment came during an interview Monday with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Boehner said the retirement age should be raised to 70 for those at least 20 years away from retirement and suggested wealthy taxpayers should not be receiving benefits at all. . .

Though a video clip of his Social Security comments does not include any reference to Afghanistan, the newspaper’s article on the interview said Boehner cast the changes as a way to pay for the war.

Democrats seized on the interview, accusing Boehner of wanting to pay for war on the backs of seniors. Ohio House Democrats held a press conference Wednesday to denounce Boehner, with Rep. Marcy Kaptur calling it “un-American” to cut Social Security.

“The House Republican Leader John Boehner and his GOP colleagues want to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70 and cut benefits in order to pay for George Bush’s war and their failed policies of the past,” House Democratic Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., said in a written statement. “Democrats will not stand for this.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office put out a “fact sheet” accusing Boehner of wanting to “slash” Social Security not to stabilize the program, but to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan – though Iraq was not mentioned anywhere in the Tribune-Review article.

South Carolina Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler called on her state’s Republican congressmen to “renounce” Boehner’s comments, accusing him of looking to “break America’s promise to her seniors.”

The Trib has since corrected its story. The Democrats could have avoided some embarrassment if they had checked the facts first.


The federal bonus

July 12, 2010

Federal workers are compensated 12% more than private workers:

Conducted for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CPS is a long-running survey that couples earnings and employment information with detailed demographic characteristics of the survey population. At first glance, the CPS data show that the average hourly wage for a federal worker is about 48% higher than a private worker’s. Yet because federal employees tend to be more educated and experienced than their private counterparts, as Mr. Orszag noted, one has to control for these skill differences. This reduces the public-private salary gap—but it does not eliminate it. The federal wage premium for workers who have the same education and experience stands at 24%, still a windfall for public employees.

Even using all the standard controls—including race and gender, full- or part-time work, firm size, marital status, region, residence in a city or suburb, and more—the federal wage premium does not disappear. It stubbornly hovers around 12%, meaning private employees must work 13½ months to earn what comparable federal workers make in 12.

And that doesn’t count the excellent job security that comes with working for the federal government.

POSTSCRIPT: I think this story is related: “Survey says: Federal workers are glad to have their jobs.” You don’t say.


House passes bogus budget

July 12, 2010

They really did it. House Democrats thought that passing a budget was too embarrassing, so they passed a fake one instead. Passing a budget is the one fundamental responsibility of the legislature, and the Democrats have abdicated it. In a parliamentary system, the parliament would automatically be dissolved now.

POSTSCRIPT: What I want to know is whether the fake budget counts as a budget for the purposes of reconciliation. If the absence of a real budget keeps them from ramming a reconciliation bill through the Senate, the sacrifice of the integrity of our government’s budgeting process might be worth it.

UPDATE (7/16): It seems that the answer is no; the fake budget is no good for reconciliation purposes.

(Previous post.)


A mad-duck session?

July 12, 2010

Some Democrats quietly admit to plans to push through radical legislation in a lame-duck session after losing control of Congress.

POSTSCRIPT: I think the term “mad-duck session” is due to Mickey Kaus.


Dems skip Berwick hearing

July 12, 2010

ABC News reports:

In announcing the recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — and two other nominees — today President Obama said in a statement that “It’s unfortunate that at a time when our nation is facing enormous challenges, many in Congress have decided to delay critical nominations for political purposes.”

That claim is reasonably true for the other two nominees given recess appointments today. [Although it was Democrats, not Republicans, holding up Sherrod Brown] . . . But it’s not the case with Berwick, whose recess appointment is getting most of the attention.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., echoed the president’s suggestion, saying that “Republican lockstep stalling of Don’s nomination was a case study in cynicism and one awful example of how not to govern.”

But Republicans were not delaying or stalling Berwick’s nomination. Indeed, they were eager for his hearing, hoping to assail Berwick’s past statements about health care rationing and his praise for the British health care system. . .

[Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa] said that he “requested that a hearing take place two weeks ago, before this recess.” . . .

But speaking not for attribution, Democratic officials say that neither Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., nor Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, were eager for an ugly confirmation fight four months before the midterm elections.

The Democrats didn’t want to defend this guy in a public hearing, so they skipped it and gave him a recess appointment instead. Wow.

ASIDE: Let not miss the fact that President Obama and John Kerry are outright lying about the Berwick nomination being stalled.

Why were the Republicans so eager for the Berwick hearing? Because the president’s nominee to run Medicare is the poster child for health care rationing:

The decision is not whether or not we will ration care—the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.

That’s right, the man Obama put in charge of health care for the elderly is a big fan of rationing. Democrats were rightfully afraid that a public hearing on Berwick would expose his views to the public, and the public might draw a connection to Obamacare.

More on Berwick’s disdain for American health care here.


Opacity

July 12, 2010

A liberal watchdog group charges the Obama administration with flouting transparency laws by using personal e-mail account to contact lobbyists, and by meeting with them in coffee shops rather than at the White House where the meetings would be logged:

“By having off-the-record meetings and e-mail exchanges with lobbyists, the White House is attempting [to] reap the benefits of conversations and interactions with knowledgeable lobbyists while publicly promoting the belief that the White House maintains a discreet distance from those very same lobbyists,” CREW executive director Melanie Sloan writes.


MassCare disaster unabated

July 12, 2010

Megan McArdle observes that Massachusetts’s health care system, on which Obamacare was based, isn’t working. With insurance companies forbidden to consider pre-existing conditions, people have no reason to buy health insurance until they’re sick, unless the government forces them to do so. Hence the individual mandate, but the individual mandate isn’t working.

POSTSCRIPT: As I noted earlier, the individual mandate wouldn’t solve the problem, even if it did work, unless uniformly low-quality health care is a satisfactory solution.


A conservative surge

July 12, 2010

According to Gallup, something remarkable has happened in American political ideology:

Clearly, something happened in 2009 that changed a lot of people’s minds.

(Via Power Line.)


Stimulus

July 12, 2010

The president’s stimulus boondoggle succeeded in stimulating something:

(Via the Corner.)


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