XKCD on passwords:
I think this is probably an artifact of the days when passwords were a maximum of eight characters. Old habits are hard to break.
A flashback to the genesis of the Gunwalker scandal:
The president has directed us to take action to fight these cartels and Attorney General Eric Holder and I [Deputy Attorney General David Ogden] are taking several new and aggressive steps as part of the administration’s comprehensive plan. . .
DOJ’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is increasing its efforts by adding 37 new employees in 3 new offices using $10 million dollars in Recovery Act funds and redeploying 100 personnel to the southwest border in the next 45 days to fortify it’s Project Gunrunner- which is aimed at disrupted arms trafficking between the United States and Mexico.
The announcement obviously didn’t say that those efforts would include trafficking guns to Mexican drug cartels while making no effort to track them. That, they didn’t know yet (probably). But, at the very least, it’s easy to see how it could happen: “Here’s a blank check — go do something!”
Why is the Defense Department outsourcing the next-generation Light Air Support program to a Brazilian company with close ties to Iran?
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac understated their exposure to subprime and reduced-documentation mortgages by 90%. Freddie disclosed $140 billion of their $901 billion exposure; Fannie disclosed just $73.7 billion of their $1.1 trillion exposure.
This might have been good to know as the federal government was deciding to give Fannie and Freddie a blank check.
PJ Media reports:
A career employee in the Voting Section of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has confessed to committing perjury, sources say. The employee, Stephanie Celandine Gyamfi, reportedly told investigators from the Inspector General’s Office that she perjured herself during an inquiry into Justice Department leaks during the previous administration. Despite the admission, she has not been fired for criminal malfeasance. Indeed, it appears she has not been disciplined in any meaningful way at all. . .
Amazingly, despite Ms. Gyamfi’s admission of committing perjury not once, but three times, she so far has been neither terminated nor disciplined by the Justice Department. In fact, her boss, Voting Section Chief Chris Herren, continues to assign her to the most politically sensitive of matters, including the Department’s review of Texas’s congressional redistricting plan.
Now why on earth would the Justice Department let perjury slide? Wonder no longer:
The genesis of Ms. Gyamfi’s perjury is apparently rooted in political attacks on the Bush Justice Department. Throughout 2005-2007, numerous attorney-client privileged documents, confidential personnel information, and other sensitive legal materials were leaked from inside the Voting Section to the Washington Post and various left-wing blogs.
Now, the Obama administration cannot be held responsible for Gyamfi’s malfeasance, but they should be held responsible for their failure to discipline her. Not only have they let her off scot-free, they have continued to use her in precisely the area in which she has shown she cannot be trusted. And thus they support her actions after-the-fact.
(Via Hot Air.)
Seattle’s city council has enacted a ban on plastic bags, despite such a ban having been overwhelmingly defeated by the voters. (Take that, silly voters!)
There’s a lot to hate about this: The government giving the people the finger. Infringement of our personal liberties. The fact that paper bags are no better for the environment than plastic.
But what takes the cake is this: The reusable grocery bags that they are trying to induce people to use carry health risks:
The International Association for Food Protection’s Food Protection Trends published a study in its latest issue revealing that most consumers surveyed never wash their reusable bags between uses, permitting bacteria to grow. The peer-reviewed study, completed by University of Arizona Microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba, found that large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags and that coliform bacteria were found in half of those tested. Eight percent of bags contained E. coli.
To quote from the study itself:
A wide variety of coliform bacteria were detected in the bags including Escherichia coli. E. coli
was identified in seven bags (12% of bags tested). . . Many of the bacteria isolated are capable of causing opportunistic infections in humans.
So the Seattle City Council is creating a health risk by infringing our freedom in order to address an unimportant problem in a manner already rejected by the people.
POSTSCRIPT: It’s always interesting to me to see the hierarchy of causes on the left (e.g., multi-culturalism trumps feminism). From this NPR story, downplaying the risks of grocery bags, we see that environmentalism (in its stupidest form) trumps food safety. “Don’t fret” they say, based on interviewing one person who says that having E coli in your grocery bags is probably fine. They don’t usually take that line on matters of food safety, even for threats that — unlike this one — are entirely speculative (for example).
The Arab Spring has been just as bad for Christians as we feared.
To be fair, it’s perfectly sensible to say you’re willing to do something provided others do their part too. But then you don’t get to take the rhetorical step of saying “I want my taxes raised.” You don’t want your taxes raised; you want other people’s taxes raised.
ASIDE: On the other hand, if the point is that millionaires somehow have the moral authority to call for tax increases on millionaires, then by the same token, middle class people like the Tea Party have the moral authority to call for middle-class entitlements to be abolished. Heck, I’ll make that trade.
Moreover, I suspect most of these people are being disingenuous. Crony capitalists are all for higher taxes because higher taxes mean more government spending, which puts more money back in their pocket. And others profit from higher taxes in other ways, such as by running tax shelters or (like Warren Buffett) by selling insurance against tax bills.
If your aim is to fight Islamic stereotypes, this isn’t the way to do it:
Check out the [Islamic Diversity Center] team page, which describes the individuals on the organization’s staff. . .
That’s right: the men are identified and individually pictured, but for each female staff member there is a photo of a woman wearing a burqa, so that only her eyes are showing. Not only that, it is the same photo in each case; not a picture of the female staff member at all, but a generic image of a woman wearing a burqa.
Somehow I suspect it is going to take a little more effort to dispel those stereotypes.
If you go to the page now, the generic burka-woman has been replaced by a stark “NO PHOTO UPLOADED”.
The Washington Post reports:
Since the failure of [Solyndra], Obama’s entire $80 billion clean-technology program has begun to look like a political liability for an administration about to enter a bruising reelection campaign.
Meant to create jobs and cut reliance on foreign oil, Obama’s green-technology program was infused with politics at every level, The Washington Post found in an analysis of thousands of memos, company records and internal e-mails. Political considerations were raised repeatedly by company investors, Energy Department bureaucrats and White House officials.
Someone needs to glue this man’s mouth shut:
The White House on Monday defended Vice President Joe Biden for saying that the Taliban isn’t an enemy of the United States despite the years spent fighting the militant Islamic group that gave a home to Al Qaeda and its leader Usama bin Laden while he plotted the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Jay Carney’s attempted defense doesn’t even make sense:
“It’s only regrettable when taken out of context,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said of the vice president’s remarks in an interview published Monday.
“It is a simple fact that we went into Afghanistan because of the attack on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. We are there now to ultimately defeat Al Qaeda, to stabilize Afghanistan and stabilize it in part so that Al Qaeda or other terrorists who have as their aim attacks on the United States cannot establish a foothold again in that country,” Carney continued.
This is nonsense. After 9/11, the Taliban was given a choice: side with us or Al Qaeda. They chose Al Qaeda. They are the enemy.
What’s worse, the world is looking for signs as to whether we will stay the course in Afghanistan. This sort of talk doesn’t help; in fact it costs lives. That’s the “context” that matters.
This story makes the most sense if one views the American Bar Association as simply a racket:
Two days after being featured in the New York Times article on how the ABA drives up the cost of law schools, Lincoln Memorial University, Duncan School of Law today was informed in this letter that the ABA denied provisional accreditation for the school.
The ABA derives its power from the scarcity of credentialed lawyers. It’s against their interests for it to become easier or cheaper to become a lawyer.
The Associated Press reports on the horrors of income inequality:
Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.
That’s right, nearly one-in-two Americans are below the median. How dreadful!
Think I’m being overly glib? I’m not. The Obama administration’s new poverty line really is defined in terms of income quantiles. It’s not literally set at the median; the actual definition is more complicated, but we can expect the two to track each other pretty well. (The actual definition is 150% of the 30th percentile of a particular wealthy population.) The definition was designed to ensure that there will always been plenty of people in poverty, and the AP is playing along.
(Via The New Editor.)
UPDATE: Tom Blumer also takes a critical look at the new poverty line. Oddly, his account of the definition is different in detail than the one I linked, but it’s still quantile based.
A startup company can locate nearly anyone’s mobile phone in North America, given just the phone number. Yikes.
The Obama administration says that American gun shops are responsible for the escalation of violence in Mexico. We already know that their figures are dishonest. And we already know that they trafficked thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels, for reasons that have yet to be explained. But here’s another point to complete the trifecta of malfesance:
Selling weapons to Mexico – where cartel violence is out of control – is controversial because so many guns fall into the wrong hands due to incompetence and corruption. The Mexican military recently reported nearly 9,000 police weapons “missing.”
Yet the U.S. has approved the sale of more guns to Mexico in recent years than ever before through a program called “direct commercial sales.” It’s a program that some say is worse than the highly-criticized “Fast and Furious” gunrunning scandal, where U.S. agents allowed thousands of weapons to pass from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels. . .
Here’s how it works: A foreign government fills out an application to buy weapons from private gun manufacturers in the U.S. Then the State Department decides whether to approve.
And it did approve 2,476 guns to be sold to Mexico in 2006. In 2009, that number was up nearly 10 times, to 18,709. The State Department has since stopped disclosing numbers of guns it approves, and wouldn’t give CBS News figures for 2010 or 2011.
(Via Hot Air.)
The Obama administration says we need to give up our civil rights in order to keep guns from getting to Mexico, but they are trafficking thousands of guns illegally, and approving tens of thousands for sale legally.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, the Obama campaign issued a full denial of stories that unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers hosted a fundraiser for Barack Obama, calling it a “myth propagated by the McCain campaign that’s been debunked”. The media (such as NPR) took their denial at face value.
Now a video has surfaced of Bill Ayers telling a group (it looks like a teacher’s union) in October 2011 that he did indeed host a fundraiser for Obama. One of them (Obama or Ayers) is lying.
Sounds like an opportunity for some enterprising journalist to ask a tough question. (Like that will ever happen.)
If you’ve been following the LightSquared scandal, you already know that LightSquared’s technology breaks GPS receivers and airplane avionics. What hasn’t been clear (to me at least) is what the technology is actually supposed to do.
Ed Morrissey explains what’s going on:
In fact, LightSquared lobbyists have been pressuring state legislators in Minnesota (where Best Buy has its corporate headquarters) to demand FCC approval through Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, in part by stressing Best Buy’s partnership with LightSquared and the notion that “retail cell phone rates for LightSquared’s partners are expected to drop by 33-50 percent!” That cost savings comes from not having to buy new frequencies, which cost carriers like AT&T and Verizon tens of billions of dollars at auction, which makes the waiver critical to their business plan.
Now it makes sense. LightSquared doesn’t have a new technology. What they have is a business plan: rather than spend a fortune to buy frequencies in the part of the spectrum where they belong, they want to use their political connections to get cheap frequencies elsewhere. They they use the cost savings to undercut their competition.
Fox News reports:
President Obama’s re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee have returned more than $70,000 in contributions from former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine following the collapse of MF Global, Corzine’s financial firm, officials said Friday.
This is all about optics. The president decided it would look bad to keep campaign contributions from a man whose company stole $1.2 billion (and who personally fought against reforms that would have helped prevent the theft), and that he can afford to spare $70 thousand. However, Corzine’s personal contribution is just a drop in the bucket; Corzine’s real contribution was all the other money he could deliver:
Corzine was among Obama’s top fundraisers, raising at least $500,000 for Obama’s re-election campaign since April, according to records released by the campaign. The former Goldman Sachs chief held a fundraiser for the president last April and was considered a main Obama emissary to Wall Street.
None of that money is getting returned. He can spare $70 thousand, but half a million is another matter. He’s betting no one will pay attention to that. He isn’t even returning the other contributions from MF Global:
One of the Democratic officials said the campaign and DNC would evaluate whether to return donations from other MF Global employees on a case-by-case basis.
Three other top executives at MF Global also gave the maximum.
Victor David Hanson’s article on the decline of California’s central valley is absolutely heartbreaking.
I would be interested to see a comparison of the number of the signing statements (of the we-aren’t-going-to-follow-this-provision variety, not the putting-our-interpretation-on-record variety) coming fr0m President Obama and from President Bush. I suspect that despite his posturing, Obama has put out just as many.
Poverty in Egypt, or anywhere else, is not very difficult to explain. There are three basic causes: People are poor because they cannot produce anything highly valued by others. They can produce things highly valued by others but are hampered or prevented from doing so. Or, they volunteer to be poor.
Still, I think that Milton Friedman’s comment is insightful. Rather than thinking about the causes of poverty, it’s more useful to think about the causes of wealth.
Daniel Pipes thinks Hezbollah might be in trouble. Here’s hoping.
ProPublica looks at how the California Democratic party scammed the redistricting commission:
In previous years, the party had used its perennial control of California’s state Legislature to draw district maps that protected Democratic incumbents. But in 2010, California voters put redistricting in the hands of a citizens’ commission where decisions would be guided by public testimony and open debate. . .
In the weeks that followed, party leaders came up with a plan. Working with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — a national arm of the party that provides money and support to Democratic candidates — members were told to begin “strategizing about potential future district lines,” according to another email.
The citizens’ commission had pledged to create districts based on testimony from the communities themselves, not from parties or statewide political players. To get around that, Democrats surreptitiously enlisted local voters, elected officials, labor unions and community groups to testify in support of configurations that coincided with the party’s interests. When they appeared before the commission, those groups identified themselves as ordinary Californians and did not disclose their ties to the party. . .
California’s Democratic representatives got much of what they wanted. . . Statewide, Democrats had been expected to gain at most a seat or two as a result of redistricting. But an internal party projection says that the Democrats will likely pick up six or seven seats in a state where the party’s voter registrations have grown only marginally.
Four Democratic officials and operatives have pleaded guilty to a crime that we’re told never, ever happens.
And yes, there’s an ACORN connection.
The NTSB is upset about cell phone use while driving:
And it was over just like that. It happened so quickly. And, that’s what happened at Gray Summit. Two lives lost in the blink of an eye. And, it’s what happened to more than 3,000 people last year. Lives lost. In the blink of an eye. In the typing of a text. In the push of a send button.
But it’s a lie; that figure counts all distractions, not just phone use. The actual number is less than a third of that, according to the NTSB’s own figures.
ASIDE: Another version of the piece, appearing in the Washington Post, renders the number “thousands of people”. Since the plural implies at least two thousand, that’s also a lie.
Two years ago I took a look at what the research on cell phone use while driving actually says. It was much more nuanced than the media would have us believe.
Victor Davis Hanson takes on the Obama mythology.
If you were a corrupt politician, and you thought that your political fortunes were tied to making certain numbers look better, wouldn’t you try to rig them? No I’m not talking about Argentina; I’m talking about the Obama administration’s effort to bring the Bureau of Labor Statistics to heel:
Over the last year, the administration has refused to fill the two top BLS positions. They have yet to nominate anyone to replace outgoing BLS Commissioner Keith Hall, whose term expires in January, and the number two post previously held by Deputy Commissioner Philip Rones has been vacant since last summer. . . BLS career professional and Associate Commissioner John Galvin has been given limited responsibilities to cover some of the deputy duties on an acting basis, but the White House has indicated it has no interest in promoting Galvin to the post of commissioner.
A retired career economist at the U.S. Department of Labor told PJ Media the administration wants to put its own political allies into the bureau, eschewing promotion from within:
Traditionally, the deputy commissioner position has been filled by promotion from within the ranks of experienced BLS career professionals, and when Rones retired from the deputy job last summer, Hall proposed promoting a highly qualified associate commissioner [John Galvin] to the position. The labor secretary and deputy secretary rebuffed that and made it clear that they wanted someone of their choosing from outside the existing career cadre.
The Senate could get involved by exercising its Senate confirmation process for a new commissioner — but the administration has circumvented the process by not nominating anyone. Nominations usually are announced as early as six months before the expiration of a term, but with a few weeks left before Hall leaves office, it is clear no commissioner will be running the bureau through much of 2012.
This has led to speculation that the White House is trying to circumvent the Senate so as to appoint a deputy whose position does not need Senate confirmation, and who would defer to the White House and to politically aggressive Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
Of course, this strategy assumes that Americans can be tricked into believing that the economy is improving, which remains to be seen.
Michael Ledeen takes a look at the clandestine campaign that someone is waging against Iran. Godspeed.
The Obama administration pushed for early elections in Egypt even though they knew they would likely put the Islamists in charge. That worked out great, guys, thanks.
Is there any way we could have played the Arab Spring worse than we have?
Tests have shown that LightSquared is just as dangerous as many people feared:
Philip Falcone’s proposed LightSquared Inc. wireless service caused interference to 75 percent of global-positioning system receivers examined in a U.S. government test, according to a draft summary of results.
(Via Hot Air.)
LightSquared’s response is revealing (“How dare you reveal how dangerous our product is!”):
LightSquared is “outraged by the illegal leak of incomplete government data,” Harriman said in an e-mailed statement. “This breach attempts to draw an inaccurate conclusion to negatively influence the future of LightSquared and narrowly serve the business interests of the GPS industry.”
In fact, it’s worse than that. Not only does LightSquared disrupt GPS, it also disrupts a system that planes use to avoid running into mountains.
As Pejman Yousefzadeh remarks:
I will only add that since it seemed to be perfectly fair to detractors of the Tea Party to judge the movement by the actions of a few dimwits at rallies, and the presence of a few offensive signs, it should also be perfectly fair to judge the Occupy movement by one of its chief gurus; and the noxious ideas he embraces.
Occupy Wall Street protesters shut down a television production because they didn’t like what they were saying:
More than 100 Occupy Wall Street demonstrators stormed the set for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” across from the Manhattan State Supreme Courthouse, shutting down production of an OWS-themed episode.
“We made it so that they could not exploit us and that’s awesome,” said Tammy Schapiro, 29, of Brooklyn.
Smith was quite rightly annoyed with Glenn Kessler, who writes “The Fact Checker” blog on the Washington Post website. (Kessler’s gimmick is rating political statements on a scale of one to four with cutesy Pinocchio-nose graphics.)
On August 17, Kessler wrote an item supporting President Obama’s denial at a town hall in Iowa that Vice President Joe Biden had called Tea Party activists “terrorists” in a meeting with congressional Democrats. . . After supplying a rudimentary summary of what happened, Kessler reached a conclusion that is at once unsure of itself and sharply judgmental. “Frankly, we are dubious that Biden actually said this. And if he did, he was simply echoing what another speaker said, in a private conversation, as opposed to making a public statement.”
Awesome, a “fact-checking” column with zero facts! To paraphrase: “I don’t know if he said it, but if he did say it, I’m quite sure he didn’t mean it.” What a gig! Reporters who actually report news are suckers.
POSTSCRIPT: It may be a cheap shot, but I’m not above noting that Kessler doesn’t know the meaning of “apologist”. Fact-checking indeed.
As Daniel Pipes explains, Palestinian nationalism was invented in 1920. When Newt Gingrich cited this historical fact — with his usual tact — a week ago, he was predictably attacked by those whose ideology depends on a long-suffering Palestinian people (and who therefore have done everything they can to ensure that the Palestinian people continue to suffer). But that doesn’t change the historical facts.
POSTSCRIPT: For more uncomfortable history, take a look at the subsequent Palestinian history.
More horrors from the British NHS, the model for national health care.
How many times have we been told that the legacy media is superior to the blogosphere because of the media’s layers of fact-checkers and editors? This week MSNBC and the Washington Post got burned for lifting a story from a leftist blog without making any effort to verify it.
The story was from Americablog (no link; I’m not going to reward their lies with traffic) in which they claimed that Mitt Romney was using an old KKK slogan in his stump speeches. He wasn’t: Romney’s line was “keep America America” (a conservative sentiment), while the KKK’s line was “keep America American”. This is quite clear from their own video.
This level of journalistic malpractice was too much even for the New York Times which ran a short story on the incident:
Don’t just repeat it. Report it.
That’s the lesson this week for MSNBC and for The Washington Post, both of which apologized for repeating a liberal blog’s claim that Mitt Romney had uttered a phrase on the campaign stump that was used in the past by the Ku Klux Klan. . .
MSNBC apparently did not contact the Romney campaign for comment before it briefly reported on Wednesday morning that “you may not hear Mitt Romney say ‘Keep America American’ anymore, because it was a rallying cry for the K.K.K. group.” The anchor credited AMERICAblog; the graphic on the screen read, “Romney’s KKK Slogan?” . . . When executives at MSNBC and NBC News saw that, they were disturbed that the blog’s observation was reported as fact, without any added reporting. . .
The Washington Post also issued an apology on Thursday for factual mistakes in its blog post about the phrase. The correction stated that it “should have contacted the Romney campaign for comment before publication.”
Indeed they should have. Now I really don’t expect any better from MSNBC, but I am disappointed by the Washington Post. They were a liberal but responsible paper not so long ago; now they’re being called on the carpet by the New York Times. It’s sad to see that they’ve fallen so far, so fast.
It goes without saying, of course, that they could only make this mistake in one direction. If they ever picked up a story from the conservative blogosphere (a fanciful prospect in its own right), you can be sure that they would verify every detail before running it.
POSTSCRIPT: The liars at Americablog are somehow still sticking with their story, despite it being clearly a lie. This should be a lesson to anyone who would contemplate cribbing from them again.
The Boston Herald reports:
Dispirited Occupy member Stephen Campbell, 24, said when asked why he didn’t get arrested, he said he withdrew from the camp early today as the end was clearly in sight. “The Occupy Boston movement as a whole became fascist,” he said, adding he still believes in the Occupy idea but not the organization. “At a general assembly this week we spent four hours trying to evict people rather than focusing on our political causes.”
Hey bub, totalitarian parties always turn their attention inward eventually, as Robespierre, Trotsky, and countless others can attest. Fortunately, Occupy Wall Street never had enough discipline to gain any external influence, so they skipped over the reign-of-terror phase and went right to the internal purges.
(Via Transterrestrial Musings.)
A scheduled meeting between Congressional Democrats and leaders of Occupy Wall Street was called off when the press got wind of it.