ROFL

September 30, 2008

Iowahawk strikes again:

(Via Instapundit.)

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Biden gaffe machine still set to 11

September 30, 2008

Fortunately for him, when he makes an absurd mistake (“things are going well” with the bailout), he can rely on the media to cover for him.

(Via Instapundit.)


The fix is in

September 30, 2008

At Instapundit:

A READER AT A MAJOR NEWSROOM EMAILS: “Off the record, every suspicion you have about MSM being in the tank for O is true. We have a team of 4 people going thru dumpsters in Alaska and 4 in arizona. Not a single one looking into Acorn, Ayers or Freddiemae. Editor refuses to publish anything that would jeopardize election for O, and betting you dollars to donuts same is true at NYT, others. People cheer when CNN or NBC run another Palin-mocking but raising any reasonable inquiry into obama is derided or flat out ignored. The fix is in, and its working.” I asked permission to reprint without attribution and it was granted.

Despite my antipathy for the media, it’s a spectacle I never thought I’d see: A candidate so vulnerable on so many substantial and ethical issues, with no experience to speak of, who accuses all his critics of lying, is nevertheless the darling of the media, who give him a pass on nearly everything while savaging his opponent, mostly dishonestly.  I’ve complained about the media in the past, but it’s nothing like what we’re seeing today.  They are determined to drag Obama across the finish line, and it looks like they will succeed.

I’m glad these bastards are going out of business.


Pelosi’s leadership

September 30, 2008

Key House Democrats were given a pass on the bailout vote.


CBC apologizes

September 30, 2008

Canadian Public Broadcasting apologizes for a vicious, inaccurate attack piece on Sarah Palin. (Via Instapundit.)


The face of evil

September 30, 2008

Young Iraqi girls turned into perfect weapon.”  (Via the Corner.)


I want to believe

September 29, 2008

I’m trying to cheer myself up, so here’s a positive take on the bailout failure.


Bailout bill fails

September 29, 2008

This is horrifying. The consequences will probably be worse than an Obama victory.

The best-case scenario now is the Democrats come back and pass a new bill without GOP support. That bill won’t be remotely as good as the one the House just rejected. Goodbye insurance plan; hello ACORN slush fund, mortgage cramdowns, bank nationalization.

The worst-case scenario is the economy completely melts down and President Obama institutes a New Deal 2.0. (This is Vin Weber’s nightmare scenario.)

My Congressman, a Republican, voted against the bill. Idiot. I’m going to think about voting for his opponent; there has to be a consequence for stupidity of this magnitude.

UPDATE: Doesn’t it sting when Barney Frank urges you to behave like a grown-up?!

UPDATE (10/3): Thankfully, things worked out better than I feared.  The final bill, with its $110 billion in pork, was worse than the one the House voted down, but not by as much as I expected.


How we got here

September 29, 2008

Roger Kimball has a succinct account of the meltdown and its causes. (Via Instapundit.)

(Previous post.)


Tainted Chinese milk in Western products

September 29, 2008

Fox News reports that tainted Chinese milk, which has killed four babies and sickened tens of thousands in China, has found its way into some Cadbury chocolate.


NYT promotes the rape kit lie

September 29, 2008

A New York Times editorial promotes the myth that Sarah Palin’s Wasilla charged rape victims for rape kits. It’s not true. Slate has the latest debunking, but it appears that nothing can stop this smear. The editorial contains quite a few errors/lies, and the facts are simple:

  • There is no record of a victim ever being charged for a rape kit in Wasilla.
  • It was never Wasilla policy to charge victims for rape kits. For a time, the chief of police did have a policy of trying to bill insurance (which is also stupid), but there was no policy of billing the victim if that claim was denied.
  • Sarah Palin has given a direct answer on the subject, despite the editorial’s claim that she has not.
  • An Alaska law that prohibits charging victims for rape kits was not directed at Wasilla.
  • Sarah Palin never banned any books as mayor. (Lord knows what this has to do with rape kits, anyway.)

(Via Instapundit.)


How we got here

September 29, 2008

The DC Examiner:

The root cause of the present crisis is the federal government’s insistence beginning with passage of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act that private sector lenders loosen their credit rules in order to give mortgages to buyers who could not repay them. Then in the 1990s and thereafter, an ill-advised government policy was transformed into a financial toxin as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac used their status as government-backed corporations to backstop millions of such sub-prime loans and to encourage their packaging in mortgage-backed securities as investment tools. Wall Street knew better than to build on such an economic house-of-cards, but did it anyway. The bottom-line remains that well-intentioned but ill-advised government policies are at the heart of the immediate economic crisis.

But somehow the party responsible for the crisis is benefiting, at the expense of the party that tried to prevent it.

(Via Instapundit.)  (Previous post.)


Missouri speech prosecutor backpedals

September 29, 2008

One member of the “Barack Obama truth squad,” prosecutor Jennifer Joyce, now denies that they plan to prosecute anyone. But, as far as I can tell, she hasn’t explained what the truth squad actually is, or why KMOV reported the opposite. Also, she doesn’t appear to deny that the Obama campaign is behind the operation.

Moreover, as Glenn Reynolds points out, the chilling effect is already in place, particularly considering Obama’s other threats to his critics.

(Previous post.)


Pirates die ominously after capturing Iranian ship

September 29, 2008

When are dead pirates a bad thing? When those pirates died mysteriously after capturing an Iranian ship bound for Somalia:

A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by pirates.

Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill “within days” of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died.

Andrew Mwangura, the director of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, told the Sunday Times: “We don’t know exactly how many, but the information that I am getting is that some of them had died. There is something very wrong about that ship.”

The vessel’s declared cargo consists of “minerals” and “industrial products”. But officials involved in negotiations over the ship are convinced that it was sailing for Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia’s Islamist rebels. . .

The ship is owned and operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, or IRISL, a state-owned company run by the Iranian military.

Long War Journal adds:

The MV Iran Deyanat was brought to Eyl, a sleepy fishing village in northeastern Somalia, and was secured by a larger gang of pirates – 50 onboard and 50 onshore. Within days, pirates who had boarded the ship developed strange health complications, skin burns and loss of hair. Independent sources tell The Long War Journal that a number of pirates have also died.

(Via Transterrestrial Musings and LGF.)

The good news, such as it is, a correspondent of Rand Simberg’s writes that it probably wasn’t radiation.


Constitutional problem in bailout?

September 28, 2008

Conglomerate Blog thinks that the way the bailout’s oversight committee is to be organized might be unconstitutional. I think he might be right.

(Via Instapundit.)


Bailout details

September 28, 2008

Republicans are circulating some points about the bailout deal. It could have been far, far worse. (Thank McCain for that.)

UPDATE: Here’s a comparison of the Paulson plan, the Democratic plan, and the (hopefully) final plan. (Via Instapundit.)


Obama’s bracelet

September 28, 2008

Apparently, Obama is wearing Sgt. Jopek’s bracelet (the one from the debate) against his family’s wishes.  (Via the Corner.)

This story will go nowhere, because the media won’t pursue it, and it’s far too dangerous for McCain to touch.  It probably shouldn’t go anywhere, either.  Jopek’s family just wants to be left alone.  But rest assured, if this were McCain (or Palin especially), there would be news trucks on the family’s front lawn.


How we got here

September 28, 2008

Newsbusters has found another 1999 article praising the Clinton administration policies that led to the subprime meltdown, this time in the New York Times. It’s not quite as explicit as the LA Times article; it doesn’t mention (as the LA Times article did) how the Clinton administration, through Fannie and Freddie, pushed for securitization of mortgages. But, it still mentions how they pushed lenders to make loans that we can now see were irresponsible:

Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates — anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

”Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990’s by reducing down payment requirements,” said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae’s chairman and chief executive officer.

(Yes, that’s the same Franklin Raines that later faced legal difficulties, and still later was reported to have advised Barack Obama on economics.)

Note that, like the LA Times article, this is not a retroactive attempt to pin blame. Both articles were published long before any problems were visible, and, more importantly, both articles are positive portrayals of Clinton Administration policy.

The two articles put paid to the idea that our current woes are the result of Republican deregulation policies. Our current woes are the result of Bill Clinton’s housing policy, which pushed for lenders to make irresponsible loans, and pushed for those loans to be securitized and traded. Then in 2004 and 2005, there were efforts to rein in Fannie and Freddie, but those efforts were successfully blocked by Democrats.

Even when the subprime market melted down, and mortgage-backed securities began to fail, the Democrats still didn’t learn. When Fannie and Freddie were already in freefall, just two days before their bailout was announced, Christopher Dodd (D-CT) pronounced “They’ll be fine,” adding they were “fundamentally sound and strong.” That’s the same Dodd who was the #1 recipient of Fannie and Freddie campaign contributions. (The others incidentally, were the Democrats’ actual and presumed presidential candidates of 2004 and 2008: Kerry, Obama, and Hillary Clinton.) And that same economic genius was chosen to lead the negotiations for the current bailout.

(Previous post.)

UPDATE: “Barney Frank’s fingerprints are all over the financial fiasco.” (Via the Corner.)

UPDATE: Had the LA Times confused with the Washington Post. Fixed.


How we got here

September 28, 2008

Not only were the Democrats standing against regulation (the opposite of their usual stance), they literally were angry at the very proposal. Now they have the audacity to pin the fault on Republicans.

(Previous post.)


Pelosi: House Republicans are unpatriotic

September 27, 2008

The left is always attacking Republicans for allegedly questioning their patriotism, when no one is actually doing so. On the other hand, the Democrats come right out and explicitly call Republicans unpatriotic.

The latest is Nancy Pelosi, who says House Republicans were “very unpatriotic” not to participate in bailout negotiations. (ASIDE: I also don’t know what Pelosi is talking about. A Washington Post story makes it clear that House Republicans were being squeezed out until John McCain intervened to force their inclusion. But that’s beside the point.)

(Via the Corner.)

UPDATE: I didn’t want to go out on a limb and assume that the meeting Pelosi was complaining about was the same one that Democrats failed to invite Republicans to, but Gateway Pundit says it was.


The bailout negotiations

September 27, 2008

The Washington Post has a very interesting story on the bailout negotiations, and in particular on McCain’s role in those negotiations. There’s a lot there, but the main point is that McCain was instrumental in getting the negotiations to take House Republicans seriously:

It is unclear whether the day’s events will prove to be historically significant or a mere political sideshow. If the administration and lawmakers forge an agreement largely along the lines of the deal they had reached before McCain’s arrival Thursday, the tumult will have been a momentary speed bump. If the deal collapses, the recriminations spawned that day will be fierce.

But if a final deal incorporates House Republican principles while leaning most heavily on the accord between the administration, House Democrats and Senate Republicans, all sides will be able to claim some credit — even if the legislation is not popular with voters.

“If there is a deal with the House involved, it’s because of John McCain,” Graham, one of the Arizonan’s closest friends in the Senate, said yesterday.

If the rumors are true, things are moving in the direction of that optimistic third possibility. That will make for a much better bill, and McCain will be responsible for the improvement.

As for the politics, it’s interesting that both Democrats actually seem to be telling the truth about McCain’s role, at least from their own perspective. When Harry Reid blasted McCain for screwing up the negotiations, that wasn’t merely campaign-season blather. Reid was happy with the direction things were going, and when McCain step in, he forced everyone to back up and include House Republicans, thereby taking things in a somewhat more conservative direction. From Reid’s perspective, the negotiations had been screwed up.

I don’t know who will win the election, but John McCain has already done America a great service.

(Via Hot Air.)

AFTERTHOUGHT: Obviously we have to withhold judgement until we see the final result, but the political process actually seems to be working. I don’t care about the acrimony; that’s as old as the Republic, and we pay our representatives to deal with it. What matters is what the process produces. James Madison was right; the process of compromise between the President and four caucuses is making for a better bill. It makes me proud to be an American.

UPDATE (9/30): Never mind.


Introductory economics

September 27, 2008

Anti-gouging laws = price caps.  Price caps cause shortages.  Consequently . . .

(Via Instapundit.)


Missouri governor blasts Obama goons

September 27, 2008

A press release from Governor Blunt:

JEFFERSON CITY – Gov. Matt Blunt today issued the following statement on news reports that have exposed plans by U.S. Senator Barack Obama to use Missouri law enforcement to threaten and intimidate his critics.

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.

“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights. The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.

“Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family. Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility. When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missouri law enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts – not a free society.”

(Via Gateway Pundit, via Instapundit.)  (Previous post.)


Obama’s missile defense flip-flop

September 27, 2008

I hope Republicans don’t go after Obama too hard for his flip-flop on missile defense.  There are so many areas where Obama is vulnerable, they shouldn’t attack him on the one issue where he’s moved to a sensible position.


“Bipartisanship”

September 27, 2008

NBC reports (cue to 2:05):

Today Democrats showed up at scheduled bipartisan talks, but said they forgot to invite the Republicans.

(Via the Corner.)

The Democrats have a choice; they can pass a plan on their own (and accept responsibility for it), or they can work with Republicans on a bipartisan plan.  But the notion that Republicans, particularly in the House, will simply to accede to a Democratic plan (particularly one with unacceptable add-ons like a slush fund for the ACORN voter fraud machine) in nonsense.  As long as they don’t take Republicans seriously, they’re simply wasting time.


Kissinger rebuts Obama

September 27, 2008

The Weekly Standard has a statement from Kissinger:

Henry Kissinger believes Barack Obama misstated his views on diplomacy with US adversaries and is not happy about being mischaracterized. He says: “Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.”

(Via the Corner.)


The Paulson-Cantor plan

September 26, 2008

Larry Kudlow has an optimistic take.


“Born alive” issue won’t die

September 26, 2008

(Via the Corner.) (Previous post.)


Biden’s tax whopper

September 26, 2008

Joe Biden claims that John McCain will impose the largest tax increase in US history by making health benefits taxable.  The Washington Post fact checker calls Biden’s claim a “whopper” (they give it four Pinocchios, the worst score).  They point out that McCain’s plan includes a tax credit for health care, which would more than compensate for taxing benefits, and actually put taxpayers ahead.  But what’s the difference between a massive tax hike and a tax cut between friends, anyway?

It strikes me that this is not only a lie, but a stupid one.  People know what Democrats and Republicans are.  Are they really going to believe that McCain will raise taxes more than Obama?  I doubt it.

(Via Instapundit.)


Three debate thoughts

September 26, 2008

So the debate is back on. What will be the political impact of McCain’s intervention in the bailout negotiations? I can’t predict what the political impact of the negotiations themselves will be, but I do have three thoughts about its impact on the debate.

One is the effect on the expectations game. Having spent a few days appearing to dodge the debate will have been much more effective at lowering expectations than any of the usual talk would. This should help McCain marginally.

On the other hand, McCain has not been spending the last few days preparing for the debate, as candidates usually do and Obama surely has. This could hurt him.

Finally, what McCain ought to do is change the topic of the debate from foreign policy to economics. With all that’s happened in the last week, Obama could hardly argue against such a change. But it would render Obama’s debate prep largely useless, and Obama really needs that prep, as is clear from his performance whenever separated from his teleprompter. I don’t know if McCain is smart enough to do this though. We’ll see in the next hour or so.

UPDATE: So much for my prediction.  As it turned out, Obama was better prepared on economics than foreign policy.


NYT attacks Obama dishonesty

September 26, 2008

I think my internet connection is broken, because I’m reading articles that can’t possibly exist: a new story in the New York Times is highlighting several dishonest Obama ads.

The article makes some mistakes, such as toeing the Democratic line that McCain’s ads are somehow dishonest (they mention only three explicitly — sex education for kindergartners, lipstick-on-a-pig, and celebrity — which are all accurate, or at worst matters of interpretation).  But, that attack is already priced in, and I don’t think that repeating it has much of an impact at this point.  It also inaccurately states that Sarah Palin opposes stem cell research (she opposes embryonic stem cell research), but that also is probably priced in.

What could have an impact is the NYT pointing out that, despite all his high supposed principles (“I’m not going to start making up lies about John McCain.”), Obama is willing to lie.  Of course Obama has been lying for a long time (just read this blog), but this may be the first time the NYT’s readers will have heard of it.  Many, like Democratic strategists Joe Trippi and Chris Lehane, quoted in the article, will simply shrug, but the NYT doubtless has a few readers who will be bothered.  And, if nothing else, it gives McCain material to use in his own ads.

(Via Hot Air.)


Dems want to channel bailout money to ACORN

September 26, 2008

ACORN, which is basically a criminal enterprise, could be a major recipient of the proceeds of the bailout plan. Incredible. The Democrats are utterly shameless.

UPDATE: Republican leader John Boehner sounds the alarm. (Via the Corner.)

UPDATE: Urg.  Under the Democratic plan, the bailout doesn’t even need to make a profit to channel “profits” to ACORN.


Obama threatens TV stations for airing criticism

September 26, 2008

Obama for America wrote the following letter (pdf) to TV stations airing an NRA ad:

September 23, 2008

Re: NRA Advertisement

Dear Station Manager

As General Counsel to Obama for America, I write about an advertisement sponsored by the National Rifle Association (“NRA”) that may be airing on your station. The text of the advertisement, and a thorough explanation of its falsity, is attached.

This advertisement knowingly misleads your viewing audience about Senator Obama’s position on the Second Amendment. In an article published today, the Washington Post fact-checks this advertisement and awards it three “Pinocchios,” meaning: “Significant factual errors and/or obvious contradictions.” For the same of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest, your station should refuse to continue to air this advertisement.

(Via Snowflakes in Hell, via Instapundit.)

As is his practice, Obama cries “liar” whenever he is criticized. The letter goes on the discuss the “inarguable falsities” of the NRA ad. In fact, the falsities are indeed arguable. To the contrary, David Kopel argues that the ad is entirely accurate. But that’s not the main point.

The point is that Barack Obama, who wants to be President of the United States, is threatening to shut down TV stations that accept advertising that criticize him.

Forget the business about whether the ad is true or not. There’s no way to police politics for truth, since a big part of politics is people don’t agree on the truth. (No ad was ever more dishonest than the DNC’s 100-year-war anti-McCain ad, but somehow the DNC stood by it.) Stripped of the noise, this letter is a brazen effort to intimidate a TV station, not through boycotts or other legitimate means, but by threats of government action. Free speech is fine, as long as it doesn’t criticize Barack Obama.

It’s also amazing to contemplate Obama’s thin skin. Obama has managed to tame the media so much that, not only will they rarely utter any criticism of him, but when his opponent criticizes him, they will repudiate their own reporting on which that criticism is based. But it’s not enough for Obama to be spared by the press; when his opponents spend their own money to criticize him, he tries to shut them down.

MORE: It’s not an isolated incident either. Gateway Pundit notes a story by KMOV TV in St. Louis that reports that the Obama campaign is asking Missouri law enforcement to target his critics:

Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is asking Missouri law enforcement to target anyone who lies or runs a misleading television ad during the presidential campaign.

This should be shocking to anyone who believes in free speech.

Again, let’s not have any nonsense about how only liars need fear prosecution. The story mentions two specific items they don’t want anyone to contradict: (1) Barack Obama is a Christian, and (2) he wants to cut taxes for anyone making less than $250k a year. I hereby contradict them. Barack Obama is not a Christian. (No, he’s not a Muslim, as some have alleged, but neither is he a Christian.) Barack Obama will probably not cut taxes at all, and will certainly not cut taxes on everyone making less than $250k. If I lived in Missouri, would I be facing the law now?

A willingness to engage in legal harassment of his critics should be an immediate disqualification for any office of public trust, especially the presidency. I cannot believe that America is contemplating electing this man.

UPDATE: Another instance I’d forgotten.

UPDATE (11/10/2009): Updated the Gateway Pundit link. The WMOV video seems to be gone now, but I transcribed the above lede myself. Gateway Pundit notes that WMOV later silently edited their story to soften it, but I can’t find any indication that they ever retracted their original reporting. Moreover, if this wasn’t an effort to intimidate critics of Barack Obama, why recruit only law enforcement?

UPDATE: The WMOV story is posted on YouTube:


Annenberg Challenge cover-up

September 26, 2008

Stanley Kurtz, who has been trying to investigate Barack Obama ties to unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, was denied access to the Challenge’s public records (housed at the University of Illinois — Chicago) for several days. We have no way of knowing what happened to the collection during that time, although it doesn’t seem likely that Kurtz was put off for no reason.

However, we do know more about the circumstances of the delay, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request that Kurtz filed:

In “Chicago Annenberg Challenge Shutdown?” I tell the story of how UIC’s Richard J. Daley Library reversed its initial decision to allow me access to the records of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. The Chicago Tribune has since revealed that I was barred from the collection following an August 11 call to UIC from former CAC executive director, Ken Rolling. In the Tribune story, Rolling appears to claim that contact with UIC came at his own initiative. Steve Diamond questioned Tribune reporters further on this issue, and was told that Rolling claimed to have unilaterally contacted UIC library on August 11, after seeing reports about CAC on the Internet at about that time.

Yet August 11 happens to be the day I first contacted UIC’s Daley Library requesting to see the CAC archive. How likely is it that Rolling called UIC requesting that the documents be restricted on the same day, purely by coincidence? It seems far more likely that some as-yet-unidentified person at UIC tipped Rolling off to my request, prompting his demand that the records be embargoed.

In any case, we know that on August 11, the same day I asked to see the CAC records, Rolling quietly called on the library to close them to the public.

(Emphasis mine.) An official cover-up of possibly damaging documents relating to Barack Obama’s past. Isn’t that the sort of thing the media is supposed to be interested in?


Another stem cell advance

September 26, 2008

Yuval Levin notes that a potential weakness of the iPS technique has been overcome:

In November of last year, researchers in Wisconsin and Japan announced that they had successfully transformed regular adult cells into the equivalent of embryonic stem cells without the need for embryos. The advance (involving so-called induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells) pointed to a potential path around the moral and political debate over embryonic stem cell research, but some advocates argued that because the technique relied on retroviruses, which might be connected to some risks of cancer, they might not be safe for clinical use.

Today in the journal Science, a group of Harvard researchers reports successfully reprogramming adult cells into the equivalent of embryonic stem cells without the need for such retroviruses, and so without the cancer risk.

Recall that a technique for reprogramming adult cells without using any stem cells at all was also recently published. This makes two entirely plausible strategies for regenerative medicine that do not require the destruction of embryos. President Bush’s decision to take an ethical stand is looking better and better.


I don’t know whether to laugh or cry

September 26, 2008

A letter to the Washington Post:

While witnessing, but not participating in, the home real estate frenzy in 2005 and 2006, I kept asking: Who is the idiot buying up all these mortgages issued on inflated home prices to all these people who have neither the capacity nor the intention to repay the loans?

Now I learn it was me.

(Via Volokh.)


How we got here

September 25, 2008

Democrats want to blame deregulation for the market meltdown, but the policies that led to the meltdown were anything but laissez-faire. Ed Morrissey highlights a fascinating, anti-prophetic article from the LA Times in 1999. The article touts the great “successes” of Bill Clinton’s interventionist housing policies, including:

  • Requiring banks to lend more to low-income communities.
  • Directing Fannie and Freddie to buy up mortgages and turn them into securities.
  • Directing Fannie and Freddie to buy up high-risk mortgages, thereby encouraging banks to make more high-risk loans.

Does any of this sound familiar?

(Previous post.)


Not a stunt

September 25, 2008

CBS’s Bob Schieffer reports that McCain became involved with the bailout negotiations at Secretary Paulson’s request, who asked McCain to help bring Republicans on board:

BOB SCHIEFFER: I am told, Maggie, that the way McCain got involved in this in the first place, the Treasury Secretary was briefing Republicans in the House yesterday, the Republican conference, asked how many were ready to support the bailout plan. Only four of them held up their hands. Paulson then called, according to my sources, Senator Lindsey Graham, who is very close to John McCain, and told him: you’ve got to get the people in the McCain campaign, you’ve got to convince John McCain to give these Republicans some political cover. If you don’t do that, this whole bailout plan is going to fail. So that’s how, McCain, apparently, became involved.

(Via the Corner.)

It would seem that Harry Reid’s statement that McCain’s involvement is not helpful is (like so many Harry Reid statements) complete crap. (Via Hot Air.)

UPDATE: Bill Clinton lauds McCain’s decision. Also, Ed Morrissey has the Schieffer video and some additional thoughts.

UPDATE: More on Reid. The day before telling McCain not to come to Washington, he was demanding McCain’s help. One might be forgiven for concluding that Reid just isn’t honest.

UPDATE and BUMP: Reid reverses again:

With the economic news only getting worse each day, I call on the President, Senator McCain and Congressional Republicans to join us to quickly get this done for American families.

But wait, that’s not his last reversal:

Senate Democratic leaders accused John McCain on Thursday of interfering with progress on a Wall Street bailout, saying the Republican presidential candidate is parachuting into the debate at the last minute.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said McCain has played an insignificant role on banking issues and is now trying to capitalize on the situation when it is nearly concluded — a point echoed by other Democratic leaders.

That’s four positions in three days, which is impressive even for a politician.

It’s a difficult line for Democrats to walk: they need to do something, which means they need someone (McCain) to whip up Republican votes, but they need to deny McCain any credit for fear of helping his campaign. Yuval Levin summarizes:

The consensus yesterday (well expressed here) seemed to be that a bailout couldn’t pass if McCain wasn’t on board. The Democrats would fear a trap, and Republicans would lack cover. Yesterday’s signal from McCain was loud and clear: it drove the Democrats to move quickly (so something could be hatched by the time of the White House meeting and McCain would not get credit too explicitly) and it will probably get most (surely not all) Republicans to agree. Obama, though, has been essentially irrelevant.


Stolen vote panel issues whitewash

September 25, 2008

The Hill reports the findings of the House panel created to investigate the scandalous falsification of a House floor vote in August 2007:

The House’s Aug. 2, 2007, “Stolen Vote” committee released its findings on Thursday, concluding that the result of controversial roll call vote 814, which the Democrats won, was incorrect.

And while the report, which the panel adopted 6-0, found a great deal of fault to go around, it fell short of admonishing any individual members, including Rep. Michael McNulty (D-N.Y.), who was presiding over the House during the vote, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who had admitted in testimony to the committee that it was “certainly possible” that he helped create an atmosphere in which McNulty felt pressure to close the vote sooner than he might have otherwise.

The report dodged the question of who was ultimately responsible for the calling of the vote on the motion to recommit the Agriculture appropriations bill at 212-216, handing the Democrats a victory. . . The committee agreed that McNulty failed to follow proper procedures of waiting for the “tally sheet” from the clerks, and concurred with Hoyer’s admission that he may have brought undue pressure onto the situation. But it called for no punitive action for any member.

The panel did reach the unanimous conclusion, however, that the 212-216 vote was incorrect.

“There may be a disagreement about what should be the final vote tally, but one fact is indisputable: The vote tally of 212 yeas and 216 nays that was finally announced is incorrect,” the report read. “It is either 215 yeas and 213 nays, which would have reflected the tally at the time the chair prematurely announced the statement of result, or 211 yeas and 217 nays, which would have reflected the tally had [Minority Leader John] Boehner’s [R-Ohio] well card been processed.”

As expected, this is a whitewash. There’s no question about the correct result; the public tally showed that the motion was leading as McNulty gaveled the vote closed. The Democratic leadership refused to honor the result, and prevailed on several members to change their vote overnight after the vote was over. House majority leader Hoyer went so far as to lecture the protesting parliamentarian, “We control this house, not the parliamentarian.”

Also, the article doesn’t report anything about why the voting system was turned off after the vote and its electronic results erased. Was that even investigated?

(Previous post.)


Pakistan fires on US aircraft

September 25, 2008

Breaking news.


Blog report clears Denver cop

September 25, 2008

Score another one for the blogosphere.


Study: Greens hurt the environment

September 25, 2008

The Guardian reports that those who pride themselves on green lifestyles are also the most likely to engage in carbon-emitting long haul flights:

People who believe they have the greenest lifestyles can be seen as some of the main culprits behind global warming, says a team of researchers, who claim that many ideas about sustainable living are a myth.

According to the researchers, people who regularly recycle rubbish and save energy at home are also the most likely to take frequent long-haul flights abroad. The carbon emissions from such flights can swamp the green savings made at home, the researchers claim.

Stewart Barr, of Exeter University, who led the research, said: “Green living is largely something of a myth. There is this middle class environmentalism where being green is part of the desired image. But another part of the desired image is to fly off skiing twice a year. And the carbon savings they make by not driving their kids to school will be obliterated by the pollution from their flights.”

Some people even said they deserved such flights as a reward for their green efforts, he added.

Only a very small number of citizens matched their eco-friendly behaviour at home by refusing to fly abroad, Barr told a climate change conference at Exeter University yesterday.

The research team questioned 200 people on their environmental attitudes and split them into three groups, based on a commitment to green living.

They found the longest and the most frequent flights were taken by those who were most aware of environmental issues, including the threat posed by climate change. . .

Barr said “green” lifestyles at home and frequent flying were linked to income, with wealthier people more likely to be engaged in both activities.

Of course, these people’s behavior is perfectly sensible from an economic perspective.  Their green efforts, like their flights abroad, give them utility, and the green efforts are probably very cost effective in that regard.  Also, they are helping the environment when compared with the most likely alternative, which would be flights abroad and no green efforts.  Delete the sanctimony and I have no problem with them at all.

(Via Instapundit.)


Facts 857, Biden 0

September 25, 2008

Aaron Burns observes:

One face-off between Biden and the facts that, once again, the facts seem to have won.

Criticizing McCain for opposing negotiations with Iran, Biden said even the Bush administration now favors such talks — which Obama has long supported.

“After seven years, in which our senior diplomatic personnel were not allowed to make a single contact with Iranians, the Bush administration realized the absurdity of its own policy and sent our leading diplomat to Iran,” he said. “The Assistant Secretary of State as he went to Tehran, sat down at the instruction of the President of the United States.”

It sounds great for Obama and Biden that the president came around to something so close to their position on talks with Iran; trouble is, the event Biden described never actually happened.

(Via JWF, via Instapundit.)


Paulson plan a windfall for taxpayers?

September 25, 2008

Andy Kessler thinks that in the end the Paulson plan will end up making taxpayers a fortune (as much as $2.2 trillion).

(Via Instapundit.)


Johnson still advises Obama

September 25, 2008

Despite being publicly dumped by the Obama campaign, former Fannie Mae chairman Jim Johnson is still advising Barack Obama, Politico reports.  (Via the Corner.)


Why weight by party?

September 24, 2008

There’s been a lot of talk recently about party identification, and the impact it has on polling. Presidential polls adjust their results to fit a target figure for what party people say they identify with. Recent shifts in the polls have resulted almost entirely from changes in the target figure, rather than any great changes in the responses of those polled.

For example, a week ago DJ Drummond showed that Obama had risen in the Gallup tracking poll despite losing ground or staying even in every category, due to a shift in Gallup’s weights. (Via Instapundit.) If you were to fix the weights to match historical voting patterns, McCain actually had a six point lead (as of September 18).

What is the appropriate weight for pollsters to use? I certainly don’t know. Clearly, no one thinks that the historical norms are appropriate (assuming Drummond is doing the math properly, which I cannot check), but why not, exactly? This Politico story, saying that the GOP brand is making a comeback, seems relevant. (Via Instapundit.)

In fact, a better question is: why weight by party at all? It makes sense to adjust to fit target figures that we can measure accurately, like race or gender, but why adjust to fit a figure that is pure guesswork like party identification? Certainly, you could determine a party-identification figure by polling, but then there’s no real difference from simply not weighting. I don’t get it.


McCain unloads both barrels on NYT

September 24, 2008

The McCain campaign released a statement this morning:

Today the New York Times launched its latest attack on this campaign in its capacity as an Obama advocacy organization. Let us be clear about what this story alleges: The New York Times charges that McCain-Palin 2008 campaign manager Rick Davis was paid by Freddie Mac until last month, contrary to previous reporting, as well as statements by this campaign and by Mr. Davis himself.

In fact, the allegation is demonstrably false. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis separated from his consulting firm, Davis Manafort, in 2006. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis has seen no income from Davis Manafort since 2006. Zero. Mr. Davis has received no salary or compensation since 2006. Mr. Davis has received no profit or partner distributions from that firm on any basis — weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual — since 2006. Again, zero. Neither has Mr. Davis received any equity in the firm based on profits derived since his financial separation from Davis Manafort in 2006.

Further, and missing from the Times’ reporting, Mr. Davis has never — never — been a lobbyist for either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Mr. Davis has not served as a registered lobbyist since 2005.

Though these facts are a matter of public record, the New York Times, in what can only be explained as a willful disregard of the truth, failed to research this story or present any semblance of a fairminded treatment of the facts closely at hand. The paper did manage to report one interesting but irrelevant fact: Mr. Davis did participate in a roundtable discussion on the political scene with…Paul Begala.

Again, let us be clear: The New York Times — in the absence of any supporting evidence — has insinuated some kind of impropriety on the part of Senator McCain and Rick Davis. But entirely missing from the story is any significant mention of Senator McCain’s long advocacy for, and co-sponsorship of legislation to enact, stricter oversight and regulation of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — dating back to 2006. Please see the attached floor statement on this issue by Senator McCain from 2006.

To the central point our campaign has made in the last 48 hours: The New York Times has never published a single investigative piece, factually correct or otherwise, examining the relationship between Obama campaign chief strategist David Axelrod, his consulting and lobbying clients, and Senator Obama. Likewise, the New York Times never published an investigative report, factually correct or otherwise, examining the relationship between Former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson and Senator Obama, who appointed Johnson head of his VP search committee, until the writing was on the wall and Johnson was under fire following reports from actual news organizations that he had received preferential loans from predatory mortgage lender Countrywide.

Therefore this “report” from the New York Times must be evaluated in the context of its intent and purpose. It is a partisan attack falsely labeled as objective news. And its most serious allegations are based entirely on the claims of anonymous sources, a familiar yet regretful tactic for the paper.

We all understand that partisan attacks are part of the political process in this country. The debate that stems from these grand and sometimes unruly conversations is what makes this country so exceptional. Indeed, our nation has a long and proud tradition of news organizations that are ideological and partisan in nature, the Huffington Post and the New York Times being two such publications. We celebrate their contribution to the political fabric of America. But while the Huffington Post is utterly transparent, the New York Times obscures its true intentions — to undermine the candidacy of John McCain and boost the candidacy of Barack Obama — under the cloak of objective journalism.

The New York Times is trying to fill an ideological niche. It is a business decision, and one made under economic duress, as the New York Times is a failing business. But the paper’s reporting on Senator McCain, his campaign, and his staff should be clearly understood by the American people for what it is: a partisan assault aimed at promoting that paper’s preferred candidate, Barack Obama.

In fact, if Fannie and Freddie were somehow indirectly supporting McCain, they sure didn’t get anything for their investment. McCain cosponsored the bill to rein in Fannie and Freddie, but was stymied in that effort by Democrats, who overtly accepted huge sums from Fannie and Freddie. The rest is history.

As for the idea that the NYT is an advocacy organization determined to boost Obama, that is too obvious to discuss. But, I don’t think that it’s a business decision, at least not a good one. By becoming openly partisan, Sulzberger is sacrificing his company’s most valuable asset.


Path of a smear

September 23, 2008

Charlie Martin tracks the life of a Palin smear; starting with the NYT, then to Kos, and then going viral.

(Via Instapundit.)


Victory

September 23, 2008

The AP reports that Democrats will let the offshore drilling ban expire. (Via the Corner.)


Biden opposes clean coal, Obama calls McCain a liar

September 23, 2008

Politico reports on a brief conversation in which Biden was asked about clean coal:

Biden’s apparent answer: He supports clean coal for China, but not for the United States.

“No coal plants here in America,” he said. “Build them, if they’re going to build them, over there. Make them clean.”

“We’re not supporting clean coal,” he said of himself and Obama. They do, on paper, support clean coal.

The answer seems to play into John McCain’s case that Obama has been saying “no” to new sources of energy. . .

“I don’t think there’s much of a role for clean coal in energy independence, but I do think there’s a significant role for clean coal in the bigger picture of climate change,” he told Grist last year. “Clean-coal technology is not the route to go in the United States, because we have other, cleaner alternatives,” he said, but added that America should push for a “fundamental change in technology” to clean up China’s plants.

What exactly those alternatives are, when you’ve eliminated every cost-effective energy source, is unclear. I suppose he has a secret plan he’ll reveal after the election.

What comes next should be familiar. McCain attacked Biden’s remark, and Obama called him a liar.

Today, Senator John McCain pounced on Biden’s remarks.

“I am going to put in place the priorities and policies that will create jobs in Ohio. One important way that we are going to create jobs here is with the development of additional nuclear plants and through investments in clean coal technology,” he said. “[Obama’s] running mate here in Ohio recently said that they weren’t supporting clean coal.”

Biden spokesman David Wade responded by calling McCain’s statement “yet another false attack from a dishonorable campaign.”

He continued: “Senator McCain knows that Senator Obama and Senator Biden support clean coal technology. Senator Biden’s point is that China is building coal plants with outdated technology every day, and the United States needs to lead by developing clean coal technologies.”

But the error here does seem to be Biden’s, and his remarks, and his apparent return to his primary position Tuesday, were striking because just three days ago, he praised the possibilities of coal to a crowd at the United Mine Workers of America annual fish fry in Castlewood, Va.

Whenever Obama is attacked using for his own words or actions, he always accuses his critic of lying. Somehow he gets away with it. Despite Obama’s flagrant dishonesty in cases just such as this, the media has decided that McCain is the dishonest one. Doubtless he’ll get away with this too.

(Via Instapundit.)


Don’t know much about history

September 23, 2008

Politico comments on Katie Couric’s interview with Joe Biden:

“When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the princes of greed,” Biden told Couric. “He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened.'”

As Reason’s Jesse Walker footnotes it: “And if you owned an experimental TV set in 1929, you would have seen him. And you would have said to yourself, ‘Who is that guy? What happened to President Hoover?'”

(Via Instapundit.)


Hagel contradicts Taheri

September 23, 2008

Now I’m confused. After the Obama campaign confirmed Amir Taheri’s allegation that Obama tried to stall negotiations with Iraq, I thought the matter was settled. But now some Republicans who were in a position to know what happened are defending Obama. (Via Instapundit.)

So what really happened? If the allegation isn’t true, why didn’t Obama deny it categorically, instead of issuing a non-denial “denial” that actually confirmed the central allegation? I don’t get it.

One possible explanation is that Hagel is a semi-supporter of Obama. Another is that Tapper’s story has no direct quotes from Hagel, so maybe it’s not even accurate. Neither explanation seems convincing to me, though.

The press doesn’t seem much inclined to investigate, so unless Taheri moves the ball with another story of his own, I doubt we’ll get to the bottom of it. As things stand, the waters are sufficiently muddy that I don’t think the issue is of much use to McCain.


The most chilling story of the day

September 23, 2008

The Telegraph reports:

Baroness Warnock: Dementia sufferers may have a ‘duty to die’

Elderly people suffering from dementia should consider ending their lives because they are a burden on the NHS and their families, according to the influential medical ethics expert Baroness Warnock.

The veteran Government adviser said pensioners in mental decline are “wasting people’s lives” because of the care they require and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia even if they are not in pain.

She insisted there was “nothing wrong” with people being helped to die for the sake of their loved ones or society.

The 84-year-old added that she hoped people will soon be “licensed to put others down” if they are unable to look after themselves.

Her comments in a magazine interview have been condemned as “immoral” and “barbaric”, but also sparked fears that they may find wider support because of her influence on ethical matters.

Lady Warnock, a former headmistress who went on to become Britain’s leading moral philosopher, chaired a landmark Government committee in the 1980s that established the law on fertility treatment and embryo research.

Thought #1: Pro-lifers warning of the day when the elderly are put down against their will have been dismissed as alarmists.  I don’t think they can be dismissed any more.

Thought #2: Isn’t it appropriate for the UK to reconsider their law, given that its “leading moral philosopher” who brought about the law turned out to be evil?

(Via the Corner.)


Google to end discrimination in abortion keyword ads

September 23, 2008

The NY Times reports:

After a lawsuit from a Christian anti-abortion group, Google is allowing religious organizations to take out ads using the keyword “abortion,” a rare case of the search giant admitting it was wrong.

In March, Google rejected an ad from the Christian Institute, a British organization, that read, in part, “UK abortion law: Key news and views on abortion law from The Christian Institute.”

The group, which wanted to advertise because the House of Commons was considering a bill involving abortion issues, filed a lawsuit against Google in April, saying the company was discriminating on religious grounds.

Google has limits on what can and cannot be advertised; it will not allow ads for products derived from endangered species, for example, nor will it allow ads promoting violence. In the past, Google would not sell the “abortion” keyword to religious groups, but did sell it to other groups, including secular groups, doctors offering abortions and resource sites like Our Bodies, Ourselves. . .

Google reviewed its policy, and announced last Wednesday it had reached a settlement with the Christian Institute. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Google immediately began allowing ads linked to abortion from religious groups as long as they were determined to be factual, and not graphic or emotional ads.

(Via Instapundit.)


Palin smear tied to Democratic PR firm

September 23, 2008

Rusty Shackleford lands a major scoop, showing that a Sarah Palin smear video was part of a malicious astroturfing effort run by a employees of a major Democratic PR firm. At this hour, the producer of the video has admitted his involvement, making much of Shackleford’s evidence moot.

The remaining question is who else was involved. Shackleford has shown that at least one additional executive of the firm (its president) was involved. Despite this, the smear’s producer claims that he paid for the video himself, and neither his firm nor any external client was involved.

(Via Instapundit.)


Palin disinvited after pressure from Democrats

September 23, 2008

WCBS (the New York CBS affiliate) reports that Democrats threatened the very existence of groups organizing a protest of Iran’s nuclear program if they did not disinvite Sarah Palin:

Hillary Clinton won’t be speaking at Monday’s anti-Iran rally at the United Nations — and neither will Republican Sarah Palin or any other politicians for that matter.

The reason? A heated behind the scenes tug-of-war.

Sources tell CBS 2 HD that a decision to disinvite Palin from the high profile rally after Clinton pulled out in a huff came as the result of intense pressure from Democrats.

“This is insulting. This is embarrassing, especially to Gov. Palin, to me and I think it should be to every single New Yorker,” Assemblyman Dov Hikind, D-Brooklyn, told CBS 2 HD.

Sources say the axes were out for Palin as soon as Sen. Clinton pulled out because she did not want to attend the same event as the Republican vice presidential candidate.

“I have never seen such raw emotion — on both sides,” said someone close to the situation.

The groups sponsoring the rally against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at the UN were reportedly told, “it could jeopardize their tax exempt status” if they had Palin and not Clinton or Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden on hand.

So all politicians were disinvited, most prominently, Palin.

“It’s an absolute shame that this has happened,” Hikind said. “To threaten organizations … to threaten the Conference of Presidents that if you don’t withdraw the invitation to Gov. Palin we’re going to look into your tax exempt status … that’s McCarthyism.”

(Via Yourish, via Instapundit.)


Berkeley tree-sitters learn actions have consequences

September 23, 2008

SFGate reports:

Berkeley’s infamous tree-sitters have been hit with a rude surprise since they came down to earth: Judges are socking them with thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees.

Ironically, much of the money – which could total more than $10,000 per sitter – is going straight to the University of California, the very institution the tree-sitters were protesting as they tried to save a grove of trees outside Memorial Stadium. . .

UC Berkeley estimates it spent more than $800,000 on police and other security measures during the 22 months sitters were up in the trees. The university spent $40,000 alone on the scaffolding that went up around the final tree during the last day of the protest this month. . .

So far, most of the 15 to 20 protesters arrested in the past year have been hit with fines of about $100 for trespassing and little or no jail time.

Once they were back on the street, however, the university hauled them back into court on contempt charges for violating an order issued in October by Judge Richard Keller of Alameda County Superior Court that banned people from sitting in the trees or doing anything to help the protesters already up in the branches.

Protesters Eric Eisenberg, Michael Schuck, Gregg Horton, Terri Slanetz and Matthew Taylor were found guilty last month of violating Keller’s injunction. Each was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, and two were sentenced to serve five extra days in jail.

The university is also seeking as much as $10,000 from each of them for its attorney fees. . .

Lawyers on both sides said the tree-sitters’ chances of beating the contempt charges are slim.

As Cunningham noted, “You were either up in the trees or not. What’s to argue?”

Defying the government is sometimes the right thing to do, but you have to weigh the expected benefit against the expected cost.  I think these protesters failed to do so.

(Via LGF.)


Investment banks regulated

September 22, 2008

Rich Lowry notes that investment banks that are converting to conventional banks are subjecting themselves to greater regulation, thereby fulfilling the call for greater regulation of investment banks without any direct action on that front.


How Democrats created the financial crisis

September 22, 2008

Bloomberg columnist Kevin Hassett argues persuasively that the financial crisis is the fault of Fannie and Freddie, and of the Democrats that enabled them. First he argues that Fannie and Freddie were responsible for the widespread securitization of subprime loans:

Why did Bear Stearns fail, and how does that relate to AIG? It all seems so complex.

But really, it isn’t. Enough cards on this table have been turned over that the story is now clear. The economic history books will describe this episode in simple and understandable terms: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac exploded, and many bystanders were injured in the blast, some fatally.

Fannie and Freddie did this by becoming a key enabler of the mortgage crisis. They fueled Wall Street’s efforts to securitize subprime loans by becoming the primary customer of all AAA-rated subprime-mortgage pools. In addition, they held an enormous portfolio of mortgages themselves.

In the times that Fannie and Freddie couldn’t make the market, they became the market. . . As of last June, Fannie alone owned or guaranteed more than $388 billion in high-risk mortgage investments. Their large presence created an environment within which even mortgage-backed securities assembled by others could find a ready home.

The tie to Democrats, including Barack Obama, begins with a 2005 effort to increase oversight of the mortgage giants:

It is easy to identify the historical turning point that marked the beginning of the end.

Back in 2005, Fannie and Freddie were, after years of dominating Washington, on the ropes. They were enmeshed in accounting scandals that led to turnover at the top. . . Then legislative momentum emerged for an attempt to create a “world-class regulator” that would oversee the pair more like banks, imposing strict requirements on their ability to take excessive risks.

The clear gravity of the situation pushed the legislation forward. Some might say the current mess couldn’t be foreseen, yet in 2005 Alan Greenspan told Congress how urgent it was for it to act in the clearest possible terms: If Fannie and Freddie “continue to grow, continue to have the low capital that they have, continue to engage in the dynamic hedging of their portfolios, which they need to do for interest rate risk aversion, they potentially create ever-growing potential systemic risk down the road,” he said. “We are placing the total financial system of the future at a substantial risk.

What happened next was extraordinary. For the first time in history, a serious Fannie and Freddie reform bill was passed by the Senate Banking Committee. The bill gave a regulator power to crack down, and would have required the companies to eliminate their investments in risky assets.

(Emphasis mine.) Given that Fannie and Freddie’s promotion of risky investments caused the crisis, it might have been helpful if Fannie and Freddie had been forced to cut back their risky investments, mightn’t it? But, in rode the Democrats:

But the bill didn’t become law, for a simple reason: Democrats opposed it on a party-line vote in the committee, signaling that this would be a partisan issue. Republicans, tied in knots by the tight Democratic opposition, couldn’t even get the Senate to vote on the matter. . .

Now that the collapse has occurred, the roadblock built by Senate Democrats in 2005 is unforgivable. Many who opposed the bill doubtlessly did so for honorable reasons. Fannie and Freddie provided mounds of materials defending their practices. Perhaps some found their propaganda convincing.

But we now know that many of the senators who protected Fannie and Freddie, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Christopher Dodd, have received mind-boggling levels of financial support from them over the years.

Throughout his political career, Obama has gotten more than $125,000 in campaign contributions from employees and political action committees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, second only to Dodd, the Senate Banking Committee chairman, who received more than $165,000. . .

There has been a lot of talk about who is to blame for this crisis. A look back at the story of 2005 makes the answer pretty clear.

This is political corruption of the highest order. Democrats, who ordinarily support regulation of anything and everything, go against their usual principles to oppose regulation of Fannie and Freddie, who just happen to be giving obscene amounts of money to Democrats. When it blows up, it costs the taxpayers trillions.

Finally, a footnote:

Oh, and there is one little footnote to the story that’s worth keeping in mind while Democrats point fingers between now and Nov. 4: Senator John McCain was one of the three cosponsors of S.190, the bill that would have averted this mess.

McCain needs to be shouting this from the rooftops.

(Via the Corner.)


Washington Post: don’t trust us

September 22, 2008

How much is the media in the tank for Barack Obama? So much that they won’t even stand up for their own reporting.

The McCain campaign ran an ad criticizing Obama for his ties to a central Fannie Mae figure, for which they relied on two Washington Post stories. Obama accused McCain (not the Post) of lying. Then, the Washington Post backed up Obama, and faulted McCain for relying on their reporting. Amazing.

Additionally, as I noted earlier, the Post was initially unable to report accurately on the contents of their own pages. Originally, their “fact check” reported that the Post story appeared in the Style section, when in fact it appeared in the Business section. The “fact check” has now been silently corrected.


“I’m NBC, and I approved this message.”

September 22, 2008

Politico reports:

Al Franken, the former “Saturday Night Live” star now running in a high-profile Senate race in Minnesota, helped craft the opening sketch mocking John McCain that kicked off the NBC comedy show Saturday, according to two well-placed sources inside the network. . .

Franken’s input to the show blindsided his campaign staff, who have been forced to explain away some of the more crass and profane parts of his past writing and acting that have been used as fodder against him in a state known for its polite manners.

A spokeswoman for Franken, Colleen Murray, first said the Democratic Senate candidate “didn’t write anything for SNL tonight.” But pressed if he was involved in the show or had been in contact with staff members, Murray admitted Franken had a role in Saturday’s program. . .

Word that the network’s signature comedy show has allowed a liberal Democrat Senate candidate to shape content mocking the Republican presidential nominee may fuel sentiment that the network is sympathetic to the left.

Yeah, I’d say it just might.

(Via Althouse, via Instapundit.)


9/11 wasn’t only America’s fault

September 22, 2008

The executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has conceded that 9/11 wasn’t exclusively America’s fault:

“We should not blame the Muslims for taking part in the political process, and we should not blame the United States alone for the 11 September 2001 attacks, but we should also blame the perpetrators.”

How magnanimous of him. I’m glad to hear that the terrorists have to shoulder a little of the blame.


/AFK

September 22, 2008

I’m back.


AFK

September 20, 2008

No posting until Monday. Lots to comment on when I get back.


Obama again dishonestly calls McCain a liar

September 19, 2008

As he has done many times already in the campaign, Barack Obama is calling John McCain a liar, when he is the one who is lying. The latest instance is a McCain ad linking Obama to Franklin Raines, a central figure in the Fannie Mae failure. The Obama campaign says:

This is another flat-out lie from a dishonorable campaign that is increasingly incapable of telling the truth. Frank Raines has never advised Senator Obama about anything — ever.

Who’s lying? Not John McCain. His campaign cites two Washington Post articles that substantiate the charge. Either Obama is lying (again) or the Washington Post is in error.

BONUS: In its fact-check of the ad, the Washington Post is apparently unable to report accurately on the contents of the Washington Post.

ANOTHER BONUS: The ad is being called racist too, of course.


Schumer wants to nationalize banks

September 18, 2008

I’m not certain whether I approve of Secretary Paulson’s proposal to create an RTC-like entity to buy up bad debt. Perhaps the situation is dire enough to require such an action, but it’s deeply troubling. On the other hand, it’s easy to oppose Charles Schumer’s alternate proposal:

Schumer presented his own proposal for federal intervention, in which the government would lend struggling banks money in exchange for an equity stake. He said it would be conditioned on the banks agreeing to legislation that would let homeowners who have declared bankruptcy renegotiate their mortgages so they could keep their homes.

“An equity stake” means ownership.  Schumer wants the government to take ownership of the banking system.  To be sure, this is only partial ownership, but once the government has its foot in the door, it won’t be leaving.  This is nothing less than a proposal to begin nationalizing the banking system.

At least we shouldn’t have to deal with any bogus arguments that the Federal government will be a silent partner in banking.  Schumer’s condition makes it clear that the government will be running the show from the get-go.


Palin hacker speaks

September 18, 2008

The jackass who hacked Sarah Palin’s private email account has posted an account of his criminal activity. Wired has the story. Three interesting things:

  • He used a “security question” and googled personal information to do it. I’ve always hated security questions, and this is why. I always try not to use them, but most sites seem to require them now. (Note to hackers: the name of my pet is “teLVhwnlX2sVFDGf0NtK”.)
  • He was hoping to find something incriminating, but didn’t. (How many politicians could make that boast?)
  • The owner of the email account used to make the post has been tentatively identified as a Tennessee college student. (Wired doesn’t say how.) If this identification is accurate, it’s interesting because his father is a Democratic representative in the Tennessee legislature.

Even if Wired is wrong, he will probably be caught pretty soon, according to a story in the Register.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: The student in question is the son of Tennessee State Rep. Mike Kernell.  (Via Instapundit.)


Obama more negative than McCain

September 18, 2008

According to Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic, 77% of Obama’s ads are negative, compared to 56% of McCain’s.  (Via the Corner.)  Personally I’ve got no problem with negative ads (lies are another matter), but a lot of people claim to hate them.


Biden questions my patriotism

September 18, 2008

Joe Biden has gazed into my soul, and determined that I don’t really like America all that much:

Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden says that paying higher taxes is the patriotic thing to do for wealthier Americans. . .

Biden told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday that, in his words, “it’s time to be patriotic … time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.”

Democrats love accusing Republicans of questioning their patriotism, but they are the ones who actually do it. (For example.)

(Via the Corner.)

UPDATE: Good point:

You mean like this?

Biden gave average of $369 to charity a year

Boy, talk about reinforcing the “stereotype” of spending someone else’s money.

(Via Instapundit.)


Obama’s Spanish ad is deeply dishonest

September 18, 2008

ABC’s Jake Tapper fact-checks Obama’s Spanish-language ad, and finds it dishonest in every regard:

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has launched a new Spanish-language TV ad that seeks to paint Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as anti-immigrant, even tying the Republican to his longtime conservative talk-radio nemesis Rush Limbaugh. . .

There are some real factual problems with this ad, which is titled “Dos Caras,” or two faces.

First of all, tying Sen. McCain – especially on the issue of immigration reform – to Limbaugh is unfair.

Limbaugh opposed McCain on that issue. Vociferously. And in a larger sense, it’s unfair to link McCain to Limbaugh on a host of issues since Limbaugh, as any even occasional listener of his knows, doesn’t particularly care for McCain.

Second, the quotes of Limbaugh’s are out of context.

(Via Instapundit.)


Happy Constitution Day

September 17, 2008

In honor of the day, the Chief Justice answers some kids’ questions.  (At least, I sure hope they’re kids’ questions.)


On AIG, Palin gets it, Biden doesn’t

September 17, 2008

As Mark Hemingway notes, Palin gets it exactly right, whereas Biden’s comment is idiotic, and Obama’s isn’t even as clear as Biden’s.

BONUS: Also, Obama gets the name wrong.  To be fair, I didn’t know what AIG stood for either, but I’m pretty sure I would have found out before speaking to the press about it.


AP can’t read a map

September 17, 2008

The AP has a story about how Sarah Palin supports building a new bridge to Anchorage, Alaska. The AP calls it “a bridge to her hometown of Wasilla.” Power Line points out it’s nothing of the sort. This map (provided by Power Line) shows the proposed bridge and its relation to Wasilla:

In fact, Wasilla is landlocked, and the proposed bridge is nowhere near it. Also, it’s pretty clear that the bridge (and the proposed road) would benefit everyone north of Anchorage, by significantly cutting driving times between Anchorage and points north. So yes, Wasilla would probably benefit, but far less than Willow and points north.   It’s certainly not reasonable to call it a bridge to Wasilla.  Actually, this looks like a very good public infrastructure investment, and it’s a little surprising that it doesn’t exist already.


Hackers invade Palin email

September 17, 2008

Is it ethical or even legal to hack into someone’s private email and voicemail and post it on the Internet? Gawker says yes, at least when it’s Sarah Palin’s email in question. (It’s not obvious that the information is legit, but Gawker thinks it is.)

Then there’s the chutzpah: when the compromised account was taken down, Gawker accused them of destroying documents.

(Via LGF.)

UPDATE: Confirmed. Time adds that nothing of a scandalous nature has been uncovered.

UPDATE: The AP protects the criminals.


Clinton won’t appear with Palin

September 17, 2008

Fox News reports:

Hillary Clinton has pulled out of an appearance at a New York rally next week to protest Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because she doesn’t want to be seen alongside Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a “partisan” event, her aides say.

Several American Jewish groups plan a major rally outside the United Nations on Monday. Clinton had initially accepted an invitation to join, but her aides objected when they learned Palin will also be part of the rally. The Alaska governor is also expected to meet with several foreign ministers during the U.N.’s opening General Assembly session.

She’s got every right to refuse to appear with Palin, and I can even see why she wouldn’t want to. Given that many Democrats are suspicious that her support of Barack Obama is lukewarm at best, creating a Clinton-Palin photo opportunity might cause her some troubles. However, this part is just silly:

“[Palin’s] attendance was news to us, and this was never billed to us as a partisan political event,” Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said Wednesday. “Sen. Clinton will therefore not be attending.”

It wouldn’t have been a partisan event if Clinton had attended.  At the very least it would have been bi-partisan, and I strongly suspect the event was intended to be non-partisan.  But it will be a partisan event now, at least as viewed by the press.  Clinton has made it so.


More on the Taheri allegation

September 17, 2008

Many people were puzzled by Obama’s denial yesterday of Amir Taheri’s allegation that Obama tried to stall an agreement between the U.S. and Iraq, since the denial seemed to confirm the allegation. Today, the consensus seems to be that Obama’s denial is making a distinction between the the Status of Forces Agreement and the Strategic Framework Agreement.

I originally discounted that explanation, since Taheri’s article nowhere specifically mentioned either agreement, so it could hardly be denied on that basis. Furthermore, the text of Obama’s denial jumbles the two together, at least as reported by AFP:

In fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a “Strategic Framework Agreement” governing the future of US forces until after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.

Also, although I wasn’t aware of it until Tom Maguire pointed it out, Obama’s campaign website combines the issues:

Obama and Biden believe any Status of Forces Agreement, or any strategic framework agreement, should be negotiated in the context of a broader commitment by the U.S. to begin withdrawing its troops and forswearing permanent bases. Obama and Biden also believe that any security accord must be subject to Congressional approval. It is unacceptable that the Iraqi government will present the agreement to the Iraqi parliament for approval—yet the Bush administration will not do the same with the U.S. Congress. The Bush administration must submit the agreement to Congress or allow the next administration to negotiate an agreement that has bipartisan support here at home and makes absolutely clear that the U.S. will not maintain permanent bases in Iraq.

But Taheri has taken Obama’s denial that way, and written a lengthy response, pointing out that the SOFA negotiations and SFA negotiations cannot be (or at least are not) separated.

Obama needs to be more clear about what it did and did not say to the Iraqis, and why.  So far they’ve merely issued a denial that doesn’t deny much of anything.  At a minimum, Obama has admitted going behind the Administration’s back to frustrate some of its negotiations with the Iraqi government.  That’s already pretty bad.  Whether it’s worse than that isn’t clear yet.

(Via Instapundit.)


Obama inflates role in stimulus package

September 16, 2008

ABC News reports.  (Via Instapundit.)


Zimbabwe signs power-sharing deal

September 16, 2008

The Washington Post reports. We’ll have to see how this works out, but I’m skeptical that Mugabe will cede Tsvangirai any real power.


Obama to address coolness crisis

September 16, 2008

Obama identifies the key problem with our government:

“The domination of special interests, the domination of lobbyists, the loss of a civic culture in Washington among public [servants] has led not only to well-known disasters, like the mismanagement of the Katrina situation, but quiet disasters, where you’ve got entire agencies that have been hollowed out and you’ve got political appointees who aren’t concerned with the mission of those organizations,” Obama said. “So we’ve got to transform Washington and we’ve got to do some house cleaning… part of my job, I think, as president, is to make government cool again.”

In all seriousness, if Obama is elected, I’m certain the government will become the coolest place of all, at least as portrayed in the media.  Whether that will help solve any actual problems is another matter.

(Via the Campaign Spot.)


BYOT

September 16, 2008

The Obama campaign has worked out an elegant solution to one of its problems, Obama’s tendency to commit embarrassing gaffes whenever parted from his teleprompter.  The solution is obvious really: don’t separate him from his teleprompter.

(Via Hot Air.)


Why political smears work

September 16, 2008

An interesting but dismaying article at the Washington Post.  It does conclude with a typical “experts agree, conservatives are stupid” parting shot, but most of the article is better.

(Via Hot Air, who mischaracterizes the study a bit.)


Palin beats Biden in imaginary contest

September 16, 2008

Rasmussen reports:

Sarah Palin bests Joseph Biden 47% to 44% in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up for the presidency, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. . .

Just over half of voters view both of the vice presidential candidates at least somewhat favorably, although 35% rate their opinion of Palin as Very Favorable while only 23% feel that way about Biden. Twenty-eight percent (28%) have a very unfavorable opinion of the woman governor of Alaska versus 20% who say that about the longtime Delaware senator. . .

When Palin is pitted against Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee wins 50% to 43%.

In the same survey, Palin’s running mate, John McCain, beats Biden 49% to 45%.


Rasmussen: Pennsylvania tied

September 16, 2008

Zogby was one thing, but Rasmussen I find credible. The latest Rasmussen poll has Pennsylvania tied at 47. The internals are even a bit worse for Obama:

The latest poll finds the Republican candidate is viewed more a bit more favorably among voters than his opponent. McCain is viewed favorably by 60%, up three points from a week ago. Obama’s ratings are at 52% favorable, down three points.

Also, by a 51% to 42% margin, voters in the Keystone State trust McCain more than Obama.

(Via the Corner.)


Obama’s “facts”

September 16, 2008

The Obama campaign has compiled a “fact sheet” for attacking David Freddoso, the author of an anti-Obama book. Ramesh Ponnuru points out that two of the three “lies” are actually true. (The third is hard to evaluate.) The most amusing is Obama’s citation of a Factcheck.org post that actually agrees with Freddoso.


DC bill would advance gun rights

September 16, 2008

The Washington Times reports that a bill before the DC city council would bring DC in line with the Heller decision in two major respects:

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson says he will propose regulations Tuesday that would legalize semi-automatic handguns in the District because the stopgap legislation the council passed in response to a Supreme Court ruling “would not stand up to judicial scrutiny.” . . .

Mr. Mendelson, at-large Democrat, said the bill will refine the city’s definition of machine guns by using wording from other jurisdictions and the federal assault-weapons ban, which has since expired. The bill also will cap at 10 the number of rounds a semi-automatic gun magazine can hold. . .

Most jurisdictions and federal law generally define machine guns as those capable of firing multiple rounds with a single press of the trigger or guns that can be modified easily to do so.

The bill also will change safe-storage provisions to advisory regulations – meaning gun owners would no longer be required to keep their guns unloaded, locked up or disassembled – but will create criminal penalties for gun owners who give children access to guns.

It remains to be seen if the bill will pass.  Even if it does, left unaddressed are the administrative obstacles DC has erected to legal firearm registration, and DC’s prohibition against carrying firearms outside the home.

(Via Alphecca, via Instapundit.)


A “non-denial” denial

September 16, 2008

Obama has denied the New York Post report that he interfered with an agreement between the U.S. and Iraq. Or has he? From AFP, here’s the denial:

Barack Obama’s White House campaign angrily denied Monday a report that he had secretly urged the Iraqis to postpone a deal to withdraw US troops until after November’s election.

In the New York Post, conservative Iranian-born columnist Amir Taheri quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying the Democrat made the demand when he visited Baghdad in July, while publicly demanding an early withdrawal.

“He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,” Zebari said in an interview, according to Taheri.

But, I’m not quite sure the Obama campaign understands how a denial is supposed to work:

Obama’s national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said Taheri’s article bore “as much resemblance to the truth as a McCain campaign commercial.”

In fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a “Strategic Framework Agreement” governing the future of US forces until after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.

In the face of resistance from Bush, the Democrat has long said that any such agreement must be reviewed by the US Congress as it would tie a future administration’s hands on Iraq.

Recall that the central allegation of the report was precisely that Obama was trying to delay an agreement with Iraq until a new president takes office:

WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

“He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,” Zebari said in an interview.

So the campaign is denying the report while confirming its substance.

BONUS: Finally, the chutzpah:

Obama said the president was belatedly coming round to his own way of thinking, but also accused Bush of “tinkering around the edges” and “kicking the can down the road to the next president.”

That’s the exact opposite of the truth. Bush is trying to strike an agreement with Iraq, while Obama wants him to kick the can down the road.

BONUS SNARK: Don’t we deserve a president who at least knows how to issue a bogus denial properly?

EXTRA BONUS SNARK: If the report bears “as much resemblance to the truth as a McCain campaign commercial,” maybe that reflects well on McCain campaign commercials.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey has a few choice words.


Palin produces firing emails

September 16, 2008

According to the AP, lawyers for Sarah Palin have produced emails detailing the reasons for firing Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.  They reportedly support the story told by Gov. Palin, and by Monegan for that matter.  Although articles on the subject rarely see fit to mention it, Monegan denies he was ever pressured to fire Wooten.

(Via Hot Air.)


WSJ misunderstands earmarks

September 16, 2008

The Wall Street Journal has a story on Sarah Palin’s “earmarks” that is raising eyebrows. The thrust of the article is that Palin is a hypocrite for requesting earmarks while campaigning as an opponent of them. The problem with the article is it doesn’t distinguish between earmarks (last-minute spending dropped into bills with little or no discussion) and ordinary legislative appropriations.

Due to Alaska’s unique location and size, it has numerous needs that are legitimately related to Federal functions. For example, Alaska requested funding for an airport in the town that houses a missile defense radar. Perfunction has the story. (Via Instapundit.)


Live and let die

September 15, 2008

Andrew McCarthy’s column on Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac is a must read. The punch line:

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is to be commended for telling Lehman the gravy train has left the station. Back-stopping recklessness leads only to more recklessness, while punishing prudent actors who don’t buy the home they can’t afford, don’t lend to the dodgy debtor, and don’t create new commercial paper that bundles these dubious transactions for mega-trading.

But now that the adults have finally decided it’s time to pay the piper, we need to get a look at the actual bill. Put Fannie and Freddie on the books … and let’s see if the Pelosi Democrats will give the economy-wrecking practices of their beloved private/public partnerships half the scrutiny they’ve reserved for the firing of U.S. attorneys.

One thing he points out is the Federal Government is assuming Fannie and Freddie’s $5 trillion in liabilities (that’s over half the national debt), without feeling the need to put it on the Federal budget. Enron pales in comparison.

(Via the Corner.)

Speaking of which, LGF notes that Barack Obama is the second largest recipient of Fannie and Freddie’s contributions over the last ten years, despite having been in office for less than four!


Air Sharing

September 15, 2008

Air Sharing, a cool new app for the iPhone allows you to turn your iPhone into a network drive whenever you have WiFi.  You can mount the drive on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux, or access it using a browser.  It’s free for the next week.

(Via Gizmodo.)


Kurtz repeats the lie

September 15, 2008

I’ve lost confidence in Howard Kurtz. It’s been a few days, and rather than correct his error about Palin’s Iraq prayer, he repeats it:

Some conservatives criticized Gibson for raising religion by asking Palin whether she considers the Iraq conflict a “holy war.” But how can it be unfair to ask about her own words, in a church, that “our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God”?

It is unfair because she simply didn’t say that. Kurtz has to know this, if for no other reason that the conservatives whom Kurtz is criticizing are pointing it out. Praying for rain is different from asserting that it’s raining. Could he really be unable to see the difference? I want to give Kurtz the benefit of the doubt, but I see precious little doubt to work with.

(Via the Corner.)


The NYT is incapable of shame

September 15, 2008

You can’t make this stuff up: the NYT is concerned that Todd Palin might have influence in a McCain-Palin administration. Needless to say, the NYT (which endorsed Hillary Clinton) has been less than consistent in its concern about the potential influence of spouses.

(Via Instapundit.)


Is New York in play?

September 15, 2008

Color me skeptical, but a New York Post story says it might be, citing private polls. (Via Hot Air.)

Meanwhile, Tigerhawk wonders if all the stories about panic on the left might be a Democratic ploy.  (Via Instapundit.)


UK institutes sharia courts

September 15, 2008

The Telegraph reports:

ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.

Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.

It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, said he had taken advantage of a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996.

Under the act, the sharia courts are classified as arbitration tribunals. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case.

(Via the Corner.)


Obama inferfered with Iraq negotiations?

September 15, 2008

The New York Post reports:

WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

“He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,” Zebari said in an interview.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Added a question mark to the title, since there’s apparently some question about the reliability of the reporter.

Also, Jonah Goldberg asks if Obama has violated the Logan Act. There’s no question he has, if this story is true:

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent . . . to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

Nevertheless, no one has ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act.

UPDATE: Obama denies it. Of course, he also (falsely) denied the Goolsbee meeting. We’ll wait and see.

UPDATE: The McCain campaign has a statement.

UPDATE: Confirmed by the Obama campaign’s own denial, oddly enough.


Alaska Democrats interfere with trooper investigation

September 14, 2008

This stinks to high heaven. Alaska Democrats supervising the investigation into the firing of Alaska Safety Commissioner Monegan have:

  • Refused to appoint a non-partisan investigator.
  • Insisted that the investigation must be complete by October 31, four days before the election.
  • Promised, before any interviews were conducted, that the result will be damaging to Palin.
  • Interfered with the list of witnesses that their own lead investigator wished to question.

An honest investigation would almost certainly clear Palin, given the basic facts:

Commissioner Monegan and state trooper Wooten are surprisingly mild-mannered about this “scandal” that’s blown into a national news story after Palin’s vice presidential appointment.

Monegan told the Anchorage Daily News on August 30 that he was never pressured to dismiss Palin’s former brother-in-law. “For the record,” he said, “no one has ever said fire Wooten. Not the governor. Not Todd. Not any of the other staff.”

Wooten, for his part, has reportedly turned down at least $30,000 from tabloids hungry for his side of the story.

But it doesn’t look like an honest investigation is likely.

(Via Hot Air.)


The e-mail ad

September 14, 2008

ABC’s Jake Tapper confirms that McCain doesn’t use a computer because of his war injuries:

Assuredly McCain isn’t comfortable talking about this — and the McCain campaign discouraged me from writing about this — but the reason the aged Arizonan doesn’t use a computer or send email is because of his war wounds.

I realize some of the nastier liberals in the blogosphere will see this as McCain once again “playing the POW card,” but it’s simply a fact: typing on a regular keyboard for any sustained period of time bothers McCain physically.

He can type, he occasionally does type, but in general the injuries he sustained as a POW — ones that make it impossible for him to raise his arms high enough to comb his hair — mean that small tasks make his shoulders ache, so he tries to avoid any repetitive exercise.

Again, it’s not that he can’t type, he just by habit avoids when he can repetitive exercise involving his arms. He does if he has to, as with handshaking or autographs.

It’s certainly possible that the Obama campaign did not know this, since McCain makes it sound in interviews as if this is a matter of choice, not discomfort because of his war wounds.

(Via Hot Air.)

I don’t understand McCain doesn’t fire back on this.  It’s great material for them; much better than the lipstick business.  Why are they reluctant to talk about it?

(Previous post.)


Washington Post repeats Gibson’s lie

September 14, 2008

They editorialize:

Her efforts to explain some previous statements were lacking in candor. She claimed, implausibly, that she was merely channeling Abraham Lincoln when she described the war in Iraq as “a task from God.”

She simply did not say that. Look media, get it through your thick skull: praying for rain is different from asserting that it’s raining.

As far as Lincoln goes, I can’t say what Palin was thinking when she said that, but I can say what I thought when I read it. Reading that, I immediately thought of Lincoln’s prayer. (That was when the AP first started this bogus story, nearly a week before the Palin interview might have planted the connection in my head.) It’s a matter of cultural literacy that I guess the Washington Post simply doesn’t have.

(Via the Corner.) (Previous post.)


Say it ain’t so!

September 14, 2008

Anti-competitive practices at Google:

In the summer of 2006, however, Google pulled the rug out from under him. Suddenly and without warning, Google raised Sourcetool’s minimum bid requirement from 5 or 6 cents to $1, and in some cases to as much as $5 or $10. Mr. Savage discovered this was happening only after he saw that Sourcetool’s traffic had dwindled drastically and began looking into the reasons. . .

“Your landing pages will continue to require higher bids in order to display your ads, resulting in a very low return on your investment,” a Google executive named Nathan Anderson wrote on Jan. 2, 2007. “Therefore AdWords may not be the online advertising program for you.”

Two days later, in another e-mail message, Mr. Anderson told Mr. Savage to “please refrain from repeatedly contacting our team.”

As he stewed about his predicament, Mr. Savage came to believe that there was something more nefarious going on than a subpar landing page. Google, he believed, didn’t like his Web directory because it was a search engine itself — though much more narrowly focused than Google’s search engine — and Google found it a competitive threat.

What’s more, Sourcetool competed directly with business.com, which was one of Google’s “content network partners,” meaning it gets additional advertising revenue because Google directs AdWords ads to the site as well as AdSense ads. . .

As Mr. Savage saw it, Google’s near monopoly in search ads (its market share is approaching 70 percent) put it in a position to decide which business models it would tolerate and which ones it wouldn’t. “Google can use AdWords to pick winners in every category,” he told me.

(Via Instapundit.)


Today’s Palin bias

September 14, 2008

A roundup of Palin bias, just from this weekend:

  • A Washington Post story entitled “Biden Releases His Tax Returns,” omits the release’s embarrassing revelation (Biden gives just 0.2% of his income to charity, one fifteenth of the national average), and spends 60% of the article reporting conjectural attacks on Palin. (Via Newsbusters.)
  • The camera work in the Charlie Gibson’s interview of Palin was arranged to make Palin look small and inferior, in contrast to his interviews with Obama and Hillary Clinton. (Accident? If it makes you feel better to suppose that ABC sent its B-team to handle the Palin interview, go right ahead.)
  • Liberal talk show host Randi Rhodes says Palin molests teenage boys.

In case McCain is feeling left out, he’s still getting the treatment too. The photographer used by The Atlantic (the magazine famous for fanning the fake-Palin-pregnancy rumors) to photograph John McCain for a cover story brags that she deliberately used the photo shoot to make McCain look bad. For example:

After getting that shot, Greenberg asked McCain to “please come over here” for one more set-up before the 15-minute shoot was over. There, she had a beauty dish with a modeling light set up. “That’s what he thought he was being lit by,” Greenberg says. “But that wasn’t firing.”

What was firing was a strobe positioned below him, which cast the horror movie shadows across his face and on the wall right behind him. “He had no idea he was being lit from below,” Greenberg says. And his handlers didn’t seem to notice it either. “I guess they’re not very sophisticated,” she adds.

Meanwhile, the media is getting mad that it’s being accused of bias.

UPDATE: More on the McCain photo shoot. (Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: A director speaks out on the Gibson-Palin camerawork. He says it’s normal practice to choose the camera position and lens to adjust the apparent height of the subjects, which ABC chose not to do. (Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: The Atlantic is doing their best to get in front of this.  Good for them.  They need to do something about Andrew Sullivan too, though.  (Via Instapundit.)