Ricci and Sotomayor

June 30, 2009

In its Ricci decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 for Ricci, but 9-0 against Sotomayor. Paul Mirengoff explains:

First, her panel issued a summary order in a case that ended up being heard by the Supreme Court and generating a 5-4 decision with nearly 100 pages worth of opinions.

Second, Sotomayor’s panel was sharply criticized by her mentor, Judge Cabranes, for its “perfunctory disposition” of the case, in an opinion which suggests that Cabranes believed that Sotomayor and her fellow panel members were attempting to bury the matter.

Third, the Supreme Court reversed the panel.

Fourth, even the dissenting Justices blew off the reasoning of Sotomayor’s panel in a footnote, and fashioned their own, different standard for deciding the case.

Fifth, the dissenting Justices made it clear they would have disposed of the case differently than the way Sotomayor’s panel disposed of it. The panel affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the City of New Haven, which would have ended the matter. The dissenters, in the panel’s position, would have remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings under the different standard for deciding the matter that it articulated.

The final point, regarding the disposition of the Ricci case, seems to have become a matter of confusion, but I think the dissenters were clear. Justice Ginsburg wrote that because the “lower courts,” including Sotomayor’s panel, applied an “intent” standard rather than considering whether the City of New Haven had “good cause” to act as it did (the dissent’s standard), “ordinarily a remand would be in order.” In other words, had the dissenters been sitting on the Second Circuit panel, they would have ordered a remand instead of affirming the district court, as Judge Sotomayor’s panel summarily did.

Not only was Sotomayor overturned, but her position was beyond where even the liberal justices were willing to go.

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The Honduran non-coup

June 30, 2009

Manuel Zelaya, the former president of Honduras, was overwhelmingly removed from office by the Honduran Congress, in accordance with its constitution. So why is the US saying that Zelaya is still the legitimate president?

UPDATE: How often do you see National Review, Investor’s Business Daily, and The New Republic agree on something? The Washington Post is more muddled, but still recognizes the basic truth. (They say it would be best if Zelaya temporarily resumes his post, and presumably is then re-deposed.) The New York Times says nothing, which I interpret to mean they weren’t able to come up with an argument defending the president.

(Previous post.)


Safety first

June 30, 2009

The FDA is considering pulling cold medicines such as Nyquil off the market. It seems that some people use them incorrectly, taking too much and/or combining them with other acetaminophen products, resulting in an overdose. This kills about 20 people per year.

Cough syrup for toddlers is already banned, due to fears it can be misused. Its misuse killed about 3 children per year. Hundreds of public pools across the country are closing because municipalities cannot afford to retrofit them with drain covers that comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker act. Circulation entrapments kill about 1 person per year. (But one of them was the granddaughter of an important politician.)

Every death is a tragedy, of course. We need to ensure safety, at whatever the cost, right?

Then what about CAFE gas mileage standards, which kill 1300 people every year? If we’re going to curtail everyone’s lives to save a few people per year (or even just one), certainly CAFE standards need to go! Right?

Not at all. We’re tightening CAFE standards. Dramatically. From 27.5 mpg to 39 mpg. We can’t know how many additional people that will kill each year, but the number is surely in the hundreds at least.

Well, I suppose the government must have its priorities. Safety isn’t everything.

UPDATE: By a vote of 24-13, Nyquil and the like will remain on the market, assuming the FDA follows its panel’s recommendation.


Accountability = terrorism?

June 30, 2009

Oh, for crying out loud:

Q: How do you think conservative talk radio has affected the Legislature’s work?

A: The Republicans were essentially threatened and terrorized against voting for revenue. Now [some] are facing recalls. They operate under a terrorist threat: “You vote for revenue and your career is over.” I don’t know why we allow that kind of terrorism to exist. I guess it’s about free speech, but it’s extremely unfair.

Look, you legislative jackasses. Those seats aren’t yours, they’re ours. We’re allowed to turn you out of office if we don’t like what you’re doing.


Ahmadinejad orders “investigation”

June 29, 2009

AP reports:

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked Iran’s cleric-controlled judiciary on Monday to investigate the killing of Neda Agha Soltan, who became an icon of Iran’s ragtag opposition after gruesome video of her bleeding to death on a Tehran street was circulated worldwide.

Ahmadinejad’s Web site said Soltan was slain by “unknown agents and in a suspicious” way, convincing him that “enemies of the nation” were responsible.

The regime has implicated protesters and even foreign intelligence agents in Soltan’s death. But an Iranian doctor who said he tried to save her told the BBC last week she apparently was shot by a member of the volunteer Basij militia.

It was good of Ahmadinejad to say what the outcome of the investigation should be. It avoids confusion that way.


The coup that wasn’t

June 29, 2009

The big news of the last day is the military coup in Honduras that is now starting to look like not so much of a coup after all. It has now been confirmed that in deposing the president, the military acted under direction from the Honduran supreme court, with support from the Honduran Congress. (Via Moe Lane, via Instapundit.)

Manuel Zelaya, the deposed president, instigated the crisis by proceeding with public referendum on constitutional amendment that had been ruled illegal by the supreme court. (The Honduran constitution does not provide for amendment by public referendum.) He had also flouted several other laws in his effort to carry out the referendum. Zeyala, an ally of Hugo Chavez, was seeking to lift presidential term limits so that he could remain in office.

I have no idea whether the Honduran constitution provides for the procedure that was used to remove Zelaya. In the abstract, however, it’s surely appropriate for two of the three branches of government to act to together to depose an executive that is flouting the law. It sounds to me as though the military backed the right side. In America, if a president were impeached and refused to leave office (not a perfect parallel, I realize), the military would support the Constitution, not the president.

It’s very unfortunate that President Obama and Secretary Clinton jumped in with both feet to condemn this action. I wonder if they simply didn’t get their facts straight before proclaiming their condemnation, or whether they really think that Zelaya is in the right. The contrast with the administration’s days of silence on Iran is particularly striking. These people really have no idea what they’re doing.

UPDATE: Fixed an important typo. Oops.

UPDATE: A good summary at the Wall Street Journal.


White House retracts no-tax-hike pledge

June 29, 2009

David Axelrod is refusing to rule out a middle-class tax hike. Is anyone honestly surprised by this? Of course President Obama will hike taxes on the middle-class (indeed, already has); that’s what Democrats always do.

One of the more tedious parts of election campaigns and early administrations is listening to the media take seriously farcical pledges like this (or sunlight-before-signing). At least that’s over.

UPDATE: The press openly laughed at the White House press secretary’s pathetic efforts to dodge a direct question about this.

UPDATE: Transcript of Gibbs’ efforts here. (Via Instapundit.)


Spite

June 28, 2009

Here’s an interesting and revealing quote from Barack Obama during the presidential campaign last year:

After ABC’s Charlie Gibson noted that the record shows increased taxes on capital gains — which would affect 100 million Americans — would likely lead to a decrease in government revenues: “Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.”

(Via Sense of Events.)

The President’s stated position is that favors higher taxes on investors, even when those taxes actually decrease revenues! The government should actually spend money just to hurt investors.

In what world is this a reasonable policy? It’s spite, pure and simple.


EPA suppresses skeptical report

June 28, 2009

CNET reports:

The Environmental Protection Agency may have suppressed an internal report that was skeptical of claims about global warming, including whether carbon dioxide must be strictly regulated by the federal government, according to a series of newly disclosed e-mail messages.

Less than two weeks before the agency formally submitted its pro-regulation recommendation to the White House, an EPA center director quashed a 98-page report that warned against making hasty “decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data.”

The EPA official, Al McGartland, said in an e-mail message (PDF) to a staff researcher on March 17: “The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward…and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision.”

The e-mail correspondence raises questions about political interference in what was supposed to be an independent review process inside a federal agency–and echoes criticisms of the EPA under the Bush administration, which was accused of suppressing a pro-climate change document. . .

E-mail messages released this week show that [the report’s author] was ordered not to “have any direct communication” with anyone outside his small group at EPA on the topic of climate change, and was informed that his report would not be shared with the agency group working on the topic.

(Via Instapundit.)


Phantom bill

June 28, 2009

The cap-and-trade bill that the House just passed doesn’t even exist. Nowhere is the thing written down in one place. The House of Representatives voted on and passed a phantom bill.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, as the Democrats have already shown in the past their complete disdain for parliamentary procedure.


Kudos

June 28, 2009

I’m equal parts pleased and shocked to note that this article, on the inaugural convention of the Anglican Church in North America, is accurate.  Kudos to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for publishing it.  The article notes:

[Members of the new church] believe the Episcopal Church has failed to uphold biblical authority and traditional Christian doctrine on matters ranging from the divinity of Christ to sexual ethics.

Most stories on the schism of the Episcopal Church claim that it is about homosexuality, which isn’t remotely true. Questions about sexual ethics in general, and homosexuality in particular, may well be what most interest the press, but that doesn’t mean that Christians share that emphasis. Christians are much more concerned that the Episcopal Church has broken from basic teachings on the divinity of Christ, the sin of mankind, and the significance of the crucifixion for achieving our redemption from sin. A church that discards those teachings, as the Episcopal Church has, is no longer Christian at all.


Cool

June 27, 2009

An impressive optical illusion here.


The patient clearly needs more leeches

June 27, 2009

Fox News reports:

President Obama blamed health care costs for the mounting federal deficit, saying Tuesday the country will spend $1 out of every $5 on health care within the next 10 years if the government does not mandate reform.

Describing the need to control costs as the administration’s “top priority,” the president said health costs as the “primary driver” of the federal deficit.

“The U.S. government is not going to be able to afford Medicare and Medicaid on its current trajectory,” Obama told reporters during his fourth solo news conference Tuesday.

Health care spending is sucking the life out of the federal budget, so clearly the solution is a massive expansion of government health care spending. Good thinking.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, the bailouts and “stimulus” package might have contributed a wee little bit to the deficit as well, mightn’t they?


“Sunlight” abandoned

June 27, 2009

The White House has officially abandoned its “sunlight before signing” campaign promise, which it never observed anyway.

(Previous post.)


Fruits of nationalization

June 27, 2009

When the government runs an auto company, it decisions will be made for political reasons, not business reasons. Thus, GM’s new small car will be manufactured in Michigan, rather than its more efficient plants in Wisconsin or Tennessee. The more efficient plants will be closed. (Via Kausfiles, via Instapundit.)

In fact, the small car initiative itself is foolishness. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, Detroit ought to be focusing on expensive cars, which could dilute their high labor costs better. But they cannot, because CAFE standards require them to manufacture lots of light (i.e., cheap) cars. Now that the government controls GM, it’s pushing GM further in the wrong direction.


/AFK

June 27, 2009

Back.


Thermodynamic scofflaws

June 24, 2009

I’m not back to regular blogging yet, but stupidity of this magnitude necessitates some comment. I held out hope that “cap and trade” might somehow be averted, but it seems very unlikely, now that Democrats have come to an accord.

Democrats are trumpeting a new EPA analysis that says that cap and trade will increase average household energy cost “only” about $100 a year. That seems like a lot to me. In 2005, the average household spent $1063.20 on electricity, so we’re talking about roughly a 10% increase in household electric prices.

Politicians care about household electric bills because voters see those directly, but household electricity is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything uses energy: manufacturing, transportation, services. Under cap and trade, the price of everything will increase. Dramatically.

The bottom line is that our lives require energy. We cannot maintain our current standard of living, or anything close to it, without significant carbon emissions. Plus, there are significant sources of carbon emissions outside of energy, such as food.

An MIT study shows the impossibility of what Democrats are trying to achieve. President Obama’s target is to cut per capita emissions to 2.5 tons by 2050. The United States never had a carbon footprint so small, even in colonial times. The only nations to “achieve” that level today are impoverished ones, such as Belize, Mauritius, Jordan, Haiti and Somalia.

In fact, an American homeless person sleeping in shelters and eating in soup kitchens has a carbon footprint of 8.5 tons. The president wants to cut the average carbon footprint to under a third of a homeless person’s. Without multiple unforeseen technological breakthroughs, or reducing Americans to abject poverty, it simply cannot be done.

UPDATE: The EPA analysis is a rosy one too. The CBO analysis is nearly double: $175 per year. That’s a 17% increase. Other estimates are higher still.


AFK

June 21, 2009

Too busy for blogging for the next several days.


Axe murderers

June 20, 2009

AP reports:

The pro-government Basij militia has held back its full fury during this week’s street demonstrations. But witnesses say the force has unleashed its violence in shadowy nighttime raids, attacking suspected opposition sympathizers with axes, daggers, sticks and other crude weapons.

At least once, the militiamen opened fire on a crowd of strone-throwing protesters. State media said seven were killed.

If supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei authorizes a crackdown on protesters calling for a new presidential election, as he warned on Friday, the Basij will almost certainly be out in force.


Released Gitmo terrorist murders three, holds six more

June 20, 2009

Fox News reports:

The fate of three of nine foreigners abducted in Yemen last week is known — their bodies were found, shot execution style. The whereabouts of the other six — including three children under the age of 6 — remain a mystery.

But terrorism experts say . . . the crimes bear the mark of Al Qaeda, and they fear they are the handiwork of the international terror organization’s No. 2 man in the Arabian Peninsula: Said Ali al-Shihri, an Islamic extremist who once was in American custody — but who was released from the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. . .

The nine foreigners — four German adults, three small German children, a British man and a South Korean woman — were abducted on June 12 after they ventured outside the city of Saada without their required police escorts. . .

No one has claimed responsibility for the abductions and murders, but experts say killing women and children is considered off-limits among many jihadist groups — though not to al-Shihri, a Saudi national who was released from Guantanamo in November 2007 and sent to a Saudi Arabian “rehabilitation” program for jihadists. It wasn’t long before a “cured” al-Shihri was released from the program, crossed into Yemen and rejoined Al Qaeda, with whom he quickly rose to deputy commander.

By all means, let’s release all these guys.


CCAC free speech update

June 19, 2009

CCAC has responded to FIRE’s allegations that CCAC trampled a student’s free speech rights when she tried to form a gun-rights student organization. CCAC’s response is here, and FIRE’s subsequent press release is here. (CCAC earlier admitted that they did not reply to FIRE in a timely fashion.)

CCAC’s response falls quite a bit short of what might be hoped. It proclaims their support for free speech and claims that the student has not been disciplined. However, it reiterates its position that any mention of CCAC in a student’s literature, even with an explicit disclaimer of any affiliation, constitutes a claim of endorsement by CCAC that they must suppress. This argument is hardly defensible. Moreover, as FIRE points out, what then can be made of all the other organizations (such as the College Democrats) that CCAC does permit to use its name?

More troublingly, CCAC fails to rebut the two most serious allegations: First, the student was threatened with charges of academic misconduct. Second, CCAC’s dean said “You may want to discuss this topic but the college does not, and you cannot make us,” making clear the college’s desire to suppress the student’s speech.


California considers a flat tax

June 19, 2009

This would sure be something.


Corruption

June 18, 2009

Monica Conyers, Detroit city councilwoman and wife of the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee (!), is facing multiple bribery charges and is looking at prison time. (Via the Corner.)


Gov’t considers crippling mobile innovation

June 18, 2009

Idiots:

The most important developments in mobile technology have required creative funding streams that have necessitated carrier exclusivity agreements. For example, the iPhone’s “natural” cost would be well north of $600, were Apple not able to create a subsidy for purchasers through an exclusive partnership with AT&T.

Exclusive and exciting technology generates more subscribers to the carrier, which allows it to subsidize the technology on the front end. Further, exclusivity creates incentives for new phones to be developed in partnership with competing carriers. (Case in point: the Palm Pre.)

Enter the dark clouds of FCC regulation. The Commission is set to determine whether these private contracts between providers and manufacturers are “anticompetitive” and “contrary to the public interest,” which would be a reversal of its own decision in 1992. Unfortunately, the Senate seems eager for such a reversal; today the Commerce Committee is holding hearings on the subject.

If the iPhone had cost $600 it never would have existed. With this regulation, the next great idea won’t exist.


Chutzpah

June 18, 2009

Canada’s chief censor is complaining that her critics are chilling the free speech of the pro-censorship crowd.


Democrats won’t investigate Pelosi allegations

June 17, 2009

No surprise here.

Glenn Reynolds comments:

Like Pelosi tabled the Murtha inquiry. And we’re not hearing much about Dodd, Moran, or Visclosky, either. And what about Charles Rangel? I’m beginning to think all that “draining the swamp” talk was just a bunch of campaign lies!


Expensive, but at least it won’t work

June 17, 2009

The Senate health care bill will cost $1.6 trillion over 10 years. For that, we can cut the proportion of insured by 6%. (Via Instapundit.)


I’d prefer the stupid grid, thanks

June 17, 2009

The new “smart” power grid we’re building with stimulus funds has buffer overrun vulnerabilities in its software that an attacker can use to bring down the power grid.

(Via Instapundit.)


New tax kills business, lowers tax revenue

June 17, 2009

Amazon says they will shut down their Amazon Associates program (in which people can advertise Amazon products and earn commissions) in North Carolina if its legislature goes through with a new tax on “digital click-throughs.” (Via Instapundit.)

If they don’t care about denying income to North Carolina residents during a tough time, they ought to care about hurting the state’s bottom line. Under current law, those commissions are already taxable income; under the new law, those commissions will cease to exist. Brilliant.


Obama on Iran

June 16, 2009

After President Obama’s bizarrely over-cautious remarks on Iran’s stolen election, one thing is now clear. Not only is force off-the-table for dealing with Iran, strong words are also off-the-table. So what’s left?

Joe Biden was right about one thing; Barack Obama is being tested, and it’s not apparent he’s handling it right.


State television

June 16, 2009

Drudge reports that ABC is giving the president a primetime special to push his health care plan:

On the night of June 24, the media and government become one, when ABC turns its programming over to President Obama and White House officials to push government run health care — a move that has ignited an ethical firestorm!

Highlights on the agenda:

ABCNEWS anchor Charlie Gibson will deliver WORLD NEWS from the Blue Room of the White House.

The network plans a primetime special — ‘Prescription for America’ — originating from the East Room, [which will] exclude opposing voices on the debate.

(Via the Corner.)

ABC News responds that, although the president will be the only one responding to questions, they will make sure the program is fair. To suggest otherwise is “quite unfair.” Well, that’s a relief.

Seriously though, there is one way they could persuade me that this will be fair, and that would be to put John Stossel in charge of the program. I won’t be holding my breath.

POSTSCRIPT: It used to be that I had a fair amount of respect for ABC News (although even then, not enough to give this travesty a pass). But they never corrected Charles Gibson’s outright lie in his Sarah Palin interview last year, so not any more.


Stimulus includes Obama pork

June 16, 2009

The “stimulus” plan is funding a program that the Democrats specifically promised to exclude:

It became a sort of poster child for fiscal responsibility — a clean-coal power plant in Illinois that was one of then-Sen. Barack Obama’s pet projects.

Democrats insisted they were so serious about keeping pork out of the stimulus bill that it was President Obama himself who blocked the FutureGen project from the massive spending package.

“It shows that we’re serious about it,” Brendan Daly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman, said at the time. “The speaker said it, and the president said it: There will not be earmarks in this bill.”

Earmarks? Perhaps not. But funding for FutureGen? Absolutely, to the tune of $1 billion.

The Department of Energy on Friday announced that the FutureGen project is on track after all, committing federal stimulus money to advance the project to its next stage. One reason: It was the only shovel-ready project that fits the requirements of the stimulus bill.

Administration officials and the project’s other big backer, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), insist that’s not an earmark at all, as promised — because the stimulus bill doesn’t specifically name the FutureGen project as a recipient of the money.

But others say that’s a distinction without a difference — that FutureGen is merely an earmark by another name, a project that had powerful patrons, funding straight out of the stimulus bill and requirements for the money targeted so narrowly that only a few projects would fit the bill.

(Via Instapundit.)

Since the omission of FutureGen was put forward by Democrats as a demonstration that they were serious, but instead FutureGen got the most expensive earmark in history (according to Senator Tom Coburn), it seems fair to say this proves they were not serious.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, how dishonest is Dick Durban? He perfectly well knows that earmarks are often not specified by name, but by very narrow description, just as in this case.


Iran’s fake election

June 16, 2009

The latest evidence that Iran’s election was fake, if we needed any more (Sullivan’s graph being pretty conclusive):

Speed of Iran vote count called suspicious

CAIRO (AP) — How do you count almost 40 million handwritten paper ballots in a matter of hours and declare a winner? That’s a key question in Iran’s disputed presidential election. International polling experts and Iran analysts said the speed of the vote count, coupled with a lack of detailed election data normally released by officials, was fueling suspicion around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s landslide victory.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


CBO scores health care “reform”

June 15, 2009

It’s not just expensive and a horrific expansion of government, it won’t even work:

If the government did nothing new, CBO says the uninsured would be 19% of the non-elderly population in 2019. If they implemented the Democrats’ proposal, the uninsured would be 13% of the non-elderly population.

There will be more scoring documents to come, as there are a large numbers of provisions to take account of that haven’t been counted here, but this is a pretty rough start for the Democrats. They expected the CBO score to produce some painful cost numbers that would complicate their efforts, and it has. But I don’t think they expected the upside to be quite so unimpressive. It makes it difficult to argue for the value of all that spending, taxing, and growth of government.


Delphi deal overturned

June 15, 2009

A bankruptcy judge has aborted the government’s Delphi deal. Megan McArdle comments on the deal:

If true, this is an even more heavy-handed intervention than Chrysler, and considerably more disturbing. Debtor-in-Possession financing, or DIP, is the financing that allows companies to reorganize in bankruptcy. It’s senior to everything else because if it weren’t, no one would be willing to lend money to companies that definitionally have a high probability of failure. Stiffing those creditors in order to make GM, or even Delphi, better off, is incredibly short-sighted.

It also has some potentially scary implications for our political economy. The quasi-legitimate argument in favor of the government’s interventions in favor of the UAW was that Uncle Sam was the only available debtor-in-possession financier, and therefore had a right to call the tune. Screwing over the DIP providers would, of course, make it harder for other companies to get DIP. What new rights could the government discover in those bankruptcies?

In this case, however, the bankruptcy judge wasn’t buying. He ordered Delphi to put its assets up for auction. Now we get to test the theory that the government is acting in ways that actually make all the creditors getting cramdowns better off. If the government has indeed been acting in everyone’s best interest, the auction will be a dismal failure.

(Via Instapundit.)


Iran’s fake election

June 15, 2009

This chart, due to Andrew Sullivan, makes it clear that the election results are a fiction. This kind of uniformity could never happen in reality.

iran-election-2009

(Via Gary’s Choices, via the Corner.) (Previous post.)

UPDATE: Leaked election results, if accurate, show Ahmadinejad came in third. (Via Instapundit.)


More on the Americorps IG firing

June 15, 2009

Byron York has been investigating the firing of the Americorps Inspector General. It’s now clear that it was because he refused to go easy on well-connected corruption.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


Disgusting

June 15, 2009

I guess questioning your opponents’ patriotism is okay now?

CIA Director Leon Panetta says former Vice President Dick Cheney’s criticism of the Obama administration’s approach to terrorism almost suggests “he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point.”

UPDATE: A CIA spokeman is walking back the claim now.


Iran’s fake election

June 15, 2009

It’s chaos in Tehran. (Via the Corner.)

Michael Ledeen has often said that what Iran needs most is some western encouragement for its liberal dissidents. If there ever were a time for that, it’s now.

(Previous post.)


Our ruling class

June 14, 2009

When they talk about Congress breeding rats, they usually don’t mean it literally:

John Bailey thought it was great when his neighbor was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007.

“Not everyone lives next door to a congresswoman,” he said.

But two years later, he doesn’t feel so lucky. The congresswoman’s house is abandoned and in disrepair, “a blight on the neighborhood,” Bailey said.

He said he thinks the way Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Calif., has treated her home tells far more about her than her voting record. . .

Things got so bad that in the fall of 2008 rats began breeding in Richardson’s backyard and soon moved into a house next door.

The congresswoman has gained a degree of infamy in the Sacramento neighborhood. The two-story house, gray with red trim, is badly in need of paint. The front lawn is a patchwork of grass and weeds with brown splotches of dirt. Much of the once lush ivy covering the chain-link fence has died. The red wooden gate sprawls on the lawn, unless someone props it up. A toilet sits on the back patio.

The backyard weeds, which neighbors said had grown three or four feet high, were cut a day after the Los Angeles Times wrote about them a few months ago. Dead leaves have gathered behind the hot tub. Rosebushes are struggling from lack of water, since the sprinklers are never turned on. Brown paper covers many windows. There is no furniture inside. Two beer cans are in the kitchen sink surrounded by dirt. The countertop and cabinets have been pulled out. . .

Richardson bought the house in early 2007 for $535,000. She already owned two other houses that she had defaulted on six times. . .

In April 2008, Bailey sent a letter complaining about the condition of Richardson’s house to Pelosi, then-state Democratic Party chief Art Torres and his congresswoman, Doris Matsui, a Democrat from Sacramento. Pelosi’s was the only response he received. She said she couldn’t comment.

More recently, Peter Thomsen sent Richardson an e-mail telling her that she should be responsible and fix the house for the sake of the neighborhood.  He received a response saying that he didn’t reside in her district.

(Via Instapundit.)


Ex-detainees: Gitmo is better than China

June 13, 2009

Fox News reports:

The four of the Chinese Muslims, or Uighurs, released to Bermuda from the Guantanamo Bay prison told FOX News that they are innocent, glad to be free and hold no grudges against the United States for their captivity. . .

The four, who range from 31 to 38 years old, also said they think life under oppressive rule in China, where they face persecution, is worse than life at Guantanamo.


Iran’s fake election

June 13, 2009

Opinion polls before the Iranian election gave Mir Hussein Moussavi a clear lead over incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, putting Ahmadinejad on the defensive and fueling speculation that Moussavi might win outright in the first round. But, when they conducted the election, Ahmadinejad won in the first round, by an astounding 30 points. Moussavi even lost in his own home town.

Iranian polling is hardly reliable. If Ahmedinejad had squeeked by, no one could have said for certain that the election was a fraud. So why give him such an implausible margin of victory?

In truth, this matters only as a signal. The Iranian president has only the power that is permitted him by the mullahs and the “supreme guide.” A reformer (if indeed Moussavi is one, which is hardly clear) as president could not have undermined the mullahs’ agenda in any meaningful way. I think the mullahs are sending a signal that they like the job Ahmadinejad is doing and they don’t care what their people or the world think.

(Via Instapundit, and Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Daniel Pipes makes the case that this is actually for the best:

While my heart goes out to the many Iranians who desperately want the vile Ahmadinejad out of power, my head tells me it’s best that he remain in office. When Mohammed Khatami was president, his sweet words lulled many people into complacency, even as the nuclear weapons program developed on his watch. If the patterns remain unchanged, better to have a bellicose, apocalyptic, in-your-face Ahmadinejad who scares the world than a sweet-talking Mousavi who again lulls it to sleep, even as thousands of centrifuges whir away.

(Via the Corner.)

UPDATE: Rich Lowry coins a useful phrase to describe what we’ve seen: the mullahs over-stole the election. Sounds about right.

Also Max Boot agrees with Pipes. (Via Instapundit.)


Some people never learn

June 13, 2009

The Canadian “Human Rights” Commission’s latest attempt to censor Ezra Levant backfires in a big way. Watch here (nearly 15 minutes long).

(Via Instapundit.)


Agent provocateur

June 13, 2009

The Economist reports:

THE death of Benno Ohnesorg stirred a whole movement of left-wing protest and violence. On June 2nd 1967 the newly wed student of literature joined a protest in West Berlin against the visiting shah of Iran. As he watched a commotion in the courtyard of a house into which police had chased some demonstrators, he was shot in the back of the head by a policeman, Karl-Heinz Kurras, who claimed he had been threatened by knife-wielding protesters.

This was a turning-point. In the eyes of many young Germans the state had unmasked itself as evil. Many joined what would become the 1968 student movement; some took up arms. “This fascist state wants to kill us all,” said Gudrun Ensslin, who went on to become a leader of the Red Army Faction terrorist group and died in prison in 1977.

Had she lived, she would be stunned to learn that Mr Kurras, now 81, had been a long-time agent of East Germany’s secret police, the Stasi. Historians trawling through the Stasi’s archives stumbled across 17 volumes chronicling Mr Kurras’s secret career.

I won’t shed a tear for the likes of Ensslin, who co-founded the Baader-Meinhof Gang (or Red Army Faction), Europe’s most infamous terrorist group. If one responds to the killing of an innocent by killing a lot more innocents, one had the makings of a terrorist all along. If not for this, something else would have have pushed her to become a terrorist.

But this is interesting, because this incident is a big part of the founding mythology of the Red Army Faction and other communist or anarchist groups. One, the June 2 Movement, is even named after it. This revelation puts that mythology in a substantially different light.

This concluding bit is odd, though:

The unmasking of Mr Kurras does not entitle Germans to pin the blame for Ohnesorg’s killing on East Germany. But it does remind them that the Stasi was at the heart of the regime’s nastiness.

It doesn’t? Why on earth not? It’s certainly in the nature of the Economist to try to be measured about everything, but come on. If the killing was done by a Stasi agent, it seems reasonable, even necessary, to pin it on the Stasi. If the Economist is saying that West Germany somehow facilitated the killing, they really ought to say how.


Fiscal fantasy

June 12, 2009

The indispensable Megan McArdle takes a look at the latest effort to blame President Bush for the appalling deficits that President Obama is racking up. (Via Instapundit.) The latest is a piece at the New York Times that takes a look at projected federal deficit over 2009-2012 and examines how that projection has changed from 2000 to today. Not surprisingly, the NYT piece finds the President Bush is to blame for most of the change.

McArdle makes a number of good points. An “under current law” comparison is bogus because it ignores changes that everyone knows are going to be made. For example, the annual AMT fix is going to happen, and the government is always going to spend whatever surplus it acquires. She also points out that it’s nonsensical to blame Bush (from the left anyway) for spending increases that Democrats attacked as insufficient.

But I think McArdle didn’t clearly make the central point (although her “under current law” critique gets at it). All the NYT piece does is compare fantasies. It takes a four-year period (2009-2012), three years of which have not been budgeted yet, and examines how projections of that period changed from 2000 to today.

We make a big show of making multi-year budget projections, but we budget just one year at a time. A spending plan for 2009 written in 2000 had nothing to do with reality. Likewise a spending plan for 2012 written in 2009 has nothing to do with reality.

President Obama tells us that we’re going to spend an insane amount of money this year and next, but then we’re going to start paring it back. (Diet starts tomorrow!) When you average out all four years, it doesn’t look as bad (particularly if you use OMB numbers). That’s what the NYT piece does to minimize Obama’s deficit impact.

Who actually believes that the President and the Democratic Congress, after spending trillions on ever liberal hobby horse and pork barrel, are really going to start dramatically cutting spending next year? I sure don’t.

The only reality is years that are already budgeted. Everything else is fantasy. As it happens, both Bush and Obama submitted budgets for 2009 and we can compare them. Bush’s 2009 budget was based on revenue predictions before the financial crisis, so we have to discard its bottom line, but we can still look at what would have happened under his spending plan, and compare it to Obama’s spending plan.

As I calculated here in March, Bush’s austerity budget cut spending (from the baseline) and would have ended with a $1 trillion deficit. Obama’s “stimulus” budget increased spending and would have ended with a $1.75 trillion deficit. (We’ll accept the OMB numbers for present purposes.) Something close to Obama’s budget was enacted by Congress.

President Obama has nearly doubled the deficit in one year. That’s the reality. He says that he’ll start cutting it soon. That’s fantasy.

obama-deficit


Responses to terror

June 12, 2009

The horrifying shooting at the Holocaust Museum earlier this week has evinced a familiar pattern. While the right responds to terror by attacking terrorists, the left often responds to terror by attacking the right. (Via Instapundit.) The news that the Museum shooter was a white supremacist indicated to the left that this incident belonged to them. They quickly settled on a narrative, suggesting that the outrageous DHS report from April, which tarred conservatives, libertarians, and veterans as potential terrorists, wasn’t so outrageous after all.

That argument is crap anyway, but it turns out that the facts in this case don’t even harmonize with their argument. As Politico put it, the shooter is “too far on the fringe to fit into conventional political classification.” He is a white supremacist, but he also hates “neocons” and believes that 9/11 was an inside job. In fact, the FBI uncovered evidence that the conservative Weekly Standard may have been on his list of targets.

This doesn’t mean that the right should now turn around and pin this atrocity on the left. Instead of turning on each other, we really should just fight the terrorists.


Obama fires AmeriCorps IG

June 12, 2009

This sounds shady:

Some strange and potentially suspicious events tonight concerning the Obama White House and the AmeriCorps program. I’ve been told that on Wednesday night the AmeriCorps inspector general, Gerald Walpin, received a call from the White House counsel’s office telling him that he had one hour to either resign or be fired. The White House did not cite a reason. “The answer that was given was that it’s just time to move on,” one Senate source told me tonight. “The president would like to have someone else in that position.”

Inspectors General are part of every federal department. They are given the responsibility of independently investigating allegations of waste, fraud, and corruption in the government, without fear of interference by political appointees or the White House. Last year Congress passed the Inspectors General Reform Act, which added new protections for IGs, including a measure requiring the president to give Congress 30 days prior notice before dismissing an IG. The president must also give Congress an explanation of why the action is needed. Then-Sen. Barack Obama was one of the co-sponsors of the Act. . .

The White House is going ahead with firing Walpin. The firing apparently stems from Walpin’s investigation of a non-profit group, St. HOPE Academy, run by Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, California (and a big Obama supporter). “[Walpin] found that Johnson, a former all-star point guard for the Phoenix Suns, had used AmeriCorps grants to pay volunteers to engage in school-board political activities, run personal errands for Johnson and even wash his car,” the AP reports. In April, the U.S. attorney declined to file any criminal charges in the matter and criticized Walpin’s investigation. But at the same time Johnson and St. HOPE agreed to repay about half of the $850,000 it had received from AmeriCorps.

Bottom line: The AmeriCorps IG accuses prominent Obama supporter of misusing AmeriCorps grant money. Prominent Obama supporter has to pay back more than $400,000 of that grant money. Obama fires AmeriCorps IG.

(Via Hot Air.)


State of the Union

June 11, 2009

The market is losing confidence in US Treasury debt. (Via Instapundit.) Hmm, I wonder why. Well, there’s this telling chart from Arthur Laffer:

money-supply-april-2009

(Via Hot Air.) And of course, there’s always this:

obama-deficit

The bond market has good reason to begin worrying that US Treasury debt won’t be paid off, at least not in real money.


Liberal misogyny

June 11, 2009

An important part of liberalism is respect for women and their right to play an equal role in business, media, and government.

Ha ha! Just kidding. An important part of liberalism is respect for liberal women and their right to play an equal role in business, media, and government. Conservative or libertarian women, on the other hand, can be attacked in the crudest possible terms, and the left will remain silent. Even the feminist left will not make a peep. Don Surber reviews several recent examples. (Via Instapundit.)

Leftist feminism isn’t about women making their own choices; it’s about women making liberal choices.

(Previous post.)

UPDATE: The National Organization for Women actually did come out and condemn Letterman for his Willow/Bristol Palin joke. Good for them.

Removing that example certainly undercuts my point a bit.  That said, searching NOW’s Hall of Shame doesn’t turn up any hits for any of Surber’s other examples, even the Playboy article on raping conservative women. And, they felt the need to go back 15 years to find a somewhat (but not really) similar example to Letterman on the right. (Why they feel the need to credentialize is beyond me.) So just one cheer for NOW.


Circus in Albany

June 10, 2009

Two New York State Senators have switched parties, switching control of the chamber from Democrat to Republican. Such occasions are rare, but they do happen, most notably in the US Senate in 2001.

But in New York State there’s a twist. The Democrats are refusing to recognize that they have lost control of the chamber. They claim that it’s somehow illegal, and they still control the chamber, despite being the minority. Needless to say, they have yet to produce a legal theory that justifies their claim.

Ironically, however, one law has certainly been broken, by the Democrats. In an effort to delay their ouster, Democrats put the chamber into recess and locked the doors. This violates the New York State constitution, which says “The doors of each house shall be kept open, except when the public welfare shall require secrecy.”


45% say cancel stimulus

June 10, 2009

A new Rasmussen poll reveals that a near majority support terminating the stimulus plan immediately:

Forty-five percent (45%) of Americans say the rest of the new government spending authorized in the $787-billion economic stimulus plan should now be canceled. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 36% disagree and 20% are not sure.

According to news reports, only $36 billion of the stimulus plan had been spent as of late May.

(Via Instapundit.)


Stimulus isn’t working

June 10, 2009

Decent, but I think his other two videos were better.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


Stay classy, Dave

June 10, 2009

David Letterman jokes about Sarah Palin’s 14-year-old daughter getting “knocked up” by Alex Rodriguez during a Yankee game. Har har har. (Via Instapundit.)

POSTSCRIPT: Mass Backwards says that the New York Times whitewashed this bit out of the monologue transcript. (Via Hot Air.)

UPDATE: Apparently it was CBS, not the NYT, that edited the joke out of the monologue. Also, the NYT says they would have deleted it if CBS hadn’t. Their printing of monologues are routinely edited for taste, so they aren’t supposed to be transcripts. Fair enough; the NYT is cleared of the whitewashing charge, this time. (Via Tim Blair, via Riehl World View, via Instapundit.)

CBS is on the hook, though. Someone at CBS recognized that there was a problem enough to edit the transcript, but (if Letterman is to be believed — a big if) no one told Letterman there was a problem until days later. Letterman, for his part, refused to apologize, and said that the joke was intended to refer to Palin’s 18-year-old daughter, rather than her 14-year-old daughter, and was not intended to imply a rape, statutory or otherwise.

That doesn’t really make sense, since the older daughter wasn’t at the game, but suppose we take him at his word. This joke is still in appalling taste. David Letterman apparently feels that it’s fair to tar Bristol Palin as a slut because she had a child out of wedlock, and did so without her even being in the news. In fact, in another joke, Letterman went so far as to call her a prostitute. (Via Hot Air.) If Letterman hates Sarah Palin, that’s fine, but he should leave her children out of it unless her children are actually in the news.

We’re seeing an amazing double standard here. People have been drummed off the air for far less than this. But when it comes to Sarah Palin, it seems you can say literally anything.

UPDATE (6/15): Letterman apologizes.


Heinlein on Detroit’s mess

June 10, 2009

Brian Doherty notices that Heinlein’s comments on the future of the auto industry in his 1956 novel The Door into Summer (one of my favorite books) seem particularly relevant today. (Via Instapundit.)


Congress strips federal investigators of their weapons

June 10, 2009

Gun control run amok:

Investigators with the Library’s Office of the Inspector General have raised a string of objections after Congress stripped them of their ability to buy and carry firearms.

Though the office has carried firearms in the course of its duties for the past 15 years, and inspector general agents at other federal agencies do the same, lawmakers inserted language into the fiscal year 2009 omnibus spending bill, which was signed into law in March, that prohibited the library’s officers from using federal funds to “purchase, maintain or carry” firearms.

They cited an apparent “separation of powers” concern — the library’s investigators are deputized by the U.S. Marshals, which falls under the executive branch, but they investigate abuses in the Library of Congress, which falls under the legislative branch. . .

The office wrote in its semiannual report to Congress in March that the decision would “impede” investigations. It also received an opinion in April from the Government Accountability Office that there is no legitimate “separation of powers” concern. . .

Crimes against the Library of Congress take many forms. The IG’s office investigated child pornography, embezzlement, identity theft and credit card fraud in the last fiscal year, according to its own accounting. . . While investigating crimes in and against the Library of Congress might not sound like the most dangerous job, another official in the inspector general’s office said most of their investigations take them off site, into some dangerous neighborhoods in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and other states.

I’m sympathetic to separation of powers concerns, but if there’s a problem in the legal status of the Library of Congress, it can hardly be corrected by disarming its investigators.


SCOTUS delays Chrysler sale

June 9, 2009

AP reports.

UPDATE: The delay didn’t last long. I guess the justices weren’t persuaded by Lauria’s argument. I wish they would have issued an opinion explaining why not, but to do so they would have had to take the case.

This editorial from the Evansville Courier and Press expresses my sentiments pretty well.


Newsweek editor: Obama is god

June 9, 2009

Speaking on Hardball, Evan Thomas slipped and said what he actually thinks. Usually journalists won’t allow themselves to say something like this out loud:

In a way, Obama is standing above the country. Above– above the world. He’s sort of God.

In context, he was comparing Obama to Reagan, who, being a mortal, was concerned with America. Obama is above that. According to Thomas, that’s a good thing.


A fable

June 9, 2009
Once upon a time there was a woman named Alice.  Alice was smart,
talented, and hard-working, and consequently she had a lot of nice
things.  Living next door to Alice was a man named Bob.  Bob was smart
too, but he didn’t have the sort of talents that were appreciated in
the market, so he didn’t have a lot of nice things.
Bob looked over at Alice’s house with envy.  But Bob knew that the
market didn’t appreciate his talents the way it did Alice’s.  If he
wanted the things Alice had, he would have to work really, really hard,
and would probably still come up short.
But Bob had an idea.  He thought to himself, “It’s not fair that Alice
has so many nice things and I don’t.  I should go over there and take
some of her things.”  So that’s what he did.
Stealing worked so well that Bob decided to steal from Alice’s friends
as well.  Pretty soon, he had just as many nice things as Alice, but
Alice kept working and getting more nice things, so Bob had to keep
stealing from Alice and her friends to keep up.  Besides, Bob was
starting to think he was smarter than Alice (just look at how hard she
worked for her nice things!), so why should he have only as much as she
did?
Now stealing was dangerous work, so in time Bob decided to hire some
of his friends to steal for him.  That worked well, but there was
still the ever-present danger that he could be arrested.  Besides, Bob
was getting older and wanted respectability.  If only there were a
legitimate way that Bob could steal.
One day Bob had his first brainstorm.  Instead of hiring his friends
to steal for him, he should hire the government to do it.  Bob knew a
woman named Nancy who was a magistrate in the government.  So Bob went
to Nancy and paid her to steal for him.  Then Nancy used her revenue
agents and other bureaucrats to take things from Alice and her friends
and give them to Bob.
“Hey!” Alice complained, “This is no different than before.  Bob is
still taking my things, he’s just using government agents instead of
thugs to do it.  Bob shouldn’t be allowed to hire the government to
steal for him!”  A lot of people agreed with Alice, so the government
changed the rules to make it much harder to bribe magistrates.
At first Bob was disappointed by this development, but then he had his
second brainstorm.  He didn’t need to bribe Nancy; just being a
magistrate was better than any bribe.  She got a nice salary, even
better benefits, and when she left the government, she would have good
retirement benefits and could get a great job as a lobbyist.  The
longer she was in the government, the better her retirement benefits
and her lobbying job would be.  Like many of her colleagues, Nancy
didn’t have Alice’s talents, or even Bob’s talents, but she was making
a killing as a magistrate.
Bob realized that merely helping Nancy to win elections was better
than any bribe, and it was completely legal.  So that’s what Bob did;
he helped Nancy and her friends to win elections, and they kept
stealing Alice’s things for him.
Bob had a lot of ways to help Nancy win elections.  He could rig the
elections, but that was illegal and slightly risky, so he only did a
little of that.  He could also contribute money to Nancy’s campaign,
and he could run his own advertisements attacking Nancy’s opponent.
But the most effective thing that Bob did was organize a bunch of his
friends.  They would all vote for Nancy, and in return, the government
would give them all some nice things that it took from Alice.  Bob’s
friends never got nearly as much as Bob did, of course, but it only
took a little to buy their votes.
Alice noticed that despite all the government’s ethics reforms, it
still kept taking her things and giving them to Bob.  Alice complained
that it didn’t matter how the government was elected, it shouldn’t
have the power to steal from her.  But Alice’s cries fell on deaf
ears.  A lot of Nancy’s friends were magistrates too now, and none of
them were going to risk their livelihoods by cutting back their work
for Bob.
So Alice went to the public instead, and argued that it was wrong for
the government to steal.  They should kick Nancy out of office.  More
importantly, they should limit the government’s power so it couldn’t
steal for Bob any more.
But Alice was too late.  Bob had already anticipated her argument.
“Alice is greedy!” her proclaimed.  “She has so many nice things, and
my friends have so few.  It’s not fair that she should have so much
and they should have so little.”  Bob didn’t mention that Alice had
earned all of her nice things.  Neither did he mention that, by now,
he had much more than either Alice or any of his friends.
Bob’s ploy worked.  Many people were taken in by his argument, and
thought that Alice, rather than Bob, was the greedy one.  Some people
even thought that Alice was trying to steal from Bob and his friends.
Nancy was re-elected, and kept giving Alice’s things to Bob.
Every year, Nancy took a little bit more from Alice than the previous
year.  Alice and her friends grew angrier every year, but at the same
time, Bob and his friends grew increasingly shrill.
How does the story end?
Some say that one day Alice won the debate.  People noticed that
Nancy’s government was organized for theft, and wasn’t any good at
anything else.  Eventually, even many of Bob’s friends came to
understand that the government’s large-scale robbery was running their
society into the ground.
But others say that society was indeed run into the ground.
Eventually Alice gave up fighting Bob, but she knew that Bob would
take whatever she earned, so she gave up working hard too.  Alice’s
friends followed suit.  In the end, there was nothing left for Bob to
steal.
Bob blamed Alice.

Once upon a time there was a woman named Alice. Alice was smart, talented, and hard-working, and consequently she had a lot of nice things. Living next door to Alice was a man named Bob. Bob was smart too, but he didn’t have the sort of talents that were appreciated in the market, so he didn’t have a lot of nice things.

Bob looked over at Alice’s house with envy. But Bob knew that the market didn’t appreciate his talents the way it did Alice’s. If he wanted the things Alice had, he would have to work really, really hard, and would probably still come up short.

But Bob had an idea. He thought to himself, “It’s not fair that Alice has so many nice things and I don’t. I should go over there and take some of her things.” So that’s what he did.

Stealing worked so well that Bob decided to steal from Alice’s friends as well. Pretty soon, he had just as many nice things as Alice, but Alice kept working and getting more nice things, so Bob had to keep stealing from Alice and her friends to keep up. Besides, Bob was starting to think he was smarter than Alice (just look at how hard she worked for her nice things!), so why should he have only as much as she did?

Now stealing was dangerous work, so in time Bob decided to hire some of his friends to steal for him. That worked well, but there was still the ever-present danger that he could be arrested. Besides, Bob was getting older and wanted respectability. If only there were a legitimate way that Bob could steal.

One day Bob had his first brainstorm. Instead of hiring his friends to steal for him, he should hire the government to do it. Bob knew a woman named Nancy who was a magistrate in the government. So Bob went to Nancy and paid her to steal for him. Then Nancy used her revenue agents and other bureaucrats to take things from Alice and her friends and give them to Bob.

“Hey!” Alice complained, “This is no different than before. Bob is still taking my things, he’s just using government agents instead of thugs to do it. Bob shouldn’t be allowed to hire the government to steal for him!” A lot of people agreed with Alice, so the government changed the rules to make it much harder to bribe magistrates.

At first Bob was disappointed by this development, but then he had his second brainstorm. He didn’t need to bribe Nancy; just being a magistrate was better than any bribe. She got a nice salary, even better benefits, and when she left the government, she would have good retirement benefits and could get a great job as a lobbyist. The longer she was in the government, the better her retirement benefits and her lobbying job would be. Like many of her colleagues, Nancy didn’t have Alice’s talents, or even Bob’s talents, but she was making a killing as a magistrate.

Bob realized that merely helping Nancy to win elections was better than any bribe, and it was completely legal. So that’s what Bob did; he helped Nancy and her friends to win elections, and they kept stealing Alice’s things for him.

Bob had a lot of ways to help Nancy win elections. He could rig the elections, but that was illegal and slightly risky, so he only did a little of that. He could also contribute money to Nancy’s campaign, and he could run his own advertisements attacking Nancy’s opponent.

But the most effective thing that Bob did was organize a bunch of his friends. They would all vote for Nancy, and in return, the government would give them all some nice things that it took from Alice. Bob’s friends never got nearly as much as Bob did, of course, but it only took a little to buy their votes.

Alice noticed that despite all the government’s ethics reforms, it still kept taking her things and giving them to Bob. Alice complained that it didn’t matter how the government was elected, it shouldn’t have the power to steal from her. But Alice’s cries fell on deaf ears. A lot of Nancy’s friends were magistrates too now, and none of them were going to risk their livelihoods by cutting back their work for Bob.

So Alice went to the public instead, and argued that it was wrong for the government to steal. They should kick Nancy out of office. More importantly, they should limit the government’s power so it couldn’t steal for Bob any more.

But Alice was too late. Bob had already anticipated her argument. “Alice is greedy!” he proclaimed. “She has so many nice things, and my friends have so few. It’s not fair that she should have so much and they should have so little.” Bob didn’t mention that Alice had earned all of her nice things. Neither did he mention that, by now, he had much more than either Alice or any of his friends.

Bob’s ploy worked. Many people were taken in by his argument, and thought that Alice, rather than Bob, was the greedy one. Some people even thought that Alice was trying to steal from Bob and his friends. Nancy was re-elected, and kept giving Alice’s things to Bob.

Every year, Nancy took a little bit more from Alice than the previous year. Alice and her friends grew angrier every year, but at the same time, Bob and his friends grew increasingly shrill.

How does the story end?

Some say that one day Alice won the debate. People noticed that Nancy’s government was organized for theft, and wasn’t any good at anything else. Eventually, even many of Bob’s friends came to understand that the government’s large-scale robbery was running their society into the ground.

But others say that society was indeed run into the ground. Eventually Alice gave up fighting Bob, but she knew that Bob would take whatever she earned, so she gave up working hard too. Alice’s friends followed suit. In the end, there was nothing left for Bob to steal.

Bob blamed Alice.


Stimulus isn’t working

June 7, 2009

What would an utterly failed stimulus plan look like? Something like this, perhaps:

stimulus-vs-unemployment-may-corrected

Not only has the stimulus not worked as well as advertised, it’s actually made things quite a bit worse than the predicted baseline. Meanwhile, with a completely straight face:

US President Barack Obama said Wednesday his mammoth 787 billion dollar stimulus plan had saved or created 150,000 jobs in the first 100 days since it cleared Congress.

Of course, the president will claim that things would have been even worse with the stimulus package. That claim has the great virtue (for a politician) of being untestable and therefore unrefutable. But, it does completely contradict the predictions he used to sell the package.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)

UPDATE: Even Democrats are starting to mock the “save or create” line. (Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: The author of the graph above has revised the graph, saying he was off by one month. This doesn’t change much, but makes the stimulus package’s performance look a tiny bit worse. I’ve replaced the graph with the new one.


Government in action

June 7, 2009

Most people think that we have a well-meaning but imperfect government. I think it’s more useful to look at government as us versus them. Exhibit A:

He sleeps under a bridge, washes in a public bathroom and was panhandling for booze money 11 months ago, but now Larry Moore is the best-dressed shoeshine man in the city. When he gets up from his cardboard mattress, he puts on a coat and tie. It’s a reminder of how he has turned things around.

In fact, until last week it looked like Moore was going to have saved enough money to rent a room and get off the street for the first time in six years. But then, in a breathtakingly clueless move, an official for the Department of Public Works told Moore that he has to fork over the money he saved for his first month’s rent to purchase a $491 sidewalk vendor permit.

(Via Don Surber, via Instapundit.)

On his own, this man pulls together a business and saves enough to get off the street, and the government of America’s most famously “liberal” city kicks him back out to the curb.

The good news is that, after a firestorm of bad publicity, the city of San Francisco relented in this case. Alas, most of our government’s outrages don’t get aired so broadly.


Good news from Lebanon

June 7, 2009

March 14 coalition wins, Hezbollah loses.  (Via Instapundit.)


Sotomayor’s race-based justice

June 5, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor’s notorious “wise Latina” statement, arguing that Latina women make better judges than white men, turns out to be far from an isolated misstatement:

Reams of documents . . . reveal [Sonia Sotomayor] has spoken repeatedly about how her gender and Latina heritage affect her judging.

The federal appeals court judge divulged new details about her finances and provided three decades of writings, speeches and rulings that give both supporters and critics fresh fodder for the coming debate on her confirmation. They include more instances in which she said she hopes a “wise Latina” would reach a better decision than a man without that experience.

The comments in 2002 and 2003 echo a much-criticized remark she made in 2001 at the University of California-Berkeley law school that has prompted a furor among conservatives who say they suggest President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee brings a personal bias to her legal decisions.

Obama has said he is “sure she would have restated it.” In fact, she said it almost precisely the same way in speeches to the Princeton Club in 2002 and one at Seton Hall law school in 2003, according to copies she sent the Senate.

(Previous post.)

BONUS: In her senior thesis at Princeton, Sotomayor refused to refer to the U.S. Congress by its correct name, preferring the term “North American Congress.” K.C. Johnson remarks that that terminology, although (not to put too fine a point on it) incorrect, “was very trendy, and not uncommon, among the Latin Americanist fringe of the academy” at the time. (Via Instapundit.)


Pay czar

June 5, 2009

The United States has a pay czar now.  That’s just swell.


Hoplophobia

June 4, 2009

In light of the new law repealing federal prohibitions on carrying guns in national parks, David Kopel does his part to promote mental health. (Via Volokh.)


Wecht charges dropped

June 3, 2009

The US Attorney has dropped all charges against Cyril Wecht, the corrupt former coroner of Allegheny County. This was expected after the trial judge, reversing a ruling of the previous trial judge, granted a motion to suppress most of the prosecution’s evidence.

The ruling found that, although investigators obtained a search warrant and operated in good faith, the warrant was overly broad. Judge Sean McLaughlin said his decision was not “constitutional hair-splitting or a mere legal technicality,” but that’s exactly what it was. Although the warrant application proposed to seize a particular set of boxes, and although that particular set of boxes is exactly what was seized, the warrant that authorized them to do so merely referred to “boxes (approximately 20) and contents containing private autopsy files” and failed to specify exactly which such boxes. Because that specification, which was present in the warrant application, was left out of the warrant itself, the judge ruled that the warrant was overly broad, and suppressed the proceeds of the search.

As a result, Cyril Wecht gets off again.


Due diligence

June 3, 2009

Harry Reid on Sonia Sotomayor:

I understand that during her career, she’s written hundreds and hundreds of opinions. I haven’t read a single one of them, and if I’m fortunate before we end this, I won’t have to read one of them.

(Via the Corner.)


Appeals court halts Chrysler deal

June 3, 2009

Good news: the Second Circuit has halted the Chrysler bankruptcy to hear Indiana’s appeal.

(Previous post.)

UPDATE: The appeals court will permit the sale to go forward.


Blood for oil

June 2, 2009

How many human lives is it worth to conserve oil?

President Obama wants to raise CAFE standards from 27.5 to 39 mpg, meaning that the average new car would have to achieve 39 miles to the gallon. In order to do so, automakers must manufacture lighter cars, and lighter cars make automobile accidents more likely to be fatal.

Many studies have shown the danger of lighter cars. By some calculations (via Power Line), CAFE standards have killed 46,000 people since they were instituted in 1975. That works out to over 1300 lives per year snuffed out to conserve oil. For perspective, around 700 Americans have died in the Iraq War each year since it began. So CAFE standards have been about twice as deadly as the Iraq War. However, unlike the Iraq War, CAFE standards show no sign of ending.

President Obama wishes not only to continue CAFE requirements, but to tighten them dramatically. Make no mistake, this will kill people. How many? No one knows. Not many even seem to care. The President didn’t mention the issue in his speech, nor did the White House press release.


LA Times invents Cornyn statement from whole cloth

June 1, 2009

Yesterday, the LA Times alleges the following statement from Sen. John Cornyn:

Only days earlier, Cornyn said in a radio interview that it was “terrible” for conservatives to be attacking Sotomayor as a “racist.” But today, the senator did not reiterate those sentiments and pledged that he and other Republican lawmakers would probe deeply into Sotomayor’s past comments and rulings to see if her heritage colors her ability to make fair decisions.

You’ll note that they were unable to produce a direct quote. That’s because, Cornyn said no such thing. In fact, throughout the interview, he said the exact opposite.

Tacitly acknowledging the error, the LA Times later removed the statement. They did so silently (of course) but Patterico has the screenshot.