Boeing goes south

October 31, 2009

The bad business environment in Washington State has pushed Boeing to put its second 787 assembly line in Charleston, South Carolina, rather than Everett, Washington.

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Polling NY-23

October 31, 2009

Hoffman may be running away with the race.


“Truth to power”

October 31, 2009

Mark Steyn on Valerie Jarrett’s risible sloganeering:

You would think the most powerful man in the most powerful nation would find a hard job finding anyone on the planet to “speak truth to power” to. But I suppose if you’re as eager to do so as his Senior Advisor, there’s always somebody out there: The Supreme Leader of Iran. The Prime Minister of Belgium. The Deputy Tourism Minister of the Solomon Islands. But no. The Senior Advisor has selected targets closer to home: “I think that what the administration has said very clearly is that we’re going to speak truth to power. When we saw all of the distortions in the course of the summer, when people were coming down to town-hall meetings and putting up signs that were scaring seniors to death. . . . ”

Ah, right. People “putting up signs.” Can’t have that, can we?

(Previous post.)


How will Obama implement his resolution?

October 31, 2009

In light of the Obama administration’s sponsorship of a UN “human rights” resolution that exempts criticism of religion from free speech protection, Eugene Volokh wonders what the Obama administration will say when foreign officials start citing the resolution to press for action against Americans who criticize Islam. I don’t know what the answer will be, but I’m sure it will be revealing.

(Previous post.)


Democrats against actuaries

October 31, 2009

The House Democratic health care plan would essentially make it illegal for health insurers to charge more for higher risk customers. So if you are young, healthy, and/or avoid risk behaviors, you get to subsidize those who do not. Plus, moral hazard will encourage risk behaviors, making coverage more expensive for everyone.


It’s safe to attack Obama

October 31, 2009

Frank Luntz, the famous Republican pollster/strategist, recommended last May that Republicans confine their attacks to Congressional Democrats. Attacking President Obama was politically dangerous. Five months later, matters have changed. Although Luntz says Congress is still a riper target than Obama, attacking Obama no longer carries any risk.

(Via Instapundit.)


Malpractice

October 30, 2009

The House Democrats’ health plan would withhold some federal funds from states that have enacted tort reform.


Transparency

October 30, 2009

The latest administration to promise to be the most transparent ever:

The White House on Friday released a small list of visitors to the White House since President Barack Obama took office in January, including lobbyists, business executives, activists and celebrities.

No previous administration has released such a list, though the information out so far is incomplete. Only about 110 names —and 481 visits —out of the tens of thousands who have visited the Obama White House were made public. Like the Bush administration before it, Obama is arguing that any release is voluntary, not required by law, despite two federal court rulings to the contrary.

Under the Obama White House’s policy, most names of visitors from Inauguration Day in January through the end of September will never be released. The White House says it plans to release most of the names of visitors from October on, and that release is due near the end of the year.

(Emphasis mine.)

Transparency to begin soon! I believe we’ve heard that one before.

(Via Instapundit.)


White House implicated in NEA scandal

October 30, 2009

Newly revealed emails prove that the White House was directly involved in the NEA conference call in which artists were asked to create propaganda for the Obama administration.

(Via Instapundit.)


Redacted

October 30, 2009

The New York Times originally made the following observation, as part of its story on President Obama’s trip to Dover:

The images and the sentiment of the president’s five-hour trip to Delaware were intended by the White House to convey to the nation that Mr. Obama was not making his Afghanistan decision lightly or in haste.

That sentence has now been removed, and people are wondering why.

(Via Hot Air.)


The Honduras deal

October 30, 2009

I haven’t formed an opinion on the Honduras deal, because I don’t understand it yet. Honduras agrees that its congress will vote on whether to reinstate Zelaya. The question is: is the lifting of sanctions dependent on the congress voting yes? If the lifting of sanctions is part of the deal regardless of what the congress does, as the Wall Street Journal seems to think, this is very good for Honduras. If not, as most in the press seem to be assuming, it’s a bad deal.

UPDATE: Otto Reich understands it the same way as the Journal. Good news.

UPDATE: More here.


CBO knocks CBO analysis

October 30, 2009

Again, the CBO points out that its analysis of the House Democrats’ health care plan is required to assume that the law remains exactly as written in the bill. As everyone ought to know, this is not even intended to be true. In order to get the desired mark from the CBO, various parts of health care reform (notably the Medicare fix) have been broken off into other bills that will be concerned separately.

(Via Instapundit.)


Happy Halloween

October 30, 2009

(Via Instapundit.)


CBS attacks White House job figures

October 30, 2009

If you’ve lost Katie Couric . . . well, maybe it doesn’t really matter.

(Via Instapundit.)


$1.27 trillion

October 30, 2009

That’s the cost of the House Democrats’ health care bill according to the CBO’s numbers. And that doesn’t even include a Medicare reimbursement fix, which would have to be added later.

(Via the Corner.)


Pay czar unconstitutional

October 30, 2009

I already thought so, but Michael McConnell (formerly an judge with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals) makes the case much more carefully.

(Via Instapundit.)


Thin skin

October 30, 2009

The White House attacks Edmunds.com, a car web site. I guess these these guys just can’t stop themselves.

(Via Instapundit.)


Death panel confusion

October 29, 2009

The AP reports:

The Medicare end-of-life planning provision that 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said was tantamount to “death panels” for seniors is staying in the latest Democratic health care bill unveiled Thursday.

The end-of-life planning provision is a bit sinister, and it’s appallingly tone-deaf for House Democrats to include it, but it is not the provision that gives rise to concerns about “death panels”.

The provision that relates to “death panels” is the Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC), which would have the power to enact cuts to Medicare. People are rightly concerned that the IMAC would either create or itself become a care-rationing board similar to the UK’s NICE. One reason people are concerned is that President Obama has said that an “independent group” will be giving “guidance” about cutting care for the elderly.

I wrote here about the reasons that concerns over “death panels” are not overblown.


Vaccination slows flu mutation

October 29, 2009

A new study finds that flu vaccination doesn’t only slow the spread of flu through the population, it also slows the rate at which flu mutates.


Student journalists charged for reporting

October 29, 2009

Ironically, at James Madison University:

Two scribes who work for The Breeze, the semi-weekly newspaper at James Madison University, have landed in hot water for doing what they are supposed to do: report campus news. The school has placed “judicial charges” against the pair because they supposedly trespassed a verboten dormitory while reporting a story. . .

The facts of the case are thus:

Two Saturdays ago, sophomore Katie Hibson went to Hillside Hall, a dormitory, to interview residents about a “peeping Tom.” After speaking with Hillside residents outside the building, young Hibson, with the permission of a resident, went inside to interview more students. This, apparently, upset the resident assistant at Hillside, who ordered Hibson to leave. The RA escorted her from the building.

Hibson called her editor, Tim Chapman, a former reporter for the Daily News-Record sports department, who showed up at Hillside. With an escort who lives in the building and works at The Breeze, Hibson and Chapman went to the RA’s room to assert Hibson’s rights as a journalist. He showed the RA the school policy on dorm visitors: Guests are allowed as long as a resident is with them. The journalists refused to leave, and the RA and her supervisor threatened to call campus police. The pair left the building before police arrived.

You’d think that would have been the end of it, particularly given Chapman’s correct explanation of school policy, but alas, the pair received an e-mail detailing the following infractions: trespassing, disorderly conduct and noncompliance with an official request. As of now, the Breeze has not received an adequate explanation of why the RA ordered Hibson out of the building or why the school filed charges. Remember, the reporter followed the rules for visiting the building.

(Via Instapundit.)


Business as usual, except more so

October 29, 2009

USA Today reports:

More than 40% of President Obama’s top-level fundraisers have secured posts in his administration, from key executive branch jobs to diplomatic postings in countries such as France, Spain and the Bahamas, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Twenty of the 47 fundraisers that Obama’s campaign identified as collecting more than $500,000 have been named to government positions, the analysis found. . .

Nearly a year after he was elected on a pledge to change business-as-usual in Washington, Obama also has taken a cue from his predecessors and appointed fundraisers to coveted ambassadorships, drawing protests from groups representing career diplomats.

A separate analysis by the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomats’ union, found that more than half of the ambassadors named by Obama so far are political appointees. . . That’s a rate higher than any president in more than four decades, the group’s data show, although that could change as the White House fills more openings. Traditionally about 30% of top diplomatic jobs go to political appointees, and roughly 70% to veteran State Department employees.

More political payoffs than any president in 40 years. That goes back to Lyndon Johnson.

(Via Instapundit.)


Holder tried to kill ad

October 29, 2009

Attorney General Holder tried to kill an ad critical of the president:

President Obama isn’t taking kindly to a television ad that criticizes his opposition to a popular scholarship program for poor children, and his administration wants the ad pulled.

Former D.C. Councilmember Kevin Chavous of D.C. Children First said October 16 that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had recently approached him and told him to kill the ad.

(Via Instapundit.)

Does anyone still think that these guys are defenders of civil rights? To them, civil rights are for liberals, and possibly terrorists, but not conservatives and libertarians. We’re supposed to keep our mouths shut.


Preparation for fraud

October 29, 2009

New Jersey Democrats are asking that absentee ballots be sent out to the 2,300 applicants who were rejected because their signature didn’t match the voter registration.


Boo hoo

October 29, 2009

News flash! Becoming president disrupts your personal life:

President Barack Obama says only once since Jan. 20 has White House life annoyed him.

It was the Saturday in May when, trying to be a good husband, he kept a campaign promise to take his wife, Michelle, to New York after the election for one of their “date nights” – dinner and a Broadway play. . .

“If I weren’t president, I would be happy to catch the shuttle with my wife to take her to a Broadway show, as I had promised her during the campaign, and there would be no fuss and no muss and no photographers,” [Obama] said. “That would please me greatly.”

Presidents, however, don’t travel by any means other than secure government aircraft or vehicles.

Obama added: “The notion that I just couldn’t take my wife out on a date without it being a political issue was not something I was happy with.”

(Via Instapundit.)


When the truth doesn’t support you, retract the truth

October 29, 2009

A report from the non-partisan Law Library of Congress found that the Honduran government acted according to its constitution when it ousted Manuel Zelaya. Now, the Democratic chairmen of the foreign relations committees are demanding that the Library of Congress retract its analysis:

The chairmen of the House and Senate foreign relations committees are asking the Law Library of Congress to retract a report on the military-backed coup in Honduras that they charge is flawed and “has contributed to the political crisis that still wracks” the country.

The request, by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. and Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., has sparked cries of censorship from Republicans who say the Democrats don’t like what the August report said: that the government of Honduras had the authority to remove President Manuel Zelaya from office.

(Via Hot Air.)

UPDATE: The Library of Congress stands by its report.


Obama can accept Nobel prize

October 28, 2009

Some people are saying that President Obama cannot accept the Nobel prize without Congressional authorization. This isn’t true; he already is authorized under existing law, provided he turns the prize over to the government.


Judge rules email not protected by Fourth Amendment

October 28, 2009

Apparently the ruling hinges on the fact that email is stored outside the home. But snail mail is protected when it’s sitting in a mailbox, or even en route. Why should email be different?

I’m also confused how to reconcile this decision with Warshak v. US, which says email is protected under the Fourth Amendment. Is this just a circuit split?

UPDATE (11/8): To muddy the waters a little bit more, see the correction here. As a non-lawyer it’s now not clear at all what this ruling means, although it still doesn’t sound good.


Polling on the public option

October 28, 2009

Rasmussen comments on that wierdo Washington Post poll that has the public option gaining while everyone else has it falling:

Polling on the health care topic by many firms has created some confusion. In particular, polls on the “public option” show a wide variety of results. A recent poll in The Washington Post found that 57% support a government-run health insurance company to compete with private insurers, but our polling shows that support is very soft. In fact, people are strongly opposed to a public option if they think it could lead employers to drop the existing coverage they provide employees. The fact that results are so subject to change based upon minor differences in question wording suggests that voters do not have firm opinions on the public option.

In fact, 63% say that we should not have a public option if people are forced to change their insurance, and 53% say it’s likely that would happen. (They’re right.)


Rebranding

October 28, 2009

The public option is a loser in public opinion, so it’s being renamed. It’s now the “consumer option“.


Selling access

October 28, 2009

The Washington Times reports:

During his first nine months in office, President Obama has quietly rewarded scores of top Democratic donors with VIP access to the White House, private briefings with administration advisers and invitations to important speeches and town-hall meetings.

High-dollar fundraisers have been promised access to senior White House officials in exchange for pledges to donate $30,400 personally or to bundle $300,000 in contributions ahead of the 2010 midterm elections, according to internal Democratic National Committee documents obtained by The Washington Times.

One top donor described in an interview with The Times being given a birthday visit to the Oval Office. Another was allowed use of a White House-complex bowling alley for his family. Bundlers closest to the president were invited to watch a movie in the red-walled theater in the basement of the presidential mansion.

Fox News has the White House’s rebuttal. (As far as I can tell, no one else has picked up the story.)


Why we don’t have an Afghanistan strategy

October 28, 2009

James Taranto is harsh but fair:

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told CNN last week:

[The mess in Afghanistan is all Bush’s fault. Blah blah blah.]

Hang on a second. It has now been 51 weeks since Obama was elected president, and more than nine months since he took office, and he’s just now getting around to asking the “questions . . . that have never been asked”?

But that’s not really fair to Obama. After all, he has a busy schedule, what with golf games and pitching the International Olympic Committee and date nights and Democratic fund-raisers and health care and the U.N. Security Council and Sunday morning talk shows and saving the planet from global warming and celebrating the dog’s birthday and defending himself against Fox News and all.

“I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm’s way,” FoxNews.com quotes the president as telling servicemen. As for the servicemen who are already in harm’s way: Jeez, guys, be patient! He’ll figure out what to do about Afghanistan as soon as he gets around to it.

President Obama has priorities. Fighting the Taliban has to take a back seat to fighting Fox News. And golf:

President Obama has already caught up with predecessor George W. Bush in one area: Rounds of golf.

The Oval’s good friend Mark Knoller of CBS News reports that Obama on Sunday played his 24th round of golf since his inauguration Jan. 20 — matching Bush’s presidential total, which he racked up in two years and 10 months. Obama’s latest round also got attention because it included a woman, domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes.

President Bush played his last round in 2003, telling reporters he didn’t think it was appropriate to play the game with the U.S. at war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(Via Instapundit.)


A tired phrase jumps the shark

October 27, 2009

Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the President of the United States of America, says that the White House — the most powerful office on face of the earth — is going “to speak truth to power” in its war with Fox News. I believe that the phrase is now officially meaningless.

POSTSCRIPT: As long as I’m picking apart Jarrett’s senseless sloganeering, here’s another: She says the American people are too smart for nonsense and distortions. What? That makes no sense. Smart people, after all, can identify nonsense and distortions. What she clearly means to say is the American people aren’t smart enough to distrust Fox News like they are supposed to.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker writes:

I agree that Jarrett’s claim is ridiculous, but I think it has a history. Isn’t it a time-honored tradition for socialist governments, both national and Marxist, to continue to campaign against the “powerful” on behalf of the dispossessed, long after they have assumed control and have shot, imprisoned or cowed the supposedly “powerful?” It seems to me that Jarrett, knowingly or not, was placing the administration in a Peronist or Castroite tradition.


Lieberman opposes Reid bill

October 27, 2009

Politico reports:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that he’d back a GOP filibuster of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care reform bill.

Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes a government-run insurance program — even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid has said the Senate bill will. . .

His comments confirmed that Reid is short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill out of the Senate, even after Reid included the opt-out provision.

(Via the Corner.)

All this talk of an “opt-out” is a fraud. In any particular state, either legislative chamber or the governor could impose the public option by blocking the resolution to opt-out. Only in nine states are Republicans fully in control (Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah), and some of those are decidedly iffy. So at least 41 states, and probably more, would get stuck with the public option. Moreover, states couldn’t decide later to opt-out; the opportunity expires in 2014.

An opt-in would be much more serious, but still unacceptable. The federal government has powerful tools of coercion at its disposal. (There never was a national speed limit; the federal government coerced individual states into imposing it.) Beyond that, states that opt-out would still be paying the taxes, and would get the whole rest of the deal (mandates, Medicare cuts, etc.).

The whole point to the “opt-out” is as a political fig leaf. Joe Lieberman just blew the whistle on it.

POSTSCRIPT: The Intrade contract on a public option passing this year is trading at 8 (that is, an 8% likelihood), down from 20 yesterday. By the middle of 2010, the likelihood is between 12 and 15, down from 25 or so yesterday.


Proof of concept

October 27, 2009

In the Nawa district of Afghanistan, Gen. McKiernan’s plan is working. Whether it can be made to work throughout Afghanistan with 40,000 additional troops remains to be seen, but it’s a good first indication.

(Via Power Line.)


Yale’s shame

October 27, 2009

Jytte Klausen’s book on the Muhammed cartoon controversy, after going through the usual peer-review process, was censored at the eleventh hour to remove the cartoons that were the subject of the book. It is now revealed that during Yale University Press’s last-minute, second review of the book, the reviewers did not even read the book. Furthermore, Klausen was not allowed to see the reviews without signing a non-disclosure agreement (which she refused).

This is not how academic publishing works. One does not conduct a second review of a book that has already passed peer review. One certainly does not ask those reviewers to render an opinion without reading the book. And one most definitely does not withhold the reviews from the author.

Absolutely appalling.

(Via Volokh.)


Free speech in Britain

October 27, 2009

In today’s UK, if you express an unpopular opinion, you can expect a visit from the police:

After witnessing a gay pride march, committed Christian Pauline Howe wrote to the council to complain that the event had been allowed to go ahead.

But instead of a simple acknowledgement, she received a letter warning her she might be guilty of a hate crime and that the matter had been passed to police.

Two officers later turned up at the frightened grandmother’s home and lectured her about her choice of words before telling her she would not be prosecuted.

There’s no need to prosecute. I’m sure she learned her lesson.

(Via the Corner.)


In case anyone still thought the UN was serious

October 27, 2009

The UN Human Rights Council is investigating whether the high cost of housing in New York City violates human rights. Good grief.


Ortega overthrows Nicaraguan constitution, again

October 27, 2009

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Last week, President Ortega inadvertently provided the best defense yet of the Honduran decision this summer to remove Manuel Zelaya from the presidency. Nicaragua has a one-term limit for presidents, and Mr. Ortega’s term expires in 2011. However, the Nicaraguan doesn’t want to leave, and so he asked the Sandinista-controlled Supreme Court to overturn the constitutional ban on his re-election.

Last week the court’s constitutional panel obliged him. The Nicaraguan press reported that the vote was held before three opposition judges could reach the chamber in time for the session. Three alternative judges, all Sandinistas, took their place and the court gave Mr. Ortega the green light. Mr. Ortega has decreed that the ruling cannot be appealed.

This is classic strong-man stuff on Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela model. Mr. Ortega’s approval rating is in the low-30% range and he’d have a hard time winning a fair election against a united opposition. But he controls the nation’s electoral council, and in the 2008 municipal races—the most important elected checks on the president—the council refused to provide a transparent accounting of the vote tally. It also blocked international and local observers, and the vote was marred by claims of widespread fraud.

(Via Instapundit.)

It wasn’t hard to see this coming. The amazing thing was that Honduras dodged this bullet.


Fox up 9% since White House attacks

October 27, 2009

The “unapproved by Barack Obama” label is paying off big time for Fox News, with ratings up 9% (and 15% among the 25-54 demographic). That’s just from September 28 to October 11.

Also, CNN’s has tumbled over the last year, with ratings down a disastrous 52% (and 62% among 25-54 year olds). (Via Instapundit.) Anderson Cooper, the journalist who invented the “teabagger” insult for tea-party participants, is down an astounding 72% (79%).


Czars won’t testify

October 26, 2009

The Washington Times reports:

The White House has told Congress it will reject calls for many of President Obama’s policy czars to testify before Congress – a decision senators said goes against the president’s promises of transparency and openness and treads on Congress’ constitutional mandate to investigate the administration’s actions.

Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, said White House counsel Greg Craig told her in a meeting Wednesday that they will not make available any of the czars who work in the White House and don’t have to go through Senate confirmation. She said he was “murky” on whether other czars outside of the White House would be allowed to come before Congress. . .

In a letter last week to Miss Collins, though, Mr. Craig explained that the White House is not trying to circumvent Congress.

“We recognize that it is theoretically possible that a president could create new positions that inhibit transparency or undermine congressional oversight. That is simply not the case, however, in the current administration,” Mr. Craig wrote.

Mr. Craig said the new positions Mr. Obama has created within the White House “are solely advisory in nature” and have no independent authority.

That is a complete lie, at least in regards to some of the czars. Ken Feinberg, the pay czar, was recently all over the news for ordering cuts in executive pay, which he did without any higher approval. Senators also pointed to Carol Browner, the climate czar, and Nancy-Ann DeParle, the health czar, who they said seemed to be operating independently.

(Via Hot Air.)


GOP underperforms

October 26, 2009

A new Gallup poll confirms an earlier result (that I didn’t notice at the time) that conservatives are now the most numerous group in American politics. Conservatives outnumber moderates 40% to 36%. Liberals lag far behind at 20%. The poll also shows the public moving right on a variety of issues. Moreover, a week ago a Rasmussen poll showed that Americans trust Republicans more than Democrats on every issue on which Rasmussen polls.

Nevertheless, Republicans continue to trail Democrats on party identification (33.4% to 39%). So despite that fact that most Americans “should” be Republicans, most are not.

Why is this? My guess is that it’s a combination of two factors. The first factor is a severe problem with the GOP brand. I think many voters have noticed that over the last decade the GOP did not govern according to a set of principles. Accordingly, they associate the Republican party with a group of people, rather than a set of principles. Since those people are a bunch of politicians, this reflects poorly on the brand.

The second factor is the strong individualist streak among conservatives, reinforced by the fact that Gallup’s poll doesn’t distinguish between conservatives and libertarians. Individualists often tend not to be joiners, so they might not identify as Republicans even while they tend to vote that way.

It’s voting patterns, rather than party identification, that determines the direction our government takes, so it’s the first factor that is important. The GOP needs to repair its brand, and that means they need to start governing by principle. The NY-23 debacle suggests that they aren’t serious yet.

(Via Hot Air.)


Heh

October 25, 2009

obama-ninth-caller


More on the Feinberg attempted snub

October 25, 2009

The White House is continuing to push back against the allegation, leveled by Fox News and CBS, that the Obama administration tried to exclude Fox News from interviews with pay czar Ken Feinberg. The White House is pushing two stories, and I’m not sure which one (or both) is their current explanation.

One story says that the decision was made by a low-level Treasury staffer. Robert Gibbs reportedly admitted that doing so was a mistake. The White House now insists that Gibbs did not apologize, but that seems to be mere hair-splitting, since Gibbs does not deny the exchange but merely says that they have no reason to apologize.

The other story says that Fox wasn’t granted the interview because they never requested one. That’s not very plausible (why on earth wouldn’t they) and it’s flatly contradicted by Fox.

The second story sounds like a lie, but the first could be true. It’s also consistent with the Treasury Department’s statement that “there was no plot to exclude Fox News,” in which the word “plot” leaves open that this was one person acting on his own. The White House seems to feel that this excuses them, but the fact is, that staffer was doubtless doing what he thought he was supposed to do, given the White House’s official position on Fox News.

The other thing that is interesting is that I’ve seen in a few places (here and here, for example) that some of the other pool networks are privately saying that they stood up for Fox for their own reasons, and not out of journalistic integrity. Ooo-kay. Duly noted.

Here’s Major Garrett’s report on the controversy:

(Previous post.)

UPDATE (8/2/2011): Emails show that the White House did make a specific effort to exclude Fox News, and their denials were lies.


Obama considers hybrid plan in Afghanistan

October 24, 2009

Fox News reports:

The Obama administration is moving toward a hybrid strategy in Afghanistan that would combine elements of both the troop-heavy approach sought by its top military commander and a narrower option backed by Vice President Joe Biden, a decision that could pave the way for thousands of new U.S. forces.

The emerging strategy would largely rebuff proposals to maintain current troop levels and rely on unmanned drone attacks and elite special-operations troops to hunt individual militants, an idea championed by Biden. It is opposed by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Kabul, and other military officials.

One scenario under consideration, according to an official familiar with the deliberations, calls for deploying 10,000 to 20,000 U.S. reinforcements primarily to ramp up the training of the Afghan security forces. But Gen. McChrystal’s request for 40,000 troops also remains on the table.

This “hybrid plan” sounds like the worst of both worlds, adopting McChrystal’s strategy but without the troop levels to carry it out. There’s no sense in escalating the conflict but not escalating enough to win. That’s a recipe for disaster.


Stimulus

October 24, 2009

Free golf carts, courtesy of the Democratic stimulus package:

Thanks to the federal tax credit to buy high-mileage cars that was part of President Obama’s stimulus plan, Uncle Sam is now paying Americans to buy that great necessity of modern life, the golf cart.

The federal credit provides from $4,200 to $5,500 for the purchase of an electric vehicle, and when it is combined with similar incentive plans in many states the tax credits can pay for nearly the entire cost of a golf cart. Even in states that don’t have their own tax rebate plans, the federal credit is generous enough to pay for half or even two-thirds of the average sticker price of a cart, which is typically in the range of $8,000 to $10,000. “The purchase of some models could be absolutely free,” Roger Gaddis of Ada Electric Cars in Oklahoma said earlier this year. “Is that about the coolest thing you’ve ever heard?” . . .

The IRS has also ruled that there’s no limit to how many electric cars an individual can buy, so some enterprising profiteers are stocking up on multiple carts while the federal credit lasts, in order to resell them at a profit later.

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but with the Democrats in power, sometimes there is.


Economics 101

October 24, 2009

Top employees bail out of financial firms ahead of pay cuts. Who could have predicted such a thing?

Now that the government owns these companies, one might have thought it would want them to succeed. Good thing our leaders are more sophisticated than that.


America filled with America-hating terror supporters

October 24, 2009

The Democratic National Committee and others on the left say that those who are critical of President Obama’s Nobel prize hate America, and in fact support terrorism. A new Gallup poll shows that our country is chock full of these America-hating wingnuts.

By a two-to-one margin (61-34), Americans say that the Obama did not deserve the prize. That’s not just Republicans and independents, but 36% of Democrats as well. Further, a slight plurality (47-46) are not happy that he won the award.  That includes strong majorities of Republicans and independents, and even one-out-of-five Democrats.

If the DNC is to be believed, America hatred is surprisingly mainstream.

(Via Hot Air.)


Google’s hypocrisy

October 24, 2009

The Washington Post reports:

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt favors net neutrality, but only to a point: While the tech player wants to make sure that telecommunications giants don’t steer Internet traffic in a way that would favor some devices or services over others, he also believes that it would be a terrible idea for the government to involve itself as a regulator of the broader Internet.

“It is possible for the government to screw the Internet up, big-time,” he said. Google is strong enough as a company to weather any possible outcome on the issue, he said. But what he worries about “is the next start-up.”

In other words, Google is concerned about regulation (and rightly so, of course), but they do support regulation when it favors them.

(Via Hot Air.) (Previous post.)


CNBC cuts off Obama critic

October 23, 2009

It looks as though CNBC is trying to earn the White House seal of approval. In an interview with Charles Gasparino (whom I’ve never heard of before) on the market impact of the administration’s pay limits for bank executives, they interrupt Gasparino four times when he started making remarks critical of President Obama. (Cue to 2:10 for the first one.)


Thomas Jefferson, call your office

October 23, 2009

Time’s Joe Klein writes:

Let me be precise here: Fox News peddles a fair amount of hateful crap. Some of it borders on sedition. Much of it is flat out untrue.

You know there must be Democrat in office when the media is writing seriously about sedition. Just a year ago it was the press’s job to hold the government accountable.

Of course, Klein isn’t able to cite any example of Fox’s reporting that is “hateful crap” or “flat out untrue”. The one example he does mention, Fox News’s exposure of the radicalism of Van Jones, was neither.

And that’s revealing. What are upsetting Klein (and the White House) aren’t false stories, but true ones. They don’t want media scrutiny on this administration, because the public is seeing how different it is from what they were promised.

(Via the Corner.)


Great moments in judicial idiocy

October 23, 2009

The Kansas Supreme Court rules that while using violence in self-defense is legal, threatening violence in self-defense is not.

ILLEGAL: “Stop or I’ll shoot!”
LEGAL: Bang!


Behind the war on Fox

October 23, 2009

The New York Times explains why the White House decided to declare war on Fox News:

By the following weekend, officials at the White House had decided that if anything, it was time to take the relationship to an even more confrontational level. The spur: Executives at other news organizations, including The New York Times, had publicly said that their newsrooms had not been fast enough in following stories that Fox News, to the administration’s chagrin, had been heavily covering through the summer and early fall — namely, past statements and affiliations of the White House adviser Van Jones that ultimately led to his resignation and questions surrounding the community activist group Acorn. . .

It was an amalgam of stories covered, and our assessment of how others were dealing with those stories, that caused us to comment,” Mr. Axelrod said in describing the administration’s thinking.

(Emphasis mine.)

Axelrod says explicitly what Brit Hume conjectured a few days ago: the White House’s problem is that Fox is breaking stories and the rest of the press is taking them up.

So, as noted at the Corner, their problem is not that Fox isn’t a real news organization. On the contrary, their problem is that it is.


Three-minute showers

October 23, 2009

More Venezuelan shortages:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told citizens Wednesday to limit their showers to three minutes because the country is having problems supplying water and electricity.

“If you are going to lie back, in the bath, with the soap and you turn on the what’s it called, the Jacuzzi … imagine that, what kind of communism is that? We’re not in times of Jacuzzi,” Chavez said.

It’s revealing of the depth of economic mismanagement in Venezuela that the country with the greatest natural wealth in South America could be unable to supply such basic necessities as food, water, and electricity.


Stay classy!

October 23, 2009

Maureen Dowd used her column last week to attack Mary Cheney, Dick Cheney’s daughter. Mary is starting a consulting firm and rumor has it that her father approves of the enterprise, which apparently is enough for the alleged sins of the father to visit on the child.

Dowd also gratuitously reminds us that Mary is a lesbian, which has no bearing at all on the column, and even titles her column after a bizarre sexual practice supposedly practiced by lesbians. So let’s not forget which side it is that has no problem appealing to prejudices when it serves their purposes.

(Via Power Line.)


30 Rock targets White House

October 23, 2009

If you’ve lost Alec Baldwin, you’ve lost the nation. (Via Instapundit.)


Cancer treatment advance

October 22, 2009

Science Daily reports:

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, may be hot on the heels of a Holy Grail of cancer therapy: They have found a way to not only protect healthy tissue from the toxic effects of radiation treatment, but also increase tumor death.

(Via Instapundit.)


Media success

October 22, 2009

Today the White House announced that pay czar Ken Feinberg would be available for interviews with every member of the White House pool (that is, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and Fox) except Fox News. This was an overreach even for the Obama-friendly networks, who showed some integrity and refused to participate unless Fox was invited as well. The White House relented, but in a final show of pettiness, cut back the length of the interviews from 5 minutes to only 2 minutes.

UPDATE: An anonymous Treasury Department spokeperson is denying that this happened. Well, if you won’t take Fox’s word for it, how about CBS (cue to 1:00):

JEFF GREENFIELD: And on Thursday the Treasury Department tried to exclude Fox News from pool coverage of interviews with one of its key officials. It backed down after strong protests from the press.

CHIP REID: All the networks said, that’s it. You’ve crossed the line.

UPDATE: You can read the story in text here. (Via Newsbusters.)

UPDATE: Some are suggesting that this wasn’t a show of integrity after all. Well, even if they did the right thing for the wrong reason, it’s good enough for me.


Scozzafava

October 22, 2009

Mark Steyn writes:

Newt really needs to re-think his support for Dede Scozzafava. This isn’t RINO but DIABLO – Democrat In All But Label Only. It’s not one of those “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” bi-swinger deals — not when you’re pro-“stimulus”, pro-cash-for-clunkers. And the reductive argument that her sole redeeming value – a willingness to vote for John Boehner as Speaker — is reason enough to support her is silly in a special election. If he’s ever Speaker, Boehner won’t be till January 2011, and it’s 12 months premature for Newt to be telling voters they need to suck it up and accept that a handful of Jim-Jeffords-in-embryo-form are necessary for the Republican tide.

But beyond all that there’s now a competence issue: Since the cop-calling and its aftermath, the candidate has demonstrated that there is no case for her whatsoever. At this stage in the nation’s affairs, Washington doesn’t need another incoherent buffoon insulated by a phalanx of thin-skinned twerps already guarding her like a 30-year incumbent for whom routine questions are an outrageous form of lèse-majesté. By any reasonable measure, this candidate is unworthy of a seat in the national legislature.

The tea parties and town halls were a response not just to Obama but to the 2006/2008 GOP.

Hear, hear. The Scozzafava nomination is worrying sign that the GOP has not yet learned its lesson. With so little at stake, the special election is a perfect opportunity to educate them.


Czar ordered pay cuts without approval

October 22, 2009

Fox News reports:

White House pay czar Kenneth Feinberg was the driving force behind the move to order steep pay cuts from bailed-out executives, and did not even seek the president’s approval before making his decision.

The Treasury Department is expected to formally announce in the next few days a plan to slash annual salaries by about 90 percent from last year for the 25 highest-paid executives at the seven companies that received the most from the Wall Street bailout. Total compensation for the top executives at the firms would decline, on average, by about 50 percent.

The sweeping decision, though, came from Feinberg and not from President Obama.

One official told Fox News that Feinberg from the start had the independent authority to work with companies and make such a call. Obama was never required to sign off before final decisions were made.

I’m not one to get exercised over President Obama’s umpteen czars. If the president wants to hire someone to help coordinate policy in a certain area, that’s his business.

But that’s assuming that the czar is merely coordinating policy. It’s another matter entirely if the czar has independent executive authority (particularly for something as outrageous as dictating salaries). In that case, he needs to face Senate confirmation, and the “pay czar” does not. That is unacceptable, and I would have thought it unconstitutional as well.


No good deed goes unpunished

October 22, 2009

Dick Cheney speaks about Afghanistan:

Recently, President Obama’s advisors have decided that it’s easier to blame the Bush Administration than support our troops. This weekend they leveled a charge that cannot go unanswered. The President’s chief of staff claimed that the Bush Administration hadn’t asked any tough questions about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had to start from scratch to put together a strategy.

In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that repeatedly went into the country, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama’s team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt. The new strategy they embraced in March, with a focus on counterinsurgency and an increase in the numbers of troops, bears a striking resemblance to the strategy we passed to them. They made a decision – a good one, I think – and sent a commander into the field to implement it.

Now they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to implement the strategy they embraced. It’s time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity.

(Emphasis mine.)

The bad faith exhibited by the Obama administration is breathtaking. They asked the outgoing administration to keep its conclusions private, which it did, and then exploited their silence to pretend that they hadn’t done anything. (And yes, Cheney did relate Emanuel’s remarks accurately. Nearly verbatim, in fact.)

UPDATE: More here. (Via Instapundit.)


Obama’s record popularity drop

October 21, 2009

According to Gallup, the slide in President Obama’s approval rating (-9 points) between the second and third quarter of his administration is one of the largest first-year slides since polling began, and the largest ever between the second and third quarters. In absolute terms, Obama’s third-quarter approval rating of 53% is the second-lowest in history (only Clinton’s was lower, at 48%).

(Via Hot Air.)


Human Rights Watch denounced by its own founder

October 21, 2009

Robert Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch, castigates the organization he founded for its attacks on Israel.


This can’t be right

October 21, 2009

A woman and her daughter trespassing on a man’s property at 5:30 in the morning look in the man’s window and see him naked. The man gets arrested.

(Via Instapundit.)


I don’t think I like this guy much

October 21, 2009

Ron Bloom, White House manufacturing czar and car czar:

Generally speaking we get the joke: We know that the free market is nonsense. We know that the whole point is to game the system; to beat the market, or at least find someone to pay a lot of money because they’re convinced that there is a free lunch. We know this is largely about power, that it’s an adults-only, no-limit game. We kind of agree with Mao that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun. And we get it, that if you want a friend you should get a dog.

(Transcript and emphasis mine.)

The context for these remarks are not clear from the clip, but unless the whole piece is a quote of someone else, it’s hard to see how the context could make these remarks any less damnable.


Double reverse

October 21, 2009

Is European missile defense back on?

The Obama administration reached a new agreement Wednesday with top Polish government officials to place a new generation of missile interceptors on Polish soil, a surprising turnabout from just a few weeks earlier when it appeared the United States was ready to abandon its missile defense program in Eastern Europe.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk emerged from a lengthy private discussion to announce that Poland’s participation in the missile defense system was, essentially, back on — though in a new format that involves delivering a smaller number of defensive weapons in 2018. . .

The hastily arranged vice presidential trip, which also will include stops in Romania and the Czech Republic this week, was intended to soothe relations and reassure the fledgling NATO members that the missile program was not being scrapped, and that the evolving policy should not be viewed as a snub or a weakening of U.S. security commitments to states in the region.

Obviously I’m glad if this actually happens, but what the heck are these jokers doing?

I can think of two explanations: (1) cancelling missile defense was part of a quid pro quo that Russia has now reneged on, or (2) these guys haven’t the foggiest idea what they’re doing. Theory 1 doesn’t make me happy (one should know better than to make quid pro quos with the Russians), but it’s still better than theory 2, which I fear is much more likely.

(Via Hot Air.)


Heh

October 21, 2009

This commercial run by the Virginia GOP is really clever, taking Creigh Deeds’s endorsement from the Washington Post and making it a negative:

(Via Hot Air.)


ACORN video #6

October 21, 2009

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto published last week, Andrew Breitbart said that he was sitting on additional ACORN videos, figuring that diminishing returns would set in after five. Now he’s released the sixth video, and it proves ACORN’s efforts to rehabilitate themselves are built on lies.

Video #6 comes from ACORN’s Philadelphia office, another one of the five offices that ACORN says O’Keefe and Giles were thrown out of.  (ASIDE: Breitbart has already released videos from two other offices — New York and San Diego — that ACORN falsely claimed O’Keefe and Giles were thrown out of.) ACORN has invested a lot in their account of what happened at the Philadelphia office. In addition to claiming they threw out O’Keefe and Giles (the video shows they were not), ACORN made a lots of other statements about the interview that are now proven false. Those claims were taken up by a variety of credulous news outlets and the ever-hacktastic Media Matters, all of which now have egg on their faces.

It’s the behavior of the media that is most fascinating. Despite ACORN having been repeatedly shown as liars (and worse) throughout the affair, the media has persisted in accepting their version of events with nothing but ACORN’s word to go on.

(Previous post.)


Krauthammer on Afghanistan delay

October 21, 2009

Charles Krauthammer comments on the ridiculous notion that we can’t decide Afghanistan troop levels until after their election:

After all, look, there are three things that we can say with confidence about what the government of Afghanistan will look like after this election. It’s going to be weak, it is going to be pro-American, and it’s going to be corrupt. That’s how it was yesterday, and that’s how it will be tomorrow.

More or less corrupt and more or less weak, but that’s how it will be, and that’s how it was a year ago. So it’s not going to depend on the outcome of the election. That’s the card that we’re dealt in Afghanistan, and that’s going to be.

Now, the best outcome would be if you had a coalition so you wouldn’t have to have a runoff with all of the complications that are talked about. But even so…why would you hold off and delay a critical decision on the strength of our troops? Because you don’t know the exact composition of the cabinet?

It’s nonsense, and I think Gates shot it down pretty strongly today.


The iPhone theme

October 21, 2009

I’ve aware that the blog is displaying with the wrong theme on the iPhone. I’m working on the problem.

UPDATE: It’s a new “feature”. I’ve disabled it now.

UPDATE: The real problem is that too many web developers don’t seem to get the point to the iPhone. The idea is it’s supposed to be just like browsing on a computer. We don’t want you to give us a special theme for the iPhone, it defeats the purpose! They are tolerable when you can still get to the real page, but far too many web sites don’t even make that possible.

Since too many web developers don’t get the iPhone, I wish Apple would deal with the problem. They could do it easily by including an option in the iPhone’s browser to withhold the browser identity.


More taxpayer financed propaganda

October 21, 2009

Roll Call reports:

Senate Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is raising concerns that a Department of Health and Human Services Web site that urges visitors to send an e-mail to President Barack Obama praising his health care reform plan may violate rules against government-funded propaganda.

The Web page is accessed through a “state your support” button featured prominently on the HHS Web site and carries a disclaimer that the Web site is maintained by HHS.

In a letter sent to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Tuesday, Grassley warned that “any possible misuse of appropriated funds by the executive branch to engage in publicity or propaganda in support of an Administration priority is a matter that must be investigated and taken seriously,” noting that in 2005 Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) argued that “the use of official funds for similar activities were ‘underhanded tactics’ and that these tactics ‘are not worthy of our great democracy.’”

(Via the Corner.)


What the Limbaugh hoax tells us

October 21, 2009

A troubling question from Shannon Love:

Watching so many serious journalists and leftist political figures fall for the fake Rush Limbaugh quotes tells us something very frightening about what leftists believe true about non-leftist America. I say, “frightening,” because we evaluate the level of threat that others pose based on our understanding of the amorality of their beliefs. Then we rationalize the harshness of the methods we are willing to employ against them based on our threat assessment. . .

Given this, what does it portend for American non-leftists that a wide and powerful swath of the American left apparently believes it quite credible that a major media figure with an audience in the tens of millions looks back fondly on slavery and approves of political assassination? What draconian methods could those leftists rationalize using if they really believe they are fighting people with such values?

Indeed, but we needn’t merely speculate. For example, I know leftists personally that admit Michael Moore is a fabulist, but support him anyway because he attacks the right people. Mind you, I’m not talking about those who make a business of lying, like politicians and journalists, but ordinary people.

(Via Instapundit.)


Credit cards raising fees

October 21, 2009

USA Today reports:

You floss regularly, yield to oncoming traffic and use your credit cards judiciously, dutifully paying off your balance every month. You may believe that your exemplary behavior shields you from unexpected credit card fees. Sadly, that is no longer the case.

[Various credit cards are raising feeson those who use credit responsibly.]

These fees are the credit card industry’s response to credit card legislation that will, among other things, restrict credit card issuers’ ability to raise interest rates on existing balances. Credit card issuers are looking for ways to raise income before the new rules take effect in February. During the first quarter, 27% of credit card offers included annual fees, up from 18% a year earlier, according to Synovate Mail Monitor, a credit card direct-mail tracking service.

This is exactly what any economist would have predicted would happen in response to the credit card bill. But some people are actually surprised:

Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com, says he expected credit card issuers to raise annual fees after the legislation was enacted. What he didn’t expect, he says, “was that good customers were going to be hit.”

Didn’t expect it? Why on earth not? The credit card bill limited the ability of card issuers to assign greater costs to greater credit risks. Where did he think the costs were going to go?

(Via Instapundit.)


Silly season

October 21, 2009

A bizarre story from Capitol Hill:

Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) locked Republicans out of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee room to keep them from meeting when Democrats aren’t present.

Towns’ action came after repeated public ridicule from the leading Republican on the committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), over Towns’s failure to launch an investigation into Countrywide Mortgage’s reported sweetheart deals to VIPs.

For months Towns has refused Republican requests to subpoena records in the case. Last Thursday Committee Republicans, led by Issa, were poised to force an open vote on the subpoenas at a Committee mark-up meeting. The mark-up was abruptly canceled. Only Republicans showed up while Democrats chairs remained empty.

Republicans charged that Towns cancelled the meeting to avoid the subpoena vote. Democrats first claimed the mark-up was canceled due to a conflict with the Financial Services Committee. Later they said it was abandoned after a disagreement among Democratic members on whether to subpoena records on the mortgage industry’s political contributions to Republicans.

A GOP committee staffer captured video of Democrats leaving their separate meeting in private chambers after the mark-up was supposed to have begun. He spliced the video to other footage of the Democrats’ empty chairs at the hearing room, set it to the tune of “Hit the Road, Jack” and posted it on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s minority webpage, where it remained as of press time.

Towns’s staffers told Republicans they were not happy about the presence of the video camera in the hearing room when they were not present. Issa’s spokesman said the Democrats readily acknowledged to Republicans that they changed the locks in retaliation to the videotape of the Democrats’ absence from the business meeting even though committee rules allow meetings to be taped.

To summarize: Towns locked the room after Republicans used the room’s cameras to embarrass Democrats for abruptly cancelling a meeting and lying about the reason why. The underlying controversy was the Democrats’ refusal to investigate the Countrywide scandal, in which key Democrats are implicated.

Power Line has Issa’s video. (It’s actually not all that good.)

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: No word on whether Towns will unlock the door, but he is reportedly giving in on subpoenas for Countrywide.


Supporting blasphemy laws

October 21, 2009

If you thought that the United States would never support blasphemy laws, you would be disappointed:

While attracting surprisingly little attention, the Obama administration supported the effort of largely Muslim nations in the U.N. Human Rights Council to recognize exceptions to free speech for any “negative racial and religious stereotyping.” The exception was made as part of a resolution supporting free speech that passed this month, but it is the exception, not the rule that worries civil libertarians. Though the resolution was passed unanimously, European and developing countries made it clear that they remain at odds on the issue of protecting religions from criticism. It is viewed as a transparent bid to appeal to the “Muslim street” and our Arab allies, with the administration seeking greater coexistence through the curtailment of objectionable speech. . . In the resolution, the administration aligned itself with Egypt, which has long been criticized for prosecuting artists, activists and journalists for insulting Islam.

A free-speech resolution with a blasphemy exception is worse than no resolution at all. This doesn’t advance free speech; it sets it back.

What the administration seems not to be recognizing is that resolutions like this are meaningless except as rhetoric. If UN Human Rights resolutions were somehow enforceable, there might be some wisdom in compromising to pass one. But they aren’t. They are nothing more than position statements, and we are officially taking the position that blasphemy laws are okay. Americans may not be paying much attention, but I guarantee that repressive nations like Egypt will make the most of it.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


Competition is good

October 21, 2009

I like my Kindle, but I’m still happy about Barnes & Noble’s new Nook e-reader. I hope it will push Amazon to make some improvements, particularly something like the Nook’s book-lending feature.

(Via Instapundit.)


“Patted on the head” by the White House

October 21, 2009

Clearly, Fox is really enjoying its label as the one network the White House doesn’t want you to watch. I wonder if they’ll be splashing it on the screen soon.

There are a lot of versions of the wrestle-with-a-pig adage, but my favorite is this one: Never wrestle with a pig; it gets you dirty, and the pig likes it.


How to look stupid

October 21, 2009

First, attack Fox News as being not a real news station, primarily (according to Robert Gibbs) because of its opinion programs starring Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Then, invite Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow to an off-the-record briefing with the president.

UPDATE: Also at the briefing: Eugene Robinson and Maureen Dowd.


Lie in haste, retract at leisure

October 21, 2009

On June 3, MSNBC Rachel Maddow stated on-the-air that Rush Limbaugh said that Martin Luther King’s assassin should get the Medal of Honor. It took her 138 days (that’s four-and-a-half months) to retract the lie, and grudgingly at that.

(Via Instapundit.)


Democrats distrusted on every issue

October 20, 2009

Moe Lane notes the latest Rasmussen polling on the issues. When asked which party people trust more, the GOP now leads on every issue. In the last month, the GOP extended their lead or erased the Democrats’ lead in nine out of ten categories: health care (+6), education (+10), social security (+10), abortion (+5), economy (+6), taxes (+7), Iraq (+9), national security (+11), and government ethics (+3). The GOP only lost ground on immigration (-5), where it now leads by only seven points.

Wow. The GOP also leads on the generic ballot, despite trailing (as they always do) in partisan identification.

The numbers don’t say whether this is an endorsement of the GOP or a repudiation of the Democrats, but I think it’s much more the latter than the former.

(Via Instapundit.)


Defending the free press

October 20, 2009

Jake Tapper, ABC’s White House correspondent, is standing up for Fox News. Tapper may soon be branded not a real reporter.

(Via Instapundit.)


Poorly Dunn

October 20, 2009

Anita Dunn, the White House communication director, in her CNN interview declaring war against Fox News:

DUNN: Howie, I think if we went back a year go to the fall of 2008, to the campaign, that it was a time when this country was in two wars, that we had a financial collapse probably more significant than any financial collapse since the Great Depression.

If you were a FOX News viewer in the fall election, what you would have seen would have been that the biggest stories and biggest threats facing America were a guy named Bill Ayers and something called ACORN.

What is Dunn saying here? Is she claiming that Fox never covered the financial collapse? That’s obviously ridiculous. No, it seems that she is complaining about the news that Fox did cover. She would rather than Fox had ignored Ayers and ACORN as most everyone else did.

KURTZ: Is that the reason the president did not go on FOX News Sunday when he did all the other Sunday shows, and will President Obama appear again on FOX this year?

DUNN: Well, you know, Howie, President Obama, he did “The Factor.” He did “O’Reilly.”

KURTZ: Yes. That was during the campaign.

DUNN: That was last year. As president earlier this year when he met with news anchors, met with Chris Wallace…

KURTZ: My question is will he appear on FOX in the next couple of months?

DUNN: You had a two-part question. The first was, is this why he did not appear? And the answer is yes, obviously he’ll go on Fox because he engages with ideological opponents. And he has done that before. He will do it again. I can’t give you a date because, frankly, I can’t give you dates for anybody else right now.

(Emphasis mine.)

Let’s be charitable and assume that Dunn is answering a different question (“will he go on Fox ever?”) than she was asked. Because if she was answering the question she was asked, her answer was a lie:

But last week, Fox News was informed by the White House that Obama would grant no interviews to the channel until at least 2010. The edict was relayed to Fox News by a White House official after Dunn discussed the channel at a meeting with presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs and other Obama advisers.

Going on:

DUNN: For instance, Howie, “The New York Times” had a front page story about Nevada Senator John Ensign and the fact that he had gotten his former chief of staff a job as a lobbyist and his former chief of staff’s wife was someone Ensign had had an affair with.

KURTZ: We reported the story.

DUNN: Did you see coverage of that on FOX News? I’m not talking Glenn Beck, and I’m not talking Sean or “The Factor.” I’m talking about FOX News.

KURTZ: I will have to check on that. I assume you know the answer.

She never comes out and says it, but she is clearly implying that Fox didn’t cover the story. That’s a lie:

Dunn also strongly implied that Fox had failed to follow up on a New York Times story about a scandal swirling around GOP Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, although Fox News broadcast the stories on numerous shows, including Special Report with Bret Baier.

If you don’t want to take Fox News’s word for it, here’s just one of many stories Fox ran on the Ensign scandal.


Troy voter fraud swayed election

October 20, 2009

More developments in the election fraud scandal in Troy, New York:

Thirty-eight forged or fraudulent ballots have been thrown out — enough votes, an election official admits, to likely have tipped the city council and county elections in November to the Democrats. . .

A special prosecutor is investigating the case and criminal charges are possible. New York State Supreme Court Judge Michael Lynch ruled that there were “significant election law violations that have compromised the rights of numerous voters and the integrity of the election process.”

Note that the Working Families Party, the organization responsible for the fraud, is linked to ACORN.


Surprise! Iran reneges

October 20, 2009

John Hinderaker notes a dismaying but unsurprising development in our dealings with Iran:

Iran has refined at least 1.4 tons of enriched uranium, enough — if further enriched to weapons grade — to build a nuclear bomb. Of course, Iran claims that the uranium is for peaceful energy purposes, so the US suggested an arrangement whereby Iran would ship their enriched uranium to France. France would then process the uranium into fuel rods for a nuclear reactor and ship them back. The fuel rods would be useless for weapons purposes, neatly dealing with the Iranian nuclear problem for a while.

It seems like a very good plan, if we make one important assumption. It only works if Iran is actually sincere about using its uranium for peaceful energy purposes. If Iran was not sincere, the scheme was destined to get derailed at some point before Iran actually hands over its uranium.

That point is now:

Iran’s negotiators have toughened their stance on the nuclear programme, signalling that Tehran will refuse to go ahead with an agreement to hand over 75 per cent of its enriched uranium. . .

Iran has amassed at least 1.4 tons of low-enriched uranium inside its underground plant in Natanz. If this was further enriched to weapons-grade level – a lengthy process – it would be enough for one nuclear weapon.

But Iran agreed to export 75 per cent of this stockpile to Russia and then France, where it would have been converted into fuel rods for use in a civilian research reactor in Tehran. This would have been a significant step towards containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Before talks, however, Iranian officials signalled they would renege. “Iran wants to directly buy highly-enriched uranium without sending its own low-level uranium out of the country,” reported a state television channel.

Obviously, allowing Iran to buy fuel rods but keep its own stockpile achieves nothing at all. In fact, we’re worse off than before, because Iran is now using the previous arrangement to say that the US has accepted Iran’s uranium enrichment plan. Iran’s official news agency says:

Informed sources close to the talks in Vienna said that the US has in a series of secret meetings informed its European partners of Washington’s decision on acceptance of uranium enrichment in Iran.

I hope this teaches the administration the folly of pursuing a line of diplomacy that depends on the good intentions of our adversary.


Get over yourself

October 20, 2009

That the message that the left-wing magazine The Nation wants to send to the White House:

The Obama administration really needs to get over itself.

First, the president and his aides go to war with Fox News because the network maintains a generally anti-Obama slant.

Then, an anonymous administration aide attacks bloggers for failing to maintain a sufficiently pro-Obama slant.

These are not disconnected developments.

An administration that won the White House with an almost always on-message campaign and generally friendly coverage from old and new media is now frustrated by its inability to control the debate and get the coverage it wants.

The New York Times and even Helen Thomas are also piling on over the folly of the White House’s war on Fox News. There’s no way this ends well for the administration, so why are they doing it?

I think they can’t help themselves. Throughout his short political career, Barack Obama has never faced much adversity, and the little he has faced he certainly never learned to take with grace. (Remember when he became the Democratic front-runner and started getting a few tough questions in debates? That was the end of the debates.) He was inaugurated to near-universal adulation and it seems that he really believed his hope and change mythology.

Now he is facing real adversity. A majority disapproves of his job performance, and 40% strongly disapprove. His signature domestic initiative is unpopular and faces an uncertain future in Congress. Afghanistan requires strong and politically risky action. Iran is laughing at him. The IOC snubbed him. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. So they are lashing out.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. The weak blame Fox News.

(Via Instapundit.)


Questioning the patriotism

October 20, 2009

Another reminder of which side actually does it.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


What the Voting Rights Act has become

October 20, 2009

This is an outrage:

Voters in this small city decided overwhelmingly last year to do away with the party affiliation of candidates in local elections, but the Obama administration recently overruled the electorate and decided that equal rights for black voters cannot be achieved without the Democratic Party.

The Justice Department’s ruling, which affects races for City Council and mayor, went so far as to say partisan elections are needed so that black voters can elect their “candidates of choice” – identified by the department as those who are Democrats and almost exclusively black.

The department ruled that white voters in Kinston will vote for blacks only if they are Democrats and that therefore the city cannot get rid of party affiliations for local elections because that would violate black voters’ right to elect the candidates they want.

Take a close look at this. The Justice Department rejected a change to elections because it might change the candidates for whom white voters vote. I thought that the Voting Rights Act was about ensuring, you know, the right to vote, but it seems that I was wrong. In the eyes of our current Justice Department, voting rights are about making sure the right candidate is elected.

Kinston is two-thirds black, but the decision was necessary to compensate for low turnout among blacks:

Ms. King’s letter in the Kinston case states that because of the low turnout black voters must be “viewed as a minority for analytical purposes,” and that “minority turnout is relevant” to determining whether the Justice Department should be allowed a change to election protocol.

Black voters account for 9,702 of the city’s 15,402 registered voters but typically don’t vote at the rates whites do.

As a result of the low turnout, Ms. King wrote, “black voters have had limited success in electing candidates of choice during recent municipal elections.”

“It is the partisan makeup of the general electorate that results in enough white cross-over to allow the black community to elect a candidate of choice,” she wrote.

So now the Voting Rights Act isn’t about the right to vote, but about ensuring a particular outcome even when people choose not to vote!

If there’s any question about how political this decision was, note two things: First, the Justice Department is rejecting a neutral change specifically and explicitly because it lessens the importance of the Democratic Party. Second, look who made the decision:

The decision [was] made by the same Justice official who ordered the dismissal of a voting rights case against members of the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia.

One final observation: Kinston is two-thirds black, and the measure passed in seven of nine black precincts. So, in order supposedly to ensure the voting rights of blacks, the Justice Department is rejecting a decision made by the black voters of Kinston.

I wonder if this decision will usher in the end of Section 5 of the Voting Right Act. Section 5 was always dubious, but now that it is being used in such an indefensible manner, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the courts show it the door.

(Via Instapundit.)


White House boasts of controlling the press

October 19, 2009

The Telegraph reports:

Anita Dunn, a senior White House aide, has boasted of how Barack Obama’s presidential campaign managed to “absolutely control” the press during the 2008 election.

The top campaign strategist who has shot to attention recently as President Obama’s main attack dog against Fox News, the conservative-leaning cable network, was speaking at a conference in the Dominican Republic in January.

“Very rarely did we communicate through the press anything that we didn’t absolutely control,” she said.

I’ll be interested to see how the press responds to this. What is their purported journalistic integrity worth to them?

Anyway, this gives us a new perspective on Anita Dunn’s attacks on Fox News. She says Fox News isn’t a real news agency, which probably means they weren’t able to control it.

UPDATE: Fox News says that the White House opened its war against them because they (Fox) had the temerity to fact-check their guest from the White House:

The video drew attention after Dunn kicked off a war of words with Fox News last Sunday, calling the network “opinion journalism masquerading as news.” The White House stopped providing guests to “Fox News Sunday” in August after host Chris Wallace fact-checked controversial assertions made by Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Chris Wallace’s interview with Duckworth is here, and she certainly did get raked over the coals. Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen when you don’t have your facts straight?

To sum up: The real press is controlled. Reporting facts the White House doesn’t want people to hear is “opinion journalism masquerading as news”.

UPDATE: It’s not just Fox News’s allegation. Anita Dunn did specifically tie its boycott of Fox News to Wallace’s fact-check of Duckworth:

DUNN: . . . Major [Garrett] came to me when we didn’t include Chris.

KURTZ: Chris Wallace DUNN: In the round of Sunday shows, Chris Wallace from the Sunday shows. And I told Major quite honestly that we had told Chris Wallace that having fact-checked an administration guest on his show, something I’ve never seen a Sunday show do, and Howie, you can show me examples of where Sunday shows have fact-checked previous weeks’ guests.

Additionally, I wouldn’t really call what Wallace did “fact-checking”. A typical fact-check is done afterward, and doesn’t give the subject a chance to respond. What Wallace did would better be described as “asking questions”.


Afghanistan is winnable

October 19, 2009

Michael Yon writes about the situation Afghanistan faces, and what it will take for us to win there.


Media taken in by Chamber of Commerce hoax

October 19, 2009

Too good to check:

In a dramatic shift, the Chamber of Commerce announced Monday that it is throwing its support behind climate change legislation making its way through the U.S. Senate.

Only it didn’t.

An email press release announcing the change is a hoax, say Chamber officials.

Several media organizations fell for it.

A CNBC anchor interrupted herself mid-sentence Monday morning to announce that the network had “breaking news,” then cut away to reporter Hampton Pearson, who read from the fake press release. . .

In a story posted Monday morning, Reuters declared: “The Chamber of Commerce said on Monday it will no longer opposes climate change legislation, but wants the bill to include a carbon tax.”

Reuters updated the story to acknowledge the hoax, but it was too late: The Washington Post and the New York Times had already posted the fake story on their Web sites.

Despite the story being completely implausible, Reuters, CNBC, the Washington Post, and the New York Times all ran this story, and not one thought to fact-check it. I guess they really wanted to believe.

(Via the Corner.)


Health care opposition stiffens

October 19, 2009

After moderating for a couple of weeks, public disapproval to Democratic health care reform is again near its high. A double-digit majority (54-42) oppose the plan that just passed the Senate Finance Committee.


The Detroit way

October 19, 2009

Detroit politicians pay for endorsements:

A long-secret cost of Detroit elections — paying for endorsements — is generating controversy in the City Council election, even though most candidates defend the expense. . . Candidates who want three or four endorsements from prominent groups in the Nov. 3 election may have to shell out about $5,000.

It’s a system virtually unheard of in U.S. politics — where groups traditionally give money to candidates they like, not vice versa . . .

“There is a certain way things get done in Detroit,” said Dearing, a businessman making his third run for the council. “And this is part of that political process. It is part of our culture.”

How did such a system evolve?

Political consultant Eric Foster said the process thrives in Detroit because it’s a one-party city.

The last Republican mayor was Louis Miriani in 1957, so Foster said candidates are desperate to distinguish themselves by aligning themselves with powerful groups. Foster said he knows of no other city with the practice.

“In other places, you’d have a candidate trying to appeal to a certain group or certain agenda, but here everyone is a Democrat,” said Foster, of Urban Consulting of Detroit, which manages political campaigns.

What? One-party rule leads to corruption? Who knew?

(Via the Corner.)


My thought exactly

October 19, 2009

Jay Nordlinger writes:

I keep hearing that Glenn Beck is just a blowhard opinionist, contributing nothing but hot air. If that is true, why do we keep learning news from him? About Van Jones, about ACORN, about Anita Dunn . . . I mean, isn’t that the New York Times’s job? No? What a strange era we’re living in.

Guys like Glenn Beck are trying to break stories, while the NYT and its ilk are trying to conceal them. I’ve never watched Beck, but maybe I should start.


Hillary Clinton at it again

October 19, 2009

The London Times reports:

Hillary Clinton has been caught out “mis-speaking” again in a manner that suggests that she hasn’t learnt from past experiences of her globe-trotting, “lily-gilding” speeches. . .

According to the Sunday Life newspaper, during a speech she made to the Stormont parliament she said that Belfast’s landmark Europa Hotel was devastated by an explosion when she first stayed there in 1995. . .

However, the last Provisional IRA bomb to damage the Europa was detonated in 1993, two years before President Clinton and his wife checked in for the night.

The last time the Europa underwent renovations because of bomb blast damage was in January 1994, 22 months before the presidential entourage booked 110 rooms at the hotel.

Mrs Clinton told assembled politicians at Stormont: “When Bill and I first came to Belfast we stayed at the Europa Hotel … even though then there were sections boarded up because of damage from bombs.”

(Via Instapundit.)


Bias revealed

October 19, 2009

I was away back when this happened and forgot to blog it when I got back. A revealing incident with the Guardian:

The Guardian was forced to amend an article on past Nobel Peace Prize winners on its Web site on Friday after it omitted the names of Israel’s prize winners.

Following the announcement of US President Barack Obama’s winning the 2009 prize, an article written by the newspaper’s news editor Simon Rogers listed the names of all Nobel Peace prize winners since the award’s inception in 1909. However, all of Israel’s prize winners – Menachem Begin, Yizhak Rabin and Shimon Peres – were omitted.

In the 1978 entry, Menachem Begin’s name was missing, with only Egyptian president Anwar Sadat listed. The same error occurred in the 1994 entry with Yasser Arafat the only entry and Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres missing. . .

In a statement on Friday, the newspaper blamed the mistake on a “technical issue,” saying the names was accidently omitted.

A technical issue deleted all three Israeli winners, and only the three Israeli winners? Not buying it.


Corruption

October 18, 2009

AP reports:

The mayor of Alabama’s largest city is facing a federal bribery trial that could drive him from office and send him to prison if he’s convicted.

Prosecutors say Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford took clothing, a Rolex watch and other bribes totaling some $235,000 while serving on the Jefferson County Commission. In exchange, they say Langford steered $7.1 million in county bond business to a political crony’s investment firm. . .

Langford says everything that changed hands were gifts between friends. He also claims his prosecution is part of a Republican scheme to target Democrats in Alabama.


Non sequitur

October 18, 2009

The administration doesn’t want to do what’s necessary to win in Afghanistan because it sees it as a net political negative. Their efforts to try to come up with a national security justification for their craven inaction is growing increasingly pathetic:

It would be irresponsible to send more troops to Afghanistan until a legitimate and credible government is in place, the White House and top Democrats said Sunday.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said the most critical issue facing U.S. strategy is whether the Afghans can be an effective partner in destroying Al Qaeda safe havens and bringing stability to the region.

“It would be reckless to make a decision on U.S. troop levels if in fact you haven’t done a thorough analysis of whether in fact there’s an Afghan partner ready to fill that space that U.S. troops would create and become a true partner in governing,” Emanuel said in an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

We can’t carry out the mission because Afghanistan’s recent election is disputed? What does one have to do with the other? Plus: we’ve now told the enemy that all they have to do to keep us out is to keep disputing the election!

Lamest. Excuse. Ever.

UPDATE: Defense Secretary Gates says the election dispute is no reason to wait:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that the Obama administration cannot wait for the Afghan election to be resolved before making a decision on troop levels, appearing to be at odds with White House officials who have tied a decision on U.S. strategy to the resolution of the election and political stability.

Gates suggested the election would not have an immediate impact on the overall situation in the country.

He told reporters aboard his plane to Tokyo that the administration cannot “sit on our hands.”


Tea parties = Terrorism

October 18, 2009

So Keith Olbermann says that tea partiers are engaging in “political terrorism” and asks why they should be viewed any differently from Hezbollah or Hamas. Oh, I can see a few differences, such as the minor detail that Hamas and Hezbollah exist to kill innocent people and the tea parties are a peaceful protest group.


Ending the drug war

October 18, 2009

The Economist reflects on what happened in Portugal after they decriminalized drug use in 2001. The results were decidedly non-disastrous.


FARC laying landmines

October 18, 2009

FARC is laying landmines throughout rural Colombia.


The tax implications of Obama’s Nobel

October 18, 2009

President Obama’s Nobel prize illustrates the folly of one of the president’s proposed tax “reforms”. It seems Obama wants to limit charitable deductions so that they apply only at the 28% tax rate even if you’re in the 35% tax rate. If Obama’s policy were already in effect, he would stand to lose 7% in taxes by giving the prize money to charity. That’s $98,000.

Why does the president want to discourage charitable giving anyway? What public policy justification could possibly be cited? Is it because private charities lessen the need for government largesse?

(Via Instapundit.)