NASA’s main task is outreach to the Muslim world

July 4, 2010

I swear I am not making this up: The head of NASA says President Obama’s primary job for the agency is outreach to the Muslim world. Exploring space didn’t even make the top three.

UPDATE: The White House is backing away from this now, but it’s amazing how long it took them to do so. They actually tried to defend it at first, which illustrates once again how this president is temperamentally unable to admit he is wrong.

California computers incapable of cutting wages?

July 4, 2010

The California state controller (a Democrat) says that California’s computer system is incapable of complying with the governor’s order to cut most state workers’ pay to minimum wage. He also says it would take 27 months to develop the technology to do it.

I’m pretty sure that mankind has already developed the technology to alter wages.

Fact-checking is dead

July 4, 2010

It’s the juiciest story of journalistic malpractice in a while: Some wire service out of New Zealand ran a story last month headlined: US Republican Apologises for Elena Kagan “Sextape”. The story reported that “GOP consultant” Martin Eisenstadt had apologized for implying that the Heritage Foundation was involved in a purported incident involving an Elena Kagan sex tape. The story noted that Eisenstadt is a senior fellow at the Harding Institute and had been an advisor to John McCain and Sarah Palin.

I guess the story was, as they say, too good to check. ABC News, USA Today, and NPR picked up the story, and even ran the headline verbatim.

One problem: the only thing accurate about the story is the Heritage Foundation exists. There is no Elena Kagan sex tape (thank heavens). There is no Harding Institute. Eisenstadt is not a GOP consultant, and he never advised McCain or Palin.

In fact, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t even exist. He is a hoax, created by two filmmakers. Over the years the two have duped numerous publications into running stories based on Eisenstadt, including MSNBC, the LA Times, the New Republic, and Time. (Wikipedia cites Mother Jones too, but I can’t confirm that.) But the media keep getting taken in, perhaps because Eisenstadt’s exploits are so deliciously damaging to Republicans.

They don’t even change his name, so it would just take a single Google search to uncover the fraud. That’s right, these publications do less fact-checking than Internet Scofflaw! ABC News should be particularly ashamed, since they themselves once ran a story about Eisenstadt being a hoax.

Keep this in mind whenever you catch yourself believing the media.

(Via Ace.)

Happy Independence Day

July 4, 2010

President Calvin Coolidge, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence:

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

(Via Power Line.)

Why the obstruction?

July 2, 2010

A Wall Street Journal op-ed wonders why the president has done nothing to stop the government from obstructing the Gulf coast cleanup:

As the government fails to implement such simple and straightforward remedies, one must ask why.

One possibility is sheer incompetence. Many critics of the president are fond of pointing out that he had no administrative or executive experience before taking office. But the government is full of competent people, and the military and Coast Guard can accomplish an assigned mission. In any case, several remedies require nothing more than getting out of the way.

Another possibility is that the administration places a higher priority on interests other than the fate of the Gulf, such as placating organized labor, which vigorously defends the Jones Act.

Finally there is the most pessimistic explanation—that the oil spill may be viewed as an opportunity, the way White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said back in February 2009, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

My theory has been that this president, a true believer in big government, simply is temperamentally incapable of cutting back government interference. I guess you could put that in the incompetence category. It’s hard to dismiss the other two theories, though.

(Previous post.)

A-Whale still spinning its wheels

July 2, 2010

The government still hasn’t given the world’s largest oil-skimming ship permission to begin skimming oil. Whatever business the government is in down there, protecting the Gulf coast from devastation sure isn’t it.

(Previous post.)

Government still blocking media from oil spill

July 1, 2010

PBS complains that the government is still limiting media access to parts of the oil spill response. And it’s not just the media: Politico reports House Democrats are blocking House Republicans from visiting the spill.

Our government is completely unable to cut the red tape that is obstructing oil spill cleanup, but it is able to block the media and opposition lawmakers. Priorities, you know.

(Previous post.)