President Obama says we owe it to the troops to adopt his domestic agenda?! Wow.
In the Senate race, Manchin (D), who had been seen as a shoo-in, leads Raese (R) by only 6.
Hot Air reports.
I would have been really surprised if they had. Murkowski is not at all a libertarian. It would have been strikingly cynical if they had nominated her to run against the Republican candidate who is more libertarian than she. The Libertarian Party is all about putting ideological purity ahead of practical politics (for example, if a tenth of those who voted Libertarian in the 2008 Minnesota Senate race had voted Republican instead, we wouldn’t have nationalized health care today), so it wouldn’t have made a lot of sense.
Jim Treacher notes a striking commonality among media reports on the Glenn Beck rally. They want to imply that the rally was racist, but they certainly would never have resorted to such weak beer if they had any actual racism to report.
Moreover, the media routinely reports that the Tea Party movement is “overwhelmingly white” when, in fact, polls show that the demographics of the movement are very similar to America. It’s probably not true of the Beck rally either.
The Daily Caller reports:
There were almost no bed bugs in the United States between World War II and the mid-1990s.
Around when bed bugs started their resurgence, Congress passed a major pesticides law in 1996 and the Clinton EPA banned several classes of chemicals that had been effective bed bug killers.
The debate isn’t over long-banned DDT, since modern bed bugs have developed a tolerance for that chemical. But in the pre-1996 regime, experts say, bed bugs were “collateral damage” from broader and more aggressive use of now-banned pesticides like Malathion and Propoxur.
Now some health officials are clamoring to bring those chemicals back to help solve the bed bug “emergency.” Meanwhile, EPA bureaucrats have downplayed the idea and environmentalists are pushing hard against the effort, citing safety concerns.
It could be a coincidence that bedbugs started coming back right after the EPA banned the pesticides that kill them, but it doesn’t seem likely.
A new poll finds that Louisianans, by a 54-33 margin, think that President Bush did a better job with Hurricane Katrina than President Obama with the oil spill. Today, Bush is only barely underwater (44-47) in regard to Katrina.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Bush’s bad perceptions regarding Katrina were largely the result of PR blunders (complimenting Michael Brown when FEMA was failing) and dreadful reporting. Eventually the truth got out. Obama, on the other hand, presided over an administration that actively obstructed the cleanup (for example), blocked media access (for example), and seemed to work hardest when trying to exploit the disaster politically (for example).
A moving story of faith and resistance among Vietnam POWs.
Legal Insurrection catches the Washington Post using a dishonest photo to illustrate its story for the Glenn Beck rally.
I miss the old, liberal but honest Washington Post. I really don’t understand their change from a business perspective either: liberal but honest was an underserved market niche (and is even more so now). Liberal and dishonest papers are a dime a dozen.
A story in the Economist teaches me something I didn’t know about higher education in England. Tuition at English universities is capped at £3,290 per year, which is well below the cost of the education. The government subsidizes the difference. Consequently, to limit the size of the subsidy, the government imposes a cap on the number of students. No school can grow its class without obtaining permission from the government, which is routinely denied.
The price cap does not apply to foreign students (from outside Britain and the EU), so the number of such students is not capped. Consequently, the number of international students at English schools is soaring. For example, at the London School of Economics, half of the undergraduates and 80% of the graduate students are foreign.
This is an appallingly perverse policy. The government is requiring its universities (some of the best in the world) to serve foreign students instead of its own citizens. No doubt the policy was justified as making higher education more affordable when, in fact, it actually makes it unavailable to most prospective students. Fixing the system would presumably result in an outcry from the minority who benefit from the arrangement.
In short, it’s an excellent example of the perversity of progressive policies.
Remember the old canard about how the Bush administration put politics ahead of science? Now we have an administration that actually does that, and not just in regard to economics and oil spills either. Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services tried to keep the lid on the results of an HHS study on sex and abstinence, even going so far as to deny a Freedom of Information Act request.
HHS was ultimately forced to release the study when faced with a deluge of FOIA requests. The study found that the vast majority of parents (no surprise) and adolescents (a bit more surprising) believe that sex should wait until marriage.
POSTSCRIPT: Incidentally, this is a different study than the Penn study published earlier this year that showed that abstinence education works.
Jim Geraghty thinks that the media’s fawning over ne’er-do-well-youth-cum-liberal-celebrity-of-the-moment Levi Johnston isn’t doing Johnston any favors. He’s right.
Years ago NBC News sent actors dressed in Muslim garb to a NASCAR race, in hopes that NASCAR fans might mistreat them in some way. (It didn’t work.) NBC never apologized.
NBC’s ploy crossed the line from reporting news to trying to create news. Now ABC News has been caught doing something similar. According to a speaker at a rally against the Cordoba House project, ABC sent a man undercover into the crowd, who tried to stir up the crowd while an ABC cameraman recorded at a distance. The man refused to identify himself, and later tried to hide his connection to ABC, which seems to settle any question about whether this was an innocent project.
Montgomery, Alabama has discovered a loophole in a state law limiting eminent domain. City officials are sending bulldozers to demolish properties they want to take over, in some cases properties in which eminent domain has already failed in court. Then, rather than compensating the owners for their loss, the city bills them for the demolition. If the owner can’t pay, they city then seizes the property and sells it to developers.
Police in Salisbury, North Carolina arrested a woman for watching a traffic stop from her front porch. She is now being prosecuting for resisting arrest.
The Salisbury Police chief, defending the arrest, says that “resisting arrest” applies to any person that hinders a police officer in the performance of his duties. Since that hindrance evidently can be imaginary, such as watching from one’s own property, it seems that there’s very little limit on the power of North Carolina police to order people around.
Hugo Chavez’s popularity is down to 36%, in part due an astonishingly high murder rate. Caracas’s murder rate of 233 per 100k is more than twice last year’s rate, and exceeds Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez and every war zone in the world.
The question is whether 36% is low enough to keep him from being “re-elected”. I wouldn’t count on it.
The government wants to simplify our lives by eliminating those pesky choices:
More than 3 million seniors may have to switch their Medicare prescription plan next year, even if they’re perfectly happy with it, thanks to an attempt by the government to simplify their lives.
The policy change could turn into a hassle for seniors who hadn’t intended to switch plans during Medicare’s open enrollment season this fall.
And it risks undercutting President Barack Obama’s promise that people who like their health care plans can keep them.
A new analysis by a leading private research firm estimates that more than 3 million beneficiaries will see their current drug plan eliminated as Medicare tries to winnow down duplicative and confusing coverage, in order to offer consumers more meaningful choices. Instead of 40 or more plans in each state, beneficiaries would pick from 30 or so.
“Risks undercutting” is a terrific understatement. “Once again exposes as a lie” would be more apt.
“If you like your health care, you keep it.” I guess they thought that had a better ring than, “If you like your health care, we’ll give you something that we think is probably just about as good.”
Kaiser Health News reports that colleges and universities are worried that health care nationalization may prevent them from offering low-cost health plans for students.
The way I read this, the schools have good reason to be concerned; the plans in question are definitely not allowed under the new law. But, I suspect that the government will make an exception, as they will (at first) in any other case that gets the law bad press.
This is how our government is being run now: blanket bans, but exceptions for the politically well-connected. But the exceptions probably won’t last. If the law manages to survive the next few years and the furor fades, they will start withdrawing the exceptions.
The EPA is considering a ban on ammunition containing lead, which is to say, most ammunition.
UPDATE: It shouldn’t have even gotten as far as a public comment period, insofar as the law explicitly excludes ammunition from EPA regulation, and, moreover, we have the Second Amendment. But the EPA has done the right thing and reversed course, denying the proposal just two days into the comment period.
The NRA credits a public outcry, which I’m sure there was, but since when does the EPA care about public outcry? I’m sure they got orders to make this thing go away; the last thing Democrats need right now is to energize the gun-rights movement.
A clinical study in South Korea finds that a drug is effective in treating Starcraft addiction.
China has a 60-mile traffic jam, a week-and-a-half old. People have been stuck for days.
When you’re done marveling at the vaunted competence of China’s central management (Tom Friedman, call your office), this would be an apt time to reflect on America’s wisdom (by which I mean the wisdom of our free markets) in moving freight by rail instead of highway.
The National Association of Broadcasters is lobbying Congress to require that FM radios be built into all cell phones.
The Hill reports:
ShoreBank, a Chicago-area community lender praised by Democrats, was taken over by the government Friday and its assets sold.
Chicago-area Democrats pushed hard for regulators to extend bailout money to the bank from the government’s $700 billion aid program. The bank, started in the 1970s, was praised by President Clinton and numerous other lawmakers and industry players.
In a statement late Friday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) said it had taken receivership of the failed bank.
Whatever virtues ShoreBank might have had, being a good bank was apparently not one of them.
President Obama’s loan modification program is a dismal failure:
Nearly half of the 1.3 million homeowners who enrolled in the Obama administration’s flagship mortgage-relief program have fallen out.
The program is intended to help those at risk of foreclosure by lowering their monthly mortgage payments. Friday’s report from the Treasury Department suggests the $75 billion government effort is failing to slow the tide of foreclosures in the United States, economists say. . .
“The government program as currently structured is petering out. It is taking in fewer homeowners, more are dropping out and fewer people are ending up in permanent modifications,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.
UPDATE: Stephen Spruiell explains that the program’s real purpose was never to aid homeowners, but Fannie and Freddie’s stockholders. So perhaps it wasn’t a failure after all.
As predicted, the credit card “reform” bill has resulted in soaring credit card interest spreads (credit card interest in excess of the prime rate). Spreads are now at their highest level in 22 years. Democrats thought that people with good credit should subsidize those with bad credit, and they’ve gotten their wish.
Is Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam responsible for the Cordoba House project, really hoping to improve interfaith relations, as he claims? Or is he really trying to inflame interfaith relations in order to worsen perceptions of America abroad, as Victor Davis Hanson suggests?
Whatever his aims, certainly Rauf is accomplishing the latter, so we can get a good idea of his aims by looking at his reaction to the controversy. Does he lament how his project is hurting relations between Muslims and others? Nope:
The imam leading the construction of the so-called “ground zero mosque” said Sunday that the controversy surrounding the planned cultural center is a “sign of success,” the Associated Press reports.
Why is Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaking at a rally organized by infamous race hustler Al Sharpton? The Department of Education won’t say, and actually hung up on the Daily Caller when they called to ask.
Toomey defeats Specter (Pennsylvania). Lee defeats Bennett (Utah). Rubio defeats Crist (Florida). Paul defeats Grayson (Kentucky). Angle defeats Lowden (Nevada). Buck defeats Norton (Colorado). Scott defeats McCollum (Florida). Miller apparently defeats Murkowski (Alaska).
Across the country, insurgents are defeating establishment candidates in Republican primaries. Nearly all of them are favored to win in the general election. Hopefully the GOP establishment is getting the message. If the GOP returns to power, we don’t want a repeat of their fecklessness from the last time.
The Obama administration claims that the NOAA’s recent assessment that three-quarters of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill is gone underwent peer review:
[NOAA Administrator] DR. LUBCHENCO: . . . The report was produced by scientific experts from a number of different agencies, federal agencies, with peer review of the calculations that went into this by both other federal and non-federal scientists.
[Energy Czar] MS. BROWNER: Can I just add another point? This has all been — as Dr. Lubchenco said — been subjected to a scientific protocol, which means you peer review, peer review and peer review. You look at what the inputs are. You look at what the models are. All of this has been made available.
But, Bill Lehr, an NOAA scientist, is telling Congress that the report was released with peer review incomplete and the data are not yet being made available.
This would be the second time in recent weeks that the Obama administration has lied about peer review of a report dealing with the oil spill.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Senior Obama administration officials concluded the federal moratorium on deepwater oil drilling would cost roughly 23,000 jobs, but went ahead with the ban because they didn’t trust the industry’s safety equipment and the government’s own inspection process, according to previously undisclosed documents.
When pollsters as questions on matters of fact, they nearly always report dismaying results. At first glance, then, there’s no reason to be particularly surprised by the recent poll showing that 18% of Americans think that President Obama is a Muslim. But is the question of Obama’s religion really a matter of fact?
For the record, I do not think Obama is a Muslim. But it is not necessarily ignorant to think he is. Pew’s question did not ask what Obama says is his religion, it asks what is his religion. Although I’m sure that some of the 18% is simply ignorant, I’m also sure that most of them believe he is lying.
ASIDE: Usually, a considerable fraction of the public despises the administration in office enough to believe nearly anything negative about them. The idea that Obama might be a Muslim is pretty mild compared to the 22% that believed in 2007 that President Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance.
The press wants to treat this issue as a question of fact. Obama says he is a Christian, therefore he must be. MSNBC even goes so far as to say the fact that Obama gets Bible verses sent to his blackberry every day proves he is a Christian. For the press, Obama hits the sweet spot: religious enough not to damage his political prospects (if only they could get that stupid public to believe it), but not so religious as to actually affect his philosophy. Those guys, like George W Bush, are scary!
Personally, I don’t think that Obama has any well-defined belief system at all, Christian or Muslim. He says he is a Christian, but an interview he gave in 2004 shows he clearly is not, at least in any orthodox sense. I think he picked a church in Chicago for political benefit, and then spent years managing not to hear any of the hate preached from its pulpit. Having won the White House, he no longer saw any benefit to the trappings of religion, but with poll results like this and problems like the Cordoba House controversy, I think we will probably see him return to those trappings soon.
Already forced to apologize for saying he had served “in” Vietnam in the Marine Reserve rather than stateside, the state attorney general’s campaign for U.S. Senate is now being challenged to explain his assertion that he had “never taken PAC money” and has “rejected all special interest money.”
Federal records show that he has accepted $480,000 in political action committee money since he made that claim in January. Moreover, his Republican opponent, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, points to nearly $17,000 Blumenthal received as a state legislative candidate in the 1980s — a figure Blumenthal’s campaign does not dispute.
I noted Blumenthal’s previous fabulism here.
Now that the war in Iraq is officially over (as a practical matter it’s been over for two years) Randall Hoven summarizes its financial cost:
All told, the war in Iraq cost $709 billion, including foreign aid and training of local forces. That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office (p. 15). If you include the rest of the Global War on Terror (mostly Afghanistan), it brings the total to $1.1 trillion through 2010. That’s a lot of money to be sure, but despite what some on the left have said, it’s nothing compared to our gaping fiscal hole.
POSTSCRIPT: In fact, it’s worth recalling that for the last few years we’ve been spending more on stimulus boondoggles than on the war:
How pathetic is the New York Times?
But many of Mr. DeLay’s actions remain legal only because lawmakers have chosen not to criminalize them.
. . . your Aston Martin runs on bioethanol made entirely from wine.
My days of not taking Prince Charles seriously are certainly coming to a middle.
The DNC has pulled a laughable anti-Bush ad. Okay, the ad was just bad, but its deeper problem is the shelf life on blaming Bush has long since expired. In fact, Bush is more popular than Obama now, at least in the key districts Democrats would like to hold.
So what will be the Democrats’ national strategy? They can’t just attack Bush any more. They can’t ride Obama’s coattails; he is a net negative now. Issues don’t work: the Democratic recovery plan has failed, the public hates their health care nationalization bill, public support for Kagan is anemic, and what else do they have to say for themselves?
Newt Gingrich has a great idea for how to promote liberty and free markets around the world.
Scientists have treated Parkinson’s Disease in rats using iPS cells.
Popular Mechanics: Compact fluorescent bulbs just aren’t very good, and LED bulbs are $30-$50 each. Soon they will be mandatory, though. So when is the right time to start hoarding incandescent bulbs?
The Daily Caller takes a look at how the people who run the Cordoba House’s Twitter feed respond to criticism: sarcasm, vulgarity, and the occasional insult to Judaism.
Danny Glover, a new media strategist and editor of the Capitol Hill Tweet Watch Report, said that Park 51 hurt their brand far more by addressing criticism in such a manner.
“I think they clearly missed the boat,” Glover said. “The problem here is that you have someone trying to be snarky when you’re having a serious debate across the country about whether or not this mosque should be where they want it to be. So if you want people to debate serious issues like freedom of religion and free speech and you want people to take you seriously, then you have to tweet like an adult.”
Los Angeles is seething after President Obama’s fundraising visit, reports the LA Times:
We have one word for you, Mr. President, the next time you want to sweep into Los Angeles late on a weekday afternoon: Helicopter. That way, you can avoid the streets the rest of us mere residents must use to get around.
President Obama’s fundraising mission in Los Angeles on Monday evening may have been a whirlwind trip for him, but it was a tedious slog for the thousands who found themselves in gridlock from the Westside to downtown.
Gateway Pundit had the story first.
Which party is it that likes to call their opponents un-American? Despite what the left likes to pretend, it’s nearly always the Democrats. For the latest example, I give you Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm:
Q: And we know you’ve had the disaster in the Gulf, you’ve had an oil spill in your own state. You know, you guys are doing a lot in making these investments in batteries and in new care. And here you have people like Rush Limbaugh, come out and say that the Volt is an “overpriced lemon.” What do you say to critics?
GRANHOLM: It’s just un-American. I can’t believe that somebody would say this about this American product. He hasn’t even driven it. He hasn’t sat in it. You know, why wouldn’t you be supportive of American manufacturers building American vehicles with American workers, who now have jobs as a result of this.
If you don’t like an American car, you’re un-American. Wow, that’s a lot of un-American Americans.
President Obama gave Donald Berwick a recess appointment to head Medicare in order to avoid public scrutiny. Now it seems that he may have more to hide than his radical views. The Washington Times has found that he failed to disclose several major donors to his foundation. His foundation, in turn, spends a significant portion of its budget on his pay.
The Associated Press has issued rules to its staff dictating how the Cordoba House controversy is to be covered. Those rules seem calculated to obscure the facts and make opponents of the mosque project sound unreasonable:
We should continue to avoid the phrase “ground zero mosque” or “mosque at ground zero” on all platforms. . . The site of the proposed Islamic center and mosque is not at ground zero, but two blocks away in a busy commercial area. We should continue to say it’s “near” ground zero, or two blocks away.
No mosque is going up at ground zero. The center would be established at 45-51 Park Place, just over two blocks from the northern edge of the sprawling, 16-acre World Trade Center site. Its location is roughly half a dozen normal lower Manhattan blocks from the site of the North Tower, the nearer of the two destroyed in the attacks.
I think it’s fair enough for neutral reporting to avoid the term “Ground Zero Mosque”, which is used by the project’s opponents. But is it true that no mosque is going up at Ground Zero? That question ultimately turns on your definition of “Ground Zero”. If Ground Zero means the World Trade Center site only, then the AP is right. However, if Ground Zero refers to buildings in New York that were destroyed or damaged beyond repair due to airplane impacts on 9/11, then the site is indeed on Ground Zero.
The only buildings to collapse on 9/11 were WTC 1, 2, 3, and 7. Several more buildings were damaged beyond repair, including 4WTC, 5WTC, 6WTC, 130 Liberty Street, 30 West Broadway, and 45 Park Place. The latter, at which location the Cordoba House is slated to be built, was hit by the landing gear from United flight 175. The subsequent inspection found that the impact destroyed three floor beams and severely compromised its interior structure.
These facts are important, and the AP should not be trying to hide them. The AP’s document later mentions in passing that the building was damaged on 9/11, but it gives no indication that that damage was far more extensive than that of the countless other buildings damaged on 9/11, and required the building’s demolition.
The AP wants to portray the project as a mosque that just happens to be going up near Ground Zero. If that were true, some people would probably still take offense, but not remotely as many. But the fact is that this location became available precisely because of the damage done on 9/11, and in fact, the developers have said it was picked for that reason. The majority of the American people find that extraordinarily unseemly.
No one has established a link between the cleric and radicals. New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said, “We’ve identified no law enforcement issues related to the proposed mosque.”
The first part is simply untrue. Feisal Abdul Rauf is an apologist for Hamas and blames America for the 9/11 attacks. He wrote a book entitled A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa in the Heart of America Post-9/11. And, providing a link to other radicals, an edition of that book was published in America (under a different title) with funding from Muslim Brotherhood front groups.
The second part may well be true, but it is still misleading, as it gives the impression they’ve looked. As far we know, they haven’t.
Here is a succinct summary of President Obama’s position:
Obama has said he believes Muslims have the right to build an Islamic center in New York as a matter of religious freedom, though he’s also said he won’t take a position on whether they should actually build it.
That is the position he is taking now. Earlier, when he first waded into the controversy, he gave every impression of support for the project.
UPDATE: Frank Gaffney at Big Peace also fact-checks the piece. Interestingly, he claims that Rauf originally called his project the “Ground Zero Mosque”. He doesn’t substantiate the claim, though.
UPDATE: I found a page on the Cordoba Initiative web site that refers to the project as “Ground Zero Mosque and Cultural Center”, which backs up Gaffney’s claim, at least in part. The page is archived here in case it gets airbrushed. (UPDATE: Yep, it’s down the memory hole.)
Also, an NYT story (backing up the USA Today story linked above) confirms that the site’s connection to 9/11 is why it was selected:
The location was precisely a key selling point for the group of Muslims who bought the building in July. A presence so close to the World Trade Center, “where a piece of the wreckage fell,” said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the cleric leading the project, “sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11.”
Finally, the developers seem to have been not all bashful about referring to the project in terms of Ground Zero, at least until the connection became radioactive.
UPDATE: NPR joins the obscurantist bandwagon, calling “Ground Zero Mosque” a “killer phrase”, meaning a phrase that is politically powerful but inaccurate and misleading. Not once in the article do they mention that the site was available because it was damaged beyond repair on 9/11, nor that the project picked the site because of its connection to 9/11.
The NYT then cites a poll saying that 18 percent of Americans think Obama’s a Muslim. Which is ridiculous, because we all know he spent 20 years in a church where he didn’t hear a single thing the preacher said.
Feisal Abdul Rauf has every legal right to build his mosque. If he owns the land, he can build a mosque on it, and the government has no right to interfere. The effort to block the project by making it a historical landmark was wrong-headed.
In fact, it’s nearly always wrong to block construction by creating landmarks. That sort of landmark preservation comes about when people want to preserve a site but don’t want to pay to do so. If people want to preserve a landmark, they should buy it and preserve it. If preserving the landmark is not worth the price, then the developer’s use for the land is more productive.
However, Americans have every reason to be offended by the project. The site is not just near Ground Zero, it is arguably part of Ground Zero: it became available only because the old Burlington Coat Factory building was hit by part of a hijacked plane and damaged beyond repair. The project’s own proponents have said that the location’s connection to 9/11 is one reason it was selected. To use the site to celebrate the same religion that motivated the terrorists that attacked it is a grotesque irony. If Rauf were really interested in interfaith dialogue, as he claims, he would avoid such a provocation. With all the locations he could build a mosque, why insist on one that offends so many?
The project becomes all the more offensive when you look at who Feisal Abdul Rauf is: Rauf is an apologist for Hamas. He blames United States policy for the attacks. And, he published a book with a revealing title: A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa in the Heart of America Post-9/11. An edition of the book was published in America (under a different title) with funding from Muslim Brotherhood front groups. Given who Rauf is, it seems all but certain that the project is a deliberate provocation.
So while the government has no place interfering with the project, society is right to be outraged and to bring social pressure to bear. What’s more, the public seems to understand the difference. According to a new poll, about two-thirds of New Yorkers agree with each sentiment.
Which brings us to President Obama. On Friday, Obama decided to wade into the controversy. He could have simply said what most Americans seem to believe: the mosque is a bad idea, but Rauf still has the right to build it. However, for some reason, Obama couldn’t bring himself to do that. (Transcript here.) Instead, he touched only on Rauf’s right to build his mosque, and gave no hint of any distaste for the project.
Everyone took his meaning; he was for the project. For instance, the New York Times story opened:
Obama Strongly Backs Islam Center Near 9/11 Site
President Obama delivered a strong defense last night of a proposed Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero in New York. . . After weeks of avoiding the high-profile battle over the center — his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said last week that the president did not want to “get involved in local decision-making” — Obama stepped squarely into the thorny debate, leaving little doubt about how he feels.
But Obama’s clarity didn’t last long. Sensing the fury of the public and of vulnerable Democrats, he quickly moved to obfuscate his position. The next day, he announced:
I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there.
ASIDE: New York Times has duly airbrushed its story in light of Obama’s declarification, which is why you won’t see the final phrase there any more. You can see it in the Winston-Salem Journal’s version of the story. You can also see it, for now, in Google’s cache, which I’ve screenshotted for when it changes:
What did Obama really mean to say? Your guess is as good as mine, but I don’t think Obama was using his remarks just to agree with the conventional opinion. If he intended to disagree with conventional opinion, there are only three possibilities: (1) he approves of the mosque, as was originally reported by his supporters, (2) he thinks erroneously that Americans want the government to block the mosque, or (3) both. A fourth possibility, suggested by Byron York, is that Obama was fumbling an attempt at Bill Clinton’s rhetorical trick of making remarks that are simultaneously interpreted differently by different groups. None of those possibilities reflect well on him.
POST-POSTSCRIPT: While all this is going on, Feisal Abdul Rauf is on a Middle East tour, paid for by the US State Department.
The United Federation of Teachers fires a staffer for trying to organize its staff:
In a move of stunning hypocrisy, the United Federation of Teachers axed one of its longtime employees — for trying to unionize the powerful labor organization’s own workers, it was charged yesterday. Jim Callaghan, a veteran writer for the teachers union, told The Post he was booted from his $100,000-a-year job just two months after he informed UFT President Michael Mulgrew that he was trying to unionize some of his co-workers.
The union reportedly said it was important that it be able to fire anyone it needed, and unionized employees would interfere with that. No word on whether they saw the irony.
(Via No Left Turns.)
The misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all.
Joan Robinson, Economic Philosophy
(Via the Economist.)
Great Britain is slashing its military:
In the most significant changes to Britain’s defences since the post-Suez review of 1957, ministers and officials plan to scrap large parts of the Armed Forces. The Services will lose up to 16,000 personnel, hundreds of tanks, scores of fighter jets and half a dozen ships, under detailed proposals passed to The Daily Telegraph.
But the RAF will bear the brunt of the planned cuts. The Air Force will lose 7,000 airmen – almost one sixth of its total staff – and 295 aircraft. The cuts will leave the Force with fewer than 200 fighter planes for the first time since 1914. In addition, the Navy will lose two submarines, three amphibious ships and more than 100 senior officers, along with 2,000 sailors and marines. The Army faces a 40 per cent cut to its fleet of 9,700 armoured vehicles and the loss of a 5,000-strong brigade of troops.
In a dangerous world, these sorts of cuts would be deeply irresponsible. I guess this means that the world must be getting safer.
Paul Krugman is a liar. Moreover, as I have noted before, he is the worst kind of liar, a man who dishonestly accuses others of lying. Case in point: Krugman’s recent column attacking Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as a “charlatan” and a “flimflam man”. For the record, Ryan is the only politician with a serious plan to solve our government’s structural deficit.
Krugman doesn’t like Ryan’s plan, but does he offer a serious critique of the plan? No. Instead, he offers a dishonest attack on Ryan’s integrity. In his column and two subsequent blog posts, he says Ryan is a “flimflammer” because he never got the CBO to score the revenue effects of his plan.
Megan McArdle notes that Krugman’s attack misses the mark, for several reasons:
- Ryan did request the CBO to score the revenue side, but the CBO declined because:
- The CBO does not do revenue estimates, the JCT does that.
- Ryan requested the JCT to score the revenue side, but the JCT does not do projections more than ten years out.
- Ryan’s office has been very diligent about responding promptly (within 30 minutes!) to questions. Krugman could have learned any of the above facts if he had simply called Ryan’s office to ask.
So who is the flimflammer? The man with the serious plan, or the man throwing around unfounded accusations who doesn’t even know how Congress estimates revenues?
But, rather than slink back into his hole, Krugman doubled down. He said that Ryan is still a flimflammer, indeed somehow is even more so, because — according to Krugman’s reading of Ryan’s response — Ryan didn’t ask for the 10-year estimate that JCT was willing to do.
McArdle, continuing her yeoman’s work, determined that Krugman’s second attack isn’t true either:
To be honest, I too found that passage ambiguous. Which is why I contacted Ryan’s staff, who were happy to clarify that yes, they asked the JCT to do a forecast, and JCT said no. I don’t understand why Krugman keeps diving deeper into these Talmudic interpretations rather than just calling to ask, when their phone number is easily available on their website. There are some questions that are easier to resolve by talking to a live human being than by re-parsing a report, and this happens to be one of them.
Ryan’s a nice guy. I’m sure he’d have been happy to take the good professor’s call.
Once again, Krugman was wrong, which he would have known if he’d made any effort at all to learn the facts.
ASIDE: Krugman, who has used over 1800 words in a column and three blog posts attacking Ryan, also mocked Ryan’s “snow storm of words” in his response. Ryan’s letter was less than 800 words long.
Setting Krugman’s serial libels aside, the substantive question is whether Ryan’s inability to get a JCT evaluation of his plan somehow makes it worthless. McArdle tackles that one as well:
Eakin [former director of the CBO] said that what Ryan had done seemed entirely reasonable: he did his own analysis, and then faced with a different model that conflicted with his results, said that he would be happy to tweak his numbers until he got either the spending side down, or the tax side up. Many policy proposals that have been marinating considerably longer than Ryan’s roadmap have to go through grueling marathons of tweaking and resubmission until they get a good score.
POSTSCRIPT: James Capretta, watching Krugman’s performance, adds that those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
The Economist has an interesting article on why America’s system of rail freight is the best in the world (hint: deregulation had something to do with it), and how the president’s effort to repurpose it for high-speed passenger trains could ruin it.
In America, we use rail for freight and highways for passengers. In Europe, rail is used for passengers, and highways for freight. America’s system is the more sensible one: humans prefer to travel on their own schedule, and to do so quickly. In contrast, freight usually doesn’t care; the most important factor is cost. Keeping freight transportation cheap reduces the cost of nearly everything. Alas, freight trains don’t look cool.
How much are Americans willing to spend in increased costs for nearly everything, just in order to have cool-looking high-speed passenger trains? We may find out.
National Review has a great story on how Chris Christie is winning battles to fix New Jersey.
Probably no blogging this week.
Even the Washington Post is against the bailout for teachers’ unions:
TO GOVERN is to choose, and nothing lays bare a government’s true priorities like the choices it makes about spending taxpayers’ money. In that regard, the Senate’s decision to spend $10 billion on education jobs this week is revealing — and deeply discouraging.
The crusade for an education jobs bill, led by the Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress, has always struck us as more of an election-year favor for teachers unions than an optimal use of public resources. Billed as an effort to stimulate the economy, it’s not clearly more effective than alternative uses of the cash. Yes, school budgets are tight across the country, but the teacher layoff “crisis” is exaggerated. In fact, as happens each year, many teachers who got pink slips in the spring have been notified that they’ll be hired after all. Many layoffs could have been — and indeed have been — avoided by modest union concessions.
As of last school year, the money for 5.5 percent of the 6 million K-12 jobs nationwide came from Washington through the 2009 stimulus; the new money reinforces this dangerous dependency.
What I like about this is the unmasking of the teachers’ unions, one of the key tribes that make up the Democratic party. For a long time the teachers’ unions have been generally well regarded by much of the public — they’re teachers after all! — despite the fact that they consistently work against the interests of students. Of course, this is the ordinary role of unions: to advance the interests of the union (and occasionally the rank-and-file) against the interests of the employer, but they’ve often been able to disguise that fact. For example, they use names (e.g., National Education Association) that suggest that they are education groups instead of labor groups. Now people are getting to see the teachers’ unions behaving like (gasp) unions, refusing even modest concessions while everything collapses around them.
The National Court of Spain has issued an arrest warrant for three American soldiers in relation to a seven-year-old incident in Iraq. The US Army concluded years ago that the soldiers had acted properly. Moreover, the incident has nothing whatsoever to do with Spain. Nevertheless, Spain has given itself the authority to prosecute any supposed crime anywhere in the world, under their doctrine of universal jurisdiction.
Naturally, the United States (even under this administration) is not likely to extradite the soldiers. Still, this means that the three can never travel to Spain, or anywhere else in the world that might be less reticent to extradite them.
Americans ought to withhold their business from Spain as long as Spain persists in persecuting American soldiers. But Michelle Obama clearly doesn’t see it that way.
Megan McArdle is aghast:
If you want to know why us libertarian types are skeptical of the government’s ability to prevent housing market bubbles, well, I give you Exhibit 9,824: the government’s new $1000 down housing program.
No, really. The government has apparently decided, in its infinite wisdom, that what the American economy really needs is more homebuyers with no equity.
Last December, the Obama administration gave Fannie and Freddie a blank check, planning to cover unlimited losses. With that blank check in place, rumor has it that President Obama is poised to use it to buy votes:
Rumors are running wild from Washington to Wall Street that the Obama administration is about to order government-controlled lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to forgive a portion of the mortgage debt of millions of Americans who owe more than what their homes are worth. An estimated 15 million U.S. mortgages – one in five – are underwater with negative equity of some $800 billion. Recall that on Christmas Eve 2009, the Treasury Department waived a $400 billion limit on financial assistance to Fannie and Freddie, pledging unlimited help. The actual vehicle for the bailout could be the Bush-era Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, a sister program to Obama’s loan modification effort. HARP was just extended through June 30, 2011. . .
What is happening is that the president’s approval ratings are continuing to erode, as are Democratic election polls. Democrats are in real danger of losing the House and almost losing the Senate. The mortgage Hail Mary would be a last-gasp effort to prevent this from happening and to save the Obama agenda. The political calculation is that the number of grateful Americans would be greater than those offended that they — and their children and their grandchildren — would be paying for someone else’s mortgage woes.
Frankly, I think he is miscalculating, and that America will be outraged at another bailout. But that won’t get the money back.
UPDATE: A Wall Street Journal editorial argues that this probably won’t happen, but they sound less than completely certain.
The lawlessness of the DOJ’s civil rights division under Eric Holder is breathtaking:
The Justice Department has found a new way to pursue civil rights lawsuits, using the powers of the Civil Rights Division not just to win compensation for victims of alleged discrimination but also to direct large sums of money to activist groups that are not discrimination victims and not connected to a particular suit.
In the past, when the Civil Rights Division filed suit against, say, a bank or a landlord, alleging discrimination in lending or rentals, the cases were often settled by the defendant paying a fine to the U.S. Treasury and agreeing to put aside a sum of money to compensate the alleged discrimination victims. There was then a search for those victims — people who were actually denied a loan or an apartment — who stood to be compensated. After everyone who could be found was paid, there was often money left over. That money was returned to the defendant.
Now, Attorney General Eric Holder and Civil Rights Division chief Thomas Perez have a new plan. Any unspent money will not go back to the defendant but will instead go to a “qualified organization” approved by the Justice Department. And if there is not enough unspent money — that will be determined by the Department — then the defendant might be required to come up with more money to give to the “qualified organization.” . . .
The new Civil Rights Division tactic represents a departure from a fundamental principle of such cases, which is the pursuit of justice on behalf of actual victims. “If the Department of Justice recovers funds for alleged civil rights violations, the money should go to compensate victims or to the Treasury,” says Bob Driscoll, who was a top official in the Civil Rights Division during the first two years of the George W. Bush administration. “The practice of the Civil Rights Division steering settlement funds to favored advocacy groups is at odds with both civil rights laws and common sense. If Congress wants to fund certain advocacy groups or set up grants for agencies to award in order to promote non-discrimination, it can. But allowing the Civil Rights Division to steer a defendant’s money to its ideological allies is offensive.”
(Via Hot Air.)
Shockingly, the federal government has been lying about body scanner images:
For the last few years, federal agencies have defended body scanning by insisting that all images will be discarded as soon as they’re viewed. The Transportation Security Administration claimed last summer, for instance, that “scanned images cannot be stored or recorded.”
Now it turns out that some police agencies are storing the controversial images after all. The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.
This follows an earlier disclosure (PDF) by the TSA that it requires all airport body scanners it purchases to be able to store and transmit images for “testing, training, and evaluation purposes.” The agency says, however, that those capabilities are not normally activated when the devices are installed at airports.
So when the TSA said images cannot be stored, what they meant was images can be stored, and that capability is routinely used by the federal government. Now TSA says they don’t use that capability. Are they telling the truth now? Certainly they’ve given us no reason to trust them.
Via Instapundit, who adds:
Whenever the government collects information, it lies about what it will do with it. This is a near-universal law.
Missouri just held a vote on a ballot measure that would prohibit the government from imposing an individual mandate to purchase health care. It was almost entirely symbolic, since states cannot override the federal government, even when the federal government oversteps its constitutional powers. Still, it’s a very good indication of the voters’ opinion of Obamacare in a key bellweather state.
The result was a smashing verdict against Obamacare:
Ed Morrissey notes two other interesting facts about the vote. Interest in the proposition was high: more people voted on Proposition C than voted in both Senate primaries combined. Also, considerably fewer people voted against Proposition C than voted in the Democratic primary. At least 14% of Democratic primary voters either opposed Obamacare or declined to vote.
UPDATE: Michael Barone does his thing.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
The online habits of most people who use the world’s dominant Web browser are an open book to advertisers. That wasn’t the plan at first.
In early 2008, Microsoft Corp.’s product planners for the Internet Explorer 8.0 browser intended to give users a simple, effective way to avoid being tracked online. They wanted to design the software to automatically thwart common tracking tools, unless a user deliberately switched to settings affording less privacy.
That triggered heated debate inside Microsoft. As the leading maker of Web browsers, the gateway software to the Internet, Microsoft must balance conflicting interests: helping people surf the Web with its browser to keep their mouse clicks private, and helping advertisers who want to see those clicks.
In the end, the product planners lost a key part of the debate. The winners: executives who argued that giving automatic privacy to consumers would make it tougher for Microsoft to profit from selling online ads. Microsoft built its browser so that users must deliberately turn on privacy settings every time they start up the software.
This is a particularly pungent example of a pervasive conflict-of-interest problem: “features” in software and consumer electronics that disadvantage the consumer who pays for the product.
The Political Times column last Sunday, about a generational divide over racial attitudes, erroneously linked one example of a racially charged statement to the Tea Party movement. While Tea Party supporters have been connected to a number of such statements, there is no evidence that epithets reportedly directed in March at Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, outside the Capitol, came from Tea Party members.
But this correction is woefully inadequate. It suggests that the epithets were issued, but it hasn’t been shown that they came from Tea Party participants. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest that the epithets were issued at all. To the contrary, all the available evidence suggests that Lewis and company made the whole thing up.
Still, the NYT’s partial correction shows that this particular fabrication is losing its effectiveness.
POSTSCRIPT: There’s also the pathetic smear that “Tea Party supporters have been connected to a number of such statements.” Out of the hundreds of thousands that have attended Tea Parties, I’m sure that the Times could find a few racists (although most of those are plants). Among the NYT’s darling Democrats, one hardly has to wade into the crowd to find the racists.
For the first time since President Obama took office, voters see his policies as equally to blame with those of President George W. Bush for the country’s current economic problems. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters now think Obama’s policies are to blame for the continuing bad economy, up three points from last month. Forty-seven percent (47%) say the recession that began under Bush is at fault.
In fact, as Hinderaker points out, this result may even overestimate the degree to which the public still blames President Bush since the two options were not parallel: Obama on one hand, and the recession that began under Bush on the other.
The Washington Post, which rejected two offers for Newsweek on ideological grounds, has sold the failed news weekly for $1 to Sidney Harman, the husband of Democratic representative Jane Harman (CA). (Harman also agreed to assume Newsweek’s debts.) Harman’s bid won out because he pledged to keep more staff than the other contenders.
The Washington Post is a publicly traded company. I wonder if we’ll see a shareholder lawsuit.
UPDATE: How Newsweek went wrong.
The lawsuit against health care nationalization has passed its first hurdle. The judge hearing the case found:
The guiding precedent [on the Commerce Clause] is informative but inconclusive. Never before has the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause been extended this far. At this juncture, the court is not persuaded that the Secretary has demonstrated a failure to state a cause of action with respect to the Commerce Clause element.
(Emphasis mine.) This is just what Randy Barnett has been saying.
Jon Kyl (R-AZ) says we should consider amending the Constitution to withdraw birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. CBS reported his remarks to say that Kyl called for repeal of the entire 14th Amendment:
Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., said today that Congress should hold hearings to look into denying citizenship to illegal aliens’ children born in the United States, as the fight over immigration widens into the explosive “birthright” issue.
Kyl told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he supports a call by fellow Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to introduce a new amendment to repeal the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
Sheesh. You would think that they would understand the difference between “repeal” and “amend”, since the 14th Amendment is, in fact, an amendment already.
CBS has since corrected its article. It still spells Kyl’s first name wrong though. (It’s Jon, not John.)
POSTSCRIPT: Although it has no bearing on the media failure aspect of this, I think such an amendment would probably not be a good idea.
Max Boot looks at the troubling history of post-war military contractions.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made a false claim about the size of government spending being proposed by the Obama administration.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” July 25, he said the president is proposing spending “as a share of our economy” that is “lower” than it was during the Bush administration and “comparable” to what it was under Ronald Reagan. Neither claim is true.
The administration’s own estimates project spending next year that is higher as a percentage of the economy than in any year since the end of World War II. The average projected by Obama’s budget officials is significantly higher than the average under Reagan or Bush (father or son).
POSTSCRIPT: I would add that the 2009 budget, which they charge to President Bush, was actually prepared by President Obama.
UPDATE: I would also add that the last two years, in which the budget starts to fall, are the hypothetical estimates of years that are at least a year away. Older estimates had the deficit falling in 2010 and 2011 as well, but those estimates fell by the wayside by the time those years actually happened.
House Democrats proposed repealing a piece of the health care overhaul Friday, a move designed to thwart Republican efforts to do the same thing and declare an early victory in their efforts to repeal the whole law.
Democrats proposed repealing new IRS reporting requirements that small business has warned would be overly burdensome. But they attached a new tax on Americans conducting business overseas— essentially a poison pill for Republicans who are unlikely to support a new tax.
I wrote about the 1099 provision last May. The Politico article assumes that the Democrats are in earnest about this, and simply differ from Republicans over whether a tax increase ought to be attached to the repeal. But that might not be the right assumption. Politico notes that the Democrats came up with their own proposal only when the Republican proposal was on the verge of passage:
The bill gives Democrats cover for not supporting a similar amendment that Republicans had planned to propose Thursday evening. It also would have repealed the new reporting requirements but would have had different ways to pay for it. Democrats blocked the amendment from coming to the floor when it became clear that it could have passed.
The other way to read this is as an attempt to block the repeal. Somebody put that provision into the bill for a reason. What could be the reason for so costly and unnecessary a provision? A good theory is it was to be the first step toward a VAT.
We don’t have to guess at the Democrats’ intentions. They considered the repeal under a special rule that required two-thirds support. If they try again under normal order and pass it, we’ll know they were in earnest. If they never get around to it, we’ll know they weren’t.
Is the Coast Guard partly to blame for the oil spill disaster?
The Coast Guard has gathered evidence it failed to follow its own firefighting policy during the Deepwater Horizon disaster and is investigating whether the chaotic spraying of tons of salt water by private boats contributed to sinking the ill-fated oil rig, according to interviews and documents.
Coast Guard officials told the Center for Public Integrity that the service does not have the expertise to fight an oil rig fire and that its response to the April 20 explosion may have broken the service’s own rules by failing to ensure a firefighting expert supervised the half-dozen private boats that answered the Deepwater Horizon’s distress call to fight the blaze.
An official maritime investigation led by Coast Guard Capt. Hung M. Nguyen in New Orleans is examining whether the salt water that was sprayed across the burning platform overran the ballast system that kept the rig upright, changing its weight distribution, and causing it to list.
In light of this, questions are also being asked about President Obama’s deep cuts in Coast Guard funding.
Here’s an indication of how seriously the Democratic leadership takes Charles Rangel’s (D-NY) criminal conduct:
Democratic leaders and major party donors plan to hold a lavish 80th birthday gala for Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) at The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan next month, despite 13 ethics charges pending against the veteran lawmaker.
Lobbyists and other party donors received invitations this week to join Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and New York Gov. David Paterson (D) at one of New York’s finest hotels to celebrate Rangel’s birthday.
Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are also listed as featured guests, according to an invitation viewed by The Hill.
The Washington Post reports:
The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation. . .
The administration wants to add just four words — “electronic communication transactional records” — to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge’s approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user’s browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the “content” of e-mail or other Internet communication.
Of course, the government can already demand to know who you are talking to on the phone. That’s troubling, to be sure, but at least there is a limit to what they can learn from that, because there is a sharp distinction between the phone number and the content of the call. For electronic communications, such a distinction is very hard to maintain. For many communications (e.g., web browsing, or friend requests), the recipient of the message is the entire substance of the message.
Will those on the left who condemned the Bush administration’s policy on phone records step up to condemn this far-worse overreach? We will see who was honest, and who was just scoring political points.
(Via Hot Air.)
Brian Seltzer, a reporter for the New York Times, tweets:
While working on conservative press/race story (http://nyti.ms/90TtFE) I pulled Nielsen #’s for African American cable news viewership…
Fox, as we all know, has biggest audience in prime time. But among African Americans, it’s smallest– 29k vs. 134k for CNN, 145k for MSNBC.
Matt Lewis of Politics Daily rebuts:
This of course, played into the “Fox is racist” meme, and, not surprisingly, Stelter’s words were retweeted many times (and also inspired several media blogs to further discuss Fox News’ lack of diversity).
Interestingly, though, the media site where Stelter primarily blogs (New York Times’ Media Decoder) suffers from the lowest percentage of African-American readers (4.6%) when compared to comparable media sites like Mediaite (5.8%), Gawker (6.4%), Mediabistro (9.2%), etc., according to Nielsen Media Research.
That’s fair enough — people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones — but I think it’s the wrong rebuttal.
More to the point: everyone knows that African-Americans tend to be strongly Democratic. Also, everyone knows that Fox News is right-leaning (only slightly, but perceived as more so). So it’s no surprise that African-Americans, like other predominantly Democratic groups, would not tend to be fans of Fox News. This is just a threadbare attempt to advance the failing idea that opposition to the Democrats is racist.
This smear doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously, but for a moment, let’s pretend it’s offered in good faith. We can all agree that it is racist to refuse to do business with any particular racial group. Fortunately, that kind of overt racism is all but stamped out in America today. What is suggested here is quite different. Seltzer is implying that when members of an underprivileged racial group decide not to partake of a business’s product as much as other racial groups do, that makes the business racist!
This is nonsense. A businessman sells a good or service that he thinks someone will buy. He doesn’t (or shouldn’t, anyway) care who that person is, as long as their money is good. Hardly any product will appeal to all demographics precisely equally. Were we to limit ourselves to such products, we would severely impoverish our society, thereby creating a bland, homogeneous marketplace in the name of “diversity”.