Here’s how our corrupt political system works: Democrats tax us (and borrow) to give sweetheart contracts and defined-benefit pensions to public employees. Public-employee unions collect dues from those employees. Then those unions spend the money to ensure the re-election of Democrats:
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is now the biggest outside spender of the 2010 elections, thanks to an 11th-hour effort to boost Democrats that has vaulted the public-sector union ahead of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and a flock of new Republican groups in campaign spending.
The 1.6 million-member AFSCME is spending a total of $87.5 million on the elections after tapping into a $16 million emergency account to help fortify the Democrats’ hold on Congress. Last week, AFSCME dug deeper, taking out a $2 million loan to fund its push. The group is spending money on television advertisements, phone calls, campaign mailings and other political efforts, helped by a Supreme Court decision that loosened restrictions on campaign spending.
“We’re the big dog,” said Larry Scanlon, the head of AFSCME’s political operations. “But we don’t like to brag.”
This is from a year ago, but I’ve only just learned about it. In a revealing exchange at the National Press Club on May 21, 2009, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was asked about his policies for promoting mass transit and bicycling:
Q: Some in the highway-supporters motorist groups have been concerned by your livability initiative. Is this an effort to make driving more torturous and to coerce people out of their cars?
LaHood: It is a way to coerce people out of their cars, yeah. I mean, look, people don’t like spending an hour and a half getting to work. And people don’t like spending an hour going to the grocery store. And all of you who live around here know exactly what I’m talking about. . .
Q: How do you respond?
LaHood: About everything we do around here is government intrusion into people’s lives. Have at it. [Laughter.]
This came just days after a George Will column alleging that LaHood was trying to modify people’s behavior. I think it’s safe to call that allegation confirmed.
I’m sure the left talks this way amongst themselves all the time in private, but I am surprised to see LaHood come out and proclaim his support for coercion and intrusion into people’s lives at the National Press Club. We need these people out of office. Quite simply, they are enemies of freedom.
POSTSCRIPT: One possible explanation for LaHood’s indiscreet remarks is he may have had good reason to feel he was among friends. After his breezy defense of government intrusion, the transcript shows laughter where it ought to show gasps. Furthermore, when the National Press Club reported the event, the article made no mention of the chilling coercion/intrusion exchange, and made the meeting out to be a love-fest:
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s penchant for off-the-cuff bantering with the press shined through at a packed NPC luncheon May 21, eliciting more laughs than customary for a Cabinet official.
Reporters with CBS’s Anchorage affiliate have been caught on tape conspiring to embarrass Joe Miller, the Republican candidate for Senate from Alaska.
UPDATE: Oh, good grief. KTVA is trying to contest this, saying that the transcript is inaccurate. But the recording is available online, and the transcript sounds entirely accurate. You can decide for yourself.
Slate has developed a semi-objective measure for politicians’ vanity they call the Vanity Index, and they’ve applied it to the members of the Senate. Their methodology is based on the photos and awards that they have on their office wall, with extra credit awarded for photos with celebrities. Obviously it’s not perfect, but I think the results tell us something.
The #1 most vain senator? The famously arrogant blue-blood John Kerry (D-MA), of course. How could it be anyone else? Kerry scored significantly higher than the second-place finisher, the soon-to-be-unemployed Arlen Specter (D-PA). Rounding out the top five are Jim Bunning (R-KY) (as a Hall of Fame baseball player, this is not very surprising), the late Robert Byrd (D-WV), and Joe Lieberman (ID-CT).
“It’s absurd. We’ve lost our minds,” Kerry said. “We’re in a period of know-nothingism in the country, where truth and science and facts don’t weigh in. It’s all short-order, lowest common denominator, cheap-seat politics.”
This quote is vintage John Kerry. All of us disgusted with the Democrats, we are the lowest common denominator, the cheap seats. We know nothing.
And for some reason we didn’t elect that guy president. Imagine that.
If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re going to punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s going to be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.
Obama isn’t talking about Al Qaeda, Iran, or North Korea, he’s talking his domestic opposition. This language is unworthy of a free nation. This is Hugo Chavez territory.
One thing is for certain; Obama won’t be able to get away with this kind of crap any more:
The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America – they have served the United States of America.
So I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.
“Put our country first” was 2008. In 2010, it’s “punish our enemies”.
A government-mandated market in imaginary goods can have pernicious effects? Who ever could have predicted such a thing?
ONE of the curiosities of carbon markets is that they do not just trade in carbon. Other greenhouse gases can be given a value, too—sometimes a very high one. Claims that these prices promote scammery are now prompting some searching questions.
The gas at the centre of the controversy is HFC-23, a greenhouse gas which, on a weight-for-weight basis, is 14,800 times better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. HFC-23 is produced as a by-product of the manufacture of HCFC-22, an ozone-destroying refrigerant. . .
Under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the United Nations HCFC-22 producers in developing countries that destroy, rather than release, their HFC-23 can be eligible for Certified Emission Reduction (CER) credits, which can then be traded in the European Union’s emissions-trading scheme. . .
Because destroying a tonne of HFC-23 is a lot cheaper than avoiding the emission of more than 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, HFC-23 destruction has become the CDM’s principal source of emissions credits. . .
You cannot simply set up an HCFC-22 plant and demand cash; eligibility is limited to companies which were already producing the gases in 2000-04, and companies are capped in the amount they can receive. But there is little incentive for approved incineration schemes to reduce the amount of HFC-23 that they produce. Quite the reverse, argues CDMwatch, a group that monitors the offset market. It says it has shown the CDM executive board that some plants have reduced their HFC-23 production during periods in which they were ineligible for CERs and upped it when they became eligible again, gaming the system.
I can’t fathom how anyone can be surprised. The governments, in their wisdom, decided to create a market for trading these imaginary goods. How can they be shocked when businesses work to manufacture a “product” for which they are being paid?
The Democratic National Committee formally has asked the Pentagon for reams of correspondence between military agencies and nine potential Republican presidential candidates, a clear indication that Democrats are building opposition-research files on specific 2012 contenders even before the midterm elections.
ABC adds that this sort of thing is typical, and the unusual thing is that the Democrats would be doing opposition research so early.
Last month we saw a bizarre idea pushed by Dalia Lithwick of Slate and Ben Adler of Newsweek saying not only that the Congress need not refrain from passing unconstitutional bills, but that to refrain from passing unconstitutional bills would actually be “weird” and “dangerous”. Both believed (or claimed to) that the Supreme Court should be the sole arbiter of constitutionality and it was improper for the other branches even to consider it. (Lithwick even suggested that the principle was written in the constitution, which of course it is not.)
Now we see President Obama expounding the same principle:
Q: And one of the things I’d like to ask you — and I think it’s a simple yes or no question too — is do you think that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is unconstitutional?
THE PRESIDENT: It’s not a simple yes or no question, because I’m not sitting on the Supreme Court. And I’ve got to be careful, as President of the United States, to make sure that when I’m making pronouncements about laws that Congress passed I don’t do so just off the top of my head.
So only the Supreme Court can have a firm opinion about whether DADT is constitutional? Slate and Newsweek don’t matter, except as a window into the mentality of the liberal elite, but when you see President Obama expounding the same idea, it’s liable to become the received wisdom of the left.
POSTSCRIPT: He also implies that he has never considered the question (i.e., an answer would be off the top of his head). I assume that’s a lie, because the alternative is worse: the President of the United States (and a former professor of constitutional law) has never given any thought to DADT, despite it being a controversial policy of his administration, and one that his administration is defending in court.
The US Commission on Civil Rights has released its draft report on the Black Panther scandal. It blasts the Department of Justice, finding that high-level political appointees were involved in the dismissal of the case (after it was already won) and that the DOJ subsequently tried to cover up their involvement. It also blasts the DOJ for failing to enforce voting rights law even-handedly, and for stonewalling the commission’s investigation.
The Washington Post’s story gives us an indication of how the mainstream media will play this story, focusing not on the damning allegations (much less the evidence), but on the partisan smokescreen that Democratic members of the commission have generated.
“It’s great for me to get out of the chair and into the world,” [Katie Couric] says. “I started out as a reporter, and I still enjoy reporting.” . . . That’s why Couric has spent recent weeks in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and New Brunswick, New Jersey. She is touring what she calls “this great unwashed middle of the country” in an effort to divine the mood of the midterms.
I found it so astounding that a news anchor would say something like this, I wondered if she really did. But evidently so, because Couric explained on Twitter that she meant “unwashed” in the positive sense:
Dictionary.com “Great unwashed”: the general public, populace or masses. Referring to overlooked people who r politically in the middle!
I think I might actually prefer Barack Obama’s condescension with a sneer to Couric’s condescension with a smile and a pat on the head.
According to an ABC News poll, public confidence in our system of government is at the lowest level ever measured. When they first started polling the question, during the Watergate scandal, public confidence was 22 points higher.
It’s not hard to see why confidence is so low. When our government can disregard the Constitution and public opinion to nationalize the health care system, the system clearly is not working.
GOP leaders concede that point [that minor budget cuts will barely dent our structural budget deficit] and say they are open to broader bipartisan approaches to tackling the nation’s budget problems. Boehner, for instance, has embraced the possibility of higher taxes, suggesting in a speech in Cleveland this summer that lawmakers should look at clearing out the “undergrowth of deductions, credits, and special carve-outs” in the tax code that are little more than “poorly disguised spending programs.”
This is simply untrue. Boehner’s speech is here. There is nothing whatsoever in that speech to suggest that Boehner has embraced higher taxes. Quite the opposite. You can search for the word tax/taxes: you will find no occurrence suggesting they should be higher, and many suggesting they should be lower.
Boehner did make the point that Congress has discovered that it can disguise spending by putting in the tax code. (This is mainly a Democratic trick, but Republicans employ it too.) The public likes tax cuts, so this makes their pork barreling seem more palatable. Boehner is right that we should put an end to the practice. But that has nothing whatsoever to do with raising taxes to deal with our structural deficit.
That somehow or other these are unconstitutional because they’re not enumerated within the powers of the constitution, that somehow or other we should just be eliminating these, I think that is out of the mainstream.
Is Murkowski unfamiliar with the doctrine of enumerated powers? Or does she merely think that doctrine is out of the mainstream?
Not impeachment of President Obama. Despite the crazy warnings of some on the left, that won’t happen (barring some dramatic malfeasance that we have no reason to expect).
No, the follies are from the other side. Some Democrats are looking into impeaching Chief Justice Roberts over the Citizens United decision. They claim that Roberts committed perjury by claiming not to be a judicial activist.
POSTSCRIPT: Setting aside the preposterous effort to elevate a difference of opinion to an impeachable offense, the current Supreme Court is actually the most restrained in decades.
With Grant, NPR to Step Up State Government Reporting
NPR has received a $1.8 million grant from the Open Society Foundations to begin a project called Impact of Government that is intended to add at least 100 journalists at NPR member radio stations in all 50 states over the next three years. The reporters, editors and analysts will cover state governments and how their actions affect people.
Reading the story, something seemed missing. What could it be? Here’s a hint: Fox News has a story on the grant as well:
Billionaire Soros Pays for Additional Reporters for NPR Partner Initiative
Not only is George Soros the founder and chairman of the foundation, his name is the foundation’s URL (www.soros.com). Nevertheless, the NYT managed to write an entire article on the Foundation without using his name.
It is no longer an exaggeration to say that people who get all their news by reading the New York Times are genuinely uninformed.
The Washington Post has broken its silence on the Black Panther affair, reporting that the Justice Department is hostile to race-neutral enforcement of the laws, just as former DOJ officials havealleged:
In recent months, [J. Christian] Adams and a Justice Department colleague have said the case was dismissed because the department is reluctant to pursue cases against minorities accused of violating the voting rights of whites. Three other Justice Department lawyers, in recent interviews, gave the same description of the department’s culture, which department officials strongly deny.
“The department makes enforcement decisions based on the merits, not the race, gender or ethnicity of any party involved,” spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said. “We are committed to comprehensive and vigorous enforcement of the federal laws that prohibit voter intimidation, as our record reflects.” . . .
Since the division was created in 1957, most of its cases have been filed on behalf of minorities. But there has not always been agreement about that approach.
Civil rights officials from the Bush administration have said that enforcement should be race-neutral. But some officials from the Obama administration, which took office vowing to reinvigorate civil rights enforcement, thought the agency should focus on cases filed on behalf of minorities.
“The Voting Rights Act was passed because people like Bull Connor were hitting people like John Lewis, not the other way around,” said one Justice Department official not authorized to speak publicly, referring to the white Alabama police commissioner who cracked down on civil rights protesters such as Lewis, now a Democratic congressman from Georgia.
Before the New Black Panther controversy, another case had inflamed those passions. Ike Brown, an African American political boss in rural Mississippi, was accused by the Justice Department in 2005 of discriminating against the county’s white minority. It was the first time the 1965 Voting Rights Act had been used against minorities and to protect whites.
Coates and Adams later told the civil rights commission that the decision to bring the Brown case caused bitter divisions in the voting section and opposition from civil rights groups.
Three Justice Department lawyers, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation from their supervisors, described the same tensions, among career lawyers as well as political appointees. Employees who worked on the Brown case were harassed by colleagues, they said, and some department lawyers anonymously went on legal blogs “absolutely tearing apart anybody who was involved in that case,” one lawyer said.
“There are career people who feel strongly that it is not the voting section’s job to protect white voters,” the lawyer said. “The environment is that you better toe the line of traditional civil rights ideas or you better keep quiet about it, because you will not advance, you will not receive awards and you will be ostracized.”
The 2008 Election Day video of the Panthers triggered a similar reaction, said a second lawyer. “People were dismissing it, saying it’s not a big deal. They said we shouldn’t be pursuing that case.”
I don’t see anything here we didn’t know already, but the fact that this is finally breaking into the mainstream media could be a very big deal. Yes, the ran the story on a Saturday, and yes, the key information was buried on page 3, but still, it’s out there now.
The FBI has busted the man responsible for death threats against South Park writers, and other plots. From the press release:
Zachary Adam Chesser, 20, of Fairfax County, Va., pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady to a three-count criminal information that included charges of communicating threats against the writers of the South Park television show, soliciting violent jihadists to desensitize law enforcement, and attempting to provide material support to Al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization. . .
According to court documents filed with his plea agreement, Chesser maintained several online profiles dedicated to extremist jihad propaganda. Today, Chesser pleaded guilty to taking repeated steps in April 2010 to encourage violent jihadists to attack the writers of South Park for their depiction of Muhammad, including highlighting their residence and urging online readers to “pay them a visit.” Among the steps he took was posting on multiple occasions speeches by Anwar Al-Awlaki, which explained the Islamic justification for killing those who insult or defame Muhammad. Al-Awlaki was designated by the United States as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” on July 12, 2010.
Chesser also admitted that in May 2010, he posted to a jihadist website the personal contact information of individuals who had joined the “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” group on Facebook, with the prompting that this is, “Just a place to start.”
Chesser also pleaded guilty to soliciting others to desensitize law enforcement by placing suspicious-looking but innocent packages in public places. Chesser explained through a posting online that once law enforcement was desensitized, a real explosive could be used. Chesser ended the posting with the words, “Boom! No more kuffar.” According to court documents, “kuffar” means unbeliever, or disbeliever.
On Wednesday I discussed Christine O’Donnell’s gaffe-that-wasn’t, when O’Donnell asserted (correctly, of course) that the phrase “separation of church and state” appears nowhere in the First Amendment. I thought that the incident showed that Chris Coons (her opponent), the students at Widener Law School, and the Associated Press didn’t understand how recently (1878) the Supreme Court introduced the doctrine of separation of church and state.
In regards to the Associated Press, I may have been wrong. It now looks as though the AP might have understood perfectly well what O’Donnell was trying to say, but deliberately obscured her point.
Ace noticed something that I did not; the AP article fabricated an O’Donnell quote. Their original story quoted her this way:
When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O’Donnell asked: “You’re telling me that’s in the First Amendment?”
(Emphasis mine.) This quote leaves unclear exactly what O’Donnell was referring to, and it lends itself to the interpretation that O’Donnell was unaware that the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on church and state is anchored in the First Amendment. (That, of course, was the thrust of the original article, before the AP re-wrote it.)
But that’s not what O’Donnell said. In the re-write, the story reads:
She interrupted to say, “The First Amendment does? … So you’re telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase ‘separation of church and state,’ is in the First Amendment?”
(Emphasis mine.) So it turns out that O’Donnell actually had been careful to make her point precisely. The AP writer edited the quote to declarify it, in order to make it fit the desired narrative.
To put it bluntly, the AP lied. What they put into the quotation marks isn’t what O’Donnell said.
They did later re-write the article, but they didn’t post a correction, which seems like a minimum they should do when their original article was a lie, and neither did the Washington Post, which ran the story.
POSTSCRIPT: I want to pile on a little more here. The original article also had this:
Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.
“You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp,” Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O’Donnell’s grasp of the Constitution.
This immediately followed the falsified quote. Again, it contributed to the story’s narrative: if the audience gasped, O’Donnell’s statement must have been shocking.
But in light of the real quote, the gasp seems awfully peculiar. Were the students at Widener Law School really shocked to hear that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the First Amendment? What kind of law school are they running there?
Families receiving WIC (a federal food program similar to food stamps) are about to be reminded of the old adage: he who pays the piper calls the tune. If the government is paying for your food, the government is going to decide what you eat. Specifically, the Agriculture Department has decided that potatoes are bad, and WIC can no longer be used to buy them.
The millions who will soon be having the government pay for their health care may want to remember this.
A woman in Michigan is being sued for seeking a Christian roommate:
A civil rights complaint has been filed against a woman in Grand Rapids, Mich., who posted an advertisement at her church last July seeking a Christian roommate.
The ad “expresses an illegal preference for a Christian roommate, thus excluding people of other faiths,” according to the complaint filed by the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan.
The woman should have a bulletproof case based on freedom of religion (if the courts still respect that kind of thing), but I hope she doesn’t rely exclusively on that. The right to choose with whom we wish to live shouldn’t be restricted to religious motives.
Veronique de Rugy offers this on the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, which are stalled because Democrats want to hike taxes on the top earners:
Setting aside the fact that the top earners are the ones who tend to drive economic growth (entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, etc.), the revenue implications of hiking their taxes are really miniscule. And that’s with a static analysis, before you consider that hiking their taxes will reduce their incentive to work.
Of course, revenue doesn’t matter to these people either. Our president is on record favoring higher taxes even if they reduce revenue. It’s not about the revenue; it’s about the spite. And in that vein, let me bump my fable.
President Obama’s national security adviser Jim Jones is on his way out. Jones was eminently qualified for the job, but by most accounts he never had much influence. He is being replaced by Thomas Donilon, who is principally a political operative. (The guy was a lobbyist for Fannie Mae for six years, for crying out loud.)
Defense Secretary Gates said that Donilon would be a disaster in the job, although he started walking that remark back once Donilon was selected. Jim Jones’s criticisms of Donilon (as reported in Bob Woodward’s book) are sharper and more detailed. The RNC has a summary here.
Gates is reportedly on his way out too. I’m nervous.
I think, look, political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don’t address reality. I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.
NPR’s CEO even went so far as to say that William should have kept his feelings between himself and his psychiatrist.
She later walked back her remark, and tried to claim that it wasn’t Williams’s remark on passengers in Muslim garb that got him fired. Instead, she said:
News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues; doing so undermines their credibility as analysts, and that’s what’s happened in this situation. As you all well know, we offer views of all kinds on your air every day, but those views are expressed by those we interview — not our reporters and analysts.
Oh please. I’ll use the same example as everyone else is using this morning: NPR’s Nina Totenberg, who isn’t even a news analyst, but (laughably) a straight reporter:
I think [Jesse Helms] ought to be worried about what’s going on in the Good Lord’s mind, because if there is retributive justice, he’ll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it.
That’s just one (albeit the worst) of many “personal public positions” that Totenberg has taken on controversial issues. But those remarks are apparently in keeping with NPR’s standards.
Finally, Matt Welch has the most insightful comment on the incident:
Williams’ firing is a clarifying moment in media mores. You can be Islamophobic, in the form of refusing to run the most innocuous imaginable political cartoons out of a broad-brush fear of Muslims, but you can’t admit it, even when the fear is expressed as a personal feeling and not a group description, winnowed down to the very specific and nightmare-exhuming act of riding on an airplane, and uttered in a context of otherwise repudiating collective guilt and overbroad fearmongering.
UPDATE: NPR is in for a penny, in for a pound, I guess. NPR’s ombudsman defends the firing, writing:
I can only imagine how Williams, who has chronicled and championed the Civil Rights movement, would have reacted if another prominent journalist had said:
“But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see an African American male in Dashiki with a big Afro, I get worried. I get nervous.”
Right, because we have so many incidents of Dashiki-clad black men flying airplanes into buildings. Sometimes the old rewrite-the-piece-with-different-nouns trick just doesn’t make sense.
There’s no word yet from the ombudsman on why Nina Totenberg’s Jesse-Helms’s-grandchildren-should-get-AIDS remark met NPR’s “journalistic standards”.
UPDATE: Power Line has been looking at other people who have been blacklisted by NPR: Steven Emerson (investigative journalist and an expert on Islamist terrorism since before 9/11), and Katherine Kersten (columnist with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune). I expect many more names on the list will be revealed before this story is over.
UPDATE: Michael Barone comments on the minds that are open, and those that are closed:
Reading between the lines of Juan’s statement and those of NPR officials, it’s apparent that NPR was moved to fire Juan because he irritates so many people in its audience. An interesting contrast: many NPR listeners apparently could not stomach that Williams also appeared on Fox News. But it doesn’t seem that any perceptible number of Fox News viewers had any complaints that Williams also worked for NPR. The Fox audience seems to be more tolerant of diversity than the NPR audience.
Retired Army Gen. Hugh Shelton wrote in his memoirs that former President Clinton misplaced the nuclear launch card for a couple months, reportedly not the first time a president has dropped the ball for the nuclear “football.” . . .
Lt. Col. Robert Patterson, who was responsible for carrying around the “football” — or the briefcase that serves a mobile strategic defense system, made a similar accusation seven years ago in his book “Dereliction of Duty.”
At the time, Patterson described how Clinton misplaced the card for months, confessing the loss after being asked to provide the card so it could be replaced with an updated code.
This is interesting. The Washington Post ran this AP story yesterday:
Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell of Delaware on Tuesday questioned whether the U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, appearing to disagree or not know that the First Amendment bars the government from establishing religion.
In fact, what happened was nothing of the sort. O’Donnell was making the point, popular among some on the right, that the Constitution never uses the phrase “separation of church and state”. The Constitution does forbid Congress from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion”, but many people, including O’Donnell, argue that the modern notion of separation of church and state goes far beyond the Constitution’s establishment clause.
One may disagree with O’Donnell’s thesis, but it is an argument to be disagreed with. Alas, to Chris Coons (O’Donnell’s Democratic opponent), to the audience at the no-name law school where the debate was held, and to the Associated Press, it was a ridiculous statement, worthy of mockery, not debate. Of course, everyone knows that the First Amendment establishes a separation of church and state.
In fact, as I understand it, the separation of church and state did not enter US case law until 1878 in Reynolds v. United States. Moreover, that decision cited not the text of the First Amendment, but a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association. The Supreme Court justified using it to interpret the First Amendment because Jefferson was one of the amendment’s chief advocates.
Now, I’m not sure that the court was wrong to do so. It strikes me as a defensible piece of originalist analysis. (ASIDE: However, the ultimate decision in Reynolds v. US was to deny Mr. Reynolds the right to practice his religion, which all-too-often is also the result of Establishment Clause litigation today.) But there is a serious argument to be made that the separation of church and state, identified indirectly nearly a century after the amendment was adopted, is bad jurisprudence.
The Associated Press belatedly recognized this, which is why their current article now bears no resemblance to the one quoted above. Without issuing a correction, the AP revised their story to open:
Republican Christine O’Donnell challenged her Democratic rival Tuesday to show where the Constitution requires separation of church and state, drawing swift criticism from her opponent, laughter from her law school audience and a quick defense from prominent conservatives.
Close. It should read:
Republican Christine O’Donnell challenged her Democratic rival Tuesday to show where the Constitution requires separation of church and state, drawing swift criticism from her opponent, bad reporting from the Associated Press, laughter from her law school audience and a quick defense from prominent conservatives.
It seems like only yesterday (it was), that I criticized PBS’s Gwen Ifill’s reflexive mockery of Sarah Palin (regarding a point of history on which Palin was right):
I suppose assuming your opponents are stupid can save you time and effort, if you’re right. If you’re wrong, you look like an idiot.
Jackson Diehl, the Washington Post’s deputy editorial page editor, has a piece about how President Obama has sabotaged the so-called Middle East peace process by introducing a new requirement that Israel institute a settlement freeze before talks can take place. Abbas cannot very well demand less than the American president so talks are at a standstill.
Now, I agree with Paul Mirengoff that this is fine. The “peace process” is pointless and counter-productive. There will be no peace until the Palestinians want it, and they manifestly do not. The Palestinians have never fulfilled a single one of their obligations under any of the peace plans (Oslo, Oslo 2, the Wye River memorandum, the Roadmap, etc.). Yasser Arafat spoke openly about how Oslo was merely a hudna (an Arabic word for pretending to make peace to obtain a strategic advantage). Palestinian terrorists continue to launch attacks against Israel, and the Palestinian government celebrates those attacks. Palestinian children’s programs teach children to hate Jews. And, in 2006, the Palestinian people elected Hamas in a landslide — a party whose constitution demands the destruction of Israel.
It’s popular to write that the outlines of a peace deal are clear (the Economist writes this all the time), and it’s true. The outlines of a reasonable deal are clear, to Western eyes. But the Palestinians don’t want the deal. Ehud Barak offered essentially that deal to Yasser Arafat at Camp David in 2000, but Arafat rejected the deal and made no counter-offer. Instead, he left the bargaining table and within days launched the Second Intifada.
All Israel’s efforts to make peace with the Palestinians have accomplished nothing other than to weaken Israel’s security and, probably, to leave the Palestinian people even more miserable. It would be best to put an end to them.
But Obama presumably believes none of this. So why is he sabotaging the peace talks? Is it mere incompetence, or worse, is he trying to make Israel look bad so he can cut off American support?
PBS talking head Gwen Ifill, Daily Kos blogger Markos Moulitsas, and various people I’ve never heard of are mocking Sarah Palin for telling Tea Partiers that they can’t “party like it’s 1773” until after we win the election.
The exact thrust of their mockery isn’t clear, but I guess they were thinking that Palin was referring to the Declaration of Independence, which of course was signed in 1776. But Palin was referring to the Boston Tea Party, the namesake of the Tea Party movement, which happened in 1773.
I suppose assuming your opponents are stupid can save you time and effort, if you’re right. If you’re wrong, you look like an idiot.
In a tacit acknowledgement that Obamacare doesn’t work, the Obama administration has issued dozens of waivers exempting “mini-med” health insurers from Obamacare’s rules:
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Oct. 7, 2010, defended the administration’s decision to grant 30 businesses waivers from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s minimum annual limits. Waivers were granted to several employers and insurers, including BCS Insurance, which insures workers at McDonald’s.
But the waivers are just temporary, and will no longer be available come 2014. At that point, all those people will lose their insurance.
A week ago I noted a strikingly dishonest Democratic attack ad directed at Tim Burns, a local Congressional candidate. The Hill reports that the dishonest ad is part of a broad Democratic ad campaign, run in at least 16 different districts.
I have a low opinion of politicians. Nevertheless, sometimes a politician says something so gallingly untrue, even I can’t believe it. Today is one of those days. I feel like I am in Bizarro world just for typing the next sentence. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) says that Republicans are responsible for the failure to reform Fannie and Freddie:
“Low-income home ownership has been a mistake, and I have been a consistent critic of it,’’ said Frank, 70. Republicans, he said, were principally responsible for failing to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants the government seized in September 2008.
For those who don’t know Frank well enough to see how absurd this is, here’s a reminder of what Frank said when Republicans tried to reform Fannie and Freddie. (All emphasis mine.)
”These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”
Oh yeah, that really sounds like he’s fighting to reform Fannie and Freddie, and is fighting against low-income home ownership.
The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disaster scenarios.
I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing.
Yes, let’s roll the dice. It’s only the taxpayers’ money at stake!
And let’s not forget when Frank accepted Fannie and Freddie’s own opinion on whether they needed to be reformed, on September 5, 2003:
Rep. Frank: Let me ask [George] Gould and [Franklin] Raines on behalf of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, do you feel that over the past years you have been substantially under-regulated?
Mr. Raines: No, sir.
Mr. Frank: Mr. Gould?
Mr. Gould: No, sir. . . .
Mr. Frank: OK. Then I am not entirely sure why we are here.
The controversial Colorado billboard depicting President Obama as a suicide bomber, gangster, Mexican bandit and a gay man has been taken down — just days after the sign was erected and slammed nation-wide for being racist. . .
Those who know the owner of the billboard told a local NBC News affiliate that he and his wife were receiving death threats. The person who commissioned the piece is not yet known.
Friends of the owner said he decided to take down the billboard because he was receiving harassing calls.
Once again, we see that while the Democrats would have us believe that dissent (against a Democratic administration) istantamounttoviolence, the real threats of violence (and actual violence) are being directed toward the dissenters.
“Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we’re hardwired not to always think clearly when we’re scared,” Obama said Saturday evening in remarks at a small Democratic fundraiser Saturday evening. “And the country’s scared.”
Well, Mr. President, we’re not primarily scared. Mostly we’re angry. Angry that you are trying fundamentally to change the nature of our country. And angry that you are doing it despite our clear message to stop.
But I’ll admit we are scared too. Scared that you might succeed.
HHS has already missed between one-third and one-half of the deadlines imposed on it by Obamacare. Worse, when HHS has satisfied deadlines, it has done it by skipping the usual process of public notice and comment.
To the left is a hilarious cartoon by Wiley Miller. In case you’ve been out-of-touch from the news for the last ten years, it satirizes the death threats that Islamists have directed at artists for drawing Muhammad, and it satirizes the western publishers that have knuckled under to those barbarians’ threats.
The particularly clever thing about the cartoon is Muhammad actually appears nowhere in it. It contains no depiction of Muhammad and thus should not offend Muslim sensibilities. It is strictly a political comment.
Alas, that wasn’t good enough. The Washington Post and various other papers still refused to run it for fear that it might offend Muslims.
Did they think Muslims will be offended by a satire of Islamists’ predilection to issue death threats for Muhammad illustrations? That seems to confuse moderate Muslims from the Islamists, but never mind. More to the point, since when does the Washington Post refrain from printing satire because the target of the satire might be offended?!
Certainly the Washington Post has no similar reluctance to offend Christians, Republicans, or Tea Partiers. But that’s just common sense: Christians, Republicans, and Tea Partiers are the bad guys, and also, they don’t run around cutting off heads.
If the preceding sentence doesn’t make sense to you, you obviously don’t work for the Washington Post.
Glenn Reynolds has a theory for why the New York Times would write an article about Ann Coulter without actually having any idea what Ann Coulter believes:
To know what Ann Coulter writes in her books, they’d have to know what’s in her books. That would require reading Ann Coulter’s books — and worse yet, admitting it in print, which no self-respecting Timesian would do. Far better to make a major embarrassing error (one of three Kaus dissects) — and thus actually score points when busted by Mickey, since this makes it clear to the NYT crowd that your mind is unpolluted by contact with Coulter’s writing.
Or, here’s another theory: The New York Times is in dire financial straits; perhaps this is a cost-saving measure. Research can be expensive and time-consuming, and at the NYT it hardly seems to contribute much to their reporting anyway. Better to skip the research phase and go straight to writing.
Red-state Democrats who stuck their neck out for health care nationalization are being hung out to dry. There’s really nothing not to like here: It’s great that the Democrats are in such bad shape they have to give up on these seats.
But more importantly, everyone can see what Democratic promises are worth. The Democratic leadership promised them they would be taken care of if they voted to nationalize health care, but when things got tough, they were kicked to the curb. (I’m reminded of this.)
As an effort to buy votes, this isn’t even subtle:
President Obama is calling for a $250 rebate for seniors after the Social Security Administration announced Friday that interest rates in 2010 haven’t risen enough to justify an increase in benefits next year to the 58 million retirees and disabled Americans who receive the entitlement.
Congressional Democrats, already in a precarious position headed into Election Day, are heeding the president’s call.
It’s only the taxpayers’ money. Why shouldn’t Democrats use it to buy votes?
Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell has posted to her website a response to a question about recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that she objects to, an answer she didn’t give at a debate Wednesday. . .
In a posting late Wednesday, she praises the newly shaped court of the last couple years that has added conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. “[T]here is no longer a laundry list of recent disappointing decisions that stray from America’s founding principles,” O’Donnell said in the statement.
She then mentions three cases: “Consequently there are no recent Supreme Court decisions with which I vigorously disagree, with the exception of Boumediene v. Bush in 2008, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in 2006 and Kelo v. City of New London in 2005. The court’s strong record in recent years proves the tremendous importance of appointing constitutionally based judges and Supreme Court Justices.”
The current court may the best in recent memory, but one doesn’t have to go back to 2008 to find an objectionable decision. One merely has to go back to the final day of the last term to find Christian Legal Society v. Martinez in which the court ruled that a public institution may suppress minority opinions by requiring groups to accept all comers.
Also, that same day, there was Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB, in which the court recognized that Sarbanes-Oxley was unconstitutional, but decided merely to tweak it rather than throw it out.
NOW’s brand of feminism means nothing more or less than merely electing as many Democrats as possible:
The president of the National Organization for Women may have said it’s wrong for anyone to call a woman a “whore,” but the head of the California NOW affiliate says Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is one.
For months, opponents of health reform have falsely claimed that the Affordable Care Act would lead to the taxation of health care benefits. The claim wasn’t true when the rumor first surfaced, it isn’t true today and it won’t be true tomorrow.
But the White House seems to have taken the rebuttal a bit far. Cutter goes on to make a general statement that suggests the new law will never tax healthcare plans, which isn’t true either. . .
While the W-2 rumors are demonstrably false, the law does create an excise tax on high-cost healthcare plans. Starting in 2018, so-called “Cadillac plans” will be subject to a 40 percent tax on excess benefits.
So the White House information operation doesn’t know what it’s talking about when it comes to their own health bill.
Amazingly, as of now (two days after the post went up), they still haven’t corrected their post, which tells you something about the priority they place on disseminating accurate information.
Likely voters in battleground districts see extremists as having a more dominant influence over the Democratic Party than they do over the GOP.
This result comes from The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll, which found that 44 percent of likely voters say the Democratic Party is more dominated by its extreme elements, whereas 37 percent say it’s the Republican Party that is more dominated by extremists.
This is because, in fact, the far wing of the Democrats is a bunch of socialists (and even Marxists), while the far wing of the Republicans is a bunch of tea party types. Despite the left’s efforts to brand the Tea Party movement as racist and extremist, it’s quite mainstream. Consequently, Democratic efforts to highlight the tea party elements in the GOP, far from helping the Dems, are serving just to show how safe the GOP’s right wing is.
It took six attempts to get the State Department’s spokesman to answer the question:
QUESTION: P.J., do you recognize Israel as a Jewish state and will you try to convince the Palestinians to recognize it?
MR. CROWLEY: We will continue our discussions with the parties. I would expect, following up on the Arab League meetings of late last week that George Mitchell will go to the region at some point. I’m not announcing anything, but I — it would be logical for us to follow up directly with the parties, see where they are. . .
QUESTION: And do you recognize Israel as a Jewish state?
MR. CROWLEY: We recognize the aspiration of the people of Israel. It has — it’s a democracy. In that democracy, there’s a guarantee of freedom and liberties to all of its citizens. But as the Secretary has said, we understand that — the special character of the state of Israel.
QUESTION: Is that a yes or no?
QUESTION: P.J., it’s — do you want to answer his question or –
QUESTION: Did you say yes or no to that question from Michel?
MR. CROWLEY: Hmm?
QUESTION: Michel’s question was a yes or no sort of question. I was wondering whether that was a yes or no.
MR. CROWLEY: We recognize that Israel is a – as it says itself, is a Jewish state, yes.
Clearly, the Obama State Department (or at least its spokesman) really doesn’t want to refer to Israel that way.
ASIDE: This sort of thing is why Israeli opinion on whether Obama is a friend of Israel is within the margin of error of zero.
Yes, regime uncertainty is a real factor suppressing economic growth:
Institutional investors fear a government policy mistake far more than inflation, terrorism, a housing double dip, a weak dollar, poor earnings or any other potential risk to the economy, according to a survey of 100 mutual fund, hedge fund and pension fund managers by Citigroup Global Markets.
“Government Policy Missteps” garnered more than a third of the participants’ votes as their biggest fears in the quarterly survey, ahead of the more than 15 percent who cited “Protectionism,” which is also strongly-tied to the actions of the Administration and Congress.
But these very same investors are bullish on the market and plan to buy stocks this quarter because they believe the chances of that policy error will decrease if Republicans take back the House of Representatives in November.
When investors and entrepreneurs don’t trust that the rules will stay the same, they are reluctant to invest. (It’s all part of that “rule of law” stuff.)
In the ongoing debate over whether the Democrats’ foreign-money line of attack is more dishonest or more hypocritical, another big point on the hypocrisy side:
During a press conference Tuesday, [White House press secretary Robert] Gibbs scolded groups that would not disclose, and has said that Americans have a right to know who is behind “largely negative campaign attack ads.”
“Simply tell us who you are,” Gibbs said. . .
During the 2003-2004 presidential primary season, however, Gibbs worked as the spokesman for a liberal advocacy group that ran attack ads against then-Democratic candidate Howard Dean. The “secretive” group, called Americans for Jobs, Health Care & Progressive Values, spent months organizing scathing ads without disclosing who was paying for them. . .
The Dean camp was furious, and called on the group to disclose who had funded the ad. . .
The organization’s Treasurer, David Jones, refused.
“We will disclose donors when the law requires,” Jones was quoted as saying in The New York Times.
Obama now admits that there’s no such thing as a shovel-ready stimulus project. It’s a pity he didn’t figure that out before he jammed his stimulus bill down our throats. One way he could have learned would have been to read the CBO report.
Back in early 2009, President-elect Barack Obama was asked on Meet the Press how quickly he could create jobs. Oh, very fast, he said. He’d already consulted with a gaggle of governors, and “all of them have projects that are shovel-ready.” . . .
In interviews, job summits, and press conferences, it was shovel-ready this, shovel-ready that. Search the White House website for the term “shovel-ready” and you’ll drown in press releases about all the shovels ready to shove shovel-ready projects into the 21st century, where no shovel is left behind. . .
It’s not that Obama was lying when he said all that stuff. It’s just that he didn’t know what he was talking about. All it took was nearly a trillion dollars in stimulus money and 20-plus months of on-the-job training for him to discover that he was talking nonsense.
President Obama has a problem. He pledged not to raise taxes on anyone making under $250k per year, and he did. (And the biggest tax hike — the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts — hasn’t arrived yet.) Naturally, Obama’s people want to deny that he ever made that promise:
The White House at the time said the increase didn’t violate Obama’s pledge because it didn’t apply to income, payroll or investment taxes. . .
“The president’s position throughout the campaign was that he would not raise income or payroll taxes on families making less than $250,000, and that’s a promise he has kept,” a White House spokesman said last year.
No, that was not his position. He said that “no family making less than $250 thousand per year will see any form of tax increase.”
All he can say now is he never meant it. Some of us knew that all along.
Bizarrely, the party that’s content to let millions of foreigners cross our southern border to live and work here without our permission has otherwise become a locus of foreigner-baiting political advocacy. Is it possible to be post-American and xenophobic at the same time?
In the debate over whether the Democrats’ foreign-money line of attack is more dishonest or more hypocritical, the Annenberg Fact Check casts its vote for more dishonest. They also have this gem, from top Obama adviser David Axelrod:
CBS’ Schieffer, Oct. 10: But this part about foreign money, that appears to be peanuts, Mister Axelrod, I mean, do you have any evidence that it’s anything other than peanuts?
Axelrod: Well, do you have any evidence that it’s not, Bob?
Oh, is that how it works now? They can level unsupported allegations and its their targets’ job to refute them?
Last night I saw this Democratic ad attacking Tim Burns:
A 23% sales tax on everything? Sounds pretty bad! What they aren’t mentioning is that the 23% sales tax would be instead of your existing federal taxes (income tax, Social Security, Medicare), not in addition to them. It’s a classic lie by omission.
The DCCC has disabled comments on this ad, making it impossible for anyone to point out that it’s dishonest.
Chris Miller nearly doubled his $3,500 stock investment in a renewable-energy firm in 2008. It was a perfectly legal bet, but he’s no ordinary investor. Mr. Miller is the top energy-policy adviser to Nevada Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who helped pass legislation that wound up benefiting the firm.
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid’s office, initially defended Mr. Miller’s purchase of shares in the company, Energy Conversion Devices Inc. He said the aide had no influence over tax incentives for renewable-energy firms, and that other factors boosted the stock.
But on Sunday, Mr. Manley added: “Mr. Miller showed poor judgment and Senator Reid has made it very clear to Chris and all his staff that their actions must not only follow the law, but must meet the higher standards the public has a right to expect from elected officials and their staffs.”
Mr. Miller isn’t the only Congressional staffer making such stock bets. At least 72 aides on both sides of the aisle traded shares of companies that their bosses help oversee, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of more than 3,000 disclosure forms covering trading activity by Capitol Hill staffers for 2008 and 2009. . .
A few lawmakers proposed a bill that would prevent members and employees of Congress from trading securities based on nonpublic information they obtain. The legislation has languished since 2006.
It’s sad but a little amusing to watch Congress reflexively defend the indefensible.
Consumer advocates and lawyers warned federal officials in recent years that the U.S. foreclosure system was designed to seize people’s homes as fast as possible, often without regard to the rights of homeowners.
In recent days, amid reports that major lenders have used improper procedures and fraudulent paperwork to seize properties, some Obama administration officials have acknowledged they had been aware of flaws in how the mortgage industry pursues foreclosures.
But the officials said they could take only limited action to address the danger. In part, this was because they wanted lenders’ help carrying out federal programs to modify mortgages that had fallen into default or were poised to do so.
The Obama administration admits it knew of the problem, but says it could not do anything because they needed the lenders’ help in carrying out their agenda.
You rarely see it expressed so crisply: this administration refused to protect the legitimate rights of homeowners, because that would have made it hard for them to carry out their program of subsidizing insolvent borrowers.
POSTSCRIPT: Let’s not forget, the mortgage modification program was itself a complete failure.
Congress’s failure to renew the Bush-era tax cuts before going into recess is leading the IRS to contemplate unprecedented action to avoid a big withholding hit come January. For the first time, the IRS may base its tables on speculation regarding what action Congress will take:
Lack of congressional action on 2011 income taxes may force the Treasury Department to make unprecedented moves to prevent U.S. workers from seeing large tax increases in their January paychecks.
The issue: 2011 tax-withholding tables. Treasury officials usually release the tables, which determine the take-home pay of millions of wage-earners, by mid-November because it takes payroll processors weeks to adjust their systems before Jan. 1. . .
“Things get very dicey after the first of December” because of employers’ need to know the 2011 rates, said Michael Graetz of Columbia University Law School, a former Treasury official. . .
Some have suggested that if Congress doesn’t act in time, Treasury officials might consider a one- or two-month grace period in which it maintains current tables until Congress passes tax legislation. Capitol Hill tax staffers, meanwhile, say the Treasury could set 2011 withholding at current levels for joint filers earning less than $250,000 ($200,000 for single filers), on the assumption that Congress seems likely to enact this change.
The path the IRS is contemplating piles dishonesty upon dishonesty. The whole idea to withholding is to hide our taxation. If people had to cut a check to pay their confiscatory taxes, there would be a revolt. But, someone had the bright idea that if the public never saw that money in the first place, they wouldn’t really miss it.
Now the IRS is concerned that people will be upset when the withholding rates soar as a result of the Democrat’s refusal to renew the tax cuts. The public should be upset, and the IRS should not be covering for them.
“The Times is hung up on whether or not the Chamber is following the letter of the law,” a White House official said. “We will continue to point out that the only way to put to rest the important questions that have been raised about their $75 million ad campaign is for the Chamber to disclose basic information about their donors.”
Seriously?! Obama is calling on the Chamber of Commerce to disclose its donors?! After he refused to disclose the donors to his presidential campaign? That is awfully rich.
Also, Ed Gillespie (another of the president’s targets) points out that the Center for American Progress, the leftist group that started this line of attack, does not disclose its donors. Hypocrisy is definitely winning.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin takes a look at the Democrats’ history of taking foreign contributions.
Despite an extension of over two weeks, New York State is not complying with the military voting act:
More than one week after its extended deadline, New York still hasn’t mailed out absentee ballots to all its 320,000 military servicemen and women and overseas voters, in clear violation of the MOVE Act, FoxNews.com has learned.
New York’s statewide races do not appear to be competitive, but there are House races upstate in which this could make a difference.
Despite having apparently thrown away Delaware, Republicans are poised to retake the Senate. According to the latest Rasmussen polls, Republicans have the lead in Democrat-held North Dakota (+43), Arkansas (+18), Indiana (+16), Wisconsin (+12), Pennsylvania (+9), West Virginia (+6), Colorado (+5), Illinois (+4), Nevada (+4), and Washington (+3). GOP-held seats that were thought to be at risk now look safe: Florida (+25), Alaska (+15), Kentucky (+11), and New Hampshire (+7). If these results hold true, Republicans will pick up ten seats, just enough to put them in control of the chamber.
Also, the winners in West Virginia and Illinois would be seated immediately, which could make a difference in a mad duck session.
UPDATE: The GOP prices on Intrade: North Dakota (97), Arkansas (97), Indiana (95), Wisconsin (88), Florida (86.5), New Hampshire (86.5), Pennsylvania (86.5), Kentucky (84.9), Colorado (77), Alaska (75), West Virginia (70), Nevada (55.5), Illinois (53), Washington (50).
Dan Onorato (who wants to be governor of Pennsylvania) is taking credit for Pittsburgh’s economic shift into education, research, and medicine, a shift that was going on decades before he ever came into office.
The Federal Reserve is considering bringing back inflation, on purpose:
The Federal Reserve spent the past three decades getting inflation low and keeping it there. But as the U.S. economy struggles and flirts with the prospect of deflation, some central bank officials are publicly broaching a controversial idea: lifting inflation above the Fed’s informal target.
The rationale is that getting inflation up even temporarily would push “real” interest rates—nominal rates minus inflation—down, encouraging consumers and businesses to save less and to spend or invest more.
Idiots. We have established that this trick does not work. More precisely, it works only to the extent that you can trick people into thinking inflation will be low, otherwise people will simply compensate for the higher price level. More pithily, inflation does not stimulate the economy; only surprise inflation stimulates the economy.
The problem is that people quickly learn to expect inflation and the trick stops working. (And the fact that the Fed is being open about its plans doesn’t help!) Furthermore, once people start expecting inflation, they won’t believe you when you say you’re stopping. It’s very hard to put that genie back in the bottle again.
When the Washington Post reported that the FDIC maintains a list of politically connected banks that get special treatment, the FDIC denied it. However, when Pajamas Media filed a Freedom of Information Act request for any related documents, the FDIC changed its tune, and refused to say whether any such documents exist:
In response to those denials, along with the fact that the Washington Post reporter who broke the original story was sticking to his guns, PJM sent a Freedom of Information Act Request to FDIC.
That request asked for:
[Documents] pertaining to all internal reports, memos, listings and communications concerning the identification of banks that might cause press or public relations problems.
This includes all documents in which FDIC personnel identified conflicts of interests between elected or appointed federal officials with bank ownership or management.
FDIC has since replied to PJM in record time.
In the two-page response, the FDIC does not claim they do not maintain such a list or engage in the practice of flagging banks which have important contacts. Instead, they essentially say they do not have to provide such information to PJM because the request was simply too broad . . .
It’s hard to know how to approach the story of President Obama’s attacks on the US Chamber of Commerce for supposedly taking money from foreign corporations. Even the New York Times sees that his attacks are bogus:
Ever since he raised the issue in his State of the Union speech nearly nine months ago . . . President Obama has been warning about the danger of foreign money creeping into elections as a result of the court’s landmark campaign finance ruling.
In two campaign stops Thursday, Mr. Obama invoked what he portrayed as a specific new example, citing a blog posting from a liberal advocacy group as he teed off on a longtime adversary, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, over its political spending. . .
But a closer examination shows that there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents. . .
Organizations from both ends of the political spectrum, from liberal ones like the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Sierra Club to conservative groups like the National Rifle Association, have international affiliations and get money from foreign entities while at the same time pushing political causes in the United States. . .
Such groups, which collectively have spent hundreds of millions dollars on political causes to advance their agenda, are required by law to ensure that any foreign money they receive is isolated and not used to finance political activities, which would violate a longstanding federal ban. The Chamber of Commerce says it has a vigorous process for ensuring that does not happen, and no evidence has emerged to suggest that is untrue.
More than 89,000 stimulus payments of $250 each went to people who were either dead or in prison, a government investigator says in a new report. The payments, which were part of last year’s massive economic recovery package, were meant to increase consumer spending to help stimulate the economy.
Low-income workers stand to lose the most if lawmakers fail to reach a consensus on the Bush-era tax cuts, according to a new report from the Tax Foundation.
The report states that on Jan. 1 the doubling of the child tax credit, increased standard deductions and income credits and the creation of the 10 percent tax bracket — all of which primarily aimed at non-wealthy taxpayers — will vanish if gridlock persists in Washington.
While wealthier taxpayers pay more in taxes and stand to lose more money if the tax cuts expire, the impact on low-income taxpayers will be far greater because they live on slimmer margins.
Democratic leaders have repeatedly vowed that tax cuts benefiting these taxpayers will be extended beyond their Dec. 31 expiration date. But a similar promise was made last year on the estate tax, and ten months have passed without Democratic leaders following through on that promise.
The Obama administration blocked efforts by government scientists to tell the public just how bad the Gulf oil spill could become and made other missteps that raised questions about its competence and candor during the crisis, according to a commission appointed by the president to investigate the disaster.
And, since they both also relate to this administration’s dishonesty regarding the oil spill, let’s remember the twoseparate times in which the administration lied about obtaining peer review of its oil spill assessments, and let’s also remember how the administration repeatedly blocked media access to the spill.
Rick Sanchez issues a non-apology apology for his anti-Semitic remarks: when he said Jews run all the networks and argued that middle-class Jews are inherently bigoted, he “never intended to suggest any sort of narrow-mindedness”.
3M Co. confirmed it would eventually stop offering its health-insurance plan to retirees, citing the federal health overhaul as a factor.
The changes won’t start to phase in until 2013. But they show how companies are beginning to respond to the new law, which should make it easier for people in their 50s and early-60s to find affordable policies on their own. While thousands of employers are tapping new funds from the law to keep retiree plans, 3M illustrates that others may not opt to retain such plans over the next few years.
And remember, this is just the bow wave as companies come to grips with the new law. The Obama administration’s internal documents estimate that over half of all health plans will ultimately be terminated. They also predicted severe price hikes in plans that survive.
The President’s claim that those who like their insurance could keep it? That was a lie.
CBS Interactive’s Jim Edwards says that No Pressure (the now notorious eco-fascist snuff film) is great and 10:10 Global should never have apologized:
Why Killing Kids in a Climate Change Ad Was the Right Thing to Do
10:10’s apology and retraction of a short film in which schoolchildren, famous footballers and the actress Gillian Anderson are blown to smithereens for not supporting the reduction of carbon emissions was exactly the wrong thing to do: The video (below) was both disgusting and hilarious, and the campaign should have thumbed its nose at its critics.
Wow. He must be a true believer to come out with this after the film and its producers are already being vilified.
POSTSCRIPT: Ed Morrissey proposes a thought experiment, that might (but probably won’t) help Edwards understand why people thought the film was, er, not great:
Can you imagine the reaction had an organization like Move America Forward produced a video like this, where those who didn’t support a robust strategy for the war on terror were blown up by a button-pushing advocate for the strategy? Especially children in a classroom being terrorized by their teacher into compliance with the groupthink?
I can. But I think Edwards probably can’t. The ability to put one’s self in another’s shoes is usually not strong among the fascists.
A federal inspector general is looking into whether the Obama administration used confidential taxpayer information in an effort to attack a political opponent, Koch Industries. . .
Charles and David Koch, brothers who control the Kansas-based company, are libertarians who have used some of their wealth to fund conservative groups and causes that oppose much of President Obama’s agenda. Mr. Obama has singled out the company for criticism in speeches.
In an Aug. 27 briefing with some reporters on calls to restructure the corporate tax code, an unidentified administration official cited Koch Industries, a major privately held energy company, by name, and then seemed to indicate that the company didn’t pay any corporate income tax, according to the Wall Street Journal. . .
White House officials have told reporters that the information was publicly available, including in testimony to the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and on Koch’s website. But an attorney for Koch said in a statement last month that the company does pay corporate income taxes and that information about its structure and tax liability are not publicly available.
Confidentiality is nothing to these people. They dug through confidential records on Joe the Plumber, after he asked a question that embarrassed Barack Obama. Obama’s two toughest opponents in his 2004 Senate race were driven out of the race after their sealed divorce proceeding became public. And that’s just off the top of my head.
(Via Instapundit, who adds “But don’t worry — your health information under ObamaCare will be completely confidential.“)
Megan McArdle has a column on how the big three automakers crumbled. Bottom line:
I don’t think there’s much point in trying to figure out whether management or the unions are responsible; the fact is that they both drove all of the bad decisions that the company made, even as they were both also mostly reacting to actions by the other side that had left them little choice.
Also, troubling (if unsurprising) signs that things are no better post-bailout.
The “10:10 Movement” debuted their eco-fascist snuff film No Pressure last weekend. (Don’t want to reduce carbon emissions? That’s fine. No pressure. We’ll just kill you!) They still seem not to understand the uproar. Their first “apology” was the standard weaselly, non-apology apology:
Many people found the resulting film extremely funny, but unfortunately some didn’t and we sincerely apologise to anybody we have offended.
This kind of “I’m sorry you were offended” apology is popular because it doesn’t admit any fault. It pins the unpleasantness on the thin-skinned offendee. “If you weren’t such a prude, you’d have no problem with our hilarious threats to kill you.”
To underline their lack of serious contrition, they concluded:
At 10:10 we’re all about trying new and creative ways of getting people to take action on climate change. Unfortunately in this instance we missed the mark. Oh well, we live and learn.
Onwards and upwards,
Eugenie, Franny, Daniel, Lizzie and the whole 10:10 team
“Live and learn.” (Unless you resist us; then you get blown up.) “Onwards and upwards.” In other words, no biggie.
10:10 eventually realized they had a problem, probably when corporate sponsors like Sony started bailing out. The director of 10:10 then released another statement that the NYT’s environmentalism columnist considers a real apology:
Last week, 10:10 made available a short film. Following the initial reaction to the film we removed it from our website and issued an apology on Friday 2 October.
Subsequently there has been negative comment about the film, particularly on blogs, and concern from others working hard to build support for action on climate change. We are very sorry if this has distracted from their efforts.
We are also sorry to our corporate sponsors, delivery partners and board members, who have been implicated in this situation despite having no involvement in the film’s production or release.
We will learn from this mistake. Today I have written to supporters and stakeholders explaining that we will review processes and procedures to make sure it cannot happen again. Responsibility for this process is being taken by the 10:10 board.
The media coverage of the film was not the kind of publicity we wanted for 10:10, nor for the wider movement to reduce carbon emissions.
If people have been in touch with us personally about the film, we will be replying to individual emails over the next few days. Meanwhile our thanks go out to all those who support 10:10 and who work to combat the threat of climate change.
You can decide for yourself if you see any sign of contrition here. I don’t. I see an admission that the film was pulled due to the negative reaction, not because they think it was bad. I see that they are sorry that their film has distracted from their efforts to reduce carbon emissions. I see that they are sorry that they have made their corporate sponsors look bad. And I see that they didn’t want this kind of publicity.
What I don’t see is anything like this: “We see now that our film was inappropriate. It is wrong to kill people who disagree with you, and we were wrong to suggest otherwise.”
So the question remains open: do they agree that it was wrong to suggest it was okay to kill those who oppose you? Or do they think this is just a matter of bad taste?
Rahm Emanuel kicked off his campaign for Mayor of Chicago with a homecoming video, filmed in front of a bookshelf with a vase and a family photograph.
“I was born here and my wife Amy and I raised our three children here,” he says. “I’m glad to be home.”
But an Emanuel spokeswoman, Lori Goldberg, confirms that the video itself was actually filmed in Washington, D.C., in the offices of AKPD media, the firm founded by David Axelrod.
For additional amusement, Rahm may have caused himself legal trouble with the video. His opponents plan to contest whether he is really a Chicago resident, and it won’t help his case that he called DC home. As Rahm knows very well, fighting to keep your opponents off the ballot is the Chicago way. It should be fun to watch.
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