Let freedom ring

January 31, 2011

The federal judge in Florida hearing the 26-state lawsuit against health care nationalization has found it unconstitutional. Importantly, he found that individual mandate was not separable and threw out the entire law.

Obviously, this is just one step in a long legal battle, but it deals a body blow against the presumption that this law will survive.

UPDATE: Some analysis linked here.

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Texas 3, stupid meme 0

January 30, 2011

In a conversation a couple of days ago, I was remarking on how great it was that Texas used a radical method of budgeting wherein they find out how much money they have and then decide how to spend it. The person with whom I was speaking countered that Texas relied on federal stimulus funding to balance its budget.

I wasn’t quite sure what was supposed to be wrong with that. The deficit that Texas faced was small enough that the stimulus funding covered nearly all of it. Somehow that’s supposed to be bad?

I should have realized that he was parroting a meme: “Texas is a welfare queen”. (ASIDE: This is the same delightful publication that printed photographs and addresses of homes with McCain/Palin signs.)

Moreover, the meme is even more bogus that it first appears: Texas received less stimulus funding than almost any state. (Only Virginia and Nebraska received less, per capita.) And, even refusing the stimulus funding entirely wouldn’t save the taxpayer any money; it would just get reallocated to another state.


Air Pelosi

January 30, 2011

Despite public disgust at Nancy Pelosi’s abuse of military aircraft for her personal travel, Pelosi did not curtail that abuse toward the end of her time in power. (And why should she? She wasn’t elected by the people, but by the House Democratic caucus.) The numbers gives us an ugly perspective on our ruling class’s sense of entitlement.

During the nine months from January 1 to October 1, 2010, Pelosi availed herself of Air Force aircraft for 43 flights. That’s about the same rate as the previous nine months, in which Pelosi used military aircraft for 47 flights.

How much has Pelosi’s profligate use of military aircraft cost the taxpayer? Plenty:

According to previous documents uncovered by Judicial Watch, the former Speaker’s military travel cost the United States Air Force $2,100,744.59 over one two-year period — $101,429.14 of which was for in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol.

We don’t know how much the last year cost, but we have no reason to suspect her trips have gotten any cheaper. In fact, the Air Force refused to provide expense information for half of the flights, which can’t be a good sign.

It wasn’t just Pelosi’s travel that was extravagant. She also managed to find an extravagant way not to travel:

Judicial Watch also previously uncovered internal Department of Defense (DOD) email correspondence detailing attempts by DOD staff to accommodate Pelosi’s numerous requests for military escorts and military aircraft as well as the speaker’s last minute cancellations and changes. For example, in response to a series of requests for military aircraft, one DOD official wrote, “Any chance of politely querying [Pelosi’s team] if they really intend to do all of these or are they just picking every weekend?…[T]here’s no need to block every weekend ‘just in case’…” The email also notes that Pelosi’s office had, “a history of canceling many of their past requests.”

Air Pelosi is finally grounded, and Speaker Boehner will be flying commercial.


TSA decides it ought to be a monopoly

January 30, 2011

The TSA chief says he doesn’t see “any clear or substantial advantage” to allowing private security companies to compete with the TSA. Well, I’m sure he doesn’t. I’ll bet GM doesn’t see any clear or substantial advantage to allowing other companies to compete with them either.

Unfortunately, the law apparently gives the TSA the power to decide whether to permit competition. What did they think was going to happen?

(Via Instapundit.)


Mission accomplished, I guess

January 30, 2011

President Obama says that combat operations in Afghanistan have ended.


Don’t know much about geography

January 30, 2011

Chris Matthews confuses the Panama Canal with the Suez Canal.

Just a slip of the tongue, I’m sure, but Matthews is notorious for mocking just such slips as these when it suits him.


No Soviet domination of Eastern Europe

January 30, 2011

Joe Biden opens his mouth again, and out comes this:

Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with – with Israel. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.


Petraeus’s assessment

January 27, 2011

General Petraeus has written a letter to everyone involved in the Afghan war effort, assessing how things are going.


“False, more so than true”

January 27, 2011

The head of the CBO responds to two key claims made by Obamacare advocates:

McCLINTOCK: “True or false: The two principle promises that were made in support of Obamacare were one, that it would hold costs down. True or false?”

FOSTER: “I would say false, more so than true.”

McCLINTOCK: “The other promise…was the promise that if you like your plan, you can keep it. True or false?”

FOSTER: “Not true in all cases.”

Just days ago I heard Democrats saying that the CBO’s analysis is tantamount to holy writ. I’ll bet we’ll stop hearing that now.


Dilbert would understand

January 27, 2011

The phenomenon wherein incompetent people don’t know enough to realize they are incompetent is easy to see, but I didn’t realize that it has a name (the Dunning-Kruger effect) and has been studied scientifically.

And yes, there’s a political angle.


Spite

January 27, 2011

A troubling psychological result:

Are people willing to pay to burn other people’s money? The short answer to this question is: yes. Our subjects gave up large amounts of their cash to hurt others in the laboratory. The extent of burning surprised us…Even at a price of 0.25 (meaning that to burn another person’s dollar cost me 25 cents), many people wished to destroy other individuals’ cash.

This explains a lot of liberal politics.


Rahm tossed from Chicago ballot

January 24, 2011

An appeals court has ruled that he is not a Chicago resident.

But I predict it will not matter; Rahm will be the next mayor of Chicago. This is Chicago we’re talking about. Does anyone really think that the machine will allow itself to be denied, just because of what the law says?

UPDATE: Like I said.


B.S.

January 24, 2011

The President says:

Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.

Crap. Abortion is the only private family matter these people don’t want the government intruding into. When it comes to your health care, your diet, your light bulbs, your guns, your dishwashing detergent, your children’s education, your thermostat, the color of your car, etc., all those are fair game for government intervention.

(Via the Corner.)


What?

January 24, 2011

We give foreign aid to China?


Canada: Victimhood is mandatory

January 24, 2011

In Ontario, when a gang of masked men try to firebomb your home, you have to let them do it!


I miss phosphates

January 24, 2011

The Weekly Standard has a story on the phosphate travesty.


It’s on

January 23, 2011

Verizon is suing the FCC to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality decree. They have a good case.

(Previous post.)


Good grief

January 23, 2011

A federal judge denies attorney fees to McDonald (of McDonald v Chicago), based on the astonishing argument that McDonald is somehow not the prevailing party.

The judge’s argument, as best I understand it, goes like this: the case wasn’t completely over when McDonald won at the Supreme Court, and the case became moot when Chicago changed the law in response to losing at the Supreme Court, so no one actually prevailed. Sheesh.

(Via Instapundit.)


Reflections on a left turn

January 23, 2011

The latest blogospheric food fight is between Patterico and noted food-warrior Charles Johnson, proprietor of the once-interesting Little Green Footballs. Johnson claimed that he never used the term “St. Pancake” to refer to Rachel Corrie (the anti-Israel protester who was killed when she lay down in the path of an oncoming bulldozer). That turned out not to be true.

Patterico claims to have caught Johnson in a lie, but I think it’s more likely that he believed it was true. Johnson’s real dishonesty lay in his effort to craft a narrowly true statement to mislead people: implying that he did not take a sarcastic and insensitive tone in response to Corrie’s lamentable death, which he certainly did. (ASIDE: I thought that the sarcasm was entirely appropriate as applied to the bizarre web of lies that was built around Corrie’s death, but a little sensitivity in regards to the death itself would have been appropriate.)

The fracas got me thinking about Charles Johnson’s turn to the left. Little Green Footballs was one of the first blogs that I read when I became aware of the blogosphere in the early days of the war on terror. Although very often shrill, it was the go-to site for stories on the Israel-Palestinian conflict and on media dishonesty. The other three bloggers I read at that time were Andrew Sullivan, Steven Den Beste, and Glenn Reynolds. Reynolds is the only one of the four worth reading now: Den Beste discontinued his blog, and Johnson and Sullivan both turned left.

What leads someone to change their political outlook completely? When someone moves right, their explanation usually sounds something like “I realized that competitive markets provide the best economic outcomes, and market controls inevitably result in tyranny” or “I realized that we need to defend our civilization against the barbarians.” On the other hand, when someone moves left, their explanation usually sounds something like “I realized that the right is full of assholes.”

That is, those moving right tend to talk about ideas and ideology, while those moving left tend to talk about personalities.

It’s pretty easy to pinpoint the point at which Sullivan turned left. He got angry at George W Bush (whom he had previously lauded excessively) for opposing gay marriage. That one issue turned him against President Bush, and that hatred served as a lever to turn the rest of this political views.

It was harder to see what happened to Johnson, but some time after I stopped reading him, he explained it himself. (ASIDE: Although many of Johnson’s characterizations are astonishingly unfair, I’m sure they are a fair account of Johnson’s opinions.) In short, he got disgusted with the right for being full of people he disliked.

When someone you used to like turns to the other side and at the same time becomes shamelessly dishonest, there are a couple of things you can’t help wondering. First, were they really dishonest all along? And second, should you have seen it coming?

As to the first, I think the answer is no for Charles Johnson, and maybe for Andrew Sullivan. Johnson’s material was primarily fact, and was easily checked. I often checked it myself. Sullivan’s material, on the other hand, was more argument than fact. It would have been much easier for him to deceive.

Should we have seen it coming? Yes, in retrospect. Johnson and Sullivan shared one trait: of the prominent bloggers on the right, they were easily the two most shrill. I conjecture that shrillness is often an indicator that one is focusing on people rather than ideas.

For example, Andrew Sullivan had a practice of naming various anti-awards after the person he thinks best exemplifies some negative trait (e.g., the John Derbyshire award for extreme right-wing hyperbole, or something like that). Returning to my original inspiration, Johnson’s fixation on Rachel Corrie is another good example. The problem was never Corrie herself; the problem was how other people exploited her tragedy to slander Israel. Nevertheless, Johnson relentlessly focused on the person of Rachel Corrie herself.

If you’re wondering who the next commentator to turn left might be, look for someone who is focusing on people rather than ideas. Someone who believes that government must be small so people can be free is probably not going to turn around and embrace big government. But, someone whose politics is based on their personal dislike for Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama might turn around and decide that they dislike some Republican even worse.

I won’t name any names; I don’t want to start a food fight of my own. But you might be able to spot a few candidates.


Immune to irony

January 23, 2011

The actual image Chris Matthews used while discussing how violent language really does spur assassins:

I swear I am not making this up.

(Via PJ Tatler.) (Previous post.)


Story selection

January 23, 2011

American Thinker reports:

In September 2010 Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was scheduled to speak at Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City. At some point, wearing black clothes and a bullet-proof vest, 22 year-old Casey Brezik bolted out of a classroom, knife in hand, and slashed the throat of a dean. As he would later admit, he confused the dean with Nixon.

The story never left Kansas City.

It is not hard to understand why. Knives lack the political sex appeal of guns, and even Keith Olbermann would have had a hard time turning Brezik into a Tea Partier. Indeed, Brezik seems to have inhaled just about every noxious vapor in the left-wing miasma: environmental extremism, radical Islam, anti-capitalism, anti-Zionism and Christophobia, among others.

I’m not saying that the story should have gone national, just that it certainly would have if Brezik had been from the right.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


An insult to double standards

January 23, 2011

When Paul Krugman — without a shred of evidence — accused Sarah Palin of culpability in the Tucson massacre because of her supposedly violent rhetoric, which resulted in a spike in death threats against her, the New York Times sided with Krugman. So much so that they even adopted Krugman’s calumny themselves.

But, when Glenn Beck — entirely accurately — noted that Frances Piven (once an infamous communist agitator who mostly faded from the public scene decades ago) was explicitly calling for political violence, and that reportedly resulted in some death threats, the Times sides with Piven.

So when the right uses violent rhetoric (that isn’t), they are evil. Their critics are doing right. But when the left uses violent rhetoric (that really is), their critics are evil.

Calling this a double standard is doing it too much credit. The NYT is simply full of crap, making whatever argument serves them on that particular day.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: What Piven is all about.

(Previous post.)


NYT ombudsman: we were too hurried to be fair

January 22, 2011

The New York Times’s ombudsman says (essentially) that the Tucson massacre story was developing just too quickly for them to resist allowing their prejudices to drive their reporting.

And that’s in his defense of the paper. He doesn’t mention the Times’s editorial or its even worse Krugman column, presumably because they were indefensible.

(Previous post.)


“Safe and legal”

January 22, 2011

ProPublica reports:

While this week’s indictment involving a grisly abortion mill in Philadelphia has shocked many, the grand jury’s nearly 300-page report also contains a surprising and little-noted revelation: In the mid-1990s, the administration of Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, ended regular inspections of abortion clinics—a policy that continued until just last year.

According to the grand jury report [PDF] released this week by Philadelphia prosecutors, Pennsylvania health officials deliberately chose not to enforce laws to ensure that abortion clinics provide the same level of care as other medical service providers.

I’m going to skip the gruesome details of unsanitary conditions, late-term abortions, and murders of live babies. The story continues:

But perhaps most frightening of all? The atrocities were discovered by accident, as the Philadelphia Inquirer points out. Warnings—from patients and their attorneys, a doctor at a Philadelphia hospital, women’s health groups, pro-choice groups, and even an employee of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health—failed to prompt state and local authorities to investigate or take action against the clinic.

The grand jury report said that one look at the place would have detected the problems, but the Pennsylvania Department of Health hadn’t inspected the place since 1993. Here’s the grand jury report, in surprisingly strong language:

The Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be “putting a barrier up to women” seeking abortions.

“Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety,” the report states.

The rallying cry for the abortion-rights movement is that we cannot go back to the times when illegal abortion resulted in places exactly like this. But we see here that the abortion-rights movement, at least as represented in the PA Department of Health, would rather see places like this exist than erect even a theoretical obstacle to obtaining an abortion.

(Via Instapundit.)


No new jet order from China

January 22, 2011

Here’s a sign of the apocalypse: the Seattle Times is calling the Obama administration on a big lie:

The claim: A White House fact sheet released Wednesday to coincide with the state visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao said: “In preparation for this visit, several large purchases have been approved including for 200 Boeing airplanes. … The approval, the final step in a $19 billion package of aircraft, will help Boeing maintain and expand its market share in the world’s fastest growing commercial aircraft market.”

What we found:

The deal President Hu signed does not include any new jet orders. . . All of the airplanes in the sale were announced and booked by Boeing as firm orders over the past four years. Chinese airlines had already paid nonrefundable deposits and signed contracts for the jets, most of them as far back as 2007.

“The only thing new is (Chinese) government approval,” said Boeing spokesman Miles Kotay.

Also, the orders are for $11 billion, not $19 billion.

(Via Instapundit.)


Idiots

January 22, 2011

The Obama administration is reportedly pressuring Honduras to allow Manuel Zelaya to return.


The Mankiw plan

January 22, 2011

Greg Mankiw writes:

I have a plan to reduce the budget deficit.  The essence of the plan is the federal government writing me a check for $1 billion.  The plan will be financed by $3 billion of tax increases.  According to my back-of-the envelope calculations, giving me that $1 billion will reduce the budget deficit by $2 billion.

Now, you may be tempted to say that giving me that $1 billion will not really reduce the budget deficit.  Rather, you might say, it is the tax increases, which have nothing to do with my handout, that are reducing the budget deficit.  But if you are tempted by that kind of sloppy thinking, you have not been following the debate over healthcare reform.

(Via Instapundit.)

Charles Krauthammer makes the same point less sarcastically. He then goes on to point out that the idea is even stupider than that, because all the numbers are rigged.


No state bailouts

January 22, 2011

Jim Demint (R-SC), unsurprisingly, is opposing a federal bailout of the states. He says that Congress should create a bankruptcy procedure for states and let it work. He also wants to bar the Fed from promulgating its own state bailouts.

The latter is clearly important. I’m no longer sure what restrictions exist on the Fed, since some of its most significant acts over the last few years (e.g., buying private equity) are things it had never previously done and I had thought were forbidden to it.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Eric Cantor (R-VA) opposes having a bankruptcy procedure for states.


Selective shutdown

January 22, 2011

In the budget battles to come, the Democrats doubtless hope to make Republicans look bad by compromising essential government services during a government shutdown. Hugh Hewitt has a good suggestion for combating that strategy: he says Republicans should lay out a blueprint for a selective shutdown of the federal government that would keep key government operations running during a shutdown.


Keeping the ceiling without default?

January 21, 2011

Any responsible commentator understands that a US Government default would be unacceptable. Most have assumed that that means we must hold our nose and accept an increase in the debt ceiling. But one commentator suggests that without a ceiling hike, the government can continue to pay its debts from current cash flow, and this would force the government to start shrinking.

I would want a careful legal and financial analysis of the idea before I would embrace it, but it’s certainly worth looking at.


Whose side are they on?

January 21, 2011

The IRS wants to spend money and limit our privacy in order to help foreign governments collect more tax money from Americans.

(Via Instapundit.)


Wanted: fact-checkers

January 21, 2011

MSNBC says that Arizona doesn’t have a holiday celebrating Martin Luther King. In fact, has had a Martin Luther King day for nineteen years.

BONUS: MSNBC goes on to say that if Arizona won’t enact an MLK holiday, it should secede from the Union. Al Sharpton, never one to be outdone in the race-baiting department by some network talking head, says that Arizona’s failure to enact such a holiday (that it enacted nearly two decades ago) means that it has somehow already seceded from the Union.


The horror!

January 18, 2011

The Hill reports:

“I really believe that that is the place where we feel the most ill at ease, is going through airports,” Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who serves as assistant minority leader in the House, said on “Fox News Sunday.” Clyburn called for the Transportation Security Administration, which administers airport security checkpoints, to interact “a little better” with the Capitol Hill Police.

“We’ve had some incidents where TSA authorities think that congresspeople should be treated like everybody else,” he said.

Treated like everybody else. Can you imagine?!

One day after Martin Luther King Day, I’m reminded of a line from his letter from the Birmingham Jail:

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.

Obviously, King was particularly concerned with a different power group (Southern whites) than here (Congress), but one reason his letter has become timeless is he was expounding principles that apply more broadly than his struggle at the time.


Liars

January 17, 2011

Ann Coulter spotted this one:

In the most bald-faced lie I have ever read in The New York Times — which is saying something — that paper implied Loughner is a pro-life zealot. This is the precise opposite of the truth.

Only because numerous other news outlets, including ABC News and The Associated Press, reported the exact same shocking incident in much greater detail — and with direct quotes — do we know that the Times’ rendition was complete bunk.

ABC News reported:

One Pima Community College student, who had a poetry class with Loughner later in his college career, said he would often act “wildly inappropriate.”

“One day (Loughner) started making comments about terrorism and laughing about killing the baby,” classmate Don Coorough told ABC News, referring to a discussion about abortions. “The rest of us were looking at him in shock … I thought this young man was troubled.”

Another classmate, Lydian Ali, recalled the incident as well.

“A girl had written a poem about an abortion. It was very emotional and she was teary eyed and he said something about strapping a bomb to the fetus and making a baby bomber,” Ali said.

Here’s the Times’ version:

After another student read a poem about getting an abortion, Mr. Loughner compared the young woman to a “terrorist for killing the baby.”

So that’s how the Times transformed Loughner from a sicko laughing about a dead fetus to a deadly earnest pro-life fanatic.

(I’ve added links and reformatted.) (Via Patterico.) (Previous post.)


Failing history

January 17, 2011

The New York Times’s fact-checkers blow another one.


The new transparency

January 17, 2011

AP reports:

A House committee has asked the Homeland Security Department to provide documents about an agency policy that required political appointees to review many Freedom of Information Act requests, according to a letter obtained Sunday by The Associated Press. . .

The Associated Press reported in July that for at least a year, Homeland Security had sidetracked hundreds of requests for federal records to top political advisers to the department’s secretary, Janet Napolitano. The political appointees wanted information about those requesting the materials, and in some cases the release of documents considered politically sensitive was delayed, according to numerous e-mails that were obtained by the AP.

The Freedom of Information Act is supposed to ensure the quick public release of requested government documents without political consideration. Obama has said his administration would emphasize openness in providing requested federal records. . .

The AP reported that the agency’s career employees were told to provide political appointees with information about who requested documents, where they lived, whether they were reporters and where they worked.

According to the directive, political aides were to review requests related to Obama policy priorities, or anything related to controversial or sensitive subjects. Requests from journalists, lawmakers and activist groups were to also to be examined.

(Via Instapundit.)


Cover yourself, NYT

January 17, 2011

PJ O’Rourke’s takedown of the New York Times’s disgusting performance of the last week is full of sober, measured criticism, but the pull-quote is this:

Liberalism, as personified by the New York Times, became a dotty old aunt sometime during the Johnson administration. She’s provincial, eccentric, and holds dull, peculiar views about the world. Still, she has our fond regard, and we visit her regularly in her nursing home otherwise known as Arts and Leisure and the Book Review. Or we did until Sunday, January 9, when she began spouting obscenities and exposing herself.

(Previous post.)


Fact-checked by Rolling Stone

January 17, 2011

Good grief.


Socialized medicine

January 16, 2011

The UK is short on flu vaccine, so the chairwoman of the UK’s Royal College of General Practitioners is calling for a law to ban citizens from buying flu vaccinations.

Translation: People should not be able to make their own decisions about their health. That is the sole province of government.

Incidentally, those who aren’t designated by the government to receive the vaccine have good reason to want it:

According to Health Protection Agency statistics, nearly a third (15 out of 50) of those known to have died of flu so far this season have not been in any at-risk group. Others have wanted to get vaccinated so they do not pass it on to a member of their family who is more at risk.

(Via Instapundit.)


Double standard

January 16, 2011

CORRECTION APPENDED

A liberal makes death threats against a Tea Partier on a national television show, and the threat is indisputably fueled by rhetoric from the left, but Christiane Amanpour won’t show the incident because it’s not newsworthy.

Had it been the other way around, not only would it have been newsworthy, it would have been the top story for days.

UPDATE and CORRECTION: Apparently ABC did broadcast the threat, so it’s not accurate to say they aren’t showing the threat. But it’s also widely been remarked that ABC paid no attention to the threat (which certainly would not have been the case the other way around). I haven’t found a transcript and I don’t have the time or inclination to watch the program, so I’ll leave it at that.

(Previous post.)


The Guardian goes full Orwell

January 15, 2011

That’s Ed Driscoll’s description of this article in the Guardian, London’s main left-wing paper:

Free speech can’t exist unchained. US politics needs the tonic of order

If America is to speak in a way that heals, as Obama wishes, it needs the curbs and regulations that make freedom of expression real

I wish they would just admit they are against free speech, instead of spouting nonsense about how censorship is a critical part of free speech. Clearly the term “free speech” must still have some power, if they can’t yet oppose it openly.


We’re number 9!

January 15, 2011

The United States has slipped to number 9 in economic freedom.


That figures

January 15, 2011

The cash-for-clunkers disaster was inspired by a French program.


How not to sound stupid

January 15, 2011

A public service for liberals writing about guns.


Constitutional ignorance

January 15, 2011

Certainly the Republican leadership is not trying to suggest that African-Americans still be counted as three-fifths of a person.It’s been obvious for some time that the left does not like the Constitution, at least as a document that actually means something. The left likes the Constitution as a subject for eisegesis, in which they can find emanations and penumbras that confirm their own policy preferences.

What is fascinating is how the new House Republican majority has baited the left into coming out of the closet. The New York Times doesn’t want the Constitution read aloud:

In any case, it is a presumptuous and self-righteous act, suggesting that they alone understand the true meaning of a text that the founders wisely left open to generations of reinterpretation.

My goodness. To read aloud the rules that constrain the government is “presumptuous” and “self-righteous”. Wow.

Anyway, the Times’s real problem, I think, is not with Republicans thinking they alone understand the meaning of the Constitution, but with the very idea that it has a meaning. They don’t want it to have a true meaning. They want it to be an inkblot that they can subject to “generations of reinterpretation”. How else can they get from the power to regulate interstate commerce to the power to do anything they want, such as force people to buy a particular health insurance plan?

If the Constitution is just an inkblot, with no “true meaning”, then there’s really no reason to know anything about it, as the Times goes on to demonstrate in its very next sentence:

Certainly the Republican leadership is not trying to suggest that African-Americans still be counted as three-fifths of a person.

The left’s modern anti-Constitutionalists always make this point, and its historical ignorance is breathtaking. The Constitution never said that African-Americans were three-fifths of a person. It said that slaves were reckoned as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of allocating representation in the House. The abolitionists wanted the number to be zero, observing correctly that it was obscene that southern states would be credited with representatives for people they kept in bondage. The slave-holders, on the other hand, wanted slaves to be counted as full persons.

Today’s left is adopting the slave-holders’ platform. If they had had their way in 1787, the south would have had (even more) disproportionate representation in Congress, the cause of abolition would have been set back decades at least, and when the issue finally boiled over, we would not have had Abraham Lincoln to save the Union.

That’s what the New York Times is supporting. I prefer to assume it’s out of ignorance.

Constitutional ignorance is not limited to history, it also extends to the Constitution’s very text. (I suppose if the text doesn’t mean anything, there’s no reason to bother learning what it says.) A civics test administered by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute found that elected officials know less about the Constitution than ordinary citizens:

Those elected officials who took the test scored an average 5 percentage points lower than the national average (49 percent vs. 54 percent), with ordinary citizens outscoring these elected officials on each constitutional question. Examples:

  • Only 49 percent of elected officials could name all three branches of government, compared with 50 percent of the general public.
  • Only 46 percent knew that Congress, not the president, has the power to declare war — 54 percent of the general public knows that.
  • Just 15 percent answered correctly that the phrase “wall of separation” appears in Thomas Jefferson’s letters — not in the U.S. Constitution — compared with 19 percent of the general public.
  • And only 57 percent of those who’ve held elective office know what the Electoral College does, while 66 percent of the public got that answer right. (Of elected officials, 20 percent thought the Electoral College was a school for “training those aspiring for higher political office.”)

So here’s an idea: The left doesn’t want the Constitution read aloud? Fine. Instead of lecture, let’s have an exam. Anyone who can’t pass the test can’t take office.

(Via Patterico.)


New York Times misquotes Obama

January 13, 2011

By nearly all accounts, President Obama rose to the occasion in his remarks yesterday on the Tucson massacre. The most important line, at least from a political perspective, was this one:

And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy — it did not — but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.

(Emphasis mine.) In this way, the president contradicted all those who attempted to place blame for the massacre on right-wing rhetoric. As we I’ve noted numerous times over the last few days, a principal offender was the New York Times.

In today’s editoral, the New York Times praised Obama’s speech (of course), but also renewed their line of attack. How could they do so, when Obama contradicted the attack? They wrote:

This horrific event, he said, should be a turning point for everyone — “not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation.”

Note the omission of the key clause. This is high journalistic malpractice. They edited the president to remove his rebuke of their position, and they did so without ellipses.

If you read the editorial now, you will find that they have corrected the quote. (Consequently, it makes no sense any more, but it never made much sense in the first place.) And, as we have come to expect from the NYT, they did so without any correction, indeed, without any indication whatsoever other than to say “A version of this editorial appeared in print . . .”

POSTSCRIPT: I have no screen grab of the uncorrected editorial, but it was quoted by many, including Ace, Ed Driscoll, Verum Serum, and an NYT commenter.

(Previous post.)


An assessment of the political exploitation of mass murder

January 13, 2011

In the wake of a horrific mass murder, Paul Krugman, Markos Moulitsas, the New York Times, and countless others all banded together to try to pin the incident on conservatives and libertarians, and especially Sarah Palin. Did it work?

Clearly it did not work completely. The public has soundly rejected their calumny, with a majority seeing correctly that it was just an effort to exploit the tragedy to make conservatives look bad. Only a third thought they were making a legitimate point. Even President Obama rebuked them for it.

On the other hand, Krugman et al. did succeed in starting a meme, saying that our political discourse is too uncivil. That meme seems to be flourishing, even though not a single fact makes it apropos to the current situation.

The key threat to the progressives’ plans is the spirited opposition of the Tea Party movement. If they succeed in stigmatizing spirited political discourse, I think they have to see this as a win. So what if Paul Krugman has been exposed as a liar — it’s not like that hasn’t happened before.

But rest assured. When Republicans are next in power, spirited opposition will once again be “the highest form of patriotism.” Any suggestion that the opposition should moderate their rhetoric will once again be a harbinger of incipient fascism.

The lesson of Ari Fleischer is instructive. Fleischer’s suggestion that Americans “need to watch what they say” was widely misunderstood (in fact he was criticizing a Congressman who said that anyone with “a diaper on his head” needed “to be pulled over and checked”). But even if we take his remark as it was often (mis-)understood, it was much more mild than today’s accusation that spirited opposition results in mass murder. Nevertheless, the people who vilified Fleischer are the same ones who now seek to silence Palin and the Tea Party.

(Previous post.)


Surprise!

January 13, 2011

The GM bailout will lose money.


CBS still on the “violent rhetoric” bandwagon

January 13, 2011

Daniel Farber, the editor-in-chief of CBSNews.com, has two pieces attacking Palin in the wake of the Tucson massacre. In the first he echoes Paul Krugman, et al. in blaming Palin for the attack while at the same time admitting that we don’t know what motivated Loughner. In the second, he renews the attack while at the same time criticizing Palin for defending herself.

(Previous post.)


LA Times late to the party, lies anyway

January 12, 2011

I’m astonished that the LA Times is reporting that Loughner was driven by right-wing politics — in the news pages no less! — days after that calumny has been discredited.

The only comparable thing I can think of off the top of my head is when the New York Times ran a 5,700-word front-page story attacking the Duke lacrosse players, after the case had already collapsed. (The piece was based almost exclusively, and unskeptically, on the fabricated notes of the police sergeant in charge of the case.)

(Previous post.)


Good point

January 12, 2011

I think this is exactly right:

It isn’t our rhetoric that scares the Left politically. It’s the passion from which it springs. And it’s the passion, not the rhetoric, that they actually want to quiet most of all. Call it anger, or passion, it’s mostly the same thing. And it’s that passion we need to nurture and hold onto through 2012 if we are to have a prayer of rolling back the sort of government over-reach we are seeing today.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


Lies, damn lies, and Paul Krugman

January 12, 2011

Paul Krugman isn’t backing down from his calumny. Despite being censured by name from respectable corners of the establishment media, he is moving the calumny from his blog to the New York Times op-ed page. His piece is short on supporting facts, and the main one he has is false. Here’s what Krugman said:

Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.

John Hinderaker dismantles this:

What was the context? For that matter, what was the rest of the sentence? Here is a rule of thumb: any time a liberal quotes a fragment of a sentence, or, as in this case, a three-word phrase, a red flag should go up. When liberals quote sentence fragments, they are usually misleading when they aren’t out-and-out fabricated.

My guess is that Krugman has no idea when Michele referred to being “armed and dangerous,” or why, or what the rest of the sentence was. Krugman’s biggest problem isn’t that he is stupid. His biggest problem is that he is lazy. He is incapable of doing even the most rudimentary research, which is why his columns rarely contain many facts, and when they do, his “facts” are often wrong.

As it happens, I–unlike Krugman–know all about Michele’s “armed and dangerous” quote, because she said it in an interview with Brian Ward and me, on our radio show. It was on March 21, 2009. The subject was the Obama administration’s cap and trade proposal. Michele organized a couple of informational meetings in her district with an expert on global warming and cap and trade, and she came on our show to promote those meetings. She wanted her constituents to be armed with information on cap and trade so that they would understand how unnecessary, and how damaging to our economy, the Obama administration’s proposal was. That would make them dangerous to the administration’s left-wing plans.

Armed with facts, and dangerous to the left’s agenda. That’s what she was saying. To pretend that she was advocating violence is a damnable lie.

But that’s not all. Let’s look at the other side of the ledger. Is it so hard to imagine that a Democratic member of Congress could say something similar without being ostracized? I give you Paul Kanjorski (D-PA):

“That Scott down there that’s running for governor of Florida,” Mr. Kanjorski said. “Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him.”

Was Kanjorski ostracized for his remarks? Perhaps he was ostracized by the voters; in November he was defeated in his bid for a 14th term in Congress. But he certainly was not ostracized by the elite: Kanjorski had an op-ed in the New York Times on the very same page (one day later) as Krugman’s column. In the wake of this very incident, Kanjorski was writing about political civility, if you can imagine.

UPDATE: There’s also Rahm Emanuel (D-IL):

At a dinner to celebrate Bill Clinton’s first presidential victory – Mr Emanuel was his chief fundraiser – he began to reel off the names of those who had ‘crossed’ him. He grabbed a steak knife and began plunging it into the table shouting “Dead! Dead! Dead!” after each name.

“When he was done the table looked like a lunar landscape,” a witness relates. “It was like something out of The Godfather. But that’s Rahm for you.”

Rahm was chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, White House Chief of Staff, and is now about to be anointed mayor of Chicago.

(Previous post.)


Congressional approval nearly doubles

January 12, 2011

. . . as the Republicans take over the House. But it’s still at only 20%. For most of us, it will take more than words to convince us.

(Via Instapundit.)


The trouble with crazy

January 11, 2011

One additional thought on the Tucson massacre: I think that the right may be implicitly conceding a point that we should not. Our response to the Krugman-Kos-etc. calumny has focused on the complete lack of any evidence that Loughner was inspired by “violent” rhetoric from the right, and on the growing evidence to the contrary.

But let’s consider a counterfactual. Suppose investigators uncovered a diary kept by Loughner, and in that diary he explained that he was inspired to murder by Sarah Palin and her use of crosshair-like symbols on a map. Suppose that the diary explicitly made every connection in the fevered imagination of Paul Krugman, David Fitzsimmons, and Sheriff Dupnik. So what?

The thing about crazy people is they’re crazy. In a world with countless crazy people, you cannot predict whether some wacko somewhere is going to seize on something you say and do something bad. We can’t hold people responsible for such a fundamentally unpredictable consequence. It would be like blaming Jodie Foster or Martin Scorsese for John Hinckley’s attempt on President Reagan.

To put it more pithily:

Anyone else find it creepy that new standard what we may and may not say is: How will it affect the behavior of an obviously crazy person who may or may not hear it?

(Previous post.)


Bite me

January 11, 2011

Time’s Mark Halperin is “most concerned” about “the anger of the right-wing commentariat.” Although he admits that conservatives are “justifiably upset”, he says that they should be “turning the other cheek” and “trying to bring the country together.”

Trying to bring the country together would have been a good idea, but that possibility died when the left-wing commentariat (so to speak) started in with the calumny. If he’s disappointed, he needs to look to Paul Krugman and Markos Moulitsas and their ilk.

POSTSCRIPT: Halperin also said the “media and the politicians have behaved pretty well”. But much of the media and the politicians spent a full day pushing the violent language meme, which is really just the same calumny stripped of a specific target.

UPDATE: ABC is criticizing Sarah Palin for finding a way to become part of the story. That’s crap. Krugman et al. made her part of the story. She shouldn’t have responded? Please.

(Previous post.)


Oh, the irony

January 11, 2011

The New York Times has an op-ed on civility in politics from a Democratic congressman who called for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott to be put up against a wall and shot.

UPDATE: OMG. The Washington Post’s civility op-ed is by Al Sharpton.

(Previous post.)


So that’s how it is, then

January 10, 2011

While various leftist columnist/jackasses and Democratic backbenchers have been accusing the right of responsibility for the Tuscon massacre, the White House and other high-level Democrats have been more careful.

Until now. Now Hillary Clinton apparently is embracing the calumny, saying the rampage was perpetrated by “extremists”. An “extreme” what, she didn’t specify, but no matter; the connection to some kind political ideology (gee, I wonder which one she had in mind!) was made.

Any notion that the Democrats want to heal partisan divisions in this country is officially dead. (Oops, a martial metaphor.) These are vicious partisans with no understanding of decency except as a rhetorical weapon to use against their adversaries. (Oops, another martial metaphor.)

(Previous post.)


No decency

January 10, 2011

Here what the left is trying to do today:

One veteran Democratic operative, who blames overheated rhetoric for the shooting, said President Barack Obama should carefully but forcefully do what his predecessor did.

“They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.”

This isn’t new. It’s the same thing they’ve done — successfully — before, as Byron York reminds us:

And then came the explosion at the Murrah Federal Building. In addition to seeing a criminal act and human loss, Clinton and Morris saw opportunity. If the White House could tie Gingrich, congressional Republicans and conservative voices like Rush Limbaugh to the attack, then Clinton might gain the edge in the fight against the GOP.

Morris began polling about Oklahoma City almost immediately after the bombing. . . At a White House meeting four days later, on April 27, Morris presented Clinton with a comeback strategy based on his polling. Morris prepared an extensive agenda for the session, a copy of which he would include in the paperback version of his memoir, Behind the Oval Office. This is how the April 27 agenda began:

AFTERMATH OF OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING

A. Temporary gain: boost in ratings — here today, gone tomorrow

B. More permanent gain: Improvements in character/personality attributes — remedies weakness, incompetence, ineffectiveness found in recent poll

C. Permanent possible gain: sets up Extremist Issue vs. Republicans

Later, under the heading “How to use extremism as issue against Republicans,” Morris told Clinton that “direct accusations” of extremism wouldn’t work because the Republicans were not, in fact, extremists. Rather, Morris recommended what he called the “ricochet theory.” Clinton would “stimulate national concern over extremism and terror,” and then, “when issue is at top of national agenda, suspicion naturally gravitates to Republicans.”

(Previous post.)


Good grief

January 10, 2011

Bob Brady (D-PA) wants to ban crosshairs on maps.

Their response to the attempted assassination of a Congresswoman is to restrict free speech. Disgusting, but really, that’s their response to just about anything.

POSTSCRIPT: Is Google in trouble?

UPDATE: From execrable to risible. It turns out that the crosshairs from the Palin map aren’t crosshairs, but crop marks, used in printing. Are we going to ban printing?

UPDATE: I’m not surprised that the proposed legislation is unconstitutional.

UPDATE: More idiocy: a proposal to ban guns within 1000 feet of a “high-profile government official.” A 72-acre hole in the Second Amendment around every Congressman. (This one is from a Republican. The man needs a primary.)

(Previous post.)


The truth laces up its shoes

January 10, 2011

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Accused gunman Jared Lee Loughner appeared to have been long obsessed with U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

A safe at Mr. Loughner’s home contained a form letter from Ms. Giffords’ office thanking him for attending a 2007 “Congress on your Corner” event in Tucson. The safe also held an envelope with handwritten notes, including the name of Ms. Giffords, as well as “I planned ahead,” “My assassination,” and what appeared to be Mr. Loughner’s signature, according to an FBI affidavit.

In 2007, Hope and Change were on the rise. The Tea Party didn’t exist at all. Sarah Palin was known outside Alaska only to hard-core political junkies.

And so another meme dies. (Oops, I’m supposed to say: another meme loses its cultural and political viability.)

(Previous post.)


More comment on the Tucson massacre

January 10, 2011

Glenn Reynolds:

Those who purport to care about the tenor of political discourse don’t help civil debate when they seize on any pretext to call their political opponents accomplices to murder.

Ed Morrissey notes the blatant inconsistency and hypocrisy of CNN and the New York Times.

Ann Althouse:

Ah, now you see why the accusations backfire (if I may dare to use that word): the occasion has been created for conservatives to list every violent-sounding thing any liberals or lefties have ever said about anything.

Michelle Malkin takes up Althouse’s challenge: The progressive “climate of hate:” An illustrated primer, 2000-2010.

(Previous post.)


An educational exercise

January 10, 2011

The reaction to the House Republicans’ exercise reading the Constitution aloud in the chamber has taught us some useful things:

First, the mask is off. Judging by their reaction, the left really doesn’t like the Constitution.

Second, they don’t know what it actually says.

UPDATE: Ah yes, the Constitution’s pursuit of happiness clause.


No decency

January 9, 2011

Legal Insurrection notes:

The meme that opponents of Obama are crazy and dangerous has been an explicit Democratic Party campaign strategy for over two years.  Here is just a partial list of events in which the left-wing and Democratic Party media operation has immediately blamed right-wing rhetoric, only to be proven wrong when the facts finally came out:  Bill SparkmanAmy BishopThe Fort Hood ShooterThe IRS Plane CrasherThe Cabbie Stabbing, and The Pentagon Shooter.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Democrats are exploiting the incident for fundraising.

UPDATE: Fox News’s Megyn Kelly gets Sheriff Clarence Dupnik to admit he has no information to substantiate his allegation that political rhetoric caused the attack (cue to 3:19 if you’re impatient). “That’s my opinion, period.”

UPDATE: Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is exploiting the incident for fundraising too.

(Previous post.)


Good luck with that

January 9, 2011

The LA Times:

Gates, headed to Beijing for talks, voices hope that the U.S. will be able to persuade Chinese military leaders to cut back on their pursuit of advanced weaponry.

Is this our new strategy for maintaining military superiority? Good grief.

(Via Hot Air.)


On violent terminology

January 9, 2011

Apropos to the contemptible efforts of some on the left to score political points over the Tucson shooting, an additional thought on the use of violent terminology in politics:

Why do we do it? For the same reason we use violent terminology in nearly every field: it is powerful, dynamic language. It reads well. Computer scientists kill zombie processes. Movies crush their competition at the box office. Supreme Court rulings eviscerate Congressional acts. Products smash their competition. Sports teams perform all manner of violent acts on their opponents, depending on the name of the team (e.g., Bulls gore Pistons).

Who wants to read copy written in boring, bloodless language? Who wants to hear that a zombie process was deleted from the scheduler’s ready queue? For that matter, who wants to hear zombie processes referred to as thrashing processes that are not responding to input? (Oops, we’d better rewrite the “thrashing” too.)

It’s not going to happen. Violent terminology is not going away. Instead, we should be grown-ups about it. We should recognize that evil people do evil things, and they will do what they will do regardless of whether or not writers choose to use interesting words.

UPDATE: The ubiquity of violent terminology.

(Previous post.)


Bulls eyes and airbrushes

January 9, 2011

In the wake of the ham-handed effort somehow to blame the Tuscon shooting on Sarah Palin, who once used crosshairs on a map to indicate “targeted” districts, people have noted that similar quasi-violent terminology was used by various people on the left. One such person was Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos. After a bipartisan majority voted to pass the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (which, among other things, clarified the government’s power to eavesdrop on the communications of terrorists abroad without a warrant), Kos listed the Democrats who voted for the bill, saying that their vote “puts a bulls eye on their district”. Gabrielle Gifford (who was critically wounded in the Tucson shooting) appeared in bold on the list.

No sensible person would accuse Kos of responsibility for the shooting based on that, but the accusations against Palin are just as flimsy.

In the original version of this post, I wrote about how Kos decided to airbrush his post, deleting the “bulls eye” post and replacing it by a completely different old post by a different author. But just before I hit publish, I checked the URL again and found that Kos had put the post back.

So I have no idea what he is doing, or what you will find when you follow the link above. Who airbrushes their blog, and then goes back and un-airbrushes it?

In case he decides to un-un-airbrush the post, you can find the original “bulls eye” post in the Internet Archive here. For now, you can also find the airbrushed post in the Google cache here. And I have screenshots after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


The conscience of a liberal, you say?

January 9, 2011

When I learned of the shooting in Tucson that killed a judge and wounded a Democratic congresswoman, I felt sick, but I also worried that the gunman would turn out to have some tie to the political right. If he did, the left would certainly exploit the connection, however tenuous, to smear the right. The establishment media would surely go along — indeed, they’ve gone along with that narrative even in absence of any violence.

As it turns out, Jared Loughner seems to be a garden variety wacko. But that didn’t stop Paul Krugman from running out the narrative anyway. Let’s fisk it, shall we:

A Democratic Congresswoman has been shot in the head; another dozen were also shot.

We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was.

The odds? He’s talking probability here? I guess it makes sense in a certain twisted way. According to Bayes’s theorem, if don’t collect any data, your best prediction is simply your “prior distribution” (i.e., your initial prejudice). That does seem to be what he’s doing.

She’s been the target of violence before. And for those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she’s a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that “the whole Tea Party” was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” list.

This isn’t even guilt-by-association, it’s guilt-by-non-association. Mr. Krugman, you are a disgrace. And as far as the “crosshairs” map goes, Verum Serum notes that the Democrats liked crosshair maps too, but theirs never seemed to spark any outrage from Mr. Krugman.

Just yesterday, Ezra Klein remarked that opposition to health reform was getting scary. Actually, it’s been scary for quite a while, in a way that already reminded many of us of the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing.

You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.

Yeah, just as Paul Krugman stood up against the violent language and violent acts of the left.

Update: I see that Sarah Palin has called the shooting “tragic”. OK, a bit of history: right-wingers went wild over anyone who called 9/11 a tragedy, insisting that it wasn’t a tragedy, it was an atrocity.

I was bothered when people called 9/11 a tragedy, since it was an atrocity, although I wouldn’t say I went wild over it. I didn’t know that I was joined by so many. However, a google search fails to reveal that Palin ever did, so as a line of attack against Palin this is entirely unfair.

Update: I’m going to take down comments on this one; they would need a lot of moderating, because the crazies are coming out in force, and it’s all too likely to turn into a flame war.

A nice touch, but it’s a little late to play the wise old man now, Mr. Krugman.

Glenn Reynolds sums it up well:

Let me be clear, as a great man says: If you’re using this event to criticize the “rhetoric” of Sarah Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you’re either asserting a connection between the “rhetoric” and the shooting — which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie — or you’re not, in which case you’re just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. So which is it?

The conscience of a liberal, indeed.

POSTSCRIPT: The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz puts it well:

Let’s be honest: Journalists often use military terminology in describing campaigns. We talk about the air war, the bombshells, targeting politicians, knocking them off, candidates returning fire or being out of ammunition. So we shouldn’t act shocked when politicians do the same thing. Obviously, Palin should have used dots or asterisks on her map. But does anyone seriously believe she was trying to incite violence? . . .

This isn’t about a nearly year-old Sarah Palin map; it’s about a lone nutjob who doesn’t value human life. It would be nice if we briefly put aside partisan differences and came together with sympathy and support for Gabby Giffords and the other victims, rather than opening rhetorical fire ourselves.

Or there’s Media Matters:

Discovery Channel hostage-taker is the perpetrator of a crime-not liberal, conservative or a chance to score points

We’ll see if they’re consistent.

UPDATE: Power Line takes a different, but equally apt take on Krugman’s column:

This would be outrageous even if Krugman himself were not one of the worst hatemongers in public life, a man whose hysterical rhetoric exceeds anything you hear from Limbaugh, Beck, or any significant figure on the right who comes to mind. But this sort of contemptible demagoguery is exactly the kind of thing we have come to expect from Krugman.

UPDATE: More violent terminology from the the left:

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said in Philadelphia last night.

Also, this seems to be going beyond a few contemptible columnists, and metastasizing into a Democratic strategy:

One veteran Democratic operative, who blames overheated rhetoric for the shooting, said President Barack Obama should carefully but forcefully do what his predecessor did.

“They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.”

Certainly CNN is on board. But the more we learn about Loughner, the less it looks like the strategy will work.

UPDATE: Still more violent terminology from the White House:

Perhaps we should admit that this is simply how people talk. But that might preclude point scoring.

UPDATE: Still more.

UPDATE: More and more. But, in all the well-deserved mockery for the violent language meme, let’s not forget the left’s propensity to go beyond language.

UPDATE: The Economist blasts “Krugman’s toxic rhetoric.”

UPDATE: This ad, which is I imagine the only campaign ad in which a candidate actually shoots his opponent, belongs to Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. (Just to be clear, I’ve got no problem with the shooting part of the ad, although I do detest his dishonest mischaracterization of Raese’s views.)

UPDATE: Krauthammer delivers.


Wow

January 8, 2011

Texas 1, Krugman 0

January 8, 2011

Kevin Williamson’s takedown of Paul Krugman’s recent column crowing over Texas’s budget woes must be read in its entirety. But I’ll pull out four key points:

  • Texas has astonishingly low taxes, and a substantial variance in its business cycle, so deficits in the budget projections do happen sometimes.
  • But, Texas doesn’t use baseline budgeting. They use the radical budgeting system in which they look at how much money they have and decide how to spend it. Imagine that!
  • Therefore, they will balance their budget as they always do, probably without touching Texas’s $10 billion rainy day fund.
  • That’s right, Texas has a $10 billion rainy day fund.

I wish Pennsylvania had Texas’s problems.

POSTSCRIPT: Actually, to be fair, Pennsylvania used to have a rainy day fund. Our outgoing governor, Ed Rendell, blew the entire fund during his first year in office, before the recession hit.


Another Obamacare premium hike

January 8, 2011

Yet another health insurer has hiked premiums in response to health care nationalization. This time it’s Blue Shield of California, hiking premiums by as much as 59%.

As always, don’t forget that this is just the first wave. The real damage comes later.


China’s J-20 challenges the F-22?

January 8, 2011

Fox News reports:

While the Pentagon downplays China’s rollout this week of what appears to be a jet fighter designed using sophisticated stealth technology, military experts are warning that the aircraft – reportedly capable of besting America’s F-22 in speed and maneuverability – could pose the greatest threat yet to U.S. air superiority.

Decorated Navy fighter pilot Matthew “Whiz” Buckley, a Top Gun graduate of the Navy Fighter Weapons School who flew 44 combat missions over Iraq, says, “It’s probably leaps and bounds above where we are, and that’s terrifying.” . . .

The U.S. military’s current top-of-the-line fighter is Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor, the world’s only operational fifth generation fighter. In 2009, Congress capped production of F-22s at [183], relying on the cheaper F-35. Congress does not appear to be reconsidering the cap, which experts call the only real challenger to China’s J-20.

I don’t think it’s very likely that China could be rolling out a plane that competes with the F-22 today; it takes decades to develop a fighter. But even the possibility is terrifying. And don’t forget that we don’t have very many F-22s, and there won’t be any more.

Congress’s decision to shut down the F-22 program, which saved $13 billion while they wasted $800 billion on “stimulus”, looks even more idiotic now.


Skinner: WikiLeaks no favor to historians

January 8, 2011

CMU historian Kiron Skinner points out that the WikiLeaks affair is likely to discourage the generation of contemporary documentation that historians rely on.


Obama’s vacation home was illegal

January 8, 2011

The vacation home the Obamas rented during his recent vacation was afoul of an idiotic Honolulu law:

President Barack Obama’s two-week stay at his Hawaii Winter White House was illegal under a long-standing Honolulu ban on short-term rentals.

Obama did not break the law by staying at the house, but the property owner who rented his house to the Obamas does not have the permit that would allow a stay of fewer than 30 days.

The article went on to explain that it is somehow still illegal even if one rents the house for a full 30 days and leaves early, which doesn’t make one whit of sense.

Apparently, this was an idiotic effort to combat wild spring-break parties. Why they didn’t just address the problem directly with a noise ordinance, instead of suppressing commerce, I can’t say for sure. But I would not be at all surprised to learn that the law was supported by the same people who now possess short-term rental permits.

(Via Hot Air.)


Building Y-12 over again

January 8, 2011

A good example of modern government inefficiency: A new project at the Oak Ridge national laboratory will cost more (in inflation-adjusted terms, no wussy nominal figures here!) that it originally cost to build the site as part of the Manhattan Project.

(Via Instapundit.)


Maryland stands athwart gun rights, yelling stop

January 8, 2011

Maryland’s highest court has ruled that the Second Amendment gives no right to carry weapons outside the home. I don’t see how this can stand. Heller said explicitly that the right to “bear arms” means right to carry arms on one’s person:

At the time of the founding, as now, to “bear” meant to “carry. . . When used with “arms,” however, the term has a meaning that refers to carrying for a particular purpose—confrontation. In Muscarello v. United States, 524 U. S. 125 (1998) , in the course of analyzing the meaning of “carries a firearm” in a federal criminal statute, Justice Ginsburg wrote that “[s]urely a most familiar meaning is, as the Constitution’s Second Amendment … indicate[s]: ‘wear, bear, or carry … upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose … of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.’ ” . . . We think that Justice Ginsburg accurately captured the natural meaning of “bear arms.”

To suggest that that right is somehow limited to the home (where it would be no different than the right to keep arms) doesn’t seem tenable to me.


Fusion progress

January 8, 2011

Interesting.


Autism study was an “elaborate fraud”

January 8, 2011

CNN reports:

A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was an “elaborate fraud” that has done long-lasting damage to public health, a leading medical publication reported Wednesday.

An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study — and that there was “no doubt” Wakefield was responsible.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Wakefield planned to profit from the fraud. (Via Instapundit.)


DC court revives old handgun cases

January 8, 2011

This seems right:

Magnus v. U.S., decided today by the D.C. Court of Appeals . . . concludes that a defendant who pled guilty in 1996 to violating D.C. handgun ban can now have that plea set aside given D.C. v. Heller, assuming his conduct was indeed protected by the Second Amendment . . . “A conviction for conduct that is not criminal, but is instead constitutionally protected, is the ultimate miscarriage of justice,” and a defendant can therefore ask to have it set aside (via a petition for coram nobis relief) even many years later.


Standards at the Huffington Post

January 8, 2011

The Huffington Post likes to fancy itself a newspaper and not merely a group blog. I think they have arrived. Just before the New Year, they ran an article that libeled Peter Wallison and Charles Calomiris of the American Enterprise Institute. The article (in the Google cache for now, also here), tried to rebut a 2008 AEI publication on the irresponsibility of Fannie and Freddie. The article, by David Fiderer — labelled by HuffPo as a “financial professional” — did not only contest Wallison and Calomiris’s conclusions, but repeatedly accused them of lying.

And I mean repeatedly: “lied”, “lying”, or “lies” appeared six times; “fabricate” or “fabricated” three times; “deceitful” twice; “fraudulent” or “fraudster” twice; “liar” twice (one of those referred to John Boehner); “falsehoods” twice; “bogus” once. That’s eighteen accusations of outright lies.

If you are going to take a tone like that, you need to be damn sure you have your facts straight. There is no scoundrel like the man who lies in accusing another of lying.

But he did not have his facts straight. Wallison and Calomiris published a response that substantiated all the facts in their 2008 publication and explained where Fiderer erred.

The Huffington Post pulled down the piece, replacing it with this:

Editor’s Note: This post has been removed from the site due to factual inaccuracies.

But they did not, as far as I can tell, post any further correction or retraction. Thus we can see that the Huffington Post has truly arrived as a newspaper: weak editorial standards and a lack of integrity after the fact. Congratulations HuffPo!

(Via Instapundit.)


December’s news: November was great

January 6, 2011

Here is Reuters on jobless claims:

Jobless claims up, underlying trend still down

New claims for jobless benefits moved higher last week, but a decline in the four-week average to a nearly 2-1/2-year low suggested the labor market continues to improve.

Good grief. This means that November was sufficiently good as to counterbalance December, not that December is somehow good. As Glenn Reynolds notes, they didn’t look this hard to find a silver lining when Bush was president.

Then there’s AP on December sales:

December increase seals strong holiday for retail

Retailers sealed their strongest holiday sales increase since 2006, as a robust November more than offset spending that tapered off in December. The results reported Thursday suggest steadily improving consumer spending. For investors, whose expectations were riding high, the December figures were disappointing.

Once again, the news for December is somehow that November was really good. Interestingly, the original headline for the story, which was linked from Instapundit and Drudge, was more honest: Retailers report surprisingly weak December. You can still see that headline in the permalink.


End-of-life planning is out

January 5, 2011

The Obama administration is abandoning the end-of-life planning provision. Again.

(Previous post.)


Steny Hoyer, amateur psychologist

January 5, 2011

Steny Hoyer, the former House Majority Leader, says that Tea Partiers believe what they do because they come from unhappy families.


NYT blows another one

January 5, 2011

The New York Times reports:

Early in his presidency, [President Obama] issued several signing statements that made relatively uncontroversial challenges. But he has not issued any since June 2009, when lawmakers of both parties expressed outrage over a statement he attached to a bill saying that he could disregard requirements imposed on certain negotiations with international financial institutions.

(Emphasis mine.)

Simply untrue, as John Elwood notes.

POSTSCRIPT: The subject of the article is the possibility that President Obama might issue a signing statement asserting that he can ignore the budget’s provision that forbids him to move terrorist detainees from Guantanamo to the United States. I’ve remarked before that signing statements — in the abstract — can be entirely appropriate. But the idea being asserted in this case, that Congress’s legislative power does not extend to the manner by which detainees are held outside a theater of war, is absurd.


Times change, I guess

January 5, 2011

Barack Obama, March 2006:

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. . . Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’  Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

Truer words were never spoken.

Still, I agree with the White House that not raising the debt limit would be “insane”. Just as insane as it was when every single Senate Democrat, including Obama, voted against raising the debt limit in March 2006.

UPDATE: Robert Gibbs defends Obama’s vote, saying he was only grandstanding. Ooo-kay.


Our glass is 3% full

January 4, 2011

The IRS has been conducting audits without proper approval:

IRS employees made decisions to survey tax returns without proper approval. From a statistical sample of 311 surveyed tax returns, TIGTA determined that 246 required the Planning and Special Programs function to concur with the group manager’s decision to survey the tax return. However, group managers did not follow guidelines and surveyed 238 (97 percent) tax returns without approval from the Planning and Special Programs function.

97% is an awfully high rate of failure, even for the federal government.

(Via TaxProf.)


Obamacare blocks hospital construction

January 4, 2011

Since nothing says “improving health care” like blocking construction of new hospitals:

Section 6001 of the health care law effectively bans new physician-owned hospitals (POHs) from starting up, and it keeps existing ones from expanding. It has already halted the development of 24 new physician-owned hospitals and forced an additional 47 to struggle to meet the deadline to complete construction, according to the Physician Hospitals of America (PHA).

This seems awfully stupid, even for Democrats. So why did they do it? Regulatory capture, of course:

This little-noticed but particularly egregious aspect of Obamacare is, by all accounts, a concession to the powerful American Hospital Association (AHA), a supporter of Obamacare, which prefers to have its member hospitals operate without competition from hospitals owned by doctors.


Running aground

January 4, 2011

A hilarious example of a liberal narrative running aground on the facts:

SCHLAPP: . . . [The Obama administration] made the language [bringing back the controversial end-of-life planning provision] worse, instead of doing this once every five years, now the Obama administration is allowing this to happen every year and actually reimbursing doctors to do it every year. So, that’s quite a slight of hand. And doesn’t government — aren’t they a little conflicted here? They have to find this huge health care savings for seniors at the same time they’ve become the counselors to seniors in their end of care decisions?

POWERS: Where was your outrage in 2008 when the Bush administration said that Medicare would reimburse end of life counseling?

SCHLAPP: It was a veto that was overridden by the Democrats. So, I give President Bush credit for vetoing that bill.

POWERS: No, it was a 2008 law. I mean, I don’t know what are talking about.

SCHLAPP: Yes, that became law over the president’s veto.

POWERS: No, that’s not true.

Schlapp is absolutely correct; “enacted under Bush” is not the same as “signed by Bush”. But what I love here is how Powers’s immediate reaction, when faced by the facts, is to deny the facts.

POSTSCRIPT: Powers eventually conceded the point, blaming the Wall Street Journal for her error. The Wall Street Journal didn’t try to blame the Obama administration’s misinformation for their error. Both of them did better than The Hill and Politico, neither of which has corrected their story yet.

(Previous post.)


45% have a clue

January 4, 2011

Rasmussen finds that 45% of voters with health insurance think it is likely that health care nationalization will force them to change their coverage; 46% think it is unlikely. (As I’ve noted here time and time again, the former are right.)

Also, 60% favor a complete repeal of the law. That’s just one point off the all-time high.


New York Post sticks by its guns

January 4, 2011

I was skeptical about the idea that New York’s sanitation union would deliberately botch the blizzard cleanup, and I guess I still am, but it’s hard to disregard the story after story the New York Post has run on the affair. Here’s their latest.


Zimbabwe on the San Joaquin

January 4, 2011

An unnecessary tragedy:

It seems inconceivable, but people in America are going hungry en masse due to a famine caused by political authorities. Fresno, California is not yet a sister city of Kiev, Ukraine, but the two cities, capitals of rich agricultural regions, share a history of mass hunger caused by central governments indifferent to the suffering of their people, in the pursuit of ideological goals.


Health care rationing in America

January 4, 2011

A glimpse of our future:

Norman Ornstein had a piece in the Washington Post railing against “death panels” in Indiana and Arizona, both of which involved Medicaid budget limits. He omitted the death panel in Oregon — perhaps because it is a liberal state? — which has explicitly rationed care under Medicaid since being allowed to conduct rationing under the Clinton administration. In Oregon, Medicaid has a list of over 700 procedures, and will cover only the number permitted by their budget, usually in the low- to mid-600s. All those procedures on the wrong side of the line are not paid for by Medicaid.

The point of Oregon’s experiment was to expand coverage at the expense of cutting off the sickest people. . .

What is the common thread that connects the death panels in these three states? Medicaid is a single-payer system in which budgets are limited. When the money runs out, people’s options shrink. See also, the U.K.’s NHS and, increasingly, Canada’s national health-care system, in which life-extending chemotherapy has also been restricted in some places.


As Argentina goes, so goes Europe

January 4, 2011

Countries across Europe are confiscating retirement savings. (Via Instapundit.)


Government growth and the census

January 4, 2011

Federal employment increased throughout the recession, even while the private sector was shedding jobs. Some liberals have suggested that it was only census hiring that made it so. Let’s dispatch that meme, shall we?


Woot

January 4, 2011

Skype has finally implemented video calling for the iPhone.


Oops

January 4, 2011

This bit us on New Year’s Day:

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping you’ll wake up in time to enjoy the first morning of 2011, as multiple users are reporting that alarms set within the iPhone’s default clock application aren’t going off as expected come January 1, 2011.

However, the apparent alarm bug only affects those who go about setting their alarms in a very specific fashion on their phones. For starters, though, the bug in question only affects those running iOS 4—specifically, versions 4.2.1, 4.1, and 4.0.2 of the OS so far. And the bug doesn’t affect alarms that have been previously set up to run as recurring elements on the phone. You’ll have to set a single alarm specifically for tomorrow or January 2 in order for your iPhone to completely ignore it.

That “very specific fashion” is, of course, the normal way one sets an alarm.

This is a very strange bug, and Apple still isn’t saying what happened. A lot of people talk about the technological superiority of Apple. This incident underscores what nonsense that is. Apple is very good at design, but their products are at least as buggy as everyone else’s, often worse.


Good point

January 4, 2011

Jonah Goldberg observes:

I’m something of a product of my times. In the 1980s and 1990s I heard a lot of putatively honest liberals insist that the one zone of life that was absolutely sacrosanct was our own bodies. The state simply had no business getting involved in “our bodies.” Admittedly, this was mostly the rhetoric of abortion. . .

One irony, of course, is that abortion is actually the one area of public policy where there are at least two bodies — and two lives — in question and in conflict. Or at least that is the claim of many.

Flash forward to today and pretty much the entire edifice of liberalism insists that our bodies — what we put into them, how we maintain them — are fair game not just for Congress but for bureaucrats.