Seen

April 29, 2011

I met Glenn Reynolds at the NRA convention today. Nice guy.

(If I’d have known I would be posting a photo, I would have dressed a little nicer.)

I had a question all saved up in case I ever met a law professor, then I forgot to ask it. Sigh. Fortunately I was able to catch up him with him again later and ask.

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A preview of coming slander

April 29, 2011

The United Auto Workers is in trouble: The unionized segment of the automobile industry is dying. Most (nearly all? I don’t have the numbers.) of the growth in automobile manufacturing in the United States is with foreign automakers in right-to-work states. If the UAW can’t find a way to unionize those plants, it will die.

National Review’s F. Vincent Vernuccio and Iain Murray explain (subscription required) the UAW’s strategy. The NLRB, now controlled by Obama appointees, has instituted new rules that allow a union election to be carried out by card check (i.e., without a secret ballot) if the employer agrees. Thus, if the employer chooses not to fight the union, the union is permitted to intimidate employees into agreeing to be represented.

How does the UAW plan to get them to go along? The UAW’s president was nice enough to tell us:

If a company makes the bad business decision to engage in anti-union activity, suppress the rights of speech and assembly, we will launch a global campaign to brand that company a human-rights violator.

And lest anyone miss the message, the UAW has also said that it will defend companies from attacks “from community groups that send the message that the company is not operating in a socially responsible way” if they do not fight the union.

Ominously, the UAW has already hired Jesse Jackson, who is notorious for faux human-rights extortion. In the coming months, expect to see allegations of human rights violations leveled at a major foreign automaker (probably Toyota). When it happens, you’ll know why.


Lese majeste

April 29, 2011

The White House has banned a San Francisco Chronicle reporter from the pool for recording some protesters at an Obama fundraiser. (Then they denied having done so, but the Chronicle stood by its story.)

(Via Instapundit.)


Paul Krugman, *rim shot*

April 29, 2011

It has come to this for the world’s most dishonest Nobel-prize-winning economist: When Paul Krugman was cited as an authority at a town meeting in Wisconsin, the room broke into laughter.

POSTSCRIPT: On a serious note, I’ll remind readers of Robert Barro’s comments on Krugman. Krugman columns are typically on macroeconomics (when he’s not writing more general libels, such as blaming shootings on Republicans), an area in which he has no special expertise.


Strangest error of the week

April 29, 2011

The Guardian describes Rachel Maddow as the “top US news anchor”. What? Not only is she not the top overall, she doesn’t even win her timeslot. And, for that matter, she’s not an anchor either, at least as I understand the term.

The Guardian is famous for its diligence in corrections, but I don’t see one for this story yet.

(Via Hot Air.)


Ninjas!

April 29, 2011

A spree of ninja attacks, here in Pittsburgh. Seriously.

In a details omitted by the BoingBoing story for some reason, one ninja attack was deterred by a man drawing his handgun. That’s really sad, from a romantic point of view, but quite satisfying from a good-versus-evil point of view.

POSTSCRIPT: Apropos to nothing at all, I laughed out loud at this comment:

Ever since the EPA banned the good ninja spray…


Jimmy Carter: US and South Korea are violating North Korea’s human rights

April 29, 2011

Jimmy Carter really is one of the world’s stupidest people.


Fatah makes peace . . . with Hamas

April 27, 2011

Fatah and Hamas are burying the hatchet:

The two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, announced Wednesday that they were putting aside years of bitter rivalry to create an interim unity government and hold elections within a year, a surprise move that promised to reshape the diplomatic landscape of the Middle East.

The deal, brokered in secret talks by the caretaker Egyptian government, was announced at a news conference in Cairo where the two negotiators referred to each side as brothers and declared a new chapter in the Palestinian struggle for independence, hobbled in recent years by the split between the Fatah-run West Bank and Hamas-run Gaza. . .

Israel, feeling increasingly surrounded by unfriendly forces, denounced the unity deal as dooming future peace talks since Hamas seeks its destruction. “The Palestinian Authority has to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in a televised statement. The Obama administration warned that Hamas was a terrorist organization unfit for peacemaking.

Netanyahu has it exactly right. Hamas is an implacable enemy of Israel; Fatah can’t make peace with both. But, in truth, Fatah has made is clear to those paying attention that it has no real interest in peace with Israel, only in the benefits that accrue from play-acting a part in the “peace process”.

Hopefully, this will be a clarifying moment, and will put and end to our willful blindness toward Fatah’s intentions. For example, the Economist often writes that “the outline of a peace deal is clear”. Sure, it is clear to us, but Fatah (to say nothing of Hamas) doesn’t want the deal. It doesn’t matter if the deal seems reasonable to us; we can’t make them want it.

POSTSCRIPT: It is troubling that Egypt’s interim government brokered the deal. It might bespeak a hostility toward Israel that we expect from the Muslim Brotherhood, but we did not expect from the generals.

(Via Pajamas Media.)


Comeuppance

April 27, 2011

Wisconsin State Journal reports:

UW Health doctors who wrote sick notes for protesters at the Capitol in February face penalties up to a loss of pay and leadership positions, the UW School of Medicine and Public Health said Tuesday.

The medical school reviewed 22 UW Health doctors said to have been involved in writing medical excuses for protesters attending rallies over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposals, according to a medical school statement. . .

The Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing and the Medical Examining Board are investigating eight people who allegedly wrote notes, the agencies said last week.

The Wisconsin Medical Society criticized the doctors’ actions, saying they threatened the public’s trust in the medical profession.

The Madison School District told teachers who turned in fraudulent sick notes to rescind them by last month or face discipline. The district received more than 1,000 notes from teachers during the protests.

These guys thought they could get away with anything, and seem to be surprised to find out they were wrong. Frankly, I’m a little surprised too.

(Via Instapundit.)


Partners for peace

April 27, 2011

The latest Palestinian attack on Israelis was perpetrated by the Palestinian Authority itself:

Palestinian Authority police Sunday morning shot and killed one Israeli and wounded four others after they prayed at Joseph’s Tomb (Kever Yosef) around 6 a.m. Sunday (11 p.m. Saturday night EDT). . . A group of 15 worshippers from the Breslov Chassidic sect had driven to the site and were returning when they were gunned down by Palestinian Authority police in a jeep.

The PA security forces continued to fire at the cars as they fled.

Remember, the Palestinian Authority (in contrast to Gaza) is supposedly run by the moderate ones.

(Via Power Line.)


We do what we can

April 27, 2011

If you’re President Obama, you can’t run a sound fiscal policy that keeps our nation’s credit from ruin, but you can pressure Standard & Poors not to report it. (And be just about as successful.)

I suspect we’re going to see renewed political attacks against the rating agencies soon.


What’s Chinese for Pravda?

April 27, 2011

The weekly instructions to the Chinese media from the censors gives a fascinating look into the stories that the regime sees as dangerous. There ought to be a paper that reports exclusively on these stories.


Fabricating news

April 27, 2011

Bryan Preston catches CNN editing an interview with Tim Pawlenty to make it appear that he was officially announcing his run for president.


USA Today refuses to correct error

April 27, 2011

Ilya Somin reports that not only did USA Today misrepresents his remarks on the individual mandate litigation, but they have refused to run a correction. Beyond that, they won’t run his letter correcting the record either. It seems USA Today has a policy (like the New York Times) that they won’t run letters that say they are wrong.


Et tu, Massachusetts?

April 27, 2011

Massachusetts is following Wisconsin’s lead and limiting the collective bargaining privileges of public-sector unions. Does this mean we’ve won?


The fall of the UK

April 27, 2011

A British man has been arrested for singing “Kung Fu Fighting”. It’s sad to see the country that invented individual liberty abandoning it.

(Via Instapundit.)


Getting the band back together

April 26, 2011

Sources say President Obama’s new ambassador to Afghanistan will be Ryan Crocker. Crocker, of course, served as President Bush’s ambassador to Iraq, and, together with General Petraeus, oversaw our victory in Iraq.

Two thoughts: First, this is really good news. It’s almost happy-dance good. Crocker is exactly the right man for the job.

Second, it is striking to see Obama re-assemble the entire Iraq Surge team. First Gates, then Petraeus, and now Crocker. I won’t indulge in the obvious snark (get some here, if you want), but I’ll say it couldn’t have been easy for Obama to swallow his pride and do this. Kudos to him.


Oops

April 26, 2011

The Associated Press falls for an old, old internet hoax.


Counting is hard (I guess)

April 26, 2011

The New York Times has retracted a particularly appalling error from its March 30 editorial attacking Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS). The editorial claimed that Pompeo received $80 thousand in campaign contributions from Charles and David Koch. That claim was the entire substance of the editorial, and was the basis of its title “Without the Campaign Donors, This Wouldn’t Be Possible.”

Since $40k is well over the legal contribution limit, it would surprising if the claim were true. And it’s not. John Hinderaker shows that, to obtain the $80k figure, the NYT searched for every occurrence of the string “Koch” and added the sums together. Thus, they included the Koch PAC, every contribution made by an employee of Koch Industries (since contributors are required to list their employers), and even unrelated people who happen to have the name Koch.

In fact, Charles Koch gave just $2400 and David Koch gave nothing at all.

Hinderaker also asked the Times to explain what fact-checking, if any, is done on its editorials. They declined to answer, but I think we know the answer anyway.


Stuxnet paralyzes Iranian nuke plant?

April 26, 2011

I sure hope this story is true.


Prior restraint

April 24, 2011

A court in Dearborn, Michigan has forbidden Terry Jones to protest in front of mosque. When he refused to agree, he was briefly thrown in jail! (More here.) Something is seriously wrong in that town.

This is so obviously unconstitutional that it can’t possibly withstand appeal. But in the meantime Dearborn has made Jones into a free-speech martyr. We’ll never be rid of him now. Nice job, jackasses.

UPDATE: From the ACLU brief:

In Forsyth County v Nationalist Party, the Supreme Court held that “[s]peech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob.” 505 US 123, 34-135 (1992). In Forsyth, the Court considered the constitutionality of an ordinance that allowed a local administrator to assess a fee for demonstrations or parades depending on how much the administrator estimated it would cost to maintain public order during the event.


Obama gets serious about rising gasoline prices

April 24, 2011

A good example of how President Obama sees the world: Rising gasoline prices are not a substantiative problem, to be addressed by sound energy policy. They are a political problem, to be addressed by attacks on oil companies.


The conscience of a liberal

April 24, 2011

Paul Krugman was delighted to charge the entire right with complicity in the Loughner shooting, because we (like everyone else) used the occasional violent metaphor. But Krugman now seems to have gotten over his excruciating sensitivity to violent metaphors, as he is now writing about dealing with bad ideas with “another shot to the head”.

And save your breath if you were thinking of protesting that Krugman isn’t talking about shooting people. Not a single one of the persons (e.g., Michelle Bachmann) that Krugman smeared were talking about shooting people either. That excuse doesn’t cut it in Krugman’s new era of civility.

(Via Althouse.)


Rehabilitation

April 24, 2011

Gen. Ricardo Sanchez used to be reviled by the left as nearly a war criminal. (From particularly strident leftists you can strike the “nearly”.) But all that stuff is forgotten now that he is running for the Senate as a Democrat. As Glenn Reynolds put it: “It’s like they never cared about this stuff except insofar as they could score cheap partisan points.”

POSTSCRIPT: Democrats will doubtless turn this argument on its head and accuse Republicans of hypocrisy when their attacks on Sanchez begin. Let’s pre-but that argument now: Our opinion of Sanchez has changed, but for non-opportunistic reasons, and long before Sanchez hinted at becoming a political candidate. He has been a vociferous opponent of the surge — the strategy that won the war — even well after it was clearly working. The man has bad military judgement, and nothing else on his resume.


Thuggery

April 22, 2011

President Obama is taking a first step toward blackballing GOP supporters from receiving government contracts:

The White House has been circulating a draft Executive Order that would make many provisions of the failed DISCLOSE Act law by fiat. . . The order would require all companies that sign contracts with the federal government to report on the personal political activities of their officers and directors.

The Chamber of Commerce’s Blair Latoff told Politico that the order “lays the groundwork for a political litmus test for companies that wish to do business with the federal government” and is “less about disclosure than intimidation.”

There is a very simple way to prove that this Obama order is all about punishing his enemies and rewarding his friends: unions that sign collective bargaining contracts with the federal government are exempt from the “disclosure” requirements.


TSA persecutes TSA critics

April 22, 2011

The TSA is targeting its critics for additional scrutiny:

CNN has obtained a list of roughly 70 “behavioral indicators” that TSA behavior detection officers use to identify potentially “high risk” passengers at the nation’s airports.

Many of the indicators, as characterized in open government reports, are behaviors and appearances that may be indicative of stress, fear or deception. None of them, as the TSA has long said, refer to or suggest race, religion or ethnicity.

But one addresses passengers’ attitudes towards security, and how they express those attitudes. It reads: “Very arrogant and expresses contempt against airport passenger procedures.”

Uh oh. I think my contempt is rising as we speak.

(Via Instapundit.)


More signing statements

April 22, 2011

Yet another signing statement from the president who pledged never to use signing statements.


Doublespeak

April 22, 2011

Nice:

White House: When Obama said Paul Ryan is ‘not on the level,’ he meant Ryan is ‘absolutely sincere’


Let them eat cake

April 22, 2011

President Obama says not to blame him for high gas prices: if you’re having trouble paying for gas, you ought to buy a more fuel-efficient car. Oh, I see. Thanks for nothing.

What Obama and the rest of the left fail to appreciate (or at least approve) is that people make decisions for their own reasons, and often their reasons are good ones. Cue to 1:48 here to see Obama make fun of the questioner for having a big car, then nearly do a spit-take when he learned the man had ten kids.

ASIDE: At that point, Obama said he needed to buy a hybrid van. If you’re having trouble paying for gas, can you afford an expensive hybrid? And hybrid vans (the few that exist) don’t get very good mileage either, for that matter.

There’s also a media failure aspect to this story. The Associated Press has sent this entire story down the memory hole and replaced it with a completely different story without the callous indifference. (Aaron Worthing says that doing so violated the AP’s policy, but come on, who really takes that stuff seriously?)


Appeasement fail

April 22, 2011

The pharmaceutical industry is upset that the Obama administration is reneging on the deal it made to buy the industry’s support for health care nationalization:

Drug industry sources tell FOX Business the Administration is backtracking on what is called the “PhRMA deal” in health reform, a deal that was struck behind closed doors in late 2009 and early 2010 in order to get the industry to support and endorse health-care reform.

In the “PhRMA” deal, drug companies would fork over $80 billion in fees as well as give drug discounts to seniors in Medicare over 10 years, among other things.

In exchange, the White House agreed, among other items, to not force the drug industry to accept rebates on drugs sold through Medicare Part D, a program launched under President George W. Bush to subsidize prescription drugs for seniors.

But President Barack Obama’s new deficit push calls for those Medicare rebates, via the Simpson-Bowles plan.

The deficit plan “has blown the deal to smithereens,” says William S. Smith, managing director of Healthcare National Strategies, a D.C.-based government affairs consulting firm. “The Obama Administration has repudiated the PhRMA deal,” says Smith, a former vice president for US public affairs and policy at Pfizer (PFE).

I know it shouldn’t, but this really makes me smile. These people sold us all out to protect their own interests, and I’m glad to see them get screwed for it. I hope this example will teach the next industry in line the folly of trying to appease the rapacious state.


Don’t know much about history

April 22, 2011

President Obama explains his unpopularity in Texas, saying “Texas has always been a pretty Republican state, for, you know, historic reasons.” Good grief. Just one data point: Republicans took control of the Texas legislature for the first time since Reconstruction in 2002.

Glenn Reynolds piles on:

Apparently, when Obama taught Constitutional Law he never got around to teaching the Texas White (Democratic) Primary cases. Or talking about which side was which in the Civil War . . . .

. . . It was the Texas Democrats who excluded black voters (and Mexican-Americans) from their primaries (and then dodged further with the Jaybird Democratic Association when the courts struck down the White Primaries). This is a major set of cases under state action, and I’m surprised that Obama is unfamiliar with this history. I wonder what he covered in his Constitutional Law classes?


Steve Jobs is watching you

April 22, 2011

The iPhone tracks all your movements using GPS, and keeps a record. Worse, that record is transfered to your computer when you sync your phone. Worse still, that record is persistent: when you migrate to a new phone, the record migrates with you.

Apple declined to explain what the hell they are doing.


Overreach outrage

April 22, 2011

I would not have thought that the Obama administration could still shock me. I was wrong.

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Boeing cannot build its new 787 plant in South Carolina, where the labor environment is friendlier than Puget Sound. The board claims that Boeing expanding operations in a right-to-work state “discourag[es] membership in a labor organization” and thus violates the law.

This is so astonishing, it bears repeating: the NLRB is trying to dictate to a private company where it builds its plant.

The NLRB relies on the courts to enforce its rulings, and presumably this one will not stand. The NLRB certainly has no authority under the law to prevent businesses from locating in right-to-work states.

Nevertheless, this is an outrage. Ed Morrissey likens this to Ayn Rand’s fictional anti-dog-eat-dog rule. I think that’s right. If anything, I think that understates the outrage of this. Surely none can now deny that we are suffering under a socialist administration.

POSTSCRIPT: The NLRB currently has four seats (one is vacant). The chairwoman is a Clinton appointment (unwisely reappointed by President Bush in an effort to achieve comity with Democrats — how well did that work again?) who was elevated to chair by President Obama. The other three seats are Obama appointments. One of them, the radical Craig Becker, was a recess appointment. So Obama owns this board.

UPDATE: Jonathan Adler comments.


Smoking gun

April 21, 2011

I trust no one will be shocked to learn that February’s illegal teachers’ strike in Madison, Wisconsin was coordinated by the Madison teachers’ union, MTI.

(Via Instapundit.)


Obama administration spikes terror prosecutions

April 21, 2011

A Pajamas Media source within DOJ says that prosecutions of domestic organizations (such as CAIR) that support terrorism have been spiked for political reasons.

(Via the Corner.)

UPDATE (4/27) : Confirmed.


China bans time travel

April 21, 2011

China is banning time travel from films and television, reports CNN:

But the latest guidance on television programming from the State Administration of Radio Film and Television in China borders on the surreal – or, rather, an attack against the surreal.

New guidelines issued on March 31 discourage plot lines that contain elements of “fantasy, time-travel, random compilations of mythical stories, bizarre plots, absurd techniques, even propagating feudal superstitions, fatalism and reincarnation, ambiguous moral lessons, and a lack of positive thinking.”


Economic illiteracy

April 21, 2011

I don’t necessarily disagree with the overall point of this CNBC article on inflation, but this bit is appalling:

In futures markets, for every investor who’s long, there is one who’s short, so increased speculation itself cannot drive up prices. Speculators would have to be taking physical product off the market to actually affect prices, these officials say.

Although I agree that speculators are not responsible for soaring food and energy prices, this reasoning is complete nonsense. Of course buyers match sellers in futures markets, as they do in any market in equilibrium. That has no bearing whatsoever on whether they are affecting prices. Moreover, it is not at all difficult to draw a demand curve in which a speculator can affect a commodity’s price without actually ending up with any of it.


Walker’s triumph

April 21, 2011

Governor Walker’s budget repair plan for Wisconsin is working.


Kloppenburg’s folly

April 21, 2011

JoAnne Kloppenburg, the would-be judicial activist who lost her bid for Wisconsin Supreme Court, is demanding a recount. Good luck with that:

(Chart from Politico.) (Via Instapundit.)


In contempt

April 21, 2011

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has lost patience with ATF’s stonewalling over the “gunwalking” scandal. Despite subpoenas, the ATF is refusing to produce the required documents, so Issa is ready begin contempt proceedings.

(Previous post.)


A body blow to Righthaven

April 21, 2011

A judge has delivered a body blow to the Righthaven copyright trolls. Judge Roger Hunt has unsealed the contract between Righthaven and Stephens Media, which shows that Righthaven has not acquired any rights to the content in question other than the right to sue for infringement. This may scuttle the entire affair, since it doesn’t seem likely that the right to sue for infringement is transferable in isolation from other substantiative rights. Certainly it should not be.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


Democrats support CO2 regulation

April 13, 2011

Senate Democrats have blocked an effort to forbid the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide.

The battle is not over, in so far as the EPA simply does not have (subscription required), under the law, the authority to do what it is doing. The Clean Air Act is designed to deal with pollution, and sets thresholds for action that are entirely inappropriate for carbon dioxide, which is much more prevalent than pollutants in even the worst polluted air. The EPA recognizes that applying the Clean Air Act’s rules to carbon dioxide would be absurd, but rather than abandoning the effort (as it should), it simply made up its own rules. This is an unconstitutional usurpation of legislative authority.

The Supreme Court has ruled against the EPA on carbon dioxide once already, in Massachusetts v. EPA. It may well do so again. A legislative solution would have been preferable to a judicial one, but unfortunately the Democrats have prevented that. In the meantime, they own the problem.

(Via Instapundit.)


Yesterday’s news today

April 13, 2011

The legacy media is finally figuring out that the Islamists are doing well in Egypt and it’s seriously worrisome.


Democracy fatigue

April 13, 2011

Nancy Pelosi says “elections shouldn’t matter as much as they do.”

Her point, if I can render it fairly, is the two parties ought to have “shared values”, in which case the election winner wouldn’t matter as much. In particular, the Republicans ought to be more like Democrats.

She’s right, of course, that the two parties do not have shared values. The Democrats embrace statism, while the Republicans (at least officially, and often in reality) embrace personal liberty. But Pelosi never had a problem with that divide while they were winning the elections. Now that we are winning the elections, we have a serious problem.

UPDATE: Related thoughts at Power Line.


Tyranny

April 11, 2011

Chicago’s public schools are banning homemade lunches. In order to assure that students eat healthy lunches, students are required to eat cafeteria food or go hungry. Many are going hungry.

That’s your law of unintended consequences in a nutshell: in the interest of ensuring students eat well, students are going hungry.

But let’s not be distracted by the predictable failure of the policy. This would be a travesty even if it worked perfectly. Who do these people think they are, to usurp control of children’s diets from their parents?!

(Via Instapundit.)


Do gooder

April 11, 2011

The Economist (subscription required) tells the inspiring story of Vinod Khosla, who wants to save the planet using venture capitalism:

His next move was characteristically unpredictable: he temporarily moved his family to India. “I wanted to see if I could have a social impact,” he says. “I quickly realised that any non-profit activity I could do would be no more than a drop in the ocean. Most non-profit organisations are completely ineffective. That’s when I decided that I needed to look for scalable solutions, which meant self-propagating solutions, which meant capitalist solutions. Proving the capitalist tool as a solution for poverty is high on my priority list.”

That’s exactly right. Profitable solutions are scalable. Expensive solutions are not.

Khosla also has sharp words for the environmental movement:

If Mr Khosla is unapologetic about making money while helping some of the world’s poorest people, he is equally outspoken when it comes to the environmental movement in the West. “Wind projects are a waste of time. And the reality is that electric cars today are coal-powered cars, because the USA and much of Europe have mostly coal-based electricity,” he says. “Environmentalists use artificial rates of return, buried assumptions and ‘what if’ assumptions about behaviour changes. It’s useless crap.”


Lies, Damn Lies, and Paul Krugman

April 10, 2011

You knew, of course, that Paul Krugman would attack Paul Ryan’s proposed budget, but you had to wait to find out exactly what howlers Krugman would tell. The attack column is out now, and among his many absurdities (e.g., his outrage at the notion that the private sector might deliver health care more efficiently than the federal government) there is this outright lie:

In fact, the budget office finds that over the next decade the plan would lead to bigger deficits and more debt than current law.

This is untrue. It’s not close to true. It’s not even within a country mile of true.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, current law (that’s the March 2011 baseline) will result in a $6.737 trillion deficit from 2012 to 2021 (see table 1, here). President Obama’s budget will result in a $9.470 trillion deficit over that 10-year period (ibid). Under Ryan’s budget, that deficit would be $5.088 trillion (see table S-1, here).

At the risk of belaboring the point, $5.088 trillion (Ryan’s budget) is smaller than $6.737 trillion (current law). To be precise, it’s $1.649 trillion smaller. That’s nearly a quarter of the ten-year deficit.

Ryan’s budget deficit is not larger than current law; it’s much, much smaller. On the other hand, Krugman’s credibility deficit is growing all the time.

(Via the Weekly Standard.)


Waukesha

April 10, 2011

Some people are trying to draw an analogy between the vote-counting snafu in Waukesha County, Wisconsin and the controversy in Minnesota 2008. For example, Dave Weigel:

WANTED: A pundit who had the same reaction to missing ballots being found and changing result in Minnesota 2008, Wisconsin 2011.

The reason you don’t see many with the same reaction is there really is no parallel. In Minnesota 2008, you had Al Franken’s lawyers spending weeks mining rejected ballots until they found enough votes to win. Or worse, in Washington 2004 (a travesty that Weigel wisely doesn’t even mention), you had boxes of uncounted ballots being “discovered” on a daily basis, and ultimately many Democratic precincts actually reported more votes than registered voters.

In Waukesha County, you have votes that were counted and reported on election night, but were mistakenly not incorporated into the unofficial totals. That’s all. In fact, the city of Brookfield (whose votes were mistakenly dropped) reported its results to the media on election night, and those results were published in the local paper. (The paper recognized the significance of their story the following day.) Moreover, the correct Brookfield results are well in-line with historical norms, while the original results were not.

What we had here was simply an example of why election officials double-check the unofficial totals before they become official totals.

(Via Kaus Files.) (Previous post.)

UPDATE: Despite all that, John Fund is right. We should embrace an investigation, so long as the investigation is a broad one. It won’t hurt us to do so: the new Waukesha results seem to be solid, but Wisconsin’s election system as a whole is a mess. (Via Althouse.)

UPDATE: The day that the totaling error was announced, the vice-chair of the Waukesha Democratic Party said she stood by the corrected results. Now it seems someone has gotten to her, and she has recanted.

I think Allahpundit is right. There’s no earthly way those votes are going away, especially since they were reported contemporaneously to the Brookfield Patch, and the Democrats have to know that. This is part of an effort to delegitimize Governor Walker (no one actually cares about the supreme court seat) and energize the base.

UPDATE: Another analysis says that the corrected Waukesha results make more since than the original ones.

UPDATE: An investigation has confirmed the corrected numbers:

GAB Director Kevin Kennedy says the agency’s investigation of spring election procedures in Waukesha County remains ongoing, but that the final canvass numbers in the city of Brookfield match the initial tallies from poll workers on Election Night.

(Via Hot Air.)


DOJ explains presidential war-making power

April 10, 2011

The Department of Justice has completed its legal opinion justifying President Obama’s power to launch his war kinetic military action in Libya without Congressional approval. The opinion is based on two findings (page 10): First, the war serves “sufficiently important national interests” (as if that could ever be found not to be the case). Second, the war isn’t really a “war”.

No really, that’s exactly their argument:

Turning to the second element of the analysis, we do not believe that anticipated United States operations in Libya amounted to a “war” in the constitutional sense necessitating congressional approval under the Declaration of War Clause. This inquiry, as noted, is highly fact-specific and turns on no single factor. [Scofflaw: yeah, I’ll bet!] See Proposed Bosnia Deployment, 19 Op. O.L.C. at 334 (reaching conclusion based on specific “circumstances”); Haiti Deployment, 18 Op. O.L.C. at 178 (same). Here, considering all the relevant circumstances, we believe applicable historical precedents demonstrate that the limited military operations the President anticipated directing were not a “war” for constitutional purposes.

(Emphasis mine.)

You want to know why the Obama administration is refusing to call this a war? There’s your answer right there. If they called it a war, their own analysis says it would be illegal.

POSTSCRIPT: My personal opinion is that the president has plenary authority as commander-in-chief to carry out brief military actions, and he doesn’t need to make up delicate, bogus, and insulting legal tests. However, he was unwise to use that authority in a situation such as this, where the war kinetic military action is unlikely to be over within 60 days. He was particularly unwise, given his emphatic earlier statements against presidential war-making power. He should have sought Congressional approval, and he would have received it easily.

(Via Beltway Confidential.)


Yeah, right

April 10, 2011

Russia wants an override power for any European missile defense system.


The Frank J plan

April 10, 2011

Most of our wars follow a consistent pattern. In phase one we smash the enemy. In phase two we rebuild their country. Frank J notices that, in recent wars, phase one is fast, cheap, and carried out with strong popular support. Phase two, on the other hand, is slow, expensive, and plagued with hypocritical political attacks. Ergo, we should skip phase two:

So what’s the solution? Don’t get into any more wars? Well, President Obama has pretty much proven that’s not a possibility. I mean, he was the stereotypical liberal peacenik, denouncing President Bush as vehemently as possible as an awful, awful man for even contemplating getting us into a conflict with a country that was no direct threat to us, and even he couldn’t help but start another war in the Middle East (I mean, “kinetic military action in the Middle East,” wink wink). It’s like the dictators there exist just for the purpose of being villains. If you accurately portrayed them in a movie, critics would call them unrealistic for being too one-dimensionally evil and crazy. And when you see people that terrible and also so much weaker than us militarily — the U.S. fighting them outright on a battlefield would be like the NFL versus a peewee league team — no one has the willpower to not smack them around. Obviously avoiding wars in the Middle East is not a realistic option, and I’m sure we’ll get involved in plenty more in the future. . .

It’s useful to understand that no matter how much the left screamed about the Iraq War in those protests, 95% of that was partisan silliness and, at most, 4% actual deeply held belief (and possibly 1% brain parasite). That’s pretty evident when you consider how relatively quiet they are with Obama — pretending to care about civilians being killed today won’t help defeat Republicans, so why bother? That’s the big problem now — there’s no longer a separation of war and politics. And our staying in a country and trying to help people means the war goes on longer, which gives it more time to be exploited politically while our troops are in constant peril. Plus, everyone else grows tired of hearing about it. So I ask: Why should we even stay and help a country after we’ve bombed it?

I don’t think he’s serious, although it’s hard to say with Frank J. But either serious or no, it’s hard to fault his logic. This is what our contemporary politics urges us to do. The only reason we wouldn’t do it that way is because we are better people than them.


Iron Dome works

April 10, 2011

Iron Dome, Israel’s new rocket defense system, has proven itself in action for the first time:

The Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system intercepted a Grad-model Katyusha rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, proving its capabilities in combat for the first time.

IDF sources said the rocket was detected shortly after it was launched in the direction of Ashkelon, south of which a battery was deployed on Monday. Two Tamir interceptors were fired at the Katyusha and the first intercepted it, a senior Israel Air Force officer said. . .

The first Iron Dome battery was deployed outside Beersheba late last month after Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired more than 100 rockets and mortar shells into Israel in less than a week.

(Via Right Turn.)


Heh

April 10, 2011

From what I’ve read, the budget deal is okay given the circumstances, but Michael Ramirez puts it into perspective:

(Via Power Line.)


Moral equivalence refuted, again

April 8, 2011

The Palestinian governments in Gaza and the West Bank are torturing journalists.

Will this help the legacy media figure out which side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are the good guys? Don’t count on it.


Obama to troops: drop dead

April 8, 2011

President Obama has reversed policy from 1995, and will withhold military pay if the government shuts down:

When the government was shut down in 1995, military personnel continued to report to work and were paid, but the planning guidance sent to the services and defense agencies says a shutdown this time will be different.

“All military personnel will continue in normal duty status regardless of their affiliation with exempt or non-exempt activities,” says the draft planning guidance that was prepared for the services and defense agencies. “Military personnel will serve without pay until such time as Congress makes appropriated funds available to compensate them for this period of service.”

I’m astonished.

(Via Hot Air.) (Previous post.)


Nowhere to hide

April 8, 2011

The Army is deploying GPS-guided mortar rounds in Afghanistan. Cool.


Obama to troops: drop dead

April 7, 2011

President Obama has pledged to veto a proposed bill that would maintain funding for our troops during a government shutdown. That doesn’t sound like smart politics to me.


A wild one in Wisconsin

April 7, 2011

I was just getting ready to write some comments on Tuesday’s supreme court election in Wisconsin, when the result was turned upside down.

I noticed Wednesday morning that Prosser (the Republican) had not picked up as many votes from Waukesha County as I expected. But my estimate was a highly unscientific, back-of-the-envelope calculation, so I didn’t think much of it. Ann Althouse noticed the same thing (and, unlike me, she actually blogged it):

Waukesha is now shown as completely in, but the numbers didn’t change, so I think something may have been misreported. I took the trouble to do a calculation and was going to predict that Prosser would net 40,000 more votes in Waukesha. What happened?

Well, it turns out that something did happen. The Waukesha County clerk failed to record the votes from one city. (She failed to save the database after importing the data.) When the error was discovered during canvassing, Prosser gained 7,582 net votes, demolishing his razor-thin 204-vote deficit.

The clerk emphasized:

This is not a case of extra votes, or extra ballots, being found. This is human error, which I apologize for. . . Which is why the state requires us to conduct a canvass.

Prosser’s new lead is outside the margin that requires an automatic recount, but I suspect we will see a recount nevertheless. I won’t go out on a limb and say that this thing is over, but I think Prosser’s campaign has to be pretty happy with their position.

Democrats and union bosses had been crowing about the Prosser’s apparent defeat as a rebuke to Scott Walker, the Republican governor, and indeed to Republicans nationwide. (This was already foolish, given the narrowness of the margin despite the huge union effort for Kloppenburg, Prosser’s opponent.) Now, well, Mary Katharine Ham puts it best:

Small, state-wide election with vital national implications soon to have no national implications whatsoever.

ASIDE: If you want more schadenfreude, watch this video in which Kloppenburg brushes off the question of whether she should be claiming victory with such a narrow margin.

Now, although the tone will be quite a bit different than it might have been, I still need to remark on why it was so important that Kloppenburg lose this race (and therefore that Prosser win). This photo, taken by Ann Althouse, tells the whole story:

Kloppenburg was campaigning on a promise to overturn Wisconsin’s budget repair bill that was fiercely opposed by public-sector unions. This is absolutely not what a court is supposed to be doing. Under the rule of law, a court is supposed to rule on the law, not pursue a political outcome. Of course, this rule is frequently violated, especially by the left’s judicial activists, but always they at least pretend to take a proper judicial view.

That pretense is valuable. While I would prefer their counterfeit judicial temperament to be real instead, their need to pretend does limit how far they can go in carrying out their political aims. When judicial candidates can come out and promise to rule a particular way in particular controversies, the courts will have become just another political body. We don’t need a third branch of the legislature. We need the rule of law.

Mickey Kaus put it this way, when we all thought Kloppenburg had probably won:

There is also the minor issue of whether opponents of the anti-union law have a case. Or does everyone agree that doesn’t matter anymore?

Fortunately, it looks like that still does matter. For now.

(Via Althouse.)

UPDATE: The vice-chair of the Waukesha Democratic Party stands by the new totals.

UPDATE: Apparently Prosser had already taken a narrow lead in canvassing before the Waukesha correction.


Hotlined war

April 5, 2011

The Senate was tricked into approving a non-binding resolution approving the no-fly zone in Libya.

It’s hard to know who is worse here: the people who would secretly slip such a measure into a unanimous consent resolution, or the senators who give their consent to such measures without reading them.


Dangerous times

April 5, 2011

Mohammed ElBaradei, running for president of Egypt, is pledging to make war against Israel.

Strictly speaking, he made the pledge in the event of war between Israel and Hamas, but renewed war between Israel and Hamas is a virtual certainty — especially if Hamas thinks that Egypt would come into the conflict on their side.

Remember this the next time a talking head speaks of ElBaradei as if he were one of the good guys.


Bush policy wins again

April 5, 2011

In President Obama’s latest reversal, (alleged) 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will be tried at Guantanamo by a military tribunal.


China seeks to turn US debt holdings into leverage

April 3, 2011

A lot of people worry that some day China will use its enormous holdings of US debt to put pressure on our foreign policy. Well worry no longer, that day has arrived:

Leaked diplomatic cables vividly show China’s willingness to translate its massive holdings of US debt into political influence on issues ranging from Taiwan’s sovereignty to Washington’s financial policy.

China’s clout — gleaned from its nearly $900 billion stack of US debt — has been widely commented on in the United States, but sensitive cables show just how much influence Beijing has and how keen Washington is to address its rival’s concerns.

An October 2008 cable, released by WikiLeaks, showed a senior Chinese official linking questions about much-needed Chinese investment to sensitive military sales to Taiwan.

However, I’m not sure that China’s holdings give them the kind of leverage they hope (and that we seem to fear). With so much of China’s sovereign wealth tied up in US treasuries, I don’t think they can afford to endanger those holdings.  As the old saying goes: if you borrow a million dollars, the bank owns you; if you borrow a billion, you own the bank.


Liberals for misogyny

April 3, 2011

The left’s dedication to multiculturalism (and opposition to our own culture) trumps its support for women’s rights.

I admit, the title isn’t fair. It’s not really that most of the left is for misogyny, so much as anti-anti-misogyny.


Fast and Furious

April 3, 2011

If you’re wondering what the “gunwalking” scandal is about, National Review has a good summary. (Briefly: the ATF facilitated illegal gun sales to Mexican gangsters, as part of a harebrained scheme to see where the guns ended up. One of the guns was used to kill a US Border Patrol agent.)

UPDATE: Clarified some of the nomenclature.

(Previous post.)


Democrats can’t find the high road with a map

April 3, 2011

Democrats are snooping through Scott Brown’s (R-MA) family’s health records. (Via Instapundit.)


Civility update

April 3, 2011

A conservative think tank has received death threats after the New York Times criticized one of its Freedom of Information Act requests.

(Via Instapundit.)


I prefer the First Amendment, thank you

April 3, 2011

Harry Reid (D-NV) says that the Senate will look into how to deal with the scourge of Koran burning:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says congressional lawmakers are discussing taking some action in response to the Koran burnings of a Tennessee pastor that led to killings at the U.N. facility in Afghanistan and sparked protests across the Middle East, Politico reports.

Great, blasphemy laws. And the idiocy is bipartisan:

“I wish we could find a way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war,” [noted RINO Lindsey] Graham told CBS’ Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” Sunday.

I wish, just once, this bunch might respond to something like this by affirming our support for the Bill of Rights.


Killing for taste

April 1, 2011

A biotech company, Senomyx, is using cells from aborted fetuses to test the taste of foods. Senomyx’s clients include Pepsi, Nestle, and Kraft.

Kraft is going to be hard to boycott, they make so many products, but Pepsi and Nestle have good substitutes.

(Via the Corner.)


The next union reform battleground

April 1, 2011

While all eyes are on the chaos in Wisconsin (where a state judge has declared that the legislature did not do what it manifestly has done — pass a union reform bill), Ohio has just passed even more consequential union reforms.


Marching orders

April 1, 2011

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) accidentally issues the party’s talking points in front of the press:

Moments before a conference call with reporters was scheduled to get underway on Tuesday morning, Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, apparently unaware that many of the reporters were already on the line, began to instruct his fellow senators on how to talk to reporters about the contentious budget process. . .

“I always use the word extreme,” Mr. Schumer said. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”


Obama to ignore War Powers Act

April 1, 2011

The Obama administration has told the House of Representatives that it will not abide by the War Powers Act:

The White House would forge ahead with military action in Libya even if Congress passed a resolution constraining the mission, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a classified briefing to House members Wednesday afternoon.

Clinton was responding to a question from Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) about the administration’s response to any effort by Congress to exercise its war powers, according to a senior Republican lawmaker who attended the briefing.

The answer surprised many in the room because Clinton plainly admitted the administration would ignore any and all attempts by Congress to shackle President Obama’s power as commander in chief to make military and wartime decisions. In doing so, he would follow a long line of Presidents who have ignored the act since its passage, deeming it an unconstitutional encroachment on executive power.

Note that the last sentence isn’t true. Yes, all presidents have taken the position that the War Powers Act violates the president’s power as commander-in-chief, but no, they have not ignored the act. The president and the Congress have always avoided a head-on collision over the Act. For example, the president has always either withdrawn the troops or sought (and received) Congressional approval before the deadline, even while maintaining he was not required to so.

That’s what is so remarkable about the administration’s declaration that it will not follow the Act. He is abandoning the tacit agreement between the two branches that Congress will not infringe on the president’s war-making power provided that the president follows Congress’s process.

Why is President Obama doing this? I think we’re seeing a continuation of a pattern we’ve seen since early in Obama’s presidential campaign. Barack Obama is unable to admit to making a mistake. He cannot bring himself to go back and get Congressional approval now, but he knows this war is unlikely to be done within 90 days. And thus he has set the two branches on a collision course.

Can you imagine the reaction had President Bush done this? The legacy media and the left (but I repeat myself) would have seen it as proof that we are on the fast path to fascism or something. But from Obama, we get little more than ho-hum.

(Via the Corner.)