June 30, 2011

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been holding hearings on the ATF’s horrifying Gunwalker scandal, in which the ATF trafficked guns to Mexican gun cartels. The ranking Democrat on the committee wants to change the subject, so he is summoning a bunch of gun control advocates to testify at the committee, presumably to blame gun owners for something.

Wait a second. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), a fierce gun-control advocate, wants to divert the hearing away from the ATF’s activities trafficking guns to Mexican drug cartels? It makes you wonder what gun control really means to these people.

Anyway, I see this as likely to backfire. These people will be testifying at a hearing on Gunwalker. Democrats will be happy to solicit their usual sob stories and bogus statistics, but Republicans will make them answer questions on Gunwalker, one of the worst gun-control scandals in American history. Make them explain why we should restrict the right of law-abiding Americans while the administration trafficks guns to Mexican drug cartels.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


June 30, 2011

Los Angeles County is forcing people from their homes for no reason:

In order to clear the title on their land, the Dupuises are spending what would have been peaceful retirement days dismantling every board and nail of their home — by hand — because they can’t afford to hire a crew.

Tough code enforcement has been ramped up in these unincorporated areas of L.A. County, leaving the iconoclasts who chose to live in distant sectors of the Antelope Valley frightened, confused and livid. They point the finger at the Board of Supervisors’ Nuisance Abatement Teams, known as NAT, instituted in 2006 by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich in his sprawling Fifth District. The teams’ mission: “to abate the more difficult code violations and public nuisance conditions on private property.”

L.A. Weekly found in a six-week investigation that county inspectors and armed DA investigators also are pursuing victimless misdemeanors and code violations, with sometimes tragic results. The government can define land on which residents have lived for years as “vacant” if their cabins, homes and mobile homes are on parcels where the land use hasn’t been legally established. Some have been jailed for defying the officials in downtown Los Angeles, while others have lost their savings and belongings trying to meet the county’s “final zoning enforcement orders.” Los Angeles County has left some residents, who appeared to be doing no harm, homeless.

Some top county officials insist that nothing new is unfolding. Michael Noyes, deputy in charge of code enforcement for Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, says, “We’ve had a unit in the office through the ’70s and ’80s.” But key members of the county NAT team say that “definitely, yes,” a major focus on unincorporated areas was launched in 2006.

Those who suspect that the county may have plans for their land won’t be dissuaded by this:

Emeterio claims that [Deputy District Attorney David] Campbell told his public defender, “Well, he’s got ‘vacant’ land, and we want it vacant.” His voice rising, he explains the county’s view: “You’re not allowed to have anything there! Not a storage container, not a fuckin’ tire, not a nuthin’. Not a tractor. Nothing!

or this:

But Oscar Gomez, a zoning official on a county NAT team that took the Weekly on a ride-along in June, says such violations “bring the property value down. … There are actually people that own all the property around them, even if they haven’t built there yet.”

Read the whole thing, or as much as you can bear.

(Via Instapundit.)

On the Times’s memory hole

June 29, 2011

The New York Times’s ombudsman comes out against the Times’s practice of airbrushing its articles:

My preference would be that The Times do more to document and retain significant changes and corrections like those I have described. It has a policy against removing material from its archive (except in rare cases), on the principle that the record should be preserved. The Times should clarify its policy on replacing stories online, which looks like de facto removal to me, and offer the public a better-documented archive that includes all significant versions and all corrections. . .

Right now, tracking changes is not a priority at The Times. As Ms. Abramson told me, it’s unrealistic to preserve an “immutable, permanent record of everything we have done.”

There is a saying that I think is appropriate here: That which has been done, can be done. Lots of blogs and newspapers manage to keep a fairly complete record by the simple expedient of not replacing their stories. Barring that, maintaining a change history is technologically quite feasible. For instance, as an Instapundit reader points out, Wikipedia manages to do so, and in a much more difficult setting.

It’s just a matter of wanting to do it.


June 29, 2011

Justice Ginsberg is a global warming skeptic.

Obama blasts Obama stimulus plan

June 29, 2011

The tax break that President Obama blasted in his press conference today was created by his own stimulus bill:

The chief economic culprit of President Obama’s Wednesday press conference was undoubtedly “corporate jets.” He mentioned them on at least six occasions, each time offering their owners as an example of a group that should be paying more in taxes.

“I think it’s only fair to ask an oil company or a corporate jet owner that has done so well,” the president stated at one point, “to give up that tax break that no other business enjoys.”

But the corporate jet tax break to which Obama was referring – called “accelerated depreciation,” and a popular Democratic foil of late – was created by his own stimulus package.

Bottom line: when push comes to shove, these guys won’t even stand up for their own economic theories. They say they believe in Keynesianism, but they don’t really, at least not enough to favor it over class warfare. Their devotion to Keynes is really just an excuse to spend a lot of money.

UPDATE: According to Matthew Yglesias, Obama was not referring to the bonus depreciation provision in the stimulus bill, but to a 1987 tax provision that allowed private jets to be depreciated over five years, while commercial jets are depreciated over seven years.

I’m not necessarily going to take Yglesias’s word for it, but let’s stipulate that he is right. That means that Obama is complaining about a 24-year-old provision that allows private jets to be depreciated at a rate of 20% per year instead of 14.3%. Meanwhile, his own stimulus plan lets the same jet be depreciated by 50% in one year instead of 20%, and he has no problem with that. Does that make any sense at all?

In fact, the objection is even more nonsensical than that. The tax code is ripe with myriad rules that dictate various different depreciation periods for various things. Generally vehicles are depreciated over five years (except for railroad cars (seven), tractors (three), or ships (ten)) and that includes planes.

But wait, it’s more complicated than that. There are many, many exceptions that apply depending on how assets are used. For example, assets used to breed cows, sheep, or goats depreciate over five years, but ones used to breed pigs depreciate over three years. Ships used for commercial transportation are depreciated over 15 years instead of 10. And, on point, planes used for commercial transportation are depreciated over seven years instead of five.

I’m not going to claim that this mosaic of rules and exceptions makes sense. Obviously it was the result of legislative horse trading. But President Obama is going into the middle of this decades-old nest of rules, picking out just one, and saying that the exception should apply in place of the general rule. (And even that change would matter much less than the bonus depreciation provision in his own stimulus bill.) This makes no sense on any basis other than political demagoguery.

(Via TaxProf Blog)

Hooray for the ATF

June 29, 2011

Gunwalker guns are turning up in US neighborhoods now.

There’s also this interesting fact:

The strategy was supposed to lead ATF officials to drug cartel leaders, but agents admitted they never followed the weapons to see where they went.

I thought the whole point was supposedly to follow the guns. If they didn’t even follow the guns, it’s getting really hard to argue that the operation was carried out in good faith.

(Previous post.)

Good grief

June 29, 2011

North Korea is now chairing the UN Conference on Disarmament.

The middle places

June 28, 2011

A few years ago, Sarah Palin caught heat for remarking that the best of America can be found in small towns, which her critics interpreted as insulting urban America. (ASIDE: I don’t think that interpretation holds up, since she said “the best of America is not all in Washington D.C.” She was complimenting — one might say pandering to — her hosts, not insulting anyone. But that’s not my point here.)

A few days ago there was an interesting exchange between Bill Maher and NYT columnist David Carr on Maher’s television show. Maher was upset about Gov. Chris Christie’s agenda in New Jersey:

MAHER: It’s okay if this [expletive] happens in Kansas and Alabama, but don’t [expletive] with the smart states.

Carr asked why Maher is so down on Christie, and Maher replied:

MAHER: I got a nice public school education there, and now there is a governor of that state there saying things that I never imagined a governor of that state would say. Maybe it’s just false pride, but I think New Jersey is more sophisticated than other states.

CARR: I think if it’s Kansas, if it’s Missouri, no big deal. You know, that’s the dance of the low-sloping foreheads. The middle places, right?

Now, Maher and Carr are persons of no special importance. But they are exemplars of an attitude I see every day.

So here’s my point. When Palin made her “real America” remark, liberals professed to be outraged that she would regard one part of America as better than another. But that’s not true at all. They do, many of them, see one part of America as better than another; they just see it the other way around.

In short, it wasn’t Palin’s (supposed) favoritism that bothered them. It was the fact that Palin complimented people they saw as their inferiors. Avoiding favoritism they could probably deal with, even though it would fail to recognize their greater “sophistication”. But (supposedly) placing the “middle places” over their betters, that was simply intolerable.

NATO in trouble

June 28, 2011

It’s a good thing we won the Cold War before the world found out that NATO was a paper tiger:

Not surprisingly, most of America’s next generation of military leaders has lost confidence in NATO. At a recent talk I gave at an elite U.S. military institution, just five participants out of an audience of some 60 raised their hands when asked how many believed NATO ought to continue in business.

An American colonel, recently returned from Afghanistan, told me that when he asked an officer from a European NATO member country to lead a supply convoy one evening, the officer explained that he was only paid to work for a set number of hours and his working day was done. Reminded that there was a war in progress, the officer said, “Maybe your country is at war, but not mine.”

(Via Instapundit.)

Dangerous times

June 28, 2011

Who ever could have seen this coming?

Sensing the revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak is slipping from their grasp, activists and opposition groups are pressuring the ruling military council to postpone Egypt’s elections in September amid fears that Islamists and members of the former regime will gain too much power.

(Via Instapundit.)

Energy efficiency

June 27, 2011

Energy use versus economic production over time:

The bottom line is we have already achieved incredible strides in energy efficiency, and are continuing to do so, all without expensive and oppressive government efforts.

Some will still be unhappy, even though energy efficiency has increased dramatically, since we are still using more energy (to generate much, much more output). I think that’s telling, because it shows they don’t really want more energy efficiency; they want lower standards of living. More precisely, they want lower standards of living for the masses, not for the nomenklatura.

(Via the Corner.)

Arizona Free Enterprise Club

June 27, 2011

Another victory for free speech today as the Supreme Court struck down Arizona’s speech-limiting “clean elections” law. I continue to be amazed that so many people equate cleanliness in elections with controls on how much people can say.

I also continue to be amazed by the Ninth Circuit, the nation’s most reversed court, which somehow managed to blow this case despite a very clear precedent in Davis v. FEC.

ATF fires Gunwalker whistleblower

June 27, 2011

I’m surprised at this. You would think they would wait until the scandal was off the front pages before starting to retaliate against the whistleblowers.

(Previous post.)


June 27, 2011

Allahpundit notes the President is having trouble keeping his story straight: Last week automation was costing us jobs. This week, robots create jobs.

AMA opposes key Obamacare provision

June 25, 2011

The AMA has come out for the repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the rationing committee that was created by the health care nationalization bill. (It sounds exactly like the Independent Medicare Advisory Board, so I assume they renamed it at some point.)

Thanks guys. A year and a half ago would have been a little more useful.

Another Gunwalker murder

June 25, 2011

CBS reports:

CBS News has confirmed that ATF Fast and Furious “walked” guns have been linked to the terrorist torture and murder of the brother of a Mexican state attorney general last fall.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


June 24, 2011

While the ATF was strong-arming gun stores into participating in its crazy scheme to traffic weapons to Mexican drug cartels, it was turning around and illegally leaking the names of those same gun stores to the media as prime sources of guns recovered in Mexico.

The ATF’s betrayal of the gun stores is a petty offense compared to the Gunwalker scandal as a whole, but it does make it that much harder to believe that the operation was conducted in good faith.

(Previous post.)

Clearest administration policy statement since “spread the wealth around”

June 24, 2011

Timothy Geithner explains we need to hike taxes on small businesses so that government doesn’t shrink.

POSTSCRIPT: I was going to title this “At least he’s honest”, but, on further reflection, “honest” doesn’t seem a very good way to describe a tax cheat who is explaining why he needs to hike taxes.

Next time get it notarized

June 24, 2011

The White House claims that Barack Obama never filled out a 1996 questionnaire in which he supported gay marriage, even though it has his signature on it. Does President Obama permit his staff to forge his signature? Really, I think he’s better off embracing the flip-flop.

Now, if this sounds familiar, it’s because this isn’t the first time Obama has disavowed his own signature.

(Via Instapundit.)

Obama’s “phony accounting”

June 24, 2011

The Washington Post calls President Obama on his “phony accounting” in regards to the auto bailouts.

Yet another Fannie scandal

June 24, 2011

The liberal Center for Public Integrity reports:

Fannie Mae executives bungled their stewardship of the federal government’s massive foreclosure-prevention campaign, creating a bureaucratic muddle characterized by “mismanagement and gross waste of public funds,” according to a whistleblower lawsuit by a former Fannie Mae executive and consultant.

Caroline Herron, a former Fannie vice president who returned to the mortgage giant in 2009 as a high-level consultant, claims that the homeowner-relief effort was marred by delays, missteps and executives preoccupied with their institution’s short-term financial interests.

“It appeared that Fannie Mae officers were focused on maximizing incentive payments available to Fannie Mae under various federal programs – even if this meant wasting taxpayer money and delaying the implementation of high-priority Treasury programs,” she claims in the lawsuit.

Herron alleges that Fannie Mae officials terminated her $200-an-hour consulting work in January because she raised questions about how it was administering the federal government’s push to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, known as the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP.

By the way, let’s not forget that Fannie Mae got the job through a $400 billion no-bid contract.

Static analysis

June 24, 2011

I’ve often remarked that the Congressional Budget Office’s scorings are of limited use because they don’t take account of how government policies change individual behavior. Thus, their scores are too kind to policies that suppress individual enterprise (that is, big government policies) and are too unkind to policies that promote it.

In a hearing before the House Budget Committee, the CBO’s director acknowledged the truth of this criticism in the context of Obamacare:

Elmendorf: The way I would put it Mr. Chairman, is we don’t model the behavior of physicians. We don’t model the access to care or quality of care.

Ryan: So you assume it stays on as is?

Elmendorf: That is the point we noted in the letter analyzing your proposal. That is a gap in our tool kit and a gap we are trying to fill.

The anti-war movement

June 24, 2011

Victor Davis Hanson nails it:

Hillary Clinton . . . said this month:

. . . the bottom line is, whose side are you on? Are you on Qadhafi’s side or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been created to support them?

Yet said in May 2003 in the context of Iraq:

I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you’re not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.

The point is not that the Obama administration is two-faced, hypocritical, and shameless. Most administrations are; they act quite differently once they are in the White House and governance requires adult responsibility quite different from the cheap rhetoric of the campaign trail.

Rather, the significance in Obama’s case is twofold: . . .

Second, Obama has utterly embarrassed the entire liberal attack on the Bush’s administration’s efforts in Iraq and against terrorism. The venom between 2003 and 2008 was both cruel and nasty, and yet it was always presented as principled rather than partisan, not a grasp for power but the product of deeper respect for the American civic traditions.

Now we see that entire era as a complete fraud — on matters of dissent, skepticism of the War Powers Act, Guantanamo, renditions, tribunals, preventive detention, wiretaps, intercepts, Iraq, and predator targeted assassination. The hysterical commentary was never based on the merits of those acts, but simply because George Bush, a political opponent, embraced them. How do we know this? Through hypocritical couplets like those above — and the almost complete silence of the antiwar Left. Where now is Cindy Sheehan, the award-winning Michael Moore, the New York Times discounted ads to Moveon.org, the impassioned floor speeches from a Senator Reid or Kerry?

Headline fail

June 24, 2011

USA Today headline writers had a piece about suggestions that Delta is discriminating against Jews and Christians in their service to Saudi Arabia, and this is what they came up with:

Airline to Jewish rumor: ‘Delta does not discriminate.’

“Jewish rumor”?  Good grief.

The New York Lies

June 23, 2011

The New York Times is trying to run interference for the Obama administration as the Gunwalker scandal develops:

If Congressional Republicans are really intent on getting to the bottom of an ill-conceived sting operation along the border by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, they should call President Felipe Calderón of Mexico as an expert witness.

Mr. Calderón has the data showing that the tens of thousands of weapons seized from the Mexican drug cartels in the last four years mostly came from the United States.

That is simply a lie. That claim has been debunked so conclusively that it simply cannot be offered in good faith. The NYT cannot be unaware that it is false. They must just be hoping that their readers are.

(Via Pajamas Media.) (Previous post.)


June 23, 2011

How did the Gunwalker scandal happen? Did the ATF deliberately facilitate the smuggling of weapons into Mexico in order to bolster the (false) story that weapons used in Mexican crimes mostly come from the United States, in order to advance a gun-control agenda?

We don’t know. It’s hard to believe that any administration could be so corrupt. But so far, it is the only explanation that has been offered that makes any sense. Why did the ATF traffic guns to Mexican drug cartels? It defies all reason!

The agents who are talking don’t know. They warned that the scheme would be a disaster, but their pleas were ignored.

Those who do know, on the other hand, aren’t talking. And that makes me suspect the worst. If they had a good faith reason, they should tell us. Instead, the ATF and the Justice Department have been stonewalling for months.

We don’t know when Eric Holder was briefed on the scheme. It’s hard to believe that a plan to traffic weapons into a foreign country would have been approved without going to the top. (And it hardly absolves him if he is such a careless manager as to allow crazy schemes to be put into motion without his knowledge.)

But what we do know for certain is that Eric Holder has approved the cover-up. We know that because the cover-up is ongoing and he could put a stop to it. Regardless of what he knew and when he knew it, Holder should go for that reason alone.

The latest development is someone at the DOJ is trying to fight back against Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). The Washington Post ran a story yesterday alleging, based on an anonymous source, that Issa was briefed on the scheme in April 2010 and raised no objections. Issa categorically denies the report, and adds that his office has been contacted by several publications to whom the story was shopped. The Post was the only publication to find it credible.

Even if the Issa story were true, it would not absolve the ATF, Eric Holder, or the Obama administration. But there’s no good reason to believe it, since there’s no good reason for the source to remain anonymous, unless he’s lying. He can’t be afraid of retaliation; one simply does not face negative consequences for running interference for your boss by attacking a Republican congressman.

If the Gunwalker scandal is as bad as it is starting to look — trafficking guns into a friendly country, for political purposes, leaving countless dead including a federal agent — it would be the worst scandal in American history. No one died in the Watergate burglary.

(Previous post.)

UPDATE: Instapundit follows the Internet Scofflaw lead.

Light bulbs to stay?

June 23, 2011

Rep. Fred Upton (R-TX), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee suggests that he is close to an agreement to repeal the light bulb ban.

Good news, I guess, but I don’t quite understand this. How is there anything to negotiate? They ought to do a straight repeal. I’m worried that they are going to load the bill up with some kind of crap.

Jon Stewart is a bully

June 22, 2011

Jon Stewart is not a nice guy, he only plays one on tv:

Comedian Steven Crowder embarrassed Stewart by publishing an email explaining that the Daily Show never books conservative pundits. (Apropos to this.) His producer then complained to Crowder’s agent, who felt he had no choice but to drop Crowder as a client.

Andrew Klavan adds:

It’s not the ban on conservative pundits I object to.  As I say:  that’s par for the course.   But Crowder has as much right to publicize that ban as Stewart has to put it in place.  After all, if Stewart is ashamed of the policy, he should stop it.  If he’s not ashamed, he shouldn’t mind when it becomes public. The Daily Show’s response to Crowder’s video was simply despicable.

The hypocrisy argument

June 22, 2011

Once the facts in the Anthony Weiner scandal became indisputable, he still had defenders on the left. His defenders fell back on a standard argument of the left: Weiner — the defense goes — was never a proponent of morality — the defense goes — so his immorality is no big deal. At least he’s not a hypocrite.

Zombie has one response to this argument, and I don’t disagree with it. But I want to add two more.

For the time being, let’s take the liberal position seriously: Conduct doesn’t matter, only hypocritical conduct. (Obviously they don’t mean this in the limit — was Charles Manson a hypocrite? — but that’s not where I’m going with this.) Okay. Liberals don’t want to push morality, what do they want to push?

Taxes? Hypocrites. Assisting the poor? Hypocrites. Environmentalism? Hypocrites. Supremacy of the regulatory state? Hypocrites. (BONUS: That one is Anthony Weiner.) Buy American? Hypocrites. And that’s just off the top of my head.

Across the board, their agenda is to control our lives. But these hypocrites don’t want that same control over their lives. A juicy scandal is a relatively rare thing, even today, but these liberals practice their hypocrisy in the open every single day.

But that’s not the whole of it. In fact, the whole hypocrisy argument is a lie anyway.

If they really believed the argument, you wouldn’t catch liberals criticizing the immorality of a Republican caught in a scandal. They don’t care about immorality, right? They would only criticize the hypocrisy.

But that’s not what we see, is it? No, liberals pile on as quickly as anyone else. And they criticize the misconduct itself, not just the hypocrisy. They are all for moralism when it serves their purpose.

To sum up, one could say that the whole hypocrisy argument is itself hypocritical. Better yet, one could simply say it’s wrong.

Castle doctrine is coming to Pennsylvania

June 22, 2011

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:

The state Senate, in a 45-5 vote, gave final approval Monday to the so-called Castle Doctrine bill to expand the right of people to use deadly force against attackers in places outside their homes. A spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett said the governor would sign the bill but was not sure when.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Scott Perry, R-York, eliminates a requirement that people try to retreat before using deadly force in those situations.

The gun-control nuts aren’t happy, of course:

Opponents, including a number of police chiefs and mayors, argue that existing laws provide adequate safeguards and warn the bill could foster a “Wild West” mentality.

“This is going to be dangerous for Pennsylvanians,” said Max Nacheman, executive director of CeaseFirePA, a gun-control group. “This creates more situations in which violence is an alternative.”

Any time, anywhere gun laws are liberalized, the gun-control nuts talk about how it’s going to become the “Wild West”. It never happens. No one is buying it any more.

POSTCRIPT: In fact, even the Wild West wasn’t the Wild West.

UPDATE (6/28): Governor Corbett has signed the bill. When Pennsylvania fails to become the “Wild West”, will the gun-control nuts admit they were wrong? Well, they never have before.

Go ugly early

June 22, 2011

Dave Weinbaum has a tribute to the A-10 Warthog.

I had heard that Air Force was going to scrap it, but I guess that decision was reversed. That’s good.

Machines don’t need health care

June 20, 2011

President Obama says the problem with our economy is that we have too many machines replacing people. He specifically mentioned ATMs.

This is a classic economic fallacy. Capital, such as machines, make labor more productive. One person can produce more using a machine than he can without it. That makes labor more valuable, not less. Any introductory economics class covers this. It’s sad that the president of the United States does not understand it.

Yes, technology can produce temporary disruptions as its ramifications work their way through the economy, but it has always been thus. It’s not a special problem now. (Besides, ATMs have been around for ages.)

Moreover, any disruption in today’s economy caused by technology is dwarfed by the disruption caused by Obama’s multiplication of the regulatory state. And that brings up the one sense in which the accumulation of capital could be seen as a negative sign: If the relative costs of labor and capital shift, so that labor becomes relatively expensive, businesses do have an incentive to substitute capital for labor. That is, capital does not cause labor to become less valuable (Obama notwithstanding, it’s quite the contrary), but capital can become more attractive if labor becomes less so.

This might actually be happening. As Tom Blumer put it, ATMs are exempt from Obamacare.

UPDATE: Another good rebuttal, along the same lines.

SCOTUS today

June 20, 2011

A big day at the Supreme Court today:

  • The Court rejected a lawsuit against several power companies, saying that job of regulating carbon dioxide belongs to the EPA, not the judicial system. (However, if I am understanding properly, the court did not address the EPA’s effort to regulate carbon dioxide in a manner contrary to law.)
  • The Court rejected a preposterous class action against Wal-Mart.
  • The Court refused to hear ACORN’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling that upheld the defunding of ACORN.

But the decision I want to highlight most is a 8-0 decision in Bond v. United States. Anthony Kennedy’s opinion on the role of federalism in the defense of individual liberty is eloquent:

The federal system rests on what might at first seem a counterintuitive insight, that “freedom is enhanced by thecreation of two governments, not one.” . . . The Framers concluded that allocation of powers between the National Government and the States enhances freedom, first by protecting the integrity of the governments themselves, and second by protecting the people, from whom all governmental powers are derived. . .

Federalism also protects the liberty of all persons within a State by ensuring that laws enacted in excess of dele­gated governmental power cannot direct or control their actions. . . By denying any one government com­plete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power.  When government acts in excess of its lawful powers, that liberty is at stake.

The limitations that federalism entails are not therefore a matter of rights belonging only to the States.  States are not the sole intended beneficiaries of federalism. . . An individual has a direct interest in objecting to laws that upset the constitutional balancebetween the National Government and the  States  when the enforcement of those laws causes injury that is con­crete, particular, and redressable. Fidelity to principles of federalism is not for the States alone to vindicate.

This decision was easy in a sense, in that it dealt with federalism largely in the abstract, rather than in application. Still, it’s nice to see.

(Via Bench Memos.)

UPDATE: There is an even-handed summary of the Wal-Mart decision here.

Will the last business to leave California turn out the lights?

June 20, 2011

Companies are leaving California in droves. (Via Instapundit.)

Ah, the civility

June 19, 2011


Escorted by four Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz solemnly called for more civility in political debate Sunday, a day after a gunman shot and critically injured her close friend Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona.


Democratic Rep. [and DNC chair] Debbie Wasserman Schultz stood by her comments that Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal is a “death trap for seniors” in a CNN interview Thursday.

It’s almost as though they never meant any of that civility stuff. Like they were only try to score cheap political points or something. . .

POSTSCRIPT: It’s beside the point to the whole civility swindle, but it’s also worth noting that Wasserman-Schultz was lying about the Ryan plan.


June 19, 2011

The administration of the president who pledged to pull American troops out of Iraq, hell or high water, prepares for the American presence in Iraq to continue indefinitely.

And well we should have a small presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future to safeguard our accomplishments there. I won’t criticize them for flopping to the right position. But I also won’t forget how they shamefully demagogued John McCain for saying the same.

Do not steal

June 19, 2011

Megan McArdle asks if it’s okay to steal. (I’m going to go with no.) And if not, why do people think it’s okay to default on their debts?

Never underestimate the power of a person to rationalize their sin.

POSTSCRIPT: This exchange is pretty good:

Peter Twieg One common variant of this argument that I’ve run into states that because lenders price default risk into the price of the loan, in the big picture defaulting is simply a fulfilment of their prior expectations and thus not a big deal – your marginal contribution to a higher price is so tiny as to not really be blameworthy at all. Concentrated benefits, diffuse costs..

odinbearded It’s funny how close that is to another argument. You know, department stores build a certain loss ratio into their prices so they’re not actually losing anything when I take that nice tie.

Apple to cripple iPhone?

June 19, 2011

Apple has gone too far this time:

IPHONE users may soon be stopped from filming at concerts — as a result of new Apple technology. The leading computer company plans to build a system that will sense when people are trying to video live events — and turn off their cameras.

If this becomes a reality, I will be parting ways from Apple for good. Some things cannot be borne.

This isn’t just an issue for concerts and the like; this is an issue for any public event. Given that police in many places are already willing to break the law to keep people from recording their activities, can there be any doubt that they will be delighted to turn off cameras wherever they go. And that’s just the petty tyrants; then there are the real tyrants.

What really puzzles me is the mentality behind this. Have they forgotten who their customer is? They work for us, not for the concert promoters (and the dictators). It’s like the DVD player manufacturers who put in the “features” that prevent you from skipping to the main menu without watching ads. I paid for the player, not the studios! But this is worse than that. In that case, one could argue that the manufacturer was doing what was necessary for content to be available on DVD. That argument, implausible as it might be for DVDs, doesn’t wash at all for video recording. Are things going to stop happening in the world if Apple doesn’t prevent people from recording them?

(Via Instapundit.)

Freedom in the states

June 18, 2011

The Mercatus Center has a ranking of the 50 states according to freedom. The worst three are New York, New Jersey, and California, so no surprises there. The best is New Hampshire (the only decent score in the northeast). Pennsylvania is in the middle of the pack.


June 18, 2011

Criticize the government, and the government will come after you:

Huntsville has stumbled into the crosshairs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Mayor Tommy Battle said HUD’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Program Center in Atlanta recently notified the city that it will conduct an exhaustive civil rights compliance review of local affordable housing programs. . .

The mayor said Carlos Osegueda, director of HUD’s regional Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, told him Huntsville is being reviewed because of negative public comments about fair housing in The Times and local blogs.

(Via Instapundit.)

Trolls in the dock

June 18, 2011

The Righthaven copyright trolls are facing ethics charges and possible disbarment.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)

GM’s tax bailout was illegal

June 18, 2011

GM’s $45 billion tax break violated the law, according to a new law article:

Treasury solved this problem by issuing a series of “Notices” in which it announced that the law did not apply. . . The Treasury had no legal or economic justification for these Notices, which applied to Citigroup and AIG as well as to GM. Nonetheless, the Notices largely escaped public attention, though they had the potential to transfer significant wealth to loyal supporters (the UAW). That it could do so illustrates the risk involved in this manipulation.

The lawless IRS

June 18, 2011

The IRS violated the law in 38% of its property seizures. Wow. (Via Instapundit.)

Obama disregarded legal advice on Libya

June 18, 2011

President Obama’s absurd contention that the campaign in Libya does not constitute hostilities was adopted over the objections of the Office of Legal Counsel, and the Pentagon general counsel for good measure. This is almost never done:

Presidents have the legal authority to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice, but it is extraordinarily rare for that to happen. Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.

For years we suffered through incessant prattle that President Bush had committed us to “illegal wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq, even though both campaigns were authorized by Congress. Now, under the Obama administration, we have a military action that actually does violate federal law. I won’t go so far as to call it an “illegal war”, since the War Powers Act is quite possibly unconstitutional, but for the first time a serious case could be made.

POSTSCRIPT: The administration contends that the Libyan campaign does not constitute “hostilities” because Qadaffi’s forces are unable to fire back. A similar argument would apply to nearly any American air campaign. But in 2007, Joe Biden pledged to impeach President Bush if he attacked Iran’s nuclear program without Congressional approval. I don’t think that circle can be squared.

UPDATE: How rare is “extraordinarily rare”? John Elwood can’t think of a case more recent than the Roosevelt administration, except this is the second time already during the Obama administration.

(Previous post.)

Smart diplomacy

June 18, 2011

The Czechs have run out of patience with the Obama administration:

The Czech Republic is withdrawing from U.S. missile defense plans out of frustration at its diminished role, the Czech defense minister told The Associated Press Wednesday. . .

“I’m not surprised by the decision,” said Jan Vidim, a lawmaker in the lower house of the Czech Parliament. “The United States has been and will be our crucial strategic partner but the current administration doesn’t take the Czech Republic seriously.”

Vidim’s remarks reflected concern by many in Central and Eastern Europe that the U.S. interest in resetting ties with Moscow could come at their expense.

(Via Hot Air.)

Universities tied to land grabs

June 15, 2011

Inside Higher Ed reports:

A series of reports by the Oakland Institute charge that several prominent American universities — including Harvard and Vanderbilt Universities and Spelman College — are investing in hedge funds and companies that are driving African farmers off their land.

They probably figure that if Columbia can get away with stealing land from Americans, no one will care about African farmers.

(Via Instapundit.)

A useful ambiguity, lost

June 15, 2011

Fox News reports:

A group of lawmakers filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Obama administration, questioning the constitutional and legal justifications for military action in Libya. The bipartisan group is being led by Reps. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and Walter Jones, R-N.C., and includes GOP presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul.

We used to have a very useful ambiguity as regards the status of War Powers Act. Presidents would follow its processes, while maintaining they were not required to do so. Unfortunately, President Obama damaged that ambiguity by flagrantly disregarding the Act, and now this lawsuit threatens to destroy what’s left.

ASIDE: I don’t blame those guys for filing the suit. I’m against it, but people like Kucinich and Paul are going to do what they are going to do. This was predictable given Obama’s actions.

Whatever we have after this suit won’t be as good as what we had before. Either the courts will strike down the War Powers Act (which would be bad), or they will uphold it (which would be worse), or they will find some bogus justification to avoid answering the question (the best outcome from a policy perspective, but infuriating from a jurisprudential perspective).

I think the most likely outcome is the latter — a narrow ruling that dodges the central issues, but I wouldn’t bet the farm against the courts ruling on the War Powers Act. After Boumediene, nothing seems impossible. Also, if the courts were ever going to rule on the War Powers Act, the Libya campaign is the sort of case in which they would do it: a low-profile conflict with no vital national interest at stake. (Yes, I was in favor of it, but let’s be honest.)

Meanwhile, President Obama argues that the War Powers Act doesn’t apply because we are not involved in hostilities. That sounds ridiculous on the face of it, but it strikes me as just the sort of argument that courts might be inclined to seize on if they want to avoid the central issues.

Why President Obama couldn’t have just sought Congressional approval is beyond me. It’s not like he would have lost.

UPDATE: Ilya Somin takes a look at the legalities.

The Obama economy

June 15, 2011

I haven’t posted this graph in a while:

For a couple of months there the unemployment rate was almost down to where President Obama said we would be if we didn’t enact his economic plan.

(Via Instapundit.)

The Obama economy

June 15, 2011

The private sector is limping, but regulatory agencies are doing very well indeed:

We aren’t creating many new jobs, be we’ll be sure to regulate the snot out of the ones we do have. And this doesn’t even include President Obama’s latest shackle on the economy, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

(Via Ricochet.)

Iran to institute missile umbrella

June 15, 2011

Oh, this is lovely:

Iran will use its domestically manufactured missile systems to defend itself and other Muslim nations if they are threatened, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani has said.

And don’t forget, Iran is close to nuclear weapons and is building missile silos in Venezuela.

(Via Hot Air.)

Fast and Furious

June 15, 2011

The House has issued a blistering report on the ATF’s Gunwalker scandal. Among the findings is that the Department of Justice repeatedly lied about what had happened. I’ve glanced at the report, and that finding is really unarguable.

(Previous post.)

Bad troll, no biscuit

June 15, 2011

The Righthaven copyright trolls haven’t the standing to sue:

A federal judge in Las Vegas today issued a potentially devastating ruling against copyright enforcer Righthaven LLC, finding it doesn’t have standing to sue over Las Vegas Review-Journal stories, that it has misled the court and threatening to impose sanctions against Righthaven.

This outcome seemed likely once it was revealed that Righthaven didn’t even have the rights to the stories  they were suing over. Meanwhile, the judge allowed the countersuit by Righthaven’s intended victim (Democratic Underground) to go forward.

This may well (and hopefully will) be the end for Righthaven. Meanwhile, although Righthaven is losing this case on a technical point, other Righthaven suits have failed on more substantiative grounds. That will hopefully deter other trolls from trying the same thing.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)

Making stuff up

June 14, 2011

The Guardian reported:

It appears that the former prime minister [Margaret Thatcher] has no intention of meeting the darling of the Tea Party movement [Sarah Palin]. . .

It would appear that the reasons go deeper than Thatcher’s frail health. Her allies believe that Palin is a frivolous figure who is unworthy of an audience with the Iron Lady. This is what one ally tells me:

Lady Thatcher will not be seeing Sarah Palin. That would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts.

Untrue, says Thatcher’s office:

I have spoken to Lady Thatcher’s Private Office regarding the story, and they confirm that the attack on Sarah Palin definitely did not come from her office, and in no way reflects her views. As a former aide to Margaret Thatcher myself, I can attest that this kind of thinking is entirely alien to her, and that such remarks would never be made by her office. . .

There was never any snub of Sarah Palin by Lady Thatcher’s office. However, there has been a great deal of mischief-making and unpleasantness from sections of the liberal press in a vain and futile attempt to use Margaret Thatcher’s name to smear a major US politician.

Victory in Wisconsin

June 14, 2011

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has thrown out the flagrantly lawless injunction against Wisconsin’s budget repair bill.

That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the rule of law only prevailed 4-3. The three justices in the minority submitted a weaselly dissenting opinion (¶130 here) in which they didn’t come out and say that the law is not a law (there being no convincing legal justification to do so), but instead made the question out to be a tough call, requiring a lengthy litigation process to settle.

In particular, they conceded a controlling decision states that “courts will not review or void an act of the legislature based on its failure to comply with its own procedural rules, unless those rules embody a constitutional requirement” but suggested that the Open Records Law might just be a constitutional requirement, somehow. Good grief.

They also did not address the injunction’s bizarre contention that the process by which the bill was passed somehow violated the Open Records Law, despite the fact that the Open Records Law explicitly states that the legislature’s rules take precedence (¶57) and the legislature’s rule explicitly permits the process that was used (¶53). I suppose dealing thorny issues like that requires a lengthy litigation process.

I was hoping for a bipartisan affirmation of the rule of law. We’ll have to settle for a narrow one.

Ah yes, the objectivity

June 14, 2011

A headline at CNN Money earlier today: “Wingnut debt ceiling demands”. Now it’s been changed to “Goofy debt ceiling demands”, which is probably about as objective as CNN can manage.

Green is the new, er, not-green

June 14, 2011

A new study finds that electric cars are not very good for the environment after all:

ELECTRIC cars could produce higher emissions over their lifetimes than petrol equivalents because of the energy consumed in making their batteries, a study has found.

An electric car owner would have to drive at least 129,000km [80,000 miles] before producing a net saving in CO2. Many electric cars will not travel that far in their lifetime because they typically have a range of less than 145km on a single charge and are unsuitable for long trips. Even those driven 160,000km [100,000 miles] would save only about a tonne of CO2 over their lifetimes.

The British study, which is the first analysis of the full lifetime emissions of electric cars covering manufacturing, driving and disposal, undermines the case for tackling climate change by the rapid introduction of electric cars.

Plus there are other environmental issues beyond just greenhouse emissions.

(Via Hot Air.)

New government commission to reduce waste

June 13, 2011

Years ago I briefly had the job of filling out forms to show compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act. I had a flashback to that time when this morning I heard on the radio that President Obama is creating a new commission to reduce government waste.

Turkey’s elections

June 12, 2011

Turkey’s election results are bad, but they could have been worse. At least the Islamists didn’t get the supermajority that would have allowed them to rewrite the constitution unilaterally. With their numbers they will still be able to rewrite the constitution, but it will have to face a referendum, so they can’t rewrite it as transparently as they would like.

TV execs admit liberal agenda

June 12, 2011

Top television executives admit in recorded interviews to pushing a liberal agenda. (More here.)

Who needs electricity, anyw

June 12, 2011

The EPA’s new regulations have forced American Electric Power to shut down five coal-fired power plants.

For some reason, I’m reminded of an incident a few years ago in which there was a major blackout in the northeast. Democrats tried to pin blame for the blackout on President Bush, and proposed that we raise taxes on the top 1% to invest in power infrastructure. (That top 1% tax hike was their top talking point at the time. They proposed spending that hypothetical revenue on dozens of different things, depending on the topic of the day.)

No one took them seriously, and this is a big part of why. Democrats aren’t for building power infrastructure, they are for dismantling it.

(Via Instapundit.)

Yes, she really said that

June 12, 2011

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), the new chair of the Democratic National Committee, says Republicans are so radical, they want to make illegal immigration a crime.

Cain on gun rights

June 12, 2011

As I’ve said before, there’s a lot to like about Herman Cain, but today he’s just not a serious candidate. The latest reason is his puzzling position on gun rights. Either he’s weak on gun rights, or he doesn’t understand the issue enough to realize that he sounds weak on gun rights.

Sunk capital

June 12, 2011

The American has a thoughtful article about sunk capital, and the dangers of the government sucking it dry.

It’s a classic time-consistency problem: People invested in capital because they trusted that the rule of law would protect their investment. But there’s nothing they can do to move or undo that investment, so the government sees no cost to breaking its promises. Wrong. We need people to keep investing in capital, to improve our society and economy, or even just to replace decaying capital. When investors see yesterday’s promises being broken, they are much less likely to invest today.

(Via Power Line.)

Argentina criminalizes economics

June 12, 2011

The Economist (subscription required) reports:

MOST Argentines reacted with a shrug when their government began doctoring its consumer-price index in 2007. Cooking the books cost holders of the country’s inflation-linked bonds at least $2.3 billion last year. But anyone else who needed to know the true inflation rate simply turned to a clutch of private economists who drew on their own price surveys, data from provincial governments and other official statistics. They reckon that inflation is now running at about 25%. That is far above the 10% reported by INDEC, the government statistics agency . . .

Guillermo Moreno, the thuggish commerce secretary, is moving to stamp out the unofficial, but widely trusted, price indices. To do so he has dusted off a decree, penalising misleading advertising, approved by a military dictatorship in 1983. In February he sent letters to 12 economists and consultants ordering them to reveal their methodology, on the grounds that erroneous figures could mislead consumers.

Some of Mr Moreno’s targets refused; the rest were analysed by INDEC, which predictably found their methods flawed. Seven of them were then ordered to pay the maximum fine of $123,000 (all have appealed).

Feeding frenzy

June 12, 2011

It’s astonishing to watch the legacy media’s feeding frenzy over the Palin emails. When the mainstream newspapers are hiring hundreds of Palin haters to go through her mail, it’s not journalism, it’s opposition research.

And it’s not even rational opposition research at that. Palin isn’t a candidate, and she’s not likely to become a candidate. So why are they investing time, money, and their last scraps of credibility to find dirt on her? They hate this woman with a passion that exceeds anything rational.

Oh, and we mustn’t miss the fact that they’ve found nothing at all. The Huffington Post page screams “Sarah Palin Emails Released By Alaska Government (LIVE UPDATES)”. Two days later, how many updates? Zero.

They wanted to find dirt. Many were self-deceived enough to believe they would find dirt. Instead they’ve proven she’s clean. Oops.

UPDATE: While the feeding frenzy goes on, there are plenty of things the legacy media doesn’t think it’s important for you to see.

Mocking liberals considered useful

June 9, 2011

Glenn Reynolds makes an interesting point viz a viz the Weiner scandal:

I think there’s an important point in the comic value: The people who think they’re smart enough, and morally superior enough, to run everyone else’s lives are risible. They’re not smart enough to run their own lives competently, and they’re actually, overall, morally inferior — I mean, John Edwards, DSK, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barney Frank, Tax Cheat Tim Geithner, just go down the list — and mocking them is inherently valuable. They pursue power, and they exercise power, as much for deference as anything else. Deny them that, and make it painful for them whenever possible. That’s my take.

Massachusetts ER visits increase despite health law

June 9, 2011

Well, well, well:

Emergency room visits have been on the rise in Massachusetts since the passage of the 2006 health care law, much to the chagrin of supporters who projected that the opposite would happen as more people had insurance and were connected with primary care providers.

(Via Instapundit.)

Study predicts health-coverage cuts

June 9, 2011

The Wall Street Journal reports:

A report by McKinsey & Co. has found that 30% of employers are likely to stop offering workers health insurance after the bulk of the Obama administration’s health overhaul takes effect in 2014. . .

Previous research has suggested the number of employers who opt to drop coverage altogether in 2014 would be minimal. But the McKinsey study predicts a more dramatic shift from employer-sponsored health plans once the new marketplace takes effect. . .

In surveying 1,300 employers earlier this year, McKinsey found that 30% said they would “definitely or probably” stop offering employer coverage in the years after 2014. That figure increased to more than 50% among employers with a high awareness of the overhaul law.

Behind the expected shift is the fact that the law will give Americans new insurance options outside the workplace, and carriers will no longer be allowed to deny people coverage because they have been sick. McKinsey found that reduced the moral obligation employers may feel to provide coverage.

Cambridge crude

June 9, 2011

This could be a big deal, if it pans out:

A group of young MIT students has developed a new type of battery that runs on a rechargeable liquid fuel. The inventors call the fuel “Cambridge Crude,” and if the technology makes it to market, refueling an electric car could be as easy as pulling up to a pump. The batteries are powered by semi-solid flow cells, an innovative architecture that uses charged particles floating in a liquid electrolyte between two containers–one for storing energy and one for discharging energy. . .

The MIT News Office reports:

. . . Another potential advantage is that in vehicle applications, such a system would permit the possibility of simply “refueling” the battery by pumping out the liquid slurry and pumping in a fresh, fully charged replacement, or by swapping out the tanks like tires at a pit stop, while still preserving the option of simply recharging the existing material when time permits.

However, I would caution that this comes from the MIT press office, which has a history of over-hyping modest discoveries.

(Via Instapundit.)

Hooray for the ATF

June 9, 2011

A Gunwalker gun shoots down a Mexican government helicopter.

(Previous post.)

Obama opposes Britain over Falklands

June 9, 2011

History is repeating itself in the South Atlantic. Argentina’s government, facing domestic problems, has resorted to saber rattling over the Falkland Islands. But this time, the Obama administration is siding with Argentina over our most important ally.

With this latest in President Obama’s long string of insults and injuries against Britain, we are now beyond the realm of mere incompetence. At this point we have to assume that Obama really does have it in for Britain.

Environmentalists aren’t serious

June 9, 2011

Environmentalists, at least in Germany, simply aren’t serious. They had a chance to prove otherwise today when the German government announced a big increase in gas- and coal-fueled power plants to make up for Germany new ban on nuclear power. Obviously, burning gas and coal generate lots of greenhouse gases, which nuclear power does not.

If they were serious about global warming, German environmentalists could have called for a resumption of nuclear power. Instead we saw that concern over global warming does not yet take precedence over anti-nuclear hysteria.

Rather than acknowledge that they faced a real choice between nuclear power or fossil fuels, Germany’s environmentalists (at least as quoted on Marketplace) instead called for greater use of imaginary and/or cost-prohibitive technologies.

If environmentalists can’t set aside their irrational fear of nuclear power to deal with global warming, a problem that they say threatens the entire world, they simply are not to be taken seriously.

Obama ceases daily economic briefings

June 7, 2011

President Obama has stopped receiving daily economic briefings. Does this mean that Obama has dropped his focus on the economy?

I don’t think so. The economy isn’t national security. What did they have to tell him in daily briefings? What economic indicators are there that can be measured and reported daily, and that frequently change in informative ways?

No, I think those daily briefings were strictly for public relations, to show the president’s engagement with the problem. They were probably terminated quietly almost as soon as they began.

(Via Instapundit.)

Racism everywhere

June 7, 2011

Proof that any negative characterization of President Obama, anything at all, can and will be seen as a racial slur.

New Jersey state media to close

June 7, 2011

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Gov. Chris Christie, saying he wasn’t elected to be “programmer in chief,” is taking New Jersey out of the broadcasting business.

NJN, a television network formed in 1968, will be broken off from the state and handed over to WNET, the New York public media station. . .

Mr. Christie, who announced the deal on Monday, said he had been uncomfortable since taking office about subsidizing a news organization whose employees were state workers charged with independently covering state government.

“In my view that should have ended with the Soviet Union,” he said. “It’s ending here in New Jersey a little bit later than the fall of the wall in Berlin, but we’re getting there.”

Optimistic take: I’m glad Christie is shutting this thing down.

My take: What?! New Jersey has a state press agency? Is it called TASS?

Breitbart triumphant

June 7, 2011

I haven’t commented on the Weiner scandal before. That’s partly because the whole affair is so tacky, and partly because Anthony Weiner is a congressman of no real importance. It seemed clear that he was guilty, partly because the alternative theories seemed really far-fetched, but mostly because he acted guilty. I gave no credit to his belligerent denials, since Weiner is an accomplished belligerent liar.

However, now that Weiner has admitted his guilt, I do have one remark to make. Now we can see that Andrew Breitbart had the goods, and it was his detractors who behaved irresponsibly. Go up against Breitbart at your peril.

POSTSCRIPT: I don’t see how Weiner’s career can survive, with the stuff coming out getting creepier all the time:

During one Facebook chat conversation, Broussard said she voiced uneasiness with the electronic relationship, to which she says Weiner replied, “you are not stalking me….I am stalking you.”

Perhaps she isn’t telling the truth, but at this point that’s not the smart way to bet.

White House lowballed Fannie and Freddie bailouts

June 7, 2011

The Congressional Budget Office says the ongoing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailouts have cost $317 billion, more than twice what the White House says they cost ($130 billion). (The key calculation is on page 11 here.)

And that’s not counting the $400 billion in no-bid contracts. That’s a lot of money channeled into two organizations run almost entirely by liberals.

(Via Hot Air.)

The Obama economy

June 7, 2011

Look to month 13 to see where the economy was when President Obama took office.

(Via Power Line.)

Egypt worsening rapidly

June 7, 2011

As expected:

In the wake of bloody Muslim attacks on Egyptian Christians, the New York Times informs us:

“By lifting the heavy hand of the Mubarak police state, the revolution unleashed long-suppressed sectarian animosities that have burst out with increasing ferocity….”

No kidding! Did you think a single Egyptian Christian didn’t know this in February? Why didn’t the media report or the U.S. government understand that this was absolutely inevitable and predictable? But the only mentions of Christians were to claim that they were really enthusiastic about the revolution.

Apple sues teen entrepreneur

June 7, 2011

This makes me mad:

Last November, we highlighted the story of New York City teenager Fei Lam, who had managed to sell $130,000 worth of white iPhone 4 parts in just a few months to customers eager to get their hands on a white iPhone 4 has Apple continued to delay the release of the official model. Lam claimed that he had developed a secondhand relationship with someone at Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn who had been supplying him with parts. At the time, the report noted that Lam had been contacted by a purported private investigator who claimed that Lam was trafficking in stolen goods, and Lam’s site disappeared soon after.

Apple yesterday finally filed a lawsuit against Lam and his parents, claiming infringement and dilution of its trademarks and engaging in deceptive practices through his conversion kit sales through his website at whiteiphone4now.com.

I should mention at the outset that it appears the suit has been settled, and we don’t know the terms of the settlement. But I don’t need to know the terms to be outraged by this. I don’t know if Apple has a case under the law — but they shouldn’t have a case.

This kid was selling aftermarket parts, that’s all. There’s nothing unusual about that. It seems to me that this is Apple using a groundless lawsuit to drive a tiny competitor out of business. And if the suit actually has a basis in law, that’s even worse.

NRA wins attorneys’ fees

June 7, 2011

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered Chicago and Oak Park to pay the NRA’s attorneys’ fees for the NRA v. Chicago case, brushing aside Chicago’s absurd contention (accepted by a lower court) that the NRA was somehow not the prevailing party in the case.

You can’t beat the market

June 4, 2011

We’ve known for a year that the government’s attempt to prop up housing prices didn’t work, but the full extent of its complete and utter failure is still being revealed:

The ailing US housing market passed a grim milestone in the first quarter of this year, posting a further deterioration that means the fall in house prices is now greater than that suffered during the Great Depression.

The brief recovery in prices in 2009, spurred by government aid to first-time buyers, has now been entirely snuffed out, and the average American home now costs 33 per cent less than it did at the peak of the housing bubble in 2007. The peak-to-trough fall in house prices in the 1930s Depression was 31 per cent – and prices took 19 years to recover after that downturn.

If the market says prices need to fall, they are going to fall. The government can prop them up only temporarily, and even that only at huge expense. Some day we ought to learn this lesson.

POSTSCRIPT: Not only did the government spend a fortune (that it didn’t have) on the program and fail to prop up prices, even the recipients of the tax credit are worse off. There is no aspect of this program that wasn’t an utter failure. Even cash-for-clunkers wasn’t this bad.

(Via Instapundit.)

Anti-semitism behind proposed circumcision ban

June 3, 2011

San Francisco’s proposed circumcision ban was plainly anti-Semitic in effect, if not in intent. Now we need not doubt the intent either. The ban proponents’ campaign literature includes a comic book — “Foreskin Man” — that features a Nordic hero battling evil Jewish caricatures.

I said earlier that San Francisco’s response to the proposal would be very revealing. That’s doubly true now.

(Via Instapundit.)

The precautionary principle

June 3, 2011

Apparently this isn’t a joke:

When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

Ilya Somin and Jonathan Adler offer carefully reasoned arguments against the “precautionary principle”, but do we really need them? When someone questions the safety of an activity, the burden of proof is on the other side? That’s insane.

I say — and I’m not being facetious — that conferences on the precautionary principle endanger human health and the environment. Prove me wrong.

Scandal upon scandal

June 3, 2011

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac got $400 billion in no-bid contracts to administer the government’s failed loan-modification program.

Those who can’t, teach

June 3, 2011

David Berstein relates some remarks by President Obama in 2005 on the Lochner Supreme Court decision and the Lochner era in general. He then annotates them with corrections. Obama managed to make nine major errors in just five sentences.

Okay, most politicians probably don’t even know what the Lochner era was. But those people are actually ahead of Obama, insofar as they don’t believe things about Lochner that are false. But the kicker is: Barack Obama taught constitutional law!

This isn’t the first time Obama has been embarrassingly wrong about constitutional law either.

Obama certainly hasn’t been shy about bragging about his credentials as a constitutional law instructor. One wonders what he taught.

Graven image

June 3, 2011

When the New York Times’s top editor, Bill Keller, steps down in a few months, he will be replaced by Jill Abramson, a New York Times true-believer. Literally, according to the NYT’s profile:

Ms. Abramson said that as a born-and-raised New Yorker, she considered being named editor of The Times to be like “ascending to Valhalla.”

“In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion,” she said. “If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth.”

Interestingly, you won’t find that quote if you read the article now. It’s been scrubbed. Does absolute truth need to be scrubbed?

Let them eat cake

June 3, 2011


President Obama’s solicitor general, defending the national health care law on Wednesday, told a federal appeals court that Americans who didn’t like the individual mandate could always avoid it by choosing to earn less money.

I suspect we may well see this replayed in a campaign ad.

(Via Instapundit.)


June 3, 2011

The new employment report is grim, but it’s even worse than the top number suggests. Half of last month’s new jobs came from a single employer — McDonald’s.

(Via Instapundit, who also points out that McDonald’s received an Obamacare waiver.)

Network neutrality scandal

June 3, 2011

Documents uncovered by Judicial Watch show that the FCC coordinated its push for network neutrality with a left-wing pressure group:

Documents made public yesterday by Judicial Watch describe extensive collusion by Federal Communications Commission officials with a left-wing advocacy group in a campaign to expand government regulation of the Internet.

The documents, obtained by Judicial Watch in a December 2010 Freedom of Information Act request, were created after Democrat appointees solidified their 3-2 control of the agency in March 2009. . .

The coordination between FCC officials and Free Press, the advocacy group, supported a proposal for the agency to regulate access to the Internet as if it were a public utility, in the interest of ensuring “Net Neutrality.”

Who is Free Press?

Free Press was co-founded by Monthly Review editor Robert McChesney and the Nation contributor John Nichols. The Monthly Review is “an independent Marxist journal,” while the Nation has long described itself as “the flagship of the left.” Free Press is partially funded by George Soros’ Open Society Institute.

So it’s that bunch. This really leaves no doubt that the administration’s push for network neutrality is motivated by liberal politics.

Judicial Watch obtained the documents using a Freedom of Information Act request. It shouldn’t have been necessary; under the FCC’s rules they should have made the communications public of their own accord:

As an independent agency, the FCC is required to regulate impartially. Internal FCC rules require all employees to disclose all communication made by interested parties and “directed to the merits or outcome of a proceeding” unless they fit a narrow set of exceptions (e.g., the communication “directly relates to an emergency in which the safety of life is endangered or substantial loss of property is threatened”).

Clearly they felt it was worth hiding. And what do they say for themselves now?

An FCC spokesman failed to return multiple calls seeking comment.

(Via Instapundit.)

Fact-checking the fact-checker

June 1, 2011

Don Surber fact-checks the Associated Press fact-checker. He finds, not too surprisingly, that the AP twisted the facts much worse than its subject (Tim Pawlenty).

But more importantly, he observes the that the fact-check format actually lends itself to dishonesty more than ordinary news copy does. This is an important lesson, since it runs against our intuition: When a paper runs a fact-checking piece, it’s more likely that they are lying to you than otherwise.

(Via Instapundit.)

Health care price controls in effect?

June 1, 2011

HHS has issued a new regulation that indicates that any health insurance premium increases greater than 10% will be “thoroughly reviewed” by government regulators. What does “thoroughly reviewed” mean in practice? Surely it will mean that all available government pressure will be leveled against the health insurance companies that try to raise their rates. (Except those that are politcally well-connected.)

Whether this will this be a de facto price cap depends on how effective that government pressure is. The one thing we know for certain is that’s how they want it to function.

If they are able to institute a de facto price cap, that will take us down the glide path to single player that much faster. That too, we know is their end goal.

(Via Power Line.)

A telling indicator

June 1, 2011

If the Democrats had the better argument viz a viz the budget, would they feel the need to lie about the Ryan plan?