Iran to West: don’t exploit Arab Spring

August 31, 2011

The New York Times reports:

Iran’s supreme leader admonished the West and Israel on Wednesday not to seek advantage from the antigovernment uprisings convulsing the Arab Muslim world . . .

Ha. If only. I doubt the mullahs have anything to worry about on that score.

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Generic Republican beats Obama by 8

August 31, 2011

Latest Rassmussen poll.


Fault lines

August 27, 2011

(Via Hot Air.)


A good ruling

August 26, 2011

A federal appeals court has thrown out a Massachusetts law that bans the recording of police officers.

Better yet, the court found that police officers are not entitled to official immunity when they arrest people who record them. That means that they can be held personally liable for such actions. (The doctrine of official immunity leads to a form of moral hazard: police can feel free to violate people’s civil rights, knowing that if there are any repercussions, they will be paid by the government rather than themselves.)

Better still, the court found that the Freedom of the Press is not limited to “professional” journalists.


Wikipedia dying?

August 26, 2011

Gawker.com reports that Wikipedia is dying:

Jimmy Wales, the iconoclastic founder of Wikipedia, made a troubling announcement at the seventh annual Wikipedia conference: Nobody wants to edit Wikipedia anymore.

I wonder if the reason has to do with how difficult it is to improve a Wikipedia article on any topic that is remotely controversial. I have occasionally taken it upon myself to make simple corrections to Wikipedia articles and I have usually had to fight battles to do it. It just doesn’t seem worth it.


Holder’s politicized hiring

August 26, 2011

Recently released Justice Department documents show that Eric Holder has hired almost exclusively liberals for the Civil Rights Division. (As always, the Holder Justice Department stonewalled requests for the documents. It relented only when faced with a lawsuit.)

No big deal? Of course liberals hire liberals? Not according to the left, if they were remotely consistent. The supposedly political hiring by the Bush administration was put forward as a scandal by the left, and the slant in the current DOJ is much greater than President Bush’s DOJ was even accused of.


Libel in haste, correct at leisure

August 26, 2011

The New York Times at first refused to correct or retract its error-ridden hatchet job on Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), except for the most trivial error. The NYT bureau chief wrote:

Happy to consider any mistakes they point out, and we are looking at those. But I’m not seeing a need for any sort of retraction.

They are starting to figure it out now, having finally issued two substantiative retractions:

An article on Aug. 15 about Representative Darrell Issa’s business dealings, using erroneous information that Mr. Issa’s family foundation filed with the Internal Revenue Service, referred incorrectly to his sale of an AIM mutual fund in 2008. . . The purchase of the mutual fund resulted in a $125,000 loss, not a $357,000 gain.

Oops.

And the article . . . misstated the purchase price for a medical office plaza Mr. Issa’s company bought in Vista, Calif., in 2008. . . Therefore the value of the property remained essentially unchanged, and did not rise 60 percent after Mr. Issa secured federal funding to widen a road alongside the plaza.

Oops again.

Several other major errors remain uncorrected, so we’ll probably see some corrections dribble out in the coming days. But the value of a correction drops dramatically over time, as the correction becomes less and less likely to reach the same people that saw the original misinformation. They make it less likely still to reach the right people when they tuck the correction away in the back pages of the paper .

Which is all pretty much what they intend, I imagine.

(Via Power Line.)

UPDATE: The NYT is standing firm on the Toyota error and the golf course error. (Actually, since they have had the opportunity to correct and have chosen not to, we can call them lies now.) More on the golf course here.

(Previous post.)


Video games, oppression, and unintended consequences

August 25, 2011

I hadn’t known this: Video-game consoles have been illegal in China since 2000.

The reason is a good lesson in the law of unintended consequences. According to Kotaku.com, “the government thought [the ban] was the best way to protect Chinese youth from wasting their minds on video games.” The effect was to push youths into on-line gaming instead. That’s World of Warcraft and the like, which we all know are hardly addictive at all. Oops.


Tea Party Nation

August 25, 2011

The Democrats and their allies in the legacy media may be succeeding in vilifying the Tea Party as a group, but on substance, they have the support of the majority of America. And, according to a recent poll, of the majority of economists as well.


Police and piracy

August 25, 2011

I thought this remark, made off-hand by Glenn Reynolds in the context of vehicle confiscations being a major source of revenue to municipalities, was thought-provoking:

I don’t think law enforcement should turn a profit. When it does, it shades too easily into piracy.

Indeed. Putting down the police-as-pirate phenomenon was a great achievement of the rule of law. It would be a tragedy to lose it.


Keep your science off my Keynesian economics

August 25, 2011

Economist Robert Barro has written yet another take-down of Keynesian economics for the Wall Stret Journal. In his latest, he observes that the theories being employed by the Obama administration are unencumbered by empirical validation.

(Via The Other McCain.)


Living the high life

August 25, 2011

The Daily Mail reports:

The Obamas’ summer break on Martha’s Vineyard has already been branded a PR disaster after the couple arrived four hours apart on separate government jets.

But according to new reports, this is the least of their extravagances. White House sources today claimed that the First Lady has spent $10million of U.S. taxpayers’ money on vacations alone in the past year.

Branding her ‘disgusting’ and ‘a vacation junkie’, they say the 47-year-old mother-of-two has been indulging in five-star hotels, where she splashes out on expensive massages and alcohol.

POSTSCRIPT: Remember, just two months ago, when President Obama was blasting the fat cats and their private planes? Even among the fat cats, who takes two private planes to avoid a four-hour inconvenience?

POST-POSTSCRIPT: Glenn Reynolds thinks it’s interesting that the White House is starting to leak like this.


Why Chicago stinks, part 2352

August 24, 2011

When Illinois made it illegal to record your dealings with the police, wasn’t that basically a tacit admission that their police are going to lie? Could there be any good faith reason for such a law?

POSTSCRIPT: The woman being prosecuted in the case was acquitted. Hooray for jury nullification.


Obama calls his own actions “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic”

August 24, 2011

Since I can’t resist a good gotcha, this is Barack Obama in 2008:

The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up the national debt from 5 trillion for the first 42 presidents — number 43 added 4 trillion dollars by his lonesome, so that we now have 9 trillion dollars of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.

President Obama has added another $4.05 trillion to the debt in just two years and seven months.

UPDATE: Oh, any by the way, please note once again which party it is that questions its opponents’ patriotism.

UPDATE: Video:


Perry did not support secession

August 23, 2011

If Rick Perry’s campaign continues to do well, we are going to hear a lot about how Perry called for Texas to secede from the union. It turns out it’s not true at all.

Perry was specifically asked about secession (that is, he didn’t bring the subject up), and he said that Texas should not secede:

There’s a lot of different scenarios. Texas is a unique place. When we came in the Union in 1845, one of the issues was whether we would be able to leave if we decided to do that. My hope is that America, and Washington in particular, pays attention. We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.

People are trying to make hay out of the “who knows what might come” part, but coming as it did right after he specifically said there was “no reason” to secede, it’s dishonest to suggest that he was somehow insinuating that there might actually be good reason to secede.

(Via Instapundit.)


Rally to the flag

August 23, 2011

A new psychology study finds (subscription required) that viewing the American flag pushes people to greater affinity for the Republican party:

The conclusion, which Dr Ferguson reports in a paper in Psychological Science, was that participants’ voting intentions were, indeed, affected by seeing the flag. The possible average scores on presidential voting intentions ranged from -10 (definitely voting for Mr Obama, definitely not voting for Mr McCain) to +10 (definitely voting for Mr McCain, definitely not voting for Mr Obama). The actual scores of those subsequently assigned to the two groups did not differ significantly the first time round. The second time, though, those who had been shown the flag were more weakly pro-Obama and more strongly pro-McCain, with a score of -3.0, than those who had not been shown the flag, who averaged -4.8.

For the political-party-warmth ratings, the potential score range was between -500 (extreme warmth towards Democrats, extreme cold towards Republicans) and +500 (extreme warmth towards Republicans, extreme cold towards Democrats). The team found that flag-viewers were cooler towards Democrats and warmer towards Republicans, with average scores of -90, while those who never saw a flag had scores that averaged -173.

The Economist also reports that earlier research on the Israeli flag suggested that seeing the flag might push people to more moderate positions, so one theory is that Republicans are subconsciously seen as more moderate than Democrats. As appealing as I might find that theory, I don’t think it’s right. Tim Groseclose’s work found that Barack Obama is only slightly more liberal (37.3 left of center) than John McCain is conservative (34.6 right of center), so voting for McCain is not a dramatically more centrist position than Obama.


81% subsidy

August 23, 2011

If you don’t already hate GM (why are you reading this blog?), perhaps this will get you there:

The problem is said to be the price of the Volt, which is a massive understatement, because everyone buying a Volt is understating the price. No one purchasing a Volt has the faintest clue what it really costs, because of all the taxpayer subsidies plowed into production, and hefty rebates offered at the point of sale. $400 million in federal subsidies were extracted from the taxpayer to fund Volt production, and buyers have enjoyed a $7500 federal tax credit.

That means each of the 3200 Volts sold thus far has rolled out of the lot with $132,500 in taxpayer subsidies stuffed in the glove compartment. They sticker at $41,000, so that means each Volt sold thus far actually costs $173,500, with only $33,500 paid by the actual purchaser.

That figure averages in the fixed cost assuming that not a single additional Volt will be sold. But with a realistic estimate of future Volt sales, the cost only goes down to $104k. Under GM’s assumptions, the price before subsidy would be only $47.5k.

(Via Vokdapundit.)


Krugman endorses destruction?

August 23, 2011

UPDATE APPENDED.

After his remarks a few days ago endorsing government waste to drive economic growth, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when he takes the last step and endorses destruction to drive economic growth as well:

People on twitter might be joking, but in all seriousness, we would see a bigger boost in spending and hence economic growth if the earthquake had done more damage.

A clearer embrace of the broken windows fallacy could hardly be made. The only question is whether that is really Paul Krugman talking.

UPDATE: No, it was not really Krugman. So we can put a cap on Krugman’s foolishness: government waste he’s for, but natural disasters he’s not.

UPDATE POSTSCRIPT: Unfortunately, Krugman couldn’t just say it wasn’t him and leave it at that. No, rather than leave this at the feet of the hoaxer that perpetrated it (a person of no importance), he had to try to turn it back against National Review:

Well, this is interesting. I hear that the not-so-good people at National Review are attacking me over something I said on my Google+ page. Except, I don’t have a Google+ page.

There was, as far as I can tell, one post at National Review about this, the one by Kevin Williamson I linked. It was titled “Somebody Please Tell Me This Is a Joke” and concluded:

I honestly cannot tell if I am being had here. I hope I am.

So Williamson did express the proper doubt over whether this was really Krugman. And he also promptly posted an update when he learned it wasn’t.  All of which people could learn by clicking through to Williamson’s post, if Krugman had linked to it. But he didn’t.


Politics fails to end at the water’s edge

August 22, 2011

Joe Biden goes to China; attacks the Tea Party.


Kim Kardashian’s stimulating wedding

August 22, 2011

Andrew Klavan’s latest is great.

POSTSCRIPT: Like Klavan, I don’t know who Kim Kardashian is.


Libya

August 22, 2011

Rich Lowry expresses my feeling exactly:

The Libya War looked like a debacle throughout most of its duration, but now appears on the cusp of success. It was always hard to believe that in a contest of a third-rate military v. a third-rate insurgent force plus NATO air strikes, the insurgent force wouldn’t win. There were probably only three things that could have saved Qaddafi’s regime: the internal fracture of the rebels, NATO’s lack of will, or the U.S. Congress. All of those seemed at times as though they might come through for Qaddafi, but the campaign ended up having the broad contours that were predictable at the beginning. Despite the humanitarian justifications for this war, I always believed it was essentially a 21st-century punitive expedition against Qaddafi, a mass-murderer of Americans. We are going to be able to shape the post-war situation only at the margins and it will be chaotic at best.

It wasn’t obvious that we would, particularly after last months that we were looking for a way out, but we finally decided to win. The Washington Post reports how the rebel victory resulted from a change in US policy on sharing intelligence, together with a new plan from the British and French.

If only we had decided to win back in February, we could have rolled Qaddafi in days instead of months.


Victory in Libya?

August 21, 2011

Details are still very sketchy, but it seems that we have won the war in Libya, or at least we are on the verge of victory. The rebels have captured Tripoli, or at least a lot of it, and some of Qaddafi’s sons have been detained. No one seems to know where Qaddafi himself is, or even if he is still alive.

I’m delighted to see Qaddafi go, if indeed that’s what is happening. That man has troubled the world enough.

Now we can get down to the serious business of worrying about what happens next. In Iraq we had a carefully developed post-war plan, and then just when it came time to implement it, we abandoned the plan and decided to play things by ear instead. That didn’t work out so well. Do we have a plan for Libya at all? Judging by the White House’s statement, it sounds like the answer is no; it puts everything on the rebel government.

It will be tragic if we overthrow Qaddafi only to allow him to be replaced by a new set of tyrants, as seems to be happening in Egypt and Tunisia.


Hey Uncle Sam!

August 21, 2011

The runner-up in the Power Line Prize competition:


US Attorney to Gunwalker victims: pound sand

August 21, 2011

Fox News reports:

In a surprise move in a controversial case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona is opposing a routine motion by the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry to qualify as crime victims in the eyes of the court. . .

Such motions are routinely approved by prosecutors, but may be opposed by defense attorneys. However in this case, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke argues because the family was not “directly or proximately harmed” by the illegal purchase of the murder weapon, it does not meet the definition of “crime victim” in the Avila case. Burke claims the victim of the Avila’s gun purchases, “is not any particular person, but society in general.”

What, was Eric Holder too busy to personally spit in their faces?

(Previous post.)


NYT sticks by its guns

August 21, 2011

More on the New York Times’s front-page hatchet job on Darrell Issa (R-CA): Issa has sent the NYT a letter pointing out 13 errors (some of them quite serious) and demanding a front-page correction. I noted some of the errors in my previous post, but this one is new:

The “1,900 percent” profit allegation is, again, based on reporting errors by the New York Times. This … assertion is based on an incorrect form obtained by the Times. According to a financial transaction record, the Issa Family Foundation’s initial investment in the AIM Small Company fund was not $19,000 but $500,000. The asset was later sold for $375,000 resulting in a $125,000 loss – not a 1900 percent gain as was reported.

The New York Times is refusing to correct any of the errors other than the most trivial of them.

(Previous post.)


Reported without comment

August 21, 2011

A European Court has ruled that having a satellite dish is a human right.


NLRB could be “defanged”

August 21, 2011

A reader at the Corner has this encouraging information about the NLRB:

If Senate Republicans just do nothing, the NRLB will lose its quorum and be unable to act beginning 1/1/12. Wilma Liebman’s term expires in a few weeks, and Craig Beckers recess appointment expires at end of the year. There was a Supreme Court ruling a few years ago that the NRLB could not act with only 2 members. And if Senate and House Republicans continue to work together forcing pro-forma sessions during recesses, the NRLB could be effectively defanged by the end of the year.

For background on why the NLRB desperately needs to be defanged, see this, and this, and this, and this.

POSTSCRIPT: In related news, Judicial Watch is filing an FOIA lawsuit to obtain the NLRB’s documents related to the Boeing travesty, and Rep. Darrell Issa has issued a subpoena for those same documents.


Drill, baby, drill

August 21, 2011

A federal judge has thrown out the Obama administration’s drilling rules (again). The administration actually had the chutzpah to suggest that the oil developers were not harmed by the rules, which were specifically designed to impede oil development.

(Via Instapundit.)


Krugman endorses waste

August 21, 2011

A lot of people are making fun of Paul Krugman for this interview, in which he says that a threat of alien invasion would be great for the economy:

I think much of the criticism misses the point. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with the alien invasion illustration; it’s a perfectly sensible — if colorful — illustration of Krugman’s point. What I think is remarkable is the point itself: He is standing up for the principle of government waste. His point is that massive government spending to counter a non-existent threat would be a great thing!


Nuts!

August 21, 2011

The cultural illiteracy of this story is astonishing: Rep. Allen West (R-FL), who formerly served as a battalion commander in the Army in Iraq, received a bunch of demands from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (an organization linked to terrorists). West replied with one word “NUTS!”.

The Center for American Progress’s (a leftist think tank closely tied to the Democratic party) Zaid Jilani professes to be perplexed by this response:

One has to wonder why West chose to respond in this bizarre way. One possible explanation is that West is channeling a famous line by an American general fighting the Nazis during World War II. During a battle with German troops in Western Europe, Gen. Anthony McAuliffe was told that the Germans wanted his men to surrender. He replied, “Us surrender? Aw, nuts!”

“One possible explanation”? This is obviously what West was referring to, although Jilani does garble the story. As I’m sure most of my readers are aware, “Nuts!” was famous as General McAuliffe’s one-word reply to the German demand for surrender. What’s this business about “Us surrender? Aw, nuts!”

Well, it turns out that quote was related by Lt. General Harry Kinnard, a member of McAuliffe’s staff that day, explaining the circumstances under which he suggested the “NUTS!” reply.

How on earth would Jilani be aware of the more obscure “nuts” reference, but not its famous usage? Here’s my theory: If you google the term “nuts”, the first two hits are for pages dealing with nuts. The third hit goes to a page about Harry Kinnard, and if you search for “nuts” on that page, the first hit is the quote “Us surrender? Aw nuts!” The article goes on to explain how the exchange resulted in McAuliffe’s famous reply, but it doesn’t actually mention that the reply was famous. (Presumably since, being famous, everyone should know that already.)

This fellow apparently never heard of “NUTS!”, had to google it, and then still didn’t get the point. Okay, that’s fine. Cultural literacy is not a requirement. Still, it’s remarkable that not one of Jilani’s friends or colleagues at the Center for American Progress could fill him in. The cultural divide between our military and the left is wide indeed.

(Via Althouse.)


Obama’s growth industry

August 21, 2011

There is one industry in which President Obama has been very successful in creating new jobs:

(Via Instapundit.)


Union violence

August 21, 2011

John Hinderaker takes a look at actual political violence; not quasi-martial metaphors (like “I want people to be armed with the facts”), but actual gunfire. If you set aside crazy people and terrorists, it almost invariably comes from unions.

This is to be expected from general economic considerations. In contrast to company-town scenario that forms the basis of union mythology, today’s unions almost always are in settings in which there are plenty of alternative workers who would be happy to have the union’s jobs. In order for the union to exercise monopolistic power over labor, it needs a way to exclude those alternative workers from the market. Federal laws written by Democrats specifically to give unions more power does some of that. For example, employers are required to negotiate with the union, rather than with individual workers. But those legal powers aren’t enough, “buy union” campaigns are ineffective, and the only other tool unions have to exclude non-union labor is coercion. So that’s what we see.

POSTSCRIPT: Although it’s weak beer compared to the incidents Hinderaker discusses, we have a recent case from around these parts in which someone with a key shut off phone and internet service to Verizon customers in Uniontown while a strike against Verizon was ongoing.


Where’s the bloodbath?

August 21, 2011

When Virginia legalized the carrying of weapons in bars and restaurants, anti-gun activists promised it would result in a bloodbath. As always, the bloodbath failed to materialize. In fact, the opposite happened:

Virginia’s bars and restaurants did not turn into shooting galleries as some had feared during the first year of a new state law that allows patrons with permits to carry concealed guns into alcohol-serving businesses, a Richmond Times-Dispatch analysis found.

The number of major crimes involving firearms at bars and restaurants statewide declined 5.2 percent from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, compared with the fiscal year before the law went into effect, according to crime data compiled by Virginia State Police at the newspaper’s request.

And overall, the crimes that occurred during the law’s first year were relatively minor, and few of the incidents appeared to involve gun owners with concealed-carry permits, the analysis found.

Experience shows that liberalizing gun laws never has the negative result that anti-gun activists predict. Experience also shows that no amount of experience will stop them from continuing to make the same prediction.

(Via Instapundit.)


Freedom advances in Florida

August 21, 2011

In a major victory for gun rights in Florida, Florida will now enforce a law that prohibits municipalities from enacting gun restrictions beyond those imposed by the state.


Anniversary of a lie

August 21, 2011

Today is the twentieth anniversary of the final day of the Crown Heights Riots, in which blacks were allowed to riot against Jews in the Crown Heights neighborhood of New York for three days before the police intervened. This may seem like ancient history, but it’s worth noting that that was the last time New York City had a Democratic mayor.

Anyway, one of the people looking back is Ari Goldman, who was a reporter for the New York Times in 1991 and was one of the primary reporters the NYT had covering the riots. Goldman has written an article, “Telling it Like it Wasn’t“, which savages the NYT’s dishonest reporting on the story:

When I picked up the paper, the article I read was not the story I had reported. I saw headlines that described the riots in terms solely of race. “Two Deaths Ignite Racial Clash in Tense Brooklyn Neighborhood,” the Times headline said. And, worse, I read an opening paragraph, what journalists call a “lead,” that was simply untrue:

“Hasidim and blacks clashed in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn through the day and into the night yesterday.”

In all my reporting during the riots I never saw — or heard of — any violence by Jews against blacks. But the Times was dedicated to this version of events: blacks and Jews clashing amid racial tensions. To show Jewish culpability in the riots, the paper even ran a picture — laughable even at the time — of a chasidic man brandishing an open umbrella before a police officer in riot gear. The caption read: “A police officer scuffling with a Hasidic man yesterday on President Street.”

I was outraged but I held my tongue. I was a loyal Times employee and deferred to my editors. I figured that other reporters on the streets were witnessing parts of the story I was not seeing.
But then I reached my breaking point. On Aug. 21, as I stood in a group of chasidic men in front of the Lubavitch headquarters, a group of demonstrators were coming down Eastern Parkway. “Heil Hitler,” they chanted. “Death to the Jews.”

Police in riot gear stood nearby but did nothing.

Suddenly rocks and bottles started to fly toward us and a chasidic man just a few feet away from me was hit in the throat and fell to the ground. Some ran to help the injured man but most of us ran for cover. I ran for a payphone and, my hands shaking with rage, dialed my editor. I spoke in a way that I never had before or since when talking to a boss.

“You don’t know what’s happening here!” I yelled. “I am on the streets getting attacked. Someone next to me just got hit. I am writing memos and what comes out in the paper? ‘Hasidim and blacks clashed’? That’s not what is happening here. Jews are being attacked! You’ve got this story all wrong. All wrong.”

I didn’t blame the “rewrite” reporter. I blamed the editors. It was clear that they had settled on a “frame” for the story.

We’re quite familiar with this phenomenon today, in which facts are secondary, or even irrelevant, to the narrative.

(Via Legal Insurrection.)


HHS campaigned for Democrats

August 21, 2011

Documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that the Department of Health and Human Services campaigned for Democrats using taxpayer money. And yes, that’s illegal.

This ought to be a huge scandal, but given the massive malfeasance from this administration already, it probably will barely be noticed.

(Via Instapundit.)


Do it right now

August 21, 2011

Is President Obama dishonest, or clueless?

Passing trade deals is something that “Congress can do right now,” remarked President Obama Monday at a town hall meeting in Cannon Falls, Minnesota.

Not so fast. The truth is that Congress can’t do anything on free trade agreements “right now,” because the President has yet to send the agreements to Congress for final approval, despite receiving recommendations on the agreements from Congress on July 7.

The President often mentions that in January 2009 he inherited a very difficult economic environment. He also inherited three negotiated and signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Colombia and Panama. The only step left for the Obama administration was to submit the agreements to Congress for ratification: a step yet to be taken.

(Emphasis mine.) (Via the Corner.)

POSTSCRIPT: At least in regard to Colombia, Congress does need to take some blame. President Bush did send the agreement to Congress for ratification in 2008, and the Democrats who ran Congress at the time refused to hold a vote, for no reason whatsoever.


Righthaven loses again

August 18, 2011

Righthaven losing in court is becoming so routine, I’m going to stop reporting these.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


Politifact is still useless

August 18, 2011

If you were wondering whether the Politifact “fact-check” was still grading statements as “false” because they disagreed with them, wonder no longer.

In this latest case, Politifact graded Florida Governor Rick Scott’s remarks on high-speed rail as false, because Scott made the outrageous twin assumptions that there would likely be cost overruns, and the state would end up paying for them. This is nonsense — Politifact tells us — because supporters of high-speed rail have assured us that won’t happen.

(Via Instapundit.)


Taking the president’s advice

August 18, 2011

At a town hall in Illinois, the president was asked by a local farmer about new regulations he had heard about.

The president, on day three of his Midwest bus tour, replied: “. . . Don’t always believe what you hear.” . . .

Obama’s advice was simple: “Contact USDA.”

“Talk to them directly. Find out what it is that you’re concerned about,” Obama told the man. “My suspicion is, a lot of times, they’re going to be able to answer your questions and it will turn out that some of your fears are unfounded.”

Well, one enterprising reporter did just that. Hilarity ensues, as they say. (Well, if you think getting the run-around from government bureaucrats is hilarious, anyway.)

The point here is how astonishingly out of touch the president is. He actually believes (or perhaps he doesn’t, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt) that a citizen can simply call up the government and get a straight answer.

In the end, the USDA defended itself by saying that the regulations under discussion were not the purview of the USDA, so it really wasn’t a fair test. But that’s part of the point! We have literally hundreds of regulatory agencies. How is a citizen supposed to figure out which one is planning to ruin his life? Even the president didn’t know which was the relevant agency.

(Via the Corner.)

UPDATE: Yes, this too:

I love this because you can tell that Obama really believes that criticisms of the government stem from slack-jawed yokels listening to too much Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. The idea that a farmer might understand the business-end of government-agriculture relations better than Barack Obama never occurs to him. The questioner must be ignorant or misinformed because the question is inconvenient. And the solution is just as obvious. Simply call the government and you’ll get all the information you need.


All your contacts are belong to Facebook

August 17, 2011

If you use the Facebook app on an iPhone or other smart phone, it copied all your contact info and stored it on their servers.  Read here for more, including an explanation of the incredibly (and no doubt deliberately) obscure process by which Facebook allows you to turn this off.


Gunwalker guns linked to 11 more crimes

August 17, 2011

Fox News reports:

Weapons from the failed federal operation “Fast and Furious” have reportedly been linked to 11 more violent crimes in the U.S., including in places like Arizona and Texas where a total of 42 weapons were seized.

As early as January 2010, guns tied to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosions were found at crime scenes in cities like Phoenix, Glendale and El Paso, the Los Angeles Times first reported. . .

Republicans leading the congressional probe into Fast and Furious replied to Attorney General Eric Holder in a letter Tuesday, saying that many of his answers to their inquiries were “non-responsive.”

“We are disappointed that the Department has chosen to play word games rather than simply responding with as much detail as possible about these additional 11 cases,” wrote Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Sen. Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

(Previous post.)


Ballast

August 17, 2011

(Via Power Line.)


Smart diplomacy

August 16, 2011

More of the Obama administration’s “smart diplomacy”:

The United States has apologised for controversial remarks made by a US diplomat who spoke of “dark and dirty” Indians, calling the comments “inappropriate”. US Vice-Consul Maureen Chao told Indian students on Friday that her “skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians” after a long train journey, according to Indian media — referring to people from the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

(Via Instapundit.)


Bill Clinton: being president is freakin’ AWESOME

August 16, 2011

This comment by Bill Clinton is quite revealing about how he saw the office of the presidency:

[Rick Perry is] saying ‘Oh, I’m going to Washington to make sure that the federal government stays as far away from you as possible –while I ride on Air Force One and that Marine One helicopter and go to Camp David and travel around the world and have a good time.’ I mean, this is crazy.


Gunwalker surprises me again

August 16, 2011

Even after everything that has come to light in the Gunwalker scandal, I would not have thought that the ATF would be so brazen as to promote three of the supervisors responsible for the agency’s misconduct, and to do so while the scandal was still unraveling.

(Previous post.)

UPDATE: OMG! It’s even more brazen than I thought:

McMahon was promoted Sunday to deputy assistant director of the ATF’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations — the division that investigates misconduct by employees and other problems.

(Emphasis mine.)


What is big government for?

August 16, 2011

Big government is supposed to protect us, right? If we’re going to have food safety agencies that insist on telling us what we can and cannot eat, even to the ridiculous extreme of launching SWAT raids on raw-milk producers, you would think that — at the very least — they would take bad meat off the shelves. Nope:

Federal officials said they turned up a dangerous form of salmonella at a Cargill Inc. turkey plant last year, and then four times this year at stores selling the Cargill turkey, but didn’t move for a recall until an outbreak killed one person and sickened 77 others.

So what, exactly, are the food-safety cops for?

The problem with big government isn’t just that it is intrusive, but also that it can’t even effectively carry out its official mandate.

(Via Instapundit.)


Soon to be mandatory: unicorn flatulence

August 16, 2011

The EPA is fining oil refiners millions for their failure to purchase a product — cellulosic ethanol — that is not available for sale.


NYT does the NYT thing

August 16, 2011

Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) investigations must be getting too close for comfort, because he’s getting the full New York Times calumny treatment:

The Times piece has the odor of a rush job. It gets some small but important facts wrong. For example, contrary to the Times, Issa’s San Diego company doesn’t have an office in a building overlooking a golf course. The Times also accused Issa of splitting a holding company into “separate multibillion-dollar businesses” when he owns none (The Times corrected this in a later edition). The Times even suggested Issa went easy on Toyota during its recent troubles because his company is a supplier to the Japanese automaker. It’s not.

But the big stinker in the Times hit piece is its central accusation — that a building Issa bought for $10.3 million appreciated 60 percent after he secured congressional earmarks for nearby road construction. The Times used the wrong sale price, which was actually $16.6 million. So much for the Times’ 60 percent appreciation accusation. We hope the timing of the Issa slam has nothing to do with his subpoena threat to Sebelius, just as we hope the Times’ oversight regarding Waxman’s trial lawyer lucre and Obamacare is coincidental. But we’re not holding our breath.

(Via Instapundit.)


Ed Schultz is a liar

August 16, 2011

MSNBC’s Ed Schultz took this Rick Perry quote, speaking of the national debt:

. . . that big black cloud that hangs over America, that debt that is so monstrous . . .

edited out “that debt that is so monstrous”, and then lied through his teeth:

That black cloud that Perry is talking about is President Barack Obama.

This, used in support of Schultz’s contention that Republicans are racists, is perhaps unintentionally revealing. If he is resorting to this, he must have nothing. After all, if he had any real evidence that Perry was a racist, he would use it, rather than making up lame crap like this.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Schultz apologizes, sort of. He apologizes for editing the quote, but he doesn’t apologize for lying about what Perry said. The latter, he’s hoping people simply forget.


Photo op

August 15, 2011

The White House released a photo of President Obama at a ceremony for troops killed in Afghanistan, against Pentagon policy and the wishes of the bereaved:

A White House photographer was allowed to take and widely distribute a photo from the ceremony Tuesday for the return of the remains of 30 American troops killed in a weekend helicopter crash in Afghanistan despite the Pentagon’s claim that any public depiction of the scene would violate the wishes of bereaved families. . .

Pentagon officials had said that because 19 of 30 of the American families of the dead had objected to media coverage of the remains coming off a plane at Dover Air Force Base, no images could be taken. In addition, the Pentagon rejected media requests to take photos that showed officials at the ceremony but did not depict caskets. . .

Doug Wilson, head of public affairs at the Pentagon, said the department did not know the White House photographer was present and had no idea a photo of the event was being released until it became public.

The White House even distinguished the photo as its “photo of the day”.

POSTSCRIPT: Remember in 2004 how Democrats tried to argue that it was disrespectful to the dead for President Bush to mention 9/11 in his re-election campaign? Even images of Bush speaking at Ground Zero were supposedly out of bounds.


Whence the downgrade

August 15, 2011

Take a look at this graphic and see if you can figure out why our country is headed for insolvency:

Meanwhile, the Democrats are whistling past the graveyard:

“It is a flag we’ve planted that we will protect and defend. We have a plan. It’s called Medicare.”

That’s from Nancy Pelosi, who called me from Wisconsin, where she’s holding events today defending Medicare in Paul Ryan’s back yard. On the call, Pelosi laid out a message on Medicare she hopes Dems will use for — well, forever.

(Via the Corner.)


FBI: preppers are potential terrorists

August 15, 2011

I saw a FEMA billboard today, urging us to prepare for natural disasters. I didn’t get a picture, but it seems to be part of the same ad campaign as this.

It’s good advice. But, if you do it, you will mark yourself as a potential terrorist according to the FBI. According to an FBI bulletin, purchasing any of the following is “suspicious” and a “potential indicator[] of terrorist activities”: MREs (meals, ready to eat), weatherproofed ammunition or matches, flashlights, or full-capacity magazines.

Is the real terrorist threat gone, so that we can waste resources on imaginary ones now?

(Via Instapundit.)


Red states educate better

August 14, 2011

The best public schools are in red states:

When it come to excellence in education, red states rule — at least according to a panel of experts assembled by Tina Brown’s Newsweek. Using a set of indicators ranging from graduation rate to college admissions and SAT scores, the panel reviewed data from high schools all over the country to find the best public schools in the country.

The results make depressing reading for the teacher unions: the very best public high schools in the country are heavily concentrated in red states.

Three of the nation’s ten best public high schools are in Texas — the no-income tax, right-to-work state that blue model defenders like to characterize as America at its worst. Florida, another no-income tax, right-to-work state long misgoverned by the evil and rapacious Bush dynasty, has two of the top ten schools.
Newsweek isn’t alone with these shocking results. Another top public school list, compiled by the Washington Post, was issued in May. Texas and Florida rank number one and number two on that list’s top ten as well.

There’s something else interesting about the two lists: on both lists only one of the top ten public schools was located in a blue state.

This finding is probably related.


What a difference three weeks can make

August 14, 2011

On February 24, the Libyan rebels had the upper hand. With just a little help, they probably could have rolled Qaddafi. But we’ll never know what would have happened, because President Obama dithered until the rebels were on the brink of defeat before entering the conflict.

Now, six months later, not much has changed, and the Obama administration is looking for a way to back away from Libya.

(Via Instapundit.)


Rice skips key UN meeting

August 14, 2011

When the UN Security Council convened to discuss a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, Susan Rice — President Obama’s ambassador to the UN — didn’t bother to show up. (More here.)

According to Richard Grenell, Rice rarely shows up to these things.


Unions hurt education

August 10, 2011

Teachers’ unions like to drape themselves with the mantle of protectors of childrens’ interests, but quite the opposite is true. The unions seek to divert scarce education funding from the children themselves to unionized teachers and their unions’ administration.

The unions attempt to defend their actions by claiming that their interests and the interests of the children are one and the same, that better salary and benefits for teachers means better teachers and smaller class sizes. Again, quite the opposite is true. Better salaries, obtained by unions, do not attract better teachers. They might, but the unions’ primary role, other than collective bargaining, is gate-keeping. They keep new teachers out of the system to protect those who are already in the union. A talented, energetic young teacher has to work very hard and/or be very lucky (or well-connected) to get a position. And once in the system, that teacher has to resist the incentives to slack off in a system that does very little to encourage performance.

That’s theory. Now,  a study by the Associated Press reportedly confirms it:

The AP discovered school systems without teachers’ collective bargaining rights performed slightly better than those with negotiated contracts. Thirty-eight school districts don’t have collective bargaining rights, and the AP found those systems averaged a higher percentage of students who earned proficient or advanced scores.

Unfortunately, that’s all the article says. Hopefully we’ll hear more about this study in the future.

(Via Instapundit.)


Strike three

August 10, 2011

For a third time, the labor movement has failed to derail Wisconsin’s Republican government. They failed to prevent the passage of Governor Walker’s budget repair bill by fleeing the state. They failed to win the open seat on the Wisconsin supreme court, which would have given an activist majority the ability to overturn any legislation they liked. And last night, after a stupendously expensive recall campaign, they failed to recall enough senators to win control of the Wisconsin state senate.

Democrats did succeed in unseating two Republican incumbents: one who represented a strongly Democratic district (I’m not sure how he was elected in the first place), and one weighted down by personal scandals. Next week two Democrats face a recall campaign.

I would be very interested to know how much the national labor unions spent to win (at most) two seats in a state senate for a quarter of a term.

UPDATE: Michael Barone crunches the numbers. And Christian Schneider summarizes:

For months, unions have told us that after their state-senate recall efforts in Wisconsin, lawmakers would learn not to scale back their collective-bargaining “rights.” The recalls would warn any state thinking about passing a law like Governor Walker’s to think again. Yet after Tuesday night’s recall elections, only one lesson is perfectly clear: It’s probably not a good idea to cheat on your wife.

(Via Chicago Boyz.)

UPDATE: The Democrats are trying to put a brave face on their loss, boasting at having gained two seats. In fact, if you take a longer view, they actually lost ground. District 32, in which Shilling unseated Kapanke, has a strong Democratic majority, so Democrats would have won that seat back next year anyway. So that’s a gain for Democrats of one seat for one year.

However, Hopper lost to King because he’s a scandal-tarred jerk. Absent a recall, Democrats would have unseated him next year, but now Republicans will probably win that seat back with a better candidate next year. That’s a gain for Democrats of one seat for one year, at the expense of one seat for a full four-year term, or a net loss of one seat for three years. In total, the Democrats gave up one seat for two years, and spent millions to do it.


Bring the tax hikes

August 8, 2011

Glenn Reynolds asks, why should Democrats be the only ones to enjoy the fun of taxing people they dislike?


Doorbell

August 7, 2011

I may need a tin-foil hat

August 6, 2011

This administration’s dealings with Mexican drug cartels continue to shift the boundaries of what seems crazy. Earlier this year, I would have thought it absurd to suggest that the ATF and five other federal agencies would traffic weapons to Mexican drug cartels in order to promote gun-control in the United States. Now we know they did exactly that, and the only thing disputable is their motive.

The latest development is from the El Paso Times:

U.S. federal agents allegedly allowed the Sinaloa drug cartel to traffic several tons of cocaine into the United States in exchange for information about rival cartels, according to court documents filed in a U.S. federal court.

The allegations are part of the defense of Vicente Zambada-Niebla, who was extradited to the United States to face drug-trafficking charges in Chicago. . . The case could prove to be a bombshell on par with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ “Operation Fast and Furious,” except that instead of U.S. guns being allowed to walk across the border, the Sinaloa cartel was allowed to bring drugs into the United States. Zambada-Niebla claims he was permitted to smuggle drugs from 2004 until his arrest in 2009.

We don’t know yet if this is true; the Justice Department has refused to say. (The judge ordered them to respond by September 11.) But if it is, we will have to redraw the entire envelope of misconduct that we consider possible from this administration.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


Open minds

August 6, 2011

Data from the Match.com dating site show that conservatives are more open to other points of view than are liberals, at least in a dating context.


Debt-ceiling post mortem

August 6, 2011

The Hill has a very nice story on John Boehner and the debt-ceiling battle. The story talks about Boehner’s leadership style — based on persuasion rather than coercion. It also has some interesting bits on the negotiations with Democrats, particularly this one:

GOP aides and lawmakers, speaking on background, portrayed Boehner as the calm negotiator who repeatedly exasperated President Obama.

Boehner last month asked the networks to televise his response to Obama’s address to the nation, a request which infuriated the White House, Republican sources said.

On July 23, they claim, the White House called Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), telling her not to participate on a call with Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Pelosi informed Reid, who declined to participate, and the call was canceled, the Republican sources said. (A Pelosi spokesman could not be reached for comment.)

Later that day, the four leaders met with Obama at the White House. At one point, GOP officials said, the Democratic and Republican leaders asked Obama and his aides to leave the room to let them negotiate.

A tentative deal was subsequently struck, but Obama privately threatened to veto it, the sources said.

President Obama’s people have been suggesting that Obama was the only adult in the room, but this story says the situation was quite the opposite. They had to send Obama away in order to make progress.

This is all according to Republican sources, of course, but I find it quite believable because Obama has behaved exactly that way in negotiations in the past.


The FAA shutdown

August 6, 2011

Democrats are trying to make the FAA shutdown (now ended) part of their “hostage-taking” narrative, and just as with the debt-ceiling, it’s the polar opposite of the truth.  Andrew Stiles explains how it happened. Here’s the key part:

The Senate had ample opportunity to prevent [the shutdown] from happening, or at the very least to end the FAA shutdown by simply passing the House bill before adjourning on August 2. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) even urged his colleagues to do just that, saying “sometimes you have to step back and find out what’s best for the country and not be bound by some of your own personal issues.” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood concurred, imploring the Senate to act. But when Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) offered a unanimous consent request on Tuesday to proceed to consideration of the House bill, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) objected, effectively blocking the measure, after which Reid decided to throw in the towel and adjourn for the August recess, thus allowing the shutdown to continue.

The White House and Democratic leadership wanted to pass the House bill, but one Democratic senator blocked a vote from taking place.


Revising history already

August 6, 2011

The Democrats seem to have settled on their narrative for the debt-ceiling debate: Republicans are “hostage-takers”, threatening to destroy the economy if their demands are not met.  To those I documented earlier this week, you can add Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the liberal web site TPM,  and former White House green jobs czar Van Jones.

The thing is, that narrative is the precise polar opposite of the truth. In fact, the Republicans wanted to take default off the table and were rebuffed by Democrats. The Democrats, in fact, mocked the very idea that paying bond holders should be the federal government’s fiscal priority. This cannot be emphasized too much: Democrats insisted on preserving the possibility of default in order to give themselves more leverage at the negotiating table.


UK protecting Iran suppliers

August 5, 2011

Why is the British government protecting companies supplying military technology to Iran?

It’s a pity our relationship with the UK has been damaged so much that we can’t just ask them to stop.

(Via Instapundit.)


Downgraded

August 5, 2011

Tim Geithner, just a few months ago:

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Tuesday there is “no risk” the U.S. will lose its top credit rating amid a new analysis that revised its outlook on American debt to “negative.”

Geithner took to the airwaves of financial news networks to push back against a report Monday by Standard & Poor’s that lowered its outlook on U.S. debt to “negative,” reflecting political uncertainty over whether lawmakers will reach an agreement to address long-term debt.

There is no chance that the U.S. will lose its top credit rating, Geithner said, forcefully disputing the notion that S&P or other ratings services might downgrade U.S. bonds from their current AAA rating.

Today:

A cornerstone of the global financial system was shaken Friday when officials at ratings firm Standard & Poor’s said U.S. Treasury debt no longer deserved to be considered among the safest investments in the world.

S&P removed for the first time the triple-A rating the U.S. has held for 70 years, saying the budget deal recently brokered in Washington didn’t do enough to address the gloomy long-term picture for America’s finances.

I don’t see how the Democrats will blame the Tea Party for this, since S&P’s complaint is we didn’t do enough of what the Tea Party wanted, but I’m sure they will find a way.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Well, now we know how they will blame Republicans: just lie. I heard on NPR this morning that the reason S&P was downgrading our debt was concern over our dysfunctional legislative process, or something like that.


Sneering at the First Amendment

August 2, 2011

Former Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) has proved the voters’ wisdom in turning him out of office by suing the Susan B. Anthony List. The group criticized his Driehaus’s vote for health care nationalization as a vote for abortion (which it was).

Driehaus says that the group’s position was dishonest and that the First Amendment doesn’t protect liars. Which, of course, is what every politician and tyrant always says whenever they try to stop people from criticizing them.

Unfortunately, the judge in the case, Timothy Black, is allowing the case to go forward, because he agrees with Driehaus that the Susan B. Anthony List’s criticism was untrue:

Black wrote in his opinion that voting for a bill that might have a loophole allowing for abortion coverage “is entirely different from providing for ‘taxpayer funded abortion,'” as the Susan B. Anthony List claimed of Driehaus’ voting record.

One might thing that the question of whether allowing abortion coverage in a taxpayer-funded pool constitutes taxpayer-funded abortion is — at the very least — protected political opinion. But not Judge Black.

Black, incidentally, is an Obama appointee.


Opacity

August 2, 2011

Think you have a right to know how the government spends your money? Not in California:

The California Assembly says the public has no right to see lawmakers’ current office budgets and spending projections, documents that could show whether punishment is doled out for key votes.

I have to say, the response does answer the question pretty clearly.

(Via Instapundit.)


Playing chicken

August 2, 2011

Following the debt ceiling debate, Democrats called Tea Party Republicans terrorists, hostage-takers, kidnappers, and villains bent on destroying the world. (I’m not making any of those up, even the last.) Beyond the hyperventilation, there is a serious criticism there: Democrats accuse Republicans of extortion, threatening to destroy the economy if they didn’t get their way.

Setting aside the hyperbole, there is another way to describe what just happened; Democrats and Republicans were playing chicken. That description gets to the point best, because, after all, it takes two to play chicken.

It’s not true that the Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling. In fact, the House passed two bills that would raise the debt ceiling (in addition to the ultimate compromise); both were rejected by the Democratic Senate. So both sides were on record as saying that they preferred no debt-ceiling increase — and a possible default — to an increase on the other side’s terms.

For many Republicans it’s not hard to understand why. They see the long-term debt crisis as an existential threat to our nation. They saw increasing our debt without cutting spending as worse, in the long run, than the possibility of a technical default. Moreover, they also saw that the government has the cash flow to continue paying the debt, so there’s needn’t be even a technical default. (In fact, the government has the cash flow to cover entitlement spending as well.)

For Democrats it’s harder to understand. If you accept their rhetoric, they did see this as a disaster, but they played chicken anyway. They said they would prefer to melt down the economy than see substantial cuts in spending. Half of the House Democrats wouldn’t even accept the final compromise, with small but meaningful cuts in spending.

Now, one might say that the grown-up thing to do would have been to take default off the table. They should have passed a bill that ensured that we would continue to serve the federal debt even if the debt ceiling were not raised. Then we could have debated the issue without endangering our nation’s credit rating.

In fact, that is exactly what some Republicans tried to do. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced the Full Faith and Credit Act, the substance of which read, in its entirety:

In the event that the debt of the United States Government, as defined in section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, reaches the statutory limit, the authority of the Department of the Treasury provided in section 3123 of title 31, United States Code, to pay with legal tender the principal and interest on debt held by the public shall take priority over all other obligations incurred by the Government of the United States.

Toomey’s proposal was voted down on party lines. Democrats derided it as the “pay China first” bill, even though they knew perfectly well that most of the federal debt is held by Americans.

We need to understand this. The Democrats wanted a risk of default. Without it, they were afraid that Republicans would be emboldened to hold the line on debt. They were probably right, but we need to understand who it was that was engaging in “extortion”.

Later, Toomey introduced a modified version of the bill that would also prioritize Social Security and military pay, but that wasn’t any more popular with Democrats. And that tells you what you need to know. The Democrats’ position wasn’t about preventing default and protecting Social Security payments. Quite the opposite: preserving the risk of default and Social Security interruption was their strategy for averting big spending cuts and entitlement reform.


The Arab Spring sours

August 2, 2011

Wow, it’s too bad no one saw this coming:

Mobs of ordinary Egyptians joined with soldiers to drive pro-democracy protesters from their encampment in Tahrir Square here Monday, showing how far the uprising’s early heroes have fallen in the eyes of the public.

Six months after young, liberal activists helped lead the popular movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the hard core of these protesters was forcibly dispersed by the troops. Some Egyptians lined the street to applaud the army. Others ganged up on the activists as they retreated from the square that has come to symbolize the Arab Spring.

Squeezed between an assertive military and the country’s resurgent Islamist movement, many Internet-savvy, pro-democracy activists are finding it increasingly hard to remain relevant in a post-revolutionary Egypt that is struggling to overcome an economic crisis and restore law and order.

(Via the Corner.)


Lies, damn lies, and Paul Krugman

August 2, 2011

In Paul Krugman’s latest, he wants to debunk the idea the Ronald Reagan ushered in a period of unprecedented growth. He uses this chart:

Now this is strange in two ways. First, he’s using productivity growth instead of growth. That’s misleading because most conservatives would claim that Reagan’s supply-side economics promotes labor and (especially) entrepreneurship, not productivity per se (that is: effort, not output per effort).

But more importantly, he lumps Reagan in with Carter, Ford, and some of Nixon and Bush 41! Throw all those guys together and sure, the numbers do look lousy.

Krugman tries to blame the Bureau of Labor Statistics for his poor choice of data:

Here’s one measure that the BLS happens to have put in a convenient chart, so that I’m not choosing the dates.

Ooo-kay. But Krugman did pick the dates by picking the chart. He could have picked a different chart. Or, he could have done what I did and go to the actual data. (Perhaps he did, and didn’t like those results as much.)

Here is Krugman’s contention:

We had an awesome performance in the generation following the war (despite very high tax rates on the rich and a very strong union movement); we had a long period of poor productivity performance that spanned the Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush I administrations; we then had a revival during the Clinton administration, but even so not up to postwar standards. By the way, I don’t give Clinton credit for that revival; it was about learning to use technology. But in any case, there is no hint of a Reagan miracle in the data.

Here’s the data, by administration:

  • Eisenhower: 1.30%
  • Kennedy: 2.56%
  • Johnson: 2.37%
  • Nixon/Ford: 1.01%
  • Carter: -0.01%
  • Reagan: 0.65% (1.26% if 1982 is omitted)
  • Bush 41: 0.44%
  • Clinton: 0.97%
  • Bush 43: 1.11%

The average growth throughout the period was 1.22%. So I think we can say that the idea that Reagan opened a period of unprecedented growth is indeed debunked, at least as far as productivity is concerned. But the data don’t support Krugman’s story either. Aside from a boom during the 1960s, productivity has grown fairly steadily at about a rate of 1% per year; a bit lower during Bush 41, and much worse during Carter.

If you delete 1982 (the worst number in the entire data), you get Reagan at a little better than average; a dramatic improvement over the Carter catastrophe. I think that’s mostly how people remember Reagan’s economic record; he got America back on track after the malaise of the Carter years.

ASIDE: I think deleting 1982 is reasonable because it is pretty well accepted (even by Krugman, I would think) that the 1982 recession was collateral damage from the fight to tame inflation. History has shown that inflation can be tamed quickly, once the public believes you are serious, but after Nixon, Ford and Carter, it took time to do so.

It is interesting, however, that by this measure (endorsed by Paul Krugman), George W Bush’s administration was the best since the 1960s.

POSTSCRIPT: I also looked to see what would happen if we shifted all the administrations by one year, on the theory that during the first year of an administration the economy is still operating under the policies of the previous administration. You find that Kennedy — whose economic policies were similar to Reagan’s — looks outstanding (3.31%), Johnson looks ordinary (1.46%), and Carter looks even more atrocious (-0.51%).

POST-POSTSCRIPT: I also found that the BLS chart is labeled incorrectly. The years are off by one, so the Krugman’s 1973-1990 period is actually 1974-1991. I wonder why they do that.

(Via the Corner.)


Shameless

August 2, 2011

The Secret Service pays Joe Biden to protect him:

The Secret Service pays the vice president $2,200 per month to rent a cottage next to his waterfront home outside Wilmington, Del., FoxNews.com has confirmed.

Sigh.


DNC needs a dictionary

August 2, 2011

When one branch of the legislature withholds its approval from legislation favored by the president, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz calls that “dictatorship”.


Ah, the civility

August 2, 2011

Remember the left’s calls for civility after the Loughner shooting? The left sure doesn’t.

Joe Biden calls Republicans terrorists, according to Politico:

Vice President Joe Biden joined House Democrats in lashing tea party Republicans Monday, accusing them of having “acted like terrorists” in the fight over raising the nation’s debt limit, according to several sources in the room.

Biden was agreeing with the execrable Mike Doyle (D-PA):

Biden was agreeing with a line of argument made by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) at a two-hour, closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting.

“We have negotiated with terrorists,” an angry Doyle said, according to sources in the room. “This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money.”

ASIDE: Biden now kinda-sorta-not-really denies the quote:

“I did not use the terrorism word,” Biden told CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley.

Basically Biden claims Politico didn’t get the quote verbatim. If Biden isn’t lying outright, he probably said “acted like that” in response to Doyle’s “terrorists”.

ANOTHER ASIDE: How exactly authorizing the addition of trillions of spending to the national debt makes it “impossible to spend any money” is beyond me.

It’s not just Biden and Doyle, there’s also the New York Times:

The rest of [the deal] is a nearly complete capitulation to the hostage-taking demands of Republican extremists.

Hostage-taking!

ASIDE: A complete capitulation? If only.

And there’s also Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL):

The Tea Partiers and the GOP have made their slash and burn lunacy clear, and while I do not love this compromise, my vote is a hose to stop the burning. The arsonists must be stopped.

One might even get the idea that when the left cried out for more civility in politics, they didn’t really mean it. . .

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg nails it. I looked up his examples of Democratic civility. Nancy Pelosi wants to save the world, from us:

What we’re trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget. . . We’re trying to save life on this planet as we know it today.

NYT columnist Tom Friedman calls us the Hezbollah faction:

If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the G.O.P. on a suicide mission.

(Although, from Friedman that might not be intended as an insult. . .)

NYT columnist Joe Nocera gets excited:

Tea Party’s War on America

You know what they say: Never negotiate with terrorists. It only encourages them. These last few months, much of the country has watched in horror as the Tea Party Republicans have waged jihad on the American people.

Chris Matthews does the Chris Matthews thing:

Why did [Obama] let this develop for six months. . . this drum roll of the Republicans saying, ‘We’ve got the baby. You don’t get the baby back unless you pay us?’ Why do you let the other side have the baby, to use kidnapping terms?

You know, it seems just possible that the left didn’t actually mean any of that stuff about civility.

UPDATE: A political cartoon calls the Tea Party terrorists, and fantasizes about the president sending in the SEALs to kill them.

UPDATE: Robert Reich, NPR commentator and former Secretary of Labor, calls Republicans hostage-takers. Also, Chris Matthews does the Chris Matthews thing some more:

Let me finish tonight with this bad experience we’ve all just been through. What we saw — what I saw, at least, was one guy with a knife and the other trying to avoid being cut. It was a thug attacking a victim. It was a mugging.

NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof, compares the Tea Party to Iran and Al Qaeda:

So let’s remember not only the national security risks posed by Iran and Al Qaeda. Let’s also focus on the risks, however unintentional, from domestic zealots.

And finally, Maureen Dowd manages to be the most temperate of the NYT columnists (and how sad is that?) with her entry:

The maniacal Tea Party freshmen are trying to burn down the House they were elected to serve in. It turns out they wanted to come inside to get a blueprint of the historic building to sabotage it.

Like gargoyles on the Capitol, the adamantine nihilists are determined to blow up the country’s prestige, their party and even their own re-election chances if that’s what it takes.

This outpouring of vitriol and, yes, demonization in the pages of the New York Times stands in stark contrast to their call for civility in politics:

This page and many others have identified those voices [whose “partisanship has been excessive” and who have sown “division and dread”] and called on them to stop demonizing their political opponents.

What a strange turnaround! Unless, just perhaps, they never meant it in the first place.

UPDATE: What I said about Maureen Dowd being the most temperate in the New York Times?Er, never mind:

They were like cannibals, eating their own party and leaders alive. They were like vampires, draining the country’s reputation, credit rating and compassion. They were like zombies, relentlessly and mindlessly coming back again and again to assault their unnerved victims, Boehner and President Obama. They were like the metallic beasts in “Alien” flashing mouths of teeth inside other mouths of teeth, bursting out of Boehner’s stomach every time he came to a bouquet of microphones.

UPDATE: Peter Wehner writes:

Why on earth would liberals do something like that? After all, they care– deeply care – about civility in public discourse. I know because they tell me that all the time.

When it serves their purposes of the moment.

(Via Instapundit.)