Heh

September 30, 2011

How to make Obama like us.

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Solyndra 2

September 30, 2011

The Obama administration’s latest solar boondoggle, the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Product, which was awarded a $737 million federal loan this week, is backed by George Kaiser. Yes, the same George Kaiser who was the principal backer of Solyndra, which blew through half a billion of federal money before going bankrupt.

This smells really bad.

(Previous post.)


Grains of salt required

September 30, 2011

Stories like this remind us to maintain a healthy skepticism about anything we hear from the IPCC:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), set up by the UN in 1988 to advise governments on the science behind global warming, issued a report [in May] suggesting renewable sources could provide 77 per cent of the world’s energy supply by 2050. But in supporting documents released this week, it emerged that the claim was based on a real-terms decline in worldwide energy consumption over the next 40 years – and that the lead author of the section concerned was an employee of Greenpeace. Not only that, but the modelling scenario used was the most optimistic of the 164 investigated by the IPCC.

(Via Instapundit.)

POSTSCRIPT: Since I haven’t had occasion to mention it for awhile, my position continues to be that the science on historical climate change seems to be reasonably solid (with a few major exceptions), but the science that purports to predict the future is little better than guesswork.


Liars

September 30, 2011

The Hill (together with other legacy media) would like us to believe:

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (Penn.) – an outspoken critic of gay marriage – was asked a question via YouTube about what would happen to openly gay servicemen if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was reinstated. The Orlando crowd began booing.

It’s a lie. The Hill’s earlier reporting was misleading, but at least literally true:

Some members of the GOP debate audience booed a gay soldier who asked . . .

Yes, “some members” booed. But let’s be precise. Two members. (Ann Althouse thinks it was only one, but it sounds like two to me.) Don’t believe me? Listen for yourself.

The Orlando crowd did not begin booing, as The Hill and others would have us believe. Two yahoos amidst the crowd booed.

POSTSCRIPT: Additionally, there’s something bizarre about the media’s take on this and another recent debate-audience controversy. They seem to think that the candidates on stage are answerable for anything that two or three people in the audience might say. We don’t know who those people are (they might be provocateurs!), and they are speaking in violation of debate rules. On the other hand, President Obama can share the podium at a rally with someone like Jimmy Hoffa, and Obama isn’t answerable for anything the man says. The only way to make sense of it is as a flagrant double standard.


Arne Duncan

September 30, 2011

It’s hard to believe I was once hopeful about Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Secretary of Education. We’ve since seen that Duncan is openly political and dishonest (but I repeat myself). We have learned that he is at the center of a school-admissions scandal in Chicago, and we’ve seen him appear at a rally organized by noted racist demagogue Al Sharpton (and urge Department of Education employees to attend as well).

Now we see Duncan spearheading an openly dishonest attack on Texas’s education record, designed to hurt Governor Rick Perry’s presidential chances. Duncan’s charges were simply false (for example, he referred to “massive increases in class size” when class sizes actually remained the same or shrank). And he ignored (or did not know) the fact that Texas schools (which Perry was only indirectly in charge of anyway) did much better than Duncan’s Chicago schools.


113-0

September 30, 2011

Pajamas Media has an update on the scandal of political hiring in the Holder Justice Department. Every single one of the 113 lawyers hired in the Civil Rights Division under Eric Holder has been a leftist. Not one of them have been conservative, libertarian, centrist, or even apolitical.

In case you are wondering, yes, this is improper, and not merely unseemly. The Department of Justice prohibits discrimination on the basis of political affiliation. The left used to understand this. They attacked the DOJ’s hiring record under President Bush, even though that record was much better than what we’re seeing from Holder now.

(Previous post.)


Ticketed for running a green light

September 30, 2011

A red-light camera in Port Lavaca, Texas issued this truck a ticket:

The town is cancelling the ticket, but that’s not good enough. The thing is, machines are not supposed to issue tickets; humans issue tickets. So, supposedly, humans review the material and then sign the ticket, which includes a statement — under penalty of perjury — confirming the machine’s findings.

Clearly, the man who signed this ticket — a police sergeant — did not review the material. Will he be prosecuted for perjury? Not bloody likely. But if the police can lie on these statements without any consequence, they are of no value. Every single ticket issued in Port Lavaca pursuant to a red-light camera ought to be thrown out.

Moreover, does anyone believe that this one town is the only place in which the authorities are not diligently reviewing the red-light camera data?


Gunwalker worsens, again

September 30, 2011

As astonishing as it is that the Gunwalker scandal could get worse again, it has done just that. Not only did the ATF facilitate the trafficking of weapons to Mexican drug cartels, they did it themselves! They bought weapons with taxpayer money, and then delivered them to the criminals:

Not only did U.S. officials approve, allow and assist in the sale of more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa cartel — the federal government used taxpayer money to buy semi-automatic weapons, sold them to criminals and then watched as the guns disappeared.

This disclosure, revealed in documents obtained by Fox News, could undermine the Department of Justice’s previous defense that Operation Fast and Furious was a “botched” operation where agents simply “lost track” of weapons as they were transferred from one illegal buyer to another.

Well, that defense (that they simply “lost track” of the weapons) was undermined long ago. We’ve known for some time that the ATF never followed the weapons. The new revelation here is the astonishing lengths to which the ATF went to avoid following the weapons:

According to sources directly involved in the case, [Agent John] Dodson felt strongly that the weapons should not be abandoned and the stash house should remain under 24-hour surveillance. However, [ATF supervisor David] Voth disagreed and ordered the surveillance team to return to the office. Dodson refused, and for six days in the desert heat kept the house under watch, defying direct orders from Voth.

A week later, a second vehicle showed up to transfer the weapons. Dodson called for an interdiction team to move in, make the arrest and seize the weapons. Voth refused and the guns disappeared with no surveillance.

Read that twice and see if you can comprehend it. The ATF was determined to see these guns end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels without any surveillance.

It is now clear that, whatever the purpose of Operation Fast and Furious was, it certainly was not to follow the guns back to the “big fish”. ATF’s management took pains to avoid following the guns! So what was the purpose of the operation? No one has yet suggested any plausible, legitimate purpose. The only theories on the table are the gun-control theory, and the anti-Zeta theory.

POSTSCRIPT: More here, including a document that purports to be Voth’s written authorization to buy the guns.

(Previous post.)


British cops order bible display shut down

September 29, 2011

Alas, this sort of story seems to be becoming commonplace in the UK:

Police have threatened a Christian cafe owner with arrest –for displaying passages from the Bible on a TV screen. Jamie Murray was warned by two police officers to stop playing DVDs of the New Testament in his cafe following a complaint from a customer that it was inciting hatred against homosexuals.

The nation that invented individual liberty has abandoned the freedoms of speech and religion.

(Via Volokh.)


No free press in Australia

September 29, 2011

Is America the only country left with a free press? Australia doesn’t have one: an Australian court has found a collection of newspaper articles to be illegal. It violated Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act by expressing improper opinions about who constitutes an Aborigine. The judge also prohibited the republication of the articles, and said he would consider forcing the newspaper to print an apology.


Milder, please

September 29, 2011

Turkey’s “mildly Islamist” (as the Economist likes to put it) government is prosecuting a cartoonist for blasphemy.

I wonder what it will take for the AKP’s apologists in the West to wake up.

(Via Volokh.)

UPDATE: A look at Turkey’s slide into dictatorship.


CLASS abandoned

September 29, 2011

The CLASS program in Obamacare is an obscure provision that would create a long-term care insurance program. The provision was important because it exploited Obamacare’s usual accounting gimmick (comparing ten years of revenue to just five years of expenses) to generate an (illusory) $70 billion surplus over ten years. It thus helped shift the all-important (to nervous Democrats) overall price into the black.

But the program was never designed to work. Medicare’s chief actuary wrote (as quoted by Power Line):

I can’t see how there would be enough workers participating to cover the selection costs for those with existing [activities of daily living] limitations plus the costs for the internal subsidies for students and low-income persons. Thirty-six years of actuarial experience lead me to believe that this program would collapse in short order and require significant federal subsidies to continue.

And sure enough, the Obama administration seems to be shutting the program down. Its only function was to coax reluctant Democrats into voting for Obamacare, so its work is done.


Advancing intolerance in the name of tolerance

September 29, 2011

Vanderbilt University is withdrawing its “approval” from several Christian organizations for requiring their leaders to be Christians. I don’t know what “approval” gets you at Vanderbilt, but at a typical school, it’s a requirement in order to use campus facilities, such as rooms for meetings. If that’s the case here, they are forcing these students to meet off-campus.

It should be obvious that this sort of policy — if applied uniformly — would make it impossible for any group of like-minded people to organize. For example, College Democrats would have to allow Republicans, not only as members, but as leaders.

But I’m sure it’s not being applied uniformly. This sort of thing has been contemplated at other universities (including mine) and it’s always a special persecution just for Christians. However, universities usually step back from actually doing it (as mine did).


Solyndra

September 29, 2011

I’ve been lax about reporting the Solyndra affair as it has grown from a typical screwup of the sort that arises whenever the government tries to supplant the marketplace and pick winners, into a huge political scandal. Let me catch up by listing what we know:

After Solyndra went belly-up (after blowing through half a billion in taxpayer money), the FBI raided their offices. We know that one of Solyndra’s top backers was a major fundraiser for President Obama, that Solyndra officials were frequent visitors to the White House, and that federal officials sat in on Solyndra board meetings.

We know that the White House pressured the OMB to approve the loan, and quickly (in time for a presidential speech), despite the OMB’s concerns that they hadn’t done due diligence (that’s for sure!):

“We have ended up with a situation of having to do rushed approvals on a couple of occasions (and we are worried about Solyndra at the end of the week),” one official wrote. That Aug. 31, 2009, message, written by a senior OMB staffer and sent to Terrell P. McSweeny, Biden’s domestic policy adviser, concluded, “We would prefer to have sufficient time to do our due diligence reviews.”

And it wasn’t just the Obama-era OMB with reservations. The Bush administration shelved the loan application (despite recent attempts on the left to blame Bush for the mess). PriceWaterhouseCoopers warned that Solyndra’s troubles “raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.” And it wasn’t just finance people, either. According to a former Solyndra employee, everyone working there knew the company was doomed. They were making a product for $6 that they could only sell for $2-3. The Obama administration was aware of these warnings, but ignored them.

Worse, this isn’t merely a situation where political pressure resulted in a terrible decision. The process violated federal rules and the law. The General Accountability Office found that the loan process bypassed required steps. The law specifically forbade the DOE from subordinating the government’s stake (i.e., placing the government after other creditors in any bankruptcy proceeding), but the Obama administration disregarded that provision.  Thus, the loan was not only unwise, not only improper, it was illegal.

Solyndra’s actions were not proper either. Once they received the government’s “investment”, they lavishly wasted money. They spent over a million on lobbying, hiring lobbyists connected to John Kerry (D-MA) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD). And, in fact, they violated the terms of their loan starting in December 2010.

Solyndra officials took the Fifth at a Congressional hearing last week. That surprised Congressional investigators who had earlier agreed to delay the hearing in exchange for a promise that the officials would testify. However, many other people did agree to testify. (Andrew Stiles summarized the proceedings here and here.)

One who did agree to testify was DOE official Jonathan Silver, who admitted that the conditions for Solyndra have been unfavorable for years (since before the latest loan!), and that the DOE has known since last July that Solyndra would go under.

One of the strangest aspects of the scandal is that somehow the California Democratic Party ended up a Solyndra creditor. No one will admit to knowing how that happened.

Alas, the Obama administration has learned nothing from the scandal. They have just announced three more solar loans totaling more than $2 billion, and have billions more to throw away this week. One of those loans, for $737 million, is to the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a project connected to Ron Pelosi, the House Democratic Leader’s brother-in-law. The political connections of the other projects have not yet been determined.

UPDATE: A nice video summarizing the scandal.

(Previous post.)


UK Labour calls for abolition of the free press

September 28, 2011

What fundamental rights hasn’t the UK abolished yet? Trial by jury, check. Double jeopardy, check. Freedom of religion, check. Free speech, check. Self defense, check.

Freedom of the press hasn’t been exempt from attack by any means, but the British press has still been mostly free. The Labour party wants to change that:

The stupidest of [the Labour Party’s] proposals to date will be presented today, when Ivan Lewis, the shadow culture secretary, will propose a licensing scheme for journalists through a professional body that will have the power to forbid people who breach its code of conduct from doing journalism in the future.

They want the government to decide who is allowed to publish and who is not — and they explicitly mean to use the system to silence the people they don’t want publishing.

The real problem in the UK is structural. Since 1911, there have been no checks or balances in the British government. The House of Commons is all-powerful. If the party in power decides to scrap the Freedom of the Press, or any other freedom, no one can stop them.

(Via Instapundit.)


Don’t know much about geography

September 28, 2011

I admit it; I’m not above noting this: The White House confuses Colorado and Wyoming.

Seriously though, with a Republican in office, this would have been proof of . . . well, what exactly it would be proof of would depend on the media narrative. For Bush it surely would have proven he is an idiot.

(Via Instapundit.)


If only someone had seen this coming

September 28, 2011

The Hill reports:

Insurance costs spike, opening new Republican attacks on health law

Strictly speaking, I don’t think “we told you so” is really a new attack.

(Via Instapundit.)


Breathtaking

September 26, 2011

Asthma sufferers who use epinephrine inhalers will be required to switch to a new medicine next year. The new medicine is twice as expensive, and probably won’t work as well for some patients to boot. The old inhalers were not environmentally friendly enough.

There’s the environmental movement in a nutshell. I would be very surprised indeed if inhalers had any kind of significant impact on the ozone layer, whereas I am certain they have an enormous impact of people’s ability to breathe. But cost vs. benefit is simply not a consideration in green policies, especially under this administration.


Obama authorized bombs for Israel

September 26, 2011

President Obama’s dealings with Israel have generally been dreadful, but I must give credit where credit is due. According to Newsweek (so you may want to take this with a grain of salt), Obama authorized the delivery of 55 bunker buster bombs to Israel in 2009. This affirmed a delivery schedule determined by the Bush administration.


LightSquared stink worsens

September 26, 2011

Another witness in the LightSquared inquiry has come forward to reveal that the White House pressured him to modify his testimony. Also, George Soros is involved.

(Previous post.)


The problem of Pakistan

September 26, 2011

Walter Russel Mead has a very interesting article on the problem of Pakistan, and why Pakistan may see that problem (or problems, really) as essential to their continued existence as a nation.


Justice is done

September 26, 2011

A jury has convicted the Muslim students at UC Irvine who organized a disruption that ultimately prevented a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren.

I hope this will be a lesson to those who think that preventing someone else from speaking is an exercise of their free speech.


Paging Mr. Ponzi

September 23, 2011

Social Security is obviously a Ponzi scheme. Here is Wikipedia’s definition:

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to its investors from their own money or the money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned by the individual or organization running the operation. The Ponzi scheme usually entices new investors by offering returns other investments cannot guarantee, in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent. The perpetuation of the returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises and pays requires an ever-increasing flow of money from investors to keep the scheme going.

The only thing to quibble about here is whether Social Security “entices” new investors; enticed or not, you’ve got no choice. Some might also dispute whether it is “fraudulent”. It is: it makes promises it cannot deliver. (In fact, now we get that promise explicitly, in the form of an annual letter from the Social Security administration listing all the promised benefits we’ll never see.)

What is interesting is that Social Security’s own advocates have likened it to a Ponzi scheme:

Jonathan Last has already identified a 1967 Newsweek column by liberal economist and Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson as perhaps the earliest use of the Social Security/Ponzi-scheme comparison in public argument. Samuelson was actually drawing on the Ponzi analogy to defend Social Security. His claim was that the perpetual succession of human generations establishes the conditions for a sustainable Ponzi scheme. Regardless of whether Samuelson was the first commentator to use the Ponzi analogy, he has clearly been the most influential. Policy briefs and books churned out by conservative think tanks such as Heritage and Cato have cited Samuelson’s Ponzi column for years. . .

The unfortunate weakness of Samuelson’s model is its assumption that a growing economy will produce continual population increase. In an April 1978 follow-up in Newsweek to his original 1967 column, Samuelson acknowledged that demographic reality was disproving this assumption. Samuelson repeated his use of the Ponzi analogy and continued to defend his hopes for Social Security as best he could.

POSTSCRIPT: Of course, none of that will stop the fact-checkers opinion police from labeling the comparison false.


CBS repeats bizarre, bogus story

September 23, 2011

Note to CBS: If you’re going to pluck a story from an obscure blog, maybe you should do a little research to see if it’s true first. (You could at least Google it!) This is particularly important if the story makes an extremely outlandish claim, like a major presidential contender shouting to her audience “who likes white people?”

Part of the problem is that CBS’s editors are so removed from the right half of American opinion, they apparently didn’t realize this was outlandish.


Opinion police

September 23, 2011

John Hinderaker coins the perfect phrase — “opinion police” — for the journalists who claim to be fact-checking, but really are evaluating opinions.  This is a pernicious phenomenon that is becoming far too prevalent.

In this particular instance, Hinderaker was complaining about a Washington Post column by Glenn Kessler called The Fact Checker, which reported Rick Perry’s “newbie mistake” on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Kessler said Perry’s was factually incorrect when he said:

I certainly have some concerns. The first step in any peaceful negotiation for a two-state solution for the Palestinians is to recognize the right of Israel’s existence. They have to denounce terrorism in both word and deed. And they have to sit down and negotiate with Israel directly. Anything short of that is a non-starter in my opinion.

Kessler claimed Perry was wrong on all three points. On the first point, he says that Palestinians have indeed recognized Israel, but this is debatable.

For starters, many say that the Palestinians never really changed their charter to remove its anti-Israel language. They argue that merely voting to revoke the charter’s provisions is not the same thing as producing a new charter without those provisions. (Here’s an example of that school of thought.) Personally, I think that what Palestinian authorities did in 1996 or 1998 to revise a document written in 1964 is beside the point. What matters is what they say and do now. Just last month, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas denied the existence of Israel:

The Palestinian Authority will not be recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday, adopting a belligerent tone ahead of his planned statehood bid in September. . .

“Don’t order us to recognize a Jewish state,” Abbas said. “We won’t accept it.”

And this very day, the logo of the Palestinian mission to the UN denies Israel’s existence. In short, Perry’s position is, at the very least, a defensible opinion, not a factual error. Frankly, I think he’s right.

Kessler is even weaker on the other two facets of Perry’s statement. Perry says the Palestinians must denounce terrorism in word and deed. Kessler produces one example of the Palestinians denouncing terrorism in word. He does not produce any examples of the Palestinians denouncing terrorism in deed (okay, I’ll grant that that’s clumsy wording), because there are none to produce.

On the third point, that the Palestinians need to negotiate with Israel directly, Kessler seems to concede that Perry is right. The Palestinians are not negotiating with Israel directly, and haven’t since March 2010. But somehow this point too shows Perry’s ignorance. Kessler doesn’t explain how.

Nowhere in this “fact-checking” piece on Perry’s “newbie mistake” does Kessler demonstrate any factual errors. On the contrary, there is one difference in opinion, and two correct facts. But wait, Kessler talked to three anonymous “experts”, and all three said that Perry sounded remarkably uninformed. Oh, well then.

But wait, there’s more! Kessler concludes that Rick Perry’s campaign is a “fact-free zone” (no facts at all!) because they have never replied to any of his inquiries. Clearly, Kessler is using the word “fact” to mean something entirely different from what it means to me.


I have something in common with Deval Patrick

September 23, 2011

I would have blown off “car-free week”, just like Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick did. Of course, I wouldn’t have declared it in the first place.


Cashing in

September 23, 2011

An Obama fundraiser tells the truth:

There’s never been more money shoved out of the government’s door in world history, and probably never will be again, than in the last few months and in the next 18 months. And our selfish parochial goal is to get as much as it for Tulsa and Oklahoma as we possibly can.

POSTSCRIPT: I wish I was as sanguine as he that our Brobdingnagian stimulus misadventure would never be repeated.


Gunwalker update

September 23, 2011

Over 200 murders have been linked to weapons trafficked to Mexican drug cartels by the ATF.

That’s at least 200 more than were murdered in Watergate, our government’s second-worst scandal.

(Previous post.)


An essential history lesson

September 23, 2011

You can find the book here.

(Via Power Line.)

POSTSCRIPT: As a reminder that Palestinian rejectionism continues unabated today, note that the logo of the Palestinian delegation to the UN — the very same group seeking blessing for an independent state this week — denies the very existence of Israel.


The Chicago Way

September 23, 2011

In Chicago, union executives get to retire on a public pension:

Twenty years later, 23 retired union officials from Chicago stand to collect about $56 million from two ailing city pension funds thanks to the changes, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation found. Because the law bases the city pensions on the labor leaders’ union salaries, they are reaping retirement benefits that far outstrip the modest salaries they made as city employees.

[Pension experts] warn that it not only creates opportunities to scam the system but also robs the city of its ability to control pension costs. The city doesn’t set union salaries, the most important ingredient in determining the size of the leaders’ pensions.

Better yet, no one knows who made the rule:

No one from either the state Legislature or city government will take credit for the law, which passed in 1991, and the process of drafting pension legislation in Springfield is so shrouded in secrecy that there’s no way of knowing exactly whom to hold responsible.

But, whoever made it, it apparently can’t be fixed:

Making changes won’t be easy, however. That’s because the state constitution says pension benefits cannot be diminished once they are earned.

This serves as another reminder that Chicago is run by thieves. But at least it doesn’t affect the rest of us. We would never be so stupid as to put the Chicago machine in power nationwide.

(Via Hot Air.)


Relativity in question

September 23, 2011

This would be big if it holds up:

A startling find at one of the world’s foremost laboratories that a subatomic particle seemed to move faster than the speed of light has scientists around the world rethinking Albert Einstein and one of the foundations of physics.

Now they are planning to put the finding to further high-speed tests to see if a revolutionary shift in explaining the workings of the universe is needed – or if the European scientists made a mistake. . .

CERN reported that a neutrino beam fired from a particle accelerator near Geneva to a lab in Italy traveled 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light. Scientists calculated the margin of error at just 10 nanoseconds, making the difference statistically significant.

(Via the Corner.)


The First Amendment: read it please

September 22, 2011

The government of San Juan Capistrano, California, show themselves to be unqualified for any position of public trust:

An Orange County couple has been ordered to stop holding a Bible study in their home on the grounds that the meeting violates a city ordinance as a “church” and not as a private gathering.

Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm, of San Juan Capistrano, were fined $300 earlier this month for holding what city officials called “a regular gathering of more than three people”.

This reminds me of China’s crackdown on house churches. There’s obviously a difference in severity (a $300 fine does not compare to torture), but it’s not a field of endeavor that American officials are supposed to be in at all. Tarring and feathering is too good for them.

(Via Instapundit.)


How to create jobs

September 21, 2011

Looking for a way for the government to create jobs? Looking for a fast way, that doesn’t even require an act of Congress? A good way to start might be to abolish regulations that fine businesses for hiring too many people.

(Via Instapundit.)


How to ruin your brand

September 21, 2011

Wow. I have no idea if OnStar was a respected brand, but if it was, it sure won’t be much longer:

Navigation-and-emergency-services company OnStar is notifying its six million account holders that it will keep a complete accounting of the speed and location of OnStar-equipped vehicles, even for drivers who discontinue monthly service.

OnStar began e-mailing customers Monday about its update to the privacy policy, which grants OnStar the right to sell that GPS-derived data in an anonymized format.

Adam Denison, a spokesman for the General Motors subsidiary, said OnStar does not currently sell customer data, but it reserves that right. He said both the new and old privacy policies allow OnStar to chronicle a vehicle’s every movement and its speed, though it’s not clear where that’s stated in the old policy.

“What’s changed [is that if] you want to cancel your OnStar service, we are going to maintain a two-way connection to your vehicle unless the customer says otherwise,” Denison said. . . Canceling customers must opt of of the continued surveillance monitoring program, according to the privacy policy. . .

Collecting location and speed data via GPS might also create a treasure trove of data that could be used in criminal and civil cases. One could also imagine an eager police chief acquiring the data to issue speeding tickets en masse.

Passing on the OnStar service isn’t enough; you don’t even want their hardware installed. Thankfully, that’s easy to arrange. Just don’t buy GM.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: OnStar reverses.


Our fiscal mess

September 21, 2011

This exercise was eye-opening:

Why S&P Downgraded the US:
U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
Recent [April] budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000

Let’s remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:
Annual family income: $21,700
Money the family spent: $38,200
New debt on the credit card: $16,500
Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
Budget cuts: $385


NYT reporter faces allegations

September 20, 2011

A group called the Franklin Center alleges that New York Times reporter Ian Urbina deceived readers in his reports attacking fracking. According to the Center, Urbina described his sources deceptively — making them sound better connected than they were — and described single sources using multiple different descriptions — making his sources sound more numerous than they were.

(Via Instapundit.)


Saudis to critics: shut up or else

September 20, 2011

The Saudis are trying to suppress criticism, in Canada:

Saudi Arabia has hired lawyers to threaten Canadian broadcasters who dare to run a TV ad critical of Saudi conflict oil. . .

Alykhan Velshi, who runs EthicalOil.org, produced a 30-second TV ad comparing the treatment of women in Canada with the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. . . Saudi Arabia doesn’t like criticism like that, though. They are a fascist state without a free press or any opposition political parties. And now they’ve hired one of the world’s largest law firms, a 2,600-lawyer monstrosity called Norton Rose, to threaten Canada’s media into silence, too.

Rahool Agarwal, one of the lawyers at Norton Rose, has been contacting broadcasters across Canada, threatening them if they air the ad. Already two networks have capitulated in the face of such threats, including CTV, Canada’s biggest private broadcaster. Agarwal has also threatened EthicalOil.org with a lawsuit, too. He won’t say for what — he clearly has no legal case. But the point is silencing dissent. And it’s working.

POSTSCRIPT: The primary culprit here is Saudi Arabia, of course, but Canada has to take some blame for allowing this to happen. If Canada had a better record viz a viz free speech, such threats as these would be less likely to work. As it is, every Canadian broadcaster has to worry about being hauled into a “human rights” commission.

(Via Instapundit.)


Recording corroborates Gunwalker cover-up allegation

September 20, 2011

Additional evidence that the FBI is covering up evidence in the Gunwalker scandal: Recordings obtained by CBS News corroborate claims that the FBI is hiding a third Gunwalker gun involved in the Terry murder.

This is getting really bad.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


Awesome

September 19, 2011

Despite everything they pull, I find it hard to hate Google. Why? Stuff like this. Shopping for flights will never be the same.


Texas jobs

September 19, 2011

I’ve been meaning for a while to post this with some commentary, but I haven’t been able to get around writing the commentary, so I’ll just summarize it: Texas’s employment figures are impressive, and all the attempts to demonstrate a hidden flaw in them are bogus.

(Via the Corner.)


Fact-checking the fact checkers

September 19, 2011

The Washington Post says this claim by Speaker John Boehner isn’t true:

At this moment, the Executive Branch has 219 new rules in the works that will cost our economy at least $100 million. That means under the current Washington agenda, our economy is poised to take a hit from the government of at least $100 million — 219 times.

They give it three “Pinocchios”.

The problem is, it’s entirely true. If you go to the government’s web site, it lists 219 “major regulations” that are “under development or review”. The law defines “major regulation” as one that, among other things, will cost the economy $100 million or more. Boehner’s claim is unarguable.

So how do they say it’s false? The same way that other “fact checking” hacks try to call true statements they don’t like false. They make a “nuanced” argument that the facts don’t mean what Boehner implies they mean. Fine, make your argument. But that’s an editorial, not a fact check.


24 hours of “Reality”

September 19, 2011

“Remove the doubt, reveal the deniers” is not scientific talk.


Friendly report pans Obamacare

September 19, 2011

How bad is health care nationalization? Even a report prepared by one of its architects can’t whitewash it effectively:

Naturally, Gruber’s leads with a smiley face, noting for the umpteenth time that the law is expected to increase health insurance coverage; approximately 340,000 of the state’s residents are expected to gain insurance coverage by 2016. Of course, about 170,000 of the newly covered will be shuffled into Medicaid, a program that’s wrecking state budgets and providing, at best, uncertain health benefits.

Meanwhile expanding the state’s health insurance coverage will come at a significant cost to hundreds of thousands of individuals, especially within the individual market, where the law has the greatest effect. Gruber projects that the average individual market health insurance premium will cost about 30 percent more than if ObamaCare had never passed. For most individual market enrollees, the average premium increase will be even higher: 87 percent of the individual market is projected to see a premium price increase of 41 percent.

Defenders of the law might note that more than half—about 57 percent—of those who get their insurance through the individual market will benefit from the law’s generous health insurance subsidies. But even discounting the enormous public cost of financing those subsidies (which account for roughly half of the law’s $950 billion price tag over the next decade), it’s still not much consolation for the majority of individual market enrollees.

That’s because more than half the individual market will still end up paying more: “After the application of tax subsidies,” the report projects, “59 percent of the individual market will experience an average premium increase of 31 percent.”

(Via Instapundit.)


Whopper

September 19, 2011

President Obama claims to have passed the largest middle-class tax cut in history:

We said working folks deserved a break, so within one month of me taking office, we signed into law the biggest middle-class tax cut in history, putting more money into your pockets.

How can he claim that, when, of course, he has done no such thing? The White House justifies the claim saying that “largest” means going to the largest number of people:

“The point the president was making that is there is not a tax cut that has been enjoyed by such a broad section of the population,” an administration official said, pointing to a report that said that 95 percent of working families received some kind of tax cut under the Making Work Pay provision in his stimulus bill.

Ooo-kay. Give everyone a quarter and it will be bigger yet.


No blind trust for Obama

September 19, 2011

In contrast to most other public officials, President Obama has not put his personal wealth into a blind trust. This isn’t necessarily scandalous, if the story is right that Obama keeps most of his money in treasuries, but it’s certainly unusual.

(Via Hot Air.)


Yet another scandal

September 19, 2011

The White House pressured Gen. William Shelton (commander of the Air Force Space Command) to change his testimony to favor a company, LightSquared, that wants to build a wireless network that could interfere with GPS signals. LightSquared is owned by a major Democratic donor.

(Via the Corner.)


Thugs rule Britannia

September 19, 2011

A British man who killed a home invader with the invader’s own knife has been arrested for murder. The only way this makes any sense at all is if the police suspect that the home invasion story is false:

Chief Superintendent Tim Forber of Greater Manchester Police said: ‘We believe the dead man was one of two men who were attempting to carry out a burglary at the house.’

Well, scratch that theory I guess.

So in England today, not only are you forbidden to have the means of self-defense (heck, you can’t even have a Swiss Army Knife), you’ll be arrested even if you use the criminal’s own weapon against him. If you want to stay on the right side of the law, you have to roll over for the criminal and hope he doesn’t kill you. I’m sure “he obeyed the law” will look great on your tombstone.

But the reaction of the authorities isn’t the worst part of this story. Read this and weep:

[The home invader’s] family were too upset to comment but they left floral tributes at the scene referring to him as ‘Ray’ and ‘Uncle Raymondo’.

One read: ‘Love you son, going to miss you more than anything. You mean the world to me. Love you loads, Dad.’

And it goes on. There are photos of weeping friends. Friends of the criminal that is. England is now a place where the family of a criminal killed in the midst of a home invasion feel they can go back to the home he tried to invade and place a tribute to him! They will even get their sorrow reportedly sympathetically in the press. That place has truly lost its moral compass.

(Via Instapundit.)


Holder’s politicized hiring

September 19, 2011

Pajamas Media reports:

The final tally in our hiring expose is staggering. Since Barack Obama installed Eric Holder at the Justice Department, there have been 113 new career lawyers hired into the Civil Rights Division. There isn’t even a single token conservative in the bunch. Worse yet, as this PJMedia series has demonstrated conclusively, the breakdown of the new hires reveals that not even moderates are welcome. Here are the numbers:

Liberals: 113

Conservatives: 0

Apolitical Attorneys: 0

As has been said repeatedly, there is nothing problematic with hiring liberals to work in the Division. But contrary to the views of many in the civil rights community — including the current leadership of the Justice Department — there is also nothing wrong with hiring conservative or apolitical attorneys to undertake this work. Yet such professionals have been categorically blackballed from joining the career ranks of the Division. That is not only unjust, it is illegal. . .

Notwithstanding the claims of revisionist historians, the Bush Civil Rights Division hired and promoted lawyers from all across the political and ideological spectrum. Even in the three sections of the Division that were the focus of a libelous report from the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility and Inspector General, nearly a third of the new career attorneys hired and promoted were clearly liberal and many others were entirely apolitical. Meanwhile, enforcement figures in nearly every section were through the roof (in some cases, such as the Voting Section, putting the Obama administration numbers to shame), while not one nickel had to be paid out in sanctions.

Now, less than three years later, all semblances of ideological balance in the Division have been utterly eliminated, and proudly so. . . Reports from inside the Division by individuals familiar with the work of the hiring committee describe the resumes of one qualified applicant after another being tossed in the “No” file merely because the candidate could not satisfy the newly imposed liberal litmus test.

What’s the big deal if a liberal administration hires only liberals? Don’t forget that, not very long ago, the hiring record of the Bush administration — which was much, much better — was billed as scandalous.

(Previous post.)


National reciprocity

September 16, 2011

The Truth About Guns has a quick summary of the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act. There are a few areas where I would have hoped for better, but it’s still a big step forward.

It will be interesting to see what happens. Democrats can block it, of course, but they can ill-afford to energize the gun-rights movement, and they know it.

(Via Instapundit.)


Bachmann won’t back down from anti-vaccine remark

September 16, 2011

I’m very disappointed to find Michelle Bachmann carrying water for the anti-vaccine hysterics. There are legitimate grounds on which one can attack Rick Perry’s HPV vaccination policy, but suggesting that it causes mental retardation is simply irresponsible. Anti-vaccine foolishness is causing great harm, and it’s wrong to give that movement any aid at all.


Free speech on the ropes down under?

September 16, 2011

Australia’s left-wing government won’t rule out requiring a license to publish. Let’s not have any more nonsense about the left’s dedication to free speech, if you please.

(Via Instapundit.)


The anti-jobs bill

September 16, 2011

A provision of President Obama’s jobs bill would make it illegal for employers to prefer applicants who are currently employed. And as bad as that would be, the legal implications are worse. It would make it very difficult for employers even to consider work history: if one looked at the work history at all, it would be hard to prove that one was not looking at whether people were employed.

Obama probably things that barring discrimination against the unemployed will make it easier for them to get jobs. It won’t. On the contrary, if employers cannot look at past job history, every hire will be a risky stab in the dark, so employers will be reluctant to hire anyone at all.


Liars

September 16, 2011

At the Republican debate on Monday, there was an exchange in which Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul whether society should let uninsured people die. Yahoo News reported that the audience cheered the idea of letting them die. Paul Krugman piled on, writing:

The incident highlighted something that I don’t think most political commentators have fully absorbed: at this point, American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions.

One difference between the moral visions, apparently, is that the left feels justified in making stuff up. To wit: the report that the audience cheered letting uninsured people die is a complete lie.

Play the video if you don’t believe me. After Blitzer asks the question, a small number of people (about three) yell yes. Then Paul gives the exact right answer, which is there is a difference between society and government. No, society should not let the uninsured die, and Paul explained that when he was practicing medicine, they never turned anyone away. And that is what the audience cheered.

In short, the truth is the exact opposite of what Yahoo and Krugman said.


Scary

September 14, 2011

The “mildly Islamic” (as the Economist likes to put it) government of Turkey is rattling its saber against Israel louder and louder. In just the last few days, Turkish newspapers have reported two belligerent announcements from the Turkish government. First, the government announced it was reprogramming its IFF systems to identify Israeli planes as hostile. Second, they reportedly announced that Turkish warships would accompany the upcoming humanitarian/terrorist flotilla to Gaza, and would attack any Israeli warships they encountered outside Israeli waters. The government quickly backpedaled from the second announcement, but it’s hard to be very reassured.

We must not forget that Erdogan’s fingerprints are all over the original humanitarian/terrorist flotilla that started this whole crisis. He wants this crisis; the only question is why. Does he really want war with Israel? If not, what does he expect to gain from his brinksmanship?

(Via Hot Air.)

UPDATE: David Warren is worried too.


Why Democrats lost NY-09

September 14, 2011

No, not because “it’s a very difficult district for Democrats”. Sheesh. It was because of President Obama’s persistent hostility to Israel.

Whatever the Democrats pretend to believe, they have certainly received the message. Obama’s actions over the next year will be telling. We will find out whether hostility to Israel is one of Obama’s core beliefs, or something he is willing to set aside temporarily to be re-elected.


America hates Obamacare

September 13, 2011

A new Associated Press poll finds that Americans oppose the individual mandate by an overwhelming 82-16 margin. The results are essentially unchanged from one year ago.

In theory, this shouldn’t matter to the ongoing litigation, but it may nonetheless. When the matter finally arrives at the Supreme Court, someone like Anthony Kennedy is going to be more willing to strike Obamacare down if it’s overwhelmingly unpopular.


Anoher judge strikes down Obamacare

September 13, 2011

A federal judge in Pennsylvania has found health car nationalization’s individual mandate unconstitutional. On severability, he splits the difference: the pre-existing conditions provision is not severable, but the rest is.  I think that’s a tenable position, as the individual mandate was designed specifically to support the pre-existing conditions provision. Still, I think a very strong argument can be made on similar grounds for striking down the price controls as well.


The scientific method

September 12, 2011

Yes:

Despite the obvious importance of science, one group of people does everything in pure defiance of scientific methods: politicians.

What do politicians do when they think they have a great idea? They just go and implement it. It’s like someone thinking he’s got a cure for cancer and immediately injecting it into everyone he can. That’s a madman, not a scientist. You always have to at least try out your idea on monkeys to make sure it doesn’t kill them.

. . .

In science, when testing things on people, you always use a control group. If you have a drug you think will cut cholesterol, you give it to one set of test subjects. If everyone in the group that took the drug turns purple and starts choking but the control group is fine, we scientifically conclude there’s a problem with the drug.

We have an economy that’s turning purple and choking. Did the stimulus cause that? If we had a control group that looked fine, we’d know.

So what we need to do is isolate part of the country to be the control group. They’ll be free from new taxes, won’t take part in government programs and regulations and can have all the guns they want. In the rest of America, politicians can go crazy with every Keynesian idea, ban trans fats and salt and just generally control everything. Then we can compare the results of the two groups and finally have a scientific answer on what works.

I’d like to volunteer for the control group.

(Via Instapundit.)


Conscience of a Krugman

September 11, 2011

I’m sure we all remember how, in the days following 9/11, the nation set partisanship aside came together. People rallied to the flag and filled houses of worship to bursting. Bitter adversaries in Congress held hands and sang together on the Capitol steps.

Obviously it couldn’t last. Our political divisions are just too deep. But for a while we united to meet a horrifying new threat. It sounds cliched, but the terrible events of that day brought out the best in America.

But for Paul Krugman, that short period of national unity is a shameful period. What a little, little man.

POSTSCRIPT: Yes, Mr. Krugman, I agree that the 9/11 commemorations are subdued in a way, but, unlike you, I don’t think it odd. We are remembering an atrocity that killed three thousand people, you weasel. What are you remembering?

UPDATE: James Taranto: “History’s smallest monster.


“Lucky” Penney

September 11, 2011

This is an amazing story:

Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.

The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.

Except her own plane. So that was the plan.

(Via the Corner.)


Bump

September 11, 2011

One of my most popular posts at Internet Scofflaw is this one, on a pernicious urban legend. It was never Instalanched; it has steadily accumulated views at a rate of a few per day since I posted it in 2008. Nearly all of those hits seem to come from search engines. For example, one search string used three times so far today is “palestinians celebrate 9 11 fake”.

On 9/11, we saw horrifying videos of jubilant Palestinians celebrating the terrorist attacks. There were at least two such videos (CNN and Fox) and the Palestinian Authority successfully suppressed another video taken by the Associated Press.

As those videos cast Palestinians in a very bad light, there are many who would prefer to believe that they are fake. According to the legend, the videos were actually from 1991, and the Palestinians were celebrating Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, not 9/11. That too would be a very strange thing to celebrate, but anyway, it’s not true. Snopes has a page dedicated to debunking the story, and CNN does as well.

Given the steady stream of hits I’ve received (to a very minor blog!), there clearly must be people out there who are actively promulgating this misinformation. The rate has particularly increased as the anniversary approached, so I thought this would be a good time to bump the debunking.


A telling statistic

September 11, 2011

The number of times President Obama used the word “stimulus” in his speech calling for yet another stimulus plan: zero.

The term stimulus is now radioactive. That, at least, is progress. Too bad it cost $787 billion to accomplish.


Note to cops: this doesn’t help

September 11, 2011

When police do their job — which is to protect innocent people from criminals — they earn our respect, and earn a special place in society. Today especially, we remember the sacrifice of New York City police who gave their lives saving others in the World Trade Center. But when police exploit their powers to advance their own selfish interests,  such as to suppress scrutiny or criticism, they turn an honorable profession into thugs with badges. They diminish our respect for good cops as well as themselves.

Case in point:

Drivers honking their horns near a “Justice for Kelly Thomas” protest in Fullerton on Saturday were cited by police officers on suspicion of illegally using that vehicle feature, the Fullerton Police Department has confirmed. Thomas was a 37-year-old homeless man fatally injured after a confrontation with six Fullerton police officers. The incident is still under investigation.

They ticketed people for criticizing them. Thugs with badges. (See also this.)

(Via Instapundit.)


Never forget

September 11, 2011

ill-take-it-from-here


Shorter Obama

September 10, 2011

Yuval Levin sums up the president’s jobs speech:

Spend $450 billion dollars now, it will create jobs, and I’ll tell you how I’m going to pay for it a week from Monday. If you disagree, you want to expose kids to mercury.


Dangerous times

September 10, 2011

A mob in Egypt attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo, apparently with the blessing of the Egyptian authorities. The mob worked for hours to break in, while police made no effort to stop them.

(Via Hot Air.)

UPDATE: More here, including some informative photos.

UPDATE: Egypt says it will try the perpetrators. We’ll see.


Obama doesn’t know history, PBS doesn’t know ethics

September 10, 2011

In his another-stimulus-will-fix-everything-this-time-I-swear speech on Thursday, President Obama said that Abraham Lincoln founded the Republican party. (This was part of a cheap shot at Republicans.)  Not so: Lincoln was the first Republican elected president, but he wasn’t even the first Republican presidential candidate, much less the party’s founder.

It’s easy to see how someone could make such an error, as Lincoln was the first Republican of any importance. But we must be frank; a similar error by a Republican would nevertheless be trumpeted as proof that he or she is a lightweight. We need not speculate: The exact same error by Mike Huckabee in 2008 was taken as proof that Huckabee was “loose with the facts”. (Via Just One Minute.)

ASIDE: Note that Time didn’t even give Huckabee the courtesy of assuming he made an honest mistake. The author of that piece? Jay Carney, now chief media flack for President Obama. I’m looking forward to seeing Carney try to square that circle.

Now PBS has gotten themselves in trouble for leaving Obama’s error out of their transcript. It turns out that they didn’t airbrush it out (not that it’s crazy to think they might have, as such things have happened). Rather, they simply posted the White House’s prepared version (which did not have the ad-libbed error) and called it a transcript. Later they put up a real transcript.

That’s dishonest. A transcript is text taken down (transcribed, one might say!) from language spoken aloud. A prepared text is not a transcript. PBS was trying to pretend to publish a rush transcript without doing the hard work of preparing a rush transcript.


Gunwalker clone in Indiana

September 10, 2011

It seems that the ATF was running a very similar program to Gunwalker in Indiana. Is it really plausible that the Justice Department would be running all these similar, insane operations all around the country without anyone in the “upper levels” of the Justice Department being aware of it?

(Previous post.)


Sources say FBI covered up Gunwalker evidence

September 10, 2011

In a major new development in the Gunwalker scandal, a third Gunwalker gun was at the scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder, and sources say the FBI covered it up:

A third gun linked to “Operation Fast and Furious” was found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, new documents obtained exclusively by Fox News suggest, contradicting earlier assertions by federal agencies that police found only two weapons tied to the federal government’s now infamous gun interdiction scandal.

Sources say emails support their contention that the FBI concealed evidence to protect a confidential informant. Sources close to the Terry case say the FBI informant works inside a major Mexican cartel and provided the money to obtain the weapons used to kill Terry.

Unlike the two AK-style assault weapons found at the scene, the third weapon could more easily be linked to the informant. To prevent that from happening, sources say, the third gun “disappeared.”

If the FBI was covering up evidence of Gunwalker malfeasance, that’s a pretty big deal.

ASIDE: Investigative journalism isn’t really Fox News’s bread and butter, but they are one of very few media outlets interested in the story. You have to wonder what would come out if the Washington Post were looking into the story.

There’s another revelation in the story as well. Not only was the ATF facilitating illegal gun purchases, but the FBI gave the buyers the money:

The two AK-type assault rifles were purchased by Jaime Avila from the Lone Wolf Trading Co. outside of Phoenix on Jan. 16, 2010. Avila was recruited by his roommate Uriel Patino. Patino, according to sources, received $70,000 in “seed money” from the FBI informant late in 2009 to buy guns for the cartel.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


Pitt recording case settled

September 10, 2011

This story of wrongful arrest for recording police and — at length — legal vindication is typical, but notable because it took place right here in Pittsburgh:

The American Civil Liberties Union has won a $48,500 settlement of a lawsuit stemming from a Hill District man’s arrest for videotaping police, it announced today.

Elijah Matheny was arrested in April 2009 when he used his cell phone to record the arrest of a friend by University of Pittsburgh police. The police said they got Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office approval to accuse him of wiretapping. All charges against Mr. Matheny later were dropped.

It’s awful to see this happening here. The University of Pittsburgh ought to be ashamed of themselves. But it seems that they aren’t: the university (which is funded by the state) will pay the officer’s settlement. Stephen Zappala, the Allegheny County DA, should be tossed out of office.

When police persecute people for doing nothing more than documenting their activities, they are declaring that they, the enforcers of the law, are above the law themselves. That is utterly unacceptable.

(Via Instapundit.)


Turkey circles the drain

September 10, 2011

As an another example of the slow-motion collapse of Turkish civilization under Islamist rule, the Turkish government has ended the independence of the Turkish Academy of Sciences. The members of the academy (and its officers) will now be appointed by the government rather than being selected by merit. Also, in order that it not take years for the political appointees to dominate the academy, the government will more than double the academy’s membership immediately. It would have been better to dissolve the academy outright.

Glenn Reynolds adds, “To paraphrase Tom Wolfe, anti-science fundamentalism is forever descending upon the United States, but somehow it always seems to land on the Muslim world.”


Union violence

September 10, 2011

When a union leader like Jimmy Hoffa threatens violence, it’s not an idle threat. In a labor dispute in Washington State, union longshoremen went on a rampage and took hostages Thursday:

Hundreds of Longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview early Thursday, overpowered and held security guards, damaged railroad cars, and dumped grain that is the center of a labor dispute, said Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha.

Six guards were held hostage for a couple of hours after 500 or more Longshoremen broke down gates about 4:30 a.m. and smashed windows in the guard shack, he said.

Then they fought the police (which I suppose isn’t so surprising from kidnappers). Their criminal conduct then worsened on Friday:

With officers far outnumbered by protesters, Sheriff’s deputies, police officers and Washington State Patrol troopers had to back off to a defensive position during Wednesday’s ILWU rally due to threats to their safety.

“Our teams of 4 or 5 officers were confronted by baseball bat and axe handle wielding protesters.” Said Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson. “They had their protest signs attached to bats and axe handles. When we attempted to make simple, misdemeanor arrests for trespassing, the officers were rushed by the crowd. Officers were literally holding people back to protect other officers attempting to make lawful arrests.” Nelson said. . .

Also continuing is the investigation in to the Thursday morning assault and carjacking that took place on the EGT plantsite after security was overrun by a mob of ILWU supporters. At around 4:30 a.m., hundreds of supporters tore down fences, smashed windows, cut air hoses to a grain train, and opened the rail cars, spilling grain all over the ground. Several pieces of evidence, including bolt cutters, pipes, ILWU signs and fliers were left lying around the facility.

Also of great concern was the perception of safety by the security personnel on scene. After seeing all the cars and people massing, then pouring through their gates, smashing out the guardshack window with a baseball bat, and causing damage, the officers had no way out. They were blocked from leaving down E. Mill Road, and there was no other open access out of the facility. At some point they felt that their personal safety was at too great a risk, and they ran for a vehicle and headed towards a back gate. They reported that a group tried to block them in, but the lights of approaching law enforcement vehicles stopped the group and the officers were able to flee.

One of the most frightening parts of the incident was when several saboteures, blocked a Columbia Security officer, (a 48 year old Longview man) dragged him out of his security patrol vehicle, took the vehicle and after recklessly driving it around the EGT facility, crashed it into an embankment.

(Emphasis mine.)

I’m not sure why the state police aren’t involved, since the local police are clearly outnumbered.

ASIDE: Ed Morrissey notes that, ironically, the union thugs’ dispute isn’t even against a non-union shop, but against another union:

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union believes it has the right to work at the facility, but the company has hired a contractor that’s staffing a workforce of other union laborers.

This should give you a picture of what is going on. It’s the wrong frame of reference to look at this as a political dispute; this is a mob fighting for its turf.

A local television station went to the Longshoremen’s headquarters to ask them for their side. They were not welcomed, to put it mildly (CONTENT WARNING: union language):

ASIDE: When a Fox News host asked DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to comment on Hoffa’s threats, she countered by asking “How many times have you called out coarse language at tea party rallies? Almost never.” Calling President Obama a socialist is not coarse language. This is coarse language.

Returning to Hoffa, for a little more perspective on what can be on order when the Teamsters threatens violence, David Frum dredges up a 2003 settlement between the Teamsters and one of their targets, and suggests that we imagine what must have led to such a settlement. I’ll excerpt it after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »


Righthaven update

September 10, 2011

Righthaven has lost a major client (which I think leaves them with only one left). The CEO of MediaNews Group says that hiring them was “a dumb idea from the start.”

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


Gunwalker update

September 8, 2011

Eric Holder has now said explicitly that neither he nor any other official in “the upper levels of the Justice Department” knew about Gunwalker. He must have a pretty narrow definition of “upper levels” since the Assistant Attorney General was briefed, as were the heads of the FBI and DEA.

Nevertheless, I think it’s good that he has made an unequivocal statement at least in regards to himself. If he does turn out to have been briefed, as seems very likely (his Chief of Staff was briefed), he’ll be nailed.

Also, Investor’s Business Daily takes a look a look at Dan Restrepo, the National Security Council’s top man for Latin America, who was briefed on Gunwalker. He’s quite a piece of work. (Via Instapundit.)

(Previous post.)


Turkey threatens Israel with war

September 8, 2011

Well this is ominous:

Turkish warships will escort any Turkish aid vessels to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television on Thursday.

“Turkish warships, in the first place, are authorized to protect our ships that carry humanitarian aid to Gaza,” Erdogan said in the interview. “From now on, we will not let these ships to be attacked by Israel, as what happened with the Freedom Flotilla.”

Observet that the stronger the Islamists grow in Turkey, the worse become Turkey’s relations with Israel.


Look, creation and destruction are different things

September 7, 2011

What a buffoon the vice-president is:

Car and Driver magazine: [Should we have] A repeat of Cash for Clunkers?

Joe Biden: Probably not. But it makes sense. One role of government is to go where venture capital won’t. In the Civil War, you had a president pay the railroads $16,000 for every mile of track they laid. You had Eisenhower invest $25 million in a defense agency called ARPA that came up with a thing that became the internet. We not only won’t get another Cash for Clunkers, but we’re having trouble keeping our friends on the other side of  the aisle from doing away with what’s left of the seed money for innovative technologies that bring billions off the sidelines.

Look, Cash for Clunkers was not an investment in capital. We were paying people to destroy capital. Its total economic cost exceeded its benefits by $1000 per car. We literally would have done better simply to burn $1 billion in cash.

If you can’t understand the difference between creating capital and destroying capital, you should really avoid opining on economics altogether.

(Via the Corner.)


UAW takes the next step

September 5, 2011

Fox News reports:

It may seem a cruel irony that the one U.S. automaker that took no bailout money is now at greater risk of a national strike as it continues labor negotiations with union leaders.

Based upon initial tallies last week, rank and file Ford United Auto Worker members were leaning overwhelmingly toward a national strike authorization against their employer. With the current national labor contracts set to expire September 14 at General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, local union representatives at Ford were reporting 97 percent of their membership was voting to authorize a strike, if necessary. . .

Ford is the only one of the Big Three domestic automakers where, legally, workers can strike. Both GM and Chrysler and their union workers agreed in accepting the federal government’s auto bailout in 2009 to resolve contract issues through binding arbitration.

Cruel irony, perhaps, but this is also completely predictable. Ford’s labor is controlled by the UAW, which now owns Ford’s competition, GM and Chrysler. The UAW has every incentive to avoid labor strife at GM and Chrysler (hence the binding arbitration agreement) and to promote labor strife at Ford.


Dangerous times

September 5, 2011

One of the leaders of Libya’s new regime is a former member of al Qaeda. (At least, I hope he’s a former member.) And, if that’s not unsettling enough, the new regime is starting to round up blacks:

Yesterday also brought news via the Associated Press that rebel forces and armed civilians are rounding up thousands of black Libyans and migrants from sub-Sahara Africa, accusing them of fighting for ousted strongman Moammar Gadhafi and holding them in makeshift jails across the capital. The AP’s Ben Hubbard reports that all of the detainees say they are innocent migrant workers — not a great shock — and asserts that in most cases there is no evidence that they are lying.

I’m glad that Qaddafi is gone, but I wish we’d taken steps to ensure that we weren’t putting something worse in his place.

(Via Instapundit.)


Solyndra goes belly-up

September 5, 2011

Democrats don’t want anything so pedestrian as the free market to decide the allocation of resources, they want the government to “invest in the future”. But how well does the government do in picking the companies of the future?

President Obama faces political catastrophe in the form of Solyndra — a San Francisco Bay area solar company that he touted as a gleaming example of green technology. It has announced it will declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy. More than 1,100 people will lose their jobs. . .

During a visit to the Fremont facility in spring of 2010, the President said the factory “is just a testament to American ingenuity and dynamism and the fact that we continue to have the best universities in the world, the best technology in the world, and most importantly the best workers in the world. “

That “testament to American ingenuity and dynamism” went belly-up after spending $527 million of $535 million in federal loan guarantees.

Moreover, a lot of people were skeptical of Solyndra all along:

While Energy Department officials steadfastly vouched for Solyndra — even after an earlier round of layoffs raised eyebrows — other federal agencies and industry analysts for months questioned the viability of the company. Peter Lynch, a longtime solar industry analyst, told ABC News the company’s fate should have been obvious from the start.

“Here’s the bottom line,” Lynch said. “It costs them $6 to make a unit. They’re selling it for $3. In order to be competitive today, they have to sell it for between $1.5 and $2. That is not a viable business plan.”

Worse still, the Obama administration rushed to “invest” in Solyndra without even doing due diligence:

Other flags have been raised about how the Energy Department pushed the deal forward. The Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News and ABC disclosed that Energy Department officials announced the support for Solyndra even before final marketing and legal reviews were in. To government auditors, that move raised questions about just how fully the department vetted the deal — and assessed its risk to taxpayers — before signing off.

Why so eager? Perhaps it wasn’t mere incompetence: One of the biggest stakeholders in Solyndra was George Kaiser, a major fundraiser for President Obama, and House investigators say they have uncovered evidence that the White House involved itself in the process.

(Via Instapundit, and Patterico.)

POSTSCRIPT: Solyndra is being called Obama’s Enron, but that’s not really fair. President Bush’s connection to Enron was much more tenuous than Obama’s connection to Solyndra.

UPDATE: Joe Biden: “One role of government is to go where venture capital won’t.” Venture capitalists wouldn’t have sunk half a billion dollars in Solyndra without a viable business plan, that’s for sure.


Ah, the civility

September 5, 2011

Jimmy Hoffa, the president of the Teamsters, opening for President Obama’s at Obama’s Labor Day rally:

Let’s take these son of a bitches out!

Oh, but let’s be fair about the context:

We got to keep an eye on the battle that we face: The war on workers. And you see it everywhere, it is the Tea Party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They’ve got a war, they got a war with us and there’s only going to be one winner. It’s going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We’re going to win that war . . .

President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. . . Let’s take these son of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.

If this were a Republican, he would surely be accused of inciting violence. (And from a union leader, that’s no idle threat.) At the least, it’s some of that intemperate, martial language that the left says we shouldn’t be using.

And we’re not. You can’t find any major political figures on the right saying this sort of thing. (If you could, the left wouldn’t need to make it up.) But they are. And they’re doing it from the president’s podium.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: When Obama came on, he listed Hoffa among a bunch of other union presidents and said “we are proud of them.” I wonder if anyone in the White House press corps will ask about this.

UPDATE: Jake Tapper asked chief White House press flack Jay Carney and grilled him when he tried to defect the subject. Carney refused to condemn the remark, saying no one (but Carney) spoke for the president. Tapper ultimately backed Carney into the corner, resulting in this priceless exchange:

TAPPER: The precedent you are setting right now for the 2012 election is, the Republican candidates are the ones that we need to pay attention to; and those who introduce them at rallies, their surrogates, we don’t need to pay attention to anything they say.

CARNEY: I think I’ve said what I can say.

TAPPER: Is that the standard now?

CARNEY: You can report it as you like. [Crosstalk]

TAPPER: I’d rather not have to do this Washington kabuki every time something happens, but if that’s the standard?

CARNEY: The standard is, we should focus on the actions we can take to grow the economy and create jobs.

So it’s official. Policy is what matters, and all that civility stuff was just so much demagoguery. Sure, we knew that all along, but it’s good to hear the White House say it explicitly.

UPDATE: The White House communications director:

What everyone should do is make their best judgment of how they be civil.

Oh, so the White House’s position is it’s not appropriate to criticize the speech of others? That position won’t last long.

UPDATE: An amusing counterpoint: Although the White House says that everything from the podium is the speaker’s alone and has nothing to do with the president, they actually vet the opening prayers at the president’s events. (Via Patterico.)


Kelo epilogue

September 3, 2011

The thriving New London community that — with the blessing of the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision — was taken from its residents to give to Pfizer, and was abandoned by Pfizer shortly after it was razed, has now been turned into a dump.


NYT standards

September 3, 2011

One of the less consequential false statements in the New York Times’s hatchet job on Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is that his office overlooks a golf course. The Times now admits that the golf course is not visible from Issa’s office (the video proves that), but they argue that their characterization of Issa’s office as “overlooking a golf course” is accurate because you can see the golf course from somewhere in the building.

That might be barely true. On the map you can see that the two locations are not particularly close, and there is a big hill between them. But the building containing Issa’s office is three stories tall, so although you certainly can’t see the golf course from the ground (you can look at the building on Google Street View here, then turn south-southwest to face the golf course), you might just be able to see part of it in the distance from the top floor, around the hill, if the intervening structures aren’t too tall.

Still, “technically barely true” is a low standard for journalism, or at least it ought to be.

POSTSCRIPT: I know, this isn’t all that interesting, but I enjoyed the opportunity to link Street View.

(Previous post.)


Chinese video shows cyberattack tool

September 3, 2011

A video shown on Chinese state television apparently reveals a cyberwar tool and shows it being used to attack a Falun Gong web site hosted in the United States. Unsurprisingly, the Chinese government has taken the video down (you can still find it on YouTube) and claims that the footage is fake.


An alternative theory of Gunwalker

September 3, 2011

It’s hard to guess what the government’s true intentions were in the Gunwalker scandal. The ATF claims that it was a strategy — gone horribly wrong — to track illegal guns to the leaders of Mexican drug cartels, but that claim doesn’t make sense since they didn’t actually try to track the guns.

Many have speculated that the ATF’s true purpose in trafficking illegal weapons to Mexico was to buttress the narrative that too many illegal weapons are being trafficked into Mexico (the old 90% lie), in an effort to promote additional gun control regulations in the United States. This theory is supported by a paper trail showing that the same people who ran the ill-fated operation were being asked to provide support for the anti-gun narrative. It’s also supported by the fact that the speculative aim of the strategy, more gun control, is exactly what happened, despite public exposure of the ATF’s misdeeds.

This speculation is increasingly seeming likely to be true, because of the lack of any other explanation for the ATF’s behavior. But Robert Farago has another theory. He says that we should assume that the government meant to do exactly what it did: arms Mexican drug cartels; in particular, the Sinaloa drug cartel.

According to his theory, the US government was concerned that the Mexican government might fall to the Zetas. (That’s the extremely dangerous drug cartel originally formed by mutinying Mexican special forces.) The ATF got the job of supplying weapons to the Zeta’s enemy, the Sinaloa cartel.

It’s an interesting theory. It strikes me as a little less reprehensible than the political theory (at least they would have had a legitimate aim in mind), but even more reckless.

Occam’s razor would seem to support Farago’s theory, but beyond that, there’s not any real evidence to support it. Also, the theory fails to explain why the State Department was also reportedly trafficking guns to the Zetas.

(Previous post.)


In other news, the earth is still round

September 3, 2011

President Obama’s new appointment for chairman of the Council of Economic advisors is Alan Krueger, known for an infamous study that argued that minimum wage increases increase employment in fast-food restaurants. The paper contradicted the one of the two basic tenets of economics, the Law of Demand, which says that as the price of a commodity (labor in this case) increases, people buy less.

Liberals loved the study, but given its astonishing and absurd finding, they should not have been surprised when it turned out to be junk. Its data were essentially random. The study that debunked it (which is quite accessible to the layman), concluded:

The data base used in the New Jersey fast food study is so bad that no credible conclusions can be drawn from the report.

and:

These serious mistakes and omissions have resulted in a study doomed to become a textbook example of how not to collect data.

The Law of Demand and the Law of Supply are the two basic tenets of economic theory. They are literally taught on the first day in any introductory economics course. Appointing a demand-curve denier as the president’s chief economist is comparable to appointing a flat-earther to head the US Geological Survey.

(Via Instapundit.)


Precedented

September 3, 2011

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Much of the media has been running with the claim that a president’s request to speak to Congress has never been rejected until this week. Various Capitol Hill “historians” have been quoted saying that House Speaker John Boehner took unprecedented action when he cited the difficulty of hosting President Obama on the president’s requested date of Sept. 7. We’re not so sure. . .

The June 24, 1986, edition of The Wall Street Journal featured a story headlined, “President’s Bid to Address the House On Nicaragua Is Rejected by Speaker.” That’s right, no quibbling over the date and time, just a flat-out rejection. In that case, President Ronald Reagan wanted to address the House before its critical vote on funding for the anti-communist “Contra” rebels in Nicaragua.

(Via Hot Air.) (Previous post.)


More White House Gunwalker briefings

September 2, 2011

The LA Times reports:

Newly obtained emails show that the White House was better informed about a failed gun-tracking operation on the border with Mexico than was previously known.

Three White House national security officials were given some details about the operation, dubbed Fast and Furious. . . The supervisor of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation in Phoenix specifically mentioned Fast and Furious in at least one email to a White House national security official, and two other White House colleagues were briefed on reports from the supervisor, according to White House emails and a senior administration official.

But the senior administration official said the emails, obtained Thursday by The Times, did not prove that anyone in the White House was aware of the covert “investigative tactics” of the operation.

And recall that these aren’t the only times the White House was briefed.

(Previous post.)


Clueless

September 2, 2011

The economy created zero net jobs last month. The Secretary of Labor’s response:

I do feel like we’re going in the right direction.


Don’t be evil, please

September 2, 2011

In a change of policy, Google will no longer give the same discounts to churches that it gives to other non-profits.


Due process is such a bother

September 2, 2011

President Obama’s Department of Education has been pushing colleges to abolish due process in sexual harassment cases:

Back in April, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued a letter ordering colleges and universities to get more aggressive about investigating and prosecuting alleged incidents of sexual assault and harassment. But while the 18-page missive began with the cordial salutation “Dear Colleague,” it was anything but a casual communication sent from one friend to another. Backed by the full force of the law, this detailed directive set new standards for the resolution of sexual assault claims at colleges and universities. It was formulated, moreover, without hearings, comment periods or other mechanisms aimed at avoiding unintended consequences that could cause more harm than good.

The effects of the letter, which called for dropping higher evidentiary requirements in favor of the lesser “preponderance of the evidence” standard, were immediately felt.

Better ten innocent men be expelled than a single guilty man go free, I guess. In a real court, the administration’s new rules would be unconstitutional, but it seems the Department of Education has the power to force them onto colleges’ quasi-courts. Yet another reason to abolish the Department of Education.

UPDATE: The White House’s own summary of the letter is here.


Gunwalker update

September 2, 2011

Fox News reports:

Just hours after the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, federal officials tried to cover up evidence that the gun that killed Terry was one the government intentionally helped sell to the Mexican cartels in a weapons trafficking program known as Operation Fast and Furious. . .

Also late Thursday, Sen. Charles Grassley’s office revealed that 21 more Fast and Furious guns have been found at violent crime scenes in Mexico. That is up from 11 the agency admitted just last month.

The story doesn’t elaborate on who the federal officials were or exactly how they tried to cover up the evidence, but I’m sure we will hear more about this soon.

UPDATE: More details:

In a letter, Grassley and Issa say the lead prosecutor on Fast and Furious, Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley, learned almost immediately that guns allowed onto the street in his case, had been recovered at Terry’s murder. “(I)n the hours after Agent Terry’s death,” says the letter from Grassley and Issa, Hurley apparently “contemplated the connection between the two cases and sought to prevent the connection from being disclosed.” The Justice Department recently transferred Hurley out of the criminal division into the civil division.

An internal ATF email dated the day after Terry’s death reveals the quick decision to not disclose the source of the weapons found at the murder scene: “… this way we do not divulge our current case (Fast and Furious) or the Border Patrol shooting case.”

Another ATF email indicates that the justification both offices used to not charge the suspect with crimes related to the murder scene “was to not ‘complicate’ the FBI’s investigation.”

(Previous post.)


Well played, sir

September 2, 2011

I must confess, I am amused by the whole jobs-speech-scheduled-to-preempt-the-debate affair. Of all the liberals trying to get themselves worked up over Boehner’s request to move the date one-day, I’ve not seen any that even pretend to believe the White House’s story that the date was a coincidence. Instead, they bellyache about how “unprecedented” it is for the Speaker of the House not to grant a presidential request for a join session.

Is it unprecedented? I wouldn’t be surprised. (UPDATE: Actually, it’s not unprecedented.) But there’s a lot about this that is unprecedented. It’s unprecedented, as far as I know, for the president to use the scheduling of joint session of Congress in such a transparently petty way. And, it’s unprecedented, or nearly so, for the president to announce such a session without clearing it with the speaker first.

ASIDE: The White House initially claimed that it did clear the date with the speaker, but the Speaker’s office denied that, and the White House later backtracked:

“Cleared” officially downgraded to “consulted.” So someone at WH anonymously passed along inaccurate information to several journos. Nice.

(Via Hot Air.)

So I like the way Boehner handled this. Faced with a White House absurdly claiming that the debate preemption was just a coincidence and this really, really was the best possible date, Boehner countered in like fashion. In asking the White House to postpone for a day, he made a similarly absurd claim, that it had nothing to do with the debate and he really, really just couldn’t fit it onto the schedule.

The bottom line here is the White House was holding a losing hand. The president can’t address the Congress without the speaker’s permission, so they were playing a dangerous game by trying to put the speaker on the spot. Apparently they felt that the speaker wouldn’t want to look bad by refusing the president’s request, no matter how unreasonable, but they failed to consider how bad the president looked by making the unreasonable request in the first place. They didn’t have the upper hand in the perception game. Plus, the president has much more to lose by looking bad than the speaker does.

POSTSCRIPT: I was going to add that presidential addresses to joint sessions of Congress, apart from the State of the Union, are generally reserved for weighty matters of state such as war, not for political speeches like President Obama calling for more stimulus or more regulation or whatever other nonsense he’s come up with.

But it turns out that isn’t actually true. If you go through the list, there are several examples of non-SOTU political addresses, mostly by Democrats by also occasionally by Republicans. Neither Bush gave any, but by my reckoning, the other presidents going back to Kennedy gave one apiece. Before 1913 they were unheard of, but Woodrow Wilson gave them incessantly. Harding gave several, but then the tradition was thankfully broken by Coolidge. Roosevelt naturally revived it, giving many such addresses, and the tradition was continued by Truman before Eisenhower broke it again.

Still, I wish it were true, and it speaks well of Coolidge, Hoover, Eisenhower, Bush, and Bush that they abstained from the practice. One State of the Union per year is quite enough.

UPDATE: My, now this is interesting.