Patent trolls

October 30, 2011

Via Instapundit, a look at the growing problem of patent trolls. Sadly, the new patent rules do little to address the problem.

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DHS adviser allegedly leaked information for political purposes

October 30, 2011

A member of the Homeland Security Department’s advisory council allegedly leaked sensitive information to the press in hopes of damaging Texas governor Rick Perry’s presidential campaign. A look at the guy, named Mohamed Elibiary, shows him to be exactly the sort of guy you might expect to do such a thing:

Elibiary’s history includes an appearance at a conference honoring Ayatollah Khomeini; condemning the Justice Department’s successful prosecution of a Hamas-financing conspiracy designed by the Muslim Brotherhood (the Holy Land Foundation case); praise for Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb; and an aggressive email exchange with [journalist] Rod Dreher . . . [in which he  warned Dreher]: “Treat people as inferiors and you can expect someone to put a banana in your exhaust pipe or something.”

This guy should never have been given access to sensitive information in the first place.

POSTSCRIPT: We’ll see whether the legacy media hyperventilates over this case they way they did over the allegation (ultimately proven false) that the Bush administration leaked a CIA agent’s name to punish her husband. Ha ha. Just kidding.


“Balance” doesn’t work

October 30, 2011

A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research looks at how various countries tried to deal with budget deficits. It finds that those countries that focused on spending cuts were successful, while those that attempted a “balanced” approach of tax hikes and spending cuts were not.

This is very timely, since Democrats are pushing the latter strategy. (Of course, even that would be an improvement over the usual Democratic strategy, which is to promise a “balanced” approach, but never deliver the spending cuts.)


Dems don’t get it

October 30, 2011

The Washington Post reports:

House Democrats on Wednesday called for Congress to expand its investigation into federal loan programs to include a Bush-era loan to the bankrupt broadband Internet firm Open Range.

Open Range went bankrupt earlier this month after receiving the federal government’s biggest broadband loan totaling $267 million. Its collapse has put in jeopardy $74 million in money doled out to the firm. . .

“Your reaction to the Open Range bankruptcy could not be more different than your reaction to the Solyndra bankruptcy,” the lawmakers said in their letter to Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

It Democrats think this will counter the Solyndra scandal, just because the loan was made during the Bush administration, they clearly don’t understand the problem. To wit:

  1. It is not alleged that Open Range exploited personal/political contacts within the Bush administration to get the loan, or that the loan was revived after being shelved under the previous administration, or that the loan was issued in violation of procedure, or that its renegotiation was contrary to law, which are just a few of the many aspects of the Solyndra affair that make it a scandal and not just a bad decision.
  2. The conservative/libertarian argument that the government should not be trying to pick winners and losers (and is incapable of doing so) is not limited to Democratic administrations. We’re not happy that the Bush administration was in that business either. The Open Range bankruptcy simply underscores that point.

(Previous post.)


Free speech for me, not for thee

October 30, 2011

OWS Exposed is a new web site that exposes the nature and misconduct of the Occupy Wall Street protests. It was immediately subjected to a denial of service attack. When it got back up, its servers were hacked, redirecting readers to 127.0.0.1. (I saw this myself.) It’s finally up and running now.

All of which tells us something about the supporters of Occupy Wall Street, without even going to the site.


Murtha was dirty

October 30, 2011

The FBI has released documents on its quiet investigation of the late John Murtha (D-PA). The FBI’s conclusions will not be surprising to anyone familiar with Murtha:

The FBI field agents concluded that “the relationships between Congressman John Murtha … and employees and partners of KSA Consulting provide for a potential Honest Services Fraud … if Congressman Murtha influenced the awarding of contracts to KSA-controlled entities or clients, in exchange for some personal benefit to the Congressman. KSA principals may also have committed Honest Services Fraud by lobbying Murtha to direct earmarks to KSA clients who ‘passed-thru’ the funds to subcontractor firms that did little actual work and were owned by KSA principles.”

No one was ever charged in the investigation. The reason is not clear from the documents.

(Via Instapundit.)


Better late than never

October 30, 2011

Earlier this month President Obama said he had no regrets about loaning half a billion dollars to Solyndra, but perhaps that was just an instance of Obama’s inability to admit a mistake. The White House now says it will review all of its green loans.

(Previous post.)


Smart diplomacy

October 30, 2011

The White House describes Russia’s invasion of Georgia as a trade dispute.


Potemkin protest

October 30, 2011

Thermal imaging shows that nearly all the tents in the Occupy London protest are left empty at night.


Gunwalker’s unreachable man

October 30, 2011

How would an administration behave if it were innocent of wrongdoing? Not like this:

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is investigating to what extent the White House was aware of — or involved in — the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal.

The committee recently requested to speak with former White House National Security Staffer Kevin O’Reilly. According to CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson, the Obama administration answered:

O’Reilly is on assignment for the State Department in Iraq and unavailable.

Through a tip, PJ Media learned that Kevin O’Reilly was unexpectedly named director of the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau for Iraq (INL-Iraq). Long-time INL-Iraq employee Virginia Ramadan had been expected to get the position — many were quite surprised when she did not.

The previous occupants of the Director, INL-Iraq position — Joe Manso and Francisco Palmieri — were not considered “unreachable” to press or government access. A quick internet search reveals Palmieri, while director, attended a media event on August 23, 2010.

On October 21, PJ Media reporter Patrick Richardson called the number for Office of the Director, INL-Iraq. . . Richardson reached a voicemail message confirming that it was indeed the correct number. He left a message that was not returned.

On Monday Richardson called again, and an assistant answered. Richardson asked to speak with Kevin O’Reilly, and the assistant asked who was calling. Richardson gave his name and stated he was with PJ Media. The assistant said O’Reilly was currently on a conference call, and asked if Richardson wanted to leave a message. Richardson gave his phone number. His call was not returned.

This morning, Richardson called again. He received a prerecorded message saying “this number is not in service.”

(Previous post.)


Above the law

October 29, 2011

This isn’t helping:

A three-year investigation into the police’s habit of fixing traffic and parking tickets in the Bronx ended in the unsealing of indictments on Friday and a stunning display of vitriol by hundreds of off-duty officers, who converged on the courthouse to applaud their accused colleagues and denounce their prosecution.

It’s not the police misconduct that is so damaging to the reputation of the police. It’s the reaction of other police officers, making clear that it’s not just a few bad apples, they really do see themselves as above the law.

And whose bright idea was it to prepare signs printed with the Nuremberg defense (“Just following orders”)? That sure doesn’t help either.

To sum up: Lawmakers don’t follow the law (even when it applies to them, which it usually doesn’t), the administration doesn’t follow the law, and law enforcement doesn’t follow the law either. But they expect us to follow it? No. We’ll just follow our own moral code, thanks.

(Via Instapundit.)


Faking the vote

October 28, 2011

Perhaps Illinois should just dispense with the pretense of democratic government:

Escalating his war of words with the Legislature, Gov. Pat Quinn Thursday called for an investigation into who cast votes for as many as 18 House members who were off the House floor when utility rate-hike legislation that he opposed passed in the blink of an eye. . .

Shortly before the first part of the rate-hike package surfaced in the House, as many as 18 Democrats were called off the floor to attend a budget briefing. Some of those lawmakers told the Sun-Times they returned from the briefing to see their votes had been recorded, even though they personally hadn’t cast them and, in some cases, opposite of the way they wanted.

POSTSCRIPT: It’s not just Illinois either. We also saw the falsification of a floor vote in the US House of Representatives back when it was under Democratic management.

(Via Instapundit.)


Businesses say regulation is the problem

October 28, 2011

A Gallup poll of small businesses finds that the biggest problem facing small business is complying with government regulations, not — as the pro-stimulus crowd would have us believe — lack of consumer demand. In fact, lack of consumer demand doesn’t even come in second; it barely edges lack of credit (thanks Dodd-Frank!) for third place.


Perspective

October 28, 2011

With the war in Iraq over and all US troops due to leave the country soon, it’s worth reminding ourselves (again) of the cost. Nine years in Iraq have cost less than President Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan.


Anonymous hold blocks UNCIRF

October 28, 2011

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom is set to be dissolved because of one anonymous senator.

I don’t have a problem with the idea that one senator can place a hold on legislation, but they idea that he or she can do it anonymously is an affront to the entire idea of a republic.


Cordoba House faces new trouble

October 28, 2011

Remember the Ground Zero Mosque? It faded from the headlines when it seemed that all the obstacles to the project were exhausted, but another legal battle has arisen. The mosque developer has a lease on the neighboring property, and its owner, Con Ed, is demanding $1.7 million in back rent.

I hope the mosque developers lose, because what they are trying to do is extraordinarily unseemly. But more than that, I hope that the legal process is carried out without political interference. The terms of the lease (which I have not seen reported anywhere) should govern the dispute.

(Previous post.)


Our lawless government

October 28, 2011

Andrew Stiles takes a look at the creative legal reasoning the Obama administration used to justify ignoring the plain meaning of the law and go ahead with the ill-fated Solyndra loan.

(Previous post.)


Occupy irony

October 28, 2011

I love Occupy Wall Street; a richer vein of irony is hard to find. These protesters, who say they want the wealth of the top 1% redistributed, turn out to have quite bourgeois sensibilities when it comes to their property. They don’t like it when people steal their stuff, squat in their tents, or freeload on their labor.


Failure to meet minimum standards

October 27, 2011

The law requires that Congress pass a budget, but Democrats haven’t done so in years. A few members of Congress are proposing a new rule whereby Congress would not be able to pass any other legislation while the budget is overdue.

I like the spirit of this, but I can see some practical problems. Fortunately I have a simpler idea: Congress should not get paid until it passes a budget.


Hope

October 26, 2011

ABC News reports:

At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today, President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.


We have always been at war with Eastasia

October 26, 2011

The Obama administration has been caught revising old press releases to replace embarrassing references to Sun Power with a different company. CNBC’s comment is rather understated:

Generally, it is not considered correct procedure to revise old press releases retroactively on the Web.

Indeed not. And an Instapundit reader notes that this isn’t even the first time. The Obama administration was also caught revising old State Department reports (from the previous administration even) to replace “Jerusalem, Israel” with “Jerusalem”.

I agree with him, it is very strange that this isn’t seen as a big deal.


Economic vandalism

October 26, 2011

Step 1: President Obama attacks companies that purchase private planes. Step 2: Aircraft demand falls. Step 3: Aircraft manufacturing employees are put out of work:

Piper Aircraft Inc. on Monday announced it will lay off 150 employees and release 55 contract personnel as a result of a decision to indefinitely suspend its Piper Altaire light business jet program.

(Via Instapundit.)


Gunwalker update

October 26, 2011

The Justice Department is categorically denying that a third gun was recovered from Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder. Or maybe not; the denial seems to be carefully worded to leave some wiggle room:

“The FBI has made clear that reports of a third gun recovered from the perpetrators at the scene of Agent Terry’s murder are false,” the department said in a statement Monday.

Meanwhile, Bob Owens reviews the extensive evidence suggesting a third gun was recovered.

(Previous post.)


Astroturf Wall Street

October 26, 2011

The New York office of ACORN (under its new name, New York Communities for Change) is paying people $10 an hour to participate in the Occupy Wall Street protests.

(Via Instapundit.)


The minus sign is a right-wing lie!

October 26, 2011

Democrats on the “Super Committee” have come up with a radical new way to cut the deficit:

According to two congressional sources, the Democratic proposal would get to $1.3 trillion in federal budget savings by hiking revenues to raise half of the money. The plan would cut about $400 billion from Medicare — half through benefits cuts and half through provider savings — and proposes raising another $300 billion through stimulus spending.

(Emphasis mine.)

Raising money through stimulus spending! Brilliant! I’m a little short this month myself, so I’m going to go out and buy a flat-panel TV.


Imperial Washington

October 24, 2011

Washington DC is now the nation’s richest metropolitan area. I’m reminded of Imperial Rome, which, it is said, exported armies and imported grain.


Dry lab

October 24, 2011

Anthony Watts says that the greenhouse-effect lab experiment in Al Gore’s “Climate Reality Project” was faked. He charges that the video was bogus, and that the experiment could not be done the way the narrator (Bill Nye) claimed that it was. I find his evidence very compelling, especially for the former charge.

There’s no question that the greenhouse effect exists; Gore is on completely solid scientific footing for that at least. So why fake the experiment? I think the answer is pure showmanship. He wanted a very simple experiment to illustrate to the viewer how elementary the greenhouse effect is. Unfortunately, a legitimate demonstration of the greenhouse effect would be too complicated to serve the purpose. Rather than settle for reality, Gore preferred to fake the experiment.

POSTSCRIPT: Just to emphasize: Although this is a telling indication of Al Gore’s lack of honesty, it has no bearing on the global-warming debate. There’s no doubt that the greenhouse effect exists. We can calculate the direct effect of rising CO2 levels on the temperature of the Earth. That direct effect is modest. The real question is what happens next: Do the secondary effects amplify or counter the direct effects, and to what degree? It’s impossible to run an experiment, so no one knows.

(Via Instapundit.)


Clueless

October 24, 2011

From a poll of Occupy Wall Street protesters:

If only.

(Via Instapundit.)


Lights out in Pakistan

October 24, 2011

The Economist had an article (subscription required) earlier this month about Pakistan’s disastrous electricity shortage. In the middle of the article was a little hint as to why the shortage exists:

Insufficient capacity is not even the biggest problem. That is a $6 billion chain of debt, ultimately owed by the state, that is debilitating the entire energy sector. Power plants are owed money by the national grid and the grid in turn cannot get consumers (including the Pakistani government) to pay for the electricity they use. This week, the financial crunch meant that oil supply to the two biggest private power plants was halted, because the state-owned oil company had no cash to procure fuel.

(Emphasis mine.)

Suppliers aren’t being paid and a shortage results? Imagine that!


A bad idea whose time has hopefully not yet come

October 24, 2011

Drug reimportation is back on the table, being pushed this time by David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican who ought to know better. Grace Marie-Turner attacks the scheme on the grounds of safety, which could be valid (I don’t know), but the knock-down argument against it is economic.

The short version of the argument is that we cannot realize real savings by shipping a product to Canada and back. The long version is here, the upshot of which is that reimportation would screw Canada over without accruing any discernible benefit to us.


NATO disavows attack on Qaddafi

October 24, 2011

Here’s a good indication that NATO has lost its way. After a NATO airstrike hit Moammar Qaddafi’s convoy, allowing anti-Qaddafi forces to bring him to his long-awaited end, NATO disavowed any intention to do so:

“At the time of the strike, NATO did not know that Qaddafi was in the convoy,” the statement said. “NATO’s intervention was conducted solely to reduce the threat towards the civilian population, as required to do under our UN mandate. As a matter of policy, NATO does not target individuals.”

The stupidity of this astounds me. The leader of the enemy forces is a legitimate military target, and killing him in all likelihood ends the war. But NATO would rather continue to see people die, combatants and civilians, rather than kill one man whose name they happen to know?


Quote of the day

October 24, 2011

Well said:

The social contract exists so that everyone doesn’t have to squat in the dust holding a spear to protect his woman and his meat all day every day. It does not exist so that the government can take your spear, your meat, and your woman because it knows better what to do with them.


The Chicago Way

October 24, 2011

In Chicago, a well-connected union lobbyist can earn an Illinois teachers’ pension of $108,000 per year for one day of work.

(Via Instapundit.)


Dangerous times

October 24, 2011

The “Arab Spring” isn’t going well.


Occupy Fannie Mae

October 21, 2011

Investor’s Business Daily has an important reminder of who was responsible for the subprime crash:

POSTSCRIPT: IBD also notes:

And the remaining 29% of private-label junk was mostly attributable to Countrywide Financial, which was under the heel of HUD and its “fair-lending” edicts.

Countrywide Financial should ring a bell.

(Via Instapundit.)


Take that, messengers!

October 21, 2011

How not to solve the problem:

The European Commission is considering a ban on rating agencies publishing their assessments of EU countries in difficulty, the Financial Times Deutschland reports.

Sheesh.

(Via Instapundit.)


Astroturf Wall Street

October 19, 2011

Journalists in the legacy media have been advising the Occupy Wall Street protesters on how to craft their message. Then they’ve been turning around and reporting on those protesters as if they were disinterested observers.


Behind closed doors

October 19, 2011

The Competitive Enterprise Institute charges that the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy has been moving discussions to UN servers in order to hide them from Freedom of Information Act requests.

This administration has withheld records on climate change from FOIA requests before.

(Via Power Line.)


A national treasure

October 19, 2011

Ralph Rossum has an interesting look at Clarence Thomas’s jurisprudence.


What do they teach in journalism school?

October 19, 2011

David Gregory, the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, doesn’t understand the difference between state taxes and federal taxes.


That’s two years too long

October 19, 2011

Fox News reports:

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez likely has less than two years to live, his former doctor said, as the ailing firebrand traveled to Cuba for a checkup following cancer treatment.

It’s good (if this is right) that there may be a light at the end of Venezuela’s tunnel, but Chavez can ruin a lot more lives in two more years.


The ghost of stimulus past

October 19, 2011

A Wall Street Journal op-ed takes a look at how well stimulus plans have worked in the past. Answer: not well. But we never seem to learn.


Gunwalker update

October 19, 2011

On May 3, Eric Holder said that he had learned of the Gunwalker scandal “over the last few weeks”. But President Obama was aware of the scandal by March 22. That’s six weeks.

It’s just not plausible that the president would be aware of the scandal weeks before the attorney general, so I’m sure they will argue that six weeks counts as a “few weeks”. But that’s certainly not the impression that Holder was trying to give by saying “last few weeks” instead of “last couple of months”.

(Previous post.)


Casus belli

October 19, 2011

We are at war with Iran. It’s time we noticed:

A key player in the Iran-backed plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. was a senior military commander linked to the slaughter of U.S. troops in Iraq, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Abdul Reza Shahlai is the cousin of accused plotter Mansour Arbabsiar, 56, an Iranian-American currently in custody and charged with a string of offenses including conspiracy to commit murder and an act of international terrorism. . . The 54-year-old is a commander in Iran’s Quds Force, the body believed to have been behind the Saudi ambassador plot and described to the Post by a US official as “Iran’s arm for supporting terrorists and planning attacks.”

In 2007 Shahlai ran a group of elite killers within the Iraqi militia of the cleric Moqtada al Sadr, who dressed as US and Iraqi soldiers and launched an attack on official buildings in Karbala — a raid which left five Americans dead.


Not loving iOS5

October 18, 2011

Good things about iOS5: I like being able to use the volume button to take pictures.

Bad things about iOS5: It’s taken me literally hours to get my phone working about as well as before the upgrade.


Death panels, minus the panels

October 18, 2011

In the United Kingdom — the exemplar of government-run health care that Democrats are working to bring to America — hospitals have been issuing do-not-resuscitate orders without consulting patients or their families.

But at least the government jumped all over them, right?

Although at least five hospitals were found by the CQC [Care Quality Commission] to be in breach of medical guidance regarding consultation with families, the watchdog declared four of the five to be “compliant” with its standards on dignity for patients, which cover broader aspects of care.

In a national report published about the checks last week, the CQC made no mention of its findings about the misuse of DNR notices.

Oh.


The Constitution can be so inconvenient

October 18, 2011

Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) says that President Obama should ditch the Constitution:

Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. told The Daily Caller on Wednesday that congressional opposition to the American Jobs Act is akin to the Confederate “states in rebellion.” . . .

“We’ve got to go further. I support what [Obama] does. Clearly, Republicans are not going to be for it but if the administration can handle administratively what can be done, we should pursue it. And if there are extra-constitutional opportunities that allow the president administratively to put the people to work, he should pursue every single one of them,” Jackson suggested.

(Emphasis mine.)

And the grand purpose to which we should abandon our 224-year experiment with constitutional government? Jackson wants to send every unemployed person a check for $40 thousand.

(Via Instapundit.)


CLASS dismissed

October 18, 2011

It’s been pretty obvious for a while that it was going to happen, but the Obama administration has officially pulled the plug on the CLASS program. For those who haven’t been following this closely, the CLASS program was a fraudulent long-term care program in Obamacare.

It could never possibly have worked, but was included in health care nationalization because, the way it was scored, it generated $70 billion in deficit reduction over 10 years. However, although a 10-year horizon can be spoofed, it’s much harder to spoof a 75-year horizon, which is what they had to do in order to bring the program into reality.

BONUS: For further amusement, look through a list of prominent Democrats singing the praise of CLASS. Every one of these people is either dishonest or incapable of basic math.


School behaving badly

October 14, 2011

I’m going to come right out and say that colleges really shouldn’t expel students for criticizing the school’s administration.

(Via Instapundit.)


Biden: pass the bill or else

October 14, 2011

Joe Biden says crime will soar if Congress fails to pass President Obama’s stimulus jobs bill.


Stranger to adversity

October 14, 2011

New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin says things are not going well for President Obama:

The reports are not good, disturbing even. I have heard basically the same story four times in the last 10 days, and the people doing the talking are in New York and Washington and are spread across the political spectrum.

The gist is this: President Obama has become a lone wolf, a stranger to his own government. He talks mostly, and sometimes only, to friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett and to David Axelrod, his political strategist.

Everybody else, including members of his Cabinet, have little face time with him except for brief meetings that serve as photo ops. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner both have complained, according to people who have talked to them, that they are shut out of important decisions.

The president’s workdays are said to end early, often at 4 p.m. He usually has dinner in the family residence with his wife and daughters, then retreats to a private office. One person said he takes a stack of briefing books. Others aren’t sure what he does.

If the reports are accurate, and I believe they are, they paint a picture of an isolated man trapped in a collapsing presidency.

Who knows if it’s true, but it’s plausible to me. This is a man whose self-regard dramatically exceeds his ability, and who is facing his first real taste of adversity. No one, himself included, really knew what he is made of, until now.

(Via Instapundit.)


Solargate update

October 14, 2011

Congressional investigators are scrutinizing another one of the Obama administration’s green boondoggles. Sun Power has received twice as much money from the government as Solyndra, and also appears to be in financial distress:

The Energy Department says on its website that the $1.2 billion loan to help build the California Valley Solar Ranch in San Luis Obispo County, a project that will help create 15 permanent jobs, which adds up to the equivalent of $80 million in taxpayer money for each job. But the Energy Department stands by the project. . .

SunPower posted $150 million in losses during the first half of this year and its debt is nearly 80 percent of its market value. The company is also facing class action lawsuits for misstating its earnings. . .

The company is also politically connected. Rep. George Miller’s son is SunPower’s top lobbyist. The elder Miller, a powerful California Democrat, toured the plant last October with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

(Via Instapundit.)

Meanwhile, the White House is refusing to turn over documents relating to Solyndra.

(Previous post.)


Brown vetoes privacy bill

October 14, 2011

California Governor Jerry Brown (D) has vetoed a bill that would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant to rummage through your mobile phone. Let’s please not have any more nonsense about the left’s dedication to civil liberties.

(Via Instapundit.)


Smart diplomacy

October 14, 2011

The White House confuses South Korea with Japan. Thank goodness we have the smart kids running the country again.


Issa reponds

October 12, 2011

Darrell Issa has sent back a blistering response to Eric Holder’s disingenuous Gunwalker letter. There are two points to highlight. First, Issa reveals more about the briefing that Gary Grindler (former Deputy Attorney General and now Holder’s chief of staff) received:

Gary Grindler, the then-Deputy Attorney General and currently your Chief of Staff, received an extremely detailed briefing on Operation Fast and Furious on March 12, 2010. In this briefing, Grindler learned such minutiae as the number of times that Uriel Patino, a straw purchaser on food stamps who ultimately acquired 720 firearms, went in to a cooperating gun store and the amount of guns that he had bought. When former Acting ATF Director Ken Melson, a career federal prosecutor, learned similar information, he became sick to his stomach. . .

At the time of his briefing in March of last year, Grindler knew that Patino had purchased 313 weapons and paid for all of them in cash. Unlike Melson, Grindler clearly saw nothing wrong with this. If Grindler had had the sense to shut this investigation down right then, he could have prevented the purchase of an additional 407 weapons by Patino alone. Instead, Grindler did nothing to stop the program.

Following this briefing, it is clear that Grindler did one of two things. Either, he alerted you to the name and operational details of Fast and Furious, in which case your May 3, 2011 testimony in front of Congress was false; or, he failed to inform you of the name and the operational details of Fast and Furious, in which case Grindler engaged in gross dereliction of his duties as Acting Deputy Attorney General.

Second, he notes that the Justice Department has repeatedly lied as the scandal unfolded:

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this intransigence is that the Department of Justice has been lying to Congress ever since the inquiry into Fast and Furious began. On February 4, 2011, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote that “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transport into Mexico.” This letter, vetted by both the senior ranks of ATF as well as the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, is a flat-out lie.

(Previous post.)


Springtime in hell

October 12, 2011

The Arab Spring is looking worse and worse for Christians and Jews.


Obama to Japan: sorry about winning the war

October 12, 2011

How much of a fool is President Obama? Leaked cables reveal that he wanted to go to Japan to apologize for using nuclear weapons. The apology didn’t go forward because the Japanese government didn’t want it, fearing it would be exploited by opponents of Japan’s alliance with the US.

I’m not sure which is more breathtaking, his historical ignorance, his present-day ignorance, or his disdain for America.

(Via PJ Tatler.)


Commies

October 12, 2011

Occupy LA is just a bunch of communist revolutionaries:

So, ultimately, the bourgeoisie won’t go without violent means. Revolution! Yes, revolution that is led by the working class.

Long live revolution! Long live socialism!

Why is the media portraying these people as some kind of laudable, mainstream movement?

(Via Instapundit.)


The fall of Ukrainian democracy

October 12, 2011

A Ukrainian judge has put Yulia Tymoshenko, who lost the last national election, in prison on trumped-up charges. The probably marks the end of the Ukraine’s experiment with democracy. Democracy only works when the candidates can afford to lose the election; if losing means prison or worse, a peaceful election is too great a risk. Viktor Yanukovych clearly plans not to lose any more elections.

 


The Green Jobs Answer Man

October 11, 2011

Andrew Klavan’s latest:

(Via Instapundit.)


“Occupy Boston” rallies for accused terrorist

October 10, 2011

The Boston Herald reports.

What? You mean these are really just standard leftists, not ordinary people objecting to Wall Street? You could knock me over with a feather.

(Via Instapundit.)


Please update your dictionary

October 10, 2011

The canonical example of chutzpah is no longer a boy who murdered his parents begging for mercy because he is an orphan. The new canonical example of chutzpah is al Qaeda protesting the killing of a US citizen.

On a more serious note, this proves — if we had any doubt — that at least some of the Islamists’ complaints (more likely most of them), which supposedly are the reason they hate us, are not really in earnest.

(Via Instapundit.)


Lawfare meets Awlaki

October 10, 2011

John Yoo comments on the legal basis for Anwar al-Awlaki’s killing:

Sunday’s report on the Obama administration’s secret legal justification for the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki shows just how dangerously confused they have become about the rules of war.  All of this comes, of course, with the caveat that we are only going on secondhand descriptions of the Office of Legal Counsel opinion (and we should at least note, in passing, that this administration’s members attacked the Bush folks for not making similar national-security documents public, and have already refused to make public their legal opinions that laughably found the Libya conflict not to be a “war”).

Let’s give partial credit where it is due.  Apparently the Obama administration argues that al-Awlaki was a legitimate target because he is a member of an enemy engaged in hostile conduct against the United States.  At least Obama has figured out that the war on terrorism is in fact a war, and that it is not limited just to Afghanistan.  We should be thankful that Obama officials have quietly put aside the arguments they made during the Bush years that any terrorist outside the Afghani battlefield was a criminal suspect who deserved his day in federal court.  By my lights, I would rather the Obama folks be hypocrites in favor of protecting the national security than principled fools (which they are free to be in the faculty lounges both before and after their time in government).

He goes on to say that the administration’s legal theory is dangerous and incoherent.


Springtime in hell

October 10, 2011

The term “Arab Spring” for the revolutions in the Arab world evokes a sense of optimism, but are things really getting better? Not for Egypt’s Christians. A group of Christians assembled to protest a recent attack on a Church and were attacked by the army and Islamic thugs:

Deadly clashes between angry Christians, Muslims and security forces have dealt a serious setback to Egypt’s transition to civilian rule, the country’s prime minister said Monday, hours after 24 people were killed in the worst violence since the February ouster of Hosni Mubarak. . .

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million people, blame the country’s ruling military council for being too lenient on those behind a spate of anti-Christian attacks since Mubarak’s ouster. As Egypt undergoes a chaotic power transition and security vacuum in the wake of the uprising, the Coptic Christian minority is particularly worried about the show of force by ultraconservative Islamists. . .

Egypt’s official news agency, meanwhile, reported that dozens of “instigators of chaos” have been arrested following Sunday’s violence, sparked by a recent attack on a church in southern Egypt.

The MENA news agency did not say whether those arrested were Christians or Muslims, but security officials said most of the 24 killed were Christians and that they may have included one or two Muslims. . .

State TV, which has increasingly become loyal to the military, appealed on “honorable” Egyptians to protect the army against attacks as news spread of clashes between the Christian protesters and the troops outside the TV building. Soon afterward, bands of young men armed with sticks, rocks, swords and firebombs began to roam central Cairo, attacking Christians. Troops and riot police did not intervene to stop the attacks on Christians.

Throughout the night, the station cast the Christian protesters as a violent mob attacking the army and public property. At one point, Information Minister Osama Heikal went on the air to deny that the station’s coverage had a sectarian slant, but acknowledged that its presenters acted “emotionally.”

At one point, an armored army van sped into the crowd, striking several protesters and throwing some into the air. . .

The Christian protesters said their demonstration began as a peaceful attempt to sit in at the TV building. Then, the protesters said, they came under attack by thugs in plainclothes who rained stones down on them and fired pellets.

“The protest was peaceful. We wanted to hold a sit-in, as usual,” said Essam Khalili, a protester wearing a white shirt with a cross on it. “Thugs attacked us and a military vehicle jumped over a sidewalk and ran over at least 10 people. I saw them.”

(Emphasis mine.)

There’s video of the armored car attacking the protesters:

As you can see, this is not a fight between protesters and the army, as state television claimed. This was the army driving through crowds of people just milling about.

By the way, the spark for all this bloodshed was outrage by Muslims over Christians building a church.

(Via Instapundit.)


Netflix reverses

October 10, 2011

Netflix seems to have reversed its idiotic idea to spin off its DVD business. (Via Instapundit.)


Holder chief-of-staff briefed on Gunwalker

October 10, 2011

Eric Holder has said that no one in the “upper levels of the Justice Department” knew about Gunwalker. Recently he has refined that blanket statement, explaining that officials were briefed on Fast and Furious, but were unaware that it involved “unacceptable tactics”.

Is it true? It seems hard to believe that so many agencies could be involved in Gunwalker, and that so many officials could be briefed on the operation, without anyone demanding some details. We have a specific case in Gary Grindler, former Deputy Attorney General and now Holder’s chief of staff.

Grindler has been on our radar screen for a while, but we now have learned that he received a detailed briefing on Fast and Furious in March 2010. Holder says he doesn’t pay attention to all his briefings but we know that Grindler paid attention to this one because he took notes:

In handwritten notes about Fast and Furious that are not all legible, Grindler writes about “seizures in Mexico” and “links to cartel.” He also noted “seizures in Mexico” on a map of Phoenix, the home base for Fast and Furious, and Mexico locations where some guns ended up. And Grindler made notations on a photograph of several dozen rifles.

There is no specific mention of the controversial tactic known as “letting guns walk” which, law enforcement sources say, was the heart of the Fast and Furious case.

Okay, so there’s no specific mention in the notes of letting guns walk deliberately. But there is specific mention that the guns are making it to Mexican drug cartels. So, at a minimum, it was clear that the operation was a disaster. Grindler should have demanded to know how the guns were getting away. Did he? If not, it sounds like willful blindness.

(Previous post.)


Wide Receiver

October 10, 2011

In Eric Holder’s recent letter to Congress proclaiming his innocence in the Gunwalker scandal, he alluded to a similar operation that took place during the Bush administration:

It has become clear that the flawed tactics employed in Fast and Furious were not limited to that operation and were actually employed in an investigation conducted during the prior Administration.

If true, this would hardly excuse the administration, since the scandal is at least as much about the ham-handed cover-up as it is about the original malfeasance. Nevertheless, I was skeptical. If the Bush administration had really run a similar operation, surely the Obama administration would be shouting it from the rooftops.

I was right to be skeptical. It seems that Holder was referring to Operation Wide Receiver, which was similar to Gunwalker in that it allowed straw purchases of weapons to go forward, and ultimately lost track of the weapons.

But there is a major difference between Wide Receiver and Gunwalker. In Wide Receiver, the ATF actually tried to follow the weapons! In Gunwalker they did not.

Wide Receiver was ill-conceived and poorly executed, but it was intended to track weapons. No one in the Justice Department has yet produced a plausible explanation for what Fast and Furious was intended to do. If Holder really thinks the two are similar (unlikely), he completely misunderstands the nature of the scandal.

Wide Receiver also differs from Gunwalker in magnitude. Wide Receiver lost track of 450 guns and was quickly shut down. Gunwalker lost thousands in Fast and Furious alone, and there are allegations of similar operations in several other cities.

It would not excuse Gunwalker even if the two operations were similar, since the ATF ought to have learned from its earlier mistakes, but, in fact, the similarity is only superficial.

(Via Pajamas Media.) (Previous post.)


Rules can be so inconvenient

October 9, 2011

Harry Reid changes the Senate rules to limit the minority’s ability to offer amendments. The purpose was not to limit stalling tactics (the amendments ruled out-of-order would have taken just 105 minutes to vote on), but to avoid a single embarrassing vote. Reid wanted to avoid the embarrassment of a vote on President Obama’s stimulus jobs bill.


Holder responds

October 8, 2011

Months after the Gunwalker scandal erupted, Eric Holder has undertaken to write a letter to Congress on the subject. It breaks very little new ground. He:

  • continues to deny any knowledge of the “unacceptable tactics” employed in Fast and Furious,
  • says that Fast and Furious was a flawed response to the important problem of gun trafficking into Mexico (ASIDE: it’s not nearly as important as gun-control advocates pretend),
  • berates Congress for not doing anything about that problem,
  • demands that Congress “denounce” a Republican member (presumably Paul Gosar) who said those responsible for Gunwalker are “accessories to murder”,
  • and claims that gunwalking was going on during the Bush administration as well.

The final claim is interesting, but I won’t believe it without hearing some details. If it were true, they would have been trumpeting it for some time now.

Questions Holder did not address include:

  • Why were those responsible for Gunwalker promoted instead of disciplined?
  • How could so many different agencies be involved in Gunwalker without any high-ranking officials being aware of it?
  • Is the FBI covering up a third Gunwalker gun used in the Terry murder, as multiple sources suggest?
  • Why was the ATF permitted to retaliate against the agents who blew the whistle on Gunwalker?
  • Why was the ATF permitted to stonewall Congress’s investigation, to the extent that it required contempt proceedings before they produced any documents?
  • Why was the ATF permitted to limit its agents’ testimony to Congress?
  • Why did the Justice Department withhold information it had in its possession from Congress?
  • Why did the Justice Department say that no ATF agents witnessed the transfer of weapons to third parties, when the opposite is true?
  • Why is Holder so concerned about harsh rhetoric directed at ATF agents who broke the law and trafficked weapons to Mexican drug cartels?
  • Finally, what was the ATF trying to accomplish by trafficking guns to Mexican drug cartels and making no attempt to track them? Why hasn’t anyone tried to answer this question, even at this very late date?

(Via the Corner.) (Previous post.)


Is Pakistan cleaning up its act?

October 8, 2011

This is interesting:

In what could mark a turning point in U.S.-Pakistani relations, Pakistani forces have arrested a handful of Al Qaeda suspects at the CIA’s request and allowed the U.S. access to the detainees, U.S. and Pakistani officials said.

Pakistan has also stopped demanding the CIA suspend the covert drone strikes that have damaged Al Qaeda’s militant ranks in Pakistan’s tribal areas, officials on both sides say — though the Pakistanis say they have simply put this on the back burner for now.

I wonder what’s going on. More importantly, I wonder how long it will last.


Bad journalism

October 8, 2011

John Hinderaker has a series of posts (1, 2, 3, 4) at Power Line absolutely demolishing the recent Bloomberg hatchet job on Koch Industries. The Bloomberg story purported to expose Koch’s misdeeds in Iran, but in fact: (1) what Koch Industries did was legal, (2) Koch has greater ethical standards for its dealings in Iran than other companies, (3) the Koch employee that violated those standards was fired, and (4) those other, less ethical companies that went un-“exposed” are Democratic darlings.


Liar

October 8, 2011

James Taranto notes:

In his news conference yesterday, President Obama said that he “had a chance to meet a young man named Robert Baroz,” a teacher who had “received three pink slips because of budget cuts.” The Boston Herald [link] reports that the president stretched the truth almost to the breaking point:

It is technically true that Obama had a chance to meet Baroz. But the closest Baroz actually got to Obama was the front row of a Rose Garden press conference. . . .

Baroz has in fact received three pink slips in four years, but in each case, his job was saved, either through stimulus funds or the 2010 Congressional Jobs Bill. He now works as a literacy and data coach at the Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain, analyzing MCAS data and applying it to teachers’ everyday lessons.

So Obama didn’t meet Baroz, Baroz didn’t get fired, and he’s a “literacy and data coach,” which seems to be something other than a teacher.


Throwing good money after bad

October 8, 2011

The Obama administration knew that its illegal loan restructuring for Solyndra was a bad bet, but went ahead with it anyway:

Internal e-mails show federal reviewers initially estimated they could save the taxpayers as much as $168 million by letting the company go under in December 2010, rather than resuscitating it and allowing it to draw down more federal money.

Energy Department spokesman Damien LaVera confirmed Wednesday that the agency knew Solyndra had violated the loan terms but agreed to change the requirement to help Solyndra.

What’s $168 million when a well-connected green boondoggle is at stake?

(Via Hot Air.) (Previous post.)


Obama administration was warned Solyndra loan was illegal

October 8, 2011

The Washington Post reports:

Energy Department officials were warned that their plan to help a failing solar company by restructuring its $535 million federal loan could violate the law and should be cleared with the Justice Department, according to newly obtained e-mails from within the Obama administration.

The e-mails show that Energy Department officials moved ahead anyway with a new deal that would repay company investors before taxpayers if the company defaulted. The e-mails, which were reviewed by The Washington Post, show for the first time concerns within the administration about the legality of the Energy Department’s extraordinary efforts to help Solyndra, the California solar company that went bankrupt Aug. 31.

But the Energy Department didn’t go to the Office of Legal Counsel for advice (which saved them the trouble of ignoring their conclusions). Instead they went with an in-house attorney that produced the demanded result:

An Energy spokesman, Damien LaVera, said agency officials had listened to Treasury’s advice to consult the Justice Department on the loan restructuring but felt it was appropriate to move forward. “Ultimately, DOE’s determination that the restructuring was legal was made by career lawyers in the loan program based on a careful analysis of the statute,” he said.

By the way, the statute seems quite clear:

(3) SUBORDINATION.—The obligation shall be subject to the condition that the obligation is not subordinate to other financing.

I don’t see the wiggle room by which the DOE lawyer turned “is not”  into “can be”.

POSTSCRIPT: The Washington Post story has another revelation too. A key administration official pushed for the Solyndra loan despite being recused for a conflict of interest:

[Steve] Spinner came from Silicon Valley to serve as a senior adviser on the loan program, and his wife was a lawyer with Wilson Sonsini, the law firm representing Solyndra in its application. Despite an ethics agreement under which he said he would recuse himself from Solyndra’s loan application, correspondence shows that Spinner defended the company, worked to get the president or vice president to visit its factory, and pushed for a final decision on approving the company’s loan.

“How [expletive] hard is this?” Spinner wrote to a career staffer on Aug. 28, 2009, asking for answers about final approval from an OMB official. “What is he waiting for? Will we have it by the end of the day?”

In an Aug. 19, 2009, e-mail, an aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel asked Spinner if he could discuss any concerns among the investment community about Solyndra.

Spinner dismissed the idea that Solyndra had financial problems. “I haven’t heard anything negative on my side,” he said. . .

Spinner is now a fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank.

(Previous post.)


Requiem

October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs is being lauded as one the greatest inventors of our time. I don’t mean to diminish his achievements when I say that (as far as I know) Jobs didn’t invent any of the products he is famous for. I mean to stick up for the role of the entrepreneur.

Jobs was unquestionably one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our times. He didn’t design the iPod, iPhone, and so forth. He built a company that designed them, built them cost-effectively, got them into the hands of consumers, and in doing all that, changed our culture. That kind of talent is much rarer than the inventor.

I also want to stick up for the Apple innovation that has been largely forgotten by other Jobs eulogists. People remember the hardware, the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad, but they forget the software. I want to remember the software; in particular, the OS X operating system.

Apple products now have the reputation for running smoothly. People forget that, before 2001, Macs were crap. The old Macintosh operating system was terrible. It was unstable and its file system was incompatible with every other file system in existence. (In contrast, Windows NT was relatively stable, and, starting in 1996, it had the same point-and-click interface that the Mac was known for.)

Under Steve Jobs (history buffs: I simplify slightly), Apple fixed the problem by scrapping Mac OS entirely. They built a new operating system with a brilliant design: real Unix underneath with a Macintosh veneer on top. The main thing about it is it actually works. And I say this as someone who doesn’t actually like it.


White House to CBS: stop investigating our scandal

October 7, 2011

A White House official “literally screamed” and “cussed” at CBS reporter Sheryl Attkisson for investigating the Gunwalker scandal. A second official merely “yelled”.

(Previous post.)


Criminals oppose consequences for their crimes

October 7, 2011

Since 1987, Florida law has barred local governments from imposing their own gun-control laws, but local officials have openly flouted that law. After 24 years, those officials will now face consequences if they continue their illegal actions. This makes them very unhappy:

Gallegos wrote that threatening local officials with $5,000 fines “speaks to a degree of intimidation seemingly unprecedented.”

Oh? It’s unprecedented to sanction people for illegal actions? Heck, for 24 years people like Gallegos have been sanctioning people for legal actions!

(Via Instapundit.)


No regrets

October 7, 2011

Newly released emails show that the White House received and disregarded several warnings about the insolvency of Solyndra. Nevertheless, President Obama says he had no regrets sinking half a billion dollars into Solyndra.

(Previous post.)


How to steal

October 7, 2011

Try to watch this video without becoming enraged:

Why is the government picking on Caswell? As Willie Sutton famously (and apocryphally) said, that’s where the money is:

Of course, the Motel Caswell is not the only property in Tewksbury that has had run ins with crime. According to police logs, the Motel 6, the Fairfield Inn, and even the nearby Wal-Mart and Home Depot parking lots have similar problems. But those properties are corporate-owned, which means the government would have to fight teams of lawyers to take them. And, importantly, the Caswells own their property free and clear, which makes them the perfect target for a government interested in policing for profit: the Caswells are vulnerable and their property is valuable.

The Tewksbury government is engaging in robbery, pure and simple. And they’re being abetted by the federal government. The only difference between this and a criminal enterprise is a lot of criminal enterprises deliver products that people actually want.

(Via Instapundit.)


I LIKE FREE SPEECH

October 6, 2011

A group called the Independent Democratic Conference wants to revoke the right to free speech, and replace it with a privilege that the government can revoke. They write (yes, they really did issue their report in all caps):

PROPONENTS OF A MORE REFINED FIRST AMENDMENT ARGUE THAT THIS FREEDOM SHOULD BE TREATED NOT AS A RIGHT BUT AS A PRIVILEGE – A SPECIAL ENTITLEMENT GRANTED BY THE STATE ON A CONDITIONAL BASIS THAT CAN BE REVOKED IF IT IS EVER ABUSED OR MALTREATED.

Of course, we’ve sadly had plenty of occasion this year to learn what the left views as an abuse of free speech.

The authors of this piece aren’t major policy players, thankfully, but they aren’t nobodies either. According to TechDirt (the piece itself doesn’t list any authors), they are New York state senators.

(Via Instapundit.)


Krugman vs. Krugman

October 6, 2011

Some people are erroneously inclined to credit Paul Krugman with some kind of wisdom because he holds a Nobel prize in economics. That’s foolish in general, because most of Krugman’s commentary is on matter in which he holds no special expertise, such as Keynesian macroeconomics and whether Republicans cause mass shootings.

But even on the subject of international trade, Krugman’s area of expertise, it’s foolish to credit his writings with any wisdom, because he is in the tank for Democrats enough to be willing to set all his expertise aside.

We can demonstrate this by looking at his changing opinion on whether we should pressure China to do something about their overvalued currency. In 2003 he said that getting tough with China was stupid, because we have very little leverage over China. Today he says that getting tough with China is vital. What changed his mind? Not China’s currency; the Yuan is substantially less overvalued today than it was in 2003. What’s changed is that it’s now Democrats that are talking tough to China, not Republicans.

Who knows what Krugman’s real opinion is? Perhaps he has the mental flexibility/inconsistency actually to hold different opinions on international trade depending on who is in office. On the other hand, perhaps he was simply lying either in 2003 or today. Either way, his professional expertise is either gone or useless.

But what is striking is how disjoint the two pieces are. In 2003, he wrote about our lack of leverage over China, which he didn’t even discuss in 2011. In 2011, he writes about the possibility of  a trade war (he discounts it) and a variety of other issues which amazingly didn’t even come up in 2003. Coming from a supposed academic, it’s telling that he behaves as though the core issues have changed in eight years.

POSTSCRIPT: The most revealing difference is the amount of his 2003 column he dedicated to personal attacks on President Bush, which — strictly speaking — weren’t relevant to the policy at all. He could barely spend a few sentences on actual policy; attacking Bush’s putative stupidity and evil is where his passion lay. In 2011 he has no such boogeyman to attack. The best he can come up with is the Club for Growth. But he gives it the old college try, deploying his trademark dishonesty:

In the last few days a new objection to action on the China issue has surfaced: right-wing pressure groups, notably the influential Club for Growth, oppose tariffs on Chinese goods because, you guessed it, they’re a form of taxation — and we must never, ever raise taxes under any circumstances. All I can say is that Democrats should welcome this demonstration that antitax fanaticism has reached the point where it trumps standing up for our national interests.

Did the Club for Growth really oppose tariffs because they are a form of taxation? Here’s what they said:

Passage of such legislation, or similar legislation, could lead to a costly trade war that would destroy jobs. . . Supporters of this underlying bill believe that cheap imports from China are harming our nation’s manufacturers, but they fail to realize that China ships intermediary goods and raw materials to the United States, not just final consumer products. These cheap goods are used by our nation’s businesses to produce final products that can be sold at competitive prices.

In short, they made a fairly standard argument for free trade.

The only place Krugman has to hang his hat is later where the statement refers to tariffs as taxes. This is somewhat clumsy wording (although tariffs literally are taxes), written as a segue to what they think should be done instead (lower taxes on capital). But nowhere did they put forward tariffs-as-taxes as the reason for opposing tariffs. Krugman made that up completely.

(Via JustOneMinute.)


Department of corruption

October 6, 2011

In our latest instance of corruption in Eric Holder’s Justice Department, an official in the Civil Rights Division abused his government-issued credit card to take romantic trips at taxpayer expense, and even took out cash advances. Once his actions were discovered, not only was he not disciplined, they didn’t even take the card away, and he continued to abuse it.

(Via Instapundit.)


Journalists behaving badly

October 6, 2011

In order to procure an interview with Marco Rubio (R-FL), the Spanish-language network Univision dug up dirt on Rubio’s brother-in-law (a 24-year-old drug arrest) and threatened to run a piece on it unless Rubio agreed to appear on its program Al Punto. Rubio refused to play ball and Univision carried out its threat.

Univision’s action may well constitute criminal blackmail, depending on whether an appearance by Rubio is considered “something of value”. It is certainly considered unethical by all reputable media, and I’m setting the reputability bar very low.

More here.


Holder busted

October 4, 2011

CBS News reports:

New documents obtained by CBS News show Attorney General Eric Holder was sent briefings on the controversial Fast and Furious operation as far back as July 2010. That directly contradicts his statement to Congress.

On May 3, 2011, Holder told a Judiciary Committee hearing, “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”

CBS uncovered two memos addressed to Holder that mentioned Fast & Furious, one from July 2010 and the other from November 2010. The July 2010 memo contained some various specific information:

From July 6 through July 9, the National Drug Intelligence Center Document and Media Exploitation Team at the Phoenix Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Strike Force will support the Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ Phoenix Field Division with its investigation of Manuel Celis-Acosta as part of OCDETF Operation Fast and the Furious. This investigation, initiated in September 2009 in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Phoenix Police Department, involves a Phoenix-based firearms trafficking ring headed by Manuel Celis-Acosta. Celis-Acosta and [redacted] straw purchasers are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug trafficking cartels. They also have direct ties to the Sinaloa Cartel which is suspected of providing $1 million for the purchase of firearms in the greater Phoenix area.

(Emphasis mine.)

So Holder was definitely informed of an operation called Fast and Furious. The document doesn’t specifically refer to guns walking, but it does say that the firearms in question were supplied to Mexican drug cartels, which (as Allahpundit points out) is never supposed to happen in ATF sting operations. This should have raised a red flag.

Some of Holder’s chief deputies were certainly aware of guns being walked. (Eric Holder’s chief of staff for one, according to Rep. Issa and Senator Grassley.) Another document obtained by CBS shows an email conversation between Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division, and James Trusty, Deputy Chief of the National Gang Unit. They discuss gunwalking explicitly:

WEINSTEIN: Do you think we should try to have Lanny [Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division] participate in press when Fast and Furious and Laura’s Tucson case are unsealed? It’s a tricky case, given the number of guns that have walked. . .

TRUSTY: I think so, but the timing will be tricky, too. . . It’s not going to be any big surprise that a bunch of US guns are being used in MX, so I’m not sure how much grief we get for “guns walking.” It may be more like, “Finally, they’re going after people who sent guns down there.”

(Emphasis mine.)

This shows that Weinstein and Trusty specifically knew that guns were walking. (Eric Holder said last month that no one in “the upper levels of the Justice Department” knew about Gunwalker.) It also shows that the “tricky” issue of gunwalking was specifically being considered by the people who set Lanny Breuer’s schedule.

ASIDE: Worse, the email also shows that these guys were thinking about gunwalking in the context of “going after people who sent guns down there”, which is to say, their gun-control agenda.

The DOJ replied to this with a howler:

The Justice Department told CBS News that the officials in those emails were talking about a different case started before Eric Holder became Attorney General.

Impossible. The documents mention Fast and Furious by name. The DOJ also said:

And tonight they tell CBS News, Holder misunderstood that question from the committee – he did know about Fast and Furious – just not the details.

We can believe that, or not. It’s not very plausible, given how many people around him knew, and anyway, Holder’s words were quite specific:

I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.

That statement, incidentally, was made under oath.

Now the Justice Department has fallen back on an even more basic defense. They say that Holder doesn’t always read his briefings. Terrific.

(Via Power Line.)

UPDATE: Holder must have ignored at least five memos.

(Previous post.)


Obama embraces the lie

October 3, 2011

President Obama, addressing a fundraiser for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay/lesbian advocacy organization:

We don’t believe in a small America. We don’t believe in the kind of smallness that says it’s okay for a stage full of political leaders — one of whom could end up being the President of the United States — being silent when an American soldier is booed. We don’t believe in that. We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens. We don’t believe in them being silent since. You want to be Commander-in-Chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient.

He is referring to an incident at a recent Republican debate where the audience booed a gay soldier who asked a question about homosexuals in the military. Except it never happened, not as it has been reported. “The audience” did not boo; two members of the audience booed. (For all we know, they were provocateurs.)

Obama apologists will reply that Obama never committed himself to the number of boo-ers, so he wasn’t lying. I’ll grant you, it’s a clever use of the passive voice: he’s alluding to the lie without actually repeating it himself. That makes the statement technically accurate, but it doesn’t make it honest.

But let’s suppose Obama really meant it literally. Let’s suppose he really meant that one has a duty to stand for the military, no matter how marginal the attackers, “even when it’s not politically convenient.” Then he must have spoken up forcefully for General Petraeus when MoveOn.org came out with this:

But, of course, he didn’t. In fact, when the Senate passed a resolution 72-25 condemning the ad, Barack Obama declined to vote, despite having been on the Senate floor just minutes earlier. He was running for the Democratic nomination for President, and it wasn’t “politically convenient.” (One other senator didn’t vote: Joe Biden.)

He also sat quietly for years as Jeremiah Wright thundered his bigotry from the pulpit of his church in Chicago. For example, he remained silent when Wright gave this rant, blaming 9/11 on the actions of our bloodthirsty military. Obama, then an Illinois state senator, had ambitions for national office and he needed the support of people like the members of that church. It wasn’t “politically convenient” to speak out.

(Via Instapundit.)


Eliminate the ATF?

October 3, 2011

The ATF never should have existed in the first place. It was originally the Bureau of Prohibition, formed to enforce Prohibition. After Prohibition was repealed it became an agency without a purpose, pressed into service to perform various different functions as part of various different departments. Every one of those functions could have been carried out by another agency (or, better yet, not carried out at all), but that would have left the agency with nothing to do. It couldn’t simply go away, because that is the one thing a government agency never does.

Which is why I’m not very excited about the reports that the Department of Justice is considering eliminating the ATF. The ATF has done the one thing that would actually make it possible to eliminate it: through its astonishing incompetence and malfeasance, it has become a political liability. But despite all that, it’s very hard to imagine it happening.


Zero

October 2, 2011

That’s how many Democrats have signed on to co-sponsor President Obama’s another-stimulus-will-do-the-trick-this-time-I-swear jobs bill. They want nothing to do with this turkey.


Cause, effect

October 2, 2011

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The nation’s beleaguered banking industry, which has been raising fees and doing away with free services, has a new target: debit-card users.

Bank of America Corp. is laying plans to charge millions of customers a $5 monthly fee to use their debit cards, and other big banks are expected to follow suit. The industry says it needs the fees to recoup revenue it will lose because of new government regulations taking effect Saturday that cap what they can charge merchants for debit-card transactions.

Did the Democrats who forced this law on us intend that the cost of debt-card transactions be borne by individual consumers, rather than vendors? Intend it or not, they were warned.

POSTSCRIPT: As another predicted consequence of the Democrats’ credit bill, credit card companies are shutting down reward programs for customers with good credit. We used to get a 2% rebate on everything we bought with our credit card, but not any more. Thanks Democrats!


Student loan default rates soar

October 2, 2011

. . . from 7% to 8.8% in just one year.

Remember that the federal government just nationalized the student loan industry, as part of the Democrats’ scheme to pretend that Obamacare wouldn’t balloon the deficit:

Thanks to only-in-Washington accounting, making the Department of Education the principal banker to America’s college students created a “savings” of $68 billion over 11 years, certified by the Congressional Budget Office. Even CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf admitted that this estimate was bogus because CBO was forced to use federal rules that ignored the true cost of defaults. But Mr. Miller had earlier laid the groundwork for this fraud by killing amendments in the House that would have required honest accounting and an audit.

Armed in 2010 with their CBO-certified “savings,” Democrats decided they could finance a portion of ObamaCare, as well as an expansion of Pell grants. But as Bernie Madoff could have told them, frauds break down when enough people show up asking for their money. That’s happening already, judging by recent action in the Senate Appropriations Committee, where lawmakers apparently realize that the federal takeover isn’t going to deliver the promised riches.

Nationalizing an industry isn’t a windfall for taxpayers? You could knock me over with a feather.