Americans don’t want free health care

February 29, 2012

The Washington Examiner reports:

The voting public apparently agrees that nothing in life is free, especially health care. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 51 percent oppose free universal health care and a whopping 63 percent reject it if required to change their current insurance coverage to a free government plan.

UPDATE: And 72% believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

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Winning!

February 29, 2012

Polls suggest that the union effort to recall Wisconsin governor Scott Walker will fail.


Administration ignored Iran opposition memo

February 29, 2012

The Washington Examiner reports:

Documents obtained by The Washington Examiner suggest the Obama administration missed at least one major opportunity to help opposition groups in Iran that has not previously been reported. In November 2009, leaders of the Green party, which had staged a revolt on the streets of Tehran in June of that year, sent a long memo through channels to the Obama administration that some analysts said was a clear call for help.

“So now, at this pivotal point in time, it is up to the countries of the free world to make up their mind,” states the opposition memo dated Nov. 30, 2009. “Will they continue on the track of wishful thinking and push every decision to the future until it is too late, or will they reward the brave people of Iran and simultaneously advance the Western interests and world peace.” . . .

The administration claimed in 2009 that the Green party in Iran did not want American help. And the State Department repeated that this week. “Most leaders in the Green movement made clear they did not desire financial or other support from the United States,” a State Department senior official said.

This is typical of the lack of reality with which this administration approaches foreign policy. The Obama administration thought they knew what the Iranian opposition wanted, even though the opposition itself was saying the opposite.

Or perhaps the administration was simply lying to us.

(Via Instapundit.)


Message films are bad, all of the sudden

February 29, 2012

Hollywood has been making anti-war propaganda films for years, which (if their press statements are to be believed) weren’t even intended to make money. But one pro-military film hits theaters and message films are suddenly bad.


MSNBC logic

February 29, 2012

As far as I can tell, they are serious about this:

(Via the Corner.)


“Whatever their complaint may be”

February 29, 2012

Fox News reports:

A Louisiana church was ordered to stop giving away free water along Mardi Gras parade routes because they did not have the proper permits. . .

[Pastor Matt] Tipton said volunteers from his church were handing out free coffee and free bottles of water at two locations along a Mardi Gras parade route when they were stopped by Jefferson Parish officials. The church volunteers were cited for failing to secure an occupational license and for failure to register for a sales tax. . .

The [Jefferson Parish] sheriff’s department said there was “no validity to their complaint whatever their complaint may be.”

(Emphasis mine.)

When you dismiss a complaint without even knowing what it is, it’s possible you aren’t really engaging with the issue.


Out of touch

February 29, 2012

Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s Face the Nation:

How do you go after Barack Obama, though, right now? I mean, the stock market is up. It looks like the unemployment is going down. David Axelrod in his campaign said the other day Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. It’s going to be a tough job for you, is it now?

Oh, geez. The economy is in shambles, our debt exceeds GDP, gas prices are soaring (on purpose), Iran is going nuclear, Islamists are taking power throughout the Middle East, health care is being nationalized, the White House thinks that the government should be able to dictate ministers to churches, and Schieffer can’t see any weakness in Obama’s record?

Even Schieffer’s talking points have negatives. Bin Laden was located using human intelligence of the sort that we will never be able to get again, now that President Obama has told the enemy, in complete detail, exactly what interrogation techniques we will use. And GM was “saved” by spending nearly $100 billion of the taxpayer’s money (at least a quarter of which we will never get back), screwing GM’s creditors, and giving the new GM to Obama’s union cronies.


Quotation mark abuse

February 27, 2012

I saw this implausible headline at the Huffington Post today:

Santorum: Separation Of Church And State ‘Makes Me Want To Throw Up’

It’s pretty obvious Rick Santorum wouldn’t say something like that, so I clicked through to see what he actually said. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Santorum said:

Well, yes, absolutely, to say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case?

Alana Horowitz, the author of the HuffPo piece, reprocesses Santorum’s statement — that people of faith ought to be permitted to participate in the public debate — into opposition to the separation of church and state. Perhaps the two propositions are the same to her; perhaps she believes that separation of church and state does require religious people to remain silent, but that doesn’t give her license to write her own extreme views into a quotation.

In fact, even the part of the quote that lies within quotation marks — the part that is supposed to be a direct quote — isn’t verbatim.

Horowitz’s abuse of quotation marks doesn’t end there. In the article, in order to get “separation of church and state” into the same quote as “throw up”, she uses a very creative ellipsis:

“The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country…to say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes me want to throw up.”

The ellipsis hides the fact that these were two different statements made in response to two different questions. She deletes twelve sentences of Santorum explaining what he meant, a new question from Stephanopoulos, and the beginning of Santorum’s answer to the new question, and she puts it together with a lower case letter as if it had been all one sentence.

POSTSCRIPT: The ultimate context of this was a remark made by Santorum that John Kennedy’s 1960 speech on his religion almost made Santorum throw up. I could understand the sentiment (although throwing up still seems a little strong) if Kennedy had really been saying that faith had no place in the public debate. I guess Santorum reads the speech that way, but I don’t. I read the speech to say that politicians should not take orders from clergy, which seems like a very different proposition, and one I agree with.

I’m confident Kennedy meant it that way, because, in historical context, this speech was pure politics. Kennedy was running for president and needed to defuse the “Catholic issue”, so his purpose was to reassure Protestants that he would not take orders from the Catholic Church. His intent was certainly not to tell them to keep their faith out of the public debate, because it would not have served his political purposes to do so.


Hope! Theft! Lies!

February 25, 2012

Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the Obama Hope poster, pleads guilty to criminal contempt in his lawsuit against the Associated Press:

To cover up his false complaint, Fairey created multiple false and fraudulent documents attempting to show that he had used the photograph of Obama and Clooney, and tried to delete electronically stored documents that demonstrated that he had used the tightly cropped image, Mr Bharara said.

Background here.

(Via the Daily Caller.)


Again with the fake documents

February 25, 2012

The latest fuss in the global warming controversy is the leak of documents from the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank I hadn’t heard of before that, among other things, is skeptical of climate change alarmism. Most of the documents deal with Heartland’s fundraising, but one very different document purports to describe Heartland’s strategy for the global warming debate.

The provider of the document originally claimed to be an insider at Heartland, but that turned out to be a lie. In fact, an outsider (later identified as Peter Gleick, head of the Pacific Institute) obtained the documents by phishing; he wrote to Heartland claiming to be a board member and asking that they resend him the documents for the annual board meeting. Some gullible secretary complied.

Heartland acknowledges that most of the documents are genuine, but says that the strategy document is a fake. There is considerable evidence to support their claim: While the undisputed documents were pdfs generated from their original digital source, the strategy document is a scan. The strategy document was scanned weeks after the undisputed documents were generated, but just one day before Gleick went public. And, the strategy document was scanned in the wrong time zone: the pdf metadata dates the scan using Pacific time, but Heartland is in Chicago. (Peter Gleick, on other hand, is in Oakland, California.)

There are also a variety of the problems with the content: For example, it contains mistakes that a genuine document would be unlikely to contain. (Specifically, it said that the Koch Foundation gave $200k in 2011, when in fact it gave $25k, and even that $25k was earmarked for health care, not climate change.) For another, it curiously focuses on Peter Gleick and his writings for Forbes magazine, even though neither is particularly important.

But most strikingly, the content of the strategy document is all wrong. John Hinderaker goes through it line by line, but I’ll just quote one line that in conclusive in its own right:

We are pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. . . His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain — two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science.

This isn’t even good forgery; this is just stupid. “Dissuading teachers from teaching science”? Oh, please. This is something that a dishonest leftist would write to attack climate alarmism skeptics, not something that skeptics write about themselves. All it missed as a supervillain’s monologue was the cackle.

Gleick, who was quickly suspected as the author of the forged document, has admitted phishing for the undisputed documents, but has not yet admitted to forging the strategy document. Ironically, Gleick chaired the American Geophysical Union’s task force on scientific ethics. He has been dropped. He has also stepped down as the head of the Pacific Institute.

POSTSCRIPT: There’s also a media failure angle on this story. The New York Times reported this:

Heartland did declare one two-page document to be a forgery, although its tone and content closely matched that of other documents that the group did not dispute.

This is simply untrue. As observed above (and as the link document further), the tone and content do not match the other documents at all.

UPDATE: The NYT’s inaccurate description is now being used in legal communications.


LightSquared’s new business plan

February 25, 2012

Since LightSquared is probably not going to be allowed to crash passenger planes and break the GPS system, it is developing a new business plan based on lawsuits (subscription required). LightSquared would demand either compensation for regulators’ failure to approve their system, or a new piece of spectrum to replace the one they own.

All of which takes some chutzpah, since their entire business plan was based on undercutting their competition by using a cheap piece of spectrum (that wasn’t intended for communication systems) and relying on political connections to get their misuse of the spectrum approved.

(Previous post.)


The right to be forgotten

February 25, 2012

Europe has invented a new reason to limit free speech:

At the end of January, Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights, and Citizenship, announced a sweeping new privacy right: the “right to be forgotten.” The proposed right would require companies like Facebook and Google to remove information that people post about themselves and later regret—even if that information has already been widely distributed. The right is designed to address a real and urgent problem in the digital age: It’s very hard to escape your past on the Internet now that every photo, status update, and tweet lives forever in the digital cloud. But the right to be forgotten takes a dangerously broad approach to solving the problem. In fact, it represents the biggest threat to Internet free speech in our time.

The article is hard to summarize, but basically the new rights takes three forms, listed in order of increasing danger to free speech:

  1. The right to delete material that you posted yourself.
  2. The right to demand the deletion of material that you posted yourself and others have subsequently copied elsewhere.
  3. The right to demand the deletion of material that others have posted about you.

(Via Althouse.)


Easiest way to lie with statistics: Just lie

February 24, 2012

Argentina’s ruling Peronists continue (subscription required) their war on inflation statistics:

Since 2007, when Guillermo Moreno, the secretary of internal trade, was sent into the statistics institute, INDEC, to tell its staff that their figures had better not show inflation shooting up, prices and the official record have parted ways. Private-sector economists and statistical offices of provincial governments show inflation two to three times higher than INDEC’s number (which only covers greater Buenos Aires). Unions, including those from the public sector, use these independent estimates when negotiating pay rises. . .

The government has gone to extraordinary lengths, involving fines and threats of prosecution, to try to stop independent economists from publishing accurate inflation numbers. The American Statistical Association has protested at the political persecution faced by its Argentine colleagues, and is urging the United Nations to act, on the ground that the harassment is a violation of the right to freedom of expression.

Here’s why they don’t want accurate inflation figures:


Green fail

February 24, 2012

The bankruptcy of Solyndra, the Obama administration’s pet green-energy company, has left behind drums of improperly stored toxic waste.

(Previous post.)


Single point of failure

February 24, 2012

I found this article on our growing dependence on GPS very troubling. An excerpt:

GPS jamming and spoofing can have serious effects on geolocation and communications technologies that rely on GPS for positioning and timing; maritime and aircraft GPS use, and even stock market trading, can be affected by jamming, researchers said at the conference. . .

“Our modern society is almost completely reliant on GPS,” [University of Texas researcher Todd] Humphreys told the conference. “It could be deadly.”

We society really shouldn’t have a single point of failure. We need to fix that. But in the meantime, we probably shouldn’t let the president’s LightSquared cronies break the system.


Unsustainable

February 24, 2012

Growth of our economy versus growth of our debt:

This simply cannot work.

(Via Instapundit.)


The Laffer curve strikes again

February 24, 2012

The UK’s new 50% tax rate for incomes over £150k has reduced tax revenues.

The amazing thing is that anyone is surprised by this. The existence of a Laffer curve is unarguable (one cannot contest the simple observation that the government will receive no revenue at a tax rate of 0% or 100%), the only dispute is where the curve peaks. All the evidence shows that curve peaks much lower than 50%.

Of course, there are those who support counterproductive tax rates even knowing they are counterproductive, out of sheer spite.


Road Island

February 24, 2012

Heh. Good thing the smart guys are running the country now. (Via Instapundit.)


Sharia in Pennsylvania

February 24, 2012

The word “outrage” is overused in our society, particularly in current affairs. Personally, I wish I had never used the word before in my life, so I could have saved all its potency for this one item:

A Pennsylvania judge has dismissed the charges against a Muslim who assaulted another man who was insulting Mohammed, telling the victim “you’re way outside your bounds on First Amendment rights.”

Seriously.

Not only did Judge Mark Martin of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania dismiss assault charges against Talag Elbayomy, he reprimanded the victim, telling him that in much of the world he would face the death penalty for what he did. Judge Martin also took the time to correct the victim’s misunderstanding of Muslim theology, as if that had anything whatsoever to do with the assault charge.

This is an outrage.

UPDATE: Transcript here.

UPDATE: According to some reports, Judge Martin is a Muslim convert. An earlier version of the transcript linked above seemed to confirm that, but Martin’s staff denies that he is a Muslim and the transcript may have been in error. Since the question is irrelevant — other than as a motive for such an outrageous ruling — I’m deleting it from this post.

Ordinarily a court recorder would have taken down an official transcript, which would have averted this confusion. In this case, however, no transcript was taken and the judge is threatening the victim with contempt for recording the proceedings, which is about as clear an indication of malfeasance as you could hope for.

UPDATE: Judge Martin responds here. He claims that he did not let Elbayomy off scot-free because the victim insulted Mohammed, but because there was insufficient evidence that an assault occurred. I fail to see how that could be, since, according to the arresting officer (cue to 2:03 in the video above), Elbayomy admitted grabbing the victim’s beard and sign.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t accurate for me to say, as I did in an earlier version of this post, that Martin ruled that Muslims are allowed to assault people who insult Mohammed. He let the perpetrator off and reprimanded the victim, but he didn’t actually come out and say that the assault was permitted. I have revised the post accordingly.


Human rights progress

February 22, 2012

Canada is close to repealing the “hate speech” section of its Human Rights Act, which is commonly used to suppress free speech. (And I mean that in the not at all hypothetical sense.) Better late than never.

POSTSCRIPT: I’m a little puzzled though, because I thought Section 13 was found unconstitutional years ago. I guess that decision must have been overturned.

(Via Instapundit.)


Abuse of power

February 22, 2012

At the Daily Caller: The IRS is persecuting Tea Party groups.

Via Glenn Reynolds, who adds:

Well, when the President jokes about auditing his enemies, you can expect the worker-bees to pick up on the message. I warned at the time that the President’s thuggish “joke” would cause a loss of faith in the IRS.


A liar is someone who accurately quotes a liberal

February 22, 2012

The Democrats and their collaborators in the legacy media want to disappear this graph:

ASIDE: This particular version is nearly a year old, but suffice it to say that the red has still gotten nowhere near the light blue, much less the dark blue.

This graph (minus the red stuff) comes from “The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan”, the document prepared by the Obama transition team to sell President Obama’s stimulus plan.

Obviously, nothing even remotely like this happened, so — being unable to change the unemployment numbers — the Democrats want to disappear the prediction. We’re told by Democratic tools such as the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler that citing this chart as though it had anything to do with Obama is a lie. (Three Pinocchios!)

Got that? Just because the prediction was prepared by Obama’s team, and written by Obama’s chief economist, to sell Obama’s policy, which was then duly enacted by Obama’s Democratic Congress, doesn’t mean that it has anything to do with Obama!

Just to expand on the point, let’s take a look at the prediction was received by President Obama’s pet pundit, Paul Krugman. On January 10, 2009, Krugman wrote:

OK, Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein have put out their estimates of what the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan would accomplish. But Romer and Bernstein don’t speak for the administration-in-waiting; we’re going to have to wait to hear economic predictions from the President-elect’s own lips. It’s a pity that he doesn’t put something official on the table so we can argue policy with him.

Just kidding! Actually, this is what Krugman wrote:

OK, Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein have put out the official (?) Obama estimates of what the . . . American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan would accomplish. The figure above summarizes the key result.

Kudos, by the way, to the administration-in-waiting for providing this — it will be a joy to argue policy with an administration that provides comprehensible, honest reports, not case studies in how to lie with statistics.

That said, the report is written in such a way as to make it hard to figure out exactly what’s in the plan. This also makes it hard to evaluate the reasonableness of the assumed multipliers. But here’s the thing: the estimates appear to be very close to what I’ve been getting.

Now it’s funny that Krugman lauded Obama for producing comprehensible, honest reports and then in the very next breath lamented that the report wasn’t comprehensible and honest. But never mind that. The point here is there was no doubt in Krugman’s mind over whether this was a serious document prepared by the Obama administration-in-waiting giving estimates for the results of its plan.

Krugman apparently entertained a slight doubt (written “(?)”) as to whether the “Obama estimates” (as he called them) were “official”, but never entertained any doubt as to whether this document was prepared by the administration-in-waiting or just a couple of staffers. For example, he wrote “Kudos, by the way, to the administration-in-waiting for providing this. . .”, and later wrote “So this looks like an estimate from the Obama team itself saying. . .”.

The chart is damning; it’s no wonder the Democrats want it to go away. But it won’t.

(Via Don Surber.)


Long gun registry, RIP

February 20, 2012

The Canadian long-gun registry, now abolished, never solved a single crime. What’s $2.7 billion divided by zero?


Interpol: the long arm of Sharia?

February 20, 2012

On Mohammed’s birthday, a Saudi journalist named Hamza Kashgari tweeted some very mild criticism of the Muslim prophet:

“On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you,” he wrote in one tweet.

“On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more,” he wrote in a second.

“On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more,” he concluded in a third.

Having been led to believe that Muslims venerated the Koran, not Mohammed, I would have thought this sounded like good Islam to me, but obviously I’m not a good judge. As the death threats rolled in, Kashgari fled the country. He was trying to reach New Zealand, but was arrested in Malaysia, and extradited back to Saudi Arabia (probably illegally), where he faces the death penalty.

It’s troubling that Malaysia would do this, which I had thought to be a fairly civilized country, by the standards of that part of the world. Officially Malaysia recognizes freedom of religion, and, although it has Sharia courts, they apply only to Malaysian Muslims. (According to Wikipedia.)

But the most troubling part of the story for us in the west is the alleged involvement of Interpol in Kashgari’s arrest:

Police in Kuala Lumpur said Hamza Kashgari, 23, was detained at the airport “following a request made to us by Interpol” the international police cooperation agency, on behalf of the Saudi authorities.

Interpol denied that it was involved, which leaves it unclear what happened. It’s hard to see why the Kuala Lumpur police would lie about this, while Interpol, if it were involved, would have every reason to cover up its involvement. Moreover, there is recent precedent for Interpol abusing its red notices (international arrest warrants) in southeast Asia.

But it seems like it should be possible to get to the bottom of this, if some enterprising reporter decides to look into it.


Liars

February 20, 2012

As the old joke goes, how do you know that an Obama flack is lying? His lips are moving.

Here’s White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew on the contraception mandate “compromise”:

That’s why he got the support of a range of groups, from the Catholic health association and Catholic charities, to Planned Parenthood.

White House spokesman Jack Carney:

And the organizations that will be most affected by this — Catholic Charities and the Catholic Health Association — have expressed their support for this policy, and we obviously appreciate that.

Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee:

And that’s why groups like Catholic Charities, the Catholic hospitals associations have said this is a fair compromise, that it accomplishes the goal of both women’s health as well as religious freedom.

Finally, here’s Catholic Charities:

In response to a great number of mischaracterizations in the media, Catholic Charities USA wants to make two things very clear:

1.  We have not endorsed the accommodation to the HHS mandate that was announced by the Administration last Friday.

2. We unequivocally share the goal of the US Catholic bishops to uphold religious liberty and will continue to work with the USCCB towards that goal.

Any representation to the contrary is false.

This broad attack on a single talking-point doesn’t happen by accident. Clearly, the Obama administration has decided that it serves their purposes to promulgate this lie.

(Via the Corner.)

POSTSCRIPT: Let’s not forget that the compromise itself is a lie. After announcing it, the administration went ahead and put the old, pre-compromise regulation into effect.


Before and after

February 20, 2012

The New York Post reports:

On Dec. 6, nearly 300 members of the Occupy Wall Street movement flooded into East New York to begin what they considered phase two of their efforts. . . The group would take over an empty house, foreclosed on by a bank, fix it up and provide shelter to a homeless family. . .

Last week,Wise Ahadzi opened the door to the house he still owns, 702 Vermont Street in East New York. Inside is a war zone. The walls are torn down, the plumbing is ripped out and the carpeting has been plucked from the floor. It’s like walking through a ribcage.

Garbage, open food containers and Ahadzi’s possessions are tossed haphazardly around the house.
“This is where my kitchen was,” Ahadzi says. There is no sink, no refrigerator and no counter space. Instead there are dirty dishes piled high waiting for a dip in three large buckets of putrid water that serve as the dishwashing system. In a first-floor bathroom, Christmas lights dangle from a shower curtain rod. The only thing separating a toilet from the elements outside is a thin veil of paper. . .

Ahadzi thought about calling the police, until the embarrassed Occupy movement promised him that they’d repair the house and leave. Two weeks have already gone by since without any progress. Occupy hasn’t even offered to pay him for the damages.

Before and after:

The mistake here was expecting constructive action from socialist malcontents in the first place. (See also topic two here.)

(Via Instapundit.)


Public radio’s fake sniper

February 19, 2012

American Public Media’s Marketplace program recently ran a commentary by Leo Webb, supposedly an army sniper who was treated shabbily by the army and joined Occupy Oakland when he returned from Iraq. He also claimed formerly to have been a prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization.

It was all bogus, except perhaps the part about his participation in Occupy Oakland. Webb never served in the Army and he never played in the Chicago Cubs organization.

What’s especially sad about this isn’t that American Public Media failed to verify any of the claims this man made.  (“Too good to check”, as they say.) What’s sad is that it is immediately obvious to anyone who has ever been in the Army that this guy never was, from this line alone:

I killed all these people and watched half my squadron die.

“Squadron”? Seriously?

Also, Webb said he “blew their brains out”. Soldiers are trained to aim center mass; head shots are for movies and video games.

Not a single person in the editorial process at Marketplace had even a passing familiarity with the military. That’s what’s sad about this story.

POSTSCRIPT: The editor in charge of the piece responded to questions with this:

Mr. Webb has been subsequently placed in a VA live-in care facility specializing in PTSD so I’m unable to seek his response to your comment at this time.

Since Webb is not a veteran, this is clearly a lie.


Make them stop!

February 19, 2012

Mark Twain once (reportedly) said “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” As true as that was in the 19th century, matters are far worse in today’s administrative state. Today’s regulators can do whatever they want, and they are always in session.

Case in point: federal regulators are looking to ban all use of electronic devices while driving. And if that’s not bad enough, some even want to ban them for passengers as well.

(Via Instapundit.)

POSTSCRIPT: A few years ago I took a look at what the research of cell phone use while driving actually says. It’ was much more nuanced than media reports would have you believe.

I also noted last December that the NTSB isn’t telling the truth about how many cell-phone-related accidents occur. It’s bad when regulators lie to support their position, for two reasons: it’s bad for them to lie, but also it suggests that they’ve decided what they are going to do, regardless of the facts.


Solyndra update

February 19, 2012

Administration officials were warning about Solyndra as early as March 2010, but that didn’t stop the illegal bailout nearly a year later.

(Previous post.)


Radio does not cause cancer, but the WHO waffles

February 18, 2012

The Economist reports (subscription required):

ALTHOUGH the myth that mobile phones cause cancer has been laid to rest, an implacable minority remains convinced of the connection. Their fears have been aggravated of late by bureaucratic bickering at the World Health Organisation (WHO). Let it be said, once and for all, that no matter how powerful a radio transmitter—whether an over-the-horizon radar station or a microwave tower—radio waves simply cannot produce ionising radiation. The only possible effect they can have on human tissue is to raise its temperature slightly.

In the real world, the only sources of ionising radiation are gamma rays, X-rays and extreme ultra-violet waves, at the far (ie, high-frequency) end of the electromagnetic spectrum—along with fission fragments and other particles from within an atom, plus cosmic rays from outer space. These are the sole sources energetic enough to knock electrons out of atoms—breaking chemical bonds and producing dangerous free radicals in the process. It is highly reactive free radicals that can damage a person’s DNA and cause mutation, radiation sickness, cancer and even death.

By contrast, at their much lower frequencies, radio waves do not pack anywhere near enough energy to produce free radicals. The “quanta” of energy (ie, photons) carried by radio waves in, say, the UHF band used by television, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cordless phones, mobile phones, microwave ovens, garage remotes and many other household devices have energy levels of a few millionths of an electron-volt. That is less than a millionth of the energy needed to cause ionisation.

Unfortunately:

All of which leaves doctors more than a little puzzled as to why the WHO should recently have reversed itself on the question of mobile phones. In May the organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) voted to classify radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (ie, radio waves) as “a possible carcinogenic to humans” based on a perceived risk of glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer. . .

The Group 2B classification the IARC has now adopted for mobile phones designates them as “possible”, rather than “probable” (Group 2A) or “proven” (Group 1) carcinogens. This rates the health hazard posed by mobile phones as similar to the chance of getting cancer from coffee, petrol fumes and false teeth.

The WHO’s unfortunate waffling gives alarmists somewhere to hang their hat. As a result, we get misleading stories such as one in the January 2012 Consumer Reports which conveyed the impression of a risk by failing to observe that the “possible” designation was the lowest risk level, the same as coffee, and by allocating much more space to equivocal studies that failed to disprove a risk than to definitive studies that did disprove a risk.


Wind power is even less cost-effective than we thought

February 18, 2012

A group of CMU researchers have found that barely half of off-shore wind turbines will likely survive their full design life:

The US Department of Energy set a goal for the country to generate 20 per cent of its electricity from wind by 2030. One-sixth is to come from shallow offshore turbines that sit in the path of hurricanes.

Stephen Rose and colleagues from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, modelled the risk hurricanes might pose to turbines at four proposed wind farm sites. They found that nearly half of the planned turbines are likely to be destroyed over the 20-year life of the farms. Turbines shut down in high winds, but hurricane-force winds can topple them.

(Via Instapundit.)


Dangerous times

February 18, 2012

Walter Russell Mead worries that Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists.


The contraception mandate is illegal

February 18, 2012

David Rivkin and Ed Whelan make a convincing case that President Obama’s contraception mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act:

The 1993 law restored the same protections of religious freedom that had been understood to exist [before Employment Division v. Smith]. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act states that the federal government may “substantially burden” a person’s “exercise of religion” only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person “is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest” and “is the least restrictive means of furthering” that interest.

The law also provides that any later statutory override of its protections must be explicit. But there is nothing in the ObamaCare legislation that explicitly or even implicitly overrides the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The birth-control mandate proposed by Health and Human Services is thus illegal.

(Via Hot Air.)

By the way, the RFRA passed the House unanimously, passed the Senate 97-3, and was signed by Bill Clinton.


Freedom for me, not for thee

February 18, 2012

David Brock’s gun-control hypocrisy is raising eyebrows:

The recent revelation that the head of Media Matters walked the streets of Washington with a Glock-toting personal assistant acting as a bodyguard may make it a little awkward for the group the next time it seeks a donation from a gun control advocacy group. Media Matters reportedly took more than $400,000 from the Joyce Foundation specifically earmarked to promote a $600,000 initiative on “gun and public safety issues.” At the same time, Media Matters’ gun-guarded boss David Brock reportedly obsessed over his own security. . .

“He had more security than a Third World dictator,” one Media Matters employee told The Daily Caller.

(Via Instapundit.)

I’ve noticed that this sort of hypocrisy is very widespread, and not just with guns either. There is a general phenomenon on the left of people believing that basic necessities not only should be provided by the government, but that they should be provided only by the government. Such people turn out to be hypocrites when it comes to their own consumption of those basic needs.

Those who believe that the government should be sole provider of protection from violence (i.e., gun control advocates) nevertheless carry guns or hire bodyguards who do. Those who believe that the government should be the sole provider of health care (e.g., many Canadians) nevertheless cross the border to obtain treatment for themselves. Those who believe that the government should be the sole provider of education (e.g., President Obama) nevertheless enroll their children in private schools. If the left ever succeeds in nationalizing food, the same bunch will be lined up at black-market groceries.


Please don’t be evil

February 18, 2012

Just when my ire at Google was fading:

Google Inc. and other advertising companies have been bypassing the privacy settings of millions of people using Apple Inc.’s Web browser on their iPhones and computers—tracking the Web-browsing habits of people who intended for that kind of monitoring to be blocked.

The companies used special computer code that tricks Apple’s Safari Web-browsing software into letting them monitor many users. Safari, the most widely used browser on mobile devices, is designed to block such tracking by default.

Google disabled its code after being contacted by The Wall Street Journal.


North Carolina lunch-gate scandal expands

February 18, 2012

In the case of the North Carolina school that replaced a child’s home-packed lunch because it wasn’t nutritious enough, the school says they know nothing about the incident:

Reached again, a different representative said they had “no information at this time” about the situation. A West Hoke Elementary official similarly denied any knowledge and referred all questions to the school district.

The school district says it was just a misunderstanding:

Bob Barnes, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, told the McClatchy News Service Thursday that the first preschooler to make headlines just misunderstood her teacher when she thought she was told to ditch her homemade lunch for one from the cafeteria . . .

“We are not the lunch bag police,” Barnes told McClatchy. “We would never put a child in any type of embarrassing situation. . .”

Barnes confirmed there was an agent from Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Child Development and Early Education at the school Jan. 30 who examined six student lunches and determined one did not make the nutritional cut — presumably the first little girl whose story made news.

And the state says they aren’t doing any such inspections:

In a statement to The Blaze, the Division of Child Development and Early Education said it is investigating what happened but flatly denied any of its employees or contractors “instructed any child to replace or remove any meal items.” The division issued a similar statement to McClatchy even after Barnes said it was one of their agents who examined the lunches.

“It is not DHHS’ policy to inspect, go through or question any child about food items brought from home. The facts we have gathered confirm that no DHHS employee or contractor did this,” the statement said.

These stories contradict each other, so they can’t all be true. Most likely, none of them are, because we a second incident has now come to light:

Now a second mother from the same school has come forward exclusively to The Blaze to say the same thing happened to her daughter. . .When [Diane] Zambrano picked Jazlyn up from school late last month, she was told by Jazlyn’s teacher that the lunch she had packed that day did not meet the necessary guidelines and that Jazlyn had been sent to the cafeteria.

The lunch Zambrano packed for her daughter? A cheese and salami sandwich on a wheat bun with apple juice. The lunch she got in the cafeteria? Chicken nuggets, a sweet potato, bread and milk.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


OMB director admits that Obamacare penalties are not taxes

February 15, 2012

This exchange undercuts the Obama administration’s argument that the Obamacare mandate is a tax, not a penalty. Nicely done, Rep. Garrett (R-NJ).


Dog bites man

February 15, 2012

Nancy Pelosi and MoveOn.org are pushing a completely bogus graphic, purporting to show that, deficit wise, Barack Obama is the most responsible president in years, and Reagan was the least.

(Via Instapundit.)


The unscientific method

February 15, 2012

As I’ve written before, the main problem with global warming alarmism isn’t the reconstructions of the Earth’s past climate (which I haven’t the scientific expertise to debate), but the predictions for the future. The basis of the scientific method is to generate testable hypotheses, and then test them. The models that climate scientists use to predict long-term changes to climate simply cannot be tested over the short-term. In regards to long-term changes, they are simply unscientific.

Worse, when those same models are used to make short-term predictions, which can be tested, they tend not to come true. Two cases in point:

First, a new report from the British Met Office and the (infamous) Hadley CRU shows that the Earth has not warmed since 1997. Now, any particular year is mostly noise, but this is 15 years without any trend:

(Via Instapundit.)

Second, a new study from the University of Alabama shows that snowfall in the Sierra Nevada hasn’t changed for 130 years:

The analysis of snowfall data in the Sierra going back to 1878 found no more or less snow overall – a result that, on the surface, appears to contradict aspects of recent climate change models.

(Via Instapundit.)

The science of global warming, at as regards the future, isn’t settled. Strictly speaking, it hasn’t even begun.


Doing the Putin thing

February 15, 2012

Having extracted South Ossetia from Georgia by military force, Putin certainly isn’t going to let some measly election get in his way:

The opposition movement leader in the mountainous enclave of South Ossetia had planned to be inaugurated as its rightful president on Friday in an unauthorized ceremony. Instead, she lay unconscious in a hospital with a possible rifle-butt blow to the head, her aides were under arrest and her organization was in disarray, crushed by police officers apparently acting on the Kremlin’s orders. . .

Russian-backed candidates had recently lost elections in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which are the separatist regions in Georgia that were a cause of the war between Russia and Georgia in 2008. Another Russian-backed candidate was defeated in Transnistria, a breakaway territory in Moldova.

The Russians had harbored some hope in South Ossetia, but Ms. Dzhioeva unexpectedly defeated the Kremlin-backed candidate in November. In December, the region’s Supreme Court annulled the election results, citing campaign violations.

(Via The American Interest.)


Tar, feathers

February 15, 2012

Carolina Journal reports:

A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.

The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs – including in-home day care centers – to meet USDA guidelines. . .

When the girl came home with her lunch untouched, her mother wanted to know what she ate instead. Three chicken nuggets, the girl answered. Everything else on her cafeteria tray went to waste.

The school also told the child that her mother wasn’t packing her lunch properly, and billed the mother for the replacement lunch.

I’m tempted to quip that I’m glad North Carolina has solved every real problem facing the state and can afford to waste money on lunch inspectors. But, in truth, this would be an outrage if it cost nothing at all.

POSTSCRIPT: The governor of North Carolina is Bev Perdue (D, of course), of we-should-suspend-elections-for-two-years fame.


Electric cars are not so green

February 14, 2012

Researchers have found that electric cars can be worse for the environment than conventional cars. Specifically, the study found that, in China, the pollution resulting from generating electricity for electric cars is worse than the pollution generated by gasoline-powered cars.

The trade-off is likely to be different in America, where we have cleaner electric generation, but it’s a reminder that environmental trade-offs can be much more subtle than the green industry would have us believe.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: I had forgotten that this isn’t the only recent study to question the green-ness of electric cars.


Accomplices

February 14, 2012

A Daily Caller piece exposes Media Matters’s operation for channeling opposition research to the legacy media:

  • “[MSNBC was] using our research to write their stories. They were eager to use our stuff.” Media Matters staff had the direct line of MSNBC president Phil Griffin, and used it. Griffin took their calls. . . “If we published something about Fox in the morning, they’d have it on the air that night verbatim.”
  • “Greg Sargent [of the Washington Post] will write anything you give him. He was the go-to guy to leak stuff.”
  • “If you can’t get it anywhere else, Greg Sargent’s always game,” agreed another source with firsthand knowledge.
  • “The people at Huffington Post were always eager to cooperate. . .”
  • “Jim Rainey at the LA Times took a lot of our stuff,” the staffer continued. “So did Joe Garofoli at the San Francisco Chronicle. We’ve pushed stories to Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne [at the Washington Post]. Brian Stelter at the New York Times was helpful.”
  • “Ben Smith [formerly of Politico, now at BuzzFeed.com] will take stories and write what you want him to write,” explained the former employee, whose account was confirmed by other sources.
  • Staffers at Media Matters “knew they could dump stuff to Ben Smith, they knew they could dump it at Plum Line [Greg Sargent’s Washington Post blog], so that’s where they sent it.”

None of which is a surprise, of course. What is amazing is somehow Media Matters is tax-exempt.

POSTSCRIPT: In another Daily Caller article, we find that Ben Smith was grateful enough for all the free content that when he found himself in possession of a scoop about Media Matters, he chose not to report it.


Mitt Romney and freedom of conscience

February 13, 2012

David French has an interesting post at NRO on how Governor Romney fought to protect freedom of conscience in Massachusetts. Your mileage may vary, but I find it persuasive.


BBC spikes story on BBC scandal

February 13, 2012

I trust you won’t be shocked to learn that this story had to be reported off the Beeb:

BBC ‘buried Savile sex abuse claims to save its reputation’. . .

The BBC had hoped to broadcast the Newsnight report in December, two months after Savile’s death, but bosses ordered that the investigation be dropped. Instead, the corporation screened two tribute programmes celebrating Savile’s lengthy BBC career as presenter of Jim’ll Fix It and Top of the Pops, and also as a Radio 1 DJ.

(Via Instapundit.)


Liar

February 13, 2012

Jack Lew, who was President Obama’s budget director before becoming chief of staff, pretends he doesn’t understand how the budgeting process works.

UPDATE: Glenn Kessler:

We might be tempted to think Lew misspoke, except that he said virtually the same thing, on two different shows, when he was specifically asked about the failure of Senate Democrats to pass a budget resolution. He even prefaced his comment on CNN by citing the “need to be honest.”

He could have tried to argue, as some Democrats do, that the debt-ceiling deal last year in effect was a budget resolution. Or he could have spoken more broadly about gridlock in the Senate, after acknowledging a traditional budget resolution had not been passed. Instead, the former budget director twice choose to use highly misleading language that blamed Republicans for the failure of the Democratic leadership.


Paul Krugman, self-parodist

February 12, 2012

I missed this one in January:

I’ve never gone ad hominem on [my critics].

Oh my.


Basic economics

February 12, 2012

On the very first day in an introductory economics course, one learns that price caps lead to shortages. Case in point: price controls on prescription drugs lead to shortages. Good thing we’re extending price controls to all medical care. . .


Above the law

February 12, 2012

Baltimore police refuse to obey the law.


An alarming development

February 12, 2012

Vanderbilt University announces that Christian student organizations are no longer welcome on campus. Anti-religious activists have been trying to accomplish this sort of thing at various schools for years (they tried and failed at CMU in 1994), but this is their first high-profile success.


Meir had it right

February 12, 2012

Golda Meir once reportedly said, “Peace will come when the Arabs start to love their children more than they hate us.” I thought of that when I read that in 21 of 22 Samarian villages, Palestinians would rather see untreated sewage flow into their water source than accept help from Israel.

(Via Power Line.)


Reuters behaving badly

February 12, 2012

Reuters runs a hatchet job against Marco Rubio (R-FL) that was so bad, it got five corrections, needed at least two more, and left Reuters with egg on their faces.

They’re forgetting, we can hold them accountable now.


Obama’s fradulent “compromise”

February 12, 2012

President Obama’s compromise on the contraception mandate is a complete fraud. Instead of requiring Catholic organizations to offer contraception, they require insurance companies to provide the contraception “free of charge”. Of course, “free of charge” means that the insurer will pass the cost on the payer (the aforementioned Catholic organizations), but it’s okay (we are told), because the insurer won’t be allowed to list contraception as a specific line item. Instead, the insurer will have to spread the cost throughout.

In short, this “compromise” doesn’t change anything whatsoever. It’s true, this sort of shell game often fools those who wish to be fooled, but so far the Catholic bishops don’t seem to be buying it.

But wait, it’s worse than that. The whole thing is a lie. The administration isn’t even implementing the supposed compromise. The final regulation was promulgated Friday. After 17 pages of smokescreen, it contained the actual legal language, of which the very last paragraph reads:

Accordingly, the amendment to the interim final rule with comment period amending 45 CFR 147.130(a)(1)(iv) which was published in the Federal Register at 76 FR 46621-46626 on August 3, 2011, is adopted as a final rule without change.

(Emphasis mine.)

UPDATE: Greg Mankiw puts it nicely:

Consider these two policies:

A. An employer is required to provide its employees health insurance that covers birth control.

B. An employer is required to provide its employees health insurance. The health insurance company is required to cover birth control.

I can understand someone endorsing both A and B, and I can understand someone rejecting both A and B. But I cannot understand someone rejecting A and embracing B, because they are effectively the same policy.

Of course, the fact also remains that the policy is actually staying at A.

UPDATE: The Obama administration didn’t even consult with the Catholic church in determining its “compromise”.

UPDATE: More on how the “compromise” hasn’t even been implemented. (Via Instapundit.)


Fantasy meets fact

February 12, 2012

Bill Maher is projecting:

Honestly, if Sarah Palin were president and terrorists struck New York again she would say two things. First, is Mount Rushmore okay? And two, well at least they didn’t hit the “real America.” Democrats don’t do this. Jerry Brown doesn’t stand under the Hollywood sign and say “Now, I don’t know if this will play in Texas or down on the farms where they have no values and f*** chickens. But you here in Hollywood are the real Americans.” It never happens.

We needn’t speculate, since 9/11 did happen. No prominent Republican, Sarah Palin included, said anything like that. It’s hard to imagine that a Republican would, since conservatives still believe that politics ends at the water’s edge. But one prominent Democrat did. Michael Moore’s lament was that the terrorists hit the wrong target:

They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, DC and the plane’s destination of California – these were places that voted AGAINST Bush!

(Via the Corner.)


Occupy astroturf

February 11, 2012

Labor unions are paying people $60 a head to join Occupy DC’s protest of the CPAC conference.


Human-rights hypocrisy

February 11, 2012

Baltasar Garzón, the celebrated (by some) Spanish judge and supposed human-rights crusader, has been convicted of wiretapping.

You may have heard of this guy before. He was the darling of the left when he sought to use universal jurisdiction to prosecute Bush administration officials for war crimes.

More here. (Via Instapundit.)


Judgement call

February 11, 2012

The BBC won’t call a terrorist an “extremist”:

A British court has called [Abu] Qatada a “truly dangerous individual” and even his defence team has suggested he poses a “grave risk” to national security.

Despite that background, BBC journalists were told they should not describe Qatada as an extremist. The guidance was issued at the BBC newsroom’s 9.00am editorial meeting yesterday, chaired by a senior manager, Andrew Roy.

According to notes of the meeting, seen by The Daily Telegraph, journalists were told: “Do not call him an extremist – we must call him a radical. Extremist implies a value judgment.”

(Via the Corner.)

But there are some people that the BBC is willing to make a value judgement about:

Extremist settlers have set fire to West Bank mosques and daubed their walls with graffiti

or:

Thousands of Israelis have held a rally in the town of Beit Shemesh against ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremism.

(Via the Corner.)

He may be a terrorist, but at least he’s not Israeli. . .


Brian Williams: hypocrite

February 11, 2012

Heh.


Eric Holder’s “few weeks”

February 11, 2012

Eric Holder has already changed his story about when he learned of the Fast and Furious operation:

During a May 3 House Judiciary Committee hearing, Holder told Congressional investigators at least twice that he had only learned of the controversial Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking program a “few weeks” beforehand. But testifying Tuesday, Holder’s timeline changed. . .

“I did say a ‘few weeks,’” Holder clarified Tuesday, responding to questions from Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I probably could’ve said ‘a couple of months.’ I didn’t think the term I said, ‘few weeks,’ was inaccurate based on what happened.”

Now his story has to change again. However bad “[a] few weeks” is as a description of  a six-week period, it’s even worse as a description of a five-month period:

Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice dumped documents related to Operation Fast and Furious on congressional officials late Friday night. Central to this document dump is a series of emails showing Holder was informed of slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder on the day it happened – December 15, 2010.

Holder’s office was notified of Fast and Furious on the very day Agent Terry was murdered. Five months later he told Congress that he had just learned of it. That’s perjury.

We still don’t know when Holder first learned of Fast and Furious. Holder said it was shortly before May 3, 2011. We later learned it was by March 2011, then January 2011, and now December 2010. This could be the end of the walkbacks, but that’s not the way to bet.

(Previous post.) (Via Hot Air.)


Elizabeth Warren and asbestos

February 11, 2012

I’m pretty sure that if Elizabeth Warren were a Republican, this would be a big deal:

One of the Harvard professor’s many well-compensated part-time gigs included consulting for Travelers Insurance. I know that it is hard to believe that on one hand, Democrats would be bashing an industry, and on the other hand they are making money from it. To be a Democrat is to be a hypocrite.

What did Lizzy do to earn $44,000 in compensation from the insurance company? She made it harder for claimants to collect. Warren helped establish the bankruptcy strategy for companies to avoid crushing lawsuits. In short, go bankrupt to avoid paying victims.


The Obama record

February 11, 2012

More here.


Mitt’s jobs

February 11, 2012

The American takes a look at Mitt Romney’s job-creation record at Bain Capital, and finds: “The companies Bain Capital funded under Romney have created tens of thousands of jobs using any measure.” Read the whole thing.

Of course (as Glenn Reynolds remarks) even creating one job (heck, even destroying just a few million) would be a big improvement over President Obama’s record.

POSTSCRIPT: For readers with an Economist subscription, the Economist also has an informative column about Romney and Bain.


Now isn’t this interesting

February 11, 2012

Warren Buffett, President Obama’s pet billionaire, will profit handsomely from Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.


Behind the opinion police

February 11, 2012

I’ve often been critical of Politifact and other “fact-checking” operations, so Scott Johnson’s case study in how that outfit operates is no surprise to me. It’s quite instructive though. Johnson corresponded with two different experts who Politifact asked to comment on Mitt Romney’s statement that our navy is weaker than it’s been since 1917, and our air force is weaker than it’s been since 1947. Both experts told Politifact’s Louis Jacobsen that the claim was true. For example, Ted Bromund told him:

Lou,

(1) This is not just technically true. It is actually true (unless you want to ding the Governor for saying 1917 when he should have said 1916). . .

(2) I find it a bit depressing that you only list considerations that — if they applied — would tend to make the Governor’s statement less accurate.  I trust that you’ll also look for contextual factors that would add to his argument. . .

Considering all the technical, strategic, geopolitical, and cultural factors involved in US force structure would require a book, and involves judgments that are well beyond fact-checking. As a matter of fact, the Governor’s statement is correct.

Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly), Bromund’s trust was misplaced. Jacobsen continued shopping for experts until he found some who would say what he wanted. The result: He rated Romney’s accurate statement, not just false, but “pants on fire”.


Range Fuels

February 11, 2012

The Solyndra phenomenon isn’t just a federal problem, green energy subsidies are running into trouble at the state level as well. (Via Instapundit.)


Twelve Solyndras

February 11, 2012

Several other ventures in President Obama’s green energy program are also in distress.


Death panel

February 11, 2012

A three-year-old girl can’t have a kidney transplant because she’s “retarded” (the hospital’s word, not mine).

Just to be clear, the parents weren’t asking to be placed on the list for a kidney. They wanted to transplant from a family member, but the hospital refused to do it.

Now this family can still potentially get the operation done by going to a different hospital. But under health care nationalization, we are on a slippery slope to all medical decisions being made centrally. Then people like this will have no recourse.


Court approves gun crackdown

February 11, 2012

I’m late in reporting this, but a Federal court has upheld the ATF’s new policy requiring gun stores in southwestern states to report sales of more than one semi-automatic rifles.

This is unfortunate on multiple levels. First, it’s a bad policy. Second, even setting aside the Second Amendment, it’s troubling on separation-of-powers grounds that the executive branch can invent new burdens on gun ownership without the consent of Congress. Finally, it’s very troubling that the ATF operated a massive criminal enterprise at least in part to support its case for this policy and is being rewarded for its malfeasance.

(Previous post.)


Iran cuts off Internet

February 11, 2012

The Daily Mail reports:

Iran has demonstrated further evidence of its strict regime after the government cut internet links leaving millions without email and social networks. . .

Gmail, Google and Yahoo are all thought to have been restricted, and users have been unable to log in to their online banking.

‘The interesting thing is that when asked, they deny the fact that all these services are all blocked,’ an Iranian contacted by CNET said.

‘I don’t know the the infrastructure that they will use but I don’t think we have a way out of that one.

(Via Instapundit.)


Hey, who needs electricity anyway?

February 11, 2012

President Obama is fulfilling a key campaign promise:

Ohio based FirstEnergy Corporation announces it will close three coal fired power plants in West Virginia by this fall. The closings come directly from the impact of new federal EPA regulations. . .

The three plants produce 660 megawatts and about 3-percent of FirstEnergy’s total generation. In recent years, the plants served as “peaking facilities” and generated power during times of peak demand for power.

(Via Instapundit.)


Taxes are for the little people

February 10, 2012

Hundreds of Congressional staffers are delinquent on their taxes, to the tune of $10.6 million.

POSTSCRIPT: On the other hand, Mitt Romney paid more taxes than he owed.


Magic bullets

February 10, 2012

For those with an on-line subscription, the Economist has a great article about the XM25, the Army’s new grenade launcher that combines direct fire’s speed and precision with indirect fire’s ability to kill behind cover. Other countries are trying to build similar weapons, but ours is the only one that works.


LightSquared update

February 10, 2012

LightSquared tried to buy off Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican leading the Senate’s investigation into the LightSquared scandal.

(Previous post.)


Taking the Fifth

February 10, 2012

A Justice Department lawyer takes the Fifth rather than testify in Congress’s Gunwalker inquiry.

(Previous post.)


Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas

February 10, 2012

Churches that offered shelter to Occupy Wall Street protesters are dealing with theft, vandalism, and desecration.

The church’s mission is not class warfare, nor is it to give shelter to people who have homes but choose not to use them. The money spent accommodating Occupiers, and repairing the damage Occupiers did, could have been spent on the truly needy, or on spreading the Gospel. They should have known better.


Does anybody still like free speech?

February 10, 2012

The University of Minnesota wants to regulate its students’ speech off campus. (Via Instapundit.)


Sesame Street jurisprudence

February 10, 2012

Sonia Sotomayor says it’s okay that Goldilocks broke into Baby Bear’s home and broke his chair, as long as she fixes the chair:

And there’s also this, from an Althouse commenter:

“A Supreme Court justice is a judge who solves arguments by giving his or her opinion.”

Really? I thought it had something to do with the law.

Indeed, the whole bit gives no mention at all to the idea that the Supreme Court has anything to do with the law. I’m not sure that’s on purpose — it could just be bad writing — but I am sure that a conservative jurist would have thought of that.


Gov’t approves new nuclear plant

February 10, 2012

Some rare sanity in federal energy regulation:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the first new nuclear power project in more than three decades. The panel on Thursday approved plans from Southern Company for two reactors at a Georgia site. The $14 billion reactors could begin operating as soon as 2016 and 2017.


The Otter principle

February 9, 2012

The Arizona Republic’s “fact check” column rates a statement made by sheriff Joe Arpaio false. Arpaio’s mistake? Relying on reporting from the Arizona Republic.

Well, trusting the media’s reporting is a big mistake, to be sure.


Red-light cameras aren’t about safety

February 9, 2012

A new study finds that red-light cameras lead to more car crashes. Of course, that’s not surprising, since that’s what all the previous studies have found as well:

The results didn’t surprise Rajiv Shah, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who studied the effectiveness of red-light cameras in Chicago and concluded in 2010 they offered “no significant benefit.”

“I’d say that’s very consistent with what cities across America have found,” he said of Kansas City’s results. “There’s not really a hard connection between reducing accidents and red-light cameras.”

Red-light cameras are just a very inefficient tax.

(Via No Silence Here, via Instapundit.)


Horrifying

February 9, 2012

A New Mexico man picked up for DWI gets two years in solitary confinement, with no medical attention, without ever getting a trial.

It’s horrifying that this could happen in America. The people responsible should do hard time. If the law gives them immunity, then the law is an ass.

(Via Instapundit.)


LightSquared fail

February 9, 2012

LightSquared’s latest test confirms that it could crash planes:

Transportation deputy secretary John Porcari told a House subcommittee on Wednesday that LightSquared’s planned wireless network is “not compatible” with flight-safety GPS devices used in commercial aircrafts.

He told lawmakers on the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s subcommittee on Aviation that LightSquared would disrupt GPS systems that pilots use to help them navigate in low altitudes, including devices that warn them when they are getting too close to terrain.

The FAA also pointed out how ridiculous it is that we keep spending taxpayer money to test this privately owned system:

Porcari said the Federal Aviation Administration has spent $2 million testing LightSquared’s network. He called spending that amount of money to review a private company “quite unusual.”

“However, due to the Administration’s commitment to increased access to broadband, the investment was merited, but given the results we reviewed, further investment cannot be justified at this time,” he said.

Pssst, it’s not because of any commitment to broadband that this has been going on; it’s because of the administration’s commitment to paying off its cronies.

For their part, LightSquared is sticking with their “it’s not us, it’s everyone else” routine:

The company says the problem is that GPS receivers are poorly designed and are receiving signals from outside their designated frequency bands.

Yeah, 75% of all GPS receivers are poorly designed. . .

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


Getting it wrong

February 9, 2012

Dan Abrams catalogs the many, many errors in the legacy media’s reporting on Citizens United. (Via Instapundit.)


ACLU opposes religious freedom

February 8, 2012

The ACLU has come out in support of the Obama administration’s mandate requiring the Catholic Church to change its position on contraception. I can’t say this surprises me. The ACLU has been very weak on religious freedom; opposing it more often than defending it.

POSTSCRIPT: A new Rasmussen poll finds that the public opposes the mandate 50-39.


Hawaii considers tracking internet usage

February 8, 2012

Big Brother is watching you:

Hawaii’s legislature is weighing an unprecedented proposal to curb the privacy of Aloha State residents: requiring Internet providers to keep track of every Web site their customers visit.

Which party runs Hawaii again?

(Via Instapundit.)


Twitter sells out

February 8, 2012

ABC News reports:

Twitter has announced a new plan that will allow it to censor users’ tweets on a country-by-country basis if governments object to them. It says the policy is an attempt to keep doing business in countries, such as China, that do not welcome all expression.

On the company’s blog Twitter said it will now withhold offending content within the specific country that censors the language, while leaving it unaltered for the rest of the world. It will also post a censorship notice whenever a tweet is removed.


Ah yes, the civility

February 8, 2012

Yet another Democratic politician compares Republicans to terrorists. (Via Instapundit.)


We still hate Obamacare

February 8, 2012

By a 54-17 margin, Americans want the Supreme Court to throw out health care nationalization.


This ain’t Sparta

February 8, 2012

President Obama says the entire country should be run like the military. Enough talk of freedom; America is best when everyone does what they are told.

I do find it striking that the left doesn’t find any of this stuff sinister.


Mitt did it all wrong

February 8, 2012

Don Surber writes:

No matter who you support this year, you have to admit Mitt Romney went about becoming president the wrong way. Instead of wasting his time learning how business works and building a multi-billion-dollar company that really did save or create hundreds of thousands of jobs, Mitt should have lived off his daddy’s fortune like Jack Kennedy. Chasing skirts and molesting teenage virgin is a lot more fun than figuring out how to revive an old business.

Instead, Mitt Romney gave his inheritance to charity. Who does that anymore? . . .

And what was with graduating in the top third of his class at Harvard Law School and going into business? He should have parked his butt in Chicago thanks to a two-book deal and a handsome advance and written a couple of autobiographies. Practicing one’s faith by spending 2 1/2 years as a missionary? That’s for suckers. Write about it instead of living it. As “The Audacity of Hope” shows, that is where the money is — and best of all, the press treats you like a living god when you write instead of do.

Marrying into wealth may get you better press, but as John Kerry and John McCain discovered, the press can carry you only so far.

Hard work though. Who does that? Small wonder the public is so suspicious.

(Via Instapundit.)


Tom Friedman self-parody alert

February 7, 2012

Tom Friedman’s proof that Republicans have gone off the deep end: Fidel Castro is attacking them. No, really.


Shutting down the do-gooders

February 7, 2012

Megan McArdle comments on the Obama administration’s order for Catholic hospitals to dispense contraceptives:

Everyone . . . seems to assume that we’re doing the Catholic Church a big old favor by allowing them to provide health care and other social services to a needy public. Why, we’re really coddling them, and it’s about time they started acting a little grateful for everything we’ve done for them!

These people seem to be living in an alternate universe that I don’t have access to, where there’s a positive glut of secular organizations who are just dying to provide top-notch care for the sick, the poor, and the dispossessed.

What McArdle is insufficiently cynical to recognize is that the far left doesn’t care whether anyone can do what the Catholic Church does. To that bunch, it’s better for the unfortunate to go without, than for them to be served by people who don’t answer to the government.


The Chicago Way

February 7, 2012

An audit of the Department of Health and Human Services found $10 billion in discrepancies. But let’s be fair; HHS’s mandate is correcting Catholic theology, not accounting. . .


Obama’s next attack on freedom of religion

February 7, 2012

Unchastened by its 9-0 rebuke by the Supreme Court in its effort to gain the power to dictate to churches who their ministers will be, the Obama administration has turned its attention on Army chaplains. The administration prohibited Catholic chaplains in the Army from reading a pastoral letter from the Catholic Church to their congregations. (The letter opposed the Obama administration’s order that Catholic hospitals dispense contraceptives.) The administration also edited the letter before allowing it to be distributed in printed form.

Let’s please not have any more nonsense about this administration’s respect for civil liberties.


Now isn’t that interesting. . .

February 7, 2012

High-ranking ATF officials have ties to the anti-gun Joyce Foundation. (Via Instapundit.)


Fox in the hen house

February 7, 2012

In an interview, Justice Ginsberg explained that she doesn’t like the Constitution:

“I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” she said. She recommended, instead, the South African Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the European Convention on Human Rights.

That’s certainly consistent with her rulings. She’s done her best to make the Constitution into something else.

(Via the Corner.)


Kathleen Sebelius: liar

February 7, 2012

Kathleen Sebelius, in a USA Today op-ed, lies through her teeth:

The public health case for making sure insurance covers contraception is clear. But we also recognize that many religious organizations have deeply held beliefs opposing the use of birth control. That’s why in the rule we put forward, we specifically carved out from the policy religious organizations that primarily employ people of their own faith.

This is untrue, and don’t think for a moment she doesn’t know it. Alan Sears explains:

The mandate explicitly does not exempt groups merely if they primarily hire members of their own faith. It forces those groups to violate their beliefs, unless they also primarily serve persons of their own faith. So a Christian hospital would have to turn aside Jews and Muslims at the door to be “religious enough” under the president’s aggressively secular policy.

POSTSCRIPT: Actually it’s worse than that. Just in case the exception still happened to apply to someone, it contains several other provisos as well, the sum of which is to ensure that no one will ever be exempt.


I miss Reagan

February 6, 2012

Patriot shames

February 6, 2012

In honor of last night’s Superbowl loss by the New England Patriots, I’d like to share a flashback to the game in 2007 in which I learned to despise the Patriots. It wasn’t the infamous game in which the Patriots were caught recording their opponents’ defensive signals; it was a forgotten late-season game against the Miami Dolphins.

The Patriots had the league’s best record at 14-0; the Dolphins had the worst record at 1-13. I happened to see a bit of the game in the fourth quarter. The Patriots led 28-7 and had a fourth down at the Miami 26. Despite being in field goal range, and despite their 3-touchdown lead against the league’s worst team, they went for the fourth-down conversion.

I’ve never seen a more blatant display of running up the score in professional football. Rather than simply kick the field goal and extend their lead to an insurmountable 24 points, they instead tried to humiliate the league’s worst team with a passing conversion on fourth-and-long. (As it turned out, Brady was sacked on the play, which gave me some measure of satisfaction.) I had no particular feeling for the Dolphins, but I was appalled by the lack of sportsmanship.


Costco v. Omega

February 1, 2012

In a troubling development, an evenly divided Supreme Court allowed a lower court decision against Costco to stand in a lawsuit between Costco and Omega, a maker of overpriced watches. At stake is the first-sale doctrine, which says that copyrighted material can be resold or given away without the permission of the copyright owner. Libraries and used booksellers depend on the doctrine.

Omega wanted to sell its watches at different prices in different regions. Costco was foiling them by buying the watches overseas where they were cheaper and selling them in the United States. Omega sued, claiming that its logo on each watch was copyrighted material and Costco was reselling that material illegally.

The case hinged not on the copyright claim (which seems ridiculous to me, but I’m not a lawyer), but on the first-sale doctrine. Costco argued that, having bought the watches, it could resell them at whatever price it wanted.

The Ninth Circuit appeals court ruled that the first-sale doctrine does not apply to goods manufactured abroad. The Supreme Court, divided 4-4, failed to produce an opinion. (Kagan was recused, and the court did not reveal how the remaining justices divided.)

This non-decision is troubling on a number of levels. It’s clearly bad for consumers. By weakening the first-sale doctrine it’s bad for the free exchange of ideas. And it creates a perverse incentive for companies to manufacture their goods overseas. Congress ought to fix this.