Smart diplomacy

May 30, 2012

One of the many lies we were told about Barack Obama is that he would be good at diplomacy:

US President Barack Obama’s description of a Nazi German Holocaust site as a “Polish death camp” shocked Poland, whose leaders insist the record be set straight 67 years after World War II.

Obama on Tuesday labeled the Nazi facility used to process Jews for extermination as a “Polish death camp.” The White House later said the president “misspoke” and expressed “regret”.

President Obama isn’t stupid, but he might as well be. The kind of intelligence it takes to navigate the corridors of corrupt power in Chicago is entirely different from the kind it takes to conduct a competent foreign policy.

(Via Instapundit.)

Report rips attorneys in Stevens case

May 28, 2012

The Hill reports:

Two Department of Justice prosecutors have been suspended without pay and a Senate Democrat has scheduled a committee hearing following the release Thursday of a DOJ report that detailed the government’s misconduct in its botched case against the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). . . The report found the attorneys “acted in reckless disregard” for their legal obligations by not disclosing exculpatory evidence to Stevens’s defense lawyers.

Remember, their misconduct changed the outcome of the election, giving Democrats the deciding vote for their stimulus boondoggles and for health care nationalization.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)

The policy was a success, but the student (nearly) died

May 28, 2012

Officials in a Florida school confiscated a boy’s asthma inhaler because he didn’t have the right form for it. Then, when he had an asthma attack, they locked him in a room and left him to die. (Fortunately, he survived.)

Getting fired is too good for these people. They need to go to prison.

Not that anyone is getting fired. On the contrary:

Volusia County School officials stand by a Deltona High School nurse’s decision to refuse a student his inhaler during an asthma attack, citing a lack of a parent’s signature on a medical release form.

That’s the real outrage in this story. The school took his medicine and left him to die, and with the full benefit of hindsight, the district is standing by them.

We have a government so concerned by its own made-up procedures that they prefer to kill children than violate them.

(Via Instapundit.)

Obamacare delenda est

May 28, 2012

The Supreme Court ought not be swayed by non-legal arguments for Obamacare, but Ilya Somin demolishes them anyway.

Good grief

May 28, 2012

President Obama casts himself as a budget cutter and enemy of big government. And I’m a big advocate of defense cuts and government-run health care.

How do you know MSNBC is lying?

May 28, 2012

I think that most Republicans going on MSNBC know what they are getting into. But when they buck the anti-Romney narrative, I don’t think they expect MSNBC to mute their mike and insult them on-air.

Fine; it’s their air to do with as they please. But they still shouldn’t lie. Host Tamron Hall said Carney went off the agreed topics:

You knew the topics we were going to discuss, you agreed to come on the show.

Indeed he did, and the topics were:

Panel: Tim Carney and Jimmy Williams

Romney’s haunted by high school memories

Does the story matter? Will it hurt Romney

(Emphasis mine.) The bogosity of the story is squarely in the range of topics he was invited to discuss. Hall lied.

BONUS: Hall’s parting shot was:

I greatly appreciate you [Williams] joining me. I would do the same for Tim but we have to be able to have conversations and not do hit jobs when we know we’re guests on the show.

That’s pretty amazing, since she cut off the conversation when he interfered with her hit job.

The Obamacare effect

May 28, 2012

What killed the recovery? Here’s a clue:

Thanks Pakistan!

May 28, 2012

Well, this is revealing:

A Pakistani doctor who helped the U.S. track down Usama bin Laden was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Wednesday for conspiring against the state, officials said, a verdict that is likely to further strain the country’s relationship with Washington

Shakil Afridi ran a vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA and verify bin Laden’s presence at the compound in the town of Abbottabad where U.S. commandos killed the Al Qaeda chief last May in a unilateral raid. The operation outraged Pakistani officials, who portrayed it as an act of treachery by a supposed ally. . .

“He was working for a foreign spy agency. We are looking after our national interests,” said a Pakistani intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with the agency’s policy.

This doesn’t make sense if Pakistani intelligence viewed Bin Laden as a hostile hiding out in Pakistan. This only sense if they saw his presence, free, in Pakistan as in line with their “national interests”.

Also, I can’t help wonder how Pakistani intelligence identified Afridi.

POSTSCRIPT: This article in the Pakistani press is the top Google completion for Shakil Afridi. If it’s as influential as the Google ranking suggests, I think it’s revealing. The author compares Afridi to Julius Rosenberg (the American traitor who gave the atomic bomb to the Soviets). The comparison only makes sense if they see Afridi’s actions as hostile to Pakistani interests.

Constitution, schmonstitution

May 23, 2012

David Bernstein compiles a list of Democratic quotes derisive of constitutional limits on Congress’s power.

Even Democrats don’t want him

May 23, 2012

After narrowly winning West Virginia over an imprisoned felon, President Obama has eked out two more victories: 52-42 in Tennessee and 58-42 in Kentucky. A named challenger would have given him a real fight.


May 23, 2012

SpaceX is headed to the space station. If mankind has a future in space, it has to be with private enterprise.

Returning home

May 23, 2012

When President Obama recess appointed Craig Becker to the NLRB, many worried that Becker would be too biased in favor of unions. Whatever could have given them that idea?

Craig Becker will become general counsel for the AFL-CIO, president Richard Trumka announced today. . .

(Via the Corner.)

Obamacare propaganda

May 22, 2012

HHS has written rules mandating that health insurers distribute propaganda for Obamacare, but they aren’t leaving the task to the private-sector mandate alone. They’re also funding their propaganda the old fashioned way, with tax money:

The Health and Human Services Department has signed a $20 million contract with a public-relations firm to highlight part of the Affordable Care Act. . . The campaign was mandated by the Affordable Care Act and must describe the importance of prevention while also explaining preventive benefits provided by the healthcare law.

(Via the Corner.)

Enough is enough

May 22, 2012


May 21, 2012

In 2009, the Pittsburgh School District renamed one of its schools after President Obama, a sitting president who had been in office just a few months.

ASIDE: Apparently a Pittsburgh school can be named after a living person if no geographical location or historical person is available. The world has exhausted its supply of historical persons!

But that’s not even the bad part:

First, the students decided to pick a name. After debating between the Olympians, the Boas (Barack Obama Academy), the Eagles and the Spartans, the students voted that they would be the Barack Obama Eagles. . .

The colors were a lot easier; purple, black and silver, since purple represents royalty.

(Emphasis mine.) Wow. Just. . . Wow.

Maybe the article is just wrong. I sure hope so.

Democrats disenfranchise Arkansas

May 21, 2012

Remember in 2000 when the Democrats’ cry was to “count every vote”? Of course, they didn’t mean it; at the very same time they were suing to disenfranchise thousands of absentee voters in two Florida counties. But disenfranchising an entire state is a bold move, even for them:

After a poll released this week showed President Barack Obama only beating his Democratic primary opponent John Wolfe Jr. by seven points, 45 percent to 38 percent, in Arkansas’s Fourth Congressional District, state Democrats moved to practically disenfranchise Arkansas voters. “[D]elegates Wolfe might claim won’t be recognized at the national convention,” national party officials are telling state Democrats.

The people of Arkansas can vote, so long as they vote for Barack Obama. But any vote cast for the wrong person will not count.

The propaganda mandate

May 21, 2012

The Obama administration has issued new rules requiring that health insurers distribute Obamacare propaganda to any customers who receive a rebate this summer:

Rules finalized by the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday instruct insurers to notify recipients of rebates in the first paragraph of the mailing by writing: “This letter is to inform you that you will receive a rebate of a portion of your health insurance premiums. This rebate is required by the Affordable Care Act—the health reform law.”

“It’s not the real world”

May 21, 2012

The Obama administration has been falsifying the job-loss estimates for its regulations:

Obama administration officials may have pressured government contractors to change job loss estimates associated with coal regulations, audio recordings reveal.

The tapes show that unnamed officials with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) asked government contractors to change their calculations of job losses associated with the Stream Protection Rule.

A preliminary draft of an environmental impact statement estimated that up to 7,000 coalminers could lose their jobs under the administration’s “preferred” regulation. After a leaked copy of the report went public, officials asked the contractors to compare job estimates to a model in which another regulation was enforced, rather than the real world numbers.

“It’s not the real world, this is rulemaking,” an OSM official tells a skeptical contractor on the recording.

They’ve been caught red-handed, cooking the books. This ought to be a political bombshell of the first order. If the press doesn’t hammer this, we’ll know they are well and truly in the tank.


May 17, 2012

Ice curtain

May 17, 2012

Iceland is in sad shape:

In a globalized world, it is difficult to uphold international living standards when you are cut off from the rest of the globe. This is the situation facing Iceland following the collapse of the krona in 2008 and the resulting strict enforcement of capital controls.

Icelanders can no longer travel freely; we are restricted to roughly €2,000 ($2,570) for travel expenses on each trip. We are restricted in terms of how much support we can give relatives studying abroad and we are completely banned from investing internationally. With the exception of those over 40 who were born on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain, no European has ever experienced such a situation.

Wow. What a uniquely destructive policy.

Imagine a bank that decides to hold on to its capital by prohibiting withdrawals. Sure, it can hold on to the money it has, for a while, but it will never get another cent. If Iceland keeps this policy in place until its economy recovers, it will be permanent.

Glenn Reynolds adds:

Yes, and by a curious coincidence, the U.S. government has been making it steadily more difficult for Americans to move money offshore.

Lord help us.

All of the above, except coal

May 17, 2012

President Obama says his energy policy is “all of the above”. It’s clearly not true, if you watch his actions, but now you don’t need to. The Obama campaign inadvertently let the mask slip when it left coal out of his energy policy web page.

But enough about them, let’s talk about me

May 17, 2012

President Obama inserts himself into the official White House biographies of former presidents.

The White House defends itself thus:

“No biographies have been altered,” a White House official told Fox News. “We simply added links at the bottom of each page to related content, which is a commonly used best practice to encourage people to browse more pages on a site.”

Lame. If you look at the pages, the Obama content is clearly represented as part of the biography. But beyond that, it’s not even true. For example, take a look at the new Calvin Coolidge page, and compare it to the original one. The original one ended with the paragraph:

Learn more about Calvin Coolidge ‘s spouse, Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge.

The Obama material was inserted above that, so it was not at the bottom of the page. The best they can say honestly is their new material is near the bottom of the page.

Also, the new material itself is just lame:

On Feb. 22, 1924 Calvin Coolidge became the first president to make a public radio address to the American people. President Coolidge later helped create the Federal Radio Commission, which has now evolved to become the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).   President Obama became the first president to hold virtual gatherings and town halls using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.

I think there’s a grave danger for Obama in this sort of thing. Obama still somehow has good personal approval ratings, despite the terrible approval ratings for all his policies. Doing things that make him look simply pathetic undermine the only thing he still has going for him.

POSTSCRIPT: The RNC delivers some well-deserved mockery:

Guilty until proven innocent

May 15, 2012

Here’s a story of political hypocrisy so stunning, it’s hard to wrap my head around it: In Australia, Julia Gillard’s Labor Party’s government is hanging by a thread. In order to secure an extra seat, she bought off one of the opposition’s representatives by making him speaker of the House of Commons. Now that representative, Peter Slipper, is charged with sexual harassment and might have to step down pending resolution of the charges.

Australia’s Attorney General, Nicola Roxon, thinks that’s not fair:

We have a legal system so those complaints can be tested, so people are given the opportunity to defend them. We cannot live in a world – we might as well have no legal system if we just say as soon as the allegation is made, that then it’s proven true. That just feeds into the sort of muck-raking mentality that we have from Mr Abbott and says that any time an allegation’s been made, people are automatically sentenced to whatever he deems is right.

That’s not the way for us to run a country. It’s not the legal system that we have and it’s not the practice of what happened when Mr Howard was the prime minister.

She thinks that Slipper should have the presumption of innocence, and that he should be able to stay in his position (propping up the government) until proven guilty.

There is a notion that we should hold elected officials to a higher standard, at least when the charges are plausible, but as a general rule she’s right, of course. We should have the presumption of innocence.

That’s what is so outrageous about this story. Because in 2009 this very government changed the law to remove the presumption of innocence in sexual harassment cases. In fact, the new law was put into place by none other than Julia Gillard when she was Minister for Industrial Relations under Kevin Rudd, the previous Prime Minister.

Roxon says that’s not the way to run a country. She’s right. She says it was not the practice under PM Howard. Also right. But she’s wrong when she says it’s not the legal system they have, because they themselves changed the law:

If (a) in an application in relation to a contravention of this Part, it is alleged that a person took, or is taking, action for a particular reason or with a particular intent; and (b) taking that action for that reason or with that intent would constitute a contravention of this Part; it is presumed, in proceedings arising from the application, that the action was, or is being, taken for that reason or with that intent, unless the person proves otherwise.

These people remove the presumption of innocence, the most basic legal protection there is. Then, when one of their people is in the dock, they want him held to a lower standard than the one they imposed on everyone else.

The only comfort one can take from this is that in Australia, the leftists don’t have the temerity to call themselves liberals. So at least we don’t have the spectacle of “liberals” dismantling civil liberties.

For king and country

May 15, 2012

President Obama says (cue to 1:46 here) that our armed forces “are out there fighting on [his] behalf”.

America is not a monarchy. Our armed forces swear to protect and defend the Constitution, they don’t swear fealty to the president. Given a moment to think about it, I’m sure Obama would get this right. But off-hand remarks can be revealing about how people really think about things.

Take Mitt Romney. He remarked off-hand that he likes being able to fire people. That showed that he wants to be able to hold his people accountable for their performance and replace them if they’re not measuring up. Somehow he took grief for that. Obama’s off-hand remark shows that he thinks he’s king.

LightSquared bankrupt

May 14, 2012

It’s a fitting end for a classic example of crony capitalism. LightSquared’s entire business plan was to use its political connections to do what others aren’t allowed to do. The administration tried, but ultimately it was too much — even for them — to give its cronies permission to break the GPS system.

(Previous post.)

Iranian nuclear program has explosive containment chamber

May 14, 2012

Anyone who still denies that Iran has a nuclear weapons program program probably won’t be convinced by anything, but the evidence keeps accumulating:

A drawing based on information from inside an Iranian military site shows an explosives containment chamber of the type needed for nuclear arms-related tests that U.N. inspectors suspect Tehran has conducted there. Iran denies such testing and has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of such a chamber.

The computer-generated drawing was provided to The Associated Press by an official of a country tracking Iran’s nuclear program who said it proves the structure exists, despite Tehran’s refusal to acknowledge it.

That official said the image is based on information from a person who had seen the chamber at the Parchin military site, adding that going into detail would endanger the life of that informant. The official comes from an IAEA member country that is severely critical of Iran’s assertions that its nuclear activities are peaceful and asserts they are a springboard for making atomic arms.

A former senior IAEA official said he believes the drawing is accurate. Olli Heinonen, until last year the U.N. nuclear agency’s deputy director general in charge of the Iran file, said it was “very similar” to a photo he recently saw that he believes to be the pressure chamber the IAEA suspects is at Parchin.

Yes Virginia, the bulbs are banned

May 14, 2012

For some reason, Democrats and their enablers in the legacy media don’t want you to believe that light bulbs are banned, and engage in amazing hair-splitting to deny the fact. For example:

Opponents often describe the standards as a “lightbulb ban,” arguing that the rules would greatly restrict consumer choice by pushing out traditional incandescent bulbs in favor of more expensive, but more efficient, LED (light emitting diode) and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs.

But the standards do not ban incandescent bulbs. They instead require them to be more efficient. While more efficient lightbulbs are often more expensive at the point of sale, experts note they save consumers money on their electricity bills over the long term.

Take that, straw man! No one contests the proposition that high-efficiency lighting saves money in the long run. People like incandescent bulbs because of the quality of their light. So, do high-efficiency incandescent bulbs generate the same quality light as traditional light bulbs?

If you’ve ever used a high-efficiency incandescent bulb, you know the answer is no. The light is colder and harsher, not so much as a fluorescent bulb, but visibly more so than a traditional bulb.

Moreover, this is what you would expect from the physics. Different physical processes tend to generate different spectra. Scientists often use those spectra to identify things that they cannot observe directly. We don’t  know how to craft a made-to-order spectrum, at least not inexpensively. So if you change the process to generate less heat, you’re almost certainly going to change the spectrum.

Obamacare’s broken religious exemption

May 14, 2012

We well know that the Obama administration will not grant a religious exemption for its contraception/abortion mandate, but, for some, it actually does provide an exemption to the entire mandate (124 Stat. 246, here):

[Applicable individual] shall not include any individual for any month if such individual has in effect an exemption under section 1311(d)(4)(H) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which certifies that such individual is a member of a recognized religious sect or division thereof described in section 1402(g)(1) and an adherent of established tenets or teachings of such sect or division as described in such section.

Section 1402(g)(1) is a provision of the tax code that governs groups exempt from paying Social Security tax. It applies, for example, to the Amish. Some have suggested that the exemption would apply to Muslims; Snopes says that’s not clear (although, for some reason, they rate the claim “false” rather than “undetermined”).

But I want to point out that, in any case, the exemption is drafted incorrectly. (Maybe it’s silly to point out flaws in the law when the entire thing is an atrocity, but never mind that.)

The Social Security provision prevents people claiming benefits after obtaining an exemption from paying the tax (1402(g)(1), here):

Such exemption may be granted only if the application contains or is accompanied by . . .

(B) his waiver of all benefits and other payments under titles II and XVIII of the Social Security Act on the basis of his wages and self-employment income as well as all such benefits and other payments to him on the basis of the wages and self-employment income of any other person . . .

But as far as I can determine, there is no such provision in Obamacare. The guaranteed availability provision applies to everyone, not only to “applicable individuals” (124 Stat. 156):

Subject to subsections (b) through (e), each health insurance issuer that offers health insurance coverage in the individual or group market in a State must accept every employer and individual in the State that applies for such coverage.

Thus, to claim a religious exemption to the mandate, one must forego claiming Social Security benefits, but one can still exploit guaranteed issue.

This is wrong in both directions. On the one side, it allows exactly the sort of free rider the mandate was supposed to prevent: a person belonging to an exempt sect can remain outside the mandate until he or she becomes sick, and then obtain insurance. On the other side, persons with a religious objection to health insurance cannot receive the exemption unless they also waive the Social Security benefits toward which they have been paying their entire lives.

This is a good example of why it’s a good idea to read a bill before you pass it.

We should have figured this

May 14, 2012

The Democrats actually receive training to play the race card:

House Democrats received training this week on how to address the issue of race to defend government programs, according to training materials obtained by The Washington Examiner.

The prepared content of a Tuesday presentation to the House Democratic Caucus and staff indicates that Democrats will seek to portray apparently neutral free-market rhetoric as being charged with racial bias, conscious or unconscious.

“Shut up”

May 14, 2012

This is so timely, it’s hard to believe it’s three years old:

(Via Instapundit.)

Another ingenious plan

May 7, 2012

The Washington Post reports:

The United States has for several years been secretly releasing high-level detainees from a military prison in Afghanistan as part of negotiations with insurgent groups, a bold effort to quell violence but one that U.S. officials acknowledge poses substantial risks.

As the United States has unsuccessfully pursued a peace deal with the Taliban, the “strategic release” program has quietly served as a live diplomatic channel, allowing American officials to use prisoners as bargaining chips in restive provinces where military power has reached its limits.

But the releases are an inherent gamble: The freed detainees are often notorious fighters who would not be released under the traditional legal system for military prisoners in Afghanistan. They must promise to give up violence — and U.S. officials warn them that if they are caught attacking American troops, they will be detained once again.

So this is the plan: (1) We release dangerous Taliban fighters. (2) ??? (3) The Taliban abandons its quest to enslave Afghanistan to their brand of Islamism. Sounds brilliant, but could we get a little more detail on step 2?

But have no fear. If they attack us again, and are captured again, then they’ll be detained again. That’ll show them.

How to get to tyranny

May 7, 2012

Step 1: Make nearly everyone dependent on the government for a basic necessity like health care. Step 2: Deny that necessity to people to don’t comply with the government’s demands.

With Obamacare, we’re setting out on step 1, but the UK is well ahead of us. They have finished step 1 and are setting out on step 2:

A majority of doctors support measures to deny treatment to smokers and the obese, according to a survey that has sparked a row over the NHS’s growing use of “lifestyle rationing”.

Some 54% of doctors who took part said the NHS should have the right to withhold non-emergency treatment from patients who do not lose weight or stop smoking. Some medics believe unhealthy behaviour can make procedures less likely to work, and that the service is not obliged to devote scarce resources to them. . .

Smokers and obese people are already being denied operations such as IVF, breast reconstructions and a new hip or knee in some parts of England. The medical magazine Pulse last month found that 25 of 91 primary care trusts (PCTs) had introduced treatment bans for those groups since April 2011.

Bedfordshire PCT, for example, decided to withhold hip and knee surgery from obese patients until they had slimmed down by 10% or had a body mass index of under 35. Similarly, North Essex PCT obliged obese people to lose 5% of their bodyweight and keep the pounds shed for at least six months before receiving treatment.

The way to prevent this is to put individuals in charge of their health care, which is exactly the opposite of Obamacare.

(Via Instapundit.)

Big Brother in the backseat

May 7, 2012

The Senate wants every car to contain a “black box” that records its driving “event data”. Even if you don’t see this as sinister, it certainly seems unwise, as the law would essentially require the black box to be accessible to hackers.

Obama the unsophisticated

May 7, 2012

The Washington Free Beacon has done an analysis of President Obama’s speeches using the Flesch-Kincaid readability test (this is a standard, objective measure used to estimate the education level needed to comprehend the material):

Since taking office, Obama has routinely spoken to the American people in a more simplistic manner than his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Obama’s State of the Union addresses peaked at a 10th grade level in 2009 and declined to an eighth-grade level by 2012. Bush, on the other hand, scored consistently above the 10th grade level with his State of the Union addresses, including a high of 11.84 for his 2005 address.

Bush’s appeal for his signature tax cuts was delivered at a higher level of complexity than Obama’s argument for their repeal.

The former president’s June 2001 signing statement was at a 10th grade level, compared with the seventh grade level at which Obama spoke in 2010. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” State of the Union speech, given in 2002 and derided by academic critics as overly simplistic, was delivered a full grade level above Obama’s lauded 2002 “dumb war” oration.

Moreover, Obama’s rhetoric has been getting simpler over time:

Obama’s major campaign addresses and writings consistently came in above his presidential speeches. Obama’s rhetoric peaked in his 2008 speech on race relations during the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy; the speech was at a 12th grade level. The oratory matched Obama’s literary prowess. His second bestseller, The Audacity of Hope—a title borrowed from a Wright sermon—was written at an 11th grade level and fell slightly below the Flesch score of the Gettysburg Address.

Following his September 2009 health care address, delivered at a ninth grade level, Obama began using more and more simplistic language when addressing the American people.

In the past two years, Obama’s major national addresses have fluctuated between grade seven (Gabriel Giffords; September jobs speeches) and grade eight (his April 11, 2012 remarks on the Buffett Rule).

In his re-election campaign, Obama has not returned to the rhetoric of his first campaign. His recent speeches to college students were measured at a sixth-grade level.

POSTSCRIPT: During the Bush administration, there was a stream of academics who claimed to analyze President Bush’s writings or speeches and prove he was a moron. This differs in two ways. First, the analysis doesn’t claim to measure Obama’s intelligence, just the complexity of his discourse. Second, it’s a standard, objective measure dating to 1975, so it wasn’t rigged to deliver a desired outcome.

(Via IMAO.)

Pelosi lied about waterboarding

May 7, 2012

We already knew that the Nancy Pelosi lied about her knowledge of CIA waterboarding, but former CIA counterterrorism chief Jose Rodriguez gives us more details:

“We explained that as a result of the techniques, Abu Zubaydah was compliant and providing good intelligence. We made crystal clear that authorized techniques, including waterboarding, had by then been used on Zubaydah.” Rodriguez writes that he told Pelosi everything, adding, “We held back nothing.”

How did she respond when presented with this information? Rodriguez writes that neither Pelosi nor anyone else in the briefing objected to the techniques being used. Indeed, he notes, when one member of his team described another technique that had been considered but not authorized or used, “Pelosi piped up immediately and said that in her view, use of that technique (which I will not describe) would have been ‘wrong.’ ” She raised no such concern about waterboarding, he writes. “Since she felt free to label one considered-and-rejected technique as wrong,” Rodriguez adds, “we went away with the clear impression that she harbored no such feelings about the ten tactics [including waterboarding] that we told her were in use.”

Although the detail is interesting, Rodriguez’s testimony doesn’t really change anything. Pelosi is already on record claiming that the CIA lied, so this is just one more CIA guy that she’ll say is lying. But there’s this:

Rodriguez writes that there’s contemporaneous evidence to back his account of the briefing. Six days after the meeting took place, Rodriguez reveals, “a cable went out from headquarters to the black site informing them that the briefing for the House leadership had taken place.” He explains that “[t]he cable to the field made clear that Goss and Pelosi had been briefed on the state of AZ’s interrogation, specifically including the use of the waterboard and other enhanced interrogation techniques.”

No wonder the Democrats don’t want an investigation.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)

Why I don’t care about the French election

May 7, 2012

For decades, the central principle behind French foreign policy has been opposition to America. Arguably that’s been one of its central principles since the 1790s. Twice now I’ve been deluded to believe that the election of a conservative President in France might change that attitude. They even called Sarkozy “Sarko the American”. It all came to naught.

Hollande’s election will surely be a disaster for France. So what? I won’t quite say that’s a good thing, but I don’t much care. They’d just better not come to us looking for a bailout.

Well, at least he’s not governing

May 4, 2012

The Daily Mail reports:

Barack Obama has already held more re-election fundraising events than every elected president since Richard Nixon combined, according to figures to be published in a new book. . .

The figures, contained a in a new book called The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign by Brendan J. Doherty, due to be published by University Press of Kansas in July, give statistical backing to the notion that Obama is more preoccupied with being re-elected than any other commander-in-chief of modern times.

The numbers are impressive: 124 fundraisers for Obama (through April) versus 94 for Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush.

(Via JammieWearingFool.)

Russia threatens war over missile defense

May 4, 2012

This is alarming:

Russia’s top military officer warned Thursday that Moscow would strike NATO missile-defense sites in Eastern Europe before they are ready for action, if the U.S. pushes ahead with deployment.

“A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens,” Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov said at an international missile-defense conference in Moscow attended by senior U.S. and NATO officials.

Gen. Makarov made the threat amid an apparent stalemate in talks between U.S. and Russian negotiators over the missile-defense system, part of President Obama’s policy to “reset” relations with Moscow. The threat also elicited shock and derision from Western missile-defense analysts.

Dusting off an old lie

May 4, 2012

DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) says that Republicans want to redefine rape. It’s an out-an-out lie, and an old one at that. I debunked it thoroughly in February 2011.

On DREAM, Obama prefers nothing to compromise

May 4, 2012

President Obama says he wants a bipartisan compromise on the DREAM bill:

‘No’ is not an option. I want to sign the DREAM Act into law. I’ve got the pens all ready. I’m willing to work with anybody who is serious to get this done, and to achieve bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform that solves this challenge once and for all.

But when there is a bipartisan compromise on the table, authored by Marco Rubio, he wants nothing to do with it.

He’d rather have a campaign issue than a compromise. Will it work for him to blast Republicans for blocking the bill when his own administration has become its main obstacle? We shall see.

Hispanics split on SB 1070

May 2, 2012

Wow: A Quinnipiac poll finds that Hispanics are split almost evenly on Arizona’s SB 1070 (the controversial anti-illegal-immigration law), 49% against and 47% in favor.

I’ve heard people claim that most Hispanics oppose illegal immigration because illegal immigrants steal their jobs, but I had trouble believing it. It was too much at odds with the picture painted by the media. But it turns out to be true, or very nearly so.

It’s a valuable reminder not to believe what the media tells you.

“People’s Rights Amendment” versus the press

May 2, 2012

The execrable “People’s Rights Amendment” proposed by so-called liberals such as Nancy Pelosi would not literally repeal the First Amendment rights to speech, religion, and the press. It would only repeal those rights for those people who organize their activities as a corporation — which is to say, nearly every church, newspaper, and activist group.

Eugene Volokh takes a look at what would happen to our press if the amendment were to be enacted:

First, any media organization that wants to be free would thus have to give up the benefits of the corporate form, and will have to organized as a partnership. This will make it much harder for those media organizations to raise operating capital, dealing with changes in ownership as partners die or leave, and the like.

Second, those media organizations that choose to organize as a corporation would have huge practical competitive benefits over organizations that choose to organize as partnerships. As a result, the normal competitive process will . . . give corporate-owned large media organizations the overwhelming majority of the market share.

In the end there would be a tiny free press, and nearly the entire media would be corporate. Thus, the government would be free to censor essentially the entire media.

And no one should doubt that it would, given the opportunity. Citizens United, the case the spawned this horrible idea, was specifically a case in which the government wanted to censor a movie for its political content. In arguing the case, the Obama administration specifically claimed also to have the power to ban other media, such as books and pamphlets.

More generally, what’s going on here is an effort to take the next big step toward totalitarianism. Our constitution limits the power of the federal government in two ways: First, there are positive restraints: the doctrine of enumerated powers says the government has only those powers that are explicitly granted to it. Second, there are negative restraints: some powers that are explicitly denied to it.

The framers of the Constitution originally thought that negative restraints were unnecessary given its system of positive restraints. For example, the Constitution didn’t grant the government the power to censor the press, so it couldn’t. However, they ultimately decided to include a set of negative restraints in the Bill of Rights as well.

It’s good that they did, because the positive restraints are now largely obsolete. Since Wickard v. Filburn, the power to regulate interstate commerce has been nearly all-inclusive. If the Supreme Court upholds Obamacare, there will remain no meaningful positive limitation on the government’s power. At the same time, other safeguards such as the separation of powers are breaking down. Even free elections (a flimsy defense for minority rights in any case) are threatened by the Democrats’ insistence on making fraud as easy as possible.

The negative restraints — which the framers considered nearly redundant — are virtually all we have left. So it’s not too surprising to see the totalitarians like Nancy Pelosi beginning to work on undermining them.


May 2, 2012

President Obama claims to be a “blue dog at heart.” That’s just silly.

Something is wrong in Durham

May 2, 2012

Another Durham County district attorney, Durham’s first elected DA since the infamous Mike Nifong, has been removed from office for ethical misconduct.

Once could be just happenstance. I mean, what county doesn’t elect a flagrantly unethical race-baiting DA on occasion? But two in a row? Durham has a problem.

Good grief

May 2, 2012

Elizabeth Warren’s Senate campaign says it’s sexism to question whether she should have billed herself as a minority (she apparently is 1/32 Cherokee) during her time in academia:

Once again, the qualifications and ability of a woman are being called into question by Scott Brown who did the same thing with the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan. It’s outrageous.

It’s not sexism to debate a candidate’s qualification for high public office. On the contrary, it is sexism to suggest that women, merely because they are women, may not have their qualifications questioned.

UPDATE: It seems they’re serious about it. Now the sexism charge is coming from Warren’s own lips, and with no more substance:

“The only one as I understand it who’s raising any question about whether or not I was qualified for my job is Scott Brown and I think I am qualified and frankly I’m a little shocked to hear anybody raise a question about whether or not I’m qualified to hold a job teaching,” she said, pushing to put Brown on defense. “What does he think it takes for a woman to be qualified?”

Court rules Facebook “likes” aren’t speech

May 1, 2012

This ruling seems clearly wrong. (Via Instapundit.)

Better than the movie

May 1, 2012

This review of Avatar is awesome.

Politifact mocks Romney campaign

May 1, 2012

If you try to load a non-existent page on the Politifact web site, this is how it signals the 404:

In a political context, it’s hard to see an Etch-a-sketch as anything other than a thinly veiled jab at the Romney campaign.

Politifact’s pretense as a neutral arbiter of truth in politics is growing more threadbare with each new hatchet job, but this still seems awfully blatant.

Hypocritical, counterfactual, and disgusting

May 1, 2012

When George W Bush launched his re-election campaign, his first commercial naturally highlighted his leadership in the aftermath of 9/11. The Democrats immediately attacked the commercial for supposedly politicizing 9/11, using an astroturf group of 9/11 victim’s families they had waiting for just that purpose. It was absurd. The response to 9/11 was President Bush’s finest hour and of course he was going to highlight it.

The operation that killed Bin Laden was President Obama’s finest hour (in the sense of being his only good hour). He too is entitled to highlight it in his re-election effort. And if his lack of accomplishment in any other area leads him to over-emphasize it, that’s fine too.

But no, Barack Obama can’t merely trumpet his achievement. No, this guy has to turn it into an attack ad against Mitt Romney.

Would George W Bush have run an attack ad against John Kerry, alleging that he wouldn’t have been a strong leader following 9/11? We needn’t speculate — history shows he didn’t, despite the likelihood that such an ad would have struck home. In fact, Bush didn’t even exploit Bin Laden’s endorsement of John Kerry.

The first thing that’s hard to take about the Bin Laden attack ad (here, if you want to see it) is the premise that it was even a hard decision. Of course you would go and get the guy. The striking thing is how this administration made an easy decision hard. (The hardest in “500 years”!)

The second thing that’s hard to take is Obama’s choice of messenger. In the entire world there is one man who really did fail to give the order to take out Bin Laden when he had the chance. That one guy, Bill Clinton, is the guy Obama selected to preach about decisive leadership in dealing with Bin Laden. Bizarre.

The third thing that’s hard to take about this is the fact that raid that took out Bin Laden exploited intelligence from terrorist detainees, the exact sort of intelligence that Obama has ensured we will not be able to gather any more. The next president (or — god forbid — Obama in a second term) is less likely to have such an opportunity, as a result of Obama’s policies.

Finally there’s the actual substance of the attack, and this I want to take a look at. The attack quoted two statements by Romney. The first was taken completely out of context:

Mitt Romney criticized Barack Obama for vowing to strike al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan if necessary.

This statement was made in 2007 when presidential candidate Barack Obama was lurching around making jaw-droppingly bizarre foreign policy pronouncements. Obama was talking about launching a war against al Qaeda in Pakistan, not about a raid about Osama Bin Laden. This was at a time when the Pakistani regime was friendly but fragile, and there was concern that the regime could destabilize and leave us with something much worse. Obama was trying to look tough, but actually came off as simply unstable. All the other presidential candidates attacked him, not just Romney. For example, Hillary Clinton said:

[It was] a very big mistake to telegraph that and to destabilize the Musharraf regime, which is fighting for its life against the Islamist extremists who are in bed with al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The second quoted statement highlights an important policy difference between the Democrats and Republicans:

It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.

This is exactly right. The war on terror is not about vengeance (although Democrats have often been confused on this point). It’s not even about dealing with al Qaeda, per se. It’s about making America safe. Al Qaeda is one of many threats, and the Obama administration is making a dangerous mistake by limiting its efforts to Al Qaeda alone.

Our efforts need to be allocated rationally, according to the seriousness of the threat. I believe that’s what Romney was saying. Billions spent on one man would be billions not spent on more serious threats.

The raid against Bin Laden was worthwhile because it didn’t involve moving heaven and earth. We had the intelligence (no thanks to Obama) so we sent in the SEALs. That’s an entirely different proposition.

Nothing that Romney has said suggests that he would have any difficulty in making the easy decision to take out Bin Laden. On the contrary, the very remarks that the ad quotes make it clear that Romney has a much better grasp of what should and should not be done than Obama.

UPDATE: I missed this bit:

Suppose [the SEALs] had been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him.