Iraq to destroy remaining chemical weapons

July 31, 2012

This story must be awfully confusing to people who believe that Saddam Hussein had no chemical weapons:

Britain will help the Iraqi government dispose of what’s left of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons, still stored in two bunkers in north of Baghdad, the British embassy in Baghdad announced Monday.

The British Defense Ministry will start training Iraqi technical and medical workers this year, an embassy statement said. The teams will work to safely destroy remnants of munitions and chemical warfare agents left over from Saddam’s regime. He was overthrown in 2003 following an American-led invasion.

Saddam stored the chemical weapons near population centers so that he could access them quickly, despite the danger to his civilian population. . .

The head of the Iraqi National Authority, Mohammed Al Sharaa, said the remnants “represent a great challenge to the Iraqi experts to safely dispose.” He called the agreement with British authorities “a good opportunity for Iraqi experts to benefit from the well-known expertise of U.K. experts.”

(Via Instapundit.)

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According to unreliable sources

July 31, 2012

Politico must really admire the Obama administration. First, they made the mistake of trusting material issued by the White House. Then, when that material (ironically, a “fact check”) turned out to be entirely wrong, Politico corrected their error the same way as the White House did, by leaving the incorrect information in place and merely appending an update at the end where no one will see it.

Believing the White House is wishful thinking. Failing to correct it once you know their information is wrong is lying.


Glass house dweller throws stones

July 30, 2012

The Obama campaign is calling for Mitt Romney to release more tax returns. (He has already released several years.) Joel Pollak counters with a list of the top ten things that Obama has refused to release.

Pollak’s list is not really parallel, though. Some of the stuff on his list, like the Gunwalker documents, actually matters.


ABC must explain

July 30, 2012

After a madman opened fire at a theater in Colorado, a week-and-a-half ago, ABC News quickly tried to tie the shooting to the Tea Party (auto-play video). If any reader isn’t familiar with the story already: reporter Brian Ross revealed that someone with the same not-at-all-unusual name as the shooter was involved with the Colorado Tea Party.

This wasn’t just Brian Ross’s calumny: ABC let him put that slander on the air, and George Stephanopoulos said nothing abot Ross’s too-weak-even-to-call-flimsy report.

Now ABC has apologized, but if they want us to believe that this was a good-faith error, as they claim, they need to explain how it happened. Stephanopoulos claims that the network has been transparent, but they’ve been nothing of the sort. As it stands, if looks as though someone typed “James Holmes tea party” into Google.

Indeed, we on the right are quite used to this. They always try to blame us for any high-profile violence.


Deadbeat

July 30, 2012

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney hold fundraisers in Newport Beach, California. The city bills the campaigns for the costs of security. Romney pays, Obama doesn’t.

Interestingly, the Secret Service position is that the city should provide the security for free, or if not, then someone else (such as the county or state) should provide it for free. Seriously.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: That’s not the only city Obama has stiffed. (Via Instapundit.)


GM makes no profit on Volts

July 28, 2012

What makes GM’s heavy investment in the Volt, a flawed car that no one wants, look even worse? GM makes no profit on the car:

According to multiple GM executives there is little or no profit being made on each Volt built at a present cost of around $40,000. Furthermore, the $700 million of development that went into the car has to be recouped.

GM says they have a long-term plan to make the Volt profitable. Given GM’s recent history, one has to guess that the plan is to receive a bailout. This isn’t snark: My guess is GM’s plan for the Volt is to profit from government incentives.

I’m not just talking about subsidies, which I’m sure that President Obama would dearly like to institute, but CAFE standards. With CAFE standards due to increase to an insane 54.5 mpg, every Volt sold at a loss will give GM more breathing room for regular cars.

(Via Instapundit.)


China cooks the books

July 28, 2012

I can’t say I find this the least bit surprising:

As the Chinese economy continues to sputter, prominent corporate executives in China and Western economists say there is evidence that local and provincial officials are falsifying economic statistics to disguise the true depth of the troubles.


This just keeps getting better

July 28, 2012

The CFL bulbs that the government wants to force us to use can damage human skin. Great.

(Via Instapundit.)


White House flops on presidential seal

July 28, 2012

It’s no big deal, but I thought this was interesting:

The White House has reversed its previous stance of not using the official presidential seal at campaign events. The practice, which is not illegal, is a reversal from statements made by former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that they would not be using the official seal at campaign stops. . .

But President Obama used it last Friday at a campaign rally in Pittsburgh, and Vice President Biden used the vice presidential seal Thursday in Houston when addressing the NAACP convention.

When asked at Thursday’s White House briefing about it, current Press Secretary Jay Carney said he was not aware of that specific Gibbs comment and was quick to point out that Obama’s predecessors had used it.

Of course, the president has every right to use the presidential seal. What’s interesting about this is it exemplifies a pattern by this president. He made great promises of higher standards time and time again when it was cheap to make them, without any intention of fulfilling them.

It was easy to say that he would hold himself to a higher standard on the campaign when he wasn’t actually campaigning. Once campaigning started, the promise was forgotten.

Let’s just remember what President Obama’s fine promises are worth when not contemporaneously matched with action: nothing at all.


Awwwwkward

July 28, 2012

The White House refuses to name the capital of Israel. Seriously; the White House spokesman refuses to answer the question:

When you can’t bear to answer such a simple question, that might be an eency weency hint that something is wrong with your foreign policy.


Your lips are moving again

July 28, 2012

The White House is indignant about Charles Krauthammer’s assertion that President Obama, in his first days in office, sent back a bust of Winston Churchill lent by the British government.

Here’s the White House “fact check”:

Lately, there’s been a rumor swirling around about the current location of the bust of Winston Churchill. Some have claimed that President Obama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the British Embassy.

Now, normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column. He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”

This is 100% false. The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.

News outlets have debunked this claim time and again. First, back in 2010 the National Journal reported that “the Churchill bust was relocated to a prominent spot in the residence to make room for Abraham Lincoln, a figure from whom the first African-American occupant of the Oval Office might well draw inspiration in difficult times.” And just in case anyone forgot, just last year the AP reported that President Obama “replaced the Oval Office fixture with a bust of one of his American heroes, President Abraham Lincoln, and moved the Churchill bust to the White House residence.”

In case these news reports are not enough for Mr. Krauthammer and others, here’s a picture of the President showing off the Churchill bust to Prime Minister Cameron when he visited the White House residence in 2010.

[photo]

Hopefully this clears things up a bit and prevents folks from making this ridiculous claim again.

(Emphasis mine.)

This denial struck Jake Tapper as strange, since the “rumors” that Obama had returned the bust were well-founded. A spokesman for the British Embassy said in 2009:

The bust of Sir Winston Churchill by Sir Jacob Epstein was uniquely lent to a foreign head of state, President George W Bush, from the Government Art Collection in the wake of 9/11 as a signal of the strong transatlantic relationship.

It was lent for the first term of office of President Bush. When the President was elected for his second and final term, the loan was extended until January 2009.

The new President has decided not to continue this loan and the bust has now been returned. It is on display at the Ambassador’s Residence.

So what gives? Tapper learned that there were actually two busts of Churchill. One was given to the White House during the Johnson administration; the other was lent during the Bush administration. The former has been in the residence all along (it was not moved there); the second was in the Oval Office and has been returned.

So the “ridiculous”, “ridiculous”, “100% false”, “patently false”, “debunked” “rumor” that Obama returned the bust is entirely true. It’s the White House’s statement that the bust was moved to the residence that is patently false.

ASIDE: An AP “Fact Check” column from last year reporting that Mike Huckabee “failed to note” the Obama moved the bust to the resident was also false. Nice fact checking. The National Journal story the White House cites is behind a paywall, so I can’t check what it actually says.

The nuance to catch here isn’t just that the White House was wrong, but the level of disdain and mockery they employed in their false debunking.

The White House later issued an update (presumably after Tapper’s reporting):

Since my post on the fact that the bust of Winston Churchill has remained on display in the White House, despite assertions to the contrary, I have received a bunch of questions — so let me provide some additional info.

[He confirms every particular reported by Tapper.]

On January 20, 2009 — Inauguration Day — all of the art lent specifically for President Bush’s Oval Office was removed by the curator’s office, as is common practice at the end of every presidency. The original Churchill bust remained on display in the residence. The idea put forward by Charles Krauthammer and others that President Obama returned the Churchill bust or refused to display the bust because of antipathy towards the British is completely false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day.

Note here the complete lack of any embarrassment for the false statements in the original post. Nor has the White House corrected any of those false statements other than by adding a contradictory update to the end. Nor is the existence of an update even noted at the top of the post.

Worse still, they maintain that Krauhammer was somehow wrong (“completely false”, circulating an “urban legend”), despite the niggling detail that he was right.

The only disputable fact is the reason that the bust was returned. The White House claims that the return of the art is standard practice. Perhaps, but one has to suspect that the British government would have been happy to let Obama keep the bust as a symbol of the transatlantic relationship, had Obama been willing to do so.

In fact, we needn’t speculate. Recall the British statement:

The new President has decided not to continue this loan and the bust has now been returned.

To sum up: The White House statement, which accused Krauthammer of being wrong at least eight times, is false in every particular, while Krauthammer is right.

POSTSCRIPT: The Krauthammer column is well-worth reading, by the way. It recounts several instances of this administration’s disdain for our allies, most of which are much more substantial than the bust issue.

UPDATE: The British embassy re-confirms, and Krauthammer fires back. The White House has yet to apologize.

UPDATE: Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, apologizes. They still haven’t corrected their erroneous post, though. And they still maintain that it wasn’t their choice to return the bust.

There’s still something left to remark on though. Pfeiffer says:

A better understanding of the facts on my part and a couple of deep breaths at the outset would have prevented this situation.

Well, okay. Alternatively, one might employ a general rule of thumb that when the British government makes an official statement, one oughtn’t call it “ridiculous” without checking first. Failing to do so might give people the impression that you don’t respect our most important ally.


The context

July 24, 2012

President Obama, after first claiming — falsely — that he was misquoted, now says his “You Didn’t Build That” remarks was taken out of context. They weren’t. Cue the video below to 32:26. That will start you with Obama suggesting that our schools are failing because students don’t want to learn, about a minute before his notorious remarks on success.

Obama talks about his “balanced way” to cut the deficit: cutting the budget by a “trillion or trillion-two” (ASIDE: Obama has added over $1.5 trillion in annual spending, before Obamacare kicks in) and asking “for the wealthy to pay a little bit more”. He then explains why they should be happy to do it: First, it worked great when Bill Clinton did it. (I suppose he would see it that way.) Second, they should “want to give something back” because:

They know they didn’t —

Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own!

I’m always struck by people who think: well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there!

[And so on.]

There’s nothing in the context that is remotely exculpatory. Obama was explaining that successful people should be happy to pay higher taxes, because they didn’t succeed on their own; others were responsible for their success.

Obama can’t say specifically how he is being distorted, because he isn’t being distorted at all. He just wishes he hadn’t said it. He can’t just walk it back either, because this is a man who is temperamentally unable to admit being wrong. Instead, he has to lash out at everyone else for failing to appreciate his unspoken intent.

(Previous post.)

UPDATE: Here’s the official transcript.


“We can’t do any worse!”

July 24, 2012

While searching for a good clip of President Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That” speech in Roanoke, Virginia, I found this amusing bit (cue to 1:28), in a speech Obama gave in Roanoke in 2008:

I say: “Sir, I understand you are a die-hard Republican.” He said “Yes I am.”

I said, “How’s business?”

He said: Not so good, my customers can’t afford to eat out right now.

I said: Well, I’m just curious, who’s been running the economy for the last eight years?

He said: I guess the Republicans have.

I said: If you just keep hitting your head against the wall, over and over again, and it starts to hurt, at some point do you stop hitting it against the wall?

He said: I guess that would make sense.

I said: You might want to try the Democrats for a change. We can’t do any worse!

After four years, Obama has indeed made it worse, but now Obama wants us to keep hitting our head against the wall. It will surely stop hurting eventually!

(Fun fact: banging your head against the wall does eventually stop hurting. Eventually it kills you.)


How dare you quote him!

July 24, 2012

The left can’t seem to settle on a straight story explaining exactly what is deceptive about attacks on Obama’s “You didn’t build that” speech. Here’s ABC’s effort:

Republicans have seized on the line “you didn’t build that” to falsely claim that Obama was speaking directly to business owners about their businesses.

They’re deceptive because Obama wasn’t directly addressing business owners?! Lame. I thought ABC was capable of better spin than this.

(Previous post.)


Schumer opposes free speech, explicitly

July 23, 2012

The Democrats’ DISCLOSE bill is ostensibly intended to force the disclosure of the funding sources of political speech. In fact, the law already requires disclosure of the funding of political speech (read Justice Thomas’s blistering concurrence in the Citizens United decision for why that’s a bad idea). The real effect, if not indeed the real purpose, of the bill is to create a huge chilling effect against individuals speaking out in politics.

Chuck Schumer (D-NY) admits this. In a speech supporting the DISCLOSE bill, he calls for limits on free speech:

I believe there ought to be limits because the First Amendment is not absolute. No amendment is absolute. You can’t scream ‘fire’ falsely in a crowded theater. We have libel laws. We have anti-pornography laws. All of those are limits on the First Amendment. Well, what could be more important than the wellspring of our democracy? And certain limits on First Amendment rights that if left unfettered, destroy the equality — any semblance of equality in our democracy — of course would be allowed by the Constitution. And the new theorists on the Supreme Court who don’t believe that, I am not sure where their motivation comes from, but they are just so wrong. They are just so wrong.

Notice what is absent from Schumer’s argument: anything at all to limit its application. He observes that there are some limits on the freedom of speech, and argues therefore that the government can impose other limits on the freedom of speech. He does not identify anything special about his desired anti-speech rule that would be parallel to fire-in-a-crowded-theater, libel, or pornography.

Let’s please not have any more nonsense about how the Democrats are the party of civil liberties.


A study in political cowardice

July 23, 2012

California Democrats were faced with a dilemma: protecting children from pedophile teachers meant standing up against the teachers’ union. They made the wrong choice.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: And also New York Democrats. (Via Instapundit.)


OMG

July 23, 2012

Kindergarten graduation in Gaza.


The SEIU

July 23, 2012

. . . truly are a loathsome bunch:

The owner of several Connecticut nursing homes is calling for a criminal probe after union workers staged a mass walkout earlier this month, allegedly vandalizing and sabotaging the health care facilities in the process. Among the allegations is that the workers, supposedly disgruntled over protracted labor talks, switched around the IDs of Alzheimer’s patients.

The alleged sabotage, which also purportedly included tampering with medication records and removing patient identification bands, occurred in three of the company’s five Connecticut facilities in the overnight hours before the July 3 strike. . .

Those employees are represented by a chapter of the Service Employees International Union.

(Emphasis mine.)


The imperial president

July 23, 2012

Can the president unilaterally amend US law, simply by refusing to enforce it? The Constitution gives him no such power. The Constitution (in article 1, section 7) gives the president the power to veto a bill before it becomes law, but once a bill becomes law, the Constitution (in article 2, section 3) gives the president the duty to see it “faithfully executed”.

President Obama knows that his decision not to enforce immigration law is contrary to the law. He explained in March 2011 that:

There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.

He reiterated that in July 2011:

THE PRESIDENT: Now, I swore an oath to uphold the laws on the books, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know very well the real pain and heartbreak that deportations cause. . .

Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own.  (Applause.)  And believe me, right now dealing with Congress —

AUDIENCE:  Yes, you can!  Yes, you can!  Yes, you can!  Yes, you can!  Yes, you can!

THE PRESIDENT:  Believe me — believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting.  (Laughter.)  I promise you. Not just on immigration reform.  (Laughter.)  But that’s not how — that’s not how our system works.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Change it!

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s not how our democracy functions.  That’s not how our Constitution is written.

But political considerations have since intervened and he has now decided to do it anyway. Obama’s decision to gut President Clinton’s welfare reform law is similar, excepting only that in this case we lack sound bites of him admitting that his action is improper.

As my readers know, immigration is not an issue about which I am passionate. As a matter of policy, I’m not sure that I disagree with Obama’s action. But I’m truly concerned about the precedent this sets. If this policy stands — and I think it probably will — we will have fundamentally altered the American system of government, giving the president what amounts to a retroactive veto over any law that must be implemented by the executive branch.

Democrats, if they could look past the considerations of the next election cycle, ought to be just as concerned about this. As John Yoo points out in his devastating critique of Obama’s move:

President Romney could lower tax rates simply by saying he will not use enforcement resources to prosecute anyone who refuses to pay capital gains tax. He could repeal Obamacare simply by refusing to fine or prosecute anyone who violates it.

In fact, in the long-run this precedent will probably favor Republicans more than Democrats, since the president is much more often a Republican than a Democrat. But it means a terrible blow against the rule of law.


How dare you quote me!

July 19, 2012

An Obama campaign ad is accusing Mitt Romney of “launching a false attack” by quoting him:

NARRATOR: Mitt Romney is launching a false attack.

ROMNEY: President Obama exposes what he really thinks about free people and the American vision. . . He said this: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

NARRATOR: The only problem? That’s not what he said.

[Obama says a bunch of other stuff, interleaved with stuff from Romney, then:]

OBAMA: If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

This is truly bizarre. Not only are they lying, saying that Obama didn’t say what he said, but the ad even includes video of him saying exactly what they’re denying he said. It’s the self-refuting ad!

(Previous post.)

UPDATE: Someone prepared this shortened version of Obama’s self-refuting ad:


Somebody else made that happen

July 19, 2012

Dilbert’s boss’s fallacy:

I’m reminded of this by President Obama — a man who has, in his entire life, never created anything but two autobiographies (maybe) — pronouncing that entrepreneurs and inventors are not responsible for what they created:

Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.

If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

This is a revealing statement. It’s consistent with Obama’s personal experience. He has always gotten ahead because of his ability to ingratiate himself with the machine and thereby to feed off the efforts of others. And it explains his policies: if no one is responsible for their own success, why not confiscate the fruits of their labor and “spread the wealth around”.

But it’s stunningly ignorant. He could just as well have said that a farmer who works from dawn to dusk every day to raise a patch of potatoes isn’t responsible for his crop because somebody else made his hoe. Of course no one person can prosper in isolation, this is very well understood. The economy succeeds when each person individually adds value, and is compensated for his or her effort. The guy who made the hoe is responsible for the hoe, and got paid for it, he is not responsible for the potatoes. Likewise, Obama’s teachers, road-builders and bridge-builders got paid for their efforts. This is just basic economics; it’s a pity our president doesn’t understand it.

POSTSCRIPT: But doesn’t the government pay for some of that added value? No, the taxpayer does. And the taxes are paid disproportionately by the very innovators that Obama is minimizing. Moreover, while some of our tax money does go to people who are creating value (public goods and services that would otherwise be under-provided, like roads, defense, law enforcement, and basic research) far more of it goes to transfer payments, to boondoggles, to parasites, or — worst of all — to regulators who occasionally may mitigate an externality but whose primary function is actually to hamper the creation of value.


A short history of whining

July 18, 2012

Another must-read from Frank J Fleming.


Hypocrisy, thy name is Democrat

July 18, 2012

An Obama campaign commercial blames Mitt Romney for layoffs at GST Steel. Setting aside whether Bain Capital is to blame for that, Romney wasn’t at Bain when it happened. And, the guy who was running Bain when it happened is now a top bundler for Barack Obama.


Hypocrisy, thy name is Democrat

July 18, 2012

Typical:

Rep. Nancy Pelosi was emphatic. Mitt Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of his personal tax returns, she said, makes him unfit to win confirmation as a member of the president’s Cabinet, let alone to hold the high office himself.

Sen. Harry Reid went further: Romney’s refusal to make public more of his tax records makes him unfit to be a dogcatcher.

They do not, however, think that standard of transparency should apply to them. The two Democratic leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives are among hundreds of senators and representatives from both parties who refused to release their tax records.

(Via Instapundit.)


Mugged by reality

July 16, 2012

Remember in 2007 when the Democrats tried to get to the right of Republicans on national security by demanding that all cargo entering the United States be scanned?

Lawmakers agreed Thursday to a goal of scanning all cargo-containing ships before they leave foreign ports as Congress neared a deal on a major security bill to carry out the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. In House-Senate negotiations on the bill, House and Senate Democrats pushed through a provision allowing a five-year window for radiation scanning technology to be put in place and giving the Homeland Security secretary authority to make exceptions. . .

The measure was part of the House bill that passed in January, but it was not included in the Senate version and is strongly opposed by the Bush administration, which said it was technically and economically unfeasible.

It was a worthy goal, but unfortunately an infeasible one. Still, that didn’t dissuade the Democrats; liberals are always reluctant to acknowledge the limitations of reality. Plus, it was great demagoguery.

Execution of the mandate fell to the Obama administration and the five-year deadline is about to expire. What happened? Well, well, well:

The Obama administration has failed to meet a legal deadline for scanning all shipping containers for radioactive material before they reach the United States, a requirement aimed at strengthening maritime security and preventing terrorists from smuggling a nuclear device into any of the nation’s 300 sea and river ports. . . The department’s secretary, Janet Napolitano, informed Congress in May that she was extending a two-year blanket exemption to foreign ports because the screening is proving too costly and cumbersome.

Too costly and cumbersome? Sounds a lot like “technically and economically unfeasible” to me.


Drone attack kills 16-year-old American

July 15, 2012

I think the drone campaign against Al Qaeda is necessary and effective, and I’m not even particularly squeamish about killing Americans who happen to be present at a legitimate military target. But I’m very uncomfortable about deliberately targeting Americans, particularly children:

He was an American boy, born in America. Though he’d lived in Yemen since he was about seven, he was still an American citizen, which should have made it harder for the United States to kill him.

It didn’t.

It should at the very least have made it necessary for the United States to say why it killed him.

It didn’t.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit, who adds some well-deserved mockery for the hypocritical left.)


Get that man a dictionary

July 15, 2012

President Obama doesn’t know what “outsourcing” means:

Obama responded thus: “Yesterday, his advisers tried to clear this up by telling us that there was a difference between ‘outsourcing’ and ‘offshoring.’ Seriously. You can’t make that up.”

And indeed you wouldn’t have to make it up, because it is a real thing: different words with different meanings. . . “Outsourcing” happens when a firm contracts out its non-core functions to other vendors, e.g., a hotel decides to hire a cleaning service rather than keep maids on the hotel payroll.

By the way, here’s Merriam-Webster’s definition (note the complete absence of any international connotation):

outsource : to procure (as some goods or services needed by a business or organization) under contract with an outside supplier

What’s most striking here is the aggressive nature of Obama’s ignorance. Not only is he apparently unaware that outsourcing need not be foreign, he actually mocks the notion.


More retaliation against Gunwalker whistleblowers

July 15, 2012

The Daily Caller reports:

Grassley and Issa said that in early 2011, right around the time Grassley first made public the whistleblowers’ allegations about Fast and Furious, Scot Thomasson – then the chief of the ATF’s Public Affairs Division – said, according to an eyewitness account: “We need to get whatever dirt we can on these guys [the whistleblowers] and take them down.”

Thomasson also allegedly said that: “All these whistleblowers have axes to grind. ATF needs to f—k these guys.”

According to Grassley and Issa, when Thomasson was asked about whistleblowers’ allegations that guns were allowed to walk, Thomasson said he “didn’t know and didn’t care.”

Grassley and Issa have given Horowitz until July 6 to answer whether Thomasson was “admonished” for those threats against whistleblowers, how he got his job in the first place and how the DOJ and ATF are going to make sure he doesn’t retaliate against whistleblowers moving forward.

A lot of effort has been devoted to establishing when the Justice Department became aware of Gunwalker. I suppose that’s appropriate since the DOJ has repeatedly lied about that, but it’s also largely beside the point. The DOJ has approved the operation after-the-fact by covering it up, promoting the perpetrators, and punishing whistleblowers.

(Previous post.)


Holder withdraws Mukasey claim

July 15, 2012

One of Eric Holder’s specious defenses is that his predecessor was also aware of gunwalking too. One rebuttal is that Wide Receiver was nothing at all like Fast and Furious (as Holder himself has admitted). Another rebuttal is that it isn’t true:

During last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Holder had alleged that former Attorney General Michael Mukasey knew of gunwalking during the George W. Bush administration.

“An attorney general who I suppose you would hold in higher regard was briefed on these kinds of tactics in an operation called Wide Receiver and did nothing to stop them — nothing,” Holder told Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn during that hearing. “Three hundred guns, at least, walked in that instance.”

After the hearing, Grassley wrote to Holder asking him to provide evidence to back up his blaming Mukasey.

Instead of being able to facilitate evidence, though, according to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office, Holder and the DOJ have now retracted that statement.

Lie in haste, retract at leisure.

(Previous post.)


Document purportedly shows DOJ informed about Gunwalker

July 15, 2012

The Daily Caller reports:

A single internal Department of Justice email could be the smoking-gun document in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal — if it turns out to contain what congressional investigators have said it does.

The document would establish that wiretap application documents show senior DOJ officials knew about and approved the gunwalking tactic in Fast and Furious. This is the opposite of what Attorney General Eric Holder and House oversight committee ranking Democratic member Rep. Elijah Cummings have claimed.

It appears that email would also prove senior DOJ officials, likely including Holder himself, knew in March 2011 that a Feb. 4, 2011 letter from the DOJ to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley falsely denied guns were permitted to “walk” into Mexico. The DOJ allowed that false letter to stand for nine more months, only withdrawing it in December 2011.

Also, Holder admitted in Congressional testimony that the document could not be shielded by executive privilege.

(Previous post.)


Man jailed for Bible study

July 15, 2012

Fox News reports:

A Phoenix man who violated city zoning laws by hosting a Bible study in the privacy of his home has started serving a 60-day jail sentence for his crimes. Michael Salman was found guilty in the City of Phoenix Court of 67 code violations. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail along with three years of probation and a $12,180 fine. . .

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council said the attack against Salman should serve as a wake-up call to Christians across the nation. . . Perkins said there is a movement in recent years for churches to move back to an Early Church model where Christians met in private homes – rather than church facilities. As a result, he said some communities are in fact cracking down on what people do in the privacy of their homes.

I don’t see how this is possible under the First Amendment. If my religion calls for me to worship at home, Freedom of Religion should take precedence over the dictates of two-bit zoning officials.


Economics 101

July 15, 2012

What? Price caps cause shortages? Who knew?


The Ginsburg concurrence

July 15, 2012

As bad as Justice Roberts’s opinion upholding Obamacare was, it could have been worse. At least he held that there exists limits on the power of the federal government, as tenuous as such limits might be in the presence of an unlimited taxing power. Here’s Justice Ginsberg’s opinion (p. 25-26):

In several pre-New Deal cases, the Court attempted to cabin Congress’ Commerce Clause authority by distinguishing “commerce” from activity once conceived to be noncommercial, notably, “production,” “mining,” and “manufacturing.” . . . The Court also sought to distinguish activities having a “direct” effect on interstate commerce, and for that reason, subject to federal regulation, from those having only an “indirect” effect, and therefore not amenable to federal control. . .

These line-drawing exercises were untenable, and the Court long ago abandoned them. . . See also Morrison, 529 U. S., at 641–644 (Souter, J., dissenting) (recounting the Court’s “nearly disastrous experiment” with formalis­tic limits on Congress’ commerce power).

These are chilling words. If it were up to Ginsberg, there would be no more “line-drawing”. There would be no limit on the definition of commerce, and hence no limit on the federal government’s commerce power. She approvingly cites David Souter decrying efforts to limit Congress’ commerce power.

But it may be even worse than that. It seems that only “formalistic” limits on Congressional power that are bad. It’s hard to know exactly what that means, but it sounds as though she is leaving herself an out. Structural limits on Congressional power are bad (nay, “nearly disastrous”), but arbitrary limits — imposed by liberal justices on a future conservative Congress — might still be acceptable.


Border Patrol directed to “run and hide”

July 15, 2012

Border enforcement has gone completely off the rails:

It’s one thing to tell civilian employees to cower under a desk if a gunman starts spraying fire in a confined area, say members of Tucson Local 2544/National Border Patrol Council, but to give armed law enforcement professionals the same advice is downright insulting. The instructions from DHS come in the form of pamphlets and a mandatory computer tutorial.

“We are now taught in an ‘Active Shooter’ course that if we encounter a shooter in a public place we are to ‘run away’ and ‘hide’” union leader Brandon Judd wrote on the website of 3,300-member union local. “If we are cornered by such a shooter we are to (only as a last resort) become ‘aggressive’ and ‘throw things’ at him or her. We are then advised to ‘call law enforcement’ and wait for their arrival (presumably, while more innocent victims are slaughtered).”


Hypocrites

July 7, 2012

Remember the left’s sanctimonious prattle during the Bush administration against its prosecution of the war on terror? Every bit of it was just naked political opportunism. Now that Democrats are in charge, they are doing everything either the same, or with fewer safeguards. For instance:

In a city full of them, Harold Koh is Washington’s biggest hypocrite. As the dean of Yale Law School, Koh was the most prominent critic of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies, deriding them as “executive muscle-flexing.” The former President, Koh said, was the “torturer-in-chief.” In a 2002 interview with The New York Times, he referred to the war on terror as “legally undeclared” and questioned the administration’s right to kill terrorists on the battlefield. “What factual showing will demonstrate that they had warlike intentions against us and who sees that evidence before any action is taken?” he asked.

In 2009, after the election of Barack Obama, Koh was awarded the job of State Department legal adviser. Since that time, he has defended a war waged in Libya without explicit congressional authorization, drone strikes targeting suspected terrorists and the extrajudicial assassination of an American citizen who had become a leading Al Qaeda ideologist.

During the Bush administration, Koh made the preposterous demand of a “factual showing” “before any action is taken.” Now:

As The New York Times described the administration’s rationale for drone strikes, “people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good.”

Also, the Obama administration, for political reasons, doesn’t want to send any new detainees to the professional, humanely-run prison at Guantanamo Bay. So instead they’re sending them to a secret prison in Somalia. Hypocrites.

Someday (hopefully soon) Republicans will be running the war or terror again. When that happens, these hypocrites will suddenly find their voice again. Pay no attention to them.


Pasadena abandons red-light cameras

July 7, 2012

The LA Times reports:

City officials decided not to renew a contract with American Traffic Systems Inc. for the city’s seven red-light cameras, citing a lack of enforcement from Los Angeles County courts, time wasted by Pasadena police officers and questions about the cameras’ effectiveness in improving traffic safety.

Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is going the opposite direction. James Walker of the National Motorists Association reviews many of the reasons why red-light cameras are a bad idea here, but it really comes down to this: Red-light cameras aren’t for safety, they are for revenue. In fact, they create a conflict of interest in which officials trade-off safety for revenue: the cameras only make money with short yellow lights, which make intersections more dangerous. Municipalities that keep longer yellows have found, like Pasadena, that the cameras lose money.


Ah, the civility

July 7, 2012

Remember when the Democrats were talking about the need for civility, and the danger of using violent metaphors in politics?

“Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney,” said a prominent Democratic strategist aligned with the White House.

Yeah, me neither.

(Via Althouse.)


Liars

July 7, 2012

The White House, having persuaded the Supreme Court to approve their health care takeover as a tax, are shamelessly pretending that they never called it a tax:

That’s the Obama campaign press secretary saying:

Review the court transcripts, Ryan. At no point did Verrilli or any of the government lawyers say that it was a tax.

Which, of course, is an out-and-out lie. It wasn’t just Verrilli in oral arguments; it was also in the briefs, not to mention countless Democratic statements.

UPDATE: Heh.

UPDATE: More heh.


Argentina circling the bowl

July 7, 2012

Argentina is moving on to the next step in its financial collapse: commandeering bank assets. Specifically, the government is ordering banks to make loans at rates well below the market rate, or even the interest rate.

It’s amazing to watch these socialist fools imagine that they are immune to the laws of economics.