Army handbook blames US for Afghan attacks

December 31, 2012

The US Army is clearly being run by idiots now:

A proposed new handbook for Americans serving in Afghanistan warns them not to speak ill about the Taliban, advocate women’s rights or criticize pedophilia, and the general in charge is not happy with it.

The draft of the newest Army handbook seems to suggest that ignorance of Afghan culture is to blame for deadly attacks by Afghan soldiers against the coalition forces, according to The Wall Street Journal, which got a peek at the 75-page document. But its message of walking on eggshells around the locals is not going over well with U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, the top military commander in Afghanistan.

“Gen. Allen did not author, nor does he intend to provide, a foreword,” said Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. “He does not approve of its contents.” . . .

The draft handbook includes a summary stating that some U.S. soldiers consider Afghan forces to be “basically stupid” thieves, “gutless in combat,” “profoundly dishonest” and engaged in “treasonous collusion and alliances with enemy forces.”

The draft handbook offers a list of “taboo conversation topics” that soldiers should avoid, including “making derogatory comments about the Taliban,” “advocating women’s rights,” “any criticism of pedophilia,” “directing any criticism toward Afghans,” “mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct” or “anything related to Islam,” according to the Journal.

If this is the mentality of the people running the Army, it’s no wonder we’re having trouble.

New York Times: scrap the Constitution

December 31, 2012

This is a real op-ed in the New York Times:

AS the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.

The author doesn’t quite say what should replace the Constitution, but makes it clear that the purpose is to eliminate the obstacles it poses to his liberal agenda. The rights and institutions he likes would be kept, the rest scrapped.

POSTSCRIPT: Don’t bother saying that this is just an op-ed, and doesn’t express the NYT’s position. From an important person, the NYT might run an op-ed they didn’t agree with, although rarely. (They wouldn’t even run John McCain’s op-ed in 2008.) From a little-known law professor, the NYT won’t run a piece with which they disagree.

Ah, the civility

December 31, 2012

The Des Moines Register brought a columnist out of retirement for this column. Here’s the key bits:

Here, then, is my “madder-than-hell-and-I’m-not-going-to-take-it-anymore” program for ending gun violence in America:

  • Repeal the Second Amendment, the part about guns anyway. It’s badly written, confusing and more trouble than it’s worth. . .
  • Declare the NRA a terrorist organization and make membership illegal. . .
  • Then I would tie Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control.

And if that didn’t work, I’d adopt radical measures.

(Via Instapundit.)

The Des Moines Register thought these ideas so compelling that they brought their author out of retirement: We should the 2nd Amendment from the Bill of Rights, eliminate the free-speech rights of gun owners, torture the Republican leaders to death, and then move on to more severe measures.

Not long ago, these same people had the nerve to prattle on about the need for civility in public discourse. The same people who alleged (yes, in the pages of the Des Moines Register) that Sarah Palin’s mailer targeting various Congressmen for defeat, which was clearly not a threat of violence, was nevertheless somehow responsible for the attack on Gabrielle Giffords, those people are now talking explicitly about the torture and murder of Republicans. As a first step.

Ha ha ha

December 31, 2012

What a buffoon you are, David Shuster.

David Gregory and the rule of law

December 31, 2012

I’m sure most of my readers already know that NBC’s David Gregory is in hot water for possessing (and displaying on Meet the Press) a 30-round “high-capacity” AR-15 magazine, which is illegal in the District of Columbia. Despite the media’s incredulity over the notion that he might have to answer for this, I fail to see any reason why he and his colleagues should not be prosecuted.

They cannot claim to have made an honest mistake. They asked the DC police for permission and it was denied. The crux of the their defense, as offered by their media defenders, seems to be that it was okay for him to possess that magazine, because he didn’t plan to do anything wrong with it. For example, here’s Greta Van Susteren (via DC Caller):

I will bet my right arm David Gregory is not going to go out and commit some crime with that magazine…or that he intended to flaunt the law. . .

He certainly did flaunt the law; he displayed an illegal magazine on national television! You can’t flaunt any more than that. But never mind that, consider the other point, that David Gregory is not going to commit some crime with the magazine.

This matters not in the slightest. Under DC’s draconian gun laws, possession itself is a crime, regardless of what you plan to do with the thing. And that law is ruthlessly prosecuted, even if the transgression is not only harmless but entirely accidental. The law is prosecuted even when the possession is protected under federal law! It’s complete nonsense to suggest that his benign intent has anything whatsoever to do with it.

And lest we forget, this is how the gun-control advocates (like David Gregory) want it. They don’t want criminal intent to be part of the standard, because nearly everyone looking to own a gun or a magazine in DC has only benign intent. A gun ban that applies only to criminals is no gun ban at all. (Instead, they’ve settled on one that — in practice — applies only to the law-abiding.)

The only reason Gregory and company might not be prosecuted is because they are big-shot journalists. The question to be settled here is whether David Gregory and NBC are above the law.

I’m guessing we will find that the answer is yes. And when we do, Americans’ respect for the law will take yet another hit.

Yes, Virginia

December 29, 2012

Yes, the 2008 financial meltdown was substantially caused by the Community Reinvestment Act, which:

  • Required banks to lend more to low-income communities.
  • Directed Fannie and Freddie to buy up mortgages and turn them into securities.
  • Directed Fannie and Freddie to buy up high-risk mortgages, thereby encouraging banks to make more high-risk loans.

The left is desperate to deny this, since the financial meltdown was their entire pretext, not just for staying in power despite an appalling economic record, but also for ruinous regulation of the financial sector. So far, with the help of their media allies, they have been largely successful at keeping the connection out of the public consciousness.

But that hasn’t kept economists from studying the subject, and a new paper shows a strong connection:

Did the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Lead to Risky Lending?

Yes, it did. We use exogenous variation in banks’ incentives to conform to the standards of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) around regulatory exam dates to trace out the effect of the CRA on lending activity. . . We find that adherence to the act led to riskier lending by banks. . . These patterns are accentuated in CRA-eligible census tracts and are concentrated among large banks. The effects are strongest during the time period when the market for private securitization was booming.

POSTSCRIPT: Because we ought to be reminded of it every few years, after the jump are some excerpts from the anti-prophetic 1999 LA Times article that covered nearly every aspect of the CRA that caused the financial crisis without seeing any problem with any of them:

Read the rest of this entry »

Self-reliance >> politics

December 29, 2012

An interesting column in the Wall Street Journal discusses how American ethnic groups whose members relied on individual effort to advance themselves (e.g., Germans and Asians) advanced much more quickly than those who relied on politics (e.g., Irish and Blacks). I’d like to see more data points than the author provides, but his thesis is certainly plausible.

POSTSCRIPT: For some reason, the direct link doesn’t seem to work, but this Google link does, for now anyway.

Jake Tapper is out

December 28, 2012

Jake Tapper, the only member of the White House press corps who occasionally asks this administration tough questions, is leaving for an anchor job at CNN. The move comes shortly after he asked President Obama a tough question on his new gun control agenda.

I’d be interested to hear the story behind his departure. It’s arguably a promotion, but the timing is curious and Tapper probably had more influence at his old job than he will at CNN.

ATF loses more guns

December 28, 2012

The ATF has no explanation for how an ATF agent’s gun ended up at the scene of a mass shooting in Mexico. To be clear, this isn’t one of the thousands of guns the ATF trafficked to Mexican drug cartels, this was a gun personally purchased by ATF agent George Gillett. (The purchase also apparently was illegal, as Gillett used a false address.)

At this point I’d like to mock the ATF by suggesting they lose their authority over firearms and instead be placed in charge of some other enforcement they might be competent at, but I can’t think of what that might be. Maybe pet licensing?

(Previous post.)

Those who don’t know, report

December 28, 2012

The more the media talks about guns, the more you realize how completely ignorant they are on the subject.

  • PBS’s Mark Shields: “In the United States of America in 2012, it’s easier in many states . . . to buy an automatic weapon than it is to rent an automobile.” Since automatic weapons are illegal in all 50 states, this is not even close to true.
  • New York Times: A “.9-millimeter” Sig Sauer? I suppose that would sting.
  • Newsweek’s Howard Kurtz: “Should there be limits on high-magazine clips?” Whatever that is.
  • Pace the New York Times, the US murder rate is not 15 times that of other rich nations. Also, the rate of violent crime rate in the UK (which the NYT apparently cherry-picked as the typical rich nation) has soared since the statistics the NYT uses were collected, and is now nearly 5 times worse than the US. Australia’s gun ban did not correlate with a drop in the murder rate. And, 300 is greater than 250.
  • CBS’s Bob Schieffer, weeks after he should have known better: Semi-automatic weapons “keep firing” when you pull the trigger. No they don’t.

That’s only since the Newtown shootings. Including older instances of gun ignorance like the classic “shoulder thing that goes up” (not what a barrel shroud is) would take all day.

Free speech for me, not for thee

December 28, 2012

I don’t think that professors should be fired for their political views, even for political views as disgusting as those of Erik Loomis, a history professor at the University of Rhode Island. Still, Loomis is a profoundly poor choice to make into some kind of free-speech martyr, since he was explicitly calling for sanctions against people for their speech. For example:

Dear rightwingers, to be clear, I don’t want to see Wayne LaPierre dead. I want to see him in prison for the rest of his life.

This was Loomis explaining that he didn’t want LaPierre’s “head on a stick” literally; he only wanted him imprisoned. Okay then.

Loomis has the right to call for the abolition of free speech, but don’t expect me to ride to his defense now that the would-be censor is hypocritically posturing as a free-speech martyr.

(Via Instapundit.)

Our government at work

December 28, 2012

Here’s something I did not know: During Prohibition, the federal government poisoned alcohol to make illicit drinking more dangerous. Over a thousand people were killed in New York City alone.

This is particularly interesting in light of the fact that drinking liquor was not even illegal. (Prohibition outlawed the production, sale, and transportation of liquor, but not its consumption.) The federal government killed thousands of people who weren’t even committing any crime.

Guns make us less safe

December 28, 2012

All over Facebook, I’m told:



(Via Instapundit.)

Uh, wow

December 28, 2012

Mike Bloomberg, one of the most odious anti-gun vultures out there, says:

I don’t think there’s anybody that’s defended the Second Amendment as much as I have.

Glenn Reynolds adds:

What’s interesting isn’t that this is a skull-poppingly enormous lie. What’s interesting is that he thinks he has to say it.

I think he’s right. We are winning.

Government-run health care

December 28, 2012

The worst thing about the routine cruelty that so often seems to characterize the British NHS aren’t the outrages. The worst thing is how NHS outrages hardly even seem remarkable any more. In the latest set of outrages:

Alexandra Hospital in Redditch is writing to 38 families after a massive legal action that exposed years of bad practice, ranging from nurses taunting patients to leaving an elderly woman unwashed for 11 weeks. In one of the worst cases, a man had starvation recorded as the cause of his death after being treated at the hospital for two months. . .

The move will serve to intensify debate on why some nurses and doctors are treating patients without compassion, and will add weight to the warning by [Health Secretary] Mr Hunt that patients can experience “coldness, resentment, indifference” and “even contempt” in NHS hospitals. He warned that in the worst institutions, a “normalisation of cruelty” had been fostered. . .

The catalogue of failings uncovered by the mass legal action is one of the worst ever exposed at an NHS hospital. It included:
• A former nurse whose son told how she died after being left unwashed for 11 weeks, and was put on medication so powerful that she could not speak;
• A 35-year-old father-of-four whose family told how he wasted away because staff did not know how to fit a feeding tube;
• A pensioner who was left screaming in pain when his ribs were broken during a botched attempt to hoist him;
• A man who could not feed himself whose daughter described how he was taunted by nurses who took away his food uneaten;
• A great-grandmother left permanently unable to walk after doctors failed to detect a hip fracture.

Particularly worthy of note, I think, is the case where nurses put food out of the patient’s reach and then taunted him.

(Via Power Line.)

Correia on gun control

December 28, 2012

Larry Correia’s piece on gun control and gun-free zones is excellent.

Scapegoats aren’t what they used to be

December 28, 2012

The four State Department officials who were selected to take the fall for the Benghazi debacle didn’t resign after all, and will shortly be back on the job. Ambassador Chris Stevens was unavailable for comment.

(Previous post.)

Disasters, enforcers, and waivers

December 21, 2012

New York City health inspectors have been harrassing post-Sandy relief workers:

Bobby Eustace, an 11-year veteran with the city’s fire department tells that on Sunday he and his fellow firefighters from Ladder 27 in the Bronx were issued a notice of violation for not maintaining restaurant standards in a tent set up in Breezy Point, Queens, to feed victims and first responders. . .

Eustace says that the Health Department worker then checked off a list of violations at the relief tent, including not having an HVAC system and fire extinguisher. “He told us that he might come back to see if we fixed the violations. . .”

(Via Instapundit.)

When questioned, the NYC Department of Health said that its inspectors were only supposed to give advice, not issue violations. Of course, that’s exactly what they would say. (It might even be true, but government must be judged on its actions, not its reportedly good intentions.) Moreover, even if we accept that the inspectors were only supposed to give advice and the department somehow failed to communicate that simple fact to the inspectors, the fact remains that the department sent out health inspectors to interfere with relief workers, however rigid that interference was supposed to be.

The key fact I want to note is that this doesn’t somehow happen automatically. Someone thought it was a good idea to send health inspectors to interfere with relief workers and ordered that it be done.

This incident is depressingly typical. During the Gulf oil spill in 2010, the Coast Guard shut down an oil skimming operation because they did not have the required number of life jackets and fire extinguishers on board. Again, someone decided to do this. Indeed, the entire oil spill debacle was greatly exacerbated by the Obama administration’s punctilious enforcement of counter-productive rules.

This brings me to my central point. The people currently running our government will issue waivers as they see fit, mostly to advance their own political agenda (more on the pernicious effects of this in a future post), but no one can expect a waiver from their overbearing state simply because such a waiver ought to be issued!

Put another way, they issue waivers to serve their interests, not ours. You only want to serve people made homeless by a hurricane? Tough. You only want to clean oil from the Gulf of Mexico? Too bad.

So when the EPA writes milk-storage rules so broad that they cover spilled milk, and they say not to worry, they would never enforce it that way? Don’t you believe them. Someone is itching to enforce that rule.

Which brings me to Obamacare. The Obama administration has issued countless Obamacare waivers to mitigate the disastrous effects of their legislation. Why? Because they didn’t want it to be seen as (even more of) a disaster in advance of the election. But the election is now behind us. Do not expect those waivers to be renewed.

These people are itching to enforce those rules. If some people lose their jobs, what do they care? This administration made it very clear in 2009 and 2010 that nationalizing health care was more important to them than employment. If lots of people lose their health insurance, what do they care? They don’t want you to have private health insurance anyway.

These people send health inspectors to keep disaster victims from being fed; you think they care about your job, or your health insurance? Think again.

Remember, this never, ever happens

December 21, 2012

Despite the fact that it never happens, this seems to keep happening:

A Massachusetts state representative has agreed to plead guilty to civil rights violations and resign from office for his role in submitting false absentee ballot applications and casting invalid ballots in 2009 and 2010, the Justice Department said in a news release Thursday. . . The news release said “one or more government officials” helped Smith intercept the ballots before they were delivered to the voters, but it did not name the officials.

(Via Instapundit.)

How do you get away with pleading guilty without naming your co-conspirators?

POSTSCRIPT: In other recent instances of voter fraud, you have thisthis and this.

Dangerous times

December 21, 2012

Egypt hurries down the path toward becoming an Islamist hell-hole:

A campaign of intimidation by Islamists left most Christians in this southern Egyptian province too afraid to participate in last week’s referendum on an Islamist-drafted constitution they deeply oppose, residents say. The disenfranchisement is hiking Christians’ worries over their future under empowered Muslim conservatives.

Around a week before the vote, some 50,000 Islamists marched through the provincial capital, Assiut, chanting that Egypt will be “Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians.” At their head rode several bearded men on horseback with swords in scabbards on their hips, evoking images of early Muslims conquering Christian Egypt in the 7th Century.

They made sure to go through mainly Christian districts of the city, where residents, fearing attacks, shuttered down their stores and stayed in their homes, witnesses said.

Meanwhile, our practitioners of “smart diplomacy” are content to watch it happen, without applying even the tiniest bit of pressure.

Turnabout gets no play whatsoever

December 19, 2012

I’ve often remarked in regard to the Plame-Novak-Armitage affair that it was awfully hard to take the outrage over the leaking of an intelligence officer’s name, coming from the very same people who like to leak (and then print) intelligence’s officers’ names.

Now that we have the Obama administration doing the exact same thing, we’ll see how much outrage we hear from those same quarters.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, here’s another case, from the office of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).

(Previous post.)

Pork disaster

December 19, 2012

One can debate whether disaster relief (such as in the wake of Hurricane Sandy) is an appropriate use of federal money. But if we’re going to do it, it ought really to be disaster relief. For Congress to take a steaming pile of pork-barrel spending and call it hurricane relief is simply disgusting.

No decency

December 19, 2012

I demurred when White House press flack Jay Carney reportedly linked the Newtown massacre to the need for tax hikes. It may well have been his intent, but his remark was sufficiently oblique as to be deniable.

On the other hand, President Obama’s statement today was really quite explicit:

If this past week has done anything it should give us some perspective. I-I-I-If there’s one thing we should have, after this week, it should be a sense of perspective about what’s important. And I would like to think that members of that caucus would say to themselves “You know what, I disagree with the president on some things. . . But right now, what the country needs is for us to compromise, get a deficit reduction deal in place, [etc.], allow ourselves time to focus on things like preventing the tragedy in Newtown from happening again, [etc.], and if we could just pull back from the immediate political battles, if ya peel off the partisan war paint, then we should be able to get something done.”

I think, I think the Speaker would like to get that done. But an environment needs to be created not just among House Republicans but among Senate Republicans that says the campaign is over and let’s see if we can do what’s right for the country, at least for the next month!

There you have it: Because of Newtown, Republicans need to stop fighting Obama’s agenda. The man has no decency whatsoever.

(Via PJ Tatler.)

Freedom of religion on the ropes

December 18, 2012

A federal judge has ruled that freedom of religion does not extend to the manner in which we conduct business:

Heaton said that while churches and other religious organizations have been granted constitutional protection from the birth-control provisions, “Hobby Lobby and Mardel are not religious organizations.”

“Plaintiffs have not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion,” the ruling said.

This ruling, which unfortunately does not seem to be out of the mainstream, basically says that freedom of religion applies only to church, and most of our lives are outside its protection.

Dear suckers

December 18, 2012

A note to gullible West Virginia voters: this is what happens when you elect a supposedly pro-gun Democrat.

UPDATE: Manchin is walking this back now. He has evidently heard from his constituents.

On mass killings

December 18, 2012

If it’s not too early for some perspective regarding the horrible shootings in Newtown, John Fund has a very important column on the facts about mass killings. The three main points are these:

  1. Despite the impression one gets from the wall-to-wall media coverage, mass killings in the U.S. are not on the rise. In fact, the high point was 1929.
  2. The majority of mass shooters are mentally ill (as was the case in Newtown).
  3. Nearly all mass shootings take place in gun-free zones. There has been only one exception since 1950.

If we are to contemplate legislative action in the wake of this atrocity, we need to keep these facts firmly in mind.

UPDATE: More on the non-rise in mass shootings.

UPDATE (July 2015): Updated the link.

Obamacare hurts medicine, and us

December 18, 2012

Here is a phrase we’re going to start seeing a lot of:

The hospital informed us that this is a fairly new operation perfected over just the last five years. However: this surgery will “cease to be available in two years for insurance patients due to ObamaCare.”

White House negotiation plan: not to

December 18, 2012

The Washington Post reports that the White House is following a plan to avoid negotiating over the “fiscal cliff”:

Two senior White House officials said that David Plouffe, Obama’s top political adviser, crafted a plan to keep the president from getting sucked into a long, public negotiation like the one that unfolded over the debt ceiling. They said that Obama’s lowest moments in his first term came in a six-month stretch of 2011 when he acted as negotiator-in-chief on the annual federal spending bills and the effort to lift the Treasury’s borrowing authority, becoming part of the image a dysfunctional Washington.

“The last thing we want is another month of images of the two of them negotiating,” one senior official said. The White House is determined that Obama “not be drawn to that level.”

This president never learned to cut deals (he never had any occasion to learn) but he knows how to campaign, so they decided to do that instead.

(Via Power Line.)


December 18, 2012

One predictable consequence of putting the government in charge of health care is everyone wants to wet their beak. And so marginal medical industries (e.g., chiropractors, acupuncturists) are lobbying to have their services included in the mandatory slate of services, and they are meeting with some success.

Remember, Obamacare was supposed to make health coverage cheaper. . .

Sour grapes

December 18, 2012

Since exit polls suggest that Hurricane Sandy may well have given Barack Obama his narrow victory in the 2012 election, it is worth noting that the federal recovery effort — despite what was reported at the time — was a complete disaster.

But don’t call it a cover up

December 18, 2012

Hillary Clinton is refusing to testify on the Benghazi debacle, for the second time. The first time she had to be out of the country on the proposed date. This time, she bumped her head and can’t possibly testify. No word on rescheduling.

But we do have additional information on where the administration’s cock and bull story about the attack being a spontaneous demonstration about a video came from. (This is old news, but it came out during my post-election vacation so I haven’t yet noted it here.)

President Obama himself was notified of the nature of the attack within 72 hours, long before Susan Rice’s infamous Sunday misinformation appearances. (Via Jennifer Rubin.) The CIA’s original talking points said Al Qaeda was responsible for the attack, but that fact was removed by the White House. Specifically, the office of the Director of National Intelligence was responsible for the change. Also, Susan Rice would have been privy to the original, accurate information (although it’s impossible to know if she was paying attention).

Intelligence sources say that the links to Al Qaeda were deemed too tenuous to be made public (although Petraeus disagreed). Regardless of whether that decision was necessary or wise, it does not explain how the administration (and especially Susan Rice) decided to adopt the exact opposite as the official story.

(Previous post.)

Party of corruption

December 13, 2012

The Associated Press explains how justice works during a Democratic administration to protect Democratic candidates:

Sen. Robert Menendez employed as an unpaid intern in his Senate office an illegal immigrant who was a registered sex offender, now under arrest by immigration authorities, The Associated Press has learned. The Homeland Security Department instructed federal agents not to arrest him until after Election Day, a U.S. official involved in the case told the AP.

(Emphasis mine.) (Via Instapundit.)

Obamacare versus the rule of law

December 12, 2012

Across the country, states are deciding whether to create exchanges under Obamacare. If they don’t, the federal government will create them. Still it matters a lot whether the exchanges are created by the state or the federal government.

According to the Obamacare statute, the federal government can offer credits and impose taxes and penalties only in states that create exchanges. If those provisions are enforced, Obamacare will be substantially crippled in non-participating states.

Of course, the Obama administration is arguing that those provisions of their own law not be enforced, and the IRS is going ahead under the assumption they will not. Will they get away with it?

UPDATE: I should mention, lest anyone take too much comfort from this, that the Obamacare provisions that will ruin American health care (i.e., community rating and guaranteed issue) are not in jeopardy, as far as I know.

Dangerous leadership in dangerous times

December 12, 2012

Mohammed Morsi proclaims himself above the law, and his Muslim Brotherhood is rampaging against anyone who dares protest against him.

But the Obama administration denies that Morsi is an autocrat, and is sending him twenty F-16s. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that those guys are really this stupid.


December 12, 2012

It is a popular pastime on the left to prepare and promote studies that purport to show that conservatives and libertarians are stupid, insane, or otherwise mentally defective. (“It’s science! You can’t argue with science!”) Some of them are outright hilarious, like a recent study claiming to show that Fox News viewers have an IQ of 80.

The study is a complete fake, of course:

So there you have it. A four-year study sparked by the outcome of the recent election, from an institution that’s admittedly a fake, from a company that won’t identify itself, supposedly funded by a Republican PAC trying to “cut off” the Tea Party like a cancer, using a sample that was chosen with a particular result in mind, with a contact number that’s an anonymous free Google Voice number.

But what’s really hilarious is the irony: credulous leftists being taken in by a fake study on intelligence.

Killing the messenger

December 12, 2012

One can debate the impact of the Laffer curve at the national level. A lot of entrepreneurs are reluctant to leave the country, so — at the national level — the impact of high taxes and a hostile business environment may be less than you otherwise might expect. But entrepreneurs are much more willing to change states or municipalities, so that impact is much greater at the local level.

The resulting migration statistics are very embarrassing for the progressives. Not too long ago, the Economist ran its cover story about how business is leaving California for Texas in droves.

So when the IRS announced that it will no longer report statistics on taxpayer migration, it’s not hard to guess why.

How freedom came to Michigan

December 12, 2012

This story of how Michigan’s labor unions were hoisted by their own petard simply warms the heart. Jillian Kay Melchior tells the story at the Corner:

It seems that some Michigan Republicans — controlling the legislature and the governorship — wanted to make Michigan a right-to-work state. But Governor Rick Snyder, again a Republican, was against it. Not that he was against it in principle, but he felt that it was a divisive issue and it wasn’t the time for that debate. However, the labor unions felt differently; they introduced a ballot measure that would have prohibited right-to-work (and also given themselves various other goodies). This forced Republicans to take up the debate they had not planned to have. And the labor unions lost at the polls.

Having won the argument at the polls, Republicans has no reason not to go ahead with right-to-work legislation. Michigan’s unions now face the catastrophe (for them) of worker freedom, and it is entirely of their own making. It’s a heart-warming holiday story.

Anyway, the unions were left screaming about how right-to-work gave non-members workers the ability to freeload on the bargaining conducted by the union. In fact, just 11% of union dues go to contract bargaining (the majority goes to union administration). But numbers aside, the whole argument is a lie.

The truth is, unions are permitted to exclude non-members from the contracts they negotiate. However, the unions don’t want to do that. The unions want everyone on their contract so they can control seniority and whatnot. If they allowed workers to stay off the contract, those workers disadvantaged by the union’s rules would opt out of the union.

If the unions’ concern over freeloading were genuine, they would keep non-members out of the contract, but not a single union will do that, because they want to maintain control over everyone. Right-to-work says the union can choose to control all the workers (lamentably, Federal law gives them that power), but at least disadvantaged workers won’t be forced to sanction that control, or pay for it. (UPDATE: And if you ignore both of those points, there’s still this one.)

POSTSCRIPT: Of course, in the end, labor unions are always about brute force. Basic economics shows that (absent a monopsony situation, which are very rare today) there are always replacement workers to be had. For unions to exercise monopoly power, they need to exclude those replacement workers somehow. Scandalously, labor law helps them to do that, to a large degree, but not in the case of strikes, which are labor’s main bargaining chip. Unions then fall back on force to exclude replacement workers.

Since labor unions are ultimately all about force, we shouldn’t be surprised that their response to right-to-work has been violence, and the threat of more violence.

UPDATE: Rep. Douglas Geiss’s threat (“there will be blood”) went out over the Michigan House Democrats’ official Twitter account.

“You’re really going to get it!”

December 10, 2012

When an ineffective parent responds to defiance only by threats of punishment for further defiance, kids figure out pretty quickly they can do anything. And I doubt Syria’s Bashar Assad is any less savvy:

When President Obama first warned Syria’s leader, President Bashar al-Assad, that even making moves toward using chemical weapons would cross a “red line” that might force the United States to drop its reluctance to intervene in the country’s civil war, Mr. Obama took an expansive view of where he drew that boundary. . .

But in the past week, amid intelligence reports that some precursor chemicals have been mixed for possible use as weapons, Mr. Obama’s “red line” appears to have shifted. His warning against “moving” weapons has disappeared from his public pronouncements, as well as those of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The new warning is that if Mr. Assad makes use of those weapons, presumably against his own people or his neighbors, he will face unspecified consequences.

(Via the Corner.)


December 10, 2012

Barack Obama on December 4, 2012:

When you look at how much revenue you can actually raise by closing loopholes and deductions, it’s probably in the range of $300 billion to $400 billion. That’s not enough to come up with a balanced plan that actually reduces the deficit and puts us on the path of long-term stability.

Barack Obama on July 22, 2011:

What we said was give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking taxes — tax rates — but could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions and engaging in a tax-reform process that could have lowered rates generally while broadening the base.

For some reason, no one other than ABC’s Jake Tapper wants to call him on this.

UPDATE: Obama is being disingenuous in another way, completely apart from this. He says that we need to raise taxes, because closing loopholes won’t generate enough revenue. Whether or not that’s true, he’s not being honest about his goals:

Obama wants higher taxes in their own right, regardless of their revenue implications. He has specifically said that taxes should be higher, even if the higher taxes actually reduce revenue! And he has made clear that revenue is not the purpose for hiking taxes. Yes, that is completely insane, but that’s Barack Obama’s agenda.

Public favors spending cuts, hates Obamacare

December 10, 2012

According to post-election polls, Americans (and even Obama voters) want to see the Federal government address the budget deficit with spending cuts, not tax hikes. Also, Americans still hate Obamacare.

Which kind of makes you wonder what the voters were thinking. . .

War on work

December 10, 2012

Short of criminalizing hard work, could you come up with a more effective policy to suppress the work ethic among the middle class than this?


Unless you make nearly $70k per year, you’re better off (financially speaking) earning just $29k. And right around $70k is the move to the next higher tax bracket.

Rules for thee, not for me

December 10, 2012

It’s interesting to see the New York Times shamelessly admit to the Obama administration’s hypocrisy:

Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.

The matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6.

President Obama is fine with unfettered power to execute terrorists by drone, for himself. But the prospect of bequeathing that power to a Republican president is another matter entirely.

Contrast this with the Bush administration’s approach. President Bush’s Office of Legal Counsel developed rules governing the war on terror at the war’s outset, not three years later when he was facing possible defeat.

(Via Althouse.)

No free cities

December 10, 2012

It’s disappointing, but not surprising, to see the effort to create free cities in Honduras fail. I wanted it to succeed, but it wasn’t at all clear that Honduras was the right place.

Missile defense works

December 10, 2012

The big liberal argument against missile defense has always been that missile defense doesn’t work. Even with all the successful tests of our missile defense system, the critics have always said that the tests were not realistic. That was an easy argument to make; you can never have a fully realistic test unless someone is launching hostile missiles at you.

And that’s exactly what happened in Israel last month. Hamas launched countless missiles against Israel, and Israel’s new Iron Dome system shot nearly all of them down.

Death panels

December 10, 2012

More horrifying stories of government-run health care from the British NHS, where sick children are being put to death to save money:

One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.

Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.

The LCP – on which 130,000 elderly and terminally-ill adult patients die each year – is now the subject of an independent inquiry ordered by ministers.

Medical critics of the LCP insist it is impossible to say when a patient will die and as a result the LCP death becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They say it is a form of euthanasia, used to clear hospital beds and save the NHS money.

We’re told, over and over again, that these are isolated incidents. With the sheer volume of these incidents, it is clear the NHS has (or, more properly, is) a systemic problem. In each “isolated incident”, the medical staff (I won’t call them doctors) are responding to the incentives they are given. Perhaps they weren’t supposed to respond by killing or abusing their patients, but that’s what keeps happening.

And that’s what’s going to happen here, too. The difference is, here, under Obamacare, the thin veneer of private control will make it easier for the advocates of nationalized health care to blame someone else.

(Via International Liberty.)


December 10, 2012

Three things that happened the day after the election:

  1. FEMA shut down relief centers on Staten Island.
  2. A court sentenced Nakoula Basseley Nakoula to one year in prison for probation violations no one would have cared about if he hasn’t made an anti-Mohammed video.
  3. The US mission to the UN helped advance a gun-control treaty.

The agenda

December 10, 2012

Barack Obama, 2004:

Maybe peace would have broken out with a different kind of White House, one less committed to waging a perpetual campaign–a White House that would see a 51-48 victory as a call to humility and compromise rather than an irrefutable mandate.

Any hope that Obama might approach his second term non-hypocritically has already been dispelled by his position on the “fiscal cliff”. And any such hope was foolishness anyway: after what he did in his first term, which would he be any less aggressive in his second, when he has “more flexibility”?

But what should be the Republican response? Many Republicans say that tax hikes will hurt the economy. On the contrary, I tend to think that overspending is more dangerous than overtaxation, in part because of Ricardian Equivalence, and in part because we are rapidly reaching insolvency. If we could strike a deal in which we can fix the spending problem at the cost of some tax hikes, we should take it. But such a deal is not likely to be on the table. Instead, what will be on the table is the usual bargain: tax hikes now in exchange for future spending cuts that will never actually happen. I’ve read that (can’t find the link now) while such deals typically promise a 3-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes, on average they actually deliver a minus-2-to-1 ratio.

If fixing the problem isn’t on the table, should Republicans focus on holding the line on taxes? I don’t think so. On the contrary, two factors suggest that we should give President Obama the tax hikes on the (so-called) rich that he says he wants.

The first consideration is the sequester, which will bring dangerous cuts to defense spending. At the third presidential debate, Obama pledged that the sequester “will not happen”. But that was a lie: the very next day he was touting the sequester in an off-the-record interview, and now the administration proclaims openly that they are happy to go ahead with it if they don’t get the tax hikes they want.

The idea behind the sequester, as I understand it, was to include big cuts to defense and domestic spending, to give both sides an incentive to come to a different agreement. But that supposed more honesty from the Democratic side than actually exists. While they love to attack Republicans over any proposed cuts to domestic spending (killing Big Bird and whatnot), they are perfectly willing to see cuts to discretionary spending if such cuts advance their higher priorities, as this whole fight illustrates. Moreover, since the White House proposed the sequester (Obama’s lies to the contrary notwithstanding), one ought to expect that it serves their purposes. Republicans were foolish to agree to it.

The second consideration is broader. Our economy is screwed: Obamacare is kicking in. The EPA is regulating CO2. Dodd-Frank puts the government in control of the financial industry. And entitlement spending is quickly driving the Federal government to insolvency. (The EPA’s action is illegal, and most of the Dodd-Frank apparatus can’t legally operate until the Senate confirms the new bureau’s director, but I wouldn’t count on the courts to enforce the law.) If fixing the problem is off-the-table, it is imperative that we make sure that blame for the upcoming disaster is assigned correctly.

What Democrats are demanding — tax hikes for the “rich” — are reversible, and ultimately not within Republicans’ power to prevent anyway. Republicans can try to moderate them, but that won’t save the economy (as above, spending is the main problem), and doing so will give Democrats and their compliant media allies a way to blame the upcoming disaster on Republicans. What is essential is when the economy tanks, America knows who is at fault.

This is not to say that we should give Democrats anything they want. We should not allow them to nationalize any more industries or create any new entitlements, and we should vigorously fight Dodd-Frank and the EPA in the courts. Generally, we should not grant them anything irreversible. But tax rates are different; excessive taxes can be scaled back, and have been many times.

UPDATE: Were the Republicans to take this advice, here’s a way they should considering doing it.


December 10, 2012

I’m back from my post-election vacation from blogging. Lots to catch up on.