Watch him squirm!

February 25, 2013

The New York Times reports that you can buy access to President Obama for $500k:

President Obama’s political team is fanning out across the country in pursuit of an ambitious goal: raising $50 million to convert his re-election campaign into a powerhouse national advocacy network. . .

Those contributions will also translate into access, according to donors courted by the president’s aides. . . Giving or raising $500,000 or more puts donors on a national advisory board for Mr. Obama’s group and the privilege of attending quarterly meetings with the president, along with other meetings at the White House.

Watch Jay Carney struggle to defend this, and ultimately give up and walk out:

What is hilarious — beyond his repeated efforts to change the subject, and his inability to make eye contact as he does it — is how transparently bogus his defense is. He tries to shuck this aside as the activities of an “independent group”, as if (1) Obama’s own campaign crew could be independent of the president, (2) a truly independent group would have even a prayer of becoming one of the nation’s top pressure groups overnight, or (3) the fact that they are selling access to the president — the very issue he’s being questioned about — doesn’t eviscerate any idea that they could be independent.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Good point: OFA is so independent, they run Barack Obama’s Twitter account.

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Sequester lies

February 25, 2013

Nearly everything the Obama administration has said about the sequester has been a lie, so I guess this should be no surprise:

White House Report Claims Sequestration Will Affect Federal Department That No Longer Exists

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


DOJ memo pans Obama gun-control plan

February 25, 2013

The Washington Examiner reports:

The memo, under the name of one of the Justice Department’s leading crime researchers, critiques the effectiveness of gun control proposals, including some of President Barack Obama’s. . .

The memo says requiring background checks for more gun purchases could help, but also could lead to more illicit weapons sales. It says banning assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines produced in the future but exempting those already owned by the public, as Obama has proposed, would have limited impact because people now own so many of those items.

It also says that even total elimination of assault weapons would have little overall effect on gun killings because assault weapons account for a limited proportion of those crimes.

The nine-page document says the success of universal background checks would depend in part on “requiring gun registration,” and says gun buybacks would not be effective “unless massive and coupled with a ban.”

The administration calls the memo “an unfinished review of gun violence research”. That’s because it’s never finished until it supports the president’s policy.

(Via Instapundit.)


The beauty of one-size-fits-all legislation

February 25, 2013

New York City’s foolishness:

That ban on big sodas being pushed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is about to spoil family pizza night.

The ban on sodas over 16 ounces takes effect on March 12, and the New York Post reports it has some previously uncontemplated effects. For instance, ordering a 2-liter bottle of Coke, Pepsi, Sprite or whatever the family desires with a pizza delivery won’t be allowed. Even pitchers of soda at children’s birthday parties are going to be a no-no under Bloomberg’s far-reaching ban, according to the paper. . .

Customers will have to order smaller bottles, which cost more and increase plastic waste. It doesn’t seem to matter that the big bottles are typically meant to be shared – as are the pitchers of soda served up at kids’ pizza parties. . .

The ban will even take a toll on nightlife in the city that never sleeps. That’s because when clubgoers spring for a big bottle of booze, they expect to get the mixers thrown in. The typical carafe holds 32 ounces of soda, juice or tonic water. Under the ban, only water or pure juice will be allowed in containers measuring more than 16 ounces.


Smart diplomacy

February 25, 2013

John Kerry discovers a new country: Kyrzakhstan. I’m looking forward to his upcoming visits to Egyprael and Colombuela.

(Via Instapundit.)


Remember: the government is not your friend

February 25, 2013

DHS steals a man’s boat because he refuses to commit perjury:

The primary form, prepared by the government, had an error. The price was copied from the invoice, but DHS changed the currency from Canadian to U.S. dollars.

It has language at the bottom with serious sounding statements that the information is true and correct, and a signature block.

I pointed out the error and suggested that we simply change the currency from US $ to CAD $ so that is was correct. Or instead, amend the amount so that it was correct in U.S. dollars.

I thought this was important because I was signing it and swearing that the information, and specifically the price, was correct.

The DHS agent didn’t care about the error and told me to sign the form anyway. “It’s just paperwork, it doesn’t matter,” she said. I declined.

She called another agent and said simply “He won’t sign the form.” I asked to speak to that agent to give them a more complete picture of the situation. She wouldn’t allow that.

Then she seized the boat. As in, demanded that we get off the boat, demanded the keys and took physical control of it.

What struck me the most about the situation is how excited she got about seizing the boat. Like she was just itching for something like this to happen. This was a very happy day for her.

This man will probably get his boat back eventually, but it will cost him thousands in legal fees. However, under the doctrine of official immunity, the DHS agent who was too lazy to fix a form but was delighted to steal a man’s property won’t face any sanction whatsoever. This is our government today. We are being occupied by a hostile power.


Biden: gun owners are criminals

February 25, 2013

Joe Biden says anyone who fears that his rights might be infringed is not law-abiding:

No law-abiding citizen in the United States of America has any fear that their Constitutional rights will be infringed in any way. None. Zero.


Vanderbilt’s intolerance

February 24, 2013

Vanderbilt is taking its persecution of Christian student organizations to the next level. Among a variety of other petty oppressions, they are not permitted to include persons from outside Vanderbilt in their activities, even though Vanderbilt is already denying them any recognition, and therefore has no business telling them who they can associate with.

They can employ a staff worker, but that staff worker must submit to a criminal background check conducted by the university. Vanderbilt actually has the audacity to claim that this provision is to protect the students.


The party of big business

February 24, 2013

Democrats and their allies in the legacy media like to call Republicans the party of big business. This is the exact opposite of the truth. Republicans are the party of free markets, while Democrats are the party of big business. In reality, big business opposes free markets much more often than it supports free markets. It’s small business that really wants markets to be free.

In the latest example, Minnesota Democrats are proposing a big new tax on business-to-business transactions. Such a tax wouldn’t affect big businesses very much, since they can do most of their legal and marketing work in house. However, small businesses, which need to contract all of that out, will be hit hard. This, of course, is just what big businesses want; they don’t want small competitors nipping at their heels and are happy when small businesses are driven out of business. In fact, rent seeking — such as driving out small competitors — has historically been the purpose of most economic regulation.


Aaron Swartz and the FBI

February 24, 2013

The now-public FBI file on Aaron Swartz supports my theory about what was behind his persecution at the hands of the US Attorney.  The FBI long had their eye on him because of his PACER caper, in which Swartz tried to download public court documents and make them available to the public. (The government quickly shut down the program that Swartz used, defending the important principle that public court documents should not be easily accessible by the public.)

I speculated that the government later threw the book at Swartz, not because of JSTOR (even the nominal victim didn’t want to press charges), but because of PACER. The fact that they were watching Swartz for years because of PACER makes that all the more likely.

(Previous post.)


Clean coal

February 24, 2013

This will be cool, if it pans out:

Researchers have discovered a stunning new process that takes the energy from coal without burning it — and removes virtually all of the pollution. . .

Fan discovered a way to heat coal, using iron-oxide pellets for an oxygen source and containing the reaction in a small, heated chamber from which pollutants cannot escape. The only waste product is therefore water and coal ash — no greenhouse gases. As an added benefit, the metal from the iron-oxide can be recycled. . .

Fan’s process, called “coal-direct chemical looping,” has been proven in a small scale lab at OSU. The next step is to take it to a larger test facility in Alabama, and Fan believes the technology can be commercialized and used to power an energy plant within five to 10 years, if all goes smoothly. . .

The notion of carbon sequestration, in which CO2 would be pulled out of the air and stored, seems awfully hard. This sounds much more plausible. I hope it can be made cost effective.

POSTSCRIPT: Interestingly, the environmentalists — who ought to be delighted by a way to burn coal and generate only solid waste — seem to be against it. One might get the impression that they aren’t anti-pollution but anti-energy.


Situational credulity

February 24, 2013

Have you noticed that the legacy media are much more willing to believe obviously fake stories when they come from a leftist point of view?

In the latest, the Atlantic was taken in by an obviously faked still from a Fox News broadcast, photoshopped to say “Was the Russian meteor a plot by President Obama to prove that global warming is real?”


Remember, death panels are just a paranoid delusion

February 24, 2013

Paul Krugman says that we need death panels (yes, using the actual phrase) to fix health care.


2nd or 4th amendment, pick one (well, zero really)

February 24, 2013

That provision in the Washington State gun-control bill calling for warrantless searches of anyone owning an “assault weapon”, the one that Democrats assure us was just an accident (all three times it was proposed), has turned up in Oregon’s gun-control bill as well.

This is not an accident. This is what these people want. If they don’t respect the 2nd Amendment, why would they respect the 4th?

POSTSCRIPT: Also, the bills allows you to possess only one “assault weapon”, even if you give up your 4th Amendment rights. Any more than one are to be confiscated. Remember this when they tell you they’re not looking to confiscate guns. It’s a lie. It’s always a lie. They are just waiting for the opportunity. Don’t ever believe them again.


Your government at work

February 23, 2013

You can’t make this stuff up: The Obama administration is sticking up for the right of steelworkers to work drunk.


As predicted

February 23, 2013

Because of Obamacare, employers are dumping spouses from their employees’ health plans.

Remember when Obama said if you like your health care you could keep it? That was a lie.


Sequester lies

February 23, 2013

Bob Woodward calls the Obama administration on the carpet for its lies about the sequester:

Lew, being a good lawyer and a loyal presidential adviser, then shifted to denial mode: “Senator, the demand for an enforcement mechanism was not something that the administration was pushing at that moment.”

That statement was not accurate.

(Emphasis mine.)

But this is also interesting:

The final deal reached between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2011 included an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester in exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nation’s debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months, so Obama would not have to go through another such negotiation in 2012, when he was running for reelection.

So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable [If you say so. -Scofflaw] . . . But that was not the deal he made.

Of course, expecting Obama to honor a promise is foolishness.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


Lawless Chicago

February 23, 2013

Last December, in Moore v. Madigan, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right to carry guns in public. In light of Heller and McDonald, the decision was pretty much a no-brainer. The ruling threw out Illinois’s law banning the bearing of arms in public, but stayed the ruling for 180 days to give Illinois time to craft a new law that comports with the Constitution.

However, the Cook County (Chicago) state attorney’s office has said that Illinois can ignore the ruling. In what can only be called a novel legal theory, they claim that the federal courts are powerless to declare state laws unconstitutional:

“Only the Illinois Supreme Court can declare a statue from (the legislature) unconstitutional,” Castiglione told lawmakers Tuesday.

Astonishing.

POSTSCRIPT: Just a couple of days later, the full 7th Circuit denied Illinois’s appeal. The case now goes to the Supreme Court, if they chose to take it. I think they will, not to overturn it, but to extend it to the entire country.


Our lawless government

February 23, 2013

The NLRB, which has been operating illegally for the last year, announced last month that it will simply ignore the Appeals Court ruling against it, and has been proceeding to carry out its agenda as if nothing had happened. In essence, they decided to cover their ears and yell “I can’t hear you!”

In view of their brazen lawlessness, the Appeals Court has now stepped in once again, ordering the NLRB to respond to a petition challenging their authority to continue operating.


Defend yourself, the government won’t

February 22, 2013

In 1981, the landmark precedent Warren v. District of Columbia found that there is a

fundamental prin­ciple that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police pro­tection, to any particular individual citizen.

Ponder that while we consider a basic question: What drives gun-control advocates? I think there are two camps: stupid and evil.

Some controllists are clearly stupid: Anyone who actually believes that criminals obey gun-control laws is stupid. Anyone who thinks that a madman planning mass murder will be deterred by an additional weapons charge is stupid. Anyone who thinks that gun-free zones turn away criminals rather than attract them is stupid. It is self-evident to anyone with an ounce of common sense that only law-abiding persons abide by gun-control laws.

More common than that, perhaps, are those who are functionally stupid. These are the people who do have some common sense, but don’t exercise it when it comes to guns, perhaps out of a visceral distaste for them. For practical purposes, the truly stupid and functionally stupid are the same group.

That’s the first camp. The second camp knows perfectly well that gun-control laws affect only the law-abiding, and that is precisely their aim. This is the evil group. Their ultimate goal is to abolish self-defense.

That much should be clear by looking at their aims: they wish to ban weapons for precisely the people who will use them against humans only in self-defense. But we can also look at history. The United Kingdom, the country at the end of the slippery slope that the controllists see as their model, has explicitly banned, not only any device that can be effectively used for self-defense, but the very act of self-defense itself. For just one example:

The TV presenter and Marks & Spencer model Myleene Klass has been warned by police for waving a knife at teenagers who were peering into a window of her house late at night. Klass was in the kitchen with her daughter upstairs when she spotted the youths in her garden just after midnight on Friday. She grabbed a knife and banged the windows before they ran away.

Hertfordshire police warned her she should not have used a knife to scare off the youths because carrying an “offensive weapon”, even in her own home, was illegal. . .

“She is not looking to be a vigilante, and has the utmost respect for the law, but when the police explained to her that even if you’re at home alone and you have an intruder, you are not allowed to protect yourself, she was bemused.”

(Via International Liberty.) Got that? “If you’re at home alone and you have an intruder, you are not allowed to protect yourself.” Frankly, I think “bemused” is the wrong reaction.

It’s not just across the pond. In the District of Columbia, a man used a gun to save a 11-year-old boy from being mauled to death by three pit bulls, and the police are considering charging him with a crime. Message: if you save a child, you risk jail. Just let the kid die.

If you aren’t permitted to protect yourself and your family, will the government do it? Usually they can’t, of course. As the saying goes, “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.”

But if they can, will they? Don’t count on it. (Well, probably they will, but that’s because most cops are good people, not because of institutional requirements.) In Warren v. DC, the court found that the government has “no general duty” to protect you. (In the horrifying incident behind Warren, the victims were brutalized for fourteen hours, hoping for the police who never came.) This principle has been affirmed by a whole series of rulings going all the way up to the Supreme Court.

The principle has been applied frequently, as recently as last month in New York City. In February 2011, Joseph Lozito subdued a knife-wielding maniac (who had already killed four people during his rampage) on the New York Subway, incurring seven stab wounds in the process. Lozito could not carry a gun (this being New York City), but the police were present for the whole incident. Unfortunately, the police just stood by, watching from behind a locked door until Lozito finished subduing the man. Lozito sued the city, but last month the city moved for dismissal, citing the long-standing rule that they aren’t required to lift a finger to help anyone.

But I don’t mean to give the impression that the controllists’ campaign against self-defense merely leaves us vulnerable to rare incidents of police negligence. Too often, the government’s failure to protect the people is part of a deliberate campaign of oppression:

  • The classic example of this is the postbellum South, in which officials felt limited in how far they could go officially to oppress freed slaves, but could easily stand by while the mob put “uppity” blacks in their place.
  • In the 1991 Crown Heights riot in New York City, police (under orders from the mayor, David Dinkins) allowed the pogrom to go on for three days before finally marshalling enough force to restore order.
  • In the District of Columbia during the mid-1990s, Mayor Marion Barry once threatened to pull the police out of the wards represented by councilmen who refused to support his budget.
  • After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the police looted stores, gunned down unarmed innocents, and went door-to-door illegally confiscating (i.e., stealing) firearms and assaulting their owners. The perpetrators of the Danzinger Bridge shootings were eventually punished, after a failed police cover-up, but (as far as I can tell) no police were ever punished for looting or for stealing firearms. (The police made a big show of investigating accused looters, but in the only cases I can find they “cleared” them of the charges.) New Orleans even refused to return the stolen weapons and had to be forced to do so.

What each of these incidents have in common is they took place were guns were restricted. In New York City and the District of Columbia it was (and largely still is) basically impossible for individuals to obtain guns legally. In Louisiana, citizens have the right to own guns, but New Orleans police would routinely seize any weapons they found anyway, and as soon as Katrina hit they started going door-to-door.

The experience of blacks in the postbellum South is particularly instructive. The gun-control movement in America began out of a desire to keep blacks unarmed and defenseless. Racist anti-gun laws predate the Civil War (indeed they predate the United States), but racial gun control advanced to whole new level after the emancipation of the slaves. The KKK actually began as a gun-control organization; their mission was to take guns from blacks when the government failed to do so.

This is the intellectual lineage of the non-stupid camp of the gun control movement. They want you to be defenseless, because defenseless people make less trouble. Just as they want you to depend on the government for the necessities of life (food, health care, etc.), they want you depend on them for protection from the mob. But even if you do, you still might not get that protection, because just maybe you are someone who needs to be put in his place, or be made an example of.


2nd or 4th amendment, pick one

February 22, 2013

There’s been an interesting revelation in the case of Washington State’s proposed law that would revoke 4th amendment protection from people who own “assault weapons”. It turns out that the bill’s sponsor, who claims that the provision was somehow a mistake, has proposed legislation with the search provision twice before.

Are we to believe that the provision was inserted into a bill by mistake three different times? The notion is fanciful once, and simply preposterous three times.

Interestingly, the Washington State constitution has been found to protect the right to own an AR-15 (the canonical “assault weapon”), so the provision is explicitly attempting to revoke a constitutional right for anyone who exercises another constitutional right.


Christiane ♥ Robert

February 22, 2013

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour gets behind the fist, wishing Robert Mugabe — Zimbabwe’s murderous dictator — a happy birthday. Weird.


Fortunately, no one pays attention to Biden anyway

February 22, 2013

Joe Biden’s self-defense advice will get you arrested.


He is just trolling us now

February 20, 2013

Obama used the phrase “peace in our time” in his inaugural address? Really? Can he really be that historically illiterate?

POSTSCRIPT: In fact, Chamberlain actually referred to “peace for our time”, but it is very commonly misremembered the other way.


Candy was a mistake

February 20, 2013

The co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates admits that choosing Candy Crowley was a mistake. Gee, ya think?

Seriously, though, I think the real mistake is having such a commission at all. Honestly, what purpose does it serve?


Blaming freedom

February 19, 2013

Just a few months into the Obama administration, Sheldon Richmond wrote this:

A rule we can rely on to be unfailingly applied is this: No matter how much the government controls the economic system, any problem will be blamed on whatever small zone of freedom that remains.

I think of this when the chief of police of Chicago — the city with the most repressive anti-gun rules in the country — blames the gun lobby for his city’s horrifying murder rate.


Think of the children!

February 19, 2013

Why does the left oppose nutrition for children?

Finally, after a 12-year delay caused by opponents of genetically modified foods, so-called “golden rice” with vitamin A will be grown in the Philippines. Over those 12 years, about 8 million children worldwide died from vitamin A deficiency. . .

Yet, despite the cost in human lives, anti-GM campaigners—from Greenpeace to Naomi Klein—have derided efforts to use golden rice to avoid vitamin A deficiency. In India, Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist and adviser to the government, called golden rice “a hoax” that is “creating hunger and malnutrition, not solving it.”

Glenn Reynolds adds:

For all the claims of “murder” thrown at the NRA over its policy arguments, the usual suspects are much quieter on this subject, where the connection between policy-advocacy and dead children is much clearer.

Indeed, for some perspective, consider this: 8 million children over 12 years works out to four Sandy Hook massacres every hour of every day for over a decade. Why isn’t the president surrounding himself with children and demanding golden rice?


Don’t trust AP content

February 19, 2013

Oops:

The Associated Press has withdrawn its story about Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., saying he sees some in the his party favoring a 2016 presidential candidate with an immigration policy that would “round up people … and send them back to Mexico.” . . . A subsequent Associated Press review of an audio recording of the show determined that the transcript had dropped the word “don’t” from that quote, and Paul actually said, “They don’t want somebody who wants to round people up, put them in camps and send them back to Mexico.”

(Emphasis mine.) In other words, the AP story reported the exact opposite of the truth.

The correction blames Fox News for the error appearing in its rush transcript. I guess that indicates that the AP does no independent fact-checking of its own, regardless of how outlandish the report is.

(Via the Corner.)


Democrat legislator: don’t worry about rape

February 19, 2013

As the Colorado legislature considered a bill that would ban the carrying of guns on college campuses, Representative Joe Salazar explained that women aren’t competent to judge whether they are really in danger or not:

According to the University of Colorado, here’s what women are supposed to do instead of defending themselves:

Be realistic about your ability to protect yourself.
Your instinct may be to scream, go ahead! It may startle your attacker and give you an opportunity to run away.
Kick off your shoes if you have time and can’t run in them.
Don’t take time to look back; just get away.
If your life is in danger, passive resistance may be your best defense.
Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating.
Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.
Yelling, hitting or biting may give you a chance to escape, do it!
Understand that some actions on your part might lead to more harm.
Remember, every emergency situation is different. Only you can decide which action is most appropriate.

I particularly like the last one: “Only you can decide which action is most appropriate.” Except for using a gun to defend yourself. We’ll decide that one for you. Try vomiting instead.

POSTSCRIPT: On this topic, it’s not just Colorado rapists who want to practice their hobby safely. The pro-rape, anti-gun lobby is active in Ohio too:

Convicted rapist organizes gun control demonstration at Dayton gun show; Media fails to note his sex offender status

UPDATE: Another Colorado Democrat suggests that women fend off rapists using judo. Let’s be fair, they’re not pro-rape, they’re just anti-anti-rape.


Election fraud never, ever happens

February 19, 2013

Don’t worry. No matter how often this happens, it’s always an isolated incident:

Richardson claimed she had submitted an absentee ballot, but was afraid her vote would not count so she also voted in person. She also said she voted in the name of her granddaughter and yet another person.

“There was absolutely no intent on my part to commit any voter fraud,” she insisted.

The culprit in this case, was a veteran poll worker. But don’t worry, I’m sure she kept her jobs as an election fraudster and as a poll worker separate.


2nd or 4th amendment, pick one

February 19, 2013

In a revealing development, a new gun-control bill in Washington State would allow citizens who currently possess a so-called “assault weapon” to keep it, but then the police may search their home once a year without probable cause or a warrant:

In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall … safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection.

The bill’s sponsors say the provision is a mistake and they don’t know how it got there. Yeah, I’ve heard of legislative language spontaneously inserting itself into text files without any human action. That can happen.


Unprecedented except for the precedents

February 14, 2013

Good grief, Media Matters will say anything. Like this:

what press cannot bring itself to report this week: Dems have NEVER EVER mounted a campaign to block cabinet pick the way GOP is w/ Hagel

“NEVER EVER” except for lots of times. I guess this hinges on a narrow and unspecified meaning of “the way GOP is w/ Hagel”, because there have been plenty of defeated cabinet picks:

  • Henry Dearborn (War) under Madison
  • James Porter (War) under Tyler
  • James Green (Treasury) under Tyler
  • Thomas Ewing (War) under Andrew Johnson
  • Henry Stanbery (Justice) under Andrew Johnson
  • Charles Warren (War) under Coolidge, twice
  • Lewis Strauss (Commerce) under Eisenhower
  • Robert Wood (HUD) under Lyndon Johnson
  • John Tower (Defense) under George H.W. Bush

That’s including only the nominations that were formally rejected, not those that were withdrawn in the face of opposition, or that prevailed against opposition. It’s not easy to find out who fought the long-ago nominations, but certainly Democrats mounted the efforts to defeat Warren, Strauss, and Tower. That’s three times, indeed four if you count Warren twice.

Finding the full list took some Googling, but John Tower at least is obvious. The campaign against Tower was fairly recent, and was quite memorable, because it hinged on the argument (offered with a straight face!) that womanizers were not fit to serve in the cabinet. (Yes, Ted Kennedy was among the 52 Democrats who voted against him.)

So when Media Matters bleats about the right-wing bias of the mainstream media, they are lamenting that the media is only 97% in the tank for Democrats. Sometimes a left-wing talking point is too absurd even for them.

(Via JustOneMinute.)


Biden: my bill won’t help

February 13, 2013

Civilization in decline

February 13, 2013

A British court lets a (statutory) rapist off with no jail time because he was educated in an Islamic madrassa and thought it was okay.


NPR’s “conspiracy theorists”

February 13, 2013

In an piece on NPR’s weekend edition on Lance Amstrong and doping, a commentator (ESPN’s Howard Bryant) dropped in an ad hominem attack against the NRA, apropos of nothing at all. NPR edited out the attack when it re-aired the piece in later time zones, and then left it out of the archived recording and the transcript. These facts are all confirmed by NPR’s ombudsman.

In his column on the controversy, the ombudsman then goes on to explain why, with NPR’s procedures, it’s perfectly reasonable for this to go down the memory hole with no trace in the permanent record outside the memories of those who heard it. Let’s even stipulate that that makes sense.

Nevertheless, when people are alleging that you have edited a remark out of the transcript, and when you have, in fact, edited that remark out of the transcript, exactly as alleged, you don’t get to malign them as “conspiracy theorists”:

Brown contacted our office suspicious of a conspiracy.”There is no explanation for the post-broadcast edit. Is this instance a representative one, for NPR editing and posting policy(ies)?”

Well, in some ways, yes, as I myself discovered when I went to ask.

and:

I did wonder whether online transcripts and audio files could have some sort of a routine date-time stamp for when they were broadcast by NPR. Stencel told me that NPR’s systems do not have a way to do that now, but that he would look into the idea. It wouldn’t satisfy conspiracy theorists . . . But, it would create an official baseline of sorts.

You’ve just admitted that they are right, and NPR doesn’t keep accurate transcripts. They’re not “conspiracy theorists”, they are “critics”.


In your face

February 13, 2013

I’m not sure why this is news again; I first saw it months ago. But people are buzzing about the claim that President Obama’s blistering attack on Paul Ryan — with Ryan in the audience — was just a big mistake. The story goes that Ryan was invited to the speech by accident, and when they noticed that he was there it was just too late to change the tone.

Don’t you believe it. First of all, the story makes no sense. They saw Ryan there before the president appeared at the podium, but it was too late to change the speech? Nonsense. They just didn’t want to. Even if Obama was unwilling to go off teleprompter, they could have taken a few minutes to soften the speech. It might be hard, but this is a professional communication operation. Come on.

Moreover, Obama is from Chicago and he likes to do that sort of thing. This is the in-your-face president. Remember him gloating over his election victory at the 2009 stimulus meeting, and at the 2010 health care summit? And those meetings were (ostensibly) for the purpose of forging bipartisan agreement! Remember when — in a direct parallel — he used the 2010 State of the Union address to attack the Supreme Court justices to their faces?

No, Obama said what he meant to say in the manner he wanted to say it. In your face. That’s what he does. It’s the Chicago Way.


Liars

February 13, 2013

The Obama administration, through its professional liar Jay Carney, is still claiming that the sequester was the GOP’s idea:

Question: Looking at all this, do you regret that this White House suggested [the sequester] in the first place?

Jay Carney: The notion much propounded by the spin doctors on the Republican side that the sequester is somehow something that the White House and the president alone wanted and desired is a fanciful confection.

In this case, Carney is using a bit of misdirection, by answering a different question than he was asked. But the message is clear, and Barack Obama himself has been less careful, claiming at the third presidential debate:

The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed.

This is an outright lie. Here’s the photo that Republicans have been circulating, of a page from Bob Woodward’s book on the subject:

woodward-sequester

Also note the final line, below the highlighted box. “We have to get people to turn against the Republicans.” That was the entire plan. They don’t have a fiscal plan; they never did. This was all about setting the stage for attacking Republicans.

(Previous post.) (Via the Corner.)


Professional journalist at work

February 13, 2013

The Washington Post’s crack reporting staff delivers:

Sarah Palin tries to stay relevant

CORRECTION:  An earlier version of this post and the post’s URL incorrectly reported that Sarah Palin had signed on as a contributor to the Al Jazeera America news network. The blogger cited a report on the Daily Currant Web site as the basis for that information without realizing that the piece was satirical.

Apparently sneering has replaced fact-checking at the Washington Post. Here’s the deleted material:

Late last week Al Jazeera America announced the former vice-presidential candidate would be joining their news network.

“As you all know, I’m not a big fan of newspapers, journalists, news anchors and the liberal media in general,” Palin told the Web site The Daily Currant. “But I met with the folks at Al-Jazeera and they told me they reach millions of devoutly religious people who don’t watch CBS or CNN. That tells me they don’t have a liberal bias.”

Oy. Anyone who would believe that is as stupid as they they think Sarah Palin is. That isn’t even good satire.

Anyway, the piece’s author, Suzi Parker, who apparently has not been fired for incompetence, now has her very own hashtag trending on Twitter.

POSTSCRIPT: This is actually a case of fake news imitating real news, as Iowahawk notes:

Leftwing satire headline: “Palin to work for Al Jazeera.” Rightwing satire headline: “Al Gore sells CurrentTV to Al Jazeera.” #SatireisDead


Unreasonable search

February 13, 2013

Here’s something I did not know: The Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizures does not apply at the border. More precisely, arbitrary searches at the border are not considered unreasonable. Thus, customs agents and the like do not need probable cause, much less a warrant, to search people entering the country.

Okay, maybe that makes sense. But the Department of Homeland Security claims that it can use its powers of suspicionless search, not only at the border, but within 100 miles of the border! The ACLU has prepared this handy map, showing where the government says it can search you without probable cause:

unreasonable-zone

The Supreme Court will probably squash this eventually, but it’s an outrage that that’s necessary.


Aaron Swartz and Occam’s razor

February 9, 2013

A lot of people have written about the government’s strange decision to throw the book at Aaron Swartz, when even JSTOR (the nominal victim in the case) didn’t want to press charges.

But is it really so strange? Instead, let’s suppose that the US Attorney was faithfully carrying out government policy. What does the prosecution tell us about that policy? Swartz was a crusader for open information. (For example, before JSTOR, Swartz was making public court records available to the public.) The Obama administration — which is notoriously opposed to open information — threw the book at him.

So maybe this was a rogue US Attorney, losing sight of the big picture and of common decency. Maybe. But Occam’s razor suggests a simpler explanation: the US Attorney, taking her cue from her boss, wanted to make an example of Aaron Swartz, so she did.

UPDATE: Adding credence to my theory, an unchastened White House is cool to the idea of passing “Aaron’s Law”, which would scale back criminal penalties for harmless terms-of-use violations.


Confiscation

February 9, 2013

Wow: the government requires raisin farmers to hand over half their crop, for no compensation.


Aside from that, it was accurate

February 9, 2013

I don’t expect much from Mother Jones, an unrepentant far-left rag, but I thought that the Atlantic was supposed to be a respectable magazine. This story makes me question that. There’s a lot here that could be debunked, but I want to look at just one statement:

“Not one of 62 mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years has been stopped this way [by an armed civilian],” reported Mother Jones’s Mark Follman, adding that the majority of mass shooters killed themselves. . .

It’s true that most mass shooters kill themselves in the end, but what about the first part? There are at least three problems with it.

The first is a logic error. Yes, mass shootings are rarely stopped by an armed civilian. Of course. Because when an armed civilian stops the incident, he stops it promptly, before it becomes a mass shooting. The civilian, you see, is already there, while the police are minutes away, at best. Those minutes are what gives the shooter the chance to become a mass shooter.

Second, armed civilians avert mass shootings not infrequently. For example, there were two instances the very same week as the Newtown shootings: one in San Antonio and one in Clackamas, Oregon. And there are plenty of others.

Third, mass shootings always take place in gun-free zones (with only one exception in the last half-century). Mass shooters deliberately seek out places where guns are not permitted. Thus, they aren’t very many armed civilians at such places.

In short, Mother Jones’s claim — echoed by the Atlantic — might be narrowly true (although I don’t know that), but it certainly doesn’t demonstrate anything like what they suggest it does.


Liars

February 9, 2013

The story of the Alabama nutcase that abducted the 5-year old is horrifying (although it ended well), but unfortunately for the gun-control movement, it didn’t have any relevance to their efforts to ban modern sporting rifles, since the man used a shotgun. But never mind that, the Associated Press will simply transmogrify that shotgun into an “assault rifle”. This can’t be an honest mistake, since they had the story right, and then changed it.

To add insult to injury, they didn’t even issue a correction when caught in the lie. Indeed, they didn’t even change the weapon back to a shotgun. Instead, they used the less-specific phrase “firearm”. Why not be specific, unless it’s to leave open the possibility that the reader might misunderstand the weapon as a modern sporting rifle?

(Via Instapundit.)


As predicted

February 9, 2013

As Obamacare looms, employers are cutting back on full-time employment.


This ain’t your father’s cover-up

February 9, 2013

Remember when officials use to cover up reports in order to hide dangers? That’s old school. Today, they cover-up reports showing that industries are safe:

Thanks to a leak from an anonymous insider, we learned Thursday that a report commissioned by the State of New York has given fracking a clean bill of health. The insider “did not think it should be kept secret” and released the document, which is now nearly one year old, to the New York Times, which reported:

The state’s Health Department found in an analysis it prepared early last year that the much-debated drilling technology known as hydrofracking could be conducted safely in New York.

The eight-page analysis is a summary of previous research by the state and others…[that] delves into the potential impact of fracking on water resources, on naturally occurring radiological material found in the ground, on air emissions and on “potential socioeconomic and quality-of-life impacts.”…[It] concludes that fracking can be done safely.

The analysis and other health assessments have been closely guarded by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his administration as the governor weighs whether to approve fracking.

(Via Instapundit.)

Of course, covering up the report is a last resort. It’s preferable to falsify the tests, like the EPA is doing.

Why are they doing this? Possibly they believe that fracking is dangerous, despite the scientific consensus. (I believe that’s called being “anti-science”.) More likely, they’re just on the take, like Matt Damon and Al Gore.


As predicted

February 9, 2013

Health insurance premiums are beginning to soar.


Cashing out

February 9, 2013

The man who implemented Obamacare for the Obama administration is leaving government, to start a law practice exploiting the rules he wrote. He’s just one of many, many Obama administration officials that are cashing out.

Remember when Obama said he would end the revolving door? I do, barely.


It would be funny, if it weren’t so sad

February 9, 2013

Iowahawk explains how to do business in Obama’s America:

Perhaps instead of starting a small business, young Matt should have taken the time-honored liberal approach and started a BIG business. Those rules are simpler: (1) come up with idiotic idea, (2) give large wads of cash to a politician, (3) reap ginormormous government contract.

Good ideas — which usually involve producing a product that people want and will pay for — are for suckers now.

(Via Instapundit.)


Don’t cry for me IMF

February 9, 2013

Argentina has been reprimanded by the IMF for its phony-baloney economic reporting.