Hysteria

March 15, 2013

Since Newtown, we have seen an alarming pattern of schools punishing students (severely in some cases) for possessing objects that aren’t guns, but are vaguely reminiscent of guns: fingers, a Hello Kitty bubble gun, a vaguely gun-shaped scrap of paper, a transparent plastic toy gun, a photograph of a gun, an imaginary hand grenade, or a partially eaten breakfast pastry in the shape of a gun.

paper-gun

This is hysteria, plain and simple. No one this out-of-touch with reality should be running a school.

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Paul gets an answer, sort of

March 15, 2013

Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KT) staged a 13-hour filibuster to try to extract from the Obama administration an answer to a very simple question: Under what circumstances does the president have the power to kill Americans on US soil without any judicial process?

The answer to this question is not obvious. Even in a purely law-enforcement context, sometimes an active criminal needs to be shot on sight. But, at the other extreme, no one would suggest that the president may assassinate Americans for political differences. Clearly the power should exist but is severely limited.

But what exactly are those limitations? The problem is that the administration won’t say. Paul succeeded in getting the administration to admit that its power to kill Americans is not unlimited:

Dear Senator Paul:

It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: “Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill Americans not engaged in combat on U.S. soil?” The answer to that question is no.

Sincerely,
Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Yes, that’s the entire letter. (ASIDE: Either due to a strange oversight or a fit of pique, the White House released the letter to the media but never actually sent it to Paul.) It’s good that the administration admits to some limits, but this tells us virtually nothing about where they see those limits.

On September 11, 2001, while the Pentagon was still burning, the Justice Department was already at work drafting legal rules that would govern the War on Terror. Some of those rules came under fire, of course, but the Bush administration put them out forthrightly and abided by them. That’s called respect for the rule of law.

Later, when the Bush administration’s critics (most of them hypocritically, but some in good faith) attacked those rules, they had specific legal opinions to dispute.

In contrast, the Obama administration never began working seriously on drafting rules for drone warfare until they began to fear they might lose the 2012 election. Once they won the election, the effort apparently evaporated.

Barack Obama’s attitude toward all this is clarified by a revealing exchange with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV):

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) confronted the president over the administration’s refusal for two years to show congressional intelligence committees Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the use of lethal force against American terror suspects abroad. . .

In response to Rockefeller’s critique, Obama said he’s not involved in drafting such memos, the senators told POLITICO. He also tried to assure his former colleagues that his administration is more open to oversight than that of President George W. Bush, whom many Democratic senators attacked for secrecy and for expanding executive power in the national security realm.

“This is not Dick Cheney we’re talking about here,” he said.

(Via the Corner.)

Instead of offering a legal justification (which the administration refuses to give), Obama explains that he (unlike Dick Cheney) is a good guy. To paraphrase: We don’t need legal strictures when the right person is making the decisions. More tersely: I don’t need legal justification; I’m Obama.

That’s called disrespect for the rule of law.

This matter is too important to allow the Obama administration to make it up as they go along. If the administration will write and publicize rules governing domestic drone strikes, we can debate those rules. But if they refuse to do so, Congress needs to do it.


Respect is earned

March 15, 2013

Barack Obama wants us to respect his nonsense:

The canceled tours prompted a pointed question to Obama from House Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.) during the president’s meeting with House Republicans on Wednesday. Miller asked why Obama put an end to the tours instead of just cancelling the congressional Christmas party or the congressional picnic.

When Obama said the decision was prompted by the Secret Service, some lawmakers groaned in disbelief.

“Now, now, let’s be respectful,” Obama replied.

Note that, when he says “let’s be respectful”, he means “you be respectful to me”. He’s not going to respect them even enough to refrain from obvious, ridiculous lies.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, if a well-deserved groan in private is disrespectful, what was this?

(Previous post.)


The modern legislative process

March 15, 2013

When it comes to horribly complicated legislation, Obamacare was no piker (1600 pages!), but the legislation itself pales to what it became once the bureaucrats got their hands on it:

obamacare-pile

 

That’s 20k pages and counting. When we started letting Congress delegate its power to bureaucrats, this was the inevitable result.

It used to be that Congress’s time would impose some practical limit on the number of rules they could impose on us, but now that the executive branch makes most of the rules without the messy process of legislation, there’s no practical limit on the rules they can burden us with.

(Via Power Line.)


“Mythology”

March 15, 2013

Fox News reports:

The top U.S. immigration enforcement official acknowledged Thursday that the Obama administration has in fact released thousands of illegal immigrants from local jails over the last month despite prior claims that the release was only in the hundreds.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, at a House appropriations subcommittee hearing, said the agency released a total of 2,228 illegal immigrants from local jails “throughout the country” between Feb. 9 and March 1 for “solely budgetary reasons.” . . .

But Morton’s acknowledgement that more than 2,000 were released appeared to conflict with prior claims from the administration, which said it was only releasing hundreds.

The Associated Press first reported March 1 that the administration had released more than 2,000 illegal immigrants since at least Feb. 15 and planned to release 3,000 more in March due to looming budget cuts, but Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said days later that the AP’s report was “not really accurate” and that the story had developed “its own mythology.”

(Emphasis mine.)

Do not believe anything the Obama administration says, ever.


A tale of two “coups”

March 15, 2013

What is a coup d’etat? I would say it refers to a seizure of power unjustified by country’s constitution or customs. A few years ago there was a great hue and cry over the supposed coup in Honduras, in which the Honduran supreme court ousted the president for violating the constitution. Even though the action complied with the Honduran constitution, and was acknowledged not to be a coup by the US Secretary of State, the Obama administration pressed ahead with sanctions against Honduras to try to force them to restore the socialist, would-be dictator to power.

However, this month we’ve seen a coup staged in Venezuela without a peep from the Obama administration or the legacy media. When Hugo Chavez died in Cuba earlier this month, he had been elected to a new term in office but had not been inaugurated. The Venezuelan constitution makes clear who assumes the presidency in such a case:

When an elected president becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new president, the president of the National Assembly shall take charge of the presidency of the Republic.

The president of the National Assembly is Diosdado Cabello, but instead Nicolas Maduro — Chavez’s handpicked successor — has been sworn in as acting president. This is plainly a coup.

So why is the Obama administration silent about an actual coup in Venezuela, when it got so exercised over a non-coup in Honduras? It’s hard not to see it as politics. This administration likes Hugo Chavez’s brand of socialism, and in Honduras, a chavista was ousted, while in Venezuela a chavista was installed.


Lies upon lies

March 13, 2013

Barack Obama, March 13:

President Obama said his administration was looking at ways to resume White House tours for school groups. “This was not a decision that went up to the White House,” noted Obama in an ABC News interview aired on Wednesday, saying the directive came from the Secret Service.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, March 7:

In order to allow the Secret Service to best fulfill its core mission, the White House made the decision that we would, unfortunately, have to temporarily suspend these tours.

(Emphasis mine.) One of these two statements, certainly, is a lie.

Almost certainly, it’s the former. Is the White House really going to cease tours without directions from the White House? Come on. Besides, we have plenty of examples of the White House directing its people to make the sequester as painful as possible, so this would be well within precedent.

Moreover, when Jay Carney was questioned on this, he explained that the decision absolutely did go to the White House. (Trying to square the circle, he also explained that the decision nevertheless was really made by the Secret Service.)

(Previous post.) (Via the Corner.)


Read it and weep

March 13, 2013

If you’re a fan of electric cars, you won’t like this:

A 2012 comprehensive life-cycle analysis in Journal of Industrial Ecology shows that almost half the lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions from an electric car come from the energy used to produce the car, especially the battery. . . When an electric car rolls off the production line, it has already been responsible for 30,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emission. The amount for making a conventional car: 14,000 pounds.

While electric-car owners may cruise around feeling virtuous, they still recharge using electricity overwhelmingly produced with fossil fuels. Thus, the life-cycle analysis shows that for every mile driven, the average electric car indirectly emits about six ounces of carbon-dioxide. This is still a lot better than a similar-size conventional car, which emits about 12 ounces per mile. But remember, the production of the electric car has already resulted in sizeable emissions—the equivalent of 80,000 miles of travel in the vehicle.

So unless the electric car is driven a lot, it will never get ahead environmentally. And that turns out to be a challenge. Consider the Nissan Leaf. It has only a 73-mile range per charge. Drivers attempting long road trips, as in one BBC test drive, have reported that recharging takes so long that the average speed is close to six miles per hour—a bit faster than your average jogger.

It gets worse:

To make matters worse, the batteries in electric cars fade with time, just as they do in a cellphone. Nissan estimates that after five years, the less effective batteries in a typical Leaf bring the range down to 55 miles. As the MIT Technology Review cautioned last year: “Don’t Drive Your Nissan Leaf Too Much.”

And if you replace the batteries, you get to start your carbon footprint all over. Bottom line:

If a typical electric car is driven 50,000 miles over its lifetime, the huge initial emissions from its manufacture means the car will actually have put more carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere than a similar-size gasoline-powered car driven the same number of miles. . . Even if the electric car is driven for 90,000 miles and the owner stays away from coal-powered electricity, the car will cause just 24% less carbon-dioxide emission than its gas-powered cousin.

(Emphasis mine.)

But, electric cars put a lot of money into the pockets of Obama’s cronies, so they have that going at least.


Public education: malice or incompetence?

March 13, 2013

Try to read this story without getting angry.


Obamacare paperwork

March 13, 2013

Remember when the Obamacare’s health exchanges were supposed to make shopping for health care easy? The reality is quite the opposite:

Applying for benefits under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul could be as daunting as doing your taxes. The government’s draft application runs 15 pages for a three-person family. An outline of the online version has 21 steps, some with additional questions. . .

That’s just the first part of the process, which lets you know if you qualify for financial help. . . Once you’re finished with the money part, actually picking a health plan will require additional steps, plus a basic understanding of insurance jargon. . .

Some are concerned that a lot of uninsured people will be overwhelmed and simply give up.

Of course, giving up isn’t actually allowed. With the individual mandate, giving up means paying a heavy fine.

(Via Hot Air.)


Molten-salt reactors

March 13, 2013

Another new technology for nuclear reactors is reaching maturity: the molten-salt reactor. One important aspect of the design is it’s “walk-away safe”. That means it doesn’t require any power to remain safe; you can walk away from it and it will safely coast to a halt.

A company says it’s ready to commercialize the design. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, government is in the way:

Bringing the new reactor to market will be challenging. Although the basic idea of a molten-salt reactor has been demonstrated, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s certification process is set up around light-water reactors. The company will need the NRC to establish new regulations, especially since the commission must sign off on the idea of using less steel and concrete if the design’s safety features are to lead to real savings.


Fake

March 13, 2013

There’s an old adage that goes: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. The legacy media ought to keep it in mind when they consider quoting wonderfully implausible people, like self-hating gun owners. Yes, he’s a fake.


Sequester follies

March 13, 2013

The Obama administration is cutting White House tours and national park visiting hours, but a $704 thousand gardening project in Belgium for the US ambassador to NATO is going ahead.

(Previous post.)


Sequester follies

March 12, 2013

As part of his make-the-sequester-hurt strategy, Obama is cancelling White Hours tours. That will save $74,000 per week (about $7 for each visitor).

But Michelle Obama’s gigantic birthday bash is going ahead. Priorities, you know.

(Somehow, that bunch got away with portraying the Romneys as out-of-touch with ordinary people. Amazing.)

UPDATE: The White House says they weren’t responsible for the decision to cancel tours, and they’re trying to figure out a way to restart them. Amazing how little influence the White House has when it doesn’t want one.

One obvious way to restart them (other than just, you know, restarting them) would be to accept the contributions of various persons who have offered to pay for tours, “but the White House has turned down the request, saying that it could not allow private individuals to pay the Secret Service.” Because that would defeat the purpose of cancelling tours in the first place.

(Previous post.)


Gun control advocate: my bill serves no legitimate purpose

March 12, 2013

A Colorado Democrat admits that her gun-control bill will not serve its purported purpose:

I make no assertion that this bill will either increase or reduce violent crime. That is not the premise of the bill.

So what is the purpose of the bill? Hmm?


Hypocrite

March 12, 2013

Gabby Gifford’s husband buys an AR-15. Having been caught, he now says he’s not going to keep it.

POSTSCRIPT: I wonder if this story is burying the lede, though. Mark Kelly impulse-bought an AR-15. That means there’s a gun store in Arizona that has AR-15s in stock!

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: C’mon, this doesn’t even pass the laugh test:

Appearing on CNN’s The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer on March 11, Mark Kelly said he planned from the start to hand over an AR-15 rifle he purchased to the Tuscon Police Department.

Please. If you’re doing it to make a point, you make a media circus out of it. Doing it quietly accomplishes no purpose but throwing your own money away.

(Via Instapundit.)


The problem with universal preschool

March 12, 2013

People argue against universal government-run preschool on grounds like (1) it’s too expensive, or (2) it doesn’t work, or (3) the government has no business doing  it anyway. All of that is true, but Katherine Mangu-Ward has an even better point:

Which do you think is more likely?:

(a) We make preschool universal and that starts a cascade of awesomeness into the general public school system, or

(b) we graft a universal preschool entitlement onto the existing universal K-12 entitlement, and preschool starts to suck just as much as the rest of the system?

Call me a cynic, but I’m going with (b).

(Via Hot Air.)


Fourth amendment applies at the border

March 12, 2013

The 9th Circuit Appeals Court has ruled that the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches does apply at the border. This might seem obvious, but it goes against existing precedent which holds that there is an exception at the border.

That decision will probably be overturned, but I’m guessing that the DHS claim to be able to perform unreasonable border searches nearly anywhere will not stand up.

The court also ruled that password-protecting a computer does not create reasonable grounds for suspicion. I certainly hope that holds up.


Sequester follies

March 12, 2013

Fox News reports:

Another federal employee has come forward to claim the Obama administration resisted efforts to ease the impact of sequester.

A U.S. park ranger, who did not wish to be identified, told FoxNews.com that supervisors within the National Park Service overruled plans to deal with the budget cuts in a way that would have had minimal impact on the public. Instead, the source said, park staff were told to cancel special events and cut “interpretation services” — the talks, tours and other education services provided by local park rangers.

“Apparently, they want the public to feel the pain,” the ranger said.

Yesterday I spent much of the day in a waiting room with Fox News on the television, and they were going after the administration hammer and tongs, with case after case of the administration deliberately making cuts hurt. I don’t think it’s going to work. The White House tours and national parks won’t stay closed forever, and when they reopen them, how will they explain it?

Meanwhile, while cutting services that people can see, the administration has advertised for 2596 new jobs since sequestration went into effect.

(Previous post.)


Lies upon lies

March 12, 2013

Glenn Kessler, who has been doing yeoman’s work debunking the White House’s stream of sequestration lies, debunks another. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan:

It just means a lot more children will not get the kinds of services and opportunities they need, and as many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs. … There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall.

Lie. After being pressed for days for an example, the White House finally produced a single district in West Virginia, but even that wasn’t true. In Kanawha County, five or six teachers (not 40,000) are being transferred (not laid off), due to a change in state policy (not due to sequestration).

Megan McArdle sums up this way:

These aren’t matters of opinion where the administration can simply argue assumptions; these are easily checkable statements with hard numbers attached.  From this I infer that the administration is having a hard time finding concrete examples of bad things that the sequester is going to do.  Nor is that a huge surprise.  Whether you’re for or against the sequester, we are talking about relatively small sums, in the scope of the federal deficit.  They’re simply not going to show up in much measurable way as devastating hardship.

POSTSCRIPT: Despite being on the front line of the administration’s lies, Kessler still wants to give them the benefit of the doubt:

In other words, Duncan’s scare story about teacher layoffs — right now, at this moment — was apparently too good to check. If the Obama administration had learned anything about the Susan Rice-Benghazi debacle, you would have thought it was to make sure the talking points for the Sunday shows are rock-solid. Given that Duncan had made this claim once to reporters, couldn’t anyone in his office have bothered to pick up the phone and double-check the information?

It’s not a matter of checking. The Benghazi misinformation wasn’t a mistake; it was a lie. So is this.

(Previous post.)


Quoted without comment

March 12, 2013

The Telegraph reports:

The United Nations Human Rights Council, now chaired by Cuba, held a minute’s silence in tribute to Mr Chavez.

(Via Ricochet.)


The slippery slope

March 12, 2013

Caught on tape: Jan Schakowsky (D-IL, Democratic chief deputy whip) admitting that the proposed “assault weapons” ban is just the first step, and they will ultimately try to ban all guns, Second Amendment or not.

(Previous post.)


“Messy and often frustrating”

March 12, 2013

Has there ever been a US president who spent more time bellyaching about about the constitutional separation of powers than Barack Obama? It’s really quite unseemly.

But more worrisome than the president’s disdain for constitutional government is the left’s lack of concern about his disdain. If half the country and nearly the entire media are tired of constitutional government, we are in serious trouble.

In the latest instance, Obama complains in his radio address that “our democratic debates messy and often frustrating.” Which they are, of course, but that’s by design.

Obama goes on to say that “what makes us special is when we summon the ability to see past those differences.” Wrong. What makes us special is not when we get past differences, but when we see the beauty in having differences!

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


Lies upon lies

March 6, 2013

Doubling down on President Obama’s earlier lies about the effects of the sequester on Capitol janitors, the White House is now offering this:

On the issue of the janitors, if you work for an hourly wage and you earn overtime, and you depend on that overtime to make ends meet, it is simply a fact that a reduction in overtime is a reduction in your pay.

Glenn Kessler looked at this one too:

Still, the White House has kept up its spin offensive, claiming that a cut in “overtime” was a de facto pay cut and thus the president was right — or at least not wrong.

So, we wondered: How much overtime do Capitol Hill janitors actually make? . . .

It averaged $304 per employee in fiscal year 2012 and $388 per employee thus far in the current fiscal year. “Cleaning technicians do not earn what I would consider to be a great deal of overtime pay,” Swanson said.

In other words, overtime amounts to only pittance of the overall pay — about $6.50 a week on top of wages of $1,000 a week. That’s much different from Carney’s claim of having to “depend on that overtime to make ends meet.” Indeed, even before the sequester was implemented, Capitol Hill janitors have already earned more overtime pay than they did in all of last year.

A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

I’ll bet.

Finally, Kessler had an insight on how the White House messaging machine works:

First of all, we should note that the White House’s story kept evolving as we reported last week’s column. It’s almost as if the president’s aides had to scramble to come up with reasons why the president could be correct, without actually knowing the facts.

So, when we forwarded to White House aides an AOC memo saying no furloughs were planned, White House aides latched onto a line about overtime reductions. For a couple of hours, we were also told that the janitors were on contract — and contracts were being curtailed. But that line of reasoning turned out to be incorrect. Then, after the statements from the Capitol were issued, there was no longer any response.

But, as seen by the quotes above, the talking point about “overtime” did not fade away.

Kessler is too charitable. When this bunch repeatedly says things “without actually knowing the facts”, it’s reasonable to assume that they don’t actually care what the facts are. Still, I’m glad he’s starting to figure this out. Maybe he will be less willing to cover for them in the future.

(Previous post.)


Colorado pushes shotgun ban

March 6, 2013

The gun banners are telling us that shotguns are the responsible alternative to semi-automatic rifles. (Well, Joe “shoot through the door” Biden doesn’t exactly stress the responsibility part. . .) But the gun control bill that looks likely to pass in Colorado would ban semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns, which is to say nearly all shotguns in use.


Ah, the civil libertarians

March 6, 2013

A bill in Florida would require citizens to undergo psychological counseling before they can buy ammunition.


Smoking gun

March 6, 2013

A leaked email from the Agriculture Department shows the administration rejecting plans to mitigate the consequences of the sequester:

We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that “APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 States in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs.” So, it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.

(Emphasis mine.)

It would an injustice of historic proportions if the Democrats get away with blaming Republicans for the sequester when the Democrats are deliberately making it as painful as possible. But with the press on their side, they might still get away with it.

(Previous post.)


Obamacare delenda est

March 6, 2013

Remember when Obama promised if you like your health care you could keep it? Yep, that was a lie. Obamacare’s Medicare cuts which will push millions of seniors from their Medicare Advantage plans into standard Medicare, are going ahead.


Yikes!

March 6, 2013

I have no problem with killing foreign terrorists using drones, but I’m profoundly uncomfortable with the idea of Homeland Security building a fleet of drones for domestic surveillance.

Remember when the Democrats were strongly against so-called domestic surveillance? Back then, we were talking about Americans who take phone calls from foreigners under surveillance. Now we’re talking about Americans just going about their business, and Democrats think it’s hunky-dory.

I think there ought to be a simple bright-line rule: DOD can have drones (but posse comitatus applies), DOJ and DHS cannot.

(Via Instapundit.)


What’s wrong with Colorado?

March 6, 2013

More anti-anti-rape Democrats in the Colorado legislature. That party’s got a real problem.


This is the NLRB

March 6, 2013

Fox News has a column running down some of the out-of-control NLRB’s most outrageous rulings. I think the most outrageous is its decision that employers must turn over the names of whistleblowers to the union, so the union can punish them. A close second is its decision that stores cannot forbid clerks to post signs telling customers to take their business elsewhere.

Fortunately, these rulings are all likely to go away, since they were issued by illegal recess appointees. Unfortunately, once Obama loses the appeal, he’ll just appoint the same lunatics again, and they’ll make the same decisions again.


“I am not a dictator”

March 6, 2013

Time was when our presidents were proud to be part of the Constitutional system, limited by checks and balances. George Washington turned aside an effort to make him king. Thomas Jefferson famously was wracked with guilt for carrying out the Louisiana Purchase without clear Constitutional authorization.

But those times seem to be past. Today our president laments that he is not a dictator, and laments that the can’t overcome our separation of powers using mind control (a “jedi mind-meld”).


Sequester follies

March 6, 2013

Obama says that we don’t need the sequester because he’s already made $2.5 trillion in budget cuts. It turns out that that figure is based on current law, which includes the sequester. He’s arguing that we don’t need the sequester, because we’ve got the sequester.

(Previous post.)


Victimhood is mandatory

March 6, 2013

In a recent post, I argued that gun-control advocates want you to be at the mercy of aggressors, and you’ll probably never find a better example of their mandatory victimhood than this one:

A Florida high school student wrestled a loaded gun away from another teen on the bus ride home this week and was slapped with a suspension in return. . .

The student said the suspect, a football player, threatened to shoot a teammate because he had been arguing with his friend.

Authorities confirmed to WFTX the weapon was indeed loaded, and the arrest report stated the suspect, identified by WVZN-TV as Quadryle Davis, was “pointing the gun directly” at the other student and “threatening to shoot him.”

That’s when, the teen told the station, he and two others tackled the suspect and wrestled the gun away. The next day, all three were suspended. . . The school’s referral slip said he was given an “emergency suspension” for being involved in an “incident” with a weapon.

The hero of the incident, who was unarmed and did nothing wrong, is being punished for preventing a shooting. Tar and feathers are too good for these jackals.

(Via Instapundit.)


Sequester follies

March 6, 2013

A brief history of the sequester: (1) Democrats and Republicans were supposed to work together to devise a deficit reduction plan based on spending cuts and no tax increases. (2) If the parties couldn’t agree, the sequester would automatically impose spending cuts. (3) Both parties were supposed to be motivated to avoid the cuts, but Democrats never negotiated in good faith because they planned to renege on the ground rules and demand tax hikes. (4) Once this became clear, Republicans decided that it would be better just to let automatic cuts take place, but proposed legislation that would give the president the power to allocate those cuts to the least damaging places. (5) Senate Democrats killed that legislation, because they want the sequester to be as painful as possible. (6) The Obama administration, now, is making sure the sequester is as painful as possible.

Before the sequester, the White House promoted sequester pain by lying about what would happen. For example:

Starting tomorrow everybody here, all the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol. Now that Congress has left, somebody’s going to be vacuuming and cleaning those floors and throwing out the garbage. They’re going to have less pay. The janitors, the security guards, they just got a pay cut, and they’ve got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real.

That’s President Obama, telling an outright lie. Glenn Kessler obtained two different documents explaining that capitol janitors and guards would not be effected. In Kessler’s assessment, “nothing in Obama’s statement came close to being correct.”

Now that the sequester is under way, the White House plan is to promote pain, using the time-honored “Washington Monument strategy”, in which you cut key functions but preserve the waste. Thus, in one example, the Department of Agriculture is cutting meat inspectors, but preserving a wine-tasting junket.

Will Obama get away with this cynical strategy? I wouldn’t bet against it. It all depends on the honor of the press: will they act as the administration’s lackies, and report only the painful cuts, or will they also report the wasteful spending that the administration did not cut? We’re in trouble.

(Previous post.)


No free speech for students

March 6, 2013

There is a bizarre, pernicious myth that the left are the defenders of civil liberties. I can’t fathom how they managed to get that reputation, since they always are coming out in opposition to free speech. In Minnesota, Democrats have proposed an “anti-bullying” bill that would prohibit K-12 students from saying anything unkind about another student.


Chavez moves on to warmer climate

March 6, 2013

Hugo Chavez is dead. It’s a pity he didn’t go the way of Nicolae Ceausescu, but I suppose this will have to do.

Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic about Venezuela’s future. During the last year, even while denying his ill health, he was planning for his death, and his people are fimly entrenched in Venezuela’s supreme court, electoral council, and other key government institutions. They will be difficult to evict without a revolution.

Then there’s our national disgrace that is James Earl Carter:

Rosalynn and I extend our condolences to the family of Hugo Chávez Frías.  We met Hugo Chávez when he was campaigning for president in 1998 and The Carter Center was invited to observe elections for the first time in Venezuela.  We returned often, for the 2000 elections, and then to facilitate dialogue during the political conflict of 2002-2004.  We came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized.  Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chávez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.

It’s appalling that this idiot was once president of the United States.


Covering for Obama

March 1, 2013

When Michelle Obama, interviewed by Good Morning America, made an important factual error (claiming that a shooting death in Chicago was at the hands of an automatic weapon, which it almost certainly was not), the folks at ABC were good enough just to edit her mistake out.

I wonder if I’ve simply misunderstood what the phrase “news coverage” means? I always thought it meant to cover (i.e., report) what people say and do, but maybe it means to cover for them.


DOJ admits Swartz prosecution was political?

March 1, 2013

If this story in the Huffington Post is true, Justice Department officials have admitted to Congress that Aaron Swartz was prosecuted for his support for open information:

A Justice Department representative told congressional staffers during a recent briefing on the computer fraud prosecution of Internet activist Aaron Swartz that Swartz’s “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto” played a role in the prosecution, sources told The Huffington Post.

Swartz’s 2008 manifesto said sharing information was a “moral imperative” and advocated for “civil disobedience” against copyright laws pushed by corporations “blinded by greed” that led to the “privatization of knowledge.” . . .

The “Manifesto,” Justice Department representatives told congressional staffers, demonstrated Swartz’s malicious intent in downloading documents on a massive scale.

This is the Huffington Post, so the story could well be bogus. But it’s worthy of note because it would confirm my theory of the reason for the Swartz prosection, which is otherwise hard to explain.

(Via Instapundit.) (Previous post.)


DHS: automatic weapons are suitable for personal defense

March 1, 2013

Gun-controllists complain that “assault weapons” (i.e., rifles that look scary) have no legitimate self-defense purpose, but that complaint is being undermined by the Department of Homeland Security, which says select-fire weapons can be “suitable for personal defense”.

In a recent solicitation, the DHS is looking to buy “5.56x45mm NATO, select-fire firearm[s] suitable for personal defense”. Basically, this refers to either the M-16 or M-4. In particular, select-fire means that the weapon can be switched from semi-automatic to fully automatic.

So the DHS is saying that fully automatic weapons (in particular the M-16 and M-4) are suitable for personal defense. The AR-15 is the same gun, except it does not support select fire, and is semi-automatic only. So while the controllists claim (falsely) there is no self-defense use for the AR-15, DHS is saying that a strictly more effective weapon is suitable for self-defense.


Religious intolerance at Michigan

March 1, 2013

The University of Michigan is following Vanderbilt’s lead and forcing Christian student organizations off-campus. As at Vanderbilt, the pretext is the organizations’ refusal to allow non-Christians to be leaders of the group.


Confiscation doesn’t work

March 1, 2013

The end goal of the gun-controllists is to confiscate all firearms. Some Democratic politicians try to deny this, but their denials are undermined by the rhetoric of  gun control groups, their own unguarded remarks, historical precedent, and by the actions of politicians (such as in New York, Oregon, Missouri, etc.) who are proposing and indeed enacting gun confiscation bills.

The good news (as Glenn Reynolds observes) is that the government is no more competent at confiscating guns than at anything else it does. They can’t even confiscate the guns they’re supposed to be confiscating:

California authorities are empowered to seize weapons owned by convicted felons and people with mental illness, but staff shortages and funding cuts have left a backlog of more than 19,700 people to disarm, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.

Those gun owners have roughly 39,000 firearms, said Stephen Lindley, chief of the Bureau of Firearms for the state Department of Justice.


Let’s try the horsewhipping

March 1, 2013

Leftists who say that we should get past our obsession with the Constitution don’t realize the slender thread on which their tyranny rests. Glenn Reynolds puts it well:

Here’s the problem with public officials . . . deciding to ignore the Constitution: If you’re the president, if you’re a member of Congress, if you are a TSA agent, the only reason why somebody should listen to what you say, instead of horsewhipping you out of town for your impertinence, is because you exercise power via the Constitution. If the Constitution doesn’t count, you don’t have any legitimate power. You’re a thief, a brigand, an officious busybody, somebody who should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail for trying to exercise power you don’t possess.


Baseball’s evil empire

March 1, 2013

The New York Yankees admit, in court, that they are “baseball’s evil empire”.


Government: you homeless stay hungry, and no need to thank us

March 1, 2013

Louisiana officials have decided that it’s better for homeless to go hungry than to eat venison:

Hunters across Louisiana are outraged after state health officials ordered a rescue mission to destroy $8,000 worth of deer meat because venison is not allowed to be served in homeless shelters.

The Dept. of Health and Hospitals ordered the staff at the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission to throw 1,600 pounds of donated venison in garbage bins – and then ordered then to douse the meat with Clorox – so other animals would not eat the meat. . .

The mission’s chef asked if they could at least return the meat to the processing plant – but the state officials said no. “They actually took it out to the dumpsters, split the packages open and poured Clorox on it,” Martin told Fox News.

Remember, government does not operate on autopilot. Some human being thought it would be a good idea to destroy $8000 of venison and leave homeless people hungry. Which brings us back, once again, to this.


Bank of England: ants should become grasshoppers

March 1, 2013

This is two years old, but it’s appalling enough to be still worthy of note. The Bank of England is telling people (or, at any rate, told people two years ago), to stop saving money and spend their savings:

Savers should stop complaining about poor returns and start spending to help the economy, a senior Bank of England official warned today.

Older households could afford to suffer because they had benefited from previous property price rises, Charles Bean, the deputy governor, suggested. They should “not expect” to live off interest, he added, admitting that low returns were part of a strategy. . .

He continued: “Savers shouldn’t necessarily expect to be able to live just off their income in times when interest rates are low. It may make sense for them to eat into their capital a bit.”

Now, this is manifestly awful, but it’s even worse than it appears at first appears. Those who do as they are told and blow through their savings are still going to need income to survive. They will have to go on the public dole. So what the British government is doing is taking people who want to provide for themselves, and have saved their whole lives in order to do so, and move those people into dependency on the government.

This isn’t just bad economic administration. It’s immoral.


Remember, voter fraud never happens

March 1, 2013

It’s a good thing that voter fraud never happens, because otherwise I might be worried about the news that unknown fraudsters nearly obtained 2,552 absentee ballots, and they remain at large.


Another deceptively edited NBC video

March 1, 2013

I think Jim Treacher is right:

At this point, it’s a given that any audio or video that’s aired on NBC News or MSNBC could be faked in some way.

In the latest, Rachel Maddow edits a video of John McCain, making him seem unsympathetic by editing out all the sympathetic parts.


Take Biden’s advice, go to jail

March 1, 2013

The very same people who want to lecture us about how dangerous guns are haven’t the first clue about how to safely handle firearms. On some level, I suppose that isn’t surprising, but they ought to be required to get some basic firearms instruction before prattling on about banning guns.

This story perfectly illustrates the point, while also providing yet another instance of our vice-president being a blithering idiot. No one should ever take Joe Biden’s advice. If you do, you could go to jail:

I did one of these town-hall meetings on the Internet and one guy said, “Well, what happens when the end days come? What happens when there’s the earthquake? I live in California, and I have to protect myself.”

I said, “Well, you know, my shotgun will do better for you than your AR-15, because you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door.”

As any responsible gun owner could tell you, you never pull the trigger without being sure of your target, which is difficult to do when firing through a door.

worried-girl-scouts

 

Not for the first time, taking Joe Biden’s gun advice could get you arrested for reckless discharge of a firearm. In fact, a Virginia man has been arrested for exactly that. We don’t know that he actually got the idea from Biden (although if Biden is to be believed, he gives the advice often), but he did exactly what Biden suggests — fire his shotgun through a door — and, sure enough, was arrested for reckless discharge of a firearm.


Censorship is not speech

March 1, 2013

A pernicious notion has entered our universities that reflects a deep and very strange misunderstanding of free speech. The notion is that if you don’t approve of what someone is saying, you can stop them from saying it, and that doing so is actually an exercise of free speech.

Thus, if you don’t like a speaker, you can go to the talk and shout him down, and you’re simply exercising your free speech. Or if you don’t like a display, you vandalize it, and that vandalism is an act of free speech.

It should be self-evident that this is wrong. Stopping other people’s expression is not free speech, it’s the opposite of free speech. But people seem profoundly confused by this, and it’s not just our students, but the administrations:

On January 22, 2013, the DePaul chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), having attained the required permits, erected a pro-life display. . . That afternoon, numerous DePaul students vandalized the display. . .

With the investigation completed, DePaul Assistant Dean of Students Domonic Rollins provided Del Campo with a report from the Department of Public Safety, containing the names of 13 DePaul students who had admitted to vandalizing YAF’s display. On February 5, the national YAF organization posted this document on its website. . .

DePaul found Del Campo responsible for the charge of “Disorderly, Violent, Intimidating or Dangerous Behavior,” as well as a charge related to “Judicial Process Compliance.” Del Campo has been placed on disciplinary probation and is prohibited from all contact with the students named in the public safety report. DePaul has also required that Del Campo complete an “Educational Project” in the form of a reflection letter.

As yet, the vandals have apparently not been punished, but the university is punishing the victim for publicly naming them. This is insanity.

I think the slogan Censorship is Peace would go very well with War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength.

(Via Evan Coyne Maloney.)