The Chicago Way

August 30, 2013

Chicago is bringing sex education to kindergarten. This being Chicago, they don’t care that parents are against it.

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Smart diplomacy comes home to roost

August 30, 2013

Barack Obama, 2008:

Today, after five years of Obama restoring our image in the world, the British no longer think the “special relationship” is worth preserving. All this stuff, and particularly all this stuff, matters.


Anti-war demagogues exposed as utterly unprincipled

August 30, 2013

Remember in 2003, when President Bush took us to war “unilaterally”, with nothing more than a coalition of 40 nations, Congressional approval, and the support of 75% of the American people?

Today our president is contemplating war without a coalition, without Congressional approval, and with disapproval of 50% of the American people. I’m so glad the we got rid of the cowboy unilateralist.

But wait, there’s more. Remember our dear multi-lateralist president’s position on military action?

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

And the vice-president’s courageous stand against a unilateral attack?

I want to make it clear. And I made it clear to the President that if he takes this nation to war in Iran without Congressional approval, I will make it my business to impeach him. That’s a fact. That is a fact.


Obama anti-gun orders based on lies

August 30, 2013

Yesterday, the White House announced the president’s latest anti-gun executive orders:

One measure would close a loophole under which felons, those convicted of domestic violence and others banned from having guns can evade required background checks for machine guns or other weapons by registering the gun to a trust or corporation. The ATF received more than 39,000 requests last year for transfers of restricted firearms to trusts or corporations, Biden said, calling it “a very artful dodge to get around people who are not capable legally of owning weapons to be able to gain access.”

The White House adds that “felons, domestic abusers, and others prohibited from having guns can easily evade the required background check . . . by registering the weapon to a trust or corporation.”

Not so, explains John Lott:

Yes, when registered to a corporation any officer is allowed to posses the machine gun, but the point that the transfer occurs still requires a NICS check for the person actually picking up the gun.

So registering a gun to a corporation does not allow you to evade the background check. That is a lie.

The effect of this rule is that a corporation cannot register a weapon unless all of its officers are permitted to possess it, even those officers who never will. One domestic abuse charge is enough to blackball an entire company.

And why do companies need to register weapons anyway? Because the government has made them prohibitively expensive for individuals.

The second order is also dishonest:

The other measure will end a government practice that allows military weapons, sold or donated by the United States to allies, to be re-imported into the United States by private groups. The White House said the United States has approved the re-importation of 250,000 such guns since 2005; under the new policy, only museums and a few other groups such as the government will be allowed to re-import these weapons.

The weapon at issue here, what the White House calls “military grade”, is the obsolete M-1 Garand, which the United States produced in enormous quantities during World War 2. Lott explains that the M-1 is just like any civilian .30-06 hunting rifle, except that it is too heavy by modern standards.  It is “military grade” in the exact same sense as a 17th-century blunderbuss: it was once used by the military. Today it is mainly sought after by collectors.

POSTSCRIPT: The media, alas, has been typically credulous in reporting the president’s anti-gun orders, taking the White House’s claims at face value. For example, NPR simply quoted the White House “fact sheet”, without doing the minimal reporting that would have shown that it wasn’t true. The Washington Post did note the bogosity of the reimportation rule, but not the registration rule.


Thank God for the Atlantic Ocean

August 30, 2013

This is why you don’t give up your national sovereignty:

A triple murderer is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights to challenge his “life means life” sentence, the first Briton to do so. . .

It comes after three killers including Jeremy Bamber, who shot dead five members of his family, lodged a case with the court in Strasbourg which prompted it last month to rule it was “inhuman and degrading” for prisoners to face death in jail without the possibility of review.


IRS still targeting Tea Party

August 30, 2013

Despite the scandal, the IRS is brazenly continuing to harass the Tea Party:

An IRS letter sent to the group last week and obtained by The Washington Times contains a laundry list of requests related to virtually all the group’s activities, including its involvement in the 2012 election cycle and its get-out-the-vote efforts, fundraising activities, all radio and TV advertising, and other information. The IRS also is asking for detailed financial records, including “the amounts and percentages of your total expenses that were for fundraising activities in the tax year 2011, 2012 and 2013.”

The Aug. 20 request came as a shock to Tea Party Patriots, which said it already has provided to the IRS extensive information on all of its activities and thinks it is long past time to receive a “yes” or “no” answer.

The letter also is proof that, while President Obama and other liberals have referred to the situation as a “phony scandal,” conservative organizations still are targets, said Cleta Mitchell, a Washington, D.C., lawyer representing the Tea Party Patriots and several other conservative groups.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


IRS bosses met with Obama just before targeting Tea Party

August 30, 2013

The Daily Caller reports:

IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, who was named in House Oversight testimony by retiring IRS agent Carter Hull as one of his supervisors in the improper targeting of conservative groups, met with Obama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on April 23, 2012. Wilkins’ boss, then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, visited the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on April 24, 2012, according to White House visitor logs.

On April 25, 2012, Wilkins’ office sent the exempt organizations determinations unit “additional comments on the draft guidance” for approving or denying tea party tax-exempt applications, according to the IRS inspector general’s report.

(Previous post.)


No right to bad-faith litigation

August 30, 2013

In a potentially important case, a federal appeals court has ruled that the First Amendment does not give labor unions the right to engage in a pattern of bad-faith litigation:

The case is Waugh Chapel South, LLC v. United Food and Commercial Workers. In it, the developer of a shopping center whose tenants included a Wegmans, a non-union grocery store, was sued 14 times by UFCW. Most of the cases involved challenges to permitting decisions and were dismissed or rendered moot. In one instance, the case was withdrawn after the developer subpoenaed the union’s financial records.

Waugh Chapel South alleged the cases reflected a pattern of harassment. In their complaint, the company said a union official promised to “fight every project you develop where Wegmans is a tenant.” UFCW countered that it had a First Amendment to make such complaints right under a 1965 Supreme Court case, United Mine Workers v. Pennington.

A three- judge panel rejected that argument. “In light of the poor litigation record and the signs of bad-faith petitioning, a factfinder could reasonably conclude that the unions have abused their right to petition the courts and, as a result, have forfeited the protection of the First Amendment,” they wrote.

(Via Instapundit.)


America doesn’t work any more

August 30, 2013

If you discourage work, destroy opportunities, and encourage dependence, then surprise! labor force participation hits a 34-year low.


Dangerous liason

August 30, 2013

Kim Jong-Un has his ex-girlfriend executed.


Crime spikes in California

August 30, 2013

Shockingly, if you dump tens of thousands of criminals onto the streets, the crime rate goes up.


This is not how free trade is supposed to work

August 29, 2013

Because we subsidize the US cotton industry, we apparently must also subsidize the Brazilian cotton industry. It’s not clear whether US agricultural policy could get any more stupid.

(Via the Corner.)


Mockery looking likely

August 29, 2013

Lord help us:

A U.S. official briefed on the military options being considered by President Obama told the Los Angeles Times that the White House is seeking a strike on Syria “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”

“They are looking at what is just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic,” the official told the paper, giving credence to similar reports describing a limited military strike in the aftermath of last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack.

“Just enough to be more than symbolic”? What does that even mean?

If it’s not symbolic, which is to say substantive, that means that we have an objective and allocate sufficient force to achieve it. You can’t just say your objective is “not to be symbolic,” that’s just circular reasoning.

(Via Hot Air.)

UPDATE: Heh:

Attempting to quell criticism of his proposal for a limited military mission in Syria, President Obama floated a more modest strategy today, saying that any U.S. action in Syria would have “no objective whatsoever.”

 


Yes Virginia, Obamacare is hiking insurance rates

August 29, 2013

As predicted:

For the vast majority of Americans, premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they’re currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data. Adding even more out-of-pocket expenses to consumers’ monthly insurance bills is a swell in deductibles under the Affordable Care Act.

Health law proponents have excused the rate hikes by saying the prices in the exchange won’t apply to the millions receiving coverage from their employers. But that’s only if employers continue to offer that coverage–something that’s looking increasingly uncertain. Already, UPS, for example, cited Obamacare as its reason for nixing spousal coverage. And while a Kaiser Family Foundation report found that 49 percent of the U.S. population now receives employer-sponsored coverage, more companies are debating whether they will continue to be in the business of providing such benefits at all.

(Via Instapundit.)


Sacrifice your children to appease the union

August 29, 2013

This Slate piece (apparently Slate still exists!) really quite amazing:

If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person
A manifesto.

You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.

I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.

Wow. She says that I should give my kids a “mediocre” education, and indeed that people should do so for generations, and she calls me a bad person?

Not only is she a bad person, she is also an ignorant person. Apparently she believes that if everyone buys a product irrespective of its quality, then its quality will improve. Oh, I see:

I went K–12 to a terrible public school. My high school didn’t offer AP classes, and in four years, I only had to read one book.

Whatever book she read, it clearly wasn’t economics.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey adds:

Benedikt’s entire argument is that non-participants in an organization ruin it by their non-participation.  It’s not the actual participants who are to blame for the institution’s failures – not the teachers, not the administrators, and not the policy-makers — but the people who avoid the failure that should be blamed.


Mayors against legal guns

August 28, 2013

Mayors Against Illegal Guns is a cleverly named organization. The name is intended to give the impression that they aren’t looking to ban guns, just to keep them out of the hands of criminals. But the name is a lie. While they work vigorously to ban guns and accessories, they seem to have no interest at all in actually enforcing the gun laws that exist:

The districts that contain Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City ranked last in terms of federal gun law enforcement in 2012, according to a new report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which tracks federal data. . .

The districts of Eastern New York, Central California, and Northern Illinois ranked 88th, 89th and 90th, respectively, out of 90 districts, in prosecutions of federal weapons crimes per capita last year, but it wasn’t always this way. All three districts fell lower on the list than they had been in years past. In 2010, for example, Chicago was 78th in federal weapons prosecutions.

These cities also have some of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws, as well as the most active mayors in championing gun control. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are all members of the national Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign.

88th, 89th, and 90th, out of 90.


FBI OMG

August 28, 2013

Nearly a year before the Fort Hood massacre, in which Nidal Hasan murdered over a dozen soldiers at Ford Hood, Hasan corresponded with Anwar al-Awlaki, asking the Muslim cleric to sanction attacks on his fellow soldiers. The correspondence was known to the FBI at the time, but the FBI took no action.

Question: why do we even bother with surveillance, if we’re not going to act on it?


Lew’s lies

August 28, 2013

Megan McArdle has an interesting article about how Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s history of lying to Republicans about budget numbers, and then crowing about it, will make it difficult for the White House to strike a budget deal with Republicans. The Republicans, justifiably, simply don’t believe his numbers.

Glenn Reynolds adds:

These people aren’t even competent liars. A competent liar doesn’t brag about how he snookered people he’ll have to deal with in the future.


O’Keefe’s latest

August 28, 2013

Without denigrating James O’Keefe’s work at all — I think it’s great — he’s not doing anything that other enterprising investigative journalists couldn’t do. The fact that he’s the only one doing this stuff is an indictment of the entire field.

(Via Instapundit.)


No snickering, please

August 28, 2013

WTAE breathlessly reports a topless protest in Pittsburgh:

Topless protestors take over Pittsburgh
Group says women still not treated equally

Except, the thinly attended protest hardly took over Pittsburgh, and did not in fact contain any topless protestors (unless you count men):

Pittsburgh topless rally winds up anything but
Fewer than a dozen protesters showed up Sunday, and none of the women bared their tops — though a handful of men did.

Aside from that, the headline was accurate. . .


Green cards, not green cards

August 28, 2013

Surprise, surprise. GreenTech’s denials that it lobbied for green cards for its “investors” aren’t true:

Government documents contradict claims made by GreenTech Automotive officials that they did nothing to press federal officials to approve the visa application of Zhenjun Zhang, a foreign investor with ties to a Chinese company on a U.S. spy list.

Documents show that attorney Simone Williams and CEO Anthony Rodham, executives at GreenTech’s investor relations arm, wrote on Jan. 29 to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas seeking to fast track stalled petitions for foreign investors under the government’s EB-5 program. One of those that had been languishing was Zhang’s, according to government documents.

(Via Instapundit.)

For an explanation of the GreenTech scandal, see here. In essence, they were selling green cards. GreenTech’s founder is Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia and the former chair of the Democratic party.

Anthony Rodham has no experience in the automotive industry (at least, not according to Wikipedia), but his sister is Hillary Clinton, until recently the Secretary of State. That should give an indication of whether GreenTech’s real business was green cars or green cards.


LightSquared epilogue

August 28, 2013

Remember the LightSquared affair? That was the telecom startup owned by Philip Falcone, a major Democratic donor who tried to parley his political connections into profit by getting the FCC to allow him to build a wireless service on top of a spectrum used by GPS and plane avionics. After the White House’s corrupt intervention on his behalf came public, the effort collapsed and the company went bankrupt.

Falcone has admitted bilking clients of his hedge fund of hundreds of millions of dollars. He has been banned from trading for five years and ordered to pay millions in restitution.

(Previous post.)


DHCP is not a crime

August 28, 2013

A federal court has ruled that circumventing an IP-address-ban by changing your IP address is criminal. Not even changing your MAC address, mind you, which at least typically is specific to a computer, but your IP address, which isn’t specific to anything or anyone.

This is complete foolishness, and indicates that (a) the judge doesn’t understand how the internet works, and (b) the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, insofar as it lends itself to nonsensical decisions, is much too vague.


They never, ever learn

August 28, 2013

The Washington Post is deeply clueless:

Analysts worry that its members, bitter and angry after the deaths of more than 1,000 Morsi supporters in the past week, could abandon the Brotherhood’s decades-long commitment to nonviolence . . .

(Emphasis mine.)


60 Minutes softballs Obama

August 22, 2013

60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft admits that they are “not going to play ‘gotcha’ with [Obama].” That’s a pretty amazing admission, since ambush interviews are pretty much 60 Minutes’ bread and butter.


At least he didn’t misspell potato

August 22, 2013

From Barack Obama’s Twitter feed:

More than 57,000 pre-K children are feeling the affects of the #sequester:

(Via PJ Tatler.)

Cheap shot? Yeah, probably. But after watching his cronies and the media (but I repeat myself) go after Republicans for comparable gaffes — or for things they never even said — I have no inclination to be charitable left.


As predicted

August 22, 2013

Lots of employers are cutting health coverage as a result of Obamacare.


Power skips UN emergency meeting

August 22, 2013

Samantha Power, who never should have been appointed or confirmed as the ambassador to the UN, doesn’t seem to care much about the job herself. With less than a month on the job, she skipped the UN’s emergency meeting on Syria’s latest use of chemical weapons:

Samantha Power, America’s new ambassador to the United Nations, skipped a major Security Council meeting Wednesday on the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, a move that drew sharp criticism considering her past comments denouncing the council’s inaction on the violence.

The strike early Wednesday could stand as the deadliest such incident since the country’s civil war began, with reports of hundreds dying. The U.N. Security Council called an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon to debate the allegations, but ended up issuing a statement that fell far short of what the U.S. and its allies wanted.

Yet Power herself did not attend the emergency meeting. She was instead represented by career diplomat Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo. . .

“Samantha Power has been on the job exactly 19 days. In that time, she’s already traveled from New York to Los Angeles to deliver a speech. Her absence from the UN on Wednesday sends a terrible message at a time when U.S. credibility in the region is suffering,” Richard Grenell, a former U.N. spokesman under the George W. Bush administration, wrote in an online column.

The UN, being what it is, probably wouldn’t have taken satisfactory action even with our ambassador present, but it might have helped. I guess she had other priorities than representing the United States at the UN.

UPDATE: Power was on a personal trip.


NYT standards

August 22, 2013

The New York Times says that it won’t correct any errors over a year after it runs a story, even in its online archive.

(Via Instapundit.)


A common problem

August 20, 2013

I thought this was a very interesting point:

I noted last week that arguments for a uniform [public school curriculum] standard seem rather weak. Nevertheless, Bill Keller of the New York Times devoted some column space this week to one such argument:

The Core does call for schools across the states to deliver their lessons in the same sequence. Does it really matter if children in Alabama and New Jersey start algebra in the same grade? It matters a lot to a kid who moves from Alabama to New Jersey. . .

This argument for national standards is an illustration of how politicians recommend more centralization as a way to fix problems caused by centralization. The public-school monopoly is what limits choice and creates the potential curriculum conflict. If parents had adequate choices in the first place, then interstate migration would not pose a major problem — parents could likely just choose a school in New Jersey whose curriculum is most similar to the child’s previous school in Alabama.

(Emphasis mine.)

It’s not about education, it’s about control of education. Richmond’s rule applies.


White House knew of Miranda detention

August 20, 2013

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The White House was given advance notice of the British government’s plans to detain the partner of the Guardian reporter who has written a series of high-profile stories about U.S. surveillance practices, a spokesman said Monday.

In the daily White House briefing, spokesman Josh Earnest declined to condemn the detainment and didn’t directly answer questions about whether U.S. officials expressed any concern to their British counterparts about the U.K.’s plans. . .

David Miranda, the partner of Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, was held Sunday at London’s Heathrow airport for nine hours. Authorities said he was detained under a U.K. terrorism law, and they confiscated a number of his electronics, including a cellphone and laptop.

Presumably the White House wouldn’t answer whether they expressed concern because they haven’t decided yet.


Obama wants warrantless cell phone searches

August 19, 2013

The Obama administration asks the Supreme Court to allow searches cell phones without a warrant.

Remember, this is the same president who, as a senator, condemned the practice of recording the phone calls of foreign terrorists without a warrant.


Court: president must obey legal mandate

August 19, 2013

The DC appeals court says the president is not above the law:

“The president may not decline to follow a statutory mandate or prohibition simply because of policy objections,” Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in a majority opinion, which was joined Judge A. Raymond Randolph. Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland dissented.

The case regarded the nuclear waste storage site in Nevada, not his higher-profile flouting of the law over Obamacare and immigration, but this still seems noteworthy.

(Via Instapundit.)


Okay to screen for criminals

August 19, 2013

A victory for sanity and a defeat for the Obama administration:

A [federal court in Maryland] has dismissed a lawsuit against an events-services company accused by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of discriminatory hiring practices, a setback for a federal agency that increasingly argues the use of credit reports and criminal background checks can disproportionately impact minorities.

Yes, the administration really was arguing that it should be illegal for employers to prefer law-abiding persons over criminals.

UPDATE (9/3): More here on the shoddy research the administration tried to put forward:

The meat of the ruling, however, is the court’s blistering takedown of the government’s “expert” report, authored by an outside statistician who attempted to establish that Freeman’s criminal-background checks disproportionately harmed black job-seekers. Judge Titus described the report as “an egregious example of scientific dishonesty,” its analysis “laughable,” “skewed” and full of “cherry-picked data.” He concluded that the “mind-boggling-number of errors” rendered the EEOC’s “disparate impact conclusions worthless.”

In fact, the truth appears to be quite the opposite:

An October 2006 study in the Journal of Law and Economics, “Perceived Criminality, Criminal Background Checks, and the Racial Hiring Practices of Employers,” found that “employers that check criminal backgrounds are in general more likely to hire African Americans,” according to Harry Holzer of Georgetown University and his two co-authors. “[T]he adverse consequence of employer-initiated background checks on the likelihood of hiring African Americans is more than offset by the positive effect of eliminating statistical discrimination.” These researchers surmise that employers who can screen for prison records are less likely to rely on prejudice when hiring.


Iraq wants us back

August 19, 2013

AP reports:

A resurgence of violence and a renewed threat from al-Qaida have recently revived flagging U.S. interest in Iraq, officials said Friday as Baghdad asked for new help to fight extremists less than two years after it forced American troops to withdraw.

I can understand the temptation to say to hell with you people, but that would be petty. We should make a serious effort to work out an agreement in which we can do this: First, because we still want to crush Al Qaeda. Second, because we still have a vested interest in Iraq not collapsing. Third, because it might develop into greater influence for ourselves in Iraq. And fourth, because if we don’t it might develop into greater influence for Russia.

All that said, I fear we won’t, because I doubt President Obama has enough (or any) interest in developing such an agreement. He didn’t care enough to work out a status of forces agreement before, and I don’t see that anything has changed.


Surveillance uber alles

August 19, 2013

Wow:

The saga of Lavabit founder Ladar Levison is getting even more ridiculous, as he explains that the government has threatened him with criminal charges for his decision to shut down the business, rather than agree to some mysterious court order. The feds are apparently arguing that the act of shutting down the business, itself, was a violation of the order . . .

Levison stressed that he has complied with “upwards of two dozen court orders” for information in the past that were targeted at “specific users” and that “I never had a problem with that.” But without disclosing details, he suggested that the order he received more recently was markedly different, requiring him to cooperate in broadly based surveillance that would scoop up information about all the users of his service.

(Via Instapundit.)


CDC report debunks anti-gun tropes

August 19, 2013

After the Newtown massacre, President Obama ordered the CDC “to research the causes and prevention of gun violence”. He evidently thought that it would come back with a report supporting gun control, making him a fool but a true believer. In fact:

On the contrary, that study refuted nearly all the standard anti-gun narrative and instead supported many of the positions taken by gun ownership supporters.

For example, the majority of gun-related deaths between 2000 and 2010 were due to suicide and not criminal violence . . .

In addition, defensive use of guns “is a common occurrence,” according to the study . . .

Accidental deaths due to firearms has continued to fall as well, with “the number of unintentional deaths due to firearm-related incidents account[ing] for less than 1 percent of all unintentional fatalities in 2010.”

Furthermore, the key finding the president was no doubt seeking — that more laws would result in less crime — was missing. The study said that “interventions,” such as background checks and restrictions on firearms and increased penalties for illegal gun use, showed “mixed” results, while “turn-in” programs “are ineffective” in reducing crime. The study noted that most criminals obtained their guns in the underground economy — from friends, family members, or gang members — well outside any influence from gun controls on legitimate gun owners.

And:

There was one startling conclusion which, taken at face value, seemed to give the president what he was looking for. The study reported that “the U.S. rate of firearm-related homicide is higher than that of any other industrialized country: 19.5 times higher than the rates in other high-income countries.” . . . [However:] “If one were to exclude figures for Illinois, California, New Jersey and Washington, DC, the homicide rate in the United States would be in line with any other country.” These areas, of course, are noted for the most restrictive gun laws in the country, thus negating any opportunity for the president to celebrate the report’s findings.

(Via Instapundit.)


Hyperloop

August 19, 2013

This seems interesting:

The Hyperloop would send multi-person passenger pods through an above-ground tube at 760 miles per hour—nine-tenths the speed of sound. The tube would sit on 20-foot-high pylons that would mostly follow the route of California Interstate 5. Musk estimates the cost of the project to be around $6 billion, or less than a tenth of the estimated cost of the proposed California high-speed rail project, which Musk calls too slow and too expensive. The LA to San Francisco trip would take about 30 minutes of a turbulent-free and quiet ride.

This impressive thing about this — if all this is right — is the sensitivity to cost, which usually seems to be completely lacking in high-speed rail projects.


More Obamacare delays

August 19, 2013

Another major Obamacare provision is being suspended (without any legal justification):

In another setback for President Obama’s health care initiative, the administration has delayed until 2015 a significant consumer protection in the law that limits how much people may have to spend on their own health care.

The limit on out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles and co-payments, was not supposed to exceed $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family. But under a little-noticed ruling, federal officials have granted a one-year grace period to some insurers, allowing them to set higher limits, or no limit at all on some costs, in 2014.

The grace period has been outlined on the Labor Department’s Web site since February, but was obscured in a maze of legal and bureaucratic language that went largely unnoticed.

Be sure to notice the last bit (emphasis mine). The Obama administration set aside a major portion of the law, and didn’t even tell anyone.

It’s not just this and the employer mandate. In fact, the Obama adminstration has missed or skipped half of its statutory deadlines. (Via Instapundit.) Half of them! And that’s his own law. This truly is a lawless administration.


DOJ lied about mortgage fraud crackdown

August 17, 2013

Does Eric Holder’s Justice Department tell the truth about anything?

The Justice Department and FBI have quietly acknowledged they grossly overstated the scope of a mortgage fraud crackdown, which the administration heralded with much fanfare a few weeks before last year’s presidential election.

According to a memo circulated by the FBI and a correction posted online by the Justice Department, the number of defendants, the number of victims and the size of the losses are, in reality, a fraction of what officials claimed last October.

In the long run, I think that the Democrats are making a big mistake by identifying the Justice Department with political chicanery. Some day the DOJ might need that reputation they’re ruining.


Million Muslim March

August 17, 2013

Two things about the Million Muslim March on Washington, scheduled for September 11: First, they have a legal right to do it. Second, doing it on that particular day is crass, unseemly, and will inflame the anti-Muslim sentiment that they claim to be marching against — much like the Ground Zero Mosque built on the footprint of a building damaged beyond repair by an airplane impact on 9/11.

POSTSCRIPT: Actually, a third thing: they’re expecting a thousand people.

UPDATE (9/11): They didn’t even get that many.


Rule of law >> democracy

August 17, 2013

There is a pernicious notion that the essential quality of the American system of government is democracy. This is a very basic misunderstanding, and one that seems to be ingrained early. In my case I picked it up as a child, so early than I’m not even sure when.

But it’s nonsense. Democracy, also sometimes called more forthrightly “majority rule”, is the idea that 51% of the people have the right to impose their will on the other 49%. We know instinctively that this is wrong.

ASIDE: I’m considering democracy under its narrow meaning here. It’s true that democracy (or “liberal democracy”) sometimes is used to refer to whole collection of ideas, not just majority rule. But in that case I am arguing that using “democracy” as an umbrella term is inapt.

The essence of the American system is liberty. Democracy is but a means to an end. As Heinlein’s Jubal Harshaw put it (paraphrasing): democracy is a poor system; the only thing to be said in its favor is the other systems are worse. Since haven’t figured out a realistic way for society to survive without government, putting its management into as broad hands as possible impedes it becoming a tyranny.

Impedes, but does not prevent. Democracy is just one mechanism we use to protect our liberty; others are the rule of law, separation of powers, checks and balances, and a bill of rights. Democracy is probably the least important of these.

The most important is the rule of law. Friedrich Hayek explains it this way (in his brilliant sixth chapter of the Road to Serfdom):

Nothing distinguishes more clearly conditions in a free country from those in a country under arbitrary government than the observance in the former of the great principles known as the Rule of Law. Stripped of all technicalities, this means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand — rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances and to plan one’s individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge. . .

While every law restricts individual freedom to some extent by altering the means which people may use in the pursuit of their aims, under the Rule of Law the government is prevented from stultifying individual efforts by ad hoc action.

The rule of law says that people can live their lives, run their businesses, raise their families, in a system whose rules are known to them in advance. The government will not interfere capriciously.

In the American system of government, laws are made, interpreted, and carried out by three distinct branches. The laws are changed only with difficulty (by the legislature), they are interpreted consistently (by a judicial system bound by precedent), and they are “faithfully executed” (by the executive).

Alas, this system has gone off the rails. When the legislative and executive powers are in the same hands, the potential for capricious interference increases dramatically. Once the Constitution was interpreted under the nondelegation doctrine (which dates back at least to 1689), which provided that the legislative power could not be delegated. However, in 1928 the Supreme Court ruled in Hampton v. United States that legislative power could be delegated, provided the law provided an “intelligible principle” to guide the executive branch.

The intelligible principle needn’t be particularly detailed either. Laws have almost never been struck down due to unconstitutional delegation, and in 1989 the Supreme Court made the low standard explicit in Mistretta v. United States, stating:

Congress simply cannot do its job absent an ability to delegate power under broad general directives. Accordingly, this Court has deemed it “constitutionally sufficient” if Congress clearly delineates the general policy, the public agency which is to apply it, and the boundaries of this delegated authority.

Today, Congress “delineates the general policy”, while executive-branch bureaucrats make all the rules that govern our lives. That it does so capriciously cannot be denied. For example, when the EPA decides that carbon dioxide is dangerous, it gains the power to shut down coal-fired power plants, and anyone who invested money under the old rules is simply out of luck. And the EPA did so on its own; there was no legislative action, indeed, Congress considered the question and chose not to act.

Very recently, however, the problem has gotten much worse. President Obama has now arrogated for himself the power to decline to carry out portions of the law he doesn’t want to carry out, even in the absence of any delegation of power to do so. This is in direct violation of the Constitution’s provision that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

He has done so by refusing to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act (justified by his claim that it was unconstitutional, which the Supreme Court later backed), refusing to enforce immigration law for certain classes of illegal immigrants (justified by prosecutorial discretion), and declining to carry out certain provisions of Obamacare (justified by nothing whatsoever).

To be clear: some or all of these may well be good policy. That is entirely beside the point; they are not the law. Under the rule of law, the government is “bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand,” regardless of how the executive might judge their wisdom from moment to moment.

Today we have democracy (mostly), but without the rule of law, democracy merely gives us an elected tyrant.

POSTSCRIPT: A number of people have written elegantly on the dangerous implications of Obama’s arrogation of the power to ignore the law: Michael McConnell, John Yoo, and George Will. Andrew Klavan has recently written about the problems with democracy in another context.

UPDATE: Another example, Obama is unilaterally changing drug laws. Again, I agree as a matter of policy, but that’s not the point. He should push for the law to be changed, but he won’t do that. Respecting the rule of law would require political effort.


Creative counting

August 17, 2013

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. But that’s a problem for CNN’s Piers Morgan, because the real facts don’t support his position:

When guest A.W.R. Hawkins cited Virginia as an example where violent crime fell in 2012 as gun sales increased, Morgan answered that “It’s Virginia, the very state you just quoted to me actually has the highest murder rate in the country. According to 2009 statistics by the FBI.” Morgan’s assertion was entirely false, according to the FBI’s 2009 report on crime.

The FBI’s 2009 Crime In the United States report placed Virginia behind 23 other states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico in the murder and nonnegligent manslaughter rate per 100,000 inhabitants. And in case Morgan was referring to the firearm murder rate, Virginia still did not have the highest in the country.

The 2009 FBI statistics are here. But why dwell on 2009, anyway? In 2011 (the most recent year for which the FBI has published statistics), Virginia’s murder rate had improved further, by more than the nation as a whole I might add.

Moreover, the FBI cautions against making the sort of comparison Morgan is trying to make in the first place:

Each year when Crime in the United States is published, many entities—news media, tourism agencies, and other groups with an interest in crime in our Nation—use reported figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rankings, however, are merely a quick choice made by the data user; they provide no insight into the many variables that mold the crime in a particular town, city, county, state, region, or other jurisdiction. Consequently, these rankings lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting cities and counties, along with their residents.

In this case, I think a misleading perception is what Morgan was going for.


The First Amendment doesn’t cover rodeo clowns

August 16, 2013

Mock the president at the Missouri State Fair, and receive a lifetime ban. Just to cover the bases: Yes, the Missouri State Fair is a government operation (and its board is appointed by the governor) so the First Amendment does apply. Yes, presidential masks have been used this way before, without inspiring outrage. Yes, the same people who are now oh-so-offended had no problem with mockery and assassination fantasies directed toward George W Bush.

And yes, the NAACP is demanding a federal investigation. Of a rodeo clown.

Glenn Reynolds is right. We have a weak president who can’t bear the criticism that is routinely directed at the president. The rodeo clown is guilty of lese majeste.

UPDATE: “Obama were a classy guy, he’d ask the folks that run the rodeo to un-fire the clown. He’d say, Hey, I can take a joke.” Indeed he would. And since he hasn’t, we may apply the contrapositive.


Lying by omission

August 16, 2013

Don’t trust content from the Huffington Post. If you did, you might buy in to stuff like this:

Next time you feel uncomfortable showering at the gym, blame it on liberals and their abortion rights agenda. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) does.

Speaking to anti-abortion group Students for Life after receiving an award last month, Santorum attempted to explain what he saw as an enthusiasm gap between liberal and conservative activists. During his speech, a clip of which can be seen above, via Right Wing Watch, Santorum argued that the pro-choice movement infuses passion about abortion rights into “every aspect of their life.” He said that because of this, showering at a gym had become an “uncomfortable” prospect for students.

“They make it uncomfortable for students who come to Austin to shower at a Young Men’s Christian Association, YMCA, gym,” he said.

This led various people to chortle about Santorum having some sort of weird obsession about youths in showers. In fact, Santorum was referring to a specific incident in which Students For Life were barred from using the showers at an Austin YMCA after pressure from abortion supporters:

For one week the students planned to rally during the day, shower at the Town Lake YMCA, and then head to a church to sleep. . .

“We had absolutely no incidents. They talked to us afterwards and said, ‘You guys were great. You were respectful,” Coombs added.

But Tuesday morning, Coombs got an unexpected call from the Town Lake YMCA.
“Said, again, ‘You guys were respectful. We have no problems with you, in particular, however there were some people that support abortion who talked to our staff, intimidated them.’ They actually said that they felt threatened, and they asked us not to come back,” Coombs said.

It’s wouldn’t have taken much for the Huffington Post to contact Santorum’s office and find out what he was talking about. But even that modicum of actual reporting is more than we can expect from them.

(Via Twitchy.)


Almost all businesses cutting back hours due to Obamacare

August 16, 2013

NBC News reports:

Employers around the country, from fast-food franchises to colleges, have told NBC News that they will be cutting workers’ hours below 30 a week because they can’t afford to offer the health insurance mandated by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. . .

NBC News spoke with almost 20 small businesses and other entities from Maine to California, and almost all said that because of the new law they’d be cutting back hours for some employees – an unintended consequence of the new law.

Obamacare may succeed in a sweeping change, but a different one than the one he intended. He may be making a 30-hour work week standard.

(Via Instapundit.)


Public enemy #1

August 16, 2013

Having failed to convict George Zimmerman, Florida’s rogue prosecutors are now going after his wife.

(Previous post.)


Benghazi scapegoat released

August 16, 2013

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has been released from prison. Nakoula spent a year in prison after having been scapegoated for responsibility for the Benghazi attack on the basis of a film he made attacking Islam.

Some will claim that Nakoula was jailed for probation violations, not for making the film. It’s been a year, so let’s debunk that yet again:

  • Nakoula committed minor probation violations that no one would have cared about had he not been chosen as the scapegoat for Benghazi.
  • The only reason those probation violations even came to light is because the federal government investigated the film looking for a scapegoat.
  • Hillary Clinton pledged that the maker of the film would be arrested and prosecuted. This was before his identity or probation status were known.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


Judge rules against EPA in email case

August 16, 2013

The Washington Free Beacon reports:

The Environmental Protection Agency may have intentionally skirted public disclosure requirements under the Freedom of Information Act, a federal judge ruled Thursday. . .

“The possibility that unsearched personal email accounts may have been used for official business raises the possibility that leaders in the EPA may have purposefully attempted to skirt disclosure under the FOIA,” Lambert wrote. “The possibility that the agency purposefully excluded the top leaders of the EPA from the search, at least initially, suggests an unreasonable and bad faith reading of Landmark’s FOIA request and subsequent agreement to narrow its scope.”

Lambert also said the EPA’s statements concerning its search for records were incomplete and “contain numerous inconsistencies and reversals which undermine confidence in their truthfulness.”


400 surface-to-air missiles stolen in Benghazi?

August 13, 2013

This is very troubling, if true.

(Previous post.)


No infrastructure

August 13, 2013

President Obama’s brobdingnagian stimulus package was a massive waste of money that accomplished nothing, but at least we got some improved infrastructure out of it, right? I mean, the idea was to “invest” in rebuilding our “crumbling infrastructure”, wasn’t it?

Nope. It turns out that building infrastructure is unfairly slanted toward jobs for “burly men”. Once the radical feminists got their claws into it, infrastructure became “human infastructure”, which means stuff other than infrastructure.

So in the end, we paid for Hoover Dam and we didn’t even get Hoover Dam. Remember this the next time the Democrats plead that we need to rebuild our infrastructure.


White House lied about Congressional briefing?

August 13, 2013

The Washington Post reports:

A white paper released by the White House on Friday argues that Congress knew exactly what it was approving [viz a viz NSA collection of telephone records] when it reauthorized the Patriot Act in 2011.

“Information concerning the use of Section 215 to . . . collect telephony metadata in bulk was made available to all Members of Congress,” the paper says. “Congress reauthorized Section 215 without change after this information was provided.”

But a leading administration critic has disputed that claim. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) said he never saw a 2011 letter to Congress disclosing the existence of the phone records program. And neither did dozens of his colleagues.

The Justice Department sent the letter to the top Republican and the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. . . But in a Sunday Facebook post, Amash charged that “the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence did NOT, in fact, make the 2011 document available to Representatives in Congress.”

If that isn’t true, it should be easy for the White House to refute.


Green cards, not green cars

August 13, 2013

GreenTech, the electric car company founded by Terry McAuliffe (Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, and erstwhile chair of the Democratic party) is under investigation by the SEC. One of the charges is that GreenTech was offering a bogus investment vehicle that basically amounted to selling EB-5 visas, which can be converted to green cards.

How can a private company be selling green cards, you wonder? Apparently there is a provision in the immigration code whereby you can get an EB-5 visa for starting or investing in a business that creates jobs in “targeted employment areas.” (I’m sure there’s no cronyism in how those are chosen. . .) GreenTech (allegedly) was certifying people as EB-5 investors who weren’t really making any investment at all.

UPDATE: McAuliffe’s actual defense: “I was just the chairman.”


Clapper chosen to investigate Clapper

August 13, 2013

To investigate the NSA’s spying on Americans, President Obama appointed the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. Clapper, of course, is best known for heading the intelligence apparatus as its misconduct was ongoing, and for lying about it to Congress. More precisely, Clapper was directed to name the investigating panel’s members, who would then report to him.

Perhaps seeing how absurd it is for Clapper to head the investigation of himself, the White House has already reversed itself. (See update here.) They now say the White House will name the members, and the panel will not report to Clapper, both of which are changes from the original mandate:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I am directing you to establish a Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies … Within 60 days of its establishment, the Review Group will brief their interim findings to me through the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and the Review Group will provide a final report and recommendations to me through the DNI no later than December 15, 2013.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


Elevator-less building has elevators

August 13, 2013

A few days ago, one meme circulating the internet was the skyscraper in Spain in which they accidentally forgot to put an elevator shaft. For example, here’s the New York Daily News:

In what will surely go down in history as one the greatest architectural blunders, the town of Benidorm in Alicante, Spain, had almost completed its 47-story skyscraper when it realized it excluded plans for elevator shafts.

Except, the building actually does have elevators. The story apparently goes back to a Gizmodo article that mistranslated an article from a Spanish newspaper.

Gizmodo defends itself, claiming that the Spanish article “plainly states” that it had no elevators. I don’t read Spanish, but according to the Google translation that doesn’t seem to be true. The article mentions elevators twice. Both mentions refer to problems with the elevators, but the existence of elevator problems would seem to imply the existence of elevators.

What is particularly striking about this story is how it spread without anyone — including the journalists — checking the facts. Apparently CNN and CBS both sent TV crews to Benidorm to cover the story.

But in the absence of fact-checking, there’s always fact invention. Here’s an amusing fact from the New York Daily News:

Because of the way the building was constructed, there is no space for a shaft anywhere.

It’s amusing because it seems the Daily News made it up from whole cloth. No space for an elevator shaft? Actually it has eleven elevators.

(Via Instapundit.)


Lois Lerner used personal email for IRS business

August 13, 2013

This, of course, is the standard ploy for keeping documents from turning up in Freedom of Information Act requests.

(Previous post.)


Everyone hated them back then, now

August 12, 2013

In the full light of history, with the monstrosity of the Nazi regime clear in retrospect, everyone wants to pretend that they were against the Nazis all along. The left even likes to pretend that national socialism was actually somehow a right-wing ideology. Jonah Goldberg wrote an entire book on what nonsense that is, but new examples are dribbling out all the time. Let’s look at a few:


Race relations plummet under Obama

August 12, 2013

Many Americans hopes that electing a black president would prove that we had turned a corner in race relations. Some actually voted for Obama for that reason; others saw it as a salutary consequence of an otherwise dreadful president.

Alas, it was not to be. For the left, race relations are not something to be improved. Quite the contrary, they are a political weapon. And as this administration has floundered — the economy still not recovering, foreign policy in ashes, and half a dozen major scandals swirling — the more they have turned to race baiting to distract from their failures.

They paint any opposition to Obama’s policies as racist. (In a classical example, under a white president we would have been fine with nationalizing health care, apparently). They deliberately inflame any racial incident they can. And they make explicit calls for racial retribution.

Against that backdrop, it’s not surprising that a new NBC/WSJ poll shows that race relations have dramatically worsened during Obama’s time in office:

Only 52 percent of whites and 38 percent of blacks have a favorable opinion of race relations in the country, according to the poll, which has tracked race relations since 1994 and was conducted in mid-July by Hart Research Associations and Public Opinion Strategies.

That’s a sharp drop from the beginning of Obama’s first term, when 79 percent of whites and 63 percent of blacks held a favorable view of American race relations.

That’s a 27-point drop among whites and a 25-point drop among blacks.


Oikophobia

August 12, 2013

The 9/11 Memorial Museum takes care not to be too pro-American. Sigh.

(Via Instapundit.)


Goose, gander

August 12, 2013

The Obama administration’s new Obamacare call center is keeping all its employees part-time so they won’t have to offer health care.


Calorie labels don’t help

August 12, 2013

Research by CMU (my employer) finds that calorie information on menus does not induce people to consume fewer calories:

Despite the lack of any concrete evidence that menu labels encourage consumers to make healthier food choices, they have become a popular tool for policymakers in the fight against obesity. Carnegie Mellon University researchers recently put menu labels to the test by investigating whether providing diners with recommended calorie intake information along with the menu items caloric content would improve their food choices. . .

The results showed no interaction between the use of calorie recommendations and the pre-existing menu labels, suggesting that incorporating calorie recommendations did not help customers make better use of the information provided on calorie-labeled menus. Further, providing calorie recommendations, whether calories per-day or per-meal, did not show a reduction in the number of calories purchased.

Here’s a thought: Maybe people who order high-calorie food in restaurants are not ignorant of what they are doing. Maybe they are just making different decisions than the busybodies want them to make.

In any case, this research makes clear that the government should stop mucking with menus.


Holder to SCOTUS: drop dead

August 11, 2013

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision throwing out Section 4 of the Voting Right Act (which covered jurisdictions based on the statistics of 50 years ago, rather than today), Eric Holder says he’s going to demand that the formerly covered jurisdictions such as Texas continue to comply.

Good luck with that.


AP airbrushes Obama gaffe

August 11, 2013

After President Obama foolishly implied that Charleston, Savannah, and Jacksonville are on the Gulf Coast, the AP came to his rescue, rendering the remark:

“If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf – (and in) places like Charleston, S.C., or Savannah, Ga., or Jacksonville, Fla. – if we don’t do that, these ships are going to go someplace else and we’ll lose jobs,” Obama said.

Incidentally, in the usual quotation usage, editorial remarks and corrections are inserted in square brackets, not parentheses. Putting them into parentheses is simply wrong.

The AP issued a correction the next day.


IRS against religion

August 11, 2013

The IRS says that you can’t be tax exempt and push your religion, or at least that is what IRS agents are telling pro-life tax-exempt applicants. The conversation doesn’t pullquote very easily, mainly due to the incoherence of the agent, but looking at it as a whole, the message is quite clear:

Yeah, you have the religious freedom; the freedom of speech. And other people also have the civil rights; human rights. You cannot, you know, use your religious belief to tell other people you don’t have a belief, so I don’t believe you need the right to do this, start confrontation, protesting, uh, prot, uh, protest. [unintelligible] You don’t apply for tax exemption. . .

When you come to apply for tax exemption, you have to keep your action to, you know, exactly what is
educational or religious . . . You have no right to, against, other people’s beliefs. . .

You can’t take all kinds of confrontation activities and also put something on a website and ask people to take action against the abortion clinic. That’s not, that’s not really educational.

(Previous post.)


Ombudsman admits NPR wrongdoing

August 11, 2013

Internal investigations usually are merely whitewashes, but occasionally one gets results, since as the NPR ombudsman’s investigation of a deeply flawed 2011 NPR story attacking South Dakota’s foster care system. The ombudsman reported:

The series committed five sins that violate NPR’s code of standards and ethics. They were:

1. No proof for its main allegations of wrongdoing;
2. Unfair tone in communicating these unproven allegations;
3. Factual errors, shaky anecdotes and misleading use of data by quietly switching what was being measured;
4. Incomplete reporting and lack of critical context;
5. No response from the state on many key points.

No doubt the investigative team was driven by the history of injustices suffered by Native Americans. There is much to be outraged about. But good intentions are not enough. Specifically, there is no whistleblower, no document — no smoking gun even — to support the unmistakable allegation that for nearly the last 15 years, state social workers have been so evil as to take Indian children from their families as a way to reap federal funds for the state government. The charge is so shocking and such a potential insult to many dedicated social workers that the burden of proof should have been especially high.

One would like to view this as a story of NPR doing the right thing, if belatedly. Alas, we cannot. The NPR editors have blown off the ombudsman’s damning findings, proclaiming:

NPR stands by the stories.

Wow. We can see how dedicated NPR is to their espoused standards.


Obama discloses sealed indictment

August 11, 2013

Our law-instructor president just doesn’t seem to be good at law at all (or perhaps he just doesn’t care):

Speaking at a White House press conference about government surveillance, terrorism, and other topics, the president was asked about his past statements that the people who attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year would be brought to justice.

“We have informed, I think, the public that there’s a sealed indictment. It’s sealed for a reason. But we are intent on capturing those who carried out this attack, and we’re going to stay on it until we get them,’’ Mr. Obama said.

While the president of the United States can declassify top secret intelligence information on his own say-so, disclosing secret grand jury material is a different matter. Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure clearly states: “… no person may disclose the indictment’s existence except as necessary to issue or execute a warrant or summons.’’

Naturally, the White House tried to cover for him, explaining:

A White House official said the president “was simply referencing widely reported information and was not asked about, nor did he comment on any specific indictment.’’

But this explanation doesn’t jibe with Obama’s actual statement: “We have informed . . . the public that there’s a sealed indictment.” According to his own words, he, or his administration, disclosed the indictment.

POSTSCRIPT: Our law-professor president being bad at law has become a persistent pattern. For example, he recently blundered in such a way as to severely impede the prosecution of sexual harassment cases in the military.


Copyright kills books

August 11, 2013

Copyright is supposed to encourage the development of creative works, and short terms of copyright doubtless do. But today copyright lasts essentially forever, and that has made decades of books disappear:

copyrighted-books-disappear

A book published in 1922 is in the public domain today. A book published in 1923 (that observed the proper copyright formalities) is still copyrighted today, and probably will be forever. And, as the chart shows, some point during the 1920s is exactly when books disappear.

This is tragic. A tool that was supposed to enrich our culture has been perverted by the content owners and their cronies to impoverish our culture instead.


FEC colluded with IRS to target conservatives

August 11, 2013

The IRS’s misconduct seems to have dragged in the FEC as well:

Eliana Johnson finds that Lois Lerner appears to have colluded with an attorney in the Federal Election Commission’s general counsel’s office to influence the record before the FEC’s vote in the case of a conservative non-profit organization. Readers may recall that Lerner, the former head of the IRS’s exempt-organizations division, worked at the FEC from 1986 to 1995, and was known there for aggressive investigation of conservative groups.

Email traffic uncovered by the House Ways and Means Committee indicates that an attorney from the FEC’s enforcement division sought and received tax information about the status of a conservative group, the American Future Fund, before recommending that the commission prosecute it for violations of campaign-finance law. But the IRS is prohibited from sharing confidential taxpayer information, and the FEC is not exempted under that prohibition.

(Previous post.)


It’s important not to judge

August 11, 2013

When it comes to Edward Snowden, who has stolen US secrets and delivered them to our nation’s enemies, President Obama says:

We don’t know exactly what he did, except what he said on the Internet and it’s important for me not to judge.

But, when it comes to a disputed self-defense case in Florida, that of George Zimmerman, our president is more than ready to judge.


IRS still persecuting Tea Party

August 11, 2013

It’s been months since the IRS admitted that it was targeting Tea Party organizations for special scrutiny, but according to the Congressional testimony of an IRS agent, it has never stopped doing so:

In a remarkable admission that is likely to rock the Internal Revenue Service again, testimony released Thursday by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp reveals that an agent involved in reviewing tax exempt applications from conservative groups told a committee investigator that the agency is still targeting Tea Party groups, three months after the IRS scandal erupted.

In closed door testimony before the House Ways & Means Committee, the unidentified IRS agent said requests for special tax status from Tea Party groups is being forced into a special “secondary screening” because the agency has yet to come up with new guidance on how to judge the tax status of the groups.

After all these months, they are still at it! Whoever might have been responsible originally, this is Obama’s baby now. He had months to put a stop to this, and chose not to.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal comments (subscription required).

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


Obama fails geography

August 8, 2013

I understood there would be no geography:

OBAMA: If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf — places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida — if we don’t do that, those ships are going to go someplace else.

UPDATE: I think this is remarkable, because this is a prepared remark for the softest of softball interviews. Whoever prepped Obama didn’t realize that Charleston, Savannah, and Jacksonville are on the Eastern Seaboard, not the Gulf Coast, and he didn’t know any better. George W Bush got a reputation as an intellectual lightweight for much less than this: the Bush-as-idiot meme started when he failed to identify all of the people on a list of obscure world leaders (e.g., the president of Chechnya) in an ambush quiz. Here we have Obama making basic geographic mistakes about the United States in a remark volunteered during a softball interview.

UPDATE: Good heavens he does this a lot.


Any opposition to Obama is racist

August 8, 2013

Bloomberg very nearly comes right out and says it:

House Republicans Set to Defy Obama Are Mostly White Men


Phony outrage

August 8, 2013

In May, the White House said that “nobody’s been more outraged” by the IRS’s misconduct than President Obama. But many of us were skeptical that there was any real outrage, as opposed to mere regret that the IRS’s misconduct had come to light.

Sure enough, the White House now calls the IRS scandal a “phony scandal”.


Illegal Obama policy permitted to stand

August 8, 2013

In a lawsuit over President Obama’s immigration policy (in which he announced that he would not enforce the law for certain categories of illegal immigrants), a federal judge has ruled that Obama’s policy is illegal, but the plaintiff had no standing to sue. Consequently, the suit was dismissed and the illegal policy was permitted to stand.

This might even be the right decision under the law. Nevertheless, someone must have standing to sue. It cannot be the case that the president is breaking the law and the courts are somehow powerless to intervene. Can it?


“Right-wing” = anything bad

August 8, 2013

When the Boston Marathon bombing happened, the media leftists immediately jumped to the conclusion that it must have been perpetrated by Tea Party types, as they always seem to do. Of course, we quickly learned that Islamic terrorists were responsible. But the BBC, it would seem, has not given up trying to pin it on the right:

One of the brothers suspected of carrying out the Boston bombings was in possession of right-wing American literature in the run-up to the attack, BBC Panorama has learnt.

What right-wing literature? Tracts in support of small government, individual liberty, low taxes, and sound monetary policy? Not at all. No, it was just a bunch of crazy stuff:

The programme discovered that Tamerlan Tsarnaev possessed articles which argued that both 9/11 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing were government conspiracies.

Another in his possession was about “the rape of our gun rights”.

Reading material he had about white supremacy commented that “Hitler had a point”.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev also had literature which explored what motivated mass killings and noted how the perpetrators murdered and maimed calmly.

There was also material about US drones killing civilians, and about the plight of those still imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.

Some of this could be representative of the right (such as gun rights and concerns about drone strikes), some could be representative of the left (9/11 conspiracy theories, Guantanamo), and much of it isn’t representative of either, even in extreme form. If you really wanted to generalize this stuff, the best you could do would be to call it anti-American. (Of course, revealing that some terrorists were anti-American is something less than a major scoop.)

What’s going on here is the liberal trope that anything leftists don’t like (now) must be of the right. Thus the common spectacle of the Nazis being called right-wing, even though their ideology (to the extent it fit on the left-right spectrum at all) was of the left.

But just because it’s lazy doesn’t make it any less dishonest.


True lies

August 8, 2013

The New York Daily News makes a serious accusation:

ARLINGTON, Va. — This state is good at peddling guns. Now it’s peddling lies about New York.

A war between the states erupted Friday, after Mayor Bloomberg blasted Virginia for its weak gun laws. . . The office of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell tried to turn the tables, arguing that Virginia’s “homicide and robbery (rates) are significantly lower than New York City’s.”

The funny thing about this “lie” is that it is actually entirely true. The story’s point is that the comparison is apples-and-oranges, and that’s probably even true. But there’s a world of difference between “your argument is rebuttable” and “you are lying”. If you say the latter when you mean the former, then you’re the liar.

The worst kind of scoundrel is the man who lies in calling another man a liar.


Bambi vs. big government

August 8, 2013

A sad story.


Obamaphones

August 8, 2013

The federal government is spending $2 billion a year to pay for free mobile phones and service. And if you’ve suspected that the safeguards to ensure that they only go the the truly needy might not be effective — or even exist at all — you’re right of course.


A national shutting-up about race

August 8, 2013

I think Frank J. Fleming has it exactly right.


NSA is spying on Americans

August 8, 2013

The Obama administration — indeed the president himself — is telling us we needn’t worry about NSA surveillance; they aren’t spying on Americans:

“We don’t have a domestic spying program,” Obama said, according to the media pool report. “What we do have is some mechanisms that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack. … That information is useful.”

According to the New York Times, he’s lying:

The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials.

The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged. It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.

(Previous post.) (Via Hot Air.)


Obamacare implementation a shambles

August 8, 2013

The implementation of Obamacare is a complete shambles, and the administration is lying about it:

In February, Sen. Orrin Hatch pressed Gary Cohen — who is heading up much of the ObamaCare implementation efforts at the Health and Human Services Department — about the status of “service-level agreements” required with all the agencies before they can open their data to the hub. The agreements define services, responsibilities, performance and other terms for data sharing.

Hatch asked Cohen whether HHS had “signed service-level agreements with IRS, the Social Security Administration, homeland security and all the other agencies that will be providing information to the data hub.”

“We have,” Cohen said.

But at that time there were no service-level agreements in force, according to an inspector general report. HHS didn’t sign its first — with the IRS — until March. And all but two of the seven still haven’t been signed.

At that same hearing, Cohen claimed that the agency was “well along” on its data-sharing tests with “Social Security, with homeland security and with IRS” and would “be able to complete that testing by this spring.”

But a June report from the Government Accountability Office found that such tests didn’t even start until May, and that they won’t be finished until September.

At the time the administration was saying that all its agreements in place, it didn’t have any. When it said its tests were well along, they hadn’t even begun.