Burglary is for amateurs

August 29, 2014

I’ve always wondered why Richard Nixon’s goons bothered to burglarize the Democratic party headquarters. Why didn’t he just open a phony investigation and seize the documents? That’s been accepted practice by Democrats going back at least to FDR, and it continues today:

Conservative targets of a Democrat-launched John Doe investigation have described the secret probe as a witch hunt. . .

Subpoenas also demanded the conservatives’ bank records, “emails from every major private email provider” and other information in what some have described as a mini-NSA (National Security Agency) operation in Wisconsin. . .

Chisholm, a Democrat, launched the dragnet two years ago, and, according to court documents, with the help of the state Government Accountability Board, the probe was expanded to five counties. The John Doe proceeding compelled scores of witnesses to testify, and a gag order compelled them to keep their mouths shut or face jail time. . .

Among other documents, prosecutors sought “all call detail records including incoming and outgoing calls,” “billing name and information,” “subscriber name and information including any application for service,” according to the conservatives’ court filing. . .

In one particularly dramatic demand, the prosecutors’ request for emails was unlimited: the subpoenas require “all information stored in an account including (but not limited to) incoming and outgoing mail.”

“Thus, a target’s mail from well before those dates could be seized if it was simply ‘stored’ in the account during the relevant period, including in the deleted items folder,” the plaintiffs’ court document states.

(Via Legal Insurrection.)

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The middle ground

August 29, 2014

I meant to post this cartoon a month ago:

meet-hamas-halfway


OMG

August 29, 2014

“We don’t have a strategy yet.”

I wish he would have just lied.

But worse than his admission that he has no strategy, was his position — classic too-clever-by-half Obama material — that it would somehow have been inappropriate to have a strategy for dealing with ISIS. That’s utter nonsense, as confirmed by the White House making the rounds today emphasizing that, despite what the president said, they absolutely, positively, really, really do have a strategy.


The sun has truly set on the British Empire

August 27, 2014

When Indians complained about the British interfering with suttee (the Indian practice of burning widows alive on their husbands’ funeral pyre), General Charles Napier (1782-1853) told them:

Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. . . Let us all act according to national customs.

Great Britain used to bring civilization to the far corners of the globe. Now they can’t even bring it to their own country:

The sexual abuse of about 1,400 children at the hands of Asian men went unreported for 16 years because staff feared they would be seen as racist, a report said today.

Children as young as 11 were trafficked, beaten, and raped by large numbers of men between 1997 and 2013 in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, the council commissioned review into child protection revealed. And shockingly, more than a third of the cases were already known to agencies.

But according to the report’s author: ‘several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist’. . .

In two cases, fathers had tracked down their daughters and tried to remove them from houses where they were being abused – only to be arrested themselves when police were called to the scene.

This went on for sixteen years with the full knowledge of the authorities, who would rather allow thousands of children to be raped than called racist.

And that fear seems to persist even in the wake of this horror. Even in a story that centers around the horrifying consequences of hyper-sensitivity to racism, this BBC story can’t bring itself to say precisely what the authorities were being hyper-sensitive about. The story has no photographs of the perpetrators, it never uses the word “Pakistani” or even “Middle Eastern”, and it only even uses the word “Asian” (60% of the world’s population) as part of a quotation.

Oh, and by the way:

No council employees will face disciplinary action in a town where 1,400 children suffered sexual exploitation in a 16-year period, the local authority’s chief executive has said.

Glenn Reynolds adds:

Perhaps they need to consider the possibility that there are worse things than being thought racist. Of course, if that idea were to spread, a powerful tool of social control would vanish.

Alas, over sixteen years every one of them must have considered that possibility at some point. And rejected it.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds adds again:

The legal system is, ultimately, an ancient bargain: Renounce your mob violence and blood feuds and we will provide you with justice. It could be argued that such a default as this calls the whole bargain into question, and justifies self-help along ancient lines.


Ministry of Truth

August 26, 2014

Oh, this isn’t sinister at all:

The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.

The “Truthy” database, created by researchers at Indiana University, is designed to “detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution.”

“Social pollution.” What a lovely term that is.

(Via Instapundit.)


Venezuela circles the bowl

August 22, 2014

Hugo Chavez is dead, but his policies that have ruined Venezuela live on. Rampant inflation leads to price controls, which lead to shortages, which lead to rationing, which leads to draconian rationing. Chavez’s heir is determined to carry “Bolivarian” economics to the bitter end:

Venezuela’s food shortage is so bad the country is mandating that people scan their fingerprints at grocery stores in order to keep people from buying too much of a single item.

President Nicolas Maduro says a mandatory fingerprinting system is being implemented at grocery stores to combat food shortages. He calls it an “anti-fraud system” like the fingerprint scan the country uses for voting.

UPDATE (9/2): Is the phrase “critics said” really necessary here?

Critics said the new system is tantamount to rationing and constitutes a breach of privacy.


Government is a racket

August 22, 2014

Joe Biden has something to hide:

Vice President Joe Biden’s office stonewalled a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for his travel expenses, according to Ronald Kessler’s new tell-all book on the Secret Service, The First Family Detail.

Kessler, a former Wall Street Journal and Washington Post investigative reporter, filed a FOIA request in April 2013 with the Air Force for the details and costs of Biden’s personal trips. . . According to Kessler, Biden’s then-deputy counsel Jessica Hertz took over the FOIA case from the Air Force and ordered it not to release the 95 pages of documents it had compiled in response to Kessler’s request.

They had already compiled the records, and Biden’s counsel ordered them covered up. Why would he cover up his travel expenses? Here’s why:

The records were eventually released to Kessler by an Air Force officer who “was outraged that Biden’s office would taint the Air Force by politicizing its FOIA process.”

The records show Biden’s trips—which include multiple daily flights between Washington, D.C., and Wilmington, Delaware—cost taxpayers nearly $1 million between January 2009 and March 2013. This does not include crew costs or the cost of ferrying Biden between the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory and Andrews Air Force Base.

“Every three or four weeks when it’s warm, Biden gets up there on Saturday and then will fly back on Air Force Two,” a Secret Service agent told Kessler. “While Air Force Two is sitting on the tarmac at Andrews, he goes up and plays golf with the president at Andrews Air Force Base, gets back on the plane, and flies back to Delaware. . .”

An Air Force source also told Kessler that Biden regularly schedules single events in Arizona so he can fly there on the public dime to play golf.

This is a guy who poses (laughably, but determinedly) as the common man, a man who takes the train between Delaware and DC. In fact, he takes his personal Air Force plane every day, and likes to jaunt about the country to play golf.


AP violates its own style guide

August 22, 2014

The Associated Press, reporting a story you’ve probably heard:

County Autopsy: Unarmed teen short 6 to 8 times

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — A St. Louis County autopsy has found that the unarmed black teenager killed during a confrontation with a white police officer was shot six to eight times.

This, and several other AP stories, give the deliberate impression that Michael Brown was a child, when in fact he was a very large 18-year-old adult. Avoiding this sort of misleading impression is presumably why the Associated Press forbids using the word “teenager” this way:

youth Applicable to boys and girls from age 13 until 18th birthday. Use man or woman for individuals 18 and older.

Why would the AP break its own rules? Indeed, why would they break their own rules to mislead the public on a point that, legally at least, doesn’t even matter? (After all, killing an adult, if unjustified, is just as bad — legally speaking — as killing a child.)

There seems to be only one conclusion. Their purpose here is not to report the facts; their purpose is to create outrage. The killing of a child is more outrageous, so that’s what they reported, even though it’s not what happened.

(Via Hot Air.)


Drunk drivers take note

August 22, 2014

Mothers Against Drunk Driving can be bought off.


Resolute ignorance

August 22, 2014

Okay, CNN anchor Don Lemon doesn’t know the difference between an automatic weapon, and a semi-automatic (i.e., non-automatic) weapon:

If you don’t even know what the terms mean, you have no business reporting on gun policy. But this is much worse than merely that, because Lemon’s guest explains the difference to him, and Lemon says (paraphrasing): I don’t care; I prefer to use the word incorrectly.

There’s a word for using the wrong word when you know it’s the wrong word; it’s called lying.

POSTSCRIPT: The particularly galling thing about this, as Charles C. W. Cooke points out, is that recent gun control efforts have centered on making fine, nearly meaningless distinctions. Bill Clinton’s now-defunct assault weapons ban prohibited weapons with two or more scary-looking features. Here you have a major functional difference (automatic fire vs. single fire) and the liberals dismiss it with contempt.


Spiked

August 18, 2014

Simon and Schuster spikes a book proposal about Bowe Bergdahl because it might make Obama look bad:

“I’m not sure we can publish this book without the Right using it to their ends,” Sarah Durand, a senior editor at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, wrote in an email to one of the soldiers’ agents.

“[T]he Conservatives are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama,” Durand wrote, “and my concern is that this book will have to become a kind of ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth'” — a reference to the group behind a controversial book that raised questions about John Kerry’s Vietnam War record in the midst of his 2004 presidential campaign.

It’s interesting to see a publisher admit openly that it is more interested in protecting Obama than in making money.

POSTSCRIPT: The original Yahoo article isn’t loading now, but it’s still in the Google cache for now.


The most transparent administration in history

August 18, 2014

Under the Obama administration, “FOIA Denial Officer” is an actual job title.

(Via Instapundit.)


Modern politics

August 18, 2014

A leaked document from the campaign of Michelle Nunn, the Democrat running for Senate from Georgia, is frank about their plans to win by cobbling together a coalition of various minorities.

According to my skim of the document, it almost completely ignores issues and policy positions. The only three ways that issues come up at all are (1) in the context of groups of people to appeal to or at least to neutralize (that is, farmers, gun owners, and small business owners), and (2) a schedule of when to decide what Nunn believes on various issues (too bad for “rural issues”, which somehow comes in #22 on a list of 21 issues on page 62), and (3) Obamacare’s cancellation notices, which (page 141) are totally not at all a bad thing.

It’s been clear for some time that the Democratic party has nothing to offer the people at large, and is merely a coalition of tribes, but it’s striking to see it all written out so frankly.


New Jersey

August 8, 2014

The state that doesn’t understand the difference between good guys and bad guys:

The same judge and prosecutor who let professional football star Ray Rice avoid a trial after beating his wife unconscious are pushing forward with the prosecution of Shaneen Allen, a single mother who carried a gun into New Jersey without realizing her Pennsylvania permit didn’t apply there.

What is wrong with these people?

(Via Instapundit.)


Commander-in-chief

August 8, 2014

After Obama ignored ISIS when American intervention could have been decisive, and continued to ignore ISIS as they unleashed a reign of terror across northern Iraq, the ISIS’s horrifying genocide finally shamed Obama into action:

Arguing that the U.S. could not ignore the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, President Obama Thursday night announced that he had authorized limited air strikes, one of the boldest military moves of his presidency.

Except not really:

U.S. fighter jets launched a “targeted” airstrike on Friday against Islamic militants in Iraq, just hours after President Obama authorized military action to protect U.S. personnel and Iraqi civilians.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Friday that two F/A-18 jets dropped 500-pound bombs on a piece of artillery and the truck towing it. The Pentagon said the military conducted the strike at 6:45 a.m. ET, against terrorists with the Islamic State (IS), the group formerly known as ISIS.

We bombed one artillery piece. That’ll show ’em.

Still, this action might make the enemy nervous. Except Obama took pains to reassure the enemy:

As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.

It’s a basic tenet of foreign crisis management always to be ambiguous about how far you will go. Ambiguity is a powerful weapon; it forces the enemy to worry about your full capabilities, rather than your self-imposed limits. If you want to have a significant impact, you never rule out doing more.

Unless you’re an idiot, or you just don’t care.

UPDATE: Subsequently, we did bomb ISIS some more, which is good.


Business as usual

August 8, 2014

The latest from the “most transparent administration in history”:

A key ObamaCare official involved in the rocky rollout of Healthcare.gov likely deleted some of her emails that are now being sought as part of an investigation into the problems by a House committee, Fox News confirmed Thursday.

The Department of Health and Human Services informed House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa in a letter Thursday that some of the emails belonging to Marilyn Tavenner, who leads the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, may not be “retrievable.” . . .

[T]he department believes that was due to sloppy records-keeping not an attempt to conceal information.

Of course. It’s never an attempt to conceal information. This administration’s good record has earned the benefit of the doubt.


The first casualty of Hamas is truth

August 8, 2014

The media’s practice of reporting Hamas’s fabricated casualty reports as if they were fact is flatly dishonest. There’s absolutely no excuse for it. Hamas’s official policy, announced in the open, is to falsify their casualty statistics:

Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don’t forget to always add ‘innocent civilian’ or ‘innocent citizen’ in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.

If you know it’s a lie, and you report it anyway, you are a liar.

It’s impossible to know what the real civilian toll is, since the only people who could say won’t tell the truth, but we can see that military-aged males are strikingly overrepresented among the “civilian casualties”, while women and children are strikingly underrepresented.

POSTSCRIPT: As far the actual civilian casualties go, don’t forget that Hamas’s policy is to maximize them, not only on the Israeli side but on their own.


Let them eat nothing

August 8, 2014

John Kerry says that children in Africa are starving, and Africa should refrain from developing new farmland. No joke:

During the Africa Summit “Resilience and Food Security in a Changing Climate” panel, Secretary of State John Kerry told an audience that “8,000 children die every day” and in sub-Sahara Africa, one in four suffer from chronic hunger.

Then a few minutes later, he stressed how creating new farms would cause too much carbon pollution so they need to discourage more farm land.

He was for food before he was against it.

His argument was that we should improve yield from existing farms, rather than create new farms, as if agriculture was an either-or proposition. At some point idiots become functionally indistinguishable from monsters, and Kerry is well past that point.


This is CNN

August 7, 2014

(Title shamelessly stolen from Rick Wilson.)


Obama foreign policy

August 6, 2014

Genocide:

On Wednesday, Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in northern Iraq’s Nineveh province, came under assault from the Islamic State, and all 50 to 60,000 of its residents have fled to Erbil in Kurdistan. . .

The enormity of the humanitarian crisis of the cascading exodus from Nineveh was overshadowed, though, by the early reports indicating genocide is taking place against the people of Sinjar, who are mostly followers of the Yazidi religion but also include some Christians.

America’s response is to issue a statement:

We urge all parties to the conflict to allow safe access to the United Nations and its partners so they can deliver lifesaving humanitarian assistance, including to those Iraqi families reportedly encircled by ISIL on Mount Sinjar.

We urge them?! Does the administration think ISIS is doing this by accident?

And lest you think that the title, calling this Obama’s foreign policy, is too harsh, let’s remember that Obama specifically said that he would accept genocide as the price of leaving Iraq:

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there. . .

Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, said it’s likely there would be increased bloodshed if U.S. forces left Iraq. . .


Down NPR’s memory hole

August 1, 2014

When the Senate defeated President Obama’s awful nominee to head the DOJ’s civil rights division, NPR reported it this way:

A handful of southern Democrats joined Republicans yesterday to defeat President Obama’s choice to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division. . .

NPR wanted to paint Adegbile’s detractors that way because in the NPR lexicon, “southern” is code for racist. Leaving that matter aside for now, the Democrats who jumped ship were from Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia. Only three of those states could be considered southern under even the broadest possible definition. Certainly none of them are from the Deep South.

But rather than omit their error, NPR covered it up, rewriting the story to begin:

A handful of Senate Democrats joined Republicans yesterday . . .

Not only did they change the story on the transcript, they actually went so far as to re-record it with the revised script.

This is so astonishing that you wonder if people simply misheard Werthheimer; if she really said “Senate” all along. Nope, Will Collier had the foresight to save the original.


Internet censorship

August 1, 2014

What gets me about every internet censorship story is how they always deny using political criteria to block websites, when that is quite obviously exactly what they are doing. As just the latest example:

I also spent some time on the phone with Hyatt representatives. Well, most of that time was on hold, actually, but I did eventually get two bright, human voices. Both of them assured me no political line was being enforced.

Oh good. Your criteria blocks Drudge, Instapundit, and Power Line, while allowing Daily Kos and Talking Point Memos, but since you say it’s not political, we won’t worry about it.


LightSquared

August 1, 2014

The LightSquared debacle still isn’t quite over; the remains of the politically connected company are now suing the government over its denial of a permit to operate. Since I was strongly opposed to LightSquared’s effort to make money by breaking GPS, I thought I should note Richard Epstein’s contrary take.

Epstein is a very smart guy, so maybe there’s something to this, but I don’t see how to reconcile his position with the expert testimony on LightSquared’s scheme.

(Previous post.)


Our lawless administration

August 1, 2014

The Washington Post reports:

Over the past 2-1/2 years, the Obama administration has published hundreds of rules — on how wheelchairs should be stowed aboard U.S. aircraft, how foreign trade zones should be regulated, how voting assistance should be provided for U.S. citizens overseas and so on.

There’s a problem, however: Technically speaking, these and about 1,800 other regulations shouldn’t be in effect, because they weren’t reported to Congress as required. Yet there is little that lawmakers or the courts can do about it. . .

Under a 1996 statute, most federal rules are supposed to be reported to the House and Senate in paper form and to the Government Accountability Office electronically. But since the start of 2012, that hasn’t happened for many of the regulations put out by the Obama administration, either because of bureaucratic oversight or because they were considered too minor to be reported. . .

But there’s another catch: Congress also barred such rules from judicial review. Two federal appeals courts and two district courts have upheld this principle even when the regulation in question was not submitted to Congress as required. Since Congress cannot pass a resolution of disapproval for a rule until it receives it, this means neither lawmakers nor the courts can step in and demand that agencies submit the required paperwork.

(Via Instapundit.)


Iron Dome can do anything!

August 1, 2014

Apparently, so believes Alison Grimes, Democrat running for Senate in Kentucky:

Democratic Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes says Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system prevents Hamas terrorists from tunneling into Israel.

Grimes was asked about foreign policy and the conflict between the Israelis and Hamas during a recent interview with the Lexington Herald Leader. . . “The Iron Dome has been a big reason why Israel has been able to withstand the terrorists that have tried to tunnel their way in,” Grimes was quoted as saying.

(Via Hot Air.)