December 16, 2009

Liberal Politics in Action

The Worst-Run Big City in the U.S.
Despite its good intentions, San Francisco is not leading the country in gay marriage. Despite its good intentions, it is not stopping wars. Despite its spending more money per capita on homelessness than any comparable city, its homeless problem is worse than any comparable city's. Despite its spending more money per capita, period, than almost any city in the nation, San Francisco has poorly managed, budget-busting capital projects, overlapping social programs no one is certain are working, and a transportation system where the only thing running ahead of schedule is the size of its deficit.

...Amazingly, this gets worse. After securing the bond funding to save Laguna Honda as a hospital for the elderly, the Department of Public Health began transferring younger, often dangerous and mentally ill patients there and mixing them among the old people. This went about as well as you'd think: A 2006 state and federal licensing survey noted numerous instances of elder abuse, staff abuse, and patients toting drugs, alcohol, and even loaded weapons. One patient was assaulted four times in four months; to address this problem, staff erected signs reading "No Hitting." (That didn't work.) To cap it off, elder activists now worry that a 2009 Department of Public Health–commissioned report will pave the way for even more relatively young, mentally ill patients heading to Laguna Honda. The massively overbudget, behind-schedule hospital may not even end up primarily serving the elderly population that voters were promised it would.

Read the whole thing. San Francisco municipal government makes the DC municipal government look competent.

December 11, 2009

Circling the Wagons



Physics Group Splinters Over Global Warming Review
The scientist who will head the American Physical Society's review of its 2007 statement calling for immediate reductions of carbon dioxide is Princeton's Robert Socolow, a prominent supporter of the link between CO2 and global warming who has warned of possible "catastrophic consequences" of climate change.

..."It is Socolow whose entire research funding stream, well over a million dollars a year, depends on continued alarm over global warming," says William Happer, a fellow Princeton University professor and head of the Happer physics lab who has raised the question of a conflict of interest. The reason: the ostensibly neutral person charged with evaluating a statement endorsing man-made global warming is a leading proponent of precisely that theory whose funding is tied to that theory.

Wait, it gets better!
Hal Lewis, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara who has been an APS member for 65 years, says that he asked both the current and incoming APS presidents to require that Socolow recuse himself from a review of this subject, and both refused.

That means the review will be "chaired by a guy who is hip deep in conflicts of interest, running a million-dollar program that is utterly dependent on global warming funding," Lewis says. In addition, he points out that the group charged with taking a second look at the 2007 statement, the Panel on Public Affairs, is the same body that drafted it in the first place. That, "too has a smell of people investigating themselves," Lewis says.

And the warmers wonder how people could ever doubt! When a company's books are called into question by the shareholders, the audit isn't handed over to the people keeping those books. Instead, the shareholders (and the SEC) demand an independent audit. For years, what most skeptics (and many climate scientists!) have called for is just such an audit, in the face of substantial evidence that the AGW "books" are at least slightly cooked.

Yet what we have seen over and over again, and what is on full display in the HCRU dump, is the "circle the wagons" mentality that shuts out all independent scrutiny of the details in the "books."

Instead, the response is to try to shoot those darn Injuns.

November 06, 2009

Is This the Change You Were Hoping For?

The Return of the Inflation Tax
In order to raise enough money to make their plan look like it won't add to the deficit, House Democrats have deliberately not indexed two main tax features of their plan: the $500,000 threshold for the 5.4-percentage-point income tax surcharge; and the payroll level at which small businesses must pay a new 8% tax penalty for not offering health insurance.

This is a sneaky way for politicians to pry more money out of workers every year without having to legislate tax increases. The negative effects of failing to index compound over time, yielding a revenue windfall for government as the years go on. The House tax surcharge is estimated to raise $460.5 billion over 10 years, but only $30.9 billion in 2011, rising to $68.4 billion in 2019, according to the Joint Tax Committee.

Americans of a certain age have seen this movie before...

I also recall some yak-yak from Our Puffery in Chief about only raising taxes on the rich. Being of a certain age, I remember the much less radical Bill Clinton making that same promise, and my subsequent annoyance at discovering that despite having a middle-class income at best we were somehow among "the rich."

History doesn't repeat itself, but it does play encores for the short-of-memory.

November 03, 2009

Election Night 2009

I'm kicking back with a bowl of popcorn to watch the results come in, for much the same reason a hardcore baseball fan will go watch a Little League game rather than hang out in a bar.

The pundits and partisans have spent weeks or months telling us what all the results will mean, and they're pretty much all full of crap. Without having turned on the newsfeed yet, I can tell you that Virginia is getting a GOP guv, Maine will probably turn back the anti-gay-marriage forces, NJ will have voter fraud and perhaps be contested, and that the NY 23rd is a unique situation that mostly just shows us the more strident divisions in the GOP and the right wing.

Jay Cost says it better than I do.
Wow. The pundit class is in full swing, interpreting the meaning of NY-23. "What's it say about Obama's administration?" "What's it say about the state of the Republican Party?" "What's it say for the upcoming health care debate?" So many questions. I'll do my best to answer them, each in turn.

Nothing, nothing, and nothing!

If you're watching the elections tonight rather than, say, re-runs of CSI, then you're a politics junkie like me. But you need to admit to yourself that there is little actual meaning of any national import in tonight's results. All politics is local, and we get to see a few isolated examples of the local struggle playing out without the big contextual backdrop of nation-wide contests. Enjoy it. But don't read too much into it, because there really isn't all that much there.

October 27, 2009

Capital Flight In Action

Tax refugees staging escape from New York
More than 1.5 million state residents left for other parts of the United States from 2000 to 2008, according to the report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy. It was the biggest out-of-state migration in the country. The vast majority of the migrants, 1.1 million, were former residents of New York City -- meaning one out of seven city taxpayers moved out.

What's worse is that the families fleeing New York are being replaced by lower-income newcomers, who consequently pay less in taxes.

Naturally. Not only do they pay less in taxes, but some of them are paying a lot less in taxes than they use up in government largess, which makes the tax revenue effect larger than the raw numbers would suggest. Why, you'd almost think they had monetary motivations...

Hey, I told you so.

October 26, 2009

Re-Branding...

Pelosi: Health care 'public option' needs new name
A government-sponsored "public option" for health care lives, though it may be more attractive to skeptics if it goes by a different moniker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday.

In an appearance at a Florida senior center, the Democratic leader referred to the so-called public option as "the consumer option." Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., appeared by Pelosi's side and used the term "competitive option."

Toe-MAY-toe. Toe-MAH-toe. Giant Wooden Rabbit. Giant Wooden Badger. What's in a name, right? Sing it all together, boys and girls!

Branded!
Marked with a coward's shame.
What do you do when you're branded,
Will you fight for your name?

October 23, 2009

Useful Idiots

Maddow/Olbermann Invited to White House Chat with Obama, But Fox Isn't a News Organization?
The White House has sent TVNewser the complete list of those who attended the off-the-record briefing Monday: Eugene Robinson, E.J. Dionne, Ron Brownstein, John Dickerson, Rachel Maddow, Frank Rich, Jerry Seib, Maureen Dowd, Keith Olbermann, Bob Herbert, Gloria Borger, and Gwen Ifill. Several members of the staff also attended.

Nice to have a list of the top-tier anointed puppets, though it's not as if the strings weren't already obvious. And I see others have made the non-welcome list...

UPDATE: LOL. Heh. And more HEH.

Also: Reliable puppet Joe Conason didn't make the invite list? That's gotta sting.

October 21, 2009

First Amendment? What's That?

Jonathan Turley notes the Obama admin's support for speech restrictions:
Perhaps in an effort to rehabilitate the United States’ image in the Muslim world, the Obama administration has joined a U.N. effort to restrict religious speech. This country should never sacrifice freedom of expression on the altar of religion.

Seems that "wall of separation" between church and state is highly selective in the admin's eyes. Given their attempts to muzzle health insurers and the press, no one should be surprised.

October 20, 2009

Missing in Action

Journalism: Not Dead Yet

Not as long as we still have some actual journalists, such as Jake Tapper.

October 13, 2009

Bizarre

It seems like there really should be a Giant Wooden Rabbit involved here somehow....

That, or a horror film jointly produced by Sam Raimi and Hugh Hefner.

October 04, 2009

WORD

Don't f*** with Patterico.
As an associate producer of the documentary about Roman Polanski, you do not cover yourself in glory by coming on my blog and spamming a dozen identical anonymous comments that baselessly insinuate that I have a) bribed a witness on this case; b) blogged this issue on County time; c) written these posts to improve Mr. Cooley’s re-election chances; or d) engaged in “corrupt” behavior.

Not a smart thing to do, folks. Especially when you're going after a seasoned tech-savvy blogger with a firm grasp of criminal law and investigational technique. Folks, remember this: Unless you are using a proxy server or anonymizer, your tracks on the internet are pretty easy to trace. Even using such a service, it's still not impossible.

September 25, 2009

Memory Hole

NEA Scrubs ‘Health Care Resource’ From Website
Not only has the NEA completely removed the link to what was essentially a lobbying demand for health care reform, but the AHIRC did a little scrubbing of their own to nudge the rhetoric closer to 501(c)(3)-ey territory…

...Without a word, the NEA, an agency that survives off our hard-earned tax dollars, is just allowed to disappear a direct link to a 501(c)(3) organization (started with a grant from the NEA!) that until yesterday seemed to exist only for the sole purpose of violating the very first law of a 501(c)(3)?

September 22, 2009

The Real Reform That Dare Not Speak Its Name

...at least on the Democratic side of the aisle.

How Missouri Cut Junk Lawsuits
We showed how to do malpractice reform, if Congress wants a model.

Tort reform works. Missouri's medical malpractice claims are now at a 30-year low. Average payouts are about $50,000 below the 2005 average. Malpractice insurers are also turning a profit for the fifth year in a row—allowing other insurers to compete for business in Missouri. This will drive down costs, which will save government programs money as well as improve the system for patients. It will also leave doctors with more resources to invest in better care.

Of course, with the "Democratic" Party in the hip pocket of the tort bar, you're not likely to see it happen.

September 01, 2009

Astroturfing

The real deal, as shown in this video of an HCAN organizer explaining to his team how to prevent constituents from asking embarrassing questions at town hall meetings, by shouting them down and blocking them off.



Remember this when leftists tell you Tea Party people are not grassrooters.

UPDATE: This just keeps getting better and better. From the same town hall, video of a different HCAN organizer passing out prepared signs to their bused-in protesters.



Props to Gateway Pundit.

August 30, 2009

Sounds Familiar....

Democrats win landslide in historic election
...voters swept the opposition to a historic victory in an election on Sunday, ousting the ruling conservative party and handing the untested Democrats the job of breathing life into a struggling economy....ushering in a government that has promised to focus spending on consumers, cut wasteful budget outlays and reduce the power of bureaucrats....The Democrats will have to move fast to keep support among voters worried about a record jobless rate and a rapidly aging society that is inflating social security costs....

Good luck with all that.

August 25, 2009

Tax Me! Tax Me!

What you're not hearing from Obama's young supporters...at least according to Beth Fouhy's WaPo article today.

OK, Fouhy doesn't say that. What she does say is that Obama's younger scocial-networking supporters see health care as an old-folks issue. Fouhy seems to miss the idea that their notable lack of enthusiasm may also be related to more direct causes than slacker ennui. Namely that so many of those young Obamites are among the "healthy uninsured" who would be forced into buying expensive insurance policies they don't really think they need in order to subsidize the ObamaCare system.

Remember, at least a good quarter of the uninsured are healthy young employed adults between 19 and 35 who have made the rational (for them) economic decision to put their income somewhere other than into insurance that is unlikely to show anything resembling a positive return on their investment. These are the fiscal prize for the "universal coverage" crowd -- without those healthy uninsured there's no "free money" revenue pool to subsidize the unhealthy uninsured, for whom we are already paying anyway.

August 23, 2009

The Angry White Liberal


Matthew Continetti has the story.
When things aren't going his way, the Angry White Liberal wails and gnashes his teeth, rends his garments, and hurls invective at the opposition. His rhetoric and prose is so heated, it's gotten to the point where you need to put on oven mitts before opening the paper. He is so convinced of the righteousness of his positions that he lashes out uncontrollably at anybody who disagrees with him. For the Angry White Liberal, dissent is anathema. Antagonism is illegitimate. Only conformity to prevailing liberal opinion is enough to still his rage.

Yeah, I run into them all the time. Disagree with any minute detail of whatever the current Holy "Progressive" Dogma and Doctrine is, and you are automatically a far-right-wing Republican* racist brown-shirt sockpuppet of BusHitler ... or whatever the demon of choice is nowadays.

[* -- I'm a pro-choice pro-2nd-Amendment pro-gay-rights pro-reality centrist pluralist currently registered as a Democrat. To the deranged True Believer "progressive" liberal that apparently make me a far-right-wing Republican. Or maybe just disagreeing with them in any tiny detail does. Don't ask it to make sense.]

August 21, 2009

Woo hoo!

The Vast Right-Wing Conpiracy is BACK!

And you don’t even actually have to be a Right-Winger to be a member. Centrist/pluralists also seem to be welcome. In fact, pretty much anyone who challenges the Holy ObamaDogma in the least degree can qualify, even liberals! At least, judging from the accusations and vitriol poured upon me by liberals about the blogosphere for simply noticing that the words coming out of the Democrats in Congress and the White House seem to be at odds with, well, reality.

That's right, you too can once again be an un-American scare-mongering jack-booted brown-shirted Nazi militia thug and tool of the GOP by un-patriotically dissenting, or even simply not nodding in agreement whenever an Obamabot begins spouting in public. You don't even have to pay any dues, it's all free!

I hope everyone kept their membership cards.

August 19, 2009

Big Brother, with Extra Tofu


Cornell Law Professor William Jacobson points out that in both the House and Senate versions of Obamacare, enforcement of the "individual mandate" requirement would be assigned to the tender mercies of the fine folks at the Internal Revenue Service.
These reporting provisions would allow the IRS to cross-check income tax returns and health coverage filings, and withhold tax refunds or utilize other collection methods for persons who do not have coverage unless they can prove they have acceptable coverage from some other source.

As usual with the IRS, you would be guilty until proven innocent to their satisfaction. Yeah, we just LOVE the idea of the IRS as our national health care enforcer. Professor Jacobson goes on in other posts to point out that under the Senate bill, the amount of the penalty tax would be left up to the discretion of the IRS, and that under both bills this amounts to a tax for merely existing.

As to combining your health information and taxation, those infamous Nazi racist un-American evil-mongering AstroTurfing far-right-wing-extremists at the American Civil Liberties Union have produced a brief Flash film on where letting the government have too much information can lead. Why, there seem to be no limits on the scare tactics this Republican front group is willing to use against Obamacare!

(I wonder if Orwell ever thought that Big Brother could turn out to be the Pizza Boy?)

August 16, 2009

Run Away!!!


The predicted HopeChange™! backtracking has begun.

Public insurance plan not essential: Sebelius
The government-run health insurance option favored by President Barack Obama is not essential to a healthcare overhaul as long as the final measure boosts competition, a top U.S. health official said on Sunday.

...Democratic proposals in Congress for a government-run insurance option have sparked intense opposition from Republicans who argue it would unfairly compete with private plans and would cripple the insurance industry.

The government option has become a key focus of opposition charges that the overhaul, Obama's top domestic priority, would amount to a government takeover of healthcare.

Six members of the Senate Finance Committee -- three from each party -- have been negotiating a reform package that would feature member-controlled non-profit cooperatives instead of the government-run plan.

Translation for those not conversant with RealPolitik double-speak: Now that a massive public outcry has made it clear that a majority of the American public, particularly American seniors, are NOT buying the fairy-dust promises of the Obamessiah and are NOT willing to passively stand by and watch another trillion-dollar-plus pig-in-a-poke crammed through Congress with little or no debate or public scrutiny, the administration has decided that getting anything passed that they can call "health care reform" and claim credit for and save face with is more important than getting the left-liberal dream of completely-government-controlled health care snuck in the back door.

So they are moving to a fallback position, one that still encourages the erosion of the "progressive"-left-hated corporate for-profit health insurors through competition with non-profits, thus preserving some red meat to throw to the left-liberal base to maintain support for any eventual bill.

The "public option" that was the first-order key to sneaking a government-run single-payer system into control of American health care is standing at the curb, and the admin is standing behind it, waiting on that bus now coming up the block. The admin knows that there will be more chances later, but for right now, it's time to give something a well-timed shove and run away.

[Second-order prediction: If the admin can get sympathetic polling for the "non-profit co-ops" the next step will be to place same under some serious gov't regulation and oversight, with an eye to future nationalization and/or complete government control of same. That would be the giant-wooden-badger fallback plan.]

August 14, 2009

What? Behind the rabbit?


Well, that's what it feels like, with some Democratic Senators oh-so-gently suggesting that perhaps, just perhaps, this is not the right time to attempt to cram through cap & trade legislation.

Climate Change Measure Should Be Set Aside, U.S. Senators Say
Climate legislation would require 60 votes in the Senate. Most Republicans have said they oppose the cap-and-trade measure, and at least 15 of the Senate’s 60-member Democratic majority have said the House-passed version would hurt the economy and needs to be revamped to win their support.

August 12, 2009

How Things Have Changed

2003:



2009:

"These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American." -- Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer

We await the "facts" of the several competing health care "reform" bills. The one thing we are positive about is that we are NOT getting them from the White House, or from Congressional Democrats, or from the mega-million-funded Soros appendages and union thugs being bused in to fill the seats before the public is admitted to meetings.

August 11, 2009

The BackTrack Begins


Faced with massive opposition, the Obama admin appears to be about to do something that Pelosi and Reid won't be able to do. Namely, backtracking from cram-down on health care and moving to a "dialogue" position.

Expect some serious reconciliatory HopeChange™ in the near future as the polls and events continue to move strongly against the Dem's steamroller cram-down approach.

UPDATE: Further thoughts from Jennifer Rubin. Money quote:
There is no playbook for the liberal establishment when they are in power while the crowds and much of the new media are in fevered opposition. After all it is the Left that is supposed to be filled with righteous indignation at the “establishment.” Moreover, the intensity is largely now on the side of the anti-ObamaCare forces — quite a reversal from the Bush era.

They can either change the substance (i.e., scrap ObamaCare and start over) or try a different sales pitch. Absent either of those course corrections, it is hard to see how things can improve for the Democratic congressional leadership and the president. Indeed, the longer this goes on, the more likely they are to turn off more and more of the portion of the electorate that is most likely to show up at the polls on Election Day 2010.

Indeed. I think the President while callow and shallow is still somewhat brighter than the average bear, which is why I expect a backtrack in the near future as it becomes more and more obvious that the Dem party is shooting itself in the ass with the ObamaCare cramdown approach. IMHO it's almost too late for any "different sales approach" -- it would have to be brilliant to pull it off, and brilliance has not been noticeably on display. Expect the first major thing on the chopping block to be the stealth single-payer "public option."

July 27, 2009

Interesting Bits

Apparently it pays very well to be a Senatorial spouse when "reform" is on the table...

Susan Bayh an issue in fight over health care
In 2 years, she earned $2.1M on health company boards

But for Bayh, health care isn't just the latest high-stakes political fight in Congress. It's also a substantial part of his family's income.
As the debate over health-care reform intensifies, Bayh's wife is receiving lucrative payouts from some of the companies that could be most affected by that legislation.

Bayh contends the $2.1 million that his wife, Susan, earned from public health-care companies from 2006 to 2008 represents no conflict of interest...

But no doubt she was well-suited for the board positions she was given. Let's check the employment record there, and the timing:
Susan Bayh, who was a midlevel lawyer for the politically active Eli Lilly and Co. while her husband was governor of Indiana, did not serve on the board of a single public health-care company until it was clear her husband was about to ascend to the U.S. Senate. Only one month before Evan Bayh was elected to the Senate in a landslide vote, his wife was appointed to serve on the board of what would become the nation's largest health insurance company -- and arguably the company with the most at stake in the health-care reform debate.

Nope, nothing suspicious there! Move along now.

Peter Suderman over at REASON magazine has an excellent article on the con job that is the current health care "reform" fight:

Buy Now, Pay Later
The health care cost-control conundrum
Despite all the talk of cutting costs, the tacit plan, from the beginning, has been to pass reform by building a coalition that would collectively agree to give members whatever they wanted now, while cheerfully talking around the serious budgetary complications posed by universal coverage.

This strategy was sketched out in a March New York Times article on lessons learned by advocates of national reform during the recent overhaul of the Massachusetts health-care system, which expanded coverage but saw costs rise sharply. According to some who backed the Massachusetts overhaul, however, that was a necessary ingredient in the recipe for reform...

...Subsequently, this year's health-care debate in Washington has featured a raft of insider deals and stakeholder handouts—to everyone from Wal-Mart to the drug industry—as well a lot of talk about cost-control without much substance to back it up. That's partly due to a string of sobering reports from the Congressional Budget Office that have made the fiscal aspect impossible to ignore

Well, DUH! We have only to look to the Massachussets experience to see the likely results of the current proposals. And for other real-life results from such plans we can also look to TennCare and to the Oregon experience in attempting capitation with their state-paid plans. It's not pretty.

July 11, 2009

HopeChange: Transparency Redux

Broken Promises
When the New York Times published the story, five bills had been presented to the president and were awaiting his signature. Four more were presented to him after the story’s publication. All nine are now law. And for the life of me, I can’t find where any of them have been posted on Whitehouse.gov.

Because they haven't been. But hey, that's just recent history.

And it’s becoming more clear that the five-day promise could be implemented. At this point, only one of 39 bills that the president has signed has been posted for five days in advance. (The DTV Delay Act was actually not held five days after formal presentment, but the White House posted it after the final version had passed Congress.) Twenty-four other bills have been held at the White House five days or more before the President has signed them. They just haven’t been posted.

HopeChange™! The most transparent administration in history!

June 26, 2009

HopeChange: Corruption Edition

Conyers abandons plan to probe ACORN:
'Powers that be decided against it,' he says

Pittsburgh lawyer Heather Heidelbaugh, whose testimony about ACORN at a March 19 hearing on voting issues prompted Mr. Conyers to call for a probe, said she was perplexed by Mr. Conyers' explanation for his change of heart.

"If the chair of the Judiciary Committee cannot hold a hearing if he want to [then] who are the powers that he is beholden to?" she said. "Is it the leadership, is it the White House, is it contributors? Who is 'the power?'"

Good questions. Who whould be the likeliest suspects?
Capitol Hill Democrats had bristled at proposed hearings because it threatened to rekindle criticism of the financial ties and close cooperation between President Obama's campaign and ACORN and its sister organizations Citizens Services Inc. and Project Vote.

Yeah, that would seem right. But where did they get the leverage to push over the always-aggressive and not-easily-muzzled Conyers? HERE, maybe?

(Judge Cohn, BTW, is 85 years old and was appointed by Jimmy Carter. I smell conditional leniency in the air.)

The most transparent administration in history!HopeChange™!!!

June 24, 2009

The Obama Show

Stay Tuned for More of 'The Obama Show'
After the obligatory first question from the Associated Press, Obama treated the overflowing White House briefing room to a surprise. "I know Nico Pitney is here from the Huffington Post," he announced.

Obama knew this because White House aides had called Pitney the day before to invite him, and they had escorted him into the room. They told him the president was likely to call on him, with the understanding that he would ask a question about Iran that had been submitted online by an Iranian.

Well, it was supposed to be a question submitted by an Iranian. No telling with a Potemkin press. The most transparent administration in history! HopeChange™!!!

June 21, 2009

Best Line of the Day...

...comes from Patterico.

How You Know We're Not Really In A Budget Crisis...

Because if we were, Obama wouldn’t be spending money on stuff like this:

The federal government is spending $423,500 to find out why men don’t like to wear condoms . . .

I’ll tell you for half that.

June 18, 2009

HopeChange! PollThug Part Deux

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Demands Answers on Voter Intimidation Case Dismissal
The Justice Department’s lawyers gathered evidence, obtained the affidavit of former civil rights advocate Bartle Bull, and filed a complaint. When the defendants did not respond and the court invited the Justice Department to file a default judgment, the case was inexplicably withdrawn.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has now taken up the issue and sent a letter to Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, demanding an explanation.

...The Commissioners write that the previously announced efforts by the Justice Department to play an aggressive role in enforcing voting rights “ring hollow if they are not accompanied by swift, decisive action to prosecute obvious violators.” The Commissioners ask that the Civil Rights Division advise the Commission of the rationale for dismissing the charges against defendants and of its evidentiary and legal standards for dismissing certain charges in cases of alleged voter intimidation.” They further ask for information on “any similar cases in which CRD has dismissed charges against a defendant.”

Previous post.

Hope! Change! HopeChange™!

June 16, 2009

HopeChange! Chicago-Style

Will Democrats cover up the AmeriCorps mess?
In dismissing Walpin, the president seemed to trample on the law -- a law he himself had co-sponsored as a senator -- that protects inspectors general from political influence and retribution. In addition, it appears that at least part of the reason Walpin was fired was for the tenacity he showed in investigating misuse of AmeriCorps money by a friend and supporter of the president, Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento, California. Walpin got the goods -- evidence of Johnson's serious misuse of federal dollars -- and the inspector general ended up getting fired for his troubles.

To asnwer the title question, of course they will.

The most transparent administration in history....

BONUS Chicago-Style!

Senator questions firing of 3 inspectors general
Removal of 2 inspectors general prompts questions


And:

White House refuses to answer Senate questions on AmeriCorps IG firing

HopeChange! Transparency Edition

Obama blocks list of visitors to White House
Despite President Barack Obama's pledge to introduce a new era of transparency to Washington, and despite two rulings by a federal judge that the records are public, the Secret Service has denied msnbc.com's request for the names of all White House visitors from Jan. 20 to the present. It also denied a narrower request by the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which sought logs of visits by executives of coal companies.

The most transparent administration in history!

June 13, 2009

HopeChange! Health Care Reform Edition

House Health-Care Proposal Adds $600 Billion in Taxes
Health-care overhaul legislation being drafted by House Democrats will include $600 billion in tax increases and $400 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel said.

...Asked whether the cost of a health-care overhaul would be more than $1 trillion over a decade, Rangel said, “the answer is yes.” Some Senate Republicans, including Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, say the costs will likely exceed $1.5 trillion.

...Rangel said that while House Democrats will likely release more details about health policy changes in their legislation next week, the package of offsetting tax increases and spending cuts likely will come later. Democrats, he said, want to put forth the more-positive aspects of an overhaul first.

Of course. Tout the "benefits" first without mentioning the price tag until you think you've made the sale and gotten their signature on the loan papers. I thought health care reform was supposed to get costs under control! Anyone care to explain how injecting an additional $150B/yr into the system will reduce costs? When most recent estimates of insuring the uninsured were less than half that figure?

And I'm sure that seniors are going to be just thrilled about the $400B cuts to Medicare.

UPDATE: Confused? This article explains it a bit better. The idea is to cut spending on the poor and elderly, while eating taxing the rich. (Yes, you read that first part correctly.) This is supposed to provide enough in "savings" and new revenue to pay for the proposal. Apparently health care for the poor will magically cost less if we pay less for it, with no cost-shifting effect like that we've seen continuously over the last few decades. Similarly with prescriptions for the elderly. And we already knew the rich have enough money to pay for everything, right? Right?

More UPDATE: The CBO reports that the Kennedy-Dodd bill would generate over $1.0T in new deficits over a decade, while only covering one-third of the uninsured. Last I looked, cost estimates to insure ALL of the uninsured were under $100B/yr.

June 03, 2009

AMEN

Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer and with him one of the founders of the modern pro-life movement, has some words for the movement he left:
My late father and I share part of the blame for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, the abortion doctor gunned down on Sunday.

...the same hate machine I was part of is still attacking all abortionists as "murderers." And today, once again, the "pro-life" leaders are busy ducking their personal responsibility for people acting on their words.

The people who stir up the fringe never take responsibility. But I'd like to say that I, and the people I worked with in the pro-life movement, all contributed to this killing by our foolish and incendiary words.

I am very sorry.

Some of us have been saying this to people in all parts of the political spectrum for years now. I hope a few people will now be shocked enough to start listening.

May 30, 2009

HopeChange! NewSpeak Edition

Update on Recovery Act Lobbying Rules: New Limits on Special Interest Influence
...we will expand the restriction on oral communications to cover all persons, not just federally registered lobbyists. For the first time, we will reach contacts not only by registered lobbyists but also by unregistered ones, as well as anyone else exerting influence on the process. We concluded this was necessary under the unique circumstances of the stimulus program.

Translation: Even as a completely private citizen, you are now barred from communicating with ANY government offical about ARRA stimulus policy and funding and projects unless you do so in writing, on government forms. In triplicate, no doubt. Orally petitioning the government or expressing one’s views through speech under the First Amendment is now a no-no in this context. All in the interests of "transparency," of course!

Hope! Change! HopeChange™!

May 29, 2009

HopeChange! PollThug Edition

Career lawyers overruled on voting case
Black Panthers had wielded weapons, blocked polls

Justice Department political appointees overruled career lawyers and ended a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense of wielding a nightstick and intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place last Election Day, according to documents and interviews.

...Career lawyers pursued the case for months, including obtaining an affidavit from a prominent 1960s civil rights activist who witnessed the confrontation and described it as "the most blatant form of voter intimidation" that he had seen, even during the voting rights crisis in Mississippi a half-century ago.

...The career Justice lawyers were on the verge of securing sanctions against the men earlier this month when their superiors ordered them to reverse course, according to interviews and documents. The court had already entered a default judgment against the men on April 20.

IOW, the case was in the bag when political appointees of the Obama admin interfered.



Hope! Change! HopeChange™!

May 27, 2009

Color Me Unsurprised

Did anti-Obama campaign contributions dictate which Chrysler dealers were shuttered?
To quickly review the situation, I took all dealer owners whose names appeared more than once in the list. And, of those who contributed to political campaigns, every single one had donated almost exclusively to GOP candidates. While this isn't an exhaustive review, it does have some ominous implications if it can be verified.

...all were opponents of Barack Obama, most through sponsorship of GOP candidates and organizations, but a handful through Barack's Democrat rivals (Hillary Clinton and John Edwards in 2008, for example).

Yet major Democrat donors with Chrysler dealerships went untouched, and indeed have had competition eliminated.

Hope! Change! HopeChange™!

MORE: "Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., a businessman who has owned car dealerships since 1992, learned Thursday that his Venice, Fla., Dodge dealership was among those scheduled to be terminated....Buchanan's dealership is the first listed on the court document specifying the dealerships scheduled for closure."

Just a coincidence, I'm sure. It's not like anyone in the admin would put an opposition Congressman at the top of their "crush and destroy" list. Right?

Curiouser and curiouser: White House "car czar" Steven Rattner is married to Maureen White, the former national finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The criteria for deciding which dealerships would be closed have still not been released.

May 22, 2009

HopeChange Express!

Do You Want Your OTV?
Read the TV pool report: "Your Pool was not allowed to go over and shoot POTUS with the team shooting hoops. We protested loudly."

Now we know why: Obama White House officials decided to do their own media report on the visit, complete with cuts, interviews, and chyrons identifying who's speaking.

Also, just like a network, they have their own little logo!

NOT reported on OTV...
Sobbing Kindergarteners Snubbed for Steelers?
Kids locked out of White House; officials say they were too late

Thursday was supposed to be the highlight of the year for more than 100 kindergarteners from Stafford County, Va. They got up early and took a chartered bus to the White House for a school field trip. But when they arrived, all the 5-year-olds got was a lesson in disappointment. The buses from Conway Elementary arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue a little later than planned, and they were locked out.

Sounds like time for some new PR people.

May 21, 2009

Best Car Review EVER

Honda Insight 1.3 IMA SE Hybrid
Much has been written about the Insight, Honda’s new low-priced hybrid. We’ve been told how much carbon dioxide it produces, how its dashboard encourages frugal driving by glowing green when you’re easy on the throttle and how it is the dawn of all things. The beginning of days.

So far, though, you have not been told what it’s like as a car; as a tool for moving you, your friends and your things from place to place.

So here goes. It’s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It’s the first car I’ve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn’t have to drive it any more.

Smug Factor, 92. Overall rating, -147.

Read the whole thing. If you do so while drinking liquids, I am not responsible for your monitor and keyboard.

The Most Transparent Administration In History!

Tracking Stimulus Spending May Not Be as Easy as Promised
Shortly after the economic stimulus bill was signed, Vice President Biden was talking up the administration's Web site to track the spending, Recovery.gov, when he accidentally directed people to Recovery.org.

As slip-ups go, this one had an upside: Unlike the government site, the privately run Recovery.org is actually providing detailed information about how the $787 billion in stimulus money is being spent.

...three months after the bill was signed, Recovery.gov offers little beyond news releases, general breakdowns of spending, and acronym-laden spreadsheets and timelines. And congressional Democrats, state officials and advocates of open government worry that the White House cannot come close to clearing the high bar it set.

What is immediately notable to me is that the ORG site is listing specific projects, where the GOV site is listing only general categories of grants allocation. This is an obvious artifact of the whole grants process. The idea that an existing program can take a big chunk of unexpected money and report exactly what (previously unforseen/unfunded) projects or specific expenditures can be and are applied for, evaluated, obligated and made inside of a few months is naive at best. The sub-grant process, even one as rushed as this one, still takes time, and often requires that those sub-grant projects move upward through a labyrinth of local, state, and federal approvals before any actual contracts can be issued or funds obligated.

It seems to me that ORG and GOV are nibbling at opposite ends of the same beast. ORG is identifying contracts as issued, and thus is listing mostly "shovel-ready" spending that was already on the books and authorized without funding, and thus capable of VERY quick movement (for government) whereas GOV is listing the area allocations, many of which may take additional weeks or months to trickle up into reporting on specific sub-grant projects and allocations.

From personal knowledge I can add that there are ARRA grants fundings out there that are not (yet) listed on either site. That hardly inspires confidence--these are dedicated general program allocations that are part of ARRA that SHOULD appear on the GOV site, at least. It's not as if they vanished from the published bill, and one would think the government capable of reading the bill. Well, now that it's been passed, anyway.

May 20, 2009

A Few Notes

Megan McArdle speaks wisdom

Is California Too Big to Fail?
California will go bankrupt, muni and state debt will spike, the federal government will backstop humanitarian programs and very possibly all state and local debt, and eventually, California will figure out whether it wants higher taxes or lower spending. But we will not actually make the world a better place by enabling the lunatics in Sacramento to pretend they can have both.

Amen.

Keith Hennessey digs through the massive existing literature on the effects of the CAFE standard proposals so that you don't have to. He finds a notable lack of the rainbow unicorn farts and pixie dust that have typified admin rhetoric.

Understanding the President’s CAFE announcement

What's especially notable is that using the government's own research, the previous Bush proposal maximized net social benefits (whatever you think of the claimed benefits or the calculation thereof, the Bush admin DID maximize return against costs) whereas the Obama revisions push past the max social benefit peak and into zero-or-negative net-benefit territory, even perhaps into reduced benefit versus no CAFE increase at all.

In other words, societal net benefit is pushed aside as the proper metric in favor of special interest group empowerment. Which, as always, means we will be paying for a lot more than we get, while the favored are rewarded.

Let's also not forget that part of the price tag of smaller vehicles is paid in increased traffic fatalities and injuries. The first round of CAFE standards over a third of a century ago has cost roughly 3,000 American lives PER YEAR since it was implemented. For every 100 pounds of reduced fleet size resulting from the new plans we can expect an increase of roughly 250-300 additional traffic deaths, with that number increasing with each additional 100 pounds of fleet size reduction--there will be an increasing "rate of return" in additional fatalities as minimum possible size is approached.

The laws of physics are not subject to revision by Congress or the White House.

May 15, 2009

The New ODS

No, not Obama Derangement Syndrome, though that too is in bloom. I'm referring to Obama Delusional Syndrome, a condition in which the Obama-worshiper is completely unable to see the absurdity of their own claims that Obama is (fill in the blank), despite copious contrary evidence.

Witness, Brit journalist Martin Wolf's latest column in the Financial Times, entitled "Obama’s conservatism may not prove good enough." (Link requires free registration)

I'll skip getting into detail, and just point the interested at Professor Bainbridge's cogent snap rebuttal.

But either Wolf is sincere, in which case he's suffering from Obama Delusional Syndrome, or he's knowingly reclassifying the nanny-state Euro-socialist authoritarian impulse as conservatism. Call that latter Obama Orwellian Syndrome, or OOS. Pronounced "ooze." Or Liberal Orwellian Syndrome, LOS. (Yep, Ooze or Lose...)

It would take more examples to say that this is the same impulse as the Left's claiming that Bush was a far-right-wing uber-conservative, when he demonstrably wasn't. Or maybe "conservative" now means "not as completely left-radical as can potentially be imagined."

May 14, 2009

Wait, There's A Price Tag?

IBD/TIPP Poll: Cap-And-Trade A No-Go Once Costs Are Factored In
By nearly 3-to-1, Americans oppose a cap-and-trade system that, if opponents are correct, could add $800 to $1,200 per household to energy prices.



I would add that $800 to $1200 is a VERY modest estimate. Naturally, self-declared liberals are the only group actually in favor once cost is factored in. Even Democrats as a group are 4 to 3 against.

David Frum has more on the Cap & Trade Racket.
Tens of billions of dollars, possibly hundreds of billions, will be shifted from American consumers of electricity to shareholders of favored utility companies in primarily blue states. Under the leadership of uber-liberal Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Democrats are determined to make their plan so complicated that taxpayers will not notice the flocks of dollars migrating from the middle of the country to the coasts.

Read the whole thing. And consider the geographical concentration of liberalism....

May 13, 2009

Pigs Fly....

...and Hell has frozen over. Associated Press is fact-checking Teh ObaMessiah Administration.

FACT CHECK: Data belie Biden stimulus anecdotes
Many of the claims the White House is making are based on anecdotes selected to fit the Obama administration's message. For instance, the report cites a newspaper article about workers being rehired at a factory in Chicago. That account is true, but is no more an accurate snapshot of the nation's economy than a story, not cited in the report, about a Roanoke, Va., railcar factory closing.

Capturing the full effect of the stimulus at this early stage is difficult, but the administration has set high bars for success. In championing those successes, however, the White House plays a little loose with the facts.

They keep this up and they might improve from Flying Pig to Stopped Clock.

May 06, 2009

Sweet F***in' Irony

Eco-sailors rescued by oil tanker
The team, which left Mount Batten Marina in Plymouth on 19 April in a boat named the Fleur, aimed to rely on sail, solar and man power on a 580-mile (933km/h) journey to and from the highest point of the Greenland ice cap.

...But atrocious weather dogged their journey after 27 April, culminating with the rescue on 1 May after the boat was temporarily capsized three times by the wind.

In one incident Mr Stoddart hit his head and the wind generator and solar panels were ripped from the yacht.

I especially enjoy the "933km/h" thing. I wonder how fast they could do the Kessel run?

ObamaNation

As Glenn Reynolds says, they told me if I voted for John McCain that there would be federal agents "Gitmoing" ordinary Americans on the flimsiest charges of "terrorism." And they were right!



The Lundeby home was stormed by federal agents, 16-year-old Ashton Lundeby was handcuffed and arrested on charges of making "numerous terroristic threats," moved hundreds of miles away from his family to a juvenile detention facility in another state, and has been held in tight federal custody ever since with his parents allowed very little access. His court date keeps being shoved back, and the case is under a federal gag order. Lundeby has an apparently air-tight alibi for the only known "crime time" in question, and no prior record of anything but being a normal and well-behaved home-schooled 10th-grader.

While we sure don't have all the facts yet (and under the federal gag order, little chance of getting them) at this point the kindest interpretation of what is known is that a 16-year-old is being held incommunicado in federal high-security custody for one of two things: either for making prank phone calls, or for having had his IP used OR FAKED by others to route prank phone calls. The latter looks about 100 times more likely than the former at this point.

I'd advise the Lundebys to get their Congresscritter on the ball, but it appears he's too busy telling the American people that when it comes to questionable government practices and Congressional oversight of same, we can forget it. We're on our own.

Magic Beans!

The New York Daily News has the story, and Scrivener has some choice insights.

...it is nice to know that as President Obama leads our nation into by far its biggest spending-over-income deficits in peacetime history, he has ample experience in dealing with such situations in his personal life and a solution that's worked for him before: magic beans.

Hey, I want some magic beans too! Oh, wait, I've lived within my means, so I'm not entitled...

May 04, 2009

Media Bias, Demonstrated



Kinda says all you need to know, doesn't it? One gets the impression they'd be happy to bow and scrape as well.

May 01, 2009

Pot, Kettle

You're going to be hearing about Republican "obstructionism" in Congress quite a bit in the coming months, so here's a small May Day reminder.

Appeals Court cancels 300 NLRB decisions
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington said Friday that all the decisions handed down in 2008 by the National Labor Relations Board are invalid because they were made by just two members.

The board had three vacancies because Democrats who controlled Congress objected to President George W. Bush's labor policies and refused to confirm his nominees.

They did the same thing with the FEC, ensuring it could not act at all during last year's elections. I guess it's only really "obstructionism" when the minority does it, eh?

April 26, 2009

Econ 202: Individual Behavior

ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER:
The last thing this country needs is a pirate raid on the wealth creators who still dare navigate our stormy waters

The opinion polls have uttered. The country loves the new 50 per cent top rate of income tax. Soak the rich. Smash the bankers.

...He says that he is young enough to set up shop somewhere else. The new tax rates were the final straw. These talented young people know they will make it impossible for them to educate their kids privately in the UK.

So Britain plc loses not just the 40 per cent he would have paid in personal taxes under the old regime - plus NI and everything else - but... Come on, I don't need to explain the knock-on effect. It's obviously huge and immensely damaging...

Read the whole thing and remember, capital flight includes human capital. We compete world-wide as a nation not just for financial capital and industrial production but also for top talent--in ALL fields.

Even Andrew Effing Lloyd Webber gets it.

UPDATE: Michael Caine provides an example.

April 24, 2009

Democrat Science = Gag Dissent

Democrats Refuse to Allow Skeptic to Testify Alongside Gore At Congressional Hearing
UK's Lord Christopher Monckton, a former science advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, claimed House Democrats have refused to allow him to appear alongside former Vice President Al Gore at a high profile global warming hearing on Friday April 24, 2009 at 10am in Washington. Monckton told Climate Depot that the Democrats rescinded his scheduled joint appearance at the House Energy and Commerce hearing on Friday. Monckton said he was informed that he would not be allowed to testify alongside Gore when his plane landed from England Thursday afternoon.

... GOP House source told Climate Depot that the Democrats on the Committee said “absolutely not” to allowing Monckton to appear during today's Gore hearing. The GOP committee “pushed at multiple levels” to bring Monckton in to testify but the Democrats “refused,” according to the GOP source. Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich was called in to testify after Monckton was rejected by the committee Democrats, according to the Congressional source.

Gore has repeatedly dodged debating Monckton despite several highly-publicized challenges, and he's not about to start. Gingrich is allowable because he lacks Monckton's credentials and can be easily demonized.

New Whig

The Modern Whig Party
WHO ARE MODERN WHIGS?
Established in 1833, the Whigs are one of America's oldest mainstream political parties. We were the original party of Abraham Lincoln and four other U.S. Presidents.

Revived by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the grassroots movement has quickly attracted tens of thousands of members. We represent moderate voters from all walks of life who cherry-pick between traditional Democratic and Republican ideals in what has been called the Modern Whig Philosophy.

This includes general principles of fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and bold social progression.

Damned if I'm not feeling rather Whiggish nowadays.

April 22, 2009

Doh! And Duh!

SCARED CEO’S HAMPER ECONOMIC RECOVERY
The yield curve predicts growth. Check. Consumer sentiment is ticking up. Check. But CEO confidence is lousy, and CEOs are (not) spending accordingly. Whoops. This begs the question: Why are CEOs in such a low mood?

Answer: If you are a CEO in financial services, manufacturing, energy production and health care, you are going to be more regulated. Period, end of story. Your response to forthcoming regulation of yet-to-be-determined complexity will be to hunker down. Keep your name out of the news, improve the balance sheet and hold tight.

This is why the U.S. economy, which wants to turn the corner, is still stuck in the intersection as it decides which way to go.

In her book The Forgotten Man, Amity Shlaes (now a Forbes columnist) wrote that the 1937-38 “depression within a depression” occurred when “capital went on strike.” President Roosevelt’s willingness to “try anything”–including retroactive taxation, laws against discount pricing and an attempted Supreme Court packing–had businesses and their backers so confused about Roosevelt’s rules that they simply withdrew.

This is the risk of Obama’s willingness to “do what it takes.” The words sound positive and action-oriented. But in practice, “do what it takes” really means “anything can happen.” Tearing up of legal contracts … that can happen. Limits to salary and travel … that can happen. Bullying by the Environmental Protection Agency … that can happen. Nationalization of General Motors and Citigroup … that can happen. Nobody knows for sure. Government is sorting it out, day by day.

Shorter version: The economy is recovering despite Washington, but that recovery is still greatly impeded by a deep distrust of the current Congress and admininstration.

HopeChange®!

April 21, 2009

Brave New World

A Rahm Bomb for Jane Harman?

So the inside-the-Beltway question is: Who, high up in the administration, authorized the leak of a super-secret NSA wiretap against a sitting member of Congress, Rep. Jane Harman (who also happens to be the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee) And how do the anonymous sources know they will not be prosecuted?

Does the fact that Jane Harman agreed with the Bush Administration in significant ways come into this?

I'll bet it does.

Hope! Change!

April 17, 2009

Shut Up, She Explained

Janeane Garofalo demonstrates Klavan's point in action....

Liberal actress says tea parties were racist
"Let's be very honest about what this is about. This is not about bashing Democrats. It's not about taxes. They have no idea what the Boston Tea party was about. They don't know their history at all. It's about hating a black man in the White House," she said on MSNBC's "The Countdown" with Keith Olbermann Thursday evening. "This is racism straight up and is nothing but a bunch of teabagging rednecks. There is no way around that."

Olbermann did not once try to challenge her on those assertions.

Don't take my word for it, go watch it for yourself. The YouTubery is HERE.

Pretty much any time someone diverts a discussion by tossing in ad hominem responses to substantive argument, they're saying "Shut up!" Meaning they have no counter-argument at hand worth advancing.

If you point out that the legal decisions favoring same-sex marriage are for the most part blatant judicial activism, you're a homophobe. Even if you're in favor of consenting adults making whatever family arrangements they wish, and cheered Vermont for (partially*) reaching that conclusion through the democratic process rather than having it forced on them by an activist court.

Disagree with the President on any small bit of that dogma, and you're automatically a racist, simply because the President has extra melanin.

And oddly enough, agree with the Tea party protestors that doubling our national debt essentially overnight to throw hundreds of billions of dollars at Dem party wish-lists is probably not a good idea, and you're magically that worst of all things...a racist Republican. (Never mind which party you're registered with--or even if you're registered with any.)

I'm guessing the only reason Garofalo left out "homophobe" was that it's kind of hard to call someone a homophobe while also sneering at them as being "teabaggers," regardless of the veracity or relevance of the labelling. Besides, they'd kind of like to distract folks from the rather blatant un-PC other-hating involved in the sexually-loaded adolescent sneers.

Gay Patriot has some additional thoughts on the general subject.

(*--Those in "poly" families feel left out...)

April 13, 2009

Shut Up, They Explained

Andrew Klavan pretty well nails it.



Pretty much any time someone diverts a discussion by tossing in ad hominem responses to substantive argument, they're saying "Shut up!" Meaning they have no counter-argument at hand worth advancing.

April 12, 2009

Navy, Jack!



Pedicaris alive or Ruisali dead...or both. No other acceptable option. Luck comes to those who prepare for it.

I still think there's a yardarm shortage.

UPDATE: Official: US sea captain freed in swift firefight
The negotiations between the elders and American officials have broken down. The reason is American officials wanted to arrest the pirates in Puntland and elders refused the arrest of the pirates," said the commissioner, Abdi Aziz Aw Yusuf. He said he organized initial contacts between the elders and the Americans.

There was in my humble American opinion no negotiation to be made aside from this: "There will be no ransoms paid. Release Captain Phillips alive, and you can live to face trial. Fail to do so and you will die. Those are your only options."

I hope they got a good GPS fix on the pirate's "clan elders." They should be next.

April 07, 2009

Advance to the Rear!

Reality hits Obama Express
President Barack Obama, after a lightning-quick start for his agenda on Capitol Hill, is bracing for a much slower pace and big changes in his proposals as early urgency and excitement give way to the more languid rhythms that are the norm for Congress.

...The officials said none of this is catching them by surprise: Obama knew Congress has limited bandwidth, and he simply wanted to get the wheels of government turning on every big issue this year. A big part of their communication strategy will now focus on highlighting incremental progress on the Obama agenda, to show people Washington is working again.

The White House’s handicapping for three centerpiece proposals: Financial-services reform has “a very good chance.” Health care “has a lot of momentum behind it.” And energy “got off to a great start” with the introduction last week of a model bill by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).

Translation: It's time to dial back expectations and put a happy face on the admin's inability to sweep away all opposition with a blinding wave of magical unicorn rainbow-farts.

April 06, 2009

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

Administration defends Bush wire-taps
The Obama administration is again invoking government secrecy in defending the Bush administration's wiretapping program, this time against a lawsuit by AT&T customers who claim federal agents illegally intercepted their phone calls and gained access to their records.

The silence of the lambs left is deafening.

No, wait, now I hear some bleating!

Patterico has more nifty coverage.

April 04, 2009

Sounds Familiar...

...but only because I've said much the same thing for years.

A Three-Way Fix For Health Reform That Saves Money
Before President Barack Obama and Congress overhaul the U.S. health care system at great expense - and, as things look now, without a cost-control mechanism - they ought to consider an alternative conceptual framework.

It comes from Tom Cigarran, founder of Healthways Inc., the nation's largest disease-management company, who says that - despite politicians' denials - some sort of health care rationing is inevitable and needs to be done rationally and fairly.

Worth your time, though light on critical analysis. But the key points about rationing are there.

April 03, 2009

Monica? Is That You?

White House Corrects Conference Call Number After Directing Reporters to Sex Line
Journalists seeking to talk a little foreign policy with high-profile Obama administration officials live from the G20 meetings in London this week were solicited for phone sex instead after ringing up the toll-free number given by the White House.

Wonder how the wrong number got in there...maybe someone was writing personal notes in the margins of briefing papers or something?
In a press release, the White House accidentally listed a sex line number for journalists seeking an "on-the-record briefing call with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Jim Jones to discuss the NATO summit."

Ah, so that's it! Hillary's been leaving things lying around the house again! We knew there was probably a Clinton involved.

April 01, 2009

Nutshell VI

Schedule leaves Obama a media no-show
Unlike President Bush's White House communications team, which usually timed press conferences abroad to coincide with the U.S. morning programs, the Obama operation kicked off the president's first day in Britain while most Americans were still asleep. What's more, the president banned most reporters from nearly every event he held on a day busy with bilateral talks with foreign leaders, and even held cameras at bay for his visit to Buckingham Palace to meet the queen.

Just gotta love that that most transparent White House in history, eh? Even the NYT is starting to notice...

March 30, 2009

My America

In Fargo, goodwill runs as deep as the Red River
One family offered their home to anyone left homeless by flooding, even sharing their security entry code. When another couple lost their house, total strangers showed up at their hotel with chicken dinners, brownies and quilts. In the neighborly spirit synonymous with North Dakota, some people have given out their phone numbers on radio talk shows, offering shelter to any listeners in need. The generosity is so common that even as thousands of people are driven out of their homes by the overflowing Red River, most storm shelters are virtually empty.

That's my America, the one I grew up in, and the one I live in, and the one I work to preserve. Do your part.

Nutshell V

'New York Times' Spiked Obama Donor Story:
Congressional Testimony: ‘Game-Changer’ Article Would Have Connected Campaign With ACORN

A lawyer involved with legal action against Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) told a House Judiciary subcommittee on March 19 The New York Times had killed a story in October that would have shown a close link between ACORN, Project Vote and the Obama campaign because it would have been a “a game changer.”

Hey, and it took less than two weeks for someone to notice! Ah, media-driven tranparency!

Cannibal Watch

Democrats vs. Democrats
As Boehner accused Blue Dog Democrats of being “lap dogs” for Obama, MoveOn.org and Americans United for Change, the labor-backed organization that serves as the White House’s chief third-party operation, began airing ads Wednesday urging moderate Democrats in both the House and the Senate to get on board with the president’s budget.

Among the targets of Americans United for Change is Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), who declared the ads “not very helpful.”

“The liberal groups need to understand that we are not elected to represent the president,” Pryor said. “We’re elected to represent our states, and we are trying to reflect the attitudes and values of the people who sent us to Washington.”

You can always spot a winger--they insist on trying to eat their own.

Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others

DHS Signals Policy Changes Ahead for Immigration Raids
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has delayed a series of proposed immigration raids and other enforcement actions at U.S. workplaces in recent weeks, asking agents in her department to apply more scrutiny to the selection and investigation of targets as well as the timing of raids, federal officials said.

A senior department official said the delays signal a pending change in whom agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement choose to prosecute -- increasing the focus on businesses and executives instead of ordinary workers.

"ICE is now scrutinizing these cases more thoroughly to ensure that [targets] are being taken down when they should be taken down, and that the employer is being targeted and the surveillance and the investigation is being done how it should be done," said the official, discussing Napolitano's views about sensitive law enforcement matters on the condition of anonymity.

Being rather familiar with bureaucratic double-speak, my mind immediately interprets this "change of policy" and "increasing the focus" as "We can nail almost anyone if we want to, and we're going to target those who make our enemies list. So play ball, or else."

Maybe that's just sheer cynicism talking. But similar things have been known to happen.

For a somewhat different take on Napolitano and the Obama admin's new "focus" on illegal immigration, see here.

March 28, 2009

Nutshell IV

Obama Town Hall Questioners Were Campaign Backers
But while the online question portion of the White House town hall was open to any member of the public with an Internet connection, the five fully identified questioners called on randomly* by the president in the East Room were anything but a diverse lot. They included: a member of the pro-Obama Service Employees International Union, a member of the Democratic National Committee who campaigned for Obama among Hispanics during the primary; a former Democratic candidate for Virginia state delegate who endorsed Obama last fall in an op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star; and a Virginia businessman who was a donor to Obama's campaign in 2008.

HopeChange®!

[*--emphasis mine. If this were truly a "random" selection, the results indicate a pre-stacked crowd, any one of whom could be safely called on. If they were not random selections, well, that also speaks to the Potemkinist nature of "Town Hall" meetings at the most transparent White House in history, doesn't it?]

Someone Else's Nutshell

Obama's Press Conference in a Nutshell
Capitalism is a systemic virus that we cannot hope to kill, and as distasteful as that thought is to my Administration, it is something that we can hope to control if you give us unprecedented power.

We need to institute cap-and-trade so that we move from real, but pollution-causing energy sources to environmentally-friendly solutions that presently, err, do not exist.

And sure, my budget will most likely bankrupt the United States if we're off even a little bit, but if we don't spend hundreds of billions to institute a bunch of vague, wide-ranging, and ideologically-driven policy prescriptions, then we might end up broke anyway because of impossible—hey look, a bunny!

Pretty much on target.

March 27, 2009

Nutshell III

Yep yep, the most transparent White House in history. How could I ever have doubted?

WH preserves secrecy option for tax panel
I think I have a better idea now why the White House was so sensitive about my story Monday questioning the legality and wisdom of secret meetings held by subcommittees of President Obama’s economic advisory panel.

It was because officials planned to announce within days that Obama intended to use just such a subcommittee to prepare his tax simplification and enforcement initiative. And it looks like they’re laying the groundwork to allow the new tax panel to do its work behind closed doors.

HopeChange®!

March 25, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

Nominee for EPA No. 2 spot withdraws
President Barack Obama's nominee to be the No. 2 official at the Environmental Protection Agency, Jon Cannon, withdrew Wednesday after it was disclosed that he was on the board of a nonprofit group faulted for mishandling federal grant money.

...A 2007 EPA inspector general's report on the foundation alleged a variety of irregularities involving $25 million in federal grants to assess water quality problems, including those at farms and pork processing facilities. The problems with accounting, improper cash advances and similar violations stretched from 1998 to 2005, according to the report. The foundation dissolved in 2006 and all directors resigned, the report said.

Just another step along the Great Chicago Way.

March 24, 2009

Nutshell II

Reines storm: Clinton conflict brews
The incident’s aftermath was one in a series that roiled the State Department press corps as it adjusts to a new administration whose tendencies – in this one area – are more restrictive than its predecessors. This may not be by accident: One government official said State and the White House have been discussing reducing the amount of information the State Department releases about the secretary’s words and meetings, which by long tradition is more expansive than what’s released by some other agencies.

Reporters who deal with the State Department wouldn’t voice their complaints on the record. Those who spoke on background said they had enjoyed what they saw as excellent access to Clinton during a previous trip to Asia.

But the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler let some of the dissatisfaction show on his blog during the trip to Europe and the Middle East.

He reported from Sharm el-Sheikh that Clinton was the first secretary of state in seven years not to brief reporters at the beginning of a trip. “We got off the plane, wordless. This was a big deal for the press corps.”

Once you pull the pin, Mr. Hand Grenade is no longer necessarily your friend.

March 20, 2009

The Obama Administration, In A Nutshell

Obama White House bars press from press award ceremony

Yep, "the most transparent presidential administration in American history" once again makes Bill Clinton look open and forthcoming.

March 18, 2009

Don't Misunderestimate Obama

Obama climate plan could cost $2 trillion
President Obama's climate plan could cost industry close to $2 trillion, nearly three times the White House's initial estimate of the so-called "cap-and-trade" legislation, according to Senate staffers who were briefed by the White House.

...At the meeting, Jason Furman, a top Obama staffer, estimated that the president's cap-and-trade program could cost up to three times as much as the administration's early estimate of $646 billion over eight years. A study of an earlier cap-and-trade bill co-sponsored by Mr. Obama when he was a senator estimated the cost could top $366 billion a year by 2015.

For the slow-of-economic-uptake, what the White House is saying is that their proposed economy-choking massive new taxes on energy, which would be paid directly and indirectly by every American, rich or poor , will likely be three times what they initially claimed.

But they promise they'll give a few of us some small part of our money back, if they think we're deserving of it.
A White House official did not confirm the large estimate, saying only that Obama aides previously had noted that the $646 billion estimate was "conservative."

"Any revenues in excess of the estimate would be rebated to vulnerable consumers, communities and businesses," the official said.

Of course, they get to decide who's "vulnerable" and thus worthy of receiving some small amount of federal assistance to ease tyhe pain of those killer taxes. The phrase CONFISCATORY SOCIALIST WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION, one I have carefully avoided using these last few months, does leap immediately to mind.

It's nice to see someone in the GOP show some spine in response:
"The last thing we need is a massive tax increase in a recession, but reportedly that's what the White House is offering: up to $1.9 trillion in tax hikes on every single American who drives a car, turns on a light switch or buys a product made in the United States," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John A. Boehner. "And since this energy tax won't affect manufacturers in Mexico, India and China, it will do nothing but drive American jobs overseas."

March 12, 2009

Econ 201: Corporate Behavior

Corporate oil booms in low-tax Switzerland

Over the past six months companies including offshore drilling contractors Noble Corp and Transocean, energy-focused engineering group Foster Wheeler and oilfield services company Weatherfield International have all announced plans to shift domicile to Switzerland.

"Switzerland has a stable and developed tax regime and a network of tax treaties with most countries where we operate," Transocean Chief Executive Bob Long said in a statement in October, when it announced its move. "As a result, the redomestication will improve our ability to maintain a competitive worldwide effective corporate tax rate."

Dear Mr. President,

This phenomenon is called "safe-haven capital flight" and is a perfectly predictable and utterly rational corporate response to increased taxes on capital. Please note that tax-exporting capital flight can and does occur not just on the imposition of new taxes, but on the future expectations of same.

I would beg to note that capital flight also involves human capital.

It's not too late to stop or reverse the trend. But it's getting there.

Sincerely,

A Recovering Economist