Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Liberal prophesies in review

Democrats are perpetually outraged at how some conservative policy will inevitably lead to disaster.  So, it is occasionally useful to review their predictions as Steven Hayward has done here regarding Reagan's decontrol of oil prices in 1981:
Liberals reacted with horror, predicting the price of gasoline—then about $1.40 a gallon—would soar. Sen. Don Riegle of Michigan said that “It will hurt our people within a matter of days.” Sen. Dale Bumpers of Arkansas predicted that “without rationing, gasoline will soon go to $3 a gallon.” Congressman (now Senator) Ed Markey said “I believe that decontrol as a cure will prove to be worse than the disease of oil addiction.” Sen. George Mitchell said “Every citizen and every family will find their living standards reduced by this decision.” What actually happened? Sure enough, oil prices started falling immediately, with gasoline drifting down to 89 cents a gallon by 1986. The liberal prophecies disappeared down a memory hole.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Obama thinks you're a fool

This is the latest email from  the Orwellian-named "truth team" at BarackObama.com:
Here's an Obamacare number that's hard to argue with:

1.2 million.

That's how many Americans have signed up for coverage so far since October, according to new data released this week.

This is exactly why people like us fought so hard for reform for so long -- to actually help people get better, more affordable care. These are results worth writing home, or at least on Facebook and Twitter, about.

Share this number far and wide today....

The anti-Obamacare crowd might have more money than our side does, but they don't have numbers like this. This is great news, and shows we're definitely moving in the right direction -- but we're not done yet. So while they keep running their messaging wars with deception and scare tactics, there's nothing better than fighting back with facts like this.

Share the news about these 1.2 million Americans with your friends and family on Facebook....
They don't mention that 5 million people have lost their health insurance (and millions more in the future) because of Obamacare.  Yet only, even if we unwisely accept their number at face value, 1.2M have "signed up."  That is a net loss, so far, of 3.8 million insurance policies.

Who buys "designer" brands?

According to a marketing consultant, it is the insecure who overpay for status:
“There is a direct correlation between lack of self-esteem and the brands you buy," says marketing consultant Martin Lindstrom. "The less self-esteem, the more brands you wrap yourself in.”
For more, see the full article on Bloomberg.com.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The education of Barack Obama

Peter Berkowitz, of the Hoover Institution, has written an excellent article which collected some of Obama's statements admitting that the world is different from what he expected:
  • On the failure of the Obamacare website: “What we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.” 

  • On the failure of his Palestine-Israel peace initiatives: “I think that we overestimated our ability to persuade them to do so when their politics ran contrary to that.” And: “I think it is absolutely true that what we did this year didn't produce the kind of breakthrough that we wanted, and if we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high.” 

  • On the failure of the budget-busting "shovel-ready" stimulus package: “shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.”
Columbia and Harvard owe America an apology for letting a man so uninformed graduate from their universities.

People who put their personal information on public social media have no idea that their personal information is public

Low-information voters that we often discuss are likely low-information about many other subjects as well.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Obama discovers that business is complicated and government is incompetent

Many have noticed the contrast between the technological mastery of Obama's presidential campaigns and Obamacare's IT disaster.  In yesterday's press conference (full transcript here), Pres. Obama explains some lessons learned:
[O]ur IT systems, how we purchase technology in the federal government is cumbersome, complicated and outdated. And so this isn’t a situation where — on my campaign, I could simply say, who are the best folks out there, let’s get them around a table, let’s figure out what we’re doing and we’re just going to continue to improve it and refine it and work on our goals.

If you’re doing it at the federal government level, you know, you’re going through, you know, 40 pages of specs and this and that and the other and there’s all kinds of law involved. And it makes it more difficult — it’s part of the reason why chronically federal IT programs are overbudget, behind schedule.
Obama discovers that the Federal government is a big non-functional bureaucracy bound up in red tape.  Surprise!  One might have thought that this is the kind of thing he should have considered putting 1/6th of the US economy under the control of a website to be built by the same Federal IT people who he now knows are "chronically" "overbudget" and "behind schedule."

Separate from IT, Obama discovered something about the health insurance:
What we’re discovering is that part of the problem has been technology, hardware and software, and that’s being upgraded. But even if we get the — the hardware and software working exactly the way it’s supposed to with relatively minor glitches, what we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy. And another mistake that we made, I think, was underestimating the difficulties of people purchasing insurance online and shopping for a lot of options with a lot of costs and lot of different benefits and plans and — and somehow expecting that that would be very smooth, and then they’ve also got to try to apply for tax credits on the website.
Obama has discovered that health insurance is complicated, maybe too complicated to fit into a website. Who would have thought so?  As a candidate, Obama promised to slow "the rise of the oceans" and to heal "the planet."  Five years later, he has discovered that a mere website to sell insurance is beyond his skills.

The politics of liberalism is founded on naivety and Obama excels at it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Romney's Uncanny Predictions

Romney may have been a mediocre candidate but he certainly had a better handle on what Obama was about than the legacy media:

Hat tip: Instapundit.

Friday, November 08, 2013

A liberal's inability to distinguish reality and fantasy

In the Abilene TX Reporter-News (hat tip: BoTW), Ann McFeatters writes about global warming.  Her otherwise predictable column ("science is right, the burning of fossil fuels ... already is causing extreme weather...") does have one interesting sentence:
We have seen enough science fiction movies to know how fragile our ecosystem is.
Apparently, when she writes that the global warming "science is right," she means the science fiction.

A similar confusion was demonstrated in this news article from the San Francisco Chronicle that ran soon after Arnold Schwarzenegger began his run for governor in 2003.  At the time, Schwarzenegger was an unknown so the newspaper attempted to determine the candidate's political views by quoting lines said by the fictional characters that he played in movies.

When talking about public policy, we conservatives may cite Locke or Hayek.  We should recognize that, to liberals, such sources are inconsequential compared to what they saw in the latest Hollywood movie.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Occupy Protester convicted of arson

On Friday, a Jury convicted Occupy Fort Collins activist Benjamin Gilmore of arson.  The Coloradoan reports:
Gilmore was an active member of the Occupy demonstration amid nationwide protests against social and economic inequality, and he spoke of the movement with media and at Fort Collins City Council meetings before his arrest. The fire was a block from the protest site.
According to prosecutors, the fire caused an estimated $10 million in damage and threatened 21 people’s lives,  Gilmore was also charged with attempted murder but the jury did not convict. (Hat tip: IOwnTheWorld.)

Separately in July, Occupy protester Aaron Greene pleaded guilty to explosives possession charges. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for his plan to bomb the Washington Arch.  He partner and ex-girlfriend, Morgan Gliedman,copped a plea and will not be serving jail time.

PREVIOUSLY on the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement:
Occupy Wall Street activist arrested with guns, explosives
OWS opposes "the mere existence of private property"
NYPD identifies suspect in Occupy Wall Street rape
Occupy Portland explains its rape policy
Photos from Occupy San Francisco: the "general strike" that wasn't
Occupiers trash San Francisco restaurant
OWS: liberally anti-Semitic
Occupy Portland mob smashes windows
Occupy movement demands banks provide free money
OccupyFail: Corporations as people
Occupy Oakland: the devolution

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Intentional Stupidity?

Over at Slate, Matthew Yglesias writes:
Ed Henry, White House correspondent for Fox News, must have thought he was being very clever today. Why not ask White House press secretary Jay Carney a simple question—if Obamacare's so great, would you sign up for it?

Except as far as "gotcha" questions from hostile reporters go, this one is an incredible softball. Of course a 48-year-old man with a wife and two kids is going to prefer to have an insurance plan than to leave himself and his whole family uncovered.
Of course, that wasn't what Henry was asking.  Henry wanted to know if Jay Carney had enough confidence in his boss's program to give up his gold-plated plan and subject himself and his family to a plan found at an Obamacare exchange.  Given that it is his job to defend Obama, Carney's response was smart: he ducked the question.

Did Yglesias truly not realize what Henry's question was really about?  Or, is Yglesias just being intentionally dumb in order to serve the liberal narrative?

Hat tip: Instapundit and  The Daily Caller.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

More Shutdown Theater: NIST website "closes"

If you go to the National Institute of Standards and Technology website (NIST.gov) today, you will see a "closed" notice:

Of course, the website isn't really "closed": in order to show you the page above, NIST still has to have an operational web server. It is just that they changed the server to show the above instead of the normal page. Like the closing of the WWII memorial, this is just shutdown theater.

MORE: If you need NIST documents, you can still get them: just go to the wayback machine instead of NIST. NIST's documents on computer security, for example, are found here.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Government has plan to reduce cancer

Forbes reports on the administration's new plan to reduce the diagnosis of cancer:
On July 29, 2013, a working group for the National Cancer Institute (the main government agency for cancer research) published a paper proposing that the term “cancer” be reserved for lesions with a reasonable likelihood of killing the patient if left untreated. Slower growing tumors would be called a different name such as “indolent lesions of epithelial origin” (IDLE). Their justification was that modern medical technology now allows doctors to detect small, slow-growing tumors that likely wouldn’t be fatal. Yet once patients are told they have a cancer, many become frightened and seek unnecessary further tests, chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery.
There is a valid policy issue here: one doesn't want to scare patients unnecessarily and cause them to pursue expensive and unneeded treatment.  On the other hand, when making such a decision, the government, as the largest payer of medical bills, has a clear conflict of interest.
Hat tip: Instapundit.

An up-close look at real American voters

Monday, September 30, 2013

It's a paradox: Supporters of Obamacare are confused

From the Newark, New Jersey, Star-Ledger:
From the lead paragraph:
More New Jerseyans approve of the Affordable Care Act than the rest of the nation, but they are less likely to understand how the law affects them, according to a poll released today by Monmouth University and the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute.
According to the reporters, New Jerseyans approve of Obamacare but they are "confused" and "less likely to understand it."  It is not "but." The correct word would be "because":    New Jerseyans are more likely to approve of Obamacare because they don't understand it.

If newspapers had editors and fact-checkers, they would catch mistakes like this.

Government shutdowns in perspective: there have been 17 of them since 1976

The Seattle Times has a headline now warning of the "dire consequences of federal shutdown." A Washington Times headline warns of "Danger to economy."  Such "danger," however, is not unusual.  There have been 17 shutdowns since 1976.  In other words, the US has been averaging about one shutdown every other year for 37 years.

Interestingly, four of the shutdowns happened when Democrats controlled all the White House, the Senate, and the House.  Three of these, all in 1977, were due to Democrats wrangling with each other over abortion.  The fourth, in 1978, was when Jimmy Carter insisted on eliminating an aircraft carrier.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Why is the President so ill-informed?

Pres. Obama's fact-challenged and hyper-partisan rhetoric is well-known.  We now know where he comes by it: the only paper he reads is the New York Times and he obsesses over its editorials.  The HuffingtonPost reports:
[T]he Obama White House has long seemed particularly interested in getting its point of view across in the Times, and the president has said he reads all the paper's columnists. In April, a former adviser said the Times is the only paper Obama reads.

In his book, [MSNBC.com editor Richard] Wolffe describes how after each negative Times editorial, "the president would summon his communications team to discuss the critical coverage." He also included a 2011 anecdote about the White House communications team wondering whether calling Rosenthal through the Times' directory would lead to an announcement over the paper's general PA system. (It wouldn’t.) [Emph. added]
Hat tip: Instapundit, Ed Driscoll, and Breitbart.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Netherlands declares the end of the "welfare state"

The AP reports:
AMSTERDAM — King Willem-Alexander delivered a message to the Dutch people from the government Tuesday in a nationally televised address: the welfare state of the 20th century is gone.

In its place a "participation society" is emerging, in which people must take responsibility for their own future and create their own social and financial safety nets, with less help from the national government. . . . .

"The shift to a 'participation society' is especially visible in social security and long-term care," the king said, reading out to lawmakers a speech written for him by Prime Minister Mark Rutte's government.

"The classic welfare state of the second half of the 20th century in these areas in particular brought forth arrangements that are unsustainable in their current form." [Emph. added]
Meanwhile, the American left, which is often obsesses over environmental "sustainability," is oblivious to the financial unsustainability if its signature welfare programs.  Obama, call your office.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Obamacare round-up

Citing Obamacare as the reason, the Cleveland Clinic will be laying off doctors.

Trader Joes says its workers will benefit by being denied company health care because that denial makes them eligible for large government subsidies at the Obamacare exchanges.

Democrat insiders are profiting after drafting ObamaCare.

Obamacare requirements are forcing California insurers to restrict patient's choice of doctors.

Wegman's, one of the nation's largest grocery chains, is dropping health care coverage for part-time workers because of Obamacare.

In response to Obamacare, SeaWorld is reducing hours for part-time employees.

Premiums rise: Independent National Journal analysis finds premiums higher under Obamacare as employers weigh dropping coverage.

Even the Obama administration can't follow the rules:  Unpublished Congressional Research Service Report: Obama Administration Has Missed Half Of Obamacare’s Legally Imposed Implementation Deadlines.  (hat tip: Instapundit)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What is more profitable: creating problems or solving them?

In the private sector, no one pays you to create a problem.   The public sector is different.  As an example, the New York Times quotes (hat tip: Instapundit) Prof. Carl Hart of Columbia University on the nature of government-sponsored research into illegal drug usage:
“Eighty to 90 percent of people are not negatively affected by drugs, but in the scientific literature nearly 100 percent of the reports are negative,” Dr. Hart said. “There’s a skewed focus on pathology. We scientists know that we get more money if we keep telling Congress that we’re solving this terrible problem. We’ve played a less than honorable role in the war on drugs.”[Emph. added]
"Green energy" and global warming research have a similar bias: the more "terrible" the problem is claimed to be, the more funding that will be allocated for it.

We could solve a lot of 'problems' if we simply reduced the funding for them.

International bureaucrats argue over global warming funding

Friday, September 13, 2013

Why Democrats are uncomfortable with actual democracy

When people are freed to vote, the vote often goes against the left:
Today, teachers in Kenosha, Wis., voted to decertify their union, the Kenosha Education Association, by a margin of nearly two to one. Only 37 percent of the teachers opted to retain the union in an election made possible by the labor reforms enacted under Gov. Scott Walker (R).
Hat tip: Instapundit and HotAir.

 PREVIOUSLY on Democrats being uncomfortable with democracy:
MSNBC host advocates vote fraud if needed for his side to win
Democrats want to stripe union workers of right to secret ballots
Libs distrust voters; want smoke-filled rooms or monarchs
Dems oppose democratic allies
Dartmouth eliminates alumni trustee elections

Monday, September 09, 2013

Flashback to 2007: Obama declares that Syria won't respond to "bluster"

In an interview with the New York Times in 2007, then Sen. Obama explains how he would solve problems with Syria using "aggressive personal diplomacy" rather than "bluster" about what he would "blow up" (via Sweetness and Light):
Q. The Bush administration has little influence on Iranian behavior in Iraq. How would you elicit cooperation from Iran and Syria that the Bush administration has failed to obtain? Would we offer assurances that we would not be engaged in a policy of regime change. What would you do?

A. I think you foreshadowed my answer. You’ve got the Bush administration expecting Crocker to make progress on the very narrow issue of helping Shia militias at the same time as you’ve got Dick Cheney giving a speech saying it is very likely that we may engage in military action in Iran and the United States Senate passing a resolution, suggesting that our force structure inside Iraq is dependent in someway on blunting Iranian influence. You can’t engage in diplomacy in isolation. There’s got to be a broader strategic context to it.

The Iranians and the Syrians are acting irresponsibly inside Iraq. They perceive that it is a way to leverage or impact or weaken us at a time when they’re worried about United States action in a broader context. I’ve already said, I would meet directly with Iranian leaders. I would meet directly with Syrian leaders. We would engage in a level of aggressive personal diplomacy in which a whole host of issues are on the table. We’re not looking at Iraq, just in isolation. Iran and Syria would start changing their behavior if they started seeing that they had some incentives to do so, but right now the only incentive that exists is our president suggesting that if you do what we tell you, we may not blow you up.

My belief about the regional powers in the Middle East is that they don’t respond well to that kind of bluster. They haven’t in the past, there’s no reason to think they will in the future. On the other hand, what we know, is that, for example, in the early days of our Afghanistan offensive, the Iranians we’re willing to cooperate when we had more open lines of dialogue and we were able to identify interests that were compatible with theirs.” [Emph. added]
Given the stunning contradiction between then and now, some people ask whether Obama believed what he was saying then or what he is saying now.  In my opinion, the answer is both: Obama believes whatever is convenient at the moment.  While he consistently has leftist instincts, that doesn't mean that he has thought through any consistent coherent philosophy against which he measures his thoughts.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Gangster Government and S&P's downgrade of US debt

S&P was the only credit agency to downgrade the US bond rating and now it appears to be reaping the consequences of its disrespect to Obama.  The New York Times reports:
Standard & Poor’s on Tuesday denounced a $5 billion fraud lawsuit by the United States government as retaliation for its 2011 decision to strip the country of its AAA credit rating. 

The McGraw Hill Financial unit of S.& P. was the only major credit rating agency to remove the United States’ top rating, and the only one the Justice Department sued over claims of misleading banks and credit unions about the credibility of its ratings before the 2008 financial crisis. 

In a filing on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., S.&P. said that the lawsuit was an effort to punish it for exercising its First Amendment rights and that the suit seeks “excessive fines” in violation of the Eighth Amendment. 

It said the government’s “impermissibly selective, punitive and meritless” lawsuit was brought “in retaliation for defendants’ exercise of their free-speech rights with respect to the creditworthiness of the United States of America.” [Emph. added]
PREVIOUSLY on the Obama and the rule of law:
Does "critical legal studies" explain Obama's gangster government?
Justice Scalia explains the rule of law
Obama administration overturns rule of law on immigration
Obama and immigration law
The end of the rule of law
Obama and the rule of law
The AP mis-understands the rule of law

"Smart diplomacy" and the arrogance of stupid people

From National Review's Morning Jolt:
Democrats Suddenly Realize What They Miscalculated About the World: Everything

As we await Congress’s decision on authorizing the use of U.S. military force in Syria, Democrats are suddenly realizing that their foreign-policy brain-trust completely misjudged the world.

Being nicer to countries like Russia will not make them nicer to you. The United Nations is not an effective tool for resolving crises. Some foreign leaders are beyond persuasion and diplomacy. There is no “international community” ready to work together to solve problems, and there probably never will be.

You can pin this on Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Susan Rice, but most of all, the buck stops with the president. Those of us who scoffed a bit at a state senator ascending to the presidency within four years on a wave of media hype and adoration are not quite so shocked by this current mess. We never bought into this notion that getting greater cooperation from our allies, and less hostility from our enemies, was just a matter of giving this crew the wheel and letting them practice, as Hillary Clinton arrogantly declared it, “smart power.” (These people can’t even label a foreign-policy approach without reminding us of how highly they think of themselves.) They looked out at the world at the end of the Bush years, and didn’t see tough decisions, unsolvable problems, unstable institutions, restless populations, technology enabling the impulse to destabilize existing institutions, evil men hungry for more power, and difficult trade-offs. No, our problems and challengers were just a matter of the previous hands running U.S. foreign policy not being smart enough.
One would have thought that life would teach stupid people not to be so arrogant.  Apparently, it doesn't.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

PREVIOUSLY on the Obama administration's foreign policy:
Egyptians blame Obama for their failing government
Insider: Obama's foreign policy subservient to domestic politics
Reset fail: Hillary Clinton discovers that Russia is trying to "re-Sovietise"Why has respect for America fallen in Egypt?
The Sgt. Schultz administration: Obama claims ignorance as his defense
What Obama wants you to believe about Benghazi
Is Obama using Carter's speechwriters?
"Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them," say Iranians
Obama gets an education
Krauthammer on a roll
Obama's go-it-alone foreign policy: Russian edition
Obama alienates Germany
Jimmy Carter's lasting influence, II
Obama's charm offensive not working
Obama snubs Brazil
Obama insults Britain
On Iran's nuclear program, Obama abandons cooperation with Europe
Obama antagonizes India
Jimmy Carter on N. Korea's nuclear bomb tests
Jimmy Carter's Lasting Influence

Hey, get your foot off the people's desk!

Britain gave the Resolute desk to America in 1880. Every president since Hayes—except Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford—has used it. Visitors to the White House, such as Pres. Obama, should show more respect.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood: the Left consistently gets things wrong

In early 2011, Ian Black, the Middle East Editor of the left-wing (UK) Guardian wrote on the Muslim Brotherhood:
Like other Islamist movements, its popularity is based on a reputation for not being corrupt and charity work in clinics, nurseries and after-school tutoring. Volunteers fill gaps left by a state that has seen illiteracy rise
and services fail as liberal economic reforms enriched businesses close to the regime. . . .

Nowadays it eschews violence and is attacked by al-Qaida for urging young Muslims to vote in elections instead of taking up jihad. [Emph. added]
 Now, in 2013, this group, which was supposed to focus on "charity" and to "eschew violence," has ripped Egypt apart with violence that has left 900 dead in just the last four days.

For his part, Pres. Obama is still siding with the Muslim Brotherhood.

RELATED: Back in 2002, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) praised Osama bin Laden's charity work in similar terms:
We've got to ask, why is this man [Bin Laden] so popular around the world... He's been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day-care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful.
As far as I know, no reporter ever asked her to explain why Islamist extremists, given their view of women's rights, would be "building day-care facilities."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Why public education is overrated

While skimming the book Deconstructing Reagan, I ran across this peculiar paragraph discussing Pres. Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative:
The president latched on to the concept of a space shield and made it one of his most intense personal causes. Nuclear war, he told friends, might be Armageddon, the biblically prophesied battle before Christ’s return. Perhaps SDI could prevent it. Just how a technological fix would prevent a rain of ruin ordained by God was unclear. But SDI promised a range of material as well as spiritual rewards.
The author, historian Michael Schaller, apparently misunderstood a simple analogy by taking it literally, and then compounds his error by pursuing it to absurdity.

Schaller, however, is not just a random nitwit.  He is  a Regent's Professor (the highest faculty rank) at the University of Arizona who has authored or contributed many books on Reagan and his times.  Yet, he behaves as if hatred-of-Reagan is a substitute for intelligent thought.

America spends a fortune on its public universities but, as Schaller illustrates, we are clearly not getting our money's worth.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Amateur Hour in the White House: Obama insults Putin

In his press conference today, Pres. Obama said Russian President Putin has "a slouch" and compared him to a  "bored kid in the back of the classroom."  PJ  Tatler reports:
When asked how much he can accomplish in Russia “reset” without a good relationship with Putin, Obama said, “I don’t have a bad personal relation with Putin.”

“When we have conversations, they’re candid. They’re blunt. Oftentimes, they’re constructive. I know the press likes to focus on body language, and he’s got that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid in the back of the classroom. But the truth is is that when we’re in conversations together, oftentimes it’s very productive,” the president said.  [Emph. added]
Such comments are likely not productive with any world leader but they are especially bad form when dealing with Russia.  Russians are a proud people and, as a one-time superpower, they are exceptionally sensitive to issues of status and respect.   Gratuitous personal insults, such as Obama's above, may cost America dearly.

IRS promotes official who leaked to the media confidential info on conservatives

Sharon Light. part of the Senior Technical Adviser team for the IRS' Director of Exempt Organizations, is leaving the IRS. Guess who is getting promoted to be Light's replacement:
Light will be replaced by Cindy Thomas, a 35-year IRS veteran who ran the Exempt Organizations office in Cincinnati throughout the 2-year period that conservative groups were targeted. “Cindy brings a strong background in EO Determinations and the history of the organization,” Corbin told employees. “And, since she is located in Cincinnati, she will provide a voice for the process and challenges faced in determinations work.” Thomas’s promotion will not be without controversy, given that, in November of last year, she signed off on the illegal release to the left-leaning ProPublica, of nine pending, confidential applications for tax exemption filed by conservative groups. One of those organizations, the Colorado-based Citizens Awareness Project, yesterday filed a federal lawsuit against the IRS over the release of its application. [Emph. added]

Monday, August 05, 2013

An offense to Islam: Woman arrested after video surfaces of her washing her dog's feet

Maznah Mohd Yusof
Muslim dog trainer Maznah Mohd Yusof was arrested in Malaysia after a Youtube video of her with her dogs went viral. According to Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, the arrest was because the “issue raised here could be very sensitive to a majority of our citizens..."   At issue is the section 298A of the Malaysian Penal Code.  The Malay Mail reports that:
Section 298A includes a variety offences, namely causing “disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will, or prejudicing, etc., the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion.”

If convicted under Section 298A, Maznah, better known as Chetz Yusof, can be sentenced to a jail term of not less than two years and not more than five years.
Her offense reportedly was that her video showed "a dog being washed that mimicked Muslim ablutions with Eid prayers and a Hari Raya song playing in the background." At issue is whether, under Islam, dogs are haram (forbidden) or merely salmak (wet):
After the video started making its rounds on the Internet, local news site Mynewshub.com quoted Chetz as saying that she made the video in 2010 to show that dogs are not “haram” (forbidden) as widely-believed, and that Muslims could keep canines as pets.

“Dogs are not ‘haram’; if they are wet, just ‘samak’,” she was quoted as saying.

“Samak” is the ritual cleansing performed by Muslims when they come into contact with items considered ritually unclean, of which wet dogs are considered to be by some followers of the faith.

Maznah had also told news site Free Malaysia Today in a 2011 interview that she follows the Shafie school of thought in Islam that does not deem dogs as “haram”, but merely requires believers to cleanse themselves after touching a wet dog.
If so, it is possible that the whole of the Shafie school would be guilty under Section 298A.

In the US, Democrats often want both freedom of speech and freedom from offense.   The two are, of course, contradictory and one suspects that liberals have no idea how many things there are that are sacred to them but offensive to Islam.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Cause of City of Stockton bankruptcy and who is responsible

Until Detroit knocked it out of the news, Stockton was the largest US city to file for bankruptcy. The Stockton Record reviews the results of audits of the city performed by both Stockton City Manager Bob Deis and State Controller John Chiang:
Both Deis and Chiang's auditors identify three factors that thrust Stockton into bankruptcy:

» Skyrocketing retiree health care costs.

» Labor contracts that were neither "transparent nor sustainable."

» Three multimillion-dollar bonds issued in 2007 and 2009, putting Stockton deeply in debt. Those include a $125 million pension obligation bond and another for $41 million to buy the 400 E. Main St. building, which was to become the new City Hall.
In other words, Stockton failed primarily because of out-of-control government employee salaries and benefits, a problem typical of leftwing governments.

Some on the interwebs have tried to blame this bankruptcy on Republicans.  They cite a Republican or two in government there and then reason that the inland valleys of California, where Stockton is located, are largely Republican and therefore Republicans control Stockton.  That is wrong.  Voter registration statistics for Stockton are available from the CA Secretary of State here  or here(PDF):  Democrats have a whopping voter registration advantage in Stockton of 63,670 to 36,240.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The strange alternate reality of Obama's followers

Several pundits today are noting the stunning gulf between what Pres. Obama and his team say and what they do.  Mickey Kaus, for one, writes on "Obama’s Five Disconnects."  Charles Krauthammer notes Obama's strange pretense that Obama has nothing to do with the dismal results of five years of his economic policies.  Victor Davis Hanson provides a powerful summary of the left's larger policy incoherence and the new-speak that covers it up.

Obama, for example, pretends to care about low-wage workers at the same time that he is fighting to flood the labor market with low-skill workers.  Obama pretends to oppose income inequality while using government largess to enrich his billionaire donors.  His crony-capitalist 'investments' in green energy are in collapse.  Yet, he continues to advocate more such investments, as if unreliable and expensive energy could ever be a path to prosperity.  Obama's foreign policy, from Libya to Egypt to Syria to Russia, is an historic disaster.

The left's deep denial is of course because they do not want to accept responsibility for the clear and obvious failures of their policies.  As the 2014 elections approach, one can expect the denial to only get deeper while the bitter denunciations of the left's opponents only get more bitter.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Creeping Fascism: what are you loyal to? the country or its leader?

Judge Aquilina
A turning point in German history occurred on August 2, 1932.  That was the first day that German soldiers were required to pledge loyalty not to their country but to Adolph Hitler personally.

Flash forward to July 19, 2013 when Judge Rosemarie Aquilina rejects Detroit's bankruptcy petition, statingIt’s also not honoring the president, who took [Detroit’s auto companies] out of bankruptcy.”  The judge added: “I know he’s watching."

It is one thing for judge to rule based on findings of fact or law.  It is quite another to invoke the "honor" of the president in a legal ruling.   While this is clearly not the same thing as the German loyalty oath, it is a small but frightening step away from the rule-of-law toward the rule-of-man.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Detroit offers important lessons but the left hides from them

From what I have seen, the left side of the web is largely avoiding the topic of Detroit's filing for bankruptcy.   An exception is ThinkProgress which has a post on it.  Does ThinkProgress mention that Detroit has been run by Democrats for many many decades?  No.  The only politician in the article whose party affiliation is mentioned is Gov. Rick Snyder (R).  Snyder appointed Kevyn Orr to serve as the Detroit’s emergency manager.  ThinkProgress then tries to blame Orr for many of the city's problems:
Under Orr, Detroit slashed public services. As of June the city had just one-third of its ambulances in service, and just 40 percent of its streetlights working.
ThinkProgress never mentioned that Orr is an African American and Democrat and was an Obama election worker.

More importantly, the lesson of Detroit is that free-spending and crony-capitalism policies of Democrats and their union-allies have dire consequences.

While Detroit will be rescued by Michigan, Pres. Obama is trying to take the US down the same path as Detroit.  When the time comes, who will rescue the US?  Through progressive policies, the Federal government has become a major supplier of retirement and medical insurance.   This might not be so bad if those in government were fiscally responsible but they aren't.

"Progressives" are not going to make "progress" until they accept that history has important lessons lessons to teach.

MORE: Compare and contrast:

Oct 13, 2012: We refused to throw in the towel and do nothing. We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt. We bet on American workers and American ingenuity, and three years later, that bet is paying off in a big way.”  -- President Obama in his weekly address.

July 19, 2013: Obama refused Detroit's bailout request.

While on the subject of compare and contrast, one of the cities below was run by Democrats:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Booker T. Washington on race hustlers

B. T. Washington
The media is filled with misinformed and outright false stories intended to inflame passions in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict.  As this goes on, an observation from Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) is quite timely:
"There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs. There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don't want the patient to get well." —Booker T. Washington
Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Barack Obama: they are all part of one long sad tradition.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wow! IRS admits “unauthorized access or disclosure of tax records of political donors or candidates”

The Washington Times reports:
The Treasury Department has admitted for the first time that confidential tax records of several political candidates and campaign donors were improperly scrutinized by government officials, but the Justice Department has declined to prosecute any of the cases.

Its investigators also are probing two allegations that the Internal Revenue Service “targeted for audit candidates for public office,” the Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, has privately told Sen. Chuck Grassley.

In a written response to a request by Mr. Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Mr. George said a review turned up four cases since 2006 in which unidentified government officials took part in “unauthorized access or disclosure of tax records of political donors or candidates,” including one case he described as “willful.” In four additional cases, Mr. George said, allegations of improper access of IRS records were not substantiated by the evidence.
Given what we already know about the IRS's political activism, the claim that only one case was "willful" seems improbable.

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What is the difference between the words "n*gga" and "n*gger"?

Rachel Jeantel
According to Rachel Jeantel, friend of Trayvon Martin, the two words are very different:
  1. "n*gga" refers to a male of any race. This is the version commonly used in rap songs. This usage started circa 2000.
  2. "n*gger" is a hateful epithet, not to be used in polite company.
Ms. Jeantel's definitions might not be definitive. According to the Urban Dictionary, Tupac defines the words somewhat differently:
  1. N*gger - a black man with a slavery chain around his neck.
  2. N*gga- a black man with a gold chain on his neck.
Davey D explains how, to his regret, the words have evolved:
[W]hen I was growing up I was being called 'Nigger' which is offensive.. but when some white or Asian kid comes rolling up to me today talking about 'What's up my Nigga'? I should embrace him because this kid is down with hip hop culture... Even sadder is you have some brothers who take this word and flip it so that it empowers them..So now nigga is a good thing... We've internalized so much negativity it's ridiculous..
Etymologically, both words seem to be derived from the Spanish word for the color black.

MORE: Here is Ms. Jeantel's full explanation:

Zimmerman verdict drives leftists nuts

At Salon, Edward Wyckoff Williams claims that the "Zimmerman affair" shows that "Our real problem is white rage."   He, for example, writes:
And when the criminal justice system —  in the hands, as it was, of two white defense attorneys, two white prosecutors and a mostly white jury presided over by a white judge — choose to disregard the life of an innocent black teenager, it can hardly be a surprising result. Trayvon Martin was profiled not just by Zimmerman on the night he was killed, but by the very people charged with adjudicating justice on behalf of his senseless death.
Williams gets his facts backwards:  the trial showed (1) no evidence at all that Zimmerman "profiled" Martin, but (2) there was evidence that Martin profiled Zimmerman ("creepy ass cracker").

Williams makes the dishonest claim that the criminal justice system "choose to disregard the life of an innocent black teenager."  Instead, what the criminal justice system did evaluate was Zimmerman's claim of self-defense.  Given Zimmerman's injuries and the testimony of the independent eye witness (Good), that claim is quite powerful.

Williams should be aware of all this.  Maybe he is blinded by "rage."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Zimmerman trial: the prosecution's closing argument explained

If you have read accounts (such as here or here or here) of the prosecution's closing arguments in the trial of George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin, you may have wondered what is going on.  The explanation is simple.  They are following traditional legal advice:
“When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on you side, pound the table.”
The prosecution has neither facts nor the law on their side.  So, they are merely pounding the table.  In a few days, we will know if that was enough.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Hard disk crash? PC stolen? Need data recovery?

Hat tip: Greg.

Obama's SmarterGov: theory vs. practice

The White House is rolling out a new initiative dubbed 'SmarterGov.'

This is the theory:

In practice,as the Washington Post just revealed, the Obamacare exchanges will be open to fraud because our "smart" government could not find any way to verify claims by applicants that they are eligible for subsidies.  Also, our "smart" government postponed the business penalty/tax that is supposed to hope fund these exchanges because they don't have reporting forms ready.

If the Obama administration was a play, would it be tragedy or comedy?

Sunday, July 07, 2013

California: the collapse continues

Business Week reports that California is losing businesses at a record rate:
There were 1.3 million businesses in California at the end of 2012, 5.2 percent fewer than in the previous year (that’s about 73,000 fewer). To put that in perspective, Massachusetts lost 5,200 businesses, the second-highest amount, and Kansas had 3.1 percent fewer businesses in 2012 than in 2011, the second-highest loss rate.
Breitbart notes that this might be because " California’s tax burden is the fourth highest in the nation, barely behind New York, New Jersey and Connecticut" Newly added to the tax burden is an increase in gasoline taxes.  At 71.9 cents per gallon, California has the highest gas tax in the nation.

California has set other records.  Forbes reports (Hat tip: PowerLine) that, among US states, California has :
  • Highest taxes (gasoline, sales and top bracket of income taxes)
  • Lowest bond rating
  • Highest poverty rate (at 23.5%, the home of 1/3 of those in poverty in U.S.)
  • Highest unemployment rate (tied with Mississippi and Nevada at 9.6%)
  • Highest energy costs
  • Worst state to do business (as judged by Chief Executive magazine 8 years running)
  • Most cities going bankrupt
  • Prison system so poorly run it has been taken over by a federal judge
Even Mexico has a lower unemployment rate than California.

How did California get this bad?  Both Houses of the legislature have been controlled by Democrats for all but two of the last 40 years.

California is like Detroit but with better weather.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Does the Obama administration meet Obama's own standards for democracy?

The Chicago Tribune reported (hat tip: David French and Instapundit) Monday on Pres. Obama's five criteria for his continued support of Egypt's (now-defunct) Morsi government (I added the numbering):
"But the way we make decisions about assistance to Egypt is based on 'are they in fact following the rule of law and democratic procedures?'," he said, speaking on the last stop of his three-nation tour of Africa.

"We don't make those decisions just by counting the number of heads in a protest march but we do make decisions based on whether or not a government is [1] listening to the opposition, [2] maintaining a free press, [3] maintaining freedom of assembly, [4] not using violence or intimidation, [5] conducting fair and free elections," he said.
Let's each of those five criteria in turn and apply them to Obama's America:

(1) "listening to the opposition"

Rather than "listening to the opposition," Obama talks about "hand-to-hand" combat and tells his allies to "bring a gun" and "punish our enemies."

(2) "maintaining a free press"

Obama is using the Justice department to conduct unprecedented levels of surveillance on reporters who publish stories on his failures.

(3) "maintaining freedom of assembly"

Obama signed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, an act whose vague language allows the government to restrict protests in the vicinity of government buildings or government officials.  Even on the left, such as at Slate and MoveOn, they don't like this one.

(4) "not using violence or intimidation"

Nothing says intimidation like an IRS audit.   Under Obama, the IRS has harassed and silenced opposition groups by the hundreds over two election cycles.

(5) "conducting fair and free elections"

Without voter ID, it is pretty clear that elections cannot be fair or honest, and the Obama administration has been a vigorous opponent of voter ID. Even UN poll watchers are baffled that the US doesn't require voter ID.

It may or may not be good foreign policy for Obama to apply these standards to Egypt.  But, it is time for the American people to hold this administration to the same standards here in the US.

Monday, July 01, 2013

A dispute on economics between Paul Krugman and Paul Krugman's textbook

Paul Krugman
From James Taranto, compare and contrast:
  • "Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect. . . . In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker's incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of 'Eurosclerosis,' the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries."--former Enron adviser Paul Krugman and Robin Wells (Mrs. Krugman), "Introduction to Macroeconomics," second edition, 2009
  • "In general, modern conservatives believe that our national character is being sapped by social programs that, in the memorable words of Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, 'turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.' More specifically, they believe that unemployment insurance encourages jobless workers to stay unemployed, rather than taking available jobs. . . . The move to slash unemployment benefits . . . is counterproductive as well as cruel; it will swell the ranks of the unemployed even as it makes their lives ever more miserable."--Krugman, New York Times, July 1, 2013
Paul Krugman, like Barack Obama, is proof that the Nobel Prize Committee occasionally makes mistakes.

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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Egyptians blame Obama for their failing government

There were huge protests in Egypt today against its failing government.   Some say these protests are the biggest political protests in human history.  The protesters remembered Obama's role in supporting the Muslim Brotherhood seizure of power from the Western-friendly Mubarak regime:

The Egyptians are surprised that Obama is supporting a Fascist government. After the recent IRS and NSA revelations, this fact should surprise no one.

Remember when they promised us "smart diplomacy"?

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