September 30, 2011
WHITE HOUSE WITHHOLDING “Fast and Furious” Documents.
WHITE HOUSE WITHHOLDING “Fast and Furious” Documents.
THE RETURN OF Catiline.
FAMILY SAVES lost, dying dad.
Some background on Aguilar’s prior behavior. But I’m okay with her approach, so long as we can call them “undocumented firearms” instead of “illegal guns.” You know?
KEVIN WILLIAMSON ON THE AL-AWLAKI KILLING: “A U.S. citizen has been assassinated, apparently by the U.S. government, which had earlier placed him on a hit list. Washington celebrates. I suspect we will regret this precedent.”
Yeah, it almost makes me wish I’d voted for a Democrat in 2008. . . .
CAREER ADVICE: I’m 22 and I Have No Idea What to Do.
THERE’S A SPINAL TAP JOKE IN HERE SOMEWHERE: Heavy Metal Stars Produce Earth-Like Planets.
LATE NIGHT COMICS suffer ratings slide. They quit doing their job when Obama was elected.
AT AMAZON, up to 50% off on Men’s Clothing.
THE KINDLE FIRE has ‘em excited over at Wired: Amazon’s Android Tablet May Be the Best and Kill the Rest. Well, I pre-ordered one the first day.
GOING POSTAL: Mail worker unions overload tea party group with more than 100 pounds of mail. Just be glad that they’re not just letting it pile up in the garage . . . .
JEFF CARTER: Not so hot on stock buybacks. I think he omits the tax advantages.
“THE SPOT I HAVE, I EARNED.” No, honey, you didn’t. And you know it, too. Which is why you are holding a sign, instead of studying.
AT AMAZON, it’s the computer outlet sale.
POLIWOOD: Herman Cain ‘Teas’ Off After Morgan Freeman Plays the Race Card. Particularly powerful is the juxtaposition of the race-neutral 2006 Morgan Freeman with the race-baiting 2011 Morgan Freeman. Is this hope and change? According to Lionel Chetwynd, Freeman can’t deal with the first black president as “a powerful guy who’s a comprehensive failure.”
A. BARTON HINKLE: What’s wrong with “extremism?”
Suppose that, in 1955, a Southern political candidate had declared segregation obscene, laws against ethnic intermarriage odious and the notion of racial supremacy grotesque. Suppose he organized bus boycotts and lunch-counter sit-ins and marches for civil rights. Suppose he promised to overturn Jim Crow as soon as he took office. If any candidate had done that, he would have been widely denounced as the “most extreme” you-know-what-lover ever.
He also would have been right.
Kind of like people today who say the jig is up for the post-New Deal era of bottomless spending, and actually mean it.
IT’S MORE ABOUT THE LYING: The OnStar Scandal Isn’t About Privacy.
FROM AN EVOLUTIONARY STANDPOINT, HE’S VERY FIT: “A lawyer who donated sperm to pay his way through college has learned that he has fathered an astonishing 70 children.”
BASS DEPLETED BY OVERFISHING in Southern California.
FROM STEPHEN GREEN: An Open Letter To A President Who Thinks We’ve “Gone A Little Soft.” “In 2008, we elected a man who promised us ‘a net spending cut,’ a guy who would go ‘line by line’ through the budget with steely eyes under his green eyeshade and trim Washington down to the bone. We elected — we thought we elected — a tough man to do a tough job. Who is soft, Mr. President, the electorate who went crazy for the tough guy, or the president who broke his promises while refusing to make a single tough decision about spending?” There was a lot of golf, though.
NATIONAL SPACE SOCIETY BLOG: The SpaceX Falcon Heavy Booster: Why Is It Important?
FROM TIM CAVANAUGH, A SOLYNDRA ROUNDUP: Steven Chu, Oh Where Are You? “As Chu spends time with his family, we may have a clue to why the FBI launched its investigation of Solyndra: an investigation into possible inaccurate financial statements. The DoE’s impeccably timed $737 million loan to the Solar Energy Project is also smelling worse by the day. It can’t be a good sign when one of the most prominent beneficiaries of the loan is former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California)’s brother-in-law, and that isn’t even the scandalous part.” So where’s Chu?
Right here: Chu takes responsibility for a loan deal that put more taxpayer money at risk in Solyndra. “Energy Secretary Steven Chu acknowledged Thursday making the final decision to allow a struggling solar company to continue receiving taxpayer money after it had technically defaulted on a $535 million federal loan guaranteed by his agency.”
GREEN CARS UNDERWHELM: Nissan Leaf nets middling 78-point Consumer Reports score, still beats Volt. Plus, range anxiety: “CR discovered that, under gentle driving conditions, the Leaf averaged 90 miles on a full charge. But in cold weather, CR’s testers report the range dropped to approximately 60 miles. It’s for this reason that CR refers to the Leaf as an urban runabout.”
IN THE MAIL: Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse.
EUROZONE UPDATE: NEIN, NEIN, NEIN, and the death of EU Fiscal Union. “Judging by the commentary, there has been a colossal misunderstanding around the world of what has just has happened in Germany. The significance of yesterday’s vote by the Bundestag to make the EU’s €440bn rescue fund (EFSF) more flexible is not that the outcome was a ‘Yes’. . . . The significance is entirely the opposite. The furious debate over the erosion of German fiscal sovereignty and democracy – as well as the escalating costs of the EU rescue machinery – has made it absolutely clear that the Bundestag will not prop up the ruins of monetary union for much longer. . . . Yet Europe and the world are so used to German self-abnegation for the EU Project – so used to the teleological destiny of ever-closer Union – that they cannot seem to grasp the fact. It reminds me of 1989 and the establishment failure to understand the Soviet game was up.”
FRANK J. FLEMING: How To Make Obama Like Us. “Obama was elected on the promise of hope and change; he was going to make everything better by fixing the economy, ending all wars, and making every rainbow a double rainbow. As smart and capable as we all knew he was, he should have succeeded beyond our wildest imaginations. But instead, we’re even worse off than before — I don’t remember the last time I even saw a single rainbow. The only explanation is that somehow we’ve angered Obama and caused him to turn against us. It’s just that I’m not sure how. . . . We just need to accept the fact that we’re a bad country, and that’s why Obama is not following through on the hope and change he promised. So now what we need to do is try to figure out how to become a better country so Obama will like us and decide that he doesn’t need to destroy us. So I’ve done my best to study Obama and figure out some ideas to make us a country he considers worth saving.”
NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Graphene nanoribbons grown inside carbon nanotubes develop electronic properties.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Weak income curbs consumer spending. “Incomes fell for the first time in nearly two years in August and consumers dug into their savings to keep spending, according to a government report that showed the impact of the weak jobs market.”
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Washington’s Quietest Disaster: Student loan defaults are growing, and the worst is still to come.
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION (CONT’D): More Pay for Play… Obama DOE Awarded $400 Million Loan Guarantee to Top Bundler’s Solar Investment Project.
LIVE FREE OR DIE: A new Afterburner from Bill Whittle.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): 90 percent of Americans say economy stinks.
NPR: New Boom Reshapes Oil World, Rocks North Dakota. “Two years ago, America was importing about two thirds of its oil. Today, according to the Energy Information Administration, it imports less than half. And by 2017, investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts the US could be poised to pass Saudi Arabia and overtake Russia as the world’s largest oil producer. Places like Williston are the reason why.”
Wow, I knew it was big, but I had no idea it was that big. But read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Okay, here’s more:
Amy Myers Jaffe of Rice University says in the next decade, new oil in the US, Canada and South America could change the center of gravity of the entire global energy supply.
“Some are now saying, in five or 10 years’ time, we’re a major oil-producing region, where our production is going up,” she says.
The US, Jaffe says, could have 2 trillion barrels of oil waiting to be drilled. South America could hold another 2 trillion. And Canada? 2.4 trillion. That’s compared to just 1.2 trillion in the Middle East and north Africa.
Jaffe says those new oil reserves, combined with growing turmoil in the Middle East, will “absolutely propel more and more investment into the energy resources in the Americas.”
Russia is already feeling the growth of American energy, Jaffe says. As the U.S. produces more of its own natural gas, Europe is free to purchase liquefied natural gas the US is no longer buying.
“They’re buying less natural gas from Russia,” Jaffe says. “So Russia would only supply 10 percent of European natural gas demand by 2030. That means the Russians are no longer powerful.”
The implications here are huge. If I were Russia and Saudi Arabia, I’d be subsidizing U.S. environmental groups in an effort to stop, or at least slow, the process.
ROGER KIMBALL: Is Obama Right? Has America “Gone Soft?”
No, there is nothing flaccid about American business. There’s plenty of keenness on its “competitive edge.” It’s far and away the most productive and innovative economic machine in the world.
What’s “gone soft” and lost its “competitive edge” is American government, which can’t see a pile of money it doesn’t wish to expropriate in order to feed its “spread-the-wealth-around” socialist appetite and which sees government as the adversary rather than the enabler of business. That’s the rotten softness we have to worry about.
I GET THE BEST INTEREST RATES AT THE PONZI NATIONAL BANK: This Is The Type Of Story That Makes People Freak Out About China’s Underground Banking System.
METRICS: Turns Out, The South Is A Pretty Nice Place To Live. “The advantages of the South — especially the advantages of the 21st century South — are less well known (and, somehow, Southern coastal cities are frequently overlooked as major cities). Oh, there are books and TV shows, songs and movies about Dixie — but, as Habeeb points out, they’re often misleading caricatures or dwell too heavily on the South’s past. Little has been done to update the popular image of the region, which is now economically inviting and culturally reassuring — perhaps because those who spin popular images, from the president to junior reporters, haven’t taken the time to really understand the South for themselves. That happens to be Habeeb’s thesis.”
To be honest, we’d rather word didn’t get out. Stay away! In fact, I need to point this out: The South is a cultural desert, across which ride Klansmen on horseback and NASCAR fans in F350 Dually pickups. The cultural center is Wal-Mart, and the occasional tailgater before a lynching. Gunshows are disdained as the domain of pointy-headed intellectuals, because they also sell books. No, really, that’s all true — stay away! For the love of God, stay away!
UPDATE: Reader Phil Manhard emails: “I wish to add that we have fire ants, sinkholes, red tide, shark attacks, huge and regular brush fires, sandspurs, sunburn, hurricanes (though, unexpectedly!, none in the last couple of years). Yes, for the love of God, stay far away!”
And the chiggers. Beastly critters you want no part of. Stay in Massachusetts!
HOW GOOGLE DROVE SAMSUNG AWAY: “The patent licensing agreement between Microsoft and Samsung this week set off a firestorm of childish tit-for-tat between Microsoft and Google. But more telling is what Samsung had to say about its relationship with Google: ‘Samsung knows it can’t rely on Google. We’ve decided to address Android IP issues on our own,’ a Samsung official told The Korea Times.”
UPDATE: Oops. It’s not Claire Berlinski, it’s Okan Altiparmak.
REPORT: Anwar al-Awlaki killed in Yemen. Hope it’s true.
CHANGE: More bad news for bank customers: Debit card fees. “Bank of America will start charging debit-card users $5 a month to pay for purchases. The move comes as the cards increasingly replace cash and as banks look for ways to offset the loss of revenue from a new rule that will limit how much they can collect from merchants.” Taking money out of my pocket, and putting it into merchants’ pockets instead. Thanks, feds!
THE RISE OF THE FLAT TAX produces Morning In Albania. “Today, the flat tax idea is perhaps even more politically remote, in the United States, than it was in 1985. However, the rest of the world caught on to the idea. Today there are at least forty governments with flat tax type systems, most of which made the switch in just the last decade.”
Our political class doesn’t like a flat tax because it provides insufficient opportunities for graft.
IN FORBES, BILL FLAX WRITES: Forget Multiculturalism: Restore The Anglo-Saxon Philosophy Of Liberty.
AT AMAZON, Manager’s Specials on groceries.
PRESIDENT IMPOTENT: Durbin says Democrats don’t currently have the votes for Obama jobs bill.
THE BLOGPROF hangs up his keyboard. He will be missed.
RICHARD POLLOCK: No Adults in the Room: No More ‘Wise Elders’ to Advise the President. “The demise of the wise men — or some approximation of it — is an interesting tale about changes in our own political culture. It can find its roots in the political upheaval of the 1960s. Young political radicals challenged the Democratic establishment, particularly its decision-making. They derided decisions made by political veterans and chipped away at the influence of the wise men. In the name of democratic reforms, they sought to change our presidential selection process. . . . At that moment, partisanship began to rule over statesmanship.”
DONALD SENSING: Well done, President Obama.
ELITE CAMPUS INVESTORS can’t beat the S&P?
THANKS TO EVERYONE who’s bought things through the Amazon links on this page or the searchbox in the right sidebar. By doing so you’ve put a little money in my family’s pocket at no cost to yourself. It’s much appreciated!
IS DISTANCE THE KEY to a happy marriage?
Sounds sort of like the Convict Conditioning approach.
IN SEARCH OF THE ELUSIVE Yogasm.
MORE MOCKERY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN over its lame Firefly censorship episode. “Wow. So much for all that blather about academic freedom, huh?” They can’t be mocked enough.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: College Students Skipping Law School Amid Stagnant Economy.
STEPHEN L. CARTER: Shockingly, The Energy Department Doesn’t Make Much Of A Venture Capitalist. “The analogy fails because the venture capitalist is disciplined in his lending by two forces that government does not face. First, if the venture capitalist makes too many bad bets, he will lose his investors. Government loan guarantee programs, on the other hand, can be refunded by Congress as often as politically convenient, and have been known to grow larger after making bad bets. Second, venture capitalists face potential liability for breach of fiduciary duty if they fail in the duty of care and loyalty imposed by law on those private individuals who handle other people’s money. Government officials and departments, with minor exceptions, are shielded from lawsuits by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. There is no way to subject a federal loan guarantee program to the discipline of the markets, and that might be reason enough for the government to stay out of the business of picking winners and losers. But if the program is here to stay, perhaps we should seek to discipline its administration through the alternative route: a partial waiver of sovereign immunity. . . . Liability is one risk of running a company that picks winners and losers in the marketplace. If the alternative energy loan guarantee program would be unable to function in the face of potential liability, one might reasonably ask whether it should exist at all.”
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Illinois Reported Inflated LSAT, GPA Medians for Past Four Years. Thus boosting its U.S. News ranking and injuring the students who decided to attend based on that ranking, and the other schools who ranked lower as a result of its dishonesty. Plus, of course, injuring U.S. News. So where are the lawsuits?
HOLLYWOOD: EXPLOITER OF LABOR! Unpaid Interns Sue Motion Picture Studio for Wage/Hour Violations.
IN THE MAIL: This Is Herman Cain!: My Journey to the White House.
REASON TV: The Tragedy Of Urban Renewal. Shockingly, this program advertised as improving the urban environment actually involved a lot of corruption and political score-settling.
RAND SIMBERG: So what Disney tunes were the Solyndra robots playing?
RADLEY BALKO: WHY AMERICANS STILL SUPPORT THE DEATH PENALTY.
I think it’s because tedious liberals self-righteously oppose it, while showing an appalling insensitivity to the lives (and deaths) of ordinary non-criminal Americans. Though I should note that European citizens also support the death penalty in large numbers — they’re just ignored by their leaders. The best argument against the death penalty, of course, is what Charles Black called “the inevitability of caprice and mistake.” But that argument, taken seriously, is an indictment of the entire criminal-justice system, not just the death penalty. It may be a valid indictment, but few are willing to go that far.
The worst argument against the death penalty, of course, is that it’s somehow awful for the state to kill people. Nation-states are all about killing people. They exist solely because they’re better at that, on a large scale, than any other form of human organization. Everything else is superstructure, and if they lose that edge it will fade away.
AMY SULLIVAN AND ANN ALTHOUSE: Obama’s Female Trouble.
CHUCK SIMMINS: Are Khaddafy’s Missiles Actually Missing?
TODAY ONLY: A Hitachi gas-powered leaf blower for $99.99.
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: More solar companies led by Democratic donors received federal loan guarantees. “A Daily Caller investigation has found that in addition to the failed company Solyndra, at least four other solar panel manufacturing companies receiving in excess of $500 million in loan guarantees from the Obama administration employ executives or board members who have donated large sums of money to Democratic campaigns. And as questions swirl around possible connections between political donations and these preferential financing arrangements, the Obama White House suddenly began deflecting The Daily Caller’s questions on Wednesday to the Democratic National Committee.”
WHITE HOUSE POLICY FAIL: Poster Children for New Health Care Model Won’t Participate in Model Program.
A CIVIL RIGHTS VICTORY: Court Overturns Oregon Universities’ Ban on Firearms. “The Oregon Court of Appeals on Wednesday overturned a 20-year-old state regulation barring the possession of firearms on public colleges’ campuses, ruling that Oregon’s Board of Higher Education was not authorized by the state legislature to enact such a rule.”
Despite increases in gun sales, gun crimes continued to decrease in the United States for the fourth straight year in 2010, according to the FBI.
The FBI recently released its Crime in The United States statistics for 2010. Overall, murders in the U.S. have decreased steadily since 2006, dropping from 15,087 to 12,996. Firearms murders — which made up 67 percent of all murders in the U.S. in 2010 — have followed this trend, decreasing by 14 percent.
At the same time that firearms murders were dropping, gun sales were surging. In 2009, FBI background checks for guns increased by 30 percent over the previous year, while firearms sales in large retail outlets increased by almost 40 percent. The number of applications for concealed carry permits jumped across the country as well.
Wow, you could write a book about this phenomenon, if you could just come up with a title or something.
HERMAN CAIN: Black Voters Have Been “Brainwashed.”
CITIZEN ANGER AT Tucson town hall over Fast and Furious gun-smuggling scandal.
This just might be the smoking gun we’ve been waiting for to break the festering “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal wide open: the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives apparently ordered one of its own agents to purchase firearms with taxpayer money, and sell them directly to a Mexican drug cartel.
Let that sink in: After months of pretending that “Fast and Furious” was a botched surveillance operation of illegal gun-running spearheaded by the ATF and the US attorney’s office in Phoenix, it turns out that the government itself was selling guns to the bad guys. . . .
There are two possible explanations. The first is that the anti-gun Obama administration deliberately wanted American guns planted in Mexico in order to demonize American firearms dealers and gun owners. The operation was manufacturing “evidence” for the president’s false claim that we’re to blame for the appalling levels of Mexican drug-war violence.
If this is true, then Holder & Co. have got to go — and the trail needs to be followed no matter where it leads. For the federal government to seek to frame its own citizens is unconscionable.
A second notion is that the CIA was behind the whole thing, which accounts for all the desperate wagon-circling. Under this theory, the Agency feared the los Zetas drug cartel was becoming too powerful and might even mount a coup against the Mexican government. So some 2,000 weapons costing more than $1.25 million were deliberately channeled to the rival Sinaloa cartel, which operates along the American border, to keep the Zetas in check.
Of course, there’s a third explanation — that both scenarios are true, and that those in charge of Fast and Furious saw an opportunity to shoot two birds with one Romanian-made AK Draco pistol.
Time for a special prosecutor, who’s both fast and furious.
Yes, a special prosecutor is clearly warranted here.
WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Obama-style Democracy: Bureaucrats know best.
Most Americans complain that government is unresponsive to their wishes. But not everyone feels that way. In the space of two days, two prominent Democrats have called for less responsive government that ignores public input.
One of them, former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag, penned a piece this week in the New Republic arguing, as the title says, “Why we need less democracy.” Orszag wrote that “the country’s political polarization was growing worse — harming Washington’s ability to do the basic, necessary work of governing.” His solution? “[W]e need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.” . . .
Perhaps know-it-all bureaucrats can be forgiven for harboring such contempt for the voting public. But elected officials cannot. That’s why similar comments by Gov. Bev Perdue, D-N.C., are far more troubling. “I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover,” Perdue told a Rotary Club gathering in suburban Raleigh this week. “I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.”
Perdue’s office at first claimed her comments were made in jest. The subsequent release of the audio conclusively demonstrates otherwise.
The federal government’s legitimacy is based upon the consent of the governed. This nation’s Founding Fathers would have had it no other way. Given Perdue’s apparent disdain for the American constitutional system, she might be more comfortable in the private sector, where hierarchical management is the rule. And the voters in her state should remind her next November who’s the boss.
Actually, I think she should resign now. This was much worse than anything Trent Lott said.
CHICKS WITH GUNS: 15 Million American Women Pack Heat.
Based on polling research and gun-sale statistics, an estimated 15 million to 20 million women in the United States own their own firearms. Dozens of those heat-packing women are documented in “Chicks with Guns,” a new book by photographer Lindsay McCrum that is sure to challenge almost anyone’s assumptions about gun ownership.
Well, almost anyone’s . . . .
DON SURBER: Anarchy In The NYT: “So when people outside Arabia protest, they oppose democracy, but in Arabia, they protest for democracy. I am not really sure how that works or why someone would conclude that 80 people demonstrating on Wall Street marks a universal cry in America to rip our constitution in half. But I do know that as 2012 approaches, Democrats know they are in for an old-fashioned thumping by Republicans and suddenly have developed a distaste for elections.”
OAK RIDGE: One-day-a-week jobs (for retirees) at Y-12. “Retiring workers at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant will now have the option of working one day a week under a new program called PReP (Post Retirement Program). . . . B&W, the government’s managing contractor at Y-12, said the idea is to allow employees to transition into the retirement while they share their decades of experience with a new generation of workers. The program will help ensure that the Oak Ridge plant retains the critical skills necessary for the national security missions, the contractor said.” This seems like a good idea for all sorts of settings.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Seton Hall University To Offer Steep Tuition Discounts. “Starting next year, Seton Hall University will try to ease that follow-up blow for early applicants with strong academic credentials, giving them two-thirds off the regular sticker price for tuition, a discount of some $21,000. For New Jersey residents, who comprise about 70 percent of Seton Hall’s undergraduates, that would make the cost equivalent to that of Rutgers University, the state’s flagship public institution; for those from out of state, the private school would be much cheaper than the public one.”
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): CNN Poll: Trust In Government Hits All-Time Low.
CAIN VS. UNABLE: Herman Cain within 5 points of Barack Obama.
ROGER SIMON: Nasrallah’s Happy Jewish New Year.
SOLARGATE II? Obama Gives $737 Million Dollar Loan To Solar Company Connected To Nancy Pelosi’s Brother In Law. Funny how we don’t hear Nancy talking about a Washington “culture of corruption” any more. . . .
A DEVICE FOR WHEN the world is falling apart and your smartphone won’t help.
WHAT PEOPLE WILL DO FOR A HERSHEY BAR.
SHOCKINGLY, NOT A TEA PARTIER: Man arrested in ‘step-by-step’ plot to blow up Capitol, Pentagon. “The FBI arrested and charged a man Wednesday for allegedly plotting to blow up the Capitol and the Pentagon. The 26-year-old Massachusetts man, Rezwan Ferdaus, was arrested as part of an FBI sting operation in which he was made to believe he was working with members of al Qaeda, who were actually undercover agents.”
AT TEDX OXFORD, career advice for people aged 16-25.