Archive for December, 2011

December 29, 2011

STACY MCCAIN: IOWA NOTEBOOK: Occupy Caucuses?

December 29, 2011

HMM: Romney 45, Obama 39. “I think what we’re seeing is that as Romney emerges as the winner within the GOP, his winner status makes him seem more appealing in comparison to Obama. And it’s an upward spiral: The more Romney looks strong compared to Obama, the more Republicans should want him as their nominee.” Is this how it will work? Some aren’t buying it yet.

Related: NYT quotes Washington insiders calling Obama “remote,” “distant” and “perfunctory.”

UPDATE: Reader Eliot Picard writes: “One thing that has occurred to me is that, while Romney is not the ideal ‘Reagan Republican’ that so many in the rightosphere want to see he is, thus far, the only R who does not melt under pressure like the others. Another thing is that, here in Massachusetts, having Romney at the top of the ticket may be just the thing to help put Scott Brown over the top against Liz Warren. Having a left-of-right-of-center local figure on top will certainly swing moderates and even bring out the not-so-small R base in MA which can only help down ticket. The union PACs have been dumping $millions around these parts for months with ‘Rethink Brown’ and have only yielded a within-the-margin-of-error lead for Warren so this could easily be the key bit.”

Meanwhile, Don Surber on Obama’s worst nightmare: “They have been saying a generic Republican could beat him. They don’t get more generic than Mitt Romney.”

December 29, 2011

AT AMAZON, loads of Kindle accessories.

December 29, 2011

WHEN VIRUSES invade the brain.

December 29, 2011

CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: DC ordered to pay $1M in historic gun case. “The District of Columbia has been ordered to pay more than $1 million in attorneys’ fees as a result of a historic gun case that was ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Dick Heller sued the city in 2003 over its ban on handgun ownership and the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ban in June 2008, saying it violated the Second Amendment. A federal judge on Thursday issued an opinion awarding Heller’s attorneys $1,137,072.27 in fees and expenses.”

December 29, 2011

2011: The Year In Health Science.

December 29, 2011

AT AMAZON, Year-End Deals in HDTV and Video.

December 29, 2011

ANDREW MALCOLM: Kind columnist vows to help N.Y. Times readers on its reneged offer.

The Times worker, who will shortly be informed that he/she has accepted the next buyout offer, pushed the button. And off the email went — to nearly 9 million people on the wrong list.

People who had not canceled their subscriptions. People who’d given their email to the newspaper for some reason long ago. People who liked the generous out-of-the-blue offer to cut in half what they’d already paid in full. And people who had thought the famous newspaper knew what was going on in the world but now discovered in its own offices apparently not so much.

The phone lights began to twinkle and email acceptances flowed in.

So, according to Associated Press, in true Anthony Weineresque fashion, someone rushed out an urgent company Tweet suggesting spam: “If you received an email today about canceling your NYT subscription, ignore it. It’s not from us.”

Alas, both were really sent from the East Coast Times, which is such a serious publication that it doesn’t even publish comics, except for Paul Krugman.

Read the whole thing.

December 29, 2011

AIRPORT SECURITY: STRIP Act targets TSA uniform: End ‘impersonation’ of ‘real cops.’ “It’s a new House bill that stands for Stop TSA’s Reach In Policy and would prevent Transportation Security Administration officers from wearing law enforcement uniforms and police-like badges and calling themselves officers unless they receive law enforcement training.”

December 29, 2011

THINKING ABOUT SAFER PASSWORDS.

UPDATE: Wisdom from XKCD.

December 29, 2011

UNDER A “LIVING CONSTITUTION” APPROACH, WOULDN’T THIS CALL FOR A DRASTIC REDUCTION IN CONGRESS’S COPYRIGHT POWER? Young people today lack even the “ideological baggage” to concern themselves with copyright as they go about appropriating images.

December 29, 2011

AT AMAZON, Top Deals on Printers.

Also, a sale on Duracell coppertop batteries.

December 29, 2011

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How Your Fireplace Works.

December 29, 2011

JERRY BOWYER: Christmas, Kurtosis, Fat Tails, Black Swans and Risk Management.

December 29, 2011

TOO MUCH BUZZ: Social media provides huge opportunities, but will bring huge problems.

December 29, 2011

BREITBART: “Occupy The Caucus” Is Part of the Organized Left’s Efforts To Re-Elect Obama. Of course. Everything over the coming year will be part of the organized Left’s efforts to re-elect Obama.

December 29, 2011

BEST PHYSICS OF 2011: “Time Cloaking.”

December 29, 2011

ENERGY IS A NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE. THEREFORE, OBESITY IS A NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE: “Americans, on average, have gained enough weight during the past 40 years to cancel out automakers’ vehicle-lightweighting efforts such as using lighter components or removing spare tire, reflecting an additional challenge automakers face to meet progressively more strict fuel-economy and greenhouse-gas emissions standards. . . . The combined weight gained by the average American male and female can cut average fuel economy by as much as one percent, which could translate to an additional 153 million gallons of gas burned in the U.S. over the course of a year.” Hence, Michelle Obama’s food-nannyism is really about national security. Take it away, White House Press Office. . . .

December 29, 2011

HOWARD LOVY: Nanotech Fear Peddlers Are Back, Insisting ‘Here Be Monsters.’ “Get ready for the anti-nanotech Luddites in 2012. . . . They’re suing based on a danger for which there is no evidence, but maybe there will be, so we’d better ban it just in case.”

December 29, 2011

PAUL RAHE: What Is Wrong With The Individual Mandate.

December 29, 2011

IN THE MAIL: Strings Attached: Untangling the Ethics of Incentives.

December 29, 2011

FROM PROFESSOR W. JOSEPH CAMPBELL: The Debunking Of The Year.

December 29, 2011

MONEY POLITICS: “American liberals find high incomes more upsetting than poverty.” They’ll turn us all into beggars ’cause they’re easier to please. . . .

With, ahem, certain exceptions.

December 29, 2011

LOSE $1.2 BILLION, BECOME AN OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ADVISOR:

During two days of recent congressional hearings into how as much as $1.2 billion disappeared from MF Global customer accounts, the chief operating officer of the imploding investment firm responded again and again that he did not know.

Yet as the House and Senate interrogated Bradley I. Abelow and other top executives at MF Global Holdings Ltd., lawmakers did not mention Mr. Abelow’s role as a financial adviser for the Environmental Protection Agency, which as of Tuesday listed him as the chairman of its financial advisory board.

Even as he finds himself the public face of a bankruptcy and admitted to lawmakers that he had no idea how client funds disappeared, Congress and the administration have voiced no public concern about Mr. Abelow’s role advising the $8.6 billion government agency on its finances.

In this administration, to lose only a billion is to count as frugal. . . .

December 29, 2011

EGYPT’S EMBATTLED CHRISTIANS seek room in America. “This year, mobs have looted and attacked Coptic churches, homes and shops throughout Egypt. Churches have been burned down, and one Copt had his ear cut off by a Muslim cleric invoking Islamic law. Strong gains by Islamist parties in the recent elections have further raised fears among the Christian minority that they won’t have a place in the new Egypt. The plight of the nation’s roughly eight million Copts poses a quandary for the U.S. The pivotal Middle East ally receives $1.3 billion annually in military aid, and the administration has riled some critics who say it has failed to strongly rebuke the transitional rulers amid recent violence against women, Copts and other minorities. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal advisory agency, asked the State Department to place Egypt on its list of ‘countries of particular concern’—egregious violators of religious freedoms. The department declined, saying that its goal is to work with the Egyptian government to improve conditions for Christians.” Don’t worry, folks — “smart diplomacy” is coming to your aid . . .

December 29, 2011

HMM: The Ron Paul surge is bigger trouble for Barack Obama than Mitt Romney.

December 29, 2011

BLUE ON BLUE: Dennis Kucinich Will Challenge Marcy Kaptur.

December 29, 2011

IAIN MURRAY AND JIM BENNETT: Britain’s Future Lies With America, Not Europe: Welcoming Britain back into the North Atlantic economic community would be a win-win for all involved. “The European Economic Community (EEC) for which the British signed up in a 1975 referendum—a community of free trade and cooperation, not supranational bureaucracy—is long gone. Worse, even today’s less-palatable EU will soon no longer be on offer. Sometime in the next few years at most, Britain will likely face the choice between immersion in a powerful centralized European mega-state and full exit.”

December 29, 2011

AT AMAZON, year-end deals in Sports & Outdoors.

Plus, special deals on Exercise & Fitness gear.

December 29, 2011

ED DRISCOLL: ‘Tears for the Tyrant’: North Korea Fights Hard to Prevent a Preference Cascade.

December 29, 2011

JUST AS A REMINDER, I’m repeating this graphic from James Pethokoukis’s The 7 Most Illuminating Economic Charts of 2011, illustrating the gap between Obama’s promises and performance on the stimulus and unemployment.

December 29, 2011

PREJUDICE AND HIRING IN ACADEMIA: 8th Circuit Re-institutes Discrimination Lawsuit by Unsuccessful Republican Faculty Candidate Against Iowa Law School Dean.

December 29, 2011

LIFE AMONG THE BARBARIANS: Tennessee tourist arrested for bringing pistol into 9/11 Memorial.

A tourist from Tennessee waltzed into one of the most secure sites in the city — and politely asked a cop if she could check her weapon.

Instead, she was dragged out in cuffs.

Now, Meredith Graves, 39, is facing at least three years in prison for thinking New York’s gun laws are anything like those in the Bible Belt.

Graves, a fourth-year medical student, showed up at the memorial on Dec. 22 to pay her respects during a trip north for a job interview.

She didn’t realize that the loaded .32-caliber pistol in her purse would be a problem until she saw a sign at the site that read, “No guns allowed,” sources said. “She remembered she had the gun on her,” a source said. She walked up to a security guard and said, “I have this gun. Where can I check it?”

Under Mayor Bloomberg, New York’s nothing like the Bible Belt, of course — it’s much less civilized and much more repressive.. And just like black people visiting the South in the 1930s, gun owners today need to realize that irrational prejudice and legal persecution are a risk when visiting these benighted places. This is why we need national civil rights laws to protect gun owners wherever they go. This is a topic I discuss in my Second Amendment Penumbras piece, forthcoming in the Southern California Law Review. I also note that a patchwork of confusing (often even to law enforcement) and overlapping laws regulating the exercise of a fundamental right is a burden on the constitutionally recognized right to interstate travel. At the very least, they should warn you when you’re entering a repressive regime.

UPDATE: Reader Mark Kaulius writes: “Perhaps a boycott by all gun owners of New York is called for.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Rob Crawford emails: “What’s the purpose of the no guns sign at the Memorial? Shouldn’t the sign be posted at the state border?”

December 29, 2011

TODAY ONLY: Timex Global Trainer Heart Rate and GPS Watch, $99.99.

December 29, 2011

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Obama’s New Tax On The Poor. And the stupid. You’d think he’d show more loyalty to his constituents. “The Obama Justice Department quietly issued a legal opinion – just before a long Christmas weekend – that allows states to set up nonsports Internet gambling. The opinion upends decades of contrary decisions, but its real effect will be on the poor (and young) who suffer the most from gambling.”

I’m all for legalizing Internet gambling, and pretty much any consensual activity, but I note the contradiction between this and the Obama Administration’s generally nannyist behavior. They’re looking to protect you from yourself — unless, you know, there’s a buck to be made by looking the other way.

December 29, 2011

JOHN HAWKINS: The Ten Biggest Failures of 2011.

December 29, 2011

SHELDON RICHMAN: Congress, Obama Codify Indefinite Detention: Where is the “progressive” outrage? “President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.”

They told me if I voted for John McCain . . . .

December 29, 2011

THIS SOUNDS INTERESTING: Pacific Time on Target: Memoirs of a Marine Artiller Officer, 1943-1945. With Jack McCall involved — whose last book on World War II in the Pacific was excellent — it’s bound to be good.

December 29, 2011

COMIC RELIEF: Anthony Weiner Wanted Threesome With Another Man, According To Mistress.

December 29, 2011

MASSACHUSETTS: Scott Brown ready to fight, draws ‘line in the sand.’

December 28, 2011

OVERRATED: Is The Obama Boomlet Over? “It appears that the Obama boomlet may have been overrated. In the Gallup Poll, Obama has dropped back to 44/48. In Rasmussen’s Approval Index, Obama, after a week or so of slightly less gloomy numbers, is back to an ice-cold -18.”

December 28, 2011

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH ADMITS THE TRUTH: Hugo Chavez’s cancer is entirely our doing.

December 28, 2011

TEN YEARS AGO ON INSTAPUNDIT: Antisemitism and Anti-Americanism.

UPDATE: The link to the Steyn column in that old post has succumbed to link-rot, but here’s one that works, thanks to reader Randy Beck.

And can I just say that the next President should pick Mark Steyn as Secretary of State? Wouldn’t that be fun?

December 28, 2011

AT AMAZON, year-end deals in Movies & TV.

Also, markdowns on treadmills and elliptical trainers.

December 28, 2011

MORE BAD GUN JOURNALISM, this time in the Denver Post. They’ve issued a correction, at least. But note the snotty responses from the busted reporter. This unrelenting approach, however, is precisely how to deal with reporters who do shoddy, dishonest work.

December 28, 2011

EUROPE: Lagarde Rings A Euro Alarm Bell. “Lagarde’s comments come amidst fresh evidence that Europe’s financial crisis continues to worsen. Last week, the European Central Bank provided €489 billion ($US633 billion) in three-year loans to cash-strapped European banks, but figures released overnight show that European banks have turned around and deposited a record €452 billion with the ECB. This is stark evidence that the European interbank lending market remains crippled, and that banks would rather earn the meagre 0.25 per cent interest rate that the ECB pays on depots, rather than running the risk of lending to other banks at much higher interest rates.”

December 28, 2011

ERICK ERICKSON: No Surprise, Iowa Social Conservatives Are About To Shoot Us All in the Foot Again. Well, vote how you want in the primaries, just don’t take your ball and go home if your guy doesn’t win. Remember, even if Zeeba wins the nomination, she’s better than Obama.

UPDATE: Related: The Great Conservative Blogger Freak Out Of Iowa 2011.

December 28, 2011

GOOD QUESTION: The Law School Bubble: How Long Will It Last if Law Grads Can’t Pay Bills? “In 2010, 85 percent of law graduates from ABA-accredited schools boasted an average debt load of $98,500, according to data collected from law schools by U.S. News & World Report. At 29 schools, that amount exceeded $120,000. In contrast, only 68 percent of those grads reported employment in positions that require a JD nine months after commencement. Less than 51 percent found employment in private law firms.” Something that can’t go on forever, won’t.

December 28, 2011

I’M NOT SO SURE THEY’LL GET THAT CHANCE, BUT WORTH NOTING: The Obama Administration Is Planning A Second-Term Attack On Gun Rights.

December 28, 2011

A PLUG-REQUEST FROM READER RICK WILKES:

My daughter Rebecca asked me to send this along to you “just in case” you had the urge to post it. We home schooled Rebecca (she’s now in college) and this book she started when she was 11. She finished her last revision this summer, and we self-published it through Amazon Kindle and Amazon Createspace. Amazon is even making it FREE for Amazon Prime members right now… (we learned about Prime from you when it was first introduced, and it just keeps getting better.)

Well, here you are: It’s King Mertagon’s Box. Like he says, it’s free for Prime members, and just $2.99 for everyone else.

December 28, 2011

FROM MEGAN MCARDLE, savings advice for the New Year.

Some related advice here. Of course, it helps to have a job, which is not to be taken for granted in the Obama Economy.

December 28, 2011

CHUTZPAH: Eric Holder on cops killed with illegal guns. Hey, only some of those cops were killed with illegal guns sold to Mexican drug cartels by the Justice Department.

UPDATE: Chuck Simmins emails:

Holder may not have actually read the report. http://www.nleomf.org/assets/pdfs/reports/2011-EOY-Report.pdf

The report seems to say nothing about the use of illegal weapons. It does note that the record low for firearms fatalities was in 2008, and that since Obama came in to office the number of firearms fatalities for law enforcement has increased 70 percent. 25 of the line of duty deaths reported were due to illness or heart attack. 61 percent of all line of duty deaths were not gun related.

Six individual cases are profiled in the report. All six were clearly preventable. Only one involved a firearm and that officer was killed with his own gun.

Hmm.

December 28, 2011

MORE ON Hezbollah operations in the United States.

December 28, 2011

YEAR-END DEALS in Toys & Books.

December 28, 2011

KEVIN WILLIAMSON ON Wall Street and Crony Capitalism.

For a few measly millions, Wall Street not only bought itself a president, but got the start-up firm of B. H. Obama & Co. LLC to throw a cabinet into the deal, too — on remarkably generous terms. President Obama, for a guy prone to delivering prim and smug little homilies denouncing greed, greed, greed — the only of the seven deadly sins that truly offends Democrats (though Mrs. Obama has done some desultory work on gluttony) — is strangely comfortable among the Gordon Gekkos of this world. Shall we have a partial roll call? Beat the drum slowly and call out the names: With unemployment still topping 9 percent, the catastatic world economy teetering on the brink of another, even larger financial catastrophe, and trillion-dollar U.S. deficits as far as the green-shaded eye can see, let’s hear it for Obama’s first National Economic Council director, Lawrence Summers (of hedge-fund giant D. E. Shaw and venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz), who has had some nice paydays courtesy of Lehman Bros., JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup. Let’s hear it for Citigroup’s Michael Froman, deputy assistant to the president and deputy national-security adviser for international economic affairs, for Hartford Financial’s Neal Wolin, deputy Treasury secretary, for JPMorgan’s William Daley, Obama’s chief of staff, and for his predecessor, Rahm Emanuel of Wasserstein Perella. Let’s hear it for Fannie Mae’s Tom Donilon, national-security adviser. (No, seriously: One of the luminous interstellar geniuses who brought Fannie Mae to its current aphotic state of affairs, upside down to the tune of trillions of dollars, is running national security, and the former director of the White House Military Office, Louis Caldera, was on the board of IndyMac when it finally went toes up — sleep tight, America!) And, lest we forget, let’s have three big, sloppy cheers for economic-transition team leaders Robert Rubin (Goldman Sachs, Citigroup) and folksy tax enthusiast/ghoulish billionaire vulture Warren Buffett.

That’s a pretty fantastic lineup, from Wall Street’s point of view, but the real bonus turned out to be Treasury secretary Tim Geithner, who came up through the ranks as part of the bipartisan Robert Rubin–Hank Paulson–Citigroup–Goldman Sachs cabal. Geithner, a government-and-academe man from way back, never really worked on Wall Street, though he once was offered a gig as CEO of Citigroup, which apparently thought he did an outstanding job as chairman of the New York Fed, where one of his main tasks was regulating Citigroup — until it collapsed into the yawning suckhole of its own cavernous ineptitude, at which point Geithner’s main job became shoveling tens of billions of federal dollars into Citigroup, in an ingeniously structured investment that allowed the government to buy a 27 percent share in the bank, for which it paid more than the entire market value of the bank. If you can’t figure out why you’d pay 100-plus percent of a bank’s value for 27 percent of it, then you just don’t understand high finance or high politics.

Read the whole thing.

December 28, 2011

PETER WALLISON AND EDWARD PINTO: Why the Left is Losing the Argument over the Financial Crisis.

Summarized below are the original numbers we relied on, taken from Fannie and Freddie’s own data and from the views of bank regulators—and now supplemented with additional data from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent complaints against certain officers of Fannie and Freddie. Of particular interest are Fannie and Freddie’s non-prosecution agreements with the SEC, in which they agree with facts that confirm—and in many cases go beyond—our original research concerning the scope of the GSEs’ subprime and Alt-A exposure. These are facts, and Nocera and others who might wish it otherwise should become familiar with them.

For example, in its non-prosecution agreement Freddie agreed that as of June 30, 2008, it had $244 billion in subprime loans, comprising 14 percent of its credit guaranty portfolio, rather than the $6 billion it had previously disclosed. Freddie also agreed that it had $541 billion in reduced documentation loans alone, vastly more than the $190 billion in previously disclosed Alt-A loans which Freddie had said included loans with reduced documentation.

While the SEC documents about $1.03 trillion in previously undisclosed subprime and Alt-A loans in Fannie and Freddie’s credit guaranty portfolios, an estimated $812.8 billion, or about 80 percent, were already accounted for in the totals of Fannie and Freddie subprime and Alt-A exposures included in Pinto’s Forensic Study and Wallison’s Dissent from the majority report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

The SEC findings add $219 billion and 1.43 million loans to our original Fannie and Freddie subprime and Alt-A totals, bringing the combined subprime and Alt-A total to $2.041 trillion and 13.37 million loans.

If the left were winning the argument, Barney Frank wouldn’t have resigned.

December 28, 2011

WELL, SHOOTING A GUN IS “ZEN-LIKE,” when you do it well.

December 28, 2011

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Your Brownie Husband Looks Delicious. “I mean, he could get messy in bed, but Duncan Hines’ Brownie Husband makes dating the Gingerbread Man look like a joke.”

December 28, 2011

TAM: You Are The Weapon. Don’t forget this.

December 28, 2011

JENNIFER RUBIN: Obama’s annus horribilis. “President Obama has had the worst year of his presidency. Or, to be more precise, his performance this year has been the worst of his presidency. Pundits and pollsters will say that his ‘numbers are up,’ but let’s look at what he’s done or not done.”

December 28, 2011

#GREENFAIL: Prospects Darken For Solar Energy Companies.

December 28, 2011

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN . . . OH, HELL, YOU KNOW THE REST: Under Obama, an emerging global apparatus for drone killing.

December 28, 2011

NORTH KOREA’S SUCCESSION, and Two More Holiday Hotspots to Watch.

December 28, 2011

THE HILL: Perry blasts Obama for not hosting parade for returning US troops. “It really disturbs me that nearly after nine years of war in Iraq that this president wouldn’t welcome home our many heroes with a simple parade in their honor.”

December 28, 2011

DALE AMON: “I still do not expect Ron Paul will win, but God Almighty, I do intend to let those Sons of Bitches know we libertarians were there.”

UPDATE: A reader emails:

You know, I just wish that my friends on the Right—whom all say that they detest the policies of Barack Obama and his supporters—would just soldier their way through this next election. I’m afraid they will sit it out, in a electoral fit of pique because the nominee isn’t conservative enough or is too conservative or whatever.

After we get this gang (and I use that word intentionally) out of the Oval Office, then, my friends on the Right can form their Third Party, or push a candidate that they feel is “conservative enough” and so forth.

2012 is too important. And sitting out the election, or carping about a particular candidate…well, it just makes Axelrod smile. And it smooths the path not toward “Four More Years,” but “Four Worse Years.”

Yeah. If, as I expect, Obama is trailing in Tennessee by double digits, I’ll vote for Gary Johnson. But if it even looks like it might be close, I’ll vote for whoever the GOP nominee is, and feel good about it. Obama has been a presidential disaster without parallel in my lifetime, and that must be brought to an end before anything constructive can begin.

Meanwhile, Operation Counterweight has started. “Meet the guy who can take down Sheldon Whitehouse.”

December 28, 2011

GEN. MCCAFFREY on Mexico.

December 28, 2011

IS THE ANSWER PERVASIVE DISINFORMATION? Government Total Recall On Past Communications. “UCLA electrical engineering prof John Villaseno thinks the growing capacity of computers to collect, store, and analyze data will enable governments to assess, track, and draw connections between dissidents on a scale previously not seen. . . . As the cost of computer disk storage and other storage media continue to plummet the amount that governments can record goes up. Storage costs have fallen so far that the amount that can be captured about each person and kept long term has gotten pretty detailed. In the future the amount that can be recorded and stored per person will undergo more doublings. Every phone conversation that takes place will be able to be captured and stored for decades. . . . When a government decides someone is of interest as a potential trouble maker that government will be able to quickly analyze every phone conversation (and a large fraction of all online text conversations) that person ever participated in . Then threat assessment software will assess the threat posed by the citizen who is critical of the regime. A retrospective approach is not the only possibility of course. A political threat profile could be maintained that gets continually updated with the latest movements, utterances, and purchasing decisions.”

December 28, 2011

HOPE AND CHANGE: More and more women embracing gun ownership.

All is proceeding as I have foreseen.

December 28, 2011

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Is Japan’s Prius Cup the world’s most boring form of motorsports?

December 28, 2011

SCOURING THE MOON for alien footprints.

December 28, 2011

BOB OWENS: More on the NY Times gun lie… and media lies in general. “It’s easy for people to look at areas in which they specialize and find the lies that editors and journalists pass off as ‘news,’ but what people are afraid to do is consider is that the rest of the news is just as blinkered. What we have here is just one story of hundreds published in the Times this week that has been conclusively debunked. What would happen if all of the stories in the Times – or the Washington Post, or your local newspaper or television news – were subject to the sort of expert scrutiny as this Luo article, in a given day or week? What percentage of reporting would we discover is marginally biased, seriously slanted, or even fabricated?”

December 28, 2011

IN THE MAIL: Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation.

December 28, 2011

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Europe Is Still Hip Deep In The Bad Stuff.

Combined intervention by the world’s central banks and an open door policy by the ECB to European banks wanting to borrow lots of money fast calmed the world’s markets this month. We are no longer having to think about whether the international financial system might melt down over a long weekend, and the relief plus continuing good if not spectacular news from the US economy made December a much better month than the world feared.

But if Europe dodged the charge of an angry bear last month, it is still hopelessly lost in the woods. The proposal for a new, souped up fiscal union treaty has bogged down in the usual horsetrading, favor swapping and generally ineffective European legislative process. More profoundly, the core cultural problem at the heart of the economic problem remains: northern and southern Europe are different places that need different rules, and the euro requires them to live and play as one.

Good luck with that.

December 28, 2011

SOME BEN NELSON HISTORY:

Nebraska’s Ben Nelson announced today that he will not seek re-election next November, despite the please of Harry Reid and other Democrats. Presumably Nelson chose to retire in response to polls that convinced him he faced an uphill battle.

One of the sources of Nelson’s unpopularity in Nebraska was his vote for Obamacare. So this is an opportune moment to recall the Cornhusker Kickback, one of a number of acts of outright corruption on which Obamacare was based. The Kickback provided that the federal government would pick up Nebraska’s tab–but only Nebraska’s–for the new Medicaid recipients that would be created by the statute, apparently in perpetuity. That was the bribe that Obama needed to get Nelson’s vote, and Nelson evidently thought his sweetheart deal would insulate him against criticism for voting for the unpopular bill. One wonders: how can such a special arrangement for a single state possibly be constitutional? But constitutionality was never a big concern where Obamacare was concerned.

To Nelson’s surprise, perhaps, the kickback didn’t entirely placate his Cornhusker constituents. What is wrong with those people? Don’t they know a good payoff when they see one? Maybe Thomas Frank needs to write a new book called What’s the Matter With Nebraska?

The moral, I suppose, is that there are still a considerable number of voters–in the red states, anyway–who are not interested in being bought.

Indeed. This may have been his first hint:

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson and his wife were leaving dinner at a new pizza joint near their home in Omaha one night last week when a patron began complaining about Nelson’s decisive vote in favor of the Senate’s health care bill.

Other customers started booing. A woman yelled, “Get him the hell out of here!” And the Nelsons and their dining companions beat a hasty retreat.

“It was definitely a scene in there,” said Tom Lewis, a 41-year-old dentist and registered Republican who witnessed the incident. A second witness confirmed the incident to POLITICO.

It’s a new experience for Nelson.

He used to be a popular figure back home, a Democrat who served eight years in the governor’s office and was elected twice to the Senate by a state that’s as red as the “N” on the University of Nebraska’s football helmets.

But Nelson has seen his approval ratings tumble in the wake of his wavering over the historic health care bill, his deal-cutting with other Senate Democrats and, ultimately, his support to break a GOP filibuster and send the bill to a House-Senate conference committee.

Good riddance.

December 28, 2011

HOWIE CARR TO THE SCOTT BROWN HATERS: Consider The Alternative. “My question is, if Scott Brown is so damn liberal, how come the Democrats already are spending millions upon millions of dollars to knock him out of the Senate next year?”

December 28, 2011

LEGAL ESTABLISHMENT up in arms over Shpoonkle. “The U.S. has lots and lots of un-and under-employed lawyers. The U.S. also has lots of people who have legal problems that they can’t afford to spend a lot of money on. In the latest application of computer matching, buyers and sellers can get together on a site called Shpoonkle, the brain child of Robert Niznik, who is just finishing at New York Law School. Here is the story in the Chronicle. Predictably, the legal establishment is up in arms.”

December 28, 2011

AT AMAZON, winter deals in the Automotive Outlet.

Plus, up to 50% off on select knives.

December 28, 2011

CHANGE: New Law Assumes Americans Abroad Are Tax Criminals, Imposes Billions in Compliance Costs on Foreign Banks. “The IRS, under pressure from angry and confused financial officials abroad, has extended the deadline for registration until June 30, 2013, and is struggling to provide more detailed guidance by the end of this year. But beginning in 2012, many American expatriates — already the only developed-nation citizens subject to double taxation from their home government — must furnish the I.R.S. with detailed personal information on their overseas assets.”

Perhaps we need to harmonize our customs with other nations’. Isn’t it “arrogant” and “inconsiderate” for us to be so far “outside the mainstream” of civilized practice? Or does that only apply to things like capital punishment?

December 28, 2011

RICHARD FERNANDEZ: Europe: If Tomorrow Comes.

The New York Times featured the town of Laviano in Italy. Only half its houses were occupied. But any closures of its churches were the least of its problems. It’s problem was even worse: it didn’t have enough kids to keep the schools open. The newly elected mayor “racked his brain and came up with a desperate idea: pay women to have babies.” . . . What happened? The problem as Steyn succinctly puts it, is that socialism not only “runs out of other people’s money”, as Margaret Thatcher once put it. It simply runs out of people. Future historians, if there are any left, will puzzle over how this came about. The economists will have an easier time explaining it. Through some process, socialism has apparently increased the discount rate to the point where the future is consumed for the sake of the present. Not only is investment taxed to feed consumption, tomorrow is hocked to pay for today.

If the fiscal deficit is the direct monetary expression of this high discount rate, the collapsing population is its equivalent demographic expression. Both are saying the same thing, in different terms. In incentives terms, the future is no longer real; so people don’t save up for it nor do they have any incentive to sacrifice for it.

Steyn points out that one feeds into the other. By failing to provide for the next generation to feed present consumption, the present West has also reduced its capacity to service the debt when tomorrow rolls around.

The future belongs to those who show up.

December 28, 2011

ANDREW MALCOLM: What Ben Nelson’s Surrender Means For 2012. “The GOP would have to nominate a large number of Elmer Fudds to blow this one. Holding their own and grabbing four seats gives Republicans a majority in that body, which means the country could have a federal budget for the first time in nearly three years.”

December 28, 2011

WAIT, WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THE LAST TRILLION WE LET YOU BORROW? Obama to ask for debt limit hike: Treasury official. “The White House plans to ask Congress by the end of the week for an increase in the government’s debt ceiling to allow the United States to pay its bills on time, according to a senior Treasury Department official on Tuesday.”

Remember back in 2008 when he was promising a “net spending cut?” Just in case, here’s a reminder.

I think that the 2012 question will be What happened to the money?

Just don’t call him unpatriotic.

December 28, 2011

NOT JUST BARNEY FRANK: Eight Veteran House Democrats Retiring. “The retirement of rank-and-file Democrats is an especially bad sign for the Democrats if they have any hope of retaking the U.S. House. The nine House retirements are even more notable because each ranks high in seniority for key House committees — if the House returned to Democratic rule, they would be in line to assume chairmanships. Chairmanships are great perks, offering hideaway offices in the Capitol building and less restrained power and authority. Voluntarily walking away from Hill leadership is uncommon: House members can sit for twenty years on the Hill and never get close to a chairmanship. To Democratic Party faithful, the nine retiring congressmen present a dramatic picture of the hostile environment Democrats are facing as the 2012 election begins. Some of the retirees had easily won re-election with 60-70% majorities. Their stampede for the exit is yet another admission that the Democrats face a potential “wave” election, and of course, it portends considerable trouble for Barack Obama.”

December 28, 2011

WITH REASON: Three House Republicans Ask IRS To Investigate AARP’s Tax-Exempt Status.

December 28, 2011

TODAY ONLY: Black & Decker Steam Mop for $44.99.

UPDATE: Rachel Pereira writes:

I have something similar to the steam mop you linked; I love it and highly recommend steam mopping. I got mine for free & got paid to blog about it, but I love it anyway! Mopping is a task I loathe more than any other task (except sweeping), and my steam mop seriously improved my mood about having to mop.

My paid mop review from back in the day, if you interested.

I haven’t bought chemicals to clean my floors since I started steam mopping, and I feel a lot better about allowing my small animals to run
around on my tile floors now, knowing they won’t inhale residual chemicals, and I can steam away their germs.

Sounds good.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Gene Humphreys writes:

‘m a daily reader and love your site.

On the steam mop review (update) you posted today, your readers might want to know that, while they’re great for tile, some hardwood floor manufacturers and a lot of refinishers say that a steam mop will void the finish warranty. This is especially true of the newer “green” waterbased finishes.

I didn’t know that, but it makes sense.

December 28, 2011

MORE ON RON PAUL AND HIS NEWSLETTERS, from Ilya Somin.

December 28, 2011

HOW’S THAT “SMART DIPLOMACY” WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Iraq In Crisis Following U.S. Withdrawal. Obama was more interested in politics than success, with predictable results.

December 28, 2011

DOG BITES MAN: New York Times guilty of shoddy journalism on gun story.

Plus, more scorn aimed at the Times, from gun journalist Bob Owens. “In other words, 200 permit holders were convicted of felonies out of 240,000 permit holders, or 0.0833333334-percent of NC concealed carry permit population. I would love for the New York Times to do the research and see what percentage of the NYPD, Chicago PD, Los Angeles PD, or New Orleans PD is convicted of felonies in any given year.”

Research? Where guns and the NYT are concerned, “research” means copying the latest press release from Brady or Bloomberg.

And, from SayUncle: “Of course, no expose into the Mayors Against Guns crowd, who are 45 times more likely to be a criminal than a FL permit holder.”

He’s not joking about that. “Comparatively speaking, Mayors Against Illegal Guns members are almost eight times more likely to be convicted of crimes than Florida concealed firearm license holders – but that number is based off 23 years of licenses versus four years of MAIG. Assuming the mayors had as much history as the licenses, and assuming the same trend (11 mayors convicted in four years – a sizeable assumption, but it is all the data we have to operate on), you are looking at MAIG members being over 45 times more likely to be convicted of crimes than Florida concealed firearm license holders. How funny is that?”

Related: BlackFive: Misused Gun Statistics Kill The Truth. “Did you know there is a nationwide rampage going on where crazed fanatics with concealed carry permits are slaughtering innocent citizens? Neither did I, but thankfully the NY Times is on the story. With their usual, thoroughly accurate, fact-checked, journalistic professionalism propaganda, they have concocted a faux outrage that simply doesn’t add up.”

Plus, from Robert VerBruggen:

All of these numbers are completely meaningless; in any large population, there will be some crime. The only way to see what these numbers mean is to compare concealed-carry holders to the general population. Fortunately, state-level murder data are easy to find.

North Carolina has a statewide murder rate of about 5 per 100,000. Even without counting manslaughter, that’s 25 murders committed per 100,000 North Carolinians every five years. There are about 230,000 valid concealed-carry permits in North Carolina, so by pure chance, you’d expect these folks to be responsible for nearly 60 murders over five years. And yet only ten of them committed murder or manslaughter. Instead of “rais[ing] questions,” the Times has demonstrated yet again that permit holders are more peaceful than the general population.

Oft evil will shall evil mar.

December 28, 2011

HOW THE GOVERNMENT HAS CAUSED AMERICA’S OBESITY PROBLEM: “While blaming lack of exercise, overeating, and (this week) poor parenting, the real culprit has been almost entirely overlooked: The awful dietary advice dispensed by mainstream medical science over the last 30 years. If we want a healthier, slimmer population, we have to stop eating the sugar-laden diet so many experts have recommended to us.”

Of course for the real story, read this. If you dare.

December 28, 2011

#GOPFAIL: Virginia ballot scrambles GOP presidential race.

December 28, 2011

AT THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, “Politics Drive Law Enforcement.”

December 28, 2011

SHOOTING ILLUSTRATED: What’s Your Veinte, Amigo? New revelations about Mexican drug cartels’ operations raise some questions.

December 27, 2011

JOHN HINDERAKER endorses Mitt Romney. “The ‘anybody but Romney’ mentality that grips many Republicans is, in my view, illogical. It led them to embrace Rick Perry, who turned out to be unable to articulate a conservative thought; Newt Gingrich, whose record is far more checkered than Romney’s; Ron Paul, whose foreign policy views–indistinguishable from those of the far left–and forays into racial intolerance make him unfit to be president; and Michele Bachmann, whom I like very much, but who is more qualified to be a rabble-rouser than a chief executive.”

If you’re not happy with this, there’s always Operation Counterweight.

UPDATE: A different take from John Hawkins.

December 27, 2011

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): America’s Dirty Little Housing Secret Is Rocking The Suburbs.

December 27, 2011

TEN YEARS AGO ON INSTAPUNDIT: Driving my grandmother to Birmingham, then driving back, in one day. Leading to little blogging, what with the lack of ubiquitous wifi and EVDO back then. I miss those drives, and I miss her.

December 27, 2011

AT AMAZON, up to 70% off on clothing and accessories. For men, women, and children.

December 27, 2011

NASHVILLE: Mt. Juliet car dealership shut down for alleged terrorist ties. “A lawsuit was filed by the U.S. government against a group of overseas banks Dec. 15 in U.S. District Court in New York. It names Cedar Exports & Auto Sales at 7787 Eastgate Blvd. as part of a nationwide network of auto dealers who received money from an international money laundering concern with ties to drug traffickers, some of whom are supporters of Hezbollah.”

December 27, 2011

RIOT AT THE MALL OF AMERICA. “I recently read Stephen Hunter’s Soft Target, about a terrorist attack on the Mall of America. While the outcome yesterday was entirely different–no one was seriously hurt, and reportedly no shots were fired–the beginning of the riot, with screaming shoppers fleeing from gangs of ‘youths’ amid the sound of broken glass, and people being herded into the back rooms of stores for safety, was eerily reminiscent of Hunter’s novel. The moral, I suppose, is that civilization faces various threats against which we do not yet have adequate antidotes.”

Actually, we do. If “youths” felt they were at serious risk of being shot when attacking innocents, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen. And, in fact, not so long ago they were, and it didn’t. If these problems become widespread, the antidote will present itself. “Youths,” in general, do what they can get away with, and don’t do what they can’t.

UPDATE: Reader Richard Kaul writes: “Minnesota has a shall-issue concealed carry law that’s worked well, despite the metro DFL’s prediction of street bloodbaths. But the law does allow establishments to ban concealed carry, and the Mall of America does so. Which is one reason I rarely go there. I figure I can go other places that choose not to make me an easy target.”

And reader Eric Klaus writes:

It wasn’t too long ago that when a plane was hijacked, the “expert” advice was to sit quietly and acquiesce. We all know how that worked out on 9-11.

Robberies and rioting youths are still in “acquiesce” mode. Things that can’t go on forever, won’t.

Indeed.

December 27, 2011

SOPA BLOWBACK: “The dynamic is clear. Once SOPA — and its Senate counterpart, Protecting IP Act, or PIPA — became high-profile among the Internet community, the lazy endorsements from companies and various hangers-on became toxic. And now, those supporters are scrambling, hollowing out the actual support for the bill. Suddenly, a bill with ‘widespread’ corporate support doesn’t have much support at all.”

December 27, 2011

AN ARMY OF DAVIDS APPROACH TO LITIGATION: Car owner takes legal fight away from lawyers. “Working together but filing lawsuits independently, consumers could force companies to go mano a mano with individual plaintiffs in far-flung courtrooms nationwide. Call it a small-claims flash mob.”

December 27, 2011

PENELOPE TRUNK: Shortcuts To Common New Year’s Resolutions.