Archive for 2013

February 24, 2013

ECONOMIC OBSERVATIONS FROM JERRY POURNELLE: Sequestration and the coming depression. “Not everyone is hurt by depressions. Some do well indeed. Others scrape by. But it’s really hard on those just entering the work force. Fortunately, Story Tellers always survive, and with the eBook revolution my backlist is worth something. Unlike physical books which sell out and have to be reordered, eBooks are always on the virtual shelf and the store is always open. And Young Adult books tend to do well in times of high youth unemployment; many of my books appeal to younger readers as well as to adults. They sell well in PX stores, too. I should get through the coming worse times. And thanks to all those who subscribed or renewed during the current pledge drive. That helps a lot.”

February 24, 2013

REPORT: Obama Organization To Bus Protesters To Albany To Promote Gun Control. Well, the turnout at antigun events to date has been minuscule, so I guess it’s time to bus in the rent-a-mobs.

February 24, 2013

JOE BIDEN: No Ordinary American Cares About Their Constitutional Rights, Facebook Questions are Plants.

February 24, 2013

POLITICAL THOUGHTS ON The Walking Dead.

February 24, 2013

START THE POPCORN: Tunisian Islamist Prime Minister Caught in Gay Sex Video Scandal.

February 24, 2013

BLOG COMMENT OF THE DAY: “Let’s just say that the libertarian movement would do well to spend less time reading Ayn Rand and more time reading Dale Carnegie.”

February 24, 2013

VIDEO: Amazing World of Women. What’s really amazing is how many of them turn out to be wearing bikinis.

February 24, 2013

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR MITT ROMNEY . . . OH, HELL, YOU KNOW THE REST: Afghanistan leader accuses U.S. special forces of torture.

Remember the fierce moral urgency of change? Me neither.

February 24, 2013

VIA ROGER KIMBALL, a modest tax-reform proposal: “It was at this point that my friend ventured his modest proposal. How about, he suggested, we have the top 7 or 8 percent of filers pay all the federal income tax? In exchange, such filers would get a larger say in determining such things as entitlement payments, what sort of things the federal government should be paying for, etc. What do you think? The proposal would, of course, make official something that has been in place unofficially at least since so many tax filers were taken off the tax rolls during the Bush administration (that was the price the Democrats extracted in exchange for the Bush tax cuts). I mean the bifurcation of American society in two classes, the makers and the takers.”

This is precisely what Jerry Pournelle foresaw in his future history, where Americans were divided into Taxpayers and Citizens, with the former having privileges that the latter lack. It is not a very attractive world — though at present, it pretty much seems like we’re being governed by Greg Tolland’s rather thuggish People’s Alliance already.

UPDATE: Reader Richard Anderson writes that I should link the books. So here’s High Justice, and West of Honor. Those are the two that take place in the world I describe.

February 24, 2013

AS OF NOW, 70 gun companies are boycotting New York over its gun-control law.

Related: Firearms-makers to politicians on gun rights: You balk, we walk. “Firearms companies ranging from gun shops to machinists are joining forces to oppose new gun control laws. Some are threatening to move away from states that crack down on guns, others are refusing to sell gear to police that can’t be sold to citizens.” We’re seeing a lot more resistance to gun control than we did the last time around.

UPDATE: Much more on the boycott at Captain’s Journal.

Hey, any of you gun and ammo companies looking to relocate should consider Tennessee. Gun-friendly, low taxes, and a populace with a good work ethic. And the home of Luckygunner.com. What’s not to love?

February 24, 2013

BUSTED AND BACKPEDALING: Blueprint NC Disavows Memo Calling For The Evisceration of State Republicans. “Last Thursday, a memo from Blueprint NC was leaked to the press, which stated they intended to ‘eviscerate, mitigate, litigate, cogitate, and agitate’ the North Carolina Republican leadership. Blueprint is an ACORN-afiliated group, and its list of partners represents the core of the American far left. Since their dirty little secret was revealed, the organization has disavowed the memo.”

If you’re involved in state-level politics, you should read it, and consider adapting its tactics to your own situation.

February 24, 2013

SEQUESTER LOOKING BETTER ALL THE TIME: Sequester Might Force Congress To Fly Commercial.

February 24, 2013

NEWS YOU CAN USE: 10 Things No One Tells You About Married Sex.

February 24, 2013

THE CRAZY YEARS: World’s Best/Worst Mom Hired Strippers For Her Son’s 16th Birthday Party. “The brunette said she was a little surprised at how young everyone was at the party. The blond didn’t seem to mind.”

February 24, 2013

AT AMAZON, Digital Deals.

February 24, 2013

IF YOU’RE WATCHING THE OSCARS TONIGHT — OR IF YOU’RE NOT — you might want to read my Wall Street Journal column: The Hollywood Tax Story They Won’t Tell at the Oscars: It’s easy to demand higher levies on the ‘rich’ when your own industry gets $1.5 billion in government handouts.

February 24, 2013

REVOLVING DOOR: Harry Reid Hires G.E. Lawyer as Chief Tax Advisor. “By the way, no rules prevent Ms. Koch from meeting with G.E. or working on issues that would affect the company.”

February 24, 2013

THE EURO CRISIS: “Europe’s heart is still rotting away.”

February 24, 2013

PAUL MIRENGOFF: Why Dartmouth cannot be saved.

February 24, 2013

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Revealed: al-Qaeda’s 22 tips for dodging drones.

February 24, 2013

AT AMAZON, up to 60% off on Men’s Shoes.

Also, Women’s Shoes.

And a reminder: InstaPundit is an Amazon affiliate. When you do your shopping through the Amazon links on this page, including the “Shop Amazon” tab at the top or the searchbox in the right sidebar, you support the blog at no cost to yourself. Just click on the Amazon link, then shop as usual. It’s much appreciated!

February 24, 2013

REMEMBERING JUSTICE JOHN MARSHALL HARLAN. “Despite Harlan’s comparatively progressive view of racial equality, Harlan was not particularly sympathetic to the rights of immigrants. Liu suggested this was because Harlan remained a nationalist. Thus he vigorously supported extending constitutional protections to all citizens, without regard to race, but was willing to exclude those – such as Chinese immigrants — who were outsiders.”

February 24, 2013

CONSTRUCTION: WWII Nazi Bunkers Stand the Tests of Time, Vandalism and Livestock. Dictators are big on concrete.

February 24, 2013

GALLERY: High School Fashions, 1969. A commenter notices something more out-of-place than the clothes in today’s world: “Nobody is fat. No body is fat. In 1969, nobody is fat.”

February 24, 2013

THE STORY OF that green-skinned alien chick from Star Trek. The actress who played her also dated Elvis.

February 24, 2013

FORMER LAW DEAN: The ABA Is What’s Wrong With Legal Education.

February 24, 2013

TECHNOLOGY: F-22’s Human Interface Kills Humans, Then Lands Them Safely. So it’s kinda like Windows 8, except for the landing safely part . . . .

UPDATE: Will Collier says this is all wrong.

February 24, 2013

CHARLIE MARTIN: 13 Weeks, Season Two, Week Three: Sometimes homeostasis is not your friend.

February 24, 2013

IN THE MAIL: From Samuel Finlay, Breakfast with the Dirt Cult.

February 24, 2013

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Soaring gas costs leave consumers anxious about economy. “The government regularly issues reports on unemployment, housing starts and manufacturers’ output to track the economy’s progress. But for the average person, the top economic indicator is the price he or she pays at the pump, experts said. And at a time of record-high gas prices — combined with long-term joblessness, greater personal debt and paychecks reduced by higher taxes — the consumers whose spending drives the economy are unwilling, or unable, to part with their money.”

Plus: “Anybody who’s not depressed, doesn’t know what’s going on.” Nonsense. For the 1% it’s a boon: They can pay for the gas, and there’ll be less traffic on the road and no lines at the pumps. Thanks, President Obama, for energy policies that keep the hoi polloi in their place!

February 24, 2013

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Benedict’s Choice and the Crisis of the Western Church.

Like most university departments, United Nations bureaucracies, Boy Scout troops and political parties, the Vatican is a hotbed of jealousy, competition and back stabbing.

The best case for Benedict — or indeed any Pope — to resign before he is no longer up to the job is that in the absence of a strong pope the bureaucrats pretty much have the run of the Vatican. With no strong hand to keep them in check, the inmates take over the asylum. This perhaps is one reason why so many senior voices in the Church express reservations about Benedict’s decision and fear the precedent; if popes step down as they age the long reign of the bureaucrats and the cliques will come to a permanent end. Benedict may not be the last pope to see the need to step down when his powers begin to fade; Catholicism like much of western Christianity is in a state of acute crisis today, and however convenient weak popes are for church bureaucrats, the Vatican can’t afford to go on autopilot during the long slow fadeout of an aging pope.

This isn’t just a Catholic crisis. The churches of the so-called Magisterial Reformation are also in trouble: Lutheran, Anglican and Reformed denominations are suffering from the same troubles that afflict the Church of Rome. Many of the problems are familiar elements of the western religious and cultural landscape.

Indeed.

February 24, 2013

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Did Obama Make The Wrong Call in Syria?

President Obama had an opportunity to intervene in Syria before it spiralled so far out of control. Indeed, that was precisely what a number of his top military and political advisors urged the President to do: arm the moderate rebels and work with allies to boot out Assad.

Now, however, Syria is in a much more complex position. And America’s interests are threatened. The best-equipped and most determined fighters who have risen to become Assad’s most dangerous enemies are not America’s friends; moderate rebels are few and weak. Israel has been drawn unwillingly into the war, protecting itself by preventing Hezbollah from seizing powerful weapons.

VM doesn’t suggest that had Obama acted all would now be well in the Levant. But it’s clear that as the Syrian war drags on, the likelihood grows of it dragging in the U.S. and/or Israel increases in one way or another, despite Obama’s best efforts. As the Economist notes darkly, “Mr Obama wanted to avoid Syria, but Syria will come and get him.”

This must be that “smart diplomacy” we were promised.

February 24, 2013

VIDEO: The Wimpification Of America.

February 24, 2013

AT AMAZON, markdowns on spring essentials in Lawn & Garden.

Also, today only: Amazon Instant Video: Own 100+ Oscar Winners & Nominees for $3.99 Each in SD or $5.99 Each in HD.

February 24, 2013

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The Ph.D Bust: America’s Awful Market for Young Scientists—in 7 Charts.

February 24, 2013

MARK TAPSCOTT: Sequestration scares are the ultimate Washington Wink-Winks.

The sequestration scares are the ultimate example of the Washington Wink-Wink: Politicos from both parties warn of imminent disaster if the federal budget is “cut” even though they know government spending will be higher in 2013 regardless if the sequestration “cuts” are implemented.

Put another way, the sequestration scares are lies, pure and simple. Not just bunk, not just distortions or mis-statements, but lies. And every professional politician – Democrat, Republican, Socialist, Independent – in this town knows it.

Tar. Feathers.

February 24, 2013

THE BROWSER UPGRADE I’D LIKE TO SEE: One where the tab that’s the source of the autoplay audio flashes or something so I know which one to shut down.

February 24, 2013

DEMOCRATIC LOBBYIST: “The worst-case scenario for us is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens. And Republicans say: See, that wasn’t so bad.” So I guess we can expect the Administration to make it as bad as it can.

February 24, 2013

THEY’LL TURN US ALL INTO BEGGARS ‘CAUSE THEY’RE EASIER TO PLEASE: ObamaCare and the ’29ers’– How the new mandates are already reducing full-time employment.

Here’s a trend you’ll be reading more about: part-time “job sharing,” not only within firms but across different businesses.

It’s already happening across the country at fast-food restaurants, as employers try to avoid being punished by the Affordable Care Act. In some cases we’ve heard about, a local McDonalds has hired employees to operate the cash register or flip burgers for 20 hours a week and then the workers head to the nearby Burger King or Wendy’s to log another 20 hours. Other employees take the opposite shifts. . . .

Because other federal employment regulations also kick in when a firm crosses the 50 worker threshold, employers are starting to cap payrolls at 49 full-time workers. These firms have come to be known as “49ers.” Businesses that hire young and lower-skilled workers are also starting to put a ceiling on the work week of below 30 hours. These firms are the new “29ers.” Part-time workers don’t have to be offered insurance under ObamaCare.

The mandate to offer health insurance doesn’t take effect until 2014, but the “measurement period” used by the feds to determine a firm’s average number of full-time employees started last month. So the cutbacks and employment dodges are underway.

The savings from restricting hours worked can be enormous. If a company with 50 employees hires a new worker for $12 an hour for 29 hours a week, there is no health insurance requirement. But suppose that worker moves to 30 hours a week. This triggers the $2,000 federal penalty. So to get 50 more hours of work a year from that employee, the extra cost to the employer rises to about $52 an hour—the $12 salary and the ObamaCare tax of what works out to be $40 an hour.

Moving to 33 hours a week costs the employer about $10 an hour more in ObamaCare tax. Look for fewer 30-35 hour-a-week jobs. The law that was sold as a way to help business and workers is thus yanking a few more rungs from the ladder of economic upward mobility.

How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?

February 24, 2013

HOW HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATORS HIDE THE UMBRELLA: Hospital pricing is famously opaque. And until we understand it, we’ll have a hard time controlling costs.

The web of cross-subsidies, underpayments, overpayments, and upcoding is opaque to everyone except the adminstrators. And they are not, as Brill observes, eager to make any of it clearer. In part because they genuinely feel, as does the middle manager in our story, that they are forced into these little subterfuges to recover legitimate costs that short-sighted bean-counters are refusing to cover.

I don’t say that they are right to feel this way; only that the feeling is quite clearly sincere.

I favor fixed prices, advertised in advance.

February 24, 2013

JUSTICE: Court Rules Arizona Can Prosecute Sober People for Driving Under the Influence.

February 24, 2013

FIGHT THE POWER: Vigilantes fighting revenue-driven traffic enforcement.

February 24, 2013

THIN-SKINNED: Andrew Cuomo freaks out over a little hostile media coverage. “I’m getting the impression that Andrew Cuomo is apparently very good at turning small PR problems into bigger PR problems.”

February 24, 2013

ED DRISCOLL: Capt. Butterfield To The Bridge, Please.

February 24, 2013

A TWITTER VICTORY: Hey, Nice Try With the #DemandAVote Spambots #p2! Jacked and Busted!

February 23, 2013

SPACE: Asteroid-Smashing Mission Picks Space Rock Target.

February 23, 2013

BLOG: Fake Boobs To Save My Life.

February 23, 2013

DAMAGED GOODS: Hagel’s Brand Suffers from Confirmation Battle. I think the original plan was to nominate a Republican who could take the blame for defense cuts — and actions. I don’t think Hagel can fill that role usefully now, even if he’s confirmed. “Hagel will begin his tenure with a level of partisan suspicion and dislike unknown since the end of Donald Rumsfeld’s term in 2006.”

February 23, 2013

LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE ASKING IF I’LL BE AT CPAC: Nope, but Allen West and Michelle Fields will be there for PJTV. If you’re going to be at CPAC, you can register at the link and you’ll be entered for a chance to have dinner with them.

February 23, 2013

AT AMAZON, markdowns on Levi’s for men and women.

February 23, 2013

TWEET OF THE DAY: When the White House is attempting to discredit Bob Woodward, again, it’s not a good day for them, huh?

February 23, 2013

TEA PARTY FOLKS SHOULD READ THIS AND FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO THE SAME THING, IN REVERSE: Progressive Tax-Exempt Group’s Secret Plan to ‘Eviscerate,’ ‘Cripple’ GOP.

Here’s the plan. Turnabout is fair play.

February 23, 2013

WOMAN FROM TOWNHALL: Biden’s questioner: His answer on shotguns was pretty sexist.

February 23, 2013

HAPPY SATURDAY NIGHT.

February 23, 2013

VIDEO: Juan Williams: Liberal media will ‘shut you down, stab you, kill you, fire you’ if you disagree.

February 23, 2013

PAINT IT BLACK: Post-Mortem on a Sort-Of Race Riot.

February 23, 2013

IT’S PROBABLY WORSE, BECAUSE THEY DON’T GET AS MUCH SYMPATHY: Drone Pilots Are Found to Get Stress Disorders Much as Those in Combat Do.

February 23, 2013

PERSONALLY, I WANT TO BE A CRONY: The Best of the Liberty Video Awards.

February 23, 2013

VIRGINIA POSTREL: Why You Want To Escape With Denzel Washington.

February 23, 2013

ON YOUTUBE: PJTV: Poliwood’s Insider Tip Sheet To The Oscars.

February 23, 2013

14 THINGS successful people do on weekends.

February 23, 2013

JANICE FIAMENGO: How Well Does RateMyProfessors Rate? I don’t know how it performs in general, but my recent ratings seem to be mostly from people who have never taken my classes, but don’t like my blog. I doubt that problem extends to most of the people rated, though.

February 23, 2013

JAMES TARANTO: Charlie Cook Has a Problem: Sometimes conventional wisdom is not just unimaginative but self-serving. If by “sometimes,” you mean “usually.”

February 23, 2013

MEGAN MCARDLE: Could U.S. Debt Reach A Tipping Point? Yes. And while we may hit it later than some of us fear, we’ll probably reach it sooner than the powers-that-be hope.

February 23, 2013

AT AMAZON, Kindle Fiction for $1.99 or less.

February 23, 2013

RASMUSSEN: 59% Think Most School Textbooks Put Political Correctness Ahead of Accuracy.

February 23, 2013

WHY GIRLS may be protected against autism.

February 23, 2013

WAREHOUSE DEALS in Grocery & Personal Care.

February 23, 2013

I’M IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL TODAY: The Hollywood Tax Story They Won’t Tell at the Oscars: It’s easy to demand higher levies on the ‘rich’ when your own industry gets $1.5 billion in government handouts. It’s open to nonsubscribers.

February 23, 2013

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Would You Care If Your Wife Earned More?

February 23, 2013

LAW DEAN CALLS FOR Charter Law Schools.

February 23, 2013

YOOHOO! MR. ADELSON? The Right should buy the Boston Globe…and staff it with conservatives. Somewhat different from my idea, but consistent. I think, though, that buying several smaller papers in swing states might be more effective.

February 23, 2013

A NEW SPORT: Wave Skiing.

February 23, 2013

REVEALED: What 200 calories looks like in different foods – and the results are very surprising.

February 23, 2013

WE WILL SELL NO WINE out of its depth. “Napa Valley-based Mira Winery is aging 48 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Atlantic Ocean. The winery said bottles of wine recovered from shipwrecks have a remarkable and unique flavor. Thus, the winemaker believes aging the 2009 Cabernet in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor will affect the red wine’s taste.”

February 23, 2013

JESSE WALKER: Stop Demonizing Preppers: They’re More Diverse And Interesting Than Media Stereotypes Admit.

In fact, the prepper community includes a lot of political and cultural variety. If there is right-wing survivalist DNA here, there is also the DNA of the Whole Earth Catalog and several generations of bohemian back-to-the-landers, plus a fair number of families whose inspiration isn’t much larger than the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.” Tour the online prepper communities, and you may well run into people who have embraced the long-lived conspiracy yarn in which the Federal Emergency Management Agency is plotting to put us in concentration camps. You may also encounter FEMA itself, which currently has an advertisement on the front page of the American Preppers Network. The ad asks, “Do you meet President Obama’s minimum Prepper Standards? Are you ‘FEMA Ready’?” Talk about all-encompassing diversity.

I think it’s funny that if you do what the government recommends — have several weeks of emergency supplies on hand — you’re a crazy anti-government extremist.

February 23, 2013

STEPHEN L. CARTER: The Other Crisis Facing The Federal Judiciary. “Had Congress kept its promise of $125,000 in constant 1989 dollars, I would still be on the bench.”

Plus: “Some context: $125,000 in 1989 dollars would be about $228,000 in 2012 dollars. A federal district judge currently receives an annual salary of $174,000. To most Americans, that probably sounds like a lot of money. But there are literally hundreds of executive-branch employees who earn more. So do first-year associates at many large law firms.”

February 23, 2013

IN THE MAIL: From Peter Berkowitz, Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political Moderation.

February 23, 2013

GOVERNANCE: Court orders NLRB to justify continuing operation in wake of recess appointee ruling.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today ordered the National Labor Relations Board to respond to a petition by a pro-business group that it suspend any further action in a Rhode Island case. The same court had earlier ruled that two of the three current board members were appointed unconstitutionally. Should the court grant the petition, it could force the NLRB to cease all activity.

“We are not asking the court to shut down the Board, but it may have that effect. If the court shuts down the NLRB in this case, why not another other case? This will open the door for challenges in the other cases that have the potential to be invalidated by the court’s decision last month,” said Anthony Riedel, spokesman for the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, which filed the petition.

Read the whole thing.

February 23, 2013

IS THERE A CHINESE YAMAMOTO SOMEWHERE? Chinese Admiral Expects “Quick” Win in Japan War.

UPDATE: Reader Edward Dutcher writes: “Actually, anyone projecting an easy fight with Japan would be more of a Chinese Tojo.” Yeah, I was referring to Yamamoto’s warning that they couldn’t win a long war. There are, apparently, plenty of Tojos. Somebody should pay close attention to whether older, more conservative members of the officer corps start suddenly retiring or suffering accidents.

February 23, 2013

ON METEOR STRIKES, and nuclear weapons as units of measurement. “What I don’t like is … the idea that kiloton or a megaton is just an energy unit, that it’s equivalent to so many joules or something. Because you could do that. You could claim that your house runs so many tons of TNT worth of electricity per year, but it sort of trivializes the notion.”

February 23, 2013

AT AMAZON, it’s the Swim Shop. Summer is coming.

Plus, markdowns in the Clothing Store.

February 23, 2013

REPORT: Colorado Governor Isn’t Sold on Magazine Capacity Limit After Huge Public Fallout.

According to coloradopeakpolitics.com, the governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper is wavering on a proposed magazine capacity limit that is making its way through the Colorado state legislature.

Since magazine giant Magpul, which is currently operating in CO, has announced they will pack up their operations, move across state lines and take hundreds (possibly thousands) of jobs with them and since there has been a huge national fallout over comments made by Democratic lawmaker Joe Salazar regarding women with guns and rape (see video below), the governor is apparently considering not supporting new gun control bills.

If I were in Colorado, I’d be trying to encourage him to come out in favor of civil rights, not gun control.

February 23, 2013

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: J.D. Tuccille: FBI Sexting and Stealing a Great Reason To Not Give The Bureau More Power.

P. J. O’Rourke famously quipped that “giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” If he were writing today, though, he might have compared the state’s self-restraint to that of FBI agents handed smart phones and surveillance equipment. As reported by Reason 24/7, an internal disciplinary report from last fall shows that our fearless G-men (and women) have been busy sending each other pictures of their junk and using their surveillance skills to bug their supervisors’ offices. So you can definitely trust them with all of that extra spying power they’ve been gathering.

Good grief.

February 23, 2013

FORBES: The Non-Existent Spending Cuts Wrought By The ‘Devastating’ Sequester.

February 23, 2013

I WONDER IF HE’LL HEAR FROM HIS DISTRICT ON THIS? Goodlatte Says House Will Act on Gun Legislation.

Goodlatte, in one of his first interviews about gun violence since taking over the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee in January, said the administration’s recent enforcement of gun laws has been “pathetic.” He noted that the Justice Department rarely prosecutes those who attempt to buy firearms illegally by lying on federal forms that ask prospective buyers to assert that they are not among a group of prohibited purchasers. He pointed to statistics, cited in the Judiciary Republicans’ letter to Obama, that the Justice Department prosecuted just 62 of more than 76,000 such cases in 2010.

But Goodlatte also said that the committee’s emphasis on stronger enforcement of current gun laws should not be interpreted to mean that it is not willing to take up new legislation. Until Friday, House Republican leaders had said only that their chamber is willing to look at whatever gun-related legislation is passed by the Democratic-led Senate.

I guess we’ll see.

UPDATE: Moe Lane comments.

February 23, 2013

POLITICS IN THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: Rand Paul: White House should pledge no drone strikes on American soil.

The Kentucky senator said he had sent a letter to John Brennan, Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, but had not yet received a response.

“I’ve asked serious questions, serious constitutional questions,” Paul said. “I’ve gotten zero response. And that is sort of the way this administration is treating Congress. The Senate has the right to advise and consent and approve nominees. I’ve not got one word of response from the administration on this.”

Paul has pledged to attempt to delay Brennan’s nomination until the White House responds to his inquiry.

“It’s inexcusable that the administration will not answer ‘absolutely no, we will not do this,’ ” Paul said.

Earlier this month, NBC News obtained a Department of Justice white paper outlining the specific circumstances under which the United States can conduct a lethal drone strike against an American citizen abroad.

Read the whole thing.

February 22, 2013

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: FBI probe of defense tech allegedly leaked from NASA stonewalled, sources say. “The claims originate with several past and current NASA employees concerned with the systemic leak of highly sensitive information relating to missile defense systems, as well as what they call a troubled investigation into the leak. . . . The accusations stem from a reported violation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which governs the export of defense weaponry. In 2006, Ames adapted specialized rocket engines — originally developed for the Pentagon missile defense “Kinetic Kill Vehicle” program — for a moon lander prototype that ultimately became NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). The robotic moon orbiter is set to launch on Aug. 12, 2013. Information on guidance and terrain-mapping systems from the Tomahawk cruise missile and a radar from the F-35 were also shared, according to one report in Aviation Week.”

UPDATE: A reader who asks anonymity emails: “I hear a different story about the ‘leak’ at Ames. My sources suggest this is a fairly transparent attempt by Bolden (NASA Administrator) to oust Pete Worden.” He’s a guy I trust, so factor this in.

February 22, 2013

RULES ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE. AND YOU’RE ONE OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE! Top Cuomo Aide Delivers Public Rebuke of State Worker Who Talked to the Press.

February 22, 2013

MY COLUMN IN TOMORROW’S WALL STREET JOURNAL: The Hollywood Tax Story They Won’t Tell at the Oscars: It’s easy to demand higher levies on the ‘rich’ when your own industry gets $1.5 billion in government handouts.

February 22, 2013

BOB WOODWARD: How Obama Has Moved The Goal Posts On The Sequester Deal.

“There was an insistence on the part of Republicans in Congress for there to be some automatic trigger,” Lew said while campaigning in Florida. It “was very much rooted in the Republican congressional insistence that there be an automatic measure.”

The president and Lew had this wrong. My extensive reporting for my book “The Price of Politics” shows that the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of Lew and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors — probably the foremost experts on budget issues in the senior ranks of the federal government.

Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011, according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved.

Nabors has told others that they checked with the president before going to see Reid. A mandatory sequester was the only action-forcing mechanism they could devise. Nabors has said, “We didn’t actually think it would be that hard to convince them” — Reid and the Republicans — to adopt the sequester. “It really was the only thing we had. There was not a lot of other options left on the table.” . . .

But then Burr asked about the president’s statement during the presidential debate, that the Republicans originated it. Lew, being a good lawyer and a loyal presidential adviser, then shifted to denial mode: “Senator, the demand for an enforcement mechanism was not something that the administration was pushing at that moment.”

That statement was not accurate.

Read the whole thing. Including this: “So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made.”

February 22, 2013

MEGAN MCARDLE: From the outside, a humanities PhD does not seem likely to ever be a career-enhancing move, for the simple reason that a PhD is a lengthy apprenticeship designed to teach you the skills needed to do exactly one thing: be a professor.

February 22, 2013

CHRISTINE PETERSON ON pushing the future in a better direction.

February 22, 2013

AT AMAZON, Up to 50% off on TV & Video.

Plus, up to 50% off on small kitchen appliances.

February 22, 2013

WHY WASN’T THERE A CHINESE SPRING? Although sharing many of the same problems as Arab societies, the Arab Spring never arrived in Beijing. Why?

February 22, 2013

CHANGE: Google Debuts Pixel, a Premium Touchscreen Chromebook. “The Pixel, a new Chromebook built and designed by Google that has been the source of web rumors for weeks, is real. And, as also has been rumored, it’s a Chromebook unlike any other — premium hardware, high performance and a high-resolution touchscreen display.”

February 22, 2013

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How To Get A Freelance Job in 5 Days.

February 22, 2013

THE NEXT HIPSTER EXERCISE FAD? Swedish walking with bouncy BungyPump poles. I think I’ll stick with Mark Rippetoe.

February 22, 2013

AT AMAZON, up to 75% off on Men’s Clothing.

February 22, 2013

FASTER, PLEASE: Available soon — a tricorder, a la ‘Star Trek.’ “The famed X Prize Foundation, which pays huge cash prizes to intrepid inventors, is offering prize purses totaling $12.5 million for the creation of a first-generation tricorder that could be used for medical diagnoses. Nokia and Qualcomm are putting up the money for the contests.”