Showing posts from May, 2011

Rich Party, Poor Voter

They told me that if Republicans ran, we'd have a party that only cared about the wealthy, and they were right!Entire forests have been felled explaining why the working class abandoned the Democratic Party, but that's not the real story. It's true that Southern whites of all classes have increasingly voted Republican over the past 30 years. But working-class African Americans have been (and remain) among the most reliable Democratic voters, and as Larry Bartels has shown convincingly, outside the South the white working class has not dramatically changed its voting behavior over the past half-century. About 50 percent of these moderate-income whites vote for Democratic presidential candidates, and a bit more than half self-identify as Democrats. These numbers bounce up and down a bit (thus the "Reagan Democrat" phenomenon of the early '80s), but the overall trend has been virtually flat since 1948.

In other words, it's not that the working class has aban…

Save Our Nanny State

Across the pond, calls to save the NHS haven't exactly caught on:It isn’t hard to see why. The NHS might be of profound symbolic importance to left-wing activists, but to the general public, to the masses who make up its clientele, it is a patronising, snooping and increasingly politically motivated institution. Save it? Why, exactly?

The middle classes, who tend to live in parts of Britain where public services in general are in quite good nick, have done pretty well from the NHS. The rest of Britain, those who have been notable by their absence on “Save our NHS” protests, has not. For them, the NHS is no longer a glorious postwar invention – it is the institution which lectures them endlessly about their eating, drinking and smoking habits.

Is it any wonder that the public is not out on the street alongside those NHS fanboys who are fighting tooth and nail to protect their favourite state body? These protests illustrate brilliantly the chasm separating many liberal campaign…

Cyber Wars

The Pentagon wants to raise the stakes:The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.

The Pentagon’s first formal cyber strategy, unclassified portions of which are expected to become public next month, represents an early attempt to grapple with a changing world in which a hacker could pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country’s military.

In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” said a military official.This sounds a bit risky, as explained here. But that day may be coming soon.

Be Careful What You Vote For

That'll leave a mark:Eighty-two House Democrats joined every Republican in rejecting a bill to raise the federal debt ceiling to $16.7 trillion, and the measure failed by a vote of 97 to 318, with seven members (all Democrats) voting “present.”

The Obama administration has argued for such a “clean” vote on the debt ceiling without strings attached (such as additional legislation to reduce the debt).

No doubt, this is political gamesmanship by the GOP meant to call the Democrats bluff and show that a stand-alone vote on the debt limit has no chance of passage. But it still is another demonstration that Democrats are reluctant to vote for anything that could open them up to criticism, even when it means voting for policies for which they had previously expressed support.So much for trying to bluff their way past the debt ceiling. Now Team Obama actually has to deal with it.

Weinergate Update

Try as he might, Anthony Weiner can't seem to get away from his slowly growing scandal. CNN, to their credit, calls him out on it:

The Expanding Imperial Presidency

An argument that it's actually gotten worse under Obama:Civil libertarians once looked to this president to right the constitutional balance. But what Obama has wrought is the same old "Terror Presidency" with new rhetoric.

Gen. Michael Hayden, President George W. Bush's CIA director, notes a "powerful continuity" between the two administrations on national security powers. Even former Vice President Dick Cheney now grudgingly praises Obama for leaving most of the Bush framework intact.

In some areas, "44" has gone even further than "43." Bush claimed "inherent power" to attack other countries at will, but never fought a war without congressional authorization.

Our new "decider" launched a war in Libya without so much as a by-your-leave to Congress. "It's nice to have a neocon back in the White House," The Washington Times enthused as the Tomahawks began to fly.

Your mileage may vary, though—especially i…

Green Versus Green

Scientists looking for better ways to go green face the law of unintended consequences:World-class research into future sources of green energy is under threat in Britain from an environmental tax designed to boost energy efficiency and drive down carbon emissions, scientists claim.

Some facilities must find hundreds of thousands of pounds to settle green tax bills, putting jobs and research at risk.

The unexpected impact of the government's carbon reduction commitment (CRC) scheme is so severe that scientists and research funders have lobbied ministers for an exemption to reduce the bills.

Among the worst hit is the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, a facility for research into almost limitless carbon-free energy. The lab faces an estimated £400,000 payment next year, raising the spectre of job losses and operational cuts. "Considering our research is aimed at producing zero-carbon energy, it seems ironic and perverse to clobber us with an extra bill," a s…

Le Jerks

Ah, those sophisticated French:Sexism in France's National Assembly has got so bad that Chantal Jouanno, the sports minister and a former French Karate champion, said she can no longer turn up to parliament in a skirt without a volley of cat calls.

One female cabinet minister said that male politicians were so incorrigible that "if all those who mix power and sex had to account for their actions, half of our (male) politicians would be in trouble".

A Socialist woman MP said that when she turned up in tight-fitting clothes to a parliamentary commission, a male MP from Mr Sarkozy's UMP party exclaimed: "Dressed like that, don't be surprised if you get raped." "A kind of infantilisation of women reigns in parliament that I had never seen before," said Sandrine Mazetier, Socialist MP for Paris."

The trigger for the backlash was the arrest of Mr Strauss-Kahn, a former French presidential hopeful, who faces charges of sexually assaulting and …

Golden Days

Maybe Ron Paul was on to something:Utah has passed a law intended to encourage residents to use gold coins made by the Mint as cash, but with their value based on the weight of the precious metals in them, not the face value - if, that is, they can find a merchant willing to accept the coins on that basis.

The legislation, called the Legal Tender Act of 2011, was inspired in part by Tea Party supporters, some of whom believe that the dollar should be backed by gold or silver and that Obama administration policies could cause a currency collapse. The law is the first of its kind in the United States. Several other states, including Minnesota, Idaho and Georgia, have considered similar laws.

Mr. Jurkowsky said the new law “is of no real consequence,” and is purely symbolic, but supporters say it is more than political pocket change. They say that it is just a beginning, that one day soon Utah might mint its own coins, that retailers could have scales for weighing precious metals and t…

Unexpecting The Expected

A look at why the MSM always seems so shocked by bad economic news on Obama's watch:It's obviously going to be hard to achieve the unacknowledged goal of many mainstream journalists -- the president's re-election -- if the economic slump continues. So they characterize economic setbacks as unexpected, with the implication that there's still every reason to believe that, in Herbert Hoover's phrase, prosperity is just around the corner.

A less cynical explanation is that many journalists really believe that the Obama administration's policies are likely to improve the economy. Certainly that has been the expectation as well as the hope of administration policymakers.

Obama's first Council of Economics Advisers chairman, Christina Romer, whose scholarly work is widely respected, famously predicted that the February 2009 stimulus package would hold unemployment below 8 percent. She undoubtedly believed that at the time; she is too smart to have made a predictio…

A Tale Of Two Disaster Areas

First, President Obama, in Joplin:The president was chipper as he walked through the streets of some of the hardest hit parts of the town, stopping to talk with folks on the street who had lost everything, their demolished homes, personal effects turned debris and cars and trucks twisted and bent like toys.

And the people of Joplin, who voted against Obama in a big way, turned out to welcome and applaud the president for coming to their devastated town.

With the hot sun beating down and high humidity, Obama and his entourage walked the streets of ruin, stopping to chat with families gathered outside where their homes used to be.

At one lot where Obama met with survivors, the only thing left of the house that once stood behind them was the base of a red brick chimney. It was adorned with an American flag.

"The main thing I want to communicate to the people of Joplin is this is just not your tragedy," Obama said. "This is a national tragedy, and that means there will be a…

Selective Scandals

Via Big Government: why is the MSM ignoring WeinerGate?After all, this isn’t just any story. Regardless of how it all eventually breaks, what we have here is either the story of a high profile, recently married New York Congressman who’s seriously considering a Mayoral run in Manhattan, tweeting his “junk” to a young woman two decades his junior — and lying to the media about it. Or we have a story involving a high-profile Congressman’s Facebook and Twitter account being hacked with pornographic pictures.

So ask yourself: how does the MSM justify all but ignoring something so juicy? And then if you’re still not convinced of the story’s newsworthiness, remind yourself that these events are not unfolding in one of those odd, square-shaped states our journalist-class fly over every once in a while. This is a New York story that involves the trifecta of politics, sex, and a rising political star. Furthermore, the icing on the cake is Bill and Hillary Clinton. Last July, in a ceremony offi…

Black Gold Rush

They really do do things bigger in Texas. Witness the latest oil boom:CATARINA, Tex. — Until last year, the 17-mile stretch of road between this forsaken South Texas village and the county seat of Carrizo Springs was a patchwork of derelict gasoline stations and rusting warehouses.

Now the region is in the hottest new oil play in the country, with giant oil terminals and sprawling RV parks replacing fields of mesquite. More than a dozen companies plan to drill up to 3,000 wells around here in the next 12 months.

The oil rush is already transforming this impoverished area of Texas near the Mexican border, doubling real estate values in the last year and filling restaurants and hotels.

“That’s oil money,” said Bert Bell, a truck company manager, pointing to the new pickup truck he bought for his wife after making $525,000 leasing mineral rights around his family’s mobile home. “Oil money just makes life easier.”

Based on the industry’s plans, shale and other “tight rock” fields t…

The Cornpone Candidate

Oh, brother:It was an odd setting for a policy pronouncement, but on the sidewalk outside the Historical Building here, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney embraced ethanol subsidies. It came just days after and blocks from where his rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Tim Pawlenty, said the subsidies should be phased out.

“I support the subsidy of ethanol,” he told an Iowa voter. “I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution for this country.” Iowa leads the nation in the production of corn, a main source of ethanol.

Mr. Romney and a crowd that had come to see his first Iowa speech of the year had been evacuated from the Historical Building by a fire alarm. Amid the tumult, a woman asked if he was going to take any questions. He said given the circumstances, the question and answer part of the program appeared out of the question. So she presented him a typed out note demanding his position on ethanol, one she had intended to present at the president…

California Fail

Walter Russell Mead on what it takes to reach an epic fail point:Virtually every important civil institution in society has to fail to get you to this point. Your homes and houses of worship are failing to build law abiding citizens, much less responsible and informed voters. Your schools aren’t educating enough of your kids to make an honest living. Your taxes and policies are so bad that you are driving thousands of businesses away. Your management systems must be fouled and confused to the max for you to create something so dysfunctional, so wildly beyond your means, that the Supreme Court of the United States (wisely or foolishly is another question) starts to micromanage your jails.

California used to be the glory of this country, the dream by the sea, the magic state. Now it produces so many criminals it can’t pay to keep them locked up.

This is partly a blue social model thing. California’s public unions are sucking the state dry — like a parasite killing its host. Too m…

The Bear Is Still There

A warning on why we should be concerned about Russia's retro cold war mentality:There’s a tendency to dismiss the Russian military as hollow today, and that tendency is dangerous. The Russian military is hollow – but nations with hollow militaries rely more, not less, on strategic nuclear arms for their concepts of national security. It doesn’t matter to the performance of a nuclear warhead whether the army that fields it is feeding its soldiers dog food or not. The force build-up Russia has undertaken since 2007 has been weighted toward the “strategic nuclear triad” of the Cold War, and principally toward two legs of it: land-launched ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). (The third leg is strategic bombers.) While the US has allowed our strategic nuclear forces to stagnate, Russia has been updating hers.

Going back down the path of MAD because Russia wants it and Americans don’t bother to understand that it’s happening is a terrible idea. Russia isn’t t…

Working Man

Lech Walesa gives Obama the cold shoulder:Poland's former president and Solidarity founder Lech Walesa has snubbed an invitation to meet with President Barack Obama.

Mr Walesa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, had been invited by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski to attend a gathering of Poland's leading political figures with the U.S. President in Warsaw on Saturday.

'It's difficult to tell journalists what you'd like to say to the president of a superpower. This time I won't tell him, I won't meet him, it doesn't suit me,' Walesa told news station TVN24.

Mr Obama will leave the G8 summit in Deauville, France, and travel to Warsaw this evening on the last stop on his European tour.Maybe Mr. Walesa didn't want to be advised on "sharing the wealth" the way he used to be...

Grappling With Gropers

Utah joins a growing Grope Rebellion:Utah looks likely to be the next state to follow the example set by Texas in attempting to make TSA grope downs a felony.

Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman has introduced a bill into the Utah House of Representatives that would ensure TSA agents would have to abide by the same Fourth Amendment limits that police do when performing searches on Americans.

“It is a work in progress,” Wimmer told the Utah Daily Herald. “What it would do right now is simply say TSA agents are not exempt from the requirement of reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pat down a citizen.”

Like the bill that was recently unanimously passed in the Texas House, Wimmer’s legislation would make it an offense to touch the private parts of the person on the receiving end of the pat-down.

A number of other lobby groups, state and local authorities around the country have also resolved to either block the TSA body scanners or kick the TSA out of airports altogether, including Ne…

Department Of Embarrassment

A liberal Democrat breaks ranks with the Obama administration over its treatment of for-profit schools:The liberal Democrat in question is Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY10). He has a problem with the way the Obama Department of Education has gone about drafting its new “Gainful Employment, or “GE” rules. These rules are directed at for-profit schools, and would limit the financial aid they can extend to students. Rep. Towns voices his objections to the GE rules in a letter, dated May 24, 2011, to Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD), who is the Democrats’ ranking member on the committee. Towns writes:I am writing to ask you to initiate an investigation and to hold a balanced, non-partisan public hearing concerning the process by which senior officials at the Department of Education (“DoE”) drafted the proposed “Gainful Employment” (“GE”) regulation.

The GE regulation, if implemented as proposed, would apply vir…

Shaken And Scared

Say what?Italian government officials have accused the country's top seismologist of manslaughter, after failing to predict a natural disaster that struck Italy in 2009, a massive devastating earthquake that killed 308 people.

A shocked spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) likened the accusations to a witch hunt.

"It has a medieval flavor to it -- like witches are being put on trial," the stunned spokesman told it does. Then there are the facts:Earthquakes are, of course, nearly impossible to predict, seismologists say. In fact, according to the website for the USGS, no major quake has ever been predicted successfully.

"Neither the USGS nor Caltech nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake," reads a statement posted on the USGS website. "They do not know how, and they do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future."

John Vidale, a Washington State seismologist and professor at the Univer…

Taxi Driver

Remembering Jeff Conaway:Jeff Conaway, the personable actor who won television fame on the sitcom “Taxi” and movie success in the musical “Grease” three decades ago and who later publicly struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, died on Friday in Los Angeles. He was 60.

He died of complications of pneumonia at Encino Tarzana Medical Center after being taken off life support on Thursday, a talent representative, Phil Brock, said.

Mr. Conaway was found unconscious at his home in the Encino section of the city on May 11 and was kept in a coma medically without ever regaining consciousness, Mr. Brock said. He said Mr. Conaway had been struggling with back problems and treating himself with painkillers while in weakened health.I fondly remember him as the would-be actor from Taxi, and his role as a security chief on Babylon 5. Here he is in the former:

Balancing Act

The public seems to understand something that Team Obama doesn't:According to a recent Sachs/Mason-Dixon poll obtained exclusively by The Daily Caller, a large majority of the public backs an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced budget, a reform some lawmakers say is on the table in the debt ceiling debate.

65 percent of the public supports the amendment with 27 percent opposed; 8 percent are undecided.

81 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of independents support the amendment. Even a plurality of Democrats, the party that typically resists spending cuts, back the amendment by a 45 percent to 44 percent margin.

“Americans are concerned about our nation’s deepening deficit and as a result, an overwhelming number support a balanced budget amendment,” said Alia Faraj-Johnson, Partner and Executive Vice President of Ron Sachs Communications, the organization that commissioned the poll.

A large plurality – 46 percent to 21 percent — also say they would be “more likely…

Ping Pong Putoff

When you've already won a Nobel prize for doing nothing, what else is there?Barack Obama has snubbed Britain’s most eminent scientists by refusing to attend a Royal Society banquet in his honour at which he was to be awarded with a prestigious medal.

The US President rejected the invitation from the world-leading group of scientists and instead chose to visit a south London state school.

Sources close to the state visit said members of the Royal Society were “deeply offended” by the snub and had accused Mr Obama of being obsessed with his “street cred”.

The US President was offered the chance to receive the King Charles II medal, which is awarded in “exceptional circumstances” to heads of state who have “made an outstanding contribution to furthering scientific research in their country”.I wonder if this counts as "furthering scientific research..."

Don't Ask About Climate Change Club

There goes that darned accountability again:Freedom of information laws are being misused to harass scientists and should be re-examined by the government, according to the president of the Royal Society.

Nobel laureate Sir Paul Nurse told the Guardian that some climate scientists were being targeted by organised campaigns of requests for data and other research materials, aimed at intimidating them and slowing down research. He said the behaviour was turning freedom of information laws into a way to intimidate some scientists.

Nurse's comments follow the launch of a major Royal Society study into how scientists' work can be made more open and better used to inform policy in society. The review – expected to be published next year – will examine ways of improving access to scientific data and research papers and how "digital media offer a powerful means for the public to interrogate, question and re-analyse scientific priorities, evidence and conclusions".Hmm. I wond…

Patriot Act Games

Somewhat disappointing from a civil libertarian perspective, but otherwise not too surprising:The Senate voted Thursday to extend the government's Patriot Act powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists.

Following the 72-23 vote, the House was expected to quickly approve the legislation for President Obama's signature to beat a midnight deadline when three terror-fighting tools would expire. The action comes a month after intelligence and military forces hunted down Usama bin Laden.

"Failure to sign this legislation poses a significant risk to U.S. national security," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said in a statement. "As long as Congress approves the extension, the president will direct the use of the autopen to sign it."

The measure would add four years to the legal life of roving wiretaps, court-ordered searches of business records and surveillance of non-American "lone wolf" suspects without confirmed ti…

The New Law Of The Land?

Once again, an activist judge attempts to overturn a legislative vote:In a move that hastens a larger showdown, a Dane County judge has struck down Gov. Scott Walker's legislation repealing most collective bargaining for public employees.

In a 33-page decision issued Thursday, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi said she would overturn the legislation because GOP lawmakers on a committee broke the state's open meetings law in passing it March 9. The legislation limits collective bargaining to wages for all public employees in Wisconsin except for police and firefighters.

On March 18, Sumi had placed a temporary hold on the law, but Thursday's ruling voided it entirely - at least until the Supreme Court decides whether to act in the case.

"It's what we were looking for," said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, a Democrat.

Ozanne sued to block the law after Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) filed a complaint saying that GOP legislati…

Sick Generation

Unfortunately, this sort of thing keeps happening:After mostly disappearing in the late '90s, measles have made a national comeback with the largest outbreak in 15 years, mostly caused by unvaccinated travelers who bring the disease back home, the CDC said this week.

This year so far, there were 118 reported measles cases in the country, including two in Washington. That's nearly twice as many as the country's total for all of last year, and the highest number for that time period since 1996.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that most of the patients had brought the disease home from Southeast Asia or Europe, currently in the grip of a major epidemic. The vast majority – 89 percent – were unvaccinated. Patients included 24 kids whose parents claimed a religious or personal exemption from vaccinations and 47 people who had to be hospitalized.

After declaring measles eliminated at the end of the last century -- largely due to high vaccination rates -- hea…

Stay Classy, Ed

Ed Schultz is suspended:MSNBC has suspended Ed Schultz for one week without pay for calling Laura Ingraham a ‘right-wing slut’ on his radio program Tuesday.

“Remarks of this nature are unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” MSNBC said in a statement Wednesday evening.

Schultz will address the remarks on his television show Wednesday night, and begin his leave immediately afterward, MSNBC said.

"MSNBC management met with Ed Schultz this afternoon and accepted his offer to take one week of unpaid leave for the remarks he made yesterday on his radio program," MSNBC said.

The Daily Caller first noted the epithet in the midst of Schultz's critique of Ingraham’s criticisms of the president’s trip to Ireland.Take heart, Ed-maybe the network really is taking civility seriously...

Obligatory audio:

Soft Landing

Go to jail, get a taxpayer-funded severance package:The former head of the International Monetary Fund accused of sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid will receive a $250,000 severance payment -- paid in part courtesy of the American taxpayer -- unless U.S. lawmakers can stop the "golden parachute" from landing in the French politician's bank account.

The IMF claims it has no discretion in the matter of Dominique Strauss-Khan, who was already pulling down nearly $500,000 as managing director when he resigned after being arrested in New York. The one-time severance, along with a much smaller annual pension, was part of his contract.

But considering the heavy financial stake the United States has in the global lender, some lawmakers are trying to exert pressure on an organization that has come under increased scrutiny over how its vast international resources are being used.

"The scandal at the IMF is putting that organization in the public eye again and American…

School Of Home Free Marketing

It's an idea that's raising some hackles in traditional academia: paying students to become entrepreneurs instead:The winners were announced today for a new fellowship that has sparked heated debate in academic circles for questioning the value of higher education and suggesting that some entrepreneurial students may be better off leaving college.

Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, will pay each of the 24 winners of his Thiel Fellowship $100,000 not to attend college for two years and to develop business ideas instead.

The fellows, all 20 years old or younger, will leave institutions including Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University, to work with a network of more than 100 Silicon Valley mentors and further develop their ideas in areas such as biotechnology, education, and energy.

More than 400 people applied for the fellowship, and 45 of them were flown out to San Francisco in late March to present their ideas to Thiel's fo…

Hard Times=Less Crime

Recession continues, criminals hardest hit:In all regions, the country appears to be safer. The odds of being murdered or robbed are now less than half of what they were in the early 1990s, when violent crime peaked in the United States. Small towns, especially, are seeing far fewer murders: In cities with populations under 10,000, the number plunged by more than 25 percent last year.

The news was not as positive in New York City, however. After leading a long decline in crime rates, the city saw increases in all four types of violent lawbreaking — murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — including a nearly 14 percent rise in murders. But data from the past few months suggest the city’s upward trend may have slowed or stopped.

Criminology experts said they were surprised and impressed by the national numbers, issued on Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and based on data from more than 13,000 law-enforcement agencies. They said the decline nationally in the number o…

The Keymasters

Just another upgrade-or something more sinister?Facebook’s managers are deploying a new software upgrade that will dismantle myriad groups of like-minded political activists unless they get a special software-key from the company.

But Facebook managers are providing very limited information about which groups are being favored with the new key, prompting some activists to complain about possible political favoritism among Facebook managers, and many other activists to experiment with techniques and tricks to get the needed upgrade-key.

“Who is being given the upgrade?” asked Pamela Geller, the New York organizer of a 15,000-member group opposed to Islamist political groups. Without the special key, groups lose access to their members, she said. “I’ve seen people really freaking out.”

The new software-upgrade will automatically archive all groups. Once archived, each group’s past activity will be still be visible on Facebook, but the groups’ administrators will lose access to thei…

If You Don't Drill It, They Will Come

Whoops:When union workers and environmental activists picked a Hastings-area site to protest inaction on a Marcellus Shale severance tax, they made one mistake.

Marcellus activity isn't occurring within miles of it.

Service Employees International Union officials issued an apology Monday, saying they mistakenly set up their protest Thursday - and a makeshift tollbooth asking the industry to pay its fair share - next to a surface well property that has been around for years and isn't set up for shale drilling.

"There is no Marcellus Shale drilling on that property, and we've contacted the property owners and apologized. It was a mistake, and there was no malice intended even when we thought it was a Marcellus well," said Neil Bhaerman, a SEIU Healthcare spokesman. "It was an honest mistake that we are going to take extra care to ensure never happens again."Maybe next time they can picket at a factory that doesn't exist...

He's Still Super-Serial

Al Gore tries to motivate for Mother Earth:Al Gore, 45th vice president of the U.S., Nobel Laureate and author of An Inconvenient Truth, told Hamilton’s Class of 2011 that the climate crisis is “the most serious challenge that our civilization has ever faced,” and that while the grassroots movement in support of solving the climate crisis is the most powerful in the history of the world, “it will be the generation of you in this graduating class that will really bring about change.” Gore also addressed the political state of our democracy and how decisions made on false assumptions have led to major national challenges.

In his address Gore said, “We have a debate in our nation as to whether the climate crisis is real. Every national academy of science of every major nation on the planet says it is. Every professional scientific association in every field related to the study of climate says it is. Ninety-eight percent of all climate scientists say it is. Mother Nature has weighed…

Evil Days Ahead?

Ray Lewis seems to think so:Lewis said a lockout would impact more than just NFL players.

“What we’re going through right now, we’re affecting way more than us,” he said. “Too many people live through us. People live through us. Walk in the streets the way I walk in the streets.”

And according to Lewis, one of the major results of lockout would be an increase of evil, which he says will come in the form of more crime.

“Do this research if we don’t have a season — watch how much evil, which we call crime — watch how much crime picks up if you take away our game.”At least he didn't say there will be cats and dogs, living together:

Free Money

Say it ain't so-stimulus recipients apparently got away with literally robbing the government blind:Thousands of companies that cashed in on President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package owed the government millions in unpaid taxes, congressional investigators have found.

The Government Accountability Office, in a report being released Tuesday, said at least 3,700 government contractors and nonprofit organizations that received more than $24 billion from the stimulus effort owed $757 million in back taxes as of Sept. 30, 2009, the end of the budget year.

The report said the tax delinquents accounted for nearly 6 percent of the 63,000 contractors and grantees examined and cautioned that the real number might be higher because the known tax debt does not measure such factors as income underreporting.

Among the examples was an engineering firm that received a $100,000 stimulus act contract but owed $6 million in taxes. The IRS called it "an extreme case of noncompliance…

Fourth Amendment Review

Who says the Fourth Amendment still matters? Indiana's own top cop:Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller on Friday joined the chorus of Hoosiers protesting a controversial Fourth Amendment ruling recently decided by the Indiana Supreme Court.

Zoeller released a statement saying he will support a rehearing of the case due to concerns that the court ruled too broadly when it found citizens have no right under common law to reasonably resist police who unlawfully enter their homes.

The Barnes v. State ruling came last week and was the first major opinion penned by Justice Steven David – Gov. Mitch Daniels’ appointment.

“We believe however that a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,” David wrote. “Nowadays, an aggrieved arrestee has means unavailable at common law for redress against unlawful police action.”

Zoeller said he will argue for keeping Barnes’ convictions but scalin…

The Spanish Revolution

It's a rout in Spain:Spain's ruling Socialists suffered a crushing defeat to conservatives in local and regional elections Sunday, yielding power even in traditional strongholds against a backdrop of staggering unemployment and unprecedented sit-ins by Spaniards furious with what they see as politicians who don't care about their plight.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the result was due punishment of his government for the state of the economy — the jobless rate is a eurozone high of 21.3 percent. But he said he had no plans to move up general elections, which must be held by March of next year, and pledged to press on with job-creating reforms despite the loud outcry of opposition to his party.

The win for the conservative opposition Popular Party puts it in even a stronger position to win the general elections and return to power after eight years of Socialist rule.

Zapatero attributed the results to the state of the economy, which is struggling t…

"I'm The Greatest"

He's the best. Why? Becuse he says so:Former President Jimmy Carter isn't letting modesty stand in the way of his assessment of his post-presidential life.

"I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents," Mr. Carter said in an interview with NBC News.

The former president released a statement not long after the interview aired to clarify the comments.

"What I meant was, for 27 years the Carter Center has provided me with superior opportunities to do good," he said.

During the interview, Carter said his active role as an ex-president has allowed him "to fill the vacuums in the world," both domestically and internationally.If he says he's important, it must be true, right?

Tattoo Who?

Well, this is ironic-fair use for thee, but not for me?In “The Hangover Part II,” the sequel to the very successful what-happened-last-night comedy, the character played by Ed Helms wakes up with a permanent tattoo bracketing his left eye. The Maori-inspired design is instantly recognizable as the one sported by the boxer Mike Tyson, which is part of the joke. (Mr. Tyson makes an appearance in both films, playing himself.)

But S. Victor Whitmill, a tattoo artist formerly of Las Vegas and currently from rural Missouri, doesn’t quite see the humor. Mr. Whitmill designed the tattoo for Mr. Tyson, called it “tribal tattoo,” and claims it as a copyrighted work.

He has gone to Federal District Court in St. Louis to ask a judge to stop Warner Brothers Entertainment from using the tattoo in its posters or in the movie, which would amount to stopping the film from being released, as well as to demand monetary damages for what he calls “reckless copyright infringement” by the studio.


Meet the New Autocrat

You knew he just couldn't stay away:RUSSIAN Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has decided to run for the presidency next year, raising the possibility of a power struggle with his protege Dmitry Medvedev, the incumbent Kremlin leader, say highly placed sources.

The once-close relationship between Mr Putin, the tough-talking former KGB officer who has inspired a personality cult, and Mr Medvedev, a softly spoken Twitter enthusiast, has become increasingly fractious amid speculation in Moscow that the younger man wishes to stand again.

Insiders familiar with both leaders said Mr Putin, who served eight years as president before becoming Prime Minister three years ago, had begun to lose confidence in Mr Medvedev's loyalty.

Under the constitution, Mr Putin's move to reclaim the presidency could see him rule for two consecutive six-year terms until 2024, when he will be 72. If so, he would have served as prime minister or president for 24 years in all.So does this make him the Jay…

What Waivermania Hath Wrought

Why favoritism equals failure:The now-familiar monthly trickling down of new waivers is, at best, a tacit admission that Obamacare is a failure. So far, seven entire states and 1,372 businesses, unions and other institutions have received waivers from the law. The list includes the administration’s friends and allies and, of course, those who have the bestlobbyists.

More than 50 percent of the Obamacare waiver beneficiaries are union members, which is striking because union members account for less than 12 percent of the American work force. The same unions that provided more than $120 million to Democrats in the last two elections and, in many cases, openly campaigned in favor of the government takeover of your health care, now celebrate that Obamacare is not their problem.

Why did these particular businesses receive waivers? The administration that calls itself the most transparent in history won’t say. Nor will it explain why it has denied at least 79 requests from others. Wor…

The New Independents

Spain experiences a generation gap as the kids reject the status quo:Up until now, anti-government protests in Spain have been relatively few and far between, partly because of the strong ties that labor unions have with the ruling Socialists. But Spain’s nascent youth democracy movement is a spontaneous grassroots groundswell that is not left versus right but rather young versus old. The youth movement is highly inclusive and its members — who represent all of Spain’s socio-economic classes — have expressed disgust with both the governing Socialists and the main opposition conservative Popular Party. A ubiquitous protest slogan has been: “PSOE y PP, la misma mierda es,” which loosely translated means “Socialists and Conservatives, they are the same crap.”

The protesters do have a point. For example, corruption in Spain is endemic and politicians from both major parties have been implicated in scandals in all of Spain’s 48 provinces. The Justice Ministry currently is investigating mor…

Making The Grade

Via Instapundit: Republican professors are apparently more racist in their grading than their Democratic counterparts:The evidence suggests that student grades are linked to the political orientation of professors: relative to their Democratic colleagues, Republican professors are associated with a less egalitarian distribution of grades and with lower grades awarded to Black students relative to Whites.But what does this really mean? That liberal college professors are perhaps more willing to give African-Americans higher grades? It's not as if there weren't enough of them to go around. One could argue that science and engineering courses are actually more egalitarian, if that's the case.

Last Night On Earth

In case you missed it, Doomsday is scheduled to begin tomorrow. In honor of the event:


And that, as they say, would appear to be that:A grueling statewide recount concluded Friday that Justice David Prosser defeated challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg to win another 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in a race driven by the debate over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to curb the union rights of the state's public employees.

The recount that began on April 27 ended Friday afternoon after Waukesha County officials finished tallying their last remaining precincts. Unofficial results showed Prosser had 752,697 votes - 7,006 more than Kloppenburg's 745,691.

State election officials plan to meet on Monday to verify the results. Kloppenburg will then have five days to challenge the results in court.

Kloppenburg issued a statement Friday before the final results were released saying her campaign would review recount records and decide whether to appeal. The statement said the campaign had uncovered "numerous anomalies and irregularities," but …

Internal Revenue Screwup

Who didn't see this one coming?Four years ago, Congress decided that the IRS should get into the banking business, authorizing it to give out no-interest loans to first-time homebuyers. That put the agency in the position of both collecting loan payments and issuing tax refunds to the roughly 1 million taxpayers who took advantage of the program.

This year, the odd arrangement overwhelmed IRS systems, and an unspecified number of taxpayers have been forced to wait four months or more for their tax refunds. In fact, many are still waiting.

"This is frustrating for taxpayers, and it's frustrating for us," said IRS spokesman Terry Lemons. "We deeply apologize."

Making matters worse, taxpayers caught up in the vortex say they've been promised delivery dates for their refunds repeatedly, only to be disappointed or to discover their returns have been placed back into "error" status.I think "Error" status pretty much sums up the IRS as a wh…

About That Pesky War Powers Act...

In seeking to justify our continued kinetic action in Libya, President Obama has suddetnly rediscovered Congress:Facing criticism from Congress that authority for U.S. military action in Libya is about to expire under the War Powers Act, President Obama asked congressional leaders late Friday for a resolution of support for continuing the military involvement.

"It has always been my view that it is better to take military action, even in limited actions such as this, with congressional engagement, consultation and support," Obama wrote in a letter to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate. "Congressional action in support of the mission would underline the U.S. commitment to this remarkable international effort."

The War Powers Act requires the White House to seek approval of Congress within 60 days of notification of military activity, a law put in place during the political fallout of the Vietnam War. Friday marked the 60th day since the ad…

The Clown Stays

Ronald McDonald is going nowhere:McDonald's Corp. CEO Jim Skinner came out swinging Thursday when asked about Ronald McDonald and whether the burger chain hooks children with junk food.

Skinner, speaking at the company's annual shareholder meeting at McDonald's headquarters outside Chicago, said that newspapers ads Wednesday calling for Ronald's retirement had prompted an outpouring of support to his office, with parents and customers asking Skinner "to defend their right to choose."

A group called Corporate Accountability International paid for the ads, which said Ronald is encouraging unhealthy eating habits and contributing to childhood obesity and related diseases such as diabetes.

At the meeting, shareholders defeated a proposal the group had helped craft asking McDonald's to issue a report on its responses to childhood obesity. The proposal received 6 percent support, according to preliminary results released by the company.

Nick Guroff, a spokesman…

"Ooooh, Yeah!"

Remembering the Macho Man:It was Mr. Savage, along with fellow World Wrestling Federation headliner Hulk Hogan and a few others, who in the 1980s made professional wrestling into a pop-culture touchstone. Their matches attracted millions of television viewers for over-the-top confrontations that mixed violence with cartoonish dramas and implausible costumes. Some said the outcomes were fixed.

Outfitted by a designer who had worked with rock acts Jimi Hendrix and Vanilla Fudge, Mr. Savage wore outlandish duds featuring feathers and gold lamé, giant goggles and often a neon cowboy hat.

He played a jealous lover who assaulted anyone who came near his manager (and wife), "Miss Elizabeth." In interviews, he liked to conclude his comments with a lusty "Oooohhh yeaaaaah!"

Backing up the bravado was an impressive record that included a score of championships, including two stints as world heavyweight champion.

In one celebrated match, Mr. Savage in 1987 took on Ricky Steam…

The Kids Are All Turning Right

Obama is apparently no longer the change they were waiting for:A very large proportion of recent university graduates have soured on President Barack Obama, and many will vote GOP or stay at home in the 2012 election, according to two new surveys of younger voters.

“These rock-solid Obama constituents are free-agents,” said Kellyanne Conway, president of The Polling Company, based in Washington, D.C. She recently completed a large survey of college grads, and “they’re shopping around, considering their options, [and] a fair number will stay at home and sit it out,” she said.

The scope of this disengagement from Obama is suggested by an informal survey of 500 post-grads by Joe Maddalone, founder of Maddalone Global Strategies. Of his sample, 93 percent are aged between 22 and 28, 67 percent are male and 83 percent voted for Obama in 2008. But only 27 percent are committed to voting for Obama again, and 80 percent said they would consider voting for a Republican, said New York-based Mad…

The Sheriff Speaks

The sheriff involved in a controversial SWAT team shooting sounds off:A Tucson, Ariz., SWAT team defends shooting an Iraq War veteran 60 times during a drug raid, although it declines to say whether it found any drugs in the house and has had to retract its claim that the veteran shot first.

And the Pima County sheriff scolded the media for "questioning the legality" of the shooting.

Jose Guerena, 26, died the morning of May 5. He was asleep in his Tucson home after working a night shift at the Asarco copper mine when his wife, Vanessa, saw the armed SWAT team outside her youngest son's bedroom window.

In a statement, the sheriff's office criticized the media, saying that while questions will inevitably be raised, "It is unacceptable and irresponsible to couch those questions with implications of secrecy and a coverup, not to mention questioning the legality of actions that could not have been taken without the approval of an impartial judge."

Mike …

Canned From Cannes

Memo to directors: stream-of-consciousness ramblings can get you in trouble:The Cannes film festival expelled Danish director Lars Von Trier on Thursday for jokingly calling himself a Nazi and Hitler sympathizer, leaving the world's biggest cinema showcase in a state of shock.

The expulsion, the first in 64 years, followed a hastily convened meeting of its board of directors.

"Using the Cannes film festival to say such intolerable things in front of the media is to tarnish its image," said festival president Gilles Jacob.

"The festival had no choice but to react very strongly," he told a small group of reporters. He described the meeting as "tense" and said the decision to withdraw Von Trier's accreditation was not unanimous.

Von Trier told Reuters in a telephone interview that he was shocked by the decision, which he believed stemmed from the fact that his meaning had been misunderstood.

"I'm beyond the point of being disappointed, I am …

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Fourth Amendment

This has not been a good time for those who care about Constitutional rights. In the latest twist, the RIAA wants the power to literally act as the Copyright Police:The Recording Industry Assn. of America, in effect, wants to give law enforcement officials the power to enter manufacturing plants without notice or court orders to check that discs are legitimate and carry legally required identification marks.

The proposal by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) is raising questions among U.S. constitutional law scholars as it quietly moves through the Legislature.

"I can understand why this makes people nervous," said Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. "We have the 4th Amendment that generally requires probable cause [for a search]. This is a huge exception."Sorry, but I'm having trouble seeing where. At any rate, there may be a more basic reason for pushing this bill:Net sales of CDs fell 82% in the last decade, while the numbe…

Obama And Israel

Some are accusing Obama of abandoning Israel, but isn't he really just saying what past presidents already thought?I'm amazed at the amount of insta-commentary out there suggesting that the President has proposed something radical and new by declaring that Israel's 1967 borders should define -- with land-swaps -- the borders of a Palestinian state. I'm feeling a certain Groundhog Day effect here. This has been the basic idea for at least 12 years. This is what Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat were talking about at Camp David, and later, at Taba. This is what George W. Bush was talking about with Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. So what's the huge deal here? Is there any non-delusional Israeli who doesn't think that the 1967 border won't serve as the rough outline of the new Palestinian state?And Walter Russell Mead adds:President Obama has deep-sixed the ‘realism’ that marked the first two years of his approach to the Middle East. He has returned to…

Le Scandal

The former head of the IMF might be in serious trouble, but perhaps so is his would-be replacement:France’s ruling UMP party is facing further disrepute as the latest in a string of scandals threatens to tarnish the reputation of the party's golden girl, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.

Earlier this week, France’s public prosecutor called for a full scale judicial inquiry into Lagarde’s involvement in the legal dispute between the business mogul Bernard Tapie and the French bank Credit Lyonnais. Tapie accused the bank, which was state-owned at the time, of misleading him while dealing with the sale of his Adidas shares in 1993. He sued the state for compensation, claiming the final sale price was higher than he had been led to believe. Credit Lyonnais, meanwhile, maintained that it had done nothing wrong.

In 2007, Lagarde intervened to bring a swift end to the long-running battle. She offered to take it out of court by appointing a special panel of judges to arbitrate the case.…

Sorkin's Snobbery

It really doesn't get much more basic than this:As the saying goes, the problem with free speech is that you get what you pay for. Obviously there are great writers and thinkers publishing on the web and there have also been times when citizen journalists have made a positive contribution to the public discussion, but I think the cost/benefit is way out of whack. Like saying that graffiti is good because somewhere in there is a Banksy.

Not to be unoriginal but Beck and Limbaugh are eye-poppingly awful. It would be easier to buy their love of America if they didn't have such hate for Americans. They're my generation's Joe McCarthy--tarring anyone who disagrees with them with schoolyard epithets and, of course, being "un-American" or even on the side of America's enemies--but they reach a much, much larger audience than McCarthy did. They appeal to the worst in the worst among us and squander an opportunity--all those eyes and ears--to inspire. I'm a f…

Dishonest Disclosure

The IRS is now apparently involved in harrassing the Obama administration's political opponents, er, seeking greater "transparency":Since the Supreme Court restored the First Amendment rights of businesses and unions in last year's Citizens United ruling, Democrats have been searching for a way to claw back control over political speech. The latest bureau to get the memo is the Internal Revenue Service, which may retroactively tax top donors to political advocacy groups.

In the crossroads, er, cross-hairs, are nonprofit groups that register under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code and spent millions on political advertising in the last election cycle. Big donations to those groups, the agency now says, should have been subject to gift taxes and may be owed retroactively. In a letter to one donor, the IRS noted that it "had received information that you donated cash to . . . an IRC Section 501(c)(4) organization . . . and your contribution should have been reporte…

Zombie Alert

It's finally happened-the CDC is addressing the zombie threat:The post, written by Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan, instructs readers how to prepare for "flesh-eating zombies" much like how they appeared in Hollywood hits like "Night of the Living Dead" and video games like Resident Evil. Perhaps surprisingly, the same steps you'd take in preparation for an onslaught of ravenous monsters are similar to those suggested in advance of a hurricane or pandemic.

"First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house," the posting continues. "This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored)."

Other items to be stashed in such a kit include medications, duct tape, a battery-powere…