Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made a false claim about the size of government spending being proposed by the Obama administration.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” July 25, he said the president is proposing spending “as a share of our economy” that is “lower” than it was during the Bush administration and “comparable” to what it was under Ronald Reagan. Neither claim is true.
The administration’s own estimates project spending next year that is higher as a percentage of the economy than in any year since the end of World War II. The average projected by Obama’s budget officials is significantly higher than the average under Reagan or Bush (father or son).
Here’s what Geithner said:
Geithner: [The president has] proposed to freeze discretionary spending, to keep the overall size of the government at a very modest level as a share of our economy. If you look again at what the president’s proposing, he keeps the overall size of government at a very modest level comparable to–lower than what was in the Bush administration, comparable to what President Reagan presided over. That’s very important.
That’s not true, as a glance at this chart shows. It reflects official historical spending figures as a share of the nation’s economic output, as measured by gross domestic product (or GDP), plus the very latest estimates of current and future spending produced by Obama’s own Office of Management and Budget.
Michael Barone notes how differently the Washington Post reports GOP vs. Dem scandals.
Our friends at the Washington Post gave front-page treatment this morning to SEC charges that Texas billionaires Sam Wyly and Charles Wyly gained $550 million in fraudulent stock trades.
This is certainly a legitimate story and arguably deserves front-page prominence and 28 paragraphs of text. Curiously, the article makes no mention of how the Wyly brothers became rich or what businesses they have built until deep into the story, when it notes almost parenthetically that they “amassed their fortune by founding a computer company and investing in a wide range of interests, including oil, insurance and restaurants.” Instead the article concentrates heavily on the Wylys’ political contributions and on the charges against them and their lawyer’s response.
This intensive treatment led me to wondering how the Post handled the conviction and sentencing to 12 years in jail earlier this month of Democratic fundraiser Hassan Nemazee for defrauding banks of $292 million? Answer: It ran as part of a three-item story labeled CRIMINAL JUSTICE on page A3, a five-paragraph Associated Press story headlined “Former Democratic Fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, Kerry Gets 12 Years for Fraud.”
The story noted that Nemazee was finance chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and that he also raised money and contributed to the campaigns of Barack Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore. Had I missed an earlier story providing more lavish detail?
As the Charles Rangel scandal simmered for two years, the LA Times wrote virtually nothing. It’s coverage has been basic. The former head of the House tax writing committee is accused of not reporting income? Yawn.
Now Rep. Maxine Waters — the same crank who called the Rodney King race riots an uprising — has been charged with a serious ethics violation. As a local congressperson, you’d think this would be big news for Angelenos.
Where did the story run? Page AA3. It got bigger coverage on their website.
A House panel is preparing to accuse Rep. Maxine Waters of at least one ethics violation in her efforts to help a bank with ties to her husband, and the longtime Los Angeles Democrat plans to fight the charges in a House trial, according to a source familiar with the case.
The allegations were presented Friday to Waters, the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is confidential.
Waters, an outspoken legislator who has held elective office in Sacramento or Washington for more than three decades, could not be reached Friday night.
The worst thing about the oil leak, assuming you don’t live and work in the Gulf, was having to keep viewing the same stuff on TV day in and day out for months on end. It got so bad, I began seeing the undersea footage, the oily pelican and Thad Allen, in my dreams.
Speaking of Mr. Allen, if he’s retired from the Coast Guard, why does he get to wear his uniform on camera? I always thought veterans only got to take their uniforms out of mothballs for parades. Apparently, Mr. Allen wears his to the supermarket.
With the 24/7 media attention that’s been devoted to the ecological disaster, it is easy to regard the leak as the worst thing that’s ever happened to the environment. But even now it only ranks as about the 35th worst oil spill in the past hundred years. Something else that we should not lose sight of is that the Gulf is a magnet for hurricanes, just as California is one for earthquakes and New York City is one for Islamic terrorists. That means that bad stuff is always going to be happening and if people are going to live in such places, they have to accept the risks. British Petroleum will not always be around to pay for the cleanup.
The leak has led to Obama’s declaring a 6-month moratorium on deep sea drilling, which should pretty much finish off the Gulf’s economy for the foreseeable future, unless Judge Feldman’s ruling stands. On the other hand, our president did send $2 billion to Brazil to help finance deep-sea oil exploration by Petrobar, a company in which George Soros had recently invested. And, yes, Brazil is the very same country that recently joined with Turkey in proclaiming its alignment with Iran’s Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
A lot has been said and written about Obama’s handling of the crisis. None of it has been good. Even some of his erstwhile acolytes have taken him to task. I can understand their disillusionment. The man did announce, after all, that with his election, the earth would be healed and the oceans would recede, and nary a word about oil pollution. The magnitude of the leak has certainly confirmed that BP knew what it was doing when it sank a well there. Unfortunately, the leak also emphasizes how stubborn and short-sighted Congress has been in its refusal to drill in Alaska or anywhere else that is currently inhabited by caribou, jackrabbits, elk, snakes or snails.
The fact is, Obama has brought it all on himself. When he was courting us, he spoke of transparency and of uniting the right and the left; he rhapsodized about a post-racial America and an America that would be respected around the world. Well, I guess we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves if we bought the lies. Even someone as bright and successful as Sandra Bullock fell for Jesse James’ line of bull hockey.
I almost feel sorry for the president. I mean, it must seem as if God, Himself, is pulling the rug out from under him. After all, it was only five years ago that all the left-wing creeps, including Obama, were mugging George Bush over his handling of a natural disaster and, suddenly, we have Obama tripping over his own feet in the same general area.
Understand, I don’t blame him for ignoring the disaster in the early days. After all, the media had given him a pass for ignoring the recent flooding of Nashville. They had ignored it, too. But once the oil leak became bigger news than North Korea’s sinking of a South Korean ship, bigger news than the unholy Muslim flotilla and even bigger news than the arrest of Joran van der Sloot, I would have assumed that Obama would have done all in his power to give the illusion of competence and concern. Instead, he golfed and partied while Governor Jindal’s request for material and equipment were ignored. We had the Coast Guard ordering skimmer ships shut down because they didn’t have a prescribed number of life jackets on board. We had offers of assistance from Norway, Holland and 11 other nations, being refused because of something called the Jones Act, for no other reason than that Obama didn’t want to upset the maritime unions and their insistence that only ships flying the U.S. flag — and employing U.S. union crews! — be allowed to function in U.S. waters.
The way I see it, British Petroleum was the perfect boogeyman for liberals. After all, their executives owned yachts and either spoke with snooty English accents or referred to “small people.” Red meat, indeed, for congressional committees chaired by the self-righteous likes of Henry (“I voted to continue funding ACORN because they do a lot of good work”) Waxman.
The bonus is that BP has very deep pockets, so that Obama can grandstand and demand that the company pay everyone on the Gulf more money than they would have ever made renting motel rooms and fishing.
After insisting that there will be a six-month moratorium on off-shore drilling, which would do far more long term damage than the oil leak, Obama then tried to turn the screws on BP, by insisting they pay all of the laid-off oil crews, not just those working for British Petroleum, for income he, himself, was causing them to lose. Even BP finally had enough, and said they would pay their own workers, but not Exxon’s or Shell’s.
If Obama had gotten away with it, I’m sure he planned to solve America’s unemployment ills by forcing BP to put the other 20 million out-of-work Americans on the company payroll.
I submit that there is one consolation for Barack Obama. If much more crud is released into the Gulf of Mexico, this two-bit messiah might actually be able to walk on water.
Shirley Sherrod has announced that she will sue Andrew Breitbart. It is not clear from the lame press coverage what her cause of action will be. Presumably “false light” invasion of privacy or libel or some such strained tort. Natch, I have a few thoughts.
It seems to me that suing Andrew Breitbart is the surest way to make “Shirley Sherrod,” heretofore only known to blog readers and other newshounds, into a household name. Whatever her notoriety now, it will be much greater by the time this case is resolved. Perhaps that is her objective. Is not Sherrod, who chose to speak about race in front of a storied political organization (the NAACP), a public figure for the particular purpose of this controversy? If so, I believe I am correct that the standard of New York Times v. Sullivan applies, and she will have to prove actual malice to win on liability, a high hurdle even in the case of Andrew Breitbart. Any better lawyers than me out there who have a different view? If Sherrod argues that Breitbart libeled her by implying she is racist, Breitbart’s defense will be truth. In other words, he will have a huge incentive to develop evidence that Sherrod is, in fact, racist. Friends and acquaintances of Shirley Sherrod had better start preparing for their depositions. Does Sherrod really want to put her friends through that? Does she want to run the risk that a jury will find with Breitbart? I’m fairly sure I would not want a court to determine that I was racist. If this case has not been filed, it certainly seems that Sherrod has made a tactical error. Breitbart should consider suing her and seeking a declaratory judgment that he did not, in fact, libel her. Then he gets to choose his court. Either way, Breitbart should make a jury demand. He’s much better off with a jury determining matters of fact than a judge. Juries are a lot less likely to apply post-modern or academically fashionable (e.g., asymmetrical) norms in any determination of what is and is not racist. A prediction: This case, if it proceeds, will almost certainly demonstrate once again that courts of law are terrible forums for establishing the legitimacy of one version or another of social morality. Our national conversation on race will get more coarse, not less, in its wake.
Release the hounds.
From charisma to populism—this is the slippery slope down which Barack Obama has been sliding over the past two years. In June 2008, Obama the candidate described his nomination as “the moment when . . . our planet began to heal.” In June 2010, Obama the president promised his partisans he would find an “ass to kick.”
With the peculiar magic of his presidential campaign now a faded memory, Obama is shoring up support by the cruder method of divisive appeals. Long before the current (already hugely extended) campaign season began, Obama made it a practice to target opposition symbols (“the insurance industry,” “speculators,” “a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street,” the oil companies), call out and assail individual opponents (Rush Limbaugh, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner), and refer disparagingly to the Tea Party movement and Republicans in general (“this crowd”). More than a half-year before the midterm elections, he tried to revive his electoral base of “young people, African Americans, Latinos, and women” by taking a page from Al Gore’s 2000 campaign and embracing the shop-worn slogan, “I won’t stop fighting for you.”
An ass-thumping president frantically fighting for the little guy—it’s hard to imagine George Washington or Abraham Lincoln choosing to project an image of this kind. Barack Obama has managed a rare feat in American history: The longer he is president, the less presidential he has become. Obama has reversed the usual process of growth and maturation, appearing today far more like a candidate for the presidency—and a very ordinary one at that—than he did during the latter stages of his campaign.
He has also become practitioner-in-chief of what Alexander Hamilton referred to in Federalist 68 as the “little arts of popularity.” These arts, Hamilton well knew, would become an inevitable feature of democratic politics. But their spread from the province of political campaigns into the “normal” conduct of the presidency represents a dramatic reversal of the Founders’ design. The Constitution was crafted to prevent a campaign-style presidency; Obama is in the midst of creating one.
Although many will quibble about the right words for describing Obama’s leadership style, the general direction in which he has been heading is beyond dispute. In January 2010, the Obama-friendly Huffington Post ran a headline: “President Takes Populist Message on the Road.” Even some of his staunchest and most serious supporters, among them Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, have commended Obama for “turning toward populism.” By “populism” these observers were referring to divisive “us against them” appeals meant to rile up and energize a base.
What the president’s supporters add by way of explanation, if excuses for employing the “little arts of popularity” are still necessary, is that Obama is only responding to an unprecedented series of attacks from his detractors. But this explanation misses the main point, which is not the alleged behavior of gatherings of citizens, but the norms and standards of the presidency. Many past presidents endured harsh criticisms from the press and from popular movements of their day, but considered it unpresidential to respond in kind. Not Barack Obama, who has found his comfort zone in magnifying and then assaulting any kind of opposition. This excuse for Obama’s style also overlooks that he does not want for other means to get his message across. Obama has at his beck and call a staff of professional spokespersons, not to mention the editorial page of the New York Times.
In a medical sense, you’d be wise to steer clear of filoviruses, a group that includes the deadly Ebola, and bornaviruses, which cause neurological diseases. But in a genetic sense, it may not be possible to avoid them. A new study in PLoS pathogens shows that bits and pieces of these viruses have been floating around in the human genome, as well as those of other mammals and vertebrates, for millions of years.
It’s not that having genetic material left behind by viruses is odd—previous research had shown that viruses account for 8 percent of the human genome. But scientists thought most of that material came from retroviruses, which use their host’s DNA to replicate and leave some of their genetic material behind. What’s weird about this is that filoviruses and bornaviruses are not retroviruses—they’re RNA viruses, which don’t use the host to reproduce in the same way.
You might need a raincoat. HT: Susan Gertson.
Also Miami and Chicago, and obviously Detroit.
This is an interesting map showing net migration from county to county in 2008, all across the US. It’s hard to see detailed trends, but people are leaving LA, Detroit, Miami, and Chicago, and going to Washington (DC of course – big government), Dallas , Seattle.
President Obama has called the BP oil spill “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced,” and so has just about everyone else. Green groups are sounding alarms about the “Catastrophe Along the Gulf Coast,” while CBS, Fox and MSNBC slap “Disaster in the Gulf” chryons on all their spill-related news. Even BP fall guy Tony Hayward, after some early happy talk, admitted the spill was an “environmental catastrophe.”
The obnoxious anti-environmentalist Rush Limbaugh has been a rare voice arguing that the spill — he calls it “the leak” — is anything less than an ecological calamity, scoffing at the avalanche of end-is-nigh eco-hype.
Ad hominem attacks in a news article? No wonder Limbaugh has a larger audience than Time.
Well, Rush has a point. The Deepwater explosion was an awful tragedy for the 11 workers who died on the rig, and it’s no leak; it’s the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. It’s also inflicting serious economic and psychological damage on coastal communities that depend on tourism, fishing and drilling.
But so far — while it’s important to acknowledge that the long-term potential danger is simply unknowable for an underwater event that took place just three months ago — it does not seem to be inflicting severe environmental damage. “The impacts have been much, much less than everyone feared,” says geochemist Jacqueline Michel, a federal contractor who is coordinating shoreline assessments in Louisiana.
Yes, the spill killed birds — but so far, less than 1% of the birds killed by the Exxon Valdez. Yes, we’ve heard horror stories about oiled dolphins — but, so far, wildlife response teams have collected only three visibly oiled carcasses of any mammals. Yes, the spill prompted harsh restrictions on fishing and shrimping, but so far, the region’s fish and shrimp have tested clean, and the restrictions are gradually being lifted. And, yes, scientists have warned that the oil could accelerate the destruction of Louisiana’s disintegrating coastal marshes — a real slow-motion ecological calamity — but, so far, shorelines assessment teams have only found about 350 acres of oiled marshes, when Louisiana was already losing about 15,000 acres of wetlands every year.
Omigod, you mean all the “chemicals” in our food, air pollution and our “broken” healthcare system isn’t killing us?
Los Angeles County residents are living longer than ever — and about than 2.6 years longer than the average American — with a life expectancy of more than 80 years, public health officials announced Tuesday. But economic and racial disparities persist, with some minorities and low-income residents dying younger than wealthier neighbors.
The average life expectancy in the county was 80.3 years,according to a Department of Public Health analysis of county mortality data for 2006, the most recent year available. Since 1991, the first year such information was available, the average life expectancy has steadily increased from 75.8 years.
First it was the city of Bell, where city officials looted the treasury with gigantic salaries. Now other cities fear citizen’s looking at who gets paid how much and what for.
The scandal over high salaries paid to Bell officials has city leaders throughout the state scrambling to limit the political damage.
City halls have seen an uptick in residents calling to find out what their local officials make ever since the story broke two weeks ago and prompted widespread public outrage.
On Thursday, city managers from across the state will gather in Sacramento to discuss damage control. Among the ideas on the table: launching an independent examination of city officials’ salaries and compiling a database of salaries for municipal executives.
The Legislature also is mulling several Bell-inspired proposals, including a requirement that cities make salaries easily accessible on websites. Another suggestion would cap pensions of highly paid city officials, an issue that arose after The Times reported that former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, who earned nearly $800,000 a year, would receive roughly $600,000 a year in pension benefits once he retired.
Many of the ideas are designed to put political distance between Bell and the rest of California’s 480 cities and towns. “It would be really unfortunate if anyone took the outrageous action of one city and generalized it to all cities,” said Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities, which is hosting the meeting.
The stories of soaring salaries come at a difficult time for cities, which are making cutbacks amid a recession that has made many taxpayers ever more interested in what services they get for their tax dollars.
In Sacramento, the Bell salary controversy threatens to undermine the arguments made by city managers against state budget proposals that would take money away from municipalities. For months, city officials have lobbied the Legislature, arguing that they are suffering financially because of the economic slump and cannot afford deeper cuts.
“However, the Times story suggests this duress may not apply to all our cities, or that some cities are not allowing their economic plight to curtail Fortune 500-level salaries for their senior executives,” State Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) wrote in a pointed letter to the League of Cities last week.
Maybe he was just encouraging kids to read by removing that scary thing.
A Maryland man has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for stealing a spider from a public library.
Carroll County Circuit Judge J. Barry Hughes sentenced 27-year-old Randy Humple of Westminster on Monday.
Staff at the Westminster library called police May 19 after they discovered Chili Rose, a Chilean Rose tarantula at the information desk, had disappeared. Witnesses told authorities they saw Humple with the spider and that he bragged about swiping it.
Hughes also sentenced Humple to four years in prison for violating his probation in a 2007 assault case. Humple told the judge he knows he’s done some stupid things and he wants to serve his sentence.
The judge said that while what Humple did may have been “stupid on one level,” it was also “criminal on another level.”
Good catch, judge.
This essay by Angelo Codevilla is a new addition to our “Essential Reading” section. It is long, 21 pages when printed out (although the print is mercifully large and easy to read) and thus too long to adequately summarize.
But here is the opening:
As over-leveraged investment houses began to fail in September 2008, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, of major corporations, and opinion leaders stretching from the National Review magazine (and the Wall Street Journal) on the right to the Nation magazine on the left, agreed that spending some $700 billion to buy the investors’ “toxic assets” was the only alternative to the U.S. economy’s “systemic collapse.” In this, President George W. Bush and his would-be Republican successor John McCain agreed with the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Many, if not most, people around them also agreed upon the eventual commitment of some 10 trillion nonexistent dollars in ways unprecedented in America. They explained neither the difference between the assets’ nominal and real values, nor precisely why letting the market find the latter would collapse America. The public objected immediately, by margins of three or four to one.
When this majority discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term “political class” came into use. Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public’s understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the “ruling class.” And in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class.
Although after the election of 2008 most Republican office holders argued against the Troubled Asset Relief Program, against the subsequent bailouts of the auto industry, against the several “stimulus” bills and further summary expansions of government power to benefit clients of government at the expense of ordinary citizens, the American people had every reason to believe that many Republican politicians were doing so simply by the logic of partisan opposition. After all, Republicans had been happy enough to approve of similar things under Republican administrations. Differences between Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas are of degree, not kind. Moreover, 2009-10 establishment Republicans sought only to modify the government’s agenda while showing eagerness to join the Democrats in new grand schemes, if only they were allowed to. Sen. Orrin Hatch continued dreaming of being Ted Kennedy, while Lindsey Graham set aside what is true or false about “global warming” for the sake of getting on the right side of history. No prominent Republican challenged the ruling class’s continued claim of superior insight, nor its denigration of the American people as irritable children who must learn their place. The Republican Party did not disparage the ruling class, because most of its officials are or would like to be part of it.
Reading the scholarly work of Woodrow Wilson is an educational experience. It is shocking to read the expressions of his disaffection for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. As R.J. Pestritto has demonstrated, the intellectual roots of modern liberalism lie in an assault on the ideas of natural rights and limited government. They eventuate in an administrative state and rule by supposed experts. Obamacare represents something like the full flowering of modern liberalism.
Wilson’s expressions of disapproval are the precursor to Barack Obama’s disdain for the Constitution and the Warren Court. Obama perfectly reflected Wilson’s views in his 2001 comments on the civil rights movement and the Supreme Court. In the course of the famous radio interview Obama gave to WBEZ in Chicago, Obama observed that the Warren Court had not broken “free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties.” To achieve “redistributive change,” the limitations of the Constitution would have to be overcome by the Court or by Congress.
Franklin Roosevelt touted welfare state liberalism in the “second Bill of Rights” that he set forth to Congress in his 1944 State of the Union Address. “Necessitous men are not free men,” Roosevelt asserted, and enumerated a new set of rights, among which were the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation, the right of every family to a decent home, and the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.
Implicitly arguing that the teaching of the Declaration had become obsolete, Roosevelt asserted: “In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.”
Abraham Lincoln’s argument with Stephen Douglas also came down to a disagreement over the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln articulated this disagreement with special gusto in his critique of Douglas on July 10, 1858.
According to Douglas, the teaching of the Declaration had no general applicability beyond the immediate situation that confronted the Founding Fathers. Restating Douglas’s argument, Lincoln asked “in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and endorsed, if taught to our children, and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this Government into a government of some other form.” This is certainly one of the question that is raised in acute form by the doctrine of welfare state liberalism in general and by Obamacare as a case in point.
The economic “rights” asserted by Roosevelt in his second Bill of Rights differ and conflict with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They are claims on the liberty of others. If I have a right to medical care, you must have a corresponding duty to supply it. If I have a right to a decent home, you must have a duty to provide it.
The argument for the welfare state belongs in the same family as “the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden.” That’s Lincoln again.
Lincoln memorably derided the underlying principle as “the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it.”
William Voegeli’s Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State is one of the books of the year. George Will drew attention to Voegeli’s book in his excellent column “The danger of a government with unlimited power.” Michael Lind attacks Will and comes to the defense of liberalism. William Voegeli strikes back in “Why liberalism is dangerous.” Voegeli has reignited a profoundly important argument that ultimately requires us to recover a basic understanding of limited constitutional government.
In California, this should be going on statewide.
Obama was an academic. Boehner was a businessman. Who do you think understands wealth and job creation?
The argument is an old one, but according to aides, both men were firm and adamant. Obama said relatively few small businesses pay the top two income tax rates because most small businesses barely scrape by. Many pay no income tax at all. The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says 8.9% of people with any small business income have incomes of over $250,000, and that overstates the impact, because it counts investors in small businesses as well as actual small-business men.
But Boehner was ready with a comeback. A former small-business man himself, he quoted a congressional Joint Tax Committee study that found that half of all small business income would get hit by the president’s planned Bush tax-cut lapse. Sure, the small businesses not making any money wouldn’t be affected, but the ones succeeding out there would.
And “they’re the ones employing people because they’re the ones making money,” a House GOP leadership aide said.
It’s not just an academic argument. The side that wins the definitional war over the tax cuts will win the political war. Voters tend to side with Democrats and favor raising taxes on the rich to trim the budget deficit. They also hate tax hikes generally. If Americans see the president’s plan as soaking the rich, he wins. If they believe it will primarily hurt small businesses, the Republicans win.
The Sherrod Saga continues. Zombie at Pajamas Media writes:
If there are only 39,697 African-American farmers grand total in the entire country, then how can over 86,000 of them claim discrimination at the hands of the USDA? Where did the other 46,303 come from?
Now, if you’re confused over what the heck I’m even talking about, let’s go back to the beginning of the story:
Pigford v. Glickman
In 1997, 400 African-American farmers sued the United States Department of Agriculture, alleging that they had been unfairly denied USDA loans due to racial discrimination during the period 1983 to 1997. The farmers won the case, known as Pigford v. Glickman, and in 1999 the government agreed to pay $50,000 each to any farmer who had been wrongly denied an agricultural loan. By then it had grown into a class action case, and any black farmer who had filed a complaint between 1983 and 1997 would be given at least $50,000 — not limited to the original 400 plaintiffs. It was estimated at that time that there might be as many as 2,000 beneficiaries granted $50,000 each.
Read on and find out how the feds wound up shelling out $1.25 billion as of February.
Until recently, I had been totally unaware of Mohamed (Mo) Ibrahim’s existence, and had never heard that, through his foundation, he funds the world’s single largest cash award.
The Prize for Achievement in African Leadership bestows $500,000-a-year for the first 10 years and $200,000-a-year for life thereafter to the African leader or former leader who delivers security, health, education and economic development to his constituents, and who democratically transfers power to his successor.
Mo Ibrahim, who is a Sudanese-born English mobile communications entrepreneur, is a billionaire, and can probably come up with the annual prize money by looking under the cushions on his couch. However, in the years since he established the Prize in 2006, it has only been handed out twice. Once it went to Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, and once it went to Festus Mogae of Botswana. But in spite of the fact that there are 34 nations in sub-Sahara Africa, not to mention all those Arab and Muslim countries above the great desert, two years have gone by without a new honoree.
That would indicate a couple of things to me. First off, for all the lip service, not to mention foreign aid, paid out by the western nations to Africa, it’s all been for naught. The dark continent is pretty much one enormous cesspool of murder, tribalism and corruption.
What’s more, Africa’s thugs control 53 votes in the United Nations, which dwarfs the number of votes the western democracies possess. So much for the “international community,” which left-wing lunatics are always claiming is, rightfully, the world’s moral arbiter.
Another thing I’m able to glean from the fact that not a single African leader has shown himself to be worthy of the Prize in the past two years is that even with all those millions of dollars being dangled before them, it’s chump change compared to the amount they can steal running the show in Yemen, the Sudan, Kenya, and all the other ganglands.
Something else that occurred to me is that if there was a comparable prize for American leaders, it, too, would go begging.
Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank caused a scene when he demanded a $1 senior discount on his ferry fare to Fire Island’s popular gay haunt, The Pines, last Friday.
Frank was turned down by ticket clerks at the dock in Sayville because he didn’t have the required Suffolk County Senior Citizens ID. A witness reports, “Frank made such a drama over the senior rate that I contemplated offering him the dollar to cool down the situation.”
Frank made news last year when he was spotted looking uncomfortable around a bevy of topless, well-built men at the Pines Annual Ascension Beach Party. Frank’s spokesperson confirmed to Page Six that his partner, James Ready, asked the ticket office for a regular ticket for himself and a senior ticket for Frank, “but was turned down because Frank didn’t have a resident ID.”
BANGALORE: A historic decision to reserve one seat each in its 52 postgraduate departments for transgenders and slapping a penalty of Rs. 5 lakh on 11 B.Ed. colleges for admission and examination malpractices were among the key resolutions approved by Bangalore University’s Academic Council here on Monday.
Vice-Chancellor N. Prabhu Dev said the provision to reserve seats for transgenders under the supernumerary quota would be in addition to the existing reservation. “It will lapse if nobody comes forward,” he said.
Updating the story on the LA county city of Bell, where top officials got fat and rich.
Last night, the city council voted itself a 90% pay cut — from $100,000 to $8,000.
But before all that, the city was cutting programs and laying off workers.
Details of the cuts came from interviews and from Bell’s Comprehensive Financial Report for fiscal year 2009, the latest available.
The report shows that community services, including social services and recreation programs, were cut by 21%, or $593,438, while public safety took a 3.7% hit, or $228,888. Police training was whacked by 58%.
The salaries of Rizzo, Adams and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia are equal to about 10% of Bell’s $15.9-million general fund budget.
The report provides a less rosy picture of Bell’s finances than the one city officials have offered in recent weeks. While Bell has a balanced budget, it has also faced significant belt-tightening.
Mayor Oscar Hernandez has defended Rizzo’s salary, citing “15 years of balanced budgets” and the transformation of Bell into a “model of financial prudence.”
It’s more like an exaggerated model of government in general — instead of the government working for the people, its vice-versa.
Alas, no one taught the boy responsibility.
From a long profile in the June 7, New Yorker of Julian Assange, the force behind WikiLeaks.
…Assange’s mother believed that formal education would inculcate an unhealthy respect for authority in her children and dampen their will to learn. “I didn’t want their spirits broken,” she told me. In any event, the family had moved thirty-seven times by the time Assange was fourteen, making consistent education impossible. He was homeschooled, sometimes, and he took correspondence classes and studied informally with university professors. But mostly he read on his own, voraciously. He was drawn to science. “I spent a lot of time in libraries going from one thing to another, looking closely at the books I found in citations, and followed that trail,” he recalled. He absorbed a large vocabulary, but only later did he learn how to pronounce all the words that he learned.
When Assange was eight, Claire left her husband and began seeing a musician, with whom she had another child, a boy. The relationship was tempestuous; the musician became abusive, she says, and they separated. A fight ensued over the custody of Assange’s half brother, and Claire felt threatened, fearing that the musician would take away her son. Assange recalled her saying, “Now we need to disappear,” and he lived on the run with her from the age of eleven to sixteen. When I asked him about the experience, he told me that there was evidence that the man belonged to a powerful cult called the Family—its motto was “Unseen, Unknown, and Unheard.” Some members were doctors who persuaded mothers to give up their newborn children to the cult’s leader, Anne Hamilton-Byrne. The cult had moles in government, Assange suspected, who provided the musician with leads on Claire’s whereabouts. In fact, Claire often told friends where she had gone, or hid in places where she had lived before.
While on the run, Claire rented a house across the street from an electronics shop. Assange would go there to write programs on a Commodore 64, until Claire bought it for him, moving to a cheaper place to raise the money. He was soon able to crack into well-known programs, where he found hidden messages left by their creators. “The austerity of one’s interaction with a computer is something that appealed to me,” he said. “It is like chess—chess is very austere, in that you don’t have many rules, there is no randomness, and the problem is very hard.” Assange embraced life as an outsider. He later wrote of himself and a teen-age friend, “We were bright sensitive kids who didn’t fit into the dominant subculture and fiercely castigated those who did as irredeemable boneheads.”
When Assange turned sixteen, he got a modem, and his computer was transformed into a portal. Web sites did not exist yet—this was 1987—but computer networks and telecom systems were sufficiently linked to form a hidden electronic landscape that teen-agers with the requisite technical savvy could traverse. Assange called himself Mendax—from Horace’s splendide mendax, or “nobly untruthful”—and he established a reputation as a sophisticated programmer who could break into the most secure networks
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/06/07/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian?currentPage=all#ixzz0uuFjxwtz
Ah, more race updates.
Dan Riehl has more, much more, on the Shirley Sherrod saga. It’s get curiouser and curiouser. With new videos.
At Volokh, Ilya Somin comments on Senator James Webb’s op-ed on affirmative action. The comments to his post are meaty, too.
The Denver Post has fallen out of love with Obama.
Barack Obama ought to be one of the happiest men in America.
In less than two years, he’s presided over monumental, historic changes to our health care system and financial industries. He has won a Nobel Peace Prize and already has nominated two like-minded scholars to the U.S. Supreme Court, leaving a lasting imprint on the high court.
Yet, his approval rating (44 percent) dropped to historic lows this past week. The country has been in a funk for the better part of a year and the economy is dangerously close to a double-dip recession.
His own party has needled him for not going far enough or moving fast enough. And Republicans are salivating over the very real possibility of wresting control of at least one house of Congress from Democrats in November.
Jobs have vanished faster than BP’s credibility. And the oil leak has been a drain on the national psyche.
Welcome to the summer of malaise.
Welcome back, Carter.
Even the talking heads at MSNBC have compared Obama’s sudden lack of leadership, his summer spent adrift, to the uninspiring Jimmy Carter presidency after last month’s remarkably lackluster national address about the Gulf oil leak.
President Obama has accomplished quite a bit on the domestic front, but like Carter, the public tide has turned against him and his foreign policy has been, in large part, a complete disappointment.
His health care plan, approved only after the type of backroom, sleazy deal-making he crusaded against during his campaign, does little to bring down exorbitant costs and could bankrupt states once higher Medicaid costs are passed down.
The $1 trillion stimulus provided only a blip of a recovery, while saddling the nation with an unsustainable debt load. And the federal government’s reach into business and the financial world, for better or worse, is now deeper than ever.
We endorsed Obama in 2008, believing his plans for the fragile economy and frozen financial markets were superior to John McCain’s erratic ideas. But we also hoped he would restore the nation’s reputation with the rest of the world. But instead of being vilified, as we were under Bush, the United States is now suddenly bordering on being irrelevant…
Two thoughts: 1) We weren’t vilified except by villains. The Euro-elites are always in a pout about us, so screw them. 2) Bush understood his job was not to be popular, but to be strong.
Claudia Rosett has her own list for leakers.
…If Assange is serious about his ethical mission, here’s a wish list for some additional leaks that might just bring more balance to the WikiLeaks pursuit of transparency:
1) The Iranian files. Lots of scope here for greater transparency. Can WikiLeaks bring us the internal correspondence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps? The files of the Iranian nuclear program? The motherlode of records that presumably exists, somewhere, on the provision of money and weapons to Iran’s terrorist clients such as Hamas and Hezbollah?
2) The Taliban/Al Qaeda Recent Hard Drives. We’re seeing a heaping portion of American war documents. The Taliban and Al Qaeda may be less prolific in their record-keeping, but they do keep records. Remember that computer hard-drive the Wall Street Journal came up with in Kabul in 2001? When will WikiLeaks bring us the 2010 data dump of terrorist hard drives galore? If the idea is to expose the realities of this war, where’s the rest of the picture?
3) The Kim Jong Il Chronicles. Not easy, granted. But North Korea is a festering threat to global security, dealing missiles and nuclear technology into the Middle East. While this is a hard nut to crack, there are North Korean defectors out there, and leads worth following for those with the resources to go all-out pursuing documentation. Fascinating items have turned up here and there over the few years, in congressional investigations and reports by private think tanks. Please! — find and show us more.
4) The Network News — and we’re not talking here about Katie Couric. How about a full set of documents on the Syrian-North Korean networks that went into building a clandestine nuclear reactor on the Euphrates? Or recent records of secret communications among China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Syria and Venezuela that might bring a little more transparency to the underworld of networking — in both weapons and diplomatic games — related to missiles and nuclear proliferation?
Those are just a few obvious suggestions for the wish list, if WikiLeaks is serious about its commitment to exposing abuses of power. Not as easy to get hold of as classified U.S. documents, but of far greater potential value, if the real aim is to expose what ails the modern world.
The One is The Petty, Petulant One. Powerline:
Earlier this month President Obama attended the groundbreaking of an advanced car battery factory in Holland, Michigan, subsidized by the stimulus bill. It was President Obama’s fourth battery-related trip, and it came as the White House makes an aggressive push to tell what one senior official called “the battery story.” Veronique de Rugy isn’t buying the battery story.
The groundbreaking occurred in the district of Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who attended at the invitation of the company and sat in the first row to listen to the president’s remarks. Hoekstra of course opposed the Democrats’ $800 million stimulus bill. He is also a Michigan gubernatorial candidate. For reasons that remain mysterious to me, Obama seized the opportunity to attack Hoekstra:
There are some folks who want to go back – who think we should return to the policies that helped to lead to this recession,” Obama said later in his comments honoring a new advanced battery factory being built by the company LG Chem. “Some made the political calculation that it’s better to obstruct than lend a hand. They said no to the tax cuts, they said no to small business loans, they said no to clean energy projects. It doesn’t stop them from coming to ribbon cuttings — but that’s OK.
The president’s remarks were both classless and petty. Hoekstra aptly commented: “It demeans the office of the president. It’s disappointing. It is unpresidential.” Hoekstra added: “This is my home district. These people are paying the taxes that he’s handing out today. I’m here to respect the office of the president, and I don’t think he reciprocated.” Video of Obama’s attack and Hoekstra’s response is accessible here.
The incident revealed something that we have come to observe frequently with Obama, as in his attack on the Supreme Court at the State of the Union address. In the current Weekly Standard cover story, Professor James Ceaser observes:
The longer he is president, the less presidential he has become. Obama has reversed the usual process of growth and maturation, appearing today far more like a candidate for the presidency–and a very ordinary one at that–than he did during the latter stages of his campaign.
Professor Ceaser explores Obama’s turn to political populism and comments:
To engage in populism and parallel demagogic tricks–to blame others, to mock, to display no magnanimity toward opponents–all of these actions necessarily appear unpresidential. They are fitting for campaigns, but they make a president look smaller.
Professor Ceaser gives a hint of the price exacted by the events betraying Obama’s lack of class:
Obama’s political counselors do not seem to have the slightest clue of the damage they have done to him, because they have no conception of what the office of the presidency is all about. They coach their prince to be presidential one day and populist the next, oblivious to the fact that if presidentialism appears as a mere pose it loses all credibility.
Professor Ceaser’s long essay explains something important that is happening before our eyes. It demonstrates how right Hoekstra was to characterize Obama’s remarks about him as “unpresidential.”
Is ObamaCare constitutional? “If you ask any constitutional law professor whether Congress can do something, the answer is always yes,” says Randy Barnett. But Mr. Barnett, who teaches legal theory at Georgetown, isn’t just any law professor. A self-described “radical libertarian,” he is the author of a 2004 book, “Restoring the Lost Constitution,” that argues for a fundamentally new approach to jurisprudence.
Since the New Deal, Supreme Court justices have generally assumed a law is constitutional and overruled it only when it infringes on an individual right that is enumerated in the Constitution (free speech) or not (privacy). “If you’re talking about the regulation of economic activity, the presumption of constitutionality is for all practical purposes irrebuttable,” Mr. Barnett says.
Instead, Mr. Barnett would have the court adopt a “presumption of liberty,” placing the burden on the government to show that a law has a clear basis in Congress’s constitutional powers. “The easiest way to explain it is, it would basically apply to all liberty the same basic protection we now apply to speech,” he says.
It’s an attractive theory to those of us with libertarian sympathies—a group that seems to be growing in reaction to the Obama administration’s unprecedented expansion of federal power. But Mr. Barnett, 58, readily admits there is virtually no chance the high court will embrace it during his lifetime. “On the Supreme Court now, probably only Clarence Thomas would be willing to question what the law professors call the ‘post-New Deal settlement.’”
No one can accuse this theorist of being an ivory-tower intellectual lacking real-world experience. As a child, he was an avid fan of the 1960s TV series “The Defenders” and aspired to become a criminal lawyer. This he did, taking a job out of law school as a Chicago prosecutor. But he also had a scholarly side: “I realized that one day I would want to be a law professor, [a job] in which I could write about these things—not so much to tell people what I thought was just, but to figure out for myself what justice really is.”
“I became sort of pulled into the constitutional law world,” he says, an area of study to which he was initially cool. “I was trained in law school to believe that all the good parts of the Constitution were gone. And if they’re not going to respect the good parts, I’m not really all that concerned about the remaining parts.”
One of those “good parts” is the Ninth Amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” In 1998, Judge Charles Breyer of California’s Northern District (younger brother of Justice Stephen Breyer) asked lawyers in a medical marijuana case to brief him on its Ninth Amendment implications. The defense lawyer, Robert Raich, came to Mr. Barnett, one of the few scholarly experts on the subject, for help. (more…)