Archive:

October 2011, Part 1

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



Baseball Rules That Baseball Umpires ignore.

(NBA referees also ignore many rules.  I wouldn't mind that much if it weren't for the fact that they have different rules for super stars.)
- 2:10 PM, 8 October 2011   [link]


Kevin Williamson Has Some Fun with a former Enron consultant.
To recap: Today Paul Krugman excoriates the high-toned and celebrates the denunciation of “consumerism” in the New York Times.  Here are the first ten advertisements in today’s issue of the paper, in order with no exclusions: Chanel (a $6,500 purse), Tourneau/Rolex (a $23,000 watch), Cartier (the ring is a bargain at $525!), Salvatore Ferragamo (an $860 pair of boots), Tod’s (a $745 pair of boots), Johnny Walker Double Black ($70 a bottle), Leviev diamonds (prices on request; a necklace is reported to have sold for nearly $2 million), Tiffany & Co. (a $9,500 enamel ring), MaxMara (a $775 pair of boots), and Ermenegildo Zegna (I wasn’t able to find a price for the waffle cashco coat advertised, which looks quite nice, but the firm would be happy to sell you a $20,000 briefcase or a $4,500 jacket, no doubt exquisitely tailored).
What makes it even funnier is that many who buy those products agree with Paul Krugman.

(There's more in the post.)
- 1:57 PM, 8 October 2011   [link]


Asimov Failed To Predict The Future:  Many times.   Last night, I spotted another example as I was skimming through Isaac Asimov's second joke collection (which is not nearly as good as his first).

In Joke 56, Asimov describes a cartoon showing crusaders on their way to the Holy Land.   One knight is saying to another, "I hope this won't offend the Muslims."

Which is not a bad joke, and would be even funnier, now.

But Asimov follows the joke with this:
The trouble with Joke #56 is that it is topical.  It is tied to a news event and such jokes go stale quickly.  Already the Rushdie affair is a thing of the past, and people are notorious for the shortness of their memories.
Which, I think you will agree, was slightly short-sighted.  The book was published in 1992 and there has been incident after incident since then that makes that cartoon even funnier, now.

As a political analyst, Asimov was fine science fiction writer.
- 2:38 PM, 7 October 2011
More:  There's a general point that I hinted at, but should have made explicit.  Asimov was a very bright man; you don't earn a doctorate in biochemistry without being bright.  And he was, relatively speaking, well informed.  But he often reached incorrect conclusions on political (and religious) matters because he wasn't critical enough of his own thinking.  Almost all of us make that error and, if anything, the smart and well-informed are more prone to it.

I won't claim that I always avoid that error myself, but I try hard to avoid it.  And if you see me make it, I would appreciate it if you would let me know.
- 9:02 AM, 10 October 2011   [link]


Eurosclerosis, Amerisclerosis, And The Young:  In August, I argued that, if we continue to follow the European policies that led to "Eurosclerosis" there, we would suffer the same disease here, and suggested that we call our version "Amerisclerosis".

Last Wednesday's New York Times has a graph that shows the effects of Eurosclerosis — and why I fear Amerisclerosis.  Look at the unemployment graph on the right.  For decades, the Euro Zone has had higher unemployment rates than the United States, but in the recent crisis, ours briefly equalled theirs, and remains stubbornly high.  (As recently as 2006, ours had fallen below five percent while theirs was around 9 percent.)

Who is hurt most by Eurosclerosis and Amerisclerosis?  The young.

In the article that this graph illustrates, the reporters mention briefly how hard this is on the young.   For example:
Still, unemployment in Spain remains at 20 percent, and youth joblessness is nearly twice that.
If you are young and in Spain, Italy, Greece or Portugal, you may want to flee.
In the old days the youth fled because overpopulation and the collapse of traditional farming created rural unemployment — or, as in Ireland, because a natural catastrophe like the potato famine made migration necessary.  But these days young people must flee countries where population is stagnant or dropping because poorly designed, over-generous welfare states and imprudent governments have created dysfunctional economies.
But that option would not be practical for most young Americans.
- 9:13 AM, 7 October 2011   [link]


What Do The "Occupy Wall Street" Demonstrators Want?   As far as I can tell, no one knows, since they don't have a formal set of demands, and no one has had time to survey the demonstrators.  (If your local news sources are like mine, you haven't learned much from them.  The reporters in this area have been working hard to persuade us that the demonstrators are fine people with justified anger and reasonable demands — but the reporters have not told us exactly what those demands are.)

Jonah Goldberg found one leader who was reasonably clear about his long-term goal.
Brian Phillips is the head of communications for the NYC General Assembly, the group primarily responsible for occupying Wall Street.  I learned about him while listening to National Public Radio's "Morning Edition."  According to NPR, Phillips is "an ex-Marine with a bachelor's in computer science.  Today he is wearing a sock on his head."

"My political goal," Phillips says, "is to overthrow the government."
. . .
Now, he's not advocating violence or dictatorship.  No, he just wants the government to work on the same non-hierarchical, consensus-based, extremely deliberative form of direct democracy that they're using down in Liberty Plaza.  How that would work for some 300 million Americans remains a bit of a mystery.
Goldberg thinks that this goal, and other widely-circulated demands of the demonstrators might be a little, well there's just no escaping the word, a little extreme.

But if your local reporters are like those in my area, you won't hear that word on TV or see it in a "mainstream" news article.
- 8:00 AM, 7 October 2011   [link]


Hollywood And The Mafia:  This Instapundit post reminded me of some lines from Jimmy Breslin's The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight:
The financial structure of the Mafia is the same as in the film industry.  Ten stars walk around earning millions, and thousands of unknowns get little pieces of work here and there and mainly earn nothing.  They wait for the key role to pop up.
According to Levitt and Dubner, modern drug gangs have broadly similar financial structures.

(I love Breslin's book, but I should warn you that I am not much bothered by descriptions of bad guys knocking each other off.

In the book, Breslin describes a, let's call it vigorous, campaign to correct that unjust distribution of incomes in the Mafia.  The campaign fails, as they usually do.)
- 3:23 PM, 6 October 2011   [link]


What Do The Head-To-Head Poll Match-Ups Tell Us About Obama's Chances For Re-Election?  Almost nothing says Mark Blumenthal:
Political scientists Chris Wlezien and Bob Erikson have examined the issue for "The Timeline of Presidential Election Campaigns," their forthcoming book on election forecasting, which is a subject they've studied for decades.  A chart from their book (reproduced below with permission) shows that the predictive power of head-to-head "horse-race" polls increases gradually over the last 300 days of the campaign.  These kinds of polls are highly predictive of the outcome in the final month before the election, but at 300 days out their predictive power is virtually zero.
And Obama's approval ratings?  Those tell us a little:
Further statistical analysis by Wlezien and Erikson shows that job approval ratings are slightly better predictors than horse-race polls until about 100 days before the election, but that the differences are small, and neither can predict the winner with much confidence a year or more out.
(If you want to get a feel for how weak that relationship is, take a look at these Gallup approval ratings.   You'll notice, for instance, that George H. W. Bush looked like a lock a year before the 1992 election.)

What do I like as indicators this far from the election?  Economic models (and I really should check some of them soon) and betting markets, like InTrade, which, as I write, is giving President Obama a 48.0 percent chance of winning the 2012 election.  Mitt Romney has a 30.8 percent chance, and Rick Perry has 9.0 percent chance.

(For the curious:  If I were asked to place bets by someone who only wanted to make money, I would bet against both Obama and Romney at those odds.  I think Romney is the most likely Republican nominee, but I don't think his chances are quite as good as that number suggests.  'But if the person were looking for a sure thing, I would advise them to bet against Ron Paul, who currently has a 2.7 percent chance of winning.)
- 9:43 AM, 6 October 2011   [link]


"Sneaky" Pete Yost Is Getting Worried About The Political Impact Of The "Fast And Furious" Scandal:  We can infer that because Yost has written an article claiming that the Bush administration had a similar program.
The federal government under the Bush administration ran an operation that allowed hundreds of guns to be transferred to suspected arms traffickers - the same tactic that congressional Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama's administration for using, two federal law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Yost is trying to weaken the political impact of the scandal by claiming that Bush did it, too.

But he is leaving out a "key point".
The problem is, the "same tactic" under heavy criticism by the House Oversight Committee was not used under President Bush.  Operation Fast and Furious started in Fall 2009 and was an offshoot of the Project Gunrunner program implemented under the Bush Administration.  Project Gunrunner started as a pilot program in Laredo, Texas and went national in 2006.  Project Gunrunner involved the surveillance of straw purchasers buying weapons, but those purchasers were immediately apprehended before crossing back into Mexico or tranferring arms to dangerous criminals.
(Emphasis added.)

Under the Bush program, the bad guys didn't get the guns; under the Obama program, they did.

The people running Obama program, "Fast and Furious", intended for the illegal guns to go to Mexico.  Without, from everything I have read, even telling the Mexican government about this invasion of their sovereignty.

So, other than those minor differences, the tactics were the same.

Thanks to commenter Porchlight at JustOneMinute for tipping me off to the Katie Pavlich post.

(Why do I call him "Sneaky" Pete Yost?  Because I have caught the AP reporter, more than once, writing articles that were intended to deceive.  Here's an earlier example that fooled a newspaper editor.

Do I think Yost is being deliberately deceptive in this latest article?  Yes.

When I see his name at the top of an article, I triple check it.)
- 8:42 AM, 6 October 2011
Correction:  Contrary to what Pavlich wrote, illegal guns did get into Mexico under the Bush-era program.  The agents running it didn't understand the limits of the technology, and were outwitted by the smugglers.

I still believe, partly from past experience, that Yost exaggerated the similarities between the programs, deliberately.
- 7:35 AM, 7 October 2011   [link]


RIP, Steve Jobs:  I have a mixed assessment of the man, and his contributions, so that's all I'll say for now.
- 8:06 AM, 6 October 2011   [link]


Beethoven In Bonn, Germany:  Played by the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq.
Two years on, the NYOI arrived in Bonn last weekend for its first trip beyond Iraqi borders.  And to say it was an event would be an understatement.   The German president turned up.  The German media came by the coach-load.   There was a lot of politics, far too many speeches.  And somewhere in the middle of it all were 50 young Iraqis (Kurdish, Turkmen, all ethnicities together) taking things bizarrely in their stride.  If they were shell-shocked by the experience, they didn't show it.  But why should they?  Many of them must have dealt with shells of a more literal kind, beside which this was nothing.
Music critic Michael White says the orchestra has much to learn, but was better than he expected them to be.

(I thought you might want to see a feel-good story.  I certainly do, from time to time.)
- 1:31 PM, 5 October 2011   [link]


Will French Kids Still Eat French Fries, now that they can't have them with ketchup?
In one of the more bizarre prohibitions of modern times, France has banned tomato ketchup from primary schools.  No longer will French schoolchildren be able to slug a gloop of delicious sweetness on to their lunch, never again will sloppy redness transform a gristly plate of blanquette de veau into something palatable, no more will youngsters across the Channel be able to sneak some of the viscous condiment into a hankie and attempt to skive off PE by claiming they have a nose bleed.  Thus, at a stroke, the most dependable way to make a school meal edible has been denied to an entire generation.
Maybe the French kids will smuggle in those little packets of ketchup.

Jim White goes on to point out that ketchup is actually a pretty good food.

(Yes, I know, the French don't call them French fries.  But if I had written pommes frites, I would have confused some readers, at least temporarily.)
- 1:13 PM, 5 October 2011   [link]


Fanniegate Just Got Worse?  That's what Walter Russell Mead says.  He's not quite right; what happened was that Gretchen Morgenson turned over more rocks, and found more disgusting creatures under them.

The scandal didn't get worse, but we did learn that it is even worse than we thought, just a week ago.

Here's Mead's summary:
Along with its evil twin Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae is one of the key institutions of the blue social model that provide government subsidies to the middle class.  Already implicated in the housing bubble and the proliferation of liar loans and bogus mortgage backed securities, Fannie and Freddie may also have been up to their government-subsidized eyeballs in foreclosure abuse.  Gretchen Morgenson—whose work Via Meadia has blogged on before—has a new piece in the NYT suggesting that the management knew years in advance that Fannie and Freddie’s foreclosure practices — contracted out to law firms — were seriously flawed but they did very little to correct them:
As Mead has said, and as I have said more plainly, this is mostly a Democratic scandal.  But it is not one that perturbs the Obama administration.
- 12:55 PM, 5 October 2011   [link]


Californians Suing To Stop Power Going To California:   Not just Californians, and not just to California, but I think that headline still captures the essence of this lawsuit.
Several environmental groups sued Arizona Public Service Co. and the other owners of the Four Corners Power Plant in New Mexico on Tuesday, seeking to shut down the power plant if they won't add additional pollution controls to the facility.

As one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the nation and largest polluters, the plant is the frequent target of criticism from environmental groups.

Earthjustice of California filed the suit on behalf of the Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, and two Navajo environmental groups representing the community where the power plant is located.

APS is the majority owner and operator of the plant, but Southern California Edison, El Paso Electric Co., PNM Resources Inc. of New Mexico, Salt River Project and Tucson Electric Power Co. also are named as plaintiffs.
There is more than a little irony about this, since California environmentalists are one of the reasons this power plant is so large, and located so far away from California.  They have, in effect, exported their pollution, while blocking low-pollution sources of power like nuclear energy.

It is tempting to hope that this lawsuit succeeds, that Earthjustice gets a chance to learn what happens when they put out the lights and power, tempting but wrong, because so many innocents would be hurt.

(I think it quite likely that, somewhere in the Western world, some time in the next decade, we will see a massive and destructive power outage caused by a government adhering too closely to the tenets of the Green religion,)
- 8:53 AM, 5 October 2011   [link]


Democrats Keep West Virginia State House:   Barely.   The incumbent, Earl Ray Tomblin, won with just 49.37 percent of the vote.  His Republican opponent, Bill Maloney, received 47.17 percent of the vote.

Tomblin is an experienced politician.  He was president of the state senate for many years, and has been acting governor since last year, after Joe Manchin resigned.  Maloney, a businessman, has never held elective office.  West Virginia Democrats have a big lead in registration, 675,305 to 353,437 in 2008.  (183,375 were registered as "other".)

Despite all those advantages, Tomblin won by a little more than 2 percent.

(The White House must have been worried that he would lose, because Jay Carney said yesterday that the election was not a referendum on Obama.  Which is partly true, because if it had been only a referendum on Obama, Tomblin would have lost.)
- 7:40 AM, 5 October 2011   [link]


Amanda Knox's Italian Prosecutor Has Odd Views:  For instance, he is convinced that Knox is a Satanist.
It's not the only time Satan has been mentioned in the case.  Back in 2008, The Times reported that the prosecuting team believed Knox had killed Kercher as part of a “a perverse game of group sex” and "some kind of satanic rite".
Evidence for that theory?  None, as far as I can tell.  Knox is a strange young woman, but not strange in that way.

Giuliano Mignini is also something of a conspiracy nut, which I think is a serious defect in a prosecutor, who should always begin by looking for the most likely explanations for a crime.

Americans shouldn't think that a Mignini couldn't happen here; anyone who followed some of our wilder child "abuse" cases will remember that some of our prosecutors had similar theories — and a similar indifference to physical evidence.

More here, including a description of Mignini's own legal problems.)
- 5:53 AM, 5 October 2011   [link]


Can't They All Just Get Along?  President Obama and the Senate Democrats, that is.

Apparently not.
There have been recent flare-ups between the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his deputies.  This comes 13 months before the 2012 elections, when control of the Senate is up for grabs.

The proximate causes of friction can seem slight, such as a recent breach of protocol, which left Senate Democratic leaders grumbling.

Obama left his party’s top senators, who had assembled for a conference call, hanging on the phone for nearly 20 minutes before National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling came on the line with a seemingly vague notion of what the call was supposed to be about, Democratic sources said.
Slight?  Not to people that busy — and that full of themselves.

The estrangement may be permanent.
Obama and Reid speak frequently on the phone, but the conversations can be terse.   One Democratic source quipped that it’s often a contest to guess who will hang up on the other first.  Reid, as it turns out, doesn’t have a habit of saying goodbye when he ends a call.
So the two don't even like to talk to each other?  Relations between George H. W. Bush and Bob Dole weren't this bad in 1989, even though the two had had a bitter fight for the Republican nomination the year before.

(Noemie Emery thinks that Obama is a good candidate, but a lousy politician, otherwise.
Obama is not a good politician, merely a good candidate, with no talent for governing.  Thanks to a remarkable convergence of historical events, he was able to rise without that talent.  And now he is paying the price.
I've come to a similar conclusion, even though I have looked hard for evidence against it.)
- 3:27 PM, 4 October 2011   [link]


Maybe Solyndra Really Does Have A Useful Technology:   For niche markets.  The troubled company should never have gotten a federal guarantee, should never have expanded in the way it did even before the guarantee.   But that doesn't mean that its technology, its cylindrical panels, are bad products — for all solar markets.

It is easy, unless you are actually planning a system, to slip into the one-answer-for-all-energy-problems mode, to think that there is one solution that works in all applications.

But that isn't true, as the history of solar power shows.  We have been using solar energy forever, passively and sometimes actively.  And we are still learning better ways to use it.  We have been using solar voltaic cells for decades, with the range of applications steadily increasing as the price of the cells decreased, and their efficiency increased.

And it is possible that there are niche markets where Solyndra's products would be better than conventional solar cells, for example, on some kinds of roofs.

So I hope that some businessman, with technological smarts or advice from someone with those smarts, is looking past the waste and scandal at their technology.

(Here's the Wikipedia article on the company, for some background.)
- 1:35 PM, 4 October 2011   [link]


Is The White House Getting Touchy About "Fast And Furious"?  Sure sounds like it, according to CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson.  Here's what she had to say in an interview with Laura Ingraham.
Ingraham: So they were literally screaming at you?
Attkisson: Yes.  Well the DOJ woman was just yelling at me. The guy from the White House on Friday night literally screamed at me and cussed at me.  [Laura: Who was the person?  Who was the person at Justice screaming?]  Eric Schultz.  Oh, the person screaming was [DOJ spokeswoman] Tracy Schmaler, she was yelling not screaming.  And the person who screamed at me was Eric Schultz at the White House."
I saw the CBS story the other night, and thought that it was fair, and, if anything, a little soft on the Obama administration.  Which I think is appropriate, for now, while we are still trying to figure out what happened.

But I can understand why the Obama administration would be touchy about this operation, since the best explanation for this crazy operation that I can think of is widespread incompetence.
- 1:09 PM, 4 October 2011   [link]


Rock Versus Record:  The Washington Post hasn't called off its smear campaign against Rick Perry over that rock, but today they did tell us something about his record.
As governor of Texas, Rick Perry appointed the first African American to the state Supreme Court and later made him chief justice.  One of Perry’s appointments to the Board of Regents of his alma mater, Texas A&M University, became its first black chairman. One chief of staff and two of his general counsels have been African American.
. . .
[Democratic state senator Rodney] Ellis and other leaders gave Perry credit for cultivating good working relationships with African American politicians, citing as an example his attendance at an annual fundraiser for minority scholarships.

Many also defended a governor who has a strong record appointing minorities to state boards and positions.  Over 10 years in office, 9 percent of Perry’s 5,741 appointments have been African Americans, and 15 percent have been Hispanics, according to his campaign.  That puts Perry slightly ahead of his predecessor, George W. Bush (with 9 percent African Americans and 13 percent Hispanics) and slightly behind the governor before that, Democrat Ann Richards (13 percent African Americans and 18 percent Hispanics).

Those numbers don’t tell the story, however, of how many black leaders Perry appointed to high-level and historically significant jobs, several defenders said.

“He has done things and appointed people to boards not only because he felt that they could bring something special to the table, but his belief was that it was time for inclusion in the state of Texas,” said Bill Jones, an African American who is a Perry appointee to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, a past general counsel to the governor and the past chairman of the Texas A&M Board of Regents.  “He has often said that he is the governor of all Texas and not just a particular race or a particular party, so all need to be represented.”
The Post doesn't mention this, so I will:  It is far harder for a Republican to appoint that many African Americans than it is for a Democrat, because so few African Americans are Republicans.

Governor Perry has his faults, but he is no racist, as his record shows.  The Post's attempt to slur him as a racist is both absurd and offensive.
- 12:27 PM, 4 October 2011   [link]


Sin Taxes On College Basketball And Football?  University of Chicago Professor Allen Sanderson makes the case.
Let’s impose a sin tax on the revenues intercollegiate football and basketball generate for everyone but the players.  This money could be set aside to provide funding for the ex-players to return to earn a degree, enter a graduate program, and/or start a small business.
I'm not sure whether he is entirely serious, or is mostly using this to call attention to the real problem of exploitation.  To be fair, I should add that some football and basketball players love their games so much that they don't mind playing without pay, though they might prefer to skip classes.

By way of Professor Mankiw.

(Professor Sanderson is safe at the University of Chicago, because the school dropped professional football in 1939.)
- 8:50 AM, 4 October 2011   [link]


Attorney John Hinderaker Thinks Amanda Knox is innocent.
I think the conviction of Knox and Sollecito was an outrageous miscarriage of justice, driven by preoccupations on the part of the prosecutor, and maybe some policemen, that can only be described as medieval.  There was no meaningful evidence against them.   None.  And–this is a fact that is often lost sight of–we actually know who killed Meredith Kercher.  It was Rudy Guede.
Here's how Hinderaker explains the strange, and contradictory, statements Knox gave to investigators, statements that convinced Ann Coulter, among others, that the case against Knox was strong.
Knox made several odd statements to Perugia’s finest; she implicated a bar owner named Lumumba (no relation to Patrice, I assume) and talked about being in the house and hearing Kercher scream.  But all of this was after 56 hours of questioning by the Italian police, with no lawyer present and only a dubious translator (at this time, Knox’s Italian was not as fluent as it is now, after four years in prison in Perugia.)  56 hours of non-stop questioning?  That would never happen at Guantanamo Bay, and Knox was a 20 year old girl in a foreign country.
This post makes more sense than any of the news accounts I have read.

I would add that the prosecutor in the case was in serious legal trouble himself, which might give him a motive for making the case more sensational.
- 7:42 AM, 4 October 2011   [link]


The Attacks On John Quincy Adams And George W. Bush:   There are some almost eerie similarities between our 6th president and our 43rd.  Both were sons of presidents who had been defeated for re-election, both took office after disputed elections, both had reputations for being stubborn, and so on.

But they are alike in another way, as I was reminded when I read this passage from Samuel Eliot Morison's Oxford History of the American People:
It did not matter that there was no national issue of popular grievance; the politicians would see to that, and principles could be attended to after victory.  Adams must be discredited.  The "corrupt bargain" charge, engineered by [James] Buchanan, was the opening gun of the Jackson campaign.  Next came the attack on Adams's motives for promoting the Panama Congress.  Pro-Jackson men won a majority in mid-term congressional elections.  Investigations of alleged presidential corruption were started but not pushed home, so the victim had no chance to clear himself.  [Martin] Van Buren admits in his Autobiography, "Adams was an honest man, not only incorruptible himself, but an enemy to venality in every department of the public service."  Yet Van Buren was the first to prefer charges of outrageous corruption against the president.
. . .
The election of 1828 was the first presidential one that really smelled.  The most absurd lies were spread.  Adams had furnished the White House at his own expense with a billiard table and a set of chessmen; in the mouth of a Jackson orator these became "gaming tables and gambling furniture" purchased from public funds.  He was even accused of playing pimp to the emperor of Russia.  Newspapers that supported Adams, however, were not idle; there was a "coffin hand-bill" on the shooting of six militiamen by Jackson for insubordination; and the General's frontier brawls and alleged premarital relations with Mrs. Jackson were described in detail.  Altogether, it was the most degrading presidential election the United States had ever experienced.  Worse, however, were to come. (pp. 421-422)
Both men had their personal integrity attacked, often by opponents who knew their charges were false.  The opponents did this because they wanted to win power, not because they necessarily disagreed with the policies of the two presidents.  And the opponents chose personal integrity as a point of attack because they realized that voters respected both men for their honesty.

The attacks were successful enough with voters so that each man left the presidency deeply unpopular.

(Why did Bush win re-election, unlike Adams?  Because he is a better politician than our 6th president was.

Here's a description of the Panama Congress.

The Morison history is lively, and not at all politically correct.  I haven't read the whole history, or even most of it, so that's all I will say about the book for now.)
- 8:02 PM, 3 October 2011   [link]


For Baseball Fans:  Today's New Yorker cartoon shows two igloos side by side, each with a satellite dish.  One igloo has a stylized "B" on it, the other a "Y" superimposed on an "N".  (Or vice versa.)

Right now, I imagine the family in the second igloo is happier than the family in the first.
- 4:15 PM, 3 October 2011   [link]


Krugman Versus Krugman:  Tom Maguire catches the New York Times columnist changing his advice now that the president is a Democrat.
Well, a Democrat is in charge, so bashing China makes sense, even if it was stupid when Bush did it.
Krugman is consistent in his political preferences, though not in his economic analysis and advice.
- 4:02 PM, 3 October 2011   [link]


Did Barack Obama March With The Black Panthers In 2007?   Sure looks like it.
New photographs obtained exclusively by BigGovernment.com reveal that Barack Obama appeared and marched with members of the New Black Panther Party as he campaigned for president in Selma, Alabama in March 2007.

The photographs, captured from a Flickr photo-sharing account before it was scrubbed, are the latest evidence of the mainstream media's failure to examine Obama's extremist ties and radical roots.

In addition, the new images raise questions about the possible motives of the Obama administration in its infamous decision to drop the prosecution of the Panthers for voter intimidation.
Like many others, I wonder whether this story will appear on the front pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times.  Or even in the back pages.  And whether either newspaper will go back and take another look at Obama's radical connections and record.
- 1:29 PM, 3 October 2011   [link]


Some Suggestions For The "Occupy Wall Street" Demonstrators:   I'll assume, for the moment, that they want to embarrass people responsible for the financial collapse, and the people who rewarded them.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac played a large part in that collapse.  Perhaps the most important congressional protector of the two organizations was Barney Frank.  (And his lover was rewarded with a job at Fannie Mae.)  Congressman Frank has offices in Massachusetts and Washington D. C.

The person most responsible for the collapse of Fannie Mae was James A. Johnson.
In the 2011 book Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon, authors Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner wrote that Johnson was one of the key figures responsible for the late-2000s financial crisis.  Morgenson described him in an NPR interview as "corporate America's founding father of regulation manipulation".[7]
Johnson is mostly retired now, but with a little bit of research, the demonstrators should be able to locate him.  They could ask him to return some of the tens of millions he earned from Fannie Mae.

Finally, they might want to take their demonstration to the White House, since President Obama has hired almost every Fannie Mae miscreant that he could.  If you want to look at the two lists again, you can find them here and here.

(I realize, of course, that my assumption may be wrong, that the demonstrators, especially their leaders, do not want to find the guilty.  So far, I must say that the news programs on these demonstrators have been remarkably positive, and even more remarkably uninformative.  So I am not sure what they want, other than some time on TV.)
- 10:26 AM, 3 October 2011   [link]


If You Are Going To Cover (Uncover?) A Bikini Contest, You Ought To Do It Right:  The Daily Mail shows how to do it.
Now that's what you call a surfers paradise: 357 women break longest bikini parade record
(I went looking for that story after seeing CNN do it wrong.)

Congratulations to Canberra, Australia, and I look forward to attempts to break the new record by American cities, including but not limited to Miami, Los Angeles, and Honolulu.
- 7:32 AM, 3 October 2011   [link]


Roseanne Barr Has Less Than $100 Million:  That's what I would conclude from this recent interview.
"I do say that I am in favor of the return of the guillotine and that is for the worst of the worst of the guilty.

"I first would allow the guilty bankers to pay, you know, the ability to pay back anything over $100 million [of] personal wealth because I believe in a maximum wage of $100 million.  And if they are unable to live on that amount of that amount then they should, you know, go to the reeducation camps and if that doesn't help, then being beheaded," Barr said with a straight face.
- 7:08 AM, 3 October 2011   [link]


A Painted-Over Rock:  That's the big issue today, at least for the Washington Post, which put it on page 1.

Let's see.  Even if you accept the anonymously-sourced version, that Perry's father didn't paint out the "N" word immediately, this tells us exactly what about Governor Perry?

It might tell us a little about how the father behaved three decades ago, but it tells us nothing about the son.

If it weren't for the nasty intent of this story, it would be funny.
- 5:47 PM, 2 October 2011
And the story is on the front page of the New York Times this morning.  A small story, at the bottom of the page, granted, but it is on page 1.
- 12:53 PM, 3 October 2011   [link]


Another Obama Tax Whopper:  FactCheck has the details.
President Obama's claim that he pays a lower tax rate than a teacher making $50,000 a year isn't true.  A single taxpayer with $50,000 of income would have paid 11.9 percent in federal income taxes for 2010, while the Obamas paid more than twice that rate — 25.3 percent (and higher rates than that in 2009 and 2008).  And if the $50,000-a-year teacher were in Obama's tax situation — supporting a spouse and two children — he or she would have paid no federal income taxes at all.

The outcome is the same whether we count payroll taxes or not, and even if we look at what the $50,000 earner will pay on 2011 income.  Whatever the assumption, the rates Obama paid were higher — and usually much higher.
It's almost as if he doesn't care whether the examples he uses in his speeches are true.  (An even more scary possibility is that he believes what he is saying.)

By way of the TaxProf.
- 8:09 AM, 2 October 2011   [link]


Anwar Al-Awlaki's Criminal Record:  (Besides the terrorism, of course.)

It's minor, but intriguing.
Al-Awlaki returned to Colorado in 1991 to attend college. He earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University (1994), where he was President of the Muslim Student Association.[44]  He attended the university on a foreign student visa and a government scholarship from Yemen, apparently by claiming to be born in that country, according to a former U.S. security agent.[45]
. . .
He then served as imam of the Masjid Ar-Ribat al-Islami mosque at the edge of San Diego, California, from 1996–2000.  There, he had a following of 200–300 people[44][48][57][8][61][62] and had been arrested on allegations of soliciting prostitutes.[63]
. . .
The FBI conducted extensive investigations of al-Awlaki, and he was observed crossing state lines with prostitutes in the D.C. area.[24][48]  To arrest him, the FBI considered invoking the little-used Mann Act, a federal law prohibiting interstate transport of women for "immoral purposes".[24]  But before investigators could detain him, al-Awlaki left for Yemen in March 2002.[24][48]
. . .
In June 2002, a Denver federal judge signed off on an arrest warrant for al-Awlaki for passport fraud.[84]  On October 9, the Denver U.S. Attorney's Office filed a motion to dismiss its complaint, and vacate the arrest warrant.  It did so because prosecutors felt ultimately that they lacked evidence of a crime, according to U.S. Attorney Dave Gaouette, who authorized its withdrawal.[3]   While al-Awlaki had falsely listed Yemen as his place of birth on his 1990 application for a U.S. Social Security number, which he then used to obtain a passport in 1993, he later changed his place of birth information to Las Cruces, New Mexico.[3][85]  Prosecutors could not charge him, because a 10-year statute of limitations on lying to the Social Security Administration had expired.[86]
. . .
On August 31, 2006, al-Awlaki was one of a group of five people arrested on charges of kidnapping a Shiite teenager for ransom, and involvement in an al-Qaeda plot to kidnap a U.S. military attaché.[16][72]  Al-Awlaki blamed the U.S. for pressuring Yemeni authorities to arrest him.
In 1994, he was married to a cousin.  Given his two arrests and the times he was spotted with prostitutes, I think it likely that he patronized them before his marriage, as well as during it.

The scholarship money he received, illegitimately, amounted to about $20,000.   His father, Nasser al-Aulaqi, has been an American academic, and is a high official in the Yemenese government, so he almost certainly did not need the scholarship.
- 2:41 PM, 1 October 2011
Correction:  Somehow, I misread the Wikipedia article and the supporting material and got the date of his marriage wrong.  I've corrected the entire paragraph.  My apologies for the mistake.
- 8:50 AM, 2 October   [link]


Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Is Looking For Fights:   Literally.

And he found some at the United Nations.  Neil MacFarquhar describes them in a article published in last Tuesday's New York Times.
Learning that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, was making his address demanding full United Nations membership for a state of Palestine, Mr. Erdogan, a big fan, rushed to the nearest entrance to take Turkey's seat on the main floor.

But the fourth floor is actually the visitors' gallery, with no access to the main floor, and it was packed.  So a United Nations security guard refused to let the Turkish leader pass.  When Mr. Erdogan pressed forward, the guard pushed him (by most accounts), and then a fracas erupted that was audible four flours below.

One United Nations guard was taken to the hospital with a rib injury, and there were reports of bloodstains on the floor, although that could not be confirmed.
UN officials rushed to direct him to the proper entrance, but that wasn't the end of the matter.
But by then the gauntlet had been thrown down, and minor scuffles erupted wherever he went with his entourage around the United Nations.  (There had apparently been some grousing already about the number of black limousines in the prime minister's entourage.)
Perhaps I am making too much of these incidents, but they do remind me of Erdogan's apparent desire to provoke fights on larger stages.

(One more for the "life is unfair" category:  Some of the UN guards were punished, and Erdogan, rather than giving an apology, received one.)
- 11:07 AM, 1 October 2011   [link]