"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Global Warming Scam

Don't see enough global warming to justify massive government intervention by Leftists?   Just fiddle with the data.   That's what NASA and NOAA did!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

We Told You So

Via Instapundit, a look back at an extraordinarily prescient October 25, 2008 analysis by the great Mark Levin:

I’ve been thinking this for a while so I might as well air it here. I honestly never thought we’d see such a thing in our country – not yet anyway – but I sense what’s occurring in this election is a recklessness and abandonment of rationality that has preceded the voluntary surrender of liberty and security in other places. I can’t help but observe that even some conservatives are caught in the moment as their attempts at explaining their support for Barack Obama are unpersuasive and even illogical. And the pull appears to be rather strong. Ken Adelman, Doug Kmiec, and others, reach for the usual platitudes in explaining themselves but are utterly incoherent. Even non-conservatives with significant public policy and real world experiences, such as Colin Powell and Charles Fried, find Obama alluring but can’t explain themselves in an intelligent way.
There is a cult-like atmosphere around Barack Obama, which his campaign has carefully and successfully fabricated, which concerns me. The messiah complex. Fainting audience members at rallies. Special Obama flags and an Obama presidential seal. A graphic with the portrayal of the globe and Obama’s name on it, which adorns everything from Obama’s plane to his street literature. Young school children singing songs praising Obama. Teenagers wearing camouflage outfits and marching in military order chanting Obama’s name and the professions he is going to open to them. An Obama world tour, culminating in a speech in Berlin where Obama proclaims we are all citizens of the world. I dare say, this is ominous stuff.
Even the media are drawn to the allure that is Obama. Yes, the media are liberal. Even so, it is obvious that this election is different. The media are open and brazen in their attempts to influence the outcome of this election. I’ve never seen anything like it. Virtually all evidence of Obama’s past influences and radicalism — from Jeremiah Wright to William Ayers — have been raised by non-traditional news sources. The media’s role has been to ignore it as long as possible, then mention it if they must, and finally dismiss it and those who raise it in the first place. It’s as if the media use the Obama campaign’s talking points — its preposterous assertions that Obama didn’t hear Wright from the pulpit railing about black liberation, whites, Jews, etc., that Obama had no idea Ayers was a domestic terrorist despite their close political, social, and working relationship, etc. — to protect Obama from legitimate and routine scrutiny. And because journalists have also become commentators, it is hard to miss their almost uniform admiration for Obama and excitement about an Obama presidency. So in the tank are the media for Obama that for months we’ve read news stories and opinion pieces insisting that if Obama is not elected president it will be due to white racism. And, of course, while experience is crucial in assessing Sarah Palin’s qualifications for vice president, no such standard is applied to Obama’s qualifications for president. (No longer is it acceptable to minimize the work of a community organizer.) Charles Gibson and Katie Couric sought to humiliate Palin. They would never and have never tried such an approach with Obama.
But beyond the elites and the media, my greatest concern is whether this election will show a majority of the voters susceptible to the appeal of a charismatic demagogue. This may seem a harsh term to some, and no doubt will to Obama supporters, but it is a perfectly appropriate characterization. Obama’s entire campaign is built on class warfare and human envy. The “change” he peddles is not new. We’ve seen it before. It is change that diminishes individual liberty for the soft authoritarianism of socialism. It is a populist appeal that disguises government mandated wealth redistribution as tax cuts for the middle class, falsely blames capitalism for the social policies and government corruption (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that led to the current turmoil in our financial markets, fuels contempt for commerce and trade by stigmatizing those who run successful small and large businesses, and exploits human imperfection as a justification for a massive expansion of centralized government. Obama’s appeal to the middle class is an appeal to the “the proletariat,” as an infamous philosopher once described it, about which a mythology has been created. Rather than pursue the American Dream, he insists that the American Dream has arbitrary limits, limits Obama would set for the rest of us — today it’s $250,000 for businesses and even less for individuals. If the individual dares to succeed beyond the limits set by Obama, he is punished for he’s now officially “rich.” The value of his physical and intellectual labor must be confiscated in greater amounts for the good of the proletariat (the middle class). And so it is that the middle class, the birth-child of capitalism, is both celebrated and enslaved — for its own good and the greater good. The “hope” Obama represents, therefore, is not hope at all. It is the misery of his utopianism imposed on the individual.
Unlike past Democrat presidential candidates, Obama is a hardened ideologue. He’s not interested in playing around the edges. He seeks “fundamental change,” i.e., to remake society. And if the Democrats control Congress with super-majorities led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, he will get much of what he demands.
The question is whether enough Americans understand what’s at stake in this election and, if they do, whether they care. Is the allure of a charismatic demagogue so strong that the usually sober American people are willing to risk an Obama presidency?

In other words, we told you so.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Obama's IRS Scandal - It's Rosemary Woods on Steroids!

Kim Strassel is doing actual journalism at the Wall Street Journal, unlike nearly everyone else in the mainstream media, looking into the IRS' targeting of conservative non-profit advocacy organizations.   Her article this week on Lois Lerner's suspiciously missing emails is priceless; here are the money paragraphs:

As to Ms. Lerner's behavior, consider that House Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp first sent a letter asking if the IRS was engaged in targeting in June, 2011. Ms. Lerner denied it. She engineered a plant in an audience at a tax conference in May 2013 to drop the bombshell news about targeting (maybe hoping nobody would notice?). She has subsequently asserted a Fifth Amendment right to silence in front of the only people actually investigating the affair, Congress. Now we learn that her hard drive supposedly defied modernity and suffered total annihilation about 10 days after the Camp letter arrived. 
Is there something in those lost emails? The fact that they are "lost" at all probably answers that question.

Hmmm... using the IRS to intimidate political opponents was one of the articles of impeachment against Nixon in Watergate.   Consider then the following Machiavellian scenario:

1. The Obama Administration knew that using the IRS to silence political speech by conservative groups in the course of an election campaign was illegal and almost the definition of a "high crime and misdemeanor" because it attacks and betrays the heart of the system of democracy -- the right of individual citizens to organize for the purpose of advocating political positions.  

2. But the Obama Administration had learned the lesson of Watergate.

3. Nixon wasn't impeached because Rosemary Woods erased 18 1/2 minutes of a particular Oval Office tape.

4. Nixon was largely impeached because Woods didn't erase all of them!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Girl of the Day - Elizabeth Moss

We started watching AMC's new show Halt and Catch Fire, watched two episodes, and decided that it wasn't worth watching.   So last night I finally got the Regular Wife to sit down and start Top of the Lake, the murder mystery show starring Elizabeth Moss of Mad Men.   The show is set in New Zealand, and it is very very very well written, well-acted, and beautifully shot in very haunting landscape.    A big thumbs up so far. 

When They Blame Bush for Iraq...

... and they will, remember to show them this video about what Democrats thought of going to war in Iraq back before it became fashionable and politically expedient to oppose the war.

Via Instapundit.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The IRS Emails and the "Old News" Strategy

There is a very old strategy for White Houses in trouble.   Obfuscate, delay, withhold evidence, kick as many cans as you can down as many roads, and then, when months or years have passed, declare that it's "old news" and anyone bringing it up is not focused on the real issues concerning average Americans.   The Clinton White House did this repeatedly on Whitewater, Travelgate, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, etc.   They count on two things:  (1) a complicit mainstream media that will trumpet the "old news" meme; and (2) the stupidity of the American public, or at least the stupidity of the portions of the electorate that Democrats need... the low-information voters.

That's clearly what's going on in the IRS scandal, and in its latest episode, where Lois Lerner (shown above) and six other IRS senior officials have conveniently "lost" two years of emails related to their targeting of conservative 501c-4 groups.   Look, I litigate cases every day that require my clients to produce emails going back many years.   And, yes, emails get lost or misfiled or deleted.   But, but, but... there is A WHOLE FREAKIN' INDUSTRY of forensic data retrievers who can take literally any system and, given enough time and money, resurrect supposedly "lost" electronic information.   I know this, so certainly the sophisticated lawyers in the White House know this.  

They know the "dog ate my homework" excuse is risible... but they are counting on the media to let them get away with it, and they are counting on their low-information constituencies to believe the whole "my computer crashed" fable, because they don't understand that emails aren't stored on your hard drive, but in servers, and that large organizations like the federal government have backups and backups to backups to backups for their electronic information.

The question is... will it work this time?   I think it probably will, because there are precious few corporate incentives for reporters in the MSM to go after a liberal (and iconic) "first black President"... no promotions, no Pulitizer Prizes, no attaboys from the elites, no gigs on the Sunday shows.   There won't be any Woodward and Bernsteins this time around, and Lois Lerner won't become this era's Rosemary Woods, because there's no Nixon to hate.  

And, because, frankly, there really are tens of millions of low-information (read: dumb) voters out there who respond to current events the way they respond to Hollywood action movies, by deciding beforehand who the good guys and bad guys are, and then passively enjoying the spectacle presented to them.  


Remember these people?

What happened?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Girl of the Day - Rose Leslie

Her Game of Thrones character, Ygritte, the wilding lover of Jon Snow,was killed in last night's episode, fittingly, by an arrow through the heart. She'll be missed.

Calvin Coolidge ca. 1914

I happen to be reading Amity Shlaes' biography of Calvin Coolidge, and happened upon this speech by Coolidge to the Massachusetts State Senate in 1914, a hundred years ago.   It's so good, with so many sound ideas and wisdom about politics and life that I thought I'd print the whole thing:

Honorable Senators:


I thank you, with gratitude for the high honor given, with appreciation for the solemn obligations assumed, I thank you.


The commonwealth is one. We are all members of one body. The welfare of the weakest and the welfare of the most powerful are inseparably bound together. Industry cannot flourish if labor languish. Transportation cannot prosper if manufactures decline. The general welfare cannot be provided for in any one act, but it is well to remember that the benefit of one is the benefit of all, and the neglect of one is the neglect of all. The suspension of one man's dividends is the suspension of another man's pay envelope.


Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness. That state is most fortunate in its form of government which has the aptest instruments for the discovery of laws. The latest, most modern, and nearest perfect system that statesmanship has devised is representative government. Its weakness is the weakness of us imperfect human beings who administer it. Its strength is that even such administration secures to the people more blessings than any other system ever produced.


No nation has discarded it and retained liberty. Representative government must be preserved. Courts are established, not to determine the popularity of a cause, but to adjudicate and enforce rights. No litigant should be required to submit his case to the hazard and expense of a political campaign. No judge should be required to seek or receive political rewards. The courts of Massachusetts are known and honored wherever men love justice. Let their glory suffer no diminution at our hands. The electorate and judiciary cannot combine. A hearing means a hearing. When the trial of causes goes outside the court room, Anglo Saxon constitutional government ends. The people cannot look to legislation generally for success. Industry, thrift, character, are not conferred by act or re solve.


Is Bowe Bergdahl Obama's Jump the Shark Moment?

That the United States would want to obtain the release of any of its soldiers held by enemies in wartime goes without saying.   There is thus nothing wrong with the desire of the Obama Administration to free Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban.  

Given the impending concession of defeat -- let's call a spade a spade -- when Obama pulls the last American troops out of Afghanistan, there is also an argument that exchanging five Taliban commanders for Bergdahl was a good deal, since we would likely release them anyway at the end of hostilities, and get nothing then.   (The exchange can be seen, and perhaps Obama himself as an ESPN-watcher saw it this way, as an NBA deal where a team gets what it can for a player who's going to be a free agent at the end of the season anyway.)

But Bergdahl's platoon uniformly say he was a deserter, and some even say that he was a traitor, giving information to the Taliban that improved their techniques for roadside bombings, etc.   And the evidence is strong that both Bergdahl and his parents were and are staunchly opposed, not just to American presence in Afghanistan, but to America itself.  

There is almost no chance, in other words, that Bergdahl won't eventually be tried for desertion at the very least.   Perhaps he won't be convicted, perhaps Obama would pardon him, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.   But at the very least he'll be tried.   Veterans, already scalded by the VA scandal, will demand no less.

So what on earth was Obama doing in the Rose Garden with this guy (Bergdahl's father) announcing the return of Bergdahl?   And who on the White House staff failed to vett Bergdahl's father's comments, in Arabic and Pashto, that praised Allah when we are still at war with radical Islamists in Afghanistan and around the world?   Bring him home, sure, but let's not act like he's some kind of hero.   That's an insult to troops who served honorably, and an even bigger insult to the families of the men who died trying to find Bergdahl after he skedaddled.

Sheesh, just the optics might have alerted them that this was a bad idea.   Does Obama think that average Americans look at the Arabic-speaking bearded loony he's standing with and see... what?

I would say this could be Obama's jump the shark moment, the time when everyone finally realizes that the Emperor Has No Clothes.   But then there have been so many of those.   And he still lingers at 40-45% approval.   Apparently there are 40-45% of Americans who would approve of destroying their own country.

The Scandal of Higher Education Costs

With three teenagers and three college educations to pay for in the next decade, the scandal of higher education cost inflation is hitting me right where I live.   In the news over the weekend was this story:

The cost of obtaining a university education in the U.S. has soared 12 fold over the past three decades, a sign the educational system is in need of reform, according to lawmakers in both parties.  
The CHART OF THE DAY shows college tuition and fees have surged 1,120 percent since records began in 1978, four times faster than the increase in the consumer price index. Medical expenses have climbed 601 percent, while the price of food has increased 244 percent over the same period.
Here's the chart:
And here's an attempt at an explanation of why this divergence is happening that seems persuasive to my admittedly right-wing sensibility:
I have a lot of thoughts on this subject, but I'll share them in a separate post.