Links for 12-31-2012

  • Kyle Becker wrote a great list of reasons why it’s great to be Barack Obama. I like reason #18: “Admit you hung out with marxists in your biography, mimic the exact same tax the rich policies as socialists in Europe, and then vehemently reject the notion that you’re a socialist.”

  • The U.S. officially hit the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling.

  • George Will delivered a great lecture (video and text) on the role of religion in American politics. His thesis is that religion, particularly Protestantism, promotes values like the “primacy of individual conscience and choice,” virtues like industriousness, moderation, and responsibility, the idea of pre-existing natural rights, and the notion of accepting human nature for what it is. All of this helped to establish America’s representative democracy and kept it thriving until Woodrow Wilson and the progressives appeared on the scene in 1912’s presidential election and upended the value system. The Constitution became too confining, rights became something granted to citizens by the federal government, and secularism began displacing religion. After watching or reading Will’s lecture, read Louis Michael Seidman’s op-ed in the The New York Times, “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution.” You’ll quickly appreciate that we’re still on the trajectory set by Woodrow Wilson.

  • A Texas state district judge refused to grant Planned Parenthood a temporary restraining order preventing Texas from cutting off funding to the group when the new Texas Women’s Health Program launches tomorrow. Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against the state will go to trial on January 11.

  • New York police arrested the pregnant daughter of a prominent doctor and her boyfriend, a Harvard grad and Occupy Wall Street activist, for possessing a potent explosive, a modified shotgun, and high-capacity rifle magazines. Their Greenwich Village apartment also contained manuals for constructing bombs, booby traps, and improvised submachine guns. For some reason the New York Post reported this story but The New York Times did not. Hmmm.

  • Peter Cove wrote a good article for City Journal describing how our federal and state welfare programs promote dependence on government. Cove started a for-profit private sector company, America Works, that places welfare recipients in jobs as quickly as possible. This is his recommendation for dealing with runaway welfare spending: “My experience with long-term welfare clients has led me to propose a radical solution: that we abolish all cash welfare, as well as food and housing assistance – except for the elderly and the physically and mentally disabled – in order to move from a dependency culture to one of work-first.” Obviously he has a financial interest in this approach, but the fact that the U.S. has been fighting the War on Poverty since August 1964 and has yet to win indicates it’s time to consider a radical rethinking of our strategy.

  • Arizona’s participation in the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program turned up 10 people who double voted in the 2010 election. They’re still analyzing information from the 2012 election.

  • Northern Mali is the latest failed state to host al Qaeda.

  • Barack Obama’s grandmother, Sarah Onyango Obama, reportedly had eye surgery at a clinic in Equatorial Guinea created by Israeli entrepreneurs and staffed by Israeli doctors. Apparently no one in the Obama administration briefed her on the family’s anti-Israel and anti-private sector healthcare policy positions.

Links for 12-29-2012

Links for 12-28-2012

  • Hobby Lobby plans to defy the Obama administration’s birth control/abortifacient mandate even though that could subject the company to a $1.3 million a day fine.

  • Chinese hackers compromised the Council on Foreign Relations’ web site and installed software that attempted to compromise the computers of people visiting the site – as long as they were using Internet Explorer and had configured their computer to use Chinese as its primary language. It was a very sophisticated attack, and it’s not known who exactly the hackers were targeting or what information they were seeking.

  • Meanwhile much of the software used to store electronic medical records – software that’s being widely deployed since Obama’s “stimulus” bill included $36 billion to convert medical records to electronic format – is full of security holes, many of which are widely known but nonetheless haven’t been addressed.

  • Kevin Williamson wrote an excellent article on the Second Amendment that includes this: “The purpose of having citizens armed with paramilitary weapons is to allow them to engage in paramilitary actions… There is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment for military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny.”

  • Several outlets published articles today about Chicago suffering 500 homicides this year, but Chicago police backtracked and said there have been only 499 homicides this year – a case earlier in December was logged as a homicide but the coroner’s office isn’t so sure pending the outcome of toxicology tests. There are still three days and four nights left in 2012, so it’s highly likely there will be more than 500 homicides for the year.

  • Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a new emergency management law that enables the state to terminate or modify labor union contracts when it’s dealing with cities or school districts in financial distress.

  • Victor Davis Hanson wrote a column on why college costs are soaring but college students are poorly educated. It includes this: “…perhaps a fourth of the liberal arts courses – many would judge more like 50% – would never have been allowed in the curriculum just 40 years ago. They tend to foster the two most regrettable traits in a young mind – ignorance of the uninformed combined with the arrogance of the zealot. All too often students in these courses become revved up over a particular writ – solar power, gay marriage, the war on women, multiculturalism – without the skills to present their views logically and persuasively in response to criticism.” I also liked this observation: “So the new curriculum in the social sciences and humanities fills a need of sorts, and the result is that today’s graduating English major probably cannot name six Shakespearean plays; the history major cannot distinguish Verdun from Shiloh; the philosophy major has not read Aristotle’s Poetics or Plato’s Laws; and the political science major knows very little of Machiavelli or Tocqueville – but all of the above do know that the planet is heating up due to capitalist greed, the history of the United States is largely a story of oppression, the UN and the EU offer a superior paradigm to the U.S. Constitution, and there are some scary gun-owning, carbon-fuel burning, heterosexual-marrying nuts outside the campus.”

  • Egypt continues its slide toward banana republic status as the country’s chief prosecutor launched an investigation into opposition leaders amid allegations they committed treason by encouraging Egyptians to overthrow Mohammed Morsi. Two former presidential candidates are among the people under investigation.

  • The U.S. military evacuated U.S. personnel from the embassy in the Central African Republic as rebels approached the capital, Bangui.

Links for 12-27-2012

  • C. Bradley Thompson on American public schools: “The ‘public’ school system is the most immoral and corrupt institution in the United States of America today, and it should be abolished. It should be abolished for the same reason that chattel slavery was ended in the 19th century: Although different in purpose and in magnitude of harm to its victims, public education, like slavery, is a form of involuntary servitude. The primary difference is that public schools force children to serve the interests of the state rather than those of an individual master.” It’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, but it’s an interesting idea.

  • EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson quit, and Christoper Horner thinks Jackson’s use of a personal email account for official business had something to do with her decision. The EPA agreed to begin releasing those emails on January 14, but Horner and the Competitive Enterprise Institute had to sue to make that happen.

  • Peter Ferrara on how the federal government operates these days: “First the Speaker of the House goes to ask permission to pass proposed legislation from the Emperor in the White House. If the Speaker does not get the Emperor’s approval before trying to pass a bill, then he is just wasting everyone’s time. Further, if the Senate does not agree with what the House has passed, the Senate Majority Leader can just say the magic incantation, ‘Dead on Arrival,’ and the Speaker of the House skips town.”

  • Edward Glaeser wrote a commentary piece for Bloomberg on the explosion in the number of Americans on Social Security Disability: “In November 1982, unemployment hit its postwar high of 10.8 percent, far higher than the current rate of 7.7 percent. But the total share of workers who are either unemployed or receiving disability payments from the government totals 12.6 percent today.” (via The Transom)

  • Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor refused to grant Hobby Lobby an injunction that would prevent the Obama administration from enforcing their contraception mandate before Hobby Lobby’s challenge to that mandate works its way through the courts.

  • The Washington Post published an article on the CIA’s Global Response Staff, a group comprised primarily of ex-Special Ops soldiers who protect CIA staff working in dangerous environments. Two of the people killed in the attack on the Benghazi consulate, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, were GRS contractors. (via The Transom)

Links for 12-26-2012

  • The Washington Post published an exposé on the meltdown at FreedomWorks that features Dick Armey marching into the group’s Washington, D.C. headquarters with an armed guard so he could depose Matt Kibbe, FreedomWorks’ president and CEO. Six days later FreedomWorks financial backer Richard J. Stephenson paid Armey to go away and Kibbe was back. If you’re interested in financially supporting a Tea Party-inspired organization you should consider American Majority Action while the FreedomWorks mess sorts itself out.

  • Joel Pollak wrote a good article rebutting a New York Times hit piece on the Tea Party. I liked this observation in particular: “…the Tea Party has provided the Republican Party’s grassroots support for the past two years but none of its leadership.” That has been extremely frustrating.

  • The federal government will hit its $16.4 trillion debt limit on Dec. 31, prompting the Treasury to implement “extraordinary measures” enabling the U.S. to limp along until some time in February. That should give John Boehner the time he needs to come up with a new way to cave to Obama’s demand that the debt ceiling be eliminated altogether.

  • The New York Post reports that the four State Department employees who were supposedly fired for their involvement with the Benghazi fiasco are still on the government payroll and will be back at work shortly. The highest ranking among them, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, is switching desks, while the other three are on administrative leave and will be back at their old jobs soon.

  • The Centers for Disease Control collects survey information primarily by calling people with landline phones. To learn how that might skew their results, they conducted a broader survey to learn who owns landline phones. That survey, conducted in the first half of 2012, showed that 35.8% of American households use cellular phones exclusively, while 15.9% have both cellular and landline phones but use the cellular phones almost exclusively. This indicates that 51.7% of American households don’t use landline phones. If you’re conducting surveys (including political polls) over landline phones only, your results will be heavily skewed.

  • Mark Steyn commented on Piers Morgan’s gun control advocacy while guest hosting for Rush Limbaugh: “How much longer are Americans going to have to put up with some snooty, hoity-toity foreigner coming on the airwaves and telling them everything that’s wrong with their country?”

  • New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is no longer a Second Amendment advocate. When she was a congresswoman she was highly rated by the NRA.

  • Mohammed Morsi signed Egypt’s new constitution.

Links for 12-25-2012

Links for 12-24-2012