On competition with government companies: The case of the BBC

James Murdoch, chief executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia, has some words of warning that are probably relevant to government competition in other sectors.

An out-of-control BBC and addiction to central planning by regulators are damaging democracy and media choice in Britain, James Murdoch said in Edinburgh last night.

Giving the annual MacTaggart lecture to an audience of television executives, Mr Murdoch, 36, the son of Rupert Murdoch, called for a “dramatic reduction of the activities of the State” in broadcasting, arguing that it effectively treated viewers like children.

He contrasted the prevailing political attitude to mainstream broadcasting with the lightly regulated newspaper, film or book industry where consumer choice predominates.

Mr Murdoch, chief executive of the European and Asian operations of News Corporation, parent company of The Times, said: “In the regulated world of public service broadcasting, the customer does not exist: he or she is a passive creature — a viewer in need of protection.

“In other parts of the media world, including pay television and newspapers, the customer is just that: someone whose very freedom to choose makes them important.”

He said that the “chilling” expansionism of the BBC meant that commercial rivals and consumer choice were struggling. In particular the “expansion of state-sponsored journalism” in the form of BBC News online was “a threat to plurality and the independence of news provision, which are so important to our democracy”.

Mr Murdoch criticised Radio 2’s effort to woo younger listeners by hiring presenters such as Jonathan Ross on “salaries no commercial competitor could afford”.

“No doubt the BBC celebrates the fact that it now has well over half of all radio listening. But the consequent impoverishment of the once-successful commercial sector is testament to the corporation’s inability to distinguish between what is good for it and what is good for the country.” . . .

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The President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists completely misstates facts about guns at Obama health care Town Halls

A Mr. Ted Rall has a very disappointing opinion piece that is distributed by Yahoo news and multiple other places on the claimed "klannsman" types were "threaten[ing] to assassinate" the president. Given that he had obviously read my piece, it is startling to me that he would continue to make this long list of false claims. I wonder what reaction the Universal Press Syndicate, which carries his column, will get. Given that Mr. Rall is the President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, one would think that he would be more concerned about getting these facts somewhat correct.

Dear Mr. Rall:

Some corrections for your piece entitled "The Guns of August":

1) "AR-15 military-style automatic rifle" -- Note that the term "military-style" normally is used to refer to civilian versions of military weapons. Civilian versions of these weapons are semi-automatic guns. The weapon in question here was a semi-automatic, not an automatic rifle. Automatic weapons are machine guns. The gun being referred to in Arizona has the inside firing mechanism of a low caliber hunting rifle (it is a .223 caliber gun, a deer hunting rifles are about .30 caliber).

2) "Two weeks ago, a right-wing man protested outside the president's healthcare meeting in New Hampshire" -- In this case the man was several blocks away and a couple of hours removed from where and when the president was speaking. He was on private property at a church where he had been given permission to be there.

3) "A week later, a dozen men appeared outside Obama's appearance in Phoenix" -- Again, these men were several blocks removed from the indoor event that the president was speaking at.

4) "This is a revival of Klannism." -- The man who carried the semi-automatic rifle was black (indeed he is the man that you quote from in the piece). Is there any evidence, even one quote, that anyone of these people were racist? Is there any evidence that they disagreed with the president because of his race?

5) "to watch goons threaten to assassinate" -- Threatening to assassinate a president is a federal crime. If you have evidence of this, it should be reported to the Secret Service. As it is, I quote from the Secret Service spokesman in my piece. If you have evidence that there were multiple people threatening the president, you should provide it. "Cops stood by and watched. The Secret Service did nothing. Strictly speaking, these mooks are allowed to openly carry guns. Which is fine with me," you write. But people are not allowed to threaten harm, let alone assassination, of the president.

6) On bringing guns to the events. In Kostric's case, he carries his gun with him all the time for protection. There was nothing special for him bringing the gun with him to the church for the protest. As to the Arizona event, a radio talk show host set this up as a PR stunt. He contacted the police before hand to make sure that it was OK for them to bring the guns to the event (hardly the threats to the president that you claim).

There are several other mistakes, but what I find most disappointing about your piece is that you knew these different statements were false (or had at least been alerted to them being false) (including the fact that the gun was a semi-automatic). My piece provided links to show the points that I made, and yet you made these claims. My question is: why did you make such false claims?


John Lott

For those interested, a couple of my previous posts on this are here and here.

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Turning a funeral into political speeches

These prayers at Teddy Kennedy's funeral are filled with politics, including the prayer that the "cause of his life to see every American have decent quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege," be realized. They covered a huge number of issues.

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Montana jumps queue for Homeland Security funding after two Democratic Senators meet with Napolitano

Notice that the Napolitano offers no alternative explanation for why Montana was moved up in the queue. From the AP:

The Obama administration said Friday that two Democratic senators falsely took credit for steering millions of dollars to projects in their home state, even as officials acknowledged that the Homeland Security secretary met with the lawmakers and discussed financing the projects.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano denies politics played any role in distributing stimulus money. The Associated Press reported this week that her department did not follow its own priority list when selecting projects.
Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester have taken credit for helping secure $77 million in stimulus money for repairs at border stations in their state. That includes $15 million for a Whitetail, Mont., checkpoint that sees three travelers a day.

"Politicians take credit for things that go on in their state whether they deserve it or not," Homeland Security spokesman Sean Smith said Friday. "These guys are politicians. I don't think anyone should be surprised if they decided to jump in front of that and take some credit for that."

It was an unusually pointed criticism directed at two Democrats. Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a key ally in the Obama administration's push for a health care overhaul.

At first, Smith and Napolitano's chief of staff, Noah Kroloff, denied that Napolitano even met with Tester and Baucus. After the AP contacted the two lawmakers, Smith acknowledged two meetings during the presidential transition, when Napolitano had been nominated but not confirmed.

A reference to the senators' meetings was included in an AP story this week that raised questions about the funding process.

During the Jan. 16 meeting, Baucus told Napolitano it was important to spend money on checkpoints along the Canadian border, citing concerns about illegal activity there, said Tyler Matsdorf, a spokesman for Baucus. He said they did not discuss specific projects.

Tester similarly met with Napolitano Jan. 14 and "discussed in general the importance of strengthening security along Montana's northern border," his spokesman Aaron Murphy said.

After Montana projects received $77 million under the stimulus, Tester issued a press release crediting those meetings with Napolitano. . . .

Napolitano herself acknowledged in April that politicians can influence how money gets spent. . . . .



Taxpayer dollars being used to organize artists to support Obama's agenda

If Courrielche is right, this is pretty bad. If the alternative explanation that they were just pushing "a broad pitch for artworks on the theme of public service" is right, it is still undesirable.

A 39-year-old Los Angeles film producer is accusing the National Endowment for the Arts of initiating a "call to action" to artists to support President Obama's domestic agenda.

The film producer, Patrick Courrielche, said he was one of roughly 75 artists, musicians, writers, poets and others on an Aug. 10 conference call hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement and United We Serve, a nationwide initiative launched by Obama to increase volunteerism.

Courrielche said officials on the hour-long call -- including NEA Director of Communications Yosi Sergant and Michael Skolnik, political director for hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons -- encouraged the artists on the line to create works of art in their respective fields related to health care, energy and the environment.

"What I heard was a well thought-out pitch to encourage artists to create art on these issues," Courrielche told FOXNews.com. "We were told we were consulted for a reason, and they specifically stated those issues as the issues we should focus on, to plant the seed. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what they're attempting to do."

The NEA did not respond to several requests for comment, but others familiar with the conference call dispute Courrielche's version of events, saying the purpose was a broad pitch for artworks on the theme of public service. . . .

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Lockerbie bomber al-Megrahi most likely wasn't terminal

Apparently the Scottish government will not release the doctor's name who claimed the case was terminal because the doctor worked for the Libyans. The London Times had this:

It emerged that the prognosis that Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi had a life expectancy of only three months or less was supported by an unnamed doctor who had no expertise in terminal prostate cancer. The final report on al-Megrahi's condition, which went to Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Secretary, was drawn up by Dr Andrew Fraser, director of health and care with the Scotttish Prison Service.

The three-month time limit is important because Scottish Prison Service guidance says that compassionate release from prison “may be considered where a prisoner is suffering from a terminal illness and death is likely to occur soon. There are no fixed time limits but life expectancy of less than three months may be considered an appropriate period”. . . .


Congressman Charlie Rangel left off half of his net worth from financial disclosure forms

Note these types of errors are getting quite common the last couple of years with Rangel. Not reporting half of one's net worth seems a little extreme. It is ironic that Rangel is leveling such vitriolic language against private companies as greedy and dishonest. Underreported his income as $70,000 in 2002, $46,000 in 2003, and $117,000 in 2006.

Earlier this month the Chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee "amended" his 2007 financial disclosure form—to the tune of more than a half-million dollars in previously unreported assets and income. That number may be as high as $780,000, because Congress's ethics rules only require the Members to report their finances within broad ranges. This voyage of personal financial discovery brings Mr. Rangel's net worth for 2007 to somewhere between $1.028 million and $2.495 million, while his previous statement came in at $516,015 and $1.316 million. . . .

Oh, and those vacant properties in Glassboro, in southern Jersey? Everybody in Manhattan tries not to think much about New Jersey, so those lots and their as-much-as-$15,000 value must also have slipped down the memory hole. (The New York Post reported yesterday that Mr. Rangel failed to pay property taxes for two of the lots, according to the county clerk's office.)

The Chairman probably isn't doing a lot of dining at KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell or Long John Silver's, either, which may explain why he didn't disclose the $1,001 to $15,000 in stock he owns in Yum Brands, the conglomerate that runs those chain restaurants. Compared to his undisclosed portfolio stake in PepsiCo—$15,001 to $50,000—that's practically a rounding error. . . .

An example of a past problem is here:

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) acknowledged yesterday that he had not lived up to the "higher standard" expected of members of Congress, but he maintained that he should not be punished politically for failing to disclose and pay taxes on rental income from his Caribbean resort property.

Apparently Rangel has also been simultaneously claiming multiple primary residences. See also here. The New York Daily News has its take here.


Wind power meets its snail darter

This is pretty ironic, but with everything in life there are trade-offs.

(From Bloomberg) — Iberdrola SA and E.ON AG’s turbine dreams for the windswept Texas Panhandle may be stymied by the mating rituals of the Lesser Prairie Chicken, a bird whose future could slow the pace of U.S. renewable energy growth.

Developers are scouring the sagebrush and grasslands of potential turbine sites for the ground-dwelling chickens, E.ON chief development officer Patrick Woodson said. Once plentiful in the southern high plains, the bird now has a high priority for listing under the Endangered Species Act, a move that will affect where as much as $11 billion in turbines can be built.

Federal protection for the chickens will hamper Texas’s plan to add 5,500 megawatts of wind power in the region by 2013, a 60 percent increase for the state. President Barack Obama wants to double all U.S. energy from renewable sources such as the wind and sun in three years to reduce dependence on imported oil and the greenhouse-gas emissions blamed for global warming.

“The windiest parts of some of these states seem to be the areas that still have bigger concentrations of prairie chickens,” Woodson said in an Aug. 13 interview. “We need to plan for a worst-case scenario, which would be a listing.” . . .

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Some pieces in the Washington Times

A useful discussion of the unemployment rate and what it means

Matthew Bandyk at US News & World Report has this useful discussion of the unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate is a murky number. It seems simple enough to look at the national unemployment figures released every month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In July, that number was 9.4 percent. At the peak of the early '80s recession—December 1982—unemployment hit 10.8 percent.

So where's the murkiness? The problem is that many of the people one would think of as "unemployed" are not included in this unemployment rate. For one, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not count unemployed people who have been discouraged by the labor market and have given up looking for work. You are counted as a "discouraged worker" if you are available to work, want to work, and tried to look for work in the past year but gave up within four weeks for reasons including the belief that no work is available. The fact that the national unemployment rate excludes these discouraged workers has led many observers to believe it does not reflect the "real" level of unemployment. "Ask the average person if he or she is unemployed, and there is little hesitation in giving you an answer, but that may not agree with government definitions," says John Williams, an economist who examines government statistics at shadowstats.com.

Other people who aren't counted in the official number are those who have been forced by the economy to work part time. The number of workers who wanted full-time jobs but could find only part-time work was 1.8 million last month, which amounts to 1.3 percent of the labor force. Still, that's not as bad as December 1982, when forced part-time workers accounted for 3 percent of the labor force.

What happens when you start counting all these people who have been heavily battered by the labor market? The Bureau of Labor Statistics has another rate that includes "marginally affected workers" and part-time workers. That number, referred to as U-6 because of its identification in bureaureports, was 16.3 percent last month—nearly 7 percentage points higher than the official unemployment rate. What's more, the number of people who have given up on finding work has been steadily rising over the past few months, from 685,000 in May to 796,000 in July. "If you have that number of people leaving the workforce, that seems to me a serious problem," says economist John Lott. . . .

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"Richardson Probe 'Was Killed in Washington'"

With an administration that killed already obtained convictions of black panthers who had intimidated overs at the polls, is anyone surprised that the political appointees got involved in killing this investigation into Democratic Governor Bill RIchardson? From Fox News:

SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former high-ranking members of his administration won't be criminally charged in a yearlong federal investigation into pay-to-play allegations involving one of the Democratic governor's large political donors, someone familiar with the case said.

The decision not to pursue indictments was made by top Justice Department officials, according to a person familiar with the investigation, who asked not to be identified because federal officials had not disclosed results of the probe. . . . .

Newt Gingrich calls for Holder to be fired.

Among the president's cabinet appointments, the Attorney General is unique.
Whereas the Secretary of Transportation is responsible for the nation's highways and airways, and the Secretary of Agriculture oversees the nation's farms, the Attorney General's charge is upholding the rule of law - the glue that holds together a self-governing people.
In the latest skirmish in the Democratic Party's war on the CIA, Attorney General Eric Holder has failed to uphold this fundamental public trust. And for that, there should be consequences.
Earlier this week, on the same day that the administration released a six-year-old report on terrorist interrogations, Holder announced he is appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the CIA officials who conducted the interrogations.
We know from long experience, of course, that special prosecutors in Washington quickly become self-justifying. To rationalize their existence, they must find people to prosecute, and find they do.
So Holder is tasking his lawyers to prosecute the men and women who worked - successfully - to keep America safe since September 11, 2001. Fair enough. It's not too politically palatable perhaps, but the law is the law.
Or is it?
Americans could be forgiven for believing, on the basis of shamefully twisted mainstream media coverage, that the recently revealed 2004 CIA Inspector-General report at the center of this controversy is merely a cataloging of CIA abuse. . . .

UPDATE: The NRO corner has this:

Given the apparent political motivations behind so many of the recent decisions at the Department of Justice (DOJ) — from the dismissal of the voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party to the re-investigation of CIA interrogators after DOJ prosecutors had already reviewed the matter and decided there was no reason for further criminal prosecution — the latest news about the dropping of the investigation against New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, Obama’s former nominee to be commerce secretary, raises a lot of questions. The Associated Press report cites a DOJ source saying that the investigation of pay-to-play allegations involving one of the governor’s largest political donors “was killed in Washington” by top DOJ officials.

For anyone familiar with internal Justice Department procedures, this is particularly suspicious. The DOJ has a manual called “Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses” (I helped edit the latest edition when I was at Justice) that sets out the rules and procedures for U.S. attorneys when they are investigating these types of public-corruption cases. It is the U.S. attorney in New Mexico who would normally make the final call on a local public-corruption case, not “top Justice Department officials” in Washington. The DOJ manual sets out the consultation rules for U.S. attorneys, who are required to “consult” with the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division in Washington. But only consultation is required; the Public Integrity Section does not make the final decision on whether an investigation should go forward. (Attorney General Eric Holder should not have forgotten this, since Public Integrity was the first place he worked at Justice.) So if the AP is correct in reporting that “top” officials in Washington killed the investigation, then political appointees within the department did not follow normal DOJ procedures.

Now, I will be the first to tell you that I think the attorney general should have the final authority on all actions taken by the Justice Department. But that is not the rule set out for public-corruption cases being investigated by U.S. attorneys. So did top political officials in Washington make the final decision to dismiss this case against a Democratic officeholder? Have they changed the rules in the prosecution manual that only require consultation? I seriously doubt that Eric Holder will provide any answers to these questions, or that the lack of a response by the Justice Department (or the validity of the response if it makes one) will be investigated by Congress. By comparison, the Bush administration was castigated for supposedly firing U.S. attorneys for not pursuing such investigations vigorously enough, and its officials were the subject of endless congressional investigations and subpoenas. . . .

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ABC won't run health care ad because it is "partisan"

ABC can run an informercial from the White House promoting Obama health care plan, but they can't run an ad that is critical of the proposal? Here is my question: why does opposition mean partisan? After all, there are Democrats who oppose the bill also. A copy of the ad is below. From Fox News:

The refusal by ABC and NBC to run a national ad critical of President Obama's health care reform plan is raising questions from the group behind the spot -- particularly in light of ABC's health care special aired in prime time last June and hosted at the White House.

The 33-second ad by the League of American Voters, which features a neurosurgeon who warns that a government-run health care system will lead to the rationing of procedures and medicine, began airing two weeks ago on local affiliates of ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS. On a national level, however, ABC and NBC have refused to run the spot in its present form.

"It's a powerful ad," said Bob Adams, executive director of the League of American Voters, a national nonprofit group with 15,000 members who advocate individual liberty and government accountability. "It tells the truth and it really highlights one of the biggest vulnerabilities and problems with this proposed legislation, which is it rations health care and disproportionately will decimate the quality of health care for seniors."

Adams said the advertisement is running on local network affiliates in states like Louisiana, Arkansas, Maine and Pennsylvania. But although CBS has approved the ad for national distribution and talks are ongoing with FOX, NBC has questioned some of the ad's facts while ABC has labeled it "partisan." . . .

Adams objects to ABC's assertion that his group's position is partisan.

"It's a position that we would argue a vast majority of Americans stand behind," he said. "Obviously, it's a message that ABC and the Obama administration haven't received yet." . . .

BACKGROUND: ABC also refused to run an ad from the Republican party during the ABC News special from the White House on health care.

Opposition to health care isn't just limited to Republicans:

Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll said "the health care reform legislation being considered right now" is opposed by 21% of Democrats, 50% of Independents, and 81% of Republicans. Only 37% of Democrats and 15% of Independents think their families would be better off if it passed. . . .

As to the ads content, see this by Robert Samuelson.

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Obama's Environmentalism will be destroying jobs in Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama

Some big losses expected in jobs:

Although President Obama won Virginia in 2008, due to strong showings in about a dozen major counties, he struggled to make inroads in the rural western portion of the state, or in much of Appalachia for that matter.

So with the nation, and this region in particular, grappling with the most challenging economic times since the 1930s, Obama would do well to reconsider his stance against a controversial coal mining technique important to the economies of rural Virginia and elsewhere.

Nationwide, the coal industry supports more than 500,000 jobs through both direct and indirect employment. And coal-related jobs are the employment backbone of West Virginia and the Appalachian regions of Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Alabama.

Coal also provides more than half the electricity used in the country, again playing an increased role in Appalachia, and does so at about a third the cost of other fuel sources. . . .

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Democrats endanger individual privacy

CBS News has this:

Section 431(a) of the bill says that the IRS must divulge taxpayer identity information, including the filing status, the modified adjusted gross income, the number of dependents, and "other information as is prescribed by" regulation. That information will be provided to the new Health Choices Commissioner and state health programs and used to determine who qualifies for "affordability credits."

Section 245(b)(2)(A) says the IRS must divulge tax return details -- there's no specified limit on what's available or unavailable -- to the Health Choices Commissioner. The purpose, again, is to verify "affordability credits."

Section 1801(a) says that the Social Security Administration can obtain tax return data on anyone who may be eligible for a "low-income prescription drug subsidy" but has not applied for it.

Over at the Institute for Policy Innovation (a free-market think tank and presumably no fan of Obamacare), Tom Giovanetti argues that: "How many thousands of federal employees will have access to your records? The privacy of your health records will be only as good as the most nosy, most dishonest and most malcontented federal employee.... So say good-bye to privacy from the federal government. It was fun while it lasted for 233 years."

I'm not as certain as Giovanetti that this represents privacy's Armageddon. (Though I do wonder where the usual suspects like the Electronic Privacy Information Center are. Presumably inserting limits on information that can be disclosed -- and adding strict penalties on misuse of the information kept on file about hundreds of millions of Americans -- is at least as important as fretting about Facebook's privacy policy in Canada.)

A better candidate for a future privacy crisis is the so-called stimulus bill enacted with limited debate early this year. It mandated the "utilization of an electronic health record for each person in the United States by 2014," but included only limited privacy protections. . . .

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"U.N. Report Advocates Teaching Masturbation to 5-Year-Olds"

The characterization of this as "absurd" is exactly right:

The United Nations is recommending that children as young as five receive mandatory sexual education that would teach even pre-kindergarteners about masturbation and topics like gender violence.

The U.N.'s Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released a 98-page report in June offering a universal lesson plan for kids ranging in age from 5-18, an
"informed approach to effective sex, relationships" and HIV education that they say is essential for "all young people."

The U.N. insists the program is "age appropriate," but critics say it's exposing kids to sex far too early, and offers up abstract ideas — like "transphobia" — they might not even understand.

"At that age they should be learning about ... the proper name of certain parts of their bodies," said Michelle Turner, president of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, "certainly not about masturbation."

Turner was disturbed by UNESCO's plans to explain to children as young as nine about the safety of legal abortions, and to advocate and "promote the right to and access to safe abortion" for everyone over the age of 15.

"This is absurd," she told FOXNews.com.

The UNESCO report, called "International Guidelines for Sexuality Education," separates children into four age groups: 5-to-8-year-olds, 9-to-12-year-olds, 12-to-15-year-olds and 15-to-18-year-olds. . . . .


The US government is protecting its investment in Car companies

This is a big surprise. One would have hoped that the $100 billion already spent would have been enough. Or the $3 billion on the "cash for clunkers" program. Apparently there is more.

A spending bill passed by the U.S. House this summer explicitly forbids federal agencies from purchasing vehicles other than those made by GM, Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. A climate bill passed by the House appears to favor U.S. companies in doling out $2 billion in government funds to develop plug-in electric vehicles. Both measures still would need to be approved by the Senate.

And looming on the horizon is the Obama administration's pending release of new fuel-economy regulations. The rules will provide more details about President Barack Obama's earlier-announced plans to increase the average fuel economy of automobiles sold in the U.S. to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. Overseas car makers worry that in the details, the rules will be tilted toward GM, Chrysler and Ford.

The U.S. is majority owner of GM and has a small stake in Chrysler after having pushed both companies through speedy bankruptcy proceedings earlier this year.

"It is a threat," Stefan Jacoby, president of Volkswagen AG's U.S. business, said of the potential conflict of interest posed by the U.S. government's ownership stakes in GM and Chrysler. Mr. Jacoby said his company plans "to watch carefully" whether that "leads to discrimination against manufacturers who aren't getting support from the taxpayers." . . .

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Democrats stage vandalism to Democrat Political Office?

Here is the original story. As the story notes: "Democratic Party Officials say that they think that the vandalism is in reaction to the heated health care debate." Note also that a sign opposing the government health care takeover was left on one of the windows. The reaction by Americans was understandable. As one commentator wrote: "Even liberals who are trying to destroy the country deserve their windows to be intact."
But it looks like that the Democrats shouldn't get much sympathy.

My guess is that the other case in Georgia with a swastika on a Democratic Congressman's office sign is a similar case.

More on the story here from Fox News.

Waak, meanwhile, told FOXNews.com that the shattered windows were directly in front of posters depicting President Obama and health care reform.

"If you look at the windows, that's where the major smashes were done," Waak said Wednesday. "To us, that indicates this is about health care reform." . . .

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The Economist magazine on Predatory Pricing

The Economist magazine points to the skepticism that economists have about predatory pricing. I wish that they would have would have noted that the one place where predatory pricing is most likely to take place is government enterprises.

I couldn't agree more with this quote:

TWO decades before he won the Nobel prize for economics in 1991, Ronald Coase wrote an essay decrying the poor state of research in industrial organisation, the discipline in which he established his reputation. The field, he complained, was devoted to the study of monopoly and antitrust policy. That, he said, made for bad scholarship: an economist faced with a business practice that he cannot fathom, according to Mr Coase, “looks for a monopoly explanation”.

It has always struck me as odd that anything that economists see the first explanation is some type of monopoly power.

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Some pretty blunt advice on car safety from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Everything else equal they are pretty clear:

"it's bigger and weighs more so we would expect it would be more protective in serious crashes."


Julia Stiles Mocks Eco-Friendly Celebs"

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Chris Matthews comparing today's mood with when Kennedy was assassinated

To see a further of this type of discussion see this link.

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Police Sgt. says "armed populace" "force multiplier"

From Keystone, Colorado:

Summit County may soon have a new batch of licensed concealed weapon holders, after Sunday's well-attended firearms class at the Keystone Fire Station.

Carrying a concealed weapon requires completion of the class, as well as two hours of training on a shooting range, said instructor Phil McFall, explaining that students also take a 50-question exam at the end of the session.

After completing the course, people can apply with the Sheriff's Office for a permit. Colorado law authorizes citizens 18 years and older to carry concealed weapons as long as they don't have any felonies on their record. Alcohol or drug-related charges are grounds for suspension of the permit until the charges are legally resolved.

Statewide, the number of concealed weapon permits has climbed in the past few years, according to a 2008 story in the Denver Post. Some sheriffs attributed the rise to a series of highly publicized shootings, while others said the increase was simply due to a round of renewals of expiring five-year permits.

Other statewide statistics show that crime rates in Colorado have dropped in recent years, although the most recent available figures are from 2007. . . .

Frisco police Sgt. Jim Donahue also offered a brief presentation at the class, emphasizing that he was there on his own time as a private citizen, not as a representative of the town's police department.

“Having an armed populace, in my opinion, if they are licensed and properly trained, is a good thing,” Donahue said. “The key to this whole thing is training.

“It's a force multiplier for us,” he added, explaining that there are certain situations when police can use the help of armed citizens.

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Armed Robber is shot by Concealed Carry permit holder

The Detroit News has this:

Detroit -- A 17-year-old would-be armed robber had the tables turned on him this morning when his intended victim pulled out his own gun and shot the teen, police said.
Now, instead of the money he allegedly sought to steal, the teen will get a lengthy hospital stay -- and, if he recovers and is convicted, a lengthy prison sentence.
The incident happened about 5 a.m. this morning behind an apartment building at 1670 Oakman, Detroit Police spokesman John Roach said.
"The 17-year-old came up behind a 32-year-old man behind the apartment building and tried to rob him at gunpoint," Roach said. "But the 32-year-old had a CCW (a license to carry a concealed weapon), and had his own sidearm with him. He pulled his weapon and they exchanged gunfire."
When the shooting was over, the 32-year-old had only suffered a minor injury to the head, while the alleged bandit was seriously wounded. He was taken to an area hospital, where he remains in critical condition, Roach said.
"If he recovers, he'll likely be charged with armed robbery, and probably attempted murder," Roach said.

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Senator Ted Kennedy in his own words


Some recent editorials in the Washington Times

Glenn Beck on Obama's Green Jobs 'Czar'

Some interesting points on Van Jones, Obama's "green jobs" adviser.

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Government debt numbers by country from 1994 to 2007

The data can be found by following this link. Detailed numbers for 28 countries from 1994 to 2007 is provided. Japan is in the worst shape.


FTC says beer cans with university colors are a "grave concern"

I won't make any comment on this:

A Federal Trade Commission attorney criticized a controversial Anheuser-Busch InBev NV marketing campaign that features Bud Light cans decorated with college-team colors, urging the brewer to drop any plans for similar promotions.

Janet Evans, a senior FTC attorney who oversees alcohol advertising, says the federal agency has "grave concern" that the campaign could encourage underage and binge drinking on college campuses. Dozens of schools have protested the promotion, with some threatening legal action over trademark issues.

"This does not appear to be responsible activity," Ms. Evans said in an interview Monday. "We're looking at this closely. We've talked to the company and expressed our concerns."

Carol Clark, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement the company told the FTC that the special beer cans will be sold only at retailers whose customers are 21 years and older. . . .

Meanwhile in the UK.

Pubs warn over plastic pints plan

Plans to replace the traditional pint glass with one made of shatter-proof plastic will not be accepted by drinkers, the pub industry has warned.
The Home Office has commissioned a new design, in an attempt to stop glasses being used as weapons.
Official figures show 5,500 people are attacked with glasses and bottles every year in England and Wales.

The Home Office has commissioned a new design, in an attempt to stop glasses being used as weapons.
. . .

UPDATE: Apparently, we should also be concerned about candle-lit dinners.

Thanks to David Mastio.


Will the government run health care as well as it is running the "cash for clunkers" program

The original one billion dollars was supposed to originally last until October 1st. Obviously it didn't make it an entire week. More people wanted to get the subsidy than the government predicted. Even the additional $2 billion didn't last until September as promised. On the other side is the problems that the government is failing miserably at getting the money it should to car dealers.

Through early Tuesday, dealers had submitted 665,000 vouchers totaling $2.77 billion. Many dealerships have worked overnight in recent days to submit each trade-in vehicle's 13-page reimbursement application, including the title, proof of registration and proof of insurance.

Chuck Eddy, a Chrysler dealer in Youngstown, Ohio, completed more than 100 Clunker deals in late July and August and wrapped up his final deal on Saturday afternoon. He considers the program a "true, true stimulus" but said he's still owed $390,000. "I still haven't been paid my first dollar," Eddy said. "That just makes you a little nervous."

"It's the best program we all hate," Eddy said.

Jim Arrigo, who owns two Chrysler dealerships in south Florida, estimated that his two stores are owed more than $1 million for 270 deals through the program. He has only received payment for six vehicle sales.

"Thank god that we have the cash flow to make it but in some cases, a lot of dealers, it's been very difficult for them," Arrigo said. . . .

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State Senator shoots one of the men who broke into his house

The Democratic State Senator, the longest serving senator in the North Carolina state senate, apparently defended himself with a gun.

WILMINGTON -- State Sen. R.C. Soles, North Carolina's longest-serving senator, shot one of two intruders who broke into his Tabor City home Sunday night, according to the Columbus County Sheriff's Office.

Police identified 22-year-old Kyle Blackburn as the man Soles shot. He is now in a South Carolina hospital listed in fair condition. Blackburn and the other suspect, B.J. Wright, were one-time law clients of Soles.

Blackburn has previously been arrested for attempted breaking and entering and first-degree trespassing at Soles' home, according to the Tabor City Police Chief Donald Dowless.

"Approximately about a year ago, Kyle Blackburn was seen trying to break into the senator's residence," said Dowless. "He was arrested and taken to jail at that time." . . .


Student armed with a sword and chainsaw who had several pipe bombs tried attacking school

From Fox News:

A teen armed with a sword and chainsaw who had several pipe bombs strapped to his body was arrested Monday after two explosions rocked Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, Calif., KTVU reported.

Police called the foiled attack that forced the evacuation of more than 1,200 students and teachers a Columbine-style plot, according to the station. . . .

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Explaining why unions want government health care passed

Here is an interesting claim from IBD.

Labor: If there's any question as to why union toughs turned up at recent health care town halls and got violent, consider what they were gooning for: a $10 billion bailout for their mismanaged pensions — at our expense.

Buried on page 65 of the 1,017 pages of HR 3200, the House's health care reform bill, and in a Senate bill as well, stands a $10 billion entitlement to keep pensions for unions like United Auto Workers as shiny and gold-plated as the day Detroit executives signed off on them.
Steelworkers, municipal employees, teachers and other union retirees will benefit from what the bills call "Reinsurance Programs for Retirees." The $10 billion cash infusion is intended to refinance Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Associations (VEBA) insurance to continue coverage for unions' early retirees in restructurings.
It's nothing but another bailout for union-bankrupted industries that can't sustain their contracts. . . .

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Felons in prison sent stimulus checks

From Fox News:

The federal government mistakenly sent out stimulus checks to 1,700 inmates, the Social Security Administration said Tuesday -- a $425,000 error.

Social Security spokesman Dan Moraski told FOXNews.com in a written statement that the money went out because official records "did not accurately reflect that they were in prison."

The inspector general's office for the Social Security Administration is now looking into the problem as part of its broader audit on stimulus spending. The Social Security Administration acknowledged the glitch following a report that nearly two-dozen inmates in Massachusetts had wrongly received the $250 stimulus checks.

Even before the agency disclosed that the problem was more widespread, the discovery prompted complaints from Republicans critical of the $787 billion stimulus and the way it has been managed.

"It is unacceptable for convicts to be getting stimulus funds. It speaks to the lack of oversight and accountability to have such nonsense coming out of Washington. Where is the accountability?" House Minority Whip Eric Cantor said in a written statement. . . .

UPDATE: The Boston Herald claims that "nearly 4,000" criminals got stimulus bonus checks while still in prison.


New Fox News Op-ed: "The Trouble With Trillions"

My newest Fox News piece starts this way:

Last year, President Obama campaigned against budget deficits. Yet, now we have the newly announced figures from the Obama administration stating that the deficits numbers over the next decade will add up to over $9 trillion-- $2 trillion more than had been forecast as recently as March. Even this likely underestimates the deficit by at least another $1 trillion. Looking back, it is hard to believe that the deficits during the Bush administration totaled only about $3 trillion over eight years. . . .

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"Eight Reasons Why Big Government Hurts Economic Growth"

A new video by Dan Mitchell

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Even the NY Times admits that rationing fears are "not entirely irrational"

So much for Obama's promises that the government will not ration health care. From the NY Times:

White House officials and Democrats in Congress say the fears of older Americans about possible rationing of health care are based on myths and falsehoods. But Medicare beneficiaries and insurance counselors say the concerns are not entirely irrational.

Bills now in Congress would squeeze savings out of Medicare, a lifeline for the elderly, on the assumption that doctors and hospitals can be more efficient.

President Obama has sold health care legislation to Congress and the country as a way to slow the growth of federal health spending, no less than as a way to regulate the insurance market and cover the uninsured.

Mr. Obama has also said Medicare and private insurers could improve care and save money by following advice from a new federal panel of medical experts on “what treatments work best.”

The zeal for cutting health costs, combined with proposals to compare the effectiveness of various treatments and to counsel seniors on end-of-life care, may explain why some people think the legislation is about rationing, which could affect access to the most expensive services in the final months of life.

“I don’t think we will get the quality of health care with this plan that we get now,” said James T. Aronis, 79, of Wichita, Kan. . . . .

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More of what the "Stimulus" dollars are funding

From the NY Post:

The stimulus package is living up to its provocative name by funding a bacchanalia of behavioral sex research, a Post analysis reveals.

The next fiscal year is set to be one of the friskiest ever in the nation's science labs, as researchers probe the ins and outs of sex patterns among humans and even some of our four-legged friends.

Among the most titillating grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health are studies that would:

* Examine "barriers to correct condom use" at Indiana University, at a cost of $221,000.

* Study "hookups" among adolescents at Syracuse University. Study's cost: $219,000.

* Evaluate "drug use as a sex enhancer" in an analysis of "high-risk community sex networks" at the University of Illinois, Chicago. That study will cost $123,000.

* Study how methamphetamine, thought to produce an "insatiable need" for sex among users, "enhances the motivation for female rat sexual behavior." Some $28,000 has been awarded for the University of Maryland at Baltimore study. . . .


A benefit of breast implants: solving crime

This is apparently the key to how police solved the murder case involving model Jasmine Fiore. In an extremely gruesome murder, her teeth had been removed and her fingers chopped off. This is apparently the only evidence that they had to identify her body.

Accused of the gruesome death of his ex-wife, a model whose body was so badly mutilated it had to be identified by her breast implants' serial numbers, Jenkins evaded a massive international manhunt for days as he crossed from California into his native Canada. . . .

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More Obama administration thuggishness