Obama says that we should be frustrated at Congress?

Here is a president who won't put forward his own proposals but attacks proposals when the Republicans put forward theirs, who leaks Republican proposals to the New York Times when they are offered in closed door meetings, who attacks Republicans for not compromising when compromising should be a two way street, but who now constantly blames Republicans and Congress for any problems. The S&P downgrade was from not cutting enough and for delaying any noticeable cuts for many years. Notice that he implicitly is taking a swipe a the House and not the Senate when his weekly radio address notes that members are back in their home districts right now. From Fox News:

In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama said people are frustrated by the partisan gridlock in Washington, especially after the brutal fight over increasing the nation's borrowing limit that didn't prevent the U.S. debt from being downgraded.
Obama tried to position himself on the side of the public and against a deeply unpopular Congress. But even though Obama's approval ratings aren't so good either, he clearly sees a need to direct the public's anger toward Congress or risk being the target himself as the 2012 campaign revs up.
"You've got a right to be frustrated," the president said. "I am. Because you deserve better. I don't think it's too much for you to expect that the people you send to this town start delivering."
"Members of Congress are at home in their districts right now. And if you agree with me -- whether you're a Democrat or a Republican or not much of a fan of either -- let them know." . . .

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Copy of 11th Circuit Court Decision striking down individual mandate in STATE OF FLORIDA v. US Dept of Health and Human Services

A copy of the decision is available here. This is a tough decision.

Further, the individual mandate exceeds Congress’s enumerated commerce power and is unconstitutional. This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives. We have not found any generally applicable, judicially enforceable limiting principle that would permit us to uphold the mandate without obliterating the boundaries inherent in the system of enumerated congressional powers. “Uniqueness” is not a constitutional principle in any antecedent Supreme Court decision. The individual mandate also finds no refuge in the aggregation doctrine, for decisions to abstain from the purchase of a product or service, whatever their cumulative effect, lack a sufficient nexus to commerce.


The Dennis Miller Posts interview on "The Danger of Gun-Free Zones"

For those interested, I had an interview with Dennis Miller available here. Dennis was nice enough to have me on his show again, and he was extremely nice to let me talk as much as I did (I probably talked much too much). Anyway, it is well worth it to subscribe to Dennis's show.

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Consumer confidence plunges, lowest since the Carter administration

Click figure to make it larger.

So how is that Stimulus working for everyone now? Well, Obama has accomplished something only Carter had previously accomplished. The Consumer Confidence Index has been measured for 404 months since the beginning of 1978. There are only two months during the Carter administration where the Consumer Confidence Index was lower than it is now, and those two months were quite a bit lower than other months during that period of time. Even during 2009 and 2010, the index never got quite this low. From the WSJ:

The severe drop suggests the debt-ceiling debate heightened worries about the U.S. economic future. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan early-August consumer sentiment index dropped to 54.9 from 63.7 at the end of July and 63.8 in early July, according to sources who have seen the report released Friday. The latest reading was far below the 62.0 expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

The preliminary August current conditions index fell to 69.3 from 75.8 in late July. The expectations plummeted to 45.7 from 56.0. . . .

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Other reporters don't consider reporter from the Washington Times to be a reporter and they refuse to let him ask a question of Senator Durbin


"What Passes for Debate Among the Left in Academia"

It would be nice if there was some real condemnation for these types of personal attacks in academia.

Donohue wasn’t willing to let Wilson’s dissent go unanswered, and the attacks became quite personal. In a debate carried nationally on National Public Radio, Donohue attacked Wilson as letting his alleged employment by the NRA bias his academic findings:
The lone dissenter [Wilson] was someone who was not an econometrician, who admitted in his dissent that he wished he knew more econometrics, and who had previously testified as an expert witness on behalf of the execrable NRA.

When later called on this claim after the debate, Mr. Donohue did not offer proof, but instead called on Wilson to prove that he had never gotten paid by the NRA. When asked for evidence, . . . .

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Google's continued battle to destroy property rights

Google wants to argue that patents are anticompetitive, but this is an extremely shortsighted view as a lot of products would never have been developed to begin with without patent protection. This list could obviously be added to. For example, does any believe that it is a coincidence that the Google Android system was already being worked on when Schmidt was serving on Apple's board of directors? Anyway, here is a short list from Forbes:

First, arguably no other Fortune 500 company has ever been more hostile to others’ property rights than Google.
-- To go public in 2004, Google had to settle an Overture patent infringement claim for $250 million over the core invention underlying Google’s Adwords auction process.
-- In 2005, Google began scanning copyrighted books without the permission of the rights holders; the number of infringed works now numbers 15 million books and counting. After being sued around the world by authors and publishers, Google settled for $125 million, but that settlement has been opposed for the last two years as anti-competitive by the Register of Copyrights, the Department of Justice and a Federal Court.
-- In 2007, Viacom filed a billion-dollar copyright infringement suit against Google’s YouTube for illegally downloading over 100,000 copyrighted videos. The lower court decision noted Google knew it willfully infringed copyrighted videos.
-- In 2010, Oracle sued Google for billions of dollars because it “knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related property.” The presiding Federal judge in the case has agreed to include an incriminating Google email that shows Android officials in Google did know they needed to license the Java patents in dispute.
-- Also in 2010, Skyhook Wireless sued Google for infringing several of its WiFi location engine patents that collectively enable most location-driven mobile applications. Google’s competitors have respected and licensed Skyhook’s patents.

Meanwhile Google is ramping up its donations to liberal groups. Some details are available here.

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Democratic Clinton Appeals Court Judge rules that a key provision of last year's federal health-care overhaul is unconstitutional

Unfortunately, the entire health care law wasn't struck down. It used to be that unless the law had a severability clause the whole law would be struck down.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that Congress exceeded its constitutional powers when it required individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.

"This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives," Judges Joel Dubina and Frank Hull said in a jointly written 207-page opinion.

Judge Dubina is a George H.W. Bush appointee, while Judge Hull was appointed by Bill Clinton. . . .


So who won the Republican Presidential debate in Iowa last night?

Using Intrade's estimates of the probability that these candidates will win the Republican presidential nomination, among major candidates it looks like the two Republicans who gained the most after the debate were the two who didn't participate in the debate (Perry and Palin). Romney, Huntsman, and Pawlenty all suffered a loss from their performance. Bachmann did comparatively well among those who participated in the debate by staying unchanged.



A look at the high priced leftist lawyers hired by the Obama Justice Department to deal with Voter Rights

Pajamas Media has a relatively scary discussion about who is overseeing US elections available here.

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Obama the Socialist: The Government Becoming the Landlord for a lot of Americans

Who thinks that the government will do a good job renting out these homes? Once people move in will they be there forever even if they don't pay their rent? Will the government run this rental program the same way that it forced the mortgage market to operate? This Associated Press article asks none of the hard questions and basically tries to sell the new Obama program:

The Obama administration may turn thousands of government-owned foreclosures into rental properties to help boost falling home prices.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said Wednesday it is seeking input from investors on how to rent homes owned by government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration.

The U.S. government rescued Fannie and Freddie in September 2008 and has funded them since the financial crisis. The mortgage giants own or guarantee about half of the nation's mortgages and nearly all new mortgages.

At the end of last month, the government owned roughly 248,000 foreclosed homes, officials said. About 70,000 of those are listed for sale. But officials expect the number of foreclosures to soar in the coming months.

Many foreclosures have been stalled so attorneys general and federal regulators can investigate whether lenders cut corners and improperly handled thousands of cases. Once a settlement is finalized, foreclosures are expected to pick up again and further depress home prices. . . .

More support for the government as landlord theory comes from other media. This is from Politico:

The administration says that the move will help increase private investment in the housing market, while increasing the availability of affordable housing.

“As we continue moving forward on housing finance reform, it’s critical that we support the process of repair and recovery in the housing market,” said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. “Exploring new options for selling these foreclosed properties will help expand access to affordable rental housing, promote private investment in local housing markets and support neighborhood and home price stability.” . . .

The counterargument appears to have won out here. While the political climate in Washington remains largely hostile to a bipartisan agreement on how to reform the GSEs, the Obama administration may be able to use Uncle Sam’s indirect ownership of a large portion of the housing mortgage inventory to address lingering problems with the housing market.

All this sounds awfully positive. Here is the problem: if renting out property made sense, the federal government is hardly the only entity that could do that.


What Obama thought about the 1992 LA Riots

Given the comparisons being made of the London riots to the LA riots, Kurtz mentions this interesting tidbit about Obama:

Said Obama in 1992: “The Los Angeles riots reflect a deep distrust and disaffection with the existing power pattern in our society.” That’s Alinsky-speak for “We’ve got to use the power of the angry underclass to put capitalism in check.” . . .


RIM Blackberry apparently used to coordinate rioting in the UK

If the text messages are stored, Blackberries might be used to prove coordinated actions for riots.

An article by Reuters talks about it here:

In Britain, pre-existing social problems were compounded by initial austerity measures -- including shutting down "non-essential" public services such as youth clubs -- and then fury at a perceived attempted cover-up of a police shooting.

A blizzard of social media incitement -- primarily using Blackberry smart phones and their semi-encrypted messaging system -- and wall-to-wall media coverage then look to have sparked copycat rioting as surely as satellite TV and Twitter coverage of Egypt's protests sparked similar events elsewhere.

"It does look as though social media is changing the balance of power between the state and the individual, whether that is manifested as regime change in Cairo or looting in Tottenham," said John Bassett, a former senior official at the British signals intelligence agency GCHQ and now a senior fellow at London's Royal United Services Institute. . . .

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Even Playboy Playmates Have Concealed Handgun Permits

Mistakes happen sometime with permit holders carrying their guns into gun-free zones. One can only hope that there is a rational attempt to deal with intent in these cases. From Fox News:

A Playboy playmate was charged with firearm offenses after attempting to board a plane in Florida with a loaded handgun in her bag, the Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday.
Shanna Marie McLaughlin, Playboy's Miss July 2010, was arrested around 6:35pm Monday at Orlando International Airport as she attempted to board a plane to Los Angeles.
The 26-year-old, who has a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon, told police that the bag she was carrying was hers, but that she did not know that her boyfriend had put his loaded .45 caliber Colt revolver in it.
The model was jailed Monday on charges of carrying a firearm in a place prohibited by law, but has since been released, the Sentinel reported. . . .


Obama's complicity in two financial crises?

Stanley Kurtz has this interesting piece linking Obama to ACORN to the financial crisis. The article is available here.

As America teeters on the brink of a second financial crisis, I think back to 2008, and the irony of a suprime mortgage fiasco propelling to the presidency a man who’d spent a career abetting the folks who’d caused the crisis to begin with. Despite releasing an Internet ad on ACORN, Obama, and the subprime meltdown, the McCain campaign was unwilling or unable to pursue the issue. The Clinton administration’s gutting of credit standards in the name of fair housing, in close cooperation with ACORN and Fannie Mae, laid the foundations of the mortgage crisis of 2008. Yet in the second presidential debate, McCain did nothing to combat Obama’s claims that the crisis was strictly a product of under-regulation. In the third debate, Obama flat-out lied about his longstanding ties to ACORN. The media, of course, let him get away with it.

While many conservatives know the real story well, the country as a whole has still barely heard it. The important new book by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner has begun to break the fuller truth about the 2008 financial meltdown into public awareness, yet even there the focus is on Fannie Mae, while the ACORN connection is given short shrift. Fannie Mae would never have gone south if ACORN hadn’t pulled it into the subprime business in the first place. ACORN’s national banking campaign was coordinated by Obama’s close political allies at the group’s Chicago office, which Obama was heavily funding through two foundations at the time. . . .

I think of Bell Federal’s naive and noble–but doomed–resistance to ACORN, and Fannie Mae’s equally bitter battle to hold ACORN at bay–well before the horror story recounted by Morgenson and Rosner played out. It took a lot of heavy lifting by ACORN and its supporters to break down years of prudent business practice, embodied in the credit standards all sane bankers once rightly insisted on. Only after those standards were compromised did we reap the whirlwind. . . .

Obama was intimately familiar with the battle to undermine America’s credit standards, and in full philosophical sympathy with it. It took a one-two punch of Alinskyite intimidation and federal regulatory pressure to create the preconditions for the subprime crisis of 2008, and Obama was on board for all of it. . . .

Now we are flirting with a second crisis, brought on by overspending, debt, and excessive regulation. Dodd-Frank, a banking bill named for Barney Frank, another abettor of the Fannie Mae fiasco, depresses business. . . . .

Kurtz has this information here linking Obama to ACORN.

Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner's new book extensively discusses Jim Johnson's role in creating the mortgage crisis, but they also mention Obama's close ties with Johnson (e.g., see page 11, 54, 187). Many of Obama's important appointees had big roles in creating the financial crisis (e.g., Timothy Geithner, Tom Donilon).

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"Greenspan - US Can Pay Any Debt It Has Because We Can Always Print Money"

"The US can pay any debt it has because we can always print money." This sound like something a third world country would do. Who is going to want to invest in US bonds if they risk the government destroying the value of those bonds through inflation? What does this talk by itself do to the risk of hold US bonds?

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"Wisconsin Senate Recall Election Results Tuesday, August 9, 2011"

If you are interested in finding the results of the Wisconsin recall election, you can find them available here. Very few votes have been counted as of 9:39 EDT PM. My guess that in an hour we will have a much clearer picture. If Democrats pick up 3 of these 6 seats, they will at least temporarily take control of the Wisconsin state Senate. Two Democratic Senators face recalls later in August.

UPDATE: It looks very likely that Republicans have kept control of the Wisconsin state Senate. One race remains to be decided with Republicans clearly retaining 3 seats and the Dems picking up 2 seats (the Dems were able to ensure that the recalls against the Democrats don't occur until later in August). The Dems have to pick up 3 seats now and lose neither of the two recalls against Democrats. The last remaining seat is the 8th District where with 84 percent of the vote counted Republican Alberta Darling has a 5,019 vote lead over the Democrat Sandra Pasch. With only about 12,300 votes left to be counted, the Democrat has to pick up slightly over 70 percent of the remaining vote to win. That seems like a tough task for the Democrats, especially since the remaining votes come from fairly strong Republican areas.

One of the two seats that the Democrats picked up was won by about 2 percent.

The August 16th recall election for the two Democrat seats have two strong looking Republicans running (Kim Simac and Jonathan Steitz).


What world do people who read the NY Times live in?

Maureen Dowd has one of her silly pieces in the NY Times, this time going after Obama for not being tough enough. One of the more amazing discussion though was this one:

But as Drew Westen, a liberal psychology professor at Emory University wrote in The Times on Sunday, puzzling about what has happened to his former hero’s passion, the president never identifies the villains who cause our epic problems.

It’s unclear, Westen wrote, whether that reflects his aversion to conflict or a fear of offending donors, or both. . . .

Does Dowd ever listen to the President's press conferences or speeches? Does she even read the news headlines? Obama blames EVERYONE ELSE for his problems. Note this recent post as providing some evidence.

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"Obamacare cost estimates hide up to $50 billion per Year"

Wow, this is fraud. To purposely not include such obvious costs should be a real scandal, and this adds up to a total of $500 billion more in total costs. So much for officially trying to keep the costs at around $1 trillion. From the Daily Caller:

Federal payments required by President Barack Obama’s health care law are being understated by as much as $50 billion per year because official budget forecasts ignore the cost of insuring many employees’ spouses and children, according to a new analysis. The result could cost the U.S. Treasury hundreds of billions of dollars during the first ten years of the new health care law’s implementation.

“The Congressional Budget Office has never done a cost-estimate of this [because] they were expressly told to do their modeling on single [person] coverage,” said Richard Burkhauser in a telephone interview Monday. Burkhauser is an economist who teaches in Cornell University’s department of policy analysis and management. On Monday the National Bureau of Economic Research published a working paper on the subject that Burkhauser co-authored with colleagues from Cornell and Indiana University.

Employees and employers can use the rules to their own advantage, he said. “A very large number of workers” will be able to apply for federal subsidies, “dramatically increasing the cost” of the law, he said. . . .

Of course, this also broke multiple Obama promises: that the health care bill wouldn't add to the deficit and what the program would cost when he ran for president.

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Obama blames everyone else but himself for everything that goes wrong

How can Obama blame Bush for the deficits when the deficits are now four times higher than the highest that they ever got under his administration? Then again, Obama seems to blame everyone else for everything. Nothing is Obama's responsibility. This is from Rush Limbaugh:

Obama Blames Arab Spring and Japan's Earthquake on Struggling Economy and Job Situation, August 5th, 2011. Obama Blames Messy Democracy for His Failed Policies, August 3rd, 2011; remarks by the president at a DNC event. Obama Blames Congress for US Debt Mess; Obama news conference, June 29th, 2011. Obama Blames Republicans for Slow Pace on Immigration Reform, July 25th, 2011. (This was page one.) Page two: Obama Blames Media for Lack of Compromise in Washington; remarks by Obama at a town hall meeting July 22nd, 2011. Obama Blames Technology for Struggling Economy; June 14th, 2011, NBC Today interview. Obama Blames Oil Spectators for High Oil Prices; April 19th, 2011, remarks by Obama at a town hall meeting.

Obama Blames Reagan for America's Out of Control Debt and Spending; remarks by President Obama April 13th, 2011, Federal News Service. Obama Blames Bush and Congress for Lack of Fiscal Discipline, April 13th, 2011; remarks by Obama, Federal News Service. Obama Blames Bush-Congress for Putting Off Tough Decisions, August 17th, 2010; remarks at a fundraiser for Patty Murray. Obama Blames Bush for Tax Cuts, Deficits; Obama town hall meeting on the economy in Racine, Wisconsin, June 30th, 2010. Obama Blames Bush for Deficits, June 8th, 2010; remarks by Obama at a second fundraising reception for Senator Barbara Boxer.

Obama Blames GOP for Events that Led to Gulf Oil Spill; remarks by President Obama June 3rd, 2010, Federal News Service. Obama Blames Republicans for America Not Being Able to Solve Problems; remarks by President Obama June 3rd, 2010, Federal News Service. Obama Blames Corporations for Everybody's Problems, June 3rd, 2010, Federal News Service. He said, "If you're a Wall Street Journal bank or an insurance company or oil company, you pretty much get to play by your own rules regardless of the consequences for everybody else." Blames corporations for everybody's problems. Obama Blames Bush for Overall Standing of American Economy, April 19th, 2010, at a fundraising reception for Senator Boxer. Obama Blames Bush, Congress for Deficits, February 1, 2010, delivering remarks on the budget. Obama Blames Bush for Regulatory Policies; January 17th, 2010, remarks by the president at an event with attorney general Martha Coakley in Massachusetts.

I'm only on page three, and I have to take a break. . . . By the way, folks, do a Google search on it. "Obama blames" as a Google search term returns more than 490,000 hits. "Obama blames," no quotes -- just "Obama blames" -- returns 6,920,000 results on Google. Obama blames, Obama blames...everybody but himself. . . .

Obama Blames Bush and Congress for Deficits, February 1st, 2010, in remarks delivered on the budget. Obama Blames Bush for Regulatory Policies, January 17th, 2010, remarks by the president at an event with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. Obama Blames Wall Street Fat Cats for Economic Disaster, December 13th, 2009, CBS News' 60 Minutes. Obama Blames Bush for Overall Economy, September 27th, 2009, remarks by the president at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual dinner. Obama Blames Bush for Stifling Unions, September 7th, 2009; remarks by the president at the AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic.

Obama Blames Bush for Prescription Drug Bill; remarks by the president, health insurance reform town hall, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, August 11th, 2009. Obama Blames Bush for Jobs, July 22nd, 2009; news conferences by the president. Obama Blames Bush for Failure to Recognize Europe's Leading Role in the World, April 3rd, 2009; remarks by President Obama at a Strasbourg town hall, and in those remarks he said this: "So we must be honest with ourselves. In recent years we've allowed our alliance to drift. I know that there have been honest disagreements over policy, but we also know that there's something more that has crept into our relationship.

"In America there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world, instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive of you." That's Barack Obama, speaking in Europe at Strasbourg, blaming Bush for a failure to recognize Europe's leading role in the world, April 3rd, 2009. Obama Blames Bush for Deficits, February 23rd, 2009; Obama delivering opening remarks at fiscal responsibility summit. Candidate Obama Blames Fox News for his Elitist Label, New York Times, October 2008.

Candidate Obama Blames Fox News for Likely Loss in Kentucky Primary, May 2008. Candidate Obama Blames Washington for High Gas Prices, April 25th, 2008; remarks of Senator Barack Obama, press availability on energy plan, 25 April 2008. There you have six pages of "Obama blames." . . .

Some more on Obama is available from Bret Stephens here:

"I think I'm a better speech writer than my speech writers," he reportedly told an aide in 2008. "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm . . . a better political director than my political director."

On another occasion—at the 2004 Democratic convention—Mr. Obama explained to a Chicago Tribune reporter that "I'm LeBron, baby. I can play at this level. I got game." . . . Mr. Obama, by contrast, appears to consider himself immune from error. . . . .

Stephens' piece than goes through each of those points to show that they are completely wrong.

Krauthammer says president playing economic blame game.

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"Obama: Cutting Unemployment Benefits Could Cost 1 Million Jobs"

Chalk this up that Obama doesn't have a clue about economics, example number . . . . Well, I have lost count. Now this notion again on Monday, just like Pelosi before, that unemployment benefits create jobs. The problem is that Obama really believes this:

"We should continue to make sure that if you're one of the millions of Americans out there looking for a job you can get the unemployment insurance that your tax dollars contributed to. That will also put money in people's pockets and more customers in stores. In fact, if Congress fails to extend the payroll tax cut and the unemployment insurance benefits that I've called for, it could mean one million fewer jobs and half-a-percent less growth. This is something we could do immediately. Something we could do as soon as Congress gets back."

The discussion that I offered before for Pelosi applies equally well here.

UPDATE: Carney gets asked about how new unemployment benefits could create 1 million jobs. A video is available here. Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler had this exchange with Jay Carney at Wednesday's WH briefing.

Q I understand why extending unemployment insurance provides relief to people who need it, but how does it create jobs?

MR. CARNEY: Oh, it is by -- I would expect a reporter from the Wall Street Journal would know this as part of the entrance exam just to get on the paper -- (laughter.) But the -- no, seriously. It is one of the most direct ways to infuse money into the economy because people who are unemployed and obviously aren’t earning a paycheck are going to spend the money that they get. They're not going to save it; they're going to spend it. And unemployment insurance, that money goes directly back into the economy dollar for dollar virtually. So it is -- and when it goes back in the economy, it means that everywhere that those people -- everyplace that that money is spent has added business. And that creates growth and income for businesses that then lead them to making decisions about job -- more hiring.

So there are few other ways that can more directly put money into the economy than providing unemployment insurance.

Q And why since it's been extended have we seen unemployment not drop, in fact?

MR. CARNEY: Well, look, this is "what would have happened" argument. But we have seen is, what is it, 2.4 million private sector jobs created. And this year there’s -- I mean, again, this is not just -- I encourage you, and I know that you all have good contacts in that world, but economic analysts wholly unaffiliated with this administration would tell you, and told you back late last year, that the combination of the payroll tax cut and extension of unemployment insurance would have a direct, measurable impact on job creation, so that of the jobs created this year, a certain number -- however many tens or hundreds of thousands of jobs -- can be attributed to those actions taken and pushed by the President last year, which is why he feels so strongly they ought to be done again as we continue to emerge from this recession.

So that's why he believes very strongly we ought to extend the payroll tax and extend unemployment insurance.

Q And is the best argument that you can put forward to people for these things that if we do this again, it won’t necessarily get any better, but it won’t get any worse --

MR. CARNEY: Laura, you know that's not how it works. You know that we have to do a variety of things to grow the economy and create jobs. This is one thing that economists of all stripes agree will directly affect growth, and a half percentage point, I believe, in growth is what economists estimate the payroll tax cut would provide. Is it half? Plus the UI? Something like that. Anyway, there’s -- and up to a million jobs. So we do that, and we have that positive impact next year.

That doesn't mean that's the only thing we do. And obviously, there are other economic factors that, as we’ve seen this past year, some which we can control and some we can’t. I mean, we can’t -- we cannot estimate what a natural disaster that might happen next year, what impact it might have on the global economy. But we can take action that does have a direct impact. . . .

Now the same thing is being claimed for food stamps.

See also this discussion.

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Reviewing What Obama Promised

I have written many times about Obama's frequent campaign promise to make government smaller. CBS's Bob Schieffer reminded David Axelrod of another Obama promise in an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer on the Today Show (2/2/2009).

PRESIDENT OBAMA: that's exactly right. And — and, you know, a year from now I think people — are gonna see that — we're starting to make some progress. But there's still gonna be some pain out there. If I don't have this done in three years, then there's gonna be a one-term proposition.

Well, that promise will soon come due.

Schieffer, reminding Axelrod that we are nearing that three-year point, asks if President Obama will be a one-term president like he said. Here is how the exchange went:

SCHIEFFER: So there you are Mr. Axelrod. That was the President at the start [of his term]. We're getting right up to that three year point. Is this going to be a one-term presidency?

AXELROD: I think the question is -- what this election is ... First of All, let's certify that. We're in a different place than where we were than the day he did that interview --

SCHIEFFER: Well, we are. Things are worse than they were. . . .


When you wish that you had a gun to protect you?: Riots spread through out UK Cities

When the police aren't present what should people do to protect themselves and their property? In the UK, the answer is nothing. From Fox News:

A wave of violence and looting raged across London and spread to three other major British cities on Tuesday, as authorities struggled to contain the country's worst unrest since race riots set the capital ablaze in the 1980s.
In London, groups of young people rampaged for a third straight night, setting buildings, vehicles and garbage dumps alight, looting stores and pelting police officers with bottles and fireworks. The spreading disorder was an unwelcome view of London's volatility for leaders organizing the 2012 Summer Olympics in less than a year.
Police called in hundreds of reinforcements -- and made a rare decision to deploy armored vehicles in some of the worst-hit districts -- but still struggled to keep pace with the chaos unfolding at flashpoints across London, in the central city of Birmingham, the western city of Bristol and the northwestern city of Liverpool. . . .

If 1900, twenty year before the UK had really any gun control laws, there were only two gun murders and 5 armed robberies. That in a city of 6 million people where gun ownership was extremely common.

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More support among law enforcement for concealed carry in Wisonsin

With 49 of the 50 states allowing concealed carry, and 41 of those states having right-to-carry laws, even previous opponents in Illinois are re-evaluating their position on the issue. Here is an article in an Illinois newspaper:

The Illinois Legislature may still be divided on allowing residents to carry concealed weapons, but Fox Valley police chiefs and sheriffs are much less split.

Of the dozen area law enforcement leaders contacted by The Courier-News, none said they opposed concealed carry. . . .

Meanwhile in Wisconsin, "Police not fretting over looming concealed carry law."

Law enforcement officers in central Wisconsin aren't too worried about people starting to carry concealed weapons under the state's new law, but they will be taking extra precautions.

The majority of people carrying concealed weapons will be law-abiding people who have proper permits and pose no threat, law enforcement officials said. Those likely to cause trouble might already have been concealing weapons. . . .


After leveling off, market resumes downward plummeting while Obama addresses nation, "a familiar air of indecision"

Boy, talk about the press turning on Obama. Dana Milbank, a liberal columnist for the Washington Post, may often be quite snide, but this piece seemed an unusually bitter attack on Obama. Personally, I wonder how much of the renewed drop during and following Obama's speech was due to him signally through talk of more taxes that he is unwilling to cut spending (note how he keeps talking of increasing taxes).

A familiar air of indecision preceded President Obama’s pep talk to the nation.

The first draft of his schedule for Monday contained no plans to comment on the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating by Standard & Poor’s. Then the White House announced that he would speak at 1 p.m. A second update changed that to 1:30. At 1:52, Obama walked into the State Dining Room to read his statement. Judging from the market reaction, he should have stuck with his original instinct.

“No matter what some agency may say, we’ve always been and always will be a AAA country,” Obama said, as if comforting a child who had been teased by the class bully.

When he began his speech (and as cable news channels displayed for viewers), the Dow Jones industrials stood at 11,035. As he talked, the average fell below 11,000 for the first time in nine months, en route to a 635-point drop for the day, the worst since the 2008 crash. . . .

From the WSJ's Political Diary:

The president missed the 1:45 deadline as well. When he finally began to speak a few minutes later, it was clear that he had no news to offer. And while he didn't engage in a direct attack on S&P, as Mr. Geithner had done, he did quote Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett in suggesting that S&P had made a poor decision. Did no one at the White House or Treasury realize that Berkshire is a major investor in Moody's, the main competitor to S&P? As Mr. Obama spoke, stock indexes hit fresh lows for the day. His declarations that there's not much discretionary spending left to cut and that "tax reform" to him still means raising taxes on rich people did nothing to slow the rout. . . .

UPDATE: In contrast to Obama, look at what happens in the UK.

Prime Minister David Cameron -- who cut short a holiday in Italy to deal with the crisis -- recalled Parliament from its summer recess for an emergency debate on the riots and looting that have spread from the deprived London neighborhood of Tottenham to districts across the capital, and the cities of Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol. . . .

UPDATE: Other Democrats turning on Obama.

“The president has shown himself unwilling to just dig in on a position,” said Dee Dee Myers, who was Bill Clinton’s White House press secretary. “He’s for jobs. I’ve heard him say that. He’s for being the grown-up in the room. But beyond that, I’m not actually sure what his bottom line is.” . . .

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C-SPAN.org: Should Students Be Allowed to Carry Guns on College Campuses?

Students for Concealed Carry had their National Convention today. There were a range of different talks from victims of gun-free zones; a debate that I participated in with a representative of the Brady Campaign starts about 28 minutes into the clip and lasts for 50 minutes; some academics such as Nelson Lund, Bob Cottrol, and Jim Purtilo; and Alan Gura. The link to their video of the event is available here. The entire video is 3 hours and 32 minutes. I think that this convention went very well.

C-SPAN has placed this event at the top of its website page right now.

From Inside Higher Education: A D.C. Debate for Concealed Carry on Campuses
WASHINGTON -- A survivor of the Virginia Tech shootings and the author of a book advocating more gun ownership debated here Monday as part of a conference held by a group that favors broader access to weapons on campuses. The 2011 meeting of Students for Concealed Carry, which fell just just three days after false reports of a gunman at Virginia Tech evoked a mass shooting similar to the one in 2007 that left 33 people dead, including the gunman. Colin Goddard, who survived the Virginia Tech shootings and now works for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said that preventive measures like strengthening background check laws would be more effective than changing state laws to allow guns on campus, as several states have passed or are considering. John R. Lott Jr., the economist and gun rights advocate who wrote the book More Guns, Less Crime, argued that penalties tacked on for carrying a firearm on-campus or in so-called "gun-free zones" only deter noncriminals from carrying weapons, as most perpetrators of mass shootings either commit suicide or plan to, he said.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education: Activists and Politicians Discuss the Right to Carry Concealed Weapons on College Campuses

The gathering featured a debate between the conservative academic John R. Lott and Colin Goddard, a survivor of the Virginia Tech slayings who is now assistant director of legislative affairs for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Mr. Lott said it is important to focus on the net effect of concealed guns in reducing campus attacks. Citing murder-rate statistics from Washington, D.C., and Chicago, two cities where Supreme Court decisions have overturned broad bans on gun ownership, he maintained that bans do not correspond to a lower incidence of violent crime, and he argued that traditional law-enforcement techniques do not deter individuals from committing multiple-victim public shootings.

"Rather than repelling crime by having these bans, you actually make it more attractive for criminals to commit these crimes because they have less to worry about," he said.

Mr. Goddard, who was shot four times during the Virginia Tech attack when he was a senior at the university, reflected on that experience and warned against limiting violence prevention to the "last possible second," when an attack is occurring.

Recounting the events of that day in 2007, Mr. Goddard told the audience that when the gunman burst into his classroom, shock prevented him from seeing the situation clearly. Not all students that day were "sitting ducks," though, he said.

Hypothetical statements implying that guns might have lowered the death toll were "offensive," Mr. Goddard said. Instead of pinpointing the moment when violence starts, he said, "we need to broaden our perspective, we need to look past that last second ... when we could have intervened." He suggested that preventive measures, such as stricter licensing requirements, mental-health checks, and improved campus security and emergency planning, would be a more effective approach.

"We should be proactive, not reactive," he said. . . .

From Human Events:

. . . The conference also featured a debate between John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, and Colin Goddard, a victim of the Virginia Tech shootings.

Lott, an economist, said after a hand gun ban goes into effect gun violence always increases. In the case of Washington’s handgun ban, gun violence by about 40 percent, even before the crack cocaine epidemic.

“It's not just DC and Chicago. You can look around the world. Time after time, you see increases after a gun ban goes into effect,” said Lott.

In the case of the Virginia tech shootings Lott said handgun bans on campus are not effective deterrents because being expelled from school is insignificant compared to multiple death penalties.

Lott said in most cases the attacker in a multiple victim shooting expects to be killed by police or plans to commit suicide.

Gun control laws do not work as deterrents, he said. “They do not perceive themselves as being around to have to face these consequences.”

Goddard said the severity of the Virginia Tech shooting was not due to the fact that it was a gun-free zone but because of too few gun restrictions and improper safety measures on campus.

He said it was not the simple matter choice gun advocates present: “Someone is going to come in that door and shoot you. Do you want a gun or not?”

The solution is to have more serious background checks of gun owners, he said.

“If you agree with the general statement, and I do, ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people” then you’ll agree that we need to be checking those people,” he said.

Then, with more serious background checks, the next steps are to share have a system in place for law enforcement agencies to share the background information.

In the case of the Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, his background information had not been shared.

At that point, Lott, spoke up and said Goddard’s attacker had in fact passed the background check because he had not been involuntarily committed.

Here are youtube videos from my debate with Colin Goddard, the assistant director for legislative affairs at the Brady Campaign.

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S&P head points to cutting entitlements

This will offset what some were reading into the S&P report on the downgrade. From Fox News:

David Beers, global head of sovereign and international public finance ratings at S&P, told "Fox News Sunday" that governments and Congresses come and go, but spending on entitlements persistently drags U.S. debt further into the red.
"The key thing is, yes, entitlement reform is important because entitlements are the biggest component of spending, and the part of spending where the cost pressures are greatest," Beers said.
Beers said he faults both Congress and the Obama administration for "the difficulty of all sides in finding a consensus around fiscal policy choices," but any agreement must command the support from both political parties in order to be durable. . . .Though the announcement noted that S&P "takes no position on the mix of spending and revenue measures that Congress and the administration might conclude is appropriate for putting the U.S.'s finances on a sustainable footing," several reports suggested that the credit ratings group had argued tax hikes may be necessary.
Beers drew no such conclusion on Sunday, though John Chambers, managing director of S&P, told ABC's "This Week" that President Obama's fiscal commission last year "had plenty of sensible recommendations" for reducing U.S. debt. Those recommendations, which included cutting spending and increasing revenues on a 3-1 ratio, were ignored.
"It was a pity that those really weren't followed through on," Chambers said.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, said he's not surprised by S&P's decision since even with the select committee's recommendations, the debt will continue to climb. . . .


Responding to Jack D'Aurora's piece in the Columbus Dispatch

A little over a week ago, Jack D'Aurora had a pretty amazing piece in the Columbus Dispatch (available here), where Mr. Jack D'Aurora made the mistake of accepting what Ayres and Donohue wrote in their 2003 law review piece as being accurate. The mistakes listed below are basically mistakes in the Ayres and Donohue paper. My Letter was finally published on Saturday (available here).

Will letting law-abiding citizens carry concealed handguns deter criminals and offer protection? Or is Jack D'Aurora right (Forum column, July 29) when he states that “heated arguments can escalate into shootings” and that criminals will become “more inclined to pack heat”?

He alleged that my research, published in my book More Guns, Less Crime, ignored such concerns. But obviously D'Aurora did not trouble himself to actually read any edition of my book.

According to D'Aurora, my research found a benefit from concealed-handgun laws merely because it covered the time period from 1977 to 1992, and, supposedly, if I had studied the seven years up to 1999, the results would have been different.

This is absurd. Even the first edition of my book covered up to 1994. I updated the evidence with each new edition, and by the third edition in 2010, I covered county- and state-level data for all the years from 1977 to 2005. No matter the time period, the results remained very similar.

D'Aurora also conveniently ignored the massive amount of work by other researchers during the past 15 years. Among peer-reviewed studies in academic journals by criminologists and economists, 18 studies examining national data found that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime, 10 indicated no discernible effect, and none — absolutely none — found a bad effect from the law.

D'Aurora further mischaracterized the law-review article he cites by Ian Ayres and John Donohue. That paper claimed to find a small temporary increase in crime, subsequently followed by a downward trend in crime rates. Other evidence of theirs shows no temporary increase.

His accusation that I “did not account for the large increase in crack cocaine use” is false: I did so in five different ways, such as studying county-level cocaine prices.

Questions about whether heated arguments can escalate into shootings were not ignored. If permit holders did these things, they would be put in jail and lose their permits. But permit holders are extremely law-abiding. In Ohio, about 178,000 had concealed-handgun permits last year, but just 206 — 0.1 percent — had their permits revoked. Most revocations involved people losing their permits because they moved out of state, died or decided not to hold their license anymore.

Other states provide more detailed data. Florida is typical. From Oct. 1, 1987, to June 30, 2011, more than 2 million people were issued permits, with the average person possessing one for more than a decade. One hundred sixty-eight (about 0.01%) had their permits revoked for any type of firearms-related violation, mostly for accidentally carrying a concealed handgun into a gun-free zone.

There is no research showing that criminals are more likely to “pack heat.” In fact, right-to-carry laws cause gun crimes to drop more than non-gun crimes.

Finally, the most telling fact may be this: No state that has adopted a right-to-carry law has ever even held hearings on rescinding it.

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No Bailout: Let the Post Office default, and really privatize the company

Just as there was no reason to bailout GM, there is no reason to bailout the USPS. Courts properly handle bankruptcy all the time. From the AFP:

The US Postal Service warned on Friday that it could default on payments it owes the federal government, just days after the US government itself narrowly averted a default.
The government's mail service said it lost $3.1 billion in the period from April to June, blaming "the anemic state of the economy" and the growing popularity of electronic communications over old-fashioned letters.
As a result of its mounting losses, the US Postal Service said it would not be able to make a legally required $5.5 billion payment in September to a health-benefits trust fund.
"Absent substantial legislative change, the Postal Service will be forced to default on payments to the federal government," it said in a statement. . . .

Of other interest: Postal Workers' Union Inaccurately Claims that the Post Office doesn't get Government Subsidies
Here is one story about how the post office has been run. A very long report is available here. Politico discusses it here.

In 2008 — one year before the Postal Service's long-term lease on the Sarasota property was to expire — the agency announced plans to exercise its option to buy the property for $825,000, a fraction of its estimated $12 million market value, the IG report said. The deal would have meant a big loss for the property's owners, Post Office Associates (POA), who bought it in 1988, the IG report said. POA's partners include Band Family Partnership Ltd. Douglas Band, who is Clinton's counselor and top adviser, has a financial interest in POA and is its legal representative, according to the report.

POA objected to the sale and the Justice Department in July 2010 filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Postal Service against POA to force it to sell the property. That lawsuit is still ongoing.

The IG's report said that the Postal Service's vice president of facilities, Tom Samra, "believed Governor Kessler's actions wasted Postal Service time and resources, and potentially weakened [the Justice Department's] litigation position."

The report found that Band enlisted Kessler to help scuttle the deal. Kessler held multiple meetings with postal officials urging them to settle with POA, the report said. Kessler was the only postal official urging a settlement, the IG said.

The IG said that Kessler also worked behind the scenes to help POA come up with a political strategy to fight the Postal Service: POA threatened to get members of Congress to intervene to quash the purchase on the grounds that this leasing program was improper and unfair. Kessler later raised similar concerns with postal officials, the report said. . . .

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