Ginsburg tells Egyptians not to look to the US Constitution for guidance

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg advising Egypt not to model its constitution after the US Constitution:

"You should certainly be aided by all the constitution-writing that has gone one since the end of World War II. I would not look to the US constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary... It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done. Much more recent than the US constitution - Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It dates from 1982. You would almost certainly look at the European Convention on Human Rights. Yes, why not take advantage of what there is elsewhere in the world?"

See also this. Ginsburg's objection is that the US Constitution doesn't guarantee government services for people.

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Newest Fox News piece: The bad news behind the January jobs report

My newest pieces starts this way:

In January 2009, 11.6 million Americans were out of work and 23 percent of them had been unemployed for more than six months.

Today there are 12.8 million unemployed and 43 percent have been out of a job for more than six months. The average length of unemployment has increased dramatically since even the recovery started. Back in June 2009, “only” 29 percent of the unemployed had been unemployed longer than six months.

The number of unemployed Americans last month fell by 339,000, the fifth largest drop since January 2009. But there was an even much more shockingly large number -- almost 1.2 million additional Americans were classified in January as not being in the labor force (see figure here). Unfortunately, that has been the consistent story that has made this “recovery” unique as more and more Americans have just given up looking for work. . . .

Interview with Mark Levin

UPDATE: Romney's take is available here:

Mitt Romney said President Barack Obama doesn’t deserve credit for improvement in the economy, saying the man he’s seeking to replace in November has stymied U.S. growth.
“This president has not helped the process; he’s hurt it,” the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination told 14 local businessmen he met today with in Sparks, Nevada. “If I’m the president, I will see what you do as being a very good thing, a patriotic and good thing.” . . .

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Is Obama's desire to subsidize manufacturing jobs related to the fact that is where the union jobs tend to be?

The NY Times notes:

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for a wide-ranging package of policies to help create American manufacturing jobs, including trade enforcement measures, business tax breaks and worker training programs. In many ways, the proposal is surprising, as few economists now consider manufacturing a potent engine for job growth in the United States. . . .

Economists would advocate treating all businesses the same, but the Obama administration doesn't think so. So this begs the question about why should the president single out manufacturing for special benefits? My guess is that it is unions.

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The number of working age Americans "Not in Labor Force" soars by 1.2 million in January


Is Romney really in favor of raising the minimum wage?

I had to read this piece in the WSJ twice to convince myself that it was true. Romney is a disaster if he really believes that this is good policy. Raising the minimum wage puts the poorest least trained people out of work. The rents created for even those that get the minimum wage jobs are also competed away. From the WSJ:

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday reiterated his position that the minimum wage should rise automatically with inflation. His top rival, Newt Gingrich, later criticized the idea.

Mr. Romney has said in past appearances that, dating to his time as Massachusetts governor, he believed in indexing the minimum wage to inflation, though his stance hasn’t drawn much attention. “I haven’t changed my thoughts on that,’’ he said Wednesday when asked by reporters aboard his chartered campaign plane, according to the Associated Press. He did not say whether, as president, he would urge Congress to make such a change, the news service noted.

Later on Wednesday, Mr. Gingrich took issue with the automated increase proposal, pointing to past periods of rapid price rises.

“Figure out what the Romney plan would have cost and how radically it would have raised the minimum wage in the late 1970s,” Mr. Gingrich said during an appearance in Reno, Nev. “Historically, that would be a dangerous idea.” . . .

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Newt's comments on Romney's statement about the poor today

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Germany's unemployment rate continues to fall

Remember Krugman's attacks on Germany over the last couple of years? Here is something from a piece that he wrote in June 2010:

And here in Germany, a few scholars see parallels to the policies of Heinrich Brüning, the chancellor from 1930 to 1932, whose devotion to financial orthodoxy ended up sealing the doom of the Weimar Republic.

But despite these warnings, the deficit hawks are prevailing in most places — and nowhere more than here, where the government has pledged 80 billion euros, almost $100 billion, in tax increases and spending cuts even though the economy continues to operate far below capacity.

What’s the economic logic behind the government’s moves? The answer, as far as I can tell, is that there isn’t any. Press German officials to explain why they need to impose austerity on a depressed economy, and you get rationales that don’t add up. Point this out, and they come up with different rationales, which also don’t add up. . . .

But German politicians seem determined to prove their strength by imposing suffering — and politicians around the world are following their lead.

How bad will it be? Will it really be 1937 all over again? I don’t know. What I do know is that economic policy around the world has taken a major wrong turn, and that the odds of a prolonged slump are rising by the day. . . .

Yet, Germany's unemployment rate keeps falling:

Spain and Italy creaked under record unemployment rates at the end of 2011, while the German jobless rate fell to historic lows — results that put the onus firmly on Germany, with Europe’s biggest economy, to take the lead in steering the euro zone back to recovery.

Joblessness in Italy rose to 8.9 percent, its highest level since current records began in 2004, the country’s statistics institute said Tuesday. Spain ended the year with unemployment at a 17-year high of 22.85 percent.

German unemployment, by contrast, fell to 6.7 percent in January, a decline of a tenth of a percentage point from December. . . .

Germany's manufacturing sector is pulling Europe's along.

Markets were buoyed by manufacturing data from Germany, the U.K. and the euro zone, released Wednesday morning. The German Purchasing Managers Index rose to 51.0 in January from 48.4 in December, slightly beating consensus expectations. The euro-zone PMI rose to 48.8 in January, which was above the earlier flash estimate of 48.7, also a little above consensus. In the U.K., PMI rose to an eight-month high of 52.1 in January, up from a revised reading of 49.7 in December. . . .

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Well, there are also crazy drivers in other countries


The most open administration ever is again stonewalling documents

From Politico:

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) threatened Tuesday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress if the Justice Department did not provide certain documents in response to the committee’s subpoena.
In a letter to Holder, Issa wrote that “this committee will have no alternative but to move forward with proceedings to hold you in contempt of Congress” if Holder and the DOJ didn’t produce documents they demanded relating to the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal.
Holder has until Thursday, Feb. 9. to comply, according to Issa.
Issa accused the Justice Department of trying to “obstruct our investigation and deceive the public” by withholding documents.
“Your actions lead us to conclude that the department is actively engaged in a cover-up,” he said in a four-page letter.
The California Republican pointed to a document that the DOJ released last Friday, which indicated that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer had promoted gun-walking to Mexico on the same day that Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote to Congress denying that the DOJ had allowed guns to walk.
“It is inconceivable that the Department just became aware of this highly damaging document,” writes Issa, pointing out that the Oversight Committee had originally issued a subpoena on Oct. 12, 2011. . . .

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Robbery foiled in Milwaukee by person with a gun

This could be an interesting example of how Milwaukee is changing given the new concealed carry law. From the Chicago Tribune:

Milwaukee police say an armed robbery attempt at a grocery store ended when a customer opened fire.

A man armed with a shotgun entered an Aldi store in the north side of the city about 7 p.m. Monday and tried to rob the store, authorities say.

A customer pulled out a gun and fired at the suspect, who fled without any cash or merchandise. None of the employees or customers were injured. . . .

Thanks to MaryEllen Libraro for the link.

UPDATE: Apparently, the concealed handgun permit holder used his gun in a store that was posted as a gun-free zone. Law Professor Ann Althouse has the story here. I would like to give a talk on these issues at the University of Wisconsin.

Thanks to pakurilecz for this link.

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Some amazing predictions from the CBO

Who knows about predicting the economy a year from now, but the CBO has some depressing predictions.

Key facts from the CBO’s Budget and Economic Outlook:

Real economic growth is projected to be to 2.2 percent in 2012, falling to 1.0 percent in 2013;

The unemployment rate is expected to reach 8.8 percent in 2012, 9.1 percent in 2013, and 8.7 percent in 2014;

The FY2012 budget deficit is projected to equal $1.079 trillion, the fourth consecutive year with the budget deficit above $1 trillion;

Total debt is projected to reach $16 trillion in 2012, with debt held by the public to eclipse the $11 trillion mark in 2012 (72.5% of GDP);

Debt held by the public is projected to reach $15.3 trillion by 2022. . . .

How about this discussion of the report:

The unemployment rate would be even higher than it is now had participation in the labor force not declined as much as it has over the past few years. The rate of participation in the labor force fell from 66 percent in 2007 to an average of
64 percent in the second half of 2011, an unusually large decline over so short a time. About a third of that decline reflects factors other than the downturn, such as the aging of the baby-boom generation. But even with those factors removed, the estimated decline in that rate during the past four years is larger than has been typical of past downturns, even after accounting for the greater severity of this downturn. Had that portion of the decline in the labor force participation rate since 2007 that is attributable to neither the aging of the baby boomers nor the downturn in the business cycle (on the basis of the experience in previous downturns) not occurred, the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2011 would have been about 11⁄4 percentage points higher than the actual rate of 8.7 percent. . . .

Meanwhile, it looks as if most Americans think that Obama is passing up some jobs with his dragging his feet over the Keystone pipeline. It is interesting to see when the Obama administration is willing to use multipliers in its predictions and when it claims that we need a short term stimulus versus a longer term one. They haven't exactly been consistent over time. From Politico:

Congressional Republicans and proponents of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline have successfully put the issue on the map, as 78 percent of Americans believe the pipeline would create a “significant amount of jobs,” according to a late December poll by GOP pollster David Winston.
TransCanada claims the pipeline would create 20,000 jobs - 13,000 in construction and 7,000 in manufacturing.
But the State Department — which was studying the proposal — said it would create " approximately 5,000 to 6,000 direct construction jobs" and downplayed any major long-term employment boost.
Further muddling the picture, TransCanada commissioned a Perryman Group study that predicted up to 119,000 spinoff jobs. . . .
Meanwhile, voters were divided over whether President Barack Obama was right in November when he attempted to punt a decision on the pipeline until 2013.
Forty-eight percent said they agreed more with the president and concerns about the environmental impact than with Republican claims the delay "is costing 20,000 jobs" and is due to political reasons. Forty-five percent sided with the GOP claim. Those figures are within the margin of error. . . .

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"Obama the most polarizing president ever"

So much for running to unit the country. Now the press concludes that if Obama couldn't get rid of the gap it is probably impossible to erase. From the Washington Post:

President Obama ran — and won — in 2008 on the idea of uniting the country. But each of his first three years in office has marked historic highs in political polarization, with Democrats largely approving of him and Republicans deeply disapproving.

For 2011, Obama’s third year in office, an average of 80 percent of Democrats approved of the job he was doing in Gallup tracking polls, as compared to 12 percent of Republicans who felt the same way. That’s a 68-point partisan gap, the highest for any president’s third year in office — ever. (The previous high was George W. Bush in 2007, when he had a 59 percent difference in job approval ratings.)

In 2010, the partisan gap between how Obama was viewed by Democrats versus Republicans stood at 68 percent; in 2009, it was 65 percent. Both were the highest marks ever for a president’s second and first years in office, respectively.

What do those numbers tell us? Put simply: that the country is hardening along more and more strict partisan lines. . . .

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For fourth year the deficit will exceed $1 trillion

So much for Obama's promise to cut government spending and the deficit. From the Washington Post:

The federal budget deficit will top $1 trillion for a fourth straight year, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday, the smallest since the Great Recession hit in 2009.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that the gap between government spending and tax collections would continue to fall, dropping sharply in 2013 and through the decade if policymakers follow through with major changes in both tax policy and government spending now on the books.

The $1.1 trillion deficit is the smallest deficit figure — both in nominal terms and as a percentage of the economy — since the Great Recession. . . . .

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Even mass murderers appear to fear the death penalty

From the BBC:

The sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai (Bombay) attacks has launched an appeal against his death sentence in India's Supreme Court. . . .


A really surprisingly sympathetic piece on guns from NPR

What do you do when you can't depend on the police for protection? NPR addresses this question in a piece on Mexico's gun control laws, though it does bring in some digs on gun ownership.

In Mexico, where criminals are armed to the teeth with high-powered weapons smuggled from the United States, it may come as a surprise that the country has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world.

Law-abiding Mexicans who want a gun to defend themselves have no good options. Either they fight government red tape to get a legal permit, or they buy one on the black market.

After an outbreak of violence, one embattled community in northern Mexico called Colonia LeBaron has begun to ask if it's time for the country to address its gun laws. . . .

The cold-blooded murders of Benjamin LeBaron and Luis Widmar galvanized the community, Julian LeBaron says. It prompted them to take a stance that is familiar to Second Amendment advocates in the U.S., but one that is taboo in Mexico.

"I think there would be less violence if there were more guns, in the sense that I could barge in here and do whatever I want, knowing that this guy doesn't have a gun," says Jose Widmar, the brother of slain Luis.

Today, if the gangsters return, the LeBaron colony is locked and loaded. . . .

Thanks to Ajit Pai for this link.

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Victim turns tables on two gun toting robbers

The victim, who was obviously a concealed carry permit holder, wounded one of the two men who attacked him. From Mobile, Alabama:

Spokeswoman Ashley Rains said the intended victim parked his car in his driveway in the 1300 block of Center Street about 4:25 a.m. when two men pointed guns at him, demanding property.
Rains said that the intended victim pulled his gun and fired at the two men, shooting one in the hand. The robbers fled toward Cottage Street, returning fire as they retreated, she said. The intended victim was not hit.
About an hour later, a man showed up at the University of South Alabama Medical center for treatment of a gunshot to the right hand, Rains said. . . .

Thanks to Joseph Rich for this link.

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The economy is still a mess

Home Prices drop again

. . . For November, the Case-Shiller index of 10 major metropolitan areas and the 20-city index both fell 1.3% from the previous month. David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Indices, also noted that 19 of the 20 major U.S. metropolitan markets covered by the indices in November saw prices decline from October.

"The only positive for the month was Phoenix" . . . .

The 10-city and 20-city composites posted annual returns of negative 3.6% and negative 3.7%, respectively, versus November 2010. At negative 11.8%, hard-hit Atlanta continued to post the lowest annual return. . . .

People can't get financing for new home purchases.

Falling homeownership — and prices — reflect the worst housing downturn since the Great Depression. And while there are signs that the housing industry's downturn may at least be nearing a bottom, the impact of the collapse will be evident for years to come, economists say.
As of November, average U.S. home prices were back to mid-2003 levels, S&P says.
"Americans are less keen on homeownership knowing now that prices can fall," says Paul Dales, economist with Capital Economics.
Even if people want to own a home, they may not be able to, given the difficulty in getting financing for a mortgage, Dales says. The National Association of Realtors says many purchase contracts appear to be falling through for that reason.
Many economists expect home prices to continue to fall this year and maybe into next year before stabilizing and then showing little or no appreciation for some time.
"The trend is down, and there are few, if any, signs in the numbers that a turning point is close at hand," says David Blitzer, chairman of S&P's index committee. . . .

Consumer Confidence Plummets

U.S. consumer confidence in January gave back some of the huge gains posted in the previous two months, according to a report released Tuesday. Views on labor markets darkened.

The Conference Board, a private research group, said its index of consumer confidence retreated to 61.1 this month from a revised 64.8 in December, first reported as 64.5. The January index was far less than the 68.0 expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

The fallback was concentrated in consumers’ view of the current economy. The present situation index, a gauge of consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions, dropped to 38.4 in January from a revised 46.5, originally reported as 46.7.

Consumer expectations for economic activity over the next six months slipped only slightly, to 76.2 in January from a revised 77.0, first reported as 76.4.

“Regarding the short-term outlook, consumers are more upbeat about employment, but less optimistic about business conditions and their income prospects." . . . .

Perceptions about the job markets worsened this month. The survey showed 43.5% think jobs are “hard to get” up from 41.6% saying that in December, while only 6.1% think jobs are “plentiful” down from 6.6% in December. . . .

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Greek Private Bond Holders facing 70 Percent Cut in Value of Bonds

From the Associated Press:

Investors participating in a deal to slash Greece's massive debt would face an overall loss on their bond holdings of more than 70 percent, a person involved in with the negotiations said early Tuesday.
European leaders at a summit in Brussels said a final debt deal could be signed off in the coming days . . .

Athens and representatives of investors holding Greek government bonds over the weekend came close to a final agreement designed to bring Greece's debt down to a more manageable level. Without a restructuring, those debts would swell to around double the country's economic output by the end of the year.

If the agreement works as planned, it will help Greece remain solvent and help Europe avoid a blow to its already weakened financial system, even though banks and other bond investors will have to accept big losses.

The person involved in the talks said Monday that the more-than 70 percent loss was the result of cutting the bonds' face value in half, reducing the average interest rate to between 3.5 per cent and 4 percent and pushing repayment of the bonds 30 years into the future. A second person briefed on the talks confirmed that the loss on the so-called net present value of the bonds would be around 70 percent. . . .



Double standards for John Kerry and Mitt Romney's tax records?

John Kerry is wealthier than Mitt Romney, but he has paid a smaller percentage of his income in taxes. Yet, where was the media outrage over Kerry's tax returns?


Obama White House refuses to condemn Occupy Wall Street Rioters

From Fox News:

QUESTION: Occupy Wall Street protesters are making headlines again as you know over the weekend 400 protesters were arrested in Oakland and now today the national park services is expected to clear out protesters potentially as we speak from a site here in DC.

What is your reaction, is the administration concerned that some of these protesters are taking things too far?

CARNEY: Well, with regards to Oakland that’s obviously a local law enforcement matter. Here in Washington I would refer you for specifics to the U.S. National Park Services and U.S. Park Police and our position has been and continues to be that we need to balance first Amendment concerns, the right to demonstrate, the right to speak freely with public safety concerns and public health concerns and we understand that local law enforcement as well as National Park Service and U.S. Park Police are weighing these considerations when making these decisions and that’s appropriate.

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16 Climate Scientists say don't worry about Global Warming

Where do Americans stand on Concealed Carry Laws?

Angus-Reid Survey: 59% of Americans support either a right-to-carry law (51%) or a "Vermont" style rule (8%) that doesn't require a permit. Even 50% of Democrats and 50% of non-gun owners fall in this category.

There was also this question. The answer to it raises the question of what the reaction would have been if the 4 Justice minority on the court had their way with the Heller and McDonald decisions. These four justices don't even represent the views of Democrats.

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