Media coverage after Van Jones quit

From Fox News:

Van Jones may be gone from the Obama administration after a long list of questionable remarks and actions forced his resignation, but the former "green jobs" adviser still has the backing of some at The Los Angeles Times and other news outlets that refused to report the original controversy.

And the list of news outlets that ignored the story is a long and lofty one. While FOX News and a few talk radio hosts kept the public informed about Jones' record, most major news outlets, including The New York Times, CNN.com and MSNBC.com, remained silent until nearly the end, when Jones resigned.

Some news outlets and editorialists that lay low are still supporting Jones, including Judith Lewis, a Los Angeles journalist and environmental writer, who wrote in an opinion piece in the L.A. Times on Friday that "Jones' departure is a big loss."

"He should be judged not by a few missteps but by his long history of working toward a highly desirable but elusive goal: an environmental movement that crosses boundaries of place, skin color and class," Lewis wrote.

"The takedown of Van Jones was openly orchestrated by Americans for Prosperity, an Arizona-based conservative organization that rallies people who can barely afford to drive a car to the free clinic to press for offshore drilling and oppose health care reform," Lewis added.

The San Francisco Chronicle ran an editorial, called "Joe Wilson, Van Jones and the watermelon hypothesis," which claimed that FOX News commentator Glenn Beck used "fear of blacks" to stir outrage about Jones. . . .

Follow this link to see other discussions of the media coverage of Van Jones.

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Self defense in the UK

The full article is here. The government claims that "excessive" force was used here.

Millionaire faces jail for attack on knife raider at his home
The Daily Mail (UK)
Last updated at 9:27 AM on 11th September 2009
Comments (375)

A millionaire businessman is facing jail for attacking a career criminal who had held his family hostage at knifepoint.
Munir Hussain, 52, was told he would be killed when three raiders invaded his home.
He and his wife, their teenage daughter and two sons were ordered to lie on the floor of the living room with their hands behind their backs.
But the Hussains' teenage son managed to escape through a window and when the men realised that, two of them fled.
Hussain then threw a coffee table at the third man, 56-year-old Walid Salem, hitting him in the face. His older son Awais, 20, joined the fight and although Salem tried to escape he was bundled into a nearby garden.
Neighbours in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, then saw several men beating him with weapons including a cricket bat and a metal pole. He was left with injuries including a fractured skull and bruising on the brain.
Hussain denied attacking Salem, claiming it was a group of local youths. But a jury at Reading Crown Court found him guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.
His brother Tokeer, 35, was convicted on the same charge but the jury failed to reach a verdict on their nephew Wahleed Hussain, 20.
Judge John Reddihough freed the brothers on bail until October 9, but warned them that this did not mean they would not be jailed. The maximum sentence for GBH with intent is life.
A family member said last night: 'This is one more shocking blow for a man who thought he had suffered enough last September. We are absolutely devastated, it's hard to believe in justice any more.'
In a further twist, legal sources said Mr Salem would be eligible for criminal injury compensation - with a fractured skull worth around £6,000 - even though he recovered to commit further crimes.
The court heard that Salem, from Borehamwood, had a long criminal record, with over 50 convictions.
In contrast, Munir Hussain, an engineer by training, had an impeccable character. He came to Britain in 1964 and founded a company which employs nine people and had a £2.4million turnover last year. . . .

Thanks very much to Karl Christensen for the link.

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Democrats moving towards using budget reconciliation to pass health care

Obama accusing Republicans of lying ("It is a lie") and that is viewed as offering an olive branch:

By offering Republicans olive branches during his address to Congress on Wednesday, Obama has set up a win-win situation. If GOP lawmakers embrace compromise, a healthcare bill would pass Congress easily. But the more likely scenario is that Republicans will continue to oppose Obama’s plan, and the president later this fall will be able to note he tried to strike a deal with the GOP but could not.

That will set up a Democratic argument that Senate leaders have been forced to use a partisan budget tool known as reconciliation to pass a health bill through the Senate by a simple majority, instead of 60 votes. Under the budget plan they passed earlier this year, Democrats could invoke the reconciliation process on Oct. 15. . . . .

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Texas moves to help defend its border

With all the huge increase in money being spent by the federal government, this obviously doesn't seem to be a priority.

Special teams of Texas Rangers will be deployed to the Texas-Mexico border to deal with increasing violence because the federal government has failed to address growing problems there, Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday.

"It is an expansive effort with the Rangers playing a more high-profile role than they've ever played before," Perry said of the Department of Public Safety's elite investigative unit.

The forces, dubbed "Ranger recon" teams, are the latest effort "to fill the gap that's been left by the federal government's ongoing failure to adequately secure our international border with Mexico," he said. . . .

Perry's announcement Thursday comes amid increasing border violence, particularly in El Paso, mostly involving people with ties to Mexican drug gangs.

"They'll be deployed to high-traffic, high-crime areas along the border," he said. "They'll give us boots on the ground, put people in these hot spots no matter what or where they may exist." . . .

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Unusually cool summer for the US as a whole

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that we have had the 34th coldest summer out of the last 115 years. That means that 70.4 percent of the summers were warmer.

The average June-August 2009 summer temperature for the contiguous United States was below average – the 34th coolest on record, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. August was also below the long-term average. The analysis is based on records dating back to 1895. . . .

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"Summers: High unemployment for years"

This seems unduly pessimistic.

The president’s chief economic adviser warned Friday that the nation’s unemployment rate could stay “unacceptably high” for years to come — a situation that would seriously complicate Barack Obama’s ability to convince Americans that he’s beating back the recession.

“The level of unemployment is unacceptably high,” National Economic Council Director Larry Summers said Friday. “And will, by all forecasts, remain unacceptably high for a number of years.” . . .

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Very funny piece on 9/11 conspiracy theories from the Onion


Republicans viewed as crazy, but no similar coverage of Democrats

Politico writes about the news coverage of Republicans.

Joe Wilson’s outburst Wednesday night earned more than a personal rebuke from the president and a dagger-eyed gasp from the speaker of the House; it drew winces from Republicans worried that their party is becoming known less for the power of its ideals and more for the pettiness of its vitriol.

“Neither party has an exclusive on wack jobs,” says Republican media consultant Mark McKinnon. “Unfortunately, right now the Democrats generally get defined by President Obama, and Republicans, who have no clear leadership, get defined by crackpots — and then they begin to define the Republican Party in the mind of the general public.”

Turn on the TV, and you see what he means.

Here’s Orly Taitz, insisting that the commander in chief was born in Kenya. There’s a flock of angry protesters chanting “Just say no!” and carrying signs depicting a Democratic congressman with devil’s horns. Former GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin warns darkly that Obama is planning “death panels” for senior citizens. Georgia Rep. Paul Broun equates the president’s plans with “Nazi” policies. Ohio Rep. Jean Schmidt — last heard calling John Murtha a “coward” — tells a birther: “I agree with you, but the courts don’t.” . . . .

Of course, one needs only look at the news coverage of the 13 people who carried guns to rallies near where the president was campaigning for government run health care. But where is the discussion of the other side of Van Jones calling Republicans "assholes" or the President saying that those who oppose him are lying when he talked on Wednesday (obviously aimed at Palin (she is correct about the rationing by the way)). If an abortion doctor were killed, it would be national news. The fact that an anti-abortion activist is killed gets very little attention.

State police at the Corunna post have confirmed a well-known anti-abortion activist was shot multiple times and killed this morning in front of Owosso High School.

The victim's identity has not yet been released but the shooting occurred around 7:30 a.m., after most students were off the buses and safely inside the building, said Owosso schools transportation supervisor Jayne Campbell.

State police also confirmed that a suspect was taken into custody about 8:15 a.m. at the suspect's home.

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Your tax dollars used to fund political activities

Why wasn't this person fired? From Fox News:

The National Endowment for the Arts has reassigned its communications director following his participation in a controversial conference call last month, FOX News has learned.

But the organization isn't saying what job Yosi Sergant now holds.

"Can't comment on that at this point," spokeswoman Victoria Hutter told FOXNews.com on Friday. She declined to confirm that he was reassigned as a result of the controversy.

"We'll have more to say about that later," she said.

Sergant was one of several officials on an hour-long conference call on Aug. 10 hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement and United We Serve, a nationwide initiative launched by President Obama to increase volunteerism.

Patrick Courrielche, one of roughly 75 artists, musicians, writers, poets and others on the hour-long call, said Sergant was among those who encouraged the artists to create works in their respective fields that would show support for Obama's domestic agenda in areas such as health care, energy and the environment. . . .


New Fox News Op-ed: Supreme Court Must Throw Out Campaign Finance Laws

My newest piece at Fox News starts this way:

Justice Anthony Scalia made a prediction in 2003 when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the McCain-Feingold law: "if history teaches us anything, [it] is that when you plug one means of expression, the money will go to whatever means of expression are left." The case the Supreme Court heard on Wednesday, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, shows that Justice Scalia was right.

The case focused on a movie released during the 2008 presidential campaign, "Hillary: The Movie." It doesn't explicitly advocate that Hillary Clinton be defeated in her bid for the presidency, but no one watching the movie will come to any other conclusion. Should the movie's costs count as a campaign expenditure? Campaign finance laws limit how much can be donated to a campaign, but if organizations such as Citizens United can make movies attacking the opposing candidate, what is the point of donation limits?

The Federal Election Commission's answer: ban the showing of the movie and the TV ads promoting the movie. . . .

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Charles Krauthammer on Obama's health care talk

Did Obama get "a 14-point gain among speech-watchers"?

The CNN poll that is getting attention has 2.5 times more Democrats surveyed than Republicans.

"Going into the speech, a bare majority of his audience — 53 percent — favored his proposals. Immediately after the speech, that figure rose to 67 percent," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. . . . . The sample of speech-watchers in this poll was 45 percent Democratic and 18 percent Republican. . . .

What the poll shows is that Obama was able to get some Democrats back into his fold after his talk.

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Another piece in the Washington Times

A recent editorial that I wrote for the Washington Times:

Obama's unemployment shuffle: The job market keeps getting worse

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Cass Sunstein confirmed for OIRA position

Cass is someone who I have known for many years. I have told a number of people that Cass is one academic who will listen to people on the other side of the debate. A description of the vote is here.

As expected after yesterday’s cloture vote, Cass Sunstein was confirmed as the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The vote was 57-40. Click here to read OMB Watch’s statement on the confirmation.

The vote fell mostly along party lines. Republican senators Robert Bennett (UT), Orrin Hatch (UT), Susan Collins (ME), Richard Lugar (IN), Olympia Snowe (ME), and George Voinovich joined 51 Democrats (including Sen. Joe Lieberman) in voting for Sunstein. Democratic senators Mark Begich (AK), Blanche Lincoln (AR), Ben Nelson (NE), Mark Pryor (AR), Jim Webb (VA), independent Bernie Sanders (VT), and 34 Republicans voted against.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) did not vote.

Sunstein’s nomination grew more and more controversial after the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved it on May 20. The Committee approved the nomination by voice vote, and only Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) objected. Committee members Pryor, John McCain (R-AZ), John Ensign (R-NV), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) all voted against Sunstein this time around. . . .

So where is the health care crisis?

Michael Gerson in the Washington Post points to an argument that I have been making:

The overwhelming majority of Americans, by the definition of denied care, do not face a health-care crisis. Most polls show that about 80 percent are "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with their health plans. Those in the greatest need are often the most satisfied -- 90 percent of insured Americans who suffered serious illnesses are satisfied with their health care. According to a study published by the Cato Institute, a very small percentage -- even of the uninsured -- are "dissatisfied or highly dissatisfied" with the health care they get in other ways. On health care, the American public brims with satisfaction -- though most are concerned about rising costs.

So perhaps this is the crisis: rising costs that will eventually overwhelm state and federal budgets and consume more and more of individual paychecks. But this is precisely the area where current Democratic approaches are least credible. Obama abandoned his pledge to reduce the government's health costs long ago; now he aims only at budget neutrality. But every pending health-reform bill in Congress would increase both short- and long-term deficits, failing even on Obama's modified terms. Americans get the joke. While Obama has made cost control a centerpiece of his public message, only about 20 percent of Americans, in one poll, believe Obama will keep his promise not to increase the deficit with health reform. . . . .

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Politico: "Dems heckled Bush, but Wilson was different"

From Politico:

Two examples:

In 2004, Democrats delivered a “Chorus Of Boos” during Bush's Bush’s State Of The Union when he called for renewal of the Patriot Act., according to the Washington Times.

In 2005, Dems howled, hissed and shouted "No!" when Bush pushed for Social Security reform in the SOU: "Foreshadowing the contentiousness of the coming debate, Democrats broke decorum and booed twice," according to the National Journal.

At the time, CNN's Bill Schneider remarked, “It was unusual. I had never heard it at least at that level before. The Democrats clearly were booing, heckling, saying no when the president talked about the crisis in Social Security."

Moreover, Obama's claim that illegal immigrants won't be covered -- which sparked Wilson's outburst -- while technically accurate, doesn't quite tell the entire story. Some of the bills being considered in the House and Senate contain provisions locking in local statutes that prevent providers from inquiring about immigration status prior to treatment. And illegals are treated, and are bound to be treated, in ERs, covered by local, state and federal uninsured pools. . . .

This video overwhelmingly contains statement by Democrats. Biden: "i was embarrassed." "demeaning comment" Of course, no one cares much that Obama was calling his opponents liars: "It is a lie, plain and simple."


Where do we draw the line on free speech?

The government's arguments in Citizens United case before the Supreme Court were worrisome.

Ms. Kagan disavowed a statement that a government lawyer made when the case was first argued in March. The lawyer said the government could ban the distribution of books paid for by corporations before elections.

“The government’s answer has changed,” Ms. Kagan said, adding that the Federal Election Commission had never tried to regulate distribution of books.

Chief Justice Roberts bristled at that statement. “We don’t put our First Amendment rights in the hands of F.E.C. bureaucrats,” he said.

He then asked about pamphlets. “A pamphlet would be different,” Ms. Kagan said. “A pamphlet is pretty classic electioneering.” . . .

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Obama's honesty on health care

From Obama's speech was amazing. Obama claimed: "These are the facts. Nobody disputes them."

Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple. . . .

Of course, Obama has used this type of rhetoric about others lying before (Aug. 19: ""there has been a lot of misinformation in this debate, and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness"). Here are just some of the discussions about rationing in the legislation. It is also strange given that Obama has incorrectly claimed that the private insurance system rations care.

As usual President Obama claims: "nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have." He then gives the answer for why everything will change:

What this plan will do is to make the insurance you have work better for you. Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. . . . . We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick. And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies - because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives. . . .

Just take the first point and see how it is operationalized in the Baucus plan. There is one sure way to eliminate insurance is in all the Democratic health care plans -- prohibiting insurance companies from charging moreto those with pre-existing conditions before they bought insurance. There is a tax for those who don't buy insurance, ranging from $750 for the poorest single people to as high as $3,800 a year for families. Even without unlimited insurance benefits, the average insurance cost today is much higher: in 2008, it was on average $4,704 for individuals and $12,682 for families. But with no penalty for having a pre-existing condition, people will pay the tax and wait to buy insurance once they get sick. If people only buy insurance once they are already sick, insurance premiums will soar dramatically. In short order there will be no insurance.

And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up - under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place. . . . .

Well, even Factcheck.org found problems with this claim:

The NRLC’s Johnson said "the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions." And our analysis shows that Johnson’s statement is correct. Though we of course take no position on whether the legislation should allow or not allow coverage for abortions, the House bill does just that.
The House leadership’s bill (H.R. 3200) actually made no mention of abortion when it was introduced. Johnson refers to an amendment to the bill adopted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee July 30. Abortion rights proponents characterize it as a compromise, but it hasn’t satisfied the anti-abortion side. Offered by Democratic Rep. Lois Capps of California, the amendment was approved narrowly by the committee, 30 - 28, with most but not all Democrats voting in favor and no Republicans backing it. The Capps amendment states that some abortions "shall" be covered by the "public option" plan, specifically those types of abortions that Congress allows to be covered under Medicaid, under the so-called "Hyde Amendment," which has been attached regularly to appropriations bills for many years. These are abortions performed in cases or rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother.
As for other types of abortions, the Capps amendment leaves it to the secretary of Health and Human Services to decide whether or not they will be covered. It says, "Nothing in this Act shall be construed as preventing the public health insurance option from providing" abortion services that would not be legal for Medicaid coverage. Says the NRLC’s Johnson: "The Capps Amendment MANDATES that the public plan cover any Medicaid-fundable abortions, and AUTHORIZES the secretary to cover all other abortions. … [F]rom day one, she [Secretary Kathleen Sebelius] is authorized to pay for them all. And, she will."

How about Obama's claim: "There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false - the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally."

ABC News summarizes the Congressional Research Service:

Could the House bill expand emergency Medicaid laws as they already exist, perhaps – perhaps -- expanding coverage for illegal immigrants in keeping with current law?

According to CRS: Yes.

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Record low number of new job openings in July

The WSJ has this:

Employers appear to be in no rush to hire back the millions who lost their jobs in the recession, despite signs of improvement in the economy.

The U.S. had a record low 2.4 million job openings in July, the Labor Department said Wednesday, the fewest since the department started tracking the figure in 2000, and half the peak of 4.8 million in mid-2007. . . . .

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Michael Barone: another imbalance in the press

I would say that this involves much more than some liberal columnists.

Liberal columnists have been attacking Republicans because some of their voters are "birthers," believers in the absurd charge that President Obama was not born in Hawaii and thus is not a natural-born U.S. citizen. But they have failed to identify any "birther" who occupied a position in the Republican firmament comparable to that of "truther" Van Jones in the Obama administration. . . .

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"Pelosi and Reid Tell President: We Have the Votes; President Wants Bill Passed Soon"

ABC's Jake Tapper has this:

While White House spokesman Robert Gibbs today refrained from telling reporters whether President Obama in his speech Wednesday night will set a deadline for passing health care reform, sources tell ABC News that in his private meeting with Democratic congressional leaders this afternoon the key word was urgency.

The president told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that it is important for them to pass health care reform bills soon, the sources said.

Both leaders told the president that despite the difficult rough and tumble of the legislative process in the last few weeks, they are optimistic that both the House and Senate can pass health care reform legislation. . . . .

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"Obama to Endorse Public Health Plan"

Well, this is a shock.

President Barack Obama, in a high-stakes speech Wednesday to Congress and the nation, will press for a government-run insurance option in a proposed overhaul of the U.S. health-care system that has divided lawmakers and voters for months.

White House officials say the president will detail what he wants in the health-care overhaul, as well as say he is open to better ideas on a government plan if lawmakers have them. . . . .

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Details about Baucus Health Care Bill Emerge

The WSJ has this:

To pay for the plan, there are across-the-board fees not just for health insurers but also for pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical device makers and clinical laboratories. The hits are likely to arouse industry concerns, although companies also have a lot to gain from a health bill that expands coverage to millions of uninsured.

Like other bills, the proposal from Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, would require most people to carry health insurance. But it slaps higher penalties on those who refuse, ranging from $750 for the poorest single people to as high as $3,800 a year for families. By contrast, employers wouldn’t be required to provide coverage for employees. They would only have to pay a contribution for employees who get tax credits to buy individual insurance.

Doctors may be irked by some of the payment changes in the Baucus plan. In particular, one measure seeks to give primary-care doctors higher Medicare payments, and funding it by cutting payments to other doctors. . . .

The text of the proposal is here.

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Cass Sunstein on whether people have a right to keep and bear arms

Why does Obama keep saying that Republicans are providing "no alternative" on health care?

Why does President Obama keep making this claim:

He says critics offer no alternative plan

The Republicans were not willing to let this drop, though only the Politico seems to be reporting this.

But they pushed back against criticism leveled against at them from Democrats that they had yet to offer any real ideas for reforming the nation’s health care industry.

“I think to say that Republicans have no plan is just plain wrong,” said Camp, listing off ideas that the party had put forward but had been rejected.


How did Democrats react when Bush spoke to students in 1991

Byron York has this:

Democrats, then the majority party in Congress, not only denounced Bush's speech -- they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue.

Unlike the Obama speech, in 1991 most of the controversy came after, not before, the president's school appearance. The day after Bush spoke, the Washington Post published a front-page story suggesting the speech was carefully staged for the president's political benefit. "The White House turned a Northwest Washington junior high classroom into a television studio and its students into props," the Post reported.

With the Post article in hand, Democrats pounced. "The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students," said Richard Gephardt, then the House Majority Leader. "And the president should be doing more about education than saying, 'Lights, camera, action.'"

Democrats did not stop with words. Rep. William Ford, then chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate the cost and legality of Bush's appearance. On October 17, 1991, Ford summoned then-Education Secretary Lamar Alexander and other top Bush administration officials to testify at a hearing devoted to the speech. "The hearing this morning is to really examine the expenditure of $26,750 of the Department of Education funds to produce and televise an appearance by President Bush at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, DC," Ford began. "As the chairman of the committee charged with the authorization and implementation of education programs, I am very much interested in the justification, rationale for giving the White House scarce education funds to produce a media event."

Unfortunately for Ford, the General Accounting Office concluded that the Bush administration had not acted improperly. . . .


The US falls to second in competitiveness

The new report from the World Economic Forum shows that the US has lost its top spot to Switzerland. Page 10 has this list for 2009-10:

Hong Kong SAR
United Kingdom

For 2008-2009 the list was:


The rankings are based on 12 measures of an economy’s competitiveness: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market sophistication, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation. The change in the United States’ ranking is claimed to be due to “weaker financial markets and less macroeconomic stability.”

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Baucus writes up his health bill proposal

Baucus' bill is going to be a real mess for the insurance industry.

one feature that might help satisfy the more liberal members of the committee is that insurance companies could face a separate new fee to help pay for the plan. It would be determined based on market share, and could raise $6 billion a year starting in 2010, the sources said. . . .

And taxing private insurance will increase insurance coverage?

the Baucus plan would create transparency measures that make it easier for consumers to compare information and pricing, and require insurers to release details on their administrative costs. “If insurance companies pass this fee along to customers, they run the risk of losing out in a newly competitive environment,” according to a source familiar with the plan. . . .

Could someone please explain the reasoning here? Taxes can't get passed on to customers because of the "newly competitive environment"? If the demand curve is perfectly elastic, that would happen, but does this seem at all plausible?

It would also create a health insurance exchange, prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions . . . .

If insurance is not mandatory for everyone, this will eliminate insurance. If insurance is mandatory, this will eliminate anything above the minimum level of insurance.

"change the health care delivery system by rewarding doctors for quality of care rather than the quantity of services. . . . "

If this is such a great idea, why don't insurance companies offer it?

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Lack of Media coverage about Van Jones case

From Fox News:

Americans who rely on the network broadcasts or the nation's top newspapers for their news may have just learned about the weekend resignation of President Obama's "green jobs czar" or the firestorm of controversy that was set off weeks ago by the revelation of his past provocative statements.

Most of the major news outlets, like The New York Times, The Washington Post and CBS ignored the swelling heat surrounding former White House environmental adviser Van Jones and the videos surfacing of his controversial statements.

For weeks, conservative media led by FOX News commentator Glenn Beck has been criticizing Jones, a former self-avowed Marxist and anarchist, for his remarks and radical views, including his February denunciation of Republicans as "assholes" -- a statement that came to light on Wednesday.

Jones issued two apologies last week -- for his statement on Republicans and for signing a petition that suggested the U.S. government was involved in the Sept 11. terrorist attacks -- and the White House responded to the growing controversy on Friday. Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said Jones continued to work in the administration and asserted that the president didn't agree with his controversial statements.

Yet most of the media still didn't pay attention even after Gibbs' comment.

CBS News became the first of the three broadcast networks on Friday to note the controversy, but ABC's "World News" and "NBC Nightly News" again failed to report the story. After Jones' midnight resignation over the weekend, all three networks aired the story on their Sunday evening newscasts. The Washington Post offered its first story on Saturday yet The New York Times' print edition didn't publish its first story until Monday -- a story that appeared on the front page, under the fold.

Democratic strategist Julian Epstein defended the media, saying they strive to provide balanced reporting and that their "passing coverage" was similar to their reports on the controversy surrounding Sen. John McCain's religious adviser last year during his presidential bid.

"I think some of the media is guilty of not covering things that are occurring on the right," he told FOX News. "Other parts of the media are guilty of not covering things adequately that are occurring on the left. I think every news organization has to strive to be balanced on this."

The booming calls for Jones' resignation and questions over his ability to land such a position wasn't just coming from Republicans. Democrats and security experts weighed in, wondering how Jones could have passed thorough and lengthy background checks and still land the job. . . .

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If you are interested in seeing labor force data, this is where to go

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has very detailed data over many decades available here.

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Fewer people believe that mankind is responsible for temperature changes

Rasmussen Reports finds:

Forty-seven percent (47%) of U.S. voters say global warming is caused by long-term planetary trends rather than human activity.
However, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% still blame human activity more for climate change, while five percent (5%) say there is some other reason.
Except for June when the two points of view were virtually tied, voters have been trending away from blaming human activity since January. . . .

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Republican keeps lead in Virginia Gubernatorial Polls

McDonnell still has a lead in Virginia despite the attempt by the Washington Post to make a big deal about McDonnell writing 20 years ago that it is better for the kids if women stay home to raise them. This doesn't seem as controversial to me as it is to the WP. Rasmussen Reports poll finds.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Virginia voters finds McDonnell leading Deeds 51% to 42%. That’s little changed from a month ago when McDonnell held the advantage 49% to 41%. All of those figures include “leaners.” Leaners are those who initially indicate no preference for either of the candidates but answer a follow-up question and say they are leaning towards a particular candidate. . . .

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Politico: "W.H. casualty list"

Besides Van Jones, Politico has their discussions here:

Louis Caldera

It was just hours after Air Force One's April 27 flyover of lower Manhattan that White House Military Office Director Louis Caldera apologized for the first time.

Ellen Moran

Moran was one of the few high-profile women on Obama's political staff, and her departure revived questions about the insularity of a White House team forged in the 2008 presidential campaign. Beyond thanking her for her "leadership" and praising her "management and strategic skills," however, Obama and his aides had little to say about the resignation of the former EMILY's List director.

Gen. David McKiernan

McKiernan didn't sound so convinced of this when he spoke at his retirement ceremony a little over a month later. "If you had asked me 30 days ago if I would be here today at my retirement ceremony, I probably would have said no, maybe in a bit stronger terms," McKiernan said, according to CNN. "I was dismayed, disappointed and more than a little embarrassed."

Steve Rattner

For months, Rattner's tenure had been plagued by stories of a New York-based investigation into Rattner's firm, Quadrangle Group, and allegations that it had illegally obtained a management role in New York's public pension fund.

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This many new species discovered in a tiny three-kilometer area

How many tiny three-kilometer areas might there still be?

A lost world populated by fanged frogs, grunting fish and tiny bear-like creatures has been discovered in a remote volcanic crater on the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea.

A team of scientists from Britain, America, Hawaii and Papua New Guinea found more than 40 previously unidentified species when they climbed into the kilometre-deep crater of Mount Bosavi and explored a pristine jungle habitat teeming with life that has evolved in isolation since the volcano last erupted 200,000 years ago. In a remarkably rich haul from just five weeks of exploration, the biologists discovered 16 frogs which have never before been recorded by science, at least three new fish, a new bat and a giant rat, which may turn out to be the biggest in the world.

The discoveries are being seen as fresh evidence of the richness of the world's rainforests and the explorers hope their finds will add weight to calls for international action to prevent the demise of similar ecosystems. . . . .

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Is higher education about to go the way of newspapers?

College for $99 a month?

But one thing about StraighterLine stood out: it offered as many courses as she wanted for a flat rate of $99 a month. “It sounds like a scam,” Solvig thought—she’d run into a lot of shady companies and hard-sell tactics on the Internet. But for $99, why not take a risk? . . .

Crucially for Solvig—who needed to get back into the workforce as soon as possible—StraighterLine let students move through courses as quickly or slowly as they chose. Once a course was finished, Solvig could move on to the next one, without paying more. In less than two months, she had finished four complete courses, for less than $200 total. The same courses would have cost her over $2,700 at Northeastern Illinois, $4,200 at Kaplan University, $6,300 at the University of Phoenix, and roughly the gross domestic product of a small Central American nation at an elite private university. They also would have taken two or three times as long to complete. . . .

Consider the fate of the newspaper industry over the last five years. Like universities, newspapers relied on financial cross-subsidization to stay afloat, using fat profits from local advertising and classifieds to prop up money-losing news bureaus. This worked perfectly well until two things happened: the Internet made opinion and news content from around the world available for nothing, and the free online classified clearinghouse Craigslist obliterated newspapers’ bedrock revenue source, the want ads. Suddenly, people didn’t need to buy a newspaper to read news, and the papers’ ability to subsidize expensive reporting with ad revenue was crippled. The result: plummeting newspaper profits leading to a tidal wave of layoffs and bankruptcies, and the shuttering of bureaus in Washington and abroad. . . .

UPDATE: Another related piece:

Students starting school this year may be part of the last generation for which “going to college” means packing up, getting a dorm room, and listening to tenured professors. Undergraduate education is on the verge of a radical reordering. Colleges, like newspapers, will be torn apart by new ways of sharing information enabled by the Internet. The business model that sustained private U.S. colleges can’t survive.

The real force for change is the market: Online classes are just cheaper to produce. Community colleges and for-profit “education” entrepreneurs are already experimenting with dorm-free, commute-free options. Distance-learning technology has just hit its stride after years of glitchy videoconferences—and will keep improving. Innovators have yet to tap the potential of the aggregator to change the way students earn a degree—much like the news business in 1999. And as major universities offer some core courses online, we’ll see a cultural shift toward acceptance of what is still, in some circles, a “Phoenix U” joke.

It is hard to predict the precise pace of change—but it’s possible that within 15 years most college credits will come from classes taken online. In 2007, nearly 4 million students took at least one online course, and the numbers are growing. Within a generation, college will be a mostly virtual experience for the average student. The Ivies will be much less affected than the mid-tier and local schools. But colleges that depend on tuition, and have no special brand, will be hit hard. The recession will accelerate this trend, as students become warier of taking on loans, and state schools experiment after fund cuts. This doesn’t just mean a different way of learning: The funding of academic research, the culture of the academy, and the institution of tenure are all threatened. . . .



Minor Note: Jones' claim that he hadn't signed 9/11 conspiracy letter disputed

Fox News has this:

faced down his past again when it was discovered that he signed a 2004 statement calling on then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and others to launch an investigation into evidence that suggests "people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war."

Jones afterward issued a blanket apology for his past statements and said the petition does not reflect his views. An aide said Jones didn't carefully review the petition at the time.

But that claim was swiftly disputed by 911Truth.org. "He did agree with that statement and he did sign on to it," 911Truth.org spokesman Mike Berger told FOX News in a telephone interview from St. Louis on Friday. Berger said the group's "original board members individually confirmed all signatories that had signed on to the statement." . . .

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What impact did legalizing prostitution have on other crimes?

Obviously one doesn't want to make much of what happens in one state with a one time experiment, but the drop in rape rates there are at least suggestive. The graph above at least suggests that the rape rates fell in Rhode Island relative to the rest of the US after prostitution was legalized in 2003 (I wish that I could find exactly when in 2003 this happened).

All forms of prostitution were illegal in the state until 1980, when legislators -- while amending the existing law to speed up prosecution -- inadvertently deleted the section that addressed the actual act of prostitution. The result was that the only thing that remained illegal was street solicitation, since police mostly use anti-loitering laws to arrest streetwalkers.

This legal loophole went unnoticed and police weren't thwarted until 2003, when Providence lawyer Michael Kiselica was representing sex workers in a case before the state district court here. He acknowledged to a Providence city prosecutor that the women had offered sex for money to undercover police but asserted no state law was broken. The case was dismissed.

State legislators have tried to restore the law for years, but fell short in the face of opposition by some lawmakers, civil libertarians and academics, who said that allowing the arrest of prostitutes could end up punishing victims of human trafficking. . . .

The new momentum is partly a response to the so-called Craigslist killing. Medical student Philip Markoff was indicted in Massachusetts in June on charges of killing a woman at an upscale Boston hotel who had advertised on the "exotic services" section of Craigslist. Rhode Island officials also charged Mr. Markoff with assault and intent to commit robbery of a stripper he had arranged to meet at a hotel in the state. . . . .

The rape rate also fell faster than either the violent or property crime rates in Rhode Island, though the effect is much more obvious compared to violent crime. With property crime there was already a similar downward trend before the change up to 2002.


Obama on transparency: incomplete disclosure of White House visitor logs

Presumably no one is interested in the majority of visitors coming into the White House so it is not clear what is accomplished with this partial disclosure.

The Obama administration says it will release names of most visitors to the White House, starting at the end of this year. Information on visitors in the first eight months of his administration will remain secret — though officials say they will consider narrow and specific requests.

The White House called the release of information "voluntary," continuing to argue the Bush administration's position that full disclosure is not required by the Freedom of Information Act. . . .

Here is what MSNBC wrote in June:

Despite President Barack Obama's pledge to introduce a new era of transparency to Washington, and despite two rulings by a federal judge that the records are public, the Secret Service has denied msnbc.com's request for the names of all White House visitors from Jan. 20 to the present. It also denied a narrower request by the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which sought logs of visits by executives of coal companies. . . .

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ABC and NBC censor ad that are critical of Obama's Health Care Plan; piece on Van Jones