Comparing Bush's trips to Obama's after disasters

Bush was often painted unfairly as not caring about New Orleans after Katrina. By contrast, where is the media's outrage over Obama's level of caring as much.

President Obama's visit to the Gulf Coast on Friday is his third since the start of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster 46 days ago — an opportunity, press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday, to get a full update on the response and "hear from nonelected individuals who are also suffering firsthand."

But when it comes to visiting the disaster-stricken area, Obama still lags behind his predecessor, former President George W. Bush, whose slow and stumbling reaction to Hurricane Katrina drew scathing reviews and left a permanent mark on his approval rating.

In the 46-day period in the fall of 2005, fter back-to-back hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Bush made eight trips to the distressed region, including a 35-minute flyover of the region on board Air Force One. That trip came two days after Katrina hit, and Bush returned to review response actions on the ground several days later. He proceeded to make trips to Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas to track the government's response.

Obama visited the Gulf Coast for the first time 12 days after the BP oil rig exploded. He surveyed the damage in Louisiana, and returned again last Friday and met with residents in the area.

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Is the Obama Administration breaking promise on Commercial Whaling

More broken promises from the Obama Administration? I don't know enough about this issue to state an opinion one way or the other, but I am recording this just so that I have a list of Obama's broken promises.

Environmentalists, already peeved with the administration’s handling of the Gulf oil spill, are accusing President Obama of breaking his campaign pledge to end the slaughter of whales.

The Obama administration is leading an effort within the International Whaling Commission to lift a 24-year international ban on commercial whaling for Japan, Norway and Iceland, the remaining three countries in the 88-member commission that still hunt whales.

The administration argues that the new deal will save thousands of whales over the next decade by stopping the three countries from illegally exploiting loopholes in the moratorium.

But environmentalists aren't buying it.

"That moratorium on commercial whaling was the greatest conservation victory of the 20th century. And in 2010 to be waving the white flag or bowing to the stubbornness of the last three countries engaged in the practice is a mind-numbingly dumb idea," Patrick Ramage, the whaling director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told FoxNews.com.

Several environmental groups have joined forces to pressure Obama to withdraw his support for the deal before the whaling commission votes June 20 in Morocco on whether to lift the ban that was championed by President Reagan.

The groups have run ads in major newspapers highlighting Obama's campaign promise in 2008 to "strengthen the moratorium on commercial whaling," adding that "allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable."

"We ask you to honor your promise, stop the sellout, and save the whales," the ad reads. . . .


Man uses gun to protect companion in national park

It looks like a couple people are OK today because they had a gun with them in a national park in Alaska.

A backpacker shot and killed a grizzly bear in Denali National Park and Preserve on Friday after the animal charged toward his hiking companion. This is the first shooting incident since a change in federal law that allows firearms to be carried in many national parks and wildlife refuges went into effect in February.

This is also the first known shooting of a grizzly bear in the wilderness portion of the park by a visitor.

According to park spokeswoman Kris Fister, the backpackers were hiking in an area about 35 miles from park headquarters when they heard noise in nearby brush. The male hiker drew a .45-caliber pistol he was carrying, and when the bear emerged and charged toward his female hiking companion, he fired about nine rounds toward the grizzly.

The bear returned to the brush, at which point the hikers headed back the way they came, until meeting a park employee and reporting the incident.

Since it was unclear if the animal was killed or only wounded, the area was immediately closed to other hikers. The bear's carcass was discovered Saturday evening by park rangers near where the shooting took place. . . .

UPDATE: See also this discussion.

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Latest unemployment numbers

After declining for a while, the Household survey shows that there was a sudden large increase in the number of people not in the labor force: rising by 493 thousand. The Household data showed that there was a 35,000 person drop in the number of people with jobs, but the unemployment rate fell because of the huge increase in the number of people who simply took themselves out of the labor force and were thus no longer looking for a job.

The Establishment Survey shows a 431,000 increase in total nonfarm jobs, but 390,000 of those are due to increased government jobs (most getting temporary jobs at the Census). Even in the private sector, 31,000 jobs were in "temporary help services."


What Obama did after the oil spill

Just some general comments. First, I think that it some what strange to look to Washington to direct these operations and thus unfair to blame Washington. On the other hand, the reason for putting up this link is that Obama has claimed that this has been his top priority and that he was on this from the beginning. If he is going to claim he did certain actions, it seems fair to me to see whether he did them. My own approach would be to impose liability on BP to make sure that they have the right incentives to stop this and clean it up. I think that the government has little competence in running these responses to oil problems, and the environmental rules that require environmental impact studies have delayed responses.

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Some documents show how very liberal Kagan is on crime and other issues

The story here is from CBS News:

But in documents obtained by CBS News, Kagan--while working as a law clerk to the late Justice Thurgood Marshall - made her positions clear on some of the nation's most contentious social issues.

The documents, buried in Marshall's papers in the Library of Congress, show Kagan standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the liberal left, at a time when the Rehnquist Supreme Court was moving to the conservative right.

They also provide a remarkably candid picture of her opinions, including on the most controversial issue Supreme Court nominees ever confront: abortion.

Although Kagan's confirmation has thus far been an all but foregone conclusion, sources say these documents will give Republicans a few cards of their own to mount a strong fight against her. . . .



Dem offers conspiracy theory explanation for Arizona Immigration Law

I would obviously been nice if she had read the bill, but her explanation for how pushed for the law is weird enough.

A California congresswoman is pointing the finger at white supremacist groups, who she says have inspired Arizona's new law cracking down on illegal immigrants.

Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., told a Democratic Club on Tuesday that white supremacist groups are influencing lawmakers to adopt laws that will lead to discrimination.

"There's a concerted effort behind promoting these kinds of laws on a state-by-state basis by people who have ties to white supremacy groups," said the lawmaker, who is of Mexican descent. "It's been documented. It's not mainstream politics."

Click here to listen to the audio tape.

Sanchez said front organizations for white supremacist groups are approaching lawmakers to propose the language to the bills and urging them to push them through state legislatures in an effort to legalize discrimination.

"It creates a Jim Crow system where based on the color of your skin you could be treated as a second-class citizen or harassed based on how you look," she said.

The Arizona law, which makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally, requires police enforcing any other law to question people about their immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that they are in the country illegally. . . .

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FTC offers more intervention in the media as a way to save it

The FTC's proposals are pretty dangerous for they will make the media more dependent on government and thus presumably less willing to criticize government. Taxing iPads will make alternative ways of doing things independently of the government. The 47 page document is here.

The Federal Trade Commis sion says it wants to save journalism. I'm not sure who asked it to.
In a just-released "staff discussion draft" of "potential policy recommendations to support the reinvention of journalism," the agency only circles its wagons around old newspapers and their fading business models.
If the FTC wants to reinvent journalism, perhaps it should align with news' disruptors. But there's none of that in this report. The word blog is used but once in 35 pages of text--and then only in a parenthetical mention of soccer blogs. Discussion of investing in technology comes on the last page in a suggestion about tools for "improved electronic note-taking."
Instead, the FTC staff declares defeat in the search for business models so it may explore many government interventions, including:
* Expanding copyright law and restricting the doctrine of fair comment to benefit legacy publishers.
* Granting antitrust exemptions to allow publishers to collude on pricing to consumers and to business partners.
* Giving news organizations tax exemptions.
* Subsidizing news organizations by increasing government funding to public broadcasting; establishing an AmeriCorps to pay reporters; giving news companies tax credits for employing journalists; creating a national fund for local news, and giving the press an increased postal subsidy.
To its credit, the FTC does ask how to pay for all this. So the staffers speculated about what I'll dub the iPad tax -- a 5 percent surcharge on consumer electronics to raise $4 billion for news. They also consider a tax on broadcast spectrum and even on advertising. . . .

Fox News summarizes the study here.

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California House passes ban on open carry of loaded guns

Here are the strong arguments advanced against open carry. As usual, the arguments are about what might happen, not examples that they can point to of systematic problems.

"We think it's an accident waiting to happen," Amanda Wilcox, of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said of gun-toting protesters mixing with frightened citizens in public places.

Wilcox said that allowing firearms in public – recently such a demonstration occurred in downtown Sacramento – sends the wrong message to children. . . .



Los Angeles Public Schools to teach that Arizona Immigration Law is Un-American

This is pretty bizarre. Any bets on whether the public school teachers will actually give the students a copy of the law to read?


New Fox News piece: Illegal Alien Legal Challenge

My new Fox News piece starts this way:

Little noticed, last Friday the Obama administration yet again tried to make it easier for illegal aliens to stay in the United States. In a brief filed with the Supreme Court, the administration asked the court to carve out a special exemption for businesses who break the law by hiring illegal aliens.

In every state, individuals must have a business license to do a huge range of jobs, be it a restaurant, stores, salvage, selling cars, cleaning people's houses, pest control, or other businesses. But people must get a criminal background check to get a license. Different states vary in terms of what crimes can disqualify one from getting a license -- some including misdemeanors not covered in other states.

Similarly, if you commit a crime, your business license is very likely to be revoked. The same is true for professional licenses for lawyers, doctors, or even barbers. The logic for these rules is pretty strong. If someone commits a crime, states have decided those people can't be trusted in dealing with consumers. . . .

UPDATE: Supreme Court to hear Arizona immigration law challenge

The nation's highest court agreed to decide whether the 2007 state law infringed on federal immigration powers and should be struck down.

The law at issue in the case is different from the strict new Arizona immigration law passed earlier this year and criticized by President Barack Obama that requires the police to determine the immigration status of any person suspected of being in the country illegally.

But the Supreme Court's eventual decision in the case, depending on how the justices rule, could end up affecting the pending legal challenges to the new law as well.

The Obama administration last month urged the Supreme Court to rule that the 2007 law was preempted by federal immigration rules and would disrupt the careful legal balance that the U.S. Congress struck nearly 25 years ago.

The Arizona law suspends or revokes licenses to do business in the state in order to penalize employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. It also requires employers to use an electronic verification system to check the work-authorization status of employees through federal records. . . .

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New piece at National Review and NPR: Guns and Crime in Chicago

The newest piece that I have can be found here at NR and here at NPR:

The Chicago gun debate finally shows signs of changing. With the Supreme Court’s decision on the city’s gun ban imminent, people might be beginning to understand that gun bans don’t stop criminals from getting guns.

At a press conference two weeks ago, Mick Dumke, a reporter from the liberal Chicago Reader, asked Mayor Richard Daley what should have been an obvious question: “Since guns are readily available in Chicago even with a ban in place, do you really think it’s been effective?” Daley’s response wasn’t very helpful. Picking up a very old rifle with a bayonet that had been turned in during one of Chicago’s numerous gun buybacks, Daley blustered: “Oh, it's been very effective. If I put this up your butt, you’ll find out how effective it is. . . . This gun saved many lives — it could save your life.”

Reporters greeted Daley’s outburst with a moment of stunned silence. But it wasn’t Daley’s answer that was important. The novelty is that a reporter actually questioned Daley on whether the gun ban had failed. . . .

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Counting news stories on defensive gun uses

As I have discussed in The Bias Against Guns, relying on news stories to document defensive gun uses has its limits, but it still gives you a very minimum estimate on how frequently they occur. One example of the bias is this claim: "in 14 percent of documented cases, no shots were fired." Note that the 14 percent number obviously misrepresents the actual rate because those cases where a gun doesn't have to be fired are much less likely to be newsworthy. In any case, this is still a useful exercise.

"We've documented 2,160 stories of self-defense with guns since May 2007 – the same time frame the VPC used," said Burnett. "When it comes to concealed carry permits, we have 153 documented cases across 26 states with at least 550 lives saved."
The Violence Policy Center (VPC) recently claimed concealed weapons licensees are killers, offering stories as proof. Burnett says the VPC is distorting the truth.
"If these victims had been disarmed, they wouldn't be able to fight back…they'd be dead," said Burnett. "Since no place is immune from crime, we must allow people to be armed for their own protection. Nobody wants to kill someone, but nobody wants to die either."
Burnett also notes that in 14 percent of documented cases, no shots were fired. "You don't always have to shoot to stop a criminal. Sometimes the threat is enough." . . .

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Eight states have now passed the "Firearms Freedom Act"

Alaska becomes the eighth state to pass the "Firearms Freedom Act,"

With reasonable courts, these laws shouldn't be necessary, but the courts will probably strike them down.

Firearms bills

Parnell also signed two bills pertaining to firearms regulations, one of which, House Bill 186, was sponsored by Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican.

That bill establishes the Alaska Firearms Freedom Act and exempts anyone manufacturing guns, ammunition or firearms accessories in Alaska from federal regulation as long as the items are used exclusively in Alaska.

While Kelly isn’t aware of any gun manufacturers in Alaska, he said the bill opens the door for anyone who wants to do so without interference from the federal government.

“What we’ve done is made it possible,” Kelly said.

Parnell said there is “no constitutional basis” for federal regulation of guns and ammunition made and used in Alaska.

While the bill is expected to be challenged in court, Kelly said that “may be desirable” and the bill is meant to send a message to the Obama administration “about the overreach of federal government.”

The other bill, House

Bill 319 by Anchorage Republican Rep. Mike Hawker, clarifies the state’s concealed-carry law. Among other things, the law allows the Department of Public Safety to use electronic applications and post regulations and statutes on its website and requires the department to mail a notice to the permit holder at least 90 days before the date the permit expires.

Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Parnell signs Goldstream public use area bill. . . .


BP informed regulators about problems with well six weeks before spill

From Fox News:

E-mails released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee show BP told regulators they were having trouble maintaining control of the well six weeks before it exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, Bloomberg reported.

"We are in the midst of a well control situation on MC 252 #001 and have stuck pipe," BP executive Scherie Douglas wrote in an e-mail to Frank Patton, the U.S. Minerals Management Service's drilling engineer for the New Orleans district on March 10. "We are bringing out equipment to begin operations to sever the drillpipe, plugback the well and bypass." . . .

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Has the Euro Zone failed?

Václav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, thinks so. At least, it hasn't obviously produced the promised increased growth. (Presumably, supporters could argue that the drop in growth would have been even greater, but they would have some explaining to do.)

It hasn’t delivered growth and the economies of member states have not converged. According to European Central Bank, average annual economic growth in the euro-zone countries was 3.4% in the 1970s, 2.4% in the 1980s and 2.2% in the 1990s. In the decade of the euro, from 2001 to 2009, it was just 1.1%. . . .


LA Times Poll on Arizona Immigration Law misstates what law does

The LA Times asks people (Q 51):

This law requires police who stop a person to question that person's immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that he or she is in the United States illegally and gives police the power to question anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. It requires people to produce documents verifying their status if asked, and allows officers to detain anyone who cannot do so. Do you favor or oppose this new law?

"police who stop a person to question that person's immigration status"? First the law is quite clear that police can't stop people just to ask about immigration status. "Lawful stop, detention or arrest” must be made by a law enforcement official before asking people for their ID.

"produce documents verifying their status"? The law doesn't require that people produce IDs. In fact, the law says: "A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE MADE, WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON, EXCEPT IF THE DETERMINATION MAY HINDER OR OBSTRUCT AN INVESTIGATION." If a person has a driver's license, but they don't have it with them, computers make it quite easy for police to check.

What would happen if people being surveyed were told exactly what qualifies as appropriate ID? A driver's license, a nonoperating identification license, a tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal ID, some other valid Federal, state or local government issued ID. I suspect that there are reasons why this wasn't made clear.

UPDATE: Compare to a Qunnipiac University poll that describes the law this way: "Under the law, state and local law enforcement officials are required to check the documentation of people they suspect are in the country illegally if they are stopped for other reasons." Of course, neither poll actually includes that race and national origin are not allowed to be taken into account.

UPDATE: Obama administration is challenging an Arizona immigration law that Janet Napolitano signed as governor.

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British Economists tell Greece to Default on Debt

This is good. Some British economists have told Greece to unilaterally switch their debt from being in Euros to being denominated in a new lower valued Greek currency. Obviously, borrowers can't just unilaterally change the currency that they are supposed to pay back their loans in. To do that is simply to default. For a country to do that means that others aren't going to lend Greece more money.

Speaking from Athens yesterday, Doug McWilliams, chief executive of the CEBR, said: “Leaving the euro would mean the new currency will fall by a minimum of 15%. But as the national debt is valued in euros, this would raise the debt from its current level of 120% of GDP to 140% overnight.

“So part of the package of leaving the euro must be to convert the debt into the new domestic currency unilaterally.”

Greece’s departure from the euro would prove disastrous for German and French banks, to which it owes billions of euros.

McWilliams called the move “virtually inevitable” and said other members may follow.

“The only question is the timing,” he said. “The other issue is the extent of contagion. Spain would probably be forced to follow suit, and probably Portugal and Italy, though the Italian debt position is less serious.

“Could this be the last weekend of the single currency? Quite possibly, yes.” . . .


Obama Justice Department is even challenging Arizona immigration laws signed by Democrat Napolitano

So where is the angry racist rhetoric used against the current Republican Gov. Brewer? I don't possibly see how the law that revokes business licenses based on a firm breaking other laws could be deemed unconstitutional. Does the Obama administration recognize how many crimes prevent one from getting a business license?

The Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to strike down a state immigration-enforcement law Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano signed as governor of Arizona.

In a filing Friday afternoon, Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal asked the court to hear a challenge brought by employers and immigrant-rights groups to the employer-sanctions statute Napolitano signed in 2007.

"Those provisions disrupt a careful balance that Congress struck nearly 25 years ago between two interests of the highest importance: ensuring that employers do not undermine enforcement of immigration laws by hiring unauthorized workers, while also ensuring that employers not discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities legally in the country," Katyal and other government attorneys wrote. "There is no reason to believe that Congress intended a result that would subvert the purpose and operation of its general prohibition on state sanctions." . . .

By effectively joining the challenges to the law, the Obama Administration is asserting broad federal control of immigration--a position that will make it easier to pursue a lawsuit against the more controversial immigration law passed in Arizona this year allowing local police to make arrests of non-citizens lacking legal status. The administration is also siding with immigrant-rights groups who have accused the White House of not making immigration reform a priority.

A spokesman for Napolitano had no immediate response to a request for comment.

As governor, Napolitano said she thought the state law was valid. Indeed, she was initially a defendant in many of the lawsuits challenging it. The Ninth Circuit rejected those challenges, but the Justice Department is now arguing that that ruling was wrong. . . .

Even pest controllers in Texas can't have a criminal background.

If you have ever been arrested for any cause whatsoever, with the exception of Class C Misdemeanor traffic violations, then you are required to provide the details concerning each arrest. Please Note: Your application will not be processed if you answered yes to the arrest question and do not provide the details requested below. Please be prepared to provide this information as requested. . . .

In Missouri for the salvage business:

Complete a criminal record check. Each owner, partner or principal officer must either submit a current criminal record check made by the Missouri State Highway Patrol or submit a fee of $10 for each record check and the department will have the record check completed. NOTE: If any owner, partner, or principal officer is a resident of a state other than Missouri, a current criminal background record check from your State Highway Patrol or Criminal Investigation Bureau.

In Seattle, Washington, the law is very clear.

-If you are just starting your business and are not certain what business activities you will be conducting, you may apply for additional endorsements at a later date. It is the owner's responsibility to apply for and maintain all required licenses. Failure to be properly licensed may result in substantial penalties. If you will be performing as an adult entertainer or managing an adult entertainment premise you must appear in person at the Revenue and Consumer Affairs Office, Suite 4250, of the Seattle Municipal Tower Building at 700 5th Avenue, Seattle, for a photo identification and a criminal background check.

People who sell cars in Illinois as well as other states:

Per the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/5-105, Investigation of Licensee Required), all applicants must complete a criminal background check. Previously, this procedure was performed by the Illinois Secretary of State as part of the licensing fee.
Per determination of the FBI as of March 1, 2004, it is the responsibility of the applicant to be fingerprinted in order to do a criminal background check. All applicants for license must contact one of the following FBI-certified vendors for fingerprinting. A receipt from one of these vendors must be submitted with the application for license. Any application not containing a fingerprinting receipt or any other required documentation will be returned to the applicant.

Maryland for title service agents:

Criminal background checks- A Maryland criminal background check is required for all officers, partners, owners (licensees) and others who have a financial interest in the dealership. In addition, if any of the licensees or other person with a financial interest in the dealership resides outside of Maryland, or has lived in Maryland for less than 1 year, then their current/former state of residence also must conduct a criminal background check. A background check from a private company will be accepted if the Maryland State Police licenses the company as a Private Investigation Agency. The results of these other state criminal background checks must be submitted.

In Utah, "Any business that involves entering a persons home must provide an original criminal background check from the Utah Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Identification."

How about to be an Underwater Archaeology? Even a criminal background check is required for that.

Here is some information for Oregon,