"Obama: Black Lawmakers Must Rally Voters Back Home"

S0 much for bringing the country together. Remember this back in April (see particularly from 1:55 on to 2:30)?

What would have been the reaction if a white politician had made a similar plea? Now the Associated Press notes that he makes this address:

In a fiery speech to the Congressional Black Caucus, Obama warned that Republicans hoping to seize control of Congress want "to do what's right politically, instead of what's right — period."
"I need everybody here to go back to your neighborhoods, to go back to your workplaces, to go to the churches, and go to the barbershops and go to the beauty shops. And tell them we've got more work to do," Obama said to cheers from a black-tie audience at the Washington Convention Center. "Tell them we can't wait to organize. Tell them that the time for action is now."
His speech acknowledged what pollsters have been warning Democrats for months — that blacks are among the key Democratic groups who right now seem unlikely to turn out in large numbers in November. . . .

Or this:

With the Republican Party hoping to regain power on Capitol Hill in the November election, Obama described his adversaries as "a crowd ... that wants to do what's right politically, instead of what's right -- period." He never named the opposing party, referring to it as "the other side."

"I need everybody here to go back to your neighborhoods, and your workplaces, to your churches, and barbershops, and beauty shops. Tell them we have more work to do. Tell them we can't wait to organize. Tell them that the time for action is now," Obama said in his remarks. . . .

For Obama, the caucus dinner at the Washington Convention Center capped a week of concerted outreach to minority supporters, a traditional wellspring of Democratic strength.

The effort began Monday with a White House reception for black college officials. It included speeches by the president on Wednesday to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and by first lady Michelle Obama to a black caucus legislative conference that same day.

Last week, Obama was interviewed on "The Tom Joyner Show" radio program, which enjoys a large black audience. . . .

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Harry Reid helps out Democratic Senate Candidate in Delaware

With friends such as this:

I'm going to be very honest with you – Chris Coons, everybody knows him in the Democratic caucus. He's my pet. He's my favorite candidate," Reid told the Hill newspaper. . . .

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Stepping on Obama's Stimulus message

The Obama administration released its list of 100 useful stimulus programs this week, but in Los Angeles $111 million "saved" 55 jobs.

More than a year after Congress approved $800 billion in stimulus funds, the Los Angeles city controller has released a 40-page report on how the city spent its share, and the results are not living up to expectations.

"I'm disappointed that we've only created or retained 55 jobs after receiving $111 million," said Wendy Greuel, the city's controller. "With our local unemployment rate over 12 percent we need to do a better job cutting red tape and putting Angelenos back to work."

According to the audit, the Los Angeles Department of Public Works spent $70 million in stimulus funds -- in return, it created seven private sector jobs and saved seven workers from layoffs. Taxpayer cost per job: $1.5 million.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation created even fewer jobs per dollar, spending $40 million but netting just nine jobs. Taxpayer cost per job: $4.4 million. . . .

Here is also how the NSF spends its money.


A note on David Hemenway

Since I get comments regarding Hemenway's NEJM review of the 1998 edition of my book, More Guns, Less Crime, I thought that I would note that there are many problems with it and I respond to some of the claims in the Second edition of MGLC from 2000.  (For other issues with Hemenway, please see here).  Here is one example that I discuss in MGLC.



Are Democrats trying to stop people from owning gold?

Seeking Alpha believes that they are.

Just as the government is trying to prevent people from investing in anything other than T-Bills by raising taxes on taxable interest and dividends to confiscatory levels, it's also trying to prevent you from parking your wealth in assets, like gold, that compete with the paper dollars issued by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury. A press release from Rep. Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, not yet (as of this instant) posted on Mr. Weiner's Web site, announces that a September 23 hearing of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection (a subcommittee of Rep. Henry Waxman's Commerce Committee) will focus on "legislation that would regulate gold-selling companies, an industry who's [sic] relentless advertising is now staple of cable television." . . .

Not to mention the fact that Mr. Weiner's regulatory push seems as much aimed at conservative journalists as at the gold-dealers. The press release says, "Goldline employs several conservative pundits to act as shills for its' [sic] precious metal business, including Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, Laura Ingraham, and Fred Thompson. By drumming up public fears during financially uncertain times, conservative pundits are able to drive a false narrative. Glenn Beck for example has dedicated entire segments of his program to explaining why the U.S. money supply is destined for hyperinflation with Barack Obama as president." . . .

Here is Weiner's press release.

Here is a copy of his report.

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President Obama appoints radical leftist as head of the powerful new Consumer Protection Agency

Sen. Gregg: Elizabeth Warren Will Encourage "Social Justice"

"My concern is that she would use the agency for the purpose of promoting social justice," Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) said. (source: ABC's "Top Line")

Obama's appointment of her is a "de facto directorship":

Still, Republicans would have been within their rights [to filibuster her]. Can the same be said for Mr. Obama's end run of the Senate confirmation process? Senate confirmation of the bureau's director was one of the few checks Congress built into an office that otherwise will be very powerful and independent. Nevertheless, the statute establishing the bureau gives Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner interim authority in the absence of a permanent director, at least until July 21 -- when the bureau officially absorbs and consolidates various federal agencies' consumer-protection functions. And, under the arrangement the president outlined, Ms. Warren will work for Mr. Geithner. Of course, she'll also be on the White House staff, reporting to the president -- as Mr. Geithner does. That gives her a free hand, indeed, and as Mr. Obama said Friday, she'll be advising on everything from policy to personnel to a nominee for director, which might yet be Elizabeth Warren. Only actual rule-making will have to wait, for now.

Mr. Obama would have been better off picking a more confirmable candidate, as some senators from his own party had urged. Even a recess appointment for Ms. Warren -- which would have lasted through 2011 -- would have been preferable in terms of sticking to constitutionally prescribed processes for filling federal offices. But either move would have infuriated progressives, who still dream of a full five-year term for Ms. Warren -- and whose support Mr. Obama needs in November. For all intents and purposes, the president has created, and filled, a de facto directorship. This might have been in keeping with the letter of the laws, but not with their spirit. . . .

Some more comments on Elizabeth Warren from Stuart Varney.

More on the legality of Warren's appointment is available here.

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Apparently those very expensive vacations are more trouble than they are worth?

This is embarrassing.

Michelle Obama thinks being America’s First Lady is ‘hell’, Carla Bruni reveals today in a wildly indiscreet book.
Miss Bruni divulges that Mrs Obama replied when asked about her position as the U.S. president’s wife: ‘Don’t ask! It’s hell. I can’t stand it!’
Details of the private conversation, which took place at the White House during an official visit by Nicolas Sarkozy last March, emerged in Carla And The Ambitious, a book written in collaboration with Miss Bruni. . . .

The Obamas are denying through ABC News that Michelle Obama said this.

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Has the Federal Government learned anything from the Mortgage Crisis? No

Virtually no down payment? Where have we heard that before? How quickly do you think that these mortgages can go underwater? From CNBC:

. . . It's called the Affordable Advantage program, and it's being run through housing finance agencies in just four states. The program, which began near the beginning of this year, and has done a little less than $10 million in loans so far, got little press until an article last week in the New York Times.

Then today, at a hearing on GSE reform in a House Financial Services Subcommittee, the acting director of the FHFA, which is the overseer of the under-conservatorship GSE's, launched an attack on the program.

Ed DeMarco:

"This one got away from us. It was a miscommunication, and this agreement with these HFA's was signed without my knowledge. When I learned about it after the fact, I reviewed what has been done. I saw that there was a legal contract with the HFA's, and I made clear to Fannie Mae a couple of things: We are going to honor and respect that contract for its duration. It ends next March, and two, we are not doing this in the future. There were several other requests that had come into Fannie Mae from other parties for similar no down payment or very little down payment mortgages, and I said absolutely not, and so we have had nothing further on this. When this particular program with these HFA's expire, it will not be renewed."

I have to say I find it mind-boggling that in today's mortgage environment, when government is ruling the market, and when transparency and accountability are supposedly of the utmost concern, that even a small program like this one could "get away" from the folks who are supposedly protecting taxpayers from another mortgage disaster. . . .

To make matters even worse, while Fannie Mae, as early as last week, defended the program to me, citing its fixed-rate loans, high-credit borrowers and strict underwriting . . . .

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Note on concealed versus open carry

Here is something that I get asked about a lot, and I just posted this note on a facebook page so I thought that I would repost it here.

I have no problem with people openly carrying their guns, but there are crime deterrent benefits from concealed carry that you definitely don't get from open carry. Here is one example. As Israel has learned the hard way, simply putting armed police and military on the streets didn't stop terrorist attacks. Even if you have openly armed police or military on a bus, the terrorist has the option to either wait for them to leave the scene or to kill them first. With CCW, the attacker doesn't know who is able to defend themselves and he doesn't know whom to attack first.

Take the case of attacking individual victims who are not around other people. Having more people carry concealed generally produces more of an overall crime reducing effect than open carry because criminals will leave the open carry person alone and then wait for someone that is unarmed. Concealed carry people produce a benefit for people other than themselves.

The question here isn't whether open carry doesn't deter crime. The question is which deters crime more: open or concealed carry.

The main reason for carrying openly is to make a public statement, to demonstrate to others that it is legal to carry a gun. That is fine if you want to make a public statement and that is your choice. If you want to reduce crime, while having some people with open carry is fine, having the same percentage of people with concealed carry would have a greater impact.

This point is independent of licensing. Obviously some states such as Arizona, Alaska, 98+ percent of Montana, and Vermont allow concealed carry without a license. Hopefully with a few more states changing their laws to adopt a "Vermont" style approach it will be possible to test how effective in reducing crime.

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George Soros has spent $45.4 million to move the judiciary to the left

Is there anything that Soros isn't spending his money to move the country to the left on?

During the past decade, a lavishly funded, highly coordinated campaign has been under way to shift America's judiciary fundamentally to the left by keeping conservative judges off state courts. This campaign is being orchestrated and funded by the Open Society Institute (OSI), the political arm of billionaire hedge-fund manager George Soros. According to a study released this week by the American Justice Partnership, OSI has spent at least $45.4 million to promote the so-called merit selection system and reduce the influence of citizens and their elected representatives when it comes to picking judges. . . .

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"Cuba to cut one million public sector jobs"

Cuba gradually moves towards privatization of the economy.

Cuba has announced radical plans to lay off huge numbers of state employees, to help revive the communist country's struggling economy.

The Cuban labour federation said more than a million workers would lose their jobs - half of them by March next year.

Those laid off will be encouraged to become self-employed or join new private enterprises, on which some of the current restrictions will be eased.

Analysts say it is biggest private sector shift since the 1959 revolution.

Cuba's communist government currently controls almost all aspects of the country's economy and employs about 85% of the official workforce, which is put at 5.1 million people.

As many as one-in-five of all workers could lose their jobs.

"Our state cannot and should not continue maintaining companies, productive entities, services and budgeted sectors with bloated payrolls and losses that hurt the economy," the labour federation said in a statement. . . .

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New piece at Fox News: Austan Goolsbee -- Spinning Like a Top

My newest piece at Fox News starts this way:

With President Obama's poor record on the economy, it isn't too surprising that he would want Mr. Austan Goolsbee to put a positive spin on the current economic conditions. Mr. Goolsbee, whose academic work was known for supposedly showing that increased tax rates didn't affect how hard people worked, has now been appointed as the head of the president's Council of Economic Advisors. But Goolsbee has become quite practiced for his ability to "spin" the news, not for his accuracy.

We got a taste of his talents when he made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows rounds yesterday. On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Goolsbee . . .

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Will the news coverage on U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. impeachment trial mention that he is a Democrat appointed by Clinton?

This discussion in the Washington Post seems to be a fairly typical story on this trial. I did find two mentions on the New York Times blog and well into the story at law.com that mentions it, but I would like to see a mention on the evening news or in a newspaper.


Government pressure put on insurance companies to shut up

Here is the beginning of Michael Barone's latest piece:

"There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases."

That sounds like a stern headmistress dressing down some sophomores who have been misbehaving. But it's actually from a letter sent Thursday from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans -- the chief lobbyist for private health insurance companies.

Sebelius objects to claims by health insurers that they are raising premiums because of increased costs imposed by the Obamacare law passed by Congress last March.

She acknowledges that many of the law's "key protections" take effect later this month and does not deny that these impose additional costs on insurers. But she says that "according to our analysis and those of some industry and academic experts, any potential premium impact ... will be minimal."

Well, that's reassuring. Er, except that if that's the conclusion of "some" industry and academic experts, it's presumably not the conclusion of all industry and academic experts, or the secretary would have said so.

Sebelius also argues that "any premium increases will be moderated by out-of-pocket savings resulting from the law." But she's pretty vague about the numbers -- "up to $1 billion in 2013." Anyone who watches TV ads knows that "up to" can mean zero.

As Time magazine's Karen Pickert points out, Sebelius ignores the fact that individual insurance plans cover different types of populations. So that government and "some" industry and academic experts think the new law will justify increases averaging 1 percent or 2 percent, they could justify much larger increases for certain plans.

Or as Ignagni, the recipient of the letter, says, "It's a basic law of economics that additional benefits incur additional costs."

But Sebelius has "zero tolerance" for that kind of thing. She promises to issue regulations to require "state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases" (which would presumably mean all rate increases). . . .

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Some of the weaknesses of the new LED lights

This guy is obviously an environmentalist and he doesn't appreciate that there is a real cost to speeding up research simply as a result of government regulations. In any case, even he mentions that there are some weaknesses to these new light bulbs. For some, these light bulbs might make sense, but they are the ones who are best able to judge the costs and benefits.

The downside of LEDs, feature-wise, has always been the light color--the blueish light LEDs traditionally have feels cold, particularly compared to the warm glow from incandescent and halogen bulbs. The other knock (or feature, depending on your usage) on LEDs has been that they direct light. That makes them great for spotlights but not good for a desk lamp. And LEDs for everyday use are pricey and unlikely to be stocked in your neighborhood hardware store.
However, all that is changing. Prodded by a federal mandate to boost lighting efficiency, consumer lighting companies are producing LED bulbs with the familiar screw-in bottom for general lighting. At this point, the amount of light that these LED bulbs produce is still a bit low, at least for my tastes, but the light quality is good. And of course, whether these bulbs last for decades as manufacturers say is still unproven.
Thomas Edison wouldn't recognize most of the products in the EcoSmart line--they are cone-shaped bulbs with fins that act as heat sinks, and they have flat tops where the light source goes. These are spotlights, great for casting a beam of light from above your kitchen counter or perhaps for an outdoor flood light.
In the past year, though, lighting manufacturers have introduced LED bulbs in a shape Edison would recognize that put out a decent amount of good quality light. They still don't give off light from all sides as incumbent technologies do, but this latest generation of LEDs does a better job dispersing light, which means that you could use one (or a few) for overhead lighting.
The best part is that the prices are coming down. The 40-watt equivalent general light bulb from Lighting Science Group, which is dimmable, costs just under $20. You can buy it online now and in Home Depot stores later this month, along with the LEDs from other manufacturers, including a ceiling down light from Cree. . . . .

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Obama's "Recovery Summer"


Obama's electoral coalition showing signs of weakness

These results Pew Research Center are a lot more relevant for this November's elections than the 2012 presidential race.

A majority of those who voted for Obama still approve of the job he is doing. But that number is eroding.

Surprisingly, support for the president among Latinos, young people and women has dropped as much as it has among groups that were considered less likely to stick with the president, such as white males, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Support among suburbanites has dropped dramatically too, surveys show, while African American voters remain Obama's most loyal constituency and his fiercest defenders. . . .

approval ratings at this point in a presidency are a poor indicator of a president's chances at reelection. . . .

Obama voters evince little interest in the midterm election. When they express goodwill toward the president, it rarely extends to his allies in Congress. Many do not consider themselves Democrats. . . .

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