Obama gets Einstein quote backwards

Politico has this:

For Democratic supporters from 2008 who are thinking about switching sides this election, Obama paraphrased Albert Einstein. “The true sign of madness is if you do the same thing over and over again and expect the same result,” he said during a rally at the University of Minnesota.

“All of you have to vote,” Obama told thousands of supporters. “There is not excuse.”

In fact, the quote is:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

When you think about it, it should be pretty obvious that Obama got the quote backwards.

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Real Clear Politics Estimated Change in House Races over last four days

October 23rd

October 19th


Range of estimates on how many seats Republicans will pick up in the House

Right now Democrats have a 37 seat majority, though the two vacancies were previously held by Democrats. On average these estimates imply a Republican majority of 12 seats, or a net pick up of 51 seats. All these projections have Republicans picking up seats, but the least optimistic one has them only picking up about six. Real Clear Politics has them apparently picking up 74 (35+39) (at least that is what this figure from the WSJ claims). The WSJ claims that it got these estimates from PollyData, but I am not sure that I can match all the claims shown in the figure.


Obama's charm offensive with the media

How much more friendly can the media be towards Obama? The iro

But a rough year has left the administration trying to make amends with some targets of its earlier sneers — the White House press corps, the cable news talkers Obama likes to deplore and other loud voices on the left. And the change has only accelerated with the departure of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel — a one-man hub of spin and stroking for favored reporters and recriminations against those in disfavor.

From intimate gatherings with the president in a private White House dining room, to sincere pledges to listen to outside advice, high-level administration officials appear to be engaged in a round of uncharacteristic outreach.

“Charm offensives work,” said Ann Compton, the veteran ABC News White House correspondent, who described a recent, off-the-record and “pretty elegant lunch” of salad and salmon on White House china with Obama and a handful of other reporters.

The administration, she said, is trying to reclaim “that sense of control it had back in the fall of 2008 — control of the dialogue, control of the issues, control of what information gets out.” . . .

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Should a donor to NPR be telling them what the reporters he pays for should be investigating?

First there is the question of whether it is even proper for NPR to take a donation from someone as left wing as Soros. Soros, who funds organizations such as Media Matters, has an obvious agenda. The fact that he is telling NPR what general topics the reporters he is paying for will investigate is also troubling. My question is what states these investigative reporters will be located. Will they be spread around randomly? Will each state get one? Will they primarily be in Republican states?

billionaire liberal icon George Soros has donated $1.8 million to hire 100 new reporters for 50 of its member stations.

The money will go to launch a project called Impact of Government, which Soros' Open Society Foundation says will "bring greater transparency and accountability to the workings of state capitals across the country."

The group, which describes its mission as building "tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens," calls it a response to the decline in news coverage of state legislatures. . . .

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"I was anti-gun, until I got stalked"

This very interesting article by Jennifer Willis is at Salon.com.

"You need to arm yourself."

I blinked at the Portland police officer in my living room. This uniformed bear of a man -- packing a gun, a nightstick, a radio and who knew what else -- was responding to an ongoing stalker problem that had started several months earlier. I'd received letters, a phone call, a few packages and several e-mails from this unbalanced stranger who'd read a few newspaper stories I'd written and taken a shine to me. When the latest letter arrived -- mentioning my boyfriend, Mike, thoughts on religion, and a trip I'd taken but hadn't told anyone about -- I was seriously alarmed.

But get a gun? Surely, I'd misheard him.

"Getting a concealed carry permit isn't hard," the officer continued. "And they make ladies' purses with concealed weapons compartments."

In that moment, I understood the phrase, "blood turning to ice." I'm afraid of guns. When you get right down to it, I abhor them. I used to date a guy who owned a handgun and regularly trekked into the woods with his friends to shoot. I made him move the small gun safe from beneath the bed to another room before I'd agree to stay overnight. . . .

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Some details on the WSJ election survey: "A Huge Hurricane"


How job growth looked before and after the Democrats took control of Congress


The consequences of massive government waste and inefficiency


Sen. Patty Murray's campaign openly using illegal aliens to do door-to-door canvassing

From Fox News:

When Maria Gianni is knocking on voters' doors, she's not bashful about telling people she is in the country illegally. She knows it's a risk to advertise to strangers that she's here illegally -- but one worth taking in what she sees as a crucial election.

The 42-year-old is one of dozens of volunteers -- many of them illegal immigrants -- canvassing neighborhoods in the Seattle area trying to get naturalized citizens to cast a ballot for candidates like Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who is in a neck-to-neck race with Republican Dino Rossi.

Pramila Jayapal, head of OneAmerica Votes, says the campaign is about empowering immigrants who may not feel like they can contribute to a campaign because they can't vote.

"Immigrants really do matter," Jayapal said. "If we can't vote ourselves, we're gonna knock on doors, or get family members to vote."

So far the illegal immigrants going door-to-door aren't meeting opposition. Craig Keller, an organizer for Respect WA, a group pushing for stricter immigration law in the Washington, said he doesn't mind illegal immigrants volunteering for vote drives, he just wants to make sure mistakes on the voter rolls don't allow them to vote. . . .

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Megyn Kelly does a GREAT job holding the CAIR representative's feet to the fire

This guy from CAIR so distorts what Juan Williams said and refuses to deal with the fact that Williams dealt explicitly multiple times with the fact that the threat isn't from all Muslims. The only thing that Ms. Kelly might have raised is this when the issue was raised of CAIR's image:

CAIR has long been identified as a Hamas-affiliated Muslim Brotherhood front group through the Texas Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial -- the largest terrorism funding trial in U.S. history. CAIR is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF trial. The sheer volume of participants in the terrorist fundraising schemes lent itself to a list of co-conspirators subject to prosecution with the same evidence that resulted in the successful prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation in 2008. . . .


In 2005, Colorado Democrat Gubernatorial Candidate Hickenlooper talked about the "backwards thinking" in Rural Colorado

At 2:03 into the video: "Colorado and Wyoming are very similar. We have some of the same you know backwards thinking in the rural western areas that you see you known in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico."

Another great unifier.

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"More Texas women packing heat"

From KLTV in Tyler, Texas.

More Texas women are taking advantage of their right to bear arms than ever before.

Texas Department of Public Safety numbers show that nearly 31,000 women in Texas obtained a license. This is 40% higher than the previous high in 1996 when concealed handgun permits were first issued in Texas.

Marcy Dillon says she decided to get her CHP to protect her children, in case her husband wasn't around to defend them, ""It's a security blanket you carry around with you that nobody knows you have." . . .

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Barney Frank breaks fundraising promises

Given how much money the Federal government and Barney Frank gave to financial institutions and given that he oversees their regulations, there is good reason for Mr. Frank not to take money from these financial institutions who took TARP money. But that promise is so 2009:

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, in an intensifying clash with GOP upstart Sean Bielat, has pledged not to take campaign cash from lenders that got federal bailouts — yet has raked in more than $40,000 from bank execs and special interests connected to the staggering government loans, a Herald review found.

Frank vowed in February 2009 that he wouldn’t accept campaign donations from banks that received money under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) or political action committees tied to such institutions.

But Frank has hauled in thousands from top execs at Bank of America, Citizens Bank, Wainwright Bank, JP Morgan Chase and other institutions that received billions in TARP money.

Just yesterday, Frank made new campaign finance disclosures showing he received $17,000 from top executives of Bank of America — including $2,000 from CEO Brian Moynihan. B of A received $45 billion in bailout money. In all, Frank has hauled in at least $27,000 since 2009 from bank execs — and $13,000 from PACs — connected to banks that received TARP funding, including:

• $5,000 earlier this month from the Bank of America Corp. Federal PAC;

• $10,000 in August and September from the Bipartisan PAC/Bank of New York Mellon Corp.; Mellon received $3 billion from TARP;

• $2,000 in June 2009 from the Financial Services Roundtable PAC, which counts TARP recipients B of A, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo among its members; and

• $1,000 in March from U.S. Bancorp PAC; the Minnesota-based bank received more than $6 billion in TARP funds. . . .

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John Cougar Mellencamp thinks that Palin is smart

Mellencamp supported Obama in 2008, but he still has very nice things to say about Sarah Palin:

Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has found an admirer in John Mellencamp.

The legendary rocker says that while he doesn't support her positions, he is impressed by the mark she's made on the country since the 2008 election.

Mellencamp says people get the wrong idea about her intellect "just because she says things and winks."

He says she "knows exactly what's she doing" and "she wouldn't be where she is today if she didn't."

Mellencamp gives Palin credit for handling the rough world of politics. He says "she's pushing the right buttons" and "you can't be stupid and do that." . . .


Stock prices and the probability that Republicans will take control of Congress

Data is from January 20, 2009 to October 15, 2010
Variables used in Regression
ProbIntradeHouseRep - Intrade Prob of Republicans taking control of House
ProbIntradeSenatetotal - Intrade Prob of Republicans or Neither party taking control of Senate
stronglydisapprove - from Rasmussen Daily Tracking Survey
UnempRate - Unemployment Rate from BLS
cpi - Consumer Price Index
GDP - Gross Domestic Product
consumerconfidence - University of Michigan's consumer confidence survey

There is a lot of correlation between the Intrade Prob of Republicans taking control of House, the Intrade Prob of Republicans or Neither party taking control of Senate, and the percent of likely voters who strongly disapprove of Obama in the Rasmussen Daily Tracking Survey.

Note: There is a lot of correlation between ProbIntradeHouseRep, ProbIntradeSenatetotal, and stronglydisapprove.

Correlation between ProbIntradeHouseRep ProbIntradeSenatetotal is 0.7642
Correlation between ProbIntradeHouseRep stronglydisapprove is 0.7447

Because of that collinearity, I also just reran the political variables by themselves.



What would happen if Republicans explicitly appealed to Men or whites?

Obama has previously made open appeals to minorities to vote for him because they are minorities. The strategy is now to explicitly appeal to women. Why doesn't this turn off women voters?

In a last-ditch effort to prevent electoral disaster, President Barack Obama and Democratic allies are vigorously wooing women voters, whose usually reliable support appears to have softened.
From blunt TV ads to friendlier backyard chats, they're straining to persuade women that it's the Democrats who are on their side and it's in women's vital interest to turn out and vote in the Nov. 2 elections that could give Republicans control of one or both houses of Congress.
In Seattle on Thursday, Obama told local women and others that "how well women do will help determine how well our families are doing as a whole." Accompanied by women who own businesses, he spoke in a family's backyard about the economy's effects on women and outlined ways he said his policies have helped them.
Later, trying to rekindle the enthusiasm of his presidential race, he all but ordered thousands of cheering supporters at a packed University of Washington arena to get out and vote, even though he's not on the ballot. Hoarsely shouting over the applause, he said, "If everybody that voted in 2008 shows up in 2010, we will win this election. We will win this election. But you've got to come out and vote." . . .
The latest Associated Press-GfK poll underscores the Democrats' concern: Women long have leaned toward Democrats but, at a time of great economic unrest, those who are likely to vote now split fairly evenly between the two parties, 49 percent favoring Democrats, 45 percent Republicans. That's a significant drop from 2006 when Democrats had a double-digit edge. The current margin mirrors 1994, the year of a Republican wave that swept Congress. . . .

See also this:

Yet despite 22 months of such gender-specific policy moves – and a recent push to energize disenchanted women voters — Obama has steadily lost ground with women, the Democratic Party’s biggest constituency.

Their lack of enthusiasm has imperiled a crop of 2010 Congressional candidates, complicated Obama’s own path to victory in 2012 – and resulted in the president making the kind of explicit, 11th hour appeal to women voters that he made here Thursday. . . . .

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Woman wounds one intruder and kills another

From Midwest City, OK:

A moving van was parked Thursday afternoon at the home of a woman who told police she shot and killed one intruder and wounded another that morning. . . .
The woman appeared to be acting well within state statutes under the "Make My Day" law, Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes said. . . .
Smith said she and her husband have decided to buy a firearm to go along with their alarm system.
"It's fairly quiet during the day, but as it gets later, you see more and more teenagers and people who don't look like they're in school out running around," Smith said.
"I think we have a lot of kids who are in gangs." . . .
The woman was asleep in her house with two young children and was awakened by a loud boom about 8 a.m. and thought it was an earthquake, Clabes said.
She called her husband who works at Tinker Air Force Base. He told her no earthquakes had been reported, so she walked to the living room and saw the two intruders.
Clabes said the woman fired several shots with a handgun, then called 911.
"In my opinion, she did all the right things to protect herself and her children," Clabes said.
"It's unfortunate a death occurred, but it was a direct result of criminal activity."
Clabes said the wounded suspect was a juvenile but would not release his age. He said the man who was killed had not been identified Thursday afternoon.
The children are 2 and 3 years old, Clabes said, and their mother was "obviously very shaken up." . . .


Obama calling voters stupid

From Karl Rove's piece in the WSJ:

At an April 2008 fund-raiser in San Francisco, Barack Obama let loose with his famous "they cling to guns or religion" line. Last Saturday at a West Newton, Mass., fund-raiser, the president said, "facts and science and argument [do] not seem to be winning . . . because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared."

Memo to White House: Calling voters stupid is not a winning strategy. . . .


Tennessee Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam says that he would sign an Az/VT/AK/MT type concealed carry law

This video completely misstates what the discussion is. Criminals could not carry concealed handguns under this rule. If you have a criminal background so that you couldn't own a gun, you can't carry a gun.


Public University doesn't react negatively when university email sent out asking staff and students to vote for Democrats

This is one reason not to have people working for the government. The article from the Winston-Salem Journal is here:

Some 6,400 staffers and students at Winston-Salem State University received e-mail exhortations Monday to take advantage of early voting and help the Democratic Party, setting off local Republicans.

After a complaint by Nathan Tabor, the chairman of the Forsyth County GOP, university officials acknowledged that the e-mail — sent from the student-affairs division — was improper. . . .

Tabor said he’s upset that he had to call the university and complain.

“That is a tax-funded school,” Tabor said, calling the original e-mail “highly illegal and unethical.”

The university said it would try to discover who sent out the e-mail and whether it was sent intentionally or accidentally in a partisan form.

Early voting started last Thursday in Forsyth County and runs through Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 2. . . . .

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Juan Williams' firing by NPR is very disappointing

Juan Williams' firing by NPR is very disappointing. But NPR has been looking for an excuse to fire both Juan Williams and Mara Liasson for some time. Indeed, they came close to forcing Mara Liasson out recently. As to William's statement, the fact a certain group of people are more likely than another to hijack a plane seems beyond debate. Williams did not say that Muslims who were dressed a certain way would hijack the plane, just that the odds were higher. If NPR disagreed, it would be interesting to hear their explanation.

Possibly, NPR doesn't appreciate how much free advertising they get every time Williams and Liasson appear on Fox News. They might also simply dislike Fox News so much that they can't stand the connection. The only really rational reason that I can think of is that they felt that Fox News' audience was constantly being reminded how liberal NPR is.

Some very questionable comments by others at NPR that did not result in their removal.

Some comments by Juan Williams and others:

Juan Williams: NPR Fired Me For Making "Bigoted Statement"

"The firing of Juan was a total mistake and it sends the wrong message," "View" host Whoopi Goldberg said.

"He's [Juan] better off out of there than being in that snake pit," Bill O'Reilly said.

"I think it is an act of total censorship. I think that the U.S. Congress should investigate NPR and consider cutting off their money. I think the whole idea that if you honestly say how you feel about Islam and about -- what he said was very balanced. People should really what he actually said. The idea that that's the excuse for National Public Radio to censor Juan Williams, I think is an outrage and to every listener to NPR should be enraged that there's this kind of bias against an American," Gingrich said.

UPDATE: "NPR CEO walks back 'psychiatrist' comment"

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller told an audience in Atlanta today that Juan Williams's feelings about Muslims should have been kept between himself and “his psychiatrist or his publicist,” NPR reported.

But she later walked back those comments, issuing a statement saying: “I spoke hastily, and I apologize to Juan for my thoughtless remark.”

So will Ms. Schiller be fired?

Finally, more from Juan Williams:

I say an ideological battle because my comments on "The O’Reilly Factor" are being distorted by the self-righteous ideological, left-wing leadership at NPR. They are taking bits and pieces of what I said to go after me for daring to have a conversation with leading conservative thinkers. They loathe the fact that I appear on Fox News. They don’t notice that I am challenging Bill O’Reilly and trading ideas with Sean Hannity. In their hubris they think by talking with O’Reilly or Hannity I am lending them legitimacy. Believe me, Bill O’Reilly (and Sean, too) is a major force in American culture and politics whether or not I appear on his show.

Years ago NPR tried to stop me from going on "The Factor." When I refused they insisted that I not identify myself as an NPR journalist. I asked them if they thought people did not know where I appeared on the air as a daily talk show host, national correspondent and news analyst. They refused to budge. . . .

And he has this on Friday:

“NPR, and especially this last group of managers, became vindictive [and,] as you can see, personal in terms of their antagonism toward me,” he said. . . .

NPR's Ombudsman has this post here. She writes: "Ultimately, however, it seems management felt he had become more of a liability than an asset. Unfortunately, I agree." But there is not much of an explanation for why she agrees. She also doesn't discuss his entire presentation and takes the short quote out of context.

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The Home Weatherization Stimulus Funds are a disaster

This probably couldn't come at a worse time for the Obama administration, but the real question is how many other projects have similar problems.

Projects to weatherize homes are a key part of the Obama administration's fusion of stimulus spending and the green agenda. But a new report by the Department of Energy has found serious problems in stimulus-funded weatherization work -- problems so severe that they have resulted in homes that are not only not more energy efficient but are actually dangerous for people to live in.
The study, by the Department's inspector general, examined the work of what's called the Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP, in Illinois. Last year, the Department awarded Illinois $242 million, which was expected to pay for the weatherization of 27,000 homes. Specifically, Energy Department inspectors took a close look at the troubled operations of the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, known as CEDA, which is the largest recipient of weatherization money in Illinois with $91 million to weatherize 12,500 homes. (Cook County is, of course, home to Chicago.)
The findings are grim. "Our testing revealed substandard performance in weatherization workmanship, initial assessments, and contractor billing," the inspector general report says. "These problems were of such significance that they put the integrity of the entire program at risk."
Department inspectors visited 15 homes that were being weatherized by CEDA and paid for by stimulus funds. "We found that 14 of the 15 homes…failed final inspection because of poor workmanship and/or inadequate initial assessments," the report says. In eight of the homes, CEDA had come up with unworkable and ineffective plans -- like putting attic insulation in a house with a leaky roof. In ten of the homes, "contractors billed for labor charges that had not been incurred and for materials that had not been installed." The report calls billing problems "pervasive," with seven of ten contractors being cited for erroneous invoicing. And the department found "a 62 percent final inspection error rate" when CEDA inspectors reviewed their own work.
The work was not just wasteful; it was dangerous. . . . .


The Stimulus is the big focus of Republican Campaign commercials

From the WSJ:

Democrats running for Congress aren't saying much about the Obama administration's economic stimulus plan these days. But Republicans can't stop talking about it.

GOP candidates, party committees and conservative groups in recent days have unleashed dozens of television advertisements criticizing the stimulus plan as a costly failure.

Republican Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio, in one TV commercial, drops a copy of the stimulus legislation on a table. It lands with a thud as Mr. Rubio says, "This is the stimulus. Billions in spending, mountains of foreign debt, and countless regulations that Congress didn't even read. The only thing missing? Jobs."

The National Republican Congressional Committee said that of 112 ads it has run on behalf of House candidates as of Oct. 12, 52 had featured the stimulus package.

In all, at least 170 ads mentioning the word "stimulus" have run in the election cycle so far, according to data collected by the Campaign Media Analysis Group, a unit of a private company that tracks political advertising. The data was analyzed by FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

Of the ads reviewed, 62 used the phrase "failed stimulus"; others cited a "wasteful stimulus" or, pejoratively, "massive stimulus," FactCheck found. The program passed by Congress in February 2009 had an initial price tag of $787 billion. It has since risen to $814 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

A new poll for The Wall Street Journal and NBC News suggests a large share of voters remains sour on the stimulus. About 45% of respondents said the plan was "a bad idea," compared with 35% who thought it was "a good idea" and 20% who weren't sure or had no opinion. . . .

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Even "Factcheck.org" thinks that Dems have gone too far in misrepresenting Republican FairTax proposals

Dems have tried to sell the FairTax as a Republican tax increase. The site has some copies of the ads.

This line of attack has emerged as a major Democratic theme. We counted at least 33 TV spots since August that make this claim, and it’s being repeated in an unknown number of mailers and in ads running on radio or local cable channels, which we cannot monitor. . . .
But the Democratic attacks omit all those subtleties and simply strive to create the impression that the new sales tax would come on top of all existing taxes. And that’s not the case.

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Control groups have a new gun control loophole: “Florida Loophole”

Politics PA, something that I thought was going to been a relatively neutral political site, has this post about a Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district race. Apparently letting people who have concealed handgun permits from other states carry guns in Pennsylvania is now called the "Florida loophole." I have read and reread this discussion without seeing any evidence that this "loophole" lets criminals get guns more easily. Not one example is provided. Bryan Lentz, the gun control candidate, is running against Pat Meehan, the Republican.

Pat Meehan Turns Back on Community and Accepts Endorsement of Extreme Gun Rights Group

Springfield, PA – At the same time that editorial boards and law enforcement officials across the region are backing Bryan Lentz’s efforts to keep concealed weapons out of the hands of criminals by closing the “Florida Loophole”, Pat Meehan has accepted the endorsement of the NRA, an extreme right-wing group that has worked to undo the efforts of law enforcement officials around the country to keep their communities safe.

In a press release on its Web site, the National Rifle Association today announced that it had endorsed Pat Meehan’s campaign. According to campaign finance reports, the organization has also donated nearly $5,000 to his campaign.

The NRA endorsement comes at the same time that editorial boards and law enforcement officials across the state have backed Lentz’s efforts to close the so-called Florida loophole, the loophole in Pennsylvania state law that allows criminals to use permits from out of state to carry concealed weapons. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and the Delaware County Daily Times have all backed Lentz’s legislation in editorials. In an editorial earlier this week, the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote “Lentz has a solution to what clearly is a threat to public safety.” . . .

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"Obama By The Numbers"

Some numbers that the RNC has put together on Obama's policies.

$26.2 Trillion: Projected Federal Debt In 2020 Due To Obama’s Binge Spending. (OMB, 7/23/10)
$13.6 Trillion: Current National Debt. (U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 10/19/10)
$8.5 Trillion: Cumulative Deficits Caused By President Obama’s Proposed Budget, FY2011-2020. (OMB, 7/23/10)
$3.9 Trillion: Total Cost Of The Democrats’ Tax Hike To Taxpayers. (Joint Committee On Taxation, 8/6/10)
$3.0 Trillion: Amount Added To The National Debt Since Obama Took Office. (U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 10/19/10)
$2.5 Trillion: True Cost Of ObamaCare Once Fully Implemented. (Sen. Max Baucus, Floor Remarks, 12/2/09)
$1.42 Trillion: Federal Budget Deficit For FY2009 – Highest In U.S. History. (Congressional Budget Office, 10/7/10)
$1.29 Trillion: Federal Budget Deficit For FY2010 – Second Highest In U.S. History. (Congressional Budget Office, 10/7/10) . . .

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Lawyers discover way to get out of contracts to buy houses

So you buy a house and the price of the house has gone down since your bid was accepted. Fine, give up the deposit you placed on the home and move on, right? Well, a couple in NYC wanted to get out of buying the house and to also get their deposit back and thanks to an unintended reading of a 1968 federal law, courts are letting the people do exactly what they want to do. Does anyone wonder what a mess the housing market is with lawyers finding so many ways to get out of contracts?

In May 2008, a few months before the financial industry’s meltdown, the shipping executive Vasilis Bacolitsas signed up to buy a $3.4 million apartment at the Brompton, a luxury condominium tower being built on the Upper East Side.

The building went up as the real estate market went down, and Mr. Bacolitsas and his wife sought a $600,000 reduction in the purchase price. When they did not get it, they decided they did not want the apartment anymore. Their contract, like virtually all real estate contracts, required that they surrender the $510,000 deposit.

But last month, a judge ruled that the couple could walk away with their money. It was one of a series of recent rulings in New York and other states that have enraged developers and given an escape hatch to buyers who signed contracts at the worst possible time, before one of the biggest real estate meltdowns in decades.

The buyers — some wealthy, some not — are successfully using a 1968 federal law intended to protect buyers of out-of-state land from unscrupulous developers or brokers. But in many of these cases, the properties have been built as advertised.

Instead, lawyers for the buyers are finding fault in wording that technically violates the law in contracts or other paperwork — language that few developers or lawyers paid much attention to during the long real estate boom. Lawyers have won back deposits for errors as simple as failing to give buyers a legal description of the property or to register the building with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a basic requirement that many companies nonetheless overlooked. . . .


Jimmy Carter's Psychics

Remember the grief that Nancy Reagan got for using a psychic? Where is the outrage here:

Even with all of the press coverage of Jimmy Carter's latest book, "White House Diary," a strange and interesting nugget of history went ignored: Carter, as president, was enthralled by and impressed with the Central Intelligence Agency's use of parapsychology in intelligence gathering (the field and practice of parapsychology explores various psychic abilities).

Consider this entry in Carter's diary, from April 11, 1979:

"CIA briefing on unhappiness of King Hussein of Jordan [about agreements between Israel and Egypt], Idi Amin's government about to fall, and that a plane had crashed in Zambia. An American parapsychologist had been able to pinpoint the site of the crash. We've had several reports of this parapsychology working; one discovered the map coordinates of a site and accurately described a camouflaged missile test site. Both we and the Soviets use these parapsychologists on occasion to help us with sensitive intelligence matters, and the results are unbelievable."

(Carter alluded to another discussion about parapsychology in the White House situation room on May 8, 1980).

Writing in the present day, the former president reflected back on that entry in the book.

"The proven results of these exchanges between our intelligence services and parapsychologists raise some of the most intriguing and unanswerable questions of my presidency,” Carter notes in “Diary.” “They defy logic, but the facts are undeniable."

Mind-reading as intelligence-gathering? Sure, it was the 70s. Yet parapsychology's new-age reputation doesn't quite square with the historical and enduring stereotype of the CIA as filled with tight-lipped men-in-black. And when reached for comment by POLITICO, the CIA made it abundantly clear that they don't do that anymore. . . .

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The UK as latest test for Keynesian Economics

With up to a 500,000 cut in the number of government jobs and a big cut in government spending, my guess is that the UK will be better off. The opposite of what Obama has proposed on spending. I only wish that they weren't increasing tax rates.

Chancellor George Osborne has unveiled the biggest UK spending cuts since World War II, with welfare, councils and police budgets all hit.

The pension age will rise sooner than expected, some incapacity benefits will be time limited and other money clawed back through changes to tax credits and housing benefit.

A new bank levy will also be brought in - with full details due on Thursday.

Mr Osborne said the four year cuts were guided by fairness, reform and growth.

But shadow chancellor Alan Johnson, for Labour, called the review a "reckless gamble with people's livelihoods" which risked "stifling the fragile recovery" - a message echoed by the SNP, despite smaller than expected cuts in Scotland.

Mr Osborne ended his hour-long Commons statement by claiming the 19% average cuts to departmental budgets were less severe than expected. This is thanks to an extra £7bn in savings from the welfare budget and a £3.5bn increase in public sector employee pension contributions. . . .

The Financial Times puts things in perspective:

The sweeping cuts in spending and entitlements far exceed anything contemplated in the US where Barack Obama, the president, has proposed only a three-year freeze on discretionary spending and Congress is still debating whether to extend tax cuts for the wealthy.

The UK cuts of £81bn ($128bn) over four years are the equivalent of 4.5 per cent of projected 2014-15 gross domestic product. Similar cuts in the US would require a cut in public spending of about $650bn, equal to the projected cost of Medicare in 2015

The UK deficit is about 10 per cent of 2010-11 GDP. The US deficit was $1,294bn, or 8.9 per cent of GDP, in the 2010 fiscal year.

Declaring that “today is the day where Britain steps back from the brink”, George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, revealed dramatic reductions to core departments over the next four years, a £7bn fall in welfare support and 490,000 public-sector job cuts by 2014-15.

“Tackling the budget deficit is unavoidable,” Mr Osborne told parliament. “To back down now and abandon our plans would be the road to economic ruin.” . . .

Local government will suffer more than most with reductions of nearly 30 per cent by 2015. The police force will see its budget trimmed by 16 per cent.

Two areas – the £4.6bn science budget and overseas aid, which will reach 0.7 per cent of GDP by 2013 – were protected. . . .

The video at the FT has the former Labour chancellor of the exchequer takes the Keynesian line about "taking money out of the economy." He keeps talking about a "strategy for growth," which just means spending more money on the government programs, where the government decides what the best investments are.

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Delaware Democrat Senate Candidate Chris Coons was Sued 3 Times for Retaliating Against Public Employees with different "Political Views"

It would be nice if the news media discussed these issues about Chris Coons rather than what Christine O’Donnell briefly did in High School.


Europe as Europeans and others see it

Some amusing takes on Europe.

Europe seen by the Germans

Europe as seen by the Americans



A copy of the Wisconsin Judge's decision striking down the state's ban on concealed carry is available here

This is one of my favorite paragraphs in the decision.

The Hamdan decision also shows that an absolute ban on concealed carry is not least restrictive. At the time Hamdan was written, Wisconsin was “one of only six states that generally disallow any class of ordinary citizens to lawfully carry concealed weapons.” As of now, Wisconsin is one of only two States that do not permit the carrying of concealed weapons under any circumstances. Halbrook, Firearms Law Deskbook, 2009-2010 Edition, Appendix A. Thus when Hamdan was written there were 44 States, and now there are 48 States, that have an alternative that is less restrictive than Wisconsin’s absolute prohibition. Despite the varying concealed carry laws allowing “ordinary” citizens to carry concealed weapons in 48 States, there have been no shootouts in town squares, no mass vigilante shootings or other violent outbreaks attributable to allowed concealed carry. There is a strong argument that guns, and concealed carry of them, makes citizens safer. See John Lott, More Guns, Less Crime, Third Edition, 2010, The University of Chicago Press. . . .

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"Just How Lousy Is the Economic Recovery?"

John Merline has some very useful graphs here in his piece at AOL News.

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Colorado Supreme Court to review lower court decisions preventing Colorado public universities from banning concealed carry permit holders

Students for Concealed Carry on Campus has posted this:

On Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court agreed to grant a writ of certiorari to CU in their appeal.
At issue, states the court, is:
Whether the General Assembly intended the Concealed Carry Act to divest the Board of Regents of its constitutional and statutory authority to enact safety and welfare measures for the University of Colorado’s campuses.
Whether a constitutional challenge to a statute or ordinance regulating the right to bear arms is governed by the deferential “rational basis” standard of review or a more stringent “reasonable exercise” standard of review.

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Will Wisconsin pass a concealed carry bill next year?

It sure looks like Wisconsin will pass its concealed carry bill this next year. Wisconsin has come very close to passing the law recently, and the only thing stopping the state was the governor's vetoes. Well, if the polls are right, the Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker is going to win.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker has said he would sign a bill allowing gun owners to carry concealed firearms, despite voting against a bill as a state representative to make such a practice legal in the state.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett has said he supports the right to bear arms, but carrying a concealed handgun presents public safety concerns. . . .

There is also a chance that Illinois could change its laws also.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Brady, backed by the Illinois State Rifle Association, favors allowing Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons so long as they are licensed by the state. Quinn opposes that. . . .


Estimates on House races from Real Clear Politics and ABC News

From Real Clear Politics

From ABC News

This discussion of the recent NPR poll of competitive districts by Real Clear Politics was quite interesting:

. . . The latest NPR poll shows just how daunting this environment really is. The poll looked first at the Democratic districts that the Cook Political Report listed as Tossup, as Leaning Republican pickup, or as a Likely Republican pickup. It then also looked at the 33 Democratic districts Cook listed as leaning Democrat. . . .

But the worst news for Democrats is the actual ballot test. In the Tossup/Leans R/Likely R districts, Republicans are leading the Democrats 48 percent to 44 percent. Moreover, in the districts that Charlie Cook presently has leaning toward the Democrats, the Democrats are tied with Republicans.

This means that it is almost certainly the case that a substantial number of Democrats that Cook believes to be in relatively strong shape - numbers 54 to 86 in terms of likelihood to flip toward Republicans - are both below 50 percent and trailing their opponents. This is in a subsample where the median district is a neutral PVI, leaning neither Republican nor Democrat. So what would polling of the 25 districts Cook lists as Likely Democratic reveal? Surely some of them are in deep trouble as well.

To make matters worse, Republican pollster Glen Bolger reports that there was a disagreement among the two pollsters as to how to treat low interest voters that made it through the likely voter screen. This is critical, because when looking at the type of voters who typically turn out in the election, the GOP led in Tossup/Lean R/Likely R districts leaps to 53 percent to 41 percent, and the lead in the Lean Democrat districts goes up to 48 percent to 42 percent. The difference between a bad Democratic year and a horrendous one turns on some voters that aren't very excited about voting. . . .

UPDATE: Politico estimates that 99 Democrat seats are in play.

With two weeks remaining until Election Day, the political map has expanded to put Democrats on the run across the country — with 99 Democratic-held House seats now in play, according to a POLITICO analysis, and Republicans well in reach of retaking the House.

It’s a dramatic departure from the outlook one year ago — and a broader landscape than even just prior to the summer congressional recess. As recently as early September, many Republicans were hesitant to talk about winning a majority for fear of overreaching.

Today, however, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report predicts a GOP net gain of at least 40 House seats, with 90 Democratic seats in total rated as competitive or likely Republican. . . .

The assessment by POLITICO is based on a review of TV media-buy information from those independent groups and the party committees in more than 80 districts; internal and public polling in individual races; Federal Election Commission fundraising data for incumbents and challengers; and reporting on the districts.

While the level of competitiveness among the 99 seats varies widely, they share a common denominator: all of them show some serious sign of vulnerability to takeover by the GOP. Factors included a Democratic incumbent’s unpopular legislative votes, the quality of opposition, the partisan breakdown of the districts or the huge sums of money dedicated to Democratic defeat — or some combination of all those factors — to place them “in play” ahead of Nov. 2.

The subjectivity of those factors have led to varying interpretations of just how many seats are actually at risk for Democrats. The Rothenberg Report, another political handicapper, lists 91 Democratic-held seats as in play, and predicts the “extremely large field of competitive races” will produce a “likely Republican gain of 40-50 seats, with 60 seats possible.”

POLITICO’s list of 99 seats — some of which have only recently emerged — places GOP pickup opportunities across the political map, stretching from regions of Republican strength such as the South to Democratic states such as California, where three incumbent Democrats face competitive challengers. . . . .


Concealed carry allowed in a small part of Wisconsin

At least until a higher court intervenes, people in this small part of Wisconsin governed by this local court can carry a concealed weapon.

A Clark County judge says Wisconsin’s ban on carrying concealed weapons is unconstitutional. In the case, authorities charged a Sauk City man with carrying a concealed weapon, after he admitted he had a knife in his waistband. He never threatened anyone. In light of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago, attorney William Poss filed a motion to dismiss the case on constitutional grounds. Judge Jon Counsell obliged Wednesday, ruling the law is overly broad and violates both the Second and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

“The government has to have a compelling state interest to do so (restrict the right to carry) and they have to have the least restrictive means of doing that,” said Poss. “Public safety obviously is a state interest, but there’s all kinds of ways to do that in this regard.” In his decision, Counsell states the law forces citizens to “go unarmed (thus not able to act in self defense), violate the law or carry openly,” but notes displaying weapon’s openly isn’t a “realistic alternative.” . . .

Via Althouse.



Are Democrats losing their cool?: The Kentucky Senate Race and one of the Colorado Congressional Races

Barney Frank's boyfriend heckles GOP opponent after a debate. A video can be seen here.


New Piece at National Review: "Medical Journal Bias on Guns"

My new piece at National Review starts this way:

Medical journals are not always the objective, purely scientific publications we might think that they are. Their editors have increasingly strayed into politics at the expense of scientific accuracy. For example, the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine has over the last few months published a number of extremely biased and poorly done studies on gun control.

One of the articles, written by Garen Wintemute, Anthony Braga, and David Kennedy, makes the case for extending background checks to the private transfers of guns, arguing that “perhaps the principal reason for the well-documented failure of the Brady Act to lower rates of firearm-related homicide is that its requirements do not apply to private-party gun sales.” But they do so without providing any evidence that these or any other background checks reduce crime. Further, they conveniently overlook the only research that has been done on what they are proposing. For instance, the updated More Guns, Less Crime specifically studied this very issue and found no evidence that either type of law helped reduced crime.

The only “evidence” that “screening works” comes from their claim that, in 2008, 1.5 percent of those having a Brady background check were denied from purchasing a gun. What the authors likely are aware of, though they do not tell the readers, is that virtually all these cases represent so-called “false-positives” . . .

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More doom and gloom for Democrats?

From Politico:

Analyst Stu Rothenberg pegs the number of competitive seats at 100. Charlie Cook says it's 97. Virtually all of those seats are held by Democrats.

Rothenberg is predicting a likely Republican gain of 40 to 50 seats, with 60 seats possible. Republicans need a net pickup of 39 seats to take the House.

One House Democrat, reflecting widespread conversations with his colleagues, guessed Sunday that his party will lose 50 seats. Many, he said, are calling with urgent pleas for more contributions.

The Senate may stay in Democratic hands — but only by the narrowest of margins, so slim that it will make a handful of moderates from both parties the only people who will decide whether anything gets done.

Key races in blue states slipped further from the Republicans’ grasp, and Senate Republicans’ campaign chief, John Cornyn, declined to predict on "Fox News Sunday" that his party will win the upper chamber. . . .

In the House, at least 40 House Democrats were outraised by GOP opponents. In the Senate, the Republican candidate had the third-quarter fundraising edge in all but two of the top 20 races, according to a POLITICO review of campaign finance data.

Republicans in these marquee races also are sitting on stockpiles of cash for the stretch run — $50 million in all, a $16 million edge over their Democratic Senate rivals. . . . .

And a National Public Radio survey of likely voters that was released Friday showed that Republican candidates lead in 53 competitive House districts now held by Democrats. . . .



Obama's continued attacks on special interests

Here is what Obama said in Ohio on Sunday: "Right now the same special interests that would profit from the other sides' agenda, they are fighting back. The empire is striking back. To win this election, they are plowing ten's of millions of dollars into front groups. They are running misleading negative ads all across the country. They don't have the courage to stand up and disclose their identity. They could be insurance companies, banks, we don't know. This isn't just a threat to Democrats, this is a threat to Democracy." Has any Republican president continually attacked the motives of the other side the way Obama does? Obama has already gotten swatted by liberal Democrats over the campaign donation claims that he has already made (see here).

These special interest claims are really too much. Unions? The pharmaceutical industry for Harry Reid? Goldman Sachs? This is nuts. When the Democrats don't want to talk about the issues they filibuster by demonizing those they oppose.

Axelrod also won't give up on this issue. On CNN on Sunday he said this: "They say, trust us, trust us, everything is cool, everything is kosher, don't worry about it, but we're not going to disclose. Let me tell you something, [if] people don't disclose, there's a reason." He has gotten off the foreign donations track. Note though in his discussions with the CNN anchor that he ignores the fact that it was Democrat third party groups that had the financial advantage in the last two cycles.

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Chamber of Commerce support is fine as long as they are supporting Democrats, according to White House

This is amusing. From Fox News:

The fundraising practices of the Chamber of Commerce pose a "threat to our democracy," the White House says -- unless that money's going toward Democrats.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday that he's not concerned about Democrats who are getting help from the Chamber, though President Obama has put the group in his campaign crosshairs and accused it of secretly influencing U.S. elections.

Gibbs edged off the administration's offensive during an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press." Questioned on whether Democratic candidates like West Virginia Senate nominee Joe Manchin should "rebuff" the support they're getting from the Chamber, Gibbs said he's not concerned about them.

"Look, the Chamber has certainly a constitutionally protected right to air ads. Nobody is arguing that they can't be involved in the election," Gibbs said.

Manchin was endorsed by the Chamber back in September. The organization called him an "invaluable leader" committed to job creation and capable of tackling the country's economic challenges. The Chamber also reportedly just bought up ads in support of several Blue Dog House Democrats. . . .

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Why does Obama keep favoring "small" businesses?

President Obama seems willing to help small businesses that make the investments that he thinks that they should make. But why should the federal government be determining whether small or large businesses get help? If you go from 49 to 50 employees or from 99 to 100 or whatever, what business is it of the federal government? He wants to raise the marginal tax rate for small businesses even while he gives them deductions if they make the investments that he approves of. From Politico's coverage of Obama Saturday radio address:

President Barack Obama used his weekly Saturday address to lay out his agenda for investing in small businesses and curtailing outsourcing while also reiterating the message that Republican policies favor deep-pocketed corporations.

He promoted a slew of policy provisions aimed at increasing investment in small businesses, providing tax breaks for research and development, and tax incentives for clean energy manufacturing. . . .

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Republican challengers are out raising a lot of Democrat incumbents in congressional races

These discussions usually seem to leave out the $200 million that labor unions are spending on this campaign (and that is if you trust their accounting).

The long roster of House Democrats who were outraised by their GOP opponents — a list that totals at least 40 — is just the latest indication that cash is following GOP momentum just weeks before voters head to the polls.

Those who took less included vulnerable freshman who have been on the ropes for much of the last two years like Pennsylvania Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, Nevada Rep. Dina Titus, and New Mexico Rep. Harry Teague.

But even Democrats in powerful senior committee posts who are usually able to dip into large infusions of cash were outmatched. National Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall of West Virginia, Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton of Missouri, and Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania, a senior member on the House Financial Services Committee, all raised less.

With a collection of GOP-friendly outside groups — including the Karl Rove-linked American Crossroads — already set to unleash a $50 million ad campaign and the National Republican Congressional Committee expanding its independent expenditure campaign to $50 million, the widening cash flow to Republican challengers is a disturbing development for Democrats who are struggling to stem the incoming GOP tide. . . .

You know that Democrats are not optimistic when you see statements such as this:

Gibbs Claims Midterm Election About 'Local Issues,' Not Obama


Obama didn't believe that there were "shovel-ready" jobs a year ago, but didn't he still just recently push for a $50 Billion Stimulus Bill

Apparently, Obama didn't believe in so-called "Shovel-Ready" jobs a year ago.

DAVID BROOKS, NYT: Yes. Well, I shouldn’t have confessed this. He said this to me off the record about a year ago. But it hasn’t…

JIM LEHRER: Off the record? So, then you can’t talk about it.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, because Peter Baker is a better journalist than I am, because I couldn’t get him to go on the record with that thing.

JIM LEHRER: He said this to you a year ago?

DAVID BROOKS: It was obvious. I mean, you are trying to build a stimulus package. And when they were trying to build it, believe me, they would have loved to have filled it with infrastructure jobs. But the projects just didn’t exist. They couldn’t do it. They couldn’t find them.

He told Peter Baker in October:

He realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” when it comes to public works. . . .

He realized "too late"? If that is true, what about the $50 billion bill that Obama put forward in just September that was know for building "roads, railways, and runways."

President Barack Obama on Monday proposed a quick $50 billion boost in federal spending to rebuild roads, railways and runways -- a move he said will create jobs and which Democrats hope will improve their election prospects in November.

Obama rolled out the Labor Day proposal at a speech to a friendly union audience in Milwaukee, the launch of a week-long push on the economy and jobs that will include an Ohio speech pushing tax breaks for business and a White House news conference on Friday.

It all comes as the country pivots to a fall campaign for control of Congress in which Democrats are expected to take a pounding. . . .

A copy of Obama's speech is available here.

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