Patterico's Pontifications


New York Times Changes Story About Chris Christie and Lane Closings Without Correction

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:33 pm

Changed from this:

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 6.28.41 PM

To this:

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Coming next: “the evidence exists . . . we’re just sure it does!”


UPDATE: It’s worth noting the weaselly language the Times is having so much trouble with:

. . . evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures . . .

“[T]ying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of” the closures? I’m not sure why he didn’t say “evidence exists that Mr. Christie knew” about the closures — but he didn’t. I don’t know what tying someone to having knowledge of something even means — but it sounds less impressive than proving someone knew something.

Is all I’m saying.

GOP Declaration of “Principles” Regarding Immigration

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:34 am

I guess I need to do a post on the new GOP “Declaration of Principles” that says we will give illegals a “probationary” status that we will never ever ever take away for any reason, as long as something something border security.

So, here is the post.

Republicans have to do this because it’s how they will get tons and tons of Latino votes. We know this because Democrats tell us so. And why would Democrats lie about that?

I don’t have a huge problem with some sort of DREAM act style of path of legalization for young people whose illegal status is no fault of their own. I have no problem legalizing folks who want to serve this country in the military. I am happy to completely transform immigration laws to allow multiple times the number of legal immigrants from Mexico, as long as they are free of diseases and criminal records. What I cannot support, what I will not sanction, is an effort to reward adult people who break our laws as their first act in this country.

But mine is a lone voice in the wilderness. It has been decided that, for the good of the Republican party, we must say to hell with our laws. Give the illegals the vote.

I can’t say it better than Ace:

GOP Announces Declaration of Principles For Why You Should Vote Third Party

And they’re compelling reasons, too.

This is part of the reason I gave up on politics and stopped identifying as a Republican. There is no point supporting a Team of Losers who furthermore don’t even actually have the same goals in mind I do. Not that that would make a big difference, as they are Losers, and cannot advance their goals.

I have listened a lot to libertarian podcasts lately and while I love love love their economics, they are insane in the membrane on international policy and criminal law. So it’s not like there is an organized and viable alternative.

But, like Ace (and many others) I don’t consider myself a Republican any more. I could, in a party that got behind someone like Ted Cruz. But this party doesn’t. So they don’t deserve my support and they don’t deserve yours. Until someone gets serious about actually doing something about the looming fiscal crisis that we all know is going to destroy this country, they should not get a dime. Save your money for the Ted Cruzes of the world.

The best solution, I think, is a very controversial one, and deserves a post of its own. Consider that a hint. I will say this: the answer is not legalizing millions of new Democrat votes.


A Reminder: Always See the Clown Nose on Jon Stewart — And Everybody Who Works for Him

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:00 pm

I’ll confess my bias up front: I’m a fan of Peter Schiff. He’s the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, Inc. and a successful author of several books. He’s perhaps best known as the man whom the experts laughed at in 2006 when he said that the housing bubble was about to burst, which I chronicled in this post. I don’t agree with everything Schiff says, and he strikes me as the sort who is not always politically correct, but I learn things listening to his radio show and think he’s a bright, insightful guy with a free-market outlook that I appreciate.

So I am especially distressed to see how Schiff was misused by the clowns at Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. Here’s the clip, which portrays Schiff as a clueless aristocrat who wants to put the mentally disabled into virtual slavery:

The whole thing is worth watching for the utter arrogance of the harpy (Samantha Bee) conducting the interview. But here is the key exchange that seems to have people in an uproar:

BEE: Give me a picture of a person whose work would be worth $2 an hour.

SCHIFF: You know somebody who might be? Maybe somebody who is, uh, you know, what’s the politically correct word for mentally retarded? You know, what’s the new . . .?

BEE: [sporting a look of disgust] Okayyyy . . .

Schiff sets the record straight in his latest column:

When I accepted “The Daily Show”’s invitation to be interviewed about my opposition to a minimum wage increase, I knew that I was walking into a trap. But given how counterproductive I know such an increase would be to those the law proposes to help, I took the risk anyway.

Of the more than four hours of taped discussion I conducted, the producers chose to only use about 75 seconds of my comments. Of those, my use of the words “mentally retarded” (when Samantha Bee asked me who might be willing to work for $2 per hour – a figure she suggested) has come to define the entire interview. Although I had no intention of offending anyone, I just couldn’t remember the politically correct term currently in use (it is “intellectually disabled”). Assuming she knew it, Bee could have prompted me with the correct term, but she chose not to. By including those comments in the final package, “The Daily Show” proved that they did not care who they offended, as long as they could make me look bad in the process. The volume of hate mail I have received in the show’s aftermath confirms their success on that front.

Well, of course she didn’t provide the term. Anyone who watches the clip can easily see that she is far more interested in being snide than in getting an honest point of view. And by the way, “mentally retarded” is the term used by the government. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to Schiff:

When asked the $2 per hour question, I responded that very few individuals would take a job at that pay, even if it were legal. In a free market, businesses compete for customers by keeping prices down, and for labor by keeping wages up. Any employer offering even low-skilled workers just $2 per hour would be outbid by others offering to pay more.

However I did suggest two groups of people who might be willing to work for $2 per hour. The first group — which was edited out — was the unpaid interns who tend to value work experience and connections more than pay. (In fact, “The Daily Show” staffer who booked me, and who was present during the interview, had been thrilled to start there as an unpaid intern). Since many interns work for free, $2 per hour would be an improvement. Some interns are even willing to pay to work. Since employers are afraid to hire them without pay for fear of violating labor laws or inviting lawsuits, they often hire young people working for college credit. These individuals are forced to pay college tuition to get a job they could have had for free had there been no minimum wage.

The other group was the intellectually disabled, who are in fact already exempt from the current minimum wage law by federal regulation. Although many have taken my support for this exemption as some sort of advocacy for modern slavery, I offered good reasons for the rule. While saying nothing about any person’s value as an individual or a human being, it is undeniable that the intellectually disabled have, in general, fewer marketable skills than the general population. Anyone arguing otherwise is just speaking from emotion. If an intellectually disabled person can’t perform work that produces a minimum wage level of output, then no employer seeking to make a profit could afford to pay that person the official minimum wage.

I further explained that since such individuals typically live with their parents or other caretakers, they are not working to support themselves or anyone else. They are working for the self-esteem associated with having a job — the pride of working and making a contribution. Many of the jobs they perform may seem mundane to those of normal intelligence, but they are often the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. I pointed out that if the federal minimum wages were to apply to them, a great many of those opportunities would vanish. Others may disagree, but I believe a job for such a person at $2 per hour is better than no job at all.

You know who agrees? As Schiff suggests, the answer is the federal government. The following quote is from a Department of Labor Fact Sheet (.pdf) on the policy that allows employers to apply for a certificate to pay certain disabled workers a wage less than the minimum wage, including those who suffer from the disability of — drumroll please — “mental retardation”:

Section 14(c) of the FLSA authorizes employers, after receiving a certificate from the Wage and Hour Division, to pay special minimum wages – wages less than the Federal minimum wage – to workers who have disabilities for the work being performed. The certificate also allows the payment of wages that are less than the prevailing wage to workers who have disabilities for the work being performed on contracts subject to the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA) and the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA).

A worker who has disabilities for the job being performed is one whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability, including those relating to age or injury. Disabilities which may affect productive capacity include blindness, mental illness, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, alcoholism and drug addiction.

There is an audible gasp when Schiff mentions the concept that the work of the “mentally retarded” might be worth $2 an hour. But the federal government itself — the Department of Labor — recognizes that if a disability such as “mental retardation” “actually impairs the worker’s earning or productive capacity for the work being performed” then a wage lower than the standard minimum wage is appropriate.

Samantha Bee doesn’t tell the Daily Show audience that, because in cutting up four hours of Q&A to make Schiff look as bad as possible, she is looking for shock value. She wants something that will make people laugh and be outraged at the rich guy. She’s not interested in something like truth.

But don’t bother getting all outraged at Samantha Bee or Jon Stewart. They’re just comedians, you see. As Jim Treacher once explained:

I’ve been getting more and more annoyed with him trying to have it both ways, being an increasingly self-righteous advocate and yet deflecting criticism with “It’s just a comedy show!” . . . I don’t think he necessarily needs to choose between pundit and comedian. He can do both. Just maybe not in the same breath. It was maddening when he lectured those guys and they wanted to talk to him about it, and he kept going, “Wait, I’m just a comedian!” Clown nose off, clown nose on, clown nose off, clown nose on.

I expand on the concept here, in a post titled I Always See the Clown Nose on Jon Stewart. I say to Peter Schiff: the same concept that applies to Jon Stewart applies equally to Samantha Bee. These people like to pretend like they are the ones telling the real truth. Clown nose off. Until you take their mocking “journalism” and hold it to the standards that real news organizations abide by, and show how dishonest they have been. Then, they will say they are just a comedy show. Clown nose on.

The solution, as I suggested in my 2009 post, is to treat them like comedians all the time. If they ever try to make a serious point, just say: who gives a rat’s ass what you think? You’re just a comedian.

It is, perhaps, Schiff’s idealistic mistake to have talked to these people in the first place — and, having chosen to do so, it was almost certainly an additional error to treat them like people who might listen to him seriously and give him a fair chance to make his points. Instead, every answer of his should have been prefaced with: “You probably won’t understand this because you’re just a comedian who is here to unfairly edit me and mock me, but . . .” and then give his answer — and then insist on recording the whole thing himself and releasing the tape. That could have been funny and we might have all had some fun at their expense.

But Schiff thought the subject was important enough to try to evade their trap and make some important points. Lesson learned, Peter, I guess. Next time, always see the clown nose on Jon Stewart.

Henry Waxman to Retire

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:29 pm

Good riddance to him and his ridiculously oversized nostrils.

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Above: Henry Waxman’s Nostrils

To be replaced by Wendy Gruel?


No, Extending Unemployment Benefits Does Not “Create Jobs”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:54 am

President Obama is pushing to extend unemployment benefits again, and argued earlier this month that it “creates jobs.”

“Voting for extending unemployment insurance helps people and creates jobs,” Obama said. “Voting against it doesn’t.”

It’s about time we took on this silly notion that paying people not to work causes more people to work.

Peter Schiff had some fun on his radio show the other day with this idea. He asked people to call in with their stories of being on unemployment when they were younger. Person after person called in to say that they had enjoyed their time on unemployment, and looked for ways to keep it going. One person said he crashed at his brother’s place and went skiing for months. If someone had offered him a job on the slopes he would have turned it down. Like all the other callers, he said the thing that motivated him to actually get out and work was when the checks stopped coming in the mail.

Now. I am not arguing that unemployment is a wonderful experience. For many, and almost certainly most, it is a rough time — especially for people who have gotten older and have greater expenses and responsibilities. It can be very rough indeed, even devastating. For such people, unemployment insurance can help cushion the blow. I’m not arguing against having it at all, although I can imagine better ways to address the issue.

My point is: I am highly skeptical of people who say that unemployment insurance “creates” jobs. No: businesses create jobs. When people need to work, it’s easier to get people to work. It’s just common sense, and Schiff’s callers illustrate the truth of that common sense: extended unemployment benefits means extended unemployment.

I hear some of you sniffing: “Common sense? Callers to a talk show? That’s anecdotal evidence! Where are the studies that prove what you’re saying?!”


We exploit a policy discontinuity at U.S. state borders to identify the effects of unemployment insurance policies on unemployment. Our estimates imply that most of the persistent increase in unemployment during the Great Recession can be accounted for by the unprecedented extensions of unemployment benefit eligibility. In contrast to the existing recent literature that mainly focused on estimating the effects of benefit duration on job search and acceptance strategies of the unemployed — the micro effect — we focus on measuring the general equilibrium macro effect that operates primarily through the response of job creation to unemployment benefit extensions. We find that it is the latter effect that is very important quantitatively.

This is one of many studies cited by lefty hacks PolitiFact when they tried to attack Rand Paul on this point and found they couldn’t. They quoted an economist from the left-leaning Brookings Institution who confirmed the obvious:

Gary Burtless, an economist at the Brookings Institution, said Paul is on “safe ground” with his claim.

“It is fair to say that there have been ‘many studies’ of the impact of longer unemployment insurance durations on unemployment, re-employment, and labor force participation, and it is fair to say that a sizeable majority of studies shows an impact that links longer potential benefit durations with longer spells of unemployment,” Burtless said.

Naturally, PolitiFact tried to spin this a little, as you would expect. (Their big argument seems to be the old Keynesian “give people money and they’ll spend it which helps the ecnomony” argument. Why not just make every American a ward of the state, then? The economy will BOOM!) But they couldn’t avoid the evidence that extended unemployment benefits generally lead to extended unemployment.

Bookmark this for when people repeat that canard that extending unemployment benefits creates jobs. It’s nonsense. Common sense, your experience, and even studies say so!

Greg Packer Fools Bloomberg’s Businessweek

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:12 am

He’s still got it:

After serving as the site for the NBA and NHL drafts, a Stanley Cup final and numerous concerts, Newark had no problem dealing with handling a media horde covering the Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos.

. . . .

Greg Packer, 50, of Huntington, N.Y. said being at a Super Bowl media day in the New York-area was surreal. The only thing that would have made it better was having the Jets in the game.

“I think their next Super Bowl victory will be when I’m dead, unfortunately,” said Packer, who said his train from New York was right on time.

Yes, Greg is a Jets fan. And a Mets fan. And a Giants fan.

Packer, of course, is the media’s go-to guy for quotes. Just search Greg Packer on this site for dozens of examples of Packer getting quoted by clueless Big Media organizations.

Greg, my offer remains open. E-mail me. I have a proposal for you.


What Mike Lee Should Have Said About Income Inequality

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:53 am

Confronted with Barack Obama’s jabbering about income inequality, Mike Lee took to the airwaves last night to declare that the horrible problem of inequality is Obama’s fault.

Mark Levin the other night highlighted a much more effective response to accusations of income inequality, from Margaret Thatcher. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s worth the minute of your time it takes to watch it:

What the honorable member is saying, is that he would rather the poor were poorer, provided the rich were less rich. . . . Yes, he would rather have the poor poorer, provided the rich were less rich.

That’s the response, Sen. Lee. That’s the response.

Ted Cruz on Obama’s Imperial Presidency

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:42 am

This op-ed is gold from start to finish. Three cheers to Texas for electing this guy.

Of all the troubling aspects of the Obama presidency, none is more dangerous than the president’s persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat. On Monday, Mr. Obama acted unilaterally to raise the minimum wage paid by federal contracts, the first of many executive actions the White House promised would be a theme of his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The president’s taste for unilateral action to circumvent Congress should concern every citizen, regardless of party or ideology. The great 18th-century political philosopher Montesquieu observed: “There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body of magistrates.” America’s Founding Fathers took this warning to heart, and we should too.

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Above: King Obama

Cruz goes on to detail how Obama has unilaterally decided to “cease enforcing the laws: in areas like immigration, “federal welfare law, drug laws and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.” But Cruz saves his biggest guns for Obama’s rewriting of clear statutory directives in ObamaCare: delaying the employer mandate; changing who the law applies to; twisting the law’s language to exempt Congressional staffers from ObamaCare; and forcing companies to create plans the laws declare illegal.

In the more than two centuries of our nation’s history, there is simply no precedent for the White House wantonly ignoring federal law and asking private companies to do the same. As my colleague Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa asked, “This was the law. How can they change the law?”

Similarly, 11 state attorneys general recently wrote a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying that the continuing changes to ObamaCare are “flatly illegal under federal constitutional and statutory law.” The attorneys general correctly observed that “the only way to fix this problem-ridden law is to enact changes lawfully: through Congressional action.”

The problem is that many citizens, not being steeped in constitutional history or in the Supreme Court’s views on these matters, simply assume that if Obama’s actions are illegal, a court will come along and say so. Under the standing rules developed by the courts, however, this is unlikely to happen. The cure for these power grabs lies in the separation of powers: Congress can withhold money from a rogue executive — or, in extreme cases, impeach him.

As I noted yesterday, Congress cannot order around people with guns. Only the executive can do that. So if the executive accomplishes power grabs, then we’re headed that much closer to being ruled by a king: a guy who gets to make the rules by himself . . . and enforce them.

I don’t want a King Obama. And as Cruz notes, it should not be a partisan issue. If Ted Cruz were elected president, Democrats probably would not want a King Cruz. So honest Democrats should stand up with me and Ted Cruz and say “no more” to these power grabs.


From My Brother’s Facebook Page

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:23 pm

I saw this before the SOTU and meant to post it then, but I forgot. I want to get it up today, though, to reflect his thought process earlier today:

I have a choice of what to watch on television tonight:

Both shows highlight a character with an ego that borders on the arrogant, draws pleasure from baffling their subordinates, has a demeanor defined as dispassionate and cold, and has a flair for showmanship while laying out an elaborate trap to capture their prey.

Should I watch the BBC Sherlock on DVD or the State of Union Address?

I hope you enjoyed Sherlock, Kerry.

Obama to Declare a Grand New Era of Unilateral Action, Beginning with a Minimum Wage Hike for Employees of Federal Contractors

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:44 am

In tonight’s State of the Union, President Obama intends to set off an era of unilateral presidential action by unilaterally increasing the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors:

President Obama plans to sign an executive order requiring that janitors, construction workers and others working for federal contractors be paid at least $10.10 an hour, using his own power to enact a more limited version of a policy that he has yet to push through Congress.

The order, which Mr. Obama will highlight in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night, is meant to underscore an increasing willingness by the president to bypass Congress if lawmakers continue to resist his agenda, aides said. After a year in which most of his legislative priorities went nowhere, Mr. Obama is seeking ways to make progress despite a lack of cooperation on Capitol Hill.

This idea was proposed back in December, and Jay Carney said something very interesting then:

Q: You spoke about some Republicans on the Hill, but congressional progressives — the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Democrats, have written a letter to the President urging that he circumvent Congress and sign an executive order to raise the minimum wage for workers employed through federal government contracts with private companies.

MR. CARNEY: I haven’t seen that, Peter. I would simply say that for those who watched or heard or read the President’s speech yesterday, you know how strongly he supports raising the minimum wage. This has always been done legislatively, and it has been done with support from Republicans and not just Democrats in the past.

And why has it always been done legislatively? Because, without some explanation of how Obama will offset the cost (what? there’s a cost? Yes, there’s a cost), it sounds like the President is spending our money without Congressional authorization.

Is this technically unconstitutional? I’m not sure. I have asked Eugene Volokh whether his blog will do a post on the matter today, and I hope they do. I am seeing word that the order will apply only to new contracts — and if that’s true, it may be constitutional. Here’s Charles W. Cooke on the matter:

That sounds right.

I think they ought to calculate what the cost would have been without the minimum wage, and appropriate that, and not a penny more. It’s then up to Obama to figure out how to handle the shortfall. Don’t like it? Welcome to the world of business owners, Mr. President! They have to make hard choices and so should you.

Like all my dreams about Congress standing up to this guy, this will never happen. The fact of the matter is that this President continues to appropriate Congressional authority in more blatant ways all the time. The New York Times piece linked above has helpfully catalogued some of the complaints from those damned carping Republicans:

Even so, Mr. Obama’s vow to use his executive authority more robustly has drawn criticism from Republicans who say he has already stretched and, in some cases, exceeded the bounds of his power, much as he once accused President George W. Bush of doing.

Among other things, Mr. Obama unilaterally deferred deportation of many younger illegal immigrants after Congress declined to pass legislation giving them legal status. He has delayed enforcement of several aspects of his hotly disputed health care law. He declined to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act, a law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

As he looks ahead to three more years in office, and with Republicans likely to still hold one if not both houses of Congress, Mr. Obama has sought other ways of enacting his agenda. Perhaps the most far-reaching area will be the environment, where the Environmental Protection Agency is working on regulations to limit carbon emissions at the nation’s power plants.

Imagine if Republicans won the Senate this year, and lawmakers declared they no longer needed a presidential signature to pass certain laws. There would be a cry of outrage. And these actions would be ignored, because Congress has no enforcement agency. But Obama’s declaring he does not need congressional authorization to change our laws? That barely registers in the national consciousness. And yet this is more dangerous, because Obama has the police power. He has the guns. If anyone needs to be checked, he does.

On his radio show, Mark Levin has accurately described what is taking place here as a slow-motion coup. Regardless of the constitutionality of today’s action, it is clear that Obama is taking on powers that a President simply does not possess under the Constitution. The problem is, lawsuits are not the way to stop this. The way to stop it is Congressional action. And Congress won’t do it.

Once again, I am noting something that will be largely ignored. And our country slides a little further towards oblivion.

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