Friday, August 22, 2014

Cruising the Web

Just what anyone who is observant could have guessed about the disparity in how late-night shows treat Republican and Democratic politicians.
Conservatives and Republicans have long griped that late-night hosts are by and large liberal, and the book's balanced and exacting authors have the numbers and figures to back this up. In every election since 1992, the GOP presidential nominee has been the butt of more jokes than the Democrat. Overall, the authors "coded nearly twice as many jokes about Republicans as about Democrats." As they put it: "an unexpected finding was that Republican candidates were joked about more than Democrats." Unexpected? Not for anyone who watches TV. Nevertheless, it is good to have the numbers to prove the point.

....the late-night comics did mostly give Barack Obama a pass during his 2008 campaign and throughout his first term. This leniency, according to the authors, came in two forms: frequency and content. In 2008 Mr. Obama was the subject of only 6% of late-night barbs, well behind President George W. Bush and GOP nominee John McCain. And Sarah Palin "attracted nearly as many jokes in four months as Obama did throughout the entire year." While Ms. Palin and Mr. Bush were assailed for their perceived lack of intelligence, and Mr. McCain was skewered for his age, jokes about Mr. Obama barely touched the man. One example: Mr. Stewart's comment from July 2008 that Obama's Israel trip would include a stop in Bethlehem "to visit the manger where he was born." Not exactly hard-hitting stuff.

Despite how the President doesn't seem to think that he has to tell Congress things he doesn't want to tell them, the GAO says differently.
resident Obama's decision to exchange captive Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees violated federal law, according to a legal opinion the Government Accountability Office sent to Congress Thursday.

That's because the administration failed to notify Congress at least 30 days before the transfer, as required under a law passed in February. The Pentagon notified Congress of the deal on May 31, the same day the transfer was made.

And because Congress did not authorize spending for the exchange, it also violated the Antideficiency Act, a law intended to protect Congress's power of the purse.

The Department of Defense spent $988,400 on the transfer, the Pentagon told the GAO.

An intentional violation of the Antideficiency Act is a crime punishable by up to two years in prison, but those criminal penalties are rarely enforced.
Well, of course it's rarely enforced. Are they going to put the President in jail for this? So once again we see that there are laws, but no consequences for ignoring them.

Now we can see how Arab charities are funneling money to terrorist groups and funding suicide attacks on Israelis and Americans.
For the first time, startling details are being made public about the millions of dollars funneled from Middle East charities to Islamic terrorists and their families.

Families of Islamic suicide bombers received a $5,300 payment.

The money was used to reward terrorists and their families after attacks on Israelis and U.S. nationals visiting Israel between 2000 and 2005 during the second intifada or Palestinian uprising.

The evidence was presented today in a landmark case in New York federal court. Three hundred U.S. nationals claim Arab Bank knowingly provided financial services to terrorists and their financiers in violation of the U.S. anti-terrorism law. Arab Bank contends it did not knowingly serve terrorists....

For example, bank documents allegedly show that a dozen Middle Eastern charities with links to the terrorist group Hamas and other radical Islamic groups transferred $32 million to Arab Bank during the second intifada. The money was then allegedly paid out to families of suicide bombers and other Palestinians who engaged in acts of terrorism against Jews.

An additional charity, the Saudi Committee for the Support of the Intifada al Quds, sent nearly $100 million through Arab Bank. The plaintiff’s analysis of bank records indicates $32 million of it ended up being distributed as cash payments to martyrs and their families, including the families of suicide bombers, and the rest was distributed to other Hamas-controlled charities.

This is what happens when a television show dares to hire non-Teamster drivers: death threats, intimidation, and vandalism.
The Teamsters picketers were already mad. By the time Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi’s car pulled up to the Steel & Rye restaurant in the picturesque New England town of Milton just outside Boston, one of them ran up to her car and screamed, “We’re gonna bash that pretty face in, you fucking whore!”

Environmentalist alarmists are struggling to explain why, despite warnings about catastrophic global warming, there has been barely any increase in the global average temperatures since 1999. Now they're saying that this all part of a 30-year cycle of a pause in global warming. But that everything will go back to warming when the cycle flips.

Mollie Hemingway has several questions about what it means when Obama says that "One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century." It also struck me as a particularly fatuous statement. We're only 14 years into the 21st century and we've seen tremendously evil violence practiced around the globe. And we saw genocidal violence in the 1990s in Africa and in the former Yugoslavia. Are to think that the standards on morality were to miraculously change once the decade changed. And, as Hemingway writes, why should this matter anyway?
What does this even mean? Just at the most obvious and basic level, if “we can all agree” with this statement, then … what? What do we do if we agree that this group must not exist in our general space-time continuum? Does this mean we have a foreign policy objective of exterminating ISIS? Breaking its will? Killing off just its leaders? Not really doing anything? Sort of bombing some strategic locations but trying not to get too involved? Mass conversion attempts away from ISIS ideology? What? What’s the specific thing we’re all agreeing to?

But on a deeper level, the statement suggests 2) some serious problems with this administration’s understanding of man’s nature and propensity for evil.
Jonah Goldberg has some other reflections on Obama's statement, particularly the stress Obama constantly puts on how the U.S. will work with "the international community" and that ISIS can't succeed because they're not "on the right side of history" and "future belongs to "those who build and not destroy."
As for world opinion, particularly in the form of that global shmoo the “international community,” there’s apparently nothing it can’t do. It is the secret to “leading from behind.” Behind what, you ask? The international community. What is the international community? The thing we’re leading from behind. From Russia to Syria, Iran to North Korea, the president is constantly calling on the international community to do something he is unwilling to do. When Russia was carving Crimea away from Ukraine, Obama vowed that “the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.” After pro-Russian forces shot down a civilian plane over Ukraine, and as Russia lined up troops for a possible invasion, Obama sternly warned that Russia “will only further isolate itself from the international community.”

Taken together, these two ideas — that everything will work out in the long run, and that there’s some entity other than the U.S. that will take care of things — provide a license to do, well, if not nothing, then certainly nothing that might detract from your golf game.

“One thing we can all agree on,” the president said in his statement Wednesday, “is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.” The jihadists will “ultimately fail . . . because the future is won by those who build and not destroy. The world is shaped by people like Jim Foley and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.”

It’s a very nice thought. But is it actually true? The jihadists are building something. They call it the Caliphate, and in a remarkably short amount of time they’ve made enormous progress. If I had to bet, I’d guess that they will ultimately fail, but it will be because someone actually takes the initiative and destroys — as in kills — those trying to build it. Until that happens, there will be more beheadings, more enslaved girls, more mass graves. Obama has been very slow to learn this lesson.

Perhaps this is because there’s a deep-seated faith within progressivism that holds that the mere passage of time drives moral evolution. As if simply tearing pages from your calendar improves the world. It is as faith-based as saying evil will not stand because God will not let it, and far, far less effective at rallying men of goodwill to fight. No doubt some people will face death to defend an arbitrary date, but not many.

Sometimes lazy TV writers will resort to what is called a deus ex machina, a godlike intervention or stroke of luck that saves the day and ensures a happy ending. But in real life, as in Game of Thrones, that doesn’t happen. The good guys get beheaded while scanning the horizon for a savior more concrete than world opinion and more powerful than a date on the calendar.

Well, that's all right then.
Aides said golf game did not reflect the depth of his grief over Mr Foley.

No wonder the middle class is still skeptical that the economy is on the way to recovery. It turns out that the median household income is 3.1% lower in 2014 than it was in 2009.

Kimberley Strassel details how Harry Reid's attacks on the Koch brothers has succeeded by helping Democratic organizations outraise Republicans groups. And it's helping depressing donations to GOP Super PACs.
Mr. Reid's Koch attacks also appear to be depressing donor giving to GOP Super PACs that could run their own attack ads and even the odds. Super PACs have to disclose their donors. That hasn't bothered Democratic billionaires like former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, climate activist Tom Steyer or hedge-fund titan James Simon —all of whom have given multimillion-dollar donations to Senate Majority PAC.

But Republican insiders say the Koch attacks, and the IRS targeting (and audits) have made Republican donors skittish of donor disclosure. They are still writing checks, though much of the money is going to 501(c)(4) organizations that don't have to disclose their funding sources.

Some of these groups, like Americans for Prosperity, the largest conservative spender so far this cycle ($22 million), have done an admirable job of running issue ads that hold Democratic candidates responsible for policy failures like ObamaCare. Money is also flowing into Crossroads GPS, the 501(c)(4) arm of that organization. Yet IRS rules also limit the amounts these 501(c)(4) organizations can spend in direct campaign or attack ads. This means the GOP remains at a competitive disadvantage.

....The Democratic Party for years has waged a campaign to cow and silence Republican donors—pushing the IRS to target GOP groups, advocating legislation to clamp down on free speech, and publicly harassing private citizens for engaging in elections. Mr. Reid is betting that this campaign will save a majority mired in failed Democratic policy. Republican donors, having dreamed so long of this opportune midterm moment, risk getting outmatched by Mr. Reid again.