Friday, March 2, 2012

Top 10 Reads of the Week - March 2, 2012

Tell America the whole truth about gas prices, Mr. President - Editors [Washington Examiner]
With gas prices soaring toward $4-per-gallon and beyond, expect President Obama and his media cheerleaders to repeat the following claims endlessly and uncritically between now and the November election: "There are no quick fixes to this problem ... there are no short-term silver bullets when it comes to gas prices ... we can't just drill our way to lower gas prices ... America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years ... we need a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy." Obama used each of those snippets in his speech last week in Miami, then repeated them in his weekly Saturday address, and incorporated them in his basic stump speech on the campaign trail.
All of the snippets will be addressed in this space in coming days, but for now, the president is just flat wrong about those silver bullets. His predecessor pulled the trigger on one on July 15, 2008, by lifting an executive branch moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development in the Outer Continental Shelf regions off America's coasts. Literally within minutes, the price-per-barrel of oil on the world market plunged from just below its historic high of $149 to $136, a 6.3 percent decrease. Bush also challenged the then-Democratic Congress to lift a parallel legislative moratorium on the same areas... Read the Rest

The Other GM Bailout - Editors [Wall Street Journal]
President Obama appeared at a United Auto Workers tent revival meeting Tuesday, and he made several notable claims. Critics of the Detroit bailout of 2008-09 are motivated, apparently, by their antipathy to American workers. The alternative to a government rescue was letting the entire auto industry "die." But one particular claim stood out. Mr. Obama said the bailouts succeeded not "because of anything the government did."
The lacuna in this account is the $81.8 billion that taxpayers surrendered to General Motors and Chrysler, and we detailed the many other costs in a February 25 editorial "Halftime in Detroit." As it happens, however, we missed one big thing the government did that deserves more attention: GM's tax gift courtesy of the U.S. Treasury... Read the Rest
Obama's Union Speech a "Load of You-Know-What" - David Harsanyi [Real Clear Politics]
False choices. Populist bromides. A lecture on values. President Barack Obama treated us to some of his greatest hits this week.
Speaking before the United Auto Workers union in Washington, Obama, champion of the working man, challenged auto bailout "naysayers" to "come around" and admit that "standing by American workers was the right thing to do," as bailouts "saved" the auto industry. (You have to wonder whether downtrodden citizens appreciate just how close they came to having to roller-skate to work.)
"They're out there talking about you like you're some special interest that needs to be beaten down," Obama told cheering union members. And those who claim that bailouts were just a labor payback are simply peddling a "load of you-know-what."
I do know what, Mr. President.... Read the Rest
The Sacred Dogma of the Left - Jonathan Last [Weekly Standard]
In the conflict between the Obama administration and the Catholic church over mandated contraceptive coverage in health insurance policies, it’s easy to understand the motivations of the church. Catholics object to artificial contraception—and to abortifacients and sterilization, reimbursement for which is also mandated—as a matter of doctrine, owing to their beliefs about the dignity of the human person.
The church’s allies—evangelical Christians, Tea Partiers, and other non-Catholic conservatives—are motivated by a conviction that, theology aside, the Obamacare edict forcing the church to pay for procedures it finds morally objectionable is an unconstitutional trespass on the free exercise of religion.
But what is it that motivates those on the left? Why do they care so deeply about the kind of insurance coverage Catholic employers provide? It’s not as if NARAL and Planned Parenthood devotees are heavily represented in the workforce of Catholic institutions. And you don’t see petitions from leftwing pressure groups calling on the church to provide better dental and vision coverage, or mental health benefits. Which would, as a pragmatic matter, be much more helpful for more of the workforce than the contraceptive mandate. No, for the left, the fight isn’t about social justice or the proper scope of the state. It’s about the contraceptives. It’s about sex.... Read the Rest
Puzzling Cheers for Higher Taxes - Michael Barone [Real Clear Politics]
I have long been puzzled by the enthusiasm with which many young liberal bloggers cheer on proposals to raise tax rates on high earners. I can understand why they might favor them, but not why they seem to invest so much psychic energy in the issue.
Some of this may just be team ball: You cheer when your side puts up numbers on the scoreboard. So Democratic cheerleaders are rah-rahing what they insist on calling repeal of the Bush tax cuts (which have been in effect now longer than the Clinton tax increases they rolled back)... Read the Rest

Super PACs Can't Crown a King - George Will [Washington Post]
When communists and sympathizers made excuses for Stalin’s terror, they said, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.” To which George Orwell responded, “Where’s the omelet?”
The Post, dismayed about super PACs, reports “a rarefied group of millionaires and billionaires acting as kingmakers in the GOP contest, often helping to decide, with a simple transfer of money, which candidate might survive another day.” Kingmakers? Where’s the king?
If kingmaking refers to, say, Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino owner, keeping Newt Gingrich’s candidacy afloat with large infusions to the super PAC supporting Gingrich, then kingmaking isn’t what it used to be. Notice that the fellow with the most muscular super PAC, Mitt Romney, has failed to vanquish a singularly weak set of rivals. Might the power of political dollars be finite, and utility of the last dollar be less than that of the first? Who knew?... Read the Rest

"Fake But Accurate" Science - Robert Tracinski [Real Clear Politics]
For years, we've been lectured at by the global warming establishment about how anyone who doubts them is an enemy of science. One of them in particular, a fellow named Peter Gleick who was the chair of the American Geophysical Union's Task Force on Scientific Ethics, kept lecturing us about how much more scientific integrity the warmists have compared to us unscrupulous skeptics.
Well, now we know what the "scientific ethics" of this global warming establishment actually amounts to. It's not just that Gleick has confessed to stealing internal documents from the Heartland Institute, a think tank that supports global warming skepticism, or that he is suspected of forging another document in an attempt to defame Heartland. It's the fact that a whole section of the scientific establishment is defending Gleick on the grounds that it's OK to lie to promote their cause... Read the Rest
The Trillions the Government Doesn't Account For - Bryan Lawrence [Washington Post]
Accounting standards may seem like a sleep-inducing subject to many people. But when retirement promises are improperly accounted for, companies and governments can go bankrupt, and hardworking Americans who have relied on the promises can suffer.
General Motors made its first retirement promises to workers in 1950. Under the accounting rules of the time, GM did not have to recognize the current cost of these future promises, as they were considered immaterial to the company’s operations.
Forty-two years later, Americans’ longer life spans and increasingly expensive health care had dramatically increased the cost. The Financial Accounting Standards Board, a private organization given responsibility by the U.S. government for setting private-sector accounting rules, decided that corporate retirement promises had become material, and it required GM and other companies to begin recognizing their current cost.... Read the Rest
I'm Being Followed - Alexis Madrigal [The Atlantic]
This morning, if you opened your browser and went to NYTimes.com, an amazing thing happened in the milliseconds between your click and when the news about North Korea and James Murdoch appeared on your screen. Data from this single visit was sent to 10 different companies, including Microsoft and Google subsidiaries, a gaggle of traffic-logging sites, and other, smaller ad firms. Nearly instantaneously, these companies can log your visit, place ads tailored for your eyes specifically, and add to the ever-growing online file about you.
There's nothing necessarily sinister about this subterranean data exchange: this is, after all, the advertising ecosystem that supports free online content. All the data lets advertisers tune their ads, and the rest of the information logging lets them measure how well things are actually working. And I do not mean to pick on The New York Times. While visiting the Huffington Post or The Atlantic or Business Insider, the same process happens to a greater or lesser degree. Every move you make on the Internet is worth some tiny amount to someone, and a panoply of companies want to make sure that no step along your Internet journey goes unmonetized... Read the Rest
The economic case against Obamanomics in 13 charts - James Pethokoukis [The Enterprise Blog]
“The White House’s Economic Case for Reelection in 13 Charts” is how The Atlantic magazine’s Derek Thompson characterizes a new blog post by the U.S. Treasury Department. The post presents a baker’s dozen of charts created by Team Geithner to highlight just how successful the Obama economic policy has been. Indeed, it all fits in nicely with President Obama’s campaign theme...
President Obama has a new message: America has gotten its groove back. In ways large and small, Mr. Obama has seized on a narrative of national optimism in recent weeks, offering a portrait of a country that, guided by him and powered by the American worker, is making a comeback. It is a narrative with strong echoes of President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign and one that is intended to provide a contrast with today’s less sunny Republican candidates.
And, of course, it is meant to suggest that Mr. Obama himself has hit his own stride. “I placed my bet on the American worker,” he said Tuesday in a boisterously received speech at a United Automobile Workers conference that was centered on his often-criticized bailout of the auto industry three years ago. “The American auto industry is back.”
Here is the counter argument, though I am presenting it as the case against Obama’s economic policies rather than his reelection. I report, you decide... Read the Rest
The Funniest Thing I Saw This Week

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