June 1, 2014

Bob Bergdahl, and Tonight’s Apparel Question (See More Substantive Althouse Update)

In the video of President Obama announcing his illegal hostage swap — five hardened terrorists for one American who seems likely to have been a deserter, and by several accounts went AWOL — something is more than a little odd:


That the hostage swap is illegal is not open to dispute:

Lawmakers were not notified of the Guantanamo detainees’ transfer until after it occurred.

The law requires the defense secretary to notify relevant congressional committees at least 30 days before making any transfers of prisoners, to explain the reason and to provide assurances that those released would not be in a position to reengage in activities that could threaten the United States or its interests.

Before the current law was enacted at the end of last year, the conditions were even more stringent. However, the administration and some Democrats had pressed for them to be loosened, in part to give them more flexibility to negotiate for Bergdahl’s release.

A senior administration official, agreeing to speak on the condition of anonymity to explain the timing of the congressional notification, acknowledged that the law was not followed. When he signed the law last year, Obama issued a signing statement contending that the notification requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on his powers as commander in chief and that he therefore could override it.

So what the administration did is illegal, i.e., against a specific law, though it could conceivably be constitutional if Obama’s signing statement contention is correct.

Obama pledged as a candidate never to use signing statements in instances such as this:

I will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law.

If there’s an example of a signing statement situation where a sitting president has had to back up his contentions with action, I can’t think of it.

Back to the apparel question.

Bob Bergdahl, father of the ransomed Bowe Bergdahl (yes, a “ransom” is a price paid for someone’s release; in this case, the price was five hardened terorrists who will more than likely dedicate their lives to committing and having others commit future terrorist acts), is wearing a tie.

Even odder than the fact that Bergdahl is wearing a tie and President Obama is not the fact that Bergdahl, who it would appear from his Google image history has not been the most frequent of tie-wearers, is wearing a light blue tie like the one Obama has frequently been seen wearing.

I say Team Obama gave this guy a tie to wear — maybe even that white shirt? — and that the tie may have come from Obama or one of his aides.

Regardless of the tie’s source, Team Obama cleaned up Bob Bergdahl, who “strangely enough” appears to have pro-Gitmo detainee and perhaps anti-American sympathies — in the same way trial lawyers clean clean up their defendants for courtroom appearances.

This administration’s obsession with misleading optics really is a sight to behold.


UPDATE, 11:50 P.M.: Ann Althouse

On Obama’s side, the argument is that the statute is unconstitutional, a congressional encroachment on presidential power. There’s no way to undo the exchange, and acting in secrecy, without informing Congress, is an exercise of the very power that the President says the statute violates. Taking this action embodies an argument that this power does and should rest with the President. Is there anything that can be done now to press the opposing argument? We can criticize the President, as we always already do. The only other alternative I see is to impeach the President.

Go ahead. He’s daring you. Perhaps part of his motivation for the prisoner trade was a predicted political boost as the President’s opponents are distracted into seeming to complain about the return of a hero and tripping all over themselves as they posture about impeachment.

… Proofreading, Meade (Althouse’s husband) reads the post title and says: “What does that remind you of? Iran-Contra.”

This is far worse than Iran-Contra, which led to fevered calls for Ronald Reagan’s impeachment on the left. Iran-Contra was “arms for seven real hostages.” This is “five terrorists for one hostage” — who may have volunteered to be captured.

NewsBusted (053014)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 10:34 pm

Still in catch-up mode, but here we go:

– V.A. Scandal
– President Obama
– Adam Carolla
– John Kerry
– CNN and Bravo Network
– Illegal Border Crossings
– Oldest woman
– Kim Kardashian

Best Line: “America’s oldest living person celebrated her 115th birthday last week. The lady is so old that she can actually remember a time when people were ashamed to be on Food Stamps.”

Too Rolling Stoned

Low-info lies for low-info readers.


This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Friday.


More years ago than I would care to admit, I was a fairly avid reader of Rolling Stone magazine. I bought it to read about musicians, and definitely not for its political and economic “analysis,” which I recognized even in my early 20s as incurably weak.

In the intervening years, founder and publisher Jann Wenner, through capitalistic endeavors such as RS and other publishing ventures, has built a net worth estimated at $700 million. Despite his membership in the 1 percent, Wenner’s flagship magazine still strikes the edgy pose. RS even cast its lot with the thankfully short-lived incoherent, filthy, violence- and crime-infested Occupy movement.

While the magazine devotes inordinate resources to musical acts whose mission appears to be to ensure that every inner-city neighborhood becomes utterly unlivable, its non-entertainment writers continue, as they have for almost two generations, to mislead and deceive low-information voters who think they’re high-information masters of political and economic thought — That is, when they’re not engaging in misogynism and racism which would end any conservative writer’s career in a heartbeat or openly advocating communism. I can’t say I’ve heard whether Wenner would be down with the idea of letting “each family can keep one mansion and one luxury car, but the rest is forfeit,” or  with having “Everything Owned by Everybody.”

A month ago, the magazine’s Sean McElwee presented an extraordinarily hostile pack of lies entitled “Six Studies That Show Everything Republicans Believe is Wrong; It’s time for the right wing to stop lying about the minimum wage, taxes, global warming and more.” Addressing McElwee’s dreck now is timely, given recent news about the rise and fall of a noted soak-the-rich proponent.

The guy claims to have interned with Fox News’s John Stossel; he obviously didn’t learn anything. The first and most obvious lesson missed is that there’s a vast difference between “Republicans” and “conservatives.” The former are all too often jaded insider participants who are okay with the country going to hell in a handbasket as long as it does so in slow motion. The latter are usually best described as “sensible people.”

What follows are the six antidotes to Sean’s six portions of poison.

1. The Minimum Wage Doesn’t Kill Jobs.

Studies done by liberal economists desperate to support a statist agenda claim there’s no impact. That might conceivably be true within a very narrow pay range. If the cost of adjusting a company’s workforce and reassigning tasks is greater than the nominal costs associated with a small minimum-wage increase, the company may choose to do nothing in response — especially if it believes it has the ability to raise prices a bit to cover the added cost.

But the Obama administration is not considering a small increase. It’s pushing a 39 percent increase from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10. Econ 101, which McElwee also apparently missed, tells us that if you increase the price of something, purchasers will buy less of it. At some point, they’ll start substituting capital for labor. Not coincidentally, McDonalds Europe recently purchased 7,000 touchscreen kiosks designed to replace cashiers. Consider it a field test to protect the company if the $15-an-hour crowd gets its way in the U.S.

2. The Stimulus Created Millions of Jobs.

Unfortunately for McElwee and the leftists who peddle this fantasy, the economy lost 3.62 million payroll jobs during the first twelve months after the stimulus plan’s passage. Eight of those months came after the recession as officially defined ended in June 2009. The economy’s job growth since the February 2014 trough has been the slowest since Harry S. Truman was president. Unemployment still hasn’t fallen to the 6 percent level the plan’s promoters promised would be reached in early 2012.

3. Taxing The Rich Doesn’t Hurt Economic Growth.

The best argument against this tired claim is that partially un-taxing the rich led to economic booms in the 1960s, the “Seven Fat Years” from 1983-1990, and (with the help of welfare reform increasing the supply of labor) Bill Clinton’s second term. Until the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy appeared in the spring of 2008, the economy generally grew nicely for a quarter-century with only two historically minor hiccups. Even Clinton himself “famously answered ‘No’ when asked if any nation had ever taxed its way to prosperity.”

The alleged goal of taxing the rich disproportionately is to reduce income and wealth inequality, both of which are allegedly on the rise, according to left-revered Thomas Piketty. There’s only one problem: Last week, Chris Giles at the Financial Times found that accidental and deliberate errors in Piketty’s work completely nullify the French economist’s conclusions. In other words, “There is no obvious upward trend (in wealth distribution).”

4. Global Warming is Caused by Humans.

Global temperatures haven’t budged for almost 18 years. The so-called 97 percent consensus that any human-caused warming is dangerous “is a fiction.”

Climate alarmists’ decibel level is inversely proportional to their credibility. These days, they’re shouting about as loudly as they ever have.

5. The Affordable Care Act is Working.

Nobody can possibly know this. The administration can’t or won’t prove how clean its alleged enrollment figure of 8 million is. Until it does, the figure will remain suspect. Four state exchanges have failed. The Obama administration has decided to stop publishing monthly enrollment figures.

Meanwhile, we’re supposed to believe that Obamacare has nothing to do with the rise in part-time employment, the all-time record level of temporary employment, the expected revision to first-quarter 2014 growth which will show that the economy contracted, or the roughly 20 recent unexpected drops in chain-store sales and/or profits. Sure, Sean.

6. Rich people are no better than the rest of us.

McElwee suddenly finds religion and strangely refers to “a rich man who refused to help the poor burning in hell.” Uh, no. The rich man was sent to hell for his lack of charity while on earth and begged God and Lazarus, the man he never helped, to warn his family of what would await them if they didn’t change their ways. To my knowledge, no Republican or conservative has ever tried to claim that rich people have a better shot of making it to heaven.

As to the portion of his complaint relating to outsized CEO pay, “progressive” policies have largely led us to this circumstance.

Bill Clinton’s infamous 1993 tax hike denied deductions for officers’ salaries in excess of $1 million (but notably kept them firmly in place for amounts paid to entertainers, actors, and athletes). Companies desperate to recruit and keep executive talent moved to a far greater mix of stock options in their compensation packages. The CEO-to-average worker pay ratio proceeded to shoot up like a rocket during the rest of the decade’s strong stock market. It actually fell a bit during the Bush 43 administration, and has moved back up during Barack Obama’s reign. Unfortunately, the correlation of pay with performance has weakened. This disconnect would not have happened but for the Clinton tax package.

McElwee claims that a historically high percentage of wealth today is inherited instead of earned. Assuming that’s so, a great deal of the blame for that relates to how difficult progressive policies have made it for new rich people to appear. Post-recession business start-ups are not hiring nearly as many people as analogous entrepreneurs did after previous recessions. They appear to be deliberately staying small.

Who can blame them? Becoming visible in Barack Obama’s 2014 America means becoming a target.

Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (060114)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

Positivity: San Jose mom heralded for emergency roadside delivery

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Kennedy County, Texas and San Jose, California (HT Life News):

A San Jose woman was honored Wednesday for her heroic delivery of a child from its dying mother’s womb on a rural Texas highway last year.

Officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety traveled to the Bay Area to honor Iria Wolnick for her quick actions after her family – on the way to a funeral (her mother’s funeral — Ed.) — came upon an accident scene on rural Highway 77 in Kennedy County, Texas.

In the crash, an 18-year-old male, a 19-year-old female and a 2-year-old had been ejected from their vehicle.

“She (the 19-year-old female) kept asking – ‘Ma’am how’s my baby? How’s my baby?” Wolnick said recalling the day. “I thought she was asking about the toddler, but then I looked down and saw her stomach.”

There was large laceration on the woman’s stomach and an unborn child’s head and arm were sticking out.
Wolnick – who has four children of her own — knew she had to deliver the child or it would die.

“Four kids later, you sort of have an idea what needs to happen,” she said. “Making sure the umbilical cord is tied, preventing blood from coming out…keeping the baby warm…All those sort of things.”

After delivering the miracle baby, Wolnick was able to obtain a heartbeat and heard the baby cry just prior to EMS arriving.

“The adrenaline just kicks in and you just spring into action or panic,” she said. “I sprung into action.” …

Tragically, the baby’s mother died as a result of the accident.

Go here for the rest of the story.