The Holidays: A Great Time To Spend an Hour With the Power Line Show

If, like most of us, you have a little spare time between now and Monday, consider spending an hour with the Power Line Show. Here is Episode 2, featuring the whole PL crew, together with Senator-elect Tom Cotton and Bill Voegeli, author of The Pity Party. The president’s amnesty order and multiple email mysteries were the main topics of the day.

And, hey, if you have two hours to spare, you can go back and listen to Episode 1, with all four PLers and Michael Barone’s exclusive commentary on the mid-term elections:

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Why did the New York Times say where Darren Wilson lives?

On Monday, the day when the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson and rioting ensued, the New York Times published a story that provided the name of the town and the street where Wilson lives. The Times gave out this information in the context of reporting that Wilson married a fellow police officer Barbara Spradling in a “quiet wedding” last month, and that the two own a home together.

The Times story has been widely criticized. For example, Howard Kurtz called it “reckless.” Kurtz noted that the paper has “endangered Wilson’s life.” He concluded: “Journalism is full of close calls. This is not one of them. The Times should apologize.”

The Times, though, has not apologized. Instead, it defends the story. Philip Corbett, the Times’ associate managing editor for standards, served up this defense to Erik Wemple, who reports on media for the Washington Post:

The Times did not “reveal” anything here. The name of the street was widely reported as far back as August, including in the Washington Post.

Wemple followed up by asking whether whether the standard for publication of a street name is whether others have already revealed it. Corbett responded:

We would have to look at the issue case by case. But if you’re considering whether to withhold information from a story, the question of whether that information is widely available or has been previously reported would certainly be a factor to consider.

But before a news organization considers whether to withhold information from a story, it must first conclude that the information (here the name of Wilson’s street) belongs in the story. Absent that determination, the name of the street isn’t being “withheld,” any more than information about Wilson’s shoe size is.

In his response to Wemple, the Timesman ducks the threshold question: what did Wilson’s street name add to the story of the officer’s recent marriage?

He also downplays, if not ignores, the danger the Times’ disclosure poses to Wilson and his bride. Even if the Times wasn’t the first news organization to disclose Wilson’s street, its disclosure increased the number of people who knew this information at just the moment when rage against Wilson was about to reach its peak.

Wemple wasn’t diverted by the Times’ sophistry. He concluded:

In any story about newlyweds who jointly own a home, it makes sense to describe where that home is located. But the street name? Such detail adds nil news value to a scoop about a man at the center of one of the most contentious news stories of our time. Leave it out.

Because the street name had “nil news value” and because it was disclosed on a day when anti-police violence predictably broke out, it’s difficult to resist the conclusion that the New York Times included the street name as a way of trying to punish Wilson to one degree or another.

Quotations from Chairman Barry

I still have my old copy of Quotations From Chairman LBJ. The book was inspired by Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (“the little red book”). Compiled by Jack Shepherd and Christopher Wren and published by Simon and Schuster in the annus horribilis of 1968, the book consisted of supposedly laughable quotes attributable to President Johnson. It was popular enough to go through multiple printings. My copy derives from the third printing. Despite its success as a publishing venture I can’t find much in the book that in the fullness of time has proved laughable or derisory except the attitude it displays toward Johnson as the left turned on him.

The form has been dedicated to documenting the supposed stupidity of Republican presidents such as Ronald Reagan (Reagan Quotes, compiled by Mark Tracy from two books by liberals about Reagan) and George W. Bush (George W. Bushisms, compiled by Jacob Weisberg).

We’re well past the time when the form should be resurrected for President Obama. David Boze took a worthy pass at such a project with The Little Red Book of Obamunism (2012) but earlier posts in this series demonstrate the need for something comprehensive and updated.

The White House has now posted the transcript of President Obama’s remarks on immigration in Chicago this past Tuesday. The speech gives us some truly quotable quotes to be included in Quotations from Chairman Barry.

Here is the chairman warming to his subject:

If you go to — I was just traveling in Asia — you go to Japan, they don’t have problems with certain folks being discriminated against because mostly everybody is Japanese. (Laughter.) You know? But here, part of what’s wonderful about America is also what makes our democracy hard sometimes, because sometimes we get attached to our particular tribe, our particular race, our particular religion, and then we start treating other folks differently.

Now this could (and should) lead to a profound meditation on Americanization and the American idea, but Obama’s promotion of immigration assaults them as well as the sovereignty of the American people. Thus Obama continues with this gem for our anthology:

And that [tribalism], sometimes, has been a bottleneck to how we think about immigration. If you look at the history of immigration in this country, each successive wave, there have been periods where the folks who were already here suddenly say, well, I don’t want those folks. Even though the only people who have the right to say that are some Native Americans. (Applause.)

Don’t bottleneck me, bro!

In this reading, the American people have lost the right to control immigration in their own interests. Bill Voegeli has a timely discussion of the train of thought implicit in Obama’s remarks in his essay “Left, Right and Human” in the current issue of the Claremont Review of Books (currently accessible to subscribers only). Bill writes in part on this point: “From the liberal premise that differences between people are merely superficial, it follows that there are no compelling moral reasons to exclude people from around the world who would prefer to live here, not elsewhere. Who’s to say, after all, that that their ways are worse than our ways? By what right must they change just so we can feel more comfortable? An immigration policy compliant with liberal sensibilities does as little as possible to exclude people who want to come here, and then asks as little as possible of people who want to stay.” To the standard liberal mix described by Voegeli, Obama adds malice toward the American idea and the American people.

Obama’s Chicago speech also gave us his unscripted confirmation of what we have been saying about his royal decree regularizing the status of millions of illegal aliens contrary to the law of the land. Obama had previously asserted some twenty-plus times that he lacked the constitutional authority to alter immigration law unilaterally precisely as he has now done. In response to a heckler chiding him for not doing enough on behalf of the population of illegal aliens, Obama asserted:

[W]hat you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took action to change the law. (Applause.) So that’s point number one.

“That’s point number one,” indeed. Earlier this week David Rivkin and Elizabeth Foley elaborated on the illegality of Obama’s “action to change the law” in “Obama’s immigration enablers” (subscribers only, but accessible via Google here).

Down the Road: Amnesty for Gitmo Detainees?

We all remember how Bill Clinton left office with a flurry of pardons to dozens of dubious people, from fugitive financier Marc Rich (represented by an attorney named Eric Holder), to an obscure figure in Arkansas who had been jailed for rolling back automobile odometers.  Touching how far Clinton’s pain-feeling extended.

How can Obama top this?  Easy: if you think granting de facto amnesty to millions of illegal aliens was a reach, wait till you see what he might do about Guantanamo.  As is well known, Obama promised on Day One of his presidency to close Gitmo within a year.  But then reality intruded, plus congressional legislation, when Democrats still controlled both houses, blocking him from bringing Gitmo detainees to the U.S.  I’m guessing Obama remains determined to close Gitmo, and the one executive action he could take to accomplish this is simply to declare an amnesty for all of the remaining residents of Gitmo, and releasing them.  If he does this in his last week in office, what could Republicans do?  Impeach him?

Think this is farfetched?  Over on HotAir, Ed Morrisey takes note of the fact the Department of Defense has quietly reclassified some Gitmo detainees from being “enemy combatants” to “unprivileged enemy.”  Whenever you hear a liberal or bureaucrat use the word “privilege” these days, you can usually count on some nonsense following closely behind.

Some enterprising reporter ought to ask the White House press secretary whether Obama is contemplating executive action for Gitmo similar to his recent moves for illegal aliens.

EPA Lost in the Ozone, As Usual

Just one day after the Supreme Court granted cert to review the EPA’s ridiculous mercury regulations, the EPA announced that it would lower the ozone standard to .06 parts per million, from the current .075 parts per million. This is the same regulation that President Obama cancelled in 2011 because, as the New York Times described it, “Mr. Obama said the regulation would impose too severe a burden on industry and local governments at a time of economic distress.”

This is another one of those issues that brings out the worst environmental hyperbole. Such as this in the New York Times story yesterday:

William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said, “Ozone is not only killing people, but causing tens of millions of people to get sick every day.”

Tens of millions every day! It’s a wonder there are any Americans left alive anywhere in the country, since ozone is overtaking tens of millions every day. Somehow I missed the rising epidemic of ozone-related illness, which somehow fails to stand out in the steadily improving health of the American people.

If the “tens of millions” hyperbole were an evenly remotely accurate rendering of the health risk from ozone, then why wouldn’t environmentalists demand that the ozone standard be set at zero? One reason is that the proposed standard is close to naturally occurring background ozone levels in some areas of the country (especially the southeast).

And if tens of millions are getting sick every day, then why is the EPA claiming such modest benefits from attaining the new standard? As the Times story continues:

The agency estimates that the new regulation would by 2025 prevent from 320,000 to 960,000 asthma attacks in children, and from 330,000 to 1 million missed school days. It also estimates that by 2025 the rule would prevent 750 to 4,300 premature deaths, 1,400 to 4,300 asthma-related emergency room visits and 65,000 to 180,000 missed workdays.

The EPA further claims that while the regulations might cost up to $15 billion a year, it would generate $19 billion to $38 billion in improved health benefits.

I haven’t yet read the EPA’s regulatory impact assessment on which these claims are based, but I suspect they rest on two of the weaknesses of the mercury rules: First, they are still using epidemiology from the early 1990s, which air pollution levels were significantly higher than they are today (and whose raw data the EPA continues to refuse to share with independent researchers for review and replication). Second, the EPA’s regulatory assessment for their mercury rules, which report similar health benefits as the ozone rule, admits that virtually none of the claimed benefit would come from reducing mercury emissions. (The basic reason for this can be seen in the chart at the bottom, which displays the CDC’s periodic screening of toxic substances in humans, which hasn’t found any women of childbearing age above the regulatory “reference dose”—which is set ten times higher than the “harmful level”—since the late 1990s.) The EPA hangs the entire benefit on the “co-benefit” of reducing fine particulate pollution, which shutting down a lot of coal plants with mercury regulations will do. But we already have a regulatory regime for reducing particulates, which has seen significant reductions over the last 15 years (down 27 percent between 1999 and 2010), such that any claims of health benefits on current particulate levels are obsolete.

It is one of the more breathtaking examples of bureaucratic arrogance on the scene today. I haven’t reviewed the legal briefs and appellate decisions leading up to the Supreme Court review of the mercury rules, but usually regulatory agencies enjoy a lot of deference in appeals, which is one reason they continually put out regulations that fail rigorous analysis. Usually the courts will only nullify a regulation if it is clearly “arbitrary and capricious.” But perhaps the EPA has finally gone to the point where the Supreme Court will draw some new lines.

Mercury Blood Lead Level in Women 16 - 49

Mercury Blood Lead Level in Women 16 – 49

Thoughts from the ammo line

This week Ammo Grrrll returns with thoughts on AMTRAK AND ME. She writes:

Mussolini, it is asserted – undoubtedly falsely – made the trains run on time. Benito would have hanged himself if tasked with running Amtrak.

Several years ago, when we were still wintering in Palm Springs, I decided to make the annual journey south into a four-day “Bucket List” train trip adventure. Pat, a fellow writer and Certified Train Nut, promised it would be a ball. Mr. Ammo Grrrll opted to drive. Mr. Ammo Grrrll is a very smart guy. I swear every word of the following description is true.

For the nominal sum of $1,000, I booked a First Class Sleeper Cabin the size of a double-wide coffin. It had a tiny “sofa” bench that turned into a tiny bed. It had a tiny toilet. It had a tiny shower, accessed by sitting upon the tiny toilet. Kind of a full-body bidet. The only available route was St. Paul to Chicago. Disembarking. Staying overnight in Chicago. And the next morning continuing on from Chicago to Palm Springs. Convenient!

Having watched Murder on the Orient Express and other movies which glamorized train travel, except for the murder part, I envisioned exchanging pleasantries with international sophisticates while dining on Pheasant Under Glass served by slim waiters wearing gloves.

So I have to confess to being a little disappointed when the first wretched meal was lukewarm microwaved chicken and nuclear TaterTots served by portly, unsmiling unionists. We were herded into the limited-space dining car in shifts, given no choice about menu or dining companions, and encouraged to eat quickly so as to accommodate the next shift.

My first dining companions were three massive women traveling together who spent the entire meal reliving their recent colonoscopies in vivid detail and eyeing my uneaten Tots. I was beginning to understand how someone could get murdered on a train.

I have failed to mention that this was over the Thanksgiving weekend. Can you guess who spends family holidays alone on a train? Crazy people, that’s who. Permanently in residence in the bar car was a tattooed woman who volunteered that she was in AA , NA and a support group for Sexual Addicts. The trifecta of bad life decisions coupled with an imperfect understanding of the word “anonymous”. There were seven empty beer bottles in front of her. This was a new, relaxed rule for AA with which I was not familiar.

Beside her was a rail-thin woman on her way to California to marry a man she had met once on a hiking trail. Having known me for well over 10 minutes, she invited me to the wedding. With them was a young man they had just met who seemed to be hanging around the self-confessed sexual addict in hopeful anticipation of a relapse there as well. God willing he had packed a Hazmat suit or at least Kevlar condoms.

For three endless days I read many books, listened to my iPod, ate the apples and Protein Bars I had brought, thanks be to the Almighty, and tried to get some exercise by walking the length of the train. It’s tough to go very fast down crowded aisles in a lurching train.

When we changed crews in San Antonio, the train was left unguarded in the railyard overnight! There are no locks on the sleeping cubicles which makes for a restful night without a firearm. At least we exchanged our surly Chicagoans for some polite, friendly Hispanic Texans. I was happy to be shuck of the sullen guy who turned my sofa-bench into a bed each night. Clearly, he had been wearing his uniform for months while playing raquetball. Turned out I could hold my breath for longer than I thought.

A fun and surprising fact: freight trains have the right-of-way over passenger trains! Who knew? Repeatedly we had to sit on the tracks for hours at a time to accommodate them. In Palm Springs at last, they dumped us in the middle of nowhere in the desert where I kissed the unmoving ground and called a cab. Any day now I plan to speak to Pat again.

This Thanksgiving was ever so much better with my husband safely back from Israel (Baruch Hashem), and a wonderful meal with beloved friends in my beautiful Arizona. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank the many witty, erudite, and supportive commenters who I look for each week. If you wonder why I never respond, it is because I cannot get my Facebook to work with my primitive, kerosene-powered computer. If my regulars do not plan to check in of a given Friday, please email Scott an excuse from your doctor or mother or this Jewish mother will worry. I am especially grateful to the Power Line boys for my weekly forum.

Why the Gallup Poll Means Deep Trouble for Hillary

Gallup headlines: Obama Approval Drops Among Working-Class Whites. Here, “working class” includes all non-college graduates, some 60-65% of the adult white population. Gallup’s chart shows President Obama’s approval rating among white college graduates and non-college graduates from the beginning of his administration to the end of October. His 27% approval rating among non-college graduates is indeed striking:


But perhaps more important is Obama’s steep decline within that demographic. Since he took office, Obama’s approval rating has dropped 13 points among college-educated whites, but a remarkable 21 points among the non-college educated. Why the difference?

Our liberal friends, contemptuous of working-class whites as always, will say it is because Obama is black. But that is wrong: we are talking about the decline among those who approved of Obama when he was newly-elected. They didn’t become racists over the last six years. What did happen? They bore the brunt of Obama’s failed economic policies.

The Obama administration has been bad for higher-income Americans, but not disastrous. Quantitative easing has re-inflated the stock market, and middle-aged “knowledge workers” have suffered less than other groups. But for the working class, there is nothing good to be said about Obamanomics: high unemployment, a scarcity of full-time work, skyrocketing prices of food and fuel, more expensive health care, anemic economic growth, and wage decline caused in part by competition with unprecedented numbers of legal and illegal immigrants. What’s to like? Nothing. I think the Obama economy accounts for the steeper decline in his approval among non-college graduates.

Why is this bad news for Hillary Clinton? Because Obama’s economy has been even worse for minority members of the working class than for whites. The only reason why African-Americans and Hispanics express a higher opinion of Obama than whites is that, understandably, they see him as their guy. If they responded to pollsters in a manner consistent with their actual experience of Obamanomics, the president’s overall approval would be in the basement.

When Hillary runs in 2016 as the heir of Obama’s liberal economic and immigration policies, she will not have that built-in advantage with minorities. There is no reason why any substantial number of working-class people, white or minority, would wish for another four years of Obama’s policies. Nor–to put it delicately–is there anything about Hillary’s persona that will endear her to the majority of such voters.

So I think we can expect a backlash against Obama’s economic and immigration policies in 2016 that will take pundits–not to mention Hillary–by surprise.