Romney 53%, Obama 44%? Don’t Get Excited

Matt Drudge is promoting this CNN poll, out today, in which respondents were asked whom they would vote for if the 2012 election were re-run today. Romney beats Obama, when “leaners” are counted, 53% to 44%. And that’s not all: lots of Obama’s numbers are quite poor. In categories like “is a strong and decisive leader,” “generally agrees with you on issues you care about” (43%/56%), and “can manage the government effectively” (42%/57%), Obama is under water.

Nevertheless, the CNN poll actually has more bad news than good for Republicans. First, let’s dispense with the Romney boomlet. Some are now suggesting that he should again be the GOP nominee in 2016. But in 2016 he would be running against Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama, and this survey has him losing that matchup by 55%-42%. Hillary, despite her recent stumbles, still scores well in the areas where Obama has now fallen into disrepute. To take just one example, respondents think Hillary can “manage the government effectively” by 55%/44%, despite the awful job she did managing the State Department. And Republicans are falling behind, not pulling ahead, in the generic Congressional ballot, trailing in this survey by 48%/44% among registered voters.

A reasonable conclusion from this CNN poll is that, while voters are giving up on Barack Obama, so far his troubles haven’t rubbed off to any great degree on Hillary Clinton, nor have they elevated Republicans much in the public’s esteem. Republicans will have to do a lot more than watch Barack Obama sink beneath the waves if they are to prevail in either 2014 or 2016.

2014 World Cup all-stars

The World Cup ended two weeks ago, which means that it’s high time for me to offer my World Cup all-star team. But first, a word about the tournament.

The consensus among those who covered it is that this was the best World Cup in modern memory. I’ve followed every World Cup since 1978 (ten in all), but my memory of the early ones has become hazy. Certainly, though, this was the best World Cup in a long time.

The Group Stage and Round of 16 were outstanding. The play was open, the cynicism was in check, and many of the matches provided high drama.

Unfortunately, this cannot be said of the matches that followed. Some were tense — primarily because it was clear that one goal would be enough to win — and one will be remembered for decades — Germany’s shocking 7-1 win over Brazil.

But there was nothing to rival the late-stage matches of 1986 — France’s shoot-out win over Brazil (as good a World Cup match as I’ve ever seen); the five-goal thriller of a Final; or even Argentina’s 2-1 win over England (featuring Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal).

In any event, this World Cup gave the tournament a needed boost after several mediocre ones in a row.

Here are my all-star selections:

First Team

Navas — Costa Rica

Lahm — Germany
R. Rodriguez — Switzerland
Hummels — Germany
T. Silva — Brazil

Mascherano — Argentina

James Rodriguez — Colombia
Robben — Holland
T. Muller — Germany
Neymar — Brazil
Messi — Argentina

Second Team

Neuer — Germany

Aurier — Ivory Coast
Blind — Holland
Vlaar — Holland
Garay — Argentina

Schweinsteigger — Germany
Pogba — France

Cuadrado — Colombia
Shaqiri — Switzerland
Valbueana — France
Al. Sanchez — Chile

Honorable Mention

Howard — U.S.
M’Bohli — Algeria
Enyeama — Nigeria
Ochoa –Mexico

Boateng — Germany
Holebas — Greece
Gonzalez — Costa Rica
Yepes — Colombia
Van Buyten — Belgium

Arevalo Rios — Uruaguay
Pirlo — Italy
Herrera — Mexico
Kroos — Germany
Iniesta — Spain
Di Maria — Argentina
Pjanic — Bosnia
Perisic — Croatia
Aranguiz — Chile
Karagounis — Greece

T. Cahill — Australia
Schurrle — Germany
Slimani — Algeria
Gyan — Ghana
E. Valencia — Ecuador
Gervinho — Ivory Coast

Player of the tournament — James Rodriguez
Runner-up — Robben

IDF on the Gaza UN school: It wasn’t us

The IDF has investigated its possible role in the deaths that occurred at the UN school in Gaza. The Times of Israel’s Mitch Ginsburg files this update:

An Israeli army inquiry into fighting at a UN facility in Beit Hanoun Thursday found that IDF mortars did not play a role in the killing of 16 people in the school courtyard, dismissing claims that the military was responsible for their deaths.

The army admitted that an IDF-fired shell did hit the UN-run school’s yard, but at a time when there were no people in the area.

“A single errant mortar landed in the school courtyard, injuring no one,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Sunday in a conference call.

Lerner described a scene of “intense fighting” in the vicinity of the school last Thursday afternoon, including volleys of anti-tank missiles fired at soldiers, who responded with live fire. The militant fire, Lerner said, came from the areas “adjacent to, and in the vicinity of, the school.”

Palestinian accounts said 16 people were killed in the school as a result of the fighting, with initial reports blaming Israel for the deaths.

Lerner suggested that the 16 dead and dozens of wounded could have been caught in the crossfire and brought into the courtyard, perhaps for treatment, or may have been hit by rockets or mortars fired by the militants themselves.

He said he had “no idea” where the dead had come from, and stated that it was “extremely unlikely” that anyone had been killed by the single mortar round that fell in the empty yard.

“In light of the inquiry’s findings,” a formal statement from the army read, “the IDF rejects the claims that were made by various officials immediately following the incident, that people were killed in the school premises as a result of IDF operational activity.”

Lerner added that, in a move he termed “out of the ordinary,” Palestinian health officials in Gaza did not share the nature of the wounds of the casualties, which may have shed light on the causes of death.

I’m not sure if this is the footage that Mitch says he will post shortly. Here is the footage that Mitch has posted with his update at this point (I don’t get anything out of it).

The IDF is the most scrupulous reporter on the scene in Gaza by far. The Gaza Terrorist Theater continues with all on-the-scene broadcast and cable network reporters in Gaza playing their assigned roles and performing as miserably as ever in the pageant of “Tools of Jihad.”

Remy Rings a Bell

The New York Times Magazine today carries a cover story about why math is hard, and perhaps that helps explain widespread economic illiteracy. Maybe the Times should do a sequel on this very topic, except that it might expose too many of its premier columnists (not mentioning any names of course).

Anyway, most economists will tell you that your attitude about the minimum wage is a test as to whether you paid attention to the first day of Econ 101 (and even the NY Times editorial page said as recently as 1987 that the right minimum wage should be zero).  But Common Core liberalism requires a higher minimum wage now as an article of faith.  And the latest salvo is this Kristin Bell video (I recommend skipping it though) where she channels Mary Poppins in favor of Krugmanomics.  Well, our pal Remy Munasifi strikes back:

And don’t forget this from yesterday:

SF Minimum Wage copy

Inside the IRS, part 6

William Henck has worked inside the IRS Office of the Chief Counsel as an attorney for over 26 years. We posted his personal account, including his testimony to a retaliatory audit conducted by the IRS against him, this past February in “Inside the IRS.” We followed up with subsequent posts including, most recently, “Inside the IRS, part 5,” regarding the promotion of Fred Schindler to a senior position within the Office of Chief Counsel. No sooner had we posted Bill’s comments than the D.C. Circuit’s decision in the Halbig case highlighted the underlying scandal. Kim Strassel’s Friday Wall Street Journal “The Obamacare-IRS nexus” contributed the necessary background. Bill Henck now adds:

it is interesting to note that Mr. Schindler was heavily involved in the implementation of Obamacare, and in fact was director of implementation for the IRS. That would include coordinating with the office of chief counsel on a basic issue such as researching statutory language. Based on the stories that appeared last summer, he was suspended for taking improper gifts and was slated for termination. Maybe that was all smoke and mirrors, maybe he was later exonerated, maybe a lot of things, but the bottom line is they took care of him.

Mr. Schindler now has a Senior Executive Service position in the Office of Chief Counsel after the normal selection process was bypassed. This is the latest example of a basic fact of life in the IRS: if you play ball, such as failing to research a basic issue such as statutory language, you get rewarded. If you dissent from the party or internal line, they audit you and your wife’s tax returns. Needless to say, all of the incentives lie on the side of playing ball. If you understand this basic fact, you can understand the organizational behavior within the IRS.

John Kerry and “what everyone knows”

For decades, diplomats and pundits have been saying that “everyone” — by which they mean their fellow diplomats and pundits — knows what the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute would look like. It would look, they say, like two states with something similar to the re-1967 Israeli border and “security guarantees” for Israel.

Lost on this arrogant breed is the fact that if everyone has known for so long what the solution is and that solution has not materialized, then the “solution” probably is not viable under present conditions. In other words, it is not the solution.

Now, John Kerry — than whom a more arrogant would-be diplomat cannot be conceived — has figured out the solution to the situation in Gaza. That solution is based on his assessment of what the two sides need:

Palestinians need to live with dignity, freedom, with goods that can come in and out, and they need a life that is free from the current restraints that they feel on a daily basis, and obviously free from violence.

At the same time, Israelis need to live free from rockets, and the tunnels that threaten them.

The “solution” that follows from Kerry’s analysis is this: Israel lifts its restrictions on what can come in and out of Gaza, as well as all other “restraints.” In exchange, Hamas agrees not to attack or threaten Israel and Gaza is “demilitarized.”

Simplicity itself.

Unfortunately, the two sets of “needs” described by Kerry are incompatible. If “goods” come into Gaza freely, then Hamas’ ability to attack Israel with rockets and via tunnels is maximized.

Thus, if Israel agrees to Kerry’s solution, its war with Hamas will prove counterproductive. Israel will be more vulnerable to future attacks by Hamas than if it had not gone into Gaza in the first place.

As for “demilitarization,” it is a pipe dream. As many observers have pointed out, this was the condition imposed in Lebanon as the basis for ending Israel’s war with Hezbollah in 2006. Yet, Hezbollah has not disarmed. In fact, it is stronger than ever.

Who would enforce the demilitarization of Gaza? The United Nations? It is Hamas’ ally and collaborator, having housed the very rockets that Kerry says Israel must be free from fear of.

The real problem with Kerry’s analysis is that it misstates the needs of the organization that the Palestinians in Gaza have chosen to govern them. The most fundamental need of Hamas is to destroy Israel and to kill as many Jews as possible.

You can look it up in Hamas’ covenant.

It’s true that “everyone” knows what the solution to the conflict arising from Gaza is. But Hamas and the Palestinians whom it represents know a very different solution than that which Israel and (one assumes) John Kerry have in mind.

A Civil Rights Victory in the District

A federal court in the District of Columbia has held that the District’s ban on carrying weapons, either openly or concealed, violates the Second Amendment. The case is Palmer v. District of Columbia. While the holding is by no means unexpected–I believe the District was the last place whose ban on carrying weapons outside the home had not yet been held unconstitutional–it is good to see freedom spreading into the belly of the beast.

This is key language from the opinion:

Finally, as the Peruta court pointed out, “[u]nderstanding the scope of the right is not just necessary, it is key to [the court's] analysis [because,] if self-defense outside the home is part of the core right to ‘bear arms’ and the [District of Columbia's] regulatory scheme prohibits the exercise of that right, no amount of interest-balancing under a heightened form of means-end scrutiny can justify [the District of Columbia's] policy.” Id. at 1167 (citing Heller, 554 U.S. at 634, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (“The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government–even the Third Branch of Government–the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon.”)). Thus, having concluded that carrying a handgun outside the home for self-defense comes within the meaning of “bear[ing] Arms” under the Second Amendment, the Court must now ask whether the District of Columbia’s total ban on the carrying of handguns within the District “infringes” that right.

This question is not difficult to answer.

Here is the opinion in its entirety. I encourage you to read it. Contrary to popular belief, court opinions are not comprehensible only to lawyers. For the most part, any intelligent reader can understand them, particularly once he gets the hang of the format and some of the conventions of a judicial opinion. The Constitution is way too important to be left to lawyers and judges, so I think widespread reading of court decisions is a good thing.

Dct Opinion

Liberals have not yet accepted the Second Amendment. For the most part, they still cherish a desire to get rid of all or substantially all firearms in non-government hands. Now, more than ever, it is clear how high those stakes are.