Nate Silver fared terribly in Thursday’s UK election: In his pre-election forecast, he gave 278 seats to Conservatives and 267 to Labour. Shortly after midnight, he was forecasting 272 seats for Conservatives and 271 for Labour. But when the sun rose in London on Friday, Conservatives had an expected 329 seats, against Labour’s 233.
The fault, Silver claimed, was with the polling: “It’s becoming increasingly clear that pre-election polls underestimated how well Conservatives would do and overestimated Labour’s result,” the statistician guru wrote in the wee hours of the morning. (He also overestimated the Liberal Democrats’ result by roughly 20 seats).
As head of one of America’s largest independent financial research firms, Mr. Stansberry’s work back in 2008 led him to a bold, but worrisome, conclusion:
That the world’s largest mortgage bankers–Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which at the time were responsible for nearly 50% of all the mortgages in America–would soon go bankrupt.
America is no longer the land of the free. We are still free in the sense that Norwegians, Germans and Italians are free. But that’s not what Americans used to mean by freedom.
It was our boast that in America, unlike in any other country, you could live your life as you saw fit as long as you accorded the same liberty to everyone else. The “sum of good government,” as Thomas Jefferson put it in his first inaugural address, was one “which shall restrain men from injuring one another” and “shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement.” Americans were to live under a presumption of freedom.
The federal government remained remarkably true to that ideal—for white male Americans, at any rate—for the first 150 years of our history. Then, with FDR’s New Deal and the rise of the modern regulatory state, our founding principle was subordinated to other priorities and agendas. What made America unique first blurred, then faded, and today is almost gone.
And that’s not protected by the First Amendment.
The Left’s stance on provocative art is inconsistent.
Why aren’t liberals offering Pamela Geller a federal subsidy? Geller is the blogger-activist who organized the “Draw Muhammad” exhibition in Garland, Texas, which inspired some DIY jihadists to attack the event. The would-be terrorists chose poorly: They were cut down by Texas lawmen shortly after wounding a security guard.
Let’s hop in the WayBack Machine for a moment.
In 1986, the National Endowment of Arts paid about $20,000 for Andreas Serrano’s “Piss Christ.” Serrano peed in a glass, plunked a plastic icon of Jesus on the cross into it, and then snapped a picture. I will say the lighting was lovely. But, as strange as it seemed to the “arts community,” some people were offended.
In 1989, the Corcoran Gallery of Art agreed to host a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit. Mapplethorpe’s work was edgy, particularly going by the attitudes at the time. There were the obligatory sexual bondage scenes, urine-drinking (artistic urine: is there anything it can’t do?), and, of course, his most famous work: a self-portrait showing a bullwhip going someplace the sun reportedly does not shine. Many social conservatives flipped out. They asked: “Why the hell are we paying for this?!”
… And you might be doubly suspicious if you realize all that bag fee income is tax free to the airlines. That’s right. When oil reached $145 a barrel in 2008, the airlines began charging baggage fees as a temporary measure to address the high fuel costs. The Internal Revenue Service ruled “transportation of baggage” was not taxable, which, although we weren’t told this at the time, meant the bag fees would not be temporary.
And why would the big three abandon them? It’s profitable. According to a study by the Bureau of Transportation statistics, domestic airlines collected $3.35 billion in baggage fees last year and $20 billion since they began collecting fees in 2007. Delta got $800 million itself, all tax free.
These fees, which did not exist a decade ago, now account for more than a quarter of airline profits.
How Five Republicans Let Congress Keep Its Fraudulent Obamacare Subsidies
Health-care experts call it D.C. insiderism at its worst. The rumors began trickling in about a week before the scheduled vote on April 23: Republican leadership was quietly pushing senators to pull support for subpoenaing Congress’s fraudulent application to the District of Columbia’s health exchange — the document that facilitated Congress’s “exemption” from Obamacare by allowing lawmakers and staffers to keep their employer subsidies.
The application said Congress employed just 45 people. Names were faked; one employee was listed as “First Last,” another simply as “Congress.” To Small Business Committee chairman David Vitter, who has fought for years against the Obamacare exemption, it was clear that someone in Congress had falsified the document in order to make lawmakers and their staff eligible for taxpayer subsidies provided under the exchange for small-business employees. …
… When Vitter’s staffers tracked down the application and discovered obvious signs of fraud, Vitter requested approval to subpoena an unredacted copy of the application. The value of that document, says Cannon, is that it would reveal the name of the person who filed it. “Now you’ve got someone to call to testify,” he says, predicting that testimony would precipitate a congressional vote on whether to end the congressional exemption altogether.
It’s been just a few days since Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard CEO, declared that she is running for president. But already, she is being picked apart by progressive feminists with the standard conservative = “bad for women” argument. This is ridiculous. Fiorina is a sophisticated and intelligent woman who is crafting a fresh message that might well appeal to women voters.
That Fiorina, 60, is running as the anti-Hillary is not in doubt. Her announcement video opens with her abruptly switching off Clinton’s video, as if she’s had enough. Then Fiorina looks into the camera and declares: “Our founders never intended us to have a professional political class” — a line that both disses Clinton’s political credentials and makes a virtue of her own lack of them. Fiorina has also been quite explicit that by picking her as the nominee, the GOP could neutralize Clinton’s “war on women baloney” and focus the election on accomplishments and ideas, which aren’t Clinton’s strong suits.
When it comes to rewards and punishments, which is more effective — the carrot or the stick? A simple experiment suggests that punishments are more likely to influence behavior than rewards. The results stem from a study involving 88 students at a university.
More than six years out from a government-driven housing bubble, the chief regulator at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Mel Watt, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary, Julian Castro are respectively clearing a path to expand the “credit box” for government-backed home loans.
Two recent examples: Fannie Mae recently started a program guaranteeing loans with as little as 3 percent down payments, and, earlier this year, the Federal Housing Administration reduced by 50 basis points the annual mortgage insurance premiums it charges borrowers.
The decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday represents the second major court victory for opponents of the NSA, after a lower court decision called the program nearly unconstitutional six months ago.
The phone records program “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized,” Judge Gerard Lynch wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel. The court did not examine the constitutionality of the surveillance program.
The bill puts Murray in a tough spot because most congressional Democrats oppose it, but trade is vital to her home state’s economic interests.
Murray supports granting President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. She also favors moving the fast-track measure before the Senate recesses for its Memorial Day break.
The cargo vessel was transiting the Strait of Hormuz on April 28 when Iranian military vessels fired warning shots at the ship and directed it to proceed into Iranian waters. The ship and crew has been held ever since over a business dispute with Maersk Line.
Two years after President Bashar al-Assad agreed to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, there is mounting evidence that his government is flouting international law to drop jerry-built chlorine bombs on insurgent-held areas. Lately, the pace of the bombardments in contested areas like Idlib Province has picked up, rescue workers say, as government forces have faced new threats from insurgents. The Assad government has so far evaded more formal scrutiny because of political, legal and technical obstacles to assigning blame for the attacks — a situation that feels surreal to many Syrians under the bombs, who say it is patently clear the government drops them.
Carly Fiorina makes the right enemies, and the right defense of free markets
“Elizabeth Warren is right,” Carly Fiorina said on Fox News in March, “crony capitalism is alive and well. Big business and big government go hand in hand.”
The woman gets it.
Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard executive and failed Senate candidate from California, entered the presidential race on Monday. For months before her official campaign announcement, Fiorina trained her fire on an insider political class that enriches itself from big government to the detriment of everyone else.
backing up a Uhaul truck down the white House driveway after the Lewinski affair … beep … beep …beep …
Robert Ménard was elected mayor of Béziers in March 2014, one of several Front National mayoral victories. The former founder of Reporters Without Borders has proven himself to be loyal to traditional values and unafraid to take chances. Last Christmas he insisted on displaying a nativity in City Hall even though it contravened the law on laïcité. A lawsuit brought against him by a concerned citizen and the Human Rights League ended in a surprising victory for the mayor.
Now he has done it again. He has contravened French law by making a count of how many Muslim pupils there are in the public schools of Béziers. It is forbidden in France to keep a record of ethnic statistics, but Ménard was curious. And using the class rolls printed by the ministry of National Education, the mayor concluded that 64.6% of the pupils in his city were Muslims.
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s fighting words on immigration this week, designed in part to provoke Republicans into a reactionary counterattack, instead drew an unusual early response from several top-tier GOP presidential candidates: silence.
Two days after Clinton vowed to expand on President Obama’s executive actions to shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was one of the only leading Republican 2016 contenders to strike back, calling it a “full embrace of amnesty” that is “unfair to hard-working Americans.”
A small number of very premature babies are surviving earlier outside the womb than doctors once thought possible, a new study has documented, raising questions about how aggressively they should be treated and posing implications for the debate about abortion.