This (PDF) letter is (sort of) old news, but it's yet another illustration of
our new era of political thuggery, where individuals exercising
their rights under the law are threatened with retribution
by powerful government officials. Sent last October,
it's from six members of the
House Committee on Financial Services (Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, Luis
Gutierrez, Paul Kanjorski, Carolyn Maloney, and Melvin Watt) to
William Frey, President of Greenwich Financial Services
in Greenwich CT.
Dear Mr. Frey:
We were outraged to read in today's New York Times that you are actively opposing our efforts to achieve a diminution in foreclosures by voluntary efforts. Your decision is a serious threat to our efforts to respond to the current economic crisis, and we strongly urge you to reverse it.
The Gang of Six went on to demonstrate their understanding of the word "voluntary":Given the importance of this to the economy and to what it means for future regulatory efforts, we have set a hearing for November 12, and we invite you now to testify. We believe it is essential for our policymaking function for you to appear at such a hearing, and if this cannot be arranged on a voluntary basis, then we will pursue further steps.
Ooh, "further steps." But the not-particularly-well-veiled threats continue:For the hedge fund industry, which has flourished for much of the past decade, to take steps so actively in opposition to what is currently in the national economic interest is deeply troubling and will clearly have serious implications for the rules by which we operate in the future if this posture of obstruction of our efforts is maintained.
Or, shorter: Stop making us mad, or you'll be sorry. (I'm tempted to be more pungent here, but I try to avoid bad language: this Joe Pesci quote from Casino would be a good approximation.)
In a society that respected liberty and the rule of law, Frank, Waters, Gutierrez, Kanjorski, Maloney, and Watt would no longer be in a position to bully citizens legally pursuing their economic interests. Instead the six were re-elected in November with (respectively) 68.0%, 82.6%, 80.6%, 51.6%, 79.8%, and 71.6% of the vote.
Punchline: John Berlau reports that when the hearing rolled around in November, Frey's "essential" in-person testimony was cancelled by the committee. Berlau suspects the obvious reason: if they couldn't get Frey to kowtow, the committee Democrats didn't want to give his arguments any further publicity.
Charlotte Allen lets
atheists have it in the LATimes.
I can't stand atheists -- but it's not because they don't believe in God. It's because they're crashing bores.
It's funny because it's true. It gives us a chance to look back on some other atheist-pokers we've liked over the years:
James Taranto (himself a nonbeliever) also noted
this unfortunate trait back in 2005 (here and here).
of course, we recall George H. W. Bush's famed exchange
with Robert I. Sherman of American Atheist
Press back in 1987.
- "Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?"
- "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."
- "Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?"
- "Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists."
And Scott Adams:
Perhaps you will argue that being 99.999999% certain God doesn't exist is just as good as being 100% sure. That strikes me as bad math.
- James Taranto (himself a nonbeliever) also noted this unfortunate trait back in 2005 (here and here).
NASA's Astronomy Picture
of the Day for, um, yesterday: Atlantis and Hubble
in front of the Sun, slightly before their rendezvous. It was
taken by French photographer Thierry Legault from Florida during
the 0.8 second window in which the Sun, the spacecraft, and his
camera were aligned. It's awesome.