Patterico's Pontifications

5/28/2015

Hastert Indicted

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:45 pm

For “structuring” — which isn’t much of a crime and is often obused — and for lying to the FBI. Allegedly.

Supposedly he was giving money to a person he had known for a long time to cover up and compensate for some kind of misconduct he had supposedly perpetrated against that person.

I love this:

The FBI began investigating Hastert in 2013, partly because investigators wanted to know if he was the victim of an extortion scheme, court documents said.

Heck of a way to treat a victim.

Nebraska Bans Death Penalty, Setting Stage for Anthony Kennedy to Ban It Nationwide

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:44 am

Nebraska has voted to abolish the death penalty, and the legislature has overridden the governor’s veto to reaffirm the ban.

I support the death penalty, but I also support the right of the people of a state to decide how to punish murderers.

Here’s the problem. Under the “evolving standards of decency” travesty perpetrated on the nation by Anthony Kennedy and the leftists on the Court, votes like this could result in a court-imposed, nationwide ban. Under this doctrine, which has no support in the text of the Constitution, any slight movement by local entities towards abolishing a particular punishment is instantly converted into an emerging consensus that must be imposed on the entire country by Kennedy and his fellow travelers.

That’s what he did with the death penalty for juveniles and those deemed even mildly retarded. In each case, a handful to states abolished the death penalty for defendants falling in those categories, and Kennedy decided that this slight movement justified his using his Emperor-like powers to deprive other states of the ability to make their own judgments. Now a monster who is a day shy of his 18th birthday, or who can convince a court that he is mildly retarded, can avoid death for his crimes — all thanks to the made-up doctrine foisted on the nation by the arrogant Kennedy.

If enough state legislatures ban the death penalty outright, Kennedy will do away with it for the rest.

You read it here first.

New Yorker Cover Art: Diversity Anyone?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:06 am

[guest post by Dana]

Untitled-1

Excluding a black conservative male and a Republican woman who have officially announced and are actively campaigning? Where is the outrage?

The New Yorker explains:

How many Republicans are running for President? It’s a trick question. Some of those who are clearly running—Jeb Bush, for example—are still pretending that they aren’t, mostly because declaring would change the fund-raising rules. And if you counted everyone who, against all evidence, takes himself (or herself) seriously as a candidate, the locker room depicted in Mark Ulriksen’s “Suiting Up,” this week’s cover, would look as crowded as the departures hall at Penn Station, and almost as disconcerting. As it is, Ulriksen presents seven contenders with seven varieties of preening. Maybe it’s hard to tell a vision for America from a delusion of grandeur, at least until the debates and primaries get under way. Until then, Marco Rubio’s got his phone, Rand Paul his comb, and Huckabee his Bible. Ted Cruz’s eyes flit between his copy of the Constitution and his mirror, while Scott Walker seems on the lookout for unionized gym attendants. Bush is wearing his dynasty-logo boxers and Chris Christie his put-me-in-now pout. And yet, somehow, one of these seven men is almost certainly right about his chances for the nomination. The primary campaign may look like a pickup game about to descend into a brawl, but there’s a national candidate somewhere in the lineup.

Chris Christie and Jeb Bush have not even officially announced.

–Dana

5/27/2015

Unions: Yes, We Support the Minimum Wage — But Not for Union Workers!!!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:11 pm

Whether you react to this with a sharp, shocked laugh or a knowing but depressed shrug is a marker of how cynical you have become:

For much of the past eight months, labor activists have argued against special considerations for business owners, such as restaurateurs, who said they would have trouble complying with the mandated pay increase.

But Rusty Hicks, who heads the county Federation of Labor and helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition, said Tuesday night that companies with workers represented by unions should have leeway to negotiate a wage below that mandated by the law.

“With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them,” Hicks said in a statement. “This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”

Eliminating the minimum wage entirely gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate an agreement that works for them both, allowing each to prioritize what’s important. And that is a good thing.

Too bad unions and other soft-headed know-nothings oppose such common-sense principles — when it’s not their own ox being gored, that is.

Thanks to J.D.

Pamela Geller’s New Ad Campaign: The Winning “Draw Mohammed” Cartoon On Public Buses

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:57 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Pamela Geller is making yet another stand in her fight to protect freedom of speech in America. The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), which she co-founded with Robert Spencer, has announced its new ad campaign with a statement from Geller:

“[b]ecause the media and the cultural and political elites continue to self-enforce the Sharia without the consent of the American people by refusing to show any depictions of Muhammad or showing what it was in Texas that had jihadists opening fire, we are running an ad featuring the winning cartoon by former Muslim Bosch Fawstin from our Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in Garland, Texas.”

The application for the ads to run on buses and trains in the D.C. area is currently under standard review by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

According to Geller:

Let the American people see what the cowardly press is censoring in accordance with the blasphemy laws under the sharia (Islamic law).

Drawing Muhammad is not illegal under American law, but only under Islamic law. Violence that arises over the cartoons is solely the responsibility of the Islamic jihadists who perpetrate it. Either America will stand now against attempts to suppress the freedom of speech by violence, or will submit and give the violent the signal that we can be silenced by threats and murder.

Reactions to her plan are about what you would expect: hysterical headlines and tiresome arguments, such as this one from Juan Williams:

“I think Ms. Geller is doing it intentionally to provoke a controversy,” Williams said. “I think that’s what happened down in Texas.”

“It is fierce bullies like Juan Williams who want to impose the Sharia,” Geller responded. “This is the Sharia, Juan.”

Geller then mentioned a comment Williams made in 2010 about how he gets “nervous” when he sees “people who are in Muslim garb” on airplanes. Geller said she found that remark “offensive.”

“This has nothing to do with that,” Williams responded. “What I see you doing, I think, is trying to provoke, unnecessarily, controversy, and at times offending and demeaning Muslims who regard your actions as not only provocative but offensive.”

Geller said that Williams comments were more offensive than her planned bus ads.

“Muslims that support free speech will not be offended. Muslims that want to impose the Sharia will be offended. And frankly, your offensive remarks are far more humiliating to Muslims than my running ads about a cartoon that the media refuses to run,” she said. “I did not make the cartoons a flashpoint. The jihadis made the cartoons a flashpoint.”

Geller sums it up:

“There is nothing about this cartoon that incites violence. It is within the established American tradition of satire. If America surrenders on this point, the freedom of speech is a relic of history,”

–Dana

Federal Judges Suggest Obama Is Disingenuous in DAPA Amnesty Case

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:48 am

As JD noted last night, a panel of the Fifth Circuit yesterday upheld the temporary injunction halting Obama’s amnesty. Basically, the judges said that Obama could exercise prosecutorial discretion and not prosecute/remove certain aliens deemed a lower priority, but probably could not deem them to be here lawfully such that they could obtain work permits, driver’s licenses, and other privileges of those here lawfully.

I read through the opinion last night and was struck by a couple of passages. In this one, the majority judges noted language in the amnesty decree that purported to make the amnesty discretionary and “case by case” — but said, in essence, that this language was disingenuous: designed to make it seem discretionary when it actually is not:

The agency’s characterization of both the DACA and DAPA criteria exudes discretion—using terms such as “guidance,” “case-by-case,” and “prosecutorial discretion.” But a rule can be binding if it is “applied by the agency in a way that indicates it is binding,” and the states offered evidence from DACA’s implementation that DAPA’s discretionary language was pretextual.

That’s a nicer word for disingenuous, which itself is a nicer word for “bullshit” — but you get the point. In this regard, the court (as had the trial judge below) noted that Obama had declared that he wouldn’t even go after people who don’t qualify for the amnesty:

Although a person who expected to be denied DACA relief for discretionary reasons would be unlikely to apply, the self-selection issue is mitigated by the district court’s finding that “the [g]overnment has publicly declared that it will make no attempt to enforce the law against even those who are denied deferred action (absent extraordinary circumstances).” Texas, 2015 WL 648579 at *50.

Finally, in a passage that seems to be little remarked upon, the judges chided the Justice Department for arguing two opposite positions in separate cases:

[The government] claims a stay would improve public safety and national security, provide humanitarian relief to the family members of citizens and lawful permanent residents, and increase tax revenue for state and local governments. To the contrary, however, and only by way of example, on March 16, 2015, the Attorney General, in opposing a motion to stay removal in an unrelated action, argued to this very panel that “granting a stay of removal . . . would impede the government’s interest in expeditiously . . . controlling immigration into the United States.” Presumably, by referring to “the government’s interest,” the United States is referring to “the public interest.”

In other words, in a recent case, the federal government took the position that they wanted to remove someone from the country, and the court should not issue a stay of that removal because, hey, we have to control immigration. But in the topsy-turvy world of defending amnesty, where the Justice Department is forced by politics to defend a Presidential position that runs exactly counter to enforcing immigration laws, the government says the exact opposite: you need to let us keep people here even if maybe they are illegal, because of all the wonderful benefits we receive from their presence in the country.

The fact that both these arguments were made to the same panel of judges is just a bonus.

It was subtle, but the decision yesterday amounted to the judges calling B.S. on Obama’s lies.

5/26/2015

Certifiable Idiot Marie Harf Promoted

Filed under: General — JD @ 8:03 pm

[guest post by JD]

We are in the best of hands. After informing us last week that Iraqi forces had held the line outside the city of Ramadi while ISIS had already taken over the city. She has a list of objectively idiotic statements a mile long.  

So, naturally, she was promoted to be the head of strategic communications for the almost equally inept Sec Kerry in the Iranian nuclear negotiations. 

WTF. I honestly hope we have been duped by The Onion. 

—-JD 

5th Circuit Upholds Injunction Against Obama’s Illegal Amnesty

Filed under: General — JD @ 11:57 am

[guest post by JD]

It’s a start.

—–JD

NYT: How “Established by the State” Ended Up in ObamaCare

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:36 am

It’s a question I have asked Halbig hacks ever since I first heard of the case: how did those words “established by the state” end up in the law anyway? The New York Times says it kinda sorta has the answer:

The answer, from interviews with more than two dozen Democrats and Republicans involved in writing the law, is that the words were a product of shifting politics and a sloppy merging of different versions. Some described the words as “inadvertent,” “inartful” or “a drafting error.” But none supported the contention of the plaintiffs, who are from Virginia.

“I don’t ever recall any distinction between federal and state exchanges in terms of the availability of subsidies,” said Olympia J. Snowe, a former Republican senator from Maine who helped write the Finance Committee version of the bill.

“It was never part of our conversations at any point,” said Ms. Snowe, who voted against the final version of the Senate bill. “Why would we have wanted to deny people subsidies? It was not their fault if their state did not set up an exchange.” The four words, she said, were perhaps “inadvertent language,” adding, “I don’t know how else to explain it.”

I always enjoy these arguments that the phrase just happened to appear in the legislation on its own. By now, if you’re a long-time reader, it’s an old gag — but I like to established by the state just throw those four words in randomly, in the middle of sentences, just to show how they can accidentally pop up in the middle established by the state of a sentence without anyone ever intending it established by the state to happen.

This is a slightly more plausible explanation:

Russ Sullivan, the staff director for Democrats on the Finance Committee, gave a similar account. The language in the law providing tax credits through state exchanges was “a holdover from what we had in the Finance Committee,” which originally assumed that “every state was going to set up an exchange,” Mr. Sullivan said.

The idea of a federal backstop came later, he said, when people started asking what would happen if some states did not set up an exchange.

In other words, the people who wrote it falsely assumed every state would establish an exchange. Later, some people decided that wasn’t necessarily true, and established a federal backstop but forgot to change the original language. This actually seems plausible to me.

The question is: what do you do when many of the people voting for the bill assumed it said one thing, but it actually says another? Are we really just to alter clear language simply because some of the supporters later say it doesn’t read the way they assumed it did?

Under that argument, you could say the bill provides for subsidies for low-income people who qualify for Medicaid. After all, the drafters of the bill couldn’t possibly have meant to deny subsidies to low-income people — the very people who need subsidies the most. Yet that is exactly what ObamaCare does, because lawmakers assumed (there’s that pesky issue of poor assumptions again!) that every state would expand Medicaid. So why provide subsidies for the poor when Medicaid would fill the gap?

Under the theory that “we can make the law say anything we claim we meant it to say,” leftists could simply shrug off the insignificant detail that the law does not provide subsidies to low-income people, and give it to them anyway. I’m honestly shocked Obama hasn’t tried that, but maybe he’s waiting for the outcome of this case. If the Supreme Court sanctions the “to hell with the language” policy, he can have the IRS make a “rule” that says low-income people get subsidies too. Add to the mix the lovely Chevron rule that unconstitutionally makes omnipotent kings out of bureaucrats, and Obama can “fix” any “problem” caused by Congress’s failure to actually enact what a group of leftists believes is the “spirit” of the law.

Anyway, I used to think the outcome of this case would matter, but let’s face it. Republicans will give out the subsidies that Democrats never actually voted for in the first place, because to do otherwise would run counter to the inviolate principle that We Must Always Make Government Bigger or Else Voters Might Get Upset. It’s all about the realism, you see.

We had a pretty good country up until the 1930s or so.

5/24/2015

Seeing Memorial Day Through The Eyes Of A Veteran, The Democratic Party, And The RNC

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:01 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Originally known as Decoration Day, it is the day set aside to honor and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Luke Murphy, who served two tours with the 101st Airborne Division’s 187th Infantry Regiment and lost his right leg as a result of a roadside bomb blast in 2006, shares his thoughts about Memorial Day in a brief yet poignant essay:

As a wounded veteran who served two tours in Iraq, I’ve been asked to give speeches at Memorial Day celebrations. It’s one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done.

Veterans Day is easy. Fourth of July, a piece of cake.

But Memorial Day, that’s a tough one.

Service members like me think about the soldiers we lost pretty often. I remember when he was alive, all the stuff we did — the training, combat and even just hanging out together off duty. Then my mind usually goes to the day of his death. I remember where I was when I heard about it, or what it felt like to see him catastrophically wounded. I picture their faces. They’re young; they never get old.

When soldiers die, they don’t just roll over and quit like in the movies. They fight like hell. They do whatever they can to stay alive — sometimes that’s their hardest fight. And sometimes they lose.

And sadly:

Memorial Day is supposed to remind Americans what other people have sacrificed for them. But sometimes, I think nobody’s paying attention.

They’re too self-absorbed.

After reading Murphy’s essay, I saw this:

God Bless Jake Tapper:

The Republican National Committee shames itself as well:

–Dana

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