Patterico's Pontifications


Kerry’s Betrayal (again) – Correction

Filed under: General — JD @ 9:51 pm

[guest post by JD]

This editorial from the Times of Israel pulls no punches.

They are no fan of Sec Kerry, to say the least.

It was hard to pull a representative quote that gave the proper tone for the linked article. The final paragraph wrapped it up quite succinctly. Click the link above.

Whether through ineptitude, malice, or both, Kerry’s intervention was not a case of America’s top diplomat coming to our region to help ensure, through astute negotiation, the protection of a key ally. This was a betrayal.

Correction – I referred to the linked article as an editorial. It is not. It is an op-ed. That doesn’t change Kerry’s perfidy and ineptitude.


Propaganda War: Skewed Coverage Of Israel

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:59 am

[guest post by Dana]

While the world watches an ugly explosion of violent and profane anti-semitism in Europe as protesters reject Israel’s right to exist defend itself, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer took CNN to task for what the news agency conveniently left out of their story covering a recent bombing that killed 16 Palestinians:

Earlier today, Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that Israel will continue with its mission to defend itself and destroy the “terror tunnels” on the Gaza Strip:

“Israel is not obliged and is not going to let a terrorist organization determine when it’s convenient for them to fire at our cities, at our people, and when it’s not,” Netanyahu said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ll take the necessary action to protect our people including, by the way, continuing to dismantle tunnels. That’s our policy.”

“We tell the civilians ‘Leave.’ Hamas tells them to stay. It wants to pile up these civilian casualties,” Netanyahu said. “Therefore it should be blamed and not Israel. That’s a simple truth and moral clarity that should not be lost.”

Clearly, both sides understand that the more civilian casualties shown on news reports across the world – without essential context and relevant information – the more Hamas wins the propaganda war. And one might even be tempted to think the West is helping in this, given that our own president instructed Israel to: Put yourself in their shoes – look at the world through their eyes, and further, our secretary of state believes Israel needs to: try to understand what life looks like from the Palestinian point of view. Why? Because Israel would then be sympathetic and understanding of their neighbors’ efforts to wipe them off the face of the earth?

What next? A legitimizing of Hamas by the West?


UPDATE: It would appear that while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has plans to introduce “standalone” legislation to provide funding for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, the Democrats, never ones to let a crisis opportunity go to waste, want to tie the bill to illegal immigration:

The Kentucky Republican’s bill would meet a supplemental funding request from the Pentagon for $225 million for the program. Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., included the funding in her much broader supplemental that would primarily address the crisis of unaccompanied migrant children entering the United States from Central America — but Republicans are balking at that $3.6 billion bill.

“Republicans are united in support of our ally Israel. We have legislation that would allow Congress to meet the Secretary’s request. And we hope our friends on the other side will join us in coming to a sensible, bipartisan solution that can be passed quickly,” McConnell said in a floor speech. “As most senators know, the Iron Dome missile defense system has played a critical role in defending Israel’s population from the rocket attacks launched by Hamas from within the Gaza Strip.


Mrs. Obama: Missing The Irony

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:06 pm

[guest post by Dana]


Irony seems to be lost on Democrats: they hold $5,000 a plate fundraisers, complain that money is buying and influencing politics, then hit up the fat cat guests to write BIG checks so they can remain in power, and thus buy and influence politics…

Mrs. Obama led the charge this week at a DNC fundraiser:

So, yeah, there’s too much money in politics. There’s special interests that have too much influence. But they had all that money and all that influence back in 2008 and 2012 and we still won those elections,” she said.

And then what did she do? Asked for money of course:

“There is something you can do right now today to make a difference, and that is to write a big, fat check. I kid you not,” she said. “I’m going to be honest with you. That’s what we need you to do right now. We need you to write the biggest, fattest check that you can possibly write.”


It Doesn’t Matter What Congress Intended . . . If It’s Not in the Text

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:12 pm

We’ve all had some fun with Jonathan “Speak-o” Gruber. His quotes have shown that lefties were dead wrong when they said that absolutely nobody believed that subsidies would be limited to state exchanges. Absolutely nobody . . . except for the principal architect of the law. It’s a funny story, and the word “speak-o” adds to the humor . . . and his pathetic denials are a stand-in for the lefties’ pathetic and dishonest denials with respect to the language of the law itself.

All well and good.

But note the lefties’ response. The lefties will say (and are already saying): Jonathan Gruber may have advised Congress. The law may have been written based on his models. But he didn’t cast a vote in Congress. His intent didn’t matter. And everyone who voted for the law believed subsidies would be available on federal exchanges.

Now: I don’t believe this is true. I think most of them didn’t read the law. To the extent they did, they wrongly assumed all the states would set up exchanges — so yeah, they assumed universal availability of subsidies . . . through state exchanges.

But so what? Let’s pretend that everything they say about Congress’s intent is true. It doesn’t matter — because that’s not what the law says.

Let me cite an example of mine from 2010. (I’m going to tweak it by adding two zeroes to each number, to make the political parallel more realistic.)

Assume you make $5 million a year. The legislature passes a law imposing a hefty tax on “people making over $10,000,000 per year.” Since the law does not apply to you, by its plain terms, you do not pay the tax. However, you are convicted after a judge finds irrefutable contemporaneous evidence showing that all legislators who voted for the tax intended to impose it on people making over $1,000,000 a year. The judge, an “intentionalist,” finds that the intent of the legislature controls, regardless of the plain meaning of the law.

Under the plain language of the law, the tax does not apply to you. Applying the intent of the legislators, it does. Which is the better interpretation?

I will tweak the example further: the IRS passes a rule that says: for this law, $10,000,000 actually means $1,000,000. So anyone who makes over a million bucks owes us more tax.

And if you make over $5 million, but less than $10 million, Obama’s IRS is saying: You pay the tax, even though the law says you don’t have to. It doesn’t matter what the law says. Listen to what we say. And if you don’t, we will send men with guns to your home, to drag you off to a cage.

Lefties, who love taxing millionaires, would support the IRS on this. Tax the millionaires by hook or crook, and the process be damned. You know I’m right.

How is it that the law could end up saying $10,000,000 instead of $1,000,000? Different ways. It could be a typo (which, for those unfamiliar with the term, is like a “speak-o” — but in written form). But it wouldn’t have to be a typo! It could be that the staffers or lobbyists who wrote the law believed the tax would (or should) apply only to those making over $10,000,000. And, if the law was rushed into print, maybe absolutely nobody in Congress read it, and just all assumed it said $1,000,000.

As I understand the arguments of those who look to “intent,” though, a magical thing happens when Congress votes on the law. Even if the staffers meant $10,000,000 when they wrote the text, that term magically “means” $1,000,000 when Congress enacts the law — because their “intent” is that the tax apply to those making over $1,000,000.

And if that hypothetical actually happened, you would have lefties making all the same types of arguments they are making about ObamaCare. Absolutely nobody said in floor speeches or committee reports that the tax was limited to those making over ten million! Everybody talked about the “millionaire’s tax”! It was obvious what everybody was thinking! And all the news reports said it was a tax on people making more than a million dollars! Why, this is rank revisionism! Look, here’s our brief from Nancy Pelosi and thirty other political hacks, saying we all meant to say $1 million, and not $10 million!

The way to defeat these arguments is to say: It doesn’t matter. The law says what it says, and you can’t hold citizens accountable to pay a tax when the plain language of the law says they don’t owe it.

P.S. Note well: those who appeal to “intent” over text always make it sound like this problem has an easy solution: simply send it back to Congress and let them change it, if they got it wrong. But, as the ObamaCare example shows, that is often impossible, because the composition of Congress changes. What was possible in 2010 is simply not possible today. So, if you’re a judge, you’re stuck. You have a text, and you have (should you choose to consult it) a wide range of legislative history you could consult. You, as a judge, must decide what the law means.

Are you going to make that decision according to “intent”? Or according to the plain language of the text?

Your answer determines how much power you want to give to the dishonest left.

President Obama On Illegal Immigration: Then And Now

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:49 am

[guest post by Dana]

President Obama, July, 2010:

For example, there are those in the immigrants’ rights community who have argued passionately that we should simply provide those who are [here] illegally with legal status, or at least ignore the laws on the books and put an end to deportation until we have better laws. And often this argument is framed in moral terms: Why should we punish people who are just trying to earn a living?

I recognize the sense of compassion that drives this argument, but I believe such an indiscriminate approach would be both unwise and unfair. It would suggest to those thinking about coming here illegally that there will be no repercussions for such a decision. And this could lead to a surge in more illegal immigration. And it would also ignore the millions of people around the world who are waiting in line to come here legally.

President Obama’s response to an immigration challenge, November, 2013:

“I need your help,” a young man shouted, as he called for the president to halt the deportations of some of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. “You have a power to stop deportations for all.”

“Actually, I don’t, and that’s why we’re here,” the president responded as the heckler and several others continued shouting, breaking out into a chant of “stop deportations!”

“Now, what you need to know, when I’m speaking as president of the United States, and I come to this community, is that, in fact, if I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so,” Obama said. “But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws.”

“What I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve, but it won’t be as easy as just shouting,” he continued. “It requires us lobbying and getting it done.”

President Obama, now:

[White House] officials are laying the groundwork for a large-scale expansion of immigrant rights that would come by executive action within weeks.

Officials signaled strongly Friday that Obama’s move would shield from deportation large numbers of immigrants living in the country illegally, as advocacy groups have demanded.

Roughly 5 million of the estimated 11 million people who entered the country without legal authorization or overstayed their visas could be protected under a leading option the White House is considering, according to officials who discussed the proposals on condition of anonymity.

Further, it is expected he will make the move before the end of summer, in spite of the concerns of vulnerable red-state Democrats facing mid-term re-elections.

How big of a move is the president planning?

“He seems resolute that he’s going to go big and go soon,” says Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-reform group America’s Voice.


More Fisking of the Typo and Speako Nonsense

Filed under: General — JD @ 7:32 am

[guest post by JD]

Dan McLaughlin covers a lot of ground in dismantling all the leftist nonsense.

Click the link.

Watch for more videos of speako’s in the coming days.



Jonathan Gruber’s “Speak-o” Number Two

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:09 pm

Hoo-boy. If you had any doubts about why you look at the words of a statute rather than some inchoate “intent,” this ought to dispel those doubts lickety-split.

So this morning, we saw how the chief architect of ObamaCare, Jonathan Gruber, had said, “if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.” D’oh! Looks like the Halbig plaintiffs didn’t make up that concept!

A lefty writer from the New Republic asked him why on earth he said that, and his answer was that it was an off-the-cuff remark — not a “typo,” but a “speak-o”:

I honestly don’t remember why I said that. I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake. People make mistakes. Congress made a mistake drafting the law and I made a mistake talking about it. . . . But there was never any intention to literally withhold money, to withhold tax credits, from the states that didn’t take that step. That’s clear in the intent of the law and if you talk to anybody who worked on the law. My subsequent statement was just a speak-o—you know, like a typo.

Well. As it turns out, it was a “mistake” very much like Congress’s “mistake” in limiting subsidies to plans bought on exchanges “established by the state.” Namely: it wasn’t a mistake at all. How do we know this? Meet “Speak-o Part Two: The ‘Prepared Remarks’ Version”:

The key passage:

Through a political compromise, it was decided that states should play a critical role in running these health insurance exchanges.

. . . .

Now, I guess I’m enough of a believer in democracy to think that when the voters in states see that by not setting up an exchange the politicians of a state are costing state residents hundreds and millions and billions of dollars, that they’ll eventually throw the guys out. But I don’t know that for sure. And that is really the ultimate threat, is, will people understand that, gee, if your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars of tax credits to be delivered to your citizens.

SPEAK-O!!! Except:

Morgen is the fella who found this clip, by the way. The best part?

Asked over email whether those remarks were a mistake, too, Gruber wrote back, “same answer.”

Four points.

First: I don’t generally like to call people liars. But when Gruber says he was making the oral equivalent of a typo, Gruber is lying — and this is exactly what lefties are doing by claiming that the “established by the state” language is a typo. Isn’t it funny how all these supposed errors say the same thing? — namely, that subsidies are available only on exchanges being run by the states. When Congressmen and women say the written language of the law is a mistake, they are lying, just as surely as Gruber is lying when he describes his repeated and prepared point as a “speak-o.”

Second: I know I keep saying this, but it’s important: This is why you can’t allow the interpretation of a law to be government by intent. It’s easy to lie about intent, and not so easy to lie about the wording of the law — because, there’s the wording, right there in black and white.

Third: in listening to other interviews with this guy, it has become more and more clear that tying subsidies to state establishment of exchanges was deliberate. Not only was it a “political compromise” (as Gruber says in the quote above), but it is consistent with his oft-repeated talking point that ObamaCare did not represent a federal takeover of health care. If you listen to any extended interview with him, he makes that point again and again. The people who wrote this law really thought all the states would set up these exchanges, and that bad assumption explains everything.

UPDATE: Oh, I forgot point four! Four:

Another point that comes up in one of Gruber’s interviews is another reason that federal exchanges would have been created even though they didn’t offer subsidies. Namely, the exchanges are cited by Gruber as being part of a cost-containing measure. He says that Blue Cross is able to charge more just because they’re Blue Cross. On an exchange, where all the insurers’ prices are placed side by side, the direct comparison will lead to lower prices — or so the theory goes. Again: this is yet another reason that the Halbig decision makes sense.

Meriam Ibrahim’s Release: Whom to Thank

Filed under: Current Events,General,Obama,Politics,Religion — JVW @ 10:24 am

[guest post by JVW]

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman married to an American citizen, was flown to Rome from Khartoum yesterday, thus bringing to an end the saga of her death sentence handed down by a Sudanese Islamic court for alleged apostasy and adultery.

The trouble apparently began when Ms. Ibrahim traveled to Sudan on a Sudanese passport to visit her ailing mother. She brought her 18-month-old son, Martin, and was at the time in the second trimester of a pregnancy. Her Sudanese-American husband, Daniel Wani, is confined to a wheelchair due to MS and therefore remained in the couple’s New Hampshire home. The trouble in Khartoum began when Ms. Ibfahim’s Muslim half-brother, Al Semani Al Hadi, brought charges against her for allegedly abandoning the Islamic faith to marry a Christian man. Ms. Ibrahim contends that her mother is an Eastern Orthodox Christian and she has always practiced the Christian faith, but authorities declared that by having a Muslim father Ms. Ibrahim was obligated to follow the tenets of Islam, even though her father had left the family early in Ms. Ibrahim’s youth. Her marriage to a Christian and the birth of her son Martin (along with her obvious pregnancy) thus became adultery in the eyes of the Sharia court. Ms. Ibrahim was sentenced to death for the “crime” of apostasy and tossed in prison and placed in shackles. The death sentence was “mercifully” delayed so that Ms. Ibrahim could give birth to her second child, a daughter, Maya, and the 100 lashes that she was to receive for adultery were cancelled. According to both Ms. Ibrahim and Mr. Wani, she gave birth while her legs remained chained.

After an international outcry caused the Sudanese court to release her, she was once again arrested at the Khartoum Airport and charged with carrying false travel documents. This time, she and her children were allowed to serve their detention at the U.S. Embassy, but the family had to worry not only about the possibility of not being permitted to leave but also having the death sentence restored. Finally, she was granted new travel documents and permitted to leave with her children yesterday. The lawyer for Ms. Ibrahim told the Daily Mail that her release was secured by the Italian government, who provided the plane and dispatched a deputy foreign minister to escort the family to Rome where they had an audience with Pope Francis.

So you would think that the wife of a United States citizen with a son and a daughter who are natural-born United States citizens would have been way too frightening of a target for a Sudanese Sharia court, but we simply cannot ignore the degree to which radical Islam apparently believes that there are no consequences for poking the U.S. in the eye as long as Barack Obama is President.* As he so often does, Mark Steyn sums up the impotence of the Obama/Kerry crew perfectly:

Just to reiterate what happened here: A barbarian regime seized an American’s family and jailed them – and throughout their imprisonment no one in the United States Government did anything and neither the President nor his Secretary of State said a word. The British and Canadians helped, and the Italians sent a government plane and the deputy foreign minister. The Pope had time for the Wani family, but not President Fundraiser.

Meanwhile, the last remaining Christians are being forced to leave Mosul, a city that was once considered the heart of Christendom in Mesopotamia. And so it goes.

[* I am willing to concede that there exists the possibility that the Obama Administration worked relentlessly behind the scenes to secure the release of Ms. Ibrahim and her children, but thought that taking a strong public stance would complicate their efforts. Perhaps they coordinated very closely with the British, Canadians, and Italians on this matter, and someday the truth will come out and we will see that they deserve a great deal of the credit for convincing Sudan to release her. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility. Still, if I had to bet in this matter, I would put my money down on passivity and fecklessness by the administration where radical Islam is involved. If it can’t be accomplished with drones, this President doesn’t seem to want to try.]


Video: Key ObamaCare Drafter Says in 2012 That You Don’t Get Subsidies on Federal Exchanges – Updated with more video

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:45 am

Bring out the flaming skull, or the nuclear bomb, or the siren, or whatever mental image you prefer to accompany Big News:

[I]n January 2012, Jonathan Gruber—an MIT economics professor whom the The New York Times has called “Mr. Mandate” for his pivotal role in helping the Obama administration and Congress draft the Affordable Care Act—told an audience at Noblis that:

What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this.

Boom. Watch it yourself:

The relevant part of the video is at 31:25. You can skip ahead in the video above, or can automatically start it there by clicking this link.

That’s what we lawyers call a “statement against interest.”

Here’s a quote from the New York Times article that calls this fellow “Mr. Mandate”:

After Mr. Gruber helped the administration put together the basic principles of the proposal, the White House lent him to Capitol Hill to help Congressional staff members draft the specifics of the legislation.

Might be a good idea to ask this guy why it says “exchange established by the state,” huh? I have a weird hunch he might know. But probably doesn’t want to say . . .

(H/t RB Pundit on Twitter.)

UPDATE: IT WAS A PUN! Ha. He now says that he can’t figure out why he said that, and that it must’ve been a mistake. Well, sure. For lefty ideologues like Gruber, it’s usually a mistake when they tell the truth.

He should apply to be a White House Press Secretary. He lies poorly.

Update –
More video with prepared remarks where he speak-o’ed.

Even JournLista hack Weigel had to acknowledge this.

Quick Links I Have Meant to Blog

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:33 am

Which means some of them are a day or two old. Mom’s in town, so that takes precedence.


Ezra Klein assures you that Halbig is not going to destroy ObamaCare:

The Halbig case could destroy Obamacare. But it won’t. The Supreme Court simply isn’t going to rip insurance from tens of millions of people in order to teach Congress a lesson about grammar.

. . . .

For Halbig to unwind Obamacare the Supreme Court would ultimately have to rule in the plaintiff’s favor. And they’re not going to do that. By the time SCOTUS even could rule on Halbig the law will have been in place for years. The Court simply isn’t going to rip insurance from tens of millions of people due to an uncharitable interpretation of congressional grammar.

He doesn’t predict anything; rather, he Voxsplains how the future will inevitably turn out. It’s typical Klein: snotty, super-confident, and probably wrong. As I have said, I think Justice Roberts and four other Justices will uphold the Halbig decision. I disagreed with Roberts’s initial ObamaCare decision, because I thought the penalty was a penalty — but I think his opinion was principled. Y’all are free to disagree. We’ll see in, what? Two years or so?


Jamelle Bouie at Slate assures you that, even if subsidies are not available under federally established exchanges, Republicans will pay the price:

Of course, what is bad could become catastrophic if the unlikely happens and conservatives prevail at the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court. There have been tweaks and changes, but in the nearly eight decades we’ve had a welfare state, middle-class Americans have never lost an entitlement. And indeed, our largest and most popular programs—Social Security and Medicare—are nearly untouchable. Even anti-entitlement crusaders like Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan have been forced to pose as protectors when appealing to the public.

Simply put, a Republican Party that demolishes Obamacare isn’t one that regains a governing majority—it’s one that throws the health care system into chaos and destroys itself as a viable national party.

“Middle-class Americans have never lost an entitlement.” True enough. It’s about damned time they did.


Perry says illegal aliens have committed a $#!&-ton of crime in Texas:

Sean, there have been over the course of the last five years, since the fall of ’08, over 203,000 individuals who have come into Texas illegally who have been booked into our county jails. Those individuals have accounted for over 3,000 homicides and over 8,000 sexual assaults. We can’t afford to wait for Washington to secure this border. We’ve had enough.

Appalling, if true. But is it true? I’m not sure. According to the stats I see here, that’s almost half the murders that have occurred in Texas over the last five years. I count 6223 murders from 2008-2012 (which appears to be the most recent year for which statistics are available) and 38,185 rapes in that same time period. Perry has illegals committing half the murders and about 1/5 of the rapes.

I’m slightly skeptical that illegal aliens are responsible for that high a percentage of the murders. But it may be closer to that percentage than I think — and any number is a problem we shouldn’t have to deal with.


ObamaCare is open to fraud:

An undercover operation found that the majority of fake Obamacare applications submitted were approved by the health law’s enrollment system.

Fake applicants were able to get subsidized insurance coverage in 11 of 18 attempts, according to a report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. The agency conducted the sting operation to test the strength of the Affordable Care Act’s eligibility-verification system.

Shocking that an entitlement might be rife with fraud, isn’t it?

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