Patterico's Pontifications

1/19/2009

Al Qaeda News

Filed under: Terrorism — DRJ @ 9:44 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The good news? An al Qaeda affiliate in Algeria may have bungled a biological or chemical weapons experiment and killed at least 40 of its members.

The bad news? Al Qaeda in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia is the “most operationally capable affiliate in the organization right now” and it is working on biological or chemical weapons.

No wonder Obama is considering a loophole for enhanced interrogations.

— DRJ

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Me, I’m just reassured to see that this particular branch of al Qaeda “maintains about a dozen bases in Algeria” and may already possess biological weapons.

Happy Inauguration, everyone!

We Knew it: Washington DC is a Federal Disaster Area

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 8:34 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Mark Steyn is always clever but his column regarding the declaration of Washington D.C. as a federal disaster area (because of Obama’s Inauguration) is especially good:

The proposition that a new federal administration is itself a federal emergency is almost too perfect an emblem of American government in the 21st century. FEMA was created in the 1970s initially to coordinate the emergency response to catastrophic events such as a nuclear attack. But there weren’t a lot of those even in the Carter years, so, as is the way with bureaucracies, FEMA just growed like Topsy. In his first year in office, Bill Clinton declared a then record-setting 58 federal emergencies. By the end of the ’90s, Mother Nature was finding it hard to come up with a meteorological phenomenon that didn’t qualify as a federal emergency: Heavy rain in the Midwest? Call FEMA! Light snow in Vermont? FEMA! Fifty-seven degrees under cloudy skies in California? Let those FEMA trailers roll!”

Most of Steyn’s column focuses on the comedy of calling everything a disaster that government should fix, but he also reserves a few words for the tragic consequences of expecting government to fix everything:

I’m not worried about “change” so much as creep. The Obama administration doesn’t have to do anything terribly transformative — overnight socialization of health care, etc. In fact, it doesn’t have to do anything at all. It could just sit there, and America would still drift remorselessly, incrementally left, inch by inch. Eventually, you reach a tipping point: At some point in the next four years, we will reach a situation where the majority of Americans pay no federal income tax but are able to vote themselves more goodies from those who do. The most basic of conservative principles is that if you reward bad behavior you get more of it. We now have a government offering trillion-dollar rewards for bad behavior to the financial system, to the housing market, to the auto unions, and to individual voters.”

It doesn’t matter what your political beliefs are, every parent understands rewarding bad behavior leads to more bad behavior. Every time we deal with a 2-year-old’s public tantrum over a toy or candy, we learn that giving in means it will happen again and again. How can people so easily grasp this fact in their everyday lives and not realize it also applies to society?

— DRJ

Biden to Wife: Shhh!

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 6:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Vice-President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill appeared today on Oprah Winfrey’s show and it turns out he’s not the only one who is gaffe-prone:

“Appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s show this afternoon, Jill Biden, wife of Vice-President elect Joe Biden, made a verbal gaffe that could land the Obama Administration in some hot water. Mrs. Biden let slip that her husband Joe was offered a choice of either the Secretary of State’s position or the Vice-Presidency.

The potential problem for the Obama Administration goes far beyond the obviously embarrassing revelation that Hillary Clinton was actually the second choice for Secretary of State, however. Promising an appointment to a federal office by a candidate in exchange for support is a crime.
***
If Jill Biden is telling the truth, and from Joe Biden’s reaction, quickly shushing her, she apparently is, somebody in the Obama campaign has some questions to answer. Who offered Biden the positions of Secretary of State or Vice-President? Did Barack Obama know about the offer or make it himself?”

The federal law in question is Title 18 Chapter 29 Section 599 of the United States Code. It requires that the promise be made “for the purpose of procuring support in his candidacy,” which I assume would not be the case if the discussion occurred at a time when Biden already supported Obama.

If not, I suggest the ‘dumb blonde’ defense.

Video at the link.

— DRJ

New York’s Next Senator

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 3:55 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A New York Post columnist says New York Senate contenders are convinced Gov. Paterson will pick Caroline Kennedy to replace Hillary Clinton as New York’s Senator:

“US Rep. Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan, a would-be Clinton replacement who is backed by several women’s organizations, was the most publicly adamant in saying the fix was in, citing a scenario – first outlined in last week’s Village Voice – under which Paterson, in a deal with Mayor Bloomberg, a Kennedy friend, selects Kennedy in exchange for help for his own election bid next year.

Another potential candidate told The Post that he was convinced that Kennedy would get the job because Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, – who polls show is the public’s favorite to succeed Clinton – failed to line up the right replacement at the AG’s office.

“Andrew just couldn’t assure the governor that he could arrange for [Assembly Speaker Sheldon] Silver to provide an acceptable successor,” said the contender.

A third potential candidate claimed that Paterson’s repeated contention – told to the media in private – that there is no front-runner is “baloney.”

“It’s been a done deal from the start,” said the would-be candidate.

“David goes with Caroline with the understanding that Caroline, and her family and its resources, go with David next year. This stuff with Paterson saying he’s looking at other people is a crock,” the source continued. “

It strikes me that the shenanigans accompanying the replacement of Senators from Illinois, Delaware and New York make a good argument for not electing Senators to national office during their terms.

— DRJ

Super Bowl XLIII

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 2:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I watched some of both the AFC and NFC championship games yesterday. Pretty good games.

This will be an open thread to talk NFL football as we wait for the February 1 Super Bowl between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are the early favorites in Las Vegas and are favored by 6-1/2 points.

— DRJ

Obama’s Attorney General

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 1:44 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Polls show most Americans like the way Barack Obama is handling his transition with the main concerns being Obama’s appointments: The withdrawn nomination of Bill Richardson at Commerce, the tax scandals of Treasury Secretary-designate Geithner, the impact of foreign donations to Bill Clinton’s Presidential Library on Hillary’s State Department post, and Attorney General-designate Eric Holder’s participation in Clinton’s controversial FALN and Marc Rich pardons.

There are things I like about Obama and things I don’t like, but my main concern is his vague positions on important issues. Hopefully time will alleviate my concern but I’m already happy about one thing. Last year at this time, sources close to candidate Obama were spreading the word that the Attorney General in an Obama Administration would be John Edwards:

“Illinois Democrats close to Sen. Barack Obama are quietly passing the word that John Edwards will be named attorney general in an Obama administration.

Installation at the Justice Department of multimillionaire trial lawyer Edwards would please not only the union leaders supporting him for president but organized labor in general. The unions relish the prospect of an unequivocal labor partisan as the nation’s top legal officer.”

A lot can change in a year.

— DRJ

Michigan Orders Dad to Get Married or Pay Up

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 12:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Michigan has a law that requires a birth father to reimburse the state for his child’s state-paid birthing costs, but reimbursement is waived if the father is married to the mother. Gary Johnson, an unwed father, isn’t married to Rebecca Witt, his child’s birth mother, so Michigan billed Johnson $3,800 for their child’s birthing costs. He doesn’t want to pay.

Johnson and Witt say they are going to get married but they want the wedding to occur when she chooses:

“Johnson and Witt said they want to marry eventually, but Witt said she wants her marriage date to be her choice.

“I don’t think anybody should tell me when to get married,” said Witt. “I would like to have a nice wedding, and I can wait for it.”

Witt and Johnson said they have been struggling since the state started coming after Johnson for the hospital costs. Johnson said he was told he would be billed $500 a month and planned to meet with a caseworker to work out a solution.

“Losing just $10 hurts us,” said Johnson, who makes $8 an hour at a Grand Blanc-area nursery. “We don’t have a car, we don’t even have an oven.”

Johnson said he understood the state wants to promote marriage for parents but he respects Witt’s position. “It’s a woman’s dream to have the best wedding she can have,” he said.”

Witt can wait for a perfect wedding but not to start a family? This couple has a lot bigger problems than worrying about the perfect wedding, and it’s a real-world example of how woefully unprepared some people are to make basic economic and life decisions.

— DRJ

Bush Commutes Ramos/Compean Sentences

Filed under: Immigration,Law — DRJ @ 10:24 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

President Bush commuted the sentences of former U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean:

“In his final acts of clemency, President George W. Bush on Monday commuted the prison sentences of two former U.S. Border Patrol agents whose convictions for shooting a Mexican drug dealer ignited fierce debate about illegal immigration.
***
Bush didn’t pardon the men for their crimes, but decided instead to commute their prison sentences because he believed they were excessive and that they had already suffered the loss of their jobs, freedom and reputations, a senior administration official said.

The action by the president, who believes the border agents received fair trials and that the verdicts were just, does not diminish the seriousness of their crimes, the official said.

Compean and Ramos, who have served about two years of their sentences, are expected to be released from prison within the next two months.”

I applaud this decision. There weren’t grounds to set aside the jury verdict but I think the sentences were excessive because of the weapons enhancement.

H/T EricPW Johnson.

— DRJ


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