Patterico's Pontifications

2/13/2009

The Face of the Economic Crisis

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 10:16 pm

Or, more accurately, the face of the gimme mentality behind our government’s response to it. Namely (for you non-clicking types), it’s Octomom using your tax money and donations to get a manicure.

I love their understated final line: “It’s nice to see her doing something for herself.”

L.A. Times: Obama’s First Major Bill Not Transparent

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Obama — Patterico @ 10:08 pm

Give the L.A. Times some credit. They have a story up titled Missing from Congress’ stimulus negotiations: transparency:

Upending Washington’s entrenched ways of doing business is proving tougher than President Obama may have assumed.

The nearly $800-billion stimulus bill served as a test case.

During the campaign, Obama released a position paper stating his commitment to open government. As president, he said, he would not only insist on transparency in his own administration, he would press Congress to revamp its practices as well.

Obama has no constitutional authority to set rules for Congress, but he suggested he would use his influence to see to it that Congress doesn’t conduct its work “in the dead of night and behind closed doors.”

In the first major piece of legislation pushed by Obama, transparency was missing.

Indeed. Now, how about a story on something Obama does control — namely, whether he will give voters the promised five days to review this bill. (Answer: no, he won’t.)

Douchebag Companions Lose Lawsuit Over Claim That They Accompanied Douchebag

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:23 pm

In November, Justin Levine told us about the lawsuit filed by a guy who had been labeled a “douchebag” in a book titled “Hot Chicks with Douchebags” (see the related web site here). Apparently the guy thought he had some kind of legal claim based on being called a douchebag.

Now, via Popehat, comes a link to a Smoking Gun entry that breaks the news that three women accompanying a douchebag have lost their own similar lawsuit. The Smoking Gun has the actual text of the amusingly earnest opinion; as Ken from Popehat says, “the joy of the opinion is in seeing staid and stodgy legal analysis applied to something very unserious.” Indeed. Witness:

The opinion could have been much more brief. It could have been decided by reference to the well-known maxim that “truth is a complete defense to defamation claims.” Again, the evidence:

Case closed. [Sound of a decisive gavel strike. Exeunt omnes.]

UPDATE: I originally wrote that this was a lawsuit brought by one of the douchebags, but instead it was brought by three of the women who accompanied douchebags. I have lightly reworked the post to reflect this fact.

Predicting Bank Shutdowns

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:57 pm

This morning, Les Jones predicted some bank shutdowns tonight.

Tonight, he was proved right.

More on the Plane Crash Near Buffalo

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:11 pm

That crash may have been caused by ice buildup on the wings.

Youtube has home video of the crash’s aftermath taken by someone at the scene:

The video appears to be genuine; near the end of the footage you can see the house next door, which is also viewable in this Google Maps street view image of the location:

In a tragic footnote to the story, one of the victims was a 9/11 widow who was on her way to Buffalo to celebrate what would have been her husband’s 58th birthday.

She often cried when she told how Sean, her high school sweetheart, telephoned her on the morning of the attacks, said he loved her. A loud explosion then silence ended the call.

The ripple effects of 9/11 continue to be felt; but for what happened that day, Beverly Eckert would probably still be alive today.

She once remembered her husband in this way:

This is how Sean would want to be remembered:

The evening sky has deepened into darkness on a soft summer night. He is sitting on the stone step near the kitchen door, watching the fireflies rise in the backyard over the newly mowed lawn. Friends are expected for dinner. A steak is on the grill, a glass of wine is in his hand and his wife is at his side. They are laughing. He is content.

It’s a lovely image. One hopes that there is an afterlife, and that they are now together in it. He would, once again, be content.

I Am Now For the Stimulus

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:09 pm

Turns out that I stand to profit from it — to the tune of $350 billion. It’s buried in the fine print. Turns out nobody read the bill, so nobody knew. I just found out myself.

But it’s not the profit motive that changed my mind. I just had a change of heart. Also, I hate Chuck Schumer.

To get your share of the spoils, go here.

Three Fun Videos on Obama, Caterpillar Jobs, and the Stimulus

Filed under: Crime,Economics,General,Obama — Patterico @ 5:03 pm

The first two videos set up the third. Watch them in order — it’s worth your time.

First, Obama says the head of Caterpillar says he’ll re-hire laid-off employees if Congress passes the stimulus — and then, the head of Caterpillar denies it:

Then a young Republican Congressman tells the story of how Obama tried to put him on the spot at that same rally, by telling plant employees to lobby the Congressman to vote for the stimulus. According to the Congressman, not a single employee did so:

Then Jake Tapper presses the White House spokesliar on both of these embarrassments — and the spokesliar dodges, bobs, and weaves:

Good stuff.

Tapper is one of the few people actually pressing Obama about his nonsense. During the campaign, Tapper was airily dismissive of me when I called him on an error he made regarding the president’s ability to fire the SEC chairman, so I can’t declare myself a fan without reservation. But he generally does a better job than most of these clowns.

Meanwhile, here is more proof that the idiots voting for this nonsense didn’t read it before their votes.

How Long Will Obama Give Us to Read the Stimulus?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:49 am

As I recently noted, Barack Obama made the following pledge during his campaign:

Sunlight Before Signing: Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.

For a 1419-page bill that speed readers couldn’t read, which hasn’t even been read by the Congressmen themselves, and which spends so much money they invented a new number for it, careful review will be critical.

How much time will President Obama give the American people for this review, do you think?

AutoAdmit Update: What Happened to Those Commenters Who Thought They Were Anonymous?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:11 am

Interesting update on the AutoAdmit case. AutoAdmit was a message board in which posters who believed they were anonymous said the most remarkably foul and rude things about women attending Yale Law School:

When it comes to Heller and Iravani, some of [the postings] were unique all right: uniquely sadistic, subjecting the women to what can only be called a cyber-stoning, in which participants vied to hurl the biggest rock. They wrote, falsely, that Heller has herpes and had bribed her way into Yale—helped by a secret lesbian affair with the dean of admissions—and that Iravani has gonorrhea, is addicted to heroin, and had exchanged oral sex with Yale Law School’s dean for a passing grade in civil procedure.

I see no freedom of speech issue in such false and defamatory statements. There is a good legal argument for the immunity of the owner of the site. But the posters who said such ugly and untrue things have no defense at all, nor should they. (I have previously disagreed with a couple of law professors who denigrated the lawsuits here.)

The update on the various lawsuits provides an object lesson for people who think they can type any old false thing they like on the Internet and rely on their complete anonymity:

Now the challenge before the women was to smoke out the defendants’ identities. . . . [S]ome of the defendants could easily be found through prior postings, and some emerged in other ways. One, Vincimus—whose description of Iravani in the gym was surely one of the most innocuous of the quotes at issue—even approached Iravani on campus to confess. He is a Yale law student named Kirk Cheney, a young father who graduated from Brigham Young University. (Cheney declined to comment.) Another poster, Pauliewalnuts, who helped run the online beauty contest, is a recent Seton Hall graduate named Douglas Phillibaum. And Whamo, who had suggested that Iravani had “the clap,” is a University of Iowa undergraduate named Joe Traw.

More than the others, Traw has made his anguish over what he’d done a matter of public record, continuing to post and veering between incredulity, defiance, contrition, and abject terror. “I didn’t mean to say anything bad,” he wrote importunately. “I don’t want to hurt anyone. What the fuck do I do when I hate myself this much?” Perhaps, he thought, he’d drop out of school and go fight in Iraq. At least there, he wrote, he could die for a far worthier cause than defending what he’d done. “What I said about her was absolutely terrible, and I deserve to have my life ruined,” he wrote. When I spoke with him months later, he was still emphatically rebuking himself. He said he’d shelved plans for law school and was indeed enlisting in the military. “I said something really stupid on the fucking internet, I typed for literally, like, 12 seconds, and it devastated my life,” he told me.

. . . .

AK47, the defendant who had said that women named Heide should be raped, was frantic over being sued. (His real name remains known only to the plaintiffs.) “I beg you to release me from this lawsuit,” he wrote the two women, in a letter that then became part of the court file. “AutoAdmit is a fantastic waste of time, and indeed ought to be shut down, lest this sort of thing happen again. That said, I cannot and will not be dragged into this huge mess simply because I made an inane, nonthreatening and certainly nonactionable comment on the site.” His posting was, he insisted, “a suggestion, not a threat.” He warned that he would lose his job if outed; he threatened to seek help online to corroborate all of the awful things said about the two women in order to defend himself.

Heller and Iravani indeed have a formidable weapon in their arsenal: The ability to wreak havoc in the lives and careers of anyone they identify. Faced with embarrassment or ruin, Cheney, Phillibaum, and Traw quietly caved, paying amounts somewhere in the low to mid four figures in exchange for promises from the plaintiffs not to publicize who they were.

The people who will not take heed, apparently, are the losers. But as Bob Dylan said: “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”

For Matthew Ryan—whose alter ego, :D, claimed that Heller had herpes—the lawsuit seems to pose little concern. According to what he subsequently wrote on the message board, he had no money or reputation to defend. “I’m giddy over meeting my cheerful, big-titted accuser in court,” he wrote. Ryan, a recent graduate of the University of Texas, is trying to get his case dismissed, but he’s fine with going to trial—“I’m not a fan of frivolous, abusive litigation,” he told me—especially since his parents’ homeowner’s policy seems to cover his defense. Lemley says the case against Ryan is the women’s strongest: “When we get to trial, the only question is going to be the amount of damages.”

The lesson is: you may not be anonymous. So watch what you say — at least, if you don’t plan to be a loser all your life.


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