Patterico's Pontifications

5/13/2009

L.A. Times: Costly, Overly Long Trial of Poor, Entrapped, Harmless Dupes Somehow Results in Several Convictions

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Terrorism — Patterico @ 11:50 pm

Here are the first three paragraphs of an L.A. Times article on recent terrorism convictions obtained by the federal government:

After back to back mistrials, five men from one of Miami’s poorest neighborhoods were convicted Tuesday of trying to join with Al Qaeda in plots to topple the Sears Tower in Chicago and bomb government buildings in South Florida.

Though a sixth man was acquitted, federal prosecutors claimed victory in a case that had dragged on for years and cost millions of taxpayer dollars.

Defense lawyers said their clients were harmless dupes entrapped by government informants. They vowed to appeal.

So how do you really feel, L.A. Times editors?

Today’s Economic Recovery News

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 11:36 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced today new ideas for keeping the TARP ball rolling: Give TARP money repaid by large banks to smaller banks not included in the initial bailout. Geithner also reiterated the Administration’s view that the economy is healing even though “the process of financial recovery and repair is going to take time.”

Meanwhile, the Dow is down more than 2% (200 points as of 2PM EST) on surprising news that April retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 0.4%. Consumers are spending “less on gasoline, appliances and groceries, signaling that they are not likely to begin spending in droves anytime soon.” Forecasters and the government had thought retail sales would stabilize in April.

— DRJ

Dems search the couch for healthcare takeover money

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:39 am

[Posted by Karl]

Pres. Obama declares  that “the stars are aligned” to pass his health care agenda this year.  Not so fast, pal:

The most vexing question Congress faces in the battle over President Barack Obama’s health-care proposal is how to pay for it.

Pres. Obama’s proposed government takeover of the healthcare system is so patently unaffordable that interest groups are clamoring for Congress to drop deficit neutrality.  However, deficit-neutrality was not only sought by Obama, but it was also written into the budget to get the support of Blue Dog Democrats, whose votes are critical to any plan passing.  Moreover, as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) told Bloomberg, not paying for the plan whould give opponents a giant target.  What Wyden does not say, but likely thinks, is that it would be fatal to not pay for this government takeover attempt, which is being sold much more as cost-containment than it is as a universal coverage measure.

Thus, Congress is forced to look for new ways to squeeze the taxpayer.  They are not having much luck.  House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) would like to use the supposed $210 billion over 10 years that would come in from a proposed crackdown on offshore corporate tax havens.  Aside from the fact that this measure would reduce US competitiveness, the Obama administration was already planning on using that money — and then some — to pay for $736 billion in tax “cuts” (mostly transfer payments in reality) for middle-income families and $99 billion for small businesses.  Rangel may not care if the Democrats ended up as the “all tax hikes, no tax cuts” party, but it seems unlikely to command majority support among Dems.  Moreover, this presumes Dems could get these taxes passed in the face of a broad-based campaign against them as economy-killers.

Sen. Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus says the government can save billions by basing Medicare payments on the quality and not just the quantity of care.  These proposals fall far short of the mark, and do nothing to address the underlying cost drivers of healthcare.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) wants to consider a special tax on soda and “junk” food.  That also looks like a long shot, and would hand opponents the ability to point out how the nanny state will start dictating diet and exercise after a government takeover.

Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the Ways and Means Committee that the administration is willing to consider reducing the tax break on “lavish” health benefits.  That proposal has a nice irony factor, as Obama lambasted Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for proposing it as the GOP presidential nominee.  Experts like the proposal, but it is opposed by both labor and business, and not favored by Rangel and other Democrats.  Rejecting the idea passes up $90 billion in the first year alone.

Democrats thus find themselves deep in the hole, even though their $634 billion “down payment” is about half of what is realistically required.  They are left searching the couch, and finding what such searches usually turn up — spare change and peanuts.

–Karl

DRJ’s Commenting Rules

Filed under: Blogging Matters — DRJ @ 9:38 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

My Fellow Patterico fans,

Patterico has encouraged me to moderate comments so I thought it would be helpful if I share my commenting rules:

1. Feel free to discuss, debate, and critique the posts and comments.

2. Bantering and jokes are encouraged — we all enjoy and need a good laugh — but I hope you will also spend some time adding substance to each discussion.

3. Avoid mean-spirited comments that you would not like if they were directed at you.

I will interpret and apply these rules as I see fit and, when I deem it appropriate, I will place comments and commenters in moderation without notice.

A word on my attitude toward liberal commenters: I think I speak for Patterico when I say I am sometimes more lenient with liberal commenters than with conservative commenters. Why? Because this is generally a conservative website where there is reinforcement for conservative views, so liberal commenters are sometimes out-numbered and that can make it harder on them. Further, even though I seldom agree with the liberal perspective that is common in today’s world, I believe it is important to analyze liberal beliefs and embrace some liberal values. However, I need to listen to liberals in order to understand what they believe. As a result, even though I value everyone’s input, I’m willing to work harder to listen to liberal ideas.

Finally, I want everyone to enjoy reading and commenting here as much as I do. Thus, please treat this thread as a suggestion box for ideas on how to make it work better. To that goal, anonymous suggestions will be allowed and are encouraged on this thread only.

UPDATE: PCD adds his thoughts in this follow-up post.

— DRJ

Congressional Dems, the CIA and the CYA

Filed under: General — Karl @ 8:22 am

[Posted by Karl]

Where is my tiny violin?

Democrats charged Tuesday that the CIA has released documents about congressional briefings on harsh interrogation techniques in order to deflect attention and blame away from itself.

Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) are among those hailing the waaahmbulance.  How could they have not seen this coming?  After blowing 9/11 and Iraqi WMDs, the CIA made leaking to deflect blame from itself and attack the Bush administration a matter of routine:

On the eve of the 2004 presidential debates, for example, the CIA selectively leaked a report claiming that it had warned in early 2003 that a joint Baathist-jihadist insurgency would follow a U.S. invasion of Iraq. The report—which turned out not to have said much of anything about an insurgency, and to have been wrong in its core prognostications—was written by Paul Pillar, who has been happy to rip the Bush administration in the press, identifying himself as “a top national intelligence officer.”

In May 2005, CIA officials leaked to the Washington Post details of a covert operation in which airplanes owned by CIA front companies were being used for various activities, including the renditions of top al Qaeda operatives. Six months later the Post, again relying on agency insiders (among others), reported that the CIA was using secret prisons in Eastern Europe to detain and interrogate high-level al Qaeda prisoners. This leak gravely jeopardized the cooperation of allied governments, whose own security and intelligence gathering were imperiled by the disclosure.

On the eve of a critical congressional vote on Patriot Act renewal, the New York Times sensationally broke a story it had been sitting on for a year: According to intelligence-community sources (which almost certainly included CIA officials), the NSA had, since 9/11, been intercepting international communications between suspected al Qaeda terrorists and persons stationed inside the United States. Aside from delaying the Patriot Act’s extension for months, the NSA leak has taught the enemy about our methods and submerged a vital program—an effort to create an early-warning system to avoid another 9/11—in a sea of legal controversy.

After the CIA spent all those years undermining the Bush Administration, perhaps Obama and the Democrats thought it could not happen to them.  But the Leftist hysteria over the CIA interrogations badly demoralized the agency, which is now striking back.  So we are treated to an Obama campaign event at Langley and House intelligence committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) sending a letter this month to all CIA employees, suggesting that Congress shared some blame for the CIA interrogation controversy.  None of which stopped the release of the embarassing documents putting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and others in the loop for on enhanced interrogations.

Suddenly, the Obama administration is threatening to curtail Anglo-American intelligence sharing if the British High Court discloses new details of the treatment of a former Guantanamo detainee, and sounding squishy on releasing detainee photos.  Will that be enough to pacify the Company?  Pres. Obama and the Congressional Democrats undoubtedly hope so, but I would not bet on it.

–Karl

A New Voice at GM’s Place

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 8:07 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Valued commenter and fellow Texan G. M. Roper has a new guest blogger Mark Amagi, who is a practicing mental health professional. I’m partial to guest bloggers so you may want to check it out.

— DRJ


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