Patterico's Pontifications

1/5/2010

“The Greatness that is Janet Napolitano”

Filed under: Government,Obama — DRJ @ 10:47 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Mickey Kaus asks a simple question: “Wherein Lies the Greatness of Janet Napolitano” that leads so many to defend her missteps? Examples below:

  • Senator Joe Lieberman agrees she is the right person for the job.
  • Senator Susan Collins thought her “initial comments were bizarre and inappropriate … It baffled me that she said that the system worked very, very smoothly when clearly it did not. Nevertheless, I believe that Secretary Napolitano is working very hard, and she will cooperate with our efforts to ensure that these breaches will not happen again.”
  • Former homeland security chief Michael Chertoff commends her “good skill set,” “great experience,” and believes “her heart is in the right place. *** I heartily endorse her.”
  • Kaus wonders if “America’s bureaucratic capital simply overvalue those whose first instinct is to defend their bureaucracy.” I’m with Tom Maguire: Beats me.

    — DRJ

    Irish Passenger is Lucky No. 8

    Filed under: Air Security — DRJ @ 8:51 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    From Orin Kerr: Slovak authorities put “real explosives in the luggage of innocent passengers as part of a security test.”

    Authorities found 7 out of the 8 test samples but failed to warn the 8th passenger, who found out the hard way when he was arrested upon his return to Dublin.

    — DRJ

    C-SPAN Invites Congress to Keep Obama’s Promise (Updated)

    Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 7:32 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    C-SPAN has issued an open invitation to Congress to televise the health care negotiations and fulfill President Obama’s campaign promise to negotiate health care reform in public sessions televised on C-SPAN.

    Nancy Pelosi is not amused.

    — DRJ

    UPDATE: In a meeting today with President Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid agreed to ping-pong their health care bills to minimize GOP delaying tactics.

    Dude, It’s Take-Out

    Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:25 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    After recently posting on an uptick in Denver medical marijuana dispensaries, I couldn’t pass up this December 17th Denver Post article “Dude, they’re putting pot in more than brownies:”

    “Any slacker living over his parents’ garage can make pot brownies. Gourmet chefs are taking the art of cooking with marijuana to a higher level.

    In Denver, a new medical-marijuana shop called Ganja Gourmet serves cannabis-infused specialties such as pizza, hummus and lasagna. Across town in the Mile-High City, a Caribbean restaurant plans to offer classes on how to make multi-course meals with pot in every dish.”

    The entire article is interesting but the bolded portion is my favorite part:

    Ganja Gourmet’s menu includes lasagna (“LaGanja”), “Panama Red Pizza” and an olive tapenade called “ganjanade,” along with sweets such as cheesecake, muffins and brownies. Employees wear tie-dyed T-shirts that proclaim, “Our food is so great, you need a license to eat it!!!”

    All patrons at the Ganja Gourmet must show a medical marijuana card that proves they have a doctor’s permission to use pot for some kind of malady. The place opened last week, and so far, 90 percent of its business has been takeout.”

    Who says slackers aren’t smart? Plus, this business is smart to have take-out since the Denver City Council is considering banning dispensaries from allowing marijuana to be smoked or eaten on site.

    — DRJ

    Senator Dorgan to Retire (Updated: Dodd, too?)

    Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 6:15 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan announced he does not plan to run for re-election in 2010 and has become this year’s first elected Democratic Senator to retire:

    “Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said Tuesday he would not seek re-election this year, unexpectedly saddling his fellow Democrats with a contest that could be tough to win amid a difficult political climate for the party.

    Mr. Dorgan has been elected three times to the U.S. Senate, winning 68% of the vote in 2004, and his seat was not clearly vulnerable. Republicans say the retirement greatly boosts their chances of cutting into the Democrats’ advantage in the chamber.”

    The report says Dorgan didn’t tell Democratic officials until after he made his decision. I attribute this to fallout over ObamaCare, which is fast becoming the Democrats’ political death panel.

    — DRJ

    UPDATE — Karl tips us to a breaking news story from Andrew Malcolm at the LA Times:

    “Breaking: Washpost sez Conn Dem Sen Chris Dodd will annce Wed he wont seek reelection. Joins ND Dem Byron Dorgan on retiring list.”

    The Washington Post is currently running it in a banner at the top of the page. I’ll add a link to the article when it’s posted. From the WaPo article:

    “State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is widely expected to step into the void filled by Dodd and, at least at first blush, should drastically increase Democrats’ chances of holding the seat.
    ***
    Without Dodd as a foil, Republicans chances of taking over a seat in this solidly blue state are considerably diminished. Former Rep. Rob Simmons and wealthy businesswoman Linda McMahon are battling it out for the Republican nod but either would start as an underdog in a general election matchup with Blumenthal.”

    “This Was a Screw Up” (Updated)

    Filed under: Obama,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 3:18 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    President Obama reportedly told his national security team today:

    “This was a screw up that could have been disastrous. We dodged a bullet but just barely. It was averted by brave individuals not because the system worked and that is not acceptable. While there will be a tendency for finger pointing, I will not tolerate it,” a White House official says in the Situation Room the President said.”

    Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also announced the United States was suspending transfers of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen.

    There are very few things that President Obama and members of his Administration say that I like, but I like both of these. Now we’ll see if they follow through. Thus, will any of the remaining Guantanamo detainees be released and, if so, where and under what conditions? Will there be reprimands and personnel changes because of this “screw up”? And does the finger-pointing ban mean President Obama and his Administration will stop blaming Bush?

    — DRJ

    UPDATE: What do Michael Yon, Joan Rivers and the Newark Airport have in common? Via Michelle Malkin, they are more Homeland Security screw ups.

    2010 Themes: The tea party effect

    Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:52 am

    [Posted by Karl]

    At The Hill, Aaron Blake produces a useful list of themes for analyzing the 2010 midterm elections. The first theme on this list asks, ” How real is the tea party effect?” (The real first theme should be the economy, which ends up fourth, but I digress.) Blake makes his discussion about conservative enthusiasm, but the tea party effect is broader than that.

    On cue, David Brooks arrives to carp about — and fear — tea party sentiment. Unlike Blake, Brooks recognizes the movement is not purely left-right, even as he condescends to it:

    The public is not only shifting from left to right. Every single idea associated with the educated class has grown more unpopular over the past year.

    The educated class believes in global warming, so public skepticism about global warming is on the rise. The educated class supports abortion rights, so public opinion is shifting against them. The educated class supports gun control, so opposition to gun control is mounting.

    The story is the same in foreign affairs. The educated class is internationalist, so isolationist sentiment is now at an all-time high, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The educated class believes in multilateral action, so the number of Americans who believe we should “go our own way” has risen sharply.

    ***

    The tea party movement is a large, fractious confederation of Americans who are defined by what they are against. They are against the concentrated power of the educated class. They believe big government, big business, big media and the affluent professionals are merging to form self-serving oligarchy — with bloated government, unsustainable deficits, high taxes and intrusive regulation.

    Curiously absent from the Brooks column is any sense of what caused all of this. Primarily, it is caused by the real and perceived failures of the educated class, from Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue and Capitol Hill. There has never been much political momentum on the issue of global warming (the Senate pre-emptively rejected the Kyoto treaty on a 95-0 vote) because of economic concerns. Thus, it is not surprising that the public becomes less interested in such action amid a serious recession. If the public has become more pro-life, it may be that the now commonplace technology of sonography has graphically brought the reality of the issue into more and more families, while the supposedly educated class adheres to old dogma. If the public is more concerned about their Second Amendment rights, it may be a reaction to the fact the party in power tends to infringe on them. Indeed, the public reaction on all of these issues may be seen as a reaction against an agenda that lacks a mandate (more on that below).

    If the public is more isolationist, it may be a reaction not only to our nation’s present difficulties on various fronts of the war on terror, but also due the efforts of Brooks’s pals in the educated class. Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency on the counter-factual claim that the “surge” in Iraq was a failure, that the US should renegotiate NAFTA, and so on. If the public is turning against multi-lateralism, it may be because the first year of the Obama administration is teaching them that getting rid of George W. Bush has not made our allies noticably more supportive, or our enemies less interested in killing us or obtaining nuclear capabilities.

    Democrats hold power today primarily because the largely apolitical middle perceived (sometimes fairly, sometimes not) that Republican government mismanaged the war (and the response to a national disaster) and allowed the financial sector to melt down on their watch. Obama campaigned as “Change you can believe in,” but his administration is stocked with the very people who caused the financial crisis in the first place, dithers for months in making war plans, and first responds to a failed terror attack over Detroit by proclaiming “the system worked,” when it obviously failed. It’s no wonder that voters have turned against the administration, Mr. Brooks.

    Of all the issues Brooks mentions, the ones most driving the tea party movement relate to excessive government spending, deficits and debt. Though these are increasingly important on a policy level, I suspect they are also symbolic to many in the movement of dysfunctional government. Pres. Obama must recognize the political danger posed by this voter bloc, if his recent rhetorical conversion to deficit hawkishness is any indicator.

    However, if Obama tries to sell himself as a deficit cutter in his State of the Union speech, it may strike the angry middle as not merely incredible, but insulting. For everything that was wrong with the Clinton administration, they did consistently try to position themselves as concerned about the deficit. And Clintonites had at least convinced themselves that they were concerned about the deficit, with James Carville jokingly griping that he wanted to return in his next life as the bond market. In contrast, as Allahpundit wrote:

    Imagine how total The One’s belief in his own ability to B.S. must be that after the stimulus, TARP II, the nationalization of GM, and ObamaCare, he’s actually planning to sell himself as a deficit hawk — while still pushing for cap-and-trade. If he gets voters to buy it, it’ll be a mind trick on par with the “these aren’t the droids we’re looking for” scene in Star Wars.

    Given Obama’s current approval ratings, pulling off that feat seems unlikely. The previous Man From Hope started his administration focused like a laser on the economy, and burned enough political capital that his healthcare reform effort failed. The current Man of Hope expanded Bush-y bailout policies and burned his political capital on healthcare reform. If the economy makes a significant upturn in the first half of this year, Democrats may yet be saved in the midterms. But Obama will likely fail to tamp down the Perot-esque bloc as much as Clinton ultimately did.

    –Karl


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