Patterico's Pontifications


Washington’s Annual Alfalfa Dinner

Filed under: Humor,Politics — DRJ @ 10:28 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Alfalfa Club was started in 1913 by four Southerners as a Washington, D.C., night out. It continued as an annual all-male organization until 1994, when women were allowed to join. This year’s event included several humorous moments, including this one read by Tim Geithner who was standing in for President Obama:

“Dear Friends,

I regret that I’m unable to attend this year’s Alfalfa dinner, but as part of the health care compromise, I’m busy tonight babysitting Ben Nelson’s grandkids.”

There’s more at the link, including a good one from Joe Lieberman on the 2000 election.


Seat Scott Brown

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 9:49 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The other day I wondered why the Republicans in Washington weren’t making an effort to seat newly-elected Massachusetts’ Senator Scott Brown. Apparently Louisiana Senator David Vitter has no problem jumping on the Brown bandwagon:

David Vitter’s online campaign to Seat Scott Brown

Meanwhile, Republicans seem almost afraid to admit they gave Brown money, and they may have a good reason to keep a low profile:

“As for the way the NRSC funded Brown, [Senator and Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee John] Cornyn says there’s a lesson to be learnt in the way Brown’s campaign was funded “beneath the radar.”

Instead of funding Brown’s campaign directly, the NRSC instead funneled money into the Massachusetts Republican Party, which then gave it to Brown.

“We didn’t want to become the issue,” Cornyn said. “Scott Brown ran as the kind of candidate that was his own man and certainly, I think, not making the national party an issue but keeping the focus on Scott Brown and the issues he talked about was a smart thing to do. So I think it’s something that we need to learn from.”

Cornyn admitted that it was not Mass. support for the GOP agenda but rather Brown’s candidacy that led to his victory. He said he’s doubtful that the GOP can win back the majority in the Senate in this year’s elections, but he does think the party will do well.”

Republicans remind me of GM. Both have a lot of work to do to win back followers and reclaim their brand.


Obama’s $3.8T Budget (Updated)

Filed under: Economics,Government,Obama — DRJ @ 7:17 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out his plan to pay off America’s financial debt:

“But families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same. (Applause.) So tonight, I’m proposing specific steps to pay for the trillion dollars that it took to rescue the economy last year.

Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. (Applause.) Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will. Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don’t. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will. (Applause.)

We will continue to go through the budget, line by line, page by page, to eliminate programs that we can’t afford and don’t work. We’ve already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we’ll extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can’t afford it. (Applause.)”

Now the New York Times clarifies what President Obama meant when he said he would repay America’s trillion dollar debt:

President Obama will send a $3.8 trillion budget to Congress on Monday for the coming fiscal year that would increase financing for education and for civilian research programs by more than 6 percent and provide $25 billion for cash-starved states, even as he seeks to freeze much domestic spending for the rest of his term.”

Total savings? At best, three percent of the projected deficit:

The three-year freeze would save $250 billion over the coming decade, assuming the overall spending on the domestic programs is permitted to rise no more than the inflation rate for the remainder of the decade — an austerity that neither party has ever achieved in Washington. Even so, the $250 billion in savings would be less than 3 percent of the total deficits projected through 2020.”

Oh, and that recent 4th Quarter 2009 GDP of 5.7%? It may be due to inventory changes, and analysts expect continued sluggish growth and high unemployment.


PS — At the GOP retreat attended by President Obama, Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling:

“… cited Congressional Budget Office statistics putting the average deficit during 12 years of GOP House control at $104 billion and the average deficit under three years of Democratic control at $1.1 trillion.”

Obama disputed Hensarling’s statistics as “factually just not true” and said: “With all due respect, I’ve got take this last question as an example of how it’s very hard to have the kind of bipartisan work that we’re going to do. The whole question was structured as a talking point for running a campaign.”

UPDATE 1/31/2010: The budget for FY2010 reportedly forecasts a $1.6T deficit.

Excerpt from The Third Jihad

Filed under: Terrorism — DRJ @ 6:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

M. Zuhdi Jasser narrates an excerpt from The Third Jihad on the war between civilization and barbarism:

“We all know about terrorism. This is the war you don’t know about.”

Wake up, America.

H/T GM’s Place.


Justice Issues Report on Torture Memo Authors

Filed under: Law,Obama,Terrorism — DRJ @ 3:51 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman report the Justice Department has concluded its review of the Bush lawyers who authored the terror memos:

“While the probe is sharply critical of the legal reasoning used to justify waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques, NEWSWEEK has learned that a senior Justice official who did the final review of the report softened an earlier OPR finding. Previously, the report concluded that two key authors—Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor—violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action—which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry.
A Justice official declined to explain why David Margolis softened the original finding, but noted that he is a highly respected career lawyer who acted without input from Holder.”

It may make the left mad but the Obama Administration accomplished its goal: Make sure conservative lawyers think twice before they agree to work in a Republican administration or to author reports that go against liberal dogma.



Report: Haitian Medical Airlift on Hold (Updated)

Filed under: International,Obama — DRJ @ 3:39 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

President Obama put USAID in charge of relief efforts in Haiti instead of the U.S. military, and it seems they may not be up to the job. One example? The military has been airlifting severely injured Haitians to American hospitals but that may be on hold because the federal government failed to organize the transfers or arrange how to pay for their care:

“Health officials say the medical flights landed without any advance notice, and the poor coordination may be keeping some survivors from getting the help they need, Cherry said. He cited the case of a burn victim flown earlier this week into Tampa, which is not equipped to treat those injuries.

Crist said his state remains committed to caring for injured earthquake victims and reuniting families, though he was reaching out to other states to help care for them as well.

As of Friday, the Florida Department of Health reported that 526 patients had been received at hospitals in the state: more than 400 in South Florida, 76 in the Orlando area and 37 in the Tampa area. Four burn victims were transported to North Carolina, Crist spokesman Sterling Ivey said.

“Recently we learned that federal planning is underway to move between 30-50 critically ill patients per day for an indefinite period of time,” Crist told Sebelius, saying Florida could not handle so many patients.”

Doctors in Haiti say they have 100 critically ill patients waiting for transfer who may die, including a 5-year-old suffering from tetanus.


UPDATE 1/31/2010 — The medical flights have resumed but the situation was even worse than originally reported. The flights were suspended Wednesday and won’t resume until tomorrow (Monday):

“Exactly what led to the suspension of medical evacuation flights was unclear, though military officials had said some states refused to take patients. Officials in Florida, one of the main destinations for military flights leaving Haiti, say no patients were ever turned away. However, the suspension took effect after Florida Gov. Charlie Crist sent a letter Tuesday to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying the state’s hospitals were reaching a saturation point.

The letter also asked for federal help paying for patient expenses – a request Crist on Sunday said could have been misinterpreted. He also said federal officials have indicated he would receive help covering the costs, totaling more than $7 million.
Crist also has asked Sebelius for better coordination of the evacuations.

The state had been relying on air traffic controllers at Miami International Airport to relay information about the evacuations because the U.S. military flights headed to the state without notice, David Halstead, the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s interim director, said Sunday.

“The governor’s request is, ‘Just tell us a plan,'” Halstead said.”

The 5-year-old girl with tetanus and 2 other children were taken to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Obama the Fan

Filed under: Obama,Religion,Sports — DRJ @ 2:33 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

President Obama and Vice President Biden attended the Georgetown-Duke basketball game today. Obama announced the game for a few minutes and joked with Verne Lundquist:

“Shortly after the second half began, the president was seated between CBS announcers Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg. Obama, an avid fan of the sport who often plays pickup basketball games, seemed to impress the pair.

After Obama described a spin move and basket by one player, Kellogg told him he could handle the job of announcing.

“After retirement, I’m coming after your job, Clark,” Obama replied. “I’m just letting you know. So you either have three more years or seven more years,” he said, referring to the possibility that he might be re-elected to a second term.

At another point, CBS aired tape of a pickup game Obama played during the 2008 presidential campaign, including a missed left-handed layup. That prompted Lundquist to ask Obama if he has problems dribbling to his right.

“I went to the Republican House caucus just yesterday to prove that I could go to my right once in a while,” Obama joked, referring to a televised session Friday when the president attended a House GOP retreat in Baltimore.”

The report noted that “[s]ecurity for the game was intensified, with fans having to pass through metal detectors, cars being searched as they entered the building’s garage, and a large number of security agents in the arena.” Apparently Obama isn’t averse to inconveniencing people after all, at least not for important things like basketball.

Yesterday ABC News reported Obama and his family haven’t joined a church in over a year and rarely attend public services. The report implied the Obamas worship in other ways because of the cost and hardship imposed on others when the First Family make public appearances:

“Keeping the faith in quiet moments of worship may be the best Obama can do given the realities of the presidency that make it nearly impossible to join a church without inflicting a heavy burden on taxpayers, fellow churchgoers and his own spiritual life, sources say.

Security concerns mean costly and complicated measures to ensure the president’s safety on church outings, including screening every member of the congregation for weapons and sweeping the church building and areas around it for threats.”

And at least one of Obama’s three reported church outings was about politics as much as church — his January 2010 attendance commemorating Martin Luther King Day.



The L.A. Times Takes Another Small Step on the Road to Oblivion

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Jack Dunphy @ 11:37 pm

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

On Thursday, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez asked readers to submit candidates for a list of “L.A.’s worst people.” Among those who qualified for this list, either in Lopez’s or his editors’ opinion, are those whose pictures appear in the below screen shot. They are, from left to right, Frank Shaw, the famously corrupt mayor who was recalled in 1938; homicidal madman Charles Manson; disgraced former President Richard Nixon; former LAPD Chief William Parker; Manson family murderer Susan Atkins; serial killer Richard Ramirez, also remembered as the “Night Stalker”; and O.J. Simpson, the Butcher of Brentwood.


An interesting mix, to say the least, but I was puzzled by Parker’s presence among the murderers and corrupt politicians. Lopez explains thus: “Nobody beats former LAPD chief William Parker, said author and former Timesman Bill Boyarsky. ‘He was the most damaging Angeleno of all time’ because of his ‘us-against-them, all-white, anti-minority attitude. That has done more lasting harm to the city than anything.’”

A year ago, responding to a similar smear against Parker from Times columnist Tim Rutten, Glynn Martin, a retired LAPD officer now serving as executive director of the Los Angeles Police Historical Society, wrote that Parker must be understood as a man of his time, and that examining him through the lens of modern sensibilities distorts the memory of a man who integrated the department and cleansed it of its endemic corruption.

Placing Parker in such loathsome company is emblematic of the pettiness one has come to expect from the Los Angeles Times. And yet they wonder why their circulation is declining.

–Jack Dunphy

O’Keefe to Appear on Hannity on Monday

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:33 pm

The only video I have seen to confirm this is courtesy of the morons at Media Matters. So be it:

I’m not sure one way or the other whether this is a wise move legally. But I admit to being curious as all hell. There’s some questions I’d love answered, which may or may not be:

  • Did they have tools, like wire cutters?
  • When can we see the tape?
  • Did they really ask to see the phone closet?
  • If so, what was their purpose?
  • Did they only go into the publicly accessible areas of Landrieu’s offices?
  • Etc. etc. etc.

Set your TiVos now.

Massachusetts Senator Kirk Continues to Vote

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 11:22 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

It’s been 10 days since Massachusetts’ voters elected Senator Scott Brown and yet interim Senator Paul Kirk continues to vote:

“The Senate has voted on three pieces of legislation today that required 60 votes–to raise the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion, to reduce the deficit by establishing five-year discretionary spending caps, and Ben Bernanke’s confirmation–all of which interim Senator Paul Kirk (D-MA) has voted on. In addition, there have been other Senate votes since Scott Brown was elected as Massachusetts senator that Kirk cast a vote.

The main question here is: why is former Senator Kirk still voting on these legislative pieces? According to Senate rules and precedent, Kirk’s term expired last Tuesday upon the election of Scott Brown.”

This Boston Herald report suggests it could be at least 5 more days before the Massachusetts’ Secretary of State will certify Brown’s election, and possibly much longer.

In the meantime, I don’t know if Kirk is legally authorized to continue in office but no one seems to be objecting. It’s these kind of “go along to get along” decisions that drive people away from politics and political parties.


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