Patterico's Pontifications

3/16/2010

“They Told Me if I Voted for McCain …”

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 8:00 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Glenn Reynolds compiles a roundup of his “They told me if I voted for John McCain …” posts.

What else can I say? Heh.

– DRJ

Holder: OBL Wanted Dead or Alive

Filed under: Law,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 5:15 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Attorney General Eric Holder says Osama Bin Laden will never be captured alive:

“Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress on Tuesday that Osama bin Laden will never face trial in the United States because he will not be captured alive.

In testy exchanges with House Republicans, the attorney general compared terrorists to mass murderer Charles Manson and predicted that events would ensure “we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden” not to the al-Qaida leader as a captive.

Holder sternly rejected criticism from GOP members of a House Appropriations subcommittee, who contend it is too dangerous to put terror suspects on trial in federal civilian courts as Holder has proposed.”

Days after 9/11, President Bush called for Bin Laden to be taken “Dead or Alive.” Liberals criticized his rhetoric. Remind me again why the Obama Administration is so much more nuanced and articulate than President Bush?

– DRJ

Cashing in Government IOUs

Filed under: Government,Health Care — DRJ @ 5:14 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

This year marks a big change for Social Security:

“The retirement nest egg of an entire generation is stashed away in this small town along the Ohio River: $2.5 trillion in IOUs from the federal government, payable to the Social Security Administration.

It’s time to start cashing them in.

For more than two decades, Social Security collected more money in payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits – billions more each year.

Not anymore. This year, for the first time since the 1980s, when Congress last overhauled Social Security, the retirement program is projected to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes – nearly $29 billion more.

Sounds like a good time to start tapping the nest egg. Too bad the federal government already spent that money over the years on other programs, preferring to borrow from Social Security rather than foreign creditors. In return, the Treasury Department issued a stack of IOUs – in the form of Treasury bonds – which are kept in a nondescript office building just down the street from Parkersburg’s municipal offices.

Now the government will have to borrow even more money, much of it abroad, to start paying back the IOUs, and the timing couldn’t be worse. The government is projected to post a record $1.5 trillion budget deficit this year, followed by trillion dollar deficits for years to come.”

Thus, the Social Security Trust Fund isn’t really a fund at all. Instead, American workers pay income, Medicare and Social Security taxes to the government and the funds are held by the U.S. Treasury.

The proposed health care legislation calls for payments to start long before benefits. This accounting trick makes health care look better than it is:

“So let’s use the definition of “deficits” that most Americans follow in their own budgets: Any time you increase spending — on buying a two-story colonial or taking a vacation at Club Med — and you need to borrow to pay for it, you’re running a deficit. For families, the best way to measure those deficits is the amount it adds to what they owe on their credit cards, car loans or home equity lines.

Now apply the same standards to the health-care bill. If it really reduces deficits, it should lower the federal debt. It does the opposite. How? First, it doesn’t raise nearly enough revenues to pay for itself. Second, it vastly understates future costs.”

It’s similar to a Ponzi scheme that generates money up front while making the overall economic burden worse, leaving many people with lower benefits and higher taxes.

Worse yet, all these funds will undoubtedly be paid into the U.S. Treasury and not into a segregated health care fund. Any bets on whether those funds will still be there 3, 7, or 10 years down the road?

– DRJ

Census 2010

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 2:59 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Census forms are scheduled to arrive today. Did you get yours? It’s a 10-question form, although about 2.5% will get the much longer American Community Survey. However, even the short form has caused “sharply increased” privacy concerns.

Oops. That was in 2000. There are still privacy concerns in 2010. Some things never change.

Then again, maybe some things do change. The GLBT community is protesting because the Census doesn’t ask enough questions:

“They’re here. By their own description, they’re queer. And a gay advocacy group wants the U.S. Census Bureau to ask them about it.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has launched “Queer the Census,” attempting to petition the census to start counting members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

The task force is distributing hot pink “It’s Time To Count Everyone” stickers that can be affixed to the census form return envelope. Respondents can check a box on the sticker to identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or a straight ally.”

The organization is concerned gays won’t get funding if they aren’t counted. A Census Bureau representative responded that Congress writes the Census questions, but the 2010 census allows same-sex couples who report themselves as legally married to be counted as married.

– DRJ

Maj. Hasan’s Emails

Filed under: Terrorism — DRJ @ 2:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The latest news about Maj. Nidal Hasan involves Army emails suggesting he was “too fat and ‘chronically’ unprofessional during his psychiatric training,” and that raised serious questions about why his Army medical supervisors approved Hasan for promotions.

The emails also suggest the FBI may not be prepared to deal with the enemy within the military:

“The communications are the latest in a series of early signs that showed officers had reason to suspend Maj. Hasan’s training, and perhaps re-evaluate his suitability as a military physician, but failed to do so.

Yet, his bosses at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington allowed him to complete his residency in 2007, enter an advanced fellowship program, win promotion to major and transfer to Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.

It was there on Nov. 5, while shouting “God is great,” Maj. Hasan fatally shot 13 Army colleagues, according to witnesses.

The e-mails highlight another point at which the U.S. military government could have intervened to stop Maj. Hasan’s career before the shooting. The FBI and other intelligence agencies learned that Maj. Hasan had sent e-mail messages to Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda-affiliated radical imam in Yemen who urged followers to join the terrorist group and kill Americans.

However, the FBI said in a statement that it dismissed the e-mails as apparently part of Maj. Hasan’s work as a psychiatric counselor. The bureau did not share the intercepted communications with the military people who could have stopped Maj. Hasan, nor did the FBI question the major.”

Sadly, even the Army supervisor who criticized Hasan’s performance and scholarly ability has had to retain an attorney. Today’s Army may have to change its motto from “Go Army – Army Strong” to “Go Army – Get a Lawyer.”

– DRJ

More on the Slaughter Solution

Filed under: Health Care,Politics — DRJ @ 2:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Michelle Malkin rounds up the latest news on the Slaughter Solution:

  • “House Republican leaders will announce this morning a plan to force a vote this week on a resolution that would require the Senate health care bill to be brought to an actual up-or-down vote. *** [The text is at this link.] *** If passed by the House, the resolution would prohibit Speaker Pelosi from implementing the “Slaughter Solution,” the scheme by which House Democratic leaders are seeking to “deem” the Senate bill as passed without an actual vote in the House.”
  • Mark Tapscott reports how the Republican-controlled Congress used a “self-executing” rule very similar to the “Slaughter rule” to raise the debt ceiling in 2005. The bad news for Democrats is that Pelosi, Slaughter, and Waxman went to court to stop it. The bad news for Republicans is they failed.
  • Syracuse Democrat Rep. Dan Maffei announced his support for reconciliation, while Democrat Rep. Jason Altimire condemned “deem and pass.”
  • Finally, Drudge has the headline of the day:

    Top FOUR Dem Leaders All Disagree…

    BLOOMBERG: Pelosi Says Dems to Have Votes for Health Bill…

    THE HILL: Hoyer Shoots Down Larson’s Vote Count, Clyburn’s Timeline…

    THE HILL: Clyburn Says Health Vote Could Push Past Easter Holiday…

    POLITICO: Larson Says Dems Have the Votes…

    Obama refuses to campaign for Dems voting NO on healthcare…

    Are these examples of orchestrated disinformation by Democratic leaders or unorchestrated chaos? Either way, the last report may justify a “No” vote for some red-state Democrats.

    – DRJ

    Hispanic Caucus and Health Care

    Filed under: Health Care,Immigration — DRJ @ 12:39 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    The Hill reports the Hispanic Caucus is conflicted over health care:

    “Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) members face a tough choice in how to vote on a healthcare bill that will benefit their constituents but contains tough provisions on illegal immigrants.

    “The bottom line was that we’ve got to pass healthcare insurance reform because it benefits our communities, maybe in greater proportions than others, and that’s been [the president’s] message, whether it was back in October, November, December and here we are in March,” said Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas), the first vice chairman of the CHC.
    ***
    But the Texas Democrat noted that at least a dozen members of the CHC are “tied in knots” over the prospect of choosing between opening up avenues to health insurance to many of their constituents and supporting what they worry is a precedent-setting policy of immigrant discrimination.

    “This is really not an easy one for the caucus,” Gonzalez said somberly. “My sense of it is that a lot of these votes are going to be cast at the eleventh hour. I really believe that.”

    The Hispanic Caucus members voted for the House bill and will likely vote for the Senate bill, although Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) claims he won’t. However, these quotes suggest the Caucus members view illegal immigrants as part of their communities — which they probably are, and as their constituents — which they aren’t. How can they “represent” illegal immigrants?

    – DRJ

    Help Joe Klein

    Filed under: International — DRJ @ 12:37 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Joe Klein is dismayed at AIPAC:

    “The America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has done a very unwise thing: It has issued a statement criticizing the Obama Administration, rather than Israel, for its reaction to the Netanyahu government’s recent announcement of more illegal settlement blocks in East Jerusalem–an announcement that was made during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit last week, an act of extreme rudeness on top of its unquestioned illegality.

    This is quite remarkable. I may be wrong–and commenters are welcome to correct me–but I can’t remember another ethnic or religious lobbying group publicly siding with a foreign country against the President of the United States … especially when the country in question is engaging in behavior that the international community believes is illegal.”

    This sounds like another way of saying Americans shouldn’t criticize the President over foreign policy matters, harkening back to the notion that politics stops at the water’s edge. However, Vietnam War activists and Bush era celebrities mastered the concept of Americans siding with a foreign country against a U.S. President. For example:

  • Jane Fonda:

    “If, as she claims in her autobiography, the purpose of her broadcasts was to apprise pilots and ground troops of what our bombing was doing to the North, why did she broadcast the following statements (among others like them)?

    The United States must get out of South Vietnam and “cease its support for the . . . Thieu regime.”

    “I want to publicly accuse Nixon here of being a new-type Hitler whose crimes are being unveiled.”

    “The Vietnamese people will win.”

    “Nixon is continuing to risk your [American pilots’] lives and the lives of the American prisoners of war . . . in a last desperate gamble to keep his office come November. How does it feel to be used as pawns? You may be shot down, you may perhaps even be killed, but for what, and for whom?”

    Nixon “defiles our flag and all that it stands for in the eyes of the entire world.”

  • Sean Penn:

    “Hollywood star Sean Penn applauded President Hugo Chavez as the Venezuelan leader lambasted the Bush administration and demanded an end to war in Iraq.

    Chavez met privately with Penn for two hours Thursday, praising the actor as “brave” for urging Americans to impeach President Bush.

    “In the name of the peoples of the world, President Bush, withdraw the troops from Iraq. Enough already with so much genocide,” Chavez said before an auditorium packed with his red-clad supporters.

    Penn sat near the front, at times applauding and nodding in agreement. He is the latest in a series of celebrities who have visited Caracas, including actor Danny Glover and singer Harry Belafonte.”

  • Any others we should bring to Mr. Klein’s attention?

    – DRJ

    Pelosi: I Like This Unconstitutional Sleight of Hand for Passing ObamaCare

    Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:44 am

    No, she didn’t say that, but that is the practical effect. The Washington Post reports:

    After laying the groundwork for a decisive vote this week on the Senate’s health-care bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Monday that she might attempt to pass the measure without having members vote on it.

    Instead, Pelosi (D-Calif.) would rely on a procedural sleight of hand: The House would vote on a more popular package of fixes to the Senate bill; under the House rule for that vote, passage would signify that lawmakers “deem” the health-care bill to be passed.

    The tactic — known as a “self-executing rule” or a “deem and pass” — has been commonly used, although never to pass legislation as momentous as the $875 billion health-care bill. It is one of three options that Pelosi said she is considering for a late-week House vote, but she added that she prefers it because it would politically protect lawmakers who are reluctant to publicly support the measure.

    “It’s more insider and process-oriented than most people want to know,” the speaker said in a roundtable discussion with bloggers Monday. “But I like it,” she said, “because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill.”

    In other words, I like it because it allows me to circumvent the Constitution.

    DRJ linked this but I think it deserves elaboration. Michael McConnell says this is not constitutional:

    It may be clever, but it is not constitutional. To become law-hence eligible for amendment via reconciliation-the Senate health-care bill must actually be signed into law. The Constitution speaks directly to how that is done. According to Article I, Section 7, in order for a “Bill” to “become a Law,” it “shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate” and be “presented to the President of the United States” for signature or veto. Unless a bill actually has “passed” both Houses, it cannot be presented to the president and cannot become a law.

    To be sure, each House of Congress has power to “determine the Rules of its Proceedings.” Each house can thus determine how much debate to permit, whether to allow amendments from the floor, and even to require supermajority votes for some types of proceeding. But House and Senate rules cannot dispense with the bare-bones requirements of the Constitution. Under Article I, Section 7, passage of one bill cannot be deemed to be enactment of another.

    The Slaughter solution attempts to allow the House to pass the Senate bill, plus a bill amending it, with a single vote. The senators would then vote only on the amendatory bill. But this means that no single bill will have passed both houses in the same form. As the Supreme Court wrote in Clinton v. City of New York (1998), a bill containing the “exact text” must be approved by one house; the other house must approve “precisely the same text.”

    Constitution, Schmonstitution.

    Rielle Hunter: I Can’t Believe That Photo Shoot I Did Without Pants Resulted in Photos of Me Without Pants

    Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:01 am

    The Daily Caller picks up the quote:

    “She was in tears when she called and said that when she saw the pictures in GQ, she screamed for two hours.” Rielle, who had previously met with Barbara last June in preparation for an interview that never transpired, told Barbara “she found the photographs repulsive. When I asked if that was the case, why did she pose the way she did, she said she trusted Mark Seliger, whom she said is a brilliant photographer, and quote, ‘I went with the flow.’”

    Hmmm. Is that how this whole mess got started to begin with?

    You can see the photos here. Hard to see how she figured the photos were going to look very different.

    Just to ensure that your skin is crawling, the Daily Caller also has a link to a graphic description of what is on that sex tape.

    If there is one rational point to be made about all of this, it is that the next Senator of California was right all along.


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