Patterico's Pontifications

4/1/2010

Government Quote of the Day

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 11:09 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

My address did not get a Census Form so I clicked on this story in the Houston Chronicle to see why it happened and what I need to do now:

“On the day when all Americans were supposed to be counted, the Census Bureau’s regional director offered reassurance to people who haven’t received their questionnaires in the mail.

“When you mail 138 million forms, there are bound to be issues,” Gabriel Sanchez said during a news conference in Houston on Thursday. “We are unfortunately at the mercy of the Postal Service.”

So true … and at the mercy of government, too.

– DRJ

Billboards Against Obama

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 10:47 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Some Georgia folks who aren’t happy with Barack Obama are using the internet to collect donations and pay for billboards opposing his policies:

“One group is taking freedom of speech and freedom of expression to the limits in a series of Metro Atlanta highway billboards voicing strong opinions against President Barack Obama.

The billboards are the latest move to sway public opinion — and for a price you can have your say.

The signs are in a series of four digital billboards ranging in price from $2,500 to $3,500 a month. They offer pre-packaged messages like “Stop Obama Socialism,” or one that can be seen at Spaghetti Junction saying “Now it’s personal.”

The group behind the billboards call themselves BillboardsAgainstObama.com.”

Here’s their website. It offers participants the option to make a general donation to the billboard campaign or, for bigger donations, the option to buy a month of a specific billboard.

– DRJ

Google’s New Name

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Google says it has changed its name to TOPEKA:

“Early last month the mayor of Topeka, Kansas stunned the world by announcing that his city was changing its name to Google. We’ve been wondering ever since how best to honor that moving gesture. Today we are pleased to announce that as of 1AM (Central Daylight Time) April 1st, Google has officially changed our name to Topeka.”

Here’s more on the new vocabulary that accompanies this change:

I assume this is a One Day Only change, especially since today is April Fool’s Day. That or Google thinks it may fool the Chinese.

– DRJ

Attorney General Releases California ACORN Report

Filed under: ACORN/O'Keefe — DRJ @ 7:12 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

California Attorney General Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, Jr. has completed his investigation and there’s good news and bad news for everyone, although in general Brown does his best to bolster ACORN and damage O’Keefe. Here is the Attorney General’s press release:

“California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today released a report, including newly obtained videotapes, that shows some members of the community organizing group ACORN engaged in “highly inappropriate behavior,” but committed no violation of criminal laws.

Brown’s report also uncovered “likely violations” of state law, including dumping 500 pages of confidential records into a dumpster, failure to file a 2007 tax return, and four instances of possible voter registration fraud by ACORN in San Diego in connection with the 2008 election, as well as other irregularities in the group’s California operations. These irregularities have been referred to the appropriate authorities.

“A few ACORN members exhibited terrible judgment and highly inappropriate behavior in videotapes obtained in the investigation,” Brown said. “But they didn’t commit prosecutable crimes in California.”

Last September, Gov. Schwarzenegger asked Brown to investigate the activities of ACORN in California. His request was triggered by tapes made by undercover videographer James O’Keefe III that purported to show ACORN employees providing advice on how to conduct a prostitution ring and commit other serious crimes.

But new, unedited videotapes discovered through Brown’s investigation, as well as other evidence, shed clearer light on interactions between O’Keefe and the now-defunct ACORN.

Videotapes secretly recorded last summer and severely edited by O’Keefe seemed to show ACORN employees encouraging a “pimp” (O’Keefe) and his “prostitute,” actually a Florida college student named Hannah Miles, in conversations involving prostitution by underage girls, human trafficking and cheating on taxes. Those videos created a media sensation.

Evidence obtained by Brown tells a somewhat different story, however, as reflected in three videotapes made at ACORN locations in California. One ACORN worker in San Diego called the cops. Another ACORN worker in San Bernardino caught on to the scheme and played along with it, claiming among other things that she had murdered her abusive husband. Her two former husbands are alive and well, the Attorney General’s report noted. At the beginning and end of the Internet videos, O’Keefe was dressed as a 1970s Superfly pimp, but in his actual taped sessions with ACORN workers, he was dressed in a shirt and tie, presented himself as a law student, and said he planned to use the prostitution proceeds to run for Congress. He never claimed he was a pimp.

“The evidence illustrates,” Brown said, “that things are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality. Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor.”

The original storm of publicity created by O’Keefe’s videotapes was instrumental in ACORN’s subsequent denunciation in Congress, a sudden tourniquet on its funding, and the organization’s eventual collapse.

In New Orleans, O’Keefe faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a fine of $5,000 on reduced federal charges related to misrepresentation in gaining access to the Louisiana office telephones of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.

Brown’s report found numerous faults with ACORN’s activities in California, including:

- Failure to “recruit, train and monitor its employees to ensure compliance” with state law.

- Likely violation of state civil laws designed to protect personal information when employees of the San Diego office disposed of 20,000 pages of records in a dumpster. These violations could result in private litigation if any of the victims were injured by disclosure.

- Four instances of “possible voter registration fraud in San Diego in connection with the 2008 election.”

- Failure to file a 2007 state tax return, an omission the Franchise Tax Board is pursuing.

- Sloppiness in its handling of charitable assets, although no misuse of those assets was found. The California Attorney General will monitor investigations into ACORN’s overall finances by the IRS and Louisiana Attorney General.

ACORN announced that it is closing its operations nationwide today. While a successor to ACORN in California called ACCE emphasizes that it is no longer part of ACORN, the Attorney General’s report notes that ACCE is “run by the same people, raising concerns about its ability to cure the defects in the organization.” The report notes that the Attorney General will closely scrutinize ACCE’s operations.

The full Attorney General’s report is attached. The unedited O’Keefe videotapes from California are available on the Attorney General’s website at http://ag.ca.gov/newsalerts/multimedia/index.php. Tapes from other states are available on request.”

A PDF of the AG’s full ACORN report is here and the attachments are here. In addition, links to audio and video regarding the California ACORN office are here. I haven’t looked at everything yet but some things that stand out:

  • That “new, unedited videotapes discovered through Brown’s investigation, as well as other evidence, shed clearer light on interactions between O’Keefe and the now-defunct ACORN.”

    What “new, unedited videotapes”?

  • Brown says tapes were “severely edited by O’Keefe” and also that “Evidence obtained by Brown tells a somewhat different story …”

    Really? I need to read the complete report because I’d like to know what this refers to.

  • Brown says O’Keefe “never claimed he was a pimp …”

    That sounds like a clever, parsing way to avoid saying O’Keefe posed as a pimp.

  • Brown found likely violations of state law, including:

    — “Likely violation of state civil laws designed to protect personal information when employees of the San Diego office disposed of 20,000 pages of records in a dumpster ***;

    — Four instances of “possible voter registration fraud in San Diego in connection with the 2008 election”;

    — Failure to file a 2007 state tax return, an omission the Franchise Tax Board is pursuing.”

  • Brown says ACORN is closing its offices nationwide but also notes that ACORN’s successor organization, ACCE, remains open and “the Attorney General will closely scrutinize ACCE’s operations.”

    I hope he means that.

  • Finally, I’d like to see someone request release of the tapes from other states (the press release indicates Brown has them and that they are available by request), especially the tape that was never fully released because of pending litigation.

    – DRJ

    2010: Time is already running out for Dems

    Filed under: General — Karl @ 3:21 pm

    [Posted by Karl]

    Democrats are beginning to admit things are looking bad for them in the midterm elections… but they still hope to turn their electoral fortunes on a dime:

    Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg said Wednesday that if the 2010 election were held today, his party would be faced with a similar result to its catastrophic 1994 losses.

    Greenberg, who was Bill Clinton’s pollster in the early 1990s, went on to say that he doesn’t think the current situation will hold over the next seven months, and that he expects things will improve for Democrats.

    Greenberg went on to the talking point that the GOP’s bad public image might prevent the party from taking full advantage of the situation. Yet the favorable rating for the Democratic Party has fallen to its lowest level since Gallup began asking the question in 1992. The GOP’s supposed image problem image did not stop Republicans from winning in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts — and one is hard pressed to find in the polling data races where the Republican candidate is suffering much from the GOP’s supposedly bad image. Greenberg — and Democrats generally — ignore the possibility that voters will care more about stopping the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda than about the GOP’s image.

    Greenberg also notes an increase in intensity among Democrats after passing ObamaCare — but CNN (and Gallup) showed a similar surge in intensity for Republicans.

    Beyond these flimsy rationalizations, Democrats (and Reuters) seem to be clinging to the hope that the public anger with them will fade over the next few months:

    By Election Day, developments on jobs, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and other events could reshape the political landscape.

    “I believe that if we begin to see positive job growth, people’s confidence will return, and that will change the dynamic,” says Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. But, he says, “the Democrats obviously face an uphill climb. The question is the steepness of the hill.”

    Democrats are likely underestimating how soon political perceptions harden in an election year. Via the Wayback Machine, we can revisit the RNC’s summer meeting in Los Angeles:

    One of the sessions at this particular RNC summer meeting was a strategy session in which Republican political demographer John Morgan, Sr., assessed the chances for party candidates in the fall mid-term elections. This closed (to the press) door session was remarkable in that Mr. Morgan went through a slide presentation by region, since we collectively did not have the time to consider each of the 435 separate races for the U.S. House of Representatives, in which he calculated that the likely Republican seat pick-ups would be enough to give the party control of the chamber the following January, after 40 years in the minority. While the audience sat in stunned silence, Mr. Morgan calmly reiterated that his analysis was not based on hype or optimism – he had painstakingly gone through the data in each of the 435 races and confidently concluded that the GOP would win a House majority.

    That meeting was held on or about July 21, 1994 — before Hillary Clinton did her infamous bus tour for ClintonCare, before George Mitchell had to pull ClintonCare from the Senate floor, before the House GOP torpedoed the crime bill, well before Newt Gingrich unveiled the Contract With America. Moreover, an analysis of all 435 House races probably took a while to compile, suggesting that the basic shape of the 1994 midterm election was set by summer.

    A similar pattern is seen in presidential approval ratings, which correlate with the president’s party’s fortunes in midterm elections. In the modern era, Presidents with approval ratings below 50% have lost an average of 41 House seats in mid-term elections. Moreover, most presidents saw their approval rating drop in the second year of their presidency — on average by five percentage points. The two biggest sophomore slumps belong to Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Obama’s trajectory to date is similar to that of Carter and Reagan; his approval numbers are unlikely to improve before the midterms, even under a fairly rosy economic scenario. And we have now reached the point where about half the public blames Obama in part for the economy.

    In sum, the trendlines for Democrats are bad, and — barring a major, unforeseen event — unlikely to improve by November. Democrats spent a year pretending they had a left-wing mandate and running roughshod over public opinion. It seems unlikely that anything they do in the next three months will prevent the concrete from hardening around their ankles.

    –Karl

    Obama’s “Creative Accounting”

    Filed under: International,Obama — DRJ @ 2:23 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    The Obama Administration has used creative accounting to count jobs resulting from the Stimulus and to calculate the deficit as a result of ObamaCare. Via Tom Maguire, is it any surprise they’re also creative in how they count nukes?

    “[The New York Times' Peter] Baker talks to experts about Obama’s new arms deal with Russia and explains that Obama is probably over-promoting the actual cuts in nuclear arms:

    “It’s creative accounting,” said Pavel Podvig, a longtime arms researcher from Russia who is now on leave from Stanford University. “They found a way of making reductions without actually making them, and they were happy to accept that because nobody wanted to go to more serious measures.”

    We have a Say-Anything President, which is hardly news. What is noteworthy is that Even The NY Times is starting to call him on it.”

    It’s a game, isn’t it? Obamanopoly.

    – DRJ

    Arctic Sea Ice: It’s Back

    Filed under: Environment,Obama — DRJ @ 2:07 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    As the Obama Administration sends out signals it will pursue landmark climate change legislation, the climate is acting like nothing has changed:

    Arctic sea ice

    “Barring an about face by nature or adjustments, it appears that for the first time since 2001, Arctic Sea ice will hit the “normal” line as defined by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) for this time of year.”

    – DRJ

    Government Mandated Menus

    Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 2:03 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey explains the difficulties of the federal government’s new federal menu mandates:

    Ed Morrissey: “In an economy that has already taken its toll on younger workers, do we need an anti-growth mandate that will kill jobs in the restaurant industry where they traditionally find them, and push small businesses into bankruptcy?”

    – DRJ

    Eastward Ho (Updated)

    Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 1:02 am

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Ed Driscoll links a Forbe’s report regarding McAfee’s no-hire policy for California:

    “David DeWalt, who heads McAfee, is very intentionally not hiring new staff in the Golden State. Even worse for California, the company a while ago transferred entire departments elsewhere. Is McAfee based in California? Kind of. Only 14%, or roughly 900, of McAfee’s 6,500 employees are left in Silicon Valley.

    This is a cost-saving measure. McAfee ranks Silicon Valley fourth with the dubious distinction of most expensive places to do business, behind Russia, Japan and London. That’s kind of shocking. Mountain View, Calif. sure ain’t Tokyo in any sense.

    DeWalt figures he can save 30 to 40% every time he hires outside of California. And that’s roughly the premium he has to pay in the form of a moving bonus to get someone to relocate to California. Sunshine, pretty hills and nice beaches aren’t enough? Apparently not.”

    California may be high on businesses’ no-hire list but it won’t be the only State there. With ObamaCare, taxes, and continuing unemployment, we’ll all be there soon enough.

    – DRJ

    UPDATE: In related news, California’s last auto plant has shut its doors. It made Toyota Tacoma trucks and Corolla sedans, and the shutdown had been announced last year:

    “The plant began 25 years ago as a joint venture between Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Co. GM pulled out last year, and Toyota later announced it would halt production, eliminating about 4,700 jobs.”

    Meanwhile, Toyota’s U.S. sales were up 35% last month.

    H/T Drudge.

    No Indictment for Texas Constable Who Tasered Granny

    Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 12:37 am

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    A Travis County grand jury has declined to indict a deputy constable who tasered a 72-year-old grandmother during a traffic stop:

    “A Travis County grand jury has declined to indict Deputy Constable Christopher Bieze on a charge of injury to an elderly person after he used his Taser stun gun on a 72-year-old woman last year.

    The incident, which was captured on a patrol car video camera, generated national attention. Kathryn Winkfein, who was stopped by Bieze on May 11, later appeared NBC’s “Today” show.

    In October, Winkfein accepted a $40,000 settlement from Travis County, although she had sought more than $135,000.”

    The incident happened in May 2009. I originally posted on it here with follow-up posts here and here.

    The Travis County DA had mixed feelings:

    “District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said Bieze was not blameless in the matter.

    “While Deputy Constable Bieze may have followed the letter of the law, a more prudent use of discretion may have resulted in a different outcome,” she said in announcing the grand jury decision Wednesday. “In the end, they determined only that Bieze’s actions were legal. However, their decision was not an endorsement of either party to this conflict.”

    I doubt there are many DAs who want to campaign on a ‘Taser Granny’ platform.

    – DRJ

    UPDATE: Police taser use a stun gun on a 10-year-old at a California Indiana daycare.

    [NOTE: Update corrected to say the police used a stun gun on the boy, not a taser. — DRJ]

    [NOTE: Update corrected to say Indiana, not California. Any more mistakes like this and I’m going to bench myself. — DRJ]


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