Patterico's Pontifications

2/9/2011

Fake? Or Real?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:02 pm

No, not that.

This:

Of course, it could be real, with lots of editing. But if it’s not special effects, I don’t care how many takes they had to do. I’m impressed.

Via Hot Air.

Quote of the Day

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Morons — Patterico @ 9:53 pm

From Tim Rutten:

The Huffington Post is a brilliantly packaged product with a particular flair for addressing the cultural and entertainment tastes of its overwhelmingly liberal audience. To grasp its business model, though, you need to picture a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates.

Back in the days of Jim Crow and sharecroppers, it was common to hear poor exploited blacks say to one another: “At least we’re not having to write for the Huffington Post!”

Michael Hiltzik’s Hackery in Making Texas Sound As Bad As California

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Economics,General — Patterico @ 9:18 pm

I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but . . .

. . . but Bradley J. Fikes passes along a link to Michael Hiltzik’s latest column titled What California should learn from the Texas budget crisis. The deck headline reads as follows:

The so-called Texas Miracle is in trouble, demonstrating that fashioning fiscal policies strictly along low-tax lines doesn’t protect you from budget deficits or business slumps or make your residents necessarily happy or healthy.

The column is researched with Hiltzik’s characteristically low regard for facts and fairness.

Hiltzik starts out by talking about how bad Texas is supposedly doing, and then quickly moves to weak criticism of the legislature’s response. You can’t help but chuckle at reasoning that could convince only an avowed leftist:

California’s Legislature has won national renown for its dysfunction, but Texas lawmakers know how to squeeze dysfunction until it squeals. The late Molly Ivins reported years ago that when a good-government group ranked the Texas Legislature 38th among the 50 states, the reaction among knowledgeable Texans was, “You mean there are 12 worse than this?”

Maybe things have improved in the Texas statehouse since Ivins’ day. But given that the legislators put off action on the budget this year so they could first debate an anti-abortion measure, a balanced-budget amendment for the U.S. Constitution and a voter-ID law, maybe not.

Well! If Molly Ivins didn’t like the legislature, that’s good enough for me! Never mind that her definition of “knowledgeable Texas” was basically “liberal Texans.”

And I’m with Hiltzik: why should a state fritter away time discussing a balanced budget amendment for the U.S. Constitution? Everyone knows that the federal budget is in tip-top shape under Supreme Regime Leader Barack Obama, and any minor multi-trillion dollar kinks are being quickly and professionally ironed out by our eye-on-the-ball Congress, which is moving to HACK and SLASH spending by MILLIONS of dollars at time — MILLIONS! I say — spending reductions that obviously reveal any discussion of a balanced budget amendment to be a frivolous waste of time.

Add that to wasting valuable legislative debate minutes worrying about abortion, which has snuffed out a mere 50 million or so lives since Roe v. Wade, and voter fraud, which is a non-issue according to such eminent authorities as Bradley Friedman and Senior Fellow of Senior Fellows Eric Boehlert, and the Texas Legislature’s skewed priorities come into even sharper focus, thanks to Hiltzik’s deft wielding of the policy microscope.

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Jim Webb Won’t Run Again (Update: And Representative Lee Resigns When We Learn What a Classy Guy He Is)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 2:39 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

I have been hearing rumors about this all day, but now it’s official:

Sen. Jim Webb (D., Va.) said Wednesday he won’t seek re-election after serving a single term in Congress, dealing a blow to Democrats’ efforts to hold the in 2012.

Mr. Webb, a centrist with a military background, was elected in 2006, defeating Republican Sen. George Allen. Mr. Webb’s announcement gives a big boost to Mr. Allen, who is running to reclaim his old seat.

First, Webb ran as a centrist, but voted as a partisan.  His campaign was nothing less than a bait and switch.  (I am a Virginian, in case you didn’t know.)

Second, November 2012 is a long way off and I am not sure how much this is a setback for them.  It robs the Democrats of incumbency, but it also means that whoever runs can pretend s/he hates Obamacare.  Being an incumbent Democrat is not exactly a positive right now, which is probably why Webb isn’t running.  He knows he can’t win because of the votes he took.

And honestly, I was hoping the false hope of a second term might have moderated Webb.  Now Webb has no incentive to do anything except for his own conscience. So…  did he vote for Obamacare, to harp on an example, because he really believed in it? Or because his party wanted him to? And what happens now he is not worrying about reelection?

Anyway, thanks to DRJ to pointing me in this direction.  And let me know what you think about all of this in the comments (like you needed me to ask, anyway).

Update: Unrelated, except in a general “Congressmen losing their jobs” sort of sense, Rep. Chris Lee of Buffalo, New York has resigned after apparently trying to start an affair, using, ahem, Craigslist.

Yeah, I would consider that pretty disqualifying.  If not for the immorality of cheating on your wife, then for the stupidity of doing it via Craigslist.

And, um, unrelated video:

H/t: Scott Jacobs, especially for the easy link.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

(Congressman) Weiner to Ginny Thomas: Get Back in the Kitchen, Woman!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 1:31 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

That is the effect, if not the deliberate thought behind it, of a letter that the Weiner composed, that was signed by seventy three other Congresspersons claiming that Justice Thomas should step down from hearing any appeal of Obamacare.  Why?  Because his wife is a lobbyist and works for the Heritage Foundation.  He writes:

The appearance of a conflict of interest merits recusal under federal law. From what we have already seen, the line between your impartiality and you and your wife’s financial stake in the overturn of healthcare reform is blurred. Your spouse is advertising herself as a lobbyist who has “experience and connections” and appeals to clients who want a particular decision – they want to overturn health care reform.

Well, I did a little looking, and this appears to be the website of the lobbying firm.  Go ahead, look through all of it.  Do you see a single word suggesting that she will influence her husband’s decisions?  Nope.  The best they can do is claim she asserts that she has connections.

First, this is tantamount to saying that the spouse of a Supreme Court Justice can never serve as a lobbyist.  Can you name a single lobbyist who doesn’t claim to have connections?

And what they want you to do is assume that those connections are solely the product of her marriage, to assume no one would be interested in her opinion, except as the wife of Clarence Thomas.  Now, while that is the reason why she is a household name, if we can trust wikipedia, we learn that she actually has about thirty years of experience in Washington, working for Congressmen and Presidents, even before meeting and marrying Thomas, and before he was on the Supreme Court.  She has built a respectable career for herself, on her own.

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Giffords Regaining Her Voice

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 10:49 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Encouraging news on the Gabby Giffords front, she is starting to talk again:

U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, recovering from a gunshot wound to the head sustained January 8, is regaining part of her ability to speak, her spokesman said Wednesday.

C.J. Karamargin would not divulge what Giffords has said, other than saying she asked for toast.

“It’s very good news,” he told CNN.

Read the whole  thing.

As I have said from the beginning, I don’t know or particularly care what she stood for on each of the issues.  She could have been for everything I am against and against everything I am for.  Because to me the issue is higher than normal politics.  It’s the fact that she was chosen to represent her district and as such they are entitled to the representative they have chosen.  And one man has vetoed that decision, an act that is unacceptable in a Republic.

So Godspeed.  Hopefully you will regain your seat soon, and we can agree and disagree with you as we normally do on the ordinary political questions.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Adam Liptak and the New York Times Finally Start to Catch Up on Citizens United

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 8:27 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Almost a year ago, when Citizens United came down, I wrote the following (language warning at the link):

On January 23, the New York Times denounced the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. F.E.C., stating that “the court[] … has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials.” In a twist worthy of Monty Python and the Life of Brian, this editorial was unsigned, representing the voice of the New York Times Co., itself a corporation. It amounted to “this corporation says that no corporation has a right to free expression.”

Next I suppose the entire staff will gather together and chant, in unison, “we are all individuals.”

I went on to point out that the position of Justice Stevens’ dissent, which argued that the Press Clause was meant solely to protect the institutional press, was untenable.

Another argument raised against this decision is that since a corporation is not a “person” it has no right to speak. I find that to be a curious assertion. The Democratic party is not a person, either, but I don’t think any rational person would argue that a law forbidding the Democratic party from advertising would be constitutional. And for that matter, the New York Times Company is not a person either, but that didn’t stop the Supreme Court from reaffirming its right to speech in cases such as NYT v. Sullivan. Is it now the position of the Times that this case was wrongly decided? The notion that corporations are not covered by the first amendment is downright pernicious.

In dissent, Justice Stevens indicated that the institutional press, and only the institutional press, is protected from such regulation by the press clause. This argument proves too much. By that logic, then, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense would not be protected by freedom of the press—an outcome that would surely have appalled the framers of the Constitution. To the founders, freedom of the press was extended to all who published, period.

Well, on Monday Adam Liptak in the New York Times started to notice these problems:
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Pounding the Table on Obamacare: John Yoo and James Taranto on Tribe

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:29 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

There is an old saying among lawyers, and while there are a lot of variations in how it goes, most versions say something close to this: “If the facts are against you, argue the law.  If the law is against you, argue the facts.  If both are against you, pound the table.”

And when you read John Yoo’s and James Taranto’s take on Tribe’s and (in Taranto’s case) Amar’s recent pieces on the constitutionality of Obamacare you very much get the feeling that this is what they are really doing.  I mean, seriously, comparing Judge Vinson who vindicated individual rights to Justice Taney who vindicated slavery?  What can you call it, but pounding on the table?

So let’s start with John Yoo.  John Yoo is famous for being one of the people who had the temerity to give President Bush legal advice and has since then been the target of an idiotic and oppressive attempt to outlaw legal counsel that liberals don’t agree with.  Now yesterday Ann Althouse was skewering Tribe for his arrogance in an indirect fashion (just keep scrolling).  Yoo fully calls it out:

The article’s tone is not that of an observer; Tribe comes across as a teacher instructing the Justices not to disappoint him.  Why the Justices would seek to decide a case so as to fall within the good graces of a single professor of constitutional law is beyond me.

And he rightly notes that this is likely to backfire:

By trying to manipulate the politics of the Court, no matter how transparently and unsuccessfully, Tribe only contributes to an atmosphere that politicizes the Court’s decisions, which in this case will only help opponents of the law who have the majority of the American people on their side.

In other words, he is saying, “do you really want to make this decision about politics, Larry?  Because in case you haven’t noticed, in the political arena, your side has been losing this debate.”

Read the whole thing.  It’s all good.

And while Taranto is no law professor, he is a smart guy who thinks logically, so his analysis of the law is often better than that of many professors.  Describing both Tribe’s and Amar’s piece as claiming Obamacare is constitutional, he writes:

We were going to write “argue” rather than “claim,” but we think that may be too generous. Neither article is a serious piece of legal analysis, because both professors simply refuse to take seriously the legal arguments on the other side, even after those arguments have been accepted by two federal trial judges. Rather than grapple with a novel legal issue in a serious scholarly way, it’s as if they stick their fingers in their ears and sing “Law law law law law.”

And that is the core of it.  They make a vague wave at legal argumentation.  But then Amar starts pounding the table by insulting Judge Vinson.  And Tribe starts pounding his chest, saying more or less, “I am a big constitutional law scholar and therefore you should listen to me, and if you don’t you are either stupid or a partisan.”  Now if they had the facts, or the law, on their side would they be pounding away?

In October of 2009, a CNS reporter asked Nancy Pelosi where in the Constitution Congress was granted the power to impose the mandate.  Rather than attempting to answer that question, she replied simply,Are you serious? Are you serious?”  You can listen to her response, and hear her complete disdain for the question, here:

Later, they got this official response:

Her press spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, then told CNSNews.com that asking the speaker of the House where the Constitution authorized Congress to mandate[] that individual Americans buy health insurance as not a “serious question.”

“You can put this on the record,” said Elshami. “That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question.”

Now they know it is a serious question and a serious threat to the law.  And it is becoming increasingly plain they have no good answer to it.  So they pound the table.

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By the way, thanks back to Joseph Lawler for linking to my piece on Tribe yesterday.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]


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