Patterico's Pontifications

4/14/2011

New E-Mails Show ATF Gunrunner Denials Are False

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:53 pm

CBS News reports:

Damning, newly-obtained emails show that a key gun shop owner made explicit concerns in writing last year in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ “gunwalking” scandal.

Starting in late 2009, ATF allegedly directed an undetermined number of Phoenix-area gun shop owners to go ahead with sales of thousands of assault rifles and other weapons to suspicious buyers. Insiders claim ATF knew the buyers were connected to Mexico’s drug cartels, but let the guns “walk” onto the street anyway in a misguided attempt to obtain intelligence. ATF and the Justice Department have denied that.

Read the e-mails here (.pdf). Grassley & Co. are not buying the ATF’s assertions:

In his letter, Grassley told Attorney General Holder: “In light of this new evidence, the Justice Departments’ claim that the ATF never knowingly sanctioned or allowed the sale of assault weapons to straw purchasers is simply not credible.”

So far, Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who is also investigating the gunwalking scandal, say they have received little to no meaningful response to their document and information requests from ATF and the Department of Justice. Earlier this week when the Justice Department turned over selected materials to Rep. Issa’s staff, sources say Grassley’s staff were now [do they mean "not"? -- P] allowed entry or access to the same materials.

“Selected” materials, eh? Remember how Issa issued a subpoena a couple of weeks ago for materials relating to Gunrunner? The date for compliance has passed.

It sounds as though contempt hearing may be on the horizon.

Keep pushing, Rep. Issa. Keep pushing.

Atlas Shrugged. Will Audiences?

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 5:48 pm

[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]

When I was a teenager, I was part of a clique of Ayn Rand fans. This was the early 1980s and right around the time that Miss Rand passed away. I actually crashed her funeral, but that’s another story. My point is, this was way before the internet so we would just chatter at each other in real time about topics like whether the rape scene in The Fountainhead was really rape rape, how cool it would be if the roads were all privatized and especially about how awesome an Atlas Shrugged MOVIE would be.

Seriously, we’d talk about it all the time. How would they do ‘the speech’? Should it be a miniseries or a really long movie? Maybe Rush could do the soundtrack! And casting! Boy, we talked about casting all the time. How about Harrison Ford as Hank Rearden? He’s got the suffering look. Jodie Foster as Dagny? Alda Alda as James Taggart or Ed Asner as Wesley Mouch! Think of all the stars you could cast! Even as recently as a couple of years ago, names like Angelina Jolie were being floated.

We couldn’t have imagined that when Atlas Shrugged actually came to life as a film, that the casting and production design would look to be on the level of a Canadian made-for-tv movie. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Who ARE these people?”

As jJerryThe film opens in theaters tomorrow. Coincidently, my ex-wife is an extra in it. I won’t be seeing it in the theater because I hardly ever see any movie in the theater. Nothing personal. As Jon Voight once said to me about Titanic, “I hope it does well, as I hope all films do well.” (Really, he said that to me. )

Hey! Jon Voight would have been good as Midas Mulligan!

- Lee Stranahan

President Obama on Senator Obama: I Was Being a Hack When I Voted Against the Debt Limit

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 1:59 pm

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

We still have upcoming the vote on whether to raise America’s debt limit.  I have yet to hear anyone explain to my satisfaction why we shouldn’t just say to Congress “no, your credit card is maxed out.  Figure out how to pay our obligations with money we presently have.”  Indeed, I find myself agreeing with Senator Obama on the subject:

I rise today to talk about America’s debt problem.

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.

Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is “trillion” with a “T.” That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion….

Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.

I’m sorry, I find that pretty persuasive, and given that we are now up to over $14 Trillion, even more so.

But, Obama explains, we really shouldn’t listen to his old self, because he was a selfish bastard who didn’t care about the greater good.

Seriously, how else do you interpret this?

And here’s the text:

George Stephanopoulos: You’ve got to extend the debt limit by May.  And it seems like you made up the job– your job is a lot tougher because of your vote in the Senate against extending the debt limit…When did you realize that vote was a mistake?

President Obama: I think that it’s important to understand the vantage point of a Senator versus the vantage point of a…President.  When you’re a Senator, traditionally what’s happened is this is always a lousy vote.  Nobody likes to be tagged as having increased the debt limit for the United States by a trillion dollars… As President, you start realizing, “You know what?  We– we can’t play around with this stuff.  This is the full faith in credit of the United States.”  And so that was just a example of a new Senator,  you know, making what is a political vote as opposed to doing what was important for the country.  And I’m the first one to acknowledge it.

George Stephanopoulos: But now Senator McConnell is– is talking to a lot of the Republican Senators about doing the same thing.  Saying, “Let’s just have 51 Democratic Senators.”

President Obama: Right…My suspicion is that the burden is going to fall a lot on Democrats in the Senate to make this happen, but in both chambers, we’re going to need some votes from the other side.

So basically you were saying, Mr. President that you were full of it, that you knew that it was a bad idea to vote against it when you voted against it, but you cared more about saving your political keister than doing the right thing.

Which raises the question: Were you full of it back then?  Or are you just full of it now?

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Oh, and for the love of God, please stop claiming that this is about full faith and credit.  That phrase in the Constitution is about the obligation of one state to honor the decisions and laws of other states.  You can demonstrate the importance of our nation’s credit without demonstrating ignorance of the constitution.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

“I Love Boobies”

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 1:34 pm

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

Oh, also there is a legal case involving that phrase, or more precisely “I ♥ Boobies!” which translates from slang into that.  See it all starts with a bracelet sort of like this:

It’s a cheeky way to make a statement on breast cancer and there is like a whole philosophy behind it:

The Keep A Breast Foundation believes that a barrier to achieving their goals is negative body images among young women. Young women may feel that a stigma is associated with touching, looking at, or talking about their breasts. The Foundation’s “I ♥ Boobies!” campaign seeks to reduce this stigma and to help women talk openly and without embarrassment about their breasts. The bracelets are intended to be and may be reasonably viewed as conversation starters to facilitate discussion of breast cancer, and to help overcome fear and taboo associated with discussing breast health.

So a couple of teenage girls decided to wear bracelets sort of like the ones there (it might be a different color, but otherwise it seems to be identical) when there was a ban on them and got into all kinds of trouble with the school.  For starters, I think everyone involved needs to lighten up. It wouldn’t be the end of the world for the girls to wear something like that.  But at the same time, this is kind of a stupid thing to take a stand on.  I mean they are in the right, but did we really need to make a federal case out of it?

You know, because they did.

I think on the law the court had it exactly right and indeed sums up the law fairly succinctly:

In summary, a school may categorically prohibit speech that is (1) lewd, vulgar, or profane; (2) school-sponsored speech on the basis of a legitimate pedagogical concern; and (3) speech that advocates illegal drug use. If school speech does not fit within one of these exceptions, it may be prohibited only if it would substantially disrupt school operations.

So it can be banned automatically if it fit those three categories, but the only category that this situation had any chance of fitting involved “lewd, vulgar or profane speech.”  That principle was enunciated in Bethel S.C. v. Fraser, where a student thought this was a good way to argue that a person should be elected to student office:

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Fisking the President’s Speech on the Deficit

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 11:10 am

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

Strap yourself in because it’s a long one and my language gets a little coarse as we go on.  Seriously, you try reading this speech without cursing and/or throwing something…

So yesterday the President made a speech at George Washington University outlining how he would somehow save $4 Trillion from the deficit, in 12 years, as speech the Wall Street Journal said “was dishonest even by modern political standards.”  (And you should read the WSJ’s editorial, too.)  So let’s go through it together, shall we?

Now first he has some introductory B.S., the kind of crap that any politician will have at the beginning of the speech before we get to the meat of it:

From our first days as a nation, we have put our faith in free markets and free enterprise as the engine of America’s wealth and prosperity.  More than citizens of any other country, we are rugged individualists, a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government.

Of course this is straight from the Obama book of political tactics where he says something that is unobjectionable, that suggests he “gets it.”  And as usual when he says this sort of thing. a few paragraphs later you will see that he doesn’t really believe in the reasonable principles he just enunciated.

But there has always been another thread running throughout our history – a belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.  We believe, in the words of our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves.

Well, this is a quibble, but those aren’t quite his words.  Here are his words:

The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves, in their separate and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere. The desirable things which the individuals of a people cannot do, or cannot well do, for themselves, fall into two classes: those which have relation to wrongs, and those which have not. Each of these branch off into an infinite variety of subdivisions.

The first—that in relation to wrongs—embraces all crimes, misdemeanors and non-performance of contracts. The other embraces all which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself.

If you are not going to quote him, Mr. President, make it more clear that you are not quoting him.

But it seems to be a reasonable paraphrase.  The problem is that he doesn’t really adhere to the limitation—the requirement that it has to be something we cannot do this well for ourselves.  I mean either that or he thinks the vast majority of us are really not capable of very much.  And simultaneously one has to believe the government will do better, which is also often a dubious assertion.

And so we’ve built a strong military to keep us secure, and public schools and universities to educate our citizens.

Yeah, how are those public schools working out, Mr. President?

We’ve laid down railroads and highways to facilitate travel and commerce.

Actually the vast majority of the growth in the railroad has been by private industry with subsidies from the government.

We’ve supported the work of scientists and researchers whose discoveries have saved lives, unleashed repeated technological revolutions, and led to countless new jobs and entire industries.

Most of which was actually done privately.

Part of this American belief that we are all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security.

And thus each and every one of you will get a free pony.

We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff, may strike any one of us.

Really, Mr. President, and that is the only reason why dependency exists?  How about the knowledge that if you frak things up, the safety net will be there to catch you?  How about people who just decide its easier to game the system than to be prosperous?  What about them?

“There but for the grace of God go I,” we say to ourselves, and so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work;

It only guarantees it if it works financially.  And it doesn’t.

And notice the attitude that success or failure in life is purely a matter of chance.

unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss;

And simultaneously increases the cost of hiring a new worker, making companies less willing to hire.

and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, and those with disabilities.

So according to him, Medicaid is for not for all seniors, but the ones in nursing homes.  And not for all children, but for poor ones.  But, on the other hand, everyone with disabilities.  In his mind, every single disabled person is a ward of the state.

Well, this disabled person is not, jerk.

And that is not the only time he says that, as you will see.

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The response to Pres. Obama’s debt speech, 2

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:06 am

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

How new and exciting are Obama’s ideas to balance the budget? This new and exciting:

I’m not sleeping, I’m just thinking.

Namely, I’m thinking: after we tax the rich and that puts only a slight dent in the debt . . . then what?

UPDATE: Via Hot Air, the always brilliant iowahawk parodies Paul Krugman:

“Style: I liked the way Obama made a case for government at the beginning. I liked the way he accused Republicans of pessimism, of abandoning a hopeful vision of America. Good that he went after the Ryan plan — and good that he went after the cruelty of that plan. If you ask me, too many percentages. Oh, and whichever speechwriter came up with “win the future” should be sent to count yurts in Outer Mongolia.

“Substance: Much better than many of us feared. Hardly any Bowles-Simpson — yay!…

“Overall, way better than the rumors and trial balloons. I can live with this. And whatever the pundits may say, it was much, much more serious than the Ryan ‘plan’.”

Hahahahahahaha. It’s brilliant the way iowahawk captures Krugman’s teenaged-girlish Obama cheerleading (yay!) and capacity to make jaw-droppingly wrong statements (more serious than the Ryan plan), combined with a comic sense of exaggera — holy crap, this just in. That was actually Krugman!

Pigford Fraud: Justified By Thomas Burrell

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 2:41 am

[Guest Post by Lee Stranahan]

It’s one the most troublesome aspects of the Pigford settlement – how could thousands (or tens of thousands) of people knowingly commit fraud to receive a $50,000 check that they weren’t entitled to?

We have the answer in the form of undercover audio that was recorded at a meeting that taught potential Pigford claimants exactly how to commit fraud. The meeting was conducted by a man named Thomas Burrell, the head of the Black Farmers Agricultural Association, Inc. At CPAC in February, we held a press conference where we released a two hour unedited section of audio. Now I’m releasing the first in a series of shorter excerpts that take you through some of the key points. I

There are two parts to the full answer of how such massive fraud could come to be ; one practical, the other ethical. Practically speaking, they were coached. They were told precisely what to say in order for their claim to pass muster with the adjudicator. Who told them? People like who conducted meetings for years throughout the country.

The ethical question is the more troubling part. I believe that thousands of basically honest people were induced into committing fraud by people like Mr. Burrell. How? As you will hear in this excerpt from undercover audio that we recorded earlier this year, Thomas Burrell uses a powerful combination of persuasive techniques including literally invoking the name of God, telling his audience that their ancestors were owed the money and the technique of "social proof", which makes collecting a $50,000 check seem like something many people have done. Stir this together with the basic human failing of greed and frankly it’s a wonder that many more people do not file fraudulent claims.

Here’s the first excerpt…

And if you can’t wait for more, here’s a short excerpt from later in the meeting that shows you how blatant Thomas Burrell was in telling people that if you file a claim properly, nobody can possibly tell whether you were lying or not.

- Lee Stranahan


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