Patterico's Pontifications

8/31/2013

Obama Will Seek Congressional Authority for Syria Strike

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:13 pm



A dictator in the Middle East uses poisonous gas on his citizens. The world refuses to agree to support a U.S. attack, but the President decides to go “unilateral” — after seeking an authorization to use military force from Congress, of course.

Thank God we’ve changed from the days of George Bush and Iraq.

FLASHBACK:

[Obama’s] approach is a far cry from then-candidate Obama’s campaign-trail appeals for international cooperation.

During an April 2007 speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Obama said the U.S. cannot try to “bully [the world] into submission.”

In a 2007 essay in Foreign Affairs, he specifically warned about breaking off from European allies: “In the case of Europe, we dismissed European reservations about the wisdom and necessity of the Iraq war.”

During his July 2008 campaign speech in Berlin, Obama told Europeans that “no one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone.” He warned that “on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny” and that neither America nor Europe can “turn inward.”

Hope and change, baby. Hope . . . and change.

8/30/2013

Hiking the Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:59 pm



The hike from Grutschalp to Mürren.

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 9.51.23 PM

Syria Attack to Be Enough to Keep Obama from Getting Mocked

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:46 am



Because that’s what’s important here:

A U.S. official briefed on the military options being considered by President Obama told the Los Angeles Times that the White House is seeking a strike on Syria “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”

“They are looking at what is just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic,” the official told the paper, giving credence to similar reports describing a limited military strike in the aftermath of last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack.

Via Hot Air.

It’s all ego with this guy.

UPDATE: And, as a reminder: it all started with an ad lib.

RANDOM THOUGHT: I bet if Obama thought he could use the military domestically to avoid being mocked, he’d do that too.

8/29/2013

Booker denied being gay in ’00, now says gay rumors are ‘wonderful’

Filed under: General — Charles C. Johnson @ 2:59 pm



[Guest post by Charles C. Johnson]

Although Mayor Cory Booker now refuses to say whether or not he’s gay and says gay rumors about him are “wonderful,” Booker told the New Jersey’s Star Ledger that he wasn’t gay in 2000.

“[Booker] keeps copies of fliers about him on his desk, street literature that denounces him as a carpetbagger and a liar. Broadsides that say the bachelor is gay,” wrote Bob Braun of the Star Ledger on February 2, 2000. “‘I’m not,’ he says.”

Is it too cynical to think that maybe the reason he didn’t want people to think he’s gay then is that he wanted to represent blacks in Newark?

The answer seems to be because Cory Booker has a bigoted view of blacks. Witness T. Bone, his fictitious drug dealer friend exposed over at National Review by Eliana Johnson.

Booker likely thought that a friendship with a street thug would play well in seedy Newark. He likely also thought that keeping his sexuality on the down low would play well, too.

Now that he doesn’t need the blacks he doesn’t have to worry and can play footsie around the closet.

But if he wants to be president, he has to play an Ed Koch by refusing to answer every question about himself except the one about his sexuality.

–Charles C. Johnson

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I don’t care if a politician is gay.

Time will tell whether that is Booker’s only issue, though.

UPDATE x2 BY PATTERICO: Foo Bar points out in comments that Booker described himself as a “straight male” as recently as July 22. Without more, this seems like a non-issue to me.

National Journal: ObamaCare Will Make Premiums Higher As Employers Drop Coverage

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:34 am



I’ll be over here holding my breath waiting for Big Media to ask Obama about this:

Republicans have long blamed President Obama’s signature health care initiative for increasing insurance costs, dubbing it the “Unaffordable Care Act.”

Turns out, they might be right.

For the vast majority of Americans, premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they’re currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data. Adding even more out-of-pocket expenses to consumers’ monthly insurance bills is a swell in deductibles under the Affordable Care Act.

Health law proponents have excused the rate hikes by saying the prices in the exchange won’t apply to the millions receiving coverage from their employers. But that’s only if employers continue to offer that coverage–something that’s looking increasingly uncertain. Already, UPS, for example, cited Obamacare as its reason for nixing spousal coverage. And while a Kaiser Family Foundation report found that 49 percent of the U.S. population now receives employer-sponsored coverage, more companies are debating whether they will continue to be in the business of providing such benefits at all.

If you like your doctor and your health plan, you can keep it.

We just forgot to mention you’ll have to pay a lot more for it.

8/28/2013

Obama 2008: We Need to Talk to Syria and Iran

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:19 am



A tipster sent me an 2008 article from the Ottowa Citizen (reprinted from the Daily Telegraph), not available online, in which Obama is quoted as saying: “One of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria.”

I researched a little further to look for the context of the quote, and found that it came from one of the debates in 2008. The immediate context has to do with fallout from the Iraq war, but the full context reminds one of Obama’s naivete in thinking he could simply sit down with leaders from Syria and Iran and work things out:

QUESTION: “[W]ould you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?”

OBAMA: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this [the Bush] administration — is ridiculous.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.

And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them. We’ve been talking about Iraq — one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they’re going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.

They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region.

So. Has President Peace Prize started the bombing yet?

Open thread!

8/27/2013

Exclusive: Jim Letten Tells Charles C. Johnson That the Decision to Prosecute O’Keefe Was Made “At Highest Levels of the Justice Department”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:25 am



The following comes to us from Charles C. Johnson, the “good Charles Johnson” (not to be confused with the guy at Little Green Footballs who bans anyone who disagrees with him even slightly.) Back in July, Charles spoke to former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten about the video of Jim Letten’s angry confrontation with James O’Keefe, in which Letten called O’Keefe a “hobbit” and a “spud” and an “asshole” and threw O’Keefe’s book at him.

Charles has allowed me to publish the interview exclusively here at patterico.com. Mr. Letten is welcome to respond with his side. Indeed, I specifically extended that invitation to Letten by email upon the publication of this post. Here is Charles’s interview:

My conversation in mid-July with former U.S. Attorney and Tulane Law School Dean Jim Letten

I reached out to Letten on his Tulane email address and gave him my number. He called me and we spoke for twenty-five minutes. Letten kept asking for the conversation to be off the record, something I never agreed to.

In any event, Letten did not respect his own off the record request and went to another journalist, John Simerman, a writer for the New Orleans Advocate who has written positively about Letten in the past, including a very sympathetic portrait of the former U.S. Attorney only days after he resigned in disgrace.

Using information he could only have obtained from me, Letten talked to Simerman about O’Keefe. Simerman then wrote an article trashing O’Keefe. Letten, who is unnamed as a source in the article but most likely “a source with knowledge of the incident,” admitted in an email to having spoken with Simerman. By contrast Simerman reported that Letten “declined to comment on the incidents.” Simerman did not return a request for comment.

When asked if his own comments were appropriate, Letten attacked O’Keefe’s credibility and called him an “extreme right-winger partisan who does these kind of stunts.”

When I said that I had seen the videotape of O’Keefe offering his wife a copy of the book and that he seemed pleasant, Letten insisted that O’Keefe had “terrorized” his wife and “threatened” his family, an assertion he repeated throughout the conversation.

Letten, who had been the longest serving U.S. Attorney, resigned in December 2012 after his two top lieutenants, including first assistant Jan Mann who prosecuted O’Keefe, were caught posting anonymous comments on a major Louisiana newspaper site mocking the defense during a high-profile trial. When confronted by a federal judge about it, Letten’s top staffers lied. Letten, along with two others, including Mann, resigned in disgrace.

At the time of O’Keefe’s trial Mann refused to comment on the charges brought against O’Keefe. Mann told Fox News.com that the U.S. Attorney’s office “[doesn’t] try cases in the press.”

Letten refused to answer whether O’Keefe’s case wasn’t subject to similar online sock puppetry, maintaining that O’Keefe was “appropriately prosecuted.” He did not answer questions as to how he could have known that if he recused himself from the prosecution.

O’Keefe has maintained that someone from the U.S. Attorney’s office leaked his privileged attorney-client emails, a subject he discusses at length in his book. Letten insists that he had nothing to do with it, if it indeed happened at all. “He’s just very deceitful and deceptive,” Letten said, who again said he had recused himself.

Letten wouldn’t say why he recused himself, but it is most likely because one of the defendants, including Robert Flagan, who is the son of the then acting U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Louisiana. Letten and Flagan are social acquaintances.

Letten insisted that he recused himself from the case, but after prodding acknowledged that it was “my office who continued to make the decision.” “When someone recuses themselves it isn’t done lightly,” Letten insisted.

The decision to prosecute O’Keefe and to accept Letten’s recusal was made at “the very highest levels of the Justice Department.” “[O’Keefe] was appropriately convicted.”

Letten declined to answer if his office worked with Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute O’Keefe.

There’s reason to think that he may have. Last month, J. Christian Adams, a voting rights expert, revealed documents that showed coordination by Holder’s Justice Department with Attorney General Richard Head of New Hampshire after O’Keefe’s successful voter fraud investigations. [Editor’s note: Richard Head has worked directly with Brett Kimberlin associate and professional harasser Neal Rauhauser.]

Insisting that O’Keefe wasn’t a “journalist,” Letten did not answer a question about whether O’Keefe should have been given the same protections as the so-called McConnell buggers, who were given First Amendment protections by the Justice Department. He persisted in refusing to answer the question.

Letten was indignant when asked why he took O’Keefe’s book only to throw it back at him. “Oh come on! I tossed it at him!”

Finally, I asked him if he felt his behavior was in keeping with the code of conduct that Tulane has for all its students and faculty. He declined to answer.

Bug Mitch McConnell, get treated like a journalist. Be James O’Keefe, get the book thrown at you.

That’s our Justice Department these days. Aren’t you proud?

UPDATE: Ken from Popehat makes the sound point that we can’t necessarily infer that McConnell’s bugger won’t be prosecuted just because he confessed in writing at Salon.com months ago and has yet to be prosecuted. The Feds have a way of delaying action to such a degree that is mystifying to mere mortals.

UPDATE x2: Thanks very much to Instapundit for the link.

8/26/2013

Disgraced Former U.S. Attorney Throws the Book at James O’Keefe

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:15 pm



Literally.

The headline just writes itself. This is comedy gold.

You have to watch the video, as descriptions don’t do it justice. Basically, the guy in charge of the U.S. Attorney’s Office that prosecuted O’Keefe for a B.S. petty violation screams at O’Keefe, calls him a “hobbit” and a “spud” (racism against the Irish?!) and an “asshole.” Then he grabs O’Keefe’s book from him just so he can throw it at O’Keefe.

My. It would be fine to have this guy in charge of your future, wouldn’t it?

Letten, it should be remembered, resigned in disgrace after his top assistants were caught sock-puppeting comments about a case they were prosecuting and lying to a judge about it. One of those sock-puppeting assistants had haughtily proclaimed about O’Keefe: “We don’t try cases in the press.”

Ha.

P.S. I have been dying to write this post ever since I first saw the video of Letten’s antics back in early July, and teased it on Twitter (note the dates of the tweets):

P.P.S. More exclusive information about Letten and O’Keefe in the morning. I have a feeling you’ll be interested.

Obvious Hate Crime Is (Not) Obvious

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:40 am



The following is three-day-old news. So sue me. I was on vacation.

USA Today reports on an obvious hate crime by two young white males on a black World War II vet:

Spokane police said Friday they have arrested one of two teenagers wanted as suspects in the beating death of an 88-year-old World War II vet who was wounded at Okinawa.

Delbert Belton, known as “Shorty,” died Thursday from head injuries suffered in the attack Wednesday night outside the Eagles Lodge.

KHQ-TV reports that the 16-year-old is being held in juvenile detention but will be charged as an adult and faces first degree murder and first degree robbery charges.

Police had released the photos of two teenagers seen in area surveillance footage.

The case is gaining nationwide attention because the perpetrators were white and the victim, a World War II hero, was black. Touré has brought the case to the attention of the public on Twitter and plans to speak about it today on MSNBC. Already Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have begun preparations for marches for justice across the country, demanding justice for Belton. Colin Powell has said that anything less than a first degree murder conviction would be “suspect.” On networks across the country, round-the-clock coverage has been promised, and speculation abounds about whether, after the George Zimmerman case, an acquittal here might be the spark that sets off a nationwide race ri —

[Like many things I write, this next bit probably works best if you hear it being said in the voice of Norm MacDonald, using the voice he uses when he is doing an obvious “bit.”]

Hold the fort! I’ve just been handed a piece of paper with some writing on it. Please excuse me for a moment while I just take the piece of paper I have been handed, and read the words that have been placed upon it for me to read.

[Silence. Norm’s lips move silently.]

Huh. How about that.

It appears that the story I was reading to you was accurate, with the exception of one small detail: the suspects are black and the victim is white. And the person who brought it to the attention of Twitter was not Touré, but James Woods.

Well, I don’t see a story here, fellas, do you?

[Fade to black.]

Defunding ObamaCare: The Possibility of Failure Cannot Prevent Us From Making the Attempt

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:21 am



“The effort to defund ObamaCare has failed. It was my hope that we could fight this law, which marks a new level of government control over our lives, and defeat it before it was implemented. I was wrong to think that we could get this done at this time and in this way, but I will never stop fighting until the goal of repealing this law is finally achieved.” — Ted Cruz, September 29, 2013, on the failure to defund ObamaCare.

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duly could do. If any blame or fault is attached to the attempt it is mine alone.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower, July 5, 1944, on the failed D-Day invasion.

“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace. These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice. . . . Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts. For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.” — Richard M. Nixon, July 21, 1969, after confirmation of the deaths of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon.

As we contemplate the fight to defund ObamaCare, the prospect of failure weighs heavily on Republicans’ hearts. The question on many people’s minds is: if we fail, what will that mean for Republicans’ election prospects?

Perhaps the better question is: if we fail, what will that mean for freedom?

Men have faced the prospect of failure before, in embarking on undertakings whose prospects for success seem obvious now, with the virtue of hindsight.

Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote a message in his own hand that he was prepared to deliver in July 1944 if it became clear that D-Day had not been successful. The message, quoted above, shows that Eisenhower knew there was no certainty that we would win the day in Normandy — something that had to weigh heavily on his mind given the catastrophe of the Battle of Dieppe, the previous attempt at an invasion of the European mainland.

William Safire drafted a speech, excepted above, for Richard Nixon to deliver in the event that humanity’s first attempt to have men walk on the Moon was a disastrous failure. Given the deaths of Gus Grissom, Edward White II, and Roger Chaffee in Apollo 1, success certainly did not seem assured — and as students of the landing know, there were many points where everything could have gone (and almost did go) disastrously wrong.

I hope Ted Cruz does not have to deliver the short address I have written above, but he might.

Any time we embark on any worthwhile fight, we must consider the possibility of failure.

But we must also not allow the possibility to frighten us into not trying in the first place.

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