Patterico's Pontifications


Obama to Declare a Grand New Era of Unilateral Action, Beginning with a Minimum Wage Hike for Employees of Federal Contractors

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:44 am

In tonight’s State of the Union, President Obama intends to set off an era of unilateral presidential action by unilaterally increasing the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors:

President Obama plans to sign an executive order requiring that janitors, construction workers and others working for federal contractors be paid at least $10.10 an hour, using his own power to enact a more limited version of a policy that he has yet to push through Congress.

The order, which Mr. Obama will highlight in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night, is meant to underscore an increasing willingness by the president to bypass Congress if lawmakers continue to resist his agenda, aides said. After a year in which most of his legislative priorities went nowhere, Mr. Obama is seeking ways to make progress despite a lack of cooperation on Capitol Hill.

This idea was proposed back in December, and Jay Carney said something very interesting then:

Q: You spoke about some Republicans on the Hill, but congressional progressives — the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Democrats, have written a letter to the President urging that he circumvent Congress and sign an executive order to raise the minimum wage for workers employed through federal government contracts with private companies.

MR. CARNEY: I haven’t seen that, Peter. I would simply say that for those who watched or heard or read the President’s speech yesterday, you know how strongly he supports raising the minimum wage. This has always been done legislatively, and it has been done with support from Republicans and not just Democrats in the past.

And why has it always been done legislatively? Because, without some explanation of how Obama will offset the cost (what? there’s a cost? Yes, there’s a cost), it sounds like the President is spending our money without Congressional authorization.

Is this technically unconstitutional? I’m not sure. I have asked Eugene Volokh whether his blog will do a post on the matter today, and I hope they do. I am seeing word that the order will apply only to new contracts — and if that’s true, it may be constitutional. Here’s Charles W. Cooke on the matter:

That sounds right.

I think they ought to calculate what the cost would have been without the minimum wage, and appropriate that, and not a penny more. It’s then up to Obama to figure out how to handle the shortfall. Don’t like it? Welcome to the world of business owners, Mr. President! They have to make hard choices and so should you.

Like all my dreams about Congress standing up to this guy, this will never happen. The fact of the matter is that this President continues to appropriate Congressional authority in more blatant ways all the time. The New York Times piece linked above has helpfully catalogued some of the complaints from those damned carping Republicans:

Even so, Mr. Obama’s vow to use his executive authority more robustly has drawn criticism from Republicans who say he has already stretched and, in some cases, exceeded the bounds of his power, much as he once accused President George W. Bush of doing.

Among other things, Mr. Obama unilaterally deferred deportation of many younger illegal immigrants after Congress declined to pass legislation giving them legal status. He has delayed enforcement of several aspects of his hotly disputed health care law. He declined to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act, a law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

As he looks ahead to three more years in office, and with Republicans likely to still hold one if not both houses of Congress, Mr. Obama has sought other ways of enacting his agenda. Perhaps the most far-reaching area will be the environment, where the Environmental Protection Agency is working on regulations to limit carbon emissions at the nation’s power plants.

Imagine if Republicans won the Senate this year, and lawmakers declared they no longer needed a presidential signature to pass certain laws. There would be a cry of outrage. And these actions would be ignored, because Congress has no enforcement agency. But Obama’s declaring he does not need congressional authorization to change our laws? That barely registers in the national consciousness. And yet this is more dangerous, because Obama has the police power. He has the guns. If anyone needs to be checked, he does.

On his radio show, Mark Levin has accurately described what is taking place here as a slow-motion coup. Regardless of the constitutionality of today’s action, it is clear that Obama is taking on powers that a President simply does not possess under the Constitution. The problem is, lawsuits are not the way to stop this. The way to stop it is Congressional action. And Congress won’t do it.

Once again, I am noting something that will be largely ignored. And our country slides a little further towards oblivion.


Latest Project Veritas Video Helps Show How Wendy Davis Targets Greg Abbott’s Disability — But Not in the Way You Think

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:58 am

I just watched the newest video from Project Veritas, depicting supporters of Wendy Davis mocking Greg Abbott for being in a wheelchair. I think the kneejerk reaction to it is: look at how awful lefties are! I have a very slightly different reaction to it: it convinces me that the recent Davis quote saying Greg Abbott “walked a day in my shoes” was a deliberate backhanded shot at Abbott’s disability.

Two quotes from Davis supporters:

He doesn’t speak well, he isn’t good looking, he doesn’t have a good personality, and he’s in a wheelchair.


I’m wondering how this is going to work out, because he’s in a wheelchair and most of the slogans are “Stand With Wendy.”

The second quote is from a Battleground Texas volunteer who also theatrically puts her hands over her ears when someone else in the room talking about possible illegal activity having to do with voter registration.

Now: I think it’s child’s play to collect disgusting and offensive quotes from supporters of a political candidate. That aspect of the video doesn’t grab me. Let partisans make hay out of that.

I have to say, though: I had not been following this race closely enough to realize that “Stand with Wendy” is one of Davis’s big slogans. Here again, we have a double standard. Can you imagine if a conservative used a slogan like that, no matter how appropriate and justified, in a campaign against someone in a wheelchair? The media would never stop portraying that conservative as mocking and heartless.

And yet, it’s a fair slogan in this campaign. Face it: Davis made her name on a filibuster. She is famous for “standing up.” It would be unfair to insist that she softsell that association simply because her opponent can’t stand up.

But . . .

But the campaign surely must have at least thought about this. Just ask Davis defender and O’Keefe critic Dave Weigel. In mocking the partisans who have gotten mileage out of the silly statements of the Davis campaign supporters, Weigel says:

This is a conversation that anyone strategizing to elect Davis was going to have, just as the Abbott campaign was going to strategize (hopefully without cameras in the room) about how to run against a woman without making gaffes. “Stand With [name of candidate]” is a common frame, used by Marco Rubio—only natural, isn’t it, to wonder if it looks cruel when the opponent can’t walk?

Weigel’s intent here is to give context for the heartless statements of Davis supporters, but he unconsciously makes a strong point against Davis. Namely: Davis herself and her strategists have to be very conscious of how their slogans can be perceived as an attack on Abbott’s disability, even if the principal intent of the slogan is to remind voters of Davis’s filibuster. (In a different era, this might have been a springboard for an interesting discussion about intent and interpretation.) To me, that doesn’t mean that Davis should not be allowed to use “Stand with Wendy” as a slogan. It just means that Davis is absolutely conscious of the way that her statements can be taken as a slap at Abbott’s disability — and as the video reveals, some people see that disability as a weakness.

Again, I am not knocking Davis for the “Stand with Wendy” slogan — I am providing the full context for revisiting Davis’s recent quote:

We’re not surprised by Greg Abbott’s campaign attacks on the personal story of my life as a single mother who worked hard to get ahead. But they won’t work, because my story is the story of millions of Texas women who know the strength it takes when you’re young, alone and a mother. I’ve always been open about my life not because my story is unique, but because it isn’t.

The truth is that at age 19, I was a teenage mother living alone with my daughter in a trailer and struggling to keep us afloat on my way to a divorce. And I knew then that I was going to have to work my way up and out of that life if I was going to give my daughter a better life and a better future and that’s what I’ve done. I am proud of where I came from and I am proud of what I’ve been able to achieve through hard work and perseverance. And I guarantee you that anyone who tries to say otherwise hasn’t walked a day in my shoes.

That was not an off-the-cuff quotation. That was a prepared statement, stating that Abbott has not walked a day in Davis’s shoes. And, unlike the “Stand with Wendy” slogan, Davis doesn’t have the excuse that this reference is necessary. Davis is not famous for walking in her shoes.

When I first wrote about this, I suggested that Davis had put her foot in her mouth. I no longer think that.

Davis knows that many people perceive weakness in Abbott’s disability. Maybe she is mocking that with the “Stand with Wendy” slogans — I suspect she is — but she at least has a defensible argument to use that slogan. Here, she was mocking Abbott’s inability to walk, in a prepared statement, with no excuse that the reference to walking was a reference to her strengths.

I think she knew exactly what she was doing, and I think O’Keefe’s video makes that especially clear.

Unfortunately, this argument — while much more convincing an attack on Davis than pointing to how cruel some of her supporters might be — is too subtle for sound-bite politics. So: never mind. tl;dr. Forget I even said a thing.


Schumer: Obama Should Bypass Congress to Target Tea Party With IRS

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:22 am

If that headline makes you bark with surprise and rub your eyes to make sure you read it right, then you’re experiencing an awakening about how Democrats see the Tea Party, executive power, and indeed the Constitution. Not only are they unashamed to openly say they want to target the Tea Party with the IRS, they’re saying that Obama and his administration can do it without Congress.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) proposed using the Internal Revenue Service to curtail Tea Party group funding during a speech on how to “exploit” and “weaken” the movement at the Center for American Progress on Thursday.

Arguing that Tea Party groups have a financial advantage after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, Schumer said the Obama administration should bypass Congress and institute new campaign finance rules through the IRS.

“It is clear that we will not pass anything legislatively as long as the House of Representatives is in Republican control, but there are many things that can be done administratively by the IRS and other government agencies—we must redouble those efforts immediately,” Schumer said.

“One of the great advantages the Tea Party has is the huge holes in our campaign finance laws created [by] the ill advised decision [Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission],” Schumer said. “Obviously the Tea Party elites gained extraordinary influence by being able to funnel millions of dollars into campaigns with ads that distort the truth and attack government.”

Laws? We ain’t got no laws. We don’t need no laws. We don’t have to show you any stinkin’ laws!

Thanks to Dana.


Sous Vide Supreme: The Results So Far

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:41 pm

Since I mentioned getting a new sous vide machine (the Sous Vide Supreme promo package) I thought I would report on the results so far. I have been discussing this in the comments to the first post I did about the device, but thought it might be worth discussing the results in a standalone post, for those who don’t read all the comments.

The first meal I made last night was sweet chicken italian sausages. I didn’t take any pictures, but the appearance was not terribly appetizing. Did them in the sous vide machine, then finished them on the grill, one minute each side, with the grill around 400. I think that was not enough; either the grill was not hot enough or I didn’t put them on long enough. They tasted good, and preserved more of the chicken taste of the chicken, but I was not jumping for joy. My basic feeling was: the taste is very good, and it was easier to cook them thoroughly all the way through without burning the hell out of the outside, but next time I will finish them differently to get a different texture.

When I had tonight’s tri-tip, things were quite different. This was a delicious meal that distinctly surpassed the results I have gotten from the same cut of meat on the grill. I tossed it in the Sous Vide Supreme for eight hours at 135 degrees, and at the end of the process, fired up my gas grill good and hot, to 600 degrees. Tossed it on there for one minute each side, and the results were amazing.

Here is the meat on the plate before carving. Note how one minute on a grill that hot gave it grill marks and plenty of texture:

TriTip Before Carving

Here it is carved up:

TriTip After Carving

And a close-up:

TriTip Close Up

This was very, very good. Very tender, but not mushy; juicy, and done perfectly to my taste. This is the only way to do tri-tip.

Next up: salmon with a lemon slice and citrus butter.

Why Do Lefties Want to Legalize Pot . . . But Ban Big Gulps?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:31 pm

Seems a mite bit inconsistent, no? (Link goes to Hot Air in light of our Politico boycott):

The very same year, for example, that Colorado legalized marijuana, the Colorado Senate passed (without a single Republican vote) a ban on trans fats in schools. Are we to believe eating a glazed donut is more harmful than smoking a joint? California has already banned trans fats in restaurants statewide, but now is on the brink of legalizing marijuana statewide come November. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s effort to decriminalize marijuana in New York State, while at the same time supporting a ban on extra-large sodas. A 32-ounce Mountain Dew is bad for you, but pot isn’t?

The logic is dumbfounding. For many years, health-conscious liberals have waged a deafening, public war against cigarettes. Smoking bans in public places like restaurants and bars have been enacted in states all over the country. Recently, New York City, New Jersey and several other cities and states have extended those bans to include the newest tobacco fad—e-cigarettes. Yet, when it comes to smoking marijuana? Crickets.

Saying “marijuana is not as bad as portrayed” is a far cry from saying “marijuana does not have any adverse health effects.” The occasional Michael Phelps outlier aside, stoners don’t particularly have a great reputation for being in excellent health. They have more of a reputation for slouching on the couch with Munchos crumblets disappearing into the folds of their T-shirts.

I don’t have to agree with libertarians on everything, but at least they don’t want the government banning any of this stuff. Lefties, what’s your excuse?


Intolerant Leftists

Filed under: General — JD @ 8:53 am

[guest post by JD]

Wendy Davis issued a perfunctory statement denouncing the Battleground statements mocking Abbott’s disability. However, her staff and supporters are still questioning the accuracy of the Project Veritas video (heavily edited lol) and continuing to bash Abbott. It is much like how she handled her biographical embellishments. She expressed a note of contrition, then she and her supporters attacked the leftist reporter and Abbott for her failings.

If you want a sense of what the left thinks about the Battleground Davis supporters mocking the disabled, take a look at the comments in this article.


Why Big Media Is Better Than Mere Bloggers

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:30 am

They have the guts and judgment necessary to interrupt a Congresswoman discussing the NSA’s phone data program, so that the network can cover Real Breaking News about Justin Bieber:

Thanks to Ken White on Facebook.

As far as Justin Bieber goes, my opinion is that I’m going to interrupt this discussion about Justin Bieber to discuss the NSA’s phone data program. So it was recently news that an independent board recommends scrapping the program entirely:

An independent executive branch board has concluded that the National Security Agency’s long-running program to collect billions of Americans’ phone records is illegal and should end.

In a strongly worded report to be issued Thursday, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) said that the statute upon which the program was based, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, “does not provide an adequate basis to support this program.”

But does the Constitution prohibit it? So far, lower courts have come to differing conclusions about the matter. It seems headed for the Supreme Court at some point, as President Obama seems unlikely to scrap the program (much less “end the NSA,” as MSNBC’s moronic lower third states).

As always, I come at this issue torn. I see on a regular basis how access to phone records and cell site data can be used as tools in criminal investigations. As a rule, prosecutors and police are interested in solving crimes, and not in abusing their access to information. That said, any database is subject to abuse. It does not generally mean that we should scrap databases as a result.

On the other hand, I don’t trust this government and this administration. Maetenloch at Ace’s collects some suspicious coincidences (via Instapundit):

Coincidence: Hollywood’s only conservative group is getting close IRS nonprofit scrutiny

Another Coincidence: James O’Keefe Group Being Audited by NY. Again.

Yet Another Coincidence: Dinesh D’Souza Indicted For Election Fraud

Still Another Coincidence: IRS Proposes New 501(c)(4) Rules That Just Happen to Cover Most Tea Party Groups

Conservatives are not immune to abuse of power; lefties in a land ruled by a President Nixon would have reason not to trust their government and administration. There is a lot of potential for abuse here.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. You can count on the professionals in the media to be right there, providing informative analysis and perspective . . . unless, of course, Justin Bieber gets arrested for egging his neighbor’s house.


Taking the Plunge Into Sous Vide

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:31 pm

My Sous Vide Supreme promo package arrived tonight. It’s all I have been talking about for days. If you’re unfamiliar with sous vide, it is basically cooking food in a vacuum-packed plastic bag in a bath of hot water at a specified temperature, generally for a longer period of time than it would take to prepare the same food on the grill. Meats come out juicy and full of flavor, and are cooked evenly throughout — no more chicked that is burned on the outside and pink on the inside. You throw the finished product on a hot grill or in a pan with hot oil to get a quick sear, and voila! the perfect meal.

I have been considering the purchase for months, ever since I met the inventors of the machine. The package came with the water oven, a vacuum sealer, a cookbook, and a starter set of 20 pouches — all for under $400. This is less than I expected to pay for the water oven alone, so I was pretty pleased.

I’m still unpacking everything and it’s too late to make a meal tonight, but I’m excited to try it out. I have a tri-tip that is probably getting the treatment this weekend. Has anyone else tried this, and if so, what do you think?

Benghazi Whistleblower: Stop Blaming the Dead Guy for Those Murders

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:36 am

Remember Greg Hicks? He’s the guy who questioned Susan Rice’s dishonest talking points on Benghazi, and was retaliated against as a result. He has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing that slain ambassador Chris Stevens is being unfairly blamed for the lack of proper security:

Last week the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued its report on the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The report concluded that the attack, which resulted in the murder of four Americans, was “preventable.” Some have been suggesting that the blame for this tragedy lies at least partly with Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack. This is untrue: The blame lies entirely with Washington.

. . . .

I was interviewed by the Select Committee and its staff, who were professional and thorough. I explained this sequence of events. For some reason, my explanation did not make it into the Senate report.

To sum up: Chris Stevens was not responsible for the reduction in security personnel. His requests for additional security were denied or ignored. Officials at the State and Defense Departments in Washington made the decisions that resulted in reduced security. Sen. Lindsey Graham stated on the Senate floor last week that Chris “was in Benghazi because that is where he was supposed to be doing what America wanted him to do: Try to hold Libya together.” He added, “Quit blaming the dead guy.”

Somebody get that guy another demotion!


All Readers Must Participate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:58 pm

Dahlia Lithwick put this up on Facebook:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 5.40.27 PM

That is silly, of course. The sentence will explain no such thing. However, I think it’s an interesting exercise, and I encourage you to post your answers in the comments. It’s a fun little exercise that gives people a chance to have a little insight into what you’re reading (or, if the nearest book to you is someone else’s, what someone close to you is reading).

My answer was: “I’m not jealous of Margot, never have been.” (The nearest book to me was one my daughter was reading.)

If we’re going with the nearest book to me that’s mine, the answer is: “If the standards of traditional sonata form are used as a basis for analyzing this movement, numerous deviations are found.”

One foot further away: “In the Adams Morgan neighborhood, black guys would shoot me sly grins and say. ‘Big pimpin’!'”

OK. Two rules.

First: don’t say what the book is. Just tell us the line. In some ways, this is reminiscent of the post where I asked for punch lines to jokes, but asked you not to tell the joke. Somehow, just giving us the sentence is more intriguing. There’s always Google if you want to find out where someone else’s quote came from.

Second: quote the first complete sentence. Sentence fragments don’t count. In a way, that’s a shame, because in the last book quoted above, it means I didn’t get to use this fragment, which appears at the very top of page 45: “even the nerdiest-looking white guys, bow ties and all, would fix on Hannah’s butt and not give me a passing glance.” Not a complete sentence; doesn’t count.

Third: everyone must participate. Even lurkers.

So, what’s your sentence?

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