Patterico's Pontifications

5/31/2014

Obama Breaks the Law: His Deal With the Taliban Directly Violates Statute

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:58 pm

Another lawless act from a lawless president:

Among other complications, there was a potential legal obstacle: Congress has imposed statutory restrictions on the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay. The statutes say the secretary of defense must determine that a transfer is in the interest of national security, that steps have been taken to substantially mitigate a future threat by a released detainee, and that the secretary notify Congress 30 days before any transfer of his determination.

In this case, the secretary, Chuck Hagel, acknowledged in a statement that he did not notify Congress ahead of time. When Mr. Obama signed a bill containing the latest version of the transfer restrictions into law, he issued a signing statement claiming that he could lawfully override them under his executive powers.

“The executive branch must have the flexibility, among other things, to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers,” he wrote in the signing statement, adding that if the restrictions “operate in a manner that violates constitutional separation of powers principles, my administration will implement them in a manner that avoids the constitutional conflict.”

An administration official said the circumstances of a fast-moving exchange deal made it appropriate to act outside the statutory framework for transfers.

“Acting outside the statutory framework” is their new code for breaking the law.

As for the notion that the signing statement makes this violation of law OK? Flashback to Barack Obama as a candidate in 2008:

“Congress’ job is to pass legislation,” Obama explained. “The president can veto it or he can sign it. But what George Bush has been trying to do as part of his effort to accumulate more power in the presidency. … He’s been saying, well I can basically change what Congress passed by attaching a letter saying ‘I don’t agree with this part or I don’t agree with that part, I’m going to choose to interpret it this way or that way.’”

“That’s not part of his power, but this is part of the whole theory of George Bush that he can make laws as he goes along,” he went on to say. “I disagree with that. I taught the Constitution for 10 years. I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress.

You just did.

That promise went the way of Obama’s 2009 pledge to reform the VA, and to reject multi-billion dollar helicopters. It is, as the phrase goes, an inoperative statement.

Impeach.

Thanks to Dana.

Maya Angelou’s Decision

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:26 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Earlier this week, noted author Maya Angelou passed away at 86. I read an interesting essay she wrote about her decision to keep her baby when she found out she was pregnant at age 16. Poking around the web, I found the essay also linked at Ricochet and was struck by the wide range of a few comments left by readers.

–One more comment on this post because it quite honestly, infuriated me. I don’t for one minute disapprove of pre-marital sex yet I certainly don’t approve of using abortion as a method of birth control. What I approve of is making responsible choices about one’s personal life that do not incur “procedures” or single motherhood or the ruination of inner city neighborhoods.

–It didn’t endorse but in my humble opinion, it glamorized; most teenagers do not grow up to be Maya Angelou. More realistic examples should have been provided from the single black mothers who contribute to a 75% illegitimacy rate and are responsible for the statistics that one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.

–Wow, what an amazing story.

–Grrreat message to send to young unmarried women.

–God bless. These are stories that need to be shouted from the rooftops.

Focusing on the decision made as a 16 year old, was it a selfless, noble choice or was it a pre-cursor to the growing crisis within the black community which began in the 1940′s, (around the very time Angelou made the decision)?

Here is the essay in its entirety:

The Decision That Changed My Life:
Keeping My Baby
by Maya Angelou

When I was 16, a boy in high school evinced interest in me, so I had sex with him — just once. And after I came out of that room, I thought, Is that all there is to it? My goodness, I’ll never do that again! Then, when I found out I was pregnant, I went to the boy and asked him for help, but he said it wasn’t his baby and he didn’t want any part of it.

I was scared to pieces. Back then, if you had money, there were some girls who got abortions, but I couldn’t deal with that idea. Oh, no. No. I knew there was somebody inside me. So I decided to keep the baby.

My older brother, Bailey, my confidant, told me not to tell my mother or she’d take me out of school. So I hid it the whole time with big blouses! Finally, three weeks before I was due, I left a note on my stepfather’s pillow telling him I was pregnant. He told my mother, and when she came home, she calmly asked me to run her bath.

I’ll never forget what she said: “Now tell me this — do you love the boy?” I said no. “Does he love you?” I said no. “Then there’s no point in ruining three lives. We are going to have our baby!”

What a knockout she was as a mother of teens. Very loving. Very accepting. Not one minute of recrimination. And I never felt any shame.

I’m telling you that the best decision I ever made was keeping that baby! Yes, absolutely. Guy was a delight from the start — so good, so bright, and I can’t imagine my life without him.

At 17 I got a job as a cook and later as a nightclub waitress. I found a room with cooking privileges, because I was a woman with a baby and needed my own place. My mother, who had a 14-room house, looked at me as if I was crazy! She said, “Remember this: You can always come home.” She kept that door open. And every time life kicked me in the belly, I would go home for a few weeks.

I struggled, sure. We lived hand-to-mouth, but it was really heart-to-hand. Guy had love and laughter and a lot of good reading and poetry as a child. Having my son brought out the best in me and enlarged my life. Whatever he missed, he himself is a great father today. He was once asked what it was like growing up in Maya Angelou’s shadow, and he said, “I always thought I was in her light.”

Years later, when I was married, I wanted to have more children, but I couldn’t conceive. Isn’t it wonderful that I had a child at 16? Praise God!

–Dana

L.A. Times Celebrates Trade of Five Taliban GTMO Detainees for U.S. Soldier — Without Telling You Who Those Detainees Are

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:41 pm

This is on the L.A. Times main site right now:

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 3.21.32 PM

Here is the beginning of the story:

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a captive of the Taliban for nearly five years, has been released to the U.S. military in Afghanistan in exchange for the release of five Afghan prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bergdahl, an Idaho native, was 23 went he went missing in June 30, 2009, in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika, near the border with Pakistan.

President Obama says U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been released.

“On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal,” President Obama said in a statement released by the White House. Obama is now scheduled to speak from the White House at 3:15 p.m.

Robert Bergdahl, the soldier’s father, tweeted his thanks Saturday afternoon.

“To every single person who worked so hard to make this recovery possible, WE LOVE YOU! GOD IS GREAT AND HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER!” wrote @bobbergdahl.

You can keep reading the article for details about the “five Afghan prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba” — but you will not find those details. The released Afghans are mentioned only one more time in the story:

Bergdahl, now 28, was released to American custody Saturday evening, local time, in Afghanistan. The transfers happened after a week of intense negotiations mediated by the gover nment of Qatar, which will take custody of the Afghans. Several dozen U.S. special forces were involved in the exchange, which took place in eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border.

There is absolutely nothing in the article about who these detainees are. Are they dangerous? Do they pose a risk to the U.S.? The L.A. Times seems remarkably incurious about the answers to these rather obvious questions. The reporter is far too busy telling us how wonderful it is that Bergdahl is home.

The answers can be found, though — of all places, at the Daily Beast (!). The article is titled Here are the Taliban Terrorists Obama Released to Free POW Bowe Bergdahl. The Beast deserves your click to read the whole thing, but I’ll give you a teaser:

The five Guantanamo detainees released by the Obama administration in exchange for America’s last prisoner of war in Afghanistan, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, are bad guys. They are top Taliban commanders the group has tried to free for more than a decade.

According to a 2008 Pentagon dossier on Guantanamo Bay inmates, all five men released were considered to be a high risk to launch attacks against the United States and its allies if they were liberated. The exchange shows that the Obama administration was willing to pay a steep price, indeed, for Bergdahl’s freedom. The administration says they will be transferred to Qatar, which played a key role in the negotiations.

. . . .

While not as well known as Guantanamo inmates like 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Taliban 5 were some of the worst outlaws in the U.S. war on terror. And their release will end up replenishing the diminished leadership ranks of the Afghan Taliban at a moment when the United States is winding down the war there.

“They are undoubtedly among the most dangerous Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo,” said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior editor at the Long War Journal who keeps a close watch on developments concerning the detainees left at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Nobody can deny that it’s wonderful news to have a captive soldier home. But a publication needs to be honest about the tradeoffs.

Are you surprised to find that the Los Angeles Times has not been honest?

5/30/2014

Obama’s Hypocrisy in His 2009 Speech to Veterans: The Hypocrisy You’ve Heard About . . . and the Hypocrisy You Haven’t

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:14 pm

You may remember this Obama quote from 2009:

Today, I can announce that we’re taking another step. I have directed my Chief Performance Officer, my Chief Technology Officer and my Chief Information Officer to join with Secretary Shinseki in a new reform effort. We’re launching a new competition to capture the very best ideas of our VA employees who work with you every day.

We’re going to challenge each of our 57 regional VA offices to come up with the best ways of doing business, harnessing the best information technologies, breaking through the bureaucracy.

And then we’re going to fund the best ideas and put them into action. All with a simple mission—cut those backlogs, slash those wait times and deliver your benefits sooner. I know, you’ve heard this for years. But with the leadership and resources we’re providing, I know we can do this. And that is our mission.

Taken together, these investments represent an historic increase in our commitment to America’s veterans—a 15 percent increase over last year’s funding levels and the largest increase in the VA budget in more than 30 years. And over the next five years we’ll invest another $25 billion more.

These are major investments, and these are difficult times. Fiscal discipline demands that we make hard decisions—sacrificing certain things we cannot afford. But let me be clear. America’s commitments to its veterans are not just lines in a budget. They are bonds that are sacrosanct—a sacred trust we are honor bound to uphold. And we will.

Flashbacks are a bitch, aren’t they?

Yes, you’ve probably already been reminded of that speech. But here’s what you may not remember. That quote above is from a speech that Obama delivered on August 17, 2009 to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix. Here is what else he told the vets:

Already, I’ve put an end to unnecessary no-bid contracts. I signed bipartisan legislation to reform defense procurement so weapons systems don’t spin out of control. And even as we increase spending on the equipment and weapons our troops do need, we have proposed cutting tens of billions of dollars in waste we don’t need.

Think about it. Hundreds of millions of dollars for an alternate second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter—when one reliable engine will do just fine. Nearly two billion dollars to buy more F-22 fighter jets when we can move ahead with a fleet of newer, more affordable aircraft. Tens of billions of dollars to put an anti-missile laser on a fleet of vulnerable 747s.

And billions of dollars for a new presidential helicopter. Maybe you heard about this. Among other capabilities, it would let me cook a meal while under nuclear attack. I’ll tell you something. If the United States of America is under nuclear attack, the last thing on my mind will be whipping up a snack.

It’s simple enough. Cut the waste. Save taxpayer dollars. Support the troops. . . . [I]f Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with that kind of waste, I will veto it.

Tough talk. And equally ironic in view of actual events. From earlier this month — May 9, 2014 — we get this story: Obama’s New Helicopter Fleet Could Cost $20 Billion:

The Pentagon has awarded a contract to begin development of the most expensive helicopters ever made.

Each helicopter will probably cost at least $400 million. The entire project, to build at least 23 helicopters, has been estimated to eventually cost between $10 billion to $17 billion. By comparison, the project could pay the combined defense budgets of Finland, Norway, and Sweden for one year ($16.9 billion).

The passengers for this enormously expensive helicopter fleet? The President of the United States and his entourage.

. . . .

The president’s helicopters must have a full suite of defensive countermeasures to throw off the targeting and guidance systems of missiles. They must be “hardened” against the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear blast that could fry electronics and knock out everything from smartphones to helicopters.

Yes: the electronics must be hardened against a nuclear blast, so that you can still run helicopters, smartphones . . . and of course all your basic kitchen items, so you can whip up a meal.

This man is utterly shameless.

Earthquake!!!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:00 pm

Pretty quick, and relatively mild. Still.

UPDATE: Preliminary report: magnitude 3.8, 10.5 miles southwest of San Pedro (and me).

L.A. Times Calls Jay Carney “Bespeckled”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:39 pm

Jay Carney resigned today. (Good riddance, by the way.) The L.A. Times article on Carney’s resignation describes him in this way:

Bespeckled and mild-mannered, Carney is known for a disciplined and rigid style of briefing the press during the daily on-camera back-and-forth at the White House. He generally sticks closely to pre-written talking points, except when interjecting a bit of editorial direction and media criticism aimed at his former reporter colleagues.

“Bespeckled”?

Judge for yourself:

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 5.34.57 PM
Above: the bespectacled, but not particularly bespeckled, Jay Carney

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of “bespeckled” is: “Mark[ed] or cover[ed] with a large number of small spots or patches of color.”

I don’t quite think Carney is spotted, but he does wear glasses. I’m guessing that’s what they meant.

Hey, it’s not like language is their business or anything . . .

P.S. In case they try to quietly correct it, the article is preserved in its original state here.

UPDATE: Yup, they corrected it — without any note. It never happened, do you hear me? Never happened.

In fact, you’re not even seeing this screenshot on your screen:

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 7.52.18 PM

What did we ever do before the Internet?

Friday News Dump

Filed under: General — JD @ 2:38 pm

[guest post by JD]

Lying liar Carney resigns.

Shinseki resigns.

Obama tells us that “This is my administration, I always take responsibility”. He then proceeds to blame old computers and tells us the problems pre-dated his administration.

It has been reported that Hillary has hired Tommy Dude Vietor to help her spin Benghazi. Recall he is the one that left open the possibility that he made changes to the talking points, and gave us the infamous “dude, that was like 2 years ago” nonsense.

Discuss

—JD

SWAT Team’s Stun Grenade Burns Child, Leaves Him in Coma

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:32 am

Awful:

A family is in shock after a SWAT team threw a stun grenade into their 19-month-old son’s crib during a midnight drugs raid, leaving the baby in a medically induced coma with severe burns.

Wisconsin mother Alecia Phonesavanh, her husband, Bounkham, and their children including toddler, Bou Jr., were visiting her sister-in-law in Atlanta, Georgia, when police raided the home early Wednesday.

Phonesavanh said officers threw a stun grenade, which landed in the sleeping child’s crib.

. . . .

Deputies said they bought drugs from the house and came back with a no-knock warrant to arrest a man known to have drugs and weapons, WSB reported. They arrested Wanis Thometheva, 30, during the raid.

Darby told WSBTV that the entire police unit is upset over the incident, which was an accident.

There is a horrible picture at the link which I do not care to reproduce here.

Don’t treat this like the cops intended this. They didn’t. When the story says deputies are distraught over this, I believe it. Cops don’t go into law enforcement to hurt small children.

But look: if you use stun grenades in the service of a no-knock warrant like this, tragedies like this are going to happen. The question that police (and members of the public who pay the police) have to ask themselves is this: is it worth this kind of risk to arrest people for the crime in question? If the crime is murder, you might have one answer. If the crime is selling drugs, you might have another.

And if the answer to that question (should we use this tactic knowing the risk?) is “no” . . . then don’t do it.

P.S. I might add: don’t sell drugs out of a house with children. It’s a rough and violent business and people get hurt, even when police don’t enter the picture.

5/29/2014

Yes, UCLA…

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:42 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Untitled-1

Presenting UCLA, in all its eye-rolling glory:

First, the campus’s alleged systemic racism is being tackled with the hiring of “discrimination officers”.

UCLA is in the process of hiring two “discrimination officers” to handle racial discrimination complaints – a move expected to make it easier to probe grievances over racism – something alleged to be systemic among faculty at the public university.

“Concerned faculty members described a campus racial climate in near-crisis,” stated authors of a report released last fall which probed UCLA’s alleged racism epidemic and its supposed inadequacy at handling bias complaints. “(S)enior faculty members and former administration officials contended that the recent high-profile racial incidents at UCLA were only the tip of the iceberg, and that the campus racial climate, for a variety of reasons, has regressed since the mid-twentieth century.”

The discrimination officers, once hired, will be a one-stop shop of sorts, there for those who feel marginalized, giving them one, clear avenue to which they can take their complaints. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block says their hiring is imminent.

The report had also suggested the discrimination officers conduct mandated diversity training for administrators and develop annual reports summarizing all the bias incidents and their outcomes.

In addition to the diversity officials, UCLA is looking to mandate a diversity class as part of the general education requirement for students.

But of course.

And, really?? UCLA has to have a workshop to teach young adults about this?

–Dana

VA Administration Interim Report Released

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:41 pm

[guest post by Dana]

A much anticipated VA Office of Inspector General interim report was released yesterday. It is so damning that it seems highly likely that before the weekend is over, Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki will have stepped down from his position to spend more time with his family. However, there are those arguing that his stepping down would be more for show and not solve the problem, even suggesting resignation would simply be a convenient distraction to mollify an angry public and possibly sidetrack a criminal investigation.

Also, with the release of the report, Sen. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, called on Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct a criminal investigation into the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is so damning that even the Democrat leadership is calling for an investigation. (One assumes Nancy Pelosi has now discovered what the actual definition of “scandal” is). Less than two weeks ago, Holder was at a wait-and-see point.

“Well, obviously these reports if they’re true are unacceptable, and the allegations are being taken very seriously by the administration. But I don’t have any announcements at this time with regard to anything that the Justice Department is doing,” Holder told reporters at a press conference.

“This is something on our radar screen at this point, but there is an investigation being done by the [VA] inspector general, and we’ll see what happens as a result of that inquiry and other information that comes to light in some form or fashion,” Holder added.

In light of the interim report, it is difficult to see how he could not open an investigation.

Here is a summary of the interim report.

The report focuses only on Phoenix, Ariz. area VA hospitals, but in Phoenix alone, about 1,700 veterans were waiting for a doctor’s appointment but were not on the electronic wait list for the VA. Simply put, these vets had gone to the VA and tried to schedule an appointment, but were not put into the scheduling system. The explanation is that some staff at the Phoenix VA would place vets in the system only when they would be placed into an open appointment. Thus, when they were scheduled, the Phoenix VA could claim that each of these vets, many of whom likely waited months, had a wait time of “zero days.”

Other staff would simply delete doctor visits they thought were unnecessary. Still others would simply change the “requested appointment date” without telling the patient.

All of this sleight-of-hand allowed the Phoenix VA to boast in 2013 that vets waited an average of 24 days for their first appointment, which would look normal. In reality, yesterday’s IG report shows that these vets waited an average of 115 days for an appointment—almost four months! Not only do such underhanded tactics hinder efforts to better manage the VA, they also risk veterans falling through the cracks. Imagine being sick, calling the VA to schedule an appointment and being told “we will call you back when we have an appointment available” – and then they never call back.

–Dana

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