Patterico's Pontifications


Sixty States and Hillary is Still in the Race

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 9:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Everyone else has already posted on this story about Barack Obama so I might as well add my 2 cents.

Obama mentioned today that he has already visited 57 states. Various bloggers and news sites speculate he misspoke because he was tired or didn’t have his Tele-Prompter and that’s probably true. It reminded me of when George H.W. Bush identified Pearl Harbor Day as September 7th instead of December 7th. Sometimes we all go brain dead for a moment.

However, the more I think about it, the more it seems like – for a moment – Obama may have believed there are 60 states. Here’s what he said:

“It is wonderful to be back in Oregon,” Obama said. “Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit, but my staff would not justify it.”

Thus, Obama has been to “57 states.” He hasn’t been to Hawaii and Alaska – they aren’t big or important enough for any of the candidates to visit – so that’s 2 more states. And he has “one left to go” which makes 60.

There you have it – 60 states – and that means Hillary is still in this race. The rest of us need to get busy updating our flags to add 10 more stars.


The Ambien Defense

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 8:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal Health Journal reported that the side effects of prescription sleep aides like Ambien and Lunesta may be as significant as those of earlier generation sedatives such as Halcion, which has been banned in some countries. Side effects include amnesia, confusion, agitation and other behavior disturbances:

“One woman woke up with a paintbrush in her hand, having painted her front door in her sleep. People have set fire to their kitchens while trying to cook, cursed their bosses on the phone and crashed their cars into trees — all in a sleeping-pill-induced haze and with no memory afterward.”

Experts aren’t sure why some people seem more susceptible than others, but they speculate that “sleep medication may act on brain circuits unevenly, leaving the parts that govern ‘automatic’ behaviors like eating and driving active while shutting down the centers of judgment and control.”

Cases in which defendants have successfully asserted a sleepwalking defense to criminal charges are few and far between. In this 2005 Canada case, a defendant was acquitted of rape after asserting the sexomnia defense – a genetic condition that combines sleepwalking, sexual acts and alcohol. And in this 2005 UK case, a defendant escaped rape charges by asserting the defense of “automania” (sleepwalking with sex). A defendant in this 2002 Massachusetts case asserted a sleepwalking defense but jurors stated he was acquitted on other grounds.

The reluctance to assert and recognize a sleepwalking defense may change as a result of this report, not only because it validates that some people are more susceptible to sleepwalking but also because there are so many people taking these drugs.

In addition, as noted in this 2006 report in CHEST – the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (for specialists in pulmonology, critical care, sleep medicine, and related disciplines) – it is estimated that 2% of the population suffers from violent behaviors while sleeping, including incidents of murder, suicide, and sexual offenses. Thus, I suspect it won’t be long until we see more defendants asserting this defense, perhaps successfully.

In any event, if you take sleep aides, experts offer this advice: Don’t take sleeping pills when you are solely responsible for small children. If you do take them, unplug your phone because the ringing may prompt an episode of sleepwalking. Hide your car keys and, if all else fails, put an alarm on your bedroom door.

That should be enough to keep you up all night worrying.


Perdigao Recusal Motion Set for Hearing in Louisiana Federal Court

Filed under: Law,Politics — DRJ @ 5:27 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Last month, Patterico and I posted here and here on a motion filed by indicted attorney James G. Perdigao asking a federal judge to recuse the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Louisiana from prosecuting his case. The U.S. Attorney’s office responded vigorously to the motion and asked the judge to dismiss and seal the motion to recuse.

Today a federal judge set Perdigao’s motion to recuse for hearing on May 21, 2008. This grants Perdigao the opportunity to offer evidence supporting the claims set forth in his motion to recuse, claims that may impact the U.S. Attorney’s office and the conviction of former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards.


Truthing Obamafuscations: Part One of a Continuing Series Through November

Posted by WLS: 

Now that there is a presumptive Dimocrit nominee for the general election, I’m going to start a recurring series of postings commenting on non-answers given by Obama to direct questions posed to him by the media and others. 

The problem I expect to see develop in the very near term is the dramatic curtailment of Obama’s availability to answer questions in a format that provides for any level of candidness.  He is clearly an effective speaker when working with a teleprompter and a script, but his impromptu responses to media questions are largely void of substance.  When they do have substance they often amount to a dodge of the issue, but sometimes they contain some nugget of information about the stealth candidate that is illuminating with respect to his real beliefs.  As these more revealing comments appear I’m going to highlight them, and the implications of those comments in future policy issues.

Yesterday Obama appeared on Wolf Blitzer’s show on CNN.  As an initial entry in this series, I present the following “answer” on a simple question about whether he might advocate an increase in the capital gains tax rate:

[Blitzer]   Because they’re arguing already that you want to increase capital gains taxes, for example, on investments, and stocks, and things like that.


BLITZER: A lot of middle-class people have those kinds of accounts. If they’re…

OBAMA: If they have, — Wolf, if they have a 401(k), then they are going to see those taxes deferred, and they’re going to pay ordinary income when they finally cash out. So, that’s a phony argument. And this is something that you have seen the Republicans consistently do, is they try to make this broad- based argument about, he’s going to raise your taxes as a cover for them eliminating taxes for people like myself and you, who can afford to pay a little bit more…

Now this was a pretty straight-forward question — whether he’s suspectible to GOP claims that he will raise the capital gains tax rate, and what that means for middle class Americans.   

Rather than address the question — by saying, for example, that the capital gains tax rate it too low and should be raised, or that  it is fine where it is and will be left alone — he answers with a complete obfuscation. 

401(k) plans have nothing to do with capital gains taxes.  Contributions to 401(k) plans are made with pre-tax earnings, and the withdrawals upon eligibility are taken as ordinary income and taxed accordingly at the tax rate applicable to the retiree — including that part of the plan’s funds the constitute appreciation/ capital gains.    

Wolf Blitzer is too much of an idiot to follow-up by pointing out that Obama hadn’t answered the question, and the issue of raising the capital gains tax rate extends far beyond simply raising taxes on the “rich”.  

To suggest that American households only own stocks in their 401(k) plan — and to ignore completely the issue of capital gains taxes on investment accounts, college savings accounts, on the sale of homes, farms, or other real property —  reflects either ignorance of basic tax issues, or an unwillingness by Obama to state his positions honestly.

Frankly, I think its more of the former than the latter. 

Obama would be only the most recent example in my life of a Harvard Law School egghead who lacked a basic comprehension of day-to-day issues facing ordinary Americans.  Some of the dumbest people I’ve ever met — including some of the worst lawyers I’ve ever encountered — were graduates of elite East Coast academic institutions.   

McCain & Obama on Judges: The Choice is Easy

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 1:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Matthew J. Franck at NRO’s The Corner is not generally impressed with McCain’s Gang of 14, his votes for Ginsburg and Breyer, or his recent speech on the judiciary. But when he compares McCain’s position on judges to Obama’s, he thinks the choice for McCain is easy.

Here are excerpts from Obama’s July 2007 speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. First, Obama claims the Supreme Court is rolling back abortion rights and discusses how he would stop it:

“Some people argue that the federal ban on abortion was just an isolated effort aimed at one medical procedure—that it’s not part of a concerted effort to roll back the hard-won rights of American women. That presumption is also wrong.
With one more vacancy on the Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a woman’s fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe versus Wade and that is what is at stake in this election.
I have worked on these issues for decades now. I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught Constitutional Law. Not simply as a case about privacy but as part of the broader struggle for women’s equality. Steve and Pam will tell you that we fought together in the Illinois State Senate against restrictive choice legislation—laws just like the federal abortion laws, the federal abortion bans that are cropping up. I’ve stood up for the freedom of choice in the United States Senate and I stand by my votes against the confirmation of Judge Roberts and Samuel Alito [Applause]

So, you know where I stand. But this more is than just about standing our ground. It must be about more than protecting the gains of the past. We’re at a crossroads right now in America—and we have to move this country forward. This election is not just about playing defense, it’s also about playing offense. It’s not just about defending what is, it’s about creating what might be in this country. And that’s what we’ve got to work together on.”

On other Supreme Court cases that Obama views as threats to the rights of women:

“We know, we know it’s not just one decision. It’s the blow dealt to equal pay in the Ledbetter [v. Goodyear] case, it’s the blow dealt to integration in the school desegregation case, it’s an approach to the law that favors the powerful over the powerless—that holds up a flawed ideology over the rights of the individual. We don’t see America in these decisions—that’s not who we are as a people. We’re a country founded on the principle of equality and freedom. We’re the country that’s fought generation after generation to extend that equality to the many not restrict it to the few. We’ve been there before and we’re not going back.”

Obama concludes by pointing out that people may not agree on the details but they can agree on the big picture. Thus, people may not agree on whether parents should have notice of their daughters’ abortions or whether there should be partial birth abortions, but all Americans agree they want their daughters to have the “same opportunities as their sons.”

Obama’s goal is to focus on common ground, on the big picture, that we all ultimately want good things for our families – while refusing to yield on the details. Details like how the law should be written or whether men like Roberts and Alito make good nominees.

EDIT: Obama makes it clear that his idea of a good Supreme Court Justice is Ruth Bader Ginsberg.


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