Patterico's Pontifications


Rush Limbaugh Out in Bid to Buy Rams

Filed under: Politics,Sports — DRJ @ 11:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Just hours before the announcement that Rush Limbaugh had dropped out of a group looking to buy the St. Louis Rams, the Radio Equalizer spotted an interview in which retired football player and Washington Post analyst Roman Oben explained why people oppose Limbaugh’s bid — because Limbaugh is anti-Obama:

“In a candid moment during today’s Al Sharpton radio show (probably not intended for the rest of us to hear), Oben admitted that Rush’s political views regarding Obama were key to the opposition that appears to have derailed his bid to purchase the St Louis Rams.”

The Radio Equalizer has more here and Oben expanded on his reasons in comments at the Washington Post. Here is the Oben interview:

Oben is a busy guy. He’s also the municipal Democratic chairman in Kinnelon, NJ, where his goal is to bring people together:

I’ve always been interested in the political process,” said Oben, who grew up in Washington, D.C., and did political internships with Reps. William Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). “No different than playing in the NFL or college, I’ve always felt you should take on a challenge bigger than yourself, to test yourself.”
“Everyone knows the political dynamics of Morris County,” Oben said yesterday, conceding that Republicans rule. “But I’m not anti- Republican. I’m very pro getting people together for the things we all want — good schools, good police and fire protection, a good quality of life.”

He’s not anti-Republican. He’s just anti-Rush and all those Republican things Rush says.


Obama: Did I Mention I Won the Nobel Prize?

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 9:50 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

After listing repeated examples of President Obama *humbly* mentioning he won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Daily Telegraph’s US Editor Toby Harnden concludes with this Quote of the Day:

“All in all, it’s a hilarious display of vanity and self-absorption masquerading ineptly as humility and selflessness.

But there’s a serious question: What does it say about Obama’s character when such an empty symbol means so much to him?”

In a similar vein, Texas Rainmaker reminds us of this photo from candidate Obama’s meeting with Texas Longhorn football coach Mack Brown. I think the caption is “Me and My Ego.”


Obama: Let’s Give $13B Away

Filed under: Economics,Obama — DRJ @ 7:09 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Obama Administration wants to give $250 to every senior citizen and other social security recipients because their Social Security payments aren’t increasing from a cost-of-living adjustment this year:

“President Barack Obama called on Congress Wednesday to approve $250 payments to more than 50 million seniors to make up for no increase in Social Security next year. The Social Security Administration is scheduled to announce Thursday that there will be no cost of living increase next year. By law, increases are pegged to inflation, which has been negative this year.

It would mark the first year without an increase in Social Security payments since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975.”

COLAs are designed to compensate people because their money doesn’t buy as much due to inflation. But if COLAs aren’t needed this year, why is the Obama Administration going to pay people anyway? I think it’s because Obama cares and he’s wants to show how much he cares by giving away other people’s money.

Aw. How sweet.


Obama and the Taliban

Filed under: Obama,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 1:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Reports indicate President Obama may retool his Afghanistan policy by focusing on al Qaeda and accepting Taliban involvement in the future. Implicit in that decision is the belief that the Taliban is not a threat to America.

Today the AP reports Najibullah Zazi, the Denver airport shuttle driver accused of plotting a bombing in New York, had contacts with an al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan:

Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, an Egyptian reputed to be one of the founders of the terrorist network, used a middleman to contact Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi as the 24-year-old man hatched a plot to use homemade backpack bombs, perhaps on the city’s mass transit system, the two intelligence officials said.
Al-Yazid’s contact with Zazi indicates that al-Qaida leadership took an intense interest in what U.S. officials have called one of the most serious terrorism threats crafted on U.S. soil since the 9/11 attacks.

“Zazi working with the al-Qaida core is exceptionally alarming,” said Daniel Bynam of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center. “The al-Qaida core is capable of far more effective terrorist attacks than jihadist terrorists acting on their own, and coordination with the core also enables bin Laden to choose the timing to maximize the benefit to his organization.”

Who is al-Yazid? The AP article describes him as an al Qaeda leader but in 2006, the Washington Post profiled al-Yazid as al Qaeda’s top liaison to the Taliban who was “close to Taliban leader Mullah Omar” while also continuing to lead “al-Qaeda’s global fundraising efforts.” In addition, as recently as June 2009, al-Yazid said al Qaeda would use Pakistan’s nuclear weapons to attack the U.S.

The Taliban offers a framework that helps al Qaeda carry out its activities. Letting the Taliban regain control of even remote regions of Afghanistan gives al Qaeda that framework.


Death Sentence in Sudan

Filed under: International,Law — DRJ @ 12:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Last week, a Sudan court sentenced 4 Muslims to death for killing an American diplomat and his driver:

A Sudanese court sentenced four Islamists to death for a second time yesterday [10/12/09] for the murder of a US diplomat and his driver in Khartoum last year.
The court had condemned the men to death in June for the New Year’s Day murders of [USAID employee John] Granville and [his driver, Abdel Rahman] Abbas but the sentences were cancelled in August after Abbas’s father forgave the men.

Under Islamic law, the victim’s family has the right to forgive the murderer, ask for compensation or demand execution.”

Granville’s mother and Abbas’ wife recently notified the court they want the men put to death. Accordingly, the court imposed the death sentence over the protests of one defendant that the murders were justified because the US killed Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of another who shouted “You cannot kill a Muslim because he killed a Christian.”


Saletan: Polanski Just Made A “Spontaneous” Error of “Judgment” in Going After a “Womanly Body” That Happened to Be 13 Years Old

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:44 am

Writing about the Polanski controversy, William Saletan asks: “Why aren’t the physical maturity and willingness of the girl—or boy—significant?”

The answer is that, regardless of how those factors might play out in a hypothetical case, in this case the girl was not physically mature and was not willing.

If Saletan had just studied up on the case a little bit before writing about it for a national publication, he might have avoid making several foolish remarks. We’ll help him out a little here.

Saletan says:

The Times reports that the authorities treated Polanski “not so much as a sexual assailant but as … a normally responsible person who had shown terrible judgment by having sex with a very young, but sophisticated, girl.” The probation officers’ report “quoted a pair of psychiatrists as saying that Mr. Polanski was not ‘a pedophile,’ ” and it concluded that his offense “appears to have been spontaneous and an exercise of poor judgment by the defendant.”

That’s an entirely reasonable assessment of the incident.

Uh, no it’s not.

We went through this when Whoopi Goldberg claimed that Polanski’s offense wasn’t “rape rape” — but I guess Saletan didn’t get the message. Fine; we’ll repeat it. Here again are excerpts from the girl’s grand jury testimony:

A. I was going, “No, I think I better go home,” because I was afraid. So I just went and I sat down on the couch.

Q. What were you afraid of?

A. Him.

. . . .

Q. What happened then?

A. He reached over and he kissed me. And I was telling him, “No,” you know, “keep away.”

But I was kind of afraid of him because there was no one else there.

. . . .

Q. What did he do when he placed his mouth on your vagina?

A. He was just like licking and I don’t know. I was ready to cry. I was kind of — I was going, “No. Come on. Stop it.” But I was afraid.

. . . .

Q. What happened after that?

A. He started to have intercourse with me.

Q. What do you mean by intercourse?

A. He placed his penis in my vagina.

Q. What did you say, if anything, before he did that?

A. I was mostly just on and off saying, “No, stop.”

But I wasn’t fighting really because I, you know, there was no one else there and I had no place to go.

And then he rapes her anally and ejaculates in her anus.

As for whether this was some kind of spontaneous, isolated, single instance of bad judgment by a non-pedophile, let’s remember that this is the man who said in 1979:

If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… fucking, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to fuck young girls. Juries want to fuck young girls. Everyone wants to fuck young girls!

What about her physical maturity? Saletan says:

A guy who goes after a womanly body that happens to be 13 years old is failing to regulate a natural attraction. That doesn’t excuse him. But it does justify treating him differently.

And that’s exactly what Polanski’s judge and probation officers were inclined to do.

Uh, except that here is a set of pictures of the “womanly body” we’re talking about:

Polanski Victim

Saletan’s piece makes for a nice philosophical discussion of how various factors might have relevance to another case. But as applied to this case, it’s a joke.


UPDATE: Saletan digs in here:

If you have the goods to convict a man of rape, prosecute him for rape. Don’t invite him to plead guilty to sex with a teenager. That kind of plea deal, coupled with a stiff jail sentence, just furthers the conflation of sexual assault defined by force with sexual assault defined by age.

Not one word about the way that Polanski’s lawyers planned to drag the victim through the mud in international media — which is, of course, the reason the plea went down the way it did.

Thanks to James K. for both items.

Your Daily Polanski Report

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:42 am

Calvin Trillin explains elites’ love for Polanski in poetry:

Why make him into some Darth Vader
For sodomizing one eighth grader?
. . . .
Celebrities would just be fools
To play by little people’s rules.
So Roman’s banner we unfurl.
He only raped one little girl.

Mick LaSalle says you’re upset at Polanski, not because he drugged and sodomized a 13-year-old, but because you’re jealous of him:

I don’t know what makes him so unworthy of compassion in other people’s eyes. But the first things I think of, and I could be wrong, are the beautiful wife, the internationally lauded career, the lifetime of accomplishment. Those sorts of things can inspire hostility even when the person isn’t a fugitive, so it’s the first thing I notice . . . that he’s a celebrity.

No? This really has absolutely nothing to do with it?

OK, if you say so.

Here’s one aspect of his life I’m not jealous of. Polanski is finishing his current movie from prison:

Roman Polanski is attempting to complete his film “The Ghost” from his jail cell in Zurich, where he faces extradition to the U.S. in connection with a three-decade-old sexual-assault case involving a 13-year-old girl.

Richard Harris, a longtime Polanski collaborator and co-writer of “The Ghost” screenplay, said at Britain’s Cheltenham Literature Festival that the director was working on the film, including communicating with the film’s composer.

“I don’t think he can make phone calls,” Harris told The Guardian. “But he can communicate.”

Tap three times if you want to keep the scene where Pierce Brosnan French-kisses Ewan McGregor. Four times if you want to cut it. Gunter will pass the message to Hans who will tell his girlfriend Hilda during visiting hours.

Filming in prison is nothing new for Polanski, apparently. Remember that 42-day stretch he did in Chino? The one where everybody was confused about why he got released early — and some wags had joked that he had promised them parts in one of his movies? Seems they weren’t that far off:

ROMAN POLANSKI’S 42 days in the Chino prison from December 1977 to January 1978 were recounted here the other day, prompting a note from a prison employee at the time (whom I know) with a fascinating insider story.

It seems that during Polanski’s stay, the director of “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown” didn’t get rusty. He was enlisted to help make – why not? – a Department of Corrections training film.

The prison’s training manager was assigned to produce a film about prison gangs for department use.

“The training manager got the bright idea that Roman Polanski would be a great help in the production and direction of this film,” my source says.

. . . .

“He would shout out orders to some really heavy-duty gang characters – allowed out of cells only one at a time – to `stand this way’ or `suck in that gut,’ and all sorts of personal comments and commands. And the gang members, clearly starstruck by being on camera, meekly complied!

“Polanski probably weighed 115 pounds and was 5-foot-1 or 5-foot-2. The gang guys were 6-foot-2 and taller and 250 to 300 pounds of bench-pressed, tattooed and battle-scarred muscle! Our officers could not have ordered these particular inmates around with this much authority or cooperation – but that is the magic of show biz, I guess.”

Sounds like hell. And finally, what controversy would be complete without the race card?

“I have no sympathy for him. He’s in jail. Three hots and a cot, that’s what you’re supposed to get,” said Star Jones on “The Insider.” “Something tells me Spike Lee would not have been allowed to chill in France for the last three decades had he admitted to having sex with a 13-year-old.”

Jones went on to say, “Roman Polanski is very much loved by the Hollywood industry and they are out there putting petitions together . . . Because he is white and he is rich, he was privileged.”


ObamaCare: Snowementum!

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:33 am

[Posted by Karl]

The establishment media and the Obama administration lavished the love on Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) for backing the Baucus vapor bill in the Finance Committee. Snowe was not finding many admirers elsewhere.

On the Right, it was easy to find people who wanted to protest, or purge her from the GOP altogether. Allahpundit noted Snowe’s pompous egotism, even while acknowledging her vote was a no-brainer in terms of maintaining her influence.

However, Snowe’s vote — and continued leverage — was not exactly embraced on the Left. As FireDogLake’s Jon Walker put it:

Snowe’s support could signal a bad day for real reform.

Snowe has long been opposed to some of the most important elements of reform. I’m not just referring to her opposition to a real public option and her support for a worthless trigger proposal.

Snowe opposes a real employer mandate, and instead favors a disastrously stupid “free rider” provision. It could have serious consequences for low-income workers.

She is against giving the exchanges the power to negotiate with private insurance companies. This is a provision that should help keep down the cost of health care. It would save individuals money and the government money. Snowe fears it is too much government involvement. John Kingsdale, who runs Massachusetts’s exchange, called Snowe’s insistence that the exchanges not have the power to negotiate price with insurance companies a recipe for disaster.

Just today, during the committee hearing, she reaffirmed her support for “national plans.” This would allow health insurance companies to sell national plans in any states. Individuals state would lose the power to regulate these insurance plans sold in their states. The national plans would be exempt from all minimum benefit requirements mandated by the state legislature. This has been for a long time one of the top goals of the for-profit health insurance industry.

These are only the few changes that I know Snowe requested…

The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber adds:

[N]ow that Snowe has voted for the bill in committee, she can basically dictate the terms of the final bill… That’s because, if you alienate her during the forthcoming negotiations, her defection from the final bill would be disastrous. Just imagine the atmospherics of Olympia Snowe getting up on the Senate floor and saying she was so serious about passing health care reform she voted for it in committee, but that she can no longer support the bill because it’s moved too far to the left. It would be absolutely devastating.

Given the likelihood that the merged bill Sen. Maj. Ldr. Harry Reid plans to bring to the floor will end up more to the Left than the Baucus vapor bill, her committee vote is a nice CYA move with her constituents, and one Democrats may come to despise in the future more than Republicans do in the present.

Moreover, Snowe was not the only Senator crossing an aisle yesterday, as Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told Don Imus he would not support the Baucus vapor bill. TNR’s Jonathan Chait notes:

Connecticut is home to numerous insurance companies, and of course insurers have suddenly gone to war on health care reform. That may be a factor. My read is that Lieberman remains furious at the party for endorsing Democratic nominee Ned Lamont for the Senate in 2006 over Lieberman’s independent candidacy. Lieberman, of course, campaigned hard against Obama in 2008, and probably would enjoy the vindication of seeing Obama’s presidency fail

For months I’ve been predicting that the Democrats will pass health care reform because they’re not going to cut their own throat. But Lieberman is an independent. A failed Democratic presidency wouldn’t necessarily bring him down with it in 2012. It might even help. So I may have made a major error focusing on red state Democrats and overlooking Lieberman.

For a moment, savor the scenario in which the nutroots’ party purge of Lieberman could end up derailing their most cherished agenda item. Ed Morrissey downplayed this announcement, on the ground that Joe “wants an incremental approach rather than a comprehensive approach, specific to delivery.” But the Baucus vapor bill defines the most plausible conservative outcome. If Lieberman does not support the vapor bill, he may end up backing the GOP on the floor more often than Snowe.

In sum, the Dems (and the establishment media) gained a few days of Snowementum, but take a fair amount of risk in building her up for taking a vote they did not need to get the vapor bill out of committee. Meanwhile, one of the 60 votes the Dems will need in the full Senate announced he would not support a proposal more conservative than what they are likely to produce. On balance, yesterday’s news for the GOP was better than the establishment media would have everyone believe.


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