Patterico's Pontifications


DOJ Seeks Dismissal of Yoo Torture Suit

Filed under: Law,Obama,Terrorism — DRJ @ 10:56 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In January 2008, Jose Padilla sued John Yoo over Yoo’s advice to President George W. Bush regarding Padilla’s detention, the conditions of his confinement and the methods of his interrogation. Last week, the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice responded that these are all “matters of war and national security” that are beyond judicial authority and requested that Padilla’s case be dismissed:

“The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing former Bush administration attorney John Yoo of authorizing the torture of a terrorism suspect, saying federal law does not allow damage claims against lawyers who advise the president on national security issues.

Such lawsuits ask courts to second-guess presidential decisions and pose “the risk of deterring full and frank advice regarding the military’s detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict,” Justice Department lawyers said Thursday in arguments to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.”

Yoo is being represented by Miguel Estrada who argued dismissal is appropriate because “the case interfered with presidential war-making authority and threatened to ‘open the floodgates to politically motivated lawsuits’ against government officials.” The Obama Administration agreed on narrower grounds, claiming Yoo could still be subject to criminal prosecution or State Bar disciplinary proceedings.

H/T Neo, with my thanks.


Daily Show: American Idle

Filed under: Humor,Obama — DRJ @ 10:09 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Conservatives aren’t having a lot of fun now so we need to enjoy the few moments that come along … like this Daily Show clip:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
American Idle
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

H/T Instapundit, who says Jon Stewart has joined the Tea Party.


New York Grand Jury Considers 9/11 Indictments

Filed under: Crime,Terrorism — DRJ @ 9:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The 9/11 trials begin:

“A grand jury in New York is hearing evidence against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-professed mastermind of the September 11 attacks in 2001, and four accused accomplices, NBC News reported Tuesday.”


My Kingdom for a Poll?

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 9:09 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claims the Obama Administration doesn’t care about today’s Gallup Daily Obama Job Approval poll, which is fortunate since it and other polls show Obama at the lowest rating of any modern President at this stage in his term:

“White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs slammed Gallup’s daily tracking poll on Tuesday after it showed President Obama’s approval rating had fallen to 47 percent, the lowest approval rating for any president at this stage of his presidency dating back to President Harry S Truman.
Despite the scope of Gallup’s data and its reputation for professional political polling, Gibbs dismissed its survey.

“I don’t put a lot of stake in, never have, in the EKG that is daily Gallup trend. I don’t pay a lot of attention to the meaninglessness of it.”

And it’s not just Gallup:

Rasmussen’s recent survey has Obama’s approval at 47 percent.

CNN/Opinion Research found Obama’s approval rating to be 48 percent.

Fox News/Opinion Dynamics pegged Obama’s approval rating at 46 percent.

The last poll to show Obama above 50 percent approval was conducted in mid-November by CBS News.”

As a candidate in Iowa, Obama promised to lead “not by polls, but by principle” although he nevertheless employed six campaign pollsters. Some of them now work for him as President. Even Gallup’s Editor in Chief noticed the inconsistency between what the Obama campaign did and what the Obama Administration says:

“And I’m sure the Obama campaign in 2008 paid a great deal of attention to their own tracking polls measuring how his candidacy was doing as the events of the campaign rocketed across the news each day.”

I think President Obama cares about polls as much as candidate Obama cared — because the polls impact his ability to lead and govern. At this rate, Obama will undoubtedly focus more and more on the urgency of acting immediately and sweepingly.


ObamaCare: The inevitable shrinking public option

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:55 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Technically, the current proposal does not drop a “public option” from ObamaCare, but it is a ghost of its original form:

Democratic aides said that the group had tentatively agreed on a proposal that would replace a government-run health care plan with a menu of new national, privately-run insurance plans modeled after the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which covers more than eight million federal workers, including members of Congress, and their dependents.

A government-run plan would be retained as a fall-back option, the aides said, and would be triggered only if the new proposal failed to meet targets for providing affordable insurance coverage to a specified number of people.

Allahpundit asked how fiery will nutroots outrage at the Senate’s betrayal will be tomorrow, but the outrageous outrage is already building. FireDogLake’s Jon Walker lays out just how watered down this proposal may be: (1) the Medicaid expansion has completely been dropped; the Medicare buy-in may not really be a buy-in… or really Medicare; and (3) the non-Medicare non-buy-in may be a stopgap for three years only. At dKos, McJoan is less angry, or perhaps just more resigned. She and FDL’s Jane Hamsher are none too thrilled about the prospect of the Senate bill being forced on the House without a conference, either.

All of which makes for some nice schadenfreude, but it is no surprise, and a fleeting pleasure at best. The Obama administration (via Rahm Emanuel) has been open to neutering the public option with a trigger that won’t get pulled since January. The administration knows that ObamaCare’s mandates are sufficient to take over the US healthcare system. Joe Lieberman will likely not filibuster this latest proposal, so the GOP will have to decide whether they are really going to become the obstructionists the Democrats already claim they are.


Overturning the “Honest Services Fraud” Law

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 7:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSBlog analyzes whether, or more likely when, the Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the 1988 “honest services fraud” law that is the basis for the criminal convictions of Conrad Black and Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling.


Tit for Tat (Updated)

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 6:06 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Eleven months into his Administration, President Obama blames Republicans for America’s economic problems:

“While praising his own team for pioneering “ambitious” financial reform and “sweeping” economic recovery initiatives, the president took some pointed shots at Republicans who are now blasting the latest package as a spend-crazy “stimulus two” that will drill deeper into the deficit.

“We were forced to take those steps (to jump-start the economy) largely without the help of an opposition party which, unfortunately, after having presided over the decision-making that had led to the crisis, decided to hand it over to others to solve,” Obama said, starting his address with a history lesson on the roots of the recession.”

Simplistic analysis deserves more of the same: I blame Democratic President Clinton for 8 years of failed decision-making that facilitated 9/11 and terrorism, and Democrats who opposed GOP efforts to clean up their mess.

Tit for tat, Obama.


UPDATE — As usual, Obama plays both sides of the issue:

“In President Barack Obama’s hands, the $700 billion financial rescue fund offers a bit of bookkeeping magic: an opportunity to pay down the deficit while also spending more—thereby adding to it.

Under law, any paybacks to the bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program must be used to reduce the deficit. But in an economic speech on Tuesday, the president sought to have it both ways. Increased repayments from banks to the Treasury will reduce the deficit all right, but it will give Congress the budgetary room to spend more—and the president encouraged just that.”

Obama claims it’s a “false choice” to say we have to choose between jobs and deficits.

ObamaCare: Nelson is Stupak all over again, but possibly worse

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:55 am

[Posted by Karl]

Sen. Ben Nelson’s pro-life amendment for ObamaCare — based on the Stupak amendment that passed in the House — is generally being portrayed as a big showdown that threatens passage of the Senate bill.

Don’t bet on it.

Nelson has said he would join a GOP filibuster of the bill if strict abortion language is not adopted — but he always left himself wiggle room to accept less than the Stupak amendment.

No one seems to think Nelson’s amendment has 60 votes, though Sen. John Thune thinks it may get 50 votes. Thus, it is important to understand why the Nelson amendment needs 60 votes in the first place.

Nelson actually has two options. He could push his amendment, in which case his fellow Dems would have to mount a filibuster. Senate debate on the bill would grind to a halt. The other option is that Nelson could seek unanimous consent to bypass a cloture vote, but withdraw the amendment if it fails to get 60 votes. This has been the procedure for the amendments debated so far.

Thus, if Nelson really wanted to demand the Stupak language — and was willing to block the bill to get it — he could do so Tuesday. However, all of the press coverage, with its talk of the amendment not attracting 60 votes, suggests Nelson is not going to block the bill to get the Stupak language.

So what is the Nelson amendment really about? Sen. Tom Coburn probably has it nailed:

Even if the amendment goes down as expected, Coburn predicted Reid would be forced to include provisions similar to the Stupak amendment in the final bill via a manager’s amendment containing numerous changes agreed to by the Democratic caucus if he hopes to win 60 votes.

Reid is holding a vote on the Nelson amendment to provide Democrats on both sides of the abortion issue with political cover so they can say they fought for their principles, Coburn said.

“They’re going to allow a cover vote,” Coburn said, “so everybody can stake their position [and] say, ‘Well, I can’t control the manager’s amendment.’”

The language in the manager’s amendment, however, may well be less — a lot less — pro-life than the Stupak language. Moreover, it is possible (if still unlikely, given the size of the bill) that the manager’s amendment will be the de facto House-Senate conference committee, with the House then accepting the Senate bill in its entirety.

All of which ought to raise questions on the Right. For example, why is Nelson — a Democrat — the one offering the Stupak language? Where are the demands from supposed pro-life groups that Nelson not merely offer the amendment, but force the pro-choicers to filibuster it? The situation looks a lot like the Stupak amendment vote in the House, which provided CYA to faux-life Democrats in return for the temporary illusion of a victory by anti-abortion interest groups. Senators of all stripes get good marks on the scorecards of their favorite interest groups, while the takeover of the US healthcare system proceeds merrily along. Those already questioning the Senate GOP’s strategy on the bill can add those questions to their list.


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