Patterico's Pontifications


Merril Jessop Trial Update

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 9:43 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A jury was seated this morning in the sexual assault trial of Merril Jessop in San Angelo, Texas. The San Angelo Standard Times summarized counsels’ opening statements, starting with the State:

“[Eric] Nichols, who spoke first, said the indictment provided a basic “road map” of what the state’s evidence would show in the case.

He also said substantial genetic evidence would prove the assault beyond a reasonable doubt.

“You will hear that she was not legally married to the defendant. You’re going to hear about what is described as a so-called ‘spiritual’ or ‘celestial’ marriage. You will hear evidence that not only was she placed in a spiritual or celestial marriage, but that she bore him a child,” Nichols said.

Nichols said the girl in question was 15 at the time of the alleged assault.”

The jury heard next from the defense:

“[Dan] Hurley, for his opening statement, at one point motioned to the wooden railing at the front of the jury box.

“This rail here separates you from the government,” Hurley said. “It’s a shield. The state cannot reach its burden of proof because they might be guilty, because they’re probably guilty — they must be guilty.”

Hurley said large amounts of evidence came from the raid on the YFZ Ranch outside of Eldorado when authorities carried out a search warrant to find a girl who reported having suffered abuse on the ranch, a call that law enforcement authorities now believe to have been a hoax.

Hurley said that despite the evidence, the quantity won’t be enough to convict his client.

“You will hear about seizures and boxes of evidence that took three trailers to fill up. The simple weight does not give it the quality it needs,” Hurley said.”

The jury also heard at least three State witnesses — a DPS agent who testified about evidence seized at the Yearning for Zion ranch and two University of North Texas DNA experts who testified there is a 99% chance Merril Jessop is the father of the alleged assault victim’s child.


Democrats and the Doc Fix

Filed under: Health Care,Politics — DRJ @ 9:25 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Instapundit points out an Investors’ Business Daily post entitled “Club Med: Are Dems Using Medicare Payments To Silence Doctors?” The post speculates the Democrats have continued the “doc fix” to delay a 21% cut in doctors’ reimbursement rates and keep the AMA on board until the vote on Obama’s health care reform.

Do most AMA-affiliated doctors know their reimbursement rates are scheduled for cuts? I assume they do, although most of the ones I know work in institutions and spend the bulk of their time on other issues. They have staff to handle reimbursements and billing matters, and sometimes they don’t focus on money until their revenues decline.

These doctors are paid to worry about the problem in front of them, diagnose the likely cause, and prescribe the treatment most likely to solve the problem. In my experience, that means they are less likely to worry about tomorrow’s problems today. If so, the Democrats may be using that to their advantage.


Things Dogs Don’t Like

Filed under: Real Life — DRJ @ 8:43 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I learned something new tonight. My dogs don’t like olive oil. I’ve had dogs eat almost every substance imaginable and many that are dangerous — including chocolate, grapes, and cactus spines — but both dogs turned their noses up at bread dipped in olive oil tonight.

I thought they would love the stuff. Go figure.


Obama’s Monopoly Money

Filed under: Economics,Government,Obama — DRJ @ 7:49 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In St. Louis today, President Obama talked about too much government spending — he likened it to monopoly money — and jeered at those who say the Administration’s proposal of $20 billion in budget cuts last year is just a spit in the bucket.

It is just a spit in the bucket.

As ABC News reported today, the deficit after the first 5 months of Fiscal Year 2010 is $651 billion, which is on track to meet or exceed the Administration’s projected full-year deficit of $1.56 trillion. $20 billion is just over 1% of $1.56 trillion. I’d say that’s definitely a spit in the bucket.

What’s more, Obama’s “monopoly money” theme is getting old.


Monica Conyers Sentenced to Prison

Filed under: Crime,Government — DRJ @ 1:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Monica Conyers, a former Detroit councilmember and the wife of
Democratic Rep. John Conyers, has been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to bribery:

“Former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers has been sentenced to 37 months in prison with two years supervised probation and no fine.

The 37 months is the top of the sentencing guidelines recommended by the probation department.”

Before sentencing, Conyers claimed innocence and tried to withdraw her guilty plea — arguing the plea resulted from “badgering” to which a doctor said she was susceptible — but the Judge found she entered the plea knowingly and voluntarily and proceeded with sentencing. Breitbart reports Conyers plans to appeal.


ObamaCare: the Stupak bloc and the process

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:36 am

[Posted by Karl]

The two most immediate obstacles to ObamaCare are the “Stupak bloc” of pro-life Democrats and procedural obstacles caused by (a) the mutual distrust among House and Senate Dems; and (b) the election of Scott Brown in the Senate. Although the first is probably more exciting to readers than the second, there is enough overlap to consider their synergy.

Indeed, Rep. Stupak seems to be tying policy and process together — and not just on abortion:

Stupak highlighted other problems with the bill: The president’s proposal has not been translated into legislative language and it still leaves some special deals in place. “If you look at the President’s proposal,” Stupak said, “it says that the Cornhusker agreement is out, but the Louisiana Purchase is in.”

“Members don’t have a whole lot of appetite to vote for the Senate bill as a stand alone bill–that’s for sure,” Stupak said. “If you’re going to correct these inequities in the Senate bill, you better tie bar it to something. No one wants to vote for a freestanding bill so they can be accused of voting for a special deal for Nebraska on Medicaid.”


“You have to tie-bar it or substitute it or something,” Stupak said of the legislation. By “tie-bar,” Stupak means that all the fixes, including his amendment on abortion, would pass or fail all at the same time. Stupak says that congressional leaders are “going back and forth in different ways” to find a compromise. But again, “it is so confusing,” he said, “on what the parliamentary procedures are going to be” to make the fixes.

These sorts of concerns are probably why the House is considering using a “self-executing rule” to avoid an actual vote on the Senate bill:

Under this scenario, the Senate bill would be automatically attached to the reconciliation package, if the House passes reconciliation. In other words, Bill A would just become part of Bill B if the House passes Bill B, and the Senate could then vote on a reconciliation package before sending it to the president. This allows House members to approve the broader measure without actually voting on it.

The most immediate hitch to the “Slaughter solution” is that the House and Senate parliamentarians may rule it out of bounds by ruling that Pres. Obama must sign the underlying bill into law before reconciliation can occur. Whether that hurdle can be jumped by extraordinary measures (e.g., having VP Joe Biden overrule the Senate parliamentarian) remains unclear.

Second, if you are thinking that this type of procedure cannot address abortion — on the ground that abortion policy cannot be done through budget reconciliation — you would be wrong, sort of.

The Stupak abortion language could be inserted in a reconciliation bill, but would be subject to a point of order. The House may waive a point of order by majority vote, which raises the question of whether a House Republican would raise a point of order, and how the House GOP would vote on it, given that the House GOP supported the Stupak amendment in the first instance.

The more obvious obstacle is the Senate, where a pro-choice Republican like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, or even Scott Brown could raise the point of order — which requires 60 votes to waive (under the so-called “Byrd rule”). The Stupak language, when last offered by Sen. Ben Nelson, failed in the Senate by a 54-45 vote. Waiving the point of order in the Senate would almost certainly require cooperation from the GOP.

Could the Senate Dems get that cooperation? Senate Republican leaders signaled Tuesday that they plan to object to any abortion language included in a proposed reconciliation package — even if they agree with the provision on policy grounds. The House GOP supported the Stupak amendment under pressure from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Right to Life Committee. The Bishops have said they would work to get a sidebar bill through the Senate. But NRLC and other pro-life groups are reportedly working to get every House member possible to vote against the Senate bill, precisely because there are not enough votes to ban abortion funding in the Senate.

All of which means that the fate of ObamaCare may well rest on the ability of House Dems to force pro-life Dems to cave. Rep. Dale Kildee already has. Had the House GOP voted “present” on the Stupak amendment in the first instance, the bill would have died, or the right and pro-lifers could already have been targeting people like Kildee. As it stands now, no one knows how many Kildees are lurking in the shadows.

Note: Self-link inserted to honor Patterico’s Politico boycott.

Update: Jay Cost looks at what happens if Dems do not pursue the Slaughter Solution, in which case he deems the GOP threat non-credible.

Update: After getting an earful from pro-lifers, Kildee’s legislative staffer says the media reports were inaccurate, and that the representative has not decided to vote for the Senate language bill. Which doesn’t mean that he’s a “no,” but demonstrates the value of identifying and pressuring faux-lifers.


How the Left Lies to You About ACORN, Part 1

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:27 am

Defenders of ACORN have engaged in a breathtaking rewriting of history concerning the ACORN tapes made by investigative journalists Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe. One of those defenders is Brad Friedman, described by the ombudsman for the New York Times as someone with a “political agenda” whose characterization of what happened on the ACORN videos is “not credible.”

At Friedman’s blog, a guest blogger named “Ernest Canning” (last seen here as commenter “ruleoflaw”) provides an object lesson in how leftists are taking basic facts and twisting them beyond recognition.

This post is merely the beginning of a debunking of several of Canning’s misstatements in the piece — statements which are representative of the assault on the truth that has been mounted by certain ACORN supporters.

Canning says:

It is, however, slightly more surprising, and certainly most noteworthy, that now that they’ve been exposed as hoaxes, even Murdoch’s own New York Post was forced to describe the doctored tapes as a “‘heavily edited’ splice job that only made it appear as though the organization’s workers were advising a pimp and prostitute on how to get a mortgage…[with] many of the seemingly crime-encouraging answers…taken out of context so as to appear more sinister.”

Canning here suggests that the New York Post has thrown its institutional weight behind the proposition that the ACORN tapes were misleadingly edited. Canning implies that this accusation originates with the newspaper itself, perhaps in an editorial — or, even more shockingly, in a news story, where the correctness of the allegation is beyond question. However, when you click over to the actual article, you see that the quote is attributed, not to the New York Post itself, but rather to anonymous “sources”:

The video that unleashed a firestorm of criticism on the activist group ACORN was a “heavily edited” splice job that only made it appear as though the organization’s workers were advising a pimp and prostitute on how to get a mortgage, sources said yesterday. . . . Many of the seemingly crime-encouraging answers were taken out of context so as to appear more sinister, sources said.

The official statement by the D.A. makes no such claim:

On September 15, 2009, my office began an investigation into possible criminality on the part of three ACORN employees. The three had been secretly videotaped by two people posing as a pimp and prostitute, who came to ACORN’S Brooklyn office, seeking advice about how to purchase a house with money generated by their ‘business.’ The ‘couple’ later made the recording public. That investigation is now concluded and no criminality has been found.

I have bolded one phrase to emphasize that the statement does say that O’Keefe and Giles posed as pimp and prostitute, flying directly in the face of several statements by Media Matters writer Eric Boehlert and ACORN apologist Brad Friedman.

So the Brooklyn D.A. did not make any official claim that the tapes were misleadingly edited. Nor does the Post make any such claim as an institution, as implied by Mr. Canning.

If there is anything misleading here, it originates with Mr. Canning. It is misleading to take a quote in a newspaper that is explicitly attributed to anonymous sources, and describe that as a position taken by the newspaper. Otherwise, any time the New York Times quotes some unnamed source advancing a Republican position, I am free to quote that statement and attribute it to the New York Times, as if the view is shared by that newspaper.

Because a lie is better when you repeat it twice, Mr. Canning repeats this falsehood further down in the article, and doubles down with another:

Last week, Brooklyn prosecutors, who investigated the matter over a span of five months, came to a nearly identical conclusion, adding that O’Keefe and Giles “edited the tapes to meet their agenda.”

As the New York Post noted in describing the DA offices’ comments on their finding of “no criminality”, O’Keefe and Breitbart’s published Brooklyn ACORN video represented a “‘heavily edited’ splice job” where the comments by ACORN employees were “taken out of context so as to appear more sinister.”

The first paragraph implies that the official finding of the Brooklyn prosecutors includes the quote that O’Keefe and Giles “edited the tapes to meet their agenda.” It does not. Again, that is a quote from an anonymous source who might well have a partisan agenda. If the D.A. had wanted to put his institutional credibility behind that statement, he could have included such an accusation in his official public statement. He did not.

Note again how the anonymous sources’ descriptions are again attributed to the New York Post rather than anonymous sources.

I am out of time for this morning, but I have much more to come on the falsehoods in Mr. Canning’s piece and in numerous Friedman-penned posts on this topic. For now, suffice it to say that Friedman angrily goes around demanding retractions when I can prove that he is aware of multiple falsehoods in his posts that he has explicitly refused to correct. It’s hard to avoid the impression that Friedman is simply out to defend ACORN by any means possible — and if that defense requires him to shade the truth here, and bludgeon it there . . . well, it’s all for the greater good.

More to come.

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