Patterico's Pontifications


Zimmerman Trial Becomes Bizarre

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:59 pm

The coverage at Legal Insurrection is excellent; just click the link and scroll. Essentially, yesterday the prosecution let the defense ask a series of wholly improper questions of the investigating officer on the case, concerning whether he believed George Zimmerman (short answer: yes). Today, the prosecution asked for that testimony to be stricken, and the judge (who should have told the prosecution it was too late) ruled for the prosecution — and then REPLAYED ALL THE AUDIO OF THE OFFICER GIVING THAT OPINION before telling the jury to ignore it.

Thus taking damaging testimony and emphasizing it as strongly as possible.

The prosecution also played numerous self-serving statements by Zimmerman, so that he could get his entire story before the jury without having to be cross-examined. Apparently they did this for the purpose of exploiting supposed inconsistencies in the story — but, by all accounts, the different versions were on the whole remarkably consistent.

Also, today they put up an out of county coroner who didn’t actually conduct the autopsy to essentially deny seeing injuries on Zimmerman in photographs that the rest of the world can easily see.

This trial is a travesty, and the best you can say for the prosecution is that they are conducting it in a manner calculated to lead to justice — i.e., wholly incompetently and in a way that serves the defense.

We have a nice long thread already going on this, so comment here.

ObamaCare Employer Mandate Suspended Until 2015

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:27 pm

On the one hand, it seems good to have a God-awful policy delayed for a year — even if the electoral motivations behind it are more than obvious. On the other hand, if you have to eat a crap sandwich, why not start chewing early?

Businesses won’t be penalized next year if they fail to provide workers health insurance after the Obama administration decided to delay a key requirement under its signature 2010 health-care law.

The government will postpone enforcement of the so-called employer mandate until 2015, the administration said today. Under the provision, companies with 50 or more workers face a fine of as much as $3,000 per employee if they don’t offer affordable insurance.

Note how the article terms as a “fine” or a “penalty” that which Obama administration lawyers argued, and the Supreme Court ruled, was a tax, and not a fine or a penalty. Anyway. [UPDATE: Actually, never mind, that analysis applies to the individual mandate, not the employer mandate. I blame Ace. Not that my mistake is his fault in any way. I just . . . blame Ace.]

I started to write a post questioning how a President can unilaterally suspend the collection of a duly passed tax, but then I decided to read the whole article I linked. This is the kind of diligence you get for your blogging dollar, folks! Anyway, the article says:

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows the Obama administration to set the starting date for the employer coverage reporting requirement that’s the linchpin of the mandate. The administration had not yet announced a date, one of the officials said. Still, enforcement of the mandate had been widely expected to begin in 2014, the official said.

I guess I’ll take their word for it. If this is right, maybe we can just delay enforcement . . . forever.

By the way, the stated rationale for this is that businesses need time to comply. But guess what? Businesses all over are freezing their hiring because of ObamaCare.

Small business owners’ fear of the effect of the new health-care reform law on their bottom line is prompting many to hold off on hiring and even to shed jobs in some cases, a recent poll found.

. . . .

Forty-one percent of the businesses surveyed have frozen hiring because of the health-care law known as Obamacare. And almost one-fifth—19 percent— answered “yes” when asked if they had “reduced the number of employees you have in your business as a specific result of the Affordable Care Act.”

Which, duh. It’s a crap policy, designed to run our economy straight into the toilet. But I guess it would hurt Democrats in 2014 to implement it starting in January. As Allahpundit notes, this move means the political pain will be saved until 2016. No matter to Obama. He can’t run again, and that’s all he cares about.

Snowden, Whistleblowing, and “Accidentally” Issued Travel Documents

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:23 am

Glenn Reynolds in USA Today:

Ever since whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked information about the National Security Agency’s widespread — possibly illegal, even criminal — program of data collection and spying, we’ve heard a lot about possibly the least important question raised by the event: Whether Snowden is a good person or not.

My own take is that nobody knows. In fact, Snowden himself may not know the full context or ramifications of his actions. But it also doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that the Snowden affair occurs in the context of an unprecedented administration war on whistleblowers. And that’s a bad idea because whistleblowing is one of the things that maintains the legitimacy of a government as big, and otherwise unaccountable, as ours.

I agree with parts of this and disagree with others.

First of all, of course it matters that someone with a bunch of our secrets is running to despotic countries all over the world, with stuff that has nothing to do with our liberties on offer, just to grease the wheels of diplomacy, don’t you know. And of course it matters what we should do with him: prosecute him as a spy, or welcome him back with open arms. Now: “Whether he is a good person or not” may be an unimportant question, but that’s because it’s a bit of a strawman, albeit one that in some people’s minds relates (though it shouldn’t) to the very important question of how he should be treated under the law. With all due respect to Prof. Reynolds, attempting to shunt to one side the dramatic and yes, important story of Snowden’s actions is what you do when you like some of the leaks Snowden is providing, but don’t want to talk about the nasty and (I’m putting my hand over my mouth in shock, folks) unpatriotic compromises Snowden has had to make in order to dump our secrets all over creation.

And Snowden is no “whistleblower.” He’s not someone who took a job to serve his country, didn’t like the illegal and unethical things he was seeing, and decided to go public for the greater good. That’s a whistleblower. Snowden took the job to vacuum secrets out of our government and spread them far and wide. I guess if you think the government shouldn’t have secrets at all, you’ll defend the portion of his actions that you can defend, and try to get the world to look the other way at the portion you can’t defend. But I think that mode of argument evades the debate on what should be secret, if anything.

That said, this administration is at war with whistleblowers — although it’s not unprecedented, except arguably in scale. I am working on a story that will hopefully advance the ball on that front. And Reynolds’s larger point about the size of government and the threat it poses is well taken.

AWKWARD TRANSITION ALERT: Why, even a government as small as Ecuador makes mistakes!

Snowden was Russia’s responsibility and would have to reach Ecuadorean territory before the country would consider any asylum request, the president said in an interview with the Guardian on Monday.

“Are we responsible for getting him to Ecuador? It’s not logical. The country that has to give him a safe conduct document is Russia.”

The president, speaking at the presidential palace in Quito, said his government did not intentionally help Snowden travel from Hong Kong to Moscow with a temporary travel pass. “It was a mistake on our part,” he added.

This was prompted by Snowden’s very open statement, before obtaining asylum from Ecuador, praising the country for helping him:

“The decisive action of your consul in London, Fidel Narvaez, guaranteed my rights would be protected upon departing Hong Kong – I could never have risked travel without that. Now, as a result, and through the continued support of your government, I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest.”

Does he not realize the difficult position in which he is putting the government of Ecuador? I think he does.

This is part and parcel of Snowden’s entire strategy. He could have waited to reveal his identity until after he received asylum, and he could have waited to reveal Ecuador’s part in his flight from Hong Kong — but he apparently thinks it’s to his advantage to gain maximum publicity from his actions as part of his bid for asylum. And evidently he thinks that by revealing how Ecuador already helped him, he can put pressure on them to follow through.

Advice from Assange, I suppose.

We’ll see if this high-stakes diplomacy, if you want to call it that, pays dividends. In the meantime, as I said the other day, I am giving myself permission to despise both Snowden and the dishonest and hypocritical actions of the U.S. Government in this affair. And I think it’s worth paying attention to both.

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