Patterico's Pontifications


Genius Halbig Opponents: We Can Prove the Subsidies Existed All Along, with This Argument: First, Assume the Subsidies Existed All Along. And Then . . .

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:30 pm

You think I’m kidding, right? Yeah, well, I’m not:

Of the many pro-Obamacare arguments that government lawyers are making to save the law from the Supreme Court, one stands out as particularly tailored to winning the crucial vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The argument is about federalism, long a guiding light for the Reagan-appointed jurist whose vote both sides are working to win in King v. Burwell, a case before the Court that threatens to blow a hole in Obamacare.

“There’s no question that Justice Kennedy regards federalism as a central value in the Constitution,” Michael C. Dorf, a law professor at Cornell University and former clerk for the justice, told TPM in an email. “Accordingly, he typically votes to sustain challenges to very expansive views of federal power.”

Specifically, the law’s defenders say it would violate states’ rights for Obamacare to deny subsidies for residents of some three-dozen states without a clear warning. Nowhere in the law were states told that eligibility for premium tax credits would hinge on them setting up state-run exchanges, as opposed to letting the federal government handle it.

Remember: these are the same people who mock Jonathan Adler as a “Halbig twoofer” — a term of derision designed to suggest Adler’s arguments are so stupid that they are similar to the views of people who think our government was behind 9/11. And yet these people all argue, in a herd, that you can’t “deny” something that was never authorized to begin with, without a “clear warning” that the provision you never authorized, was never authorized.

This “argument” ignores what seems to me to be a very, very simple point: the subsidies were never authorized. It can’t be unconstitutional to “take them away” — because they were never authorized to begin with.

Put another way: the argument attempts to prove that the subsidies really existed all along, by first assuming they were there all along, and then arguing that, if you assume they were there all along, it is illegal to take them away — therefore they must have been there all along.

You see what is happening there, right? They are assuming the very thing they are trying to prove. In dismantling a Scott Lemieux post recently, I made this point briefly and in passing, saying:

That’s like me saying that, in this dispute between you and me concerning who owns the book sitting on this table, I win — because if you say it’s yours, you’re taking it without permission, and it’s illegal to take books from people without permission. Some people call this “begging the question.” I call it rank stupidity.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with “federalism” — and anyone concerned about federalism will be consoled by the fact that the states can establish their own exchanges any time they like.

Anthony Kennedy will not be fooled. These people are truly desperate. And pathetic. Honestly: these arguments are just pathetic.

Obama Lies to BuzzFeed About His Lies on Same-Sex Marriage

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:11 pm

Obama has given an interview to BuzzFeed in which, among other things, he tries to square the circle concerning the accusations by David Axelrod that he deliberately lied to the American people regarding his views on same-sex marriage.

All the interview does is add to the evidence that he has deliberately lied about this issue all along — and used his alleged Christian faith as a way to sell that political lie to the public.

First, let’s just be very clear about what Axelrod said, and how Obama responded. First, Axelrod’s claim, as reported by TIME:

Barack Obama misled Americans for his own political benefit when he claimed in the 2008 election to oppose same sex marriage for religious reasons, his former political strategist David Axelrod writes in a new book, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics.

“I’m just not very good at bullshitting,” Obama told Axelrod, after an event where he stated his opposition to same-sex marriage, according to the book.

Axelrod writes that he knew Obama was in favor of same-sex marriages during the first presidential campaign, even as Obama publicly said he only supported civil unions, not full marriages. Axelrod also admits to counseling Obama to conceal that position for political reasons. “Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a ‘sacred union,’ ” Axelrod writes.

And now, Obama’s response to BuzzFeed:

[Obama] disputed, however, the contention of his former top political adviser, David Axelrod, that he had misled voters in 2008 when he opposed marriage equality. Axelrod wrote in his new memoir that Obama “modified” his position because his aides worried about alienating black Christian leaders, and then complained that he didn’t like “bullshitting” voters about it.

“I think David is mixing up my personal feelings with my position on the issue,” Obama said. “I always felt that same-sex couples should be able to enjoy the same rights, legally, as anybody else, and so it was frustrating to me not to, I think, be able to square that with what were a whole bunch of religious sensitivities out there.”

In a nutshell, he is saying that his personal belief always favored same-sex marriage. (I am putting that in bold so that you can refer to it again in a second.) But, he says, he took a public position that favored only civil unions, to take account of religious sensitivities (read: “to get elected”):

Obama said he believed at the time that civil unions were “a sufficient way of squaring the circle,” but that “the pain and the sense of stigma that was being placed on same-sex couples who are friends of [his]” changed his mind.

I think the notion that somehow I was always in favor of marriage per se isn’t quite accurate,” Obama said. “The old questionnaire … is an example of struggling with what was a real issue at the time, which is, how do you make sure that people’s rights are enjoyed and these religious sensitivities were taken into account?”

(A note about the questionnaires can be found here.)

Now, I would like to remind you of what he said on September 25, 2004:

I’m a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.

Similarly, Obama said in 2008:

“I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

In other words, he was saying in 2004 and 2008 that his personal religious beliefs told him that marriage was between a man and a woman. But remember the thing that I put in bold above? Today he said to BuzzFeed that his personal belief always favored same-sex marriage.

So: he lied before — and today, by denying that he lied before, he lied about his previous lies.

Axelrod isn’t confused. Obama is trying to confuse citizens.

When I first blogged about this, at least one person (Beldar) said in the comments that he doesn’t know whether Obama is a Christian, and it’s between him and God whether his religious belief is sincere.

OK. So: let’s not speculate about the sincerity of Obama’s religious beliefs. Let’s just stick with what we know.

And we know that in 2004 and 2008, Obama lied to the public, and used a phony story about his religious beliefs to try to sell that lie to the public. In other words, he cloaked his political lie in religious garb to make it sound sincere.

I think that’s all we need to know, frankly.

P.S. I can’t find a word about any of this in the Los Angeles Times. I knew those soulless partisan scumsuckers would bury this story, and I was right.

Three Muslim Students Killed In Chapel Hill (Updated With President Obama’s Response)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:44 pm

[guest post by Dana]

A horrible tragedy today in North Carolina:

Police have arrested a gunman in the killing of three Muslim students — including a husband and wife — in the university town of Chapel Hill in North Carolina, US news reports said Wednesday.

The shooter, identified as Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was being held in Durham County Jail on three counts of first-degree murder, the Chapel Hill News and Observer newspaper and other news outlets said.

The victims were identified as Chapel Hill residents Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh.

While the investigation is just underway, reaction from the Muslim community was strong and swift:

The Twitter hashtags #MuslimLivesMatter, #ChapelHillShotting and #OurThreeWinners gained near instant popularity. Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, posted “My thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those senselessly murdered in Chapel Hill last night #MuslimLivesMatter” on his Twitter account.

A relative of the victims, Haya Barakat, took her grief to Twitter as well, posting @HayaBarakat: “My cousin, his wife and sister in law were murdered for being muslim. Someone tell me racism/hate crimes don’t exist. #MuslimLivesMatter”

Other community leaders called for calm, hoping to avert panic and fear among American Muslims.

Within hours of hearing of the news, candlelight vigils have been organized by Muslim organizations across North America, including in Fullerton, California; New Brunswick, New Jersey; Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Los Angeles; Tempe, Arizona; Chicago, and Atlanta.

Media outlets have been put under the spotlight for their response. In an opinion peace posted on Al Jazeera, Dr. Mohamad Elmasry, an assistant professor at the University of North Alabama, wrote “Western media outlets will likely frame the most recent perpetrator of what some speculate is an anti-Muslim crime in the same way they frame most anti-Muslim criminals – as crazed, misguided bigots who acted alone. If past coverage is any indication, there will likely be very little suggestion that the killer acted on the basis of an ideology or as part of any larger pattern or system.

“But what if acts of anti-Muslim violence are consistent with at least some strands of current western ideology? What if Islamophobia has become so commonplace, so accepted, that it now represents a hegemonic system of thought, at least for relatively large pockets of people in some regions of the West?”

And in spite of the efforts by some in the media to shamefully sensationalize the tragedy and make the killings about race, neighbors of Hicks claim he was hateful to everyone, no matter their race or religion:

”He was very disgruntled, very aggressive. He would scream at people,’’ said Samantha Maness, 25, a technical college student who lives across a parking lot from the apartments of Hicks and two of the three slain students in a housing complex of winding streets and towering loblolly pines a few miles from the University of North Carolina campus.

“He made everyone feel uncomfortable and unsafe,’’ Maness said Wednesday, speaking outside Hicks’ upstairs apartment, which backs up to an adjoining apartment where two of the shooting victims lived. Flowers had been left on the lawn in front of the building.

Residents of Finley Forest apartments in Chapel Hill had been so alarmed by Hicks’ rants that they called a community meeting last year, Maness said. Residents shared stories about being confronted by Hicks, but no one mentioned the meeting to Hicks and nothing came of it, she said.

Maness said she never heard Hicks refer to anyone’s religion or race.

“He had equal opportunity anger toward all the residents,” she said.

God rest the souls of the three young victims and comfort their families.


UPDATE: President Obama’s statement on the tragedy:

Yesterday, the FBI opened an inquiry into the brutal and outrageous murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In addition to the ongoing investigation by local authorities, the FBI is taking steps to determine whether federal laws were violated. No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship. Michelle and I offer our condolences to the victims’ loved ones. As we saw with the overwhelming presence at the funeral of these young Americans, we are all one American family. Whenever anyone is taken from us before their time, we remember how they lived their lives – and the words of one of the victims should inspire the way we live ours.

The Patterico Music Project: The Original Version of “Was It Really You?”

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 7:46 am

I am blogging the second of three songs that I wrote in the 1990s, and that Northern Pikes legend Jay Semko recorded for me this year. I posted the first one last week (song; lyrics; original version). I posted the second one Monday (Jay’s version and lyrics).

This is my version of the second song: “Was It Really You?”

Be kind. My recording resources in 1992 were sparse. Details about how I did these recordings are here.

You will note some differences between this version and Jay’s. Mine has some harmonies and background vocals. There is a faux-bass line, which I played by playing the top string on my little nylon-string acoustic guitar, and turning up the bass on my TASCAM all the way for that track. The guitar-playing style is a bit different. And the singing is poor, unlike Jay’s masterful vocals. Here it is:

And here is Jay’s version, for comparison purposes.

FEC Threatens to Regulate Blogs Again: Time to Revive the Patterico Free Speech Pledge

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:33 am

Back in 2005, the FEC made a stab at regulating the Internet. There was a wide movement among bloggers to get a “media exemption” written into the law for blogs. A petition circulated demanding such a “media exemption.” I refused to sign it, for several reasons.* The main reason was that, I contended, “asking the FEC for a media exemption is nothing more than asking our masters for permission to speak.” As I said in 2005: “We shouldn’t have to do it. And I’m not going to.”

Instead, I challenged the Internet to join me in making a simple pledge:

If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.

Basically, my plan was to keep on keeping on:

Quite simply, I intend to go on blogging like I did before. Regardless of whether the FEC promulgates rules for political speech on the Internet, I plan to express my opinions just as I did before. If I need to link to a politician’s campaign web site in order to make my point, I’m going to do so. If I decide to endorse a candidate, I will. If I think my readers should send that candidate money, I will encourage them to do so.

I’ll do this during the next congressional election, and during the next presidential election. I will engage in this core political speech whenever I feel like it. And I will not change my behavior in the slightest, regardless of any FEC regulations.

For example, if the FEC warns me that one more link to a certain politician’s web site will not be permitted, but that link is necessary for me to make my point, I am going to include that link.

I am not going to sign any petitions asking for government’s permission to do this, and I am not going to seek out media credentials to obtain special permission to do this.

If we actually reach the point where my engaging in such core political speech might subject me to arrest — something I believed unthinkable before the BCRA was upheld by our spineless Supreme Court — then I’ll make sure that television cameras are there to watch the authorities slap on the cuffs. Let the authorities prosecute someone for telling the world that someone should or should not be President.

Literally dozens of blogs took me up on what I ended up calling the “Patterico Free Speech Pledge.”

In 2006, the FEC decided to exempt blogs (and essentially the entire Internet) from FEC regulation. But government still claimed the authority to regulate political speech on the Internet. It just decided it wasn’t going to exercise that authority . . . yet.

It’s 2014, and times have changed. The Web site with the online petition seeking a media exemption for bloggers now hosts a petition about e-cigarettes. And yet, government’s tendency to engage in overreaching remains the same. Noah Rothman reports that the FEC is once again trying to regulate blogging:

[O]ver at the Federal Election Commission, the regulation of political speech that takes place on the internet is back on the table.

In October, then FEC Vice Chairwoman Ann M. Ravel promised that she would renew a push to regulate online political speech following a deadlocked commission vote that would have subjected political videos and blog posts to the reporting and disclosure requirements placed on political advertisers who broadcast on television. On Wednesday, she will begin to make good on that promise.

“Some of my colleagues seem to believe that the same political message that would require disclosure if run on television should be categorically exempt from the same requirements when placed in the Internet alone,” Ravel said in an October statement. “As a matter of policy, this simply does not make sense.”

“In the past, the Commission has specifically exempted certain types of Internet communications from campaign finance regulations,” she lamented. “In doing so, the Commission turned a blind eye to the Internet’s growing force in the political arena.”

On Wednesday, the FEC will hold a public hearing on a variety of rules that are subject to amendment so that they can comport with the Supreme Court’s ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC. On that docket will be issues relating to disclosure requirements, earmarking, and a variety of other rules. But the FEC will also hear comments regarding now FEC Chairwoman Ravel’s preference that the commission revisit a 2006 rule that exempts blogs and other online political speech from regulation.

Note that this is taking place at the same time the FCC is trying to get its grubby paws on the Internet by appealing to the dopes in the population through so-called “Net Neutrality.”

FEC regulation of Internet speech literally means that the government could tell you to stop blogging or commenting in support of a presidential candidate. Your comment in support of Ted Cruz is like spending money to support Ted Cruz, goes the argument. Your comment is worth x dollars, you see, and you’re allowed only y dollars this election cycle.

They may not go that far down the road. Maybe they’ll “only” require you to fill out a disclosure form each time you comment. Why, certainly, sir, you may have your free speech. All we ask is that your criticism of Hillary Clinton’s latest lie be disclosed as a contribution to Ted Cruz. Each time you leave a comment, simply fill out Form DS 27 b-6. Don’t forget to fill out all five pages and sign under penalty of perjury on page six! Please remember that a separate 27 b stroke 6 form will be required for each comment critical of Ms. Clinton.

No. We cannot tolerate anything close to this.

It’s time to resurrect the Patterico Free Speech pledge:

If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.

Please: don’t be a fair-weather friend of free speech. I know only too well how people like to talk big, but turn tail and run when things get tough. Take the pledge only if you really mean it.

Who’s with me?

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