THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Is Obama Already A Lame Duck?: In Time.com columnist Mark Halperin's damning assessment, there isn't a single component of the coalition that backed Barack Obama's candidacy in 2008 (he wasn't using his middle name back then; only "racists" were) who doesn't think he's a lame duck, hobbled by his own shortcomings and self-inflicted wounds:
A survey of the political landscape shows that many groups who were part of the 2008-09 Obama coalition have turned on him. Liberals believe he is an overcompromising wimp. …The business community considers Obama ignorant about markets at best, a socialist at worst. … The media, after aiding and abetting his ride to the White House, now see the President as incompetent and overwhelmed. The independents and Republicans who backed him for office currently feel he is too liberal and too weak to do the job. …
With unemployment high and promising to stay there, it is nearly impossible in the short term for Obama to shift opinion and be seen as a successful President. But he can't achieve anything in 2011 and 2012, or get re-elected, unless he can win back support from some of his core groups. …
Busy as he's been, he has not yet experienced a single major moment that has benefited him politically. The most dramatic events of his term - the BP oil spill, the passage of the health-care law, the arms-control agreement with Russia - have had either no impact or a negative influence on Obama's standing.
What to do? What to do? Well, “[n]o one wants the country to suffer another catastrophe,” Halperin assures, before arguing that “[w]ithout that moment [an interesting euphemism for catastrophe, that] and strong leadership in its wake, Obama may find his luck has run out.” Americans facing joblessness and homelessness no doubt feel they’ve suffered enough in the cause of Obama’s presidency.
† Why Scooter Libby Is Not Guilty Beyond A Reasonable Doubt: The Washington Post takes issue with the new film "Fair Game", which is attempting to rewrite the history on the Valerie Plame affair:
The protagonists portrayed in the movie, former diplomat Joseph C. Wilson IV and former spy Valerie Plame, claim that it tells the true story of their battle with the Bush administration over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Ms. Plame's exposure as a CIA agent. "It's accurate," Ms. Plame told The Post. Said Mr. Wilson: "For people who have short memories or don't read, this is the only way they will remember that period."
"Fair Game," based on books by Mr. Wilson and his wife, is full of distortions - not to mention outright inventions. To start with the most sensational: The movie portrays Ms. Plame as having cultivated a group of Iraqi scientists and arranged for them to leave the country, and it suggests that once her cover was blown, the operation was aborted and the scientists were abandoned. This is simply false. In reality, as The Post's Walter Pincus and Richard Leiby reported, Ms. Plame did not work directly on the program, and it was not shut down because of her identification.
The movie portrays Mr. Wilson as a whistle-blower who debunked a Bush administration claim that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from the African country of Niger. In fact, an investigation by the Senate intelligence committee found that Mr. Wilson's reporting did not affect the intelligence community's view on the matter, and an official British investigation found that President George W. Bush's statement in a State of the Union address that Britain believed that Iraq had sought uranium in Niger was well-founded. …
Though it was long ago established that Mr. Wilson himself was not telling the truth - not about his mission to Niger and not about his wife - the myth endures.
This blog has always believed Scooter Libby to be innocent of the crime for which he was convicted, and the injustice against him continues with Wilson and Plame being allowed to continue to lie with impunity until no one will remember that they, and not he, are the villains of this saga.
† Can We Be Adult About Stem Cell Research?: The Wall Street Journal reports that a three judge federal appellate panel is “grappling” with the implications of federal district judge Royce Lamberth’s August ruling that federally funded research on embryonic stem cells is illegal because it violates the Dickey-Wicker Amendment prohibiting taxpayer dollars from being used to destroy human embryos:
Justice Department lawyer Beth Brinkmann, representing the Obama administration, said Congress intended to make a distinction between promoting the study of embryonic stem cells and paying for their creation.
Under President Barack Obama, citing the scientific value of stem cells, has said federal dollars should fund embryonic stem-cell research, so long as the private sector paid for the embryos' destruction.
The government's argument "rises or falls" on whether stem-cell research is intertwined with deriving stem cells, Judge Thomas Griffith said Monday.
† BHO Blooper Reel: President Barack Hussein Obama now has an excuse when he mispronounces a word that most fifth graders can pronounce correctly: His fat lip. CNN reports that when reading his remarks off the TelePromper at this year's Kennedy Center Honors reception, he stumbled over the word "superfluous" – several times:
"It's this lip. It's hard to say," Obama said to chuckles from the audience. "You try it when you've had 12 stitches."
Meanwhile, The Washington Times reports that Obama made a mistake that can only be attributed to his fat head:
Last month, while speaking at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, Mr. Obama was trying to stress the similarity of the U.S. and Indonesia and said … "In the United States, our motto is E pluribus unum - out of many, one," he said, then compared it to the Indonesian motto, "Bhennika Tunggal Ika - unity in diversity."
The official motto of the U.S., designated by a 1956 law, is "In God We Trust." E pluribus unum is the motto on the Great Seal of the United States, and appears on the ribbon held in the beak of the eagle that dominates the obverse side of the seal.
Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus – who also complain that Obama habitually drops the word "Creator" when he recites the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence – want the president to issue a public correction.
Three years after he led the charge to require consumers to ditch their comfortable old incandescent lights in favor of those twisty CFL bulbs, Rep. Fred Upton now wants to be the man to help undo that law as the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
That about-face is not unique among lawmakers looking to atone for stances they've taken over the past decade as they seek to gain top posts in a decidedly more conservative Republican Congress, but his reversal underscores how intent the GOP is on proving it has broken with past practices. …
Indeed, the compact fluorescent lamp, or CFL, has become a symbol of government overreach for many consumers, who wonder what was wrong with the incandescent bulbs that have lighted their kitchens, family rooms and bedrooms for more than a century. …
CFLs have joined low-flow toilets in drawing the scorn of consumers, and some argue that the bulbs' mercury content poses a safety and environmental hazard.
Some consumers even said they are stockpiling incandescent bulbs to defy the phaseout.
"It's emblematic of everything that's wrong in the relationship between Washington and the voters. There was no conversation; there was no back-and-forth. The voters woke up one morning, and they said you can't buy incandescent light bulbs," said Michael McKenna, a Republican strategist and energy lobbyist who has followed the issue.
† All The News That’s Fart To Print: The Michigan Supreme Court voted 4-3 order to permit Sheri Schooley's personal injury lawsuit against a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in suburban Detroit to proceed. Schooley claims that when she visited the restroom, the cover of the plastic toilet paper dispenser fell on her hand, breaking a bone, reports The Associated Press:
Three years later, "I still cannot use the hand. I have no grip," said Schooley, who had to quit her job as an administrative assistant because she couldn't type.
A Wayne County judge and the state appeals court have refused the restaurant's request to dismiss the lawsuit. The Supreme Court has twice followed the lower courts. …
Schooley said she still bowls but was forced to switch to her left hand.
"My average used to be 140. Now it's 95 to 100," she said. "Quite a drop."
Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly wrote that, “It is not for this court but rather for a jury to decide if the dispenser that harmed her constituted a dangerous condition." Noting that the restroom was checked for wet floors and other obvious problems every 15 to 30 minutes, in his snarky dissent Justice Stephen Markman added that the restaurant "apparently also had a legal duty to inspect for hazards that could not reasonably have been anticipated, such as a toilet paper dispenser opening unexpectedly."
[Hat Tip: The Wall Street Journal]
† Updates To Previous Posts (sixth item, He’s So Tired, He Hasn’t Slept A Wink; He’s So Tired, His Mind Is On The Blink): When passengers thwarted an attempt to blow a plane out of the sky on Christmas Day, recall that President Barack Hussein Obama and key members of his national security staff were on vacation, and none of them saw fit to change their plans to return to Washington. Apparently this indifference towards national security is baked into the Obama administration’s DNA, which is why John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations argues that Obama is "a bigger danger" to U.S. interests than WikiLeaks in an op-ed for The Guardian of London:
WikiLeaks has yet again flooded the internet with thousands of classified American documents, this time state department cables. More troubling than WikiLeaks' latest revelation of US secrets, however, is the Obama administration's weak, wrong-headed and erratic response. Unfortunately, the administration has acted consistently with its demonstrated unwillingness to assert and defend US interests across a wide range of threats, such as Iran and North Korea, which, ironically, the leaked cables amply document. …
This sustained, collective inaction exemplifies the Obama administration's all-too-common attitude towards threats to America's international interests. The president, unlike the long line of his predecessors since Franklin Roosevelt, simply does not put national security at the centre of his political priorities. …
[Obama’s] secretary of state does not comprehend that America is the subject of the attack, his department of defence is not interested in defending us, and the president himself seems utterly indifferent to the whole affair.
It is not WikiLeaks that ultimately imperils our national security, but the failing Obama administration, which ignores the nature and extent of threats we face, and which is too often unwilling to act to thwart them. While our economic difficulties have dominated the national debate for two years, national security will inevitably again come to the fore, as Americans see the full extent of the devastation left by Obama's policies. That shift cannot come too soon.
† Updates To Previous Posts (eighth item, Average Americans To Liberals: Existential Angst Over Torture? It’s All You.): The exquisitely delicate sensibilities of Washington Post columnist David Ignatius as regards the targeted assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki do not appear to be shared by U.S. District Judge John Bates, reports The Associated Press:
Bates said in an 83-page opinion that he does not have the authority to review the president's military decisions and al-Awlaki's father does not have the legal right to sue to stop the United States from killing his son. But Bates also said the "unique and extraordinary case" raised vital considerations of national security and for military and foreign affairs.
Among the questions Bates said the case raises is why courts have authority to approve surveillance of Americans overseas but not their killing. And he questioned whether the president or his advisers can order the assassination of a U.S. citizen without "any form of judicial process whatsoever, based on the mere assertion that he is a dangerous member of a terrorist organization." …
The cleric's father, Nasser al-Awlaki of Yemen, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, argued that international law and the Constitution prevented the administration from unilaterally targeting his son for death unless he presents a specific imminent threat to life or physical safety and there are no other means to stop him.
Bates also tossed the case because Anwar al-Awlaki did not bring the suit himself, and because
there's no evidence al-Awlaki – who has stated that Muslims are not bound by Western law – wanted his father to sue to protect his Constitutional rights.
† Updates To Previous Posts (third item, Healthcare “Reform” Horror Stories): One argument against nationalized healthcare is that using public dollars inevitably leads to rationing so as to provide treatment to the greatest number of people – no will get “Cadillac” care, but everyone gets the equivalent an AMC Pacer. As previously noted, The New York Times didn’t seem to have a problem with healthcare rationing to bend the cost curve until AZ started rationing services provided to state Medicaid recipients. But now the paper has plenty to say:
With enrollments exploding, revenues shrinking and the low-hanging fruit plucked long ago, virtually every state has had to make painful cuts to its Medicaid program during the economic downturn.
What distinguishes the reductions recently imposed in Arizona, where coverage was eliminated on Oct. 1 for certain transplants of the heart, liver, lung, pancreas and bone marrow, is the decision to stop paying for treatments urgently needed to ward off death.
The cuts in transplant coverage, which could deny organs to 100 adults currently on the transplant list, are testament to both the severity of fiscal pressures on the states and the particular bloodlessness of budget-cutting in Arizona. …
Jennifer Carusetta, the legislative liaison for Arizona’s Medicaid agency, said the transplant cuts would save a mere $800,000 in the current fiscal year, and only $1.4 million for a full year.
The cuts were imposed in an effort to close a $2.6 billion shortfall in the state’s $8.9 billion budget for this year. [Emphasis, The Stiletto]
Yes, the savings will be just one half of one percent of the budget shortfall. But AZ only has 6.59 million residents and the per capita income in 2009 ($48,745) was below the U.S. median ($50,221), so the government cannot close the budget gap simply by raising taxes on individuals. And no state-funded program should be sacrosanct until the budget is balanced.
† Updates To Previous Posts (fourth item, First They Came For The Guns, Then They Came For The Knives): The Obama administration supported a 2009 proposal by the Customs and Border Protection agency to reclassify pocket knives that can be opened with one hand as switchblades, making them illegal for import or sale across state lines under the 1958 federal Switchblade Act, but Congress wouldn’t go along. Since then, AZ and NH have passed laws lifting restrictions on switchblades, stilettos and even samurai swords, which has “has given new life to the knife rights lobby, the little-known cousin of the more politically potent gun rights movement,” reports The New York Times:
Sure, knife fights and knife attacks are a concern. No knife-lover would ever deny that. In fact, Todd Rathner, the lobbyist for Knife Rights Inc., an advocacy group based in Arizona that is now in its third year, was mugged twice in New York City before moving to Tucson, once - “ironically,” he said - at knifepoint.
But the problem is with the knife wielder, not the knife itself, the knife lobby says, sounding very much like those who advocate for gun rights.
In fact, knife advocates contend that the Second Amendment applies to knives as well as guns. They focus their argument elsewhere, though, emphasizing that knives fill so many beneficial roles, from carving Thanksgiving turkeys to whittling, that they do not deserve the bad name they often get.
“People talk about how knives are dangerous, and then they go in the kitchen and they have 50 of them,” said D’Alton Holder, a veteran knife maker who lives in Wickenberg, Ariz. “It’s ridiculous to talk about the size of the knife as if that makes a difference. If you carry a machete that’s three feet long, it’s no more dangerous than any knife. You can do just as much damage with an inch-long blade, even a box cutter.”
As for the pocketknife he carries with him every day, Mr. Holder said: “I use it for everything - to clean my fingernails, to prune a tree or carve, even to eat dinner with.” [Editorial Note: Ew!]