Patterico's Pontifications



Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:05 pm

GO AP! GO AP!: I like this story for many reasons.

First, it’s about an airplane toilet waste lawsuit.

Second, the story calls out for so many uses of the word [sic] in such a tight space, I think it makes history. I count three grammatical errors or typos in a total of just six short paragraphs. The quotables start with the opening sentence: “A Santa Cruz man won a suit against American Airlines alleging that one of the company’s planes released two chunks of toilet waste, known euphemistically as ‘blue ice,’ onto the skylight his boat. [sic]” Prepositions, schmepositions. Creative use of apostrophes is shown here: “He receive’d [sic] the court’s ruling in the mail Friday.” The story ends with this: “Airline officials could not be reached to comment [sic] Saturday.” In other words, if I’m going to use a preposition, I’m going to use the one I want to use.

Third, I just love this actual quote from Mike Fergus, spokeman for the Federal Aviation Administration, reacting to the judgment: “I’ll be darned.”

I will too, Mike. I will too.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:34 pm

EKE IT OUT, BABY: Senator Patrick J. (for “Jackass”) Leahy has written President Bush to implore him to consult with Leahy before nominating a Supreme Court Justice. (Looks like Leahy thinks someone is retiring.) Says Leahy: “I would hope your objective will not be to send the Senate nominees so polarizing that their confirmations are eked out in narrow margins.”

Bush, my friend, if your nominee does not eke out his or her confirmation by the narrowest of all possible margins, you ain’t doing your job. And if you consult with Leahy — if he even votes for your nominee — you and me, we got a problem.

“Mr. Leahy said his two letters urging a bipartisan process, the one on Wednesday and one sent on May 14, had not been answered.” That’s a good sign.

READER RESPONSE: A reader responds

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:49 pm

READER RESPONSE: A reader responds to my post BLINDED BY POLITICS as follows:

“The question is not whether or not the war was justified. The question is whether or not Bush intentionally misrepresented the threat to America. The existence of WMD or mass graves doesn’t answer this question. I think there is enough evidence of wrongdoing that an investigation is warranted.”

The question is whatever question you choose to focus on. I suggest that the more pressing question is: given the likelihood that Saddam had WMD (or the means to immediately constitute them) just before the war, where are they now? The consequences of postponing an answer to that question are dire: terrorists could obtain chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons. Or they could obtain material and/or information that might facilitate their obtaining such weapons.

The consequences of postponing an answer to my reader’s question: delay in getting momentum on a campaign issue.

It does not surprise me that hacks like Tom Daschle or Henry Waxman pursue the “Bush lied” issue, without a second thought about the possibility that Islamic terrorists have been swarming over weapons sites left unprotected by Bush. I am pleased to see there are Democrats (like Harman) focusing on the serious questions. Harman is not giving the administration a pass, and neither am I. We are just focusing on the issue that poses the gravest potential consequences.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:28 pm

IMPRISONING NEMO: I can sure see where Finding Nemo would inspire an increase in the sales of clown fish. After all, the movie is about a clown fish looking for his son, who was taken from him and imprisoned in a dentist’s aquarium. What better way to celebrate this movie than to sell a bunch of clown fish to people, so they can imprison them in aquariums?

MCCAIN OP-ED: One other point

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:55 am

MCCAIN OP-ED: One other point about that McCain op-ed that I discussed below. In it, McCain says something I found interesting: “While war was never inevitable, it was, in retrospect, the most telegraphed military confrontation in history. Hussein had plenty of time to destroy or disperse weapons stocks and to further conceal weapons programs, which often rely more on human knowledge than physical infrastructure.” (My emphasis.)

“In retrospect”? Why, I could almost believe that I said on February 25 that “I have never seen a war telegraphed like this one.” Of course, my concern at the time was that Saddam would use his knowledge of the impending attack to use his WMD, not to destroy them.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:29 am

HARMAN ON THE RECALL: Jane Harman also said on Fox News Sunday that she believes that Governor Gray Davis should not be recalled, because it would set a bad precedent. She said there should not be a recall absent fraud or other serious conduct.

After much reflection, I have decided that I do not support the recall. The People of the State of California, in their infinite lack of wisdom, elected this clown. Not only do I think it’s bad politics for the Republicans to take over in the middle of this mess, I also agree with Harman that the recall attempt sets a bad precedent.

However, there is a better case for a recall than we generally hear expressed. As I discussed here in February, Gray Davis did indeed commit a fraud on the people: he fudged budget numbers just before the election for California governor. According to the local Dog Trainer: “During the budget negotiations, Davis’ administration changed how it portrayed the state of the economy. Rather than use figures that compared one calendar year to the next, the administration, without fanfare, shifted to presenting results that compared the fourth quarter of 2002 to the same period a year earlier. The effect was to make the economy look significantly better than it otherwise would have just as Davis was seeking reelection.” (My emphasis, as usual.) Given that the overwhelming problem currently facing California is our $38 billion dollar deficit, this transgression of Davis’s is far from insignificant.

Of course, this is garden-variety political fraud, of the sort practiced every day by politicians everywhere. That is the primary reason I don’t support the recall.


Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:37 am

BLINDED BY POLITICS: It is a common human trait to be so blinded by your distaste for the guy on the other side that you criticize whatever he does, whether he is right or not. Just to show that I too am human, I will admit that I have myself fallen victim to this tendency. Back when Clinton was lobbing the cruise missiles at Iraq and at the pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan, I bought the right-wing spin that these actions were “Wag the Dog” style distractions from Clinton’s extramarital issues. While I still believe that the timing of these actions raised legitimate questions, I now think the actions themselves were not only correct, but too tepid.

I think some of my Democratic friends are now being taken in by the same tendency, with the “rush to judgment” on WMD. There is plenty of time to carp about whether the President knew about concerns regarding the certainty of the intelligence about Iraq WMD, and if so, whether those concerns were adequately communicated. Right now, there are two points I’d like to make.

First, it is becoming quite clear that the war was justified for humanitarian reasons. Children were buried alive while they were still holding dolls. It was a good thing to stop it. I think there is a parallel here with WWII. We didn’t go to war with Hitler to stop the extermination of the Jews. (We didn’t even go to war to him because he was taking over most of Europe. We went to war with him because the idiot declared war on us.) But, after the fact, stopping the Holocaust is universally thought of as the clearest reason that waging war on Hitler was the right thing to do. I think we have a similar situation with Iraq: the stated reason for the war may turn out not to be the most compelling reason. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have gone to war.

Second, the vast weight of evidence suggests that Saddam had WMD and didn’t destroy them. Accordingly, we have to find them before the terrorists do. This is a real problem. On this issue, I would like to agree with my Congresswoman Jane Harman, who discussed WMD on Fox News Sunday this morning. I didn’t vote for her and never will, but I have to say that she presents well. She comes across as reasonable and level-headed.

Harman said on FNS that she agrees with this morning’s Washington Post op-ed by John McCain, in which he states: “Critics today seem to imply that after seven years of elaborately deceiving the United Nations, Hussein precipitated the withdrawal of U.N. inspectors from his country in 1998, then decided to change course and disarmed himself over the next four years, but refused to provide any realistic proof that this disarmament occurred. . . . I am not convinced.”

Harman, who is the Ranking Member on the House Intelligence Committee, recently wrote this Washington Post op-ed about the issue. In it, she says: “The first and most urgent task is to figure out why we have not yet found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and redouble our efforts to find them.” (Emphasis mine.) Harman also says: “It appears that the initial war strategy in Iraq did not adequately map out a plan for locating, seizing, securing and examining suspected WMD-related sites.” (I agree with Harman on this issue, especially with respect to the nuclear sites — an issue I have discussed on this site many times. To see my previous pontifications on this issue, see this post and the links contained within, as well as the bottom of this lengthy post.) Harman’s fundamental point was this: wouldn’t it be terribly ironic if we fought this war to prevent the proliferation of WMD, and in the process accelerated the spread of these weapons to terrorists?

I have respect for someone like Harman voicing these very rational and important concerns. I have less respect for the theatrics of people like Henry Waxman, who ignore the potential danger inherent in the dispersal of WMD in favor of immediately trying to make political hay out of the issue.

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