Patterico's Pontifications

1/24/2005

The Always Nutty Ramsey Clark

Filed under: Morons — Patterico @ 10:40 pm

Ramsey Clark continues his crusade to be labeled Craziest American Man with a positively loony op-ed in this morning’s L.A. Times. In it, he explains his reasons for wanting to defend Saddam Hussein. My favorite quote:

Finally, any court that considers criminal charges against Saddam Hussein must have the power and the mandate to consider charges against leaders and military personnel of the U.S., Britain and the other nations that participated in the aggression against Iraq, if equal justice under law is to have meaning.

Yuh-huh.

I’ll let you guys write the punch line in the comments.

Junk Science in Counting the Homeless

Filed under: Public Policy — Patterico @ 9:18 pm

You know those statistics that show startlingly high numbers of homeless people in the United States? Did you ever wonder where those statistics come from?

Wonder no longer. The next major census of the homeless will be conducted by cities and counties whose federal aid rises and falls depending on the number of homeless living within their borders. The cities and counties have no apparent incentive to keep the numbers accurate, and every incentive to exaggerate them.

This is like measuring the size of the fish in the lake by listening to the tall tales of drunk fishermen in the nearest tavern.

Here are the details:
(more…)

Los Angeles Times Once Again Fails to Tell the Whole Story About Terri Schiavo

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Schiavo — Patterico @ 7:56 pm

The way has been paved for Terri Schiavo to die. And if you read the Los Angeles Times, you don’t know why this is an outrage.

If you are unfamiliar with this controversy, you can read all about it in my Schiavo category. For a single article explaining what is at stake, read my column titled Fighting For Her Life: Inflicting “Capital Punishment” on Terri Schiavo.

Here’s how today’s L.A. Times article portrays her parents’ side of the controversy:

Her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, intervened and strongly opposed the husband’s bid to have her feeding tube removed. They pointed out that their daughter can breathe on her own and is not terminally ill. Moreover, she sometimes moves her limbs, and she may be aware of her situation, they said.

There is much, much more to the parents’ side than this. As I wrote in my column, Terri’s parents have argued that her husband is not a reliable witness to her wishes, because he suffers from many serious emotional and financial conflicts of interest:

He has lived with another woman for eight years, and has sired two children by that woman. His statement that his wife would want to die conveniently facilitates his ability to inherit what remains of a $750,000 trust fund, created pursuant to a judgment in his wife’s medical malpractice case. Mr. Schiavo won that judgment by arguing to the jury that he wanted to rehabilitate his wife — never mentioning that she supposedly did not want rehabilitation under these circumstances. Once the trust fund was set up, Mr. Schiavo quickly refused to pay for the rehabilitation.

. . . .

Ms. Schiavo’s parents obtained several affidavits attacking the credibility of Mr. Schiavo’s claims regarding his wife’s wishes. For example, a former co-worker of Mr. Schiavo’s executed an affidavit saying that he had repeatedly confided in her that he had no idea what Ms. Schiavo would have wanted. Also, a registered nurse executed an affidavit saying that Mr. Schiavo often said things like: “When is that bitch gonna die?” — and would talk about all the things he was going to buy, and trips that he would take, once his wife finally died.

None of this makes it into today’s article. Of course, the editors would argue in their defense that they intended to devote only about 50 words to the parents’ side of the litigation. Well, the paper could have communicated the essence of what I just told you in 50 words or less, very easily:

Her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, strongly opposed the removal of Ms. Schiavo’s feeding tube. They argued that Mr. Schiavo seeks to speed his wife’s death for financial reasons, and so he could marry a woman with whom he has lived for over eight years and sired two children.

It’s not surprising that the L.A. Times would fail to report these facts. After all, the paper has failed to report them before.

Did I mention that the paper has editorialized in favor of Ms. Schiavo’s death? (In an editorial, naturally, that omits the same salient facts that the paper has consistently omitted from its news coverage.)

Just another reminder not to get all your news from this newspaper.

UPDATE: Here’s how the New York Times handles it (I swear that I wrote my suggestion before reading this:

But her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, told the justices in a legal brief that their son-in-law was trying to hasten her death so he could inherit her estate and be free to marry another woman.

And the Washington Post:

Schiavo’s parents and Bush’s legal team have accused Michael Schiavo of ulterior motives. Connor, Bush’s attorney, said Monday that Michael Schiavo has “personal, financial, legal and religious” conflicts of interest.

Only the Orwellian Los Angeles Times sees fit to hide from its readers the central accusations made by Ms. Schiavo’s parents.

UPDATE x2: Sometimes editors make a story (marginally) better. The version I commented on yesterday was the one that reporter David Savage initially wrote. However, the most recent version is here, and has a hint of the parents’ argument:

Her parents opposed, pointing out that their daughter could breathe on her own and was not terminally ill.

They also have said Michael Schiavo cannot be trusted to act in his wife’s best interest. Since Terri Schiavo has been incapacitated, Michael Schiavo has had two children with another woman.

This is hardly the whole story, or even anything close to it — but it’s better than the first draft.

Still, to my knowledge the paper has never reported anything about the affidavits filed by multiple people (including nurses) describing in detail Schiavo’s callous attitude towards his wife, and his admissions that he didn’t really know what she wanted. If the paper were against Schiavo’s “right” to be dehydrated to death on Michael Schiavo’s orders, you can bet you would have read about that.

Barbara Boxer: Whiner

Filed under: Politics — Patterico @ 7:01 am

Barbara Boxer feels Condoleezza Rice “attacked” her, not the other way around:

“She turned and attacked me,” the California Democrat told CNN’s “Late Edition” in describing the confrontation during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

“I gave Dr. Rice many opportunities to address specific issues. Instead, she said I was impugning her integrity,” Mrs. Boxer said.

Why did Rice feel Boxer was impugning her integrity? Perhaps because Boxer said (among other nasty things) the following:

And I personally believe — this is my personal view — that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth. And I don’t say it lightly. . . .

And I will be placing into the record a number of such statements you made which have not been consistent with the facts. . . .

So here you are, first contradicting the president and then contradicting yourself. So it’s hard to even ask you a question about this, because you are on the record basically taking two sides of an issue. . . . [And it was hard for her to ask a question, seeing as how she ran through her allotted time before ever getting a question out . . .]

But again, I just feel, you quote President Bush when it suits you, but you contradicted him when he said, “Yes, Saddam could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year.” You go on television, nine months later, and said, “Nobody ever said it was going to be.” . . . . Well, if you can’t admit to this mistake, I hope that you will rethink it.

Do you see any attacks there?

Making matters worse, as we have previously observed, Boxer was lying herself, even as she accused Rice of lying.

And now, by portraying herself as the one who was attacked, Boxer is being dishonest yet again. It appears that, for Barbara Boxer, dishonesty is habitual.

All this comes via Captain Ed, who has several excellent observations.

Hosting Matters and WordPress

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 6:21 am

I have decided to move to Hosting Matters as a hosting company, and to use WordPress to power the blog. I may undertake a minor design change as well — nothing too radical. (When I say “I” I mean “One Fine Jay,” who is also going to accomplish the move for me.)

The move should happen sometime this week. At certain times this week, things may look a little odd, and operate in a clunky fashion. There will also be a complete hiatus of a day or so. (Maybe longer, as I am snowed under at work.) But I think it’s all for the best in the long run.

1/23/2005

Hugh Hewitt, “Outside the Tent”

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 8:58 am

Hugh Hewitt’s “Outside the Tent” piece appears in this morning’s L.A. Times. Its title is Cover the Terror War as a War.

What Hugh has done is admirable. He properly considers the war on terror to be the main issue facing the country, so he has put aside his concerns about liberal bias, in order to encourage the paper to do a proper job of covering the war.

Hugh’s approach may also reflect a realization that it is impossible to make a comprehensive case for the paper’s liberal bias in the few paragraphs allotted to him.

If I am invited to contribute to this feature, my guess is that I will push a long-standing idea of mine: place important corrections in a more prominent space in the paper. If an error is substantive, the correction should be as prominent as the original story. If the error undermines the fundamental premise of a story, the paper should run an entirely new story explaining the error and its significance. Not only will this keep readers better informed, since they will be more likely to see the correction, but it might also be an added incentive to get important stories right the first time.

Comment Spammers: I Have the “NoFollow” Tag — So Bite Me

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 12:46 am

With Xrlq’s help, I have implemented the “nofollow” tag on my site. Comment spammers can spam away, but their spams will no longer help their search engine rankings.

Blogging Question

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 12:25 am

Can anyone tell me the MySQL query to shut down comments from the beginning of my blog through 12-31-04?

UPDATE: Never mind. I have figured out a way to implement the “close comments” plug-in mentioned by SayUncle in the first comment below.

What this means for you is that you are no longer able to comment on any post that is 21 days old or older. If anyone has a specific desire to comment on any such post, feel free to e-mail me. I am willing to re-open specific threads upon request.

I am sorry to have to take this measure, but I am told it will drastically reduce the amount of comment spam I have to deal with. That’s a very good thing.

1/22/2005

More Links

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 9:24 pm

I’ve been busy, so I have no time for long posts. I can pass along some interesting links, some old and some new:

The folks at The Diplomad pass along their top ten lies.

Brian O’Connell wants Fox News to get to the bottom of the story about whether Michael Moore really employed an armed bodyguard. I agree. Questions have been raised about the story, and Fox has not responded. (By the way, Brian runs an excellent blog and you should be reading it.)

Speaking of Michael Moore, Clint Eastwood doesn’t like him much, says Tim Blair.

Dean Esmay’s baby has been born, and Dean tells you about it — in graphic detail. You might skip the post and just look at the pictures.

UPDATE: I just watched Michael Williams and Ken Reich on a television program called “Full Disclosure.” You can watch it here.

Taking Assertions in an L.A. Times Editorial as Gospel

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 1:21 pm

Jeff Jarvis has a post criticizing James Dobson for comments Dobson allegedly made about SpongeBob SquarePants. His entire post is based on a characterization of Dobson’s remarks as set forth in an L.A. Times editorial. I thought an exchange between Jeff and myself in his comments was worth discussing here.

I have watched SpongeBob a few times and think it’s mildly amusing; I have never watched James Dobson. But I criticized Jeff for taking statements in an L.A. Times editorial as gospel. I said to Jeff, in an admittedly snarky tone:

Well, if an LA Times editorial says it, it *must* be true!

Jarvis responded:

Patterico: Are you really that obsessed with the LATimes? I could have picked a summary from a score of papers, happened to pick that one. Or perhaps you have stumbled upon the vast mainstream religious conspiracy….

I responded:

Jeff,

Just so you know where I’m coming from, I am not religious and I don’t care a whit for James Dobson. I hardly know anything about him.

But I do know something about the L.A. Times. And knowing The Times as I do, I would be very reluctant to use an editorial of theirs as a source of fact — particularly relating to a hot-button “culture war” issue such as this. The paper simply has too checkered a history of misstating the facts on “culture war” issues like gun control, abortion, and criminal justice.

By the way, I doubt that the L.A. Times is unique in this failing. It just happens to be the paper I read most closely. I am not impressed that you could provide summaries from scores of papers, because I have seen scores of papers get the same basic facts wrong — especially when targeting a popular villain such as Justice Scalia or James Dobson.

On an issue like this, until I saw a full transcript of Dobson’s remarks, I would assume that there is a chance the guy is being smeared — no matter how many papers summarize his remarks. I don’t mean to defend Dobson, or even to affirmatively claim that the papers got it wrong. I’m just saying that I’d be very wary about accepting their characterizations at face value on something like this.

That’s not love of James Dobson speaking, and it’s not religious belief speaking. It’s a fundamental distrust of the media’s ability to fairly portray any bitterly divisive social issue with a convenient conservative villain.

Unrelated aside: I get annoyed when people characterize me as “obsessed” with the L.A. Times. That strikes me as a cheap way to devalue and marginalize my criticisms. If someone asserts bias on such issues, but doesn’t document it, they are told they lack the evidence. If a critic does painstakingly document it, as I do, people who disagree with the critic will portray him as a crazed obsessive.

I think your crusade against the FCC is admirable, and I’d call your attitude “dogged.” But then, I agree with you. I’ll bet those who don’t — those who want the government to control broadcast speech in this country — would call your posts about the FCC “obsessive.” Wouldn’t you rather have such people engage you on the issues, rather than attempt to marginalize you with rhetoric about your “obsessiveness”?

For what it’s worth, there appear to be several other people in Jeff’s comments who agree with me that an L.A. Times editorial is not the best source for the facts on an issue like this.

UPDATE: Instapundit provides a link to this enlightening editorial in Toon Zone News. I almost never follow silly kerfuffles like this, but after doing a little reading, it appears the whole “controversy” was manufactured by this New York Times story, which contains a single quote from Dobson: “Does anybody here know SpongeBob?”

As for the rest of what Dobson supposedly said, we get to trust the NYT reporter.

How the L.A. Times knows that Dobson said this “darkly,” as their editorial claims, I have no idea.

Also via Instapundit is Dobson’s statement on the controversy. His assertion that the organization in question is pursuing an agenda of tolerance of homosexuality is correct, as this link shows.

I am for tolerance of homosexuality, myself. But those who feel differently because of their religious views are not evil, in my view. I just disagree.

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