Patterico's Pontifications


Large, Not “Venti”

Filed under: Humor,Real Life — Patterico @ 7:28 pm

When I order Starbucks coffee, I refuse to use their silly sizes, such as “venti” and “grande.” I insist on ordering a “medium” or “large” — even if they try to correct me:

STARBUCKS EMPLOYEE: You want a “venti”?

ME: I want a “large.”

Somehow, they always figure it out.

Am I the only one who does this?

UPDATE: No, I’m not. See the fourth story down at this link, titled “Clash of the Titans.” It is riotously funny. (Thanks to Justice Frankfurter in the comments for the link.)

The story may or may not be true, but who cares? Like frat-boy James Frey’s “memoirs” or the CBS forged TANG documents, it’s just too good a story to pass up — true or not true.

L.A. Times Asks Misleading Poll Questions About Bush’s NSA Surveillance Program

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Dog Trainer,Terrorism — Patterico @ 11:34 am

A recent L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll, trumpeted in a front-page LAT article yesterday, contained the following misleading questions regarding the president’s NSA surveillance program (all emphasis mine):

Q34. As you may know, George W. Bush authorized federal government agencies to use electronic surveillance to monitor phone calls and emails within the United States without first getting a court warrant to do so. Do you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? (IF ACCEPTABLE/UNACCEPTABLE) Do you feel strongly about that or not?

Q35. Would you mind if you found out that your phone calls were being monitored by the U.S. government as part of the fight against terrorism?

Q36. Do you think Congress should hold hearings to investigate the legality of George W. Bush’s authorization of electronic surveillance to monitor American citizens without a court warrant, or not?

Q37. If a congressional investigation finds that George W. Bush broke the law when he authorized government agencies to use electronic surveillance to monitor American citizens without a court warrant, do you think that is an impeachable offense, or not an impeachable offense?

These questions all omit an important fact: the administration has said that the program was designed to intercept communications that were 1) international, and 2) involved suspected members of Al Qaeda or related groups. (The New York Times has reported that a very small number of purely domestic calls were accidentally intercepted despite strict protocols against it. But this was not “authorized” but rather an accident.) As Alberto Gonzales put it:

This program, described by the President, is focused on international communications where experienced intelligence experts have reason to believe that at least one party to the communication is a member or agent of al Qaeda or a terrorist organization affiliated with al Qaeda.

As Dafydd ab Hugh has repeatedly noted, John Hinderaker has summarized this concept in a very succinct and powerful way: “If Al Qaeda is calling you, we want to know why.”

This is quite a different scenario from that described in the poll questions, which repeatedly refer to warrantless “electronic surveillance to monitor American citizens” — with no mention of the requirement that the monitored calls be international calls in which one party is suspected of a connection to Al Qaeda or related groups.

Not only do the questions omit these highly relevant details, but they imply that there is no such requirement, by suggesting (in question 35) that the government might be deliberately monitoring the phone calls of the poll respondent — who presumably has not been talking to Al Qaeda operatives overseas.

As Ed Morrissey observed about another recent poll (by the New York Times and CBS) with similarly misleading questions:

Neither form of the question mentions two salient facts: the monitoring involved only international communications [except for a small number of accidentally intercepted domestic calls, as noted above — Patterico] and were initiated by other evidence showing at least one of the participants had connections to terrorist organizations. Do you suppose those numbers would have been significantly different under that context? I suspect that both the NYT and CBS knows it would have been — which is why they asked the questions above instead.

I suspect the same about the Los Angeles Times.

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