Patterico's Pontifications


On the Air with Malkin

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:47 pm

I was on the radio today with Michelle Malkin, discussing the disclosure of the Swift anti-terror program by the New York Times and L.A. Times. (Michelle was filling in for John and Ken on KFI 640 AM in Los Angeles.) I got a chance to slam the L.A. Times for its irresponsible decision to publish the story, and its wretched coverage since then.

In other words, it was a blast.

Thanks very much to Michelle for the opportunity.

P.S. Drop me a comment if you heard it.

Day by Day Getting Syndicated

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:07 pm

Starting today, Day by Day will be available to newspapers in syndication. Congratulations to Chris Muir. It’s well-deserved.

Karl Rove Does *Not* Control What I Say. (Did I Say That Right, Karl?)

Filed under: Humor,Morons — Patterico @ 6:51 am

The left’s current theory is that the right is following Karl Rove’s bidding in attacking newspapers for revealing classified secrets. For example, Andrew Sullivan:

Rove needed a third week of p.r. offensive. After Zarqawi Week and “Cut and Run” Week, we are now almost through “Kill Keller” Week. He says jump. The blogosphere has sadly learned to ask: how high?

And Patterico commenter steve:

I’m beginning to think Keller was played. They anticipated he’d wring his hands for two weeks or so and eventually run the story. Since the public is rightfully behind any such scheme to track terror paymasters, the trap was sprung. Roveco loosed the blog and radio hounds.

I was going to write something about how ridiculous this argument is, but I’m a little too busy right now. I have to go pick up Karl’s dry cleaning, and after that, he has some weeds he needs pulled in his organic vegetable garden.

Hey, it could be worse. At least I don’t have to do his laundry. Yesterday I saw Jeff from Protein Wisdom headed towards Karl’s office with an empty laundry basket, muttering: “I just hope it’s not underwear day. Please God don’t let it be underwear day.” About 10 minutes later, he was headed the other direction with a full basket of white clothing, and he was screaming, to nobody in particular: “I HATE underwear day!”

True story.

OK, I’ll admit it, lefties, you’re totally right about Rove. Every word. When Truthout came out with that story about the Rove indictment, I remember hearing Goldstein ranting about how you had to do your own laundry in prison. I’m not sure he’s totally right about that, but I understand what he meant. And Ace of Spades and Allahpundit were giving each other high-fives over the possibility of not having to spend any more Sunday mornings scraping burnt “eggie-weggies” off the cookware.

So, yeah. Some of us were actually hoping Jason Leopold was right.

There. I said it.

True Story, or Allegory? Why Not Both?!

Filed under: Buffoons,Crime,Dog Trainer,Media Bias,Morons,Scum,Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:05 am

There’s an apparently true story I’ve heard about a former judge here in Los Angeles that I want to tell you about. By the time I’m done, you’ll understand why.

The judge in question was a former defense lawyer and liberal. He was notoriously pro-defense. He constantly ruled against the prosecution, claiming that the facts simply couldn’t be as the police had claimed.

So a police officer offered to take the judge on a ride-along, reasoning that the judge might change some of his rulings once he saw what life was really like out on the street.

On the day in question, the police were conducting an undercover narcotics buy. These are elaborate operations due to the danger involved. In such a transaction, an undercover police officer is generally hooked up with an audio device that is monitored by a detective. Other members of the team keep the undercover officer under strict surveillance, and there are patrol cars in the area standing ready to swoop in once the buy is made, and the undercover officer gives the pre-arranged signal.

The undercover officer was given pre-marked money, and sent into the field. As I heard the story, the judge was sitting in the passenger seat of one of the unmarked police cars assigned to watch the undercover officer. The undercover officer approached a suspect who had previously been observed in suspicious hand-to-hand transactions with several individuals.

As the suspect and the undercover officer were engaged in conversation, the judge rolled down his window, leaned out, and screamed: “RUN! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN! HE’S A COP!!”

According to the person who told it to me, this is a true story.

But according to the logic of those who defend the New York Times and Los Angeles Times for revealing the Swift anti-terror program, the judge didn’t do anything to help the drug dealer. After all, drug dealers all know that they are sometimes approached by undercover officers! Further, the LAPD web site explicitly acknowledges using undercover officers to investigate certain crimes:

It is that same criminal sophistication that causes law enforcement to resort to the use of undercover operations, surveillance and informants to counteract their progress.

It’s right there, on the Internet! It follows that the drug dealer in our story was aware of it. Right? I mean, it just stands to reason!

So if you’re going to criticize our friend the liberal judge for warning off the drug dealer, maybe you should criticize Bill Bratton, too! Anything else is just rank hypocrisy, indicative of conservatives’ desire to wage a war on liberal judges for having the guts to stand up to our increasingly intrusive police state.

P.S. You knew that’s where I was going with that, didn’t you?

Support House Resolution 895

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Media Bias,Scum,Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:03 am

Today the House of Representatives will debate Resolution 895, which supports the Swift terror finance tracking program, and condemns media publication of the details of the program.

I listened to Hugh Hewitt today as he lambasted the measure, suggesting that its proponents are acting in a cowardly fashion by not calling out the New York Times and Los Angeles Times by name. Hugh was told that the leadership wanted to avoid “media-bashing” — which enraged Hugh and led him to lobby his callers to phone their Congressmen to complain.

As I listened to Hugh, I had no opinion on that aspect of the resolution — but I generally viewed the entire project as a cheap anti-media stunt.

But having read the resolution, I think it’s a great idea. And I think Hugh is being very short-sighted indeed in demanding that newspapers be named.

In fact, I wish the resolution weren’t about newspapers at all.

The resolution contains some very important language supporting the Swift program and the way it was handled by the Bush Administration.

It says the program is legal:

Whereas following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the President, with the support of Congress, directed the Federal Government to use all appropriate measures to identify, track and pursue not only those persons who commit terrorist acts here and abroad, but also those who provide financial or other support for terrorist activity;

Whereas consistent with this directive, the United States Government initiated a lawfully classified Terrorist Finance Tracking Program and the Secretary of the Treasury issued lawful subpoenas to gather information on suspected international terrorists through bank transaction information;

. . . .

Whereas the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program is firmly rooted in sound legal authority . . .

It says the program respects privacy and has appropriate controls:

Whereas the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program consists of the appropriate and limited use of transaction information while maintaining respect for individual privacy;

Whereas the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program has rigorous safeguards and protocols to protect privacy . . .

It says that appropriate Congressional members have been briefed:

Whereas appropriate Members of Congress, including the members of the Committees on Intelligence of the Senate and House of Representatives have been briefed on the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program and have conducted oversight of the program;

It says the program has been successful, citing the capture of Hambali, and Al Qaeda money launderer Uzair Paracha.

And it says that the disclosure of the program “has unnecessarily complicated efforts by the United States Government to prosecute the war on terror and may have placed the lives of Americans in danger both at home and in many regions of the world, including active-duty armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

In other words, it says everything that many of us have been saying for days — but it carries with it the imprimatur of the House of Representatives. The resolution makes a specific finding that

the Terrorist Finance tracking program has been conducted in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations, and Executive Orders, that all appropriate safeguards and reviews have been instituted to protect individual civil liberties, and that Congress has been appropriately informed and consulted for the duration of the Program and will continue its oversight of the Program.

I can’t stress enough how significant I think this is. It’s a Congressional vote of confidence in the program, and the President’s management of it.

If this resolution passes by a substantial margin — and if we spread the word about what it really says, rather than let the media characterize its contents — that will be a huge victory.

After all, lefties can’t really whine convincingly about the perils of the program’s lack of Congressional oversight, if Congress says that appropriate members did indeed have sufficient oversight, and that the program was working swimmingly in any event.

There’s no need to name newspapers by name, Hugh. That would be a distraction. And I say that as someone who is plenty steamed at the papers. Direct media-bashing-by-name at this juncture could give Democrats political cover to vote against the resolution. They could claim that they don’t want to seem to support prosecuting the papers.

They’ll probably say that anyway, but it would be an easier sell if we were to specify the names of the offending publications.

This is a great start. The leadership’s judgment is, for once, on-target. Let’s keep the resolution “as is” and strongly encourage its passage.

UPDATE: The House version passed, 227-183. It is a disgrace that 183 members voted against it. Nevertheless, as a body, the House has spoken, and it supports Bush on the Swift program. That’s an important step.

Patterico’s Blogs of the Week

Filed under: Blogging Matters,General — Patterico @ 6:00 am

In the spirit of Power Line’s generosity in bringing lesser-known blogs to their readers’ attention, I would like to highlight some blogs that I think deserve greater attention than they get. Hopefully I can do my small part to change that.

  • Damnum Absque Injuria is a blog run by a mysterious fellow going by the handle of “Xrlq.” Xrlq has given me invaluable help in entering and dealing with the blogosphere. He is an ardent Second Amendment advocate, a staunch conservative, a great writer, and a scrappy debater who has made an enemy or two in the blogosphere. If you’re looking for namby-pamby bloggers who can’t make up their minds, this is not the blog for you.
  • Junkyard Blog is fairly well known to the blogosphere, as the former blog of Bryan Preston (who has moved on to fame at the indispensable Hot Air blog, where he and the awesome Allahpundit hold forth daily on world events). But not everyone knows that the Junkyard Blog has essentially been taken over by an erudite fellow going by the handle of “See-Dubya.” See-Dubya has been a frequent guest poster here at Patterico, and graced this blog with a couple of posts yesterday. His musings are always worth reading.
  • Kevin Murphy has an excellent blog called The Interocitor. In recent times, it seems that Kevin posts all too rarely — but when he does, his posts are always insightful. Stick him in your RSS reader and hurry to click over when you see a new entry. You won’t be disappointed.
  • My last choice will be an unpopular choice for many conservatives: Dispatches from the Culture Wars, by Ed Brayton. Ed is a libertarian and somewhat lefty, who is a little obsessed with debunking Intelligent Design and defending evolutionary theory. But the writing is just top-notch, Ed’s intellectual honesty is strong, and his site is always worth reading.

I’m sure there are other blogs I’m forgetting. I encourage readers and bloggers to leave comments below, berating me for forgetting them.

Hamdan Opinion Today

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Constitutional Law,Court Decisions,Judiciary — Patterico @ 6:00 am

The Hamdan decision, about the legal validity of military commissions at Guantanamo, will be handed down by the Supreme Court this morning. I’ll be on my way to work when that happens, so my commentary will have to wait until the evening, at the earliest. The perils of being a blogger with a day job . . .

Tom Goldstein predicts that Justice Stevens will write the plurality opinion, which means that Justice Kennedy will join him in some sense. If Kennedy writes a separate opinion, it will probably be the governing opinion, and we all know that the limelight-seeking bastard would love that — especially if it gets him some kind words from the New York Times editorial board (which can’t write a coherent editorial, but nevertheless seems to control Justice Kennedy’s vote in high-publicity cases).

Erwin Chemerinsky said on Hewitt’s radio show yesterday that all of this is really just speculation. Let’s hope so. I don’t like the idea of Justice Stevens and Justice Kennedy deciding anything of importance, and certainly not this.

We’ll know soon enough.

UPDATE: Allah has fun speculating about the decision and a possible Stevens retirement.

UPDATE: Per Drudge, the speculation was right. The commissions are illegal, by a 5-3 vote. Again, not surprising. More and more, Kennedy is a reliable vote for whatever the New York Times editorial board wants.

Of all the Justices, I respect him least.

UPDATE 8:59 p.m.: I tried making my way through the opinion today, but I still have a long way to go — and I try not to comment on legal opinions unless I have first read them. From the parts I did read and the coverage I have seen, it appears that, in theory, Congress can still grant the President the authority that he seeks. So depending on what Congress does, the opinion might not be terribly significant after all.


Today’s Silly New York Times Editorial

Filed under: Media Bias,Morons,Scum,Terrorism — Patterico @ 7:24 pm

This morning’s New York Times editorial on the Swift program displays the same reasoning and persuasive powers we have come to expect from this venerable institution.

And I mean that most sincerely.

The misleading claptrap begins in the very first paragraph:

There have been a handful of times in American history when the government has indeed tried to prosecute journalists for publishing things it preferred to keep quiet. None of them turned out well — from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the time when the government tried to enjoin The Times and The Washington Post from publishing the Pentagon Papers.

Note to Times editors: the Pentagon Papers case did not involve a prosecution of the newspapers involved, despite your implication to the contrary. It involved the government’s effort to get a court order to prevent publication of the articles in question. Obtaining such an order is much more difficult than prosecuting newspaper staffers after the fact.

If the issue had been the viability of a criminal prosecution, rather than that of a pre-publication injunction, the result might have been quite different. As Harvey Silverglate persuasively argues:

So let’s not kid ourselves: five of the nine justices would have approved of criminal prosecution of the newspapers in the Pentagon Papers case, even though a majority would not authorize a pre-publication injunction.

The editorial also stumbles with this now-familiar argument:

Terrorist groups would have had to be fairly credulous not to suspect that they would be subject to scrutiny if they moved money around through international wire transfers. In fact, a United Nations group set up to monitor Al Qaeda and the Taliban after Sept. 11 recommended in 2002 that other countries should follow the United States’ lead in monitoring suspicious transactions handled by Swift. The report is public and available on the United Nations Web site.

I am getting tired of refuting this argument again and again, so I’ll simply refer you to this post of mine with links and arguments that fully debunk it. The postcard version: Drug dealers know they are sometimes monitored by officers, but somehow I think the cops would still be upset if I showed the dope dealers where the cops are stationed with their binoculars. And if a single bureaucratically worded sentence in an obscure U.N. report was enough to tip off the terrorists, then how have we caught so many of them using this program, in the many years since that little-known report was published?

Finally, the fun part of the editorial, in which the editors write something so patently laughable that you can appreciate it even without my bitter mocking:

It is certainly unlikely that anyone who wanted to hurt the Bush administration politically would try to do so by writing about the government’s extensive efforts to make it difficult for terrorists to wire large sums of money.

From our side of the news-opinion wall, the Swift story looks like part of an alarming pattern. Ever since Sept. 11, the Bush administration has taken the necessity of heightened vigilance against terrorism and turned it into a rationale for an extraordinarily powerful executive branch, exempt from the normal checks and balances of our system of government. It has created powerful new tools of surveillance and refused, almost as a matter of principle, to use normal procedures that would acknowledge that either Congress or the courts have an oversight role.

Let me translate the bolded sentences for you:

Nobody could possibly think we’re trying to get the Bush Administration by revealing the Swift program. After all, the Swift program shows Bush is fighting terrorists, so it’s not as though the Swift program reflects badly on the Bush Administration.

But Good Lord, the Swift program sure does reflect badly on the Bush Administration!

This is the funniest thing I have read in the New York Times in, like, ever. You guys crack me up!

The funniest part is that you’re really trying to be serious.

UPDATE: Thanks very much to Power Line for the link, and for the continuing exposure of the “Blog of the Week” spot. If you’re unfamiliar with my blog, you can read more about it here. Bookmark the main page at this link.

Debunking the Lefties’ Arguments About the Swift Program — in One Convenient Post

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Media Bias,Scum,Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:33 pm

Those desperate to minimize the significance of the exposure of the Swift program have repeatedly advanced three spurious arguments. I have already addressed these arguments, and would like to collect the links in one convenient post.

1. The minimizers insist that the articles didn’t really tell the terrorists anything they didn’t already know; therefore it cannot have harmed our counterterror effort. Andrew Sullivan speaks for many misguided lefties when he says:

I can’t believe that key terrorists were unaware their finances might be watched and frozen until the NYT and WSJ told them . . .

This is not the point, as I explained here. The issue is not that the stories told the terrorists we were watching financial transactions, but that the stories told them how.

Drug dealers know that police watch their transactions and sometimes send in undercover cops to buy from them. But I think the cops might still object, and the dealers might be very pleased indeed, if we pointed out the secret locations from which the cops conduct their surveillance, or if we gave them the names and full physical descriptions of all undercover officers working in their area.

Additionally, if the terrorists already knew all this, how did we catch so many of them with the program?

Terrorists are not supermen. They don’t know everything, and many of them clearly did not know about Swift. Now they do.

2. The minimizers squeal that the program is symptomatic of an Administration that is out of control, determined to invade our privacy with absolutely no oversight.

I debunk that claim here. The program was legal. Members of key Congressional committees were kept apprised. And the program had an astonishing number of safeguards, which appear to have been very effective.

3. Finally, the minimizers insist that this is all a cover for an attack on the liberal press. Why no anger against the Wall Street Journal?! they demand to know.

I address that claim here. It is not at all clear that the Journal was investigating the story for weeks, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that it was. Nevertheless, the government did not ask the Wall Street Journal not to publish. It did make that impassioned request of the New York Times and L.A. Times.

Further, editors of the West Coast Timeses have issued numerous public statements making it very clear that they had done an independent balancing of what they perceived as the competing interests — and the balance, in their (flawed and necessarily uninformed) judgment, weighed in favor of publication. The editors of the Wall Street Journal have issued no such statement.

For these reasons, the Wall Street Journal stands in a very different position — not because of the makeup of its editorial board, but because of its behavior, which was not provably irresponsible, as was that of the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

In the future, when the unhinged left makes any of the three above arguments, I will simply refer them to this post. Feel free to do the same.

(See-Dubya) Berkeley is Right to Impeach George Bush

Filed under: General — See Dubya @ 5:11 pm

(A guest post by See-Dubya)

One day the Missus and I drove through the lovely seaside town of Santa Cruz, California.  I think we stopped at a winery on the way in, then went to the boardwalk and shopped around downtown.  (I could swear that boardwalk is where they shot the Dirty Harry movie “Sudden Impact”, but I may be mistaken.)  Pretty  town, absolutely full of filthy, sullen, deranged neo-hippies stumbling around in a half-baked haze of hash and radical politcs.  

I was relieved to learn–as I recall, from a sign posted at the city limits–that the city of Santa Cruz is a “nuclear free zone“.  No way I want nuclear weapons falling into the hands of these clowns.    Sure, I had to leave my personal light-water reactor at home, but it was worth it to know that MoonStar and Peace wouldn’t accidentally trigger Chernobyl as they smoked up in their atomic Microbus.  I wondered whether the city had unhooked from the regional power grid, which is supported in too small a part by nuclear power, and generated its own electricity through clean-burning natural love-power and incense-driven turbines. 

I just hope the Commies were willing to observe that sign as well, and not let their ICBMs traverse Santa Cruz’s airspace.  Anyway…

Why they thought they could  beat the Supremacy Clause and prevent the Federal Government from, say, transporting a nuclear-capable cruise missile warhead through town was unclear.  They couldn’t possibly be so dumb as to overlook this fact, especially with all that “expansion” of their minds, and certainly they don’t look like Federalists or States-Rights types who usually wear blue blazers and red ties, or sometimes polo shirts.  After all, a municipal regulation doesn’t usually control over Federal law. 

Nor do church regulations.  As I googled to see if I remembered that correctly about Santa Cruz, I ran across a resolution passed by the Unitarian Universalist Church.  Apparently, they actually do believe something.  Let’s just say if you’re looking for America’s weapons of mass destruction, there’s no need to look inside a Unitarian church.  Anymore. I understand that the Air Force was appalled and had to move several Minuteman silos from their super-secret locations underneath Unitarian pulpits.  In fact, I  think the New York Times broke that story and published a map to all the American missile silos.  Anyway…

We were talking about futile gestures in California.  After a spate of Patriot-act-denouncing by municipalities, we now see Berkeley considering a motion to impeach George Bush, who is presumably the Acting Mayor of Berkeley, and that’s why they think they have the jurisdiction to impeach him.  They probably should.  Berkeley is a wacko town, crime-ridden and full of rude people who like to take grocery baskets away from the homeless and deep-freeze them.  The baskets, not the homeless.  They have a college in Berkeley and when I went there one time, I found masses of brightly colored paper flyers thrown down all over the place.  They were from an environmental rally earlier that day.  Anyway…

Yeah, Berkeley’s a hole and its Acting Mayor George Bush ought to be impeached for letting it get so out of hand.

–by See-Dubya, cross-posted at Junkyard Blog.

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