Patterico's Pontifications

9/30/2006

Captain Ed: Hastert Should Resign (UPDATE: Allah Says Maybe Not)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:07 pm

[UPDATE x3 10-1-06 7:23 a.m.: I'm putting this update at the head of the post, since my previous updates didn't make my position clear enough. Let me spell it out here.

With an inadequate knowledge when I first posted, I failed to distinguish between slightly creepy e-mails (which Hastert appears to have known about), and overtly sexual ones that may be criminal (which he does not appear to have known about).

This is a huge difference.

In this post I provided a link to this ABC News Blotter piece, which quoted some of the Foley instant messages, and hinted at worse:

Maf54: You in your boxers, too?
Teen: Nope, just got home. I had a college interview that went late.
Maf54: Well, strip down and get relaxed.

Another message:

Maf54: What ya wearing?
Teen: tshirt and shorts
Maf54: Love to slip them off of you.

And this one:

Maf54: Do I make you a little horny?
Teen: A little.
Maf54: Cool.

The language gets much more graphic, too graphic to be broadcast, and at one point the congressman appears to be describing Internet sex.

According to experts quoted in the story, this could be criminal, under the very laws Foley helped pass:

Federal authorities say such messages could result in Foley's prosecution, under some of the same laws he helped to enact.

"Adds up to soliciting underage children for sex," said Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and now an ABC News consultant. "And what it amounts to is serious both state and federal violations that could potentially get you a number of years."

Now, the first I read of Hastert's knowledge was on Captain Ed's blog, and I had the impression after reading Ed's post that Hastert knew of all of the disgusting messages. I unfortunately did not click through his link to the story or read anything else before posting this post. Within minutes, Allah commented to let me know that I was jumping to conclusions. I instantly updated the post (after the post had been up for 19 minutes) to reflect this.

Having read more widely on the topic, it appears Allah is right. Hastert stands accused by Tom Reynolds, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, of having known about a different set of e-mails that are summarized this way:

In the series of e-mails, obtained by ABC News, from Rep. Foley (R-FL) to the former page, Foley asks the young man how old he is, what he wants for his birthday and requests a photo of him.

The kid was creeped out, and I don't really blame him.

I think Ed's position is that Hastert appears to have lied; on Friday he says he knew nothing about this, and since then it has become fairly clear he was told about the more innocuous e-mails. He is no longer denying this; he merely says he doesn't remember it. I agree with Ed that this is a concern, but -- if you keep the e-mail strands separate -- it's not as clear to me as it is to Ed that Hastert lied. Accordingly, I am no longer of the opinion that Hastert should resign now. But I do think this merits further investigation.

By the way, I think there is some misunderstanding out there on both sides; John from Power Line wrote a post that described the messages as "over-friendly," which leads me to wonder whether John is even aware of the nastier messages.

Here is the original post:]

Captain Ed says Dennis Hastert knew about Foley’s inappropriate contact with an underage page months ago, and that Hastert should resign.

Sounds fine to me. Long-time readers know I am no fan of Hastert’s anyway. Hastert is the guy I called a “moron” for claiming that the raid on William Jefferson’s office was an affront to the Constitution. Because the word fits, I also called him a “moron” for smearing George Soros.

Now it appears he is more than just a moron. He is a Roger Mahony-style accessory after the fact to men with an unhealthy interest in young boys. If the current allegations are true — and it sure seems that they are — I wholeheartedly agree. Hastert must resign his leadership position. I’ll go further than Ed: I think he should resign entirely.

UPDATE 9:26 p.m.: Allah says we should all take a deep breath, and that Hastert may not have known the worst.

He’s still a moron, but that’s obviously not enough to make someone resign from Congress . . .

UPDATE x2: To make this clear: we need to know what Hastert knew and when. But it’s not clear (although some make it sound that way, and I was taken in myself at first, albeit for only 19 minutes, before I updated the post) that Hastert knew about the overtly sexual messages ahead of time. That’s a big distinction, and we should not allow the media to blur it.

UPDATE x4 (x3 is up top): I have written Ed to ask him to clarify the difference between the two strands of e-mails. I think he plans a third update. I have also written John from Power Line to ask if he is aware of the worst of the Foley messages.

UPDATE x5: John Hinderaker writes to say that, indeed, he had been unaware of the worst of the messages. He knew only about the ones Hastert had been told about, and had posted to make clear that what Hastert had been told about wasn’t all that terrible, which is true.

He has updated his post in response to my e-mail.

Survey: Many Americans Are Idiots

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:48 pm

Every so often we see a survey like this:

A sobering new survey of the public’s knowledge about its own government shows that fully one third of Americans are unable to name even one of the government’s three branches, and just over half believe that the president must follow Supreme Court rulings.

Those findings were contained in survey results released yesterday by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, which set out to analyze the public’s understanding of the U.S. judiciary and its relationship with the executive and legislative branches, and ended up with a broad indictment of Americans’ knowledge of basic civics.

I’m shocked each and every time.

Shocked!

Atta Martyrdom Video

Filed under: General,Scum,Terrorism — Patterico @ 8:41 pm

There is a Mohammed Atta martyrdom video. It’s not out yet, but probably will be soon. Allah has the details.

9/29/2006

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOBODY Expects the American Inquisition!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:29 pm

A Monty Python skit foreshadowed harsh interrogation techniques at Gitmo:

Ximinez: Now, old lady — you have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of heresy, reject the works of the ungodly — *two* last chances. And you shall be free — *three* last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterance.

Wilde: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Ximinez: Right! If that’s the way you want it — Cardinal! Poke her with the soft cushions!

[Biggles carries out this rather pathetic torture]

Ximinez: Confess! Confess! Confess!

Biggles: It doesn’t seem to be hurting her, lord.

Ximinez: Have you got all the stuffing up one end?

Biggles: Yes, lord.

Ximinez [angrily hurling away the cushions]: Hm! She is made of harder stuff! Cardinal Fang! Fetch…THE COMFY CHAIR!

[JARRING CHORD]

[Zoom into Fang's horrified face]

Fang [terrified]: The…Comfy Chair?

Yes. The Comfy Chair.

From Rich Lowry’s recent article on Guantanamo:

Interrogators rely on the soft sell. Detainees sit in a La-Z-Boy chair during interrogations, and beverages and movies are available to put them at ease. The most effective interrogator is said to be an older woman who adopts a nurturing attitude.

Back to Monty Python:

Ximinez: So you think you are strong because you can survive the soft cushions. Well, we shall see. Biggles! Put her in the Comfy Chair!

[They roughly push her into the Comfy Chair]

Ximinez [with a cruel leer]: Now — you will stay in the Comfy Chair until lunch time, with only a cup of coffee at eleven. [aside, to Biggles] Is that really all it is?

Biggles: Yes, lord.

Ximinez: I see. I suppose we make it worse by shouting a lot, do we? Confess, woman. Confess! Confess! Confess! Confess!

Biggles: I confess!

Ximinez: Not you!

See Dubya skips the snark, and notes (but passes on) the cheap and obvious Monty Python reference. That’s the difference between him and me — if it’s cheap and obvious, I’m there, baby!

But See Dubya does make several cogent observations, including this:

It’s a shame that the Left has focused so much misplaced energy and capital in trying to prove that Gitmo and CIA overseas interrogation are secretly Treblinka. Abuses and atrocities are, regrettably and rarely, committed by our side in cases like Abu Ghraib and Haditha, and a decent, principled Left would have saved its outrage for these cases when it counted, and thus acted as a conscience to check our worst martial impulses. Instead, their cries of “torture!” and “Gulag!” have faded into one long undifferentiated drone that lulls us to sleep instead of waking us up.

The Left has cried nothing but Wolf since the war started, and it’s hard to take their outrage seriously anymore, if we ever did.

I’d go further. If we’re worried about the perception of our actions overseas, as the Left claims to be, why isn’t the Left equally (if not more) responsible for that perception, due to their constant exaggeration of our interrogation practices?

Although I will give them this: it is indeed difficult to withstand the Comfy Chair.

Foley: Sicko

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:51 pm

This is disgusting. I’m not happy about giving the seat to the Democrats — but it’s better than letting this guy keep it.

Eric Muller: Curvaceous Hypocrite

Filed under: Buffoons,Humor — Patterico @ 6:28 pm

Doofus Eric Muller recently mocked Michelle Malkin, calling her a hypocrite for writing a scathing column about Charlotte Church’s skankiness, while Malkin herself supposedly appeared in a bikini in this Photoshopped shot. (Note the exceedingly small head.) Yet it appears that Muller is quite the hypocrite himself — as he has disturbingly appeared in an almost identical pose. See the awful truth here.

Who’s the hypocrite now, Eric?!

More details at Michelle’s site. (H/t Jeff C.)

By the way, I disagree with Michelle’s decision to complain to Muller’s employer. It’s tough to put myself in her position, of course, but Muller — while typically overeager to believe the worst about Malkin — seems to have believed in good faith that it was Michelle, and would likely have pulled down the whole post in shame if he thought he could get away with it. (Note that he is not allowing comments on the thread — a wise choice, as any commenters would certainly be handing him his head, and he doesn’t like to be embarrassed on his own blog.) I think if I were Michelle, I would let Muller’s obvious embarrassment speak for itself, and concentrate my fury at the Wonkette scum, who are still accusing her of lying.

Is This Waterboarding Session Worth It? A Hypothetical

Filed under: General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:54 am

Allah writes:

Watch the Brian Ross video and listen to him patiently explain how information coerced from Khaled Sheikh Mohammed proved to be quite reliable indeed. And ended up saving god knows how many Californians’ (blue state!) lives.

They want us to debate honestly on this. Fine. I’m willing to, if it’s a genuinely honest debate. The first step of which is for us to concede we don’t want innocent people or even not-so-innocent people who are guilty of ordinary crimes to be mistreated, and for them to concede that in some instances these tactics are important and effective. If we start from the position that no one should be tortured even if we credibly believe it will prevent airplanes from being flown into skyscrapers, then we are at what is known as an unbridgeable impasse.

I’ll readily concede that I don’t want anyone to be “mistreated.” I think that word covers different things for people with higher-value information who refuse to give it up, as the KSM example demonstrates.

I have hinted at this before in posts with many other issues. But now I’d like to throw it out there without any other distractions.

Let’s assume the following hypothetical facts are true. U.S. officials have KSM in custody. They know he planned 9/11 and therefore have a solid basis to believe he has other deadly plots in the works. They try various noncoercive techniques to learn the details of those plots. Nothing works.

They then waterboard him for two and one half minutes.

During this session KSM feels panicky and unable to breathe. Even though he can breathe, he has the sensation that he is drowning. So he gives up information — reliable information — that stops a plot involving people flying planes into buildings.

My simple question is this: based on these hypothetical facts, was the waterboarding session worth it?

While this is not being done for retribution, it may provide some perspective to note that, in the hypothetical, the plot stopped by obtaining the information is much like 9/11. And in the real 9/11, real people in the Twin Towers who were confronted with fires and smoke had the sensation they couldn’t breathe, but that’s because they actually couldn’t — and it lasted more than two minutes. Then they were crushed by the collapsed building, and taken away from their families, due to the actions of this man. If we don’t get the information, similar things would happen again, perhaps to hundreds or thousands of people.

So: is such a waterboarding session worth it?

9/28/2006

More Overlawyering

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:15 pm

Via See Dubya comes more insanity from our courts:

A federal district court judge ruled Wednesday that a retailer may be sued if its website is inaccessible to the blind. The ruling was issued in a case brought by the National Federation of the Blind against Target Corp.

The suit charges that Target’s website (http://www.target.com) is inaccessible to the blind, and therefore violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the California Disabled Persons Act.

I’m not joking.

Next up: major record labels sued because their music cannot be heard by the deaf.

Dean Esmay at War with Malkin

Filed under: Blogging Matters,General — Patterico @ 6:33 pm

Dean Esmay has “called out” Michelle Malkin. Michelle responds here.

It’s always distressing when two bloggers I like are at odds with one another. But, while I might not agree with every aspect of Michelle’s response, I don’t get Dean’s post at all. He seems to have a tremendous amount of anger at what he thinks are Michelle’s positions — but I don’t see a single link to substantiate anything he’s saying.

Usually when you “call someone out” in the blogworld, you provide a link to what you’re attacking — ideally with some quotes. When you don’t, you leave people in the dark as to what you’re upset about. Dean has done this here. I think he should revise his remarks and either 1) provide some examples or 2) tone it down and perhaps apologize.

Just some friendly advice, which may well be ignored, as advice often is. I still like both of them.

LAPD to Folks with Outstanding Warrants: We Sure Don’t Want to Have to Arrest You!

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:27 pm

Labor leaders and immigrant groups are conducting a huge protest near LAX this afternoon and evening. And LAPD appears to have done some of them a favor by making sure some folks with outstanding warrants don’t get arrested.

Four hundred people will be arrested early this evening for blocking Century Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport, in what could prove to be one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in the city’s history.

. . . .

If the event goes as envisioned, organizers say, it will be a highly choreographed episode of street theater, timed for news broadcasts and peaceful enough to persuade but not enrage the public.

I may not be enraged, but I’m certainly irritated. Here’s why:

Organizers obtained a permit this week for 1,000 to 2,000 marchers. About 400 of them have signed forms pledging to be arrested and have taken a mandatory class that taught them how to remain calm even when screamed at or insulted.

The driver’s license numbers and other personal information of those volunteer arrestees have already been passed on to the LAPD to expedite processing. (Police sent word that six of the volunteers should rethink their participation; though no official reason was given, the six may have outstanding warrants, union officials said).

I don’t get it. Some folks are announcing their intention in advance to commit an illegal (and highly annoying) act: blocking traffic around an airport, which carries a high likelihood of causing a lot of people to miss their flights. Then police discover that some of the incipient lawbreakers have outstanding warrants. Instead of doing what you’d expect — i.e., breaking out the handcuffs and rubbing their hands together in anticipation — the police warn them off???

Police actually have to devote resources to going out and catching people with outstanding warrants. Here, they wouldn’t have to devote any additional resources. The folks are going to be arrested anyway.

It would be like going out fishing, having six large fish jump into the boat, and throwing them back. Actually, it’s dumber than that, because people fish for sport, so throwing back fish you didn’t catch fair and square might make sense. But arresting people on warrants is a serious enterprise that takes police resources to accomplish. If these fish are jumping in the boat, you cuff ‘em and take ‘em downtown.

We don’t know if the warrants are for something relatively picayune, like traffic tickets, or something more substantive, like DUI or domestic violence — or even something worse. The police aren’t saying. And the L.A. Times is apparently not asking. There is no evidence that the paper put the question to anyone in the LAPD.

If we had a decent paper, reporters would be pressing the police as to whether participants were warned off because they have warrants — and if so, what the warrants were for.

Since we don’t have a decent paper, don’t expect to see a story on it anytime soon.

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