Patterico's Pontifications

1/31/2007

iowahawk Lampoons David Bell

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:37 pm

iowahawk has the latest in his “First Drafts Found Behind the Dumpster” series. The latest installment lampoons David Bell’s L.A. Times piece questioning whether 9/11 was really that bad. Here’s how iowahawk’s piece opens:

IMAGINE THAT on 9/11, six hours after the assault on the twin towers and the Pentagon, terrorists had carried out a second wave of attacks on the United States, taking an additional 3,000 lives. Imagine that six hours after that, there had been yet another wave. Now imagine that the attacks had continued, every six hours, for another four years, until nearly 20 million Americans were dead. Okay, I know we’re talking a fantasy here, but just roll with it. Guess what? This is roughly what the Soviet Union suffered during World War II, and I don’t remember Uncle Joe Stalin getting his panties in a bunch about it. Maybe these stoic Bolsheviks could teach us crybaby Americans a thing or two about perspective in our current “war” “against” “terrorism.”

Does it get better? Why, yes it does.

No disrespect to the victims of 9/11 or to the men and women of our armed forces, but by the standards of past wars, 3000 yuppie bond traders and a couple of high-rise developments is basically geopolitical chump change. Okay, so the widdle Jihadis want to level an occasional Manhattan office building, let the baby have his bottle. As the big star on the international stage, the United States needs to show it is secure enough to take a few zingers from the B-list comedians at the annual global Friars Club Roast. When we nuked Hiroshima, did the Japanese whine and bitch and send their armies to invade us out of spite? No, they made a couple of Godzilla movies, got over it, and moved on to making transistor radios and Toyotas. In the history biz, we call this “making lemons into lemonade.”

As always, read it all.

On Rhetorical (?) Questions About Outing Jamil Hussein

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:41 pm

Confederate Yankee is soliciting comments about whether he should reveal the actual name of the man who may have been quoted by the AP as Jamil Hussein.

I’m going to assume that this is a rhetorical question, but it’s not completely obvious from the post itself. If it really is a serious question — which I doubt –then the answer is obviously “no.”

I understand that a lot of leftist lunatics jumped around like screaming, poo-flinging monkeys claiming that any conservative who ever questioned Jamil Hussein’s existence and/or identity was a Bonafide Idiot. I understand that these monkey-displays were completely inconsistent with the claim that revealing Jamil Hussein’s “real” name is somehow a danger to him. If the claims of the fringe left were correct — and if the conservatives in question were really Morons, and Jamil Hussein was really who he said he was — then, the argument goes, what’s the harm in releasing the name of a different person? And if releasing his name really would harm him, then yes, the AP was either duped or unethical.

The left can’t maintain both claims at the same time. And yes, many of them are. And yes, many of them are genuinely stupid and illogical.

Shocking, I know.

But because one of the possibilities entails the theory that the AP used a pseudonym for Hussein (knowingly or not), releasing his actual name could kill him.

So Bob, if you’re making a point — and if that point is that certain vocal elements of the fringe left are often shrill, stupid, and illogical — then I suggest that the point is already obvious.

But if you’re serious in your question, then the answer is: don’t do it. There’s no need to risk anyone’s life to provide more proof of the fringe left’s lunacy.

Yet Another Flawed Study on Crime

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

A piece in Slate is titled The Irrational 18-Year-Old Criminal. Its subtitle is: “Evidence that prison doesn’t deter crime.”

That headline should have you chuckling. But you’ll chuckle even harder if you read the article and understand the pseudo-science forming the evidentiary basis for this ridiculous conclusion.

If the only point of the article were to discuss the possible effect of increased penalties on criminals, that would be one thing. But the study described in the piece, as it is described, doesn’t even come close to supporting the broader claim that “prison doesn’t deter crime” as to society at large.

Details in the extended entry.

(more…)

1/30/2007

I Think You Meant to Say Justice “Hamburglar”

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Humor,Judiciary — Patterico @ 9:06 pm

In an L.A. Times review of a PBS documentary on the Supreme Court, Times Staff Writer Robert Lloyd fills us in on some little-known “facts” from the history of the Supreme Court. Here is perhaps the littlest-known of those little-known facts:

There was a justice named Hamburger and a justice named Frankfurter.

There was a justice named Hamburger?

As Howard Bashman notes:

Chief Justice Warren E. Burger was not widely known by the nickname “Ham” as best as I can tell.

I don’t know, though, Howard. That’s a pretty bold statement for a mere Internet blogger like you to make, knowing that this review was carefully scrutinized by those “four experienced Times editors” that the late David Shaw so famously told us about.

Oh hey — by the way, I looked over the list of Supreme Court Justices and found some other meaty selections that Robert Lloyd (and his four layers of editors) apparently overlooked, including:

  • Fred M. Venison
  • Potroast Stewart

and my personal favorite:

  • “Sloppy” Joe Story

Add your own in the comments, while we await the correction. I’m thinking it will be funny no matter how they word it.

Bloggers Can Protect Sources

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:13 pm

A Santa Clara, California court has reportedly ruled that bloggers have the same right as traditional journalists to protect their sources.

I caution that it’s hard to know what to make of the ruling without reading it. But it certainly does sound like an important development, based on the linked article’s coverage.

Baquet Leaves L.A. for New York Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 5:48 pm

The New York Times reports:

Dean Baquet, the editor of The Los Angeles Times who was fired in November for refusing to cut jobs from his newsroom, is returning to The New York Times as chief of its Washington bureau and an assistant managing editor, effective March 5.

The L.A. Times begs to differ, claiming that Baquet wasn’t fired — he quit! The story is titled Editor who quit over staffing cuts hired by N.Y. Times.

I think the New York Times‘s version is a little closer to the truth.

I wish Mr. Baquet well. I think his paper demonstrated clear leftist bias during his tenure, but he wasn’t the first editor to preside over a leftist Los Angeles Times and he won’t be the last. It’s true that I cancelled the paper over a decision he made to reveal classified counterterror secrets — a decision that was also made, ironically enough, by Bill Keller at the New York Times — Baquet’s new boss. But while I think that was a terrible decision, I have nothing personal against Baquet, and hope that he has the best of luck at his new job.

Thanks to readers Stacy M., Marty M., and numerous commenters.

Important Story Reported

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:57 am

The L.A. Times has an entire article about Bush having dropped the “ic” from the end of “Democratic” to describe the Democrat(ic) party in the State of the Union.

Understand, this is not just a passing reference by The Times. It’s a whole article, complete with consultation with “experts on political locution.”

Save this for the next time some fan of the paper tells you that we need newspapers — for the substance.

David Bell Says We’re Overreacting to 9/11 — But Is He As Wrong As Larry Johnson Was?

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 12:01 am

A fellow named David Bell, writing in the L.A. Times, asks: Was 9/11 really that bad?

His answer appears to be “no.” Bell’s thesis is that we are overreacting to a terrorism threat that poses no mortal danger to this country:

The people who attacked us in 2001 are indeed hate-filled fanatics who would like nothing better than to destroy this country. But desire is not the same thing as capacity, and although Islamist extremists can certainly do huge amounts of harm around the world, it is quite different to suggest that they can threaten the existence of the United States.

He goes on to suggest that the terrorists don’t pose an “apocalyptic threat”:

[D]espite the even more nightmarish fantasies of the post-9/11 era (e.g. the TV show “24′s” nuclear attack on Los Angeles), Islamist terrorists have not come close to deploying weapons other than knives, guns and conventional explosives. A war it may be, but does it really deserve comparison to World War II and its 50 million dead? Not every adversary is an apocalyptic threat.

So why has there been such an overreaction?

This is reminiscent of a similar statement made a few years back:

Judging from news reports and the portrayal of villains in our popular entertainment, Americans are bedeviled by fantasies about terrorism. They seem to believe that terrorism is the greatest threat to the United States and that it is becoming more widespread and lethal. They are likely to think that the United States is the most popular target of terrorists. And they almost certainly have the impression that extremist Islamic groups cause most terrorism.

None of these beliefs are based in fact. … While terrorism is not vanquished, in a world where thousands of nuclear warheads are still aimed across the continents, terrorism is not the biggest security challenge confronting the United States, and it should not be portrayed that way.

That statement was made by “Larry Johnson, a retired CIA and State Department counter-terrorism expert” . . . in July 2001. (Hat tip Mike K.)

Ouch.

Shortly after 9/11, Tim Noah called Johnson’s analysis “bold, persuasive, and 100 percent wrong.”

I sure hope David Bell is not similarly wrong.

But I’m afraid he may be. And I’m not willing to risk my family’s safety on Bell’s complacent analysis.

1/29/2007

Erwin Chemerinsky Manges To Fight The Good Fight On Libel Law (For A Change)

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Constitutional Law,General,Law — Justin Levine @ 10:43 am

[posted by Justin Levine]

Maybe its the “broken clock” theory, but law professor Eriwn Chemerinsky manages to be right on the money about the First Amendment when it comes to judicial remedies in defamation cases.

Need I remind you that he isn’t always right when it comes to this area of the law?

Nice to have you on the right side Professor! The notion of permanent gag orders as a remedy for libel claims is a dangerous notion that needs to be firmly struck down. If you give courts that power, they will surely abuse it and hand down orders that are ridiculously overbroad. Money damages and (in limited cases) physical restraining orders should be enough in these cases.

So says I! [Fun factoid: Balboa Island, where the current case stems from seems to have the highest per-capita-ratio of chocolate covered frozen banana stands than any other place I have visited. Has anyone else who has been there ever noticed that?]

[Update: The Appeals Court decision at issue can be found here. Interesting reading.]

[Update II: Oral arguments have been completed.

Justice Carlos R. Moreno asked if the order would prohibit Lemen from making the statements "to anyone, anywhere in the world."

Russo, the restaurant's owner, conceded that it would.

"Why, isn't it overly broad?" asked Justice Ming W. Chin.

You go Mingy!

Justice Joyce L. Kennard noted that homes on Balboa Island cost millions of dollars, and she doubted that the Village Inn would have trouble collecting monetary damages if it could show that Lemen affected business.

"When we are dealing with a restraint on one of the most cherished constitutional provisions — protection of speech — we should only in extremely narrow circumstances allow permanent injunctions," she said.

Sweet! It's never a done deal until the decision is written, but I'm hopeful.

[posted by Justin Levine]

Men’s Rules for Women

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 6:47 am

Ace recently published what I’m sure is an old gag, but which I’d never seen before. It’s a “list of man rules” — rules men have (or should have) for women.

Here are some samples:

Learn to work the toilet seat. You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don’t hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

. . . .

Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

. . . .

ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

. . . .

If we ask what is wrong and you say “nothing,” we will act like nothing’s wrong. We know you are lying, but it’s just not worth the hassle.

Feel free to add your own in the comments. And ladies, if you have rules for men, feel free to let us know what those are.

Just don’t ask us to put the toilet seat down.

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