Patterico's Pontifications

10/25/2007

Go See “Lars and the Real Girl,” and Do It Soon

Filed under: Movies — Jack Dunphy @ 10:13 pm

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

Mrs. Dunphy and I went to the movies tonight. We had heard the buzz about Lars and the Real Girl, and despite the movie’s odd premise, i.e. the lead character’s relationship – and it really is a relationship – with a life-sized doll, we decided to take a chance on this “little” film.

The rewards were abundant. Every aspect of the movie is a delight, from the writing to the cinematography and of course to the acting, most especially that of Ryan Gosling in the role of Lars. And it was our good fortune to be present when the film’s director, Craig Gillespie, conducted an impromptu Q and A session with the audience at the conclusion of the showing. Lars is only Gillespie’s second feature film, but if it’s a true indication of his talent there will surely be many, many more. Go see it, then come back and let me know what you think.

–Jack Dunphy

Southwick Confirmed

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 8:31 pm

I haven’t really blogged about Leslie Southwick’s confirmation by the Senate. In the old days, when I had more time to blog, I would have railed about his unfair treatment at the hands of Democrats. But I never got around to it. In any event, I’m pleased to see that the right thing happened.

Will Another Shoe Drop on TNR Editors’ Heads? Just Maybe

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:21 pm

Allah sums up the current status of the Beauchamp matter quite well:

Their [TNR editors’] defense here is obviously going to be that Beauchamp did offer to “talk” to them, sort of, by promising to release the statements he gave to the Army and that they were simply waiting until they had that material to report the conversation. But … why don’t they have that material yet? Beauchamp agreed to release it to them in part 2 of the transcript, but here we are six weeks later and still no report from TNR. Like Ace says, there are only two possibilities:

1) Beauchamp never authorized the release of these documents to TNR, and TNR is trying to claim the Army has a special duty to give them to TNR, even with Beauchamp stubbornly refusing to sign the release.

2) Beauchamp did authorize the release of all documents specifically pertaining to himself, which is all he could authorize, but that authorization does not cover the statements made by other troops in the unit. So TNR is spinning its failure to get permission from the other soldiers to view their statements as A) due to Army non-cooperation and B) absolving them from having to report any further on the story until they get these documents (which they never will).

They’re “waiting for all the facts to come in” before they do any further reporting on the story, in other words. And since there are no more facts forthcoming, voila: story’s over. Frankly, I’m surprised the Army didn’t leak Beauchamp’s statements and the report of its investigation to TNR just to call their bluff and force their hand.

To that, I’d add just one word: yet. Because you never know. If document A is leaked today, how do we know document B won’t be leaked tomorrow?

And, by the way, it’s crystal clear that the transcript leaked yesterday is an Army transcript. Just look at the footer at the bottom of the phone conversation transcripts:

It’s obviously part of a case file opened regarding Beauchamp’s “misconduct” on July 17, when the Army first learned the story had been published. Bolstering this conclusion is a comment “Dusty” made at Confederate Yankee:

I thought it might have been a transcription by TNR at first, but 1.pdf has what I think a revealing nugget on page 6 of 7. The first Beauchamp comment recorded ends “… (sips water)” and it seems to me the only one knowing Beauchamp sipped water would be the one transcibing it and could see it, unless this was a video hookup, too. On that basis, I’d say this conversation was transcribed by the Army.

Good point.

(To read the comment, scroll to October 24, 2007 at 2:56 p.m.)

In any event, even if no further leak is forthcoming, we know that Foer et al. have been actively seeking those documents through FOIA. If, as Allah suggests, simply responding to the FOIA request would force TNR’s hand, why not do it?

Because, what are the chances that Beauchamp stands by his story in those statements? I’m putting them somewhere between Slim and None, with Slim having long since left the building.

And didn’t the editors tell Beauchamp that if he can’t stand by his story, then neither can they?

Why, yes. They did.

So we have a very small fig leaf left, and a decent chance that a gust of wind is going to blow off, leaving Foer and friends completely exposed.

It ain’t gonna be pretty. And that’s as far as I’m taking that metaphor.

This is all speculation. But as I recently told you: Please don’t doubt me again.

A Serious Discussion of Whether the People Running Stephen Colbert’s Network Have Any First Amendment Rights

Filed under: Civil Liberties,General — Patterico @ 7:54 pm

Rick Hasen has a post on whether the people running Stephen Colbert’s network would violate the law by letting him “run for President” while also putting him on TV. The post is titled Does Viacom Get the Media Exemption for Stephen Colbert’s Promotion of His Candidacy on the Colbert Report?

In other words, does our government allow Stephen Colbert’s bosses to engage in free speech?

Hasen concludes:

I’m leaning towards no, but the issue is not a slam dunk.

What follows is a very sober discussion — you can almost visualize Hasen furrowing his brow as he taps out the post — of whether someone can exercise his core First Amendment rights without running afoul of the blatantly unconstitutional obstacles that Our Caring Government has put in our way. (Oh, sure: it’s about corporate free speech rights — and this has nothing to do with individuals, because corporations are run by giraffes.)

Savor this passage:

The fact that the show is a satire makes the interpretation question all the more difficult: does schtick count as commentary? I’m not so sure. But consider a case where Jay Leno does his comedy routine wearing a “Vote for Colbert” button. I don’t think that would get the media exemption, and NBC could be in trouble. It is quite a fine line to draw.

Indeed. Why, just imagine the trouble Jay Leno’s bosses would be in with Our Caring Government if he wore a button advocating the candidacy of an actual serious candidate for president.

Why, Our Caring Government would not be very pleased with that.

Back to Hasen:

Given the dearth of caselaw and useful FEC commentary on this question, we might well ask two questions to figure out how this case should come out. First, what is the purpose that the ban on funding from corporate treasury funds is meant to further? Second, given that purpose (or purposes), what is the justification for the media exemption.

Ooh, ooh, call on me! Because I have a third question.

Did someone repeal the First Amendment when I wasn’t looking?

The View from the Hammock

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:35 pm

[“The View from the Hammock” threatens to be an ongoing series, as I tap out posts while lying in a hammock.]

I heard that the Santa Anas died down today.

But I now know it’s true — because I’m lying in the hammock at around 8:30 p.m., and it’s chilly outside.

That’s how it’s supposed to be. The last few nights, it’s like I was living in Texas. I’d come out here and it would be warm.

This is a good thing. The fires should die down now.

Zero Tolerance on the US-Mexico Border

Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 4:13 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Since late 2005, the Border Patrol has implemented a zero tolerance policy in the Del Rio, Texas, sector in which immigrants who are caught crossing illegally are held for federal prosecution. The program expanded to part of Arizona last year and now the zero tolerance policy is expanding to other areas of the Southern border:

“In late 2005, U.S. Customs and Border Protection began sending nearly all illegal immigrants caught in its Del Rio sector, a 210-mile stretch covering the middle of Texas’ southern border, for federal prosecution. Charged with illegal entry, they can be sentenced for 2 weeks to 6 months in jail.

The program expanded late last year to western Arizona and will start in Laredo on Wednesday, Rivera said. Future expansion will be based on where border officials believe immigrant traffic is moving in response to new crackdowns, he said, but the agent who oversees most of the Arizona border indicated to a congressional subcommittee this week that he hopes to add the program to the remainder of that state’s border.

Before the so-called “zero tolerance zones,” illegal immigrants from Mexico without criminal histories or too many previous crossing attempts were processed and quickly returned to Mexico voluntarily. Those from other countries could be held to face deportation but were often simply told to show up for a court date, which they rarely made.

“What we’re doing now is very effective, and we’re happy the way it’s turning out,” Rivera said, who noted a 46 percent reduction in border apprehensions in the Del Rio area since the zero-tolerance policy went into effect.”

Courts are feeling the pinch from the increased caseload:

The implementation of zero tolerance policies can strain the federal court system, adding thousands of additional cases to dockets in relatively small communities. In Del Rio, the increased prosecutions meant cases were running through a magistrate’s courtroom at a pace of one a minute.

A similar program in eastern New Mexico that attempted to detain all migrants using the immigration court system — which is separate from the U.S. District Court — ended after just three months last year. The Immigrations and Customs Enforcement facility in El Paso got too crowded to continue housing so many migrants, said El Paso Border Patrol spokesman Doug Moiser.

The federal courthouse in Laredo, which is already so busy that visiting judges regularly come in to help manage the caseload, will get even busier next week when the zero tolerance policy goes into effect along the 171-mile section covered by the Laredo sector.

Rosie Rodriguez, the deputy-in-charge for the Laredo court clerk’s office, said the two full-time magistrates sometimes handle as many as 100 cases a day. Most of the cases in the court in Laredo, the busiest inland port city in America, are related to immigration and drug smuggling. “We are already busy. We’ll be busier,” Rodriguez said. “We are going to be affected, I’m sure. How much? We’ll see.””

I like this kind of a zero tolerance policy but El Paso needs to get on board.

— DRJ

House Democrats use California Fires to Heat up SCHIP

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 2:27 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

With many from the California delegation away because of the fires, especially from heavily Republican Southern California, Leader Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats reintroduced the SCHIP legislation:

“Republicans in the House of Representatives on Thursday accused Democrats of using the fires burning in Southern California as a distraction so they can reintroduce a contentious children’s health care bill.

Democratic leaders in the House have scheduled a vote on the bill for Thursday afternoon. The bill had already passed, but supporters were unable to override President Bush’s veto of the reauthorization and $35 billion expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Republicans, however, argued that some of their members have returned to their home districts in and near Southern California, where wildfires have been raging for more than a week. They accused Democrats of trying to sneak the vote in with many members absent.

The legislation passed the House but not with the required 2/3 majority:

“The House passed a revised children’s health proposal Thursday, but not by the two-thirds margin that supporters will need if President Bush vetoes the measure as promised. The 265-142 vote was a victory for Bush and his allies, who urged House Republicans to reject Democrats’ claims that changes to the legislation had met their chief concerns. If the same vote occurs on a veto override attempt, Bush will prevail, as he did earlier this month when he vetoed a similar bill.

The tally was seven votes short of a two-thirds majority. Several House members were absent.”

Note how the AP report mentions “several House members were absent” … but we know the rest of the story.

— DRJ

Another angle on the Beauchamp Saga — Courtesy of Michael Yon

Filed under: General — WLS @ 12:36 pm

Posted by WLS

I’m putting this in a new post because I don’t want it to get lost at the end of the comments to Patterico’s post from last night. 

NRO has an article from Michael Yon’s latest dispatch from Iraq, and it involves Yon’s fortuitous presence with Beauchamp’s unit yesterday where he had an encounter with Beauchamp’s battalion commander. 

One thing I was struck by in the transcript of Beauchamp’s Sept. 7 telephone conversation was that he seemed to have become completely devoted to the military coda of being dedicated to the mission of your unit and the soldiers with whom you serve.   He repeated over and over that he wanted to only concern himself with his job, doing his job, and worrying about the man on each side of him, and had no concern about trying to facilitate a resolution of the controversy surrounding his articles no matter how that might dissappoint TNR and his wife.

Here’s part of what Yon got from his conversation with Beauchamp’s former company commander:

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A Rematch in the Washington State Governor’s Race

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 11:33 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Dino Rossi, the loser in the closest gubernatorial election (on a percentage basis) in American history, will challenge Washington Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire next year:

Republican Dino Rossi, who lost the closest race for governor in U.S. history in 2004, said Thursday he’ll seek a rematch with Washington Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire next year. Rossi, a former state senator, announced his closely watched decision in this Seattle suburb, the heart of his old legislative district. “It’s time for fresh air in Olympia,” he said in an Associated Press interview ahead of his announcement. “I’m ready.”

Rossi, 48, prevailed in the first two vote counts in the November 2004 election, only to lose in a hand recount by 129 votes. He later lost a court challenge aimed at forcing a fresh election. Gregoire’s winning margin was the smallest in percentage terms of any governor’s race in the nation’s history.

Gregoire, a former attorney general, is running for re-election, but doesn’t plan to formally announce until after the 2008 legislative session.”

This should be an interesting race. There’s an enormous advantage that accompanies incumbency, but there can also be an element of buyer’s remorse when an election includes an incumbent. Rossi apparently wants to capitalize on that and on his opponent’s acquiescence to tax increases. Nevertheless, these are hard times for Republicans and the GOP hasn’t won the Governor’s seat in Washington since 1980.

The primary is August 19, almost a year off. A lot can happen between now and then.

— DRJ

“With Nothing to Lose I Decided to Get Pushy.”

Filed under: Media Bias,Morons — DRJ @ 7:48 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Bobby Calvan is apparently a reporter for the Sacramento Bee, a McClatchy paper formerly owned affiliated with Knight-Ridder [See comment 13]. He’s currently reporting from Baghdad and also has a blog. The blog has been taken down so I can’t link it, but you can find a copy via this Instapundit link or here at docweasel’s.

Calvan’s October 23, 2007, blog entry entitled Simply Simpatico made a splash on yesterday’s internet. Specifically, Calvan recounts his smack-down of an American soldier at a Green Zone checkpoint who had asked for 2 forms of ID and who did not recognize the Knight-Ridder ID:

“We parked the car, and I headed out of the Green Zone (along with one member of my security staff) to attend the news conference. Getting out is seldom ever a problem. When the news conference was over, we headed back. That’s when trouble started.

At the first check point, a pair of Ugandan soldiers asked for identification. We showed our military-issued badges. Unbeknownst to us, we were supposed to be carrying an additional form of ID. He asked for a passport. I told him I didn’t have it on me. (The advice is to lock up your passport once in Baghdad and never take it out until departing.) He asked for another form of ID, and I replied that I didn’t have anything else.

The American soldier assigned by the U.S. military to oversee this particular checkpoint came over to investigate the problem. He asked if I had a driver’s license on me. I told him I didn’t have one. He looked incredulous. Why would I need a driver’s license in Baghdad; I wouldn’t be driving, I told him. He took offense at my response.

Then he looked at the second ID of my companion. It was a badge issued by our newspaper. He said it wouldn’t do. Besides, he asked, what is Knight Ridder? “I never heard of it,” he said. He probably would have never heard of McClatchy, either. (We use Knight Ridder because it already had a bureau in Baghdad before the chain was bought by the McClatchy Co.)

I explained that it’s one of the largest newspaper companies in the United States. It owns the Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee, the Kansas City Star.

“I know the Miami Herald, he said. I used to live there. But I never heard of Knight Ridder.” He began to chuckle, pronouncing the company as Knight Rider. Perhaps his chuckles stemmed from memories of the 1980s television show “Night Rider.” He then seemed to mock us.”

But Calvan had a plan:

“He [the American soldier] didn’t want to be embarrassed. He already looked irritated. He asked me if I knew the number of the military’s media office.

“I would if you’d let me switch on my phone,” I snapped. “What’s the use of these media badges if people like you aren’t going to honor them? Is this for nothing? Why don’t you call? That’s your job, isn’t it?” I made it known that I was jotting down his name.

My security man was struggling with a smirk on his face. He knew my plan. I was going to bully my way back into the Green Zone.

The man with the gun glowered as I continued my barrage of protests. The Ugandan soldiers were oblivious to the commotion, despite the growing line behind me. The American soldier called another soldier on his radio to ask if he had ever heard of “Knight Ridder.”

To my relief, the voice said that, yes, Knight Ridder is one of the country’s biggest newspaper companies, that it owned many of the country’s largest newspapers. The soldier in front of us explained the situation to his colleague. The voice on the other side suggested that we be let through, that the media office would only instruct him to simply confirm if the pictures on our media badges matched the ones on our shoulders.

When you’ve got nothing to lose, I told my security officer, you do what it takes. He nodded in agreement.”

Part of the blog post’s appeal is the arrogance of its author but the post is also becoming famous for its comments, which are uniformly critical of Calvan. Click (more) for a sample.

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