Patterico's Pontifications

10/28/2007

Hawaiian Fires are Suspected Arson

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:54 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Arson is suspected in fires on the big island of Hawaii that have prompted evacuations of coastal areas:

Brush fires that appeared to be the work of arsonists burned out of control Sunday along the coast of Hawaii’s largest island, sending hundreds of people fleeing inland, officials said. No homes were damaged and no one was injured, but officials on the Big Island worried the fires could approach residential areas with a slight change in Hawaii’s temperamental breezes, said Duane Hosaka, staff officer for Hawaii County Civil Defense.

Nine fires appear to have been set in dry grasses along coastal roads early Sunday, Hosaka said. The evacuation order affected an estimated 400 people. The fires were apparently started within minutes of one another by one or more motorists who lit dry grasses, Hosaka said. The blazes covered more than 2,000 acres, or more than 3 square miles, near the northwestern tip of the island and were not contained, Hosaka said. More than 60 fire departments were involved.”

This sounds like copycat arson patterned after the California fires.

— DRJ

More on the CNN-MEChA Spoof Webpage

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Earlier today, Patterico noted the CNN spoof webpage that reported MEChA had claimed responsibility for setting the California fires. It looks like the responsible party might have been a new poster at ALI-PAC who also posted the spoof there. If so, it was subsequently removed by ALI-PAC and the user banned:

“Yeah, let me recap so we can put this one totally behind us (hopefully, people won’t continue to post about it). Basically, a relatively new poster, posted an article which *appeared* to be a CNN story about the cause of fires in SoCal, but was a well crafted lookalike. We have since removed the posts, banned the offending user and…hopefully, everyone can proceed as normal.”

Looks like ALI-PAC got burned as much as CNN and MEChA.

— DRJ

Quote of the Day

Filed under: Buffoons,Humor — Patterico @ 5:17 pm

I swear I’m not making this up:

If you are well-versed in analyzing IP addresses, email headers and the like, please email me (GGreenwald@salon.com).

If you don’t get the irony, you must not have read this.

UPDATE: Runner up for quote of the day, also from Rick Ellensburg:

The IP addresses appear to be the same. There’s a whole industry of IP address theories around and I’m the last person who is going to claim any expertise in that.

Indeed.

UPDATE x2: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and welcome to Instapundit readers. Please take a second to bookmark and visit the main page.

Strange National Security Stories

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 1:58 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Item No. 1. Private Pentagon files on Generals surface in Alvin Texas foreclosed home:

Did a former Pentagon employee take a file cabinet filled with sensitive information about America’s top Army generals — including former Secretary of State Colin Powell — and then leave them behind in an Alvin house sold in a sheriff’s sale? That’s what police and the Department of Defense would like to know.

Members of an Alvin family looking for salvageable materials a few days ago hauled the file cabinet holding the records home from a small house on Lee Street that is being renovated. “The contractor told us to take whatever we wanted,” said Alfredo Moreno III. His uncle, Martin Ortiz, later looked through the cabinet and got a shock when he opened one of the drawers. “I thought, what is this doing here?” he said. “I knew this was important.”

“Here we are in little old Alvin [population 21,000],” Police Chief Mike Merkel said Friday, “and I have a folder in my hand that contains Colin Powell’s Social Security number.”

Item No. 2. Drug dealer’s plane previously flew to GTMO:

The four tons of cocaine found aboard a U.S.-registered business jet that crashed in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Monday belonged to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, this country’s most notorious drug trafficker, Mexican authorities said Friday.

The business jet that was transporting the dope to Mexico from Colombia was purchased just a week before the crash by a U.S. pilot with a history of legal and financial problems in Florida, interviews and official records indicate, but whether the pilot still owned the plane at the time of its crash is unknown.
***
Getting to the bottom of the plane’s ownership and circuitous trajectory are key pieces of a criminal investigation that Mexican authorities are conducting with the aid of American diplomats and law enforcement, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, officials said.
***
Adding to the plane’s mystery are allegations that it made trips in 2003, 2004 and 2005 between the United States and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the U.S. detention center for suspected terrorists is located.

Item No. 3. Woman with powder causes lockdown of Tennessee hospital and post offices:

Two post offices and part of a hospital were temporarily shut down Wednesday after a woman opened a piece of mail and found a white powdery substance inside. Hours later, authorities announced that the substance posed no threat whatsoever.

“A woman went to the Hampton post office (Wednesday). She opened a letter, and it had a white powder inside,” said Ed Herbert, spokesman for Mountain States Health Alliance. “She went home and showered and changed clothes. Hours later, she came here (to Sycamore Shoals Hospital) with no symptoms.”
***
According to officials, the substance appeared to be some kind of powder that often is found in bulk mailings. Authorities commended the woman for bringing the substance to the attention of authorities but offered others who might find themselves in a similar situation a few important recommendations.

“The main thing is to call the local authorities. Contain it, don’t try to mess with it,” Mathes said. “Don’t snowball the issue. Let us come (to you) and do our job right there.”

Item No. 4. Vote for Bill Richardson and you may learn the secrets behind the 1947 Roswell flying disk:

If he wins his bid for the White House, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson may be just the man to get to the bottom of the 60-year-old Roswell UFO mystery.

Answering questions at a townhall meeting Friday [in Round Rock TX], a Dell employee asked Richardson about the 1947 incident in which many people still believe a flying saucer landed near the eastern New Mexico town. “I’ve been in government a long time, I’ve been in the cabinet, I’ve been in the Congress and I’ve always felt that the government doesn’t tell the truth as much as it should on a lot of issues,” said Richardson, who is governor of New Mexico.

“When I was in Congress I said (to the) Department of Defense … ‘What is the data? What is the data you have?” He was told that the records were classified. “That ticked me off,” he said, as the crowd laughed. “What do you want me to do? You want me to open up all those files?” he asked the alien enthusiast, who answered that he did. “I’ll work with you on that.”

(H/T Instapundit)

Item No. 5. In yet another alien-inspired story, NASA has agreed to release files regarding a Pennsylvania incident from 1965:

NASA has agreed to search its archives once again for documents on a 1965 UFO incident in Pennsylvania, a step the space agency fought in federal court. The government has refused to open its files about what, if anything, moved across the sky and crashed in the woods near Kecksburg, Pa., 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Traffic was tied up in the area as curiosity seekers drove to the area, only to be kept away from the crash site by soldiers.

The Air Force’s explanation for the unidentified flying object: a meteor or meteors. “They could not find anything,” one Air Force memo stated after a late-night search on Dec. 9, 1965. Several NASA employees also were reported to have been at the scene.

Eyewitnesses said a flatbed truck drove away a large object shaped like an acorn and about the size of a Volkswagen bus. A mock-up based on the descriptions of local residents sits behind the Kecksburg Volunteer Fire Department.”

Item No. 6. Finally, some oldies but goodies from 2002. First, this special Osama-targeting device:

“Scotland’s Daily Record, for example, reported in December that U.S. Special Forces units searching for Osama bin Laden “may use a special smell detector to track him down.” The paper quoted a “Pentagon expert” who explained that the Remote-Sensing Gas Detection Device is so sensitive “it can distinguish between the smells of each ethnic group caused by the different foods they eat.

And this novel use of shrimp to detect water-borne poisons:

“Whether shrimp are evocative remains debatable, but the little crustaceans have been called in “to fight terrorism in Yokohama,” according to the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun. City officials plan to place 40 freshwater shrimp and 20 killifish in each filtration tank at the city’s water plant to detect possible tampering. “If the fish and shrimp come into contact with poison and fall weak or die, the equipment will pick up the change in electrical current and set off an alarm,” the newspaper reports.”

I’m not suggesting any of these stories are reasons to be concerned but, let’s face it, sometimes national security (like life) is strange. And I didn’t even get to Sandy Berger.

— DRJ

Spoof Webpage Attempts to Pin Blame for Wildfires on MEChA

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:47 am

If I were a lawyer for CNN, I would send someone a sternly worded letter over this.

I’m all for satire, but there is absolutely nothing there to indicate that it’s satire, other than a single missing letter in the URL.

I’m not sure what the motivation here is. Is it an attempt by dishonest nativists to spread a rumor that MEChA is behind some of the wildfires? Or is it an attempt by dishonest leftists to snooker gullible nativists into believing that?

I have no idea — but if I were a CNN lawyer, I wouldn’t care.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg debunked this on Friday.

UPDATE x2: I see Instapundit picked up Jonah’s warning. I guess everyone knows by now, then. That’s good. (I’m sure I saw the post and just forgot about it, since I read Instapundit every day.)

But it does raise an interesting question: what should happen to someone who creates a site like that? I have absolutely no problem with CNN taking legal action against them. How about you?

UPDATE x3: Commenter Steve points out one line that does identify the piece as potential satire: “No suspects have been identified, though they are probably brown.” That line both provides a potential “satire” defense to the creator, and also clearly labels the phony site as the work of a leftist trying to rope in right-wingers.

UPDATE x4: Also, the registration for the site comes back to a company whose website has four different front pages. One says: “Not one cent to sweatshops,” with a further rant about clothes bearing the Gap label.

That pretty much sews it up. It’s a leftist who perpetrated this particular lie.

UPDATE x5: More here.

L.A. Times’s David Savage Publishes Unfair Op-Ed About Justice Thomas — Masquerading as a “News Article”

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Judiciary — Patterico @ 10:27 am

The L.A. Times‘s David Savage attacks Clarence Thomas this morning, in a “news article” titled Thomas’ rulings contrast meager beginnings. The piece reads like an op-ed by a liberal columnist unfamiliar with the function of the Supreme Court, rather than a news article written by the Supreme Court reporter for a major national newspaper.

The purpose of the article is clear. Thomas recently published his autobiography, which introduced a new generation of people to the compelling story of his struggle to overcome poverty in rural Georgia. Savage’s piece is a naked attempt to undercut the force of Thomas’s story, by arguing that, as a Justice, he is insensitive to the hardships of those who struggle with the very poverty he describes in his book. Here are the opening paragraphs of Savage’s article:

In his new, bestselling memoir, “My Grandfather’s Son,” Justice Clarence Thomas tells the story of his personal struggle to overcome poverty and racism.

Raised by his grandparents in Savannah, Ga., he credits his success to his grandfather’s strict work ethic and to those who shaped his early life and helped him along the way.

“Their story is my story,” he writes. “Their struggles in the face of futility, their perseverance through accumulated injustices, their resilience in the face of broken promises and dashed dreams.”

His book ends in 1991 when he is confirmed to the Supreme Court and takes the oath to “do equal right to the poor and to the rich.”

But rarely have the hardships of the young Thomas been evident in the opinions of Justice Thomas. In his 16 years on the high court, Thomas has established a stern judicial philosophy that leaves little room for siding with underdogs in disputes with governments or corporations. Often, he has brusquely dissented when the court has ruled in favor of poor people, prisoners or ordinary taxpayers.

The way the article is set up in those paragraphs is clear. According to Savage, Thomas claims he cares about the poor — but he really doesn’t.

The article rests on two seriously flawed assumptions.

The first flawed assumption is that the role of a Supreme Court justice is to side with “underdogs.” It is not. It is to decide what the Constitution and laws say. Clarence Thomas took an oath to “faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon [him] under the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Chief Justice Roberts expressed it well in his confirmation hearings:

ROBERTS: I had someone ask me in this process — I don’t remember who it was, but somebody asked me, you know, “Are you going to be on the side of the little guy?”

And you obviously want to give an immediate answer, but, as you reflect on it, if the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy’s going to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy’s going to win, because my obligation is to the Constitution. That’s the oath.

The oath that a judge takes is not that, “I’ll look out for particular interests, I’ll be on the side of particular interests.” The oath is to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States. And that’s what I would do.

It’s true that, further down in the article, Savage gives voice to the views of Thomas supporters who make this argument. But the structure of the article — from the headline to the way that it is set up in the opening paragraphs quoted above — make it clear that Savage and his editors disagree.

Savage’s second flawed assumption is that Thomas’s early life of hardships ought to make him favor governmental intervention as the proper way to address poverty. Put another way, the assumption is that if Thomas votes against “underdogs” who seek to sue others, then Thomas has no sympathy for their plight.

Even if we were to dismiss as trivial the notion that judges should adhere to the law — even if we were to accept the argument, made by some, that judging is nothing but policy choices dressed up in legalese — that doesn’t mean that the only way to help the poor is to give them government help, or to make it easier for them to sue others.

Many liberals have a hard time understanding this. Many liberals equate “helping the poor” with government handouts, and ensuring that the poor always win every court battle they bring against more powerful interests. Liberals who think this way can’t accept that many conservatives actually care about poor people — but simply have a different view about how they should be helped.

Conservatives believe in self-reliance and hard work. Thomas’s autobiography shows that he was taught these principles by his grandfather. As Jan Crawford Greenburg said in a profile of Thomas:

In conversation today, Thomas often uses a phrase his grandfather told him as a child: “Play the hand you’re dealt.” Thomas’s wife, Virginia, had a bust of his grandfather made when Thomas first joined the Court. On it is a saying Thomas heard often as a child: “Old man can’t is dead. I helped bury him.”

“You know, you’re a little kid. You say, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do that.’ And he wouldn’t hear it,” Thomas says.

Conservatives like Thomas want the poor to rise out of poverty. They just think that the way to do so is through pluck, determination, and hard work.

Savage’s piece belongs on the op-ed page. Even there, it would merit considerable ridicule. As a “news article,” it’s pure agenda journalism.

And It Bawled Its Eyes Out After Bush v. Gore

Filed under: Humor,Judiciary,War — Patterico @ 12:00 am

Someone involved in the development of military intelligence systems must be a Supreme Court watcher with a wicked sense of humor.

How else to explain this?

The most recent rumors, of what enabled the Israelis to slip past Syria’s air defenses during the September 6th raid, describe a system that has been used in Iraq to detect transmissions from terrorist communications and zap IED detonation systems.

The system in question facilitates stealth attacks. It feeds the enemy misinformation, allowing friendly forces to slip past the enemy’s defenses and wreak havoc. It is described as difficult to identify and defeat, because of its continously changing nature.

And what is the name of this sneaky, stealthy, constantly evolving system?

Suter.


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