Patterico's Pontifications

2/10/2008

Rutten and Lithwick Lie, Providing Propaganda for Terrorists

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Media Bias,Terrorism — Patterico @ 3:51 pm

Add Dahlia Lithwick to the list of people lying about Dick Cheney’s CPAC speech. Compare:

Lithwick:

How can anything shock the conscience after the vice president, in a parody of himself, crowed this week that “it’s a good thing” top al-Qaida leaders underwent torture in 2002 and 2003—”a good thing we had them in custody” and “a good thing we found out what they knew.”

Cheney:

[Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] and others were questioned at a time when another attack on this country was believed to be imminent. It’s a good thing we had them in custody, and it’s a good thing we found out what they knew. . . . We do not torture — it’s against our laws and against our values.

Tim Rutten has company in his lying. And yes, I’ll say it again: it’s a lie. There’s a difference between saying “Cheney defended actions that have always been considered torture” and “Cheney said torture is a good thing” or “Cheney said he is glad we have tortured people.” By claiming the latter, Lithwick and Rutten are torturing the English language far worse than the CIA ever tortured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

As Beldar said:

[S]ome substantial number of Rutten’s readers aren’t “clever” enough to guess that Rutten feels licensed, in an op-ed, to put words into a political foe’s mouth that are quite literally the opposite of the words the foe actually used. Rutten knew, or certainly should have known, that some readers would take him literally. The LAT’s editors knew, or certainly should have known, that some readers would take him literally.

The same observation applies equally to Lithwick and her editors.

What I find especially ironic is that liberals like Rutten and Lithwick always argue that our enemies are emboldened by the actions of our government. Yet they never seem to understand that our enemies are also emboldened by exaggerated and dishonest criticism of our government.

Dahlia. Tim. Do you have any doubt that your dishonest smears of Cheney will be repeated on terrorist message boards? Do you doubt that extremists will point to your words as proof that the Vice President of the United States has explicitly condoned torture by name?

After all, it must be true. The people who said it are Americans.

Are you proud of yourselves?

The thing is, I bet you are. I just bet you are.

My Letter to the Readers’ Rep on the Rutten Lie About Cheney

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 3:05 pm

I just sent this e-mail to the Readers’ Rep. I quoted liberally from a comment from Beldar, and I thank him for crystallizing the issue so clearly.

Jamie,

This isn’t a request for a correction. It’s just a complaint.

Yesterday Tim Rutten said:

Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Vice President Dick Cheney was addressing the meat-eaters at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He told them that he was glad the administration had tortured people and that he’d do it again: “Would I support those same decisions again today? You’re damn right I would.”

I looked up the transcript and the only mention Cheney made of torture was this:

The United States is a country that takes human rights seriously. We do not torture — it’s against our laws and against our values. We’re proud of our country and what it stands for.

One of my commenters expressed the problem this way:

In this issue, definitions are important. The issue cannot be meaningfully or honestly discussed without acknowledging that there are fundamental underlying disputes about what the meaning of “torture” is. Even when there are international agreements, statutes, or regulations that purport to provide definitions, the application of those definitions to specific practices can still be grounds for legitimate controversy. Sometimes even the practice itself is poorly defined: I’m reasonably sure that the degree of discomfort and inherent risk of permanent injury can be ratcheted up or down very substantially within the confines of what you and others are referring to here as “waterboarding,” and those differences may be hugely significant from the subject’s point of view — being “dunked” may not equate at all to being effectively drowned and then artificially resuscitated.

Rutten’s piece obscures all this. One in his position of responsibility, with his unarguable exposure to the issues, cannot plausibly claim to have done so innocently. His more sophisticated readers (which probably include most readers and commenters here) probably would guess that when Rutten writes (in an op-ed) that “[Cheney] told [his audience] that he was glad the administration had tortured people and that he’d do it again,” without using quotation marks himself, that Rutten’s own strong opinions have already been factored into his choice of language — and those readers are unlikely to be deceived, regardless of whether they approve and agree with Rutten’s value judgments and hidden spin.

But some substantial number of Rutten’s readers aren’t “clever” enough to guess that Rutten feels licensed, in an op-ed, to put words into a political foe’s mouth that are quite literally the opposite of the words the foe actually used. Rutten knew, or certainly should have known, that some readers would take him literally. The LAT’s editors knew, or certainly should have known, that some readers would take him literally.

I know better than to ask for a correction. You won’t give one, and the process of asking for one would simply be an exercise in frustration.

But I’ll tell you this; when you sit around scratching your head wondering why some people think your paper is dishonest, please go back and re-read this e-mail. As my commenter notes, Rutten and his editors obviously knew that some readers would be misled by his wording. Yet they deliberately moved ahead with his column as worded, knowing full well that some readers would believe Cheney had explicitly boasted of torturing terrorism suspects — when Cheney had said the exact opposite.

If your paper truly cared about whether your readers were misled, it would not have printed Rutten’s column with this misleading language.

Sign me:

Frustrated,

Patrick Frey
http://patterico.com

Thanks again to Beldar.

Tim Rutten Lies About Cheney’s CPAC Speech

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 1:52 am

Tim Rutten:

Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Vice President Dick Cheney was addressing the meat-eaters at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He told them that he was glad the administration had tortured people and that he’d do it again: “Would I support those same decisions again today? You’re damn right I would.”

I found it curious that Cheney would say he was “glad the administration had tortured people.” That doesn’t sound like something he’d say. And I don’t really trust Tim Rutten, since he has lied to me so many times in the past.

So I checked the transcript.

I first searched for the word “torture” and found that Cheney had used it only once in the speech:

The United States is a country that takes human rights seriously. We do not torture — it’s against our laws and against our values. We’re proud of our country and what it stands for.

That doesn’t quite sound like Cheney saying he was glad we tortured people.

So I decided to look up the context of the Cheney quote: “Would I support those same decisions again today? You’re damn right I would.” Here it is:

Our new strategy in Iraq has succeeded by careful planning, and by close attention to changing conditions on the battlefield. The same will be true of any drawdown of troops. On behalf of the President, I can assure you that the decision will be based on what is right for our security and best for the troops — without regard to polls, elite opinion, or flip-flops by politicians in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

From the very morning our nation was attacked on 9/11, the President of the United States has had to make some immensely enormous decisions. Every day he faces responsibilities that others would pale before. I’ve been there with him. I’ve seen him make the tough calls, and then weather the criticism and take the hits. President Bush has been tough and courageous. He’s made the right decisions for the right reasons, and he always reflects the best values of the American people. I’ve been proud to stand by him and by the decisions he’s made. And I would support those same — and would I support those same decisions again today? You’re damn right I would. (Applause.)

The important thing to remember, six and a half years after 9/11, is that the war on terror is still real, that it won’t be won on the defensive, and that we have to proceed on many fronts at the same time. For those of us who work in offices and sit at desks in Washington, the sacrifices required are pretty small compared to those of Americans serving in the Iraqi desert, or in the mountains of Afghanistan, or the public servants who work day and night, with little margin for error, to detect a secret enemy before it’s too late.

That doesn’t sound like Cheney was supporting torture either.

I’m not great at mind-reading, but I’m going to guess that this is the passage Rutten was referring to:

Just as we’ve monitored the communications of enemies at large, we’ve also gotten information out of the ones that we have captured. The military has interrogated terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay. And in addition, a small number of terrorists, high-value targets, held overseas have gone through an interrogation program run by the CIA. It’s a tougher program, for tougher customers. (Applause.) These include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11. He and others were questioned at a time when another attack on this country was believed to be imminent. It’s a good thing we had them in custody, and it’s a good thing we found out what they knew. (Applause.)

The procedures of the CIA program are designed to be safe, and they are in full compliance with the nation’s laws and treaty obligations. They’ve been carefully reviewed by the Department of Justice, and very carefully monitored. The program is run by highly trained professionals who understand their obligations under the law. And the program has uncovered a wealth of information that has foiled attacks against the United States; information that has saved thousands of lives. (Applause.)

The United States is a country that takes human rights seriously. We do not torture — it’s against our laws and against our values. We’re proud of our country and what it stands for. We expect all of those who serve America to conduct themselves with honor. And we enforce those rules. Some years ago, when abuses were committed at Abu Ghraib prison, a facility that had nothing to do with the CIA program, the abuses that came to light were, in fact, investigated, and those responsible were prosecuted.

I suppose Rutten would argue that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was, in his view, tortured — and that Cheney, by praising his interrogation, is supporting torture. Fine; if Rutten wants to make that argument, let him make it.

But that’s not what Rutten said. He said Cheney told people he was “glad the administration had tortured people.” And Cheney didn’t tell people that. At all. Cheney said: “We do not torture — it’s against our laws and against our values.”

Rutten has told a lie. And he should be called on the carpet for it.

If you feel like beating your head against a wall, here’s the address: ReadersRep@latimes.com. Me, I’m not bothering. At the L.A. Times, if it’s an opinion column, anything goes — and the facts be damned.

That goes double for Tim Rutten.

But if you write them, copy me on the e-mail. If I like your letter enough, I’ll publish it.

L.A. Times Ignores the Elephant in the Room in Story on Overcrowded ERs

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Immigration — Patterico @ 12:37 am

A piece in the L.A. Times is titled ERs fail as the nation’s safety net. (H/t: Mike H.) The article manages to discuss every possible cause for overcrowded emergency rooms except for one. See if you can guess which one that is.

The story opens:

The long waits that government inspectors say endanger emergency room patients at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center can also be found in backlogged hospitals across the country, according to emergency care experts who have been trying for years to draw attention to the nation’s overloaded safety net.

The article explains that this is a crisis, and that patients are not merely being inconvenienced — they are dying as a result. One in five ER doctors surveyed said they knew of patients who had died because of an overly long wait.

So what is causing the overcrowding and long waits? The article mentions numerous factors: increasing demand, a shortage of beds, a nursing shortage, an aging population, and a lack of specialists willing to be on call. We are also told:

The growing number of people without medical insurance also contributes because the lack of reimbursement, along with ever-shrinking payments from both public and private insurers, has turned many emergency rooms into money-losers and driven some hospitals out of the emergency-care business. Federal law requires hospital emergency rooms to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay.

So what is causing the increase in emergency room demand? And what is a major cause of the increased in uninsured patients?

Let me introduce you to the giant elephant in the room, which the L.A. Times editors appear determined to studiously ignore.

That elephant is called illegal immigration.

elephant-in-the-room.jpg

Above: L.A. Times editors gather to discuss what causes overcrowding in emergency rooms.

A recent study by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office confirms what most people suspect as a matter of common sense: that emergency rooms are feeling a strain from the millions of illegal immigrants in our country, especially in the border states.

[B]ecause unauthorized immigrants are less likely to have health insurance, they are more likely to rely on emergency facilities or public hospitals for treatment of nonemergency illnesses and other health-related problems.

The study cites studies by the RAND Corporation and the Pew Hispanic Center which estimate that 60-65% of illegal immigrants are uninsured. This results in tremendous health care costs. According to the Phoenix Business Journal:

Undocumented immigrants are more likely to access emergency rooms and urgent care facilities because most do not have health care, the study said. In Arizona and other border areas, states paid nearly $190 million in health care costs for undocumented immigrants in 2000, the study reported. The amount, which the study says likely has risen since then, represented one-quarter of all uncompensated health care costs in those states that year.

The amount clearly has risen. A January 2007 story in the San Diego Union Tribune says:

In California, hospitals spend about $700 million annually on emergency room services for illegal immigrants, said Jan Emerson, spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association in Sacramento.

And in 2005, U.S. Senator Jon Kyl put the number much higher for the nation as a whole:

The estimated annual cost to hospitals and other providers of emergency health care nationwide for illegal aliens is $1.45 billion.

Illegals tend to use the ER as their source for non-emergency medical care. The reason: it’s the only way they can afford to see a doctor — because in the ER, taxpayers are footing the bill:

Illegal immigrants can get emergency care through Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor and people with disabilities. But they can’t get non-emergency care unless they pay.

The rise of the uninsured, which the L.A. Times describes as one of the major problems facing ERs, is also in large part a problem of illegal immigration. USA Today reported in 2005:

The increase in the number of people without health insurance has occurred largely because of illegal immigration, a study found.

Researchers at the RAND Corporation, a non-partisan think tank, analyzed data received from about 2,400 people in Los Angeles County in 2000 and 2001, and applied that information to the nation’s undocumented population at large.

The number of uninsured adults in the United States grew by about 8.7 million between 1980 and 2000. If the trend for Los Angeles County held true for the rest of the country, about a third of that growth can be attributable to illegal immigrants.

Hospitals recognize the problem:

For hospitals, “the burden of the uninsured immigrant is huge,” says Jeff Spade, vice president of the North Carolina Hospital Association. “It’s exploded the amount of work that they have to do.”

A senior economist at RAND had this to say:

“There are pros and cons of providing insurance to the undocumented that should be debated openly,” he said. “Undocumented immigrants make up too much of the issue to be ignored or hidden by polite silence.”

Tell that to the editors of the L.A. Times. Polite silence on this is all they have to offer.

It’s plainly irresponsible to write an article on overcrowded ERs that doesn’t say a single word about the millions of illegal and uninsured immigrants that have entered ERs over the years.

The editors know damn well that the elephant is there, but they choose not to discuss it. Even if the elephant goes on a rampage and starts squashing everyone in the room, the survivors plan to sit there, hands folded, pretending like it’s not happening. After all, getting stomped by a rampaging elephant is bad — but the alternative is far worse: somebody might call them insensitive.


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