Patterico's Pontifications

3/31/2008

Chuck Philips Hits Rock Bottom

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 11:18 pm

How embarrassing is the L.A. Times‘s Chuck Philips’s reliance on forged documents? This embarrassing:

Last week, when I saw that documents used by the Times in its story were being challenged, I went to The Smoking Gun website to see the evidence compiled there.

. . . .

This was . . . a classic debunking, a shredding not just of the documents, but of the source, the point of the report, the witnesses, the conclusions drawn and the horse the story rode in on. The documents have been linked to a man serving time–for fraud, for God’s sake–a fellow with a colorful history of criminality, forgery and self-aggrandizement. The documents contain the same kinds of misspellings and grammatical errors made in other papers tracked back to this inmate. A typewriter was used to create the Times’s supposed copies of reports done by agents, documents known as FBI 302s. In reality, FBI 302s have been computer-generated for thirty years. And finally, a simple check with the FBI revealed that these documents had never been part of their files.

Ouch.

Ouch indeed.

That’s a pretty brutal assessment. But it gets worse.

The coup de grace is the identity of the person delivering this blistering criticism: Mary Mapes, in a piece titled It’s a Scandal, All Right.

Double ouch.

When Mary Mapes is making fun of you for relying on forged documents, it’s time to hang it up.

[EDIT: Link fixed. Thanks, Dafydd. -- DRJ]

More on Hillary’s Campaign Finances

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 7:51 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Following up on a recent report that Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been slow to pay its bills, the Politico reports today that her campaign failed to pay employee insurance premiums of almost $300,000:

“Among the debts reported this month by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s struggling presidential campaign, the $292,000 in unpaid health insurance premiums for her campaign staff stands out.

Clinton, who is being pressured to end her campaign against Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, has made her plan for universal health care a centerpiece of her agenda.”

A Clinton campaign spokesman indicated the bills have now been paid in full and that coverage for employees and dependents was not interrupted. However, FEC records show some bills may have been unpaid for two months:

“Sometimes invoices are not paid immediately because we need additional information for our records, or to verify expenses,” [Clinton spokesman Jay] Carson said in a statement e-mailed to Politico. “Sometimes invoices arrive at the very end of the month at the cutoff of the reporting period, which means that we are required to report them as a debt on the current FEC report, even where they are paid in regular course during the next month.”

But the unpaid bills to Aetna were at least two months old, according to FEC filings. They show the campaign ended last year owing Aetna more than $213,000 for “employee benefits.”

During the first two months of the year, the campaign did not pay down any of that debt. In fact, it accrued another $16,000 in unpaid bills last month, and it finished the month owing Aetna $229,000.”

The remaining balance of the $292,000 in benefits is attributable to a $63,000 bill from CareFirst.

This gives new meaning to the famous Bill Clinton quote, “I feel your pain.”

– DRJ

Supreme Court Affirms Lets Stand DC Circuit Decision in Wm. Jefferson Case

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Law — DRJ @ 6:33 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The New York Times reports on today’s Supreme Court ruling let stand a DC Circuit decision holding FBI raids on the home and office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) validly seized $90,000 in cash and computer hard drives. The Supreme Court also let stand the Circuit Court’s holding that the review of files in Jefferson’s Congressional files went too far:

“Without comment, the justices declined to review a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which concluded last August that agents had violated the Constitution by the methods it used in the May 2006 search.

The appeals court did not find that the raid itself was unconstitutional; rather, it found that the F.B.I. violated constitutional separation of powers by allowing agents to look freely through Congressional files for incriminating evidence.

The ruling last August told the bureau to return legislative documents to Mr. Jefferson. It did not, however, affect other items seized from his office, including computer hard drives. Nor did it affect evidence seized in a separate raid on the Congressman’s Washington-area home, including $90,000 found wrapped in aluminum foil in frozen-food containers in his kitchen freezer.”

The search of Jefferson’s office was reportedly the first time the FBI had searched a Congressional office. The DC Circuit rejected the FBI’s use of a “filter team” to evaluate what was legislative and could not be seized. The filter process was deemed inadequate to protect the legislative branch from executive intrusion under Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution, “the “speech or debate” clause intended to protect lawmakers from being hounded by the executive branch while carrying out their legislative duties.”

The DC Circuit opinion issued August 3, 2007, is here.

– DRJ

Obama’s 1996 Questionnaires Raise Questions

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 5:14 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

According to a Politico article, Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama has given conflicting answers to policy questionnaires that raise questions about how liberal his views really are:

“During his first run for elected office, Barack Obama played a greater role than his aides now acknowledge in crafting liberal stands on gun control, the death penalty and abortion — positions that appear at odds with the more moderate image he has projected during his presidential campaign.

The evidence comes from an amended version of an Illinois voter group’s detailed questionnaire, filed under his name during his 1996 bid for a state Senate seat.

Late last year, in response to a Politico story about Obama’s answers to the original questionnaire, his aides said he “never saw or approved” the questionnaire.

They asserted the responses were filled out by a campaign aide who “unintentionally mischaracterize[d] his position.”

But a Politico examination determined that Obama was actually interviewed about the issues on the questionnaire by the liberal Chicago nonprofit group that issued it. And it found that Obama — the day after sitting for the interview — filed an amended version of the questionnaire, which appears to contain Obama’s own handwritten notes added to one answer.”

The Politico notes specific examples of Obama’s liberal nuance on issues like abortion:

“Consider the question of whether minors should be required to get parental consent — or at least notify their parents — before having abortion.

The first version of Obama’s questionnaire responds with a simple “No.”

The amended version, though, answers less stridently: “Depends on how young — possibly for extremely young teens, i.e., 12- or 13-year-olds.”

By 2004, when his campaign filled out a similar questionnaire for the IVI-IPO during his campaign for U.S. Senate, the answer to a similar question contained still more nuance, but also more precision. “I would oppose any legislation that does not include a bypass provision for minors who have been victims of, or have reason to fear, physical or sexual abuse,” he wrote.

The evolution continued at least through late last year, when his campaign filled out a questionnaire for a nonpartisan reproductive health group that answered a similar question with even more nuance.”

Links to the questionnaire and related stories are at the Politico link. Check it out.

– DRJ

Fifth Circuit Hears MySpace Case

Filed under: Blogging Matters,Law — DRJ @ 1:42 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard an appellate case today that pits internet freedom against protection of minors:

“The family of a teenage girl who says she was sexually assaulted by a 19-year-old man she met on MySpace.com asked a federal appeals court Monday to revive their lawsuit against the social networking Web site.

A federal judge dismissed the $30 million suit in February 2007, rejecting the family’s claim that MySpace has a legal duty to protect its young users from sexual predators.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks in Austin, Texas, also ruled that interactive computer services like MySpace are immune from such lawsuits under the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

On Monday, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard arguments on the family’s bid to overturn Sparks’ rulings.”

The unidentified girl created a MySpace page when she was 13 but claimed she was 18. MySpace requires that users be at least 14. After corresponding for several weeks with a 19-year-old man she met through MySpace, they met in Travis County where he sexually assaulted her.

The parties’ positions were clear and succinct:

“A lawyer for MySpace and parent company News Corp., Harry Reasoner, told the 5th Circuit panel Monday that Congress enacted the 1996 law to promote the growth of the Internet and protect online companies from tort litigation.

Gregory Coleman, a lawyer for the girl’s family, said the law only gives MySpace a “limited shield” from liability. “It has a responsibility to (protect) children,” he said.

MySpace denies any wrongdoing, and says it warns members that its safety protections are not foolproof.”

I think Judge Sparks decided this case correctly but I’m sure it’s hard for the parents of this girl to accept.

– DRJ

Democratic Indecision

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 1:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

50 Cent represents the state of indecision the Democratic Party finds itself in right now:

“MC, who originally supported Clinton, switched to Obama after race speech — but now he’s not sure.”

First he was for Hillary because he thought she would do a good job and he wasn’t sure if America was ready for a black President because “they might kill him.” Then, after Obama’s race speech, “I swear to God, I’m like, ‘Yo, Obama!’ … “I’m Obama to the end now, baby!”

Now? Just don’t ask:

“However, he said he’s now not certain which side he’s on. “To be honest, I haven’t been following that anymore. I lost my interest,” he said. “I listened to some of the debate and things that they were saying, and I just got lost in everything that was going on. … Don’t look for my vote, for me to determine nothing on that. Just say, ’50 Cent, he don’t know, so don’t ask Fiddy.’”

It is hard to stay at such an emotionally high level. The next five months are going to be hard for Democrats.

– DRJ

Al Gore Kicks Off Campaign

Filed under: 2008 Election,Environment — DRJ @ 10:56 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Today in Nashville, former Vice President Al Gore kicked off his campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

“Former Vice President Al Gore on Monday launched a three-year, multimillion-dollar advocacy campaign calling for the U.S. to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The Alliance for Climate Protection’s campaign, dubbed “we,” will combine advertising, online organizing and partnerships with grassroots groups to educate the public about global warming and urge solutions from elected officials.

“We’re trying to get a movement happening to switch public opinion so that our leaders feel, ‘Wow! We really need to make this a top priority issue,’” Alliance CEO Cathy Zoi told The Associated Press.”

Excitement and PR. Wow!

There was also this statement from Al Gore:

“When politicians hear the American people calling loud and clear for change, they’ll listen,” Gore, the former Tennessee senator and 2000 presidential candidate, said in a statement. Gore’s staff did not respond to calls seeking further comment.”

I think Gore kicked off another kind of campaign, too.

– DRJ

L.A. Times Quotes Yagman in Rafeedie Obiturary — While Omitting a Few Salient Details

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 3:25 am

An L.A. Times obituary of federal judge Edward Rafeedie is mostly complimentary — but just had to lob this little grenade:

Rafeedie had detractors. In the case of Jarek Molski, who filed 400 lawsuits alleging violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act, Rafeedie ruled that Molski could not file any more suits in Los Angeles federal court without approval from a judge. The jurist called Molski a “hit-and-run plaintiff” and accused the disabled man’s attorney of assisting in the “abusive litigation practices.”

Stephen Yagman, who represented Molski’s attorney, called Rafeedie mean-spirited and cruel. “This judge is trying to bar the door to the federal courthouse,” Yagman said in 2005.

Of course, the paper didn’t mention that Rafeedie’s decision was upheld by the plaintiff-friendly Ninth Circuit, which thought Molski was faking his injuries. Or that Yagman is a felon who is entering federal prison today. Or that judges found that Yagman had a practice of saying rude things about conservative judges, to get them to recuse themselves and allow him to steer his cases to more sympathetic liberal judges.

As long as they’re hiding all that, why not quote Yagman’s more inflammatory statements about Rafeedie? There are plenty to choose from — like his claim that Rafeedie was a “fucking fat ugly asshole” and “fascist judge” with a “weird-shaped head” that “looked like a Martian.” (Yes, those are real quotes from Yagman about Rafeedie.)

Hey, if you’re going to piss on his grave anyway, why not fully empty your bladder? And why not show Yagman to be the unbalanced criminal he really is?

3/30/2008

Hillary Vows to Stay In Until the Convention

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 8:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Despite widespread worries among Democrats that the Democratic race has become too divisive, Hillary Clinton says she will stay in the race until the Democratic Convention in late August:

“A day after Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean urged the candidates to end the race by July 1, Clinton defied that call by declaring that she will take her campaign all the way to the Aug. 25-28 convention if necessary, potentially setting up the prolonged and divisive contest that party leaders are increasingly anxious to avoid.

“I know there are some people who want to shut this down and I think they are wrong,” Clinton said in an interview during a campaign stop here Saturday. “I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started and until we see what happens in the next 10 contests and until we resolve Florida and Michigan. And if we don’t resolve it, we’ll resolve it at the convention — that’s what credentials committees are for.”

It sounds like it will be hot in Denver this August.

– DRJ

The Bin Ladens

Filed under: Books,Terrorism — DRJ @ 7:28 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

According to a new book about the Bin Ladens, eldest brother Salem wanted to buy America:

“The Arab millionaire is charming but determined. He has made a bet to persuade four young Christian women from four different Western countries to become his wives simultaneously in accordance with the Islamic law that allows polygamy. The girls are American, British, French and German.

The man making the collective proposal is Salem Bin Laden, eldest brother of the better-known Osama, the al Qaeda terror mastermind. The girls are not streetwalkers or run-of-the-mill gold diggers. They come from “good families.” One is even a trained medical doctor.

And yet: None reject the offer.

After all, the Saudi suitor is offering luxury villas, jewels, and expensive cars. Having won his bet, Salem dismisses the girls. He has proved that, provided you have money, you can buy anyone and anything in the West.

Steve Coll’s marvelous new book, “The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century,” which relates the episode, is presented as a collective biography of the infamous family, some 50 or so sisters and brothers begotten by a single illiterate, poor, one-eyed Yemeni bricklayer, later a Saudi millionaire, from his numerous wives and concubines.”

The book is Steve Coll’s “The Bin Ladens” and it sounds interesting.

Younger brother Osama also has a goal: He wants to bankrupt America.

– DRJ

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