Patterico's Pontifications


Truthing Obamafuscations: Part Two of a Continuing Series Through November

Filed under: General — WLS @ 2:19 pm

Posted by WLS:

A couple weeks ago I decided to start calling attention to “Obamafuscastions” of the truth through the summer and into the fall.  Part one is here.

I’ve had several opportunties over the past couple weeks to post additional parts, but they just didn’t seem juicy enough.

But this passage from the commencement speech he gave at Wesleyan College has a glaring factual untruth in it — and its about his OWN biography:

But during my first two years of college, perhaps because the values my mother had taught me –hard work, honesty, empathy – had resurfaced after a long hibernation; or perhaps because of the example of wonderful teachers and lasting friends, I began to notice a world beyond myself.  I became active in the movement to oppose the apartheid regime of South Africa.  I began following the debates in this country about poverty and health care.  So that by the time I graduated from college, I was possessed with a crazy idea – that I would work at a grassroots level to bring about change. 

I wrote letters to every organization in the country I could think of.  And one day, a small group of churches on the South Side of Chicago offered me a job to come work as a community organizer in neighborhoods that had been devastated by steel plant closings.  My mother and grandparents wanted me to go to law school.  My friends were applying to jobs on Wall Street.  Meanwhile, this organization offered me $12,000 a year plus $2,000 for an old, beat-up car.

And I said yes.   

Based on the Wikipedia entry for Obama, this is not an accurate timeline of his migration to South Side Chicago politics as a “community organizer.”  He did not go there directly out of college as he suggests here — he went two years later — after first working for two NY organizations:   Business_International_Corporation  a publishing and business consulting group, and New York Public Interest Research Group.

Business International Corporation (BI) was a publishing and advisory firm dedicated to assisting American companies in operating abroad. In 1986, Business International was acquired by The Economist Group in London, and eventually merged with The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Founded in 1953 … BI initially focused on American companies and started out with a weekly newsletter (called Business International) and a group of key corporate clients. BI eventually became the premier information source on global business with research, advisory functions, conferences and government roundtables in addition to its publications. It was headquartered in New York City, with major offices in Geneva, London, Vienna, Hong Kong and Tokyo, and a network of correspondents across the globe.

Publications included a family of newsletters (Business International, Business Europe, Business Eastern Europe, Business Latin America, Business Asia, Business China, and Business International Money Report), regularly updated reference products covering 40-50 countries (Financing Foreign Operations; Investment, Licensing and Trading Conditions Abroad), an international business and economic forecasting service, a risk assessment service, and in-depth research reports. It also conducted specialized research assignments for its clients. It was well-known for its Roundtable Conferences that brought senior business executives together with key government figures in capital cities around the globe. Its business forecasting conferences and publications were also widely used.

Its international client base included most major American companies, as well as European, Japanese and Indian companies and corporate groups.

United States Senator Barack Obama‘s first job after graduating from Columbia University was with the company. He held a position as a research associate in its general international business information division.

The website for the New York Public Interest Research  Group, is found here.

So, why would Obama say in a commencement speech that his call to public service came from a political awakening during his first (not sure if he meant “first” two years which were at Occidental in Los Angeles, or his “final” two years which were at Columbia in NY)  two years of college led him to write letters to every orgainization in the country he could think of, resulting ultimately in an offer to work for $12,000 on the South Side of Chicago — but failed to mention that he worked for a big business outfit in New York immediately after graduation?

Inconveniently, that FACT wouldn’t fit the narrative he’s constructed of a man whose epiphany for service stirred the community organizer buried deep in his sole.

This is another example of what I called attention to yesterday — Obama’s willingness to embellish facts in order to make stories about himself seem richer in their texture.

h/t powerlineblog 

Reality Check for Obamania — Electoral Vote Projection From May 28, 2004

Filed under: General — WLS @ 12:19 pm

Posted by WLS:

This is an electoral projection of the Kerry-Bush race about 5 1/2 months before the 2004 election, right about where we are now. 

If my memory is correct, Kerry did not win 327-211.

Among the states projected for Kerry based on late spring polling, but actually went for Bush in the general election:

Missouri, Florida, Ohio, Nevada.

Bush won Missouri by +7

Bush won Florida by +5

Bush won Nevada by +2.5 

Bush won Ohio by +2

Also of interest, in May 2004, the following states were listed as “Barely Bush”, meaning the margin was less than 3%:

Georgia, S.Carolina, Tenn, Arkansas, W.Va.

Bush won those states handily in the election:

Georgia — +17

S.Carolina — +18

Tenn —  +14

W.Va — +13

Arkansas — +10 

L.A. Times Corrects the Most Trivial of Three Errors From Its Article on DNA, Statistics, and Cold Hits

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:06 am

Recently, I pointed out three errors in an L.A. Times article on DNA, statistics, and cold hits (see here and here). Two were substantive and one was a trivial instance of the newspaper turning a fraction upside down.

Guess which one they are correcting?

DNA evidence: A May 4 article in Section A about the statistical calculations involved in describing DNA evidence in a murder case contained an arithmetic error. It said that multiplying the probability of 1 in 1.1 million by 338,000 was the same as dividing 1.1 million by 338,000. Actually, it’s the same as dividing 338,000 by 1.1 million. The answer, a 1 in 3 probability of a coincidental match between crime scene DNA and genetic profiles in a state database, was correct.

Yes, that is the trivial error.

Congratulations to Xrlq’s Aunt Ruth for noting it and bringing it to my attention.

But I am very, very disappointed that the paper is leaving two far more substantive and significant errors uncorrected. To recap, here was the first error:

Jurors were not told, however, the statistic that leading scientists consider the most significant: the probability that the database search had hit upon an innocent person.

In Puckett’s case, it was 1 in 3.

The reporter tells me:

In our story, we did not write that there was a 1 in 3 chance that Puckett was innocent, which would be a clear example of the prosecutor’s fallacy. Rather, we wrote: “Jurors were not told, however, the statistic that leading scientists consider the most significant: the probability that the database search had hit upon an innocent person. In Puckett’s case, it was 1 in 3.” The difference is subtle, but real.

(My emphasis.)

I fail to see any difference whatsoever.

The key fact: the hit to Puckett was the only hit that occurred. So when the article says there was a 1 in 3 chance that the search “had hit” on an innocent person, it is describing the chance that the hit to Puckett was a hit to an innocent person.

This is indeed the same as saying that there was a 1 in 3 chance that Puckett was innocent — which the reporter admits is inaccurate.

I believe the article meant to say this: if the database had consisted only of innocent people, there was a 1 in 3 chance that the search would hit on an innocent person. Phrased that way, the statement would be accurate, and would shed light on the question of how surprised we should be by a database hit.

But that’s not what the paper said. Instead, the article indicated the odds that the search “had hit” on an innocent person — in other words, the odds that Puckett himself was innocent.

By the way, the reporter indicated in an e-mail to me that he believes commenter Xrlq agrees with him on this point. He should read this post, in which Xrlq says that the 1 in 3 number as expressed by the paper is “almost certainly wrong.”

The second error was this passage:

Because the match in Puckett’s case involved only 5 1/2 genetic locations, the chance it was coincidental was higher but still remote: 1 in 1.1 million.

This is a classic example of the “prosecutor’s fallacy.” [UPDATE: I have a professor telling me it’s more accurately called the “transposition fallacy”.] The paper took a number meant to express the generalized odds of an event occurring, and used it to express the chance that a particular occurrence was a coincidence.

If there’s a 1 in 100 million chance of winning the lottery, you can’t say of the winner: “the chance that his win was coincidental was 1 in 100 million.”

That makes it sound like he was certain to win. But until he did win, he was almost certain not to.

Again, I have a good idea what the paper meant to say. But it’s not what they actually said.

The issue here is not the math. It’s about the proper way to express the math in English. It’s a tricky thing to do, but the fact that it’s tricky doesn’t excuse a failure to correct misleading language.

California Proposition 98 & Proposition 99 – NO on both!

Filed under: 2008 Election,Government,Public Policy — Justin Levine @ 3:13 am

[posted by Justin Levine] 

California has a statewide election coming up on June 3rd.

Prop. 98 and Prop. 99 are both equally deceptive in different ways. They end up giving ammo to those who argue that California ought to do away with its public initiative system since it can be too easily manipulated.

The L.A. Daily News manages to nail the problem.

Vote NO on both of these turkeys.

[Justin Levine]


Captain Ed on the McClellan Book

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:26 am

“If the press secretary was that interested in the truth, he took an awfully long time to tell it.”

Well said.

I May Be Misreading This . . .

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:51 am

. . . but I think Hitchens really didn’t want anyone else at the table to have any of his wine.

Revealed: Exclusive New Details Regarding (Different) Allegations of Bribery of U.S. Rep. William Jefferson

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

A civil complaint filed yesterday in a Louisiana federal court reveals new details of an alleged bribery scheme involving Rep. William Jefferson. The alleged bribe is different from the ones for which Jefferson has been indicted. The new details are revealed exclusively here on for the first time.

The background: last month, guest blogger DRJ and I reported on a motion by indicted Louisiana attorney James G. Perdigao. Perdigao’s motion leveled serious accusations of wrongdoing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana — and raised new accusations of bribery of then-U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan and U.S. Representative William Jefferson.

Perdigao’s allegations may help Governor Edwin Edwards challenge his conviction for taking bribes, in return for issuing valuable riverboat casino licenses. Businessman Robert Guidry made about $100 million from one of those licenses, and then testified against Edwards. But Guidry’s plea bargain raised eyebrows across the state. Not only did Guidry receive only five months in a halfway house, but prosecutors also allowed him to keep more than $96 million of the $100 million he made from the illegally obtained license.

As a local columnist opined: “The abiding mystery of the Edwards trial is how come Guidry got such a sweet deal.”

Perdigao says he can solve the mystery: Guidry bribed the feds. And, Perdigao says, he did so through William Jefferson.

Of course, Perdigao may be lying. After all, the feds indicted him for stealing $30 million from his own law firm.

But if you’re going to implicate a congressman in a bribery scandal, William Jefferson is a good pick.

Last night, I received an anonymous e-mail attaching what purports to be a civil complaint by Perdigao against his former law firm of Adams & Reese. According to the file stamp on the document, it was filed in Lousiana federal court yesterday at 3:23 p.m. You can read the complaint in its entirety here. The document provides fascinating details regarding a number of Perdigao’s previous allegations, and makes several new allegations.

This post focuses on the complaint’s juiciest and most newsworthy allegation: the details of Robert Guidry’s alleged scheme to bribe U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan through U.S. Representative William Jefferson.

At page 9, the complaint states:

In the spring of 1998, plaintiff had a meeting with Guidry at Guidry’s penthouse apartment above his offices in Harvey, Louisiana. At this meeting, as they were discussing recent events regarding the Edwards grand jury in Baton Rouge, Guidry proceeded to tell plaintiff how he was bribing U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan through U.S. Rep. Bill Jefferson. Guidry instructed plaintiff to follow him into the bathroom off of the master bedroom where he proceeded to fill a bag with cash that had been hidden under some tiles next to the bathtub. Guidry noted that he never placed the money directly in Jefferson’s hands, but rather under the back steps while Jefferson watched inside through the window. Guidry then recounted the story of his first “drop” under the back steps of Jefferson’s house in New Orleans. When Guidry entered the backyard, he found two sets of steps. With a puzzled look, he glanced through the window for directions from Jefferson. Guidry related that both he and Jefferson “cracked up laughing” as Jefferson pointed him to behind a planter by the correct stairs.

I’m cracking up laughing myself.

I’ll likely have more on Perdigao’s new allegations in coming days. In the meantime, read them yourself. Maybe you’ll crack up laughing too.

P.S. I haven’t been able to conclusively verify that this complaint is genuine. The federal courts’ PACER system had not recorded the filing when I searched last night. However, the document, which you can read for yourself at the above link, appears authentic. For now, take it for what it’s worth. As soon as I can conclusively verify its authenticity, I will let you know. Based on the speed with which the courts update the system, this may take 2-3 days. [UPDATE 5-28-08 7:05 a.m.: The complaint has appeared on PACER. It is genuine.]

P.P.S. Note also that the complaint is verified, meaning that Perdigao signed a sworn statement stating that the allegations in the complaint are true. Now, considering the source, that’s not ironclad corroboration. But the complaint contains a number of colorful direct quotes, suggesting that Perdigao was, at a minimum, taking contemporaneous notes during these events. It’s even conceivable that he secretly recorded some of the conversations described in the complaint.

If he did, fasten your seatbelts, because this will be a wild ride.


Obama Memorial Day Event Overflowing, With Many Memorial Day Honorees In Attendance

Filed under: 2008 Election — WLS @ 1:42 pm

Posted by WLS:

h/t gatewaypundit

“On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes — and I see many of them in the audience here today — our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.”

Ok, so this is bouncing around the internet already.  But I just found it to be reinforcing of my view that Obama isn’t really that smart, and is prone to making unforced gaffes simply because he tries to speak to things about which he has only a shallow understanding. 

I think the fall is actually going to be an entertaining time for the GOP and conservatives.  McCain has spent 30 years in Washington speaking off-the-cuff.  Obama has never been under the microscope even once. 

But his days in the echo-chamber are rapidly approaching a close.  Dims should be concerned about the thoughts expressed in this article in TNR  today. 

Enforcement Works? Get Outta Here!

Filed under: General,Immigration — Patterico @ 7:15 am

Who’d a thunk it:

Many in Congress are counting on border walls to discourage illegal immigration and dope smuggling from Mexico. Here in Del Rio, authorities are using jail cells instead.

The ever-expanding Val Verde County jail is filled with would-be yardmen and maids, immigrants awaiting deportation. They’ve been caught in a law enforcement dragnet known as “Operation Streamline,” a zero-tolerance program that began here and has since spread both east and west along the Mexican border.

There’s plenty of grumbling in the story about the cost, but it does appear to work:

[S]upporters say the approach is reducing crime and discouraging immigrants from trying to cross into the United States. The number of illegal immigrants caught in the Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector is at its lowest level since the early 1970s.

“Enforcement works,” said Val Verde County Sheriff D’Wayne Jernigan. “We’re definitely seeing a reduction in crime throughout the border area and a reduction in the number of aliens running loose in our community.”

I love this part:

The new approach is aimed at ending the controversial “catch and release” practice. For years, thousands of undocumented foreigners apprehended along the border were released for lack of jail space and given a notice to appear in court. Most simply vanished into the underground economy.

Instead, the buzz phrase is “catch and detain,” meaning virtually everybody who gets caught is sent to federal court or returned home immediately.

Catch and detain. What a concept!

DRJ wrote about this back in January. Glad to see it’s still being done somewhere.


David Savage: There is a Bare Stable Majority Against Gay Marriage

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:43 am

David Savage reports that the California move towards gay marriage is unlikely to result in a national trend. Part of the reason? A “stable majority” against gay marriage:

However, recent national polls have shown what the Pew Research Center called a “stable majority” opposed to marriage for gays and lesbians. Last year, it said that among those it surveyed, 55% opposed allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, whereas 36% supported the idea. This was roughly the same result as in 2004, when the Massachusetts court ruled.

It is also similar to the Los Angeles Times/KTLA Poll of Californians taken last week. By a 19-point margin, respondents favored a measure targeted for the November ballot that would limit marriage to a man and a woman.

Get with the program, David! This 19-point margin of which you speak is no “stable majority.” It’s a “bare majority.” Also a narrow margin. Voters are only slimly and narrowly rejecting gay marriage, by a bit.

Don’t you read your own paper?

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