Patterico's Pontifications


Extra! Stop the Presses! Think Progress Lies About McCain

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 12:38 pm

Think Progress has a post titled McCain: I ‘Don’t See How It Matters’ That I Don’t Know The Price Of Gas. Wow, that sounds pretty bad. Let’s take a look:

In a telephone interview with the Orange County Register earlier this week, John McCain acknowledged he was unaware of the price of gas.

Jeez. That’s really awful. But let’s take a look at the actual exchange that Think Progress is citing:

WICKSOL: When was the last time you pumped your own gas and how much did it cost?

MCCAIN: Oh, I don’t remember. Now there’s Secret Service protection. But I’ve done it for many, many years. I don’t recall and frankly, I don’t see how it matters.

Later in the interview, McCain says:

I’ve been on the campaign trail for so long I don’t remember when I last filled up my own gas tank, but I certainly did for many, many, many years and I understand the difficulties and challenges that it poses for the people of California and my home state of Arizona.

Think Progess cites this as evidence of “McCain’s cluelessness about gas prices.”

But McCain isn’t saying he doesn’t know the price of gas. He is saying that he doesn’t remember the last time he pumped his own gas, and how much it cost then.

So, does John McCain know the cost of a gallon of gas in America? Yes, he does. Here’s a news story from June 18:

“The price of a gallon of gas in America stands at more than four dollars. Yesterday, a barrel of oil cost about 134 dollarsm” said McCain.

Again, that McCain quote is from June 18 — six days before the O.C. Register interview that Think Progress uses to claim McCain doesn’t know the price of gas.

This Think Progress post is a lie. At best, the story is that McCain doesn’t remember the last time he pumped his own gas. Even that is a non-story, since nobody pumps their own gas while on the campaign trail. Someone ask Obama when he last pumped his own gas.

Your mission: to go to every single blog that has linked this Think Progress post, and post the quote I just gave you that shows what a lie it is.

Have fun.

UPDATE: Here’s a partial list of bloggers who have repeated this: Andrew Sullivan (now partially corrected), James Joyner (no correction stand-up correction issued), and John Cole (now acknowledging that he may have gotten it wrong). For more, check Memeorandum.

L.A. Times: “MCain” Has to Position Himself for Conservatives

Filed under: 2008 Election,Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 12:15 pm

The top story in the L.A. Times today is titled Obama is shifting toward the center. It has this interesting passage:

Eddie Mahe, a McCain supporter and former GOP official, said that MCain has to position himself for conservatives “in a way that provides them a motivation and incentive to vote.”


I’m always hesitant to point out typos in newspaper articles, because (like virtually all writing) my blog certainly has its share of typos.

But I always wonder what’s going on when these typos appear in the splashy lead article of the front page of the Sunday edition. That’s the article that, you’d think, gets top attention from those four experienced Times editors.

Maybe they overlooked spelling errors because they were too busy making sure all the relevant facts were included?

Nope, that’s not it . . .

UPDATE: It was actually yesterday’s lead story. How did I get that wrong? I trusted the L.A. Times! Currently, the website’s print edition page has an image of the front page for June 29, under a caption that reads: “Page one from today’s paper of June 30, 2008. (PDF file).”

UPDATE x2: It’s even more screwed up than that. It has an image of the front page for June 28 (yesterday). But if you click on it, you get an image for June 29 (today). And it’s labeled as an image for June 30 (tomorrow).

I’m thinking they don’t have four experienced Times editors checking the web page.

Too Bad This Perspective Wasn’t Fully Shared in the Original Story . . .

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Judiciary,Kozinski — Patterico @ 11:37 am

An op-ed in this morning’s L.A. Times is titled Why Dirty Is Funny and begins like this:

When a federal appeals court judge who is presiding over an obscenity trial is himself revealed to have a “porn stash” on a personal website, as happened a couple of weeks ago, some might get indignant. Others might titter. But what if it turns out that the judge in question, Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit court, is a connoisseur not so much of hard-core porn as of raunchy humor? That the stash was more about laughs than about titillation? Well, in that case, it’s a completely different story.



Milblogger Taken Offline for Telling Truth Without Asking Permission First

Filed under: Civil Liberties,War — Patterico @ 5:39 pm

Teflon Don reports that one of his favorite bloggers from on the ground in Iraq has been ordered to stop posting to his blog. The blogger explains here:

Though I committed no OPSEC violations, due to a series of extenuating circumstances – the least of which was me being on leave – my “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage” post on May 28 did not go through the normal vetting channels. It’s totally on me, as it was too much unfiltered truth. I’m a soldier first, and orders are orders. So it is.

Read the post with too much unfiltered truth here. Teflon Don calls the post a

too-real look at the struggle of a combat lieutenant to stay out of the mind-draining quagmire. No, not the media’s Iraq: that quagmire is contrived and belied by the situation on the ground. This quagmire was the grind of the Tactical Operations Center, of the FOB life. LT G did not want to be a company executive officer. For a combat troop, that would be as good as suicide. The post he wrote about it got his blogging canned.

This is a common reason for government censorship: to keep the government from looking bad.

L.A. Times Forgets to Tell Readers That Obama Supported the D.C. Gun Ban

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Court Decisions,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 5:16 pm

Howard Kurtz notes that Big Media is failing to hold Obama’s feet to the fire for his flip-flop on firearms.

Barack Obama is under hostile fire for changing his position on the D.C. gun ban.

Oh, I’m sorry. He didn’t change his position, apparently. He reworded a clumsy statement.

That clumsy statement, which his campaign is now running away from, was pretty categorical: “Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional.” Yet, Kurtz says, the newspapers aren’t calling him to task:

But even though the earlier Obama quote and the “inartful” comment have been bouncing around the Net for 24 hours, I’m not seeing any reference to them in the morning papers. Most do what the New York Times did: “Mr. Obama, who like Mr. McCain has been on record as supporting the individual-rights view, said the ruling would ‘provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country.’ “

Add the L.A. Times to the list. In David Savage’s piece on the Heller decision, he allowed Obama to pretend he has always supported the decision, which found unconstitutional the very ban Obama’s campaign had declared constitutional:

On the presidential campaign trail, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama were supportive of the court’s ruling.

. . . .

For his part, Obama drew a somewhat different lesson from the court’s decision. He said it endorsed both gun rights and reasonable regulation.

“I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures,” he said.

“I know what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact common-sense laws, like closing the gun-show loophole and improving our background-check system, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals.”

Wouldn’t it have been helpful to tell readers that Obama’s campaign said the D.C. law was constitutional?

Yes, that would have been helpful . . . to the truth.

But not to Obama.

And increasingly, that appears to be the editors’ calculus for deciding what appears in the paper.

UPDATE: In a story today about the Obama move to the center, the editors once again allow Obama to act as though he has always been in favor of the result in Heller:

Obama’s reaction to another Supreme Court ruling, which struck down a gun ban in Washington, D.C., stood in contrast to that of many local political leaders and was more tempered than that of many liberals. Whereas his hometown mayor, Richard M. Daley of Chicago, and Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton sharply criticized the court decision, Obama was more welcoming. He said the ruling “reinforces that if we act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe.”

The best they do to undercut this notion is to say that “McCain’s campaign said Obama was unable to give a clear account of whether he viewed the Washington gun ban as constitutional” and claim that Obama has given “mixed signals” on the issue. How about saying that his campaign flatly declared the ban constitutional? There’s nothing “mixed” about that signal . . .

UPDATE x2: Is this a mixed signal, or a flip-flop?

Thanks to daytrader.

Quote of the Day

Filed under: 2008 Election,General,Humor — Patterico @ 2:46 pm

“One person told me that Bill said Obama would have to quote kiss my ass close quote, if he wants his support.”

Mistakes in Heller — Substantive Ones

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:31 pm

The mistakes are listed here — and suggest that Justice Stevens and his clerks didn’t read the cases they cited.

The most significant error: at page 2 of his dissent, Stevens said of the Miller case: “Upholding a conviction under that Act, this Court held that…”

(All emphasis in this post is mine.)

But if you read Miller itself, you see that the case did not arise in the context of an appeal from a conviction. Before trial, the defendant interposed a demurrer to an indictment, and the district court granted it, causing the government to appeal:

The District Court held that section 11 of the Act violates the Second Amendment. It accordingly sustained the demurrer and quashed the indictment.

The cause is here by direct appeal.

To be fair, Justice Scalia made the same error himself, writing at page 49 of the majority opinion:

The judgment in the case upheld against a Second Amendment challenge two men’s federal convictions for transporting an unregistered short-barreled shotgun in interstate commerce . . .

Apparently, Miller was never convicted.

Via Gabriel Malor at Ace’s, who reminds us of similar Stevens laziness in the Hamdan case.

P.S. Did anyone else notice that Eugene Volokh got, not one, not two, but three mentions in Scalia’s opinion?

Way to go, Professor!

The Fact-Checker

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:16 pm

There’s a very interesting blog/column in the Washington Post called The Fact-Checker.

The writer is Michael Dobbs, who participated in a hard-hitting and fair piece on the CBS forged documents, and who did some of the best independent reporting in the mainstream media on the Swift Vets controversy (I believe that Beldar agrees). Dobbs did write that the Vets had failed to disprove Kerry’s accounts of what happened in the war zone, but he also questioned Kerry’s failure to release all “relevant records and personal diaries.”

Dobbs tends to lean a bit left, and is a little overly dismissive of blogs, but he clearly makes the effort to rigorously tie his assertions to the facts. This sets him apart from a lot of other reporters out there.

If you’re looking for a fascinating post that serves as an example of his fact-checking, check out this December 2007 post of his with the Most Revealing Fibs of Barack Obama. At the time, that is. There have been a few since. Also good is his fact-based analysis of whether Obama broke his public financing pledge. His conclusion:

He does not want to disarm in the face of likely Swiftboat-type attacks on his character, mounted by conservative groups not directly affiliated with the McCain campaign. But none of this alters the fact that he has gone back on his word.

(My emphasis.)

I don’t read the reference to “Swiftboat-type attacks” as being necessarily as dismissive as that phrase usually is when used by a mainstream reporter, since Dobbs did such good and largely fair reporting on the controversy. It’s nice to see a reporter so clearly saying that Obama broke his word.

Dobbs gives Obama three “Pinocchios,” which signifies “Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.”

The site is now on my regular reads.

Another site that seems more even-handed is from the St. Petersburg Times.

It’s good to see this sort of fact-checking at major newspapers. I hope they do more of it.


Heller Typos

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:10 pm

Eagle-eyed readers of Howard Bashman’s blog noted several typos in the original version of the Heller opinion. Some, but not all, have been corrected in a revised version.

And I have a nit of my own to point out: the justices’ inconsistency (which for Justice Breyer is an internal inconsistency) on whether “machine gun” is one word or two.

In his majority opinion, Justice Scalia refers to “machineguns” as one word at page 52 of the Court’s opinion. Justice Stevens calls them “machine guns” at page 41 of his dissent.

And Justice Breyer can’t make up his mind. He refers to “machine guns” at page 29 of his dissent, but to a “machinegun” at page 34, and to “machineguns” at page 42.

As to which is proper, I express no opinion. Just pick one and stick with it!

That Was Unexpected

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Judiciary,Kozinski — Patterico @ 5:25 pm

So I was driving home along the 110 Freeway tonight and, all of a sudden, I heard L.A. Observed’s Kevin Roderick talking about my blog on KCRW.

He even seemed to be saying nice things.

You can listen here. I can’t recreate the feeling of surprise, though.

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