Patterico's Pontifications

4/21/2009

Somali Pirate’s Father Invents Time Machine

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:25 pm

I get lied to for a living, so stories like this (about the surviving Somali pirate) don’t surprise me much:

The courtroom was briefly closed yesterday while the pirate’s age was debated. The defense claimed he was 15; prosecutors said he was over 18.

The feds said Muse had given conflicting information about his age – telling Navy officials and an NYPD detective he was anywhere between 15 and 26.

The judge called Muse’s father in Somalia and he said his son was his first-born and was born in November 1993, making him just 15.

Under questioning, though, the father said his fourth-born son was born in 1990 – and the judge ruled his testimony was not credible.

Ya think?

P.S.: Ron Kuby for the defense!

What’s Wrong with Human Clones?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:04 pm

Seriously.

Allahpundit asks:

What’s the problem? They’re no more genetically related than identical twins. In fact, they’re less related, since they’re being carried to term by a different mother, which means they have different mitochondrial DNA.

I’ve wondered the same thing for some time. Having the same genes does not make two people the same, and people who know identical twins know this better than most. I have three sisters, two of whom are identical twins (and one of those has a blog!). I can tell you that they are very different people.

I can see issues with genetic engineering, but I’m not particularly freaked out by them. I note that Allahpundit (who also isn’t bothered) is an athiest, and I’m an agnostic. Is this a religious thing?

Feinstein Steered Taxpayer Money to Agency That Awarded Husband Contract (UPDATED With Response from Sen. Feinstein’s Office)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:25 pm

Chuck Neubauer at the Washington Times reports:

On the day the new Congress convened this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband’s real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms.

Mrs. Feinstein’s intervention on behalf of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was unusual: the California Democrat isn’t a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with jurisdiction over FDIC; and the agency is supposed to operate from money it raises from bank-paid insurance payments – not direct federal dollars.

Something smells mighty fishy, and I’m pretty sure it’s not just the salmon I grilled on the George Foreman grill tonight. Although I really do need to clean that up.

UPDATE: Sen. Feinstein’s office has replied, telling me in an e-mail: “Your post is based on a flawed story.” Below the fold are a statement and a timeline that they sent me.

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Marc Thiessen: Waterboarding Worked

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:06 pm

And so does that mean it was justified?

Or does that mean it was “torture”?

The answer depends on whom you ask.

In November 2007, I asked:

Let’s assume the following hypothetical facts are true. U.S. officials have KSM in custody. They know he planned 9/11 and therefore have a solid basis to believe he has other deadly plots in the works. They try various noncoercive techniques to learn the details of those plots. Nothing works.

They then waterboard him for two and one half minutes.

During this session KSM feels panicky and unable to breathe. Even though he can breathe, he has the sensation that he is drowning. So he gives up information — reliable information — that stops a plot involving people flying planes into buildings.

My simple question is this: based on these hypothetical facts, was the waterboarding session worth it?

The post received 758 comments. For asking the question, I became an instant hero in the liberal blogosphere, where: one person deemed me a greater enemy to this country than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned 9/11; one person declared me unfit to be labeled a human; and another said that I am a monster, and wished that I die a painful death in a fire.*

(Always remember: in the minds of leftists, American’s real enemies aren’t the terrorists. The real enemies are conservatives.)

Of course, the hypothetical was based on previous reporting that the premise of my hypothetical — the foiling of the Library Tower plot — was true.** Nevertheless, one of the things I was repeatedly told was that the question had absolutely nothing to do with reality.

Oh, really?!

Fast forward to today’s piece in the Washington Post by Marc Thiessen, extensively quoting from memos recently released by the Obama administration:

The memo continues: “Before the CIA used enhanced techniques . . . KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, ‘Soon you will find out.’ ” Once the techniques were applied, “interrogations have led to specific, actionable intelligence, as well as a general increase in the amount of intelligence regarding al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques “led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.” KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast.

Thiessen goes on to explain that the foiling of the Library Tower plot is the tip of the intelligence iceberg. We gained a lot of valuable information from waterboarding KSM, and Thiessen explains why this is so.

Interestingly, our boy Andrew Sullivan says the very success of our techniques is what makes them “torture” — a silly, thoughtless definition characteristic of a silly, thoughtless man. Sully says that “to subject captives to such levels of physical or mental pain or suffering that they ‘have reached the limit of their ability to withhold [information] in the face of psychological and physical hardship'” is “as close to a definition of torture as you are likely to find.” Tom Maguire has great fun mocking this fundamentally unserious claptrap:

Ahh, so if the captive starts talking it’s torture. Helpful. My legal advice to his captors would be to clear the room if the captive clears his throat or otherwise appears to be about to speak.

Conversely, if I am hacking away with a chainsaw on some prisoner, I am quite sure I am guilty of torture, whether the poor fool cooperates or not, and regardless of this most excellent definition.

I happen to believe that waterboarding is, in fact, torture — although it’s certainly more mild than other forms that could be imagined. I believe this, not because it has worked, but because that’s what my common sense tells me.

But that same common sense tells me that if waterboarding sessions prevent thousands of people from dying, it was worth it. Maybe that’s why, according to Thiessen, “just as the memo begins to describe previously undisclosed details of what enhanced interrogations achieved, the page is almost entirely blacked out.”

But on a day when President Obama has announced that he has not ruled out prosecuting people who approved waterboarding and other enhanced techniques, it seems to me important to remember that, from what we know, they worked.

Isn’t that a pretty significant point?

UPDATE: Karl notes that KSM was waterboarded 5 times, and not 183, as the leftists are claiming. Their fuzzy math is debunked here.

Miss California Speaks About Perez Hilton

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:22 pm

Allahpundit says:

Hotness is often inversely proportional to sweetness, but this kid is somehow off the charts on both. Good work, mom and dad.

She sure has a lot more class than Perez Hilton.

And she’s conservative.

UPDATE: Here is an earlier video:

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

UPDATE: In the video at the top, Miss California is asked whether she believes she would have won if she had not been asked the gay marriage question, and she answers yes. This raises the journalistic question: would she have? One factor in beauty contests, of course, is the swimsuit competition, so readers wishing to make up their own minds on this important journalistic question may wish to survey the evidence for themselves. I have provided it below the fold.

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Pres. Obama’s fantasy foreign policy

Filed under: General,Obama — Karl @ 9:49 am

[Posted by Karl]

Asked to describe the “Obama doctrine” for foreign policy, Pres. Obama could not help but get a bit defensive:

And the — as a consequence of listening, believing that there aren’t junior partners and senior partners in the international stage, I don’t think that we suddenly transform every foreign policy item that’s on the agenda. I know that in each of these meetings the question has been, well, did you get something specific? What happened here? What happened there?

Countries are going to have interests, and changes in foreign policy approaches by my administration aren’t suddenly going to make all those interests that may diverge from ours disappear. What it does mean, though, is, at the margins, they are more likely to want to cooperate than not cooperate. It means that where there is resistance to a particular set of policies that we’re pursuing, that resistance may turn out just to be based on old preconceptions or ideological dogmas that, when they’re cleared away, it turns out that we can actually solve a problem.

Clearly, Obama does not want to answer questions about the overall results of his “doctrine” because those answers are not pretty. Pres. Obama would prefer to blame his predecessors, especially former Pres. Bush. However, the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl — hardly a raving wingnut — addresses that ploy’s expiration date:

Now comes the interesting part: when it starts to become evident that Bush did not create rogue states, terrorist movements, Middle Eastern blood feuds or Russian belligerence — and that shake-ups in U.S. diplomacy, however enlightened, might not have much impact on them.

Diehl surveys the results of the Obama doctrine to date, with devastating effect. North Korea rejected Obama’s diplomatic overtures to test a missile designed for a range that could strike Hawaii or Alaska. Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority were impressed by Obama’s intervention — or willing to offer even token concessions. Russia ignored Obama’s diplomatic overtures of appeasement (as comical as they may have been) on NATO and missile defense, and is blatantly violating its cease-fire agreement with two Georgian republics. Iran rejected Obama’s overtures, announcing its plan to expand its uranium enrichment and trying an American journalist for espionage.

Top White House adviser David Axelrod claims that Obama’s apology tours to Europe and Latin America have made anti-American sentiment “uncool” and “created a new receptivity” to US interests. In the real world, Nicaragua’s Communist president Daniel Ortega can spew anti-American agitprop to Obama’s face for an hour straight without any defense from Obama. And Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez can use Obama to popularize anti-American propaganda, as Obama proclaims it “a nice gift.”

As for Europe, the reality is that our allies are equally taking advantage of the Obama doctrine. On issues as diverse as the global recession, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Europe and NATO have almost entirely rejected Obama’s agenda.

Diehl concluded his column with this:

Obama is not the first president to discover that facile changes in U.S. policy don’t crack long-standing problems. Some of his new strategies may produce results with time. Yet the real test of an administration is what it does once it realizes that the quick fixes aren’t working — that, say, North Korea and Iran have no intention of giving up their nuclear programs, with or without dialogue, while Russia remains determined to restore its dominion over Georgia. In other words, what happens when it’s no longer George W. Bush’s fault? That’s what the next 100 days will tell us.

Actually, the immediate problem is that Obama, Axelrod & Co. are either unwilling to admit the Obama doctrine is an abject failure to date, or are in denial about it. So the real question is what parade of horribles will be so severe, public or prolonged that Obama will be forced to come to grips with — and act on — that reality.

–Karl

L.A. Times: George Bush Came to the White House on the Strength of a Supreme Court Ruling

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:24 am

Doyle McManus at the L.A. Times is a nice guy with whom I have had several genial e-mail exchanges. However, I have a bone to pick with his front-page news analysis comparing Obama to FDR, under the phrase “Ambition and Audacity” (a phrase that The Times has repeatedly used in headlines as a sort of tagline for Obama):

I don’t want to argue about whether Obama is the new incarnation of FDR, other than to say that if he is, God help us all.

But McManus repeats another tired liberal canard that I can’t let pass: the fairy tale that President Bush who was selected and not elected:

In 2001, George W. Bush’s 100 days were proclaimed a solid success, especially for a president who came to the White House on the strength of a Supreme Court ruling after losing the popular vote.

Oh, my God. As a great man once said, here we go again.

First, the popular vote is not what counts, as Doyle McManus well knows.

And Bush came to the White House on the strength of being certified the winner by the Florida Secretary of State.

And Bush won the media recounts, as Karl recently pointed out.

Every time I say this there are people who dispute it. They are wrong. If you want to take the time to see why in detail, I did an extensive analysis of the media recounts here.

McManus may well believe this, as his paper has repeated this many times before. But I’m going to challenge them every time they do it.

Because it’s not true.


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