Patterico's Pontifications

9/6/2009

Obama: Rebuilding Alliances?

Filed under: International,Obama — DRJ @ 8:57 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

As a Presidential candidate and as President-elect, Barack Obama promised to “rebuild alliances” in Europe and “restore America’s standing in the world.” How’s that rebuilding going? Let’s hear from the British at No. 10 Downing Street:

Downing Street has hit back at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for attacking the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber.

President Obama and the US Secretary of State fuelled a fierce American backlash against Britain, claiming Abdelbaset Al Megrahi should have been forced to serve out his jail sentence in Scotland – but a senior Whitehall aide said their reaction was ‘disingenuous’.”

British officials say the Obama Administration was fully informed about al-Megrahi and is upset at the unexpected public reaction:

“The officials say the Americans spoke out because they were taken aback by the row over Megrahi’s release, not because they did not know it was about to happen.”

‘The US was kept fully in touch about everything that was going on with regard to Britain’s discussions with Libya in recent years and about Megrahi,’ said the Whitehall aide.

We would never do anything about Lockerbie without discussing it with the US. It is disingenuous of them to act as though Megrahi’s return was out of the blue.’

‘They knew about our prisoner transfer agreement with Libya and they knew that the Scots were considering Megrahi’s case.’”

First Obama sent the Uighars to Bermuda with minimal notice to the UK, and now this. If he’s not careful, President Obama isn’t going to have an alliance to rebuild.

— DRJ

L.A. Times: Van Jones Controversy “Raged Almost Entirely on Conservative Talk Shows and Websites”

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 8:10 pm

The L.A. Times‘s Peter Wallsten runs interference for Obama and Van Jones, framing the controversy as a political attack fostered by right-wing media:

Responding to a firestorm that raged almost entirely on conservative talk shows and websites, the White House today announced the resignation of a top environmental advisor who had made fiery remarks about Republicans and signed a petition questioning whether the U.S. government had any role in planning the Sept. 11 attacks.

Could it be any clearer? These are not legitimate complaints, Peter Wallsten is telling you with his wording. These were politically motivated complaints generated by right-wing extremists.

Of course, the real reason that the controversy raged almost entirely on conservative media is because traditional media were not doing their fucking jobs. As far as I am aware, only one guy was nonpartisan enough to pursue this story: Jake Tapper. Everyone else sort of hoped it would go away.

It’s truly amazing, isn’t it? You ignore a story, and then use the fact that you have ignored it to discredit the notion that it’s news. Now that’s ballsy!

Of course, it is news when an advisor to a President signs a petition questioning whether the U.S. was behind 9/11. It is news when a famously post-partisan president chooses an advisor who has called Republicans “assholes” on tape (that is what Peter Wallsten means by “fiery remarks,” by the way; here at Patterico we cut through the bullshit and just tell it like it is).

But Wallsten doesn’t see it that way. Wallsten clearly believes that the Van Jones controversy was artificially generated, comparing it to election-era attacks on Obama that Wallsten also saw as political:

The controversy began bubbling to the surface over the last week, as conservative talk show hosts such as Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity homed in on Jones as the latest example of a “radical” associate of Obama.

It was a similar line of attack to that used by Republicans against Obama during last year’s presidential campaign. But in accepting Jones’ resignation over the weekend, White House officials in effect acknowledged that the president could ill afford such damage as he was already struggling to win congressional support for a healthcare overhaul.

Note the scare quotes around the word “radical” . . . because Trutherism isn’t really radical.

Wallsten does include the basic facts, eventually — including the fact that many will further question Obama’s vetting process, given that Jones’s speeches and evidence of his Truther leanings “could be found with simple Google searches.”

It’s just that it takes Wallsten 17 paragraphs to get there — and by the time readers learn the facts, they have already been indoctrinated with the “it’s a conservative media attack” spin.

Yes, I know: so the L.A. Times covers for Obama yet again; where’s the news in that?

The problem is, if you don’t point it out, they will claim they don’t do it. So I have to point it out when it happens. It’s a wearying job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

OC Register Parent Files Chapter 11

Filed under: Economics — DRJ @ 6:55 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

More tough times for newspapers as the parent company of the OC Register becomes the 10th newspaper company to file bankruptcy this year:

Freedom Communications Inc., publisher of the Orange County Register, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday after the slide in the newspaper industry and the recession made it impossible for the company to repay $770 million in debt.

Freedom Communications reportedly has 26 lenders, half of whom have already agreed to forgive $445M in debt. Led by JPMorgan Chase, the lenders will “take control and appoint a new board of directors and chief executive.”

— DRJ

My E-Mail to Carol Williams

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 5:53 pm

One of my very favorite readers, who shall go unnamed, writes:

Patrick–

Whenever you do these [overly effusive adjectives removed by editor] critiques of LATimes articles, I suggest you e-mail them as well to both the offending reporter and his/her editor, respectfully asking for their response, and that you then routinely blog those responses (or lack thereof).

I cannot possibly refuse this reader’s request. And so, I have sent this e-mail to Carol Williams, with a copy to national editor Roger Smith:

Ms. Williams:

A recent article of yours asserts that a federal court found that John Ashcroft had violated the rights of U.S. citizens by crafting an unconstitutional detention policy:

Then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft violated the rights of U.S. citizens in the fevered wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by ordering arrests on material witness warrants when the government lacked probable cause, a federal appeals court said in a scathing opinion Friday.

But the court said no such thing. Instead, the court carefully explained that it was required to assume the plaintiff’s facts to be true for purposes of reviewing a motion to dismiss:

[B]ecause Ashcroft chose to exercise his right to appeal before a fuller record could be developed, we proceed as we must in a review of all Rule 12(b)(6) motions, accepting as true all facts alleged in the complaint, and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.

The court added that the plaintiff’s allegations might not even be enough to get past summary judgment:

Were this case before us on summary judgment, and were the facts pled in the complaint the only ones in the record, our decision might well be different. In the district court, moving forward, [plaintiff] al-Kidd will bear a significant burden to show that the Attorney General himself was personally involved in a policy or practice of alleged violations of § 3144.

The court clearly said that it had not made the factual findings that you claimed it had made.

Similarly misleading was your suggestion that the panel unanimously condemned Ashcroft:

Members of the panel, all appointees of Republican presidents, characterized Ashcroft’s detention policy as “repugnant to the Constitution, and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history.”

You here imply that all three members of the panel signed on to that quote. But a dissenting judge said precisely the opposite:

The majority opinion closes with a quote from Blackstone. [The Blackstone quote immediately precedes the language you quote in your article.] What Blackstone describes and condemns therein—the indefinite and secret detention of individuals accused of no crime in harsh conditions—is simply not a description of this case.

This judge explicitly says that the plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that Ashcroft was doing anything illegal:

[N]one of the allegations contain facts that plausibly establish Ashcroft’s knowledge that his subordinates were obtaining material witness warrants on the basis of deliberately or recklessly false evidence or on facially invalid warrants. Some of al-Kidd’s allegations suggest precisely the opposite—that Justice Department officials were careful to ensure they had probable cause to believe that the targeted witness had information material to a criminal proceeding and was likely to flee before seeking a material witness warrant. . . . [N]othing in al-Kidd’s allegations plausibly suggests Ashcroft instructed, encouraged, or tolerated his subordinates to detain individuals as to whom there was no objective probable cause to arrest.

While you do tell readers, at the tail end of the article, that one judge concurred in part and dissented in part, you did not communicate to readers that this judge fully agreed with Ashcroft’s position — and indeed, concurred only in that portion of the majority opinion that ruled in favor of Ashcroft.

I believe that the article was substantially misleading to readers, and I would like to know the reaction of you or your editor to my points.

Yours truly,

Patrick Frey
http://patterico.com

In accordance with my reader’s request, I will blog any response I receive.

Silly Stuff (Updated)

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Media Bias,Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 3:22 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Recently, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had this to say about objections to President Obama’s speech to students:

“I think we’ve reached a little bit of the silly season when the president of the United States can’t tell kids in school to study hard and stay in school.”

Similarly, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the furor over Obama’s upcoming speech to the nation’s school children is “just silly.”

Meanwhile, in March, Obama appointed Van Jones to serve as his Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (the Green Jobs Czar) despite the fact that Jones became an avowed Communist in the aftermath of the 1992 Rodney King incident and founded an activist group called STORM that is based on Marxism and Leninism. More recently, Jones reportedly signed a 911 Truther Statement in 2004 and in February 2009 referred to Republicans (without abbreviation) as “a-holes.”

And the Obama Administration thinks conservatives are silly.

— DRJ

UPDATE: The LA Times Tim Rutten goes beyond silly to paranoia:

“Anxiety over the speech seems particularly high in Texas, where many districts are offering parents involved in the boycott movement the option of taking their children out of class. (Whoever thought we’d see Texas treat advocacy of personal responsibility like sex education?)

The irony wasn’t lost on everybody in the state. Puzzled Texas education officials told the Houston Chronicle that students often watch presidential speeches broadcast during school hours and that, in 1989, President George H.W. Bush specifically spoke to students about drug abuse. “It’s hard to imagine anything more ridiculous than attacking the president of the United States for talking to students about the importance of getting a good education and being a good citizen,” said Kathy Miller, president of a statewide school monitoring group. “I wish our elected leaders were responsible enough to denounce this kind of wild-eyed paranoia. But the problem is too many of them are actually feeding this kind of nonsense — like when the governor flirts with secessionists and state Board of Education members say the president sympathizes with terrorists.”

Miller has identified precisely the process at work in the healthcare hysteria and, increasingly, elsewhere where the GOP thinks it can shove the Obama administration into a ditch. Republican officials such as the Florida state chairman are playing a dangerous game with an unhinged segment of public opinion that regards Obama not as an elected official with whom they disagree, but as an illegitimate usurper of the presidency.

That paranoid fantasy is what’s really behind the “birther” movement and the allegations that the president is — take your pick — a secret Marxist or a secret Muslim.

It’s the kind of fanciful anxiety that produces comments like this, posted on a conservative website this week: “Barack Obama and his left-wing Chicago machine regime are putting into place laws and institutions which will insure that there will never again be free elections in America.”

These are the people who are stockpiling ammunition and keeping their children at home next Tuesday.”

So Rutten thinks conservatives are “unhinged” and into “hysteria” and “fantasy”? How “normal” of him.

By the way, I blogged about Miller’s statement before. In addition, Miller’s biography indicates she is a community organizer and former public affairs director for Planned Parenthood of Austin. She has an agenda that the Houston Chronicle and Tim Rutten of the LA Times apparently didn’t want to share with readers:

“Kathy believes in the tremendous strength of the grassroots and has spent her career focused on mobilizing support for important issues such as women’s reproductive freedom, children’s health care, public education and ending partner violence. Kathy has trained thousands of individuals from Texas and across the nation on media relations, grassroots organizing and mobilizing to combat radical-right political extremism.”

— DRJ

August Best Traffic Month Since the Election

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:20 am

637, 967 page views. And it’s the month that I have posted the least in ages.

Are more people visiting the less I post? (Don’t answer that!)

Seriously, though, this is heartening to see:

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