Patterico's Pontifications

9/27/2009

New York Times: If ACORN Says Something and It Turns Out to Be False, We Just Won’t Report That. Because, You Know, Otherwise, They Might Look Like Liars!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:43 pm

Tom Maguire notes this riotously funny passage from New York Times ombudsman Clark Hoyt:

The Times quoted a statement by Bertha Lewis, Acorn’s chief executive, saying that the two activists, James O’Keefe, 25, and Hannah Giles, 20, spent months visiting Acorn offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia before getting the responses they wanted. But the article left out one city Lewis cited: New York [link]. Between the time of her statement and the publication of the article, a new video surfaced, featuring an Acorn worker in Brooklyn advising Giles to bury money from prostitution in a tin.

Some readers saw a deliberate effort by the paper to help Lewis out of a tight spot. Scott Shane, the reporter, said he had been unable to reach Lewis and felt that including New York among the cities she mentioned would have implied unfairly that she was lying, something for which he had no evidence. He said he thought it was unlikely that employees in New York would inform her of their misconduct before the video appeared. I think he should have included New York.

Uh, so do I.

So, to recap: ACORN spokeswoman says O’Keefe and Giles went to San Diego, Miami, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York — and got nowhere. But then, the New York Times finds out that they did go to New York, and got somewhere. They decide that including ACORN spokewoman’s full quote might make her look like a liar. So they doctor her quote to make sure she doesn’t look like a liar.

And if Breitbart had revealed an ACORN video from Los Angeles, would the New York Times have omitted that too?

Because: how do they know that he doesn’t have a video from Los Angeles?

It’s an innocent question.

WaPo Columnist Has Undisclosed Conflict of Interest on Roman Polanski Matter

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:33 pm

In an earlier post I noted substantial inaccuracies and omissions in a post by Washington Post pundit Anne Applebaum in support of Roman Polanski. (For example, she said Polanski fled during his trial; in fact, he pled guilty and fled before his sentencing.) But I think this is worth its own post: Applebaum failed to mention that her husband is a Polish foreign minister who is lobbying for Polanski’s case to be dismissed:

In Polanski’s native Poland, President Lech Kaczynski and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said they would appeal to US authorities to drop proceedings against Polanski.

The PAP news agency said Sikorski was consideri[ng] a direct appeal to US President Barack Obama to end ‘once and for all’ the proceedings against the filmmaker.

Radoslaw Sikorski is married to Anne Applebaum:

Anne Applebaum is a columnist for the Washington Post and Slate. . . . Her husband, Radoslaw Sikorski, is a Polish politician and writer.

Applebaum failed to mention this little fact.

So at the same time that she was giving readers a fact-challenged screed in support of Polanski, she was failing to disclose that her husband was a Polish official who was lobbying for Polanski’s freedom.

I work for the L.A. County District Attorney’s office, which is seeking Polanski’s extradition; that is no secret to anyone who reads this blog (nor is it a secret that I do not speak on behalf of my office on this blog). By contrast, it is not well known to Applebaum’s readers that her husband is a Polish official actively involved in the effort on Polanski’s behalf.

This is reminiscent of the episode where Linda Greenhouse repeatedly reported on the facts of a case in which her husband was involved. The New York Times‘s ombudsman opined that Greenhouse should have disclosed that connection.

This is no different. Applebaum should have disclosed this connection.

UPDATE: For what it’s worth, Applebaum does know how to disclose her marriage to her husband, as she did it in a column published five days ago:

Last week, the Czech prime minister was roused from his bed after midnight to be informed by the White House of a non-urgent decision many months in the making: the cancellation of the missile defense program. The Polish prime minister refused to take a similar call (and the foreign minister, to whom — full disclosure — I am married, was asleep).

Thanks to a reader, who agrees with me that the disclosure should have been made here as well. The point is not just the identity of her husband — but, additionally and more importantly, the fact that he is advocating on behalf of Polanski in an official, governmental capacity.

Quote of the Day

Filed under: Economics,Politics — DRJ @ 6:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Jim Geraghty at NRO’s Campaign Spot highlights this quote from Joe Biden’s “rousing review of the government’s economic stimulus plan in a conversation with the nation’s governors:”

“In my wildest dreams, I never thought it would work this well.”

After noting that Nevada’s Office of Energy received $35 million and created 3 jobs, Geraghty quipped: “Apparently Biden’s wildest dream was that the $35 million would create two jobs.”

– DRJ

L.A. Times Staffer: Holding Man Accountable for Drugging and Anal Rape of 13-Year-Old Child Will Take Too Much $$$$

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:23 pm

I never thought I’d see the day when the L.A. Times published a piece arguing that it is too costly to pursue justice for the anal rape of a 13-year-old child.

In a post titled “Roman Polanski still being hounded by L.A. County prosecutors,” the L.A. Times‘s Patrick Goldstein makes an unusual argument against holding Roman Polanski accountable for drugging and anally raping a 13-year-old girl — namely, it would cost too much money:

With the state Legislature forced to make dramatic cuts in the prison budget and a three-judge federal panel having recently ordered California lawmakers to release as many as 40,000 inmates in response to the scandalous overcrowding of the California state prison system, it seems like an especially inauspicious time for the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office to be spending some of our few remaining tax dollars seeing if it can finally, after all these years, put Roman Polanski behind bars.

I can think of few crimes that are more deserving of punishment than drugging and anally raping a 13-year-old girl. And that’s what Polanski did. While I recognize that my office allowed Polanski to plead to a lesser charge because of his fame — the girl was reluctant to testify once it became clear that her anal rape would be discussed in international media for weeks — the girl’s grand jury testimony speaks for itself:

A. Then he lifted up my legs and went in through my anus.

Q. What do you mean by that?

A. He put his penis in my butt.

. . . .

Q. Do you know whether he had a climax?

A. Yes.

Q. And how do you know that?

A. Because I could kind of feel it and it was in my underwear. It was in my underwear. It was on my butt and stuff.

Q. When you say that, you believe that he climaxed in your anus?

A. Yes.

Q. What does climax mean?

A. That his semen came out.

Q. Do you know what semen is?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you see some semen or feel some semen?

A. I felt it.

Q. Where did you feel it?

A. I felt it on the back of my behind and in my underwear when I put them on.

The girl testified that she allowed this to happen because she was afraid of him, adding that Polanski had her take part of a Quaalude, which she washed down with a swallow of champagne.

To me, this crime seems like it’s worth spending money on. Goldstein, by contrast, apparently believes that anal rapes of 13-year-olds are too costly to prosecute — or, at least, if the defendant has managed to escape punishment by fleeing the country, and has obtained the moral support of the victim (whom he paid off in a settlement).

IRONIC UPDATE: At the bottom of Goldstein’s post is this standard disclaimer: “If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate.” I guess 13 is the age of consent at the L.A. Times, huh?

UPDATE x2: As I make clear on the sidebar and in other posts on this issue, while I work for the Los Angeles County District Attorney, I do not speak for him in any official capacity whatsoever. I write this post as a private citizen, and I express no opinion on what sentence Polanski should receive.

Obama’s K-12 Education Plan

Filed under: Education,Obama — DRJ @ 5:41 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

President Obama and his Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, have a plan to fix K-12 education — more school:

“Does Obama want every kid to do these things? School until dinnertime? Summer school? And what about the idea that kids today are overscheduled and need more time to play?

Obama and Duncan say kids in the United States need more school because kids in other nations have more school.

“Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here,” Duncan told the AP. “I want to just level the playing field.”

While it is true that kids in many other countries have more school days, it’s not true they all spend more time in school.

Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days).”

The article suggests this may be aimed at poorer kids:

“Summer is a crucial time for kids, especially poorer kids, because poverty is linked to problems that interfere with learning, such as hunger and less involvement by their parents.

That makes poor children almost totally dependent on their learning experience at school, said Karl Alexander, a sociology professor at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, home of the National Center for Summer Learning.

Disadvantaged kids, on the whole, make no progress in the summer, Alexander said. Some studies suggest they actually fall back. Wealthier kids have parents who read to them, have strong language skills and go to great lengths to give them learning opportunities such as computers, summer camp, vacations, music lessons, or playing on sports teams.”

Who needs parents when you have government?

“Aside from improving academic performance, Education Secretary Duncan has a vision of schools as the heart of the community. Duncan, who was Chicago’s schools chief, grew up studying alongside poor kids on the city’s South Side as part of the tutoring program his mother still runs.

“Those hours from 3 o’clock to 7 o’clock are times of high anxiety for parents,” Duncan said. “They want their children safe. Families are working one and two and three jobs now to make ends meet and to keep food on the table.”

Never let a crisis go to waste.

– DRJ

UPDATEDavid Frum gets this one right:

“If President Obama wishes to play school superintendent, here’s an issue that will make much more of a difference to the academic performance of America’s schoolchildren: heed the scientific research about teenagers’ sleep patterns and reverse the crazy trend towards an earlier and earlier start of the school day. The adolescent brain is not operating at 7:20 am, much less at the 6 am wakeup call for 7:20 arrival. It’s not enough for the kids to do their homework. They also have to remember to bring it back to school the following day!”

WaPo’s Anne Applebaum Botches the Facts as She Whines About Polanski

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:47 pm

Anne Applebaum writes of “The Outrageous Arrest of Roman Polanski” — even though her post shows that she doesn’t have the slightest clue about the facts of the case. Because the Washington Post (like the L.A. Times) has the habit of revising content without telling readers that it has done so, I am going to quote her entire post:

Of all nations, why was it Switzerland — the country that traditionally guarded the secret bank accounts of international criminals and corrupt dictators — that finally decided to arrest Roman Polanski? There must be some deeper story here, because by any reckoning the decision was bizarre — though not nearly as bizarre as the fact that a U.S. judge wants to keep pursuing this case after so many decades.

Here are some of the facts: Polanski’s crime — statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl — was committed in 1977. The girl, now 45, has said more than once that she forgives him, that she can live with the memory, that she does not want him to be put back in court or in jail, and that a new trial will hurt her husband and children. There is evidence of judicial misconduct in the original trial. There is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age. Polanski, who panicked and fled the U.S. during that trial, has been pursued by this case for 30 years, during which time he has never returned to America, has never returned to the United Kingdom., has avoided many other countries, and has never been convicted of anything else. He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers’ fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.

He can be blamed, it is true, for his original, panicky decision to flee. But for this decision I see mitigating circumstances, not least an understandable fear of irrational punishment. Polanski’s mother died in Auschwitz. His father survived Mauthausen. He himself survived the Krakow ghetto, and later emigrated from communist Poland. His pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered in 1969 by the followers of Charles Manson, though for a time Polanski himself was a suspect.

I am certain there are many who will harrumph that, following this arrest, justice was done at last. But Polanski is 76. To put him on trial or keep him in jail does not serve society in general or his victim in particular. Nor does it prove the doggedness and earnestness of the American legal system. If he weren’t famous, I bet no one would bother with him at all.

Ha. If he weren’t famous, he never would have gotten a slap on the wrist for anally raping a 13-year-old girl.

Or didn’t you know that, Ms. Applebaum? Because I missed that part in your recitation of the “facts” — which, by the way, inaccurately states that he had a “trial.” He did not. He pled guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, in return for the agreement to dismiss several other charges, including rape and sodomy.

UPDATE: Well, well. It turns out that Applebaum’s husband is a Polish politician who is currently actively lobbying for Polanski’s freedom. Seems that Applebaum did not mention that. Details here.

UPDATE x2: As I make clear on the sidebar and in other posts on this issue, while I work for the Los Angeles County District Attorney, I do not speak for him in any official capacity whatsoever. I write this post as a private citizen, and I express no opinion on what sentence Polanski should receive.

Obama’s G20 Anecdote

Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 3:10 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

ABC’s Jake Tapper reports President Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus the following anecdote about the G20 conference in Pittsburgh:

“I was up at the G20 — just a little aside — I was up at the G20, and some of you saw those big flags and all the world leaders come in and Michelle and I are shaking hands with them,” the president said. “One of the leaders — I won’t mention who it was — he comes up to me. We take the picture, we go behind.

“He says, ‘Barack, explain to me this health care debate.’

“He says, ‘We don’t understand it. You’re trying to make sure everybody has health care and they’re putting a Hitler mustache on you — I don’t — that doesn’t make sense to me. Explain that to me.’”

Obama could have used that opportunity to explain this is part of free speech in America and that it also happened to President Bush, but I doubt he did that.

I would encourage that world leader to read about Obama’s health advisers, such as Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel who advocates withholding health care from the disabled:

“Start with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. He has already been appointed to two key positions: health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research.
***
Emanuel, however, believes that “communitarianism” should guide decisions on who gets care. He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those “who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens . . . An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia” (Hastings Center Report, Nov.-Dec. ’96).”

Why would that remind someone of Hitler?

Nazi Poster

This poster is from the 1930′s, and promotes the Nazi monthly Neues Volk (New People), the organ of the party’s racial office. The text reads:

‘This genetically ill person will cost our people’s community 60,000 marks over his lifetime. Citizens, that is your money.’

Read Neues Volk, the monthly of the racial policy office of the NSDAP.’”

Reprinted with permission from Randall Bytwerk.

– DRJ

HuffPo: Kozinski “Normally a Staunch Conservative on Criminal Matters”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:27 pm

Roger Abrams, the “authority” on sports law for HuffPo, sez:

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, normally a staunch conservative on criminal matters, castigated the Bush henchmen: “This was an obvious case of deliberate overreaching by the government in an effort to seize data as to which it lacked probable cause.” Perhaps the government could not tell the difference between ten records and a hundred. It is refreshing to know that the Fourth Amendment is still part of the sacred covenant that is our Bill of Rights.

Since when is Alex Kozinski a “staunch conservative on criminal matters”?

He is a libertarian. Libertarians are typically suspicious of the government in all matters, including criminal law.

Time for a new “authority.”

Roman Polanski Arrested in Switzerland

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 12:17 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Director Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland after he flew in to attend the Zurich Film Festival:

“Polanski was scheduled to receive an honorary award at the festival when he was apprehended Saturday at the airport, the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement. It said U.S. authorities have sought the arrest of the 76-year-old director around the world since 2005.

“There was a valid arrest request and we knew when he was coming,” ministry spokesman Guido Balmer told The Associated Press. “That’s why he was taken into custody.”

Polanski is wanted because he fled the U.S. in 1978 after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, although he was originally charged with rape, sodomy, child molestation and giving drugs to a minor. As Patterico noted earlier this year, Bill Wyman wrote the definitive fisking of Roman Polanski apologists here.

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I suppose we’re in for a lot of handwringing about poor Mr. Polanski, along these lines:

In Paris, Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said he was “dumbfounded” by Polanski’s arrest, adding that he “strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them.

Those comments referred to the fact that Polanski, a native of France who was taken to Poland by his parents, escaped Krakow’s Jewish ghetto as a child and lived off the charity of strangers. His mother died at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.

As Bill Wyman said in the piece linked by DRJ:

Polanski has had a wrenching life, of course, but it is overplayed in “Wanted and Desired” [a documentary about the case]. I think it’s true to say that there are many people who survived the Holocaust who don’t drug and rape children, for example.

Will media accounts point out that Polanski was treated differently because of his wealth and fame? He got a lenient plea deal largely because the prosecution was worried about the girl’s willingness to testify in the face of international publicity surrounding a trial in which Polanski’s team planned to paint her as a 13-year-old harlot — an example of fame stacking the deck. And that victim now supports dismissal of the case . . . now that she has settled a civil suit with him for an undisclosed amount — an example of wealth stacking the deck.

I suspect that we won’t see much mention of any of those facts.

UPDATE x2 BY PATTERICO: I think from now on, for the benefit of people who aren’t aware of it, I will have to include the following passage from the victim’s grand jury testimony in my posts about Polanski. It gets pretty rough since it’s a 13-year-old girl talking about the details of Roman Polanski forcibly having anal sex with her and ejaculating in her anus, so if that’s a bit much for you, back out now:

A. Then he lifted up my legs and went in through my anus.

Q. What do you mean by that?

A. He put his penis in my butt.

. . . .

Q. Do you know whether he had a climax?

A. Yes.

Q. And how do you know that?

A. Because I could kind of feel it and it was in my underwear. It was in my underwear. It was on my butt and stuff.

Q. When you say that, you believe that he climaxed in your anus?

A. Yes.

Q. What does climax mean?

A. That his semen came out.

Q. Do you know what semen is?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you see some semen or feel some semen?

A. I felt it.

Q. Where did you feel it?

A. I felt it on the back of my behind and in my underwear when I put them on.

Yes, by all means, shed a tear — but not for Roman Polanski. For the 13-year-old girl.

Standard disclaimer here.


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