Patterico's Pontifications

1/27/2010

Responses to Obama’s State of the Union Address (Updated)

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 9:07 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

From Justice Alito — “Not true”:

From Chris Matthews — “I forgot he was black tonight for an hour”:

– DRJ

UPDATE — I don’t have video but here’s one more response from Boston University Journalism Professor and Hoover Institute Research Fellow Robert Zelnick:

“Finally, the president appeased his more liberal supporters by asking Congress to repeal the “Dont ask, don’t tell” arrangement-passed early in the first Clinton term-which prohibits declared gays and lesbians from serving in the armed forces. The cluster of senior brass sitting close to the podium failed to applaud and looked collectively at their leader as one might a vistor from a foreign planet.”

Law Enforcement Official: No Wiretap Attempt by O’Keefe

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:56 pm

Looks like law enforcement and James O’Keefe’s supporters agree: he did not intend to wiretap Mary Landrieu:

A law enforcement official says the four men arrested for attempting to tamper with the phones in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) were not trying to intercept or wiretap the calls.

The Washington Post, which this morning claimed otherwise, today had to retract that mistake — a grave error that Andrew Breitbart socked them for last night, and I socked them for this morning. Here is the relevant part of their embarrassing correction:

Earlier versions of this story incorrectly reported that James O’Keefe faced charges in an alleged plot to bug the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu. The charges were related to an alleged plot to tamper with a phone system. The headline incorrectly referred to a plot to bug the phone and a caption incorrectly referred to an alleged wiretap scheme.

That’s the second O’Keefe correction by the same reporter. Time to retire her from this story.

So there was no intent to wiretap. Let’s dispel that idea now. Nobody is claiming he was trying to bug Landrieu. Everyone who compared this to Watergate was wrong, wrong, wrong — and should be embarrassed. Period.

The only question now is what he and 3 other men did intend to do.

The Government position is that O’Keefe & Company wanted to shut down Landrieu’s phone system:

Instead, the official says, the men, led by conservative videomaker James O’Keefe, wanted to see how her local office staff would respond if the phones were inoperative. They were apparently motivated, the official says, by criticism that when Sen. Landrieu became a big player in the health care debate, people in Louisiana were having a hard time getting through on the phones to register their views.

That is, the official says, what led the four men to pull this stunt — to see how the local staffers would react if the phones went out. Would the staff just laugh it off, or would they express great concern that local folks couldn’t get through?

Nice theory. Let’s see if you can prove it.

Note that even the Government now believes that O’Keefe targeted Landrieu for the reason I previously highlighted — first last night (subtly, in UPDATE x4), and somewhat less subtly this morning — namely, her claim that phone lines were “jammed” when constituents tried to reprimand her for the Louisiana Purchase.

Always trust content from Patterico.

Me, I don’t buy the Government theory. I think Good Lt. has a much better theory. Playing off of my posts’ focus on the allegedly jammed phone lines, Good Lt. spun out a theory that I think makes more sense than anything I have seen:

I am postulating that the group was trying to document (with video camera) that Landrieu’s office had either disconnected or re-routed the phones to deflect incoming calls – hence, why they couldn’t get through. There have been anecdotal reports that Landrieu’s office has received complaints that it has been inaccessible by phone, particularly around the time when she was bought off by the Democrats for the now-infamous Louisiana Purchase.

I have a related theory that strikes me as even more likely: they came in to “fix” the “jammed” phone lines — expecting to be received by countless staffers saying: “What problem? We haven’t had any jammed phone lines. What are you talking about?”

Whatever theory turns out to be correct, I don’t think he was acting in a criminal fashion. I’ll reiterate what I said last night:

I’m sticking out my neck and declaring that I think this will prove to be a big nothing.

I just don’t believe this guy was wiretapping phones or trying to do so. I really don’t.

It might not even have been an attempt to show how easy it would be to bug phones. Maybe there is another explanation. But I don’t think he was acting in a criminal fashion. I don’t.

You can quote me.

That seemed crazy last night, didn’t it? It seems a little less crazy today, doesn’t it?

And it may seem even less crazy tomorrow.

Give it time. Hold your fire. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Don’t make assumptions. Be skeptical. Wait to hear his side.

Sensible suggestions, wouldn’t you say? So let’s follow them.

State of the Union Open Thread

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:56 pm

Share your thoughts below.

John and Elizabeth Edwards Separate

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 1:10 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

ABC News reports John and Elizabeth Edwards have legally separated. People Magazine has it on the cover: Elizabeth’s Breaking Point.

– DRJ

Washington Post Writer Makes Assumptions About O’Keefe That the Facts Don’t Cash — Again

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:23 am

The Washington Post reports that James O’Keefe stands accused of a plot to “bug” Mary Landrieu’s office:

WaPo Accusation

When I first read a news story about this yesterday, it sounded to me like O’Keefe and company were being accused of an attempt to wiretap or bug Landrieu’s phones. Indeed, that’s the way I characterized the Government’s claim in my post based on a news story. But now I have had a chance to review the affidavit. And it doesn’t say that.

The link to the affidavit is here. I challenge you to find me the language that accuses O’Keefe et al. of a “plot to bug” Landrieu’s office, or an “alleged wiretap scheme.”

It isn’t there.

What you will see is an allegation that three of the four men entered the office pretending to be telephone company employees. O’Keefe was allegedly holding his cell phone as if to record the other two on video. You know, the kind of undercover recording thing that he does.

One witness allegedly saw one of the other two men “take the handset of the phone and manipulate it.” This is the main phone at the reception desk, presumably in full view of everyone. What does “manipulate” mean? I don’t know. Does it mean he simply picked the phone up? That would technically comport with one dictionary definition of “manipulate” — to “operate with . . . the hands.”

The language implies something more sinister, to be sure. Implies. If the man had tried to take the phone apart it would have been simple to say so.

Then the affidavit has them asking for access to the telephone closet to perform repair work. It does not say they went into the closet. Were they simply waiting for someone to ask: “What repair work? There’s nothing wrong with the phones!”? I don’t know.

I do know this: the affidavit does not say one word about any of them possessing any listening devices. Not one.

There is a story in which someone anonymous individual (isn’t that the type of person we’re supposed to be skeptical of?) claims that there was a listening device in the possession of one of the men, in a car blocks away:

An official close to the investigation said one of the four was arrested with a listening device in a car blocks from the senator’s offices. He spoke on condition of anonymity because that information was not included in official arresting documents.

If we are going to accept the word of Mr. Anonymous Leaker, then whatever “listening device” they had was blocks away. If they were trying to bug the offices, why would the bug be blocks away? It would be in the possession of the three other people inside the offices. And that, it seems to me, would be in the affidavit. Which it isn’t.

So the Washington Post here is making an assumption that the feds are alleging an attempted wiretapping. Hey, when I posted a quick one-line take on the story yesterday at lunch, I made the same assumption. But the Washington Post writer is making this assumption after having had plenty of time to read the affidavit and see that it says no such thing. That’s sloppy journalism. It’s a poor assumption that disfavors O’Keefe in the public eye.

And here’s the thing: the same Washington Post writer has been deceitful about O’Keefe in the past.

Look at who wrote today’s story:

WaPo Leonnig 1

Remember when the Washington Post slandered O’Keefe by claiming that he had targeted ACORN to keep them from registering blacks and Hispanics to vote? And then they had to issue an embarrassing correction?

WaPo Leonnig 3

This article about the community organizing group ACORN incorrectly said that a conservative journalist targeted the organization for hidden-camera videos partly because its voter-registration drives bring Latinos and African Americans to the polls. Although ACORN registers people mostly from those groups, the maker of the videos, James E. O’Keefe, did not specifically mention them.

Guess who wrote that story?

WaPo Leonnig 2

WaPo Leonnig 4

What is that reporter doing reporting about James O’Keefe? And isn’t it funny that she is leaping to assumptions after she should have read an affidavit that doesn’t back her assumptions up?

Look: I wasn’t there and I therefore don’t know what happened. But O’Keefe has a history of goofy, humorous, over-the-top undercover stunts to make a political point. Wiretapping doesn’t seem like his style. And the facts in the affidavit — especially the lack of reference anywhere to any listening devices in the possession of anyone in the building — suggest to me that’s not what he was doing.

What was he doing? I don’t know. You might look at UPDATE x4 to my initial post about this, and consider the story linked there. Which has to do with Landrieu’s phones being “jammed” over calls coming in regarding her position on health care:

“We were stunned to learn that so many phone calls to Sen. Landrieu have been unanswered and met with continuous busy signals,” Perkins said. “We asked them to call their senators. They could get through to Sen. Vitter, but not Sen. Landrieu.”

“Our lines have been jammed for weeks, and I apologize,” Landrieu said in interview after giving a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday. “But no amount of jamming is going to keep me from supporting a good work for Louisiana and the nation.”

Just sayin’.

In any event, it’s time for people to take a look at what has been presented and what hasn’t with a close, skeptical eye.

And then let’s hear O’Keefe’s side of the story.

Maybe there is an explanation that makes sense. Maybe.

UPDATE: Guess what? Even law enforcement now concedes that O’Keefe was not there to wiretap Landrieu.

Always trust content from Patterico.


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