Patterico's Pontifications

2/26/2011

So . . . What Did I Miss? Did Something Happen in Wisconsin??

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:36 pm

Looks like the major domestic story in the last few days has been Wisconsin. I’m behind the curve and have nothing to offer in the way of breaking news. But the various strong-arm tactics used by the left, the unions, and their supporters have raised various questions about morality that I think are worth discussing.

Some of the issues are easy, it seems to me. If you’re not a partisan hack, you’ll agree that in almost every instance, it is wrong for legislators to flee a state to prevent a vote on a matter of public policy. For a few days Aaron has been handling another easy issue: if you’re a doctor, you don’t give sick notes to people who aren’t sick.

But what about the dude who called up Wisconsin’s governor pretending to be one of the Koch brothers? We know we don’t like him, but what if he had been that lovable scamp James O’Keefe instead of the nasty partisan lefty he is? I think the clearest difference is that O’Keefe found something while the Wisconsin imposter uncovered nothing — but what if that weren’t the case?

Prof. Jacobson has an argument today that the imposter may have violated a Wisconsin statute against impersonating people. Let’s assume he’s right. The lefties accused O’Keefe and Giles of violating state laws against taping people without their consent, and in some cases they may have been right. But most of us felt that the corruption they were uncovering at ACORN was worth it. What if O’Keefe had called up a Chuck Schumer and gotten him to say corrupt things on tape? While pretending to be a big Schumer donor, violating various laws against illegal taping, and so forth?

Does it all just come down to whose side you’re on? Or is there a legitimate distinction to be made here that has nothing to do with the underlying politics of left and right?

Similarly, we heard a story that a restaurant in Madison tossed out the governor after a crowd allegedly started booing him. Now, the actual facts of the story are messy. The blogger who originally reported the story has taken the post down, replacing it with another that amusingly claims: “I believe in a certain amount of transparency.” Note well: she didn’t say how much! Her new replacement post claims that the restaurant has gotten all sorts of nasty calls, but does not explain why the original post has been removed rather than the name of the restaurant redacted. Meanwhile, some conservative bloggers have been claiming that the entire thing was a hoax by the restaurant, basing their claim on this post and this phone call, in which a conservative blogger calls up the restaurant which alternately refuses to issue a statement, denies that the incident happened . . . and then discusses the matter internally, unaware that they have failed to hang up and are still being recorded:

I find the call not entirely conclusive and the post not entirely convincing, conflating as it apparently does the web site of the restaurant with the blog breaking the original story. But again, the particular facts are a bit less interesting to me than the theoretical question of when, if ever, it is appropriate for a restaurant to refuse service to a person because the restauranteur, his patrons, or all of the above disapprove of the customer for whatever reason.

My inclination upon hearing a story like that is that the other patrons were boors. They caused the disturbance, so they should be ejected. But had it been O.J., pre-Nevada conviction, I think it would have been proper for the restaurant to throw in their lot with the booers. Granted, I’m loading the dice there; O.J. was a killer and Wisconsin’s governor is not. But what if it were some politician we didn’t like? Like, say, Obama? Or Barney Frank? Might we not be on the side of the booers?

Ultimately, for most, I suspect the answer will come down to “tactics that help my side win are good, tactics that help the other side win are bad.” At that point it becomes an exercise in rationalization. And yet, if your side is right — and how important the issue is — may be a relevant point. But should that be the ultimate distinction? And are we headed towards a world where even restaurants are politically polarized, and we can’t choose an eatery based on the quality of its cuisine, but instead must scrutinize the owners’ donation record?

All food for thought and discussion. Understand, I’m playing devil’s advocate with most of this — but I do think it is a useful exercise in these situations to imagine the political tables turned before we rush to denounce the tactics.

Mubarak, Qaddafi . . .

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:42 pm

. . . Chavez?

Just asking.

UPDATE: King Abdullah?

Tim Rutten Needs to Learn How to Quote Accurately

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 12:52 pm

Matt Welch catches Tim Rutten with his pants down. Not a pretty image, I’ll grant you.

Here is a quote from a New York Times story:

State records also show that Koch Industries, their energy and consumer products conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., was one of the biggest contributors to the election campaign of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican who has championed the proposed cuts.

Even before the new governor was sworn in last month, executives from the Koch-backed group had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown, Mr. Phillips said in an interview on Monday.

Note the lack of quotation marks in those paragraphs — particularly around the bolded portion, which is a paraphrase.

But in Tim Rutten’s hands, a paraphrase becomes a quote!

In fact, as Tim Phillips, head of Americans for Prosperity, a group created and funded by the Koch brothers to the tune of $40 million last year, told the paper, “even before the new governor was sworn in last month, executives from the Koch-backed group had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown.”

Getting quotes right ought to be among the most basic of tasks for a professional journalist.

No correction appears inside the column as of the publication of this blog post. We’ll give them until Monday before we demand one.

Thanks to several readers.

UPDATE: It is worth noting further that it’s worse than I portrayed it. Phillips actually denies making the quote. John Hinderaker of Power Line has written the reporter to ask him what record he has of the quote, and has been met (so far) with silence.

A couple of readers had passed along the Power Line link and it is definitely worth a read.

UPDATE x2: Turns out Lipton has indeed e-mailed Hinderaker, who has not updated his original post to reflect this, which left me assuming (incorrectly) that Lipton had not responded. Lipton’s very unconvincing response is here. Thanks to daleyrocks (and Mike K!).

The Report of Hospital Massacres Explained and (Somewhat) Verified

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 10:58 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

The other day I posted on reports that Gaddafi forces were murdering wounded protesters while they waited in the hospital.  A few were very reasonably skeptical about that as frankly I was, too.  Well, courtesy of the New York Times, we get a ton of accounts that line up with what was described in that report only this time we get something we didn’t have last time: a reason why they would go after them.

After all, it was quite reasonable to wonder last time why Gaddafi would bother.  But the Times report provides that explanation.  You see Gaddafi was getting ready to let the press do an official tour.  And he wanted all signs of strife removed:

A bold effort by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to prove that he was firmly in control of Libya appeared to backfire Saturday as foreign journalists he invited to the capital discovered blocks of the city in open revolt.

Witnesses described snipers and antiaircraft guns firing at unarmed civilians, and security forces were removing the dead and wounded from streets and hospitals, apparently in an effort to hide the mounting toll.

When government-picked drivers escorted journalists on tours of the city on Saturday morning, the evidence of the extent of the unrest was unmistakable. Workers were still hastily painting over graffiti calling Colonel Qaddafi a “bloodsucker” or demanding his ouster. Just off the tour route were long bread lines where residents said they were afraid to be seen talking to journalists.

The whole thing is definitely worth reading, but here’s a few more highlights:

“I have seen more than 68 people killed,” said a doctor who gave his name only as Hussein. “But the people who have died, they don’t leave them in the same place. We have seen them taking them in the Qaddafi cars, and nobody knows who there are taking the people who have died.” He added, “Even the ones with just a broken hand or something they are taking away.”…

Then the reporter starts to get the official tour…

The next morning, a driver took a group of foreign journalists to an area known as the Friday market, which appeared to have been the site of a riot the night before. The streets were strewn with debris, and piles of shattered glass had been collected in cardboard boxes.

A young man approached the journalists to deliver a passionate plea for unity and accolades to Colonel Qaddafi, then left in a white van full of police officers. Two small boys approached surreptitiously with bullet casings they presented as evidence of force used on protesters the night before….

A middle-age business owner, who identified himself only as Turkey, … and several other residents said that over the past week neighbors had been besieged by pickup trucks full of armed men shooting randomly at the crowds, sometimes wounding people who were sitting peacefully in their homes or cars. At other times, several said, the security forces had employed rooftop snipers, antiaircraft guns mounted on trucks and buckshot, and they produced shells and casings that appeared to confirm their reports. Mr. Turkey said that on one day he had seen about 50 to 60 heavily armed men who appeared to be mercenaries from nearby African countries.

The residents also said that they had seen security forces scooping up dead and wounded protesters and removing them from the streets, apparently to hide evidence of the violence. Because they believe security forces are also removing casualties from hospitals, they said, they have tried to hide their friends within the hospital and remove them after initial treatment.

There’s much more in the article, but I think it is reasonable to believe that Gaddafi was truly murdering wounded protesters and removing their bodies, for the purpose of hiding the bloodshed.

I suspect at some point we will learn of a mass grave of those who died opposing this dictator.

Sic semper tyrannis.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

“I’m Going to Get Racial, Here”

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:09 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

This is nothing more than a drunk man trying to talk about an explosion in a house next door.  But the really strange part is when he announces he is “going to get racial here.”  And then he talks about something that has no obvious connection to any racial issue—filling an oil tank with kerosene.  So either 1) he thinks that that kind of behavior is uniquely associated with a person’s ethnicity, or he planned to say something more clearly racist and either 2) thought better of it, or 3) just plain forgot. Either way, its kind of uncomfortable to watch, but mostly pretty funny.

And bear in mind, even the Blaze, where I got this video from, can’t even figure out the ethnicity of the neighbors.

Anyway, a little frivolity on a Saturday afternoon.

And consider this a PSA: friends don’t let friends do TV interviews when drunk.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

2/25/2011

Parker Spat Out By Spitzer…

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 8:39 pm

…or alternate title: “Person I Didn’t Care About Kicked Off Show I Don’t Watch”

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

That all being said, I suppose it’s a moderately important media story.  Basically Parker/Spitzer has been split up, Parker having quit and Spitzer now taking over a reformatted show.

Don’t worry Kathleen, you have done your job.  You helped Client Number 9 crawl up from the mud back into the spotlight, and to his credit this is a much classier TV gig than that of a certain other politician busted for being a John

And, by the way, for some reason that reminded me of this story

Can’t imagine why.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Sockpuppet Friday: The Sequels Suck Edition!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 10:05 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

As usual, you are positively encouraged to engage in sock puppetry in this thread. The usual rules apply.

Please, be sure to switch back to your regular handle when commenting on other threads. I have made that mistake myself, a lot.

And remember: the worst sin you can commit on this thread is not being funny.

——————–

And for my now-steady feature of Friday frivolity, are you ready for the sequel to E.T.?

Of course, that isn’t real, although it is extremely well done as a parody of the kind of monstrosity that a sequel to E.T. would have been, mixing what appears to be classic movie footage with a little modern fan-flick footage, to create a video that actually looks pretty close to a real sequel for a few moments, until it goes all “Sharktopus” on us.  Of course you have to think the people who made this fake trailer were being Ed-Woodian on purpose.

And on a tangential note, this trailer for the upcoming science-fiction-first-contact-stoner-comedy “Paul” is NSFW, but pretty funny, too.

Of course through much of that clip and the images of the E.T. sequel, they manage to fall into the sixth “giant blind spot[] in every movie alien’s invasion strategy.”  Namely they should “wear something.”  From the piece:

Everyone makes fun of Signs because it depicts an alien invasion that is thwarted because the aliens die if they touch water. But that’s not the issue. It’s not their fault that water is like acid to them, but it is their fault that they showed up naked. You have intergalactic starships, but you don’t have goddamned pants?

Heh.  That Cracked.com article gets a few things wrong, but mostly involving nerdy nitpicks (for instance, E.T. was not getting sick because of Earth diseases).  Overall the article is right on target pointing out the logical mistakes most movies in this genre make.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Liberals Suddenly Notice That Regulation Can Strangle Otherwise Legitimate Business

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:22 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

One of the big stories in my state this morning is that the Virginia Assembly just passed a law stating that doctor’s offices where abortions are regularly performed would be considered to be hospitals, and subject to the same regulatory requirements.  You have to think that this was either, prompted by or capitalizing on Kermit Gosnell scandal that rocked Philadelphia not too long ago.  Now a lot of you know I work for a health care provider, but bluntly I don’t work for hospitals and therefore I am not terribly familiar with their regulatory requirements, except to know that Virginia is on the lower end of regulatory control—especially compared to its neighbor, the People’s Republic of Maryland.  Still you can read the regulations that apply to hospitals, here.  I haven’t read every word, but most of it strikes me as non-controversial, requiring hallways to be sufficiently wide for safety purposes, requiring certain protocols for the sterilization of equipment, and so on.  And it is not a given that the regulations will be exactly as harsh as it is for hospitals.  Libertarian types might object to much of it and I myself have gone on record generally preferring a liability approach to regulation—that is, making sure that they pay when something goes wrong, instead of big government dictating every detail of your practices.  But the critical issue is, is whether there is a reason why abortion should not be subject to the same regulation.

For instance, take this regulation on sterilization:

12VAC5-410-250. Sterile supply service.

A. Each hospital shall operate a sterile supply service or provide for the processing, sterilizing, storing, and dispensing of clean and sterile supplies and equipment.

B. Facilities shall be provided for the cleaning, preparation, sterilizing, aeration, storage and dispensing of supplies and equipment for patient care.

C. Areas for the processing of clean and soiled supplies and equipment shall be separated by physical barriers.

D. Written procedures shall be established subject to the approval of the Infection Control Committee for all sterile supply service functions including:

1. Procedures for all sterilizing and for the disposal of wastes and contaminated supplies; and

2. Procedures for the safety of personnel and patients.

So they aren’t really giving them a blow-by-blow on what to do, but instead they are mostly just saying, “come up with procedures.”  And, um, shouldn’t they be doing that anyway? And if you are libertarian enough to find that objectionable, then that objection applies to the entire regulatory scheme, and not just in its application to abortion clinics.

But of course this doesn’t stop the pro-choice forces from crying foul.  In an AP story that is remarkably entitled “Va. OKs bill to likely close most abortion clinics” (yeah, no bias there), the author starts right off by saying:

Virginia took a big step Thursday toward eliminating most of the state’s 21 abortion clinics, approving a bill that would likely make rules so strict the medical centers would be forced to close, Democrats and abortion rights supporters said.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican and Catholic, supports the measure and when he signs it into law, Virginia will become the first state to require clinics that provide first-trimester abortions to meet the same standards as hospitals. The requirements could include anything from expensive structural changes like widening hallways to increased training and mandatory equipment the clinics currently don’t have.

(emphasis added.)  So did you catch that?  This is the Democrats’ spin on the issue, and that is put in the lede—indeed is reflected in the very title of the piece.  Sure, what media bias?

And what precisely does the fact he is a Catholic have to do with it?  John Kerry and Ted Kennedy are/were Catholics, too.  That is inappropriate in a news story and smacks of the old know-nothing conspiracy theories that American Catholics would simply do whatever the pope told them. That bigotry should have been dead and buried with the Kennedy Presidency, if not sooner.

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2/24/2011

Nightmare: Gaddafi Thugs Murdering Wounded Protesters in Hospitals?

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:00 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Via Hot Air, we get this account of some truly horrible conduct, if true:

A resident of the increasingly violent Libyan capital of Tripoli told CBS Radio News Thursday that armed supporters of Muammar Qaddafi, the country’s longtime leader, have stormed into hospitals to shoot wounded demonstrators and take dead bodies to an unknown location.

“They go in with guns into hospitals,” said the resident, identified only as Adel to protect his safety. “They take the bodies that are dead. In some hospitals, they have shot the wounded. This is true. I know it’s very strange for the States, but this is happening today in Tripoli.”

Because the situation in Libya is growing more dangerous day by day and reporting from the country is difficult for Western journalists, the statements Adel made to CBS Radio News could not be independently verified.

In one example of the violence in Libya, Adel said he saw 62 protesters killed and about 100 more wounded in Tripoli’s Green Square Tuesday.

“They’re putting the bodies on half pickup trucks, and they’re taking them somewhere we don’t know yet because they don’t want these bodies to go into hospitals,” Adel said.

And indeed you should read the whole thing, but I suspect the readers here are sharp enough to recognize that there is a serious sourcing problem for this story—it’s just one guy’s account and it’s not even clear if CBS News knows the man’s true identity.

As you know, the government of Libya, a member of the U.N.’s prestigious Human Rights Council, has been doing its best to terrorize anyone who might seek to do independent reporting over there.  The other day I gave you concrete examples of how, when the truth is not revealed, dubious tales rush in to fill the vacuum (although in this case, it is not CBS’ fault that they are having a hard time getting the truth to us).  Is this an example of that?  Hard to say.  I have gotten to the point in my life where I would not be surprised if this was true.  But that’s not the same as proving it.

Either way, this regime cannot end fast enough.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

In Which the Attorney General of Florida Apparently Cribs Off of Me…

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 5:29 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

As I mentioned the other day, the Obama administration filed a highly misleading and bizarre “Motion to Clarify” in the Florida Obamacare case.  Well, today the states filed their response and well, apparently they cribbed off of me.  Consider the following…

From my post on the Motion to Clarify:

…the adminstration’s lawyers are confused and seek to clarify, or so they say.  But in truth, they seem to be actually intent in getting the judge to grant a de facto stay of his ruling…

Now from the states’ memorandum:

Defendants’ Motion is, in fact, a transparent attempt,  through the guise of seeking clarification, to obtain a stay pending appeal.

I mean they are being more formal, but they are basically saying the same thing, right?  And consider this part from my post:

Anyway, the brief as a whole is a thinly disguised motion for a stay or motion for reconsideration of the entire ruling…

And from the states’ memorandum:

Likewise, Defendants’  purported motion for “clarification” is infused with a scattershot discussion of alleged defects in the scope of the Court’s judgment, suggesting their real aim is a  reconsideration of the Court’s  ruling.

And from my discussion of Kennedy v. Medoza-Martinez:

There are several problems with applying Mendoza to this current situation, not the least of which being that the statute in question was repealed.

From their discussion of the same case:

[T]he Court’s decision was predicated on 28 U.S.C. § 2282, a statute that precluded single-judge district courts from barring the operation of a federal regulatory scheme on constitutional grounds, and that statute was repealed by Congress more than a generation ago, in 1976.

And the discussion of Carreno v. Johnson are also similar, but not with such an easily quotable parallel.

Of course I am joking.  It is simply the case that two like-minded people saw the same flaws in the government’s motion and we were equally able to see through their transparent attempt to convince the court to grant a stay or reconsideration without calling it that.  Its like two mathematicians reaching the same solution to a problem; in theory that is how it is supposed to happen.  There should be one correct answer.  So they probably never even read my little posts…

Or so I thought until I came across this line in their memorandum:

Defendants’  contention  that  the Court needs to clarify this basic legal principle “throws sand in [the Court’s] eyes[.]”

And then I remembered the title of this post

Holy crap!

So to the attorneys representing the states, please contact me for payment arrangements for the free legal help I gave you.  Or just make a sizable donation to Patterico using the options on the side in my name.

————-

Actually joking aside, they do say a lot that I didn’t.  I just found the parallelism interesting.  And one smart move they made was to pre-empt any motion for a stay.  They correctly state that the legal standard is as follows:

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