Patterico's Pontifications


Anatomy of a Political Smear — Aided and Abetted by Ken Layne

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:05 pm

Michele Bachmann addresses a rain-soaked crowd and asks: “Who likes wet people?”

Then, as R.S. McCain explains:

Some vicious monster ripped off my video and edited it, so that when Bachmann begins by jokingly asking the crowd, “Who likes wet people?” — because everybody was soaked to the bone, including me — instead there is a caption, “Who likes white people?”

Ken Layne of Wonkette then spread that smear all around the Internet.

You need watch only the first few seconds to see a smear in action:

Ken Layne knows his post is wrong, and refuses to do a proper correction.

Apparently snark trumps truth at his site.

So Maybe Not “Hype” After All

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 11:26 am

Or… “In Which I apologize to William Jacobson and the Entire Northeast for Calling Irene Hype”

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

Mind you in the D.C. area I am stilling calling it hype.  They made it out to be much more dangerous than it was.  I mean the whole sum of my suffering is that I lost internet for the night.  My power never even flickered, my water stayed on.  And the streets remained quite passable.

But on the other hand, we are seeing this in the New York Times:

And I see on the news massive flooding—even a house on fire in the middle of an area that is flooded, weirdly enough.  William Jacobson has a lot of links discussing the damage—apparently Rhode Island got hit very hard as has Vermont.  My guess is that it’s a combination of two things: storm surge from the ocean, lots of rain on saturated ground, and the mere fact that this tropical storm (as it was at that point) hit in a place that just isn’t used to that sort of thing.

So sorry if I sounded like I was blowing it off, and for the fact that…  I was blowing it off.  Although we didn’t get hit hard here, I looks like other people are suffering.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Bill Keller’s Beclowning Achievement

Filed under: 2012 Election,General,Media Bias,Religion — Karl @ 10:43 am

[Posted by Karl]

Plenty of people — Ed Morrissey and Mollie Hemingway anomg them — have neatly dissected New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller’s perfect storm of ignorance and bias when it comes to the religious beliefs of those running for the GOP presidential nominee.  Keller identified Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum as “all affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity,” when Santorum is Catholic, Bachmann is Lutheran, and Perry is a Methodist.  Keller hauls out the boogeyman of “dominionism,” when none of his targets are dominionists, and so on.  The response (such as it is) to this criticism by Keller and the rest of the establishment media is nearly as telling as the original smears.

On Twitter, Keller had two responses to his critics.  First, Keller noted that he was not seeing any quarrel with the basic point that we should ask candidates about their faith. I certainly have no quarrel with that point.  In 2008, I wrote about Barack Obama’s decades-long membership in a church based on black liberation theology and his decades-long relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and criticized the establishment media for not treating Obama the way JFK or Mitt Romney were treated on faith issues.

However, this merely underscores the major criticism lodged against Keller, which was that the New York Times avoided giving Obama scrutiny on faith issues.  Keller’s second response was that the NYT was “late to Rev. Wright in ’08, but we got there, and did it well.”  This response is dishonest or delusional, possibly both.  When a political controversy erupts in March 2008 and the NYT does not give it proper news coverage until September 2008, getting there late is bad coverage.  Would Keller defend covering a hurricane six months late? Please.  Nor was the quality of the NYT coverage good, by the standards Keller now thinks should be applied, asking none of the sort of questions Keller now thinks should be asked.  Indeed, Keller’s response on this point is particularly embarrassing once you learn that the NYT actually covered Obama’s relationship with Rev. Wright in April 2007, reporting:

It is hard to imagine, though, how Mr. Obama can truly distance himself from Mr. Wright. The Christianity that Mr. Obama adopted at Trinity has infused not only his life, but also his campaign. He began his presidential announcement with the phrase “Giving all praise and honor to God,” a salutation common in the black church. He titled his second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” after one of Mr. Wright’s sermons, and often talks about biblical underdogs, the mutual interests of religious and secular America, and the centrality of faith in public life.

With hindsight, it is easy to imagine how Obama could distance himself: by relying on the establishment media generally, and the NYT in particular, to mostly look the other way at the crucial moment.

It is worth noting — as Ed Morrissey and Lisa Miller did — that the NYT’s Keller is hardly alone in falsely playing the “Crazy Christian” card.  Similarly erroneous, x-degrees-of-separation journalism has been committed by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, NPR’s Fresh Air, Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker and Michelle Goldberg, a senior contributing writer for Newsweek/The Daily Beast.  From there, the bogus story gets treated as a serious topic of discussion at forums including the WaPo, CNN and USA Today.

Thus does the establishment media function the way Hillary Clinton once claimed the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy operated.  Thus does the establishment media again operate with the sort of “epistemic closure” that the Julian Sanchezes, Conor Friedersdorfs and Andrew Sullivans of the world are so quick to condemn in the conservative media (when they aren’t busy ignoring Sullivan’s obsession with the status of Sarah Palin’s uterus).  Ironically, Sullivan has been foaming at the mouth about “Christianism” for years.

Indeed, almost all of those soooo concerned about bogus memes circulating in a conservative echo chamber will never treat Rachel Maddow the way they treat Glenn Beck.  (Indeed, they won’t blink over the fact that a religious left activist — the Rev. Al Sharpton — now hosts a show on MSNBC.)  They will never view NewsBeast the way they view WorldNetDaily.  They will never compare Bill Keller to Sean Hannity — and rightly so.  After all, Hannity correctly identified the theology of Obama’s longtime church and interviewed Rev. Wright.  Hannity committed more actual journalism on this subject than Keller did.  More self-aware lefties in the media, like TNR’s Jonathan Chait, should take note that this is another example of the magical thinking of liberals.



Hurricane Irene Update

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:58 pm

[Posted by Karl]

The Patterico-centric angle:

Irene doesn’t appear to be hype elsewhere, but good to see Aaron is relatively unscathed.


Perry Bills Feds for Illegal Immigration

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:50 am

Good for him:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to reimburse the state $350 million to cover costs of imprisoning illegal immigrants.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the top-tier Republican presidential candidate blamed the federal government for not securing the border with Mexico, allowing illegal immigrants to cross over and use taxpayer-funded resources. He said resources for county jails are being depleted as a result.

From California’a Prop. 187 to Arizona’s more recent laws, the federal government is forever fighting state laws that regulate illegal immigration, arguing that controlling immigration is a purely federal responsibility.

So when the federal government fails to discharge that responsibility, why should the financial consequences of that failure fall on the border states?

I have documented on this blog how federal immigration failures strain the resources of border states in countless ways: burdening our jails, prisons, freeways, emergency rooms, schools, and other vital public resources.

It’s time to pay the piper.

Via Hot Air Headlines.

Obama and the Imaginary “Competency Crisis”

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 9:39 am

[Posted by Karl]

Obama backer Mort Zuckerman has complained about Obama a number of times before.  However, his latest WSJ op-ed raises the prospect of a so-called “competency crisis” — a charge we have seen elsewhere in the establishment media.  It is an imaginary crisis, reflecting a cognitive dissonance that may affect the 2012 election beyond the opinion of one pundit with a touch of buyer’s remorse.

Zuckerman posits: “It is the president’s job to offer a coherent program for the twin threats of a static economy and an unsustainable explosion of our debts and deficits.”  Yet in Zuckerman’s view, Obama is to be faulted for: (1) unrealistically suggesting our problems can be solved by higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires (although Mort supports such taxes); (2) failing to lay out serious tax reform proposals; (3) failing to address entitlement reform as baby boomers have begun to retire; and (4) not building alliances with businesses large or small.

Zuckerman suffers from cogintive dissonance because he backed a progressive ideologue for the presidency in 2008.  In nerdspeak, Mort’s complaints are not bugs, but features of a progressive presidency.  He is complaining that a shark is acting like a shark.

Moreover, Obama has been pretty competent in imposing his leftwing agenda on the country.  Granted, the taxes passed during his term are not scheduled to take effect until after 2012 — and he has thus far failed at hiking taxes on the wealthy.  But Obama got his massive Keynesian stimulus package, his virtual government control over our healthcare, and issued a record number of big-ticket regualtions of the remaining parts of the private sector (one EPA regulation is estimated to cost upwards of $90 billion per year).  These accomplishments have done little to nothing to solve the big problems Zuckerman identified, causing his cognitive dissonance.

By itself, Zuckerman’s mental confusion is essentially irrelevant.  His op-ed closes by asserting “the president will have to raise his game to win a second term, especially if the Republicans find a real candidate.” (Emphasis added.)  Here, Zuckerman signals his willingness to let Obama scare him back into the Democratic fold.  The 2012 GOP nominee will almost certainly be more open to tax and entitlement reform than Obama has been, but with the possible exceptions of Huntsman and Romney, doesn’t anyone who has observed Zuckerman over the years believe he would dismiss the rest of the GOP field?

However, Obama’s Zuckerman problem goes beyond Zuckerman. It goes beyond the higher-level Democrats who talk smack about him off the record

Obama’s problem is manifest in the disillusioned hipsters who supported Obama so enthusiastically in 2008.  Hipsters are not a huge demographic, but they tell us something about how serious the erosion in the youth vote is for Obama.  Obama’s problem is manifest in the six-point advantage the GOP maintains with likely voters on the generic Congressional ballot. 

Obama’s problem is laid bare in a recent PPP/Daily Kos/SEIU poll showing a record low in Democratic enthusiasm for 2012.  Obama’s losses are not among the true believers, but among the so-called moderates (read the whole poll to see whay they’re so-called).  Roughly 60% of liberals and conservatives are “very excited” to vote in 2012; only 40% of so-called moderates are.

The message of these trends is that there are many people with the Zuckerman problem who will never be asked publicly about their support for Obama.  Some of them will resolve their cognitive dissonance the way Mort likely will, i.e., by deciding that the GOP nominee scares them too much.  But many of them may resolve their cognitive dissonance they way Zuckerman suggests in his op-ed, i.e., by concluding Obama is incompetent — and thus not worth turning out to support in November 2012.

In 2008, Democrats had a five-point turnout advantage; in 2004, the partisan turnout was roughly equal.  “Moderate” turnout was roughly 44-45% in both years, but went 60% for Obama in 2008, and only 54% for Kerry in 2004 (the difference being roughly 2% of the total).  For that matter, Obama did better than Kerry with self-described conservatives.  Obama’s incompetency is an illusion, but one that could prove fatal to his chances for re-election.



Slow Liberal Blogger Calls Fox News Liars… For Correctly Reporting on a Presidential Proclamation

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 2:21 pm

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

I try not to pay too much attention to Ken Ashford.  Indeed, he won’t even get the benefit of a link out of this, but this stupidity is something to behold.  The following is the entirety of a post at his stupid little blog:

Fox News Makes Stuff Up, Part 294

Fox News says:

President Obama has declared Aug. 26 — which marks the 91st anniversary of the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote — to be “Women’s Equality Day.”

Wrong.  Congress decided that August 26th is Women’s Equality Day.  In 1971. Obama is merely following in the path of past presidents.

Now first, let’s say for the sake of argument that they got it wrong.  What of it?  Does this make him look bad?  There are very few people seething in anger that women are allowed to vote now, but I suppose the left thinks that the right is ready to repeal that amendment.  (Rolls eyes.)  But when two of the leading Republican Presidential contenders are women, its really hard to argue that mainstream conservatives want to run women out of political life.

But in fact if you go to the White House’s website, you see the whole thing.  It is styled as a “Presidential Proclamation–Women’s Equality Day.”  And it goes on as you would expect these things to go, until it says:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 26, 2011, as Women’s Equality Day.

So here is the President purporting to “proclaim” it is Women’s Equality Day.  And if you go to Webster’s dictionary online and take a look at definition 1a for the word “proclaim” here is what it says:

to declare publicly, typically insistently, proudly, or defiantly and in either speech or writing

(emphasis added.)  And it would hardly surprise you to learn that if you switch over to their thesaurus, they list “declare” to be a synonym of “proclaim.”

So in fact he is angry at Fox news for saying that the President did something that the President himself purported to do, and I am willing to bet that every president has purported to do for decades.  Because in the end a declaration or a proclamation, can be nothing more than officially saying something.  Of course proclamations can (potentially) have important legal effects, the Emancipation Proclamation springing to mind, but many proclamations are just words—an example of the president using the bully pulpit.  The President is not, by the language of this proclamation, purporting to command us to do anything, just saying non-coercively, “hey, let’s celebrate this thing.”

And right on for Obama doing that in this case.  We should all celebrate the important milestone represented by the Nineteenth Amendment.

But it is really remarkable that what is basically a puff piece on a presidential proclamation becomes some kind of slander in the fever swamps of the left.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Did an Editor of a Major Newspaper Threaten to “Crush” Rick Perry?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:00 pm

Via Hot Air Headlines, a fellow named Douglas MacKinnon says:

With exactly that mission in mind, an editor of a major newspaper told me: “We plan to declare war on Rick Perry and do all in our power to crush him.”

There you have it. No pretense of integrity, professionalism or of unbiased news-gathering. This particular newspaper plans to use its very considerable resources to destroy the Perry campaign before it gains momentum. Period.

This is a very serious allegation. While it is easy to believe that a Big Media editor might say something like that to someone s/he trusted, it seems to me that if this quote is accurate, we should be told who the editor is. Or, at the very least, shouldn’t Mr. MacKinnon explain why he is not telling us?

Steve Benen Fails Logic, Statistics

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:07 pm

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

Hey everyone, it’s time to play “stupid or lying,” when you try to figure out whether a liberal is intentionally misleading you or is actually too stupid to understand what he read.

The set up is this.  In Florida, the Governor is Rick Scott who is a Republican.  Yeah, are you shocked that Benen is about to denounce a Republican?  Anyway, Scott argued that welfare recipients were more likely to do drugs and therefore proposed that welfare recipients should be drug tested before they receive benefits.  This is how it works.  If you apply you are told you must, at your own expense, obtain a drug test.  If you pass then the state reimburses you for the cost of the test; if you fail, then you lose both the cost of the test and your welfare benefits for a year.

So Benen writes triumphantly:

How’s that working out? Not well.

Since the state began testing welfare applicants for drugs in July, about 2 percent have tested positive, preliminary data shows.

Ninety-six percent proved to be drug free — leaving the state on the hook to reimburse the cost of their tests.

As part of the Scott administration policy, those applying for benefits have to pay a $30 out-of-pocket fee to pay for the drug test. If they pass, Florida reimburses them.

And while the state saves some money by not making benefits available to those 2% who fail the test, Florida is forced to reimburse everyone else, plus pay for staff and administrative costs for the drug-testing program, plus pay the legal fees associated with the likely court challenge.

This really wasn’t a great idea.

But let’s break that down.  First, he implies but doesn’t say that 2 percent is a low number.  But is it?  Just how many people do illegal drugs in the first place?  Some wag once said that there is no such thing as an accurate sex survey; I would say the same thing about drugs.

But there is a bigger problem, there.  That group is a self-selected sample.  This number shows how many people currently on drugs who chose to apply for welfare knowing that they were going to be tested for drugs—and likely will have to bear the costs of the test itself.  Look, drug users are probably not the brightest bunch as a group, but is it fair to assume that maybe 9 out of every 10 drug users are not that dumb?

Indeed the article he quotes from makes exactly the same error Benen makes:

More than once, Scott has said publicly that people on welfare use drugs at a higher rate than the general population. The 2 percent test fail rate seen by DCF, however, does not bear that out.

According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, performed by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, 8.7 percent of the population nationally over age 12 uses illicit drugs. The rate was 6.3 percent for those ages 26 and up.

A 2008 study by the Office of National Drug Control Policy also showed that 8.13 percent of Floridians age 12 and up use illegal drugs.

[ACLU spokesman Derek] Newton said that’s proof the drug-testing program is based on a stereotype, not hard facts.

Except of course as I just showed that is faulty statistics due to selection bias (not to mention that I don’t trust surveys to gauge drug use).  But the extra interesting thing is that the preliminary data actually suggests that Scott might be right.  Consider this.  At one point in the article says:

Having begun the drug testing in mid-July, the state Department of Children and Families is still tabulating the results. But at least 1,000 welfare applicants took the drug tests through mid-August, according to the department, which expects at least 1,500 applicants to take the tests monthly.

You catch that?  They had 500 applicants less than they would expect in most months.  Indeed throughout the article they assume that there will be between 1,000 and 1,500 applicants.  For instance they write that

[a]ssuming that 1,000 to 1,500 applicants take the test every month, the state will owe about $28,800-$43,200 monthly in reimbursements to those who test drug-free.

But that is directly contradicted by the last quoted passage.  The last passage stated that the department “expects at least 1,500 applicants to take the tests monthly.” (emphasis added)  So according to the state DCF, they expected more than 1,500 applicants, and therefore the number of applicants was below normal.  And even if the 1,000-1,500 range is accurate that still puts the 1,000 applicants they did get on the low end of the normal range.

Now this is just one month and thus you are nowhere near establishing a trend but isn’t it funny that the very first month of testing we see a dip in the number of applicants?  And if the next eleven months has only 1,000 applicants per month what would that imply about Scott’s argument?

Benen goes on to imply, but not quite say, that it costs more to

reimburse everyone else, plus pay for staff and administrative costs for the drug-testing program, plus pay the legal fees associated with the likely court challenge.

The funny thing is that the article he is quoting from makes it pretty clear that some of those costs are known to be lower.  Let me quote to you the parts he doesn’t want his readers to read:

Ninety-six percent proved to be drug free — leaving the state on the hook to reimburse the cost of their tests.

The initiative may save the state a few dollars anyway, bearing out one of Gov. Rick Scott’s arguments for implementing it….

Cost of the tests averages about $30. Assuming that 1,000 to 1,500 applicants take the test every month, the state will owe about $28,800-$43,200 monthly in reimbursements to those who test drug-free.

That compares with roughly $32,200-$48,200 the state may save on one month’s worth of rejected applicants.

Now that does still leave the issues of 1) administrative costs and 2) litigation expenses.  And it’s funny that liberals never worried about litigation expenses when passing laws like Obamacare, but I suppose they figure that since lawyers overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party, then litigation should not be considered a bug but a feature for their proposals.  But snide comments aside, the truth is that Benen and the article he quotes from don’t offer the slightest estimate of either figure.  And of course if this results in reduced drug use—either because potential recipients clean up in order to obtain benefits, or because they don’t have enough money to buy the stuff—then that will result in savings in police departments, prisons, child protective services (because they don’t have to take yet another child from a drug-addicted parent) and so on.  And of course it would be difficult, if not impossible, to tabulate those savings.  With all of these unknowns and with the program only having been in place for a month and a half, Benen is ready to declare it a failure.  That is, at best, grossly premature.

So back to the original question.  Is he lying to you, or is he just too stupid to understand what he wrote?  I am going with lying, given the selectivity of his quotations of his source.  But aren’t liberals supposed to be the people who question authority, who are inquisitive, etc.?  Take for instance this smug passage from a Deepak Chopra column:


“Climate models will have to be revised;” Once Again Climate Science Makes Major Mistakes

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 11:56 am

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

You see, it turns out that cosmic rays have a significant influence on cloud formation and cloud formation has a significant influence on global temperatures.

And none of the current climate models took any of that into account.  Seriously, read the whole thing over at Pajamas Media.

And then ask yourself this: are you confident that they didn’t miss anything else?

They should not be allowed to screw up our economy and to take away our freedoms without solid evidentiary support for their claims.  And they are not even close to achieving that, here.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

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