Patterico's Pontifications


Atheist Who Portrayed Zombie Mohammed Gets Hundreds of Death Threats

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:09 am


Perce says he has received 471 threats against his life in the short time since his attacker was acquitted.

“People have said that they would kill me, rip my eyes out, run me over, shoot me and then laugh at me, since I have blasphemed Muhammad,” he told TheDC. “They say I will be found out and hung in front of my family.”

Appalling — unless you’re a fringe leftist, in which case it’s just desserts for insulting the Prophet. For fringe leftists, religious extremism is scary unless it’s Islamic religious extremism, which is A-OK.


More on Fighting Fire with Fire

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:04 pm

Last night I talked about Rick Santorum’s declaration that he plans to “fight fire with fire,” and quoted my daughter’s observation that fighting fire with fire just creates more fire.

I was thinking of “fighting fire with fire” in the colloquial sense of “fighting the other guy’s sleazy tactics by using the same sleazy tactics yourself.” I generally disagree with this approach. I’d rather point out the other guy’s scuzzball tactics, rather than sinking to his level. I do think that fighting this sort of “fire” with more “fire” just leads to a huge conflagration.

However, several commenters pointed out that firefighters often literally do fight fire with fire. Here is one description of possible techniques:

When faced with a massive, woodland-consuming storm of flames and ash, your first instinct might not be to apply more fire to the dire situation. But think about it for a second: A fire needs oxygen and fuel, such as leaves and vegetation, to continue raging. Rob the fire of either source of nourishment and you squelch the chemical reaction that produces it.

When faced with an oil-well fire, firefighters have been known to remove the oxygen from the equation by detonating a little dynamite. The blast eats up all the local oxygen, leaving nothing to keep the fire going. When an entire forest is ablaze, however, a different tactic is in order. Firefighters remove the fuel — and what better way to quickly remove combustible underbrush than to carefully set it on fire?

I think this theory has an analogue in politics. Namely, if you see that the other side is going to be able to burn your candidate down by attacking his weak spots, you might want to set some backfires — vetting your candidate, in other words — thus depriving the other side of the huge amount of fuel that can cause an out of control wildfire.

The thing to remember is: any time you fight fire with fire, you’re, well, playing with fire. And if you play with fire, you might get burned. I’ll stop the stupid analogies now, but the point is: vetting is important — but it also needs to be done carefully. Because if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the . . . ah, hell. You know what I mean.

So vet away, folks. But be careful out there. And be careful not to burn each other, or to burn bridges, OK?

Otherwise I’ll have to drag out more stupid fire analogies. And nobody wants that.

Lawsuit Day Approaching for Shuster and Olbermann? Sure Looks That Way!!!

Filed under: General,Nadia Naffe — Patterico @ 6:27 pm

After James O’Keefe demanded that David Shuster retract his defamatory characterization of James O’Keefe as a “convicted felon,” Shuster has taken to Twitter — but has he retracted? Mmmm . . . not so much. As a matter of fact, I think you could call this “doubling down”:

Hey @JamesokeefeIII apologize to @nadianaffe. And @AndrewBreitbart why wont u condemn his alleged sex assault plan?

I hear a distant rumbling sound . . . and it sounds like momentum for a libel suit building.


Meanwhile, Andrew Breitbart has published several tweets corroborating my belief that a libel suit is likely forthcoming. For example:

What are Vegas odds that @DavidShuster & @KeithOlbermann get sued for libel this week?

I sure wouldn’t bet against it, I’ll tell you that.

By the way, I just took a look at the Current page that Shuster links yet again today. It says:

D.C. correspondent David Shuster calls right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart a hypocrite for his silence on the subject of the rape allegation facing his conservative activist protégé James O’Keefe . . .

I listened to Shuster’s description of the allegations made by Naffe, and I’m not hearing a “rape allegation.” Frankly, I’m not hearing an “alleged sex assault plan” either. What I’m hearing — and this is just if the allegations are true, which I do not assume — are allegations that O’Keefe and Naffe argued; that he refused to drive her to a station from a barn on his parents’ property after the argument; suggestions that Naffe experienced symptoms of incapacitation (which could be consistent with being drugged, or could be consistent with any number of any causes as well, including drinking too much); and that O’Keefe harassed Naffe after the fact (among other things). Listen for yourself:

Is that a “rape allegation”? A “sex assault plan”? I’m not hearing it in that description.

Are Shuster and Current trying to add counts to the defamation suit?

It sure seems that way.


Stay tuned. I have a feeling this story is not going away.

UPDATE: I have new, exclusive, source material regarding the specifics of Naffe’s allegations — and how they were misrepresented by Shuster. This is worth a new post, which will probably go up in the morning. Stay tuned.

It’s Now or Never?

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 8:27 am

[Posted by Karl]

Jonathan Chait plays the hits in a lengthy diatribe for New York magazine:

The GOP has reason to be scared. Obama’s election was the vindication of a prediction made several years before by journalist John Judis and political scientist Ruy Teixeira in their 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority. Despite the fact that George W. Bush then occupied the White House, Judis and Teixeira argued that demographic and political trends were converging in such a way as to form a ­natural-majority coalition for Democrats.

The Republican Party had increasingly found itself confined to white voters, especially those lacking a college degree and rural whites who, as Obama awkwardly put it in 2008, tend to “cling to guns or religion.” Meanwhile, the Democrats had ­increased their standing among whites with graduate degrees, particularly the growing share of secular whites, and remained dominant among racial minorities. As a whole, Judis and Teixeira noted, the electorate was growing both somewhat better educated and dramatically less white, making every successive election less favorable for the GOP. And the trends were even more striking in some key swing states. Judis and Teixeira highlighted Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona, with skyrocketing Latino populations, and Virginia and North Carolina, with their influx of college-educated whites, as the most fertile grounds for the expanding Democratic base.

Obama’s victory carried out the blueprint. Campaign reporters cast the election as a triumph of Obama’s inspirational message and cutting-edge organization, but above all his sweeping win reflected simple demography.

Outside Chait’s world of fantasy and delusion, the 2008 results reflected a nationwide swing as the country plunged into a deep recession.  This was equally true in the case study of Colorado.

The people responsible for the Emerging Democratic Majority theory, being marginally less deluded that Chait, have already been considering their fallback positions for 2012:

Teixeira, writing with John Halpin, argues in “The Path to 270: Demographics versus Economics in the 2012 Presidential Election,” that in order to be re-elected, President Obama must keep his losses among white college graduates to the 4-point margin of 2008 (47-51). Why? Otherwise he will not be able to survive a repetition of 2010, when white working-class voters supported Republican House candidates by a record-setting margin of 63-33.

Obama’s alternative path to victory, according to Teixeira and Halpin, would be to keep his losses among all white voters at the same level John Kerry did in 2004, when he lost them by 17 points, 58-41. This would be a step backwards for Obama, who lost among all whites in 2008 by only 12 points (55-43).

Not many pollsters regularly break down their data this way, but Quinnipiac does.  Their latest national poll shows Obama in striking distance with these demographics, but the fact that Obama is now considered a known quantity must worry more savvy party insiders about the incumbent’s ceiling.

Chait rambles for four pages of straight-line projection, assuming that the GOP is fighting “history.”  It as though the USSR had not disappeared, the PRC had not retreated from communism to fascism, and the social democracies of Europe were not slowly collapsing under the weight of their transnational progressive ambitions.  There is not a word of how the Emerging Democratic Majority holds up when we run out of money.  For someone who can spot magical thinking in other liberals, Chait is bad at spotting it in himself.



Santorum to Fight Fire with Fire

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:08 pm

From Hot Air’s quotes of the day:

Whether Mitt Romney wins or loses the Michigan and Arizona primaries on Tuesday, his advisers are warning donors and other supporters to prepare for a longer, more bruising and more expensive fight for the Republican presidential nomination that may not be settled until at least May…

Mr. Santorum is likewise preparing to fight on for weeks or months, enticed by new party rules that award delegates in early primaries and caucuses based on each candidate’s share of the votes. “The race is going to go a long time,” he said as he left the stage, promising to “fight fire with fire.”…

Which reminded me of something my daughter said tonight, apropos of nothing. She said: “Why do people say you should fight fire with fire? You just get more fire.”

Indeed, Lauren. Indeed.

The Onion Weighs in on Linsanity

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:40 pm

The Onion reports:

Ben & Jerry’s, the iconic ice cream brand famous for flavors borrowed from a broad swath of the culinary spectrum, has apologized for including fortune cookies in its “Taste the Lin-Sanity” frozen yogurt sold at a Harvard Square location in Boston.

The Vermont-founded company has replaced the fortune cookies in its honey-swirl, Jeremy Lin-inspired variety with waffle cones.

This just in: that isn’t the Onion. It’s ESPN and it’s a real story.

Thanks to Dana.

David Shuster and Keith Olbermann About to Be Sued for Defamation by James O’Keefe?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:56 am

Keith Olbermann in December:

OLBERMANN: “The Rumpus Room with Johnny Olson” will not be seen tonight on Dumont, so we can instead bring you “Countdown,” the longest continuously-running 8PM news hour on cable. Unless you consider Fox — “news.” We’re live each night at 8 Eastern. Every night is a “Best Of ‘Countdown'” night.

James O’Keefe — activist, pseudo-journalist, and convicted felon infamous for his ambush-style, selectively-edited interviews — faces a possible civil sexual-harassment suit.

. . . .

OLBERMANN: He’s on — O’Keefe that is — federal parole after he was charged with felony for attempting to maliciously interfere with Senator Landrieu’s office telephone system in New Orleans. Did he seem, especially in that context, fazed at all by what was going on in the courtroom?


There are several falsehoods there. O’Keefe is not a convicted felon. He pled to a misdemeanor. He is not on “parole.” He is on “probation.” He did not attempt to maliciously interfere with Senator Landrieu’s telephone system. As I noted yesterday and have noted in the past, the U.S. Attorney conceded that there was no evidence that O’Keefe intended to tamper with the phone system or commit any felony. This is from a document signed by the U.S. Attorney:

O'Keefe Government Admission 1

Olbermann is staring a lawsuit in the face, and he’s not the only one. As I reported yesterday, David Shuster made the exact same misrepresentation while hosting for Olbermann’s crappy show, calling O’Keefe a “convicted felon.” After I sent O’Keefe a link to my post, O’Keefe threatened to sue Shuster:

One last chance, @DavidShuster. Put in a correction today or legal action against you is imminent. I can and will prove you lied w/ malice.

No correction appeared, but Shuster did reappear on Twitter a couple of hours ago to pimp the inaccurate segment:

In case you missed it, my segment on @andrewbreitbart’s hypocrisy given @jamesokeefeIII via @CountdownKO

I’ll be sending O’Keefe a link to this post as well. Shuster and Olbermann had better issue retractions, pronto. It may be too late for Shuster. We’ll see if Olby is similarly arrogant and dismissive of the truth. Given his history . . .

Independent Voter Bunkum

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 8:26 am

[Posted by Karl]

I generally enjoy Charlie Cook’s work, which made his bunkum on independent voters all the more disappointing:

It’s misleading to say that the state of the economy determines whether a president will win reelection. But it is fair to say that when a White House incumbent is running for a second term, the election is first and foremost a referendum on that president; the single most important factor that voters consider in assessing a president is the state and direction of the economy. That is the default factor unless something happens to shift a race’s dynamic and make the election more like a choice than a referendum. At least, that’s what I’ve always thought.


But now I wonder whether the economy will drive this election to the usual extent—or to the extent I had thought. More specifically, will the Republican Party nominate a candidate who can credibly compete for the independent voters whose support is so important in general elections?

Independents represented 29 percent of the electorate in 2008. In last year’s combined Gallup polls, though, they were 40 percent—a record high. In 2000, Republican George W. Bush won the independent vote by 2 percentage points over Democrat Al Gore but narrowly lost the overall popular vote. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry actually carried independents by 1 point but lost the national popular vote by 3 points. The winner of the independent vote doesn’t necessarily win the general election. But a candidate has to be very competitive among independents to have a chance to win. In 2008, the GOP’s John McCain lost the independent vote by 8 percentage points and the election by 7 points.

As political scientists like Alan Abramowitz have noted, Cook’s basic thrust is incorrect and undercut by his own examples.  The major fallacy here is thinking of “independents” as a cohesive voting group, when they are anything but: (more…)


David Shuster: James O’Keefe Is a Convicted Felon

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:19 am

At :50:

Look how smug, as he totally screws up the facts.

The facts are well known by now. O’Keefe pled to a misdemeanor and the government admitted it could not come up with any evidence that he intended to commit any felony:

O'Keefe Government Admission 1

O’Keefe should sue every single person who makes this claim. He started with the New Jersey Star-Ledger. I hope he continues with Shuster.

UPDATE: Corrected spelling of Shuster. Thanks to JRM.

UPDATE x2: Looks like O’Keefe may be going for it:

One last chance, @DavidShuster. Put in a correction today or legal action against you is imminent. I can and will prove you lied w/ malice.

(H/t Erick Brockway on Twitter.)

I see no correction from Shuster.

I would like to think my post had something to do with this. (Or the email I sent him linking the post!)

Hey James: I have other examples of people who have said the exact same thing. Admittedly, the one example I can think of is from a guy who is not particularly credible or widely read. Still, if you’re interested, l am happy to share . . .

Obama’s gas problem may not be high prices

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 10:00 am

[Posted by Karl]

Pres. Obama is playing defense on rising gasoline prices, but are they his real gasoline problem?  Political insiders overwhelmingly think so:

“Rising gas prices will always be a reminder of stagnant wages, and it makes an economic recovery harder to feel,” said one Democratic Insider. “Voter frustration rises along with gas prices, and tends to be taken out on the incumbent, so even in a recovering economy, this could be a problem for the president.”

“Gas prices could screw up the economic recovery big time, and President Obama will pay the price at the pump and in the voting booth,” said another.

Note there is a level of nuance in those observations, i.e., gas prices matter to the extent they confirm preexisting frustration with the economy or affect the larger economy, e.g., by fueling price inflation.  As Larry Sabato noted during last year’s gas price escalation, the statistical correlation between presidential approval rating and gas prices is strong but not overwhelming (for various reasons).  Moreover, correlation is not causation.  George W. Bush’s presidency is a good example of this correlation being largely caused by other factors, e.g., Bush’s post-9/11 approval spike and US deaths in Iraq.

Pres. Obama’s gasoline problem may not be rising prices.  Pres. Obama’s gasoline problem may be that gasoline consumption has fallen off a cliff.  As market commentator James Bianco (among others) notes:

Economic activity almost always requires travel.  Whether commuting to work, driving to a store, getting goods delivered, or taking a vacation, more miles driven and more gasoline used means higher economic activity.  This is not controversial, as we discussed a few years ago.

So, it comes as a surprise that these measures of broad-based economic activity (gasoline consumed and miles driven) are falling hard at a time when most economists are in agreement that the economy has been getting better in recent months.  If the economy is indeed getting better, it seems to be happening while we are driving less and consuming less gasoline.  For the American economy, this is really hard to do.  It has never happened before in the data shown above.  All other instances of declining miles and gasoline consumed occurred in or around a recession.

We would not suggest that these economic indicators trump all others and the economy is actually worsening.  But it is disconcerting that these measures of critically economic activities are heading lower in a hurry.

As with gas prices — and perhaps more so — what gas consumption tells us about the state of the economy is important.  As recently as this month, Pres. Obama attributed the growing price of oil to a strengthening economy which in turn means demand for oil increases.  But the International Energy Agency cut its forecast for global oil demand in 2012, which appears to be playing out here in the US.  Rising gas prices might not hurt Obama as much if the economy actually improves.  But falling gas consumption may suggest further economic malaise — in which case high gas prices may fuel a vicious cycle and continue to anger voters.


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