Patterico's Pontifications

4/30/2012

L.A. Times: We Must Give Our Readers All the Information, Even if It Puts the Troops at Risk . . . but Not if It Hurts Our Agenda Our Endangers Our Own Lives

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:23 am

So the editors of the Los Angeles Times decided a few days ago to publish inflammatory photos of American soldiers with dead Afghan suicide bombers, despite the military’s deep concern that publishing the photos would put our soldiers at risk.

The fear among some officials is that the latest trophy photos will be used as an excuse for further unrest in Afghanistan, similar to what happened when previous photographs were made public.

The paper published an article explaining its decision, which linked to an online chat with the paper’s new editor:

“We considered this very carefully,” Maharaj said. “At the end of the day, our job is to publish information that our readers need to make informed decisions.”

Apparently danger to the troops was not a good enough reason not to publish inflammatory material.

What about danger to the editors themselves? Well, you see, that’s different.

Back when there was a controversy over cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, the paper pointedly refused to publish the cartoons that were at the center of the controversy. If the paper ever published those cartoons, I am unaware of it. Indeed, when a cartoonist drew a satirical cartoon that mocked the refusal of newspapers like the Los Angeles Times to publish the Muhammad cartoons — a cartoon that didn’t even depict Muhammad at all! — the editors pulled that cartoon as well.

So apparently, danger to the troops is not a good reason to withhold “information that [their] readers need to make informed decisions” . . . but danger to their own lives? Why, that is an excellent reason.

Indeed, the paper is willing to withhold critical information from its readers even when there is no danger to anyone. Remember the Rashid Khalidi tape, showing Obama paying tribute to a radical advocate for Palestinian rights? An article described some anti-Israel sentiments expressed at the dinner Obama attended:

“During the dinner a young Palestinian American recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticizing U.S. support of Israel. If Palestinians cannot secure their own land, she said, “then you will never see a day of peace.”

One speaker likened “Zionist settlers on the West Bank” to Osama bin Laden, saying both had been “blinded by ideology.”

The paper refused to release that tape, saying they had promised their source they wouldn’t. Not only that, they also refused to release a transcript (which they had not promised not to do), or view the tape to tell readers whether Bill Ayers or Bernadine Dohrn appeared at the dinner — or whether the tape showed Obama’s reaction to the extreme statements above.

So don’t give us a line about how you release all important information, Mr. Maharaj. You release information that serves your agenda, whether it puts our troops at risk or not. But you keep quiet if the information would hurt Obama . . . or if it posed a risk to your editors’ precious little hides.

Thanks to dana.

4/29/2012

L.A. Times: Obama Using Tactic Formerly Thought by Liberal Newspaper Editors to Be the Exclusive Province of the GOP: The Dreaded “Wedge Issue”

Filed under: 2012 Election,Dog Trainer,General,Obama — Patterico @ 2:36 pm

Everybody at the water cooler at the L.A. Times knows that so-called “wedge issues” are bad things — and that, as such, they have traditionally been used only by Republicans. Today, they are shocked to find Obama using similar tactics, in what hard-hitting editors apparently believe to be the first known instance of Democrats using “wedge issues” in the history of American politics:

Wedge issues may boost Obama’s prospects

Obama and Democrats appear to be using immigration and contraception to try to pry away voters from the other camp, similar to wedge issues that past Republican presidential candidates have employed.

Illegal immigration, affirmative action, gun control and same-sex marriage have all been used by Republicans as wedge issues at the state and national levels, with varied degrees of success. Now it’s Democrats and Obama — sympathizing with women paying more for dry cleaning, playing consoler in chief to a woman impugned by radio’s Rush Limbaugh — who are pushing people’s buttons.

The article explains that the issues in question are “immigration and contraception” and defines wedge issues as issues “grounded more in emotionalism than economics” that are “typically used to pry voters away from a party or a candidate they might otherwise be inclined to support.”

It’s nice that they’re noticing Democrats using wedge issues.

It’s laughable that they never noticed this before.

Does anyone here remember 2006, when Michael J. Fox had a commercial that touted stem cell research in a close Senate race in Missouri? The Democrat, Claire McCaskill, won the race. Although some argued that stem-cell research is not a true wedge issue and that it did not help McCaskill, there was plenty of research suggesting it worked. And in 2004 and 2006 Democrats pursued the issue with fervor, showing their belief it was an effective wedge issue. Fox also stumped in Iowa, Ohio, and Virginia — all states with close races — using the issue to motivate voters. Just as Republicans have been accused of placing gay marriage initiatives on the ballot to drive voter turnout, Democrats put stem-cell research issues on state ballots in California in 2004, and Missouri in 2006.

Stem-cell research is hardly the only Democrat wedge issue. Democrats have used a “personhood amendment” as a wedge issue in Nevada. They have used clean energy as a wedge issue. In fact, in 2010 the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a memo with a host of wedge issues the party planned to exploit, including minimum wage, Social Security, the grand debate over Obama’s birth certificate, and numerous others.

I always get a little annoyed whenever someone suggests that one party or another is uniquely susceptible to using a certain evil tactic. If you really believe that, you might double-check to see if partisanship is clouding your perceptions.

In this case, it most certainly is. Nowhere is this as blatantly obvious as at the end of article, which contains a nice little apologia for Obama’s use of wedge issues. It is a campaign plug for Obama so blatant that it had me scrolling back to the top of the article to see if I was actually reading an editorial or a “news analysis.” No such luck:

Wedge politics may seem a long way from the uplift of Obama’s 2008 hope-and-change campaign or, going back further, the message of healing and reconciliation that launched the young Illinois state senator’s political ascent with a galvanizing speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

But Obama has often been underestimated, or misconstrued, by supporters and critics alike. Though he has ideals and principles, and the eloquence to give them flight, he understands one thing: To get things done, you have to win.

Sometimes, to get the right policies put in place, even good-guy Democrats might have to resort to tactics so evil they were once the exclusive province of the Republicans. It’s not that they want to do these things; it’s that their ideals and principles require it, for the good of the nation — and, dare I say it? the known universe.

So sayeth the über-objective journalists at the Los Angeles Times.

The Democrats are the problem (a second view).

Filed under: General — Karl @ 8:53 am

[Posted by Karl]

Yesterday, I wrote about the claims from Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein that the GOP is ideologically extreme and scornful of compromise, noting that the Democrats are similarly afflicted with the problems they identified.  However, we need not simply analyze their claims on the basis of what is wrong with both parties.  We can also look at the affirmative record of the parties.

One of the biggest and most fundamental tasks of the federal government today is developing a budget.  There is consensus on this point.  Obama’s budget director has warned that our exploding public debt is “serious and ultimately unsustainable.”

Republicans have proposed a budget (largely the work of Rep. Paul Ryan) to address the debt bomb, and have taken considerable political flak for it, which will only increase in the general election campaign. 

The Obama administration’s position?

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, speaking on behalf of the Obama White House, to Rep. Paul Ryan: “You are right to say we’re not coming before you today to say ‘we have a definitive solution to that long term problem.’  What we do know is, we don’t like yours.”

In the House of Representatives, Pres. Obama’s non-solution budget was unanimously defeated, 414-0.  The House Democrats’ budget, which relies on massive tax increases and gutting defense spending, while doing nothing about runaway entitlement spending, nevertheless fares only marginally better in reducing the debt/GDP ratio than Obama’s non-solution.  Neither the Obama budget or the House Dems’ budget comes close to either the Ryan plans or the bipartisan plans floating around the Beltway.

Speaking of which, people like Ornstein and Mann presumably favor some old school, center-left Grand Bargain along the lines of the Bowles-Simpson Commission recommendations.  Beltway establishmentarians pine for the days in which the GOP signed onto budget deals that hiked taxes in return for future spending cuts that never seem to materialize.

In the House, a version of the Bowles-Simpson plan attracted a grand total of 38 votes, suggesting House Republicans are not the only ones scornful of this Grand Bargain.  In the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blocked Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad from taking a vote on a version of this plan, even in committee.  Indeed, Senate Democrats, in violation of federal law, have failed to pass any budget for almost three years.

Democrats oppose the Republican budget approach for relying heavily on restraining government spending and avoiding massive tax increases.  However, a study of fiscal consolidations in 21 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development over 37 years concludes that failed attempts to close budget gaps relied 53% on tax increases and 47%, while successful consolidations averaged 85% spending cuts and 15% tax increases.  Moreover, the International Monetary Fund would suggest spending cuts and tax cuts as a “Plan B” for overextended countries.

As for Republicans being ideologically extreme, consider the polling coming out of the GOP presidential primary campaign.  Americans saw the ideology of the GOP candidates — including Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum — as closer to theirs than Barack Obama’s ideology.  Even among so-called independents, only Bachmann scored as more extreme than Obama, who holds the record for the most polarizing first, second and third years in office since Gallup started measuring polarization.  A majority of Americans (and independents) said Barack Obama’s political views are “too liberal,” a greater percentage than believed either of his main Republican challengers — Rick Santorum (38%) or Mitt Romney (33%) — is “too conservative.”  A majority of Americans (and independents) disagreed with Obama on the issues most important to them, while only a plurality disagreed with either Romney or Santorum.

Today’s post is much shorter than yesterday’s, because if you reread Ornstein and Mann, you will find none of this real-world context in their op-ed.  In order for them to condemn Republicans as “the problem,” they ignore the country’s biggest problems, save for a passing reference to our exploding public debt as, er, “fiscal pressures.”  They ignore the Democrats’ gross irresponsibility and dereliction in meeting the basic duties of governance, similarly burying their heads in the sand.  They ignore that the Democrats’ preferred approach to the debt — when forced to consider it — has tended to fail worldwide.  They denounce the GOP as ideologically extreme, public opinion data to the contrary.  No wonder they demand the media switch entirely to a propaganda machine for the Democratic Party.  Their reality-based community is a Potemkin village.

–Karl

4/28/2012

Organ Trafficking in Mexico?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:49 pm

This is a tragic story, but the last line raises more questions than it answers:

Four children who vanished on their way to primary school have been discovered suffocated and buried on a ranch not far from their homes in southern Mexico, according to Tabasco state authorities.

Three of the children being buried on Saturday were siblings and another was their neighbor in the colonial town of Tapijulapa.

Their ages ranged from 7 to 10.

. . . .

Their faces had been covered with brown packing tape, which caused them to suffocate, the agency said in its statement issued Friday.

The motive for the killings remained unclear, but officials said there was no sign of organ trafficking.

No sign of what now?

This reminds me of what the correspondent says at 3:14 of this Monty Python sketch:

As a Naval officer I abhor the implication that the Royal Navy is a haven for cannibalism. It is well known that we now have the problem relatively under control.

Is organ trafficking a thing in Mexico now?

Of course not! They now have the problem relatively under control.

Let’s just say it: The Democrats are the problem.

Filed under: General — Karl @ 8:33 am

[Posted by Karl]

Let’s just say it. After all, that’s what Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein did to the Republicans at the WaPo, apparently set off by this incident:

Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.

It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.

***

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

Although Ornstein and Mann claim to “have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted,” they provide no links to all the op-eds they did about the extreme statements about Republicans being Un-American, comparing them to fascists, Nazis, racists and so on made by Democratic Reps. Nancy Pelosi (on her own and with Steny Hoyer), George Miller, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, Jerrold Nadler, Jesse Jackson Jr., Sam Gibbons, Tom Lantos, Keith Ellison, Baron Hill, Jared Polis, Steve Cohen, Sheila Jackson Lee, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Louise Slaughter.  Or Senators Robert Byrd and Blanche Lincoln.  Or current Califonia governor Jerry Brown. Or repeat offender Al Gore.  People might be forgiven for thinking Democrats, not to mention Ornstein and Mann, take that extreme rhetoric for granted in their rush to condemn the GOP.

As for the supposed anti-science bent of the GOP, Ornstein and Mann probably should not have picked the week in which Gaia theorist James Lovelock announced he and others had been unduly alarmist about global warming to wheel out this particular trope.  Moreover, O&M apparently have not noticed the degree to which Democrats are anti-vaccination, anti-nuclear, and anti-animal research.  And they missed how Democrats ditch science whenever it threatens party dogma on race and gender issues. (more…)

4/27/2012

Sockpuppet Friday (Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas edition)

Filed under: General — Karl @ 2:47 pm

[Posted by Karl]

As usual, you are positively encouraged to engage in sockpuppetry 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.

Sockpuppet comments about the Republican primary race are strictly prohibited. If you wish to use sockpuppets for that purpose, confine your comments to this thread. Same goes for any discussion that is not funny where people want to get angry at each other. Offending comments will be summarily deleted and the violators flogged.

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

Jodi Kantor, who writes for rome wingnut rag called The New York Times, also wrote a book about The Obamas. NRO’s Jim Geraghty has been excerpting choice bits, including this nugget about the Sun King losing faith in his subjects:

Later in the first term, there were points where the American public seemed to be giving up on Barack Obama. But the relationship went both ways, and there were many times the president seemed to be giving up on the public, too, convinced Americans would never understand his point of view…

…Being in the White House seemed to intensify one of his best traits, his natural seriousness, along with one of his worst, his conviction that he was more serious than anyone else. There was a gap between the way Obama consumed information — in orderly, high-level briefings — and the way nearly everyone else in the country did, and it could often turn him derisive.

Geraghty then shows that at times, Obama has seemed quite incorrect in his assessment of how other Americans consume information, perhaps because Obama seems to consume his from MSNBC.  Next up, the president’s trip to Oslo to collect the Nobel Peace Prize:

But amid the bad news and pressures of late 2009, the trip unexpectedly passed like a brief, happy fantasy for the president, a Nordic alternate reality where citizens were learned and pensive, discussions were thoughtful, and everyone was a fan. “It wasn’t hero worship,” said one adviser who accompanied them. “Okay, it was.”

For one day, the Obamas lived in the dream version of his presidency instead of the depressing reality. At meals and receptions, they mingled with the members of the Royal Academy — government officials, academics . . .

[In his speech, the president] laid out standards that he privately must have known he would not reach. “The United States of America must remain a standard-bearer in the conduct of war,” he said. “That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America’s commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions.” He did not acknowledge that the effort to close Guantanamo was failing or ddress the questions of whether his detention policies violated those guidelines. “We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals we fight to defend,” he said. It was as if he had pressed some sort of rewind button to 2008.

The trip spurred a thought the Obamas and their friends would voice to each other again and again as the president’s popularity continued to decline: the American public just did not appreciate their exceptional leader. The president “could get 70 or 80 percent of the vote anywhere but the U.S.” [President Obama's old friend] Marty Nesbitt told [another old friend of Obama] Eric Whitaker indignantly. (Emphases added)

Again, a mixture of hubris and a failure to spot the gap between that hubris and the reality of his polices.  In fact, it’s even worse than the book suggests.  According to Gallup, U.S. leadership had a 49% approval rate in Europe in 2009 — a marked improvement over the final Bush years, but 49% was approximately Obama’s low mark for approval in America.

Lastly, Obama’s assessment of his political skills:

Obama had always had a high estimation of his ability to cast and run his operation. When David Plouffe, his campaign manager, first interviewed for a job with him in 2006, the senator gave him a warning: “I think I could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I’ll hire to do it,” he said. “It’s hard to give up control when that’s all I’ve known.” Obama said nearly the same thing to Patrick Gaspard, whom he hired to be the campaign’s political director. “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Obama told him. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

This would go a long way toward explaining the frequent tone-deafness of the Obama administration.  A secure leader tries to surround himself or herself with people who are as smart or smarter than they are who will challenge them.  Instead, Obama’s post-presidency may feature a staging of “Barry, Get Your Teleprompter.”

–Karl

Report: Egyptian Husbands to Be Allowed to Have Sex with Their Wives After Death

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:32 am

The Daily Mail:

Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives for up to six hours after their death, local media is claiming.

The controversial new law is claimed to be part of a raft of measures being introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament.

It will also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14 and the ridding of women’s rights of getting education and employment.

People often forget that the fight against radical Islam is also a fight for women’s rights.

This is a good reminder.

Reuters Does Balanced Portrait of Zimmerman

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:22 am

Several people have emailed me pointing to a Reuters portrait of George Zimmerman. Here is a taste:

During the time Zimmerman was in hiding, his detractors defined him as a vigilante who had decided Martin was suspicious merely because he was black. After Zimmerman was finally arrested on a charge of second-degree murder more than six weeks after the shooting, prosecutors portrayed him as a violent and angry man who disregarded authority by pursuing the 17-year-old.

But a more nuanced portrait of Zimmerman has emerged from a Reuters investigation into Zimmerman’s past and a series of incidents in the community in the months preceding the Martin shooting.

Based on extensive interviews with relatives, friends, neighbors, schoolmates and co-workers of Zimmerman in two states, law enforcement officials, and reviews of court documents and police reports, the story sheds new light on the man at the center of one of the most controversial homicide cases in America.

The 28-year-old insurance-fraud investigator comes from a deeply Catholic background and was taught in his early years to do right by those less fortunate. He was raised in a racially integrated household and himself has black roots through an Afro-Peruvian great-grandfather – the father of the maternal grandmother who helped raise him.

Tommy Christopher almost certainly thinks it’s a racist dog-whistle to read the article. So read the whole thing.

4/26/2012

Romney Saves Dogs While Obama Eats Them

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:58 pm

The key issue of the upcoming election is, of course, how the candidate treats dogs. (Don’t try to distract us with crap about the Supreme Court majority or $5 trillion added to the deficit in 4 years. It’s all about the dogs). And the clear winner is not the guy who eats dogs, but the guy who saves their lives:

“We heard a whole bunch of screaming,” said Josh Romney, who immediately hopped onto his Jet Ski. “We tore out of there and my dad hopped on the other Jet Ski and came out right after us.”

Roughly 300 yards out onto the lake, six adult family members and their dog were floundering in the water, after their boat suddenly sprung a huge leak — sinking in less than 90 seconds, Josh said…

In the middle of the rescue, the governor actually took a dunking himself — thrown off the Jet Ski as one anxious boater scrambled aboard and tipped the craft off-balance.

The rescuing Romneys also managed to snatch the family dog, McKenzie, from a watery grave — grabbing the Scottish terrier first because it was the only passenger without a lifejacket.

“It looked like it wasn’t going to last much longer,” said Josh, who held the waterlogged pooch on the ride back to shore.

I’d heard this story before, of course, but I remember it as a pedestrian tale about Romney saving the lives of some human beings. I had forgotten that he saved a dog as well, rendering this a keeper.

UPDATE: I initially said Obama spent $5 trillion in 4 years. Of course he has spent far far more. $5 trillion is just how much further in the ditch we are. I knew this, but had an episode of brain flatulence. Thanks to Beldar for catching me giving Obama far too much credit.

Although what this all has to do with dogs is beyond me. Can we keep our eye on the ball, people?

Is Obama really in trouble with young voters?

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 8:56 am

[Posted by Karl]

There has been a wavelet of stories from outlets like The Atlantic, The Hill and Yahoo! suggesting Pres. Obama could be in trouble with the youth vote.  The Atlantic’s Molly Ball notes:

Less than half of 18-to-24-year-old voters want Obama to win reelection, and he leads a generic Republican candidate by just 7 percentage points, according to a survey of youth voter attitudes released Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute and Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.

The poll did not test Obama against Romney directly, but found more enthusiasm for Obama than Romney.  The Hill’s Amie Parnes found a somewhat different result in another poll:

Obama leads presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney 60 percent to 34 when it comes to the youth vote, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. But Obama’s enthusiasm has taken a nosedive, the poll shows. In 2008, 63 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds took a big interest in the election. Four years later, 45 percent have the same level of interest, reflecting the most sizable drop in one of the major voting groups.

Yahoo’s Chris Moody reports on yet another survey:

The wide-ranging survey of 3,096 18-29 year-olds conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics shows 43 percent said they plan to vote for Obama in November, while just 26 percent plan to vote for Romney. The last time Harvard matched Obama against a GOP challenger, in December 2011, they asked who young voters thought would win the election: 36 percent said Obama would lose, a sign that support for Obama is increasing closer to the election.

***

However, Obama’s approval rating has dipped by six percentage points from Obama’s first year in office, according to a Harvard poll taken in November 2009, from 52 percent to 58 percent. That could be a sign that the youth vote is far more up for grabs in 2012 than it was in 2008, when Obama overwhelming won the youth vote.

As John Sides notes, these types of stories should always be read in the context of a number of polls, as well as the broader population and other demographics.  Sides notes that a recent Pew poll has Obama over Romney 61%-33% among 18-29 year-olds, in comparison to Obama’s 66%-33% victory with the demographic in the 2008 exit poll.  Those numbers better for Obama than some of the polls cited above, but what Sides notes is that Obama’s numbers now are down 3%-5% among all of the age demographics from the 2008 exit poll results.  Moreover, as Andrew Gelman notes, nonuniform swings are difficult to detect in a survey, because they have a larger margin of error.  In short, Obama’s problem with young voters is likely reflective of Obama’s problem with voters generally.

So why is Obama wooing college students and slow jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon at taxpayer expense this week?  Because Team Obama, like most everyone, is anticipating a much closer election in 2012 than in 2008.  If Obama were to drop from 66% to the level of youth support John F. Kerry got in 2004 (~54%), he would lose ~2% of the overall vote, which he likely cannot afford.  We cannot know this for certain. Obama’s 2008 performance with young voters was tied in part to his boost in performance and turnout of minority voters.  Conversely, we do not know whether the Republican-leaning youth vote was particularly depressed.  While the latest raft of polls might look like Obama’s youth vote has softened, the GOP should not take it for granted any more than Obama does.

–Karl

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