Patterico's Pontifications

5/9/2012

Hoax Twitter Message and Call Cost Doctor Kruse His Cruise

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:27 pm

All it takes to ruin a guy’s vacation is one anonymous moron with a computer and a phone, and a bunch of gullible and overreacting law enforcement agents and cruise personnel:

A Nashville neurosurgeon was pulled off a Carnival cruise suspected of planning to commit a bio-terrorist attack, after a tweet from an impostor account claimed the doctor had a vial of harmful bacteria on board.

Dr. Jack Kruse was on the Carnival Magic cruise ship Sunday about to set off from a Galveston port. He planned to speak to the passengers on the 5th Annual Low-Carb Cruise Monday morning. Passengers never got to hear that lecture, though, because Kruse was escorted off the cruise after a suspicious tweet posted that morning was detected.

A cruise line official confirmed that the FBI, Homeland Security, the Galveston police and the U.S. Coast Guard were alerted about the tweet.

A tweet posted by an account “s***krusesays,” which we’ve edited because of an expletive, said, “security confiscated dynamite. talk won’t be as explosive as one at PaleoFx. still have vial of Legionnaires for epic biohack. #lccruise12.” The fake Twitter account, which parodied the doctor, has been deleted.

The story quotes Kruse as saying they ripped his room apart: “It was like being in a movie, and it was surreal . . . Having the room completely trashed, and I was asked all of these crazy questions. I had no idea what they were talking about.”

I feel you, man.

Even though the doctor was cleared of having sent the message and determined not to be a threat, the captain still didn’t let him on board. “Since the safety and well-being of my guests and crew is my number one priority, every security threat is taken seriously and fully investigated,” the captain wrote. “It is for this reason that I felt it was in the best interest of all my guests to err on the side of caution and not allow him to set sail as planned.”

Sure. Just go ahead and ruin his trip — not to mention affecting the enjoyment of people who had looked forward to hearing his talk — because of some anonymous idiot. It seems that my oft-repeated prescription not to take the word of anonymous a-holes too seriously has, once again, not been heeded.

People just loooove to take unverified crap at face value.

I have to wonder what officials were smoking to take this seriously. First of all, check out the message that caused them to go nuts. The first words were: “security confiscated dynamite.” Except, they didn’t. That could be a tip-off that the Twitter message was a joke.

Second of all: thanks to the magic of Topsy.com, we can still view some of the tweets from the “shitkrusesays” account. (I don’t have to edit profanity. Welcome to the world of grown-ups!) Check out the avatar the account holder was using:

Yes, that is Dr. Nick Riviera, the laughable quack from The Simpsons.

If this guy wanted to scream “satire!” he couldn’t do it any louder than with that avatar.

And check out another tweet about the cruise that the hoaxster sent out about the same time: “cruise ship staff refusing to keep hot tubs at 55 degrees. forcing them to watch tedx talk on my ipad. jaws are dropping. #LCCRUISE12.” I hope they thoroughly investigated that allegation as well!!!!!

I’ll give authorities this: the story reports that, “[i]n addition to the tweet, however, the cruise line received a call from a ‘Lance,’ who claimed the doctor had a plan to perform a viral biohack on the ship.”

OK. Arguably, one could contend that is enough to search his belongings to make sure he was not going to KILL EVERYONE ON BOARD!!!! (I’m not sure I agree, frankly, but I can see people making the argument.) But once everything was searched, and they had a chance to Google “Nick Riviera,” and determine that no dynamite had already been confiscated, they should have known better.

I hope that law enforcement catches “Lance” and throws his ass in jail. Based on personal experience, however, I advise Kruse not to hold his breath. I speak from personal experience when I say that law enforcement can be stunningly, spectacularly incompetent on issues like this, depending on who you get. It’s the luck of the draw, and if your detective or FBI agent is the lazy one, or the dishonest one, or the stupid one — or, God help you, all three (it happens, believe me) — you are up the creek, pal.

Best wishes to Dr. Kruse on finding the bad guys.

Obama’s flip-flop on same sex marriage still driven by the campaign

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 12:07 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Earlier today, I wrote that Team Obama had been AWOL on gay rights issues for campaign reasons.  This afternoon, Pres. Obama officially “evolved” into a supporter of same-sex marriage during an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts:

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Roberts, in an interview to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday. Excerpts of the interview will air tonight on ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer.”

The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own.

Well, that’s semi-evolved, anyway. I suppose it remains to be seen how progressives will embrace states’ rights.

On Twitter (and elsewhere), a number of smart people have suggested that Obama benefitred from yet another distraction from the economy and the debt.  Yet gay rights are a classic wedge issue that divides Obama’s prospective coalition, which would seem to be an unwelcome distraction for Democrats.  Many have also suggested Obama found himself painted into a corner by comments from people like VP Joe Biden.  Allahpundit provides a decent elaboration of this thinking:

Looks like his strategy now is simply to get it over with ASAP and then let people forget about it over the next six months. Some key constituencies, like young voters, will cheer. Others, like black voters, might not be thrilled but given their overwhelming support for O the risk that he’ll lose many votes because of this is minimal. Meanwhile, Romney’s unlikely to make it an issue since it’d throw him off his core economic message. (See, e.g., Haley Barbour insisting yesterday that the gay-marriage chatter lately is a Democratic distraction.)

All true enough, but I continue to think “The Decision” here is driven less by pressure from Sheriff Joe than by broader campaign considerations.

Recall how Democrats think about the demographics:

[Ruy] 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). Obama can afford to drop to Kerry’s white margins because, between 2008 and 2012, the pro-Democratic minority share of the electorate is expected to grow by two percentage points and the white share to decline by the same amount, reflecting the changing composition of the national electorate.

What yesterday’s elections may have told Team Obama is that the bitter clingers out there are bitter enough to give 41% of the Democrat vote in West Virginia to a convicted felon and to ease a ban on same-sex marriage into the North Carolina constitution.  They may have concluded that their energies are better spent targeting more socially liberal white college graduates in the suburbs of northern Virginia, Philadeplphia, Denver, etc. than wasting time on trying to persuade Rust Belt Jacksonians to pull the lever for Barack Obama again while (as Allahpundit suggests) considering discontent among socially conservative African-Americans an acceptable risk now.  The establishment’s mockery of Obama’s unevolved position may have suggested to Team Obama that painting Mitt Romney as a right-wing extremist is made more difficult when the president shares Romney’s position on SSM.

Obama’s hastily-arranged interview with Roberts suggests his campaign was prepared to let SSM drift off the news radar, until facts on the ground drove a public (but controlled) flip on the issue.

–Karl

Why Team Obama dodges gay rights issues

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 10:41 am

[Posted by Karl]

The right has had a lot of fun watching Pres. Obama, his administration, and his campaign contorting over the issue of same sex marriage.  But there is a serious message beneath the laughter.  The most powerful man in the world does not knowingly make a fool of himself (esp. against his presumed ideological leaning on the issue) without reason.  He does not pass up big campaign donations by refusing to sign an executive order barring same sex discrimination by federal contractors without reason.

Yesterday, I opined in passing that Obama was backing off in hopes of keeping North Carolina in the mix of battleground states where the GOP has to spend money.  Others have suggested Obama’s concerns are bigger than that.  The Hotline’s Josh Kraushaar suggested Obama’s gay rights kabuki is more about the Rust Belt than North Carolina and Virginia, asserting that Obama has a much better shot at winning white votes in the former region than the latter.  Kraushaar tweeted this shows Obama is still playing for Ohio and Pennsylvania, casting doubt on the VA/NC model.  He believes it shows that Obama’s path to reelection remains challenging, because it relies on getting votes from working-class whites who oppose same sex marriage.

If Kraushaar is correct, he was understating Obama’s plight.  That is the lesson of the otherwise funny candidacy of federal inmate Keith Judd, who racked up an impressive 41 percent of the vote against Obama in the West Virginia Democratic primary.  The sort of Jacksonian, bitter clingers voting ABO in that state are also found in southwest Virginia, Western Pennsylvania and southern Ohio.

Moreover, Sean Trende suspects Obama’s reluctance to back SSM relates to the African-American vote and the importance of black churches in getting to his 2008 turnout numbers.  Trende suggests that if Blacks voted in composition and number at pre-2008 levels, Obama has little room for error.  Given that Black voters overwhelmingly backed the SSM ban on the ballot in North Carolina, despite Obama’s token opposition and a vigorous campaign against it by the NAACP, Trende is likely on target here.  Obama likely needs very strong Black turnout in the urban centers of states like Pennsylvania and Ohio (and perhaps Virginia and North Carolina) to balance projected losses among rural and working-class white voters in these states.

In one sense, this is not news.  But it gives needed perspective to the propaganda establishment outlets like TIME churn out about the confidence of Team Obama supposedly has in facing Mitt Romney.  The media can write for months about how many paths to victory Obama has, and how few Romney has.  But Team Obama is not campaigning that way.  They are projecting confidence, while campaigning as though November will be a nail-biter.  Team Romney would do well to follow that example.

–Karl

Dumb Criminal of the Day

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:27 am

Guy robs police station:

If there was to be a list of places not to rob, I would think a police department would be at or near the top of that list.

Apparently not for Keithan Kennard Manuel, who faces charges he attempted to rob the Wilmer Police Department Headquarters over the weekend, according to police documents.

Manuel, 18, walked into the city’s police department offices in the 200 block of East Belt Line Road near Interstate 45 about 8 p.m. on Saturday with his hands covered by a white towel.

He walked up to the dispatch window and pointed a covered hand at a telecommunications operator, the documents said.

“Give me all of your money,” Manuel told the startled operator.

Your punchline below.


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