Patterico's Pontifications


Die, Newspaper! DIE!!

Filed under: Buffoons,General,Humor — Patterico @ 9:43 pm

Shorter Gavin M.:

Wishing for the Washington Post to go out of business is just like wishing for Dick Cheney to be shot and killed.


“Shorter” concept created by some leftist dillweed and co-opted by righties like me, for the irony.

Gonzales: Clueless As to Why the U.S. Attorneys Were Fired

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:58 pm

Sam Brownback is dealing the death blow to Alberto Gonzales, by asking a simple and straightforward question: why were these U.S. Attorneys fired?

It’s clear from Gonzales’s answer that, when he approved these firings, he really didn’t know why he was firing each U.S. Attorney. He just did what other people told him to do.

I can’t tell you how pathetic he sounds.

Please resign. Put us out of our misery. Please.

UPDATE: Looks like Byron York agrees:

It has been a disastrous morning for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. The major problem with his testimony is that Gonzales maintains, in essence, that he doesn’t know why he fired at least some of the eight dismissed U.S. attorneys. When, under questioning by Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, Gonzales listed the reasons for each firing, it was clear that in a number of cases, he had reconstructed the reason for the dismissal after the fact. He didn’t know why he fired them at the time, other than the action was recommended by senior Justice Department staff.

Disastrous is right.

UPDATE x2: Captain Ed says Gonzales is done. I believe (and hope) that he’s right.

On the Propriety of Airing the Cho Video

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:37 pm

I listened all the way home to Hugh Hewitt, Mark Steyn, and Dennis Miller ranting about how it was irresponsible for NBC to air the Cho video. Hugh Hewitt had some crazy theory about how NBC should be sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress, which is just silly. Jack Dunphy says it more sensibly and memorably: “The killer’s tape is pornography; it’s okay to watch it, just don’t tell me you’re interested in the plot.”

I understand the arguments made by these men (except for Hugh’s ridiculous call for lawsuits). But I don’t agree.

To the extent that the massacre is news — and I think it is legitimate news — I think a video by the guy who did it is also unquestionably news. How could it not be? If it’s not, then you’re gonna have to redefine “news.” It’s not watching “Faces of Death,” for crying out loud. It’s highly relevant to a current and raging news story.

The most persuasive point of Hewitt & Co. is that airing the tape may encourage other crazies to mass-murder people and become famous. But I’m not convinced. Without the video, was this guy not going to be famous? Gimme a break — he already was.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold made videos, which I bet you haven’t seen. But when I said “Dylan Klebold” you didn’t say “Dylan who?” — did you?

Now, I understand the argument (although I don’t hear it much) that the entire story is overblown as a news story. To a certain extent, all of this concentration on Cho and the massacre is a bit of overkill, and smacks of rubbernecking. Car bombs killed at least 172 people in Baghdad Wednesday — 172. Yet the Alberto Gonzales hearing was replete with statements about how horrible the tragedy in Blacksburg was, with less than one-fifth the number of fatalities. There’s something off-kilter about that. I don’t mean to minimize the tragedy, but it ain’t the only tragedy in the news.

But if the massacre is news, then so is the video.

Let’s hear from my favorite blogger, Allah:

Would you have aired it? It’s a major exclusive about a huge mystery that’s attracted intense public interest. The news networks all aired Osama’s videos after 9/11 as evidence of his motive, notwithstanding what it might do to the victims’ families. They all aired and re-aired video of the planes crashing into the buildings, too. As awful as the Cho tapes must be for the VTech victims’ families, I can’t imagine that watching the towers crumble was any easier for spouses of people who were trapped inside. The counterargument is that 9/11 was a matter of national interest with enormous policy and electoral implications; the public simply had to know as much as possible to respond intelligently to it. There are policy implications to what happened with Cho too (i.e., gun control), of course, but none that will likely be affected by video of him jabbering incoherently about trust-fund babies. Thus, the proper analog is to that O.J. “If I Did It” interview that got cancelled, not to 9/11. If we’re unwilling to let O.J. profit from his crime, however tangibly or intangibly, why let Psy-Cho?

Tough call. I tip slightly in favor of airing it because (a) I hate when the media plays paterfamilias in deciding what is and isn’t “appropriate news” for the public to see, and (b) I was honestly curious. Spruiell’s been grasping for some grander justification, like bringing the power of collective intelligence to bear on the evidence, but I think he’s just dressing up natural curiosity about the psychology of a mass murderer in some nobler utilitarian faux purpose. Which is not to say the media should be showing us crime-scene photos and pornography, etc., pursuant to point (a); obviously the feelings of the victims’ families do matter and just as obviously there are experiences so mortal and private that we recoil instinctively from images that exploit them in the interest of news. As unsatisfying an answer as this may be, I think ultimately it’s just a gut reaction about where to draw the line of decency, and so long as NBC didn’t/doesn’t show any crime scenes, I’m willing to cut them a break.

The one argument I don’t find especially compelling is that they shouldn’t have “rewarded” him by running it. How did they “reward” him by exposing him as a complete, yammering lunatic? If he had had some sort of political message and wanted to get it out this way, a la the Unabomber manifesto, that would be one thing. As it is, the only thing we’ve learned is that the voices in his head weren’t big fans of people who drive Mercedes Benzes.

Well said.

Allah says he (sort of) understands Hewitt’s call for lawsuits, though he disagrees. I don’t even understand Hugh’s argument. I think Hugh is just out to lunch on this one.

Allah invites readers to tell him why he’s wrong, and I invite you to do the same.

P.S. I’ll go further. I think the whole thing should be on the Web — not just edited parts.

But then, I never understood why CNN got yelled at for airing footage of snipers taking out our soldiers. I mean no disrespect to our soldiers, but that was also news, and evidence of what we’re fighting against.

As long as media is not airing our classified counterterror programs and such, I’m generally for the free exchange of information. That’s the prejudice I have, and you may as well know it.

Gonzales: Complaints About Lam Had Nothing to Do with an Evaluation of Her Performance

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:09 pm

I’m watching Gonzales tell Arlen Specter that DoJ had received numerous complaints about Carol Lam — but, he says, he viewed those complaints as simply something to deal with as part of his supervisory responsibilities. Bizarrely, he did not view it as part of the project of evaluating U.S. Attorneys.

In other words, he didn’t think complaints about the performance of the U.S. Attorneys were relevant to a review of their performance.


GONZALES: The discussion about Ms. Lam never, in my mind, was about this review process. And I indicated so in my conversation with Pete Williams, I believe on March 26th, is that we were doing this process.

Of course there were other discussions outside of the review process about the performance of United States attorneys.

I can’t simply stop doing my supervisory responsibilities over United States attorneys because this review process is going.

. . . .

I don’t recall — here’s what — Senator, what I recall is, of course, we had received — the department had received numerous complaints about Carol Lam’s performance with respect to gun prosecutions and immigration prosecutions. I directed that we take a look at those numbers because I wanted to know. And I don’t recall whether it was Mr. Mercer who presented me the numbers, but I recall being very concerned.

SPECTER: But you were involved in evaluating U.S. Attorney Lam’s record, weren’t you?

GONZALES: Senator, I did not view that, and I — this was my — I did not view that as part of Mr. Sampson’s project of trying to analyze and understand the performance of United States attorneys for possible removal.

Sen. Specter seemed flummoxed by this answer, and so am I. When you’re in charge, and people bring issues to your attention regarding your employees, that should be part of your review of their performance. Isn’t that sort of obvious?

What a nincompoop. Resign, already.

I *Gotta* Do Something About This Cough

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:31 pm

John Hinderaker:

Media Matters is an astroturf site that is funded by left-wing moneybags. I don’t know who, exactly, is paying Boehlert’s salary, but he isn’t getting his money’s worth.

Indeed. John has a thorough dissection of a typical Boehlert smear, dishonest through and through. Like John, I don’t know who is paying Boehlert’s salary either [cough cough GeorgeSoros cough] but whoever it is [coughSoroscough] must really be disappointed.

To see what I have against Boehlert, browse the entries at this link.

Sen. Coburn Calls for Gonzales to Resign

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:25 pm

When Patterico blazes a trail, Senators follow.

Sen. Tom Coburn joins my call for Alberto Gonzales’s resignation.

Oh, sure, Sen. Coburn didn’t mention my post specifically — but the idea that it had no effect at all is as outlandish as the idea that the U.S. Attorneys weren’t fired to affect political corruption prosecutions.

And I mean that.

By the time you get through diagramming that sentence, to figure out what I really mean, the scandal will be over.

TPMmuckraker has video of Coburn calling for Gonzales’s resignation here.

Good for him.

Gonzales Testimony Begins with Arguably False Statement Right Out of the Gate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:26 pm

I’m starting to watch the re-run of Alberto Gonzales’s testimony, part of which I heard on the radio today, on the way in to work. From what I have seen so far, he gave the unimpressive performance I expected.

He leads right out of the gate with a seeming falsehood — or at least a misleading statement — in his opening statement today:

I also have no basis to believe that anyone involved in this process sought the removal of a U.S. Attorney for an improper reason.

I guess it depends on what the meaning of “sought” is:

DURBIN: Were you ever party to any conversation about the removal of Patrick Fitzgerald from his position as Northern District U.S. Attorney?

SAMPSON: I remember on one occasion, in 2006, in discussing the removal of U.S. Attorneys, or the process of considering some U.S. Attorneys that might be asked to resign, that I was speaking with Harriet Miers and Bill Kelley, and I raised Pat Fitzgerald. And immediately after I did it, I regretted it. I thought, I knew that it was the wrong thing to do. I knew that it was inappropriate. And I remember at the time that Miss Miers and Bill Kelley said nothing. They just looked at me. And I — I immediately regretted it, and I withdrew it at the time, and I regret it now.

DURBIN: Do you recall what you said at the time, about Patrick Fitzgerald?

SAMPSON: I said: Patrick Fitzgerald could be added to this list.

DURBIN: And there was no response?

SAMPSON: No. They looked at me like I had said something totally inappropriate, and I had.

DURBIN: Why did you say it? Why did you recommend or at least suggest that he be removed as U.S. Attorney?

SAMPSON: I’m not sure, I think, I don’t remember. I think it was maybe to get a reaction from them. I don’t think that I ever — I know that I never seriously considered putting Pat Fitzgerald on a list, and he never did appear on a list.

Did Gonzales watch Sampson’s testimony? Or is he making a lawyerly distinction between the words “suggested” and “sought”?

Notes From A Proud Global Warming Skeptic (Part 8)

Filed under: Accepted Wisdom,Environment — Justin Levine @ 11:02 am

[posted by Justin Levine]

More “consensus” alert here and here.

Questions raised by the first link listed above


A Film Reviewer For A British Paper Who Can Go Stuff Himself

Filed under: Buffoons,Movies — Justin Levine @ 10:18 am

[posted by Justin Levine] 

That would be Leo Lewis, who ends his banally written Spider-Man 3 review with this observation:

Also disappointing is the inability of the director, Sam Raimi, to end the romp without a fleeting shot of the American flag. The Stars and Stripes just happens to be fluttering behind Spidey as he makes his triumphal return to honour, probity and good honest fist-fighting.

Am I supposed to be upset if the British flag is fleetingly shown in a James Bond flick? Give me a break.

David Savage: Some Experts Say Partial-Birth Abortion Is Safer (But I Won’t Tell You What the Others Say)

Filed under: Abortion,Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:30 am

The L.A. Times‘s David Savage has an article about the partial-birth abortion decision. Savage implies that the opinion takes as a given the prospect that the ban will cause women significant health risks, but brushes that concern aside:

The Supreme Court’s opinion sets out two major changes to abortion law.

[The first is described. It has to do with a preference for as-applied challenges.]

Second, the court in the past said it would strike down abortion laws that might threaten the health of some patients. Kennedy’s opinion acknowledged that some nationally recognized medical experts testified that the ban on D&X could “create significant health risks” for some women who undergo midterm abortions.

But that alone is not enough to void the law, Kennedy concluded. There are other safe methods of performing these abortions, he said, and doctors are not entitled to “unfettered choice in the course of their medical practice.”

Savage highlights the fact that some doctors say that the ban creates “significant health risks.”

What he doesn’t mention is that many others disagree. This disagreement is a major point of the opinion, and is stated again and again (though not mentioned by Savage). Here are some representative quotes from the opinion:

[W]hether the Act creates significant health risks for women has been a contested factual question. The evidence presented in the trial courts and before Congress demonstrates both sides have medical support for their position.

. . . .

There is documented medical disagreement whether the Act’s prohibition would ever impose significant health risks on women.

. . . .

The medical uncertainty over whether the Act’s prohibition creates significant health risks provides a sufficient basis to conclude in this facial attack that the Act does not impose an undue burden.

Savage has done this exact same thing before on the exact same topic: noting that some experts say partial-birth abortion is safer — without noting that other experts disagree.

It’s not an accident, folks.

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