Patterico's Pontifications


A Picture of Two Holy Books in Toilets Says a Thousand Words

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:43 pm

While catching up on my blog reading, I just saw this Glenn McCoy cartoon on Power Line, and thought you should see it if you hadn’t already:


We Can’t Win The War Against Radical Islam…

Filed under: Terrorism,War — Justin Levine @ 9:32 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

…if we can’t even agree on who the actual enemy is.

Pretty pathetic if you ask me. But it isn’t just Gonzales and the rest of the FBI/Justice Department that is confused here. President Bush himself has regretfully promoted this murkiness. For instance, CAIR’s Executive Director Nihad Awad has been shown time and time again to be a staunch supporter of HAMAS dedicated to scuttling any peace agreement in the Middle East. So why does the President insist on creating PR photo ops with him? He’s been doing this since his days as Texas Governor. He even did it right after 9/11. Why?? Don’t tell me — “Muslim outreach” that is going to actually help us catch radical Islamists, right?

You can disagree about the implications here, but the disagreement itself indicates that we are unlikely to ever get the kind of leadership necessary to rally the nation and prevail in this [phony?] war.

(I doubt that I’ll be responding to comments on this one. But feel free to flame away.)

[posted by Justin Levine]

#756 on YouTube

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:05 pm

Wow. Just watch the first 20 seconds, and note the cascade of flashbulbs signalling the pitch and the hit:

(Via Allah.)

That Means a Lot Coming from You

Filed under: General,Humor — Patterico @ 7:22 am

The elevators in the Compton courthouse are notoriously unreliable. They often get stuck, or take a full minute between floors, or randomly drop a couple of feet. Just to keep you on your toes.

Recently, a man who recognized me from an earlier elevator trip that same morning said: “Wow. You’re getting on these things twice in one morning. You’re really taking your life in your own hands!”

Among people who ride the elevators regularly, such gallows humor is not uncommon. But from our conversation earlier that morning, I knew the man’s profession and why he was there. And that’s what made his comment a bit unusual.

Because he was the elevator repairman.

P.S. My response to him became the title of this post.

Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey

Filed under: Air Security,General,Humor — Patterico @ 6:12 am

Via Malkin comes this tale of a man monkeying around with our airport security system:

CBS 2 HD has learned a monkey was apparently sneaked into the United States with a passenger from Peru and let loose during a Spirit Airlines flight that landed at LaGuardia Airport Tuesday afternoon.

Officials say the monkey, a pygmy marmoset, apparently belonged to a male passenger from Lima, Peru. He bought the animal off the streets in Lima.

The man then smuggled the animal, which measures only about a foot tall, through security in Peru onto a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He then got past security again when he took a connecting flight from there to New York City, and he even kept the monkey out in the open mid-flight.

Passengers of that flight say they noticed a small monkey clinging to the man’s ponytail during the flight and reported it to authorities.

Goofy as it sounds, there apparently is some health threat:

Now there are two major concerns as a result: how the man got the monkey past security, and any diseases that could be passed on from the marmoset to humans.

“We don’t know if it’s harboring any bacteria or diseases, so the CDC is rightly concerned,” an Animal Control official told CBS 2 HD.

Not to mention the very real possibility of rampant poo-flinging, which is never too pleasant.

TSA officials shrugged their shoulders:

Transportation Security Administration officials say the animal is so small it could have easily passed through security without detection, but they are investigating.

Then they returned their attention to seizing half-filled bottles of moisturizing liquid.

Yes, I can see it’s less then three ounces. You have to go by what it says on the bottle, ma’am. Federal regulations. Yes, sir, the monkey’s fine.

P.S. From the Unexamined Assumptions File: is a barrel of monkeys really fun?

The Legacy of the Gang of 14 and the Judicial Filibuster

Filed under: General,Judiciary — Patterico @ 5:41 am

The Washington Post reports:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, long considered one of the nation’s most conservative appellate courts, is shifting to a moderate direction with the balance up for grabs. A growing list of vacancies — now five — has left the court evenly divided between Republican and Democratic appointees.

With an election year approaching, experts predict the court will tilt decisively to the left if Democrats keep control of Congress and reclaim the White House.

“There is a very good chance that this court will be solidly Democratic for many, many years,” said Arthur D. Hellman, a University of Pittsburgh law professor.

Is this a problem? Uh, yes, it is.

[Professor Hellman] said the current 5-5 split — which began July 17 when Judge H. Emory Widener Jr., a Republican appointee, took semi-retirement — is “tremendously significant.”

The battle over the 4th Circuit, part of the broader struggle for control of the federal judiciary, resonates nationwide because the court has played a key role in terrorism cases since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Its rulings affect everyone who lives, works or owns a business in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas.

The 15-member court has lost several prominent Republican appointees. Two of Bush’s nominees, bottled up in the Senate even when Republicans ran it, were withdrawn this year when Democrats took over.

B-b-b-but the Gang of 14 helped us! Right?

(Thanks to jim.)

Alleged Child Molester Rearrested; Neighbor Says His English Is Just Fine

Filed under: Crime,General,Immigration — Patterico @ 5:32 am

Remember Mahamu Kanneh? He’s the guy who had sexual assault charges against two young children dropped because the court couldn’t find an interpreter in his obscure West African language. He failed to show for a court hearing regarding a possible reinstatement of the charges, and has been rearrested as a result. A story about the arrest notes:

The State’s Attorney’s Office also disputes that Kanneh even needed a translator. Kanneh’s neighbor, Jeremy Brown, says he was surprised Kanneh said he needed a translator.

“On a scale of one to ten of English proficiency,” Brown asked rhetorically. “Maybe a seven or eight.”

Oh, you just gotta love our system sometimes.

(H/t Malkin.)

The L.A. Times: Citing Experts for Their Purpose

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:10 am

The devil can cite scripture for his purpose — and the L.A. Times can cite experts for their purpose.

A couple of weeks ago, it helped Democrats to argue that Congress could force a prosecution of executive branch officials (such as Harriet Miers) for contempt of Congress — even when they cite executive privilege to refuse to answer questions. The L.A. Times ran an article about competing Democrat and Republican views — and suggested that the Democrat view was correct. The article cited only expert opinion supporting the Democrat position:

Some legal experts questioned interpreting the law [providing for contempt of Congress prosecutions] to mean that persons who cite executive privilege for failing to cooperate are exempt from prosecution.

The contempt statute refers such matters to “the appropriate U.S. attorney, whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.”

It is “unambiguous,” said Peter Shane, an Ohio State law professor who is an expert in executive privilege.

(As an aside, we had Peter Shane on here defending his views — and while he was a very smart, well-spoken, and engaging man, I found his views completely and utterly unpersuasive. Judging from the comments to the post, most of the readership here agreed with me.)

The L.A. Times now has an article titled Democrats happy to let Gonzales dangle. (No giggling, you schoolchildren.) Apparently the Democrats now realize that they are going nowhere with their challenges to executive privilege, and have decided to rationalize their failure by gloating about how Gonzales is a political liability for Republicans (which he is).

If the article is correct, Democrats have decided that it is not critical to win the argument that Congress can force a prosecution for contempt of Congress in the face of a claim of executive privilege. Democrats have apparently decided that the politics are better without forcing the issue. Indeed, it may even help justify the Democrats’ cynical political position to argue that no prosecution is possible.

I guess it’s okay for the paper to tell the truth now:

[E]ven left-leaning scholars say the Democrats are unlikely to succeed on the legal front.

For instance, the Justice Department already has put Congress on notice that it won’t bring charges if the full House asks the department to prosecute Miers and Bolten for contempt. Legal experts say the federal law making contempt of Congress a crime is unenforceable against executive branch officials who, at the behest of the president, invoke executive privilege in refusing to testify.

Where were these experts two weeks ago, when an article detailed the battle between the Democrats and Republicans on this very issue? I don’t know — but they sure weren’t quoted in the Los Angeles Times. It fell to people like me to make the argument that “[e]ven left-leaning scholars” now agree with — now that the Democrats have decided that the argument’s weakness is not a problem any more.

The article betrays absolutely no hint of embarrassment at the fact that the paper was telling us the exact opposite thing just a couple of weeks ago. That was then and this is now. You’d be shocked to learn how executive privilege law can change in two weeks. It’s a very fast-paced area of the law.

Yes, the devil can cite scripture for his purpose. Let’s continue with the quote:

An evil soul, producing holy witness,
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!

You guys enjoying that new L.A. Times layout?

OK, I guess falsehood can have a crappy outside too . . .

L.A. Times Looks to Scare Readers Over New FISA Legislation

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 12:05 am

An L.A. Times article is titled Bush administration defends spy law. The deck headline reads: “The White House rejects claims that the new measure allows electronic ‘drift nets’ to snare U.S. citizens.” It leads with this sentence:

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration rushed to defend new espionage legislation Monday amid growing concern that the changes could lead to increased spying by U.S. intelligence agencies on American citizens.

The phrase “increased spying by U.S. intelligence agencies on American citizens” suggests that we already face widespread deliberate electronic surveillance targeting citizens; this legislation will just lead to more of it. I am aware of no evidence showing a systematic and deliberate targeting of citizens for domestic eavesdropping. But innuendo is innuendo. If we insisted on tying it to fact, it wouldn’t be half as fun!

I also love the phrase “amid growing concern.” I have discussed before what it means when a newspaper uses a phrase like “growing concern”:

I have warned you that such language is a signal that the paper agrees with the criticism. When the paper disagrees with criticism of a [politician], it is portrayed as an attack by political opponents. When the paper agrees with the criticism, the criticism becomes a mysterious and disembodied (but ever-growing) entity. Doubts grow. Criticism emerges.

So when there is a “growing concern” over something — why, it must be legitimate!

And any defense of a program that causes “growing concern” to good men like newspaper reporters and editors . . . well, any such defense must be dishonest — right? So it’s best to portray it as, say, a cynical P.R. campaign — as today’s article portrays the Bush administration defense of the new changes:

In a public relations push to counter criticism of the new law, senior administration officials cited a combination of legal barriers and resource restrictions that they said would keep the government from sifting through e-mails and phone calls of Americans without obtaining court warrants first.

The article continues:

But officials declined to provide details about how the new capabilities might be used by the National Security Agency and other spy services.

Gee, if officials won’t provide details about how the government plans to use a terrorist and foreign intelligence surveillance program . . . there must be something suspicious going on, right?

And in many cases, they could point only to internal monitoring mechanisms to prevent abuse of the new rules that appear to give the government greater authority to tap into the traffic flowing across U.S. telecommunications networks.

Note the clever way that the article repeatedly suggests that the new legislation allows the government to spy on citizens. The phrase “the traffic flowing across U.S. telecommunications networks” is evocative of a regime that routinely targets purely domestic communications.

In fact, that is not the case. The changes in the law are designed to help target foreign communications. The article mentions that this is the Bush position — but it’s part of a P.R. campaign!

In summary, according to the opening few paragraphs of the article, the administration denies the legislation could “snare U.S. citizens.” But there are “growing concerns” about “increased spying by U.S. intelligence agencies on American citizens” — so the Bushies have to do a “public relations push.”

Nothing but straight news, presented down the middle, at your local Dog Trainer.

Imagine if the first three paragraphs were rewritten, how different the story could sound. On the left is the real story; on the right is how it could be re-written in a more balanced and less biased fashion:


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