Patterico's Pontifications


About the Push-Polling on Romney’s Faith — I’m just saying ….

Filed under: General — WLS @ 7:47 pm

[Posted by WLS]

I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate here for a moment. 

There’s been a lot of press over the last couple weeks about debate in the Romney camp about whether or not he should give a speech on his faith.  I’m not sure if something along the line of JRK’s speech on his being a Catholic is what is under consideration, or if its something else.

But now we have a breaking national story on a Thursday about a firm named Western Wat doing “push polling” on Romney and the Mormon faith. 

When I first heard this story late yesterday on a radio show (I can’t remember which since I bounce around the dial), the first link drawn to Western Wat was to a Texas (?) polling or advertising firm whose name I can’t recall, that has been linked to the Giuliani campaign at some time in the past.  Some principal of that firm denied any connection to Western Wat, and denied any current connection to the Giuliani campaign.

Just a while ago I heard Hugh Hewitt interview Larry Kudlow, who was fortunate enough to have the first pre-arranged interview with Romney this morning, and Kudlow recounted Romney’s reaction as being very angry/forceful/emotional, directing particular ire at McCain-Feingold which by banning soft money donations to campaigns but creating the whole 527 advocacy group industry, has made discovery of who is behind attacks like this nearly impossible to discover. 

Hewitt also had a blogger on who pays particular attention to the issue of faith in politics, and the blogger said the most likely — though not definite — culprit was probably some group that supports Huckabee, because there are some fundamentalist religious groups behind Huckabee that have a real militancy about Romney being a Mormon. 

Hewitt also has up on his site a link to this article suggesting that Romney’s folks could be behind this.  Hewitt dismisses the idea derisively — but I think he does so too quickly.

I have nothing to prove this, but a campaign looking but struggling to find a way to address a potentially difficult controversy about the candidate’s faith, yet finding no opening to address the question because no one has overtly attacked him on that basis, might be tempted to plant the story which would allow his partisan defenders in the media to come riding to the rescue with gun’s blazing — just as Hewitt has all day.

The Corner at NRO has a couple of posts up today pointing out that the principals of Western Wat appear to be Romney supporters, some are Mormon, and the group is based in Utah.

The thing about push-polling is that its usually done close to an election, and is done in large numbers because its meant to move votes away from one candidate, and is done so late that there is generally not a chance for the candidate to respond or a backlash to form.  Placing calls to a few dozen or even a couple hundred voters two months before the vote is pretty useless. 

So, what motive could there be for any rival or even a 527 group to do this  in mid-Nov?  I really don’t see one.  Its not an effective counter to Romney’s mass media campaigning in IA and NH.  And it was GUARANTEED to trigger an enormous backlash that Romney will likely benefit from, at least in the near term. 

So, I’m just saying….

Colorado County Sheriff will Officially Celebrate Christmas

Filed under: Political Correctness — DRJ @ 7:11 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A county sheriff in Colorado plans to decorate a Christmas tree on county property to make the point that America is a Christian nation and most people like it that way:

“To heck with white lights and an all-inclusive “holiday” celebration as touted by a Fort Collins citizens group, the Larimer County sheriff said this week.

Sheriff Jim Alderden believes such a secular event runs counter to what most people in America and Larimer County hold to be true – Christ and Christmas. So Alderden is putting up his own Christmas – “not a holiday” – tree outside the county sheriff’s administration building and is asking people to decorate it Dec. 1.

Alderden wants “members of the public who share our faith or object to government intrusion into our religious freedoms to join us,” he wrote Wednesday in his weekly newsletter to employees and outside subscribers.”

Alderden’s actions pit him against the secular actions of the city government. He believes “the city is trying to brush aside the building blocks of American society – Christianity” and he wants to change the debate:

“The fact that we are even engaged in a discourse of whether Christmas trees and Christian symbols of faith should be allowed on city property is absurd,” Alderden said. “Our country, and sadly our own community, has reached that point where people of good faith and good conscience can no longer stand silently while a belligerent minority usurps our heritage.”

The sheriff’s office is on county-owned land and is exempt from city restrictions. The county administrator has no problem with the sheriff’s position:

“County Manager Frank Lancaster said the county has no policies against erecting Christmas trees on its property. “The sheriff is very passionate about this,” Lancaster said. “And we have no problems with it.”

I file this under backlash.


John Kerry takes $1M Bet over Swift Boat Claims (Updated)

Filed under: General,Politics — DRJ @ 1:54 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Johny Kerry says he has accepted a $1M bet offered by Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens to disprove one charge by the Swift Boat Vets:

“Sen. John Kerry, whose 2004 presidential campaign was torpedoed by critics of his Vietnam War record, said Friday he has personally accepted a Texas oilman’s offer to pay $1 million to anyone who can disprove even a single charge of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

In a letter to T. Boone Pickens, the Massachusetts Democrat wrote: “While I am prepared to show they lied on allegation after allegation, you have generously offered to pay one million dollars for just one thing that can be proven false. I am prepared to prove the lie beyond any reasonable doubt.”

Kerry, a Navy veteran and former prosecutor, said he was willing to present his case directly to Pickens, who provided $3 million to bankroll the group during Kerry’s race against President Bush. Kerry said he would donate any proceeds to the Paralyzed Veterans of America.”

Pickens apparently made the offer earlier this month in Washington:

The senator said Pickens issued the challenge Nov. 6 in Washington, while serving as chairman of a 40th anniversary gala for American Spectator magazine.
In his letter to Pickens, the senator challenged the billionaire’s honor. “I trust that you are a man of your word, having made a very public challenge at a major Washington dinner, and look forward to taking you up on this challenge,” Kerry wrote.”

It sounds like Kerry thinks he has a sure winner on one charge. If so, he’ll likely use that as a hammer to claim all the charges were false. Pickens isn’t the type to back down from a challenge so this should be fun. Whatever the terms of the bet, I hope the process is public and adversarial.

Update (11/16/2007): Pickens’ has responded

“Pickens wrote Friday in a letter faxed to Kerry, “I am certainly open to your challenge,” but he said he would not pay Kerry unless the senator first provided him with copies of his wartime journals, as well as movies he shot while on patrol and his complete military records for 1971 to 1978.

Pickens said such documentation, which the group has previously sought, would be needed to disprove its ads.

“When you have done so, if you can then prove anything in the ads was materially untrue, I will gladly award $1 million. As you know, I have been a long and proud supporter of the American military and veterans’ causes,” Pickens wrote.

He also proposed a counter-challenge: “If you cannot prove anything in the Swift Boat ads to be untrue, that you will make a $1 million gift to the charity I am choosing — the (Congressional) Medal of Honor Foundation.”

Various liberal websites characterized Pickens’ response as reneging and weaseling out. It sounds to me like Pickens has renewed his offer provided the parties agree on the material terms – the rules – regarding how the winner will be determined.


Huge Admin. Win in 9th Cir. on Terrorist Surveillance Litigation — 3-0 Vote, and all the Judges are Carter and Clinton Appointees. Who can MoveOn blame now?

[Posted By WLS] 

 In this opinion just released this morning, three Judges of the Ninth Circuit, including one of the most liberal anti-government judges in the Country, Harry Pregerson, sided with the Administration on its asserting of the “State Secrets” privilege in a lawsuit brought by Islamic groups and others against both the government. and the telecommunication companies that helped put in place the terrorist surveillance program that involved the use of warrantless wiretaps.

The court first ruled that the existence of the program was no longer a state secret because the Admin. confirmed its existence and some of its details following the exposure of the program in the NYT.  Thus, the Admin. could not now seek to stop the civil suit on the basis that it would be forced to confirm a “state secret” by even acknowledging the existence of the program.

But, the Admin. also invoked the privilege against the plaintiff because litigating the suit would require disclosure to the plaintiff of information (a “sealed document”)  needed to pursue action, but which was classified and a “state secret.” 

As the court noted, this line of authority goes back to espionage cases following the Civil War where spies hired by the Union sought to recover damages relating to their agreement.  The Supreme Court denied the suit on the basis that the agreement itself was secret, and that secrecy precluded any court action to enforce its terms.

In this case the Court held that the government had properly invoked the State Secrets privilege with respect to document(s) and information which the plaintiffs would need to proceed with their suit — such as confirmation that the plaintiffs had been the target of the Terrorist Surveillance Program and the details of how the program operated.   

  Money quote from p. 22 of the pdf:

“Having reviewed it in camera, we conclude that the Sealed Document is protected by the state secrets privilege, along with the information as to whether the government surveilled Al-Haramain. We take very seriously our obligation to review the documents with a very careful, indeed a skeptical, and not to accept at face value the government’s claim or justification of privilege. Simply saying “military secret,” “national security” or “terrorist threat” or invoking an ethereal fear that disclosure will threaten our nation is insufficient to support the privilege. Sufficient detail must be—and has been—provided for us to make a meaningful examination. The process of in camera review ineluctably places the court in a role that runs contrary to our fundamental principle of a transparent judicial system. It also places on the court a special burden to assure itself that an appropriate balance is struck between protecting national security matters and preserving an open court system. That said, we acknowledge the need to defer to the Executive on matters of foreign policy and national security and surely cannot legitimately find ourselves second guessing the Executive in this arena.

Hard to find a place in there anywhere for a “Bush/Cheney are worse than Hitler” jibe. 

Update:  I incorrectly reported above that the Court had also ruled in the Gov’t favor in the Hepting case against various telecommunications companies.  That appears not to have been the case even though the cases had been consolidated on appeal.  In a separate order the Court ordered that the cases no longer be joined, and issued no decision on the merits in the Hepting case.  That case remains pending.

Not sure how to address this problem — anyone else having trouble getting onto Politico.Com?

Filed under: General — WLS @ 11:49 am

[Posted by WLS]

For several days now I have not been able to get to load when I go to their website.  I generally get the home page up but the little Windows “hourglass” stays on the screen and I can’t navigate around the site, click “Stop” or anything else.  When I right click on button the bottom of the screen and hit “close” I get the message “This program is not responding” and I have to just close out Explorer. 

I’m working on a brand new HP laptop, and I know that in the past when I’ve encountered this problem from time to time with my old computer it was usually because of some banner ad running on the website that my computer had an objection to. 

But the problem I’m having now with Politico is constant — their site is simply unavailable to me, and its the only site I have this problem with.  I’m hoping someone here has an idea, or someone from Politico will read this and figure out what the problem is. 

You are Now Free to Pose for Playboy

Filed under: Current Events — DRJ @ 8:53 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Here’s another “Do you remember?” story. Do you remember Kyla Ebbert, the cute passenger who had a run-in with a Southwest Airlines’ employee concerning proper airline attire?

Southwest Airlines subsequently issued a tongue-in-cheek apology to Kyla: “We searched for the naked truth, gotten down to the bare facts and she kind of caught us with our pants down …” Well, maybe Southwest Airlines was onto something because Kyla has gone on to greater fame and fortune by posing nude for Playboy:

“The 23-year-old college student who was forced to alter her skimpy outfit before flying on Southwest Airlines is wearing even less on Playboy’s Web site. Kyla Ebbert appears in a series of pictures — some in lingerie, some nude — under the heading, “Legs in the Air.”

“They’re very tastefully done,” Ebbert said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press. “I don’t see anything wrong with the female body.”

Ebbert said she was paid “less than six figures,” but wouldn’t give the specific amount.
Ebbert worked at a Hooters in San Diego but said she is now looking for a more respectable waitressing job. She wants to become an attorney, and she doesn’t think posing nude should get in the way of her professional aspirations.”

I never saw this coming. 8)


A Very Serious Answer to a Very Serious Hypothetical

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:38 am

Katherine at Obsidian Wings has this hypothetical:

Stipulate that in 2002, Dick Cheney’s cardiologist was deeply opposed to the coming invasion of Iraq. Say that based on his conversations with his patient, he was convinced that (1) Cheney was trying to drag the country into war based on lies about Saddam Hussein’s weapons program; (2) invading Iraq would lead to the violent deaths of thousands of American soldiers & hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians; (3) these deaths would make the United States less safe from terrorist attack, not more so; (4) if Cheney were out of the picture, Colin Powell would be able to talk the President out of this disastrous course, & the intelligence agencies would be able to present accurate information, & the invasion would not occur; (5) he can prevent all this by deliberately sabotaging a heart procedure on Cheney & making it look like an accident; (6) murdering Cheney in this fashion is the ONLY way to prevent the war.

Say the cardiologist is 100% right about all of this. Is he justified in murdering Cheney?

I have several very serious responses.


1. It’s shocking that we are even having a debate about whether to assassinate the Vice-President. But that’s what you get when you debate with moonbats — they are assassination apologists, because they all secretly want to assassinate Bush and Cheney.

2. Your hypothetical is stupid because the answer is so obviously designed to elicit a “yes” answer to assassination. It’s like asking about the Sugar-Plum Fairy or something. It’s so unrealistic! You are just asking the question to make us say “yes,” because the only rational answer is “yes.”

3. Also, the answer to the hypo is “no.” Assassination is always wrong. Again, why are we even having this debate? How have we gotten to the point where we are even talking about this? You disgust me.

4. Assassination is illegal! Whatever happened to the rule of law??

5. Why do you have to choose such an unlikely hypothetical?

6. Let me ask you a hypothetical in response . . .

7. You are a monster, and I hope you die painfully in a fire. Also, what do you do for a living? I find it creepy that a [whatever you do] would be talking about assassination. God, I need a drink.

8. I already answered your question somewhere else.

9. The next time you ask this, can I kick you in the nuts? It’s a hypothetical, just like yours!

10. The fact that we are even having a debate about assassination really says something about the left. Yes, I know I said that, but it bears repeating. I said, it bears repeating.

I hope that answers your question.

P.S. Yes, it’s completely unfair for me to use Katherine as the target of my satirical venting against muttonhead liberals, for she has been honorable in her conduct of this discussion. I could just say life isn’t fair, but I’ll try to give her hypos a serious answer over the weekend.

A “Moment of Silence” Update

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Law — DRJ @ 7:12 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Remember Rob and Dawn Sherman, the Chicago-area father and daughter who contested the Illinois’ statute that provides for a “moment of silence” in public schools?

They won in the trial court:

“A federal court judge Wednesday found that a new state law ordering a moment of silence for prayer or reflection at the start of the school day was “likely unconstitutional.”

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Gettleman blocked a northwest suburban school district from following the mandate, and he could extend the ban to schools statewide today. In his preliminary ruling, Gettleman found that the law was vague and questioned how teachers and school officials were supposed to follow it and how it was to be enforced.

The ruling is a victory for atheist Rob Sherman, who brought the lawsuit against Township High School District 214, where Sherman’s daughter, Dawn, is a freshman at Buffalo Grove High School. “It’s state sponsorship of prayer,” Sherman said.

“It’s nice to win one, for a change,” joked the activist, who is often in court battling for atheist causes.”

Most legal experts (including the local ACLU) thought this statute was not objectionable but the court apparently found it suggested prayer and/or was not limited to a moment of silence. Thus, it’s likely the court will expand this to a state-wide ban.


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