Patterico's Pontifications


Just remember, like any Washington lobbyist, Senator Larry Craig “can buy and sell your ass a thousand times over”.

Filed under: Buffoons,Government — Justin Levine @ 11:09 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

This is admittedly a ‘he said, he said’ allegation, but I tend to believe it.

[Most major news outlets are reporting on this story from the Idaho Statesman, but amazingly, they all managed to leave out the best quotes. What the hell are these editors smoking? If you are going to report on dirt, then GIVE US THE DIRT!]

Scorsese Does Hitchcock

Filed under: General,Movies — Patterico @ 9:22 pm

Courtesy of my brother comes a link to a fascinating short film by Martin Scorsese that will be of interest to fans of Alfred Hitchcock. It’s 9 minutes and 20 seconds, and is a recreation of 3 1/2 pages from a Hitchcock film that was never made: “The Key to Reserva.” Scorsese sets out to shoot these pages the way Hitchcock would have shot them. The result is fascinating, and pure Hitchcock.

The music is from “North by Northwest.”

Click here.

UPDATE: The comments at Metafilter indicate that the film is actually a commercial for the champagne. That actually helps it make more sense, and explains the funny “mockumentary” style of the “making of” scenes, as well as the amazing seeming familiarity of some of the scenes.

If that’s a commercial, it’s the greatest commercial I have ever seen for any product. It makes me want to run out and buy a bottle right now, just to thank them for such a cool experience.

UPDATE x2: Confirmation. Note also David Ehrenstein’s comment below, explaining the humor of the missing page, for those of us who missed it.

Jonah Goldberg On CNN’s Virtual Reality

Filed under: 2008 Election,Media Bias,Movies — DRJ @ 7:04 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Jonah Goldberg has an excellent and delightfully sarcastic column on the recent CNN YouTube Republican debate. It’s well worth reading the whole thing but I’m linking it because of one section where Goldberg references the Bill Murray-Harold Ramis-John Candy movie Stripes:

“Just as revealing were the questioners who weren’t revealed to be plants. For the most part they were a motley crew of conservative caricatures. CNN’s typical “ordinary American” (translation: “scary Republican”) was a pale, gaunt, twenty-something white dude who looked like he’d spent the last year working in the sunless bunker he’d constructed out of his mom’s basement. Several of the videos were reminiscent of the sort of thing investigators discover while searching the home of slain white militiamen after a terrorist attack.

One of these young men was, literally, a bible thumper who demanded to know if the GOP candidates were as committed to “every word in this book” as he was. Another questioner took a brief break from the shooting range to ask about gun control. But he made it clear, as he cocked a shotgun thrown to him from off camera, that the candidates answers didn’t much matter because, he implied, they could have his gats when they pried them from his cold dead hands.

Another young man asked from the comfortable sovereignty of his dorm room what the Confederate Flag – which hung conspicuously behind him – meant to the men on the stage. Sadly, the guy who played “Psycho” in the movie Stripes was apparently unavailable to record a video. Still, it would have been nice if at least one of the candidates had seized on one of the numerous opportunities to say, “Lighten up, Francis.”

Because of Stripes, “Lighten up, Francis” is part of our family’s basic vocabulary along with a dozen other memorable quotes and some great character names. (Now you know I have average American taste in movies.)

On a more serious note, Goldberg’s advice to CNN is superb. Here’s my advice from an average American: CNN needs to get over itself and report the news, not make it.

H/T Instapundit.

Update: CNN claims it did a “basic internet search” on General Kerr. Everything I’ve read suggests an initial Google search in Kerr’s name referred to his role in the Clinton and Kerry committees. I wonder if CNN does internet searches only on its own website?


Russia’s Putin and Venezuela’s Chavez Win(s) [Updated]

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 6:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

*Updates bumped to the top*

FINAL UPDATE 12/2/2007 @ 10:45 PM PST: The Houston Chronicle reports “Chavez suffers a stunning defeat.” The vote was 51/49 with 90% of the vote in.

UPDATE 12/2/2007 @ 9:35 PM PST: Caracas Chronicles agrees it’s official: 51% – No; 49% – Yes.

UPDATE 12/2/2007 @ 10:00 9:00 PM PST: Fox News has posted this Breaking News caption: “Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Has Lost Constitutional Vote, Says Electoral Chief.”

UPDATE 12/2/2007 @ 8:50 PM PST: The Houston Chronicle’s South American Bureau reports the Venezuelan government-controlled National Electoral Council is “mysteriously mum” while opposition leaders were “all smiles and broadly hinting that their side was winning.”

UPDATE 12/2/2007 @ 8:30 PM PST: The Venezuelan Vice President concedes the reform vote is close.

UPDATE 12/2/2007 @ 8:00 PM PST: The blogger at Caracas Chronicles reports the constitutional amendments failed. Who knows at this point? Stay tuned.

UPDATE 12/2/2007 @ 7:30 PM PST: In contrast to earlier reports in which Chavez claimed the constitutional amendments had passed, the constitutional changes he supported are now reported to be too close to call:

“The result of Venezuela’s referendum on constitutional changes that would give President Hugo Chavez vast new powers was too close to call, government and opposition leaders said Sunday.
The new amendments would give Chavez more control over the armed forces, the economy, the Central Bank and national politics. They also lengthen the presidential period from six to seven years and scrap term limits, a change that the political opposition argues could allow Chavez to govern for decades to come.”


The party of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez and Russian President Vladimir Putin won elections today with over 60% of the vote.

Chavez, who has already announced his intention to run for President for life, is expected to continue moving Venezuela toward a more socialist, anti-American agenda. Putin’s more modest goal is to:

“… give him a ‘moral right’ to mould policy after he leaves the presidency next year. But he has not said what role he will take or whom he favors to succeed him as presidency.”

Chavez and Venezuela pose an interesting problem for the US. Chavez has aligned Venezuelan interests and himself with Cuba’s Castro and Iran’s Ahmadinejad. He is willing to take on the Western powers as evidenced by his claim that President Bush is “the devil” and more recently by his threat to throw Spanish companies out of Venezuela in retaliation for derogatory comments made about him by Spain’s King Juan Carlos I and former PM Aznar.

Russia may be the more powerful nation but Venezuela is much closer to home, poses a threat to area democracy, continues its military buildup, and controls significant regional oil reserves. The US has historically tried to straddle a fence that criticizes and discourages Chavez while trying not to meddle in Venezuelan politics. It’s an admirable tactic but may be doomed to failure as long as Chavez continues to paint the US as the enemy. (See pp. 31-32 at this link for a discussion of US policies and options.)

Multinational corporations like ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, StatOil, Chevron, and TotalFinaElf have dealt with Venezuela for years, only to see their interests nationalized or significantly limited during the past 2 years of the Chavez administration. These companies offered substantial financial resources and were willing to work cooperatively with the Chavez Administration to accomplish their financial goals.

There is very little the US government could offer Chavez and Venezuela in financial benefits that these companies haven’t already offered, ultimately with no success. For that reason, I doubt a diplomatic or financial solution will work. For now, however, this may be the only option the US has.


Romney to Give Speech on His Religion

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 2:33 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Later this week at the Bush Library in Texas, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will give a speech on his religion and faith in America:

“Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will give a speech this week explaining his Mormon faith, his campaign said Sunday.

The decision, made after months of debate at his Boston headquarters over whether to make a public address about his religion, comes as the former Massachusetts governor’s bid is threatened in Iowa by underdog Mike Huckabee, a one-time Southern Baptist minister who has rallied influential Christian conservatives to erase Romney’s months-long lead and turn the race into a dead-heat.

Romney will deliver a speech called “Faith in America” at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, on Thursday.

“This speech is an opportunity for Governor Romney to share his views on religious liberty, the grand tradition religious tolerance has played in the progress of our nation and how the governor’s own faith would inform his presidency if he were elected,” Kevin Madden, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement. “Governor Romney understands that faith is an important issue to many Americans, and he personally feels this moment is the right moment for him to share his views with the nation.”

I think this speech is long overdue. It’s not fair that Romney’s faith is subject to special scrutiny but a Mormon candidate is a problem for those Americans who see it as more of a cult than a religion. In addition, it’s always surprised me that Romney hasn’t been better prepared to deal with this issue.

As an aside, the Bush Library in College Station TX is an interesting venue for the speech and, to me, it’s a surprising place to pick to cover this topic.


ADDITIONAL NOTE 12/2/2007: In a similar vein, Tony Blair avoided discussing religion while he was Prime Minister:

“During the interview, Mr Blair said faith was a crucial component for him in having the character to take on the prime minister’s job and had been “hugely important” to his premiership. But while it was commonplace in the US and elsewhere for politicians to talk about their religious convictions, he added: “you talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you’re a nutter.”


Readers’ Rep Blog

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 1:57 pm

There’s a long lull at the L.A. Times Readers’ Rep blog, with no new comments or posts for the last three days. I have no idea why. I have a slew of unpublished comments readers have e-mailed me that were posted there, but haven’t been approved. But I’m going to hold off on publishing them, because the complete lack of activity at the blog indicates that there may be an innocent reason they’re not being published. Stay tuned.

Teacher Arrested for Praising Columbine Shooters in a Blog Comment

Filed under: Blogging Matters — DRJ @ 1:37 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

There’s a report about a West Bend, Wisconsin, high school teacher and former teachers’ union president who was arrested for praising the Columbine shooters in an anonymous blog comment:

“As readers of a conservative blog debated the subject of teacher salaries, a writer using the pseudonym “Observer” weighed in. The West Bend teachers’ salaries made him sick, the person wrote, adding that the 1999 Columbine High School killers had the right idea.

“They knew how to deal with the overpaid teacher union thugs. One shot at a time! Too bad the liberls (sic) rip them; they were heros (sic) and should be remembered that way,” the writer said.

But police say the writer was a teacher himself – and the past president of a teachers union – apparently posing as a teacher-hater. James Buss was arrested Thursday by West Bend police, and the 46-year-old Cudahy man could face criminal charges. He has been suspended from his job as a teacher at Oak Creek High School.”

A West Bend school official read the post and contacted law enforcement because the comment “one shot at a time” was interpreted as a threat. Police arrested Buss on criminal misdemeanor charges of unlawful use of computerized communication systems and disorderly conduct.

First, this seems like a clear First Amendment issue and I don’t see how the authorities can successfully prosecute Buss for his comments.

Second, I ran across this story last week at Boots & Sabres, the conservative blog where the comment was left. Here’s the background from the blog host:

“Yes, the comment in question was posted in a comment thread on B&S. Let me fill in the details…

Late on the evening of Friday, November 16th, Jed and I received an email from a detective with the West Bend Police Department asking me about the above comment. Do you remember what was happening that weekend? Yep. Gun deer season.

I saw the email at about 7:30 AM on the 17th while I was sitting in my deer stand. I promptly called the detective and consequently woke him up. He asked if we would provide the IP address of the commenter. Since I wasn’t anywhere near a computer and wouldn’t be for some time, I emailed Jed who sent the information in a matter of minutes. I guess Jed was let out of the bunker for a while.

The next week the detective called and we spoke about it. At no time did the detective even so much as hint that the proprietors of B&S were at fault. He asked us to remove the comment if we could preserve a permanent record. He also revealed that the complaint was filed by a member of the West Bend school administration.

The next thing I knew about this was when I read this news story saying that the commenter had been arrested. In case you were wondering, you are not anonymous on the internet. I have received several calls from reporters with various news organizations seeking comment. I haven’t returned any calls yet, because I wanted to write out the story in full form before somebody misquoted me.

This evening I called and spoke to the detective. He did confirm that no other evidence was found at the man’s home and that the charges are based on the comment he left here at B&S. It’s an ongoing investigation, so he couldn’t say much, but between him and some other sources, I think I have the majority of this story put together. The paperwork for the investigation was finished this afternoon and it will likely be referred to the District Attorney as soon as tonight (which probably means Monday, in reality).”

The blog hosts believe the police overreacted but they also point out that Buss posed as an illiterate, teacher-hating commenter, apparently in an attempt to defame those who oppose a local school bond:

“What do I think?

At first blush, I think it’s a gross overreaction for a comment left on a blog. Yes, the comment was idiotic and over the top, but it hardly constitutes a direct threat to anyone. It was explained to me that it was not believed that the commenter had any intent to harm anyone, but that the mere presence of a comment appearing to condone such violence had to be punished because it might encourage someone else to engage in violence against schools. I don’t buy that argument. In fact, let’s put it in context with the commenter’s next comment on that thread.

I am NOT advcting shootng teachrs. I agree with Mark belling when he said that theese kids were pushed into doing this by the stupid union teachrs at Colmbine. belling said that to bad only one teachr got it and lots of kids. shuld have been the other way. belling hates teachrs I like belling

It appears to me that the commenter is attempting to do one of two things. Option 1: the commenter is a right wing whack job that isn’t violent, but likes to engage in outlandish rhetoric. Option 2: the commenter is a liberal who is trying to discredit conservatives by acting like option 1.

As you can see from the story, the commenter is actually a union teacher from Oak Creek, but it gets more interesting than that. The commenter was also once the president of his local teachers’ union. This leads me to believe that Option 2 is the truth. This commenter is just a liberal union teacher who was trying to make conservatives look bad by pretending to be one and acting like an imbecile.

That being said, I still believe that the arrest was unwarranted. I realize that in a post-Columbine world that everyone is hypersensitive about any mention of Columbine or school shootings. But this comment was clearly just talk. When I gave the detective the IP address, I assumed that they would find him, chew him out a bit for being an idiot, and leave it alone. The fact that the West Bend Police decided to actually arrest him in the absence of any additional evidence of this guy being a threat is out of line.”

The blog hosts have solicited comments on the blogging ethics of providing the commenter’s IP address to the police. Mosey on over to Boots & Sabres if you have an opinion on the subject.


Guns in America: One Woman’s Story

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 12:43 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

This line from Vic DeSantis with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department says it all:

“You know, you just can’t gauge people’s reactions when they’re in that type of situation.”

Now for the rest of the story:

“A local woman wasn’t going to let a band of robbers tie her up and take her jewelry Friday. Police said a Merritt Island [Florida] woman fought back against her intruders, scaring them away with her handgun, WESH 2 News reported.

According to police, the men had a plan and a convincing costume — reflective vests and hardhats. Neighbors said they looked like power company workers and police said the men knew who they were attacking. “They had the jacket on, the vest and the hardhat and everything,” neighbor Amanda Wiedmann said. She said she will never forget seeing the robbers who targeted her neighbor.

The woman told police her story about being duct-taped, shocked with a Taser, robbed and then getting away and chasing the men down her driveway while shooting at them. “She took a couple shots, and they took a couple shots because she said they had some guns with them,” witness Heather Roberson said. All along the driveway was a trail of jewelry and money. The fleeing attackers dropped the stuff in a panic as bullets whizzed past them.

The victim had freed herself from the tape and come out shooting.”

Authorities believe the men “followed the woman home from a gambling ship cruise at Port Canaveral, apparently noticing that she had money.” No blood trail was found so they aren’t sure if anyone was shot.

Video interview here.


Revelation at L.A. Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Immigration — Patterico @ 10:31 am

An L.A. Times correction:

Republican debate: An article in Thursday’s Section A on the Republican presidential debate said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had suggested that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was heartless for opposing college scholarships for immigrants. The exchange was over scholarships for illegal immigrants.

So they do know the difference after all!

At least, somebody there does.

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