Patterico's Pontifications


Two Harry Reid Quotes

Filed under: General,Politics,War — DRJ @ 10:10 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Remember this Harry Reid quote from April 19, 2007?

“I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and — you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows — that this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq.”

Fast forward eight months to December 21, 2007:

“The president said, “Let’s send some more troops over there, and that will give the Iraqis the time to take care of themselves.” We sent other troops over there, and there are a lot of reasons the surge certainly hasn’t hurt. It’s helped. I recognize that.”

And then Reid moved right into “that said, you know, the ethnic cleansing has taken place all over Iraq.”

It looks like the Democrats have a new talking point.


Seven Medical “Facts” that Fool Doctors, Too

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 8:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Medical researchers have identified seven medical myths or unknowns that even fool doctors:

“Doctors often fall for the same health myths that their patients do, Drs. Rachel Vreeman and Aaron Carroll report in the Christmas-New Year’s issue of the British Medical Journal. Among seven myths they cite is the eight-glasses-of-water one. “There is no medical evidence to suggest that you need that much water,” Vreeman concluded after their intensive review of research.

She and Carroll trace the misperception to a 1945 recommendation by the Nutrition Council that Americans consume the equivalent of eight glasses of fluids daily. Lost over the years, they concluded, was the council’s note that the 64 ounces called for included water contained in coffee, soda, fruits and vegetables.Based on polls of their colleagues at the medical school, other widespread but unjustified convictions included:

People use only 10 percent of their brains. Lots of evidence refutes that common belief, they say. Most compelling is the finding that damage to almost any area of the brain has powerful effects on thinking, bodily functioning and behavior.

Hair and fingernails keep growing after death. According to forensic anthropologist William Maples, whom the researchers cite: “It’s a powerful, disturbing image, but it is pure moonshine.” What does happen, is dehydration after death sometimes causes skin around the hair or nails to shrink.

Vreeman and Carroll also take on claims, endorsed by some doctors they quizzed, that reading by dim light ruins eyesight; eating turkey makes you sleepy; shaved hair grows back faster, darker or coarser; and cell phones seriously disrupt with hospital electronics.

In each case, Carroll said, “we’re not saying that it’s a lie, but that at best nobody knows. At worst, it’s not true.” In the nobody-really-knows category, they said, are the effects of dim light on vision and the extent to which cell phones might interfere with medical devices.

The pair’s debunking research got started, Carroll said, after he heard a doctor caution in a pre-Halloween radio interview against strangers poisoning kids with candy. “I knew that there was no documented case of that, and I thought that a doctor shouldn’t be raising the fear,” Carroll said.”

The researchers plan to write a book debunking 100 medical myths including (they claim) these classics: chewing gum can get stuck in your digestive tract and sugar makes kids hyperactive.


The Lawyerization of War

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 3:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Patterico recently hosted a thoughtful and spirited debate on the legality of waterboarding, and this post is representative of that series. While the question of whether the US should waterboard detainees has been treated as both a moral and a legal issue, most discussions have focused on whether waterboarding is or should be legal.

The Israeli government investigation that followed the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon war illustrates why the US should resist the lawyerization of the war:

“This week the IDF distributed ribbons to its soldiers and officers for their service in the war with Hizbullah in 2006. The ribbons were a source of embarrassment. Soldiers and officers, who like the general public view the war as Israel’s greatest military defeat, are loath to pin them on their uniforms.

While the soldiers and general public view the war as a failure, one sector of Israeli society sees the war as a great triumph. For Israel’s legal establishment, the war was a great victory. It was a war in which its members asserted their dominance over Israel’s political and military leadership.

The legal establishment’s ardor for the Second Lebanon War was exposed on Tuesday with the publication of the testimonies of Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz and Military Advocate-General Avichai Mandelblit before the Winograd Committee which the Olmert government established to research the war’s failures. In their testimonies both men shared their perception of the war as a great victory of lawyers in their campaign to “lawyerize” – or assert their control – over Israeli society.

In his opening statement, Mazuz extolled the war as “the most ‘lawyerly’ in the history of the State of Israel, and perhaps ever.” He explained, “The process didn’t begin in Lebanon 2006. It… is a gradual process of ‘lawyerizing’ life in Israel.”

Mazuz responded negatively to the question of whether legal considerations superseded operational and strategic goals during the war. He claimed that the government and the IDF restricted their plans from the beginning to conform with perceived legal restrictions.

As he put it, that preemptive limitation of goals was “the result of a sort of education and internalization that have taken place over the years. I remember periods where there was a great deal of friction with the senior military level regarding what is allowed and what is prohibited. But today I think that there is more or less an understanding of the rules of the game and I can’t identify any confrontation… or … demands to ‘Let the IDF win.'”

Mandelblit and Mazuz testified that legal advisers were present at all levels of command in all the relevant service arms and in the security cabinet. At each level the lawyers were asked to judge the legality of all the proposed targets and planned operations before they were carried out. And as the two explained, in their decisions, these lawyers were informed not by the goal of winning the war, but by their interpretation of international law.

From both men’s perspectives, international law takes precedence over the national interests in wartime war. Mazuz argued, “Today international law controls our lives, no less … than domestic law. In all spheres – not just in the sphere of the laws of war… the sovereignty of states is diminishing and international law is becoming the tip of the pyramid of norms. It is becoming a substitute for the constitutions of states.”

It’s not unthinkable that the majority of nations will someday agree that Israel is a rogue nation whose lands should be “returned” to the Palestinians. If that day comes, I wonder how these Israeli lawyers will feel about sitting on the tip of that pyramid?

The article’s author also considered whether the lawyerization of the Israeli-Lebanon war contributed to the perception/fact that Israel lost the war. I think the answer is clearly “Yes” judging by Mazuz’s views, in which he equates war to child’s play where the goal is to avoid winners and losers:

“Given the contrast between Mandelblit’s and Mazuz’s view of the war as a triumph and the public’s view of the war as a failure, it is worth considering whether there is a connection between the unprecedented “lawyerization” of the war in Lebanon and the fact that Israel lost the war.

Mazuz effectively asserted that international law prevents victory in war when he argued, “The laws of war, or international humanitarian law doesn’t concern itself with relations between two states, but with the relationship between civilians and states. That is, it places the two warring states on one side of the divide and the citizens of the two states on the other side, and the goal of international law is to protect the citizens of the two states and to say: You’re big kids. You want to fight, go fight, you have rules… and the rules aim to minimize as much as possible the consequences of the war.

By so arguing, Mazuz demonstrated that he views the goals of legal advisers as different from and indeed in conflict with the goals of political and military leaders. The goal of the latter is to defend the country from its enemies and to win wars. As Mazuz and Mandelblit see things, lawyers are tasked with protecting enemy populations from the IDF.

The distinctive way that legal advisers define their responsibilities has had an enormous impact on the military and the political leadership of the country. It is not that the internalization of the lawyers’ approach has made the IDF or the Israeli government any more moral or law abiding than they have always been. Israel has never targeted civilians and has always sought to protect innocent civilians from harm even when they shelter enemy forces.

What has changed is the focus of military and political leaders in conducting war. Before the advent of legal dominance, commanders and political leaders devoted themselves to winning wars. Today they concentrate their efforts on avoiding criminal indictments.

Do you want to win or do you want to lawyer? That is the question.

NOTE: The equally interesting last section of the linked article is a summary of the Barak-Posner debate regarding “Can Democracy Overcome Terror?” I’ll leave it to others to explore that topic or (perhaps) I will address it in a future post but it’s definitely worth reading.

H/T Instapundit.


A Different Kind of Christmas Message from Fred Thompson

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 12:50 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Hillary Clinton’s Christmas message focused on all the gifts her government will give us.

The Instapundit notes that Fred Thompson has also posted a Christmas video message. Fred’s message has a noticeably different focus:

Someone should remind Hillary of this famous Democratic quote:

“And so, my fellow americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

John F. Kennedy, Inaugural address, January 20, 1961
35th president of US 1961-1963 (1917 – 1963)

By the way, Fred was also the subject of a recent hit piece over his campaign swing through Iowa that you can read about in these posts by Bob Owens at Confederate Yankee and updated at Pajamas Media. So while I’m watching Fred videos, I may as well add a link to Fred’s “No Hats” video.


Immigration Enforcement Works

Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 9:15 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Arizona has begun serious immigration enforcement via employer sanctions that don’t take effect until January 1, but the threat of sanctions is already working:

“Illegal immigrants in Arizona, frustrated with a flagging economy and tough new legislation cracking down on their employers, are returning to their home countries or trying their luck in other states.

For months, immigrants have taken a wait-and-see attitude toward the state’s new employer-sanctions law, which takes effect Jan. 1. The voter-approved legislation is an attempt to lessen the economic incentive for illegal immigrants in Arizona, the busiest crossing point along the U.S.-Mexico border. And by all appearances, it’s starting to work.

“People are calling me telling me about their friend, their cousin, their neighbors — they’re moving back to Mexico,” said Magdalena Schwartz, an immigrant-rights activist and pastor at a Mesa church. “They don’t want to live in fear, in terror.”

Martin Herrera, a 40-year-old illegal immigrant and masonry worker who lives in Camp Verde, 70 miles north of Phoenix, said he is planning to return to Mexico as soon as he ties up loose ends after living here for four years. “I don’t want to live here because of the new law and the oppressive environment,” he said. “I’ll be better in my country.”

He called the employer-sanctions law “absurd.” “Everybody here, legally or illegally, we are part of a motor that makes this country run,” Herrera said. “Once we leave, the motor is going to start to slow down.”

There’s no way to know how many illegal immigrants are leaving Arizona, especially now with many returning home for normal holidays visits. But economists, immigration lawyers and people who work in the immigrant community agree it’s happening.

State Rep. Russell Pearce of Mesa, the author of the employer sanctions law, said his intent was to drive illegal immigrants out of Arizona. “I’m hoping they will self-deport,” Pearce said. “They broke the law. They’re criminals.”

The logic behind the new law is straightforward:

Under the employer sanctions law, businesses found to have knowingly hired illegal workers will be subject to sanctions from probation to a 10-day suspension of their business licenses. A second violation would bring permanent revocation of the license.

Nancy-Jo Merritt, an immigration lawyer who primarily represents employers, said her clients already have started to fire workers who can’t prove they are in the country legally. “Workers are being fired, of course,” she said. “Nobody wants to find out later on that they’ve got somebody working for them who’s not here legally.”

When immigrants don’t have jobs, they don’t stick around, said Dawn McLaren, a research economist at Arizona State University who specializes in illegal immigration. She said the flagging economy, particularly in the construction industry, also is contributing to an immigrant exodus. “As the jobs dwindle and the environment becomes more unpleasant in more ways than one, you then decide what to do, and perhaps leaving looks like a good idea,” she said. “And certainly that creates a problem, because as people leave, they take the jobs they created with them.”

Pearce disagreed that the Arizona economy will suffer after illegal immigrants leave, saying there will be less crime, lower taxes, less congestion, smaller classroom sizes and shorter lines in emergency rooms.

“We have a free market. It’ll adjust,” he said. “Americans will be much better off.”

I hope New Mexico and Texas get on board. California, too.


Was There Another Hillary Plant?

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 8:45 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Gateway Pundit has the story on Hillary’s Jesus moment:

“Hillary got a “surprise” visit from her Sunday School teacher from the Chicago area while she spoke in Donnellson, Iowa.

It looks like Hillary’s Jesus moment was likely another staged event for the Democratic front runner.”

Read the details at Gateway Pundit and then note this community blog post and update:

“As you know, Hillary met in Donnellson Iowa at a firehouse (you can’t beat that, images of 9/11 and all) and a person, Amy Fellows of “Croton Iowa” (no such city) asked her if she was Christian. What followed was a saccarine exchange of religious greetings and an oportunity for Hillary to expound on her Methodist upbringing.

Following on the heels of the e-mail scandal where Hillary campaign workers were caught spreading mis-information that Obama was a Muslin, this was pretty neat.

After this homily on Methodism, “somone in the crowd” (how convenient, an anonymous person) shouted our “Her Sunday School Teacher is Here!”

What heppened next is up for debate. The AP wire story and other outlets carried this as a long-lost runion between Clinton and Ms. Bentzinger, her Sunday school teacher. No mention was made that the two had met in April of this year at a similar event in nearby Fort Madison. The spin on the story was that this hearwarming event was a reunion for Ms. Clinton and Ms. Bentzinger.

I first heard of this event on the blogsite when a poster put up a message to the effect that this was such a wonderful heartwarming event – again the implication that this was a long-lost reunion. When I ponted out they had seen each other a few months earlier, the poster on the blogsite deleted the original message.

Today, I receive threatening messages from (what I believe to be) Clinton people, claiming I am attacking the character of Ms. Bentzinger. It is clear that this is how the Clinton campaign is going to play this out. Anyone who questions the authenticity of this scripted campaign event is challenging the character of Ms. Benzinger, who is, buy all accounts, a distinguished Methodist scholar and leader. How dare you! for shame! Attacking a little old lady like that!

This is a neat way of deflecting the criticism of the Hillary campaign and turning it back upon the accuser.

But let me be clear on the record, and you can read my blog to verify this: I have never said otherwise that Ms. Bentzinger is anything other than a distinguished Methodist leader, scholar, and of course , Sunday School Teacher. She has a scholarship named after her.

In this regard, the Clinton campaign seems to be playing DOWN her credentials, making it appear as though she was some unknown little old lady who came out to see her former pupil. I find ir hard to believe that Hillary would not recognize Ms. Bentzinger, given her fame and also given that they met a few months prior. I also find it hard to believe that the entire event played out by accident – with this Jesus question (coming on the heels of the Obama/Muslin attacks) being sequed nicely into a tearful hug and reunion with Ms. Bentzinger.

The entire POINT of the “Hilly Copter” (Clinton’s words, not mine) tour was to “SHOWCASE her softer side” (again her words not mine). So we have had events already where Hillary appears with people from her childhood, who then say nice things about her while Hillary gets “glassy eyed”.

If you plan a tour to have friends and acquainces from your childhood give testimonials, how could you MISS the Sunday School teacher you met in April of this year, who is living in Iowa? I think the Clinton campaign fully knew this and made sure she attended. And I think it was a Clinton operative that shouted out “Her Sunday School Teacher is Here!” I also think Ms. Bentzinger is a genuine Hillary supporter who was a pawn in this pagent.”

Here is the same author’s community blog UPDATE:

“Note also the original Ap wire story notes that Ms. Brentzinger was “with a friend of Clinton’s” which is interesting in several ways:

1. Who was the “woman” who shouted out of the crowd “Sunday School Teacher” – was this the “friend of Clinton’s”?

2. If Brentzinger was with this “friend of Clinton’s” why did not Hillary recognize her earlier?

3. Did this “friend of Clinton’s” drive Ms. Bretzinger to the event, and if so, was this part of a plan for this “surprise” reunion?

4. Does this “friend” have a name and why was this not reported?

Other questions:

Why did I get this e-mail from Gannett News Service today?


After the event ended, Ms. Bentzinger showed me and other reporters who cared to talk to her the photo of her with Sen. Clinton in April. That was never a secret.

Brian Tumulty
Gannett News Service
1100 New York Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20005
Tel. 202-906-8133

If this is true, why does the AP story and every other outlet that ran the AP story run it as a long-lost reunion between Hillary and her Sunday School teacher?

The answers to all this are simple. It was a scripted event. However, they carefully worded the press release so that they can say “well, we didn’t SAY it was a long-lost reunion” – it was only IMPLIED.

Also, the Clinton operatives e-mailing me all predicate their attacks with “Well, I’m not saying it wasn’t possible the meeting was not pre-arranged, BUT…” So they are covering themselves there.

I suspect that they will say that unnnamed campaign workers staged it and that Hillary wasn’t in the loop. This has been the pattern so far. Plausible Deniability.”

It sounds to me like Hillary is putting on a full-court Jesus press.


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