Patterico's Pontifications


Patterico Reader To Be Published in L.A. Times Complaining About Rutten

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:07 pm

Patterico reader Russell Fox has been told his letter about Tim Rutten’s column will be published in tomorrow’s paper. I’ll link it in the morning. Russell says he was disgusted when he read the article, and was motivated to write in after reading my post. Good going, Russell. Looking forward to seeing the letter.

UPDATE: Here you go.

Potomac Primaries

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 9:06 pm

Obama and McCain swept the Potomac primaries. Those close to Hillary conceded early in the day that she needs to win Ohio and Texas — and in the view of at least one superdelegate, win “comfortably” — to have a chance.

Penn Jillette says Obama is the next president, based on the reception his audiences have been giving to an anti-Hillary joke he has been telling. Pretty convincing. (The language is not completely clean.)

Are Republicans About To Draw Into an Inside Straight?

Filed under: 2008 Election — WLS @ 2:13 pm

I know its 8 1/2 months until the general election, but John Fund had an interesting piece up yesterday on the electoral college math in a McCain v. Hillary/Obama matchup. 

He starts from the premise that in the outcome is likely to be closely divided simply because the country has been closely divided for the past 10 years — pretty much going back to the Clinton impeachment.  His analysis doesn’t really address the so-called “enthusiasm gap” between the partisans on both sides. 

But, I think he is of the opinion that where that enthusiasm gap will play out the most is in states where the Dems are likely to win anyway — they’ll simply win by larger margins that Gore and Kerry won by in those states in 2000 and 2004.

And, Fund seems to be of the view that any ambivalence on the part of the GOP coalition will be wiped out by the prospect of another Clinton presidency — Billary will galvanize the GOP regardless of the heartburn the candidate might give particular segments of the coalition.  How an Obama candidacy might impact GOP turnout is still an unanswered question — though the “Bradley Effect” must also be taken into account with Obama.

Going back to the landscape of the Electoral Map, Fund looks at where outcomes from 2000 and 2004 might change the electoral vote totals. 


In Which I Agree with the Editors of the L.A. Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 7:11 am

Six 9/11 suspects may face the death penalty. The L.A. Times editorializes that:

[A]s a moral matter, the possibility that a suspect could be put to death in the United States based on statements coerced from him by torture is an abomination — even more so because it might be legal. Under the Military Commissions Act, evidence obtained by coercion may be introduced at trial provided a judge finds it “reliable and probative” (meaning persuasive and damning). Congress rushed to pass this deeply flawed act, which also denies detainees the ancient writ of habeas corpus, after the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the military commissions could not be used to prosecute enemy combatants for war crimes without congressional authorization. But the act failed to guarantee that the tribunals would give defendants a fair trial, or to provide any mechanism for the release of innocent detainees wrongly deemed enemy combatants.

The military judges should refuse to admit any evidence tainted by waterboarding or any other form of illegal coercion — but they may have little choice given that they’re required to conduct the trial under the odious statute passed by Congress. Pentagon officials say they’re confident that they have enough unclassified, incontrovertible evidence to prove Mohammed’s guilt without resorting to any coerced testimony. They’d better be right. Otherwise, the trial will fail at its most important task: to show the world that the 9/11 terrorists were not noble freedom fighters but common criminals who committed mass murder. If prosecutors cannot make that case without secret evidence or testimony tainted by abuse, they will dishonor U.S. justice and our cause.

They’re right.

I get frustrated with waterboarding opponents who self-righteously argue that no amount of waterboarding of any individual could ever be justified under any circumstances.

But I also get frustrated with waterboarding supporters who minimize the downsides of waterboarding or other coercive techniques.

I have said about waterboarding and other coercive interrogation techniques:

[T]here are serious costs to such an approach . . . There are slippery slope arguments grounded in reality, arguments about the kind of society we want to be, arguments about the reliability of the information we get, and so on. Any confession you get is going to be unusable in court, and will interfere with any criminal prosecutions that might occur.

Apparently it may be legal by statute to use coerced confessions in the tribunals that the 9/11 suspects will face. But it may not be constitutional. Frankly, I rather doubt that the Supreme Court will allow the imposition of the death penalty based on testimony obtained by coercion — whether it’s considered “reliable” or not.

Even if it is legal, a prosecution based on such testimony would not vindicate our position in the world community. (And, as much fun as it is to mock the concept, it does matter to some degree what the world thinks of us.) It would rightly remind other countries of the totalitarian governments of the last century, which habitually executed people in trials based on confessions obtained by torture. By obtaining confessions in this way, we open ourselves up to criticism that the confessions are false. People often make that argument about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s confessions.

The editors have it right. Waterboarding, and other forms of interrogation that would result in coerced confessions, has serious downsides. This is one of them: once you have done it, what do you do with the people you did it to?

All I can do is agree with the editors: I sure hope the case can be made without this coerced testimony. If not, we’re in trouble.

Tim Rutten’s Pattern of Dishonesty

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:23 am

Time to put Tim Rutten’s latest dishonesty in historical context. Because a clear pattern is emerging. All you have to do is compare Rutten’s statements to the record.

As a reminder, here’s Rutten’s column from this past Saturday:

Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Vice President Dick Cheney was addressing the meat-eaters at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He told them that he was glad the administration had tortured people and that he’d do it again: “Would I support those same decisions again today? You’re damn right I would.”

False. Here’s the only use of the word “torture” in Vice President Cheney’s speech:

The United States is a country that takes human rights seriously. We do not torture — it’s against our laws and against our values. We’re proud of our country and what it stands for.

That’s Tim Rutten falsely claiming that a Bush admininstration official said something that he actually hadn’t said. Here’s the flip side of the coin: Rutten falsely claiming that a Bush Administration official had not said something, that he actually had said.

Here’s Tim Rutten from November 3, 2007:

So what we have here is a president and vice president who want to install as the country’s chief law enforcement official a man who refuses to flatly say that the United States of America should not torture people.

False. Here’s a quote from the New York Times from two weeks earlier:

Mr. Mukasey also pleased the Democrats who control the Judiciary Committee by saying that he considered torture of terrorist suspects to be illegal under American and international law and that the president did not have the authority to order it under any circumstances.

Recall also that in a controversy over war reporting, Tim Rutten claimed a document doesn’t exist, when in fact it did.

From Rutten’s column about Scott Thomas Beauchamp:

It was interesting to note that Drudge provided links to the transcripts and report but not to the purported “Memorandum for Record.”

False. I took the following screenshot from a set of documents taken from what Drudge posted:


Are you starting to see a pattern?

Rutten undoubtedly has a “baroque explanation” for all these false statements. I’m quite sure he feels eminently justified in telling readers that black is white, up is down, and truth is false.

But for you, the reader, my advice is simple. If Tim Rutten asserts a fact about the Bush Administration, don’t blindly accept it. Keep in mind the very real possibility that the truth is the exact opposite of what Rutten has said.

It’s happened too many times now.

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