Patterico's Pontifications


Bill Clinton, Again

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 8:41 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Bill Clinton made an appearance this evening just up the road in Lubbock, Texas, where he spoke in support of his wife, Hillary, before a crowd of 1,500 plus (including the overflow) at the high school Buddy Holly once attended. As usual, the evening was as much about Bill as Hillary.

First, the Hillary part:

“All Marjorie Reynolds had to say was “William Jefferson ‘Bill’ Clinton” to get most of the 1,500 people in Westerner Arena to start cheering. But it turned to a high pitch scream when the 42nd president stuck his head through the black curtains behind a makeshift stage at Lubbock High School. “I’ve got some more good things to say than just his name,” said Reynolds, one of Hillary Clinton’s campaign leaders in Lubbock.

The crowd was still cheering an hour and 12 minutes later as former President Bill Clinton wrapped up his speech, touting the presidential bid of his wife and her plans for health care, Iraq and boosting the nation’s economy. “You should be for her, because she’s got the best solutions and she’s the best change-maker,” he said.”

Second, the Bill part:

“Clinton’s speech often mingled anecdotes of his time in office, and at times seemed more about him than his wife, said T.J. Roberts, a law school student at Texas Tech who has voted Republican in the past but is considering a vote in the Democratic Primary.

“It seems like he’s running, not her,” Roberts said, adding he’s leaning toward Obama.”

Obama is scheduled to speak at Lubbock’s United Spirit Arena later this month so, if you are keeping score: That’s 1,500+ at a Lubbock high school gymnasium for Bill Clinton. Obama’s venue, Texas Tech’s United Spirit Arena, holds 15,000.


Fainting for Obama

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 8:23 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

James Taranto and others have noticed a peculiar coincidence that people seem to be fainting with regularity at Obama rallies. (Video here.)

Fainting fans have become so common that some have speculated whether it is for real. One fan fainted at an event attended by Larry David who laughingly attributed it to the Sinatra effect. Unfortunately for David, no one laughed.

I don’t know what the truth is but here’s a thought: Most of these incidents occurred in large venues with packed-in people who probably had to wait a long time for Obama to appear. Most were wearing coats or sweaters and it’s conceivable that there was limited air circulation and no air conditioning. (One event was in California in the bright sun.) In other words, it got hot and someone fainted.

Or it’s the David Beckham effect.


The Dangerous Game of Street-Racing

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 6:41 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I may be overly sensitive on this subject but my first reaction is that these victims of a Maryland street-racing incident were unlucky and incredibly foolish:

“A car plowed into a crowd that had gathered to watch a drag race on a suburban road early Saturday, killing eight people and injuring at least five, police said.

Police said the white sedan was not involved in the street race but accidentally drove into the crowd of about 50 people that had spilled onto the highway to watch two racing cars speed off.
According to police, two cars had lined up for a race on the smooth and relatively flat and straight stretch of highway. They spun their wheels, kicking up smoke, then sped off, Copeland said.

The crowd then moved into the road to watch the cars drive away. The combination of the smoke and the dark morning likely meant the driver of the approaching white sedan could not see the crowd. No charges were pending.”

Based on the preliminary report, I feel more sympathy for the driver of the sedan and his deceased passenger than I do for the pedestrian victims.

Street-racing has become an epidemic in large and small communities and has resulted in many deaths. Post-2001 statistics are hard to find because few agencies record street-racing accidents, but there are anecdotal estimates that at least 50 people a year are killed and many more injured as a result of street-racing. This 2004 DOJ publication almost foreshadows what happened in Maryland (pp. 17-18):

Street races typically involve racers and spectators meeting at a popular gathering place, often on a relatively remote street in an industrial area. Here they decide where to race; they then convoy to the site, where a one-eighth or one-quarter mile track is marked off. Cars line up at the starting line, where a starter stands between them and drops his or her hands to begin the race. Several hundred spectators may be watching. Unlike racetracks that allow spectators to observe races in a safe, closed environment, these illegal street races encourage spectators to stand near possibly inexperienced drivers and poorly maintained vehicles–a combination that can be deadly for onlookers standing a few feet away from vehicles racing at highway speed.”

Unfortunately, many people and even some in law enforcement think of street-racing with the nostalgia that reminds us of James Dean and Happy Days, but those days are long gone.


This Post is Not About Waterboarding

Filed under: Law,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 4:10 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I’m not sure if this has been covered in the numerous prior posts on this topic but I haven’t followed every conversation in detail. In any event, it seems to be a topic that is of widespread interest. In the interest of full disclosure, I believe waterboarding is like abortion … it should be safe, legal, and rare. Given that I may be in the minority in that regard, This Post Is Not About Waterboarding.

However, since ABC reported that waterboarding has only been used by the US in three cases, that means the vast majority of terrorism detainees are not subjected to waterboarding. Therefore, I think we should talk about the techniques interrogators actually use, and this recent report addresses that topic:

“Everybody in the world believes that they know how we do what we do, and I have to endure it every time I turn around and somebody is making reference to waterboarding,” [veteran interrogator Paul] Rester said. He insisted that Guantanamo interrogators have had many successes using rapport-building and said that technique was the norm here.

For security reasons, he would only discuss one of the successes, and that was only because his boss, Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, already had described it in a speech last month. Buzby said several detainees, using poster board paper and crayons, drew detailed maps of the Tora Bora area in eastern Afghanistan that enabled coalition forces to wipe out safe houses, trenches and supplies last summer as Taliban forces were returning to the stronghold they had abandoned more than five years ago.

Buzby, in a separate interview with the AP, said a U.S. commander in Afghanistan had requested the information on a Friday and it was obtained and sent to Afghanistan by the end of the weekend.

Rester indicated the interrogators casually asked the detainees about their knowledge of Tora Bora, not letting on that it was tactically important for a pending military strike. “And it may in fact, since it was five years old, have seemed totally innocuous to the persons we were talking to,” Rester said.

Buzby, the top commander of detention operations at Guantanamo, said the intelligence “had a very positive effect … for us and a very negative effect on the enemy operating in that area.” He declined to be more specific.”

I think we can all agree that it would be best if we could rely solely on rapport-building interrogation techniques or, as Rester calls them, normal techniques. Rester claims that more coercive (non-waterboarding) interrogation tactics were used on two detainees who refused to provide information using normal techniques. Lawyers for detainees scoffed at Rester’s statement, claiming there have been conflicting reports by detainees and FBI agents.

One detainee who Rester acknowledged was subjected to harsh interrogation has claimed that he was “beaten, restrained for long periods in uncomfortable positions, threatened with dogs, exposed to loud music and freezing temperatures and stripped nude in front of female personnel.” In other words, Abu Ghraib-type actions. If true, this is harsh treatment and while I doubt the more extreme tactics have been used much after Abu Ghraib, I’m unwilling to say these tactics should never be used. (But what do I know? I’m willing to waterboard in rare cases.)

Thus, I have two questions:

1. Do you support the use of harsh interrogation tactics like these and, if so, which ones and under what circumstances?

2. If you do not support the use of any harsh interrogation tactics under any circumstances, should military and CIA interrogations be subject to the same rules imposed on the police or do you support even more restrictive rules?


Greenhouse Fails to Disclose — Again

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:23 pm

Ed Whelan has the story.

Obama on the Second Amendment

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Constitutional Law,Law — Patterico @ 1:15 pm

Jan Crawford Greenburg says Obama supports an individual right to bear arms.

Sort of.

Read the link to find out why I say that.

UPDATE: Xrlq says “sort of” really means “not.”

Slow News Day in Iraq

Filed under: International,War — DRJ @ 12:43 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Sweetness&Light reports the walls may be coming down in some Baghdad neighborhoods:

“Attacks by insurgents and rival sectarian militias have fallen up to 80 percent in Baghdad and concrete blast walls that divide the capital could soon be removed, a senior Iraqi military official said on Saturday.

Lieutenant-General Abboud Qanbar said the success of a year-long clampdown named “Operation Imposing Law” had reined in the savage violence between majority Shi’ites and minority Sunni Arabs dominant under Saddam Hussein …”

… while Americans help disabled Iraqi children get wheelchairs:

“Mothers cradle children in their arms. Fathers smile softly at the helpless bodies they hold. Other parents are bent over from the weight of their teenage kids whose legs fall limp, almost touching the ground. In the absence of basic medical equipment, these parents do this every day.
Enlisting the help of generous supporters and an Iraqi humanitarian group, “Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids” was born in August of 2005. Thirty days later, its first 31 chairs were delivered. To date, more than 250 Iraqi families have received the wheelchairs.

[US civilian contractor Brad] Blauser has partnered with a nonprofit group called Reach Out and Care Wheels, which sells him the chairs at a manufacturing price of about $300. The chairs are made by prisoners at the South Dakota State Penitentiary and ultimately delivered in Iraq by the U.S. military.”

It sounds like many of the children suffer from polio, although it’s certainly possible some of the injuries may be war-related. One family had three children disabled by polio.

Here’s hoping everyday is a slow news day in Iraq.


Analyzing Bill Clinton

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 11:40 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Is Bill Clinton angry or desperate? You make the call with some help from ABC’s Jake Tapper and Sarah Amos:

“ABC News’ Sarah Amos reports that former President Bill Clinton — despite myriad promises he would stop assailing his wife’s opponent given how it has backfired on her — upped his harsh attacks today in Tyler, Texas.

“There are two competing moods in America today,” Clinton said. “People who want something fresh and new — and they find it inspiring that we might elect a president who literally was not part of any of the good things that happened or any of the bad things that were stopped before. The explicit argument of the campaign against Hillary is that ‘No one who was involved in the 1990s or this decade can possibly be an effective president because they had fights. We’re not going to have any of those anymore.’ Well, if you believe that, I got some land I wanna sell you.”

ABC News’ Sarah Amos is traveling with the former president and transcribed his comments.

For the record, in the 1990s, Obama was a civil rights attorney, community organizer, and was in the Illinois state senate.

Presumably, by “any of the good things that happened” in the 1990s, Clinton is referring to the things he did as president (except for the ones his wife now distances herself from, such as NAFTA).

Sometimes, it sure feels like the former president’s defense of his legacy gets in the way of his campaigning for his wife.”

OutsideTheBeltway notes this effective response from the Obama campaign:

“Obama campaign spox Bill Burton tells ABC News in response, “It appears that the man who once told us ‘Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow’ has changed his tune and is now singing ‘Yesterday’ everywhere he goes.”

I vote for desperate.

H/T Instapundit.


A Murder Solved

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 10:52 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

A Houston-area youth minister in his late 20s has confessed to a robbery and murder he committed when he was 16 years old. He was not a suspect and the case would not have been solved but for his voluntary surrender and confession:

“Just ordained as a youth minister earlier this year, Calvin Wayne Inman had a heavy heart and a secret he could no longer keep.

The Pasadena man knew he needed to surrender to authorities for something he said he did as a 16-year-old in 1994. That’s when, police said he told them, he fatally stabbed a 64-year-old convenience store clerk for cash and cigarettes.

Earlier this month, Inman told authorities he and a then 13-year-old friend planned to rob Mumtaz Grocery store the afternoon of Aug. 14, 1994. When the store’s clerk, Iqbal Ahmed, asked for identification, Inman told police he pulled out a large kitchen knife from his pants and stabbed Ahmed once in the chest.

Ahmed died at the store. The two teenagers fled to a nearby apartment complex and never spoke about the incident — leaving the case unsolved for more than 13 years.”

The 13-year-old confirmed Inman’s story but cannot be charged due to his age. Inman has been charged as an adult with capital murder so, if convicted, he could receive the death penalty a life sentence. He has a wife, a child, and is also a foster parent to an abandoned child.

Ahmed’s 4-year-old grandson was in the back room of the store while he was killed and found his grandfather’s body. Ahmed was described by his son-in-law as a person who wanted to help kids and loved America:

“[Ahmed] was very strict,” Rahmani said. “He didn’t want any kids to go the wrong way. Maybe he was trying to teach them like he did his own kids.”

Ahmed was a native of India and had worked as the assistant director of tourism for the country. He moved to the United States in the 1970s. “When I was planning to move from India, he told me to go to the USA,” Rahmani said. “He had an American soul.”

This will be a difficult case for everyone.


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