Patterico's Pontifications


Is Zawahiri Wounded or Dead? (Updated)

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 8:05 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Hot Air has the details, including possible confirmation from CBS News.

I hope this is true. From everything I’ve read, Zawahiri is more important than Osama Bin Laden from an operational standpoint.

We know US interests are working to infiltrate al Qaeda and that drones have been used in attacks in the tribal areas. It seems plausible that the American military may have been given even greater latitude in the tribal areas in the past days or weeks.

Recent statements by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm Mike Mullen show that the US has been pressuring Pakistan to let the US military pursue targets in the tribal areas. In addition, Pakistan Prime Minister Gilani was in Washington DC for three days including Monday meetings with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Rice, and others. Perhaps those meetings gave the US military greater access or solidified its ability to track high value targets like Zawahiri.

Or maybe we just got lucky.

UPDATE 8/2/2008: Fox News reports that a spokesman for Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud “categorically denied” the Zawahiri report in a telephone call to the AP.


Polling Data to Make Dems Very Nervous

Filed under: General — WLS @ 6:59 pm

[Posted by WLS]

Something that should worry Dems about Obama’s current polling rut is the fact that he’s doing so after a pretty much non-stop campaign for 7 months since the first ballot was cast in Iowa, and nearly a year since the battle was joined in earnest after Labor Day 2007.

It has been discussed across the blogosphere and in the media that Obama continues to trail significantly the generic polling advantage that Dems have over Reps in the national polls, and that he is pretty much in a statistical dead heat in the national preference poll.  But, as is less often pointed out, Presidential elections are really 51 separate elections with winner-take-all in the electoral college vote allocations (with a couple exceptions).  This is where Obama’s bigger difficulties are revealed.  

The problem is that one must consider the current poll standing of Obama v. McCain in the key battleground states where the contest will be decided, against the primary history of the last 7 months. 

Consider Ohio —  Quinnipiac’s polling out this week has Obama +2, 46-44.  But that leaves 10% undecided.  Why significant? 

Obama and Hillary battled over Dem. voters in Ohio for a month, with each side spending massive amounts of money on advertising.  Obama has been the rage of the liberal media for months, with nary a bad word spoken about him other than from his opponents. 

Yet 56% of Ohio voters can’t say they would vote for him — and I suspect the number is higher than that once you factor in the “Bradley Factor.” 

What more can Obama do to win over +4% more voters to get himself above 50%?  I’m not sure there is anything he can do.  Its hard to imagine that his standing in the eyes of the Ohio votes is going to get any better between now and November — how could he enjoy better coverage now than he did in March and April?  He’s got the GOP firing hard shots at him now, not  slap-fighting with members of his own party who agree with him on 95% of the agenda.

The same goes for other battleground states like Nevada.  I spent 2 weeks in Nevada in January, and there were ads running non-stop for both Obama and Hillary.   Yet the mid-July polling out of Nevada — when Obama was doing much better than he is now — showed him ahead 47-45.  

Missouri — again, a huge battle with Clinton that he pulled out just barely, with each side spending a ton of money.  Has elected Dems statewide the last couple elections.  But Obama trails 49-44.   With only one exception, Missouri has voted for the winning candidate in every Presidential election going back to 1904.

Obama hasn’t closed the deal with voters, and its hard to imagine how he can do so now in a contested general election compared to the primary election.

In Which I Channel Jeff Goldstein

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:37 pm

I’m quitting blogging. If I can pour my heart and soul into original reporting and get no links and 6 comments, it’s time to hang it up.

I’m kidding. But only sort of.

UPDATE: I found one link I got, from Kevin Roderick. Thanks, Kevin! You saved me from quitting.

What a Difference Two Days Makes (Updated)

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 5:47 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Barack Obama has flip-flopped on off-shore drilling.

Obama stood firm against offshore drilling as recently as Wednesday at an appearance in Lebanon, MO:

“Please be in favor of offshore production,” Steve Hilton, a retired federal government worker in Lebanon, Mo., implored Obama during a tour of a diner there Wednesday.

“I’m in favor of solving problems,” Obama responded. “What I don’t want to do is say something because it sounds good politically.

Obama seeks to turn the issue on its head, arguing that McCain and Bush are practicing the old politics of simply promising people something that’s symbolic without addressing the real problem. Discounting drilling, he proposes energy rebates, a crackdown on oil speculators who manipulate the market and a renewed focus on energy alternatives.”

Today in Florida, a mere two days later, Obama is willing to support offshore drilling:

“Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Friday he would be willing to support limited additional offshore oil drilling if that’s what it takes to enact a comprehensive policy to foster fuel-efficient autos and develop alternate energy sources.
My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,” Obama said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post.

“If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage – I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.

It appears Obama may be trying to support the “Gang of 10” led by Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., but his almost-daily changing positions make him look like jello.

How can anyone support Obama when everything he says is subject to almost daily change?

UPDATE 1: This Obama campaign statement and this energy policy statement, both of which are still posted at Obama’s website, explain why Obama is opposed to offshore drilling. Someone needs to update the website.

UPDATE 2 (8/2/2008):
Hot Air has video.


Jena 6 Judge Removed

Filed under: Crime,Judiciary — DRJ @ 3:16 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The trial judge overseeing the Jena 6 cases has been removed for an “appearance of impropriety” arising from his comments that the defendants are “trouble makers” and “a violent bunch.”

The decision was made over the trial judge’s objections and was based on the defendants’ right to a “fair and impartial judge.”

This sounds like a good decision to me.


Turn Out the Lights …

Filed under: Government,Politics — DRJ @ 1:39 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

WLS already posted on Leader Pelosi’s blackout of Republicans in Congress today but I want to highlight this comment by Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole:

“Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the dimly lit chamber is a “vision of the future by the Democrat Party: The lights are out, there’s no power, and the air conditioning is gonna go off soon.

In other energy news, the United Nations implemented today a new policy of raising the thermostats in the UN building from 72 to 77 degrees to save energy. To publicize this effort, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon invited the press to visit his office as he worked in shirt sleeves.

I saw a Fox News reporter interview UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon earlier today about the temperature change. I can’t find a link but the reporter asked why the Secretary-General’s adjacent conference room was substantially cooler than his office. Ki-Moon replied [I’m paraphrasing]: ‘I can’t work in here because the sun coming in the window makes it too hot. I work in the conference room.’

A UN spokesman later clarified the Secretary-General’s remarks by noting that the UN building is old and some rooms are cooler than others.

Some Leaders are more worried about energy than others.


This Is Stunning — Kim Jong Pelosi Running House Like Hugo Chavez

Filed under: General — WLS @ 10:41 am

[Posted by WLS — I can’t get the link to work. Try cutting and pasting it into your browser]

[I think these Politico links will work: Part I and Part II. –DRJ]

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democrats adjourned the House and turned off the lights and killed the microphones, but Republicans are still on the floor talking gas prices.


At one point, the lights went off in the House and the microphones were turned off in the chamber, meaning Republicans were talking in the dark. But as Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz..) was speaking, the lights went back on, and the microphones have been turned on as well.

But C-SPAN, which has no control over the cameras in the chamber, has stopped broadcasting the House floor, meaning no one is witnessing this except the assembled Republicans, their aides, and one Democrat, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who has now left.

Only about a half-dozen Republicans were on the floor when this began, but the crowd has grown to about 20 now, according to Patrick O’Connor.

“This is the people’s House,” Rep, Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) said. “This is not Pelosi’s politiburo.”

Democratic aides were furious at the GOP stunt, and reporters were kicked out of the Speaker’s Lobby, the space next to the House floor where they normally interview lawmakers.

“You’re not covering this, are you?” complaing one senior Democratic aide. Another called the Republicans “morons” for staying on the floor.

Update – The Capitol Police are now trying to kick reporters out of the press gallery above the floor, meaning we can’t watch the Republicans anymore. But Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is now in the gallery talking to reporters, so the cops have held off for a minute. Clearly, Democrats don’t want Republicans getting any press for this episode. GOP leaders are trying to find other Republicans to rotate in for Blunt so reporters aren’t kicked out.

Also, Republicans can thank Shadegg for turning on the microphones the first time. Apparently, the fiesty Arizona conservative started typing random codes into the chamber’s public address system and accidentally typed the correct code, allowing Republicans brief access to the microphone before it was turned off again.

I understand there is no truth to the rumor that Pelosi has had the sign on her office door changed to “El Commadante For Life” Pelosi.

Update: Apparently it is true that she insists all correspondence to her from other House members begin with the salutation “Dear Leader” — WLS

Pathetic Piece of Journalism From LAT Re Raid of “Medical Marijuana” Dispensary in LA

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Court Decisions,Crime,Dog Trainer — WLS @ 2:55 am

[Posted by WLS]

This isn’t about a debate over whether there should or should not be valid state laws authorizing the distribution and use of medical marijuana.

The fact is that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance by act of Congress, making it illegal for any and all purposes.  It is a federal felony to DISTRIBUTE or POSSESS WITH THE INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE any Schedule I controlled substance.  It is a misdemeanor to possess it with the intent to use it.

The Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution means that state laws cannot override that federal statute so long as it is on the books.  Convince Congress to change the law — fine.  Until then, MJ distribution is illegal, whether medicinal or otherwise.

Now to the LAT story today on the DEA raid.  Here’s the paragraphs that are so pathetic:

Federal agents raided a Culver City medical marijuana dispensary where they spent more than four hours this afternoon, serving a search warrant that resulted in no arrests but left the shop in disarray.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrived about noon at Organica Collective in the 13400 block of Washington Boulevard, said Sarah Pullen, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles office of the agency.

“Marijuana remains a controlled substance, and it is illegal under federal law to possess, dispense or cultivate marijuana in any form,” Pullen said of the purpose of the raid.

The federal operation came on the same day an appellate court in San Diego ruled that federal law does not preempt the state’s law allowing the use of medical marijuana — a ruling touted by supporters of California’s medical marijuana law as a significant win.

What Court?  What is the basis of the decision?

Read through the LAT article 2, 5, 10 times and you won’t find another mention of it.

The reference seems to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the law enforcement activity undertaken by DEA, which is described in the most “horrifying” details by LAT Staff Writer Tami Abdollah — I guess her salary is cheap enough that it wasn’t necessary to lay her off.  And the LAT is getting journalism worth every penny they are paying her.

So, what court decision came down today?

It seems that the California Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Diego ruled against the City of San Diego, which had brought a civil suit to invalidate the state ID Card program which is being used as a foundation for California’s medical marijuana laws.  San Diego argued that because distributing marijuana is illegal under federal law, the state ID card program is also invalid.  The California state appeals court held otherwise, saying federal laws banning the distribution of marijuana don’t invalidate the ID law.

The bottom line on that is, for good or ill, state appellate courts have absolutely zero ability to determine what is or is not valid federal law.  So long as Congress deems that marijuana distribution, for medicinal purposes or otherwise, is illegal — its going to remain illegal and DEA is going to continue to raid these dispensaries.

Explanation for the pathetic reporting in this story?  I don’t know.  Maybe the LAT fired so too many editors.

Inmate Whose Innocence Was Touted by Chuck Philips Accuses Philips of Conspiring with Suge Knight to Threaten Him and Suborn Perjury

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:20 am

In sworn testimony this week, a prison inmate has accused former L.A. Times reporter Chuck Philips of conspiring with Suge Knight to suborn perjury and threaten him. In this post, I have the transcript and excerpts of the testimony in which the inmate makes the accusation.

Philips’s accuser, Waymond Anderson, isn’t just any prison inmate. His past claims have commanded extraordinary attention from the Los Angeles Times, and from Philips in particular. In 2007, Philips wrote a front-page article setting forth evidence suggesting that Anderson is not guilty of murder. Philips has publicly proclaimed his belief in Anderson’s innocence.

And when Anderson accused a plaintiff’s lawyer of bribing him to make up testimony in a civil case against the City of Los Angeles, the newspaper wrote an article worded to suggest that Anderson’s claims might be credible.

Now Anderson is claiming that the bribery story was concocted by the City Attorney and Chuck Philips — the same Chuck Philips who recently was laid off in the wake of a scandal over a retracted story based on phony documents provided by a prison inmate. And, Anderson claims, Philips smuggled threatening messages from Suge Knight into prison to deliver to Anderson.

I wonder if the L.A. Times will continue to tout Waymond Anderson’s credibility, now that he is accusing their former Pulitzer-prize winning reporter of suborning perjury and aiding and abetting threats.

The fascinating details are in the extended entry.


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