Patterico's Pontifications


Wal-Mart Trampling Arose from Line-Cutting Dispute

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:28 pm

It was the Line-Sitters vs. the Car-Sitters:

A line-cutting dispute among shoppers who waited for hours outside a New York Wal-Mart and those who stayed inside their cars led to the stampede that killed a store worker, Newsday reports.

I don’t condone trampling people to death in order to pick up “The Incredible Hulk” DVDs for $9, and I don’t want to imply that I do. But if I were forced to choose sides, I’d go with the Line-Sitters.

Alito Whacks Biden

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:24 pm

During Sam Alito’s confirmation hearings, Joe Biden was part of a hostile group of Democrat Senators on the Judiciary Committee. With his colleagues, Biden repeatedly tried to make hay out of Alito’s membership in a Princeton alumni group, suggesting that Alito had aligned himself with racists.

When Lindsey Graham asked Alito if he was a “closet bigot,” Alito replied: “I am not any kind of bigot. I’m not.” And Graham replied: “No, sir, you’re not. You seem to be a decent, honorable man.” During the exchange, Alito’s wife began crying, showing the pressure of days of attacks leveled by vermin like Biden.

Now Alito is hitting back, gently mocking Biden for his plagiarism.

Alito made several joking references to Vice President-elect Joseph Biden during an after-dinner speech Wednesday, including Biden’s withdrawal from the 1988 presidential campaign over plagiarizing parts of a speech from a British politician.

“To coin a phrase, in the spirit of the vice president-elect, you can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need,” Alito said, an imperfect rendering of a Rolling Stones lyric.

Then, he added, “Did someone say that before?”

A bit later in his talk at an anniversary dinner for the conservative American Spectator magazine, Alito said he was about to quote liberally from a magazine article. “In the spirit of the vice president-elect, I want to honor the copyright laws,” Alito said.

I love it. But when mocking Biden, it’s not all about the plagiarism, Sam. Don’t forget that little three-letter word: gaffes. G-A-F-F-E-S.

Pellicano Lawyer: “Do I Know Where I Got That Document? The One the FBI Agent Just Got Charged with Obtaining Illegally? The Answer Is a Firm No. What? I Said Yes Last Year?”

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 9:08 pm

At the L.A. Times, Scott Glover has a good story advancing our knowledge of the case of Anthony Pellicano’s Man at the FBI.

As I told you yesterday, an FBI agent dating actress Linda Fiorentino has been charged with illegally accessing FBI computers to provide Pellicano with an FBI report helpful to Pellicano’s case. Pellicano’s lawyers produced the report in court last year and complained that they should have received it from the prosecution as part of pretrial discovery. If the charges are true, the FBI agent, Mark Rossini, obtained the report that was later sent to Pellicano’s defense team.

So reporter Glover asked Pellicano’s attorney whether he knew who had provided the report. And he had a little Perry Mason “gotcha” moment with the attorney when the attorney denied any knowledge of where the report had come from:

Artan, the lawyer who represented Pellicano, said that he was questioned by prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., about how he had obtained the report and that he told them that he didn’t know where it came from.

He said he now assumes that questioning was part of the probe into Rossini.

But according to a transcript of a hearing in March 2007 when U.S. District Court Judge Dale Fischer asked Artan if the document had been sent anonymously, he replied, “No.”

He added, “I would be happy to tell you in camera.”

Asked about the inconsistency, Artan said he was surprised by his response in the transcript.

He said he recalled having some inkling at the time as to who may have sent it but that he did not know then and does not know now who the source was.

The lawyer declined to say who he suspected may have provided the document.

If a document is sent anonymously, and a judge asks if it was sent anonymously, would you answer “no” to the judge? Because you had some inkling who had anonymously sent it?

Sorry, Mr. Artan. You’ll have to do better than that.

Well played, Scott Glover.

Artan may just now be realizing that federal prosecutors know about that transcript too. And they are presumably also familiar with the statute that criminalizes knowing lies “in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the United States.” You’ve heard of that law; it’s the one that was used in the Martha Stewart case.

This is bound to get more interesting as time passes.

UPDATE 12-23-08: This is not an accusation leveled against Mr. Artan; it’s an observation that reportedly inconsistent statements sometimes trigger the interest of federal law enforcement authorities. More here.

Villainous Company’s Fourth Blogiversary

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:48 pm

Villainous Company is four years old today.

O.J. Simpson To Be Sentenced Tomorrow

Filed under: Crime,General,Scum — Patterico @ 8:39 pm

And the L.A. Times has the quote of the day:

“O.J. comes into court with a lot of baggage,” [Simpson attorney Yale] Galanter said. “Even though he was acquitted in the mid-’90s, the public perception is that he did it.”

Because, you know, he did.

Galanter is the same guy who gave us one of the best quotes of the past couple of decades. I can never find a link to this one, so I’ll just cite my own post from 2004:

Simpson attorney Yale Galanter said, after Simpson had been ticketed for driving his boat in a protected manatee zone in Florida: “This guy just can’t catch a break.”

Given his acquittal for murder in one of the strongest cases in human history, I found this quote somewhat ironic. But I’m hoping that, this time, Galanter is right.

Impatience, Thy Name is …

Filed under: Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 7:23 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Recent quotes from three senior Democratic leaders regarding Barack Obama’s leadership —

Sen. Christopher Dodd:

“The Obama team has to step up,” Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and one of the lead negotiators, said Nov. 21 in Hartford, Conn. “In the minds of the people, this is the Obama administration. I don’t think we can wait until January 20.”

Senator Carl Levin:

“It would be very helpful if the president-elect would become more involved in resolving the issue over the source of the [auto bailout] funds,” he said. “I want him to offer his assistance. He is a person who can really bring people together.”

Rep. Barney Frank:

“It is a grave mistake to assume that parties are irrelevant to this process,” he said. “My one difference with the president-elect, about whom I am very enthusiastic, is when he talks about being post-partisan.

“Having lived with this very right wing Republican group that runs the House most of the time, the notion of trying to deal with them as if we could be post-partisan gives me post-partisan depression,” Frank said.

So is Obama a post-partisan uniter or not? Time will tell but he still has to wait until January 20 to rule. Even Obama’s talent for rhetoric can’t make the calendar speed up.


Blackwater Guards may be Prosecuted under US Drug Law

Filed under: Law,War — DRJ @ 3:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Blackwater guards involved in a 2007 Baghdad shooting that killed Iraqi civilians may be prosecuted in the U.S. under a drug law that carries a 30-year mandatory sentence for using machine guns in the commission of a crime:

“Charges could be announced as early as Monday for the shooting, which left 17 civilians dead and strained U.S. relations with the fledgling Iraqi government. Prosecutors have been reviewing a draft indictment and considering manslaughter and assault charges for weeks. A team of prosecutors returned to the grand jury room Thursday and called no witnesses.

Though drugs were not involved in the Blackwater shooting, the Justice Department is pondering the use of a law, passed at the height of the nation’s crack epidemic, to prosecute the guards. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 law calls for 30-year prison terms for using machine guns to commit violent crimes of any kind, whether drug-related or not.”

Blackwater has cooperated with the investigation but maintains its employees responded appropriately to an ambush by insurgents:

“The company has consistently said that we do not believe the individuals acted unlawfully,” company spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said Thursday. “If it is determined that an individual acted improperly, Blackwater would support holding that person accountable.”

I assume this is being prosecuted in the U.S. in part to avoid Iraqi efforts to try the Americans in Iraqi courts. I agree with the sentiment but the article points out it’s “unclear on whether contractors can be charged in the U.S., or anywhere, for crimes committed overseas.”

This also bothers me for two other reasons. First, it concerns me that the prosecutors are using weapons laws to provide for enhanced punishment of persons authorized to use the guns they were carrying for military or law enforcement purposes (or, in this case, for authorized quasi-military or law enforcement-related purposes in a war zone). This reminds me of the Ramos-Compean prosecution, and I think that was a poor prosecutorial decision. Second, this isn’t a drug case, and using the law to treat it like one sends a questionable message.


New Life for Franken?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:44 am

Or wishful thinking by the Minneapolis Star Tribune?

The day’s other news — which Franken’s campaign quickly described as a “breakthrough” — came when Ritchie’s office asked local election officials to examine an estimated 12,000 rejected absentee ballots and determine whether their rejection fell under one of four reasons for rejection defined in state law. The Secretary of State’s office asked that ballots that were rejected for something other than the four legal reasons be placed into a so-called “fifth category.”

The fifth category, Ritchie’s office said, could also include absentee ballots rejected for reasons that were “not based on factual information.”

Ritchie’s office, while stressing that the ballots be examined but not counted, asked that the task be completed by Dec. 18.

The move appeared to give at least some new life to the Franken campaign’s longstanding effort to add to the recount what it estimates are as many as 1,000 improperly rejected absentee ballots.

The Strib headline says: “Pendulum swings to Franken.” But Ed Morrissey says it’s no breakthrough:

Ritchie anticipates the challenge Franken will file in the court, and he’s assuming (and hoping) that Franken will win some sort of review of rejected absentee ballots. Ritchie’s order gives the county boards a head start on reviewing the ballots and verifying that they were statutorily rejected. If not, then the fifth pile count will give some idea of the scope of the issue on which Franken will argue. It doesn’t actually change anything, and in fact may demonstrate that the problem is so small that it will have little effect on the election.

I hope Ed’s right.

Terrorist Who Wanted to Bomb LAX Stops Cooperating with Feds, Is Punished with Same Sentence

Filed under: General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:38 am

Ahmed Ressam has stopped cooperating with the feds, the Los Angeles Times reports. His change of heart has had serious consequences:

On Wednesday, Ressam told the court he had been pressured into providing testimony in two other high-profile cases — one involving Abu Doha, identified by U.S. authorities as one of Europe’s highest-ranking Al Qaeda figures, and Samir Ait Mohamed, who allegedly helped Ressam in the Los Angeles bombing conspiracy.

. . . .

Ressam’s retreat forced the U.S. to abandon prosecution of Abu Doha and Mohamed, despite the fact that Britain and Canada had held the men in custody at American officials’ request. British authorities shifted Abu Doha’s detention to house in July.

“Our government was put in a horrible situation,” said Mark Bartlett, first assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle. “We had gone to two of our closest allies, Great Britain and Canada, and said . . . arrest these people, keep them in custody, and we promise we will bring them to the United States. . . . We will hold them accountable. And then we have to go back and say we are unable to try them.”

So prosecutors went to court and sought an increase in his sentence — since his plea bargain had required him to cooperate.

Ressam told the court: “Sentence me to life in prison, or anything you wish. I will have no objection to your sentence.”

Given that the judge didn’t change the sentence, he should definitely have no objection.

But I do.

Barack Obama Birth Certificate Controversy Heads to Supreme Court!!!11!1!1!!!!

Filed under: 2008 Election — Patterico @ 6:28 am

All you conspiracy theorists who think Barack Obama isn’t really a U.S. citizen, take heart. The case challenging his citizenship is headed to the Supreme Court tomorrow, the Chicago Tribune reports.

I think anyone who puts any stock in this lawsuit is crazy. But that’s just me.

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