Patterico's Pontifications


Do L.A. Times Editors Read Their Own Paper??

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 9:39 pm

Sometimes you have to wonder. Let’s start with today’s article titled New police station lifts spirits in Boyle Heights. It boasts the following picture and caption:

Officers or Explorers

Note well the caption’s description of the individuals pictured as “Los Angeles police officers.” Uh, I don’t think so. That powder-blue uniform doesn’t look like any LAPD uniform I have ever seen . . . but it sure does resemble the uniform worn by LAPD Explorers, members of a youth program run by the LAPD:

LAPD Explorers

Here, by way of contrast, is a real LAPD uniform as modeled by outgoing chief Bratton:

LAPD Uniform

The article also says:

The new station will house about 300 personnel who will serve nearly 200,000 people over a 15.8-mile radius that covers Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno and other neighborhoods.

Wow. A 15.8-mile radius? That would encompass a lot of other neighborhoods.

A 15.8 mile radius means a 31.6 mile diameter — and that makes for a heck of a large circle. The territory of Hollenbeck station, which currently occupies a rather small area in East L.A. (see this LAPD station map) would now take up most of the L.A. Basin, swallowing up the territory of a dozen or more other community police stations. Here is a very, very rough depiction of the territory that would be covered by such a colossus:

15.8 Mile Radius Visual


Again: I don’t think so. Irony alert: I checked my fourth-grade daughter’s homework tonight, and guess what one of the concepts was? You guessed it! the concept of a radius! (She got it right.)

Now we move on to a story titled L.A. still has a few free rain collection installations to dole out, which boasts this scientifically questionable passage:

Although rain barrels are available from a variety of manufacturers in a variety of sizes, the city chose a 55-gallon capacity because, when full, the rain barrels will weigh a relatively manageable 200 pounds.

Does a full 55-gallon barrel of water really weigh only 200 pounds? It seems rather unlikely, given that a single gallon of water weighs about 8.3 pounds. I tried this online converter which gave me a result of about 459 pounds:

Weight of 55 Pounds of Water

I don’t know; maybe they’re employing a different definition of “full” than the one you would think they meant . . . (Do they consider it “full” when it’s less than half full? I’m halfway serious here.)

My anonymous tipster points out that these concepts (the meaning of “radius” and the weight of water) are rather standard concepts for 4th or 5th grade. But then, Susan Carpenter (the author of the second article) is the sort of person who thinks it’s funny to call someone a “cunning linguist” — and that’s right around a 4th- or 5th-grade level of humor, isn’t it? So maybe it’s just too early in the year for the teacher to have gotten to these concepts.

By the way, I can’t possibly pass up the opportunity to quote the closing observation of my tipster’s e-mail:

Seeing this level of errors on the simple things, are we supposed to trust these people with foreign policy analysis, or other stuff that a 5th grader would not necessarily know?

Readers of this site, of course, already know the answer to that question.

P.S. I’m too busy to write the Reader’s Rep, but anyone who wanted to bring these three undeniable errors to the attention of the Reader’s Rep would likely score a hat-trick of corrections with a single press of the send button. Copy me on the e-mail if you send one:

Good Blogging News

Filed under: Blogging Matters — DRJ @ 9:12 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Steven Den Beste is posting at Hot Air. Whether he posts a little or a lot, I’m glad he’s back.


Obama: I, sir, am no Jack Kennedy

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:44 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Another nugget from Pres. Obama’s Sunday chat with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, this time on foreign policy:

JFK famously got his clock cleaned by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev at their June 1961 summit meeting in Vienna.

He knew it too. Right after the meeting he confided to NYT columnist Scotty Reston that it was one of the “roughest” moments of his life. “He just beat the hell out of me,” Kennedy admitted.

So I asked President Obama if there were any similar moments over the last eight months where he took a step back and told himself: “Man, I need to step up my game.”

Here’s what he said:

OBAMA: You know, it’s an interesting question. I — I mean I don’t mean to be immodest here, but I don’t think I’ve had that moment with a — with a world leader, where I said gee, you know — you know, we’ve got to really tighten things up.

However, here is the Washington Post account of the Obama foreign policy to date:

European nations have refused to send significant numbers of new troops to aid the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan. Few countries have agreed to accept detainees held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Scottish officials ignored Obama’s plea to keep the Lockerbie bomber in prison, and U.S. efforts to head off a coup in Honduras were ineffective. North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons, Iran may be doing so, and Middle East leaders have rebuffed Obama’s efforts at peacemaking.

It is nice that the WaPo has noted this, though the failure of Pres. Obama’s “soft power” approach has been apparent for some time already. Despite the prospect of arms races in Asia and the Middle East, Obama remains bent on appeasing Russia and Iran, with unilateral nuclear disarmament plans so extreme that even the French are objecting.

I cheerfully admit that I did not know Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was not a friend of mine. But Jack Kennedy understood who our allies were, and what our national interests were. And Jack Kennedy understood when he got his clock cleaned by an adversary. When it comes to self-awareness, I am compelled to agree with Pres. Obama: he is no Jack Kennedy.

Update: It’s Almost Like the Russians Smell Weakness or Something.

Update x2: Ed Morrissey notes that The New York Times now has an assessment like that of the WaPo.


A Message to Coach Leach from Beldar

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 6:51 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Beldar doesn’t have time to post as much as he used to but fortunately he still posts on the important topics:

“Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach threw a middle-sized fit Saturday night during Tech’s 34-24 loss to the Texas Longhorns, insisting that the officials had improperly frustrated an attempted trick play by the Red Raiders.”

Beldar proceeds to describe the last play before halftime, identify the NCAA (and NFL) rule, analyze how it applies to this play, opine on the implications for the game of football, and make a suggestion to Coach Leach.

Texas lawyers love football.


Higher Education

Filed under: Education — DRJ @ 4:33 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Ranking America’s #1 public university:

It’s not just Berkeley:

“Students at many of the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities are graduating with less knowledge of American history, government, and economics than they had as incoming freshmen, with Harvard University seniors scoring a “D+” average on a 60-question multiple-choice exam about civic literacy.

According to a report released yesterday [Note: This article was published in 2007] by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the average college senior at the 50 colleges and universities polled did not earn a passing grade.

“At the most expensive colleges, they actually graduate knowing less,” the executive director of the Jack Miller Center at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Michael Ratliff, said. “Colleges and universities are not directing students to the courses that would educate them. We want to know whether after getting $300 billion to do their work, universities are actually educating their students.”

At universities such as Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Duke, and Berkeley, seniors scored lower on the test, available here, than freshmen, living proof of the broadening relevancy of the old Harvard adage that the university is a storehouse of knowledge because “the freshmen bring so much and the seniors take away so little.”

America faces a lot of serious problems. In my opinion, the failure of the American educational system is the biggest problem we face.


Obama: It’s not a Tax

Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 3:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Following up on Karl’s post, are you sure it’s not a tax, Mr. President? It is:

“President Obama gave ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos a stern talking-to Sunday for suggesting that a mandate to buy health insurance would amount to a tax. But the language of the health care reform plan proposed by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., explicitly labels the penalty attached to the mandate as an “excise tax.”

Stephanapoulos looked up the word “tax” in the dictionary, undoubtedly because he was sure Obama would quibble. He did:

“[Obama] even taunted the host for citing the dictionary definition of “tax” to make his point.

“The fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now,” Obama said.”

This is just lame.


Iowahawk Reveals Bush NEA Calls

Filed under: Government,Humor — DRJ @ 2:43 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Iowahawk proves the Bush Administration did it, too:

Branson in da house!

With a special appearance by VP Dick Cheney.


McChrystal Report: More Troops or Fail (Updated)

Filed under: Obama,War — DRJ @ 2:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

General Stanley McChrystal, President Obama’s choice for military commander in Afghanistan, reports he needs more troops or the mission will likely fail:

“The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict “will likely result in failure,” according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.
His assessment was sent to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Aug. 30 and is now being reviewed by President Obama and his national security team.”

The August report was to include McChrystal’s troop recommendations but, at the time, it was reported that political concerns prompted White House and Pentagon officials to agree to delay the release of the troop requests. Meanwhile, it’s been over 3 weeks since McChrystal’s report, and troops continue to die in Afghanistan.

I don’t think President Obama knows what to do. It’s a difficult situation but doing nothing is a decision, too, and he was elected to make decisions like this. It’s time for Obama to stop campaigning like a politician and start being a leader.


UPDATE: President Obama addresses the tough problems in Afghanistan … on David Letterman. Is this really the best venue to discuss serious foreign policy questions?

Breitbart’s Next News Drop: The NEA, the White House, The Lies and the Cover-Up

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

(A slightly different version of this post appears today at Big Hollywood.)

I believe I might have mentioned that Andrew Breitbart signaled that his next news drop would relate to the NEA.

And it does. But it involves so much more.

Today’s revelation is the extensive proof that shows the White House used the National Endowment for the Arts to push a political agenda favorable to President Obama. But it gets worse: the Administration lied about it, and tried to cover it up.

You already know the background: an NEA spokesman participated in a conference call designed to encourage artists to further Obama’s legislative agenda. This was revealed back in August at Big Hollywood. What is new today is the full transcript of the call — and how clearly the NEA was involved in urging artists to propagandize for Obama.

Naturally, the NEA and the Obama administration denied this. According to the Los Angeles Times (in a blog post, of course, and not an actual newsprint story), the NEA denied any purpose to further a legislative agenda:

The NEA issued a statement saying that it took part in the conference to help inform arts organizations about opportunities to sponsor volunteer service projects themselves, or have their members take part in other volunteer efforts. “This call was not a means to promote any legislative agenda, and any suggestions to that end are simply false,” the statement said.

The White House similarly denied any desire to further a legislative agenda:

Responding by e-mail Wednesday, White House spokesman Shin Inouye said the Aug. 10 teleconference “was not meant to promote any legislative agenda — it was a discussion on the United We Serve effort and how all Americans can participate.”

Oh really?

If Big Media had been paying attention, it could have demonstrated these denials to be rank lies. But Big Media fell asleep, leaving isolated organs of conservative media to pick up the ball and run it down the field. So, now, today, the full transcript is revealed, showing how badly Big Media missed the story.

The newly revealed full transcript of the call clearly demonstrates that the NEA participated in an unseemly (and possibly illegal) effort to influence artists to propagandize on behalf of the president’s political agenda. Let’s look at some aspects of the call that make it clear that, as Patrick Courrielche says with admirable restraint: “The NEA and the White House did encourage a handpicked, pro-Obama arts group to address issues under contentious national debate.”


Obama: Healthcare mandate is not a tax BECAUSE I SAID SO

Filed under: General — Karl @ 6:42 am

[Posted by Karl]

During his Magical Mystery Tour of the Sunday chat shows, Pres. Obama took ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on a trip Through the Looking Glass on the question of whether the health insurance mandate is a tax:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax?


OBAMA: No, but — but, George, you — you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase…


STEPHANOPOULOS: I — I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: Tax — “a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.”

OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition.

Stephanopoulos went to the dictionary because — having been in a similar position during the Clinton era — he knew Obama would try to deny that the individual mandate is a tax. Yet Pres. Audacity rejected the notion that a dictionary should be considered as to the definition of a word. Lewis Carroll would be proud:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

Thw Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen may groove on that sort of newspeak, but not even the left-leaning Moderate Voice’s Jazz Shaw was buying it. During the George H.W. Bush administration there was a “duck test” for taxes and the individual mandate waddles and quacks like a tax. Indeed, if you don’t pay the mandate, you also pay a tax.

Nor are these the only taxes mandated by the various flavors of ObamaCare. The Baucus bill would impose a new sales tax on drugs and medical devices and a new federal excise tax on insurance plans that exceed $8,000 for an individual and $21,000 for a family. Sen. Jay Rockefeller — not a member of the VRWC — calls the latter “a big, big tax” on the middle class.

It is not surprising that Obama would deny the mandate is a tax; the mandate is already unpopular, and — if fully debated — likely will fail to attract even Democrats. But people understand that ObamaCare means tax hikes — and they know Obama knows it. Blatant dishonesty only damages the president’s credibility, assuming he has any left on the issue. At some point, all the president’s men won’t be able to put Humpty together again.


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