Patterico's Pontifications


Massachusettes Election Eve Live Chat (UPDATE: Now Over)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:11 pm

The usual instructions: You see the chat window below? Look at the bottom. Enter your name or pseudonym where it says “Your name.” Enter your comment in the second window just under that, and hit send. I will have to approve your comment before it appears, but I’m online right now, and will approve most comments within a minute. Usually within seconds.

IMPORTANT: Note the buttons at the bottom. You will probably want to turn off “autoscroll.” It bothers a lot of people.

UPDATE: The live chat is over. You can read the transcript below.

Scott Brown Open Thread; UPDATE: Anyone Up for a Live Chat?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:07 pm

A million polls out today, and virtually everything is going his way. I’m too lazy to link it all; your best one-stop shop for current news is, as always, Hot Air.

I’m opening up a thread here for people to discuss the race. What else is there to talk about?

UPDATE: I’m considering doing a live chat here tonight. May start it up around 8 p.m. If you’re interested, check back around then.

The Trial of Dr. Siddiqui

Filed under: Crime,War — DRJ @ 7:06 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The criminal trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui began last week in a New York City courtroom with jury selection and will continue Tuesday morning with opening statements. Pakistani-born Siddiqui attended Brandeis, is an MIT-trained neuroscientist, lived in Boston with her anesthesiologist husband, and is the mother of three children. Siddiqui was captured in Afghanistan with suspicious documents and is charged with trying to murder an American soldier outside Kabul, Afghanistan.

The parties offer vastly different profiles of Siddiqui. In this Guardian article, Declan Walsh summarized the prosecution’s facts that led to the charges against Siddiqui:

“On a hot summer morning 18 months ago a team of four Americans – two FBI agents and two army officers – rolled into Ghazni, a dusty town 50 miles south of Kabul. They had come to interview two unusual prisoners: a woman in a burka and her 11-year-old son, arrested the day before.

Afghan police accused the mysterious pair of being suicide bombers. What interested the Americans, though, was what they were carrying: notes about a “mass casualty attack” in the US on targets including the Statue of Liberty and a collection of jars and bottles containing “chemical and gel substances”.

At the town police station the Americans were directed into a room where, unknown to them, the woman was waiting behind a long yellow curtain. One soldier sat down, laying his M-4 rifle by his foot, next to the curtain. Moments later it twitched back.

The woman was standing there, pointing the officer’s gun at his head. A translator lunged at her, but too late. She fired twice, shouting “Get the fuck out of here!” and “Allahu Akbar!” Nobody was hit. As the translator wrestled with the woman, the second soldier drew his pistol and fired, hitting her in the abdomen. She went down, still kicking and shouting that she wanted “to kill Americans”. Then she passed out.

Whether this extraordinary scene is fiction or reality will soon be decided thousands of miles from Ghazni in a Manhattan courtroom. The woman is Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist and mother of three. The description of the shooting, in July 2008, comes from the prosecution case, which Siddiqui disputes. What isn’t in doubt is that there was an incident, and that she was shot, after which she was helicoptered to Bagram air field where medics cut her open from breastplate to bellybutton, searching for bullets. Medical records show she barely survived.”

Early last week, one of Siddiqui’s defense attorneys claimed the prosecution’s evidence is not admissible and, in any event, Siddiqui didn’t do it:

“On Monday, defence attorneys asked US District Judge Richard Berman to bar testimony and evidence from Siddiqui’s capture in Afghanistan the day before the shooting. Prosecutors allege she was carrying a list naming the Stature of Liberty and other New York landmarks, and notes about chemical and biological weapons. Defence attorney Linda Moreno argued a jury should only consider whether her client fired a weapon – not her motive. She said there were no fingerprints or other forensic evidence to prove that her client had even picked up the weapon. “We’re saying she simply didn’t do it,” the lawyer said.”

On Wednesday, Judge Berman ruled admissible Siddiqui’s handwritten documents and any fingerprint evidence, but barred the prosecution from linking Siddiqui to any terrorist organization or offering printed materials in her possession that might suggest terror-related links or sympathies.

Collecting evidence and following traditional police procedures are difficult to do in war, and I suspect this case and the legal issues it presents will be a preview of the Guantanamo detainee trials yet to come.


PS — Don’t miss this October 2004 Boston Magazine article regarding Siddiqui written before the shooting incident.

Andrew Sullivan: Pity the fool?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 6:27 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Andrew Sullivan is wallowing in self-pity over what he anticipates as a double digit win for Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race. It is a display that has television’s Andy Levy and IMAO’s Frank Fleming feeling sorry for Sully. But that pity might stop people from noticing that “the most popular one- or two- or three-man blog on the internet” has descended from unhinged conspiracy theorist to delusional hack.

Consider his analysis of the Massachusetts special election:

I can see no alternative scenario but a huge – staggeringly huge – victory for the FNC/RNC machine tomorrow. They crafted a strategy of total oppositionism to anything Obama proposed a year ago. Remember they gave him zero votes on even the stimulus in his first weeks. They saw health insurance reform as Obama’s Waterloo, and, thanks in part to the dithering Democrats, they beat him on that hill. They have successfully channeled all the rage at the massive debt and recession the president inherited on Obama after just one year. If they can do that already, against the massive evidence against them, they have the power to wield populism to destroy any attempt by government to address any actual problems.

I don’t remember that the GOP gave Obama zero votes on the stimulus bill, mostly because Snowe, Collins and Specter voted for it. I do recall Sen. Jim DeMint’s “Waterloo” comment, as it pointed out how utterly self-centered Obama was in trying to ram his unpopular proposals through Congress. I don’t remember that they beat Obama on taking over the US healthcare system, mostly because both houses of Congress have passed bills, and can pass a final bill without a single Republican vote. (One wonders why Sullivan, who claims to be a True Conservative, would see either of the health boondoggles Congress passed as desirable, but I digress.) I do not believe Obama has inherited massive debt, mostly because the claim is horse manure on at least four levels.

Then there are Sullivan’s predictions:

Even if Coakley wins – and my guess is she’ll lose by a double digit margin – the bill is dead. The most Obama can hope for is a minimalist alternative that simply mandates that insurance companies accept people with pre-existing conditions and are barred from ejecting patients when they feel like it. That’s all he can get now – and even that will be a stretch.

The earlier, less deranged Sullivan would have been smart enough — and attentive enough to the debate — to know that mandating coverage of pre-existing conditions has no chance of passage without coming up with the funding to prevent insurers from going into a death spiral, which sets you down the road to requiring people to buy insurance, etc.

It is one thing to entertain bizarre conspiracy theories about Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, and so on. It is another to sloppily regurgitate partisan Democratic whine about the current political environment that has no basis in reality. Does he ever look in the mirror and entertain the thought that Obama and the Dems are suffering now because his hyperventilating, sycophantic paeans to Obama — and those of his fellow travelers in the establishment media — set up unrealistic expectations? Naaaaaaaah.


Ignacio Ramos Wants New Trial

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 3:22 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Houston Chronicle reports former Border Patrol Agent Ignacio Ramos may seek a new trial:

“Ramos said new evidence came out while he was incarcerated that he believes would change the guilty verdict, though he said his attorney won’t allow him to discuss specifics. Though Bush commuted his prison sentence, he did not offer Ramos a full pardon, and Ramos remains a convicted felon.

“I know I’m rolling the dice,” Ramos said, glancing at his wife.

“We don’t go into it blind. We talk about it, and we both know the risks,” Ramos said. “And it’s hard knowing what the possibility is. But it is important for me to be cleared.”

The risk, he said, is that asking for a new trial could result in prosecutors bringing new charges, though his attorney told him that was only a slim possibility.”

Ramos has had trouble finding employment because of his record. He also wants to clear his name:

“Still, even as the family regains some normalcy, Ramos said he’s compelled to try and clear his name.

“Even though there are people that believe in you, and there are people helping you, it’s not easy to live with. It’s very hard,” he said. “Because if you didn’t know the story, … if you just look at what’s left on my record, you’d be like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t leave my kids around this guy, or I can’t be around this guy. This guy is dangerous.’”

Ramos said he knows that even if he’s granted a new trial and then acquitted of the charges, the earlier convictions still will remain on his federal record. It would show he was convicted, but later exonerated.

That, he said, is still worth fighting for.”


Revealed: U.S. Military Uses “Jesus Rifles”

Filed under: Religion,War — DRJ @ 2:48 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

ABC News reports a Michigan company that supplies high-powered rifle sights to the U.S. military inscribes references to New Testament Bible passages on the sights, including references to Second Corinthians, Revelation, Matthew and John:

“Trijicon confirmed to that it adds the biblical codes to the sights sold to the U.S. military. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions “have always been there” and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them. Munson said the issue was being raised by a group that is “not Christian.” The company has said the practice began under its founder, Glyn Bindon, a devout Christian from South Africa who was killed in a 2003 plane crash.”

Using weapons with Biblical references raises military concerns that its actions will be viewed as a religious “Crusade” in the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban.


The Gitmo Detainees We Let Go

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:14 pm

These are the non-dangerous ones:

Via Marc Thiessen at the Corner. Marc also has a piece at NRO that teases his new book, out today, in which he spoke to actual KSM interrogators:

As they described the information the CIA had gotten from KSM and others, I slowly realized that these men were not simply describing what others in the agency had done; I was sitting face to face with the individuals who had actually questioned terrorists at the CIA’s black sites and gotten the information they were describing to me themselves.

Looks interesting.

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