Patterico's Pontifications


More Bites From the Bread-Based Waste Containment Operation… (Update: A Defection)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:38 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

The title of this post is a PG version of a joke Stewart makes at the very end of this clip:

And he is in turn borrowing from this longer clip, where they are explaining that the President is calling Libya a “turd sandwich,” although she was not certain whether Obama personally felt this way or was merely repeating what an advisor called it.

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And of course the man most eager to bite into it was Fast Eddie Schultz.  Seriously, I have come to believe Schultz is performance art, creating a leftward parody of what the left believes Rush Limbaugh does.  In the latest example of this idiot’s dishonesty, he asserts that if we are opposed to the war in Libya, we are standing with the terrorists and are generally unpatriotic. Yes, really:

(Via: Mediaite.)  Now, while I have said this war is unlawful because it has not received congressional approval (herehere, herehere and here), I have always believed that Congress should approve of the mission and we should go kick Gdaffy’s ass.  But I don’t think anyone is being unpatriotic to say, “no, we shouldn’t.”  For one thing, we are already in two wars.  And for another Obama has blown a hole in our deficit, which is another change from 2003.  I mean Bush was bad on the deficit, but comparing Bush’s suckitude on the deficit to Obama’s is like comparing a dog that barks all night to a zombie apocalypse.  Not to mention the fact that the President himself called it a Turd Sandwich.  I mean its hard to call it unpatriotic to criticize a war that the President himself personally called that, even if he was merely repeating the words of his advisor.

Oh, and there is the little matter of the fact that we might be helping terrorists:

Eastern Libya, where the rebels are based, has long been suspected of supplying recruits for terrorist organizations. “Al Qaeda in that part of the country is obviously an issue,” a senior official told the New York Times. At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, NATO military commander Admiral James Stavridis said intelligence reports showed “flickers” of Al Qaeda’s and Hezbollah’s presence among rebel forces. Eastern Libya was the center of Islamist protests in the late nineties, but it’s unclear whether groups here are still tied to Al Qaeda.

Now the truth is we don’t know very much about these rebels, but that didn’t stop Obama from providing covert aid to them:

Sources tells ABC News that President Obama has signed a secret presidential finding authorizing covert operations to “aid the effort” in Libya, where the US is working with NATO, and Arab partners to enforce a no-fly zone, protect civilians, and encourage Col. Moammar Gadhafi to step down from power.

The finding discusses a number of ways to help the opposition in Libya, authorizing some assistance now and setting up a legal framework for more robust activities in the future.

The finding does NOT direct covert operatives to provide arms to the rebels right now, though it does prepare for such a contingency and other contingencies should the president decide to go down that road in the future.

So, um, it’s a secret order authorizing a covert mission, reported all around the world on ABC News.  Great.  So, let me ask a few questions. First, is this really supposed to be secret, or are they just pretending it is supposed to be?  Second, is the secrecy really important?  I mean I assume that the actual locations and nature of the covert ops needs to be secret, but is the fact they even exist supposed to be secret?  I am frankly skeptical of that, because I had in fact assumed we were already doing that as would anyone with a few years of experience and more than two brain cells to rub together.  But at the same time if it was really supposed to be secret, and it really prejudices our efforts to have it outted, will there be any investigation into this leak?

And for that matter, should Jake Tapper have reported it in the first place?   I tweeted him a question on the subject, but he has yet to reply, and probably won’t.  But then again, if this was a disclosure that he believed to be authorized by the White House, that exonerates him in my book.

Meanwhile, Matt Lauer thinks it is just dandy to intervene in Libya, even if it results in helping al Qaeda, because we will show AQ how compassionate we are:

(Via Newsbusters.)  Remember folks, Michele Bachmann is the stupid one.

Update: As if that isn’t fun enough we have recently seen the defection of Moussa Kousa, the Libyan Foreign Minister, to the British.  There is a positive side to this in that he is very likely to be able to tell our forces where to drop the bombs.  But there is a downside, too:

He was expelled from London in 1980 after giving an extraordinary newspaper interview when he was the head of the embassy in which he said two Libyan dissidents living in London would be killed.

Speaking outside the Libyan embassy in St James’s Square, Mr Koussa told The Times: “The revolutionary committees have decided last night to kill two more people in the United Kingdom. I approve of this.”

He returned to Libya after being given 48 hours to leave the UK, where he was accused of funding terrorist groups.

Mr Kousa was named by intelligence sources in the mid-1990s as the possible architect of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people, and the blowing up the following year of a French airliner in central Africa in which 170 people died

So it looks like neither side in this fight will be terrorist-free.  And look, grown-ups understand that sometimes you have to ally with Stalin to defeat Hitler, without liking either man.  But contrary to what Fast Eddie thinks, or pretends to think, it is not an inherently unpatriotic to say, “yes, sometimes you have to ally with Stalin to defeat Hitler, but not this time.”

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Deadline for Production of Project Gunrunner Documents Arrives

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:46 pm

Today Mike Vanderboegh of the blog Sipsey Street Irregulars — who, along with David Cordea, broke the Project Gunrunner story — put up a post you need to bookmark: a collection of links to all letters written by Charles Grassley and Darrell Issa regarding this program.

There is one letter I would like to draw your attention to specifically: this letter from Issa to the Acting Director of BATFE, demanding the production of documents regarding Project Gunrunner. The part that makes this interesting: the deadline for production of the documents is 5:00 p.m., March 30, 2011. That is today. A few hours ago, actually.

Assuming that BATFE has given Issa the finger — as I very much expect they have — the next logical step is issuing subpoenas.

This is about to get interesting.

P.S. One more letter that is worth noting: this letter sent by Issa to Hillary Cllinton yesterday. The deadline is April 12. I bet Hillary gives Issa the finger too. Meaning, I would assume, more subpoenas.

Isn’t it nice to be in the majority?

P.P.S. Michelle Malkin knocked it out of the park on Hannity tonight discussing Project Gunrunner, and had a wonderful post and column about it here.

Bangladeshi Girl, 14, Raped by Cousin and then Beaten to Death For Adultery Under Sharia Law

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:42 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

In some barbaric interpretations of Islam, a woman cannot prove she is raped without four witnesses to back her up (which, in cases of rape, are typically hard to come by), so it is common for such a woman to assert she was raped and then be punished for adultery when she can’t sufficiently prove the rape.  But this case is more outrageous than most:

Hena Akhter’s last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl.

Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh’s Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public.

Hena dropped after 70.

Bloodied and bruised, she was taken to hospital, where she died a week later.

Amazingly, an initial autopsy report cited no injuries and deemed her death a suicide. Hena’s family insisted her body be exhumed. They wanted the world to know what really happened to their daughter.

Read the whole thing, although it will raise your blood pressure as you do.  For instance, the attacker was her cousin, more than three times her age.  She alleged forcible rape.  And even if she was making that part up, we are talking about a girl so young that her consent was meaningless.  In other words, contrary to what Roman Polanski and his defenders say, even if she said yes, it was still rape.  As Patrick wrote in a different context: “she was just a little girl.”  And heartbreakingly, her parents were forced to watch as their daughter was murdered.

If there is any silver lining, here, it is that this was unlawful under Bangladeshi law and it seems that authorities might be reacting appropriately:

Hena might have quietly become another one of those statistics had it not been for the outcry and media attention that followed her death on January 31….

Monday, the doctors responsible for Hena’s first autopsy faced prosecution for what a court called a “false post-mortem report to hide the real cause of Hena’s death.”

Public outrage sparked by that autopsy report prompted the high court to order the exhumation of Hena’s body in February. A second autopsy performed at Dhaka Medical College Hospital revealed Hena had died of internal bleeding and her body bore the marks of severe injuries.

Police are now conducting an investigation and have arrested several people, including Mahbub Khan, in connection with Hena’s death.

“I’ve nothing to demand but justice,” said Darbesh Khan [the victim’s father], leading a reporter to the place where his daughter was abducted the night she was raped.

He stood in silence and took a deep breath. She wasn’t even old enough to be married, he said, testament to Hena’s tenderness in a part of the world where many girls are married before adulthood. “She was so small.”

Hena’s mother, Aklima, stared vacantly as she spoke of her daughter’s last hours. She could barely get out her words. “She was innocent,” Aklima said, recalling Hena’s last words.

Police were guarding Hena’s family earlier this month. Darbesh and Aklima feared reprisal for having spoken out against the imam and the village elders.

They had meted out the most severe punishment for their youngest daughter. They could put nothing past them.

Decades ago Martin Luther King stood by the graves of three little girls murdered by the forces of evil and told us that “God still has a way of wringing good out of evil. And history has proven over and over again that unmerited suffering is redemptive.”  And like him, we can hope that the blood of this innocent girl will prove a redemptive force in that nation.

And we might remember this the next time someone pretends that Sharia is just another legal system, no better or worse than any other.

Finally, I have to really give it to Cnn and particularly Farid Ahmed and Moni Basu for this no-holds-barred story on the subject.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

In Which I Admit that Obama Was Pretty Cool About Something…

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 11:18 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

I remember well over a year ago when it was announced that Obama won a Nobel Prize, and my immediate thought was “for what?”  Obama was barely president, and I was still in the “I hope he won’t be as I think he will be” stage (as opposed to now where I am in the “I hate being right” stage).  And even a year later, when the next Nobel Peace Prize was awarded, I wrote:

Last year, the Nobel Peace Prize was given to an empty suit, harming the prestige of the award.  This year represents a bit of a redemption, as they awarded it to an empty chair.

(The empty chair was symbolic of the man who was still in captivity in China, as was any relatives who might have been able to pick it up in his stead.)

So I was pretty hard on Obama and especially the Nobel Committee, for this award.

But I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised to hear the President apparently mocking it, too:

It comes around the 50 second mark, when he praises his Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, saying: “Chu’s the right guy to do this, he’s got a Nobel Prize in physics — he actually deserved his Nobel Prize.”  I think that there can be little doubt that he was mocking himself, especially if you watch the video.  And I have to admit that was really surprisingly cool of him to do that.

Of course if he was really humble and self-aware, he would resign or at least decide not to run for re-election.  But hey, baby steps…

H/T: The Blaze.

P.S.: Does it benefit Politico when I embed their video? I am genuinely wondering.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

How Big Was Operation Gunrunner? And Did One of the Gunrunner Guns Kill an ICE Agent?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:32 am

Multiple agencies are involved, and there are signs that Alabama and Oregon are involved. We also see more tie-ins with Texas, including another group of gun smugglers arrested.

By the way, my post last night set forth evidence indicating that the gun used to kill ICE Agent Jaime Zapata may have been part of Operation Gunrunner. Add this point to the list of evidence: the indictment of the straw purchasers lists 38 guns they bought between July and November 2010. (One, purchased in October 2010, was one of the Zapata murder weapons.) An affidavit in the case says they gave 40 guns to a CI in November 2010 for the purpose of running them to Mexico.

We don’t know whether the murder weapon was one of those guns, but those numbers (38 and 40) are pretty close, making it seem likely that the Zapata murder weapon was in that shipment. And why didn’t they arrest the straw purchasers the day this transaction was made? Clearly because, at that point, they wanted the operation to remain covert.

And part of keeping it covert would be to allow the CI to deliver the guns to the recipients. Right?

I think the feds had Zapata’s murder weapon in their hands, and let it go. I think that, in February 2011, Zapata was murdered with a gun that literally slipped through the fingers of ATF agents.

Doesn’t it seem that way?

ANOTHER REASON TO DOUBT THE GOVERNMENT COVER STORY: According to the affidavit, the CI was requested on November 5, and took possession of the 40 guns from the straw purchasers on November 9.

So these guys spend months buying these 40 guns, and then turn them all over to a guy they just met??

No. That is ridiculous. The CI mentioned in the affidavit was clearly known to the purchasers well before November 9, 2010, when they gave him the guns to run to Mexico. Meaning the CI had been used before, with these straw purchasers. And the straw purchasers trusted him to deliver the goods . . . because he had before.

WAPO: The Supreme Court is Not Filled With (Conservative) Political Hacks

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:40 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

I missed this yesterday as I was dealing with a sick car, but the WAPO had an excellent Editorial Board Opinion on whether the Supreme Court is filled with politicians in judicial robes.  They were discussing the then-impending oral arguments in the Walmart class action case, writing:

It’s easy in cases such as this one to try to caricature justices as political players in search of a desired result. Easy, but wrong, as a recent spate of decisions show[].

Within the past few weeks, the Supreme Court, with conservative justices in agreement, rendered decisions that caused corporate America to groan. In one case, the justices sided with an employee who claimed his employer retaliated against him after he made a complaint. In another, they unanimously gave a green light to investors who sued a drugmaker accused of withholding information about serious side effects linked to one of its products. And the court, in a decision written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., an appointee of George W. Bush, rebuffed AT&T’s argument that it was entitled to “personal privacy” in order to shield certain information from public view. The chief justice, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, wrote that the court hoped “AT&T would not take it personally.”…

Justices are not devoid of points of view, and their “judicial philosophies” help steer them to certain results. There will be cases in which the justices appear to split along ideological lines, and the Wal-Mart case may very well be one of them. Debate and disagreement over the merits of a decision are understandable; not so painting justices as mere political hacks camouflaged in judicial robes.

And really it’s a pretty good opinion, and I recommend reading the whole thing and possibly even the links in it.  But it’s funny that their defense against charges that the Supreme Court is politically biased consists solely of defending conservatives against the charge of always siding with big business.  Yes, early in the editorial, in a part I don’t quote, they wave a hand at the concern of liberal activism but nothing in the meat of their argument seems to be aimed at dispelling that concern.  There are no citations of specific cases where liberals broke the liberal mold.

Mind you, these cases do exist.  The “liberals” on the court do not reflexively rule on the “liberal” side in every matter as defined narrowly in the case in front of them (more on that in a moment).  So why no discussion of those cases?  Perhaps the WAPO just doesn’t believe that the charge against liberals is serious enough to merit a defense.  Which is a dubious belief (if that is their reason), but that doesn’t mean they don’t believe it.

Now you see me accuse justices now and then of activism.  But let me flesh that out a little bit.  Even the activists do not simply think, “what do the liberals/conservatives want this time?  Okay, let’s give them that.”  That is because what the left or  right wants at any given moment is very often unprincipled.  This is largely the product of coalition politics, where often utterly contradictory political movements are grouped together under the banner of “left” or “Democratic” or “right” or “Republican.”  For instance, there is a deep contradiction between the left’s support for the privacy doctrine in relation to abortion, and their support for Obamacare, which is captured well in this photoshop:

A case in point was Rumsfeld v. FAIR.  In that case, a number of universities were refusing to allow military recruiters on campus in protest of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.  However, federal law stated that Department of Defense money was conditional upon such access—i.e. no access, no DOD money.  That policy was referred to as the Solomon amendment.  But FAIR, which represented the universities, wanted to have its cake and eat it, too, by excluding military recruiters and still getting DOD money.  The argument they put forth was this.  This was a “boycott” and thus a form of speech, and thus the Solomon Amendment placed an unconstitutional condition, supposedly, on the receipt of those funds.

Liberals lawyers I knew at the time predicted victory for FAIR, but I recognized that what they were asking the court to do was deeply unprincipled.  After all, these same liberal commentators believed that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which held that educational institutions that received federal funds could not discriminate based on race, gender and a few other traits, was constitutional.  By what principle could you say it is unconstitutional to take away federal money from universities that excluded military recruiters, but at the same time say it is constitutional for the federal government to take away funds from universities that excluded black people?  So I predicted at the time that even the liberals on the court would have a hard time siding with FAIR, and history bore me out.  The decision was unanimous and indeed they specifically cited a decision upholding Title IX as precedent:

Congress’ power to regulate military recruiting under the Solomon Amendment is arguably greater because universities are free to decline the federal funds. In Grove City College v. Bell, … we rejected a private college’s claim that conditioning federal funds on its compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 violated the First Amendment. We thought this argument “warrant[ed] only brief consideration” because “Congress is free to attach reasonable and unambiguous conditions to federal financial assistance that educational institutions are not obligated to accept.”… We concluded that no First Amendment violation had occurred— without reviewing the substance of the First Amendment claims—because Grove City could decline the Government’s funds.

So to the extent that a justice is an activist (which, contrary to what one nitwit thinks, is commonly defined as refusing to follow the law, including the constitution and has nothing to do with honoring precedent), it’s not about blowing around in the wind according to whatever the liberals or conservatives want this week.  To the extent that they are activists, they are taking the long view.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

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