Patterico's Pontifications


Report: Valerie Jarrett Helping with Secret Talks Between U.S. and Iran

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:36 pm

She has Secret Service protection. I wonder if this is why:

A Chicago lawyer is the key player behind the secret talks between the US and Iran. Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday. A close friend of Michelle Obama, Valerie Jarrett is assisting the US government communicate behind the scenes with the representatives of Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

Jarret[t], who was born in the Iranian city of Shiraz, is a senior advisor to US President Barack Obama.

He’ll have more flexibility after the election.

A lot more.

Open Thread: One Day Left Edition

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:31 am

Do you think Sandy has affected the race? Does Mitt still have momentum? Does he have a shot in Pennsylvania? How do things look in Ohio? Is Nate Silver a genius or is he all wet?

Election Predictions Still Welcome

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:31 am

I encourage all readers — lurkers and otherwise — to make their predictions here. It’s not too late, but tomorrow it will be.

Defeating Obama: An Advance for Racial Equality

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:26 am

Yesterday we were treated to a typically bombastic Paul Krugman entry which argued that the race isn’t even close, and Obama will obviously win:

Today’s Financial Times bears a banner headline on p.1: “US election hangs on a knife edge”. Aside from everything else, surely this gets the cliche wrong: you rest on a knife edge, don’t you? If you try to hang on one, I think you just cut off your fingers.

More important, though, this headline deeply misleads readers about the state of the race — and in so doing, it echoes a lot of political reporting right now. Quite simply, many of the “analysis” articles being published in these final days leave readers worse informed than they were before reading.

As Nate Silver (who has lately attracted a remarkable amount of hate — welcome to my world, Nate!) clearly explains, state polling currently points overwhelmingly to an Obama victory. It’s possible that the polls are systematically biased — and this bias has to encompass almost all the polls, since even Rasmussen is now showing Ohio tied. So Romney might yet win. But a knife-edge this really isn’t, and any reporting suggesting that it is makes you stupider.

It ain’t close, Krugman tells us — BUT! If Romney pulls it out somehow? Racism will be to blame:

Again, as Nate says, it’s definitely possible that the polls are systematically wrong. The obvious ways they could go wrong, cell phones and Latinos, favor Obama rather than Romney; but maybe pollsters are overcompensating for these factors, or maybe there’s a large Bradley effect distorting poll responses. Reporting about these possibilities would be interesting.

But reporting that suggests that this is a too-close-to-call race doesn’t get at any of this; it’s just lazy, and a disservice to readers.

This is pre-emptive ass-covering: Obama will run away with it, and if I’m somehow wrong about that, it’s racism!

My guess is that we have a reverse Bradley effect — which in future times will be known as the “Obama effect” — involving people who voted for Obama the first time around because it felt good to vote for the first black president, but who now see how ineffective the president is and don’t plan to vote for him again . . . but don’t want to admit it.

When the reason for your vote is that shallow, it’s hard to admit you were wrong. But I think a lot of people have admitted it to themselves. They just don’t want to say it to a pollster.

I hope they understand that this represents yet another advance in racial equality. In 2008 it felt good to some to show that, regardless of the color of his skin, a man can be judged worthy of the presidency. In 2012, it should feel better to show that, regardless of the color of his skin, a man can be judged unworthy of the presidency. Only when we show that we can judge people on their merit and accomplishments (or lack thereof) rather than on skin color will we have truly achieved racial equality.

L.A. Times Takes CIA and Pentagon Spin on Benghazi as Gospel

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:09 am

I just wanted to make sure nobody missed this. It’s by far the most comprehensive account of the alleged Obama failures at Benghazi that the L.A. Times has done — but, of course, presented in the context of a refutation:

Maryland insurance executive Christopher Moody believes much of the news media is missing a major scandal in how the Obama administration responded to the attack in eastern Libya that killed four Americans.

Based on reports he’s seen and heard on Fox News, talk radio and elsewhere, Moody is positive that officials watched a live video feed in the White House situation room from an overhead drone as the attack in Benghazi unfolded. He knows that a U.S. Special Operations team was available in Sicily to help rescue the besieged Americans, but wasn’t sent. He is sure that President Obama or his aides refused requests to dispatch an AC-130 Spectre gunship that could have mowed down the attackers with its fearsome rotating cannons.

“The bottom line,” emailed Moody, whose father was a Democratic U.S. senator from Michigan, “is that [Obama] had the ability to save those four Americans and didn’t do it.”

Officials in the Pentagon and the intelligence community contend that none of those assertions are true.

And government officials’ version is basically taken as gospel:

But in Washington, the pursuit of answers has been complicated by a fog of partisan-driven misinformation that is notable even by election-year standards. With just days to go before the presidential election, legitimate criticism over the incident has become entangled with conspiracy theories alleging that the president and his top national security advisors intentionally or recklessly allowed Americans to die.

. . . .

Last week, Fox News alleged that CIA managers told security officials at an agency facility known as the Annex — which was a mile from the State Department compound in Benghazi — not to go to the aid of their American counterparts when the diplomatic buildings first came under attack. Fox said the team was delayed an hour before going to help, in contravention of orders. Ambassador Stevens and computer technician Sean Smith were killed when attackers set fire to the compound.

The Fox report also alleged that, hours later, when the Annex itself was under attack, officials in the CIA chain of command refused to pass along requests for military assistance. And it said that one of the CIA security officers had laser sights pointed at some of the attackers that could have allowed them to be targeted by a precision bomb. Two CIA security officers, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, were killed when mortar rounds struck their position on the roof of the Annex.

In fact, CIA security officers responded to the attack on the State Department compound within 25 minutes, U.S. officials said, though it took them 50 minutes to arrive. CIA officers did not have laser targeting equipment, they said.

And Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta “ordered all appropriate forces to respond to the unfolding events in Benghazi, but the attack was over before those forces could be employed,” said Little, the Pentagon spokesman.

“There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support,” a senior intelligence official said.

You see the structure of the article. Fox News presents the partisan misinformation that x, but “in fact” government officials explain that not x is true.

And of course we had to wait (for days and days) for the refutation before readers could be told about any of the Fox News reports.

Par for the course; almost boring to point out; no surprise; I know, I know, I get it. Why do you think it took me two days to point it out? Still, it seems necessary to highlight, somehow.

Thanks to AZ Bob and others.

Another Empty Chair

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:08 am

This one is from Gazzer, who writes: “It’s been in our front yard since the day of Clint’s speech.”

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