Patterico's Pontifications


Putin “Orders” U.S. Fighter Planes Out of Syria, Bombs non-ISIS Opposition

Filed under: General — JVW @ 1:31 pm

[guest post by JVW]

As we know, our lead-from-behind President has happily left the mess in Syria (a mess that he partly inherited but largely exacerbated with his own fecklessness) to our new and staunch ally Russia. Now we hear from Fox News that Russia is demanding that U.S. planes stop flying in Syrian airspace.

According to the Jerusalem Post, U.S. officials are said to be ignoring the request, but given the general weakness exhibited by the Obama-Kerry axis, and given their desperation to wash their hands of the whole mess, would it surprise any of us to discover that within a week or so we are no longer conducting flying missions over Syria?

And then just a few hours ago Russia began bombing Syrian opposition parties in the northern part of the state, an area where there are not known to be any ISIS-affiliated parties. In other words, Russia has just made very clear that their top priority is to protect Bashar al-Assad against all parties who would oppose his despotic rule, not just those of the Islamic State. As if delighting in the humiliation of the world’s only remaining superpower (for now), Vladimir Putin has ordered this bombing a mere two days after Barack Obama said this at the United Nations:

Let’s remember how this started. Assad reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing that, in turn, created the environment for the current strife. And so Assad and his allies cannot simply pacify the broad majority of a population who have been brutalized by chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombing. Yes, realism dictates that compromise will be required to end the fighting and ultimately stamp out ISIL. But realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader, and an inclusive government that recognizes there must be an end to this chaos so that the Syrian people can begin to rebuild.

You can practically hear the chuckling at the Kremlin. Barack Obama will leave office in January 2017 and Bashar al-Assad will still be riding high in Damascus.


Liberal Writer Jonathan Capehart: I Defend Planned Parenthood But Draw The Line At Watching Those Icky Videos

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:06 am

[guest post by Dana]

Jonathan Capehart, political writer at the Washington Post and regular guest on MSNBC, admitted that although he can’t stomach watching the Planned Parenthood videos, he nonetheless supports Planned Parenthood:

Capehart said he couldn’t watch them because “there are some things where I just have to draw the line.”

“I would say, I haven’t seen the videos,” Capehart said on Morning Joe. “The discussion of the videos is disturbing enough.”

“Is that why you haven’t watched them?” fill-in host Nicolle Wallace asked. “You just feel like you have enough information?”

“There are some things where I just have to draw the line, things that I can deal with as a human being,” Capehart said. “I cannot get to the point, though, where I say that Planned Parenthood should be completely defunded. They do so many other things, providing health care to women.”

Capehart added a woman tweeted at him that she was still alive thanks to Planned Parenthood. The BlazeTV’s Amy Holmes told Capehart he should watch the videos, “as we’re discussing this issue,” to decide for himself if he could abide the conduct being discussed.

“We are on the same page on that issue,” he said. “What I’m saying is I then can’t go the next step, like a lot of the Planned Parenthood opponents, and say that Planned Parenthood should be completely defunded.”

If it’s just tissue and blood, what’s the big deal about watching the videos? Wouldn’t a “professional” journalist want to be as fully informed as possible before taking a public stand on an issue?

As I noted last night on Patterico’s post, Gregg Cunningham, founder of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, makes the point when discussing David Daleiden of CMP and the release of the Planned Parenthood videos: “What he has managed to accomplish is to shift the terms of the debate away from choice to a visualization of what is being chosen.”

If you’re going to choose to defend something, it’s good to know precisely what it is that you are defending. Especially in matters of life and death. Courage and honesty, Capehart, courage and honesty.


UPDATE BY PATTERICO: It is always such a delight when I wake up wanting to convey an idea, turn on my computer, and see it already expressed (and powerfully so) by Dana. I add this update only to express my agreement that the “visualization of what is being chosen” is what is central about this discussion. There is debate online about whether the video I described last night of a 17-week-old baby (estimated age) put in a metal bowl to expire was an abortion or not. It doesn’t matter to the larger debate. People can now see what a 17-week-old baby looks like — not just in images or ultrasounds, but after delivery, as it moves around. It looks like a baby. It may not be viable, but it is not “tissue.” It’s a baby. That reality scares a lot of people who don’t want the public to know the truth.

The only other thing I would like to do this morning is link Mollie Hemingway’s guide to the Planned Parenthood videos. In it, she makes a great point: “Planned Parenthood, contra the video, claims to only recoup fixed costs in sale of human organs. They’ve never explained why negotiations would be taking place if that were true.” That is a devastating point that the leftist defenders of Planned Parenthood like Michael Hiltzik do not even try to answer.

UPDATE x2: Thanks to Simon J. for the link to Mollie Hemingway.


Full Footage Released of Baby from Video Fiorina Described in Debate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:49 pm

TIME Magazine:

The video that Carly Fiorina graphically described at the last Republican presidential debate, depicting a moving fetus on a table following an apparent abortion, was released online in its entirety Tuesday morning, according to Gregg Cunningham, the founder of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, who collected the footage.

Cunningham, an anti-abortion activist, declined to identify the date, location or authors of the video in an interview with TIME Monday night, saying his group makes agreements of confidentiality in an effort to acquire images of abortions. He also made no claim that the images shown in the video had anything to do with Planned Parenthood, the organization that Fiorina and others have targeted for federal defunding. “I am neither confirming or denying the affiliation of the clinic who did this abortion,” Cunningham said.


The full source video, which is extremely graphic, lasts about 13 minutes, and shows a fetus being extracted from the mother, placed in a metal bowl, prodded with medical instruments and handled by someone in the room. At times the fetus appears to move, and at other times it appears to have a pulse. There are no images on the full video of any attempt to harvest the brain of the fetus, and there is no sound. Cunningham said the jump cuts in the video are the result of the camera being turned off and on.

Cunningham says he is confident the procedure was an abortion, and not a miscarriage, owing to the lack of medical treatment offered to the fetus. He said he estimated the age of the fetus at about 17 and a half weeks. “It is unimaginably more horrifying than the clip that we licensed for CMP to use and that Carly Fiorina made reference to in the debate,” Cunningham said.

He’s not kidding. It is unbelievably horrifying. If you want to watch it, it is linked at the TIME article. I will not link it or embed it here. The delivery is shown in graphic detail, with the tiny baby emerging slowly at first and then falling out of the woman’s vagina. It is writhing unmistakably as a pair of hands grabs it, the head allowed to flop around, and is taken and tossed in a metal bowl, where is writhes further, and is occasionally poked at by a pair of scissors.

Of the footage used in the Central for Medical Progress video, Amanda Marcotte told us there were “a few seconds of footage of what appears to be a stillborn fetus. The provenance of the video is unknown, there is no audio on the video, and there is no indication that the fetus was aborted.” If you can stomach it, watch the video. The baby was most certainly not stillborn.

But I truly recommend that you pass on watching it. Take it from me.

Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards And Her “Heavily Edited” Truth

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:31 pm

[guest post by Dana]

I haven’t had time to read much about Cecile Richard’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee today, but in a quick perusal of links, this caught my eye. After being asked about mammogram machines in Planned Parenthood clinics, Richards stated:

“We do not have mammogram machines at our health centers, and we’ve never stated that we did…”

And here’s Richard’s heavily edited truth from a few years ago:

In 2011, reeling from a vote in the House of Representatives that would deny any and all taxpayer funding, the Planned Parenthood abortion business turned to its non-abortion “services” to defend the need for the government dole. On February 21, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards joined the talk show of pro-abortion activist Joy Behar and defended Planned Parenthood against the legislation seeking to de-fund it.

“If this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are going to lose their health care access, not to abortion services, to basic family planning – you know, mammograms, cancer screenings, cervical cancer,” she said.


Douthat on Planned Parenthood and Fiorina

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:46 am

Ross Douthat has a fair, detailed, accurate, well-written piece about the controversy regarding Carly Fiorina and the Planned Parenthood videos. Here’s the meat of what he says:

Then if you watch the full film, you’ll see that the situation the technician is describing involves the worker showing her how she can tap the heart of the just-aborted fetus they’re looking at and make it start beating again, just before they jointly cut open the fetus’s face in order to actually acquire the brains. Again, we don’t see the tapping or cutting happen; the footage of the fetus that we see is from a different case, an undercover video obtained by a different pro-life group. And then the film as a whole is using the technician’s anecdote and the footage as part of an argument — buttressed by footage of interviews with Planned Parenthood higher-ups and others — that because fetal tissue harvesting is much easier when the fetus comes out intact, abortionists have incentives to perform later-term abortions in ways that sometimes/often end with fetuses alive in the air before they die.

So that’s a (no doubt partial) attempt at a summary of the film and footage that’s at issue. And having completed it, I’m a little bit confused about what’s being debated here. On the one hand, I think Fiorina’s critics are correct that she misdescribed the video, in two ways: She implied that the footage of the fetus was part of the scene being described (maybe because she thought it was; the documentary doesn’t make it clear that it’s a different fetus), and she has the Planned Parenthood worker saying “we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,” as opposed to “look at this, I can make its heart beat; okay now let’s harvest its brain.” Neither of these misdescriptions strike me as lies, per se, in their original form: If you watch the film as a whole it’s easy to see how you could misremember the scene the way Fiorina describes it rather than the way it actually plays out. (Just as lots of people think they remember the line “play it again, Sam,” which is never actually uttered in “Casablanca.”) But I agree with Lithwick that it would have been, and still would be, appropriate for Fiorina to correct herself, to say that she misremembered some of the details, instead of standing by her original words in their entirety.

But for her words to rise to the level of an extraordinary “big lie,” a vicious slander of abortion providers everywhere, it seems to me that something more than this kind of misdescription would need to be in play. If the scene in question literally did not exist, which is what the language of her critics consistently suggests — if Fiorina had conjured up a vision of an intact fetus with a working heart and twitching limbs having its brains harvested out of her hyperactive pro-life imagination — well, that would merit liberal shock and outrage. But she didn’t conjure or invent it: It’s very easy to figure out what scene she’s talking about, and the discrepancies between what’s in the documentary and her description aren’t wild or incredible or weird. There’s no outright fabrication here, in other words, and what Lithwick calls “the big lie about the kicking fetus and the brain harvesting” is a roughly-accurate summary of what the film actually shows. (A twitching, dying fetus? Check. A firsthand description of harvesting a brain from an intact fetus? Check again.)

I agree with every word. Well done.

On Dahlia’s Facebook page, where she linked Douthat’s piece, I asked Dahlia whether her outrage about uncorrected factual inaccuracies extended to Amanda Marcotte’s incorrect statement regarding footage of a kicking, twitching baby:

The provenance of the video is unknown, there is no audio on the video, and there is no indication that the fetus was aborted.

As I discussed in this post, the folks at the Federalist asked the people who provided the footage. (Journalism! Imagine that!) The providers of the footage responded that the footage was of an intact delivery abortion done at an abortion clinic. Marcotte’s claim was wrong. I wrote Slate about this, and in their corrections page for that week, I saw this . . .

In a Sept. 18 Behold, David Rosenberg misspelled Hartford Art School.

. . . .

In a Sept. 14 Future Tense, Mike Godwin misspelled Sen. Orrin Hatch’s first name.

. . . .

In a Sept. 14 Slatest, Ben Mathis-Lilley misspelled the city Gautier, Mississippi.

. . . but nothing about Marcotte’s error.

What a surprise, huh?

The folks at Dahlia’s Facebook page are doing a lot of handwaving, citing to articles about a different issue, remonstrating me for being insufficiently upset about Fiorina’s inaccuracies, and wholly refusing to acknowledge even that Marcotte got it wrong.

I guess some uncorrected factual inaccuracies are privileged over others . . .


Howard Kurtz Gives Four Pinocchios to Washington Post Fact Checker

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:49 pm

Heh. Well done. More of this, please!

(Thanks to Ace.)

The High Price Of Looking The Other Way

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:33 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last week, the NYT published a very disturbing story about U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan being told to look the other way while powerful Afghan men- and U.S. allies-took part in the common cultural practice of raping young boys:

In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”

Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.

Also discussed in the story was Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, who, when in Afghanistan, flat out refused to look the other way, and as a result of that decision, is being involuntarily discharged from the Army. Martland “body-slammed” an Afghan police commander who kept a little boy tied to a pole in his house where he raped him repeatedly from 10 days to two weeks.

Defending his actions in a statement released today, Martland said:

While I understand that a military lawyer can say that I was legally wrong, we felt a moral obligation to act.

And about the decision to discharge him, Martland maintains:

Kicking me out of the Army is morally wrong and the entire country knows it.

The day after the NYT story was published, the White House was pressured to respond. They “looked the other way”:

“For the rules of engagement and the kind of structure that’s in place to guide the relationship between the United States and Afghan members of the military, I’d refer you to the Department of Defense for that,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Earnest was pressed further to say whether President Obama is looking to review that policy in light of a New York Times story outlining how soldiers were powerless to help child rape victims in Afghanistan, and got in trouble with their superiors if they tried. To that, Earnest said, “Not that I’m aware of.”

When asked why questions about preventing child abuse and protecting human rights was being punted to the Pentagon, Earnest said, “Because … you’re asking about a policy that governs the conduct of U.S. military personnel in a dangerous place.”

“We continue to urge the Afghan and civil society to protect and support victims and their families, while also strongly encouraging justice and accountability under Afghan law for offenders,” Earnest said.

In a fierce piece of writing, Kurt Schlichter considers today’s socially-aware military and explains how officers were able to look the other way in the face of child rape:

The revelation that our generals expect Americans solders to allow screaming young boys to be sodomized and not stop it is simply the latest manifestation of the utter moral bankruptcy infecting the senior ranks of the U.S. military.

The problems with America’s military—which has now failed to win three wars in a row against backward fanatics whom the nineteenth-century Brits would have handily dispatched to hell in time for tea—are not merely budgetary. You can’t buy real leaders, leaders with strategic competence and moral courage. Aging equipment, while a problem, is nothing compared to the incompetence and moral cowardice of our military’s senior leaders.

Note the term “moral cowardice.” Many of these generals are decorated combat veterans who would gleefully charge an enemy machine-gun nest. But that physical courage in the face of the enemy does not translate into moral courage in the face of politicians and social justice warriors. It’s disheartening to see officers with Combat Infantryman badges and silver stars sheepishly nodding along with the lies of the coddled liberal elite.

There are fine generals—I served under many. But enough are not that the ranks are demoralized and the best and brightest future leaders are abandoning military careers, not because they don’t want to serve, but because they know it will be difficult to succeed unless they likewise abandon the principles that propelled them toward service in the first place.

While acknowledging President Obama’s role as commander in chief, Schlichter cautions that the president’s ineptitude and disregard for the military is not an excuse for those who know better:

It would be too easy to blame Barack Obama. As commander in chief, he is responsible for everything those under his command do or fail to do, and his political agendas and bizarre social engineering priorities, enacted by the eager band of loyalists he has promoted into the senior ranks over more capable warriors, have little to do with fighting and winning. Without a media interested in holding him to account for the dreadful performance of the military since his inauguration, Obama has a free ride.

Yet focusing on the feckless community organizer in the Oval Office just serves to let the generals off the hook. Obama cares nothing for the military, and no one expects him to. But it is not too much to expect our generals to care about their organizations, to care about winning wars and protecting their soldiers more than about getting that additional star.

Read the entire piece. It is a gut-wrenching look at the horrible positions soldiers find themselves in when under the leadership of those too weak to stand up for what is morally right and instead seek to further their own personal interests and ambitions above all else.

Schlichter closes:

We have the greatest troops in the world, probably in all of human history. Fighting with old, worn equipment is a challenge, but that can be overcome. The lack of competent, morally courageous senior leaders can’t be.

Obama bears some of the blame because he could fix this with a few select firings and unequivocal guidance that values come first. But no one expects that of him, and there is no excuse why the generals have not done it themselves. They could demand competence. They could demand moral courage. They could resign rather than play along with misguided politics. But they have chosen their stars and positions and perks instead. It’s a disgrace, and our troops and little Afghan kids are paying the price.


Feinstein Blocks Cruz Attempt to Honor Chinese Political Prisoner as Undiplomatic

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:44 pm

Typical political bull:

Xi Jinping, the boss of the Chinese Communist Party, is now in the United States. And Senator Cruz has introduced a measure to rename the plaza in front of the Chinese embassy after Liu Xiaobo, the democracy leader who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 and has been a political prisoner since 2008.

. . . .

Cruz notes that Congress renamed the plaza in front of the Soviet embassy after another Nobel peace laurate, Andrei Sakharov. We should do the same for Liu — and for the Chinese people, and for the cause of democracy everywhere.

Nothing doing, says DiFi:

Liu Xiaobo’s courage “poses a challenge to the Free World,” said Ted. “Will we be silent, eager to enjoy the economic benefits of cooperation with the PRC? Or will we put President Xi on notice that, for America, human rights are no longer ‘off the table,’ and that we are listening to the truth about Communist China?” He further said, “I believe that we have a moral responsibility not to marginalize Dr. Liu and his brave fellow dissidents, but to make their plight central to all our dealings with the PRC.”

Amen. Ted asked for unanimous consent. It was blocked by Senator Feinstein, who said, in effect, that the measure was undiplomatic.

Here’s how the AP reported Feinstein’s objection:

His attempt was thwarted by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who objected to the move and said it had political implications because of the timing. She said Cruz had sent out notice that he was bringing the resolution to the floor less than an hour before he tried to pass it.

Feinstein said Obama would have a chance to talk to the Chinese president about human rights issues.

“Maybe people don’t believe that diplomacy makes a difference, but I do,” she said.

I suppose it’s “undiplomatic” to throw someone in prison for 12 years for advocating the end of communism. I guess DiFi’s concern for diplomacy has its limits.

Trump: I’ll Have Government Take Care of Everybody’s Health Care and Raise Taxes on the Very Wealthy

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:35 am

“The Policy Proposals of Donald Trump” sounds like one of those “thinnest book in the world” jokes, but Bernie Sanders Trump was on “60 Minutes” last night talking policy. In a long-form interview, it’s actually quite surprising how his usual vapid platitudes give way to serious, specific proposals, when he has the time to sit down and really explain them.

Haha just kidding:

Scott Pelley: What’s your plan for Obamacare?

Donald Trump: Obamacare’s going to be repealed and replaced. Obamacare is a disaster if you look at what’s going on with premiums where they’re up 40, 50, 55 percent.

Scott Pelley: How do you fix it?

Donald Trump: There’s many different ways, by the way. Everybody’s got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, “No, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private. But–”

Scott Pelley: Universal health care.

Donald Trump: I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.

Scott Pelley: The uninsured person is going to be taken care of. How? How?

Donald Trump: They’re going to be taken care of. I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. And, you know what, if this is probably–

Scott Pelley: Make a deal? Who pays for it?

Donald Trump: –the government’s gonna pay for it. But we’re going to save so much money on the other side. But for the most it’s going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors with great companies and they can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything.

Wow, the government is going to take care of everybody! That sounds expensive. Will you be raising taxes, Mr. Trump?

Scott Pelley: Who are you going to raise taxes on?

Donald Trump: If you look at actually raise, some very wealthy are going to be raised. Some people that are getting unfair deductions are going to be raised. But overall it’s going to be a tremendous incentive to grow the economy and we’re going to take in the same or more money. And I think we’re going to have something that’s going to be spectacular.

Scott Pelley: But Republicans don’t raise taxes.

Donald Trump: Well, we’re not raising taxes.

After the program, Trump threatened himself with a lawsuit for claiming he would raise taxes.


Water on Mars?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:05 pm

There’s a big NASA announcement coming tomorrow, and the (seemingly accurate) speculation is that it is about the discovery of liquid water on Mars:

NASA says it has big news for us Monday. “Mars Mystery Solved,” the agency’s news release touts without offering even a hint as to what mystery they mean.

For those who just can’t wait, a little Googling may solve the puzzle — and it’s not Matt Damon, little green people, or any other clear indication of life. It appears to be a confirmation of periodically flowing water on the planet’s surface.

Three of the scientists slated for the news conference are listed as authors of a new paper to be delivered at this week’s European Planetary Science Congress.

In it, the researchers say analysis of imaging from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter proves that seasonal dark streaks on the Martian surface are the result of briny water periodically flowing across the planet’s surface.

How about that.

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