Archive for msm

Bail, Madoff, and the Law of Return

One of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of criminal law is the purpose of setting bail in criminal cases. The purpose of requiring bail money is to ensure that the accused comes back to court. Period. It is not meant to be punitive. The defendant who has posted his money (or home, or stock, or some other thing of value) has an incentive to return for future court appearances, lest he lose the money if he skips town. And no matter how horrific the alleged crime, the defendant who has posted bail (in the amount deemed appropriate by the court) has every right to remain at liberty- you know, that whole presumption of innocence thang.

Among those who don’t seem to understand this is CNN’s Campbell Brown, who complains here that Bernard Madoff’s bail should be revoked, basically because he is a bad guy. While there may well be valid reasons for revoking Madoff’s bail- such as violating the conditions previously set by the court – Brown is clearly clueless in making this argument:

Letting him serve his time at home for this long has been bad enough. To let him live in his luxury digs while he awaits trial would be a disgrace.

“Serve his time”? Is she unaware that at this point he has not been convicted of a crime?

One thing a court may consider in setting bail is how easy it would be for the defendant to flee the jurisdiction. Which brings me to a very interesting case currently pending in Iowa. Rabbi Aaron Rubashkin was the head of AgriProcessors, the largest kosher meatpacking plant in America. However, Rubashkin was arrested earlier this year after an immigration raid revealed hundreds of illegal and underage workers were employed at the plant. He also faces bank fraud charges.

At a hearing in November, Rubashkin was denied the chance to post bail after, among other arguments, the prosecutor argued that Rubashkin was a flight risk on the grounds that since Rubashkin is Jewish, he has the right under the Law of Return to seek citizenship in Israel. Taken to its logical end, this would mean no Jewish defendant should ever have the chance to post bail. Again, as with Madoff there may well be other valid reasons to deny Rubashkin bail. Yet at least according to this article, the judge cited this as one of the reasons for keeping Rubashkin locked up.



Apologies, Please

For months, Andrew Sullivan and a host of other conspiracy theorists questioned whether Sarah Palin was really the mother of baby Trig, suggesting instead that she was covering up for the “real mother”, her daughter Bristol. Yes, some of the same people who call for more “civility” in our political discussions, and ask that campaigns be more “issue-oriented”, were engaging in this sort of disgusting and baseless insinuation.
Well now that Bristol has had a healthy 7-pound baby — just seven months after Trig’s birth, thereby rendering it impossible for Bristol to have given birth to Trig– I wonder if Sullivan et al will admit they were wrong, and apologize. Doubtful.


The Times: Maybe It Was An Accident

How naive can people be?

As Christopher Hitchens notes, when it comes to recognizing the true nature of Islamic terrorists, naivete is boundless, at least at the New York Times. He writes about the Times coverage of the recent attacks in Mumbai:

The obvious is sometimes the most difficult thing to discern…An all-time achiever in this category is Fernanda Santos of the New York Times, who managed to write from Bombay on Nov. 27 that the Chabad Jewish center in that city was “an unlikely target of the terrorist gunmen who unleashed a series of bloody coordinated attacks at locations in and around Mumbai’s commercial center.” Continuing to keep her brow heavily furrowed with the wrinkles of doubt and uncertainty, Santos went on to say that “[i]t is not known if the Jewish center was strategically chosen, or if it was an accidental hostage scene.”

An “accident”?? Forgive my language, but a f—ing “accident”?


On That “Godless” Ad

A reader writes in about that Elizabeth Dole “Godless” ad which you can watch here. It is without question the most controversial and discussed ad of this cycle.

First, I will share the reader’s email:

I just saw the [Dole "Godless"] spot …and I find it pretty offensive. Why should belief in god be a qualification to serve in the US Senate? Dole defends herself by saying that she’s not calling her opponent “godless” but actually critiquing her opponent for hanging out with “godless” folks. This whole idea of “since you have, at one time or another, associated with [insert controversial person or group here] you are therefore [insert whichever scary label fits]” is just stupid. But, what Dole is doing is worse. Injecting such a polarizing subject as religion and belief in God into this election is just wrong. Forget that our constitution has that whole separation of church and state thing, why the hell is someone’s belief relevant? How would that affect her votes on foreign policy, budgets, economic policy?

The reader raises several important issues, and I am happy to share my thoughts, one issue at a time.

First, it should go without saying that Dole has every right to run this ad, and the reader similarly has every right to be offended. Or to agree with it. I mean, it’s democracy, folks. What would the alternative be? Set up some commission to decide which ads are fair and which ads are unfair? Not only would that be impossible to fairly administer, it likely also would be unconstitutional.

The next issue the reader raises is whether the candidate’s faith should be an issue. Well, I myself would have no trouble supporting a Christian or Jew or Muslim or Sikh or Buddhist or Atheist provided that person shares my views on the issues which are most important to me. Again, that whole democracy thing- we each get to make up our own minds. Dole is insinuating that her opponent will line up with people who want to take “In God We Trust” off the dollar bill and “one nation under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance. Putting aside the question of whether Dole has any basis for that insinuation, as a general matter if those issues are important to a voter, whichever side the voter is on, he or she has a right to take that into account when voting.

As for guilt by association, well that is a game which everybody plays. And again, so be it. Barack Obama is probably going to win this election in large part due to his successful attempt to associate John McCain with George Bush. And if I were Obama, I would have done the exact same thing. Bush is incredibly unpopular, McCain has often (but not always) supported Bush, so it’s perfectly fair for Obama to do this. In 1994, Republicans won both houses of Congress by running ads all over America associating Democratic candidates with the then-unpopular Bill Clinton.

Guilt by association does not always work. But everyone tries to do it. Hillary Clinton attacked Barack Obama for his association with (in her words) “that slumlord Rezko.” In some senate races now, Democrats are attacking Republicans for their association with the recently-convicted Ted Stevens. It cuts both ways– unless you’re a hypocrite like Frank Rich of the New York Times, who savaged Mitt Romney for his association with the Mormon Church, then sang a rather different tune when the Jeremiah Wright tapes came out.

I can remember Mario Cuomo’s unsuccessful 1994 re-election bid, when his whole campaign was based on trying to link his then-largely-unknown opponent George Pataki to the unpopular Al D’Amato. And I’m old enough to remember Walter Mondale’s vain attempt to link Ronald Reagan to Jerry Falwell. “Guilt by association” always was, and always will be. A liberal voter might reject a candidate for his association with the NRA, a conservative voter might reject a candidate for her association with the ACLU- and as Stuart Smalley would say, “that’s okay.”

The reader ends by asking how the whole religion issue would affect a candidate’s policy positions on things like the economy or foreign affairs. Well, a person’s religious views might not impact how they vote on tax cuts or free trade. But they could impact how the candidate votes on social issues like school prayer, abortion, or gay marriage, and if those issues matter to a person, that person has every right to consider where the candidates stand.

I’m not in North Carolina, and have no idea how the Dole thing will play out. To me, for what it’s worth, it looks like a desperation play that could well backfire, because the link between the candidate and the “Godless American Pac” is at best a tenuous one, and the ad makes Dole look nasty. The winning candidates know how to attack while still finding a way to seem likable.

In the end, the people get to decide. Is there any other way?


Not Drinking the Kool-Aid

The staff at Slate was polled, and they are supporting Obama by a wafer-thin margin of 55-1; I have little doubt that at most MSM outlets, the results would be similar.

Which is why it’s so refreshing when I stumble on the rare journalist who breaks from the pack and is actually willing to criticize “The One.”

Here, Campbell Brown at CNN takes Obama to task for flat-out breaking his promise to participate in public financing. Of course Obama broke the pledge for the simple reason that he realized he could raise and spend a lot more money if he declined to participate in the program – anyone who buys his silly claim implying that “I didn’t realize that actual people would fund my campaign” is seriously on da Kool-Aid.

And here, Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic says the LA Times should release that Obama video from 2003. Key quote:

[Because] information in an open society shouldn’t be kept secret and… the voters should make up their own minds about whether or not they trust certain candidates, this video should be set free


Fair is Fair

If I am going to perpetually hammer those media outlets which spin for Obama, then in fairness I should point out (the extremely rare) media outlet that spins for McCain. So much as I am addicted to the DrudgeReport, it’s misleading for Matt Drudge to highlight over and over again those few polls which show the race to be close. I will stick with the RealClearPolitics polling aggregation, which at the moment shows Obama leading by a comfortable 6 points



Several days after the blogosphere raised the issue, John McCain has finally tried to put the heat on the LA Times to release that video of Senator Obama in 2003. As I’ve said before, I have no idea what is on that video. But if it’s so innocuous, why hide it? Isn’t a free press supposed to just report the news and then let the people decide?


Bob Herbert: Now You’re All Smart!!

Elitism? At the New York Times? I know, it’s shocking.

Bob Herbert has decided that this year, since the voters appear to be supporting his candidate, they must be substantive and informed. Implying of course that in the past, when they have rejected his candidate, they all were stupid sheep.

In his latest loveletter to Barack Obama, Herbert opines that since polls show that Barack Obama is ahead, ipso facto, the voters all have become like totally intelligent.

You see how that works, gang? Vote for my guy, you must be smart; vote against my guy, then you’re stooooopid.

Did he really say that they are smarter? Oh yes- here is the quote:

But it was clear that the message, style and strategy of [Obama's] campaign pointed to a new direction for American politics, and that a new generation of voters — younger, smarter, more diverse, more open-minded — was anxious to follow his lead.

What exactly is his evidence that the preference for Obama is proof of deeper reflection by the voters? One quote from a random voter (who maybe actually exists, but in light of the Times’ track record here, maybe does not really exist at all):

I remember talking with a voter named Debra Gable…”I dislike politics,” she told me, “because we focus on our differences even though we have so many more commonalities. That’s what I think I’m hearing from Obama, so I want to see how he is in person.”

Based on that (alleged) quote, Herbert is amazingly able to draw the following conclusion about the electorate as a whole:

With the country facing enormous problems (even before the meltdown of the credit and financial markets in recent months), the voters wanted more substance from their candidates.

Substance? Is he kidding? Barack Obama, with his thinnest of resumes, with his minimal track record, with his ambiguous talk of “hope” and “change” is all about substance and not all about style??

I know a great many Obama supporters- many of whom are extremely smart and extremely well-informed. But when I ask them to name Senator Obama’s most significant accomplishment as a Senator, most can’t name any at all. When I ask them what specifically they like about his economic policies, most are aware only that he wants to raise taxes “on the wealthy”, but can offer little more.

Heck, even elected officials who are involved in the Obama campaign seem to have trouble naming a specific thing he has done as a Senator.

But this is how it works in Bob Herbert’s world. Agree with him, you’re smart and open-minded. Disagree, you’re ignorant and closed-minded. Ahh, the Times.


More re: LA Times and Obama Video

The story (which I posted on here) about the LA Times refusing to release a video of Barack Obama heaping praise on Palestinian “activist” Rashid Khalidi appears to be gaining some traction.

Of course, if John McCain were a better candidate, he himself would have made this tape an issue; instead it falls to the blogosphere to get the ball rolling.


LA Times Helping Out Obama?

Is the Los Angeles Times refusing to release a videotape in its possession in order to help Barack Obama avoid embarassment? Well, you decide. Here are the pertinent facts:

1. The PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), in case you have been asleep for the last 45 years, is an organization responsible for countless acts of terrorism, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Jewish men, women and children.

2. Rashid Khalidi, according to the New York Times “work[ed] for the PLO” in the 1970’s, later becoming a professor at the University of Chicago, and then Columbia University.

3. At a party thrown in his honor in Chicago in 2003, attended by Barack Obama, Khalidi did the following, according to the Los Angeles Times:

At Khalidi’s going-away party in 2003, the scholar lavished praise on Obama, telling the mostly Palestinian American crowd that the state senator deserved their help in winning a U.S. Senate seat. “You will not have a better senator under any circumstances,” Khalidi said.

4. Obama’s participation in this event was cited as a reason why, again according to the LA Times, “Palestinians see a friend in Barack Obama.” Lest anyone question why any of this matters or relates to policy, and lest anyone claim this is just “guilt by association,” here is the relevance:

And yet the warm embrace Obama gave to Khalidi, and words like those at the professor’s going-away party, have left some Palestinian American leaders believing that Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say. Their belief is not drawn from Obama’s speeches or campaign literature, but from comments that some say Obama made in private and from his association with the Palestinian American community in his hometown of Chicago, including his presence at events where anger at Israeli and U.S. Middle East policy was freely expressed

5. In its article about the 2003 event, where Obama himself spoke, the LA Times stated “The event was videotaped, and a copy of the tape was obtained by The Times.”

6. The LA Times is refusing to post the video on its website or share it with other news organizations.

I obviously have no idea what this tape shows. And neither do you. And that’s the point. Perhaps it shows absolutely nothing which would embarass Senator Obama.

But if the event was newsworthy enough to warrant an article in the LA Times, why not share the tape and let the people decide?

More importantly, do you have any doubt at all that if the LA Times possessed a video of John McCain speaking at an event in honor of a person with alleged ties to a terrorist organization, they would at the very least post it on their website, or share it with other news organizations who are interested in seeing it?

Again, why not let the people decide? Who is the LA Times protecting?

Hat tip:


Dirty?? Well, McCain Pulled This Punch

We’ve had some healthy spirited debate here on StillRight about the McCain campaign and allegations that his campaign has been “dirty” and has employed a “win at any cost” strategy.

But as Charles Krauthammer points out, McCain has chosen to never mention what was probably the most controversial issue during the primary season:

Moreover, the most remarkable of all tactical choices of this election season is the attack that never was. Out of extreme (and unnecessary) conscientiousness, McCain refused to raise the legitimate issue of Obama’s most egregious association — with the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Dirty campaigning, indeed.

Let’s remember, Hillary Clinton herself had no problem at all discussing Reverend Wright during the primary season. And in a televised debate, the folks at ABC News found the issue relevant enough to raise it at length. Yet McCain oddly (and in my view foolishly) has never discussed the matter.

As for the accusation that the McCain campaign overall has been especially dirty, Krauthammer offers this:

Nor will I countenance the “dirty campaign” pretense. The double standard here is stunning. Obama ran a scurrilous Spanish-language ad falsely associating McCain with anti-Hispanic slurs. Another ad falsely claimed McCain supports “cutting Social Security benefits in half.” And for months Democrats insisted that McCain sought 100 years of war in Iraq.

McCain’s critics are offended that he raised the issue of William Ayers. What’s astonishing is that Obama was himself not offended by William Ayers.


McCain’s Math May Be Off Here

At the last debate, John McCain said:

“Fifty percent of small business income taxes are paid by small business.”

As columnist Michael Kinsley insightfully points out:

“Although I really should run this past Paul Krugman before going public, the evidence seems to suggest that as much as 100 percent of small business income taxes are paid by small business.”


Typical Partisanship at the Times

One of the true marks of a partisan is the employment of double-standards. You apply one rule to the candidate you oppose, and apply a different rule to the one you support. The Sensible Right-Winger (that’s me, folks) takes pride in the fact that he applies the same standards to all. That’s why, for example, I can admit that Sarah Palin has a very thin resume, whereas many of my friends who support Obama can’t concede the same about him. Another typical example: liberals who want to blame John McCain for his fleeting link to some crazy pastor who endorsed him, while minimizing the 20-year connection between Barack Obama and his way crazier pastor.

But today’s example of partisanship comes from (surprise!) the New York Times. Both Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich have just penned columns which point to a few nutty people who said offensive things at McCain rallies, and (surprise!) they blame the McCain campaign for these nutjobs.

The partisanship is demonstrated by the failure of Rich and Dowd et al to ever denounce the crazy and vulgar rantings that are so often heard on the left. You will never ever hear Rich or Dowd denounce all the hate-filled vulgar postings at DailyKos, for example. That’s a website where Barack Obama himself has posted items; Obama also went to their annual convention. For several days in August, the featured posters at Kos were claiming that Sarah Palin was not the true mother of her newborn baby. Kos is filled with anti-semitic rantings, and the host of the site himself famously posted an item that said “Screw Them” about American contractors who were murdered by terrorists in Iraq.

Here’s a celebrity Obama supporter saying Sarah Palin will be gang-raped if she should ever visit New York. If you think these sort of comments are unusual, well I urge you to spend some time perusing the frequently anti-semitic comments on DailyKos. Or you can peruse Michelle Malkin’s book where she amasses the many racist emails she regularly receives from liberals who disagree with her.

Someone please tell me why John McCain or George Bush deserve blame for every crazy right-winger in any audience, but for some reason no liberal leader is to blame when, for example, conservative speakers get physically attacked (regularly) by liberals on college campuses.

A good friend of mine who is an ardent liberal recently emailed me and blamed President Bush for “stifling debate” in America- yet I can find no examples of liberal speakers getting shouted down or physically attacked while attempting to speak anywhere in America…. whereas above, with about five minutes of research, I found several examples of conservative speakers getting attacked in attempts by liberals to prevent them from speaking. This type of selective outrage is yet another example of partisanship.

My point is not that Barack Obama is responsible for the hate-filled comments of his supporters. If I were a partisan like Frank Rich, it would be quite easy for me to amass all the vulgar things that people on the left have said about Sarah Palin or John McCain, and then say that such comments are the fault of the Democratic Party.

But unlike the partisans at the Times, I do not blame Obama for the nutty comments of some of his nutty supporters. And for the same reason, it is absurd to blame John McCain for the comments of some of his wacko supporters. I think John McCain’s record speaks for itself.


Republican Dirty Tricks! Oh, wait….

A federal grand jury in Tennessee has indicted a man for hacking into Sarah Palin’s personal email account. He happens to be the son of a Democratic state legislator.

Can you imagine the reaction on the left if the son of a Republican lawmaker had done a similar deed? All the conspiracy whackos would be out in full swing (Rove is behind it!).

MSNBC interrupted their programming and declared it “Breaking News” back in the spring when they learned that someone had snooped into Barack Obama’s passport files, a far less invasive act. MSNBC of course was seeking to make Obama appear to be the victim of dirty tricks. It later turned out, however, that all the candidates had been similarly snooped upon, and the snooping was by some contract employees with no apparent political connections.

The New York Times ran three (!!) front page stories on the pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s daughter. Let’s wait and see how much coverage is given to this criminal act against Sarah Palin.


I Can See the Future!

I can see the future! My crystal ball tells me that after the debate tonight, various Republican talking heads will be interviewed and they will all say that John McCain won the debate. Amazingly enough, I also can see that various Obama supporters will say that Obama won the debate.

Andrew Sullivan will say Obama won and McCain disgraced himself. Hugh Hewitt will say Obama lost and alienated mainstream voters with his leftist views.

What I really hate are the so-called focus groups, where Frank Luntz or some other pollster interviews “undecided” voters. Hmmm, is it possible Frank that maybe when people are on national television for the first time in their lives that they may not reveal their true feelings, but might instead just say what they think people want to hear?

My advice: turn off the tv after the debate. Ignore the analysis. Wait 3 days. Then, if the daily tracking polls have moved (and you must wait the full three days because the tracking polls all cover three days of polling, so it takes that long to include all the post-debate polling), we will know if there was a real winner at the debate. As I write, the RCP tracker has Obama up by 5.5 points. Barring some sort of glaring mistake or total grand slam from either candidate, we will not truly know who won until we see whether that gap has grown or shrunk in Saturday’s polling.


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