Patterico's Pontifications

5/31/2004

Proposed Three Strikes Initiative Bankrolled by Rich Guy Trying to Get His Son Out of Prison

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,No on 66 — Patterico @ 10:28 am

It turns out that the dangerous upcoming initiative to gut the Three Strikes law was bankrolled by a rich guy who wants to shorten his son’s prison sentence for killing two people.

An article appearing in today’s Los Angeles Times reports that an insurance agent named Jerry Keenan spent $1.56 million to gather signatures for the ballot initiative. Keenan’s son is serving an eight year prison sentence for gross vehicular manslaughter. The son, drunk on beer and high on marijuana, drove a car with four passengers to a “winding, back road where he could drive at high speeds” reaching 95 mph. He lost control of the car, which “flipped four times.” Two passengers died. As so often happens in such cases, the driver did not.

Keenan’s son entered a guilty plea to two counts of vehicular manslaughter, and also admitted that he had caused great bodily injury to a third passenger. Owing to the vagaries of California sentencing law, this crime was a strike only because of the “great bodily injury” allegation.

But, as I have pointed out before, a very dangerous provision in the upcoming initiative says that you can personally cause great bodily injury to someone in the course of committing a felony, and it will no longer be a strike if you didn’t specifically intend to cause the injury. I gave an example in which a defendant

drives the wrong way on the freeway for five miles, at speeds of over 100 miles per hour. Several cars spin out of control, and multiple motorists receive injuries ranging from bruises and scratches to more serious injuries such as concussions and broken bones. One motorist goes into a coma.

I noted that this would not constitute a strike under the proposed new law.

I thought that provisions like this had been written by the defense bar generally, to benefit a class of criminals. I was naive. Little did I know that this provision had been inserted in the initiative by Keenan’s lawyer, for the specific purpose of getting Keenan’s son out of prison.

Under the proposed initiative, the killing of two people by Keenan’s son will no longer be considered a strike. Instead of having to serve 85% of his sentence, he will have to serve only half. He could get out by the end of this year.

Hey, if you could reach in your back pocket and pull out a mil and a half to get your kid sprung from prison, wouldn’t you do it?

Many people arguing against the Three Strikes law have argued that the law never should have been changed due to one specific case (that of Richard Allen Davis, the murderer of Polly Klaas). I wonder how those people feel about this.

Final point: Kudos to the L.A. Times for running this story. If the paper’s past coverage of Three Strikes is any indication, the paper will offer plenty of sophistry and misleading coverage of the initiative in upcoming weeks. However, this was a solid and important story.

Will future stories on the proposed initiative remind us who bankrolled it and why? Or will this story disappear into the ether, never to be mentioned again?

Time will tell.

[UPDATE: The original version of this post mistakenly stated that Keenan was the owner of an insurance company. My problem was relying on the Times. Keenan is an insurance agent who apparently owns several brokerages. Thanks to Xrlq for the correction.]

More Transparency: Armed Liberal “Comes Out”

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 9:10 am

One of my favorite bloggers, Armed Liberal, has come out. Armed revealed to Dan Gillmor in this piece that his real name is Marc Danziger. He is working on Spirit of America, and there are big plans in store.

Marc and I discussed the “coming out” issue a week or so ago. I had been thinking about making my name public, and called Marc for his thoughts. He told me that he was wrestling with the same issues himself, due to his Spirit of America commitment. He encouraged me to do it, and I did.

It’s kind of liberating not worrying about anonymity anymore, as Marc will discover.

In any event, the big picture is that Marc’s promises of BIG things to come with Spirit of America is not just talk. I discussed it with him a couple of weeks ago, and the word BIG in all capital letters is indeed appropriate. E-mail Armed, er, Marc at “armed@windsofchange.net” and see how you can get involved.

Learning a Foreign Language

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Patterico @ 8:41 am

For anyone interested in learning a foreign language, I strongly recommend the Pimsleur system. In 90 days, you can learn enough to communicate basic concepts with a level of comfort that will surprise you. It’s incredibly expensive — several hundred dollars for the full 90-day course — but maybe you can find it at your local library. That’s how I did it.

The key to the system is that it focuses entirely on teaching you to speak in the other language. You are given an English phrase or sentence, and you’re told to say it in the other language. Period. No mindless drills. And all words and concepts are reinforced at carefully calculated intervals, so that they pass into your long-term memory with no extra effort on your part.

I have listened to the Pimsleur courses for Spanish, German, French, and Italian. (Our local library has the full 90-day courses for all these and several others, which is pretty rare. Most libraries have only the two-week introductory course in a handful of languages.) After listening to the German and Italian courses, my wife and I traveled through Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. I was able to communicate basic concepts, and it was amazing to me how nice people were to us when we tried to speak with them in their own language.

I’m doing Japanese now, which is pretty different. It’s harder, but not impossible.

I guess this sounds a little like an ad, but it’s not. I haven’t been paid to plug Pimsleur, and I have no financial interest in this company whatsoever. I just think it’s a great system, and I want to spread the word.

BARELY RELEVANT CLOSING ANECDOTE: When I was a kid growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, I once heard a guy say in a thick Texas accent: “I sure do admire anyone who’s bilingual in six or sev’n different languages.”

If you try the Pimsleur system, you can earn the respect of people like that guy.

5/30/2004

Patterico Quoted in U.S. News and World Report

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 9:09 am

The first paragraph of this piece by John Leo in U.S. News and World Report has a quote from this post of mine.

If I hadn’t seen this on Cori Dauber’s site, then I probably never would have known about it, because Leo refers to me only as “[o]ne amused blogger.”

Still, as Dauber says, it’s more respect than the New York Times gave bloggers in their piece depicting us all as crazed obsessives in bathrobes.

(For the record, I don’t even own a bathrobe.)

Damn Liberals

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 7:58 am

Passed on to me by a liberal friend, to prove that there are dumb conservatives too. The following conversation took place at a Home Depot:

Customer: Yeah, I want to get this key duplicated.

Cashier: I’m sorry, sir. This key says it is not supposed to be duplicated.

Customer: I didn’t come here to talk to a bunch of liberals!

5/29/2004

My Nephew Has Graduated from High School

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Patterico @ 12:35 am

Congratulations to my nephew Corey, who graduated from high school this week. It seems like just yesterday that I was the one beginning college — and finding out the day I arrived at college that my nephew had just been born.

Possible Blogging Hiatus

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 12:28 am

I am going to be taking a little vacation from the computer over the next week. I will probably post something, but it may be lighter than usual. I’ll be back in full force June 7.

Baby Boy Xrlq

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 12:26 am

Congratulations to Xrlq and Mrs. Xrlq, who are going to have a baby boy.

Council Winners

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:21 am

The Council Has Spoken. Congratulations to Four Right Wing Wackos for the winning Council entry, Religion and Politics, and to Eject! Eject! Eject! for the winning non-Council entry, Strength (Part 1).

5/28/2004

Best Resignation Letter Ever

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 11:28 pm

I don’t know if this is real or not, but it should be:

From: [REDACTED] Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2004 1:11 PM Subject: FW: Goodbye…

As many of you are aware, today is my last day at the firm. It is time for me to move on and I want you to know that I have accepted a position as “Trophy Husband”. This decision was quite easy and took little consideration. However, I am confident this new role represents a welcome change in my life and a step up from my current situation. While I have a high degree of personal respect for PHJW as a law firm, and I have made wonderful friendships during my time here, I am no longer comfortable working for a group largely populated by gossips, backstabbers and Napoleonic personalities. In fact, I dare say that I would rather be dressed up like a pinata and beaten than remain with this group any longer. I wish you continued success in your goals to turn vibrant, productive, dedicated associates into an aimless, shambling group of dry, lifeless husks.

May the smoke from any bridges I burn today be seen far and wide.

Respectfully submitted,

[SIGNED]

ps. Achilles absent, was Achilles still. (Homer)

Hat tip to SoCalLawBlog.

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