Patterico's Pontifications

8/30/2004

Nice Response to L.A. Times Op-Ed on Three Strikes

Filed under: No on 66 — Patterico @ 6:12 pm

Over the weekend I neglected to mention that the L.A. Times printed a great letter responding to the recent op-ed about third-striker Carl Quinton Jones. The letter is here. Because of linkrot, I have reproduced the entire letter in the extended entry.
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Patterico: The “Javert” of the Los Angeles Times??

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 5:57 pm

A friend described me today in an e-mail as the “Javert” of the Los Angeles Times. I didn’t know what he meant, and had to Google it. Apparently it’s a character in Les Miserables, which I have never seen. Here is a quote describing Javert:

In his exaggerated, nearly fanatical devotion to duty and his lack of compassion, Javert represents a punitive, vengeful form of justice.

Wow. Am I that bad?

One more question: in the musical, does the Valjean character deserve to have someone like Javert on his case?

UPDATE: My friend clarifies that my persistence is what reminded him of the Javert character. Fair enough.

Thanks Again to Hugh Hewitt

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 6:34 am

Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for once again saying some kind words about this blog. I hope any new visitors will bookmark (or blogroll) this site, and return often.

By the way, Hugh still needs your help in getting his third hour on the air here in Los Angeles from 5 to 6. An e-mail to KRLA would help. Just click on this link.

Harnessing the Power of the Web on — Gasp! — Issues!

Filed under: 2004 Election — Patterico @ 6:04 am

Swift Boat Vet fatigue is setting in, and some people are saying: what about the issues? That’s where a project from blogger N.Z. Bear comes in. He has launched a project called Campaign Truth, designed to harness the power of the Web to collect the candidates’ views on various critical issues.

I swear to you I had this exact same idea yesterday while I was taking a shower. (For some reason, I always do some of my best thinking in the shower.) Then I thought: nahh. Too time-consuming. I don’t have the time or energy.

That’s where N.Z. Bear comes in. It would be hard to find a more energetic fellow anywhere.

The only difference between my idea and N.Z. Bear’s was that I was going to prohibit links to obviously skewed campaign material, including links from partisan bloggers and press releases from the campaigns. To my mind, that’s just more muck to wade through. My thinking was that, while contributors could use such links as a starting point, they would be required to submit primary material (including news articles). This would force contributors to do the extra work of seeing whether the campaign or partisan blogger had told them the truth. That’s a step most people rarely take, and I think that forcing contributors to do that would greatly improve the quality of what gets submitted.

Anyway, I think this is a great idea (since I also had it), and I’m thrilled to see someone actually implementing it. Go check it out.

8/29/2004

How Many Criminals Will the Upcoming Three Strikes Initiative Release? An Analysis

Filed under: No on 66 — Patterico @ 9:29 pm

There is no dispute that Proposition 66, the initiative to gut the Three Strikes law in California, will release thousands of criminals with multiple convictions for serious and/or violent offenses. Let me be plain: anyone who tells you different is either lying, or doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

But proponents and opponents of the initiative disagree significantly as to the number of criminals who will be released. The initiative’s proponents maintain that only about 3500 inmates, all serving “third-strike” sentences of 25 years to life, will be resentenced. Opponents argue that this number exceeds 4000. In addition, opponents argue, almost 22,000 inmates serving “second-strike” sentences will also be entitled to resentencing and early release — making a total of over 26,000 criminals who may be released within 1-6 months of the initiative’s passage.

Who is right?

As so often happens in the law, the answer is not entirely clear. In my opinion, the statute is most reasonably read as releasing only “third-strikers” serving 25-to-life sentences for current convictions for non-strikes. However, the initiative’s opponents have a good argument that the language is ambiguous, and may well allow “second-strikers” to be resentenced as well.

The fact that there can be such significant disagreement on such an important point is a testament to the initiative’s sloppiness and lack of clarity. It is not impossible that the ambiguities have been inserted deliberately by the clever defense attorneys who wrote the initiative, so that they can argue to the public that only 3500-4000 criminals will be released — even as they prepare their briefs arguing that over 26,000 criminals (including second-strikers) must be resentenced under the terms of the new law.

More likely, the ambiguities are due to incredibly sloppy drafting. Evidence for this conclusion can be found in the numerous grammatical errors throughout the resentencing provision alone. [UPDATE: See UPDATE x2 below. Many of these are fixed in the most recent version.]

For me, the debate, while interesting, is not determinative. I think it’s bad enough that over 3500 third-strikers will be released. But voters should make their decisions armed with all the facts. And the fact is that this poorly drafted initiative may — but shouldn’t — result in the release of almost 22,000 second-strike felons.

In the extended entry, I discuss the specific language that provides for resentencing of criminals under the law. Following the various arguments is painstaking work, to be sure, but I’ll try to keep it simple and straightforward. Understanding what this proposition will actually do is a worthwhile exercise for citizens of this state, because the stakes are incredibly high. If you are patient and persistent, you should be able to follow me through this maze.

Here are the details:
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Iraq: Better Under Saddam? You Be the Judge — Because the French Won’t

Filed under: War — Patterico @ 1:38 pm

Erik at ˇNo Pasarán! has a very interesting Comments Off on Iraq: Better Under Saddam? You Be the Judge — Because the French Won’t

More Evidence That The Press Wants Kerry to Win

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 9:23 am

Interesting statements made this morning on Howard Kurtz’s show “Reliable Sources,” by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders. Let’s go to the transcript:

KURTZ: I mention MoveOn, because there are a lot of liberal groups, as you know, Debra Saunders, these 527s — have there been a double standard in the media in not trying to make Kerry denounce the liberal ads, while reporters ask the president every day, why won’t you disassociate yourself from the swift boat ads?

SAUNDERS: I’ve never seen a voter say to John Kerry, but couldn’t you just denounce the ad? Or they say that Bush is whatever. They don’t ask him that question. But how many reporters would look at Bush and say, can’t you just denounce this one ad? I think that we get used in this. And I think the other thing that I find so…

KURTZ: You’re suggesting a double standard?

SAUNDERS: I am suggesting a double standard.

KURTZ: Why do you think that is?

SAUNDERS: I think that most journalists support John Kerry.

KURTZ: You really think that that’s the reason?

SAUNDERS: Yes, I do. I work for “The San Francisco Chronicle.”

Now, Debra Saunders is a Bush supporter, so her statements don’t carry quite the same stunning revelatory force as, say, liberal Newsweek editor Evan Thomas’s admission that the “media wants Kerry to win.” But Saunders works with the people at the Chronicle. Is she lying about their political predilections? I don’t think so.

(Thanks to Cori Dauber for alerting me to this.)

527s: Who Has the Money?

Filed under: 2004 Election — Patterico @ 7:51 am

N.Z. Bear has the details.

8/28/2004

Debate: Did John O’Neill Lie About Being in Cambodia?

Filed under: 2004 Election — Patterico @ 10:36 pm

Some folks have argued that John O’Neill lied about being in Cambodia. The issue even came up in that L.A. Times piece that I praised earlier today.

If you’re looking for a good debate between two people who feel passionately about this issue, on opposite sides, you could do worse than to read the comments to this post at Damnum Absque Injuria.

Xrlq takes the position that O’Neill simply misspoke. Spoons replies that O’Neill is a dirty stinking liar.

(More at Spoons’s blog, here and here.)

I personally feel that my friend Spoons is completely out to lunch on this one. Context, my friend — context! But read the debate and decide for yourself.

John Wayne Kerry

Filed under: 2004 Election — Patterico @ 5:24 pm

recalls a debriefing with Lieutenant Commander Grant Hibbard:

I told [Hibbard] I was NOT going to be filing an after-action report, which is required if you have enemy action, because we had no enemy action. And I also after giving him all the details and I said, “Oh, by the way –” and I don’t remember my exact words — “John nicked himself with the M-79.” Those M-79s, by the way, have a kill radius of about five meters. A little over five yards. But, there is a shrapnel area beyond that. And that’s what happened. And I was upset because that could have gone in somebody’s eye and so on and so forth.

The division commander said, “Fine, understand — no after-action report required.” Then, I found out that John [Kerry] had come in. And then I went back into a meeting and he [Kerry] had this small piece of shrapnel in his hand and he was requesting a Purple Heart. I was opposed to that. The division commander was opposed to that.

Ya got that, pilgrim?

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