Patterico's Pontifications


New Photo

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 9:19 pm

You might have noticed a new photo on the left-hand side of the blog. One of my frequent commenters describes him as “some deranged fellow” and theorizes that he is one of those criminals who would have been released if Proposition 66 had passed — like “the dog-decapitating guy, or maybe the samurai-sword wielding dude.”

Thank you for those kind words!

P.S. Somebody get that man a face transplant!

P.P.S. If you are looking at this post as an individual entry, then you have to go to the main page to see the photo.

Many Experts Say Reporters Are Often Lazy Dissemblers

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 2:49 pm

I once warned readers to beware news stories with opinions attributed to “some” or “many” or “critics.” I noted that such language is generally a cover for leftist opinions held by the reporter, who is trying to mask this fact by attributing the opinion to unnamed sources. A commenter to that post added another such term to beware: “experts.”

In a piece titled (more…)

Specter Mini-Roundup

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 1:01 pm

Hugh Hewitt weighs in against opposing Arlen Specter for the Judiciary Committee Chairmanship:

I see that there is a blog swarm forming around the expected assumption of the chairmanship of the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary by Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter. The opposition to Specter seems headquartered at The Corner. Many friends post at The Corner, so I paused, considered their arguments, and thought it through. On reflection, it seems to me a very bad idea to try and topple Senator Specter from what in the ordinary course of events would be his Chairmanship. . . .

I understand that Senator Specter voted against Robert Bork, and that Senator Specter is not a friend of the pro-life movement. But genuine progress in the fight to return American public opinion to an affirmation of life before birth cannot be made through strong-armed tactics and almost certainly will not be lasting if it is accomplished through a putsch.

. . . .

The GOP majority ought to insist on a rule that assures that every nominee that gains a majority vote of the Judiciary Committee be brought to the floor. This is a long overdue reform of reactionary practices such as “blue slip” holds and filibusters of judicial nominees. Conservatives are not demanding the right reforms when they aim at Senator Specter. They should be insisting on a rebalancing of the processes employed by the Senate according to constitutional norms.

. . . The prospect that Senator Specter might oppose a Bush nominee is not a happy one, but neither is it inevitable nor, given the appropriate committee make-up, fatal to the nominee’s prospects. Conservatives ought to be focused on demanding the right allocation of seats and the right names for the new members, not on their fears about Senator Specter’s reliability. Recall that Specter did a fine job defending Justice Thomas. Given Senator Specter’s reputation for moderation, his support of future Bush nominees could prove hugely valuable.

So, fellow pro-life conservatives, we should keep our focus on the key issues: The split of the seats, the names of the new members, and reform of the rules governing judicial nominees.

Reaction around the blogosphere is mixed. I don’t pretend to include everyone’s opinion, but here’s a smattering:

L.A. Times Perpetuates the Myth of the Pizza Thief Serving 25-to-Life

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,No on 66 — Patterico @ 11:10 am

This morning the L.A. Times editorializes:

Two dozen states and the federal government have passed “three strikes and you’re out” laws, but only in California can any felony, even a petty theft, trigger a 25-year-to-life sentence. Everyone has heard the stories — of the guy who swiped a slice of pizza and the father who pinched diapers for his kids. Of California’s 7,300 third-strikers, 4,200 are like these lifers, put away for relatively minor offenses. Their “three hots and a cot” cost taxpayers $31,000 a year each.

The only reasonable interpretation of this passage is that “the guy who swiped a slice of pizza” is currently serving life for that offense.

Not so. A 1996 decision of the California Supreme Court held that judges have discretion to dismiss strikes in appropriate cases, in the interests of justice. As this article explains:

In fact, the notorious “pizza thief” was a recipient of this discretion. [Jerry DeWayne] Williams, who was originally sentenced to an indeterminate life sentence, later had his sentence reduced to six years. Citing his nonviolent criminal history, lack of weapon use, and relatively minor third strike offense, the sentencing judge agreed to strike a prior conviction in order to promote the interest of justice.

The “pizza thief” case is actually an argument against modification of the Three Strikes law, as it demonstrates that existing judicial discretion can ameliorate the worst cases.

While I am sympathetic to the notion that the Three Strikes law needs modification, I would like to see the decision based on factual and truthful arguments. By suggesting that the pizza thief is serving life, when he is not, the Times is perpetuating an urban legend. This merits a correction.

The Reader’s Representative can be reached at Call me defeatist, but I’m not bothering to write her, even though this is a clear error. It’s a gut feeling, but I just don’t see them admitting error on this one. If you write her, please copy the text of your e-mail in the comments — and let us know any response you receive.

More on the Brain Scan Experiment

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Patterico @ 7:45 am

Update to my post about the brain scan experiment: one of the subjects of the experiment has left a comment describing what it was like to participate. (I know that the comment is legit because the commenter was referred for the experiment by the same person who referred me.)

Missing the Point

Filed under: 2004 Election — Patterico @ 7:35 am

Newsday reports:

Distraught over the re-election of President George W. Bush, a Georgia man traveled to New York City, went to Ground Zero and killed himself with a shotgun blast, police said yesterday.

The story and everybody quoted therein miss the point: there was obviously something wrong with this man that went deeper than politics. I guess it makes a good news story to say that he killed himself over Bush’s election, but there’s obviously much about the man’s mental state that we’re not being told.

(Via Ace of Spades.)

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