Patterico's Pontifications

12/4/2007

Dang! My girlfriend just got arrested again for violating her probation…

Filed under: Crime — Justin Levine @ 11:51 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

…Of course she doesn’t exactly know that she’s my girlfriend at the moment. But whatever. Give it time.

But seriously folks, even though I’m generally in favor of strictly enforcing the terms of probation, this seems to be a bit much. (Though, at the same time, I can also understand where the ex-husband’s feelings are coming from.)

— Justin Levine

Editors of the New York Times: Lazy? Stupid? Or Willfully Dishonest? You Be the Judge!

Filed under: Court Decisions,General,Judiciary,Media Bias — Patterico @ 8:22 pm

“The Board,” the new blog by the members of the New York Times editorial board, is filled with the kind of kneejerk leftist nonsense you’ve learned to expect from this gang.

The editors are never so off-target as when they write about the Supreme Court, and today is no exception. Today’s entry, titled Our Logic-Challenged Supreme Court Takes on Age Discrimination, begins with a swipe at the Roberts Court:

The Roberts Court seems to be driven these days by ideology — even, increasingly, to the exclusion of common sense.

Take the case about age discrimination, on which the court heard oral arguments yesterday.

Ellen Mendelsohn, who alleges that she was fired by Sprint/United Management Company because of her age, wanted to introduce “me too” evidence — other workers who say they were also discriminated against on the basis of age.

Of course “me too” evidence should be admissible. We know in our own lives just how important it is in resolving disputes. If you were investigating whether a kid in a classroom punched his classmate, wouldn’t you be interested in knowing that five other kids say he punched them, too?

Sure I would. Except, that’s not what’s going on here. Nobody disputes that the plaintiff can introduce evidence of discrimination by her own supervisor against other employees. The “me too” evidence at issue is evidence of discrimination by other supervisors against other employees. In an article that appeared today in the editors’ own paper, Linda Greenhouse explained:

The case concerned whether an employee can seek to prove discrimination by offering what is sometimes known as “me too” or “other supervisor” evidence, testimony from other employees who also claim to have suffered discrimination under similar circumstances, but at the direction of different supervisors.

This description is not hard to find. It’s the second paragraph of Greenhouse’s article — an article which the editors themselves link, by the way. Greenhouse’s explanation utterly demolishes the editors’ silly analogy to bullying schoolchildren. Commenter aks at the editors’ blog makes the point that the logic-challenged editors don’t quite seem to get:

[I]f the kid hit five other classmates, [evidence of that] would come in. What wouldn’t come in is evidence that some other bully in the same school hit some kid in a different class–the distinction is an important one.

Not only is the distinction important, it’s also easy to understand. But the editors instead completely mischaracterize the evidence at issue, implying that the argument was over the admissibility of evidence of other discrimination by the plaintiff’s own supervisor.

How did the editors get this so badly wrong? As I see it, there are three possibilities:

  • 1. The editors didn’t read Greenhouse’s article, at least as far as the second paragraph.
  • 2. The editors read that paragraph, but didn’t understand it.
  • 3. The editors are being willfully dishonest.

Which is it? I would support waterboarding the editors responsible for this blog entry, if doing so would force them to reveal which possibility is correct.

I suspect it’s Possibility #3: the editors are being willfully dishonest. My conclusion is supported by another part of the editors’ blog entry:

But as Linda Greenhouse reported in the Times today, several of the Justices, perhaps a majority, seemed inclined not to allow such evidence, or to admit it only under limited circumstances. They appeared to be worried that each of the other employees’ claims would require a “mini-trial” to determine what went on in their own terminations.

One Justice complained that it might produce “trials that last a thousand years.” Unlikely, really.

Keep in mind that the blog entry begins with a complaint about the lack of common sense displayed by “[t]he Roberts Court,” and ends with a complaint about “[t]he Robert Court.” (Hey, they’re editorial board editors, not copy editors!) So who is this unnamed Justice representing the Roberts Court — the one who complained about thousand-year trials? The evil Antonin Scalia? The malevolent Clarence Thomas? For the answer, let’s turn to Greenhouse’s article again:

Even some of the more liberal justices appeared dismayed by the prospect of conducting trials within trials to untangle conflicting evidence about how other supervisors might have treated other employees.

Justice David H. Souter said such evidence could be “substantially misleading or prejudicial.” Justice Stephen G. Breyer said, “We might do quite a lot of harm by trying to let the Court of Appeals second guess trial courts on this kind of thing.”

He added: “We’ll have trials that last a thousand years.”

Justice Stephen Breyer — the very face of the “Robert Court”!!

I guess actually naming him in the blog entry would have taken some of the oomph out of the editors’ diatribe against the Robert(s) Court. So, they simply leave him unnamed, leaving readers to conclude that the Justice in question is one of those evil conservatives.

As I said: Possibility #3: willful dishonesty.

Iran and Nuclear Weapons

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 4:49 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) states that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and has not restarted it:

“A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting judgment two years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb. The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to reshape the final year of the Bush administration, which has made halting Iran’s nuclear program a cornerstone of its foreign policy.

The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran is likely keeping its options open with respect to building a weapon, but that intelligence agencies “do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.”

First, I recommend Eric Scheie’s post at Classical Values on the inherent contradictions of this assessment.

Second, I want to know what the phrase “a consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies” means. “Consensus view” seems vague to me. Do they each get a vote when they answer questions like “Does Iran have a nuclear weapons program?” and, if so, is that a majority rule vote? I’d sure like to know if the vote was 9 for “No” and 7 for “Yes.”

Third, raise your hand if the NIE changes your opinion of Iran’s ultimate nuclear weapons goal and what it would do with those weapons if it had the chance.

The interesting thing to me about this NIE is what it says about the Iraq invasion. If Iran stopped its program in 2003 (and that’s still a big “if”), what could have motivated the halt? Let’s look at 2003 world news and see if we can spot a motivating factor:

“# North Korea withdraws from treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons (Jan. 10).

# In State of the Union address, Bush announces that he is ready to attack Iraq even without a UN mandate (Jan. 28).

# Ariel Sharon elected Israeli prime minister (Jan. 29).

# Nine-week general strike in Venezuela calling for President Chavez’s resignation ends in defeat (Feb. 2).

# U.S. Secretary of State Powell presents Iraq war rationale to UN, citing its WMD as imminent threat to world security (Feb. 5).

# U.S. and Britain launch war against Iraq (March 19).

# Baghdad falls to U.S. troops (April 9).

# First Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, sworn in (April 29).

# U.S.-backed “road map” for peace proposed for Middle East (April 30).

# The U.S. declares official end to combat operations in Iraq (May 1).

# Terrorists strike in Saudi Arabia, killing 34 at Western compound; Al-Qaeda suspected (May 12).

# Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi again placed under house arrest by military regime (May 30).

# International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discovers Iran’s concealed nuclear activities and calls for intensified inspections (June 18).

# Palestinian militant groups announce ceasefire toward Israel (June 29).

# Liberia’s autocratic president Charles Taylor forced to leave civil-war ravaged country (Aug. 11).

# NATO assumes control of peacekeeping force in Afghanistan (Aug. 11).

# Libya accepts blame for 1988 bombing of flight over Lockerbie, Scotland; agrees to pay $2.7 billion to the families of the 270 victims (Aug. 15).

# Suicide bombing destroys UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing 24, including top envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello (Aug. 19).

# Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem kills 20 Israelis, including 6 children (Aug. 19).

# After Israel retaliates for suicide bombing by killing top member of Hamas, militant Palestinian groups formally withdraw from cease-fire in effect since June 29 (Aug. 24).

# Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas resigns; “road map” to peace effectively collapses (Sept. 6). Background

# The Bush administration reverses policy, agreeing to transfer power to an interim Iraqi government in early 2004 (Nov. 14).

# Suicide bombers attack two synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey, killing 25 (Nov. 15).

# Another terrorist attack in Istanbul kills 26 (Nov. 20). Al-Qaeda suspected in both. See suspected al-Qaeda terrorist attacks.

# Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze resigns after weeks of protests (Nov. 23).

# Paul Martin succeeds Jean Chretien as Canadian prime minister (Dec. 12).

# Saddam Hussein is captured by American troops (Dec. 13).

# Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi announces he will give up weapons program (Dec. 19).

If this NIE is correct, one thing it suggests is that two of the biggest news events of 2003 – the Iraq war and the capture of Saddam Hussein – had an impact on at least three of the world’s dictators: Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

On the other hand, I guess it’s always possible Iraq had nothing to do with it, and Iran halted its nuclear weapons program because of the threat of IAEA inspections.

— DRJ

Blu-ray vs HD DVD

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 2:59 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I’ve faced some weighty questions during my lifetime: 8-track vs cassette, Beta vs VHS, Burger King vs McDonalds. This year’s version is Blu-ray vs HD DVD:

“As the prices of Blu-ray and HD DVD players keep dropping, along with high-def flat panel TVs, consumers buying a next-gen player are having to make a choice, not knowing which format will ultimately win, buoyed only perhaps by the fact their new player should also upscale regular DVDs. Will 2008 be the year the high-def madness ends?”

I still have old 8-tracks and Beta tapes around the house so I’m definitely in the wait-and-see camp.

— DRJ

Comments the L.A. Times Hasn’t Posted on the Readers’ Representative’s Blog

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:33 am

Feel free to leave negative feedback on the Readers’ Representative blog at the L.A. Times. Just don’t expect it to be published.

Last Friday morning, See Dubya tried to leave this comment at the Readers’ Rep blog:

Ms. Gold–

I have a question about your comment moderation policies for the readers’ rep blog. Now, certainly you don’t want a free-for-all here with every sort of nut spamming your forums with conspiracy theories and Ron Paul propaganda–but I repeat myself.

Yet I am concerned that this blog will swing too far in the other direction. While the idea of a readers’ rep blog is encouraging, it won’t be of much use if the user input is moderated too heavily and doesn’t reflect the wide variety of concerns expressed by Times readers. If that happens this blog will become a lame PR exercise instead of a tool for communicating with readers–as Amy Alkon says it already is.

My friend and fellow blogger “Patterico” also says this suppression is happening and that several reasonable, but critical, comments have already been trapped in moderation limbo, never to emerge. I say balderdash, the LA Times is far too professional an operation to do that, and I bet him a Mexican dinner that you would approve and publish this comment in its entirety.

I know he’s been a real pain in the rear for the LA Times, Ms. Gold, so here’s your chance to prove him wrong and put him out for the cost of all the chimichangas I can eat. Aside from that, however, this is a topic of general interest to Times readers being discussed in the blogosphere, so a public response might be in order.

Thanks in advance for your time and consideration. And the chimichangas.

Don’t count your chimichangas before they’re rolled, my friend.

Like many other comments left at the Readers’ Representative blog, See Dubya’s comment hasn’t been posted — and it won’t be, according to an e-mail See Dubya received from the Readers’ Rep. She explained that she sees the blog as “more a forum than a blog” and that it will “use readers’ questions to provide a chance for the newsroom to respond to reader concerns.”

She just doesn’t feel any obligation to allow negative comments about the paper.

See Dubya’s comment isn’t the only one that hasn’t made it through. Several other polite but critical comments haven’t been published either. For example, DRJ posed a fair, reasonable, and polite question about bias in a story about immigration in this comment. I listed four more critical comments in this post. None of them has been published.

The blog has been active for a week, and only one critical comment has been approved. I know of eight polite but critical comments that were rejected. As for the one critical comment, the Readers’ Rep inaccurately criticized the commenter for not providing specifics. Thing was, he had — as I explained in this comment, which never saw the light of day. (The Readers’ Rep did amend her comment to note her error.)

Regarding the issue of specifics, Xrlq left this comment, which set forth three specific “fabrications or distortions that were reported as fact in recent years, all of which were promptly called to the attention of your staff, and none of which resulted in a published correction.” Xrlq’s comment was not published either.

Of course, these are just the comments we know about. Who knows how many other critical comments have been deep-sixed?

The bottom line is that the Readers’ Rep blog does not have a genuine comments section. Which is a shame, because this is a metaphor for everything that is wrong with Big Media. They claim to want feedback from readers — but really, they want it only on their own terms. It’s especially galling at the blog of the ombusdman, who is, of all people, supposed to be accepting of criticism.

The comments section at the Readers’ Rep blog isn’t a real blog comments section. It’s more like a “Letters to the Editor” feature.

You can say whatever you like to them. But they probably won’t publish it.

Pasadena Case Tests Texas Law on the Use of Deadly Force (Updated x4)

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 12:38 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

UPDATE 4 – 12/7/2007: Related posts here.

UPDATE 3 – 12/7/2007 @ 12:15 AM PST: According to this Houston Chronicle article, the suspected burglars’ names were Diego Ortiz, 30, and Hernando Riascos Torres, 48. Police are investigating whether they “were part of a crime ring linked to burglaries and the use of fake immigration documents.” In addition:

“Police found a Puerto Rican identification card on Ortiz. He had two aliases.

Torres had identification cards from Colombia, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He had three aliases.”

UPDATE 2 – 12/5/2007 @ 8:00 PM PST: Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly reports that both DeJesus and Ortiz were illegal immigrants with criminal records. O’Reilly said DeJesus was from Columbia. He served 6 years in a Texas prison on drug charges and was then deported. Ortiz was also in the US illegally and had an arrest record for drugs. Updated post here.

UPDATE 1 – 12/4/2007: See comment 1 and comment 2 for audio links.

On November 14, 61-year-old Pasadena TX resident Joe Horn shot and killed Miguel Antonio DeJesus and Diego Ortiz after they allegedly burglarized a neighbor’s home:

“Horn was home in Pasadena, about 15 miles southeast of Houston, on Nov. 14 when he heard glass breaking, said his attorney, Tom Lambright. He looked out the window and saw 38-year-old Miguel Antonio DeJesus and 30-year-old Diego Ortiz using a crowbar to break out the rest of the glass.

He grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun and called 911, Lambright said.
“Uh, I’ve got a shotgun,” he told the dispatcher. “Uh, do you want me to stop them?”

“Nope, don’t do that,” the dispatcher responded. “Ain’t no property worth shooting somebody over, OK?”

Horn and the dispatcher spoke for several minutes, during which Horn pleaded with the dispatcher to someone to catch the men and vowed not to let them escape. Over and over, the dispatcher told him to stay inside. Horn repeatedly said he couldn’t.

When the men crawled back out the window carrying a bag, Horn began to sound increasingly frantic. “Well, here it goes, buddy,” Horn said as a shell clicked into the chamber. “You hear the shotgun clicking, and I’m going.”

A few seconds passed.

“Move,” Horn can be heard saying on the tape. “You’re dead.”

Boom.

Click.

Boom.

Click.

Boom.

Horn redialed 911 and told the dispatcher what he’d done.

“I had no choice,” he said, his voice shaking. “They came in the front yard with me, man. I had no choice. Get somebody over here quick.”

Lambright said Horn had intended to take a look around when he left his house and instead came face to face with the burglars, standing 10 to 12 feet from him in his yard. Horn is heavyset and middle-aged and would have been no match in a physical confrontation with the two men, who were young and strong, Lambright said. So when one or both of them “made lunging movements,” Horn fired in self-defense, he said.”

Portions of the transcript of the 911 tape are here and are reproduced at the *MORE* link below. When you read the available transcript, and I hope you do, note there is at least one discrepancy (highlighted in bold).

The response to this case has been significant, both online and in the Pasadena neighborhood where it occurred. In addition, a protest march in Pasadena on Sunday highlighted racial tensions because Joe Horn is white and the two men he killed are black:

“Activist Quanell X and dozens of other protesters Sunday faced hundreds of homeowners and supporters of Joe Horn, the Pasadena man who shot and killed two men he suspected of burglarizing a neighbor’s home more than two weeks ago. Families of the slain men, Miguel Antonio DeJesus, 38, and Diego Ortiz, 30, also were present.

Yard signs lined the 7400 block of Timberline in Pasadena, where the incident took place, as well as on nearby streets. Residents and Horn supporters waved American flags and carried signs reading, “We love our neighbor for protecting our neighbors” and “Burglary is a risky business.”

Motorcyclist Aaron “Blowout” Morrow, 43, and dozens of his fellow bikers lined Timberline, loudly revving their engines each time Quanell X attempted to speak. “I support our rights as Americans to protect ourselves and support our Second Amendment rights,” Morrow said.

Quanell X, who said he is not certain the shooting was racially motivated, said he “wouldn’t be surprised” after Sunday afternoon’s events. “Our protesters were peaceful in spite of racial slurs,” he said.
***
“I just can’t believe that we’ve got a race riot going on in our neighborhood,” said Michelle Howell, who lives several doors down from Horn. “First of all, this is a quiet place, secondly we’ve got neighbors of all different races. This has nothing to do with race.”

The Pasadena police plan to turn the case over to a grand jury in 7-10 days.

— DRJ

Click *MORE* for an article that reprints portions of the transcript of Horn’s 911 call and for a discussion of applicable Texas law.

(more…)


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