Patterico's Pontifications

4/2/2008

Jane Fonda Endorses Obama

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 7:58 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In what the LA Times’ Top of the Ticket blog admits may be a “less desirable” endorsement, Jane Fonda told photographers yesterday that she is voting for Barack Obama for President:

“Fonda was eating out last night and exited the restaurant, ignoring as celebrities often do the assembled press contingent.

But a video camera was rolling as she approached the street and someone, perhaps just trying to get her to turn around for a picture, shouted out at her back, “Who are you going to vote for?”

There was a moment of silence. Then, the actress did turn around toward the cameras, paused and with a smile said simply, “Obama!” Then she got into a car and drove away.”

As the Times’ blogger Andrew Malcolm notes, this endorsement probably won’t help Obama lure crossover Republican voters away from McCain.

— DRJ

Children Having Children (Updated x2)

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:14 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In today’s news

“A 14-year-old Houston-area girl gave birth to a full-term baby in a bathroom at her junior high school on Wednesday, then tried to flush it down the toilet, killing the infant, police said.

“The baby was alive when it was born,” said Lt. Eric Freed with the Baytown Police Department.” The girl attempted to flush the child down the toilet, and the child died as a result.”

The baby was reportedly full-term and the girl tried to flush it down the toilet after it cried.

Three days ago

“Harris County prosecutors will not file charges against a teenager who delivered a stillborn fetus in the bathroom of a Continental Airlines jet, authorities said today.

A cleaning crew found the fetus in a bathroom trash disposal late Sunday afternoon after Flight 433 arrived at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, police said.

Preliminary results from the autopsy on Monday indicated the stillborn fetus was not viable, police said.

The 14-year-old girl who delivered the fetus was returning to Houston from a school field trip in New York. Police questioned the girl and a 14-year-old boy believed to be the father.

The girl told police she didn’t know she was pregnant.”

UPDATE 4/3/2008: The CDC reports 1-in-50 infants are abused or neglected. After reading the above stories, that doesn’t surprise me.

UPDATE 4/3/2008: The Houston Chronicle reports that the girl went to the school nurse because of stomach pains and was sent back to class, but she went to the bathroom instead. Apparently no one knew or realized she was pregnant.

— DRJ

Alice Walker: Why We Should Vote for Obama

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 5:46 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I missed yesterday’s Alice Walker endorsement of Obama but fortunately Driver didn’t:

“Read [Alice Walker’s] whole piece, it’s really quite an excellent explanation of Obamania, and of the magical hope he inspires. Among the magic he will perform:

‘I want a grown-up attitude to Cuba, for instance, a country and people I love. I want an end to the war immediately, and I want the soldiers to be encouraged to destroy their weapons and drive themselves out of Iraq. I want the Israeli government to be made accountable for its behaviour to the Palestinians, and I want the people of the US to cease acting as if they don’t understand what is going on. But most of all I want someone with the confidence to talk to anyone, “enemy” or “friend”, and this Obama has shown he can do.”

Driver also reviews the blogging world’s reaction to this story, including this from Stanley Kurtz at NRO:

“Obama is the appealing, and only slightly more moderate face of Alice Walker-style politics, and that is a serious problem.[…]Walker’s piece may seem silly, but it tells us something real and important about the perspectives and individuals that formed Obama’s thinking, and that will surely shape his long-term agenda.”

There is much more at the link, including a comparatively lengthy (for him) Instapundit response.

— DRJ

Student Sues Teacher for Anti-Christian Rant (Updated)

Filed under: Education — DRJ @ 4:37 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

From Fox News:

“A student and his family have filed a federal lawsuit demanding that a popular European history teacher at California’s Capistrano Valley High School be fired for what they say were anti-Christian remarks he made in the classroom.

Chad Farnan, a 16-year-old sophomore, says the teacher, James Corbett, told his students that “Jesus glasses” obscure the truth and suggested that Christians are more likely than other people to commit rape and murder.

Farnan recorded his teacher telling students in class: “What country has the highest murder rate? The South! What part of the country has the highest rape rate? The South! What part of the country has the highest rate of church attendance? The South!” Farnan said he took the tape recorder to class to supplement his class notes.

“It was very hard for me because it’s like basically telling me all this stuff that I’ve believed my whole entire life — it’s just basically trying to throw it out the window,” Farnan told FOX News.

Farnan’s family has filed a federal lawsuit against the Capistrano Unified School District, claiming Corbett’s remarks violated the First Amendment, which prohibits laws “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” They are demanding that Corbett be fired.”

It sounds a little anti-Southern, too, but the teacher asserts he was only challenging his students to think:

“Corbett’s attorney, Dan Spradlin, says his client has been teaching at Capistrano Valley High for 15 years and is in no way anti-Christian. According to Spradlin, Corbett was not trying to offend anyone but to inspire his students to think.

“The purpose is not to indoctrinate, but simply to provide a basic starting point to provoke discussion,” Spradlin said.”

I wonder if this teacher also starts discussions by commenting on the connection between Islam and terrorists?

UPDATE 4/2/2008: Too bad these students couldn’t have a teacher like Kenton Stufflebeam’s Mr. Chapman, who would never give students bad information.

— DRJ

Environmentalist Wackos Responsible For Much Of The Environmental Armegeddon Being Waged Upon The Earth

Filed under: General — WLS @ 2:44 pm

Posted by WLS:

Patterico has me hard at work on another matter, but I stumbled across this wonderful little contrarian polemic.  Who knew that environmentalists were responsible for:

Increasing food prices, tortilla shortages in Mexico, flour shortages in Pakistan, declining feedstock populations, rising unemployment in the poultry industry, milk shortages, pressure on water supplies worldwide, South Amercian deforestation, destruction of wetlands and grasslands, species extinction, ocean pollution, razing of reforests, etc.

I wonder if Al Gore will cover any of this in his $300 million ad campaign?

Obama and the Issues: Abortion

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 12:53 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In an Op-Ed in today’s Washington Post, Michael Gerson analyzes Obama’s position on abortion:

“Obama has not made abortion rights the shouted refrain of his campaign, as other Democrats have done. He seems to realize that pro-choice enthusiasm is inconsistent with a reputation for post-partisanship.

But Obama’s record on abortion is extreme. He opposed the ban on partial-birth abortion — a practice a fellow Democrat, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once called “too close to infanticide.” Obama strongly criticized the Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth ban. In the Illinois state Senate, he opposed a bill similar to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which prevents the killing of infants mistakenly left alive by abortion. And now Obama has oddly claimed that he would not want his daughters to be “punished with a baby” because of a crisis pregnancy — hardly a welcoming attitude toward new life.”

Despite the best efforts of decades of politicians on both sides of the aisle, the issue of abortion just won’t go away. Gerson suggests that abortion helped transform the Democratic Party from one concerned for the weak to a party focused on the individual:

“Abortion is an unavoidable moral issue. It also has broader political significance. Democrats of a past generation — the generation of Hubert Humphrey and Martin Luther King Jr. — spoke about building a beloved community that cared especially for the elderly, the weak, the disadvantaged and the young.

The advance of pro-choice policies imported a different ideology into the Democratic Party — the absolute triumph of individualism. The rights and choices of adults have become paramount, even at the expense of other, voiceless members of the community.”

I think Obama wants to portray himself as – and perhaps he actually is – a person whose primary concern is tolerance and understanding for each individual. That’s a powerful message in an era of polarizing politics. It’s also not surprising that his message is especially appealing to the young, who are more likely than family and older voters to focus on individual rights and concerns.

However, a society that prizes tolerance above all else ends up tolerating everything. As Obama shows in the abortion debate, it’s hard to draw a line when the end point is tolerance.

— DRJ

Philips Should Reveal His Source

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 11:55 am

Patterico reader Jim Lakely had the following letter published in the L.A. Times on Monday:

The Times deserves some credit for its timely apology to readers — on the front page, no less — for getting conned into publishing a splashy but false story on the 1994 shooting of Tupac Shakur. But what can possibly justify the paper’s continued shielding of reporter Chuck Philips’ anonymous sources? One would think that a source forfeits his request for anonymity once his information is proved to be false.

The Times’ attempt to repair its shaken credibility won’t get very far so long as the editors hide the full truth of this debacle from readers.

Jim Lakely
Pasadena

I doubt that any reporter at the Los Angeles Times has had more leeway in the use of anonymous sources than Chuck Philips. His blockbuster story “Who Killed Tupac Shakur?” made sensationalistic claims without naming a single source to support them.

Now that we have learned that even a Pulitzer Prize winner can be duped, I have called for The Times to investigate Philips’s past stories. But I am not going to sit back and trust them to do the job.

In the coming days and weeks, WLS and I plan to publish more posts raising serious questions about Philips’s journalism and conflicts of interest. We plan to help the investigators at The Times by suggesting questions they should be asking Philips.

Stay tuned to this space. I promise it will be worth your while.

The first, most obvious question is the one raised by Mr. Lakely: who gave you these phony documents?

Scientists Identify Possible Genetic Link for Lung Cancer

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 10:30 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Nature announced three independent genetic studies suggest some people are more at risk for lung cancer because of their genes:

“Three independent genetic studies have found some of the strongest evidence yet that your genes influence your risk of developing lung cancer.

Lung cancer, the most common killer cancer in the world, is largely caused by smoking. Tobacco is thought to be responsible for about 5 million premature deaths every year and smoking is still clearly the largest risk factor. But the new results suggest that, amongst smokers, some people may be as much as 80% more at risk than others thanks to their genes.

People who have never smoked might also have a slightly increased risk of developing lung cancer and similar problems, although the three studies disagree on whether this is actually the case. It is not clear whether the genetic effect occurs independently of smoking, or whether the genes raise the risk of cancer by exacerbating nicotine addiction.”

The suspect area is on chromosome 15, which is apparently linked to the development of cancer in general:

“By scanning the entire genomes of lung-cancer patients and healthy controls, the three research teams all identified a region on chromosome 15 that seems to influence the likelihood of developing cancer. People possessing a certain set of mutations at this genetic location are more likely than others to have the disease.”

Smoking is still considered a significant factor in whether someone develops lung cancer.

I don’t think this is surprising news but it’s good news that scientists are continuing to locate the genes associated with specific diseases.

— DRJ

Bill Clinton Stuns California Superdelegates

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 9:17 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

If I didn’t know it already, I’d suspect that things were going badly for Hillary’s campaign after this SFGate report of Bill Clinton’s recent meltdown in California:

“The Bill Clinton who met privately with California’s superdelegates at last weekend’s state convention was a far cry from the congenial former president who afterward publicly urged fellow Democrats to “chill out” over the race between his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Barack Obama.

In fact, before his speech Clinton had one of his famous meltdowns Sunday, blasting away at former presidential contender Bill Richardson for having endorsed Obama, the media and the entire nomination process.

“It was one of the worst political meetings I have ever attended,” one superdelegate said.

According to those at the meeting, Clinton – who flew in from Chicago with bags under his eyes – was classic old Bill at first, charming and making small talk with the 15 or so delegates who gathered in a room behind the convention stage.

But as the group moved together for the perfunctory photo, Rachel Binah, a former Richardson delegate who now supports Hillary Clinton, told Bill how “sorry” she was to have heard former Clinton campaign manager James Carville call Richardson a “Judas” for backing Obama.

It was as if someone pulled the pin from a grenade.

“Five times to my face (Richardson) said that he would never do that,” a red-faced, finger-pointing Clinton erupted.

The former president then went on a tirade that ran from the media’s unfair treatment of Hillary to questions about the fairness of the votes in state caucuses that voted for Obama. It ended with him asking delegates to imagine what the reaction would be if Obama was trailing by just 1 percent and people were telling him to drop out.

“It was very, very intense,” said one attendee. “Not at all like the Bill of earlier campaigns.”

When he finally wound down, Bill was asked what message he wanted the delegates to take away from the meeting. At that point, a much calmer Clinton outlined his message of party unity.

“It was kind of strange later when he took the stage and told everyone to ‘chill out,’ ” one delegate told us.

“We couldn’t help but think he was also talking to himself.””

He’s tired, and endless travel and public speaking have got to be wearing. Still, this sounds like something more – something personal. I think Bill Clinton is grappling with the end of their dream to go back to the White House.

— DRJ

Oral Argument Today in Enron’s Skilling Case

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 8:57 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Jeff Skilling was an Enron CEO convicted on 19 criminal counts in connection the collapse of Enron. He appealed his conviction, and oral argument is set for today in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Some legal experts believe he has a good chance to have his convictions set aside:

“Jeff Skilling suffered a knockout when he faced a Houston federal court jury two years ago. But he’s flexing more potent muscle in his appeal, scheduled for court argument today.

Thanks to an appeals ruling in a separate Enron case, issued less than two months after Skilling was convicted in 2006, legal experts say Skilling has a strong chance to get most — and perhaps all — of his 19 convictions overturned.”

The prosecution’s theory was that “Skilling was guilty of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud by perpetuating Enron’s illusion of health through fraud and lies.” Under this theory, Skilling’s actions robbed Enron of Skilling’s “honest services.”

However, Skilling didn’t steal money or property from Enron, and Skilling’s appeal claims it was error to charge that his behavior robbed Enron of his “honest services” based on a 2006 Fifth Circuit decision that required the taking of money or property:

“Soon after Skilling’s trial, an appeals panel rejected the “honest services” theory prosecutors used in gaining convictions against participants in Enron’s sale of three barge-mounted power plants, which the government alleged was a disguised loan.

The 2-1 ruling said that the “honest services” issue didn’t apply because the defendants didn’t steal, embezzle or otherwise take money or property, and their actions were aligned with corporate goals.”

Skilling claims that “his actions — criminal or not — were aligned with Enron goals to increase its stock price and maintain good relationships with Wall Street.” The government has a different view:

“The government counters that Skilling should be viewed differently from defendants in other Enron cases because as a CEO, he set the fraud agenda rather than followed it. Therefore, he set actions in motion that cannot be seen as consistent with legitimate corporate goals, prosecutors say.

[Peter] Henning, the Wayne State law professor [specializing in corporate law and white-collar crime], said the 2006 ruling didn’t make an exception for CEOs, so it’s unlikely that the panel that hears Skilling’s appeal will do so.”

In 2006, the Fifth Circuit overturned an “honest services” conviction involving Enron official Kevin Howard:

“So far, the government has had trouble getting appellate blessing in Enron cases.

The 5th Circuit upheld former Enron auditing firm Arthur Andersen’s conviction of obstruction of justice in 2004, but the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed it the next year.

And in addition to the 2006 ruling in the barge case, in February another 5th Circuit panel upheld a district judge’s decision to throw out all five convictions against Kevin Howard, the former finance chief for Enron’s broadband division.

That case involved four counts tainted by the honest services theory, which prosecutors conceded should be erased. The fifth count, which prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to restore, also was linked to the others by the same kind of instruction given to jurors in Skilling’s case. 5th Circuit Judge Jerry Smith, one of the judges on the panel that issued the 3-0 decision in Howard’s case, will hear Skilling’s appeal.”

However, one legal analyst believes Skilling’s insider trading conviction – for the sale of 500,000 shares of Enron stock on September 17, 2001, because he believed Enron was in financial trouble – may survive appellate review.

A decision in the case is not expected for some time.

— DRJ


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