Patterico's Pontifications

1/11/2009

Joe the Plumber in Israel

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 9:10 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

PJ Media’s Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher is reporting from Sderot, Israel:

“The people of Sderot “can’t do normal things day to day,” like get soap in their eyes in the shower, for fear a rocket might come in, Wurzelbacher said. “I’m sure they’re taking quick showers. I know I would.”

He also wondered why Israel waited so long to act. “I know if I were a citizen here, I’d be damned upset.” He described himself as a “peaceloving man,” but added, “when someone hits me, I’m going to unload on the boy. And if the rest of the world doesn’t understand that, then I’m sorry.”

Joe also had advice for the media:

“Do you think this is normal, the way you cover this conflict and give away information to your enemy?” he asked the journalists that gathered around him. “It makes me sick to see the way you behave – you guys need to be protective of your homes, your children, your family.”

“I am angry,” he said, “and this is why I came here.”

I know this drives liberals crazy — they think we’re rednecks. Maybe we are but I love this guy.

— DRJ

Obama Won’t Immediately Close GTMO

Filed under: Obama,Terrorism — DRJ @ 6:25 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Barack Obama told George Stephanopoulos he will eventually close Guantanamo Bay but not in his first 100 days in office:

“I think it’s going to take some time and our legal teams are working in consultation with our national security apparatus as we speak to help design exactly what we need to do,” Obama said in an exclusive “This Week” interview with George Stephanopoulos, his first since arriving in Washington.

“It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize,” the president-elect explained.”

It was easy for candidate Obama to talk about closing Guantanamo. It’s not so easy now that he’s responsible for detainees like Ali al-Marri, an alleged al Qaeda sleeper agent considered “exceptionally dangerous” who was detained in December 2001 and is being held in a Navy brig as an unlawful enemy combatant. In a case legal experts believe will affect the Guantanamo detainees, the Supreme Court announced on December 5, 2008, that it had agreed to hear al-Marri’s case in the coming term:

“The Supreme Court said yesterday it will decide whether the president may order the indefinite detention of suspects living lawfully in the United States, one of the broadest claims of executive power the Bush administration has asserted in the nation’s anti-terrorism efforts.”

Obama will have some sleepless nights ahead of him now that al-Marri and the GTMO detainees are his problem. I hope he guesses right.

H/T SPQR.

— DRJ

Supreme Court Accepts Voting Rights Case

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Law — DRJ @ 3:59 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Austin American-Statesman reports the U.S. Supreme Court granted cert in a Texas case, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Mukasey (08-322), that could be one of the most important election law cases in recent years.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed during LBJ’s Administration to protect citizens from racial discrimination in voting. The Act has been amended 4 times, including as recently as 2006, to remedy vestiges of discrimination. Section 5 of the Act applies to 16 predominantly Southern states and requires preclearance for changes to any voting laws:

“Section 5 is a special provision of the statute (42 U.S.C. 1973c) that requires state and local governments in certain parts of the country to get federal approval (known as “preclearance”) before implementing any changes they want to make in their voting procedures: anything from moving a polling place to changing district lines in the county.

Under Section 5, a covered state, county or local government entity must demonstrate to federal authorities that the voting change in question (1) does not have a racially discriminatory purpose; and (2) will not make minority voters worse off than they were prior to the change (i.e. the change will not be “retrogressive”).”

Texas is one of the states that is still subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Thus, when the Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 (“MUD”) serving 3,500 residents wanted to change a polling place from a garage to a school, it was required to get preclearance from the DOJ. “It took two months and cost $1,250 in legal fees.”

MUD sued the federal government claiming the Section 5 preclearance requirement is no longer necessary:

“The provision fails to acknowledge progress made in race relations over the past four decades, not to mention the recent election of the nation’s first African American president, said Greg Coleman, an Austin lawyer representing the utility.

“Section 5 says, you people in part of the country, because of what your grandfathers did, you cannot be trusted even to enact the smallest change in voting policies and procedures without submitting them to the federal government,” said Coleman, a former Texas solicitor general.

“It’s kind of a badge of shame, actually,” he said.”

MUD’s attorney points out that this challenge to Section 5 will not affect the other requirements of the Voting Rights Act, but a legal analyst notes Section 5 has a modified burden of proof:

“Coleman said that overturning Section 5 would not affect other Voting Rights Act provisions that protect voters nationwide. “It would not relieve us of any other obligations under the act,” he said.

True, said [Richard Hasen, a professor who specializes in election law at] Loyola Law School, but other provisions require people to file suit and prove that they were discriminated against. “Section 5 puts the burden on governments to prove there is no discrimination,” Hasen said.”

It looks like an interesting term at the Supreme Court.

— DRJ

Will Someone Ask Holder If Waterboarding Is Torture?

Filed under: Obama,Terrorism — Patterico @ 7:55 am

The question is prompted by this Instapundit post, in which a Colonel e-mailed Glenn:

Just this week, NPR (Terry Gross?) had some British yak talking about how he hopes during Eric Holder’s confirmation hearing, he is asked whether he thinks waterboarding is torture. The guest went to say that he hopes Holder says “yes,” and that he then goes on to investigate and prosecute everyone who was involved in waterboarding terrorist suspects and who was involved in approving the decision to allow it.

Well, Holder should be asked the question. And if he says “yes” then he should be questioned about whether there are circumstances where it might be excused. And he should be asked whether he plans to pursue prosecutions against people who did it and approved it. If he tries to weasel, he should be asked hypotheticals: “Assuming you had solid evidence that someone had engaged in waterboarding, would you pursue a prosecution?”

If he weasels on that, ask him the same questions about a set of violent federal crimes. “Assuming you had solid evidence that someone had murdered a soldier, knowing that person was a soldier, would you pursue a prosecution?” Etc. If he weasels on those questions, he looks bad; if he weasels only on waterboarding, draw attention to the contrast.

Why should Bush’s nominees be the only people to face such questions?

Kevin Murphy Does the Job Patterico Won’t Do

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 7:45 am

Over at The Jury Talks Back, Kevin Murphy does the job I’m supposed to be doing: skewering the L.A. Times. As Kevin notes, the paper tells us that the economic crisis is caused by fear . . . and then posts a deceptive headline designed to scare people: “Job losses at highest level since 1945.” Problem is, “it isn’t until well past the jump that we are told that this is in absolute numbers in a country with double the population that it had in 1945.”

The only thing we have to fear is the L.A. Times‘s distortions themselves.

The only weakness in Kevin’s analysis is his seeming failure to comprehend the editors’ motive in distorting the figures. Kevin tells editors: “Obama won. You can stop now.” But Kevin, there is method to the editors’ madness. We have only one president at a time, remember — and that president is still George W. Bush. It’s important to dramatize the extent of the economic failures that occurred during his presidency, so that Obama’s task looks as daunting as possible. (It’s daunting enough even with accurate facts, to be sure . . . but Big Media editors figure every nudge helps.) Plus, there’s the ever-present need in Big Media to add drama to any story, and to downplay any facts that detract from the most sensational possible interpretation.

Go read Kevin’s entire post. It’s a “Power of the Jump” entry as well! And make sure to start reading The Jury Talks Back every day.

P.S. In the first comment at Kevin’s post, Steven Den Beste weighs in with this comment: “Job losses at the LA Times are certainly at a record level. If they’re going to be miserable, why shouldn’t the rest of us?”

Speaking of which, the (completely unconfirmed) rumor going around the L.A. Times newsroom is that there are another 100 layoffs on the horizon.

Another “Anti-Gang Worker” Who Is a Criminal

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 12:34 am

The L.A. Times blog reports:

A Los Angeles anti-gang intervention worker was arrested Saturday in connection with a jewelry robbery and beating at a Universal City hotel, police said.

The suspect, Marlo “Bow Wow” Jones, 30, was a contract employee for the anti-gang organization Unity One, which is hired for the city’s L.A. Bridges II gang intervention program, according to the LAPD.

It is a badly kept secret that a lot of the “anti-gang” industry in Los Angeles is actually a collection of criminals. Long-time readers will remember how, in 2005, Hector Marroquin was given a puff piece by the L.A. Times about how he had turned his life around as the founder of a gang intervention agency called “No Guns.” Then, as I told you in January 2007, the L.A. Weekly did the job that the L.A. Times should have done, and revealed that law enforcement considered Marroquin to be a shot-caller with the Mexican Mafia. The Weekly followed up with other stories, including this one with lovely shots of Mr. Marroquin throwing gang signs.

In January 2008, Mr. “No Guns” pled guilty to selling illegal assault weapons to an undercover federal agent.

Marroquin is hardly the only “anti-gang” worker on L.A.’s payroll whom authorities suspect of being an active criminal. Tony Rafael, the author of “The Mexican Mafia,” an excellent book about the prosecution of murders by the Mafia-connected Avenues gang, has written on his blog:

Unfortunately for our city and county, No Guns isn’t the only questionable program receiving public funds. There are some out there still operating and doing a better job of deflecting scrutiny. Maybe in the fullness of time, our elected officials will catch a clue.

For example, another L.A. Weekly story reported:

Just last week, another purported gang-member-turned-good, 30-year-old Mario Corona, with a group called Communities in Schools, also a recipient of L.A. Bridges money, was sentenced to 32 months in prison for transporting a large amount of methamphetamine and being a felon with a gun.

Among knowledgeable people in law enforcement with whom I have spoken, “Communities in Schools” is definitely a group that merits further investigation.

When people tell you it’s impossible to cut government programs, I have at least one suggestion for them. Stop funding criminals who are taking our money under the guise of fighting crime, and using it to commit crime.


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