Patterico's Pontifications

6/30/2009

Fun Links

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 8:12 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Senior Eye Chart.

Luxury yacht company offers pirate-hunting cruises along the coast of Somalia. [UPDATE by DRJ: Yes, it's a hoax.]

Beware the Obama Evil Eye.

Finally, a trip down memory lane for my generation: The Jackson 5 on Soul Train.

– DRJ

George W. Obama

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 7:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Obama Administration is working on a plan to secure the border with National Guard troops:

“The Obama administration is developing plans to seek up to 1,500 National Guard volunteers to step up the military’s counter-drug efforts along the Mexican border, senior administration officials said Monday.”

National Guard troops stationed temporarily on the border? That’s just like George W. Bush.

– DRJ

How to Stop Smoking (Updated)

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 4:49 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Barack Obama recently signed a massive anti-smoking bill, The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, designed to stop teens and young people from smoking by granting the FDA unprecedented authority to regulate tobacco. This is another example of how Barack Obama uses regulation to accomplish his goals, in this case to get Americans to stop smoking.

It stands in stark contrast to the novel way a Saudi Arabian charity is using to help young people quit smoking:

“RIYADH: The catchy slogan, “Kicking the habit is on you, and marriage is on us,” is meant to entice young grooms to give up smoking by offering an attractive incentive.
***
A draw on August 6 will include the names of the men who successfully quit smoking in a weeklong course. The winner will have all wedding expenses paid while 20 runners-up will get free furniture. Sulaiman al-Soby, secretary general of Purity [the charity], said the aim is to create a smoke-free family. One-third of Saudi school children live in homes with smokers, according to a 2007 health survey.”

Smoke-free and married, by choice. It’s a win-win.

UPDATE — Here’s another stop-smoking method:

“A man was charged with domestic battery after he drenched his wife with a garden hose and attacked her for smoking in the house, according to a police report.”

Surely there is a better way to stop smoking than passing more laws, living in Saudi Arabia or resorting to fisticuffs.

– DRJ

Mark Sanford Can’t Shut Up

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 3:27 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

From Hot Air:

“Sanford: I “crossed lines” with other women too. Also, Maria’s my soulmate.
***
During an emotional interview at his Statehouse office with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Sanford said Chapur is his soul mate but he’s trying to fall back in love with his wife.”

Wow. He’s quite a catch.

– DRJ

Senator Al Franken (Update: Coleman Concedes)

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 12:38 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Minnesota Supreme Court has unanimously ruled Al Franken is entitled to be the junior Senator from Minnesota. Former Senator Norm Coleman’s appeal based on unfairly rejected absentee ballots was found lacking:

“Coleman’s appeal hinged largely on whether thousands of absentee votes had been unfairly rejected by local election officials around the state.

The unanimous court wrote that “because the legislature established absentee voting as an optional method of voting, voters choosing to use that method are required to comply with the statutory provisions.”

They went on to say that “because strict compliance with the statutory requirements for absentee voting is, and always has been required, there is no basis on which voters could have reasonably believed that anything less than strict compliance would suffice.”

Franken could be seated by the Senate as early as next week, and probably will be seated even if Coleman decides to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

UPDATE:
Coleman has conceded.

– DRJ

The Sound and Fury of Cap and Trade

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:33 am

[Posted by Karl]

When the cap-and-trade boondoggle passed the House last Friday, I noted that the 219-212 margin sent the issue to the Senate with zero momentum.

Jay Cost shows how tough a road the climate bill faces in the Senate:

If the vote in the House on this bill had been calculated like the vote for President in the case of no majority winner in the Electoral College – where each state gets one vote – the climate bill would not have passed. Twenty-two state caucuses voted in favor of it while twenty-eight voted against. The bill passed in large part because of strong support from California and New York, which accounted for more than 26% of the total votes in favor of the bill.

Cost does not leave the analysis there, also noting that a number of Senate Democrats will face pressure to vote against cap-and-trade, while virtually no Senate Republicans will feel pressure to support it:

[M]any Senate Democrats face “pressure” to vote against the party. Nine face “significant pressure,” and another six face “moderate pressure.” A lot of these members might ultimately vote yea – but many of them might not. Of the fourteen Democrats under “significant” or “moderate pressure” who were in the last Congress – twelve either voted against cloture on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill, did not vote, or voted in favor but indicated to Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer that they opposed “final passage of the [bill] in its current form.” Thus, even with 59 Democrats (or 60 if/when Franken is admitted), passage could be difficult.

Cost could have added this year’s 67-31 vote against using budget reconciliation in the Senate for climate change legislation involving a cap-and-trade system. For that matter, he might also have noted the degree to which his map reflected the concentrated benefits of Waxman-Markey, which favors the coastal power companies and doles out boodle to farm states.

Sen. Jim Inhofe thinks that Senate Democrats can muster only 34 votes for cap-and-trade. That might be an underestimate, but the signs to date point to Democrats falling far short of 60 votes in the Senate.

One final note on the House vote: the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza reported:

Nearly three-quarters of the 44 [Democrats] who opposed the bill either are on House Republicans’ target list or are running for statewide office in a conservative leaning state in 2010 — a classic bifurcation between those who are on the ballot in a midterm election and a president who doesn’t stand in front of voters for another three plus years.

But, a deeper look at the list also suggests that the White House could well have driven their vote total on the bill higher if they absolutely needed to as a number (10-ish) of those who voted against the legislation could have been cajoled — or coerced — into casting a “yea” rather than a “nay” if it was absolutely necessary.

Accordingly, even if the House GOP had stood unanimously against Waxman-Markey, the Democrats likely had the votes to pass it. It might have been nice if that handful of squishy Republicans had not voted “yea” to force some vulnerable Dems to make a tough vote. But to the extent that those squishy Republicans are in swing districts where the “nay” vote would have hurt them, the exercise in party unity could easily have been a wash.


Update: The Politico has an account of how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi whipped the votes. The Democratic sources for the story have every incentive to make this look like a big achievement, but a close reading shows it was mostly about guilting the more leftist members of the Congress into supporting Pelosi’s position.

–Karl

L.A. Times Swallows Nonsensical Claim About the Cost of the Death Penalty

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 7:13 am

The L.A. Times swallows whole the assertion that abolishing the death penalty “could” save the state “up to $1 billion over the next five years.” I don’t buy it.

I hope to analyze this article much more closely when I have more time. For now, let me note that in 2005, the paper claimed that “maintaining the California death penalty system costs taxpayers more than $114 million a year beyond the cost of simply keeping the convicts locked up for life.” In a detailed post, I showed how this claim was indisputably exaggerated. As I noted at the time:

the article relies upon the transparently absurd assumption that defendants sentenced to LWOP [life without the possibility of parole] would never appeal their convictions, thus allowing the state to save the full cost of appealing their convictions. The truth is exactly the opposite: virtually all defendants sentenced to LWOP appeal their convictions at state expense.

In addition, the 2005 article assigned no savings to the plea bargains that prosecutors sometimes obtain by taking the death penalty off the table. With a plea, there is no trial and no appeal. That saves money.

The 2005 article was one of the most shameless pieces of garbage I have ever read in this newspaper. That has not prevented its conclusions from being repeated uncritically by the ACLU (.pdf).

Even the L.A. Times‘s exaggerated and inaccurate figure of $114 million a year yields only $570 million in alleged savings over five years. Where does the other $430 million come from?

The answers appear to lie somewhere inside this document (.pdf), which appears on its face to be a one-sided anti-death penalty (and anti-law enforcement) screed masquerading as an impartial study. The participation of former Los Angeles D.A. John Van de Kamp does not change this impression — look at page 112 to see the one-sided list of materials reviewed for this section of the report. The entire report seems to be an anti-law enforcement crusader’s wet dream, reduced to charts and figures. When I get time I’ll put a microscope to its claims, but for now, let’s just say I’m highly skeptical.

Today’s article is the newspaper’s attempt to seize upon the budget crisis to pursue the editors’ ideologically driven opposition to the death penalty. When ideology comes into play, the facts be damned.

I hope to return to this soon.

6/29/2009

Law Firm Quote of the Day

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 8:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy relays the following quote from a law professor who directed a legal writing program for new hires at a large law firm. The law firm also asked the law professor to share his advice with the partners. He told the partners to focus on correcting actual mistakes and avoid imposing their personal writing preferences on the new associates. This was the response of one partner:

“A partner objected strenuously. He said, and I kid you not, “One of the reasons I became a partner was to impose my personal preferences on others.”

I was not asked back.”

Heh. Anyone who’s ever worked in a big law firm knows this partner.

– DRJ

Obama Declares Honduran ‘Coup’ Illegal

Filed under: International,Obama — DRJ @ 1:16 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Breitbart reports international meddler Barack Obama today declared the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya as an illegal coup and says Zelaya remains the President of Honduras.

For those keeping score, it’s: Leftists/Dictatorships – 2, Democracy – 0.

– DRJ

Supreme Court Reverses Sotomayor Decision

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Judiciary,Obama — DRJ @ 12:43 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

ABC News reports the Supreme Court ruled today that the white New Haven firefighters were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing an appellate decision by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. The firefighters’ attorney believes the case will have a significant impact on jobs that require an occupational test:

“I think the import of the decision is that cities cannot bow to politics and pressure and lobbying by special interest groups, or act to achieve racial quotas,” said Karen Torre, the attorney for the firefighters. “If the test is job-related, especially in a dangerous occupation, then the fact that more African Americans pass, or more Hispanics pass, or more whites pass, isn’t sufficient grounds to ignore the results of an occupational test.”

The decision split 5-4 along ideological grounds. ScotusBlog has links to the opinion, concurrences, and dissent.

Ilya Shapiro @ Cato notes that Ginsburg’s dissent talks of her sympathy for the white firefighters, which is reminiscent of the empathy Barack Obama says he wants in his judicial nominees. Here is Justice Alito’s response (at p. 54):

“The dissent grants that petitioners’ situation is “unfortunate” and that they “understandably attract this Court’s sympathy.” Post, at 1, 39. But “sympathy” is not what petitioners have a right to demand. What they have a right to demand is evenhanded enforcement of the law—of Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on race. And that is what, until today’s decision, has been denied them.”

I agree with Shapiro and Justice Alito: Americans deserve equal protection, not empathy.

– DRJ

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