Patterico's Pontifications

5/23/2011

PSA: Download Lady Gaga’s New Album for $1, NOW (Update: Promotion Over)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 5:02 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: I forgot to say that if you go through the search box on the sidebar, then Patrick gets a small donation to help keep the site going, at no additional cost to you. That’s a win-win!

Update (II): And as of 1:00 a.m, it is still available for a dollar.  I am not sure when it will disappear, but act fast.

Update (III): And the promotion is over.

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I will say truthfully I haven’t even listened to a full Lady Gaga album yet.  And I am underwhelmed by her single “Born this Way.”  I hate it when artists think its time to tell me how to live.  But what can beat a dollar for the download?

Well, in my case, free.  I recently bought an Aretha Franklin CD for my mother for Mother’s Day and got a free credit to download an MP3 from Amazon.com.  I thought to myself, “what am I going to do with a single dollar’s credit?”  And this came along.  So that is how I paid for it.

Haven’t even listened to it yet, except for a few seconds to verify it was in my phone.

Anyway, it’s straining the servers as we speak.  So please if you are inclined, use the sidebar to search for it. The album is “Born This Way” and the deal only applies to an MP3 download of it. And they promise that if you put in the order today, you get the deal, even if it might take longer to physically download it.

By the way, I hope there is a good reason why she looks like a motorcycle here…

Hat tip: Althouse, who says “join the traffic jam.”

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Supreme Court Mandates Release of Up to 37,000 Prisoners in California and I Make a Modest Proposal to Fix the Problem

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:18 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

So via Hot Air we learn that the Supreme Court has ordered around 37,000 prisoners to be released from California State Prisons.  So if anyone was worried about Patrick having job security, worry no more.

The short version is this.  The state’s prison system is woefully overcrowded.  According to the Court, state’s prisons are designed to hold 80,000 people.  At the time of trial, they held 156,000 people.  But the Constitutional violation alleged here is from the lack of medical care, stemming from that overpopulation—that is too few doctors for too many prisoners.  So, according to the Supreme Court, as many as 37,000 people will have to be released (since 9,000 have been released during the trial and pendency of the appeal) to meet a cap of 110,000.  That can be done by the release of the “less-bad” ones, or by transferring them out of state.  Also, although the order doesn’t presently contemplate hiring more staff, the Supreme Court seemed to indicate that this might work as well:

The order in fact permits the State to comply with the population limit by transferring prisoners to county facilities or facilities in other States, or  by constructing new facilities to raise the prisons’ design capacity.  And the three-judge court’s order does not bar  the State from undertaking any other remedial efforts.  If the State does find an adequate remedy  other than a population limit, it may seek modification or termination of the three-judge court’s order on that basis.

But it’s also worth noting that as of now, the state can’t even transfer prisoners because they can’t demonstrate that the new place won’t also be non-compliant:

The State complains that the Coleman District Court slowed the rate of transfer by requiring inspections to assure that the receiving institutions were in compliance with the Eighth Amendment, but the State has made no effort to show that it has the resources  and the capacity to transfer significantly larger numbers of prisoners absent that condition.

I’ll leave aside the constitutional question involved here.  This Court already demonstrated its unserious approach to the Eighth Amendment when it declared that it was unconstitutional to execute a man for raping his eight-year-old daughter so violently it ruptured the wall between her vagina and her anus, even though the same Constitution specifically allows for execution for far less heinous crimes.  Sorry to disgust you, but you really have to contemplate how horrific the crime was in that case to grasp how wrong the Supreme Court’s ruling was in that matter.  As far as the Eighth Amendment goes, this is about policy preferences and not the Constitution.  That being said, I don’t see this as a radical departure from previous precedents (equally based on policy and not the Constitution itself).

And on the policy issue, while I am pretty tough on crime, even I think that this overcrowding sounds like it is too much.  I want prison to be unpleasant, but there are limits, and since we are talking about the problem of prison overcrowding, let’s consider a few facts.  For instance, there are about 700 prisoners on death row.  Why not speedily execute them and reduce the problem by that much?

And then there is another significant contribution to our prison population.  Right now our border is porous.  If we deport all of the illegal immigrants in California’s prisons, many would come back within days.  But if we had border security in this country (imagine that!), how many could we get rid of?  Well, according to the GAO, in 2008, illegal immigrants accounted for 27,000 state prisoners.  Now ask yourself this.  How many of the remaining prisoners are legal immigrants who are now deportable because of their crimes?  Thus in theory California might be able to deport its way out of the problem, if only we had some assurance that they wouldn’t come right back.

And that doesn’t have to add up to these criminals running loose in their home countries.  We could easily hand them into those nations’ custody along with their criminal records, and let them decide whether to hold them any longer.

But all that also ignores the real problem, which is the difficulty in finding doctors willing to treat prisoners.  My cousin, for instance, worked as a prison doctor.  He is a thin, nerdy man (I say that with love, but also brutal honesty).  Naturally he feared being attacked.  But he also feared the jailhouse “lawyers”* who spent their free time drafting legal complains for other prisoners.  The laws applying to malpractice to prisoners are surely justified on the most noble humanitarian grounds—ensuring that prisoners receive the same minimal quality of care the rest of us get.  But it is driving doctors away, such as my cousin who quit the moment he was financially able to.  Assume (as I know) that my cousin is a brilliant doctor, but human enough to fear a mistake would ruin him.  Did his departure leave his patients better off, or worse off?

I am sure there are other reasons for this overcrowding and the lack of medical staff that Patrick and others would happily recite off the top of their heads.  So please have at it in the comments.

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* I don’t believe there are any lawyers currently in prison.  This is not because lawyers are uniquely unlikely to commit a crime, but it is my understanding that if a lawyer is convicted of a sufficiently serious crime, he or she will lose their license.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Protesting Sexism in Saudi Arabia

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 10:20 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

You know for all the talk about things like the Everyone Draw Mohammed movement, if you want really brave protesters, you have to go to the middle east and/or Muslims countries (not to mention countries such as China).  For instance there was Shahbaz Bhatti, the man assassinated for questioning Pakistan’s laws that make blasphemy a capital offense:

It’s a tad more impressive than a crappy drawing of Mohammed (pedophilia be upon him) made in Manassas, Virginia, to be blunt.  Which isn’t to say I don’t appreciate everyone’s efforts, but not all acts of protest are equally brave.  And then there is this rebellious woman:

It doesn’t look like much, but given that this is in Saudi Arabia, this is a revolutionary act.  And the jackboots of gender segregation are coming down on her neck:

Authorities detained a Saudi woman on Saturday after she launched a campaign against the driving ban for women in the ultraconservative kingdom and posted a video of herself behind the wheel on Facebook and YouTube to encourage others to copy her.

Manal al-Sherif and a group of other women started a Facebook page called “Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself,” which urges authorities to lift the driving ban. She went on a test drive in the eastern city of Khobar and later posted a video of the experience.

“This is a volunteer campaign to help the girls of this country” learn to drive, al-Sherif says in the video. “At least for times of emergency, God forbid. What if whoever is driving them gets a heart attack?”

Well, that is certainly a sound argument, but Saudi Arabia has a poor record when it comes to choosing between gender discrimination and human safety.

And none of that forgets the brave people standing up in places like Syria. But I found this one to be particularly interesting.

Hat tip: The Daily Caller.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Watch Mike Bettes of the Weather Channel Lose His Composure in Joplin, Missouri

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:30 am

Watch Mike Bettes of the Weather Channel Lose His Composure in Joplin, Missouri

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

I ain’t making fun of him.  You don’t have to be neutral about devastation like this.  And it’s good that it is real to him.

Via Mediaite, which has more on it.  And this page tells you how to help, if you are inclined.  Let this be a matter of personal responsibility instead of the government being the sole help in all of this.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

More Details on the Case Against StraussKahn and Jon Stewart Notices That the French Are Funny (Update: DNA Confirmed)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:42 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: And now we have DNA verification–which only tends to prove sex, and not lack-of-consent.  But fwiw…

Of course I have been following the story of Dominique Strauss-Kahn (who is a man) — and the accusations of rape against him — with one eye open, in case something more interesting comes out.  There have been some people who are legitimate doubters.  And then there has been Ben Stein (more on him in a moment).  And given that most likely none of the readers here were there in that hotel room, the only prudent thing to do is to doubt, but on the other hand, you shouldn’t be an idiot about it.  And one concern among the doubters was that it might merely be a case of he-said, she-said.  But if this report in the Daily Beast is correct, that might not be such a significant issue.  You should read the whole thing, but here is a taste:

The luxury-hotel maid who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn was found by a supervisor in a hallway where she hid after escaping from the former International Monetary Fund director’s room. Hotel workers described her as traumatized, having difficulty speaking, and immediately concerned about pressing charges and losing her job, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

In other words when they found her, she was completely freaked out (vomiting, as the piece later reveals).  That doesn’t prove Strauss-Kahn guilty, but if true, it makes it into a little more than just he said, she said.

Meanwhile Jon Stewart does a great job mocking some of the defenders of Strauss-Kahn.  Ben Stein is there, as is Bernard-Henri Lévy.  I left Lévy alone because this was a friend he was talking about, and I am more forgiving of stupidity in defending a friend.  Still, Iowahawk did a brilliant satire of Lévy’s piece and Jon (Jean?) Stewart goes in for the kill, here:

Hey, what do you know?  It’s fashionable to mock the French again.  Freedom fries, anyone?

Update: Patrick informed me via twitter that I was mispelling Strauss-Kahn’s name. All I can say is, “Kaaaaaaaahn!” Fixed now.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I always thought freedom fries were stupid — but it’s always fashionable to mock Bernard-Henri Lévy. I haven’t forgotten that he also defended Roman Polanski. If you’re a sexual degenerate, you have a reliable friend in Bernard-Henri Lévy — as long as you’re French!


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