Patterico's Pontifications


E.J. Dionne Sees Only Conservative Hypocrisy

Filed under: General,Media Bias — Patterico @ 11:33 pm

E.J. Dionne has the following in his latest column:

The senator vigorously rejected the president’s claim of executive privilege. “I find this extraordinary and troublesome,” he said, “and I think it will ultimately be damaging to the president. . . . This is an attempt to stonewall our committee, and the public will be outraged.”

Doesn’t that sound like one of those tough statements by Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, the Democratic point man on the U.S. attorney scandal? The speaker was actually the Republican whom Schumer defeated nine years ago, Alfonse D’Amato, discussing Bill Clinton’s invocation of executive privilege in the Whitewater investigation. Nice to see Chuck and Al agree on something.

Wow! You really got him there!

Except that D’Amato isn’t around anymore, so it’s a bit tough to accuse him of hypocrisy. Hey, E.J.! If it’s hypocrisy you’re after — live hypocrisy, involving someone still in the Senate — how about putting this passage into a column?

The senator vigorously defended the president’s claim of executive privilege. “I do not believe we should be issuing subpoenas to the Justice Department unless that step is absolutely necessary,” he said. “I would also like to discuss with the Chairman about following the model we used in the Ruby Ridge hearings. As I recall, to ensure the bipartisan nature of the investigation, the Subcommittee Chairman issued subpoenas only with the consent of the Ranking Member.”

Doesn’t that sound like one of those defensive statements by Sen. Orrin Hatch, the staunch defender of the Administration on the U.S. attorney scandal? The speaker was actually the man who was the ranking member eight years ago, Pat Leahy, discussing Bill Clinton’s invocation of executive privilege in the investigation of questionable pardons. Nice to see Pat and Orrin agree on something.

Why don’t we see E.J. Dionne making that statement instead of the one he made?

It would be plenty factual.

Ask Eric Alterman or Glenn Greenwald. They’re the ones who claim that conservatives are in charge of the media.

The Woman Who Cried Rape

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 3:13 pm

Interesting criminal law issue:

Darrell Roberson came home from a card game late one night to find his wife rolling around with another man in a pickup truck in the driveway.

Caught in the act with her lover, Tracy Denise Roberson — thinking quickly, if not clearly — cried rape, authorities say. Her husband pulled a gun and killed the other man with a shot to the head.

What’s the charge? Answer in the extended entry.


Signs That Things Are Going Well

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:04 pm

It’s April, and Jeff Goldstein is still blogging.

Wish DRJ Well

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:59 pm

DRJ, who has been doing such a great job on the Border Patrol transcript summaries, will be incapacitated for a little while. She was in a car wreck last night — hit by drag racing teenagers while she was on her way to church — and has a broken collarbone. She can only type with one finger and can’t use the computer more than a few minutes a day.

Please wish her well in the comments.

Tribune Co. Sold

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

The L.A. Times reports that Tribune Company, its corporate parent, has been sold to a “quirky businessman” from Chicago:

Billionaire real estate mogul Sam Zell has reached an agreement to buy Tribune Co. in a two-stage deal valued at $8.2 billion, or $34 a share, the company said this morning.

. . . .

The transaction would mark a watershed for both Chicago and Los Angeles. It would turn the 160-year-old Tribune and its flagship Chicago Tribune, a major economic and political powerhouse in the Midwest, over to a quirky businessman whose previous investments have not had nearly such a high public profile.

And the deal would effectively liberate the Chandler family of California – owners of the Los Angeles Times for more than a century – from a newspaper business with which they have become disillusioned. For the second time in seven years, the Chandlers helped push The Times into the hands of new, Chicago-based owners.

In 2000, the pioneering Los Angeles family sold its control of Times Mirror Co. to Tribune. And the Chandlers’ remaining 20% stake in Tribune still gave them enough leverage to demand the strategic review that that would end with this sale. The auction did not turn into anything like a bidding contest until [Los Angeles billionaires Eli] Broad and [Ron] Burkle submitted their revised offer, which they valued at $34 a share, or $8.1 billion, late last week.

It remains to be seen what, if anything, this means for the L.A. Times.

Drug Treatment and Drug Decriminalization: Neither Is the Easy Cure-All You Thought It Was

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

The L.A. Times reports:

The most comprehensive assessment of California’s landmark effort to treat drug users rather than jail them has found that nearly half of offenders sentenced under the program fail to complete rehab and more than a quarter never show up for treatment.

The high failure rates have prompted a growing number of critics to call for jail sanctions for defendants they say take advantage of the program’s lack of penalties.

Maybe it comes as a surprise to the editors of the L.A. Times that you can’t force drug offenders to complete drug programs without a credible threat of incarceration. But it doesn’t surprise me. That’s the reason I voted against Proposition 36 in 2000.

The idea behind Proposition 36 is that you get three chances to mess up before you can be sent to jail for even one day. Like many Deputy District Attorneys in busy courthouses, I have filled in temporarily in Proposition 36 courts from time to time, and I see how this theory works in practice. The judge takes a plea from a defendant on a felony drug possession case, and tells him that he will have three chances to violate his Proposition 36 probation before he can be incarcerated. Watching judges take pleas like this is very much like being a bystander watching a parent lecture his child in the following manner:

I saw you hit Johnny. You had better not do that again! If you do . . . well, I won’t do anything the first time. If you do it a second time . . . well, I still won’t do anything. But if you do it a third time, then mister, you will be in trouble!

Picture a child receiving such a lecture, and you can easily visualize the results of implementing such a program in the criminal justice system:

High failure rates are typical among drug treatment programs, but many judges and law enforcement officials say too few defendants appear to take Proposition 36 seriously.

Indeed, some offenders admit they view the program as a “free pass.”

“Every time I’d get arrested … [I knew] I’ve got three more chances coming to jail,” Alexander Santillan said in a November interview inside Los Angeles County Jail.

. . . .

Courts have little choice but to release them unless they have exhausted their three chances. A Times analysis of Los Angeles County jail data found that drug possession bookings soared 150% between 2000, the year before Proposition 36 began, and 2005.

What a surprise!

Of course, I realize that the libertarians in the crowd think that everything would be hunky-dory if we just decriminalized drug possession. Tell that to The Independent, a liberal British newspaper that recently reversed its stance in favor of drug legalization, saying:

Record numbers of teenagers are requiring drug treatment as a result of smoking skunk, the highly potent cannabis strain that is 25 times stronger than resin sold a decade ago.

More than 22,000 people were treated last year for cannabis addiction – and almost half of those affected were under 18. With doctors and drugs experts warning that skunk can be as damaging as cocaine and heroin, leading to mental health problems and psychosis for thousands of teenagers, The Independent on Sunday has today reversed its landmark campaign for cannabis use to be decriminalised.

A decade after this newspaper’s stance culminated in a 16,000-strong pro-cannabis march to London’s Hyde Park – and was credited with forcing the Government to downgrade the legal status of cannabis to class C – an IoS editorial states that there is growing proof that skunk causes mental illness and psychosis.

The decision comes as statistics from the NHS National Treatment Agency show that the number of young people in treatment almost doubled from about 5,000 in 2005 to 9,600 in 2006, and that 13,000 adults also needed treatment.

(Via See Dubya.)

There is much room for debate regarding issues such as drug legalization, or substituting treatment for incarceration. Reasonable people on both sides of the issue make good arguments. What annoys me is the smug attitude of some people who claim that it’s not even a close question. The two articles linked above ought to wipe the self-satisfied look off of your faces.

P.S. I said ought to. I harbor no illusions that it actually will.

Let the nasty attacks on the prosecutor begin!

This Weekend on Patterico

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:00 am

Since I blogged a lot this weekend, I thought it might be nice to do one of those periodic roundups of what you missed this weekend, for the benefit of those who read me mostly on weekdays:

  • I mocked a former DoJ official who argued that Bush had made the DoJ partisan.
  • I noted that the L.A. Times was simply the target of Thomas Rooney’s latest astroturfing campaign.
  • I noted that the paper doesn’t seem particularly concerned about anonymity while publishing anonymous editorials.
  • I took a cheap shot at the people running the L.A. Times web site.
    • I asked you to consider a couple of worthy donations.

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