Patterico's Pontifications


Don’t Play with Matches

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 8:30 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The AP reports that one of the California fires was started by a boy playing with matches:

“A boy playing with matches started a fire in north Los Angeles County that consumed more than 38,000 acres and destroyed 21 homes last week, authorities said Tuesday.”

There are no details yet on the boy’s age or the circumstances.


Allahpundit the Dirt-Sniffing Goblin

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:08 pm


I wish I had grandkids, just so I could tell them about the day Pops was accused of circulating nutbar conspiracy theories — by Prison Planet.

Heh. It’s a long road to grandkids, my friend. But a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Uh, you do know what that step is, right?

Don’t miss Prison Planet’s return volley, which labels Allah a “frothing neocon bootlicker[]” and “dirt-sniffing neocon goblin” who is “too ashamed to admit his own dimwittedness for fear that the almighty Malkin might lose favour with him.”

Seriously dirt-sniffers (they love being called that now for some crazy reason!!!??), this is the last time we are going to throw you a life jacket and provide some badly needed resuscitation for your flagging ratings, next time we won’t be around to mop up the witch’s brew froth emanating from your mouths and you’ll be left to drown in your own drool.

Good times.

Death Penalty Hold

Filed under: Court Decisions,General,Law — DRJ @ 7:42 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The US Supreme Court granted a stay of execution today in a Mississippi death penalty case pending a hearing on the inmate’s writ of certiorari. This order reaffirms that the death penalty is probably subject to a de facto moratorium:

“Moments before a Mississippi prisoner was scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court granted him a stay of execution and thus gave a nearly indisputable indication that a majority intends to block all executions until the court decides a lethal injection case from Kentucky next spring.

There were two dissenters, Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr., but neither they nor the majority gave reasons for their positions. Because only five votes are required for a stay of execution, it is not clear whether all the remaining seven justices supported it.”

The Mississippi case involves an inmate who has been on death row for almost 20 years:

“Mr. Berry was condemned for abducting and killing Mary Bounds, 56, as she was leaving her church in Houston, Miss., on Nov. 29, 1987. Mr. Berry, who had been drinking heavily, drove the victim to the edge of a remote field intending to rape her, prosecutors said.

Then he decided not to rape her, but beat her with his fists. Afterward, Mr. Berry, who is 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs more than 250 pounds, carried his victim into a patch of woods, where she was found dead of head injuries a few days later.”

Berry’s attorneys filed an appeal objecting to the lethal injection method on October 18, 2007, the first time the issue had been raised in his case. The Mississippi and Fifth Circuit courts ruled the objection was not filed timely and denied his appeal. The Supreme Court’s stay suggests the Court is likely to place a hold on other death penalty cases until the lethal injection issue is resolved.

The Court’s order did not state why Justice Scalia and Justice Alito would deny the application for stay of execution. I assume it was based on procedural grounds – that the issue was not timely raised on appeal as set forth in the Fifth Circuit decision.

This doesn’t necessarily enlighten us about the views of the remaining Justices on the lethal injection method. The Court has an interest in deciding this area of the law – which is clearly unsettled – in order to bring certainty to the issue and to avoid a patchwork result in the interim that might occur if different circuits handle the issue in different ways.


Don’t Do Fear the Reaper

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 1:53 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Air Force has successfully deployed, tested, and used the MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in Afghanistan:

“The MQ-9A Reaper armed reconnaissance UAV fired its first Hellfire missile at enemy combatants in the Deh Rawod region of Afghanistan, some 70 miles from the UAV’s base at Kandahar. Ground forces said that the strike was effective, according to the USAF.

For the time being, the USAF seems to be taking advantage of the Reaper’s heavier payload versus the smaller Predator, operating with up to four Hellfires and two GBU-12 laser-guided bombs. (The Predator is working hard with two Hellfires.) So far it’s not clear whether the service is using the new UAV’s other advantages: high altitude, longer range and radar.

All weapons are laser-guided, reflecting a trend towards the laser’s assured targeting — versus the possibility of confusion with a coordinate-guided weapon like JDAM.”

The Reaper’s mission is to hunt and kill emerging targets. With apologies to Blue Oyster Cult, may the Reaper hunt well and cause justified fear.


“Don’t Tase Me” Student Apologizes (Updated)

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 12:21 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Andrew “Don’t Tase Me, Bro” Meyer has apologized and will avoid jail:

“The Andrew Meyer seen in YouTube clips does not apologize. He rants at Senator John Kerry, struggles with police officers trying to escort him out of the room, implores them to “don’t tase me, bro,” and, quite disturbingly, wails in pain as they do it anyway.

But his lawyer, Robert Griscti, told the University of Florida campus newspaper that Mr. Meyer began drafting apologies immediately after his release on Sept. 18. Indeed, Mr. Meyer penned three separate apologies (available here) as part of a deal to avoid criminal charges, The Gaineseville [sic] Sun reports.

The saga ends with Mr. Meyer voluntarily taking an 18-month leave of absence from college and agreeing “to perform certain actions including making a donation to the American Cancer Society or performing community service,” the paper said.”

Meyer apologized to his school, all Americans, and specifically to the police officers who had already been cleared of wrongdoing:

“It was my actions that forced the officers there into a position where they needed to take action,” he said in the letter to the police department.”

Meyer will avoid jail time as a result of these actions.

I hope he stays contrite for a long, long time but I have my doubts.


Update 1: From Andrew’s lawyer’s website –

“Andrew is a good and decent young man. He is a student, and he has shown his capacity for learning. I submit to you that he deserves great credit for taking the high road and focusing on the future. He will address the issues he is concerned about at his website link.

For Andrew Meyer, the future is now. It is the presidential election of 2008. As his lawyer, I hope for Andrew that the legacy of his story will be realized by Americans of whatever belief voting their conscience in 2008 and helping to insure that their countrymen can and will do the same.”

Update 2: I’ve read Andrew Meyer’s letters that can be accessed at his lawyer’s website for this case (use the menu on the left side). I am impressed with Meyer’s letters but his lawyer’s comments are strangely at odds with Meyer’s expression of remorse. I hope Meyer’s comments say more about his attitude than his lawyer’s statements.

Lou Dobbs Should Blog

Filed under: General,Immigration,Media Bias — DRJ @ 11:46 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Lou Dobbs should consider blogging, especially when it comes to immigration. He’s mastered the subject matter, the catchy lingo, and even the apology. From the AP via

“Lou Dobbs is sorry about calling Gov. Elliot Spitzer an idiot. Sincerely. As for ripping the New York Democrat as arrogant, spineless and “a spoiled rich kid brat,” the host of CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” stands by those nationally broadcast broadsides. Absolutely.

Dobbs has made Spitzer an almost daily target over his recent plan to ease restrictions on illegal immigrants seeking New York state driver’s licenses, mixing vitriol with sarcasm while endlessly lambasting the governor’s decision. The lifelong Republican has taken on politicians of every stripe, as when he blasted the Bush administration over port security. But his nightly diatribe against Spitzer is notable for its intensity, and for elevating a state proposal onto the national stage.

“What he’s doing is an outrageous, arrogant abuse of power,” Dobbs said in an interview before a recent show. “He’s pandering to a constituency aligned directly against the interests of U.S. and New York state citizens.” Dobbs’ ire boiled over Tuesday night when he ripped Spitzer as an idiot—and then offered an on-air mea culpa.

“I’m the idiot,” Dobbs said. “Governor, I apologize for calling you one. Your policies are idiotic. But I have to apologize for calling you an idiot.”

Dobbs is also on the wrong side of the New York Times, something conservatives can relate to:

“Dobbs, who has made immigration one of his show’s centerpiece issues, was criticized this week in a New York Times editorial for his Spitzer bashing.

“Mr. Dobbs has trained his biggest guns on Mr. Spitzer, branding him with puerile epithets like `spoiled rich-kid brat’ and depicting his policy as some sort of sanctuary program for the 9/11 hijackers,” the Times wrote. “Someday there may be a calm debate, in Albany and nationally, about immigrant drivers. “With Mr. Dobbs at the megaphone, for now there is only histrionics and outrage.”

Dobbs isn’t expecting any apology from the Times. And he has few kind words for the newspaper. “The New York Times is the house organ for Gov. Spitzer,” Dobbs said. “They’re wrong on this issue, as they are on many others.”

However, it’s interesting to see Dobbs described as a life-long Republican when the Politico recognizes Dobbs’ appeal crosses party lines and Dobbs claims to be a populist. The Democratic Party even identifies some of its voters as “Lou Dobbs Democrats.”


A Scientific “Good News, Bad News”

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 8:16 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Scientists off Iceland’s north coast have found the world’s oldest living animal – a clam estimated to be 405 years old:

“A clam that lived on the seabed in the frigid waters off Iceland’s north coast has been hailed as the longest-lived animal ever discovered. The mollusc, which is thought to have lurked beneath the waves until at least the age of 405, would have been a juvenile when Galileo picked up his first telescope, Hamlet was first staged and the gunpowder plot failed to blow up King James I.

The Arctica islandica clam was plucked from 80m-deep water by researchers at Bangor University in Wales, who were dredging the north Iceland shelf for the creatures. By studying their shells, the scientists hope to learn how the marine environment has changed in recent centuries. The clam was alive when it was brought to the surface, but at that point, the researchers had no idea how old it was. Only after cutting through the shell and counting annual growth rings under a microscope did they date the mollusc to between 405 to 410 years old.

“Its death is an unfortunate aspect of this work, but we hope to derive lots of information from it,” said Al Wanamaker, a postdoctoral scientist on the university’s Arctica team. “For our work it’s a bonus, but it wasn’t good for this particular animal.”

Good news for scientists, bad news for the clam.


France’s Sarkozy teaches 60 Minutes a Lesson

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 8:15 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

From Driver at AmusedCynic, French President Sarkozy illustrates French restraint at its best and American impudence at its worst:

“When I first heard about this, I thought it would reflect poorly on President Sarkozy. However, when I saw this short video, I thought: “Why doesn’t this happen more often?” Leslie Stahl comes off as a complete ass for wasting the time of an important international figure with gossip column questions that are none of her business. Good for him!

Stahl (voice-over): The day we interviewed him, Paris was buzzing with rumors that Cecelia had left him…again.”

Stahl: “Since we’ve been here [in Paris], it seems that every day we’re hearing another story about your wife. What’s going on?”

Sarkozy: “If I had something to say about Cecelia, I would certainly not do so here.”

Stahl: “But there’s a great mystery…Everybody’s asking…even your press secretary was asked at the briefing today…No comment?”

Sarkozy: “He was quite right to make no comment, and…No Comment. Thank you.” [removes microphone and earpiece, shakes Stahl’s hand, and leaves her sitting there by herself.]”


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