Patterico's Pontifications


The 2008 North Carolina Senate Race

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 11:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Republican North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole’s term expires in 2008 and she is currently favored to win re-election. Jim Neal, a wealthy former Wall Street investor, has announced he will run for her seat in the Democratic primary. Sen. Charles Schumer, head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is lukewarm on Neal’s candidacy.

Neal thinks it’s because he is gay:

“Former Wall Street investor Jim Neal of Chapel Hill announced he was running for the U.S. Senate. N.C. Sen. Kay Hagan of Greensboro declared a week later that she was not running for the U.S. Senate. Both are Democrats. Guess which one received a phone call from U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who heads the Democratic Party’s efforts to recruit Senate candidates?

Schumer and the national Democrats, who boast of their party’s inclusiveness, effectively ignored Neal, who is openly gay. After he announced his campaign in October, he telephoned Schumer. The call wasn’t returned. Neal was the first Democrat to step up to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Instead, Schumer, of New York, called Hagan, who had taken herself out of the race, and encouraged her to jump back in. She later did.

Schumer’s action could be explained by the fact that Hagan, 54, is a known quantity, a nine-year veteran of the state Senate and co-chair of the powerful appropriations committee. Her gender likely would help her in a contest against another woman, Sen. Dole.

Neal, however, falls into a coveted category of candidates: self-funder, someone who will sink a chunk of his own wealth into the race. Such candidates typically get at least a courtesy meeting from their party’s national political committees, particularly in the state where former U.S. Sen. John Edwards showed that an unknown with a lot of money can succeed.

Neal, 50, and others suggest that the fact that he is gay drove the actions of the Democratic Senate committee and other leaders of a party that criticizes Republicans for their anti-gay rights platform.

Schumer and the Democratic senatorial committee declined to comment for this story, spokesman Matt Miller said.”

Schumer apparently wouldn’t even meet with Neal:

“A former staffer at the national Democratic Senate committee said he was surprised Schumer didn’t at least meet with Neal. The gay community has reliably contributed to Democrats, said the former staffer, who asked not to be identified because he still deals with committee staff.

“The knee-jerk reaction is — and probably is the right reaction — that an openly gay person running for statewide office in North Carolina, even in the 21st century, is likely problematic,” the former staffer said.”

Sometimes politics and ideology are at odds. In the Senate, politics usually wins.


Yagman Sentencing Hearing Delayed Again

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,Scum — Patterico @ 8:46 pm

Stephen Yagman’s sentencing has been delayed again, until Monday. The story is just where you would expect to find a story about the sentencing of a prominent Los Angeles-based civil rights attorney: in the San Jose Mercury News.

As punishment for his tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud, Yagman wants to teach morality to college students at UCLA. No, I’m not joking:

A famed civil-rights lawyer convicted of federal tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud has been asked to teach an undergraduate course on law, morality and social justice at a university, his attorney said Wednesday in urging a judge to not impose a prison sentence.

. . . .

At his sentencing hearing Wednesday, attorney Barry Tarlow said his client should be spared prison because he was in poor health, would be vulnerable to attack and because he could share with aspiring lawyers his considerable civil rights experience.

“He still has a way to contribute,” Tarlow said. “There’s a number of professors over there who are interested in having him teach.”

University of California, Los Angeles, professor Frances Ohlsen [sic — correct spelling is “Olsen” — P] asked Yagman to teach the undergraduate course, Tarlow said.

Prosecutors want nine years in prison.

There’s quite a bit of distance between those positions. Judge Wilson wants to hear from prosecutors Monday. Also on Monday, Yagman will be making a statement on his own behalf.

And the saga continues . . .

Meanwhile, as of the date and time of this post, there is not a word about any of this in the Los Angeles Times:


UPDATE: OK, the local rag finally has something up, here. It’s a short article by anti-LAPD attack dog Scott Glover. It doesn’t mention Yagman’s outrageous request that he be “punished” — for committing over a dozen felonies causing a loss in the high six figures — by teaching a UCLA undergraduate class on morality, among other topics.

The story is part of Glover’s new assignment covering the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

UPDATE x2: The Associated Press picks up on the irony that the Los Angeles Times apparently misses. The AP story on Yagman’s sentencing plea is titled Convicted Lawyer Wants to Teach Morality.

Isn’t that a pretty good angle? Why isn’t there a word about it in the L.A. Times??

Natalee Holloway Suspects Arrested

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 3:28 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Three of the initial suspects in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway have been arrested in Aruba and the Netherlands:

“Three young men previously detained as suspects in the 2005 disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway were re-arrested Wednesday, the Aruban public prosecutor’s office said, citing new evidence in the case.

Joran van der Sloot of the Netherlands and two Surinamese brothers, Satish and Deepak Kalpoe, were arrested on suspicion of involvement in voluntary manslaughter and causing serious bodily harm that resulted in the death of Holloway, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.”
Van der Sloot, 20, was re-arrested in the Netherlands, where he was attending university. The Kalpoe brothers – Deepak is 24, Satish, 21 – were taken into custody in Aruba.

Authorities “ordered their renewed arrest because further investigation into the disappearance has led to new incriminating evidence,” the office said without providing further details. Officials there could not immediately be reached for further comment.”

This is obviously a sad story for the Holloway family — it would be terrible to lose a child, let alone not to know what happened to her. However, one of the interesting lessons this case teaches is that criminal justice systems in other countries work differently than in America.

It’s something we shouldn’t take for granted. In fact, it’s something to be thankful for.


The French Transit Strike

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 3:10 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

French transit workers went on strike last week to protest government action restricting their ability to retire in their 50s. Just hours before talks between the government and the union were scheduled to begin, multiple incidents of arson were reported on four rail lines across France. The sabotage – which may have occurred on train lines operated by workers who want to suspend the strike – suggests it may be aimed at union defectors as much as the government:

“Some SNCF workers – who operate regional trains, the high-speed lines and other long distance trains – voted Wednesday in several major cities to suspend the strike, but others in Normandy and Nantes voted to continue.

On Tuesday, François Chérèque, secretary general of the CFDT, was forced to flee a union rally after jeering members surrounded him to protest his support of negotiations. They hooted and whistled and some carried signs that read, “Chérèque, no knife in our back” and “Yes to unity. No to collaboration.”

On Wednesday morning, Chérèque participated in a radio interview on Europe 1, where he expressed concerns about some of his membership. “French unions have a real problem with democracy,” he said, noting that the majority of his members had decided to return to work.

We have had debates with our militants for four years,” he added, “and they know very well that the change in their special retirement benefits is inevitable. That’s why we have decided to return to negotiations.”

Government officials said Wednesday that the number of striking workers had fallen. About one in five were now absent, they said, compared with the start of the strike last week when 61 percent of workers took part. But a minority of workers can still disrupt most train services.”

As a footnote, the report contained this explanation of the origin of the word sabotage:

“What the government called sabotage – a distinctively French word that dates to the railroad strike of 1910, when workers destroyed the wooden shoes, or sabots, that held rails in place – took place at the start of the commuting day.”

[Edit: Maybe not. See the comments for more thoughts on the origin of the word sabotage. — DRJ]

The report also notes an interesting public response to the transit strike:

“As the negotiations began, public attitudes seemed to be hardening against the strikers, according to a survey for the conservative French newspaper Le Figaro.

The poll showed that almost 70 percent of those surveyed said the strike was unjustified and the government should not back down from its efforts to eliminate special retirement privileges that allow transit workers to retire in their 50s.”

It’s extremely generous to have a program that lets workers retire in their 50s. Maybe Sarkozy’s election and polls like these are signs the French are rethinking their ability to provide generous social welfare programs.


L.A. Times Mentions Shooting Policy in Story on Officer Run Down by a Car — and Strains to Publish His Identity Despite His Undercover Status

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:31 am

To my surprise, in today’s story about an LAPD undercover officer run over by a suspect in a car, the Los Angeles Times has highlighted LAPD’s shooting policy, which prohibits shooting at cars used as weapons in most instances.

It sounds as though the possible effect of the shooting policy is very much a live issue:

Three officers were involved in the 8:30 a.m. incident near the intersection of East 4th and South Dacotah streets, said LAPD Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz.

The officers had been conducting surveillance on Ortiz when they saw him make an alleged drug sale near the intersection and then watched him pull his vehicle into a driveway in the 100 block of South Dacotah Street, Diaz said.

When officers attempted to arrest him, he backed out of the driveway, nearly hitting one of the officers who identified himself as from the LAPD, and then sped south on Dacotah.

At that point, the officers radioed [redacted], who was part of the surveillance team and stationed farther down the street, and warned him that the suspect was fleeing in his direction.

[redacted] identified himself as an LAPD officer and ordered Ortiz to stop, but the suspect ignored him and struck him, authorities said.

At one point, the officer fired his weapon at the vehicle, but it was not clear Tuesday evening whether he shot at the car before or after he was run down.

So, one officer is nearly run down but doesn’t fire. Another is run down, but we don’t know if he fired beforehand.

It definitely sounds like it’s worth exploring whether the policy tied the officers’ hands. And the story does mention the policy:

Tim Sands, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said Tuesday’s incident is the latest example of an assault on a police officer by a suspect who used a vehicle as a weapon.

“The attempted murder today of an LAPD officer . . . is a sad example of the dangers officers face every day,” he said. “Attempting to stop a suspect in a motor vehicle constitutes one of the least predictable and, hence, most potentially dangerous of a police officer’s routine duties.”

At least 25 officers nationwide have been killed during the last four years by cars driven by crime suspects.

In 2005, the Los Angeles Police Commission recommended tightening a long-standing LAPD policy by prohibiting officers from shooting at moving vehicles unless another deadly threat existed.

The new rules followed the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy who had led police on a short car chase.


And had then run his car at police officers, and into a police car.

But kudos to the paper for at least mentioning the policy.

But big jeers to the paper for straining to learn and publish the officer’s identity, knowing that the department didn’t want his name publicized because he was undercover:

The LAPD did not formally release [redacted]’s identity because he works undercover, but several officials named him.

Did it ever cross their minds that LAPD might be right? That maybe it’s not a great idea to splash the name of an undercover officer all over the pages of the city newspaper?

The officer is not named in stories by the Associated Press (in stories here and here), MyFox in Los Angeles, the local NBC affiliate, the Long Beach Press Telegram, the local CBS affiliate . . . etc. etc. etc.

All these news organizations were responsible. They undoubtedly could have named the officer, but didn’t. (My post last night, quoting an L.A. Times article, initially named the officer until I realized the department wanted his name kept under wraps because of his undercover status — at which point I immediately redacted the name out of my post.)

As far as I can tell, only the smarty-pants people at the L.A. Times felt the need to blow the identity of an undercover officer.


P.S. Now that the officer’s name is in the paper, it’s really a pointless exercise to redact it from the post. I do it today more for rhetorical effect than anything else. In any future posts on this issue, I may not bother.

A Thanksgiving Thought

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 12:15 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Be thankful you aren’t this Denver man’s automobile insurance company:

“The 24-year-old man who rammed into the back of an RTD bus Monday night had been cited two other times for accidents within three weeks.

“He’s had a bad month,” said Steve Davis, Lakewood police spokesman.

Nathan Goodson, 24, of Lakewood was cited for careless driving Monday night in the accident that sent 12 people — including him — to the hospital, Davis said. The bus was eastbound around 8:30 p.m. when it stopped at Teller Street to drop off passengers. Witnesses said a 2006 Dodge was traveling east on West Colfax Avenue going up to 75 mph when it crashed into the back of the bus.

Goodson was seriously injured but did not have life-threatening injuries, Davis said. Firefighters had to cut him out of the wreckage. He was taken to St. Anthony Central Hospital. The bus was carrying 20 passengers, and of those, 11 were injured. Their conditions were unavailable.

Davis said that Goodson was charged with hit-and-run and failure to maintain brakes after an accident Oct. 29. Then on Nov. 17, he was cited for careless driving after his second accident, Davis said. When he struck the bus Monday — his third accident — he was driving a rental car, Davis said.

Goodson also was cited for careless driving in Denver on Nov. 14, 2001, when he was 18, according to Denver County Court records.”

A bad month, indeed, and it may get worse when he goes to court on these charges.


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