Patterico's Pontifications


Pictures from Our 2008 Vacations, 1: Grouse Silhouette and Half Dome

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:20 pm

I finally got these off our camera this weekend and thought I’d start sharing some of them with you, one per day, for as long as the pictures hold out.

Grouse silhouette and Half Dome, Yosemite, August 30, 2008

Quote of the Day

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,Immigration — Patterico @ 9:03 pm

From the L.A. Times:

“There seems to be a movement to defining anybody who’s here in the United States unlawfully as a criminal per se,” said Los Angeles immigration lawyer Alan Diamante, former president of the Mexican American Bar Assn. “A lot of these folks don’t have any crimes other than the fact that they’re here unlawfully. I see these people as innocent.”

P.S. The linked article discusses the Outrageous Civil Rights Violation of taking DNA from “[i]mmigration detainees and others arrested for federal crimes,” instead of only those convicted. The article, predictably for the L.A. Times, gives prominent voice to the cries of “critics” like the guy quoted above.

But did you know that everybody gets fingerprinted when they’re booked after arrest — conviction or no? Why is this so different?

Arrested: Suspected Killers of Sheriff’s Deputy. But Was It Ordered by the Mexican Mafia?

Filed under: Crime — Patterico @ 8:55 pm

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Police have arrested two Avenues Gang members in the shooting death of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Abel Escalante, who was gunned down outside his parents’ Cypress Park home in August as he prepared to go to work, according to sources with the Los Angeles Police Department.

It is still not known whether the slaying was connected to the Mexican Mafia. Early speculation hinted at the possibility, principally because Escalante worked the highpower unit at the County Jail, and thus had regular contact with a number of Mexican Mafia members.

The intrigue only heightens with today’s revelation that the arrested suspects are members of the notorious Avenues criminal street gang. The Avenues is a gang with close ties to Eme (the Mexican Mafia). On the other hand, it is also a rival gang of Cypress Park, the area where Escalante lived, and gang members might simply have decided to target a bald-headed young Hispanic male in rival gang territory as part of the usual gang warfare nonsense.

I have spoken with people in law enforcement (not connected with the case) who tend to doubt that this was an Eme-ordered hit, because (they say) the Mexican Mafia is primarily concerned with making money. Moreover, these people say, the Mafia doesn’t want to attract excessive law enforcement attenton by killing a cop.

These arguments are generally sound, but there are countervailing arguments. I’m in the middle of an excellent book about the Mexican Mafia by local Fox-11 reporter Chris Blatchford, and I recently finished another by Tony Rafael. I plan to review both on this site in coming days and weeks. They give the reader some insight into the mob mentality, and based on what I learned in those books, I certainly think Mafia involvement is a possibility (how remote a possibility is unclear), for several reasons.

First, the Mexican Mafia is an unstable conglomeration of criminal personalities who order hits as revenge for the pettiest of slights. If you steal my lunch tray in prison, you might go on the greenlight list.

While it’s true that the Mafia doesn’t typically target law enforcement, it’s not inconceivable that the Sheriff’s Deputy, while working the highpower unit, inadvertently offended one of the more volatile Mafia members, who decided to take his revenge using his henchmen on the street.

Sometimes, too, there is bad communication and/or rogue actors who go beyond their mandate. For example, the Mafia definitely does not approve of killing children, but a notorious multiple murder on Maxson Road was Mafia-inspired, and ended with the execution of a family, including small children. The killer was himself later murdered in prison for having killed children, but former Mafioso Rene “Boxer” Enriquez believes he may have felt he was following orders given by someone who had simply said: “Kill all them motherfuckers.” Similarly, a huge race riot at Pelican Bay State Prison in 2000 was sanctioned by a couple of Mexican Mafia carnales, but they hadn’t run the concept past the other members of the Mob, who almost certainly would have vetoed the idea.

So even if a particular hit doesn’t necessarily fit the mold, that doesn’t mean someone in the Mafia wasn’t involved.

Add into the mix the way that Mexican cartels have recently begun targeting all enemies in a newly gruesome and visible way, including decapitations — and the fact that several of their enemies include law enforcement officials — and there’s good reason to be concerned.

We’ll stay on top of the story.

Obama’s Changing Position on Iran and Israel

Filed under: International,Obama — DRJ @ 8:43 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Last week, a source close to the Obama Administration said if Iran were to attack Israel, it would result in a devastating nuclear response by the United States:

“U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s administration will offer Israel a “nuclear umbrella” against the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran, a well-placed American source said earlier this week. The source, who is close to the new administration, said the U.S. will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran.”

Last May during the Democratic primary, Barack Obama criticized Hillary Clinton for taking a position identical to the one his Administration has reportedly embraced:

“Barack Obama scolded Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday for saying that the United States would “totally obliterate” Iran if it attacks Israel, and likened her to President Bush. Clinton stood by her comment.”

What a difference 6 months — and an election — make.

Of course, an unnamed source doesn’t necessarily speak for the Obama Administration. This could be a Clinton confidante attempting to nudge the Obama Administration into a position Hillary favors. Either way, this suggests to me that Hillary is trying to run the foreign policy of the Obama Administration … or it could be she already is.


Michael Barone: Stupid Rod Blagojevich

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 6:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Michael Barone thinks Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is the Stupidest Governor in the Country and that makes him dangerous:

“And a stupid man (or woman) in high political office can be very dangerous to all concerned. I have long said that as a political operative I would prefer a smart opponent to a stupid opponent. If you’re pretty smart yourself, you should be able to figure out what another pretty smart person will do. But whether you’re smart or stupid, it’s hard to figure out what a stupid person will do. That’s even more true when the stupid politician is your political ally. Stupid people do all sorts of things that are against their own interests.”

Barone’s article is an interesting survey of Illinois politics and how it has helped and hurt candidates like Obama, Blagojevich, and others. It’s well worth reading.

Barone’s point also resonated with me based on my experiences as a lawyer. One of the things I feared most was an incompetent opposing counsel. He’s unpredictable and may — or may not — prepare his case adequately. It’s hard to know how to prepare in that situation. Do you assume he will be unprepared and risk getting blindsided? Or do you assume he will be prepared and risk uncovering weaknesses in your own case that might not have come to light? The end result is often a middle ground … and heartburn.

As bad as it is, even greedy is better than that. At least it’s predictable.


When Children Commit Crimes

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 3:38 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

You may have read about an 8-year-old St. Johns, Arizona, boy who reportedly shot and killed his father and his father’s friend in early November. Prosecutors are conflicted about whether or how to prosecute this case, but they point out the planning that went into the crime:

“Prosecutors in the case in the small community of St. Johns are conflicted. They say in court documents that the juvenile system is ill-equipped to handle the third-grade boy.

It’s not their desire, they say, to “persecute” a child who might not fit the description of normal. But they also say a balance must be struck between rehabilitation and justice for the victims while considering the boy’s “tender age.”

Police say the boy planned and methodically carried out the shootings, using a .22-caliber rifle when his father, 29-year-old Vincent Romero, and 39-year-old Tim Romans returned home from work on Nov. 5.

In a police interview, the boy admitted firing at least two shots at each of the men, but the child’s attorney has questioned the admissibility of the confession because no lawyer or parent was present.

The boy also told police in the interview that his stepmother had spanked him five times the night before the shootings because he did not bring home some papers from school. According to documents later released by prosecutors, the boy kept a tally of spankings, vowing the 1,000th would be his last.”

On the other side are those who question whether a child of 8 could form the requisite intent:

The case has tugged at the hearts of people across the country, who look at their own children and question how an 8-year-old could possibly have been responsible for such a crime.

“It is not a crime in the traditional way we define a crime,” says Marsha Levick, legal director of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, “because he simply lacks the intent to commit a crime.”

While many states would allow the boy to be held accountable and even tried as an adult, Levick said that doesn’t mean an 8-year-old should be thrust into the criminal justice system.

“I think there should be great doubt in the public’s mind of whether this child is even guilty of the crime,” she said. “Even if he in fact pulled the trigger, treating him as an adult, holding him responsible in the same way we hold adults responsible is completely inappropriate.”

Prosecutors have offered a plea deal that would resolve the case without transferring it to adult court, and defense counsel is considering the deal. The report notes the prosecutors have asked to withdraw one of the murder charges but defense counsel objected because he thinks “it’s a tactical move aimed at trying to refile the charge when the boy is older.” Perhaps part of the prosecution plea deal involves holding one charge to use at a later time, in case the boy has continued criminal problems.

Meanwhile, the court has stayed further proceedings pending a competency evaluation scheduled for mid-December. I think there is a reasonable concern this child may have mental health issues — and to many it would probably be a relief if he does — but diagnosing mental illness in children is difficult. My understanding is that a diagnosis of mental illness is based on behavior but common symptoms of mental disorders (shyness, nervousness, strange eating habits and outbursts of temper) occur as a normal part of a child’s development.

It’s a hard case.


L.A Times Falsely Tells Readers That Democrats Didn’t Have the 10 Republican Votes Necessary to Pass the Auto Industry Bailout

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 3:18 pm

The L.A. Times story on the failure of the bailout blamed it squarely on Republicans, in a story titled Senate Republicans kill auto bailout bill:

Republican opposition killed a $14-billion auto industry bailout plan in the Senate on Thursday night, putting the future of U.S. automakers in doubt and threatening to deliver another blow to the economy.

. . . .

Senate Democrats couldn’t bring the measure up for a vote without the support of at least 10 Republicans. Ultimately, they were seven votes short.

But wait! Via Instapundit, John McCormick at the Weekly Standard points out that Democrats had 10 Republican votes — enough votes to defeat the filibuster.

Of course, I wasn’t willing to accept that some Weekly Standard blogger got this right and the vaunted fact-checkers at the L.A. Times got it wrong. So I checked the actual votes at the website for myself. Here is the list of 10 Republican Senators I found voting “yea”:

Bond (R-MO), Yea
Brownback (R-KS), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Dole (R-NC), Yea
Domenici (R-NM), Yea
Lugar (R-IN), Yea
Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Yea
Voinovich (R-OH), Yea
Warner (R-VA), Yea

(I was initially confused by the title of the vote, which on its face seemed to be for an alternative minimum tax proposal. But it turns out that Sen. Reid had simply used HR 7005, a previously-passed House tax bill, as a “placeholder” for the legislation — a common procedural move in these situations.)

Democrats had the votes, just not enough to provide political cover. So they offered a dishonest spin: that they simply didn’t have the votes.

And the L.A. Times was happy to repeat this false spin to readers.

Time for an e-mail to the Readers’ Representative.

Time Flies . . .

Filed under: Scum — Patterico @ 11:38 am

Can you believe it’s been five years since Saddam was captured?

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