Patterico's Pontifications


Any Fans of Parthenon Huxley (aka P. Hux) in L.A.? (UPDATE: Plus Wasted Tape News!)

Filed under: Music — Patterico @ 11:33 pm

If so, there’s a pretty special event coming up later this month: a living room concert. Mrs. P and I are the first two on the list. There are probably only 25-30 spots total. I have no idea how many spots are left (if any).

We went to a P. Hux living room show at this host’s house several years back, and he made an album out of the evening. We were there for history.

If you’re interested, send me an e-mail and I’ll put you in touch with the host.

UPDATE: Some Parthenon Huxley for you. Language warning:

UPDATE: In addition, one of my favorite bands of the 1990s, Wasted Tape, is coming out with a new double album — and currently has available for free download their amazing first album. I heartily recommend it to anyone with musical taste. A combination of Beatles and Rush — my two favorite bands — and I’ve never heard another band even try to pull off that combo.

They’re also newly on Facebook. I’m one of their oldest fans, and their newest Facebook fan.

Go download that album now. I seriously love this band.

UPDATE x2: You don’t even have to download it. You can just click the link and stream it to see what you think.

More on That Ninth Circuit Decision Granting Voting Rights to Felons in Washington State

Filed under: Court Decisions,Crime,General,Race — Patterico @ 10:54 pm

DRJ reported the basics here, quoting a story that said:

Attorneys for six Washington state prisoners, Circuit Court Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote, “have demonstrated that police practices, searches, arrests, detention practices, and plea bargaining practices lead to a greater burden on minorities that cannot be explained in race-neutral ways.”

Joined by Judge Stephen Reinhardt in the majority opinion, Tashima found no “race neutral” explanation for the higher incarceration rates and reversed a U.S. District Court decision in favor of the felons.”

There’s a lot to say about this decision; probably more than can be said in a single blog post.

My first reaction is one that I have expressed many times before: how in the hell does Stephen Reinhardt manage to get onto the panel on every hot-button liberal issue the Ninth Circuit ever takes up?

To me, the biggest concern flowing from this decision is the precedent that federal courts can now make sweeping declarations about the discriminatory nature of the criminal justice system based on dubious studies by sociology professors. (More about that in the extended entry below.) The implications are potentially staggering and go far beyond felons’ right to vote. If federal courts can declare the entire system of criminal justice in a state (or the country!) to be racially discriminatory, you could see an invalidation of Three Strikes laws or any other recidivism statute. You could see a sweeping invalidation of laws prohibiting felons the right to possess firearms. And that could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Commenter carlitos points out another potentially disturbing impact of the decision: its potential effect on rural districts with big prisons. Given that the decision explicitly extends to currently incarcerated inmates, you’re potentially looking not just at a huge bump in the number of Democratic voters as a whole, but also very concentrated bumps in districts that otherwise would likely be reliably Republican.

What bothers me more than anything else is the way that the judges rely on dubious methodology that they don’t even seem to understand.

The rest of this post cites some of the source material and gets into a little more detail concerning that methodology. For those of you with less interest in the topic or shorter attention spans, I’m tucking this part in the extended entry.


Balloon Boy Father Denies Hoax

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 9:51 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Richard Heene, the father in the balloon boy saga who plead guilty to a felony count of falsely influencing authorities, now claims there was no hoax:

“In his first television interview since shortly after the Oct. 15 event, Richard Heene said that he believed that his 6-year-old son, Falcon, was in the homemade balloon when it took off from the family’s Fort Collins backyard.

“We had searched the house, high and low,” Heene said, choking back tears during a taped interview for “Larry King Live” that will air on CNN. “I knew he was in the craft. … In my mind there was no other place.”

Heene now claims he plead guilty to protect his wife from deportation:

“I’m not disputing the fact that I did have to plead guilty and when I say have to, I had to do it to save my family and my wife. The threat of deportation was imminent,” said Heene, an aspiring reality television show actor and backyard scientist.”

Prosecutors have denied threatening Mayumi Heene with deportation and Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden was surprised at Heene’s claims, saying “There’s no doubt in my mind that this thing was a hoax.”


Study: Capital Punishment is a Deterrent

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 9:23 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In a study based solely on Texas data, researchers from Sam Houston State and Duke University have concluded that capital punishment in Texas has a deterrent effect and has saved lives:

As many as 60 people may be alive today in Texas because two dozen convicted killers were executed last year in the nation’s most active capital punishment state, according to a study of death penalty deterrence by researchers from Sam Houston State University and Duke University.

A review of executions and homicides in Texas by criminologist Raymond Teske at Sam Houston in Huntsville and Duke sociologists Kenneth Land and Hui Zheng concludes a monthly decline of between 0.5 to 2.5 homicides in Texas follows each execution.

“Evidence exists of modest, short-term reductions in the numbers of homicides in Texas in the month of or after executions,” the study published in a recent issue of Criminology, a journal of the American Society of Criminology, said.”

The study covered data from January 1994 through December 2005 but the researchers believe the conclusions remain valid for subsequent years. The study considered whether “month-to-month fluctuations in executions could be associated with subsequent month-to-month fluctuations in homicide counts.” The researchers concluded there is an association.

A SUNY-Albany statistics expert contacted by the AP verified the study’s research methods and suggested “additional research examining homicides in nearby states where the death penalty is less active could add to the Texas study’s credibility.” However, not everyone is convinced:

“Teske acknowledged some experts disliked the results. He speculated criticism came from peer reviewers opposed to capital punishment.

“I have a hard time getting people to understand that this reports a scientific analysis of an issue and is not a political statement,” Teske said.”


Guantanamo Recidivism is 20%

Filed under: Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 8:19 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Pentagon sources confirm that 20% of all detainees released from Guantanamo are returning to the fight:

“A new Pentagon analysis shows the number of former Guantanamo detainees that it says have returned to the fight has continued to rise to 20 percent, up from the 14 percent recidivism rate released last spring. The latest increase continues the upward trend from the two previous reports.”

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell suggested the increase is due in part to the difficulty in evaluating recent and current detainees vs earlier detainees:

“Some of the initial cases were — were — were more obvious than others. Some of them were deemed to be less of a threat than others. I think as we are getting down to the final couple of hundred, that these are clearly very difficult cases.”

Amazingly, the Obama Administration appears to claim that it is conducting the first detainee threat assessments:

“A White House official told ABC News, “We have been presented with no information that suggests that any of the detainees transferred by this administration have returned to the fight.

“The President created the Guantanamo Review Task Force to conduct the thorough work that had not been done before: to review the relevant information about each detainee, including the threat they pose, to determine whether they should be prosecuted, detained, or transferred. Decisions about detainees are made on an individual basis only after all of that information is considered by an interagency group that includes the Defense Department, law enforcement, and the intelligence community.”

I don’t believe this. There is no indication the Bush Administration released detainees without a threat assessment, and suggesting they did is contrary to Department of Defense statements like this one from March 2007 regarding the release process and annual detainee reviews:

“Also today, DoD announced the completion of the second round of annual administrative review boards at Guantanamo Bay. The boards, which ran from Jan. 30, 2006, to Dec. 6, 2006, resulted in 55 recommendations for transfer and 273 recommendations for continued detention.

Administrative review boards are review processes that provide detainees an opportunity to appear before and present information to a three-member board of military officers. The board members make a decision about the detainees’ status based on the current threat assessment and intelligence value of each detainee.”


Chris Dodd on Why He Quit

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 8:19 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd announced today he won’t run for re-election next year. He admitted his “present political standing” would have made re-election difficult but insisted that wasn’t the reason for his decision. Further, Dodd made a point of saying he was not quitting to spend time with his family:

“Updated 12:13 p.m. ET: “Now there is nothing more pathetic than a politician who announces they are only leaving public life to spend more time with their family. The result of this announcement today will, I hope, create that opportunity -– but it is not the reason for my decision….I’m still driven by the same passions that motivated me to try my hand at politics so many, many years ago.”

I guess this is Dodd’s way of saying he’s principled.


My Big Journalism Piece Is Up

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:14 pm

Read it here.

Gibbs Lies About Obama’s Lie to Put Health Care Negotiations on C-Span

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:12 pm

From the White House playbook: If you’re caught in a lie, lie some more.

DRJ mentioned this earlier, but it can’t be repeated enough.

The promise:

The refusal to address the breaking of the promise.

And just so it’s crystal clear: when Gibbs claims “we covered this yesterday” . . . he is lying. Here is what he said the day before:

QUESTION: C-Span television is requesting leaders in Congress to open up the debate to their cameras, and I know this is something that the President talked about on the campaign trail. Is this something that he supports, will be pushing for?

GIBBS: I have not seen that letter. I know the President is going to begin some discussions later today on health care in order to try to iron out the differences that remain between the House and the Senate bill and try to get something hopefully to his desk quite quickly….

Later in that same briefing, a reporter raised the C-Span issue again:

QUESTION: Okay, just lastly, why can’t you answer the C-Span question —

GIBBS: I did.

QUESTION: You didn’t, because you said —

GIBBS: I said I hadn’t seen the letter, which I haven’t —

QUESTION: do you need to see a letter? I mean, this is something the President said during the campaign and he talked about he wants everything open on C-SPAN —

GIBBS: Dan asked me about the letter and I haven’t read the letter.

QUESTION: Well, I’ll just ask you about having it on C-Span —

GIBBS: I answered Dan’s question and I answered this before we left for the break, Keith. The President’s number-one priority is getting the differences worked out, getting a bill to the House and the Senate…

QUESTION: There are a lot of reasons not to do it on C-Span — people could showboat. Does he regret making that statement during the campaign?


That was an answer?

9th Circuit Rules Federal Prisoners Entitled to Vote

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Crime,Law — DRJ @ 1:31 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A 3-member panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has thrown out a Washington State law that prevents felons from voting because of civil rights concerns:

“Under the Washington law at issue, citizens convicted of a felony lose the right to vote until they are released from custody and off of Department of Corrections supervision. The 2-1 ruling by a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel puts those restrictions in doubt, the majority reviewing the voting rights lawsuit found that the state restrictions unfairly penalize minorities.

Attorneys for six Washington state prisoners, Circuit Court Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote, “have demonstrated that police practices, searches, arrests, detention practices, and plea bargaining practices lead to a greater burden on minorities that cannot be explained in race-neutral ways.”

Joined by Judge Stephen Reinhardt in the majority opinion, Tashima found no “race neutral” explanation for the higher incarceration rates and reversed a U.S. District Court decision in favor of the felons.”

Later tonight or tomorrow, Patterico plans to add his thoughts here or post separately on this topic.

H/T Eric Blair.


Rebuilding Alliances, Part Two

Filed under: International,Obama — DRJ @ 1:25 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

President Barack Obama is under pressure to reveal information about the Underwear Bomber shared by Britain in 2008:

“After initially denying that they had received British intelligence, senior American sources confirmed last night that they were “reviewing” what British information had been received on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

The admission is embarrassing for the White House and threatens to provoke a rift with Gordon Brown. The conflicting briefing over the shared intelligence also suggests that the transatlantic relationship may have weakened in recent months.”

Not only is Obama’s plan to reach out to our enemies failing, now he’s alienating our allies. So much for rebuilding alliances.


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