Morning Links

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
  • The federal government is paying Beltway bandits stimulus money to tell the federal government how to spend stimulus money. I’m thinking that if I were a federal contractor with one of these contracts, my first recommendation would be that the feds spend more money hiring contractors to help it make decisions about how to spend money.
  • Cyrus the phodoggrapher, RIP. View his portfolio here.
  • Heart attacks in Indianapolis increase in first year after smoking ban. If we apply anti-smoking crusader logic, we now have clear evidence that smoking bans cause heart attacks. (Thanks to Jacob Grier for the link.)
  • Chinese news station puts together a truly wonderful CGI reenactment of the Tiger Woods crash.
  • In which a key piece of the state’s evidence turns to crap.
  • Deepak Chopra on “the perils of skepticism.” I’d imagine one huge peril for Chopra is that in a world of skeptics, there would be no one to pay Deepak Chopra for his nonsense. Also, I’m still not really sure what it is that Deepak Chopra does.
  • Mike Huckabee defends his decision to grant clemency to the Washington State cop killer. If the facts are as he presents them, he makes a convincing argument.
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  • 32 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  Stephen | 

      That video of the guy eating the note made my day. The way he was so calm about it was hilarious and the facial expression priceless.

    2. #2 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

      Soon we’ll have Oliver Stone’s version where Tiger is forced off the road by a mysterious second car, possibly driven by Fuzzy Zoeller.

    3. #3 |  nicole | 

      OT: I just got an official AP Stylebook update on the correct usage of the word “Taser.” These updates tend to follow heavy news coverage of the item in question, so perhaps stories are reaching some sort of tipping point.

    4. #4 |  z | 

      That guy eating the note is absolutely brilliant.

      I don’t understand the outrage of paying someone to administer the stimulus funds. The stimulus funds are of course an outrage, but administering the spending of anything isn’t free. Maybe you think they should hire more federal employees to do the work?

      I agree with Huckabee’s decision to commute that ridiculous sentence. However, I hope it ends that dirt bags political career, he is pretty much the polar opposite of libertarian, whatever that is called.

    5. #5 |  Michael Chaney | 

      I listen to Huck’s show every day driving the kids to school. One morning he said something that made me wonder, it was such a teaser. Talking about the federal government, he said something to the effect of “now that the federal government has decided to stop trampling states’ rights to medical marijuana….” His wording suggested that he’s for MM.

      Anyway, reading this essay changed me a bit on him. He actually recognizes the problems with sentencing disparity and makes it clear that he knows that Clemmons got the deal he did at least partly due to race, and the fact that had he been white he wouldn’t have been in prison. It’s refreshing to see a conservative who acknowledges this and understands it.

      He’s no libertarian – see his interview with Glenn and Helen Reynolds for evidence of that – but he seems to be closer than most conservatives that I’ve seen.

    6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

      The item about the Phodographer should have a sadness alert for those of us reading this at work. If Cyrus’s blog doesn’t make you cry, then you officially have no heart.

    7. #7 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Regarding the Huckabee thing, this happens every single time someone shoots up a few people for no apparently sane reason. The mainstream media instantly goes into a mode where they focus almost entirely on whether the incident could have been foreseen and prevented. They want to find an unmistakable indicator that predicted the guy would go berserk. And, of course, this kind of perceptive screening could be broadly applied to anyone who shows “warning signs” so that we would never again be faced with with such a tragedy. The fact that it would lead to a prison and psychiatric hospital population several orders of magnitude larger than what we already have, doesn’t even bubble up through the hysteria.

      The fact is that these mass killings aren’t predictable or they wouldn’t be such a surprise when they happen.

    8. #8 |  Akusu | 

      Good on the judge for defending his decision.

      No one should be able to pin the blame for a violent act on anyone but the perpetrator.

      Here is a person who was given every chance possible after he:
      1) Created a terrible situation for himself
      2) Had it compounded by racist sentencing
      3) Had that fact recognized and rectified

      Without that racist sentence, I find it highly likely none of this would have happened, but at the very least no one would think to even try to blame Huckabee because clemency would not have been necessary to correct the situation.

      I agree with Huckabee that the parole violation should have been dealt with more appropriately, although considering his original crime wasn’t murdering anyone, I doubt he would have been put away for life (thus avoiding this situation altogether, as even a 5 year sentence might not have).

    9. #9 |  Cornellian | 

      I don’t think the GOP base is going to look kindly on this comment from Huckabee:

      ” But sadly, Arkansas has had numerous instances of disproportionate sentencing in which a probation and fine would be meted out to white upper class kids whose parents were able to obtain the services of excellent defense attorneys, while young black males committing the same crimes and represented by public defenders would end up with inexplicably long prison terms. “

    10. #10 |  David | 

      It’s more than the MSM. All of our various law and order types (and police, people who make money off of prisons, the political opponents of whoever granted the release) froth up their boxers whenever something horrible like this happens.

    11. #11 |  Mattocracy | 

      There has been a lot of talk on this blog as of late about how we brandish people as liberal or conservative and the implications that follow the labels. Huckabee looks like another example of someone that spills out of the stereotypical Republican mold, even if it’s just a little bit. This is why we can’t just assume someone’s stances on anything simply because of a label. Now maybe if he could just stop hating gays, maybe I could start saying more nice things about him.

    12. #12 |  Reggie hubbard | 

      It really is too bad Huckabee is a God first, anti-evolution Repub who supports bad policies because I really like the guy; more than almost every other politician I’ve seen.

      Palin 2012: Just so we can see her in a real debate.

    13. #13 |  qwints | 

      The more I hear about this case, the more my opinion of Mike Huckabee goes up. His awareness of the racial disparities in prison sentences is especially impressive in light of Bush and Perry’s opinion on the issue. I think this line alone justifies the commutation:

      “The reasons were straightforward — a unanimous recommendation from the board, support from a trial judge and no objections from officials in a case that involved a 16 year old sentenced to a term that was exponentially longer than similar cases and certainly longer than had he been white, upper middle class, and represented by effective counsel who would have clearly objected to the sentencing”

    14. #14 |  tb | 

      Pardon/clemency/parole is a numbers game. When you have a mechanism in place to mitigate injustice by reducing a sentence, you will invariably release recidivist offenders.

      The Huckster’s action at the time was justified (IMHO), but I’m glad this will probably ruin his career.

    15. #15 |  Edmund Dantes | 

      It’s all well and good, but people involved in the Arkansas system said one of the easiest ways to grease a Huckabee pardon was for a pardonee to suddenly find ” the christian” God through one of Huckabee’s pastors that had his ear.

      It didn’t hurt your chances.

    16. #16 |  Ben | 

      Good article by Huckabee. Until this line”

      “The two professions I value most in our society are soldiers and police officers…”

      Ya, way to kill any support you might have had from me.

    17. #17 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

      OT: The woman behind the I HeArTE JADE blog is out of jail. She pled guilty to obstruction of justice.

      She has some posts on the raid:

      http://iheartejade.blogspot.com/search/label/Raid

      Radley’s post after the raid:

      http://www.theagitator.com/2009/07/29/tough-call-5/

    18. #18 |  God's Own Drunk | 

      The real problem with the Huckabee clemancy issue is the chilling effect it wil have on all other governors in regards to using their pardon/commutation powers. It’s not like governors use those powers frequently anyways, and after watching Huckabee get raked over the coals, how is any politician going to justify to themselves the risk of puting their own necks out for some convict? Easier to stay “tough on crime” while continuing to ignore injustices in the legal system.

    19. #19 |  SusanK | 

      I gained respect for Huckabee reading his article, until I got to the part about the poor black kids getting disparate sentences because they had public defenders. Did it not cross the good politican’s mind that perhaps the judges handing out the sentences were the racist ones and there is nothing a good defense attorney can do to change the color of his client’s skin?

    20. #20 |  Stephen | 

      If I had to pick two professions that I value most, I would pick dentists and nurses. Those two have saved more lives and relieved more pain than any other I can think of.

    21. #21 |  Matt D | 

      I disagree with him on a lot of issues but Huckabee legitimately seems like one of the few GOP pols out there who are willing to acknowledge and confront the more shameful aspects of our country’s history of race relations. I remember when all that crap about Rev. Wright came up during the election, Huckabee made a statement to the effect of “this guy’s seen a lot of racism in his life so let’s cut him some slack if he’s still sore about it” which is, to me, anyway, a pretty reasonable notion, but also one that was embraced by virtually nobody on the right.

    22. #22 |  Greg C | 

      Huckabee also went after the “black conservative” vote. He often made appearances with people like Star Parker. While I disagree with his politics, it seemed pretty genuine to me rather than just pandering.

    23. #23 |  Ric in Oregon | 

      Re Huckabee –

      Did I miss understand, or did the bad guy just get released from Washington State jail/prison – cause child rapists are someone they want on the streets.

      It seems to me that Governor: Christine Gregoire is personally responsible for the deaths of the officers.

      Her state –
      Didn’t they check his history?
      Why did she let him out?

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091201/ap_on_re_us/us_officers_shot
      “On Sunday, six days after posting bail in Washington on charges of raping a child, Clemmons walked into the coffee shop in suburban Tacoma and killed four uniformed Lakewood police officers as they caught up on paperwork on their laptops, police said.

      “A psychological evaluation in October found he was a risk to public safety”

    24. #24 |  MikeZ | 

      Hmm, I would agree that medical professionals save more lives than any other profession that is thier job after all. I’m not sure I would pick those as the most admirable professions. To me most admirable would be professions that have large benefits to society without personal benefits.

      A Dentist sure does relieve a lot of pain, but they are very well paid and can get by with a very comfortable work schedule. The personal reward seems to balance the benefit to society nicely.

      Nurse seems a whole lot more admirable than dentist. Still I can’t really fault Huckabee’s choice at least with soldier. They get paid dirt, and are sent to places where people will shoot at them. Certainly I don’t think we should be sending them (which is an unrelated issue), but if they hadn’t volunteered, We’d be getting drafted right now to fill those jobs.

      For my two, I’d probably be leaning perhaps Public Defender (assuming they took the job intentionally instead of just getting stuck with it because they chose to goto law school and couldn’t get a real job), and a nurse at St. Jude’s Children’s hospital because there is no way I could ever do that job and stay sane.

    25. #25 |  Saint Zero | 

      I don’t feel too bad about liking Mike over McCain, anymore. He seems to at least understand things need changing. He makes his point very well.

    26. #26 |  Michael Chaney | 

      Susan, while judges play a part in this, underfunded public defenders are also part of the whole problem. Look at Corey Maye’s case as an example – with a public defender he ended up on death row, then later got a competent lawyer and got the sentence reduced. It definitely makes a difference to have a good lawyer.

    27. #27 |  Nick | 

      RE: the 2nd link about Chopra. How ironic that Phil Plait is defending us skeptics. I found this in his blog post relating to the recent hacked climate emails (no mention of the more damning sourcecode)…

      “Bottom line? Yawn. Get back to me when you have equally overwhelming evidence that global warming is not happening, or if it is it’s not anthropogenic.”

      From his blog 2 days ago.

      So Chopra will continue to believe in God until someone proves God doesn’t exist and Plait will continue to believe in AGW until someone proves AGW doesn’t exist. Pot Plait, meet Kettle Chopra. Usually, when someone is asking you to prove a negative, they’re not the skeptic.

    28. #28 |  Marty | 

      I’m skeptical of Chopra.

    29. #29 |  Billy | 

      The Examiner is no longer serving the Chinese video about Tiger Woods. That’s understandable – they obviously couldn’t handle all the hits it got. But, they have this lame note about how “It should be available for viewing in 5 minutes” – which is not even remotely close to the truth.

      That said, you may watch it here:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7i5FlC1MpkE

    30. #30 |  Phil Plait | 

      Nick (#27): Nice try, but bzzzzzt. I’m defending actual skeptics, ones who look at the evidence and in the case of global warming slice through the noise and nonsense. Deniers are on their own.

      I followed up on that last post with a new one today, explaining the difference between denial and skepticism, as well as pointing out that global warming is now the established paradigm, so it’s up to others to falsify at this point. That’s different than a belief system.

    31. #31 |  deadcenter | 

      Chopra peddles snake oil and confuses skepticism with cynicism while doing it. Without skeptics, science would not advance and the Emperor would have a great new set of clothes.

      The late Richard Feynman, Ph.D., was a skeptic. In his first biography he wrote about talking physics with Niels Bohr when Feynman was still working on his master’s, if I remember correctly. When Feynman protested that Dr. Bohr should be talking to the other physicists in Los Alamos, the discussion took place during the Manhattan Project, Bohr said something like, “when I talk to them, all I get is Yes Dr. Bohr, excellent point Dr. Bohr, when I talk to you I get no, no, no, you’ve got the physics completely wrong!” His biography is “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman” is a great read by the way.

      And last I checked, Feynmann did produce some major scientific discoveries. In short, I’ll take Feynman’s skepticism over Chopra’s snake oil every time.

    32. #32 |  JOR | 

      #24,

      Really? Soldiers are admirable for fighting stupid, senseless wars because without them the politicians would just fill the ranks with draftees?

      Maybe it’s fortunate, given US politicans’ and voters’ enthusiasm for senseless campaigns of aggression, that there are lots of people who are stupid enough to buy the recruiters’ promises (and evil enough to be willing to invade/blow up/slaughter other folks’ homes and families for college money), or really really believe with all their heart that Uncle Sam is morally worthy of their enforcement services, or just want to kill them some sandniggers – in other words, lots of people who are stupid and/or evil enough to be willing soldiers for the US government – but that doesn’t mean that it’s an admirable profession.

      It’s also really fortunate that, sometimes, some murderer targets a cop or child molester or similar monster. But they’re not admirable just because they perform an act with a fortunate consequence, and likely do it for all the wrong reasons anyway.

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