Posts tagged ‘OJ’

I Have A Million Problems With Hillary Clinton, But This is Not One of Them

Apparently, Republicans are trying to make an issue of Hillary Clinton, 40 years ago, successfully defending an accused rapist as his court-appointed attorney.  I feel bad for any victim denied justice, but everyone deserves representation in the legal system.  Republicans talk about her defending a guilty man, but everyone is innocent before the law until convicted, so she was defending an innocent man.  Heck, she should be praised for actually doing a good job in a position a lot of attorneys would just mail it in -- get a quick plea bargain and get back to real paying clients.  Do I blame OJ's attorneys for his not guilty verdict?  Not in the least (I blame the prosecutor and a judge who could not control his courtroom).

Why That Separation of Powers Thingie Makes Some Sense

The NY Times reports, via Hit and Run, that judicial review of Gitmo detainees, which the Administration has steadfastly resisted, may be quite justified:

In the first case to review the government's secret
evidence for holding a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a federal
appeals court found that accusations against a Muslim from western
China held for more than six years were based on bare and unverifiable
claims. The unclassified parts of the decision were released on Monday.

With some derision for the Bush administration's arguments, a
three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations
against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been
repeated in at least three secret documents.

The court compared
that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem
"The Hunting of the Snark": "I have said it thrice: What I tell you
three times is true."

"This comes perilously close to suggesting
that whatever the government says must be treated as true," said the
panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

unanimous panel overturned as invalid a Pentagon determination that the
detainee, Huzaifa Parhat, a member of the ethnic Uighur Muslim minority
in western China, was properly held as an enemy combatant.

The panel included one of the court's most conservative members, the chief judge, David B. Sentelle....

Pentagon officials have claimed that the Uighurs at Guantánamo were
"affiliated" with a Uighur resistance group, the East Turkestan Islamic
Movement, and that it, in turn, was "associated" with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Next up, the detainee whose mother's gynecologist's dog's veterinarian's great uncle once was friends with a Muslim guy.

The Administration now complains that there is nowhere that this man can be sent back to, and somehow this is supposed to validate his detainment?  He wouldn't have had to be sent back anywhere if he hadn't been snatched up in the first place.  I am willing to believe that this guy may be a bad buy, but we let lots of people we are pretty sure are bad guys walk the street, because for good and valid reasons we rank false detainment of the innocent as a greater harm than non-detainment of the guilty.  Anyone seen OJ lately?

Ramsey Back to OJ Mode

The Ramsey family is back to OJ mode, bravely searching for the "mysterious third party" that killed JonBenet, since the Boulder police have dropped all charges against their latest suspect.  OK, I'll say it, I told you so.  We just have to keep looking for the mysterious stranger who happened to know the Ramsey's were southern, knew how large the Ramsey's bonus check was, knew that Ms. Ramsey used the back stairs rather than the front to come to breakfast, had the balls to remain in the Ramsey's house for hours writing the ransom notes and arranging the scene....

Maybe He Should Have Worn a Cardigan

Truck and Barter is not very impressed with Bush's call for us all to drive less. 

I'd like to know just why I should conserve. We supposedly live in a
capitalist society based on property-rights and free-trade; why, all of a
sudden, do you ask that I not trust that the price of fuel incorporates all the
scarcities at every level of production? What economic lever broke in the past
month? Why do you think the price system is failing so bad that we need to
"conserve" more than the price signal warrants?

I won't pretend that market prices don't exist, or that markets have suddenly
stopped working; I won't pretend that prices are inefficient allocators of
resources; I won't pretend that I cannot buy as much gasoline as I can afford at
current prices.

Furthermore, Mr. President, I will not pretend that you have legal or moral
authority to tell me how much gasoline I may purchase. I will not pretend that
your feeble call to use less has any impact whatsoever on my psyche. I will not
pretend that the Federal Government knows better than me how much gasoline I
should purchase.

Awesome, well said.  Maybe if Bush had worn a cardigan, like Jimmy Carter did when he asked the same thing, he might have been more successful.  Or then again, maybe Bush should have thought twice about channeling Jimmy Carter on any energy or economics related issue.

By the way, there is much more to the post - make sure to read it all.

Update: This one attracted a number of comments fast.  Here are some additional thoughts

Doesn't it make sense to conserve gas?  Isn't what Bush said correct?

Sure it makes sense, but I didn't need Bush to tell me.  Seeing my average 15 gallon fillup go from $30 to $45 nearly overnight told me everything I needed to know.   I adjusted my driving behavior based on how I value various types of trips.  And so, apparently, did everyone else, as gas consumption in this country dropped almost 10%.  Bush doesn't have to tell you to refinance your home when mortgage rates drop, or to buy less OJ when the orange crop failed -- prices signal these things quite nicely.

By the way, I limited my driving years ago (e.g. I live 1 mile from my office) but not because of gas prices.  Lets say 1 hour of driving gets me 30 miles in the city, and requires 1.5 gallons of gas.  The recent increase in gas prices has increased the cost of that 1 hour of driving by about $1.50.  That is NOTHING compared to how I have increased how I value my free time as I have grown older.  That hour may use up five bucks of gas but hundreds of dollars of my leisure time.  I have often told people that the biggest change you go through getting older is how much your internal valuation of your own free time goes up.  In college, I would wait for 8 hours in a line to get concert tickets at face value.  Today, I buy them market up at eBay, because that 8 hours is now worth far, far more to me than the markup.

Wouldn't voluntary conservation beyond what you have already cut back help reduce gas prices in the US?

Sure, if everyone cut back some percentage more than what they would have already done due to the price increase, then yes that might help push prices down.  Of course every person who did this would lose from doing so.  When the price increases, everyone eliminates their marginal use of gasoline, ie every use or trip that is worth less to them than the cost in fuel.  That means that the trips that remain are worth more to them than the gas (and other)  costs.  Therefore, remaining trips are a net increase to their well-being.  If a remaining trip is then eliminated voluntarily, or the cost of that trip is increased due to the increased hassle of carpooling or using public transit, then their well-being is reduced. 

However, this is the great thing about America:  If you personally value voluntarily reducing your gas consumption to help reduce prices for others, in a free society, no one is going to stop you.

By the way, here is the reason I don't worry about it:  I am old enough to have been driving in the late 1970's.  And I know from experience that allowing prices to shoot up for a period of time, without government price caps or windfall profit confiscation silliness, is going to lead to more supply and lower prices in the future.

Don't you think its unethical not to conserve in times like this?

No.  I don't associate consumption and ethics.  If it is sold legally at a certain price, and I can afford and wish to pay that price, then I don't see that morality or ethics come into play.  While there certainly can be ethical problems spending money unwisely (e.g. blowing money on coke or gambling that was needed to feed your kids), that is a different situation.  I don't feel guilty about consuming gas.

Isn't it a security issue?  Shouldn't we be asked or forced to conserve more to make the US independent of foreign oil?

There is only one time this argument makes any sense - if the world is in a full scale shooting war and all foreign trade and international markets are halted, and then we would have much bigger problems.

Short of the breakdown of world trade and markets, being "independent of foreign oil" is a mirage, an impossible non-goal.  Lets say that the world energy supply and demand was exactly the same as it was today, except that the US produced domestically exactly enough oil to satisfy domestic demand.  But in this case there is still a world market for oil.  The price of oil and gas in this country would not be more or less than it is today, except maybe for a few cents of transportation cost differences.  And if there is an oil supply shock, the pricing in the US will be virtually the same in this hypothetical situation as it would be in today's structure.

Shouldn't the President be doing something?

Sure.  Get the hell out of the way of the people who can fix the problem.  Rethink the regulatory regime that is preventing refinery construction.  Revamp the licensing approach for nuclear power.  Open up oil drilling in proscribed areas.  And find his lost veto pen and ax any dumbshit regulation out of Congress managing energy prices, taxing windfall profits, or attempting to pick winners via subsidies.

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Why Court Decisions Involving Death Make Us Nervous

Twenty years ago, I was a fairly hard core death penalty proponent.  I never could muster up much respect for the life of someone who had themselves shown so little respect for life in committing the heinous crimes that incur the death penalty.

Over the years, I have not gained any additional respect for a killer's right to life, but I have had growing doubts about our ability to mete out this penalty fairly.  To some extent this is based on the accusations that certain groups are more likely to get the death penalty than other groups.  For example, its fairly clear that men committing heinous crimes are more likely to get the death penalty than women.  I am also mostly willing to accept the notion that blacks are more likely to get the death penalty for the same crime as whites -- I hesitate to fully embrace this conclusion only because the people making this case are the same people who play the race card on everything, from OJ's guilt to fan reaction to Sammy Sosa's corked bat, so it has an element of the boy crying wolf.

However, discrimination is not the main reason I no longer support the death penalty for anything but the most extreme cases (there is still a need for an ultimate penalty in certain cases - without it, people who have already earned life in prison might see nothing to lose in killing a policeman or prison guard).  I have come to believe that the death penalty impairs a person's right to appeal. 

Now, certainly people sentenced to the death penalty get many layers of appeal.  However, while these appeals may cover many years, at some point the convicted person is put to death, and any further appeals or introduction of new evidence is no longer possible.  A multi-decade vindication process is not without precedent, for a number of reasons:

  • Racial mores may have to change:  How many black men were put to death unfairly in the south up through the 1960's?  Yes, they got to have all their appeals, but their appeals all occurred in the same place and time-frame as their conviction.  Only a generation later, long after many were dead, could a legal system run by a society with a different outlook on blacks look at some of these cases in a new light.
  • Public hysteria may have to calm down:  Though none that I know were sentenced to the death penalty, look at how many teachers and day care workers were convicted in the child molestation panics of the 1980's, only to be release decades later after the hysteria had passed, and in some cases after the original ego-driven prosecutors had retired.  The Gerald Amirault case is a great example.
  • Technology may have to change:  A number of people who had exhausted nearly all their appeals prior to being put to death have been vindicated, sometimes many years after the fact, by new DNA testing technologies.

We all know that courts make mistakes, some of which take decades to fix.  What if we never had a chance to change the flawed Plessy vs. Ferguson decision?  Criminal cases are no different - mistakes and abuses happen.  In most cases, these can be fixed, even decades after the fact.  The wrongly accused, like Mr, Amirault, loses a piece of his life, but still has some left.  Once put to death, though, the wrongs can't be fixed.

The reason I think about all this today is because of the Terri Schiavo case.  I am at a loss as the the right thing to do is here, and am amazed that so many people on both sides are so certain they are right -- the facts in this case are just so messy.  I am willing to accept that the court in Florida has done their job in plowing through all this mess and making the best decision they could under the law, and I am not about to advocate setting some really bad constitutional precedents just to second-guess them.

However, I am left with the same worry that I think many Americans are in cases like this.  Courts do make mistakes, what if they are wrong here?  After next week, there will be no more chances to appeal.