Recently in Politics Category

Stop and Frisk

The controversy over the practice of "stop and frisk" has entered the presidential campaign.  Let's begin with a trivia question.  Who wrote the Supreme Court decision upholding "stop and frisk" upon reasonable suspicion?

(a)  William Rehnquist
(b)  Antonin Scalia
(c)  Roger Taney
(d)  Earl Warren


| No Comments
Speaking of "deplorables," the Communist Party USA website has this report from Joelle Fishman and the CPUSA Political Action Commission urging people to vote for Hillary Clinton and not throw away their votes on Stein or Johnson.

Some of those votes may go to Gary Johnson and the Libertarians. In a very close election, the votes for Johnson and Jill Stein could throw the election to Donald Trump. The argument for a landslide unity vote could convince some of those to do the right thing.
So there you have it.  It's not an invention of "right-wing media."  The Communist Party says voting for Hillary Clinton is doing the right thing.

Any repudiation of this endorsement from the Clinton camp?  I could not find one through a Google search or on the campaign website.  If anybody can find one, please post a link in the comments.

Fraternal Order of Police Endorses Trump

| No Comments
The press release is here.  "He understands and supports our priorities, and our members believe he will make America safe again."

Confirmation Bias

| No Comments
It's only human.  If we hear a piece of information that fits with the way we think things are, we are more likely to accept it without scrutiny.  If we hear something that is contrary to our world-view, we are more likely to subject it to scrutiny.

James Taranto at the WSJ and Jonah Bennett at the Daily Caller report on how easy it was to "troll" journalists with a fake story merely by providing a supposed connection between Donald Trump and white supremacists.  Bennett quotes one of the hoaxers:

"Basically, I interspersed various nuggets of truth and exaggerated a lot of things, and sometimes outright lied -- in the interest of making a journalist believe that online Trump supporters are largely a group of meme-jihadis who use a cartoon frog to push Nazi propaganda. Because this was funny to me," Swift told TheDCNF.

"The idea that every major Trump supporter online is secretly a neo-Nazi, for one. I mean, it's just not true. But it's the kind of thing that a journalist will readily believe."

This is why it is so important to have a diversity of viewpoints in both journalism and academia and why it is so dangerous and harmful that both of these professions have a badly skewed distribution.   Claims need to scrutinized whichever side of the aisle they serve, and we would have more thorough and complete scrutiny if we had a better balance of viewpoints.

No on 57 Press Conference

| No Comments
This morning I attended a press conference by the opposition to California Proposition 57, Gov. Brown's Jailbreak Initiative.  The campaign website is here.

Mass Sentencing Reduction Reportedly Still Dead

| No Comments
The New York Times carries this story:

A major criminal-justice overhaul bill seemed destined to be the bipartisan success story of the year, consensus legislation that showed lawmakers could still rise above politics.

Then the election, Donald J. Trump's demand for "law and order" and a series of other political calculations got in the way.

Senate Republicans divided on the wisdom of reducing federal mandatory minimum sentences. Other Republicans, unhappy that President Obama was reducing hundreds of federal prison sentences on his own, did not want to give him a legacy victory. A surge in crime in some urban areas gave opponents of the legislation a new argument.

Now, the Senate authors of the legislation say it is effectively dead.

"I do believe it is over," said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No .2 Democrat in the Senate, who put considerable effort into difficult negotiations with Republicans to strike a compromise. "We missed an opportunity."

I agree with Senator Durbin that the Senate missed an opportunity  --  an opportunity to multiply the Wendell Callahan scandal and endanger the country.

Chuck Grassley, Long Distance Runner

| No Comments
I disagree on mass sentencing reduction with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley.  In other areas, however  --  most notably, at present, insuring that the electorate has a say in replacing Justice Scalia  --  I admire his work.  My admiration took an uptick when I read this article in Roll Call:

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, is turning 83 on Saturday and he celebrated in his favorite way: by running six miles.

The senator traditionally runs from his townhouse in Arlington, Va., to the Capitol on his birthday, The Des Moines Register reported in 2014. On Thursday morning, he posted a photo on Instagram of his running watch showing that he ran 6.23 miles in an hour and 31 minutes. That's a little bit under 15 minutes a mile. At almost 83 years old.

He arrived at the Capitol at 4:15 a.m.

Another Bogus Argument Against Prop. 66

| No Comments
Prop66.jpgBob Egelko has this article in the SF Chron on the California death penalty initiatives.  The story includes this gem regarding the reform initiative, Proposition 66:

"It's modeled after the laws in Texas, where we know innocent people have been executed," said Elisabeth Semel, director of the Death Penalty Clinic at UC Berkeley Law School. Death penalty supporters heatedly dispute that claim, but Semel cited the Texas case of Cameron Todd Willingham, executed in 2004 for killing his three children in a fire that a series of experts, including one hired by the state, have since concluded was most likely accidental.
One might read that paragraph to say that supporters dispute the claim that Texas has executed innocent people but concede the claim that the initiative "is modeled after the laws of Texas."  Not so.

Unlike Ms. Semel, I actually know the answer.  I wrote the draft of the procedural reform provisions of the initiative, and I participated in the meetings where the draft was revised.  Not once did I refer to or even think of the laws of Texas in drafting the reform.  Not once did anyone in the committee meetings ever refer to Texas as a model for the initiative.

The system that would be established by the final product bears little resemblance to Texas CCP Article 11.071.  It resembles much more the federal system of 28 U.S.C. ยง2255.  Ms. Semel just made it up.

We have discussed Willingham before on this blog, so I won't rehash it here.
I previously noted the false quote misattributed to me in a controversial study of cost of the death penalty by Creighton University economist Ernest Goss.  I followed up with a post on the completely inadequate "correction" that continued to indirectly cite my study for the exact opposite of what it actually found.

Criticisms of this badly flawed study continue to flow in.  Joe Duggan has this article for the Omaha World-Herald:

Anthony Yezer, a professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., said such studies fail to account for what's called the "plea-bargain effect." The term refers to the role the death penalty plays in potentially saving trial costs by convincing some accused killers to plead guilty to their crimes rather than risk execution.

Death penalty opponents frequently argue that the death penalty has no deterrence effect. But Yezer disagrees. And he said Goss made no attempt to factor in how much the fear of execution could save the criminal justice system by potentially preventing a murder.

"What's the cost of the murders that would have happened if Nebraska hadn't had capital punishment?" asked Yezer, author of a textbook titled "Economics of Crime and Enforcement."
Results of the ABC News/Washington Post Poll are available here.  The polling agency's report is titled, Clinton Hits a New High in Unpopularity; On Par with Trump Among Reg. Voters.

Specifically, that is 38-59 for Clinton and 37-60 for Trump in a poll with a sampling error of 3.5%.

Clinton does a little better and Trump does a little worse when the mix is not limited to registered voters.

Trump, His Critics, and Law and Order

| 1 Comment
Donald Trump's recent comments on law and order have been a mixed bag.  He has said some things that are obviously wrong.  No, violence in our cities is not record levels.  Surely a New Yorker of Mr. Trump's age remembers how bad things were back in the day when the subway was so crime-infested and so dangerous that people felt they were taking their lives in their hands just to get to work.  Today is not that bad, not even close.

Even so, Trump is more right than his critics on the major issues.  Heather MacDonald has this article in the WSJ.  She quotes the usual suspects spewing the usual garbage, such as a historian reciting the very old and very wrong line that "the term law and order" is "racially tinged."  The fact that the anti-law enforcement side chooses to view "law and order" through a tinted glass does not tinge the object itself.

As over-the-top as Trump can be at times, his opponent and his critics comparing him to the likes of Adolf Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan are even more so.  See also this article by William McGurn, also in the WSJ.  MacDonald offers this explanation:

Why this frenzied effort to demonize Mr. Trump for addressing the heightened violence in inner cities? Because the Republican nominee has also correctly identified its cause: the false "narrative of cops as a racist force in our society," as he put it in Wisconsin.

Notes on the Jailbreak Initiative

| No Comments
Some notes on California Proposition 57, Governor Jerry Brown's Jailbreak Initiative:

Michele Hanisee has this post, titled Proposition 57 Unmasked, on the blog of the (LA) Association of Deputy District Attorneys.  The ADDA also has this detailed analysis.

At the blog of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, George Hofstetter has a post titled Proposition 57 promises to increase the Proposition 47 crime wave.

Selling Access


Bill noted earlier today the poll by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.  Let's look a little more at these data.

Four years ago, we defeated a death penalty repeal initiative, but the opponents got closer than they should have.  I believed at the time that the reason was not opposition to the death penalty as such but rather the success of the opponents in blocking enforcement of the death penalty and the absence of a reform alternative on the same ballot.

The topline results of the new poll tend to confirm this hypothesis.  For the repeal initiative, the poll found 45.1% in favor and 54.9% opposed.  For the reform initiative, the poll found 75.7% in favor and 24.3% opposed.  At a minimum, then, one fifth of the people of California intend to vote for both initiatives.  That is, if all of the 24.3% who intend to vote no on reform vote in favor of repeal, then 20.8% who intend to vote for reform also intend to vote for repeal.  If anyone intends to vote no on both, though I'm not sure why anyone would, then the "yes on both" vote is that much larger.  A large segment of the population of California is so fed up with the status quo that, although they would like to see the system fixed, they would rather scrap it than go on as we are.

The "crosstabs" are also interesting.  What would happen if California Democrats decided this issue by themselves?

Trump Speech on Law and Order

| 1 Comment
A script of Donald Trump's speech on law and order is available on his site.  There are many good points there.  He is clearly listening to Rudy Giuliani, which is good.

Can he stay on message, and, if so, can he regain the 10% he has foolishly handed to Hillary Clinton on a silver platter since the convention?  We shall see. 

Monthly Archives