Saturday, August 09, 2003

More Recall 'Circus'

Prominent Democrat drops out of California recall race just before filing deadline

"I know firsthand that this recall election has become a circus," Garamendi said. "I have concluded I will not engage in this election as a candidate."

And, how much money is my state going to spend on all this? Gobs. Maybe 30 million, maybe 70 million.

In the two-part ballot, voters will first vote on whether Davis should be removed from office, then pick someone to succeed him if he is ousted. The list of potential candidates includes a number of longshots, from Hustler publisher [Larry] Flynt to a Sacramento bail bondsman and the owner of a discount cigarette chain.

Just everybody go home and shut up, all right, already?

Details of Recall Effort
Score One For Common Sense

What do you do when your loved one's flat tire leaves her in a situation where she winds up abducted and murdered?

Try to sue Ford and Firestone.

What the Nebraska Supreme Court said in response:
if Ford and...Firestone had no reason to expect intentional tortious or criminal acts by a third person, they are not liable under Nebraska law for the harm caused thereby, even though their negligence afforded the opportunity for such conduct to occur.

[the negligence in question has to do with a specific type of Firestone tire in use on the Ford Explorer said victim was driving]
We have found no authority recognizing a duty on the part of the manufacturer of a product to protect a consumer from criminal activity at the scene of a product failure where no physical harm is caused by the failure itself...
The [plaintiffs] have not and could not allege any special relationship between Ford and Firestone and the criminal actor or the victim of his crime, which would extend their duty, as manufacturers and sellers of products, to protect a consumer from harm caused by a criminal act perpetrated at the scene of a product failure.

the ruling (PDF, 17 pages)
CA Recall Election

Point the first: The dip who started this all has caved -- Issa dropped out. I think the whole idea should be dropped.

Point the second: After reading an article on Ahnuld the Candidate, I'm somewhat pleased. Anytime the Republican Right bitches someone in their party is a moderate is a good day to me. Related point the second: I doubt Schwarzenegger's candidacy will succeed, but I believe this experience will have his next run for office taken much more seriously. I'm not sure how I feel about this, overall.

Point the third: According to The Eagle, a newsletter for San Diego County poll workers and poll owners (I'm volunteering) the March 2004 elections (and subsequent) may -- MAY -- be using a touch screen voting system (presumably Diebold's system(s)). To say I am not pleased about this is an understatement. I believe that replacing a known process with known weak areas -- and thus practice compensating for them -- with an unknown electronic system with unknown weak areas -- and no practice, or, heaven forfend, training compensating for them -- is incredibly unwise. How many IT people do you think are volunteering to work in precincts? I mean, besides me?

Friday, August 08, 2003

Ashcroft Going After Judges?

Ashcroft Orders Tally of Lighter Sentences.

The directive, contained in a July 28 memo from Ashcroft, is the latest salvo in an escalating battle over how much discretion federal judges should have in handing down sentences in criminal cases. The more extensive reporting will lay the groundwork for the Justice Department to appeal many more of those sentencing decisions than it has.
The Ashcroft memo amended a section of the United States Attorneys' Manual that previously said federal prosecutors had to report to the department only those sentences that prosecutors had objected to and wanted to appeal. In the new directive, U.S. attorneys were told to report all "downward departure" sentencing decisions that meet certain criteria in nine categories.
Ashcroft's critics reacted angrily to the memo, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) accused Ashcroft of engaging in an "ongoing attack on judicial independence" and of requiring federal prosecutors "to participate in the establishment of a blacklist of judges who impose lesser sentences than those recommended by the sentencing guidelines."
According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, 35 percent of the sentences handed down in federal court in fiscal 2001 fell below the range set in the sentencing guidelines. Almost half of those involved plea bargain agreements or other cases of "substantial assistance" to prosecutors, but 18 percent of the "downward departures" were for other reasons. Federal judges imposed sentences that exceeded the guidelines in less than 1 percent of the cases; the Justice Department appealed 19 of more than 11,000 "downward departure" sentencing decisions.

I have two points

1. 19 out of 11,000 is 0.172%, kids. Gee, that's not much.
2. Sounds like the US Sentencing Commission already provides the relevant information for determining if federal judges in general are consistently being "too nice" (they're not, as indicated by the pattern of Justice Department appeals, see Point 1), so why the extra harrassment?
Politics and Science in the Bush Administration

Politics and Science

The American people depend upon federal agencies to develop science-based policies that protect the nation’s health and welfare. Recently, however, leading scientific journals have begun to question whether scientific integrity at federal agencies has been sacrificed to further a political and ideological agenda.
At the request of Rep. Henry A. Waxman, the minority staff of the Government Reform Committee assessed the treatment of science and scientists by the Bush Administration.
The report "Politics and Science in the Bush Administration" (PDF) finds numerous instances where the Administration has manipulated the scientific process and distorted or suppressed scientific findings. Beneficiaries include important supporters of the President, including social conservatives and powerful industry groups.

Better bookmark this, kids.

Thanks to K for the link!