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"Well, Your Honor. We’ve plenty of hearsay and conjecture. Those are kinds of evidence. "

[ 3 ] October 8, 2009 |

“Mr. Perry, don’t you worry. I watched Matlock in a bar last night. The sound wasn’t on, but I think I got the gist of it.”

In comments, Matt points us to this remarkable op-ed from one of Cameron Todd Willingham’s murderers, former prosecutor John H. Jackson. Essentially, Willingham was convicted based on two things: junk-scientific non-evidence that the fire was arson, and the ludicrously implausible testimony of a mentally ill jailhouse snitch. Amazingly, Jackson concedes that the central forensic junk science was “undeniably flawed” and doesn’t mention the snitch’s testimony at all, but continues to assert that Willingham was guilty. Nina Morrison systematically dismantles the remaining “evidence” Jackson cites. To summarize:

  • The vast majority of the potentially damning stuff (assertions that Willingham was a sociopath, assumptions that a fridge blocking the rear entrance was placed there intentionally, ambiguous statements at his daughter’s funeral) inextricably bootstraps from the assumption that the fire was arson. A claim for which there is now, as Jackson admits, no evidence.
  • Remaining is stuff that obviously isn’t evidence of anything (refusing to take an inadmissible polygraph), assertions that he tried to cause a miscarriage that were denied by his wife, evidence that makes clear we wasn’t a saint but don’t constitute anything remotely resembling evidence that he would burn his three daughters alive, and evidence that if anything points to his innocence rather than his guilt (his vehement — indeed, heavens to betsy, “vulgar” — rejection of a plea agreement.)
  • And, finally, the punchline: “ I am convinced that in the absence of any arson testimony, the outcome of the trial would have been unchanged, a fact that did not escape the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.” Well, if the country’s favorite conveyor belt to the death chamber refused to overturn his conviction, I’m convinced!

It would be a disgrace if Willingham was even prosecuted based on this crap. That he was executed…

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Will Taiwan Employ Decepticon Technology Against China?

[ 0 ] October 8, 2009 |

Too good:

Via Asian Security Study and War is Boring.

Something that Alarmists Suggest I Should be Alarmed About

[ 0 ] October 8, 2009 |

So I don’t understand; is this something I should be alarmed about? At this point, I don’t even remember where I get all my books; some are sent by publicists, others by magazines, and still others are bought by my department. I’m going to assume that declaring that I get some of the books I review for free means I never have to think about this again.

Deep Mad Men Related Thought

[ 0 ] October 8, 2009 |

Is it just my imagination, or does the Draper marriage resemble the Soprano marriage in a lot of ways? Discuss.

MLB Playoffs ’09: It Takes A Tough Man To Make A Tender Forecast

[ 0 ] October 7, 2009 |

PHI v. COL: Very. very close series. It’s hard to pick a team with the Phillies’ bullpen, and the last month reminds us that while he obviously does the big stuff very well Manuel makes a lot of weird decisions (let’s stick with our 59 ERA+ closer! Why can’t Pedro throw 130 pitches?). If the Rockies had a left-handed starting pitcher, I’d pick them comfortably. But they don’t giving the Phils edges offensively and in the rotation, and it’s not as if the Rockies’ pen is rock solid either. My guess is that the Phillies’ pen doesn’t explode on them until the next round. PHILLIES IN 5.

LA v. STL Obviously, the Cardinals push the “in a short series, depth don’t count” CW to the brink. But I think there’s a lot of truth to it, and I think the Cards are the class of the league. I’m not unduly worried about the Dodgers’s slump, and I must admit I have a hard time accepting “Joel Pineiro and Ryan Franklin, excellent starter and dominant closer” at face value, but I’m taking the Cards here. CARDINALS IN 4.

BOS v. ANA Instinctively, part of me thinks that this is the year the Angels finally beat Boston. But Beckett/Lester is tough to beat in a 5-game series, and the Angels bullpen is (uncharacteristically) a lot worse. Despite the improved Halo offense, I’m going with the secret sauce this time. RED SOX IN 4.

NYY v. MIN Normally, in the baseball playoffs you have to play hunches for series that are a coin flip. Rarely do you see a mismatch like this — it’s not just that the Yankees are vastly better, but 1)the Twins are missing one of their two premium players and 2)they’re the kind of team — with a bunch of OK starters and no real ace — especially likely to get killed in the postseason. The Yanks are better at every spot in the lineup except catcher (where at least part of the time they have a HOF-quality player of their own), have a much better rotation and a better bullpen. So as would be obvious to anyone but a Slate columnist needing to make a buck…WORLD’S GREATEST MANIFESTATION OF EVIL IN 3.

…midwest product and djw are right to note that I blew one position comparison: Span is a lot better than Melky. I’ll still take Swisher over Kubel, though.

Take a number, please

[ 0 ] October 7, 2009 |

Shorter William Jacobson:

It will be a national shame if the press corps fails to devote significant attention to a half-literate blogger’s credulous airport encounter with Bill Ayers.

Get a grip. We’re still waiting to find out what happened to Rodrigo Villalopez, Bill Ferguson, and Curtis “Pookie” Jackson. The Bill Ayers thing can wait for now. Or perhaps Sammy Korir from the African Press International will pick up the story…

…UPDATE [By SL]: In addition, I note that reasonable, moderate, thinking man’s birther Tom Maguire also believes that this should be given Very Serious Consideration. A fine effort, although it’s not quite as funny as his concern trolling about the potentially grave consequences of punking Orly Taitz…

…and the foremost conservative intellectual of our age is on board!

Now we know who one of Andersen’s anonymous sources was.

[ 0 ] October 7, 2009 |

Who anonymously told Christopher Andersen that Bill Ayers wrote Dreams From My Father?

Bill Ayers.

Probably confessed it in the same sneering manner, too … which tells us more about Andersen’s credibility than anything else.

The Anti-Choice Surge!

[ 0 ] October 7, 2009 |

It doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean that reporters aren’t always trying to find it anyway.

You Can Go Broke Underestimating the Intelligence of the American Public

[ 0 ] October 7, 2009 |

Seyward Darby recently noted that “[f]ew movies released in recent years–or, let’s be honest, ever–look as abysmal as I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell,”
the Tucker Max vanity project. What’s even worse is that by most accounts the movie is not merely abysmal but tries to pretend that he’s really a nice guy at the end. (In context, if there’s anything worse than smugly misogynist fratboy would-be humor, it’s smugly misogynist fratboy would-be humor without even the courage of its convictions.) So it’s a little heartening to note that the thing is generating returns that make An American Carol look like Titanic

Not Your Father’s Predator

[ 0 ] October 7, 2009 |

You’ve got to be kidding me:

Could he kick Dutch’s ass? Probably not. I just hope he fights dirtier than he sails.

By casting Adrien Brody in PREDATORS, producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal have opted for an action lead somewhere between the ripped Arnold Schwarzenegger and the physically unspectacular Danny Glover. For those of you hoping Rodriguez and company would go the body-builder route (hey there, AB King!), they did bring in noted ass-kicker Oleg Taktarov! Is that enough beef for ya?

This, my friends, is not change that we can believe in. Predator was spectacular because, among other things, Carl Weathers played the geeky, pencil-necked bureaucrat. It was not a film that would tolerate Adrien Brody. Bill Duke would bleed him real quiet and just leave him there, just for the presumption.

"We would have defeated them, but for the power of their art."

[ 0 ] October 7, 2009 |

The wake of the NEA non-scandal is about as deep and dispersed as that of drifting rowboat in mid-Atlantic chop . . . unless that’s your boat and you have a telescope trained on your trail like Michael van der Galien and the folks at Big Hollywood,* in which case you’ll mistake the chop for wake and start praying you hold out better than the Andrea Gail. Once you regain your composure, you will write a post much like the one van der Galien—whose Big Hollywood archive proves something or other about how profoundly white people feel about everyone not one shade shy of albino—wrote and make claims like this:

Federal agencies are turned into propaganda tools. This is something we haven’t seen in the U.S. since, well, ever.

Technically, van der Galien is correct: even though the Federal Writer’s Project, Federal Theatre Project, Federal Music Project and Federal Art Project not only existed, but had the word “Federal” in their names, if “we” were a 25 year-old Dutch conservative, “we” never would’ve “seen” anything like that “in the U.S. since, well, ever.”

Because “we” aren’t—and because we don’t believing that having “seen” something is the only valid evidentiary standard—we’re not overly concerned with the grievous threat Kalpen Modi and his ilk pose to the future of the American Republic. We should, however, concern ourselves with the fact that van der Galien wants to steal our artists and force them to create conservative propaganda:

[T]here is a reason the administration spoke to artists on the August conference call and was willing to take the risk of exposure: artists influence the people. The effect isn’t always immediate–it may take years for artists to truly influence society as a whole–but it’s there. If you want to “transform” society you need artists on your side … Breitbart has taught us that the strategies the left has used to discredit the right can be used against them. We have to act on that, continue to do what Breitbart and some here at Big Hollywood have been doing. But we have to do more than that: we have to destroy and create.

If you didn’t chuckle at the phrase “Breitbart has taught us,” you have no soul. That said, the fact that the art or culture even exists only occurs to conservatives when politics are involved. When Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize, for example, conservatives were saying things like “[nobody] takes this stuff seriously anymore” and “I can’t remember the last time I read a literary novel by a living writer or attended a play by a living playwright.” Pinter winked into conservative consciousness long enough to be summarily dismissed, then faded back into the staticky irrelevance of the living.

Had he lived long enough to have participated in that conference call, though, he would’ve blitzkrieged his way into their tactically fearful hearts and onto their lying lips like Hitler on Poland.

*By “folks,” I mean everyone who’s written about the NEA non-scandal except for Jayne “Animal Mother” Cobb because he lives fifteen minutes down the 91 from me and I value my life.

Win Or Go Home

[ 0 ] October 6, 2009 |

Although the Tigers choking was definitely against my Yankee-hating interests (and I was cheering for them anyway), it should be said that regular-season playoffs are awesome.

…as that call on the amazing DP in the bottom of the 10th reminds us, the Caray who does these games for TBS is atrocious (although at least Darling is good.) And the chances of the Yankees advancing to the second round continue to approach 100%…

…and the Twins win the Cannon Fodder Bowl, congrats. Any Tigers fans inclined to bitch about the blown call on the Inge HBP should recall Laird swinging at ball 4 with the bases loaded…