Tuesday, June 23, 2009

RICHARD NIXON, the gift that never stops giving:
Nixon worried that greater access to abortions would foster "permissiveness," and said that "it breaks the family." But he also saw a need for abortion in some cases, such as interracial pregnancies.

"There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white," he told an aide, before adding: "Or a rape."

Monday, June 22, 2009

WELL, HOORAY: Linda Greenhouse can finally say what she really thinks.

Some might argue that that's exactly what she did for many years as the NYT's ostensibly straight-news SCOTUS reporter.

Monday, June 15, 2009

YOUR DAILY LUDICROUS PREDICTION: "Four years from now, Mitt Romney will be president of the United States."

I'm not sure whether to chuckle or weep.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

THE WP HAS A two-parter on the puzzling Robert Wone case. (Part one here. Part two here. Transcript of live chat with the reporter, Paul Duggan, here.) Wone, a 32-year-old Washington attorney, was murdered in August 2006 in the Dupont Circle home of three male friends. Authorities have alleged that Wone was killed by one or all of the three men in connection with a sexual assault; all three housemates have been charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence.

There's so much about this case that is bizarre, but what's most striking to me is the implausibility of both the prosecution's theory and the defense's. Is it plausible that, in the 79 minutes between Wone's entering the townhouse and the defendants' call to 911 (or 42 minutes, if you trust certain other evidence), the housemates managed to drug him, sexually assault him, stab him, clean both his body and the crime scene, doctor a phony murder weapon, get rid of the real one, take showers, and concoct a story that they've managed to maintain for nearly three years?

Is it any more plausible that an intruder entered the house through a door that just happened to be unlocked, grabbed a knife from the kitchen, came up uncarpeted stairs and down an uncarpeted hallway without being heard, randomly chose Wone's room to enter, killed Wone, and left silently, leaving Wone's wallet, watch, and other valuables that were in plain sight in the home?

Neither scenario is very satisfying.

A few other points:

- What's known about the handling of the forensic evidence in the case does not inspire tremendous confidence in the DC investigators. We know they botched their analysis of possible bloodstains in the house, and that they mishandled a BlackBerry that could have held valuable evidence about the time of death. Should we have 100% confidence in the autopsy results, which showed that Wone died from his stab wounds and not from asphyxiation or poisoning? What about the analysis of the wounds themselves, which suggests that they were made with a different knife than the one found by Wone's body? What about fiber evidence that supposedly suggests the same thing? What about the "expert in blood-splatter patterns" -- how reliable are his conclusions? You can bet that the defense will aggressively challenge the forensic basis for the prosecution's theory.

- If the housemates supposedly got rid of the knife that served as the real murder weapon, plus sheets and/or towels that were soaked with Wone's blood, why were those items never found? Remember that the men would have had only minutes to dispose of them. They also would have had to dispose of whatever substance they allegedly injected Wone with -- a substance that has never been identified.

- The three men living in the house had what many people would consider an unconventional family arrangement. Two of them (the owners of the house) were in a long-term relationship. The third man was, according to authorities, involved in a "dominant-submissive sexual relationship" with one of the long-term partners. The third man also kept "a wide array of esoteric sexual implements" in his bedroom, "many of them designed to inflict pain." (The WP evidently found all this too outré for its print edition; the full articles appear only online.) It's probably fair to wonder if the housemates' lifestyles affected how they were treated by authorities. It's certainly fair to wonder how it will play in front of a jury.

- What about the possibility that Wone was killed by an intruder, but not in a random attack? Who else might have had a motive for killing him? (One assumes, of course, that this angle has been vigorously pursued, but has something been missed?)

- If these three men are innocent, they are living a nightmare. Wone's widow Kathy certainly is, regardless.

An excellent blog, Who Murdered Robert Wone, is covering the case. I'll be following it closely.