Saturday Links/Open Thread

Saturday, May 30th, 2009
  • More details emerge in the Oklahoma story where a police officer was caught on a camera phone assaulting an EMT.
  • State police raid a charity poker game in Maine, seize $500 intended for a food co-op.
  • Some beautiful photos from Africa.
  • More surprises in Judge Sotomayor’s record: She rarely allows claims of private race discrimination to go forward. I imagine you, readers, will have mixed reactions to this one.
  • Craig T. Nelson, tax protester.
  • The “non-lethal” Taser strikes again.
    Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark
  • 40 Responses to “Saturday Links/Open Thread”

    1. #1 |  Nando | 

      Hmmm, in the trooper case, the article says that “Every person who willfully delays…an emergency medical technician…in the performance of…care and treatment…is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

      Does that mean that they will press charges against the cop?

      I highly doubt it!

    2. #2 |  hamburglar007 | 

      Hopefully that cop will be charged and fired, and hopefully that EMT will put his lights and sirens on when transporting a patient in the future.

    3. #3 |  Andy Craig | 

      Cases of private discrimination don’t belong in court at all, much less Federal court. Having said that, the fact that the courts and legislatures have monopolized so much of our racial discourse and race relations (two concepts I’m loathe to admit exist, and which I look forward to when they won’t), makes it much harder for cases of private discrimination to really be discouraged in the “libertarian” manner of ostracism, criticism, boycott, etc. It’s because no one expects, or will react to, a claim of racial discrimination being handled that way. Everyone presumes the courts and force have to be involved, so while private voluntary action would be perfectly plausible in libertopia, in the real-world it can’t operate all that effectively beside courts that are happy to turn good manners and sensible business practice into mandatory law.

    4. #4 |  Chuchundra | 

      Some typical right-wing thinking from Craig T. Nelson. California is cutting programs he thinks shouldn’t be cut because there isn’t enough money to pay the bills, so to protest this he’s going to stop paying his taxes? WTF?

      I read somewhere that something like half of CA’s budget goes to pay for prisons. That can’t be true…can it?

    5. #5 |  michaelk42 | 

      “The trooper’s dash-cam video is in the custody of an assistant district attorney in Okfuskee County. She says it will not be released because it’s part of the investigation.”

      Ah, our old friend the “put the records created in the normal course of duty into ‘investigatory’ status” loophole.

    6. #6 |  Kit Smith | 

      I’m kind of surprised at the surprise about Judge Sotomayor. She’s really a middle-left judge, but it’s like the RNC feels that just because Obama nominated her it’s their job to block her regardless of whether she’s qualified or not.

      Courtesy of the lazy news media, who would rather have a prepackaged story than get off their duffs and do something, we keep hearing about a quote from 2001 where she commented that she had experiences as a latina woman that a white male wouldn’t have. That apparently proves that she’s a racist to our more immigration-phobic politicos, but what no one in our media seems to be doing (and as Radley is illustrating with his continuing posts on her) is that she’s a letter of the law judge. I’ve looked over some of her cases, and she adheres to precedent and the law. She’s not going to be the liberal response to Scalia.

      The reason she was nominated over other candidates wasn’t her preeminent qualifications (though I’d say she’s more than qualified), it’s because Obama is throwing the GOP another curve ball and letting them make fools of themselves. The GOP has done a great job of demonstrating their irrelevance in this political cycle, and now he’s giving them the choice to piss off their base by not opposing Sotomayor, or to piss off pro-hispanic and pro-female constituencies that they desperately need to court if they’re going to start winning elections. She’s qualified though not exceptional, and Obama comes out of this looking like the rational adult while the GOP looks like they’re throwing temper tantrums again. Peggy Noonan of all people managed to get that right in her column recently. http://tinyurl.com/mkleu9

    7. #7 |  Bob | 

      Irrespective of the whole “poker should be legal” viewpoint, they did seem to be running an illegal game, and as such, have run afoul of the law. The good news is the game wasn’t run In Virginia, where they roll SWAT first and consider the excessive use of force later (And by later i mean never).

      http://www.keepmecurrent.com/Community/story.cfm?storyID=66063

      Groder said card players donated money to play, which she said averaged $40 to $50 a week. She said she used the money to keep the heat and lights on in the building.

      So, the rake averaged 45 bucks a week, with total monies played at 500 bucks a week. That money stayed with the players, well… the winning players.

      The way this is written, it makes it look like they’re out 500 bucks… but they only get the rake from the game.

      Clearly, (to me at least) the failure here is the law that defines cards in general as games of chance. This case (if it goes to conviction, and thus… appeal) needs to be used as a way to overthrow that law. I would hope the poker lobby per se would support these guys with lawyers and whatnot.

    8. #8 |  Lior | 

      Police say using a taser to subdue a 5’2”, 110-pound scared kid “justified”. The reminds me of the RCMP killing a Polish visitor in the Vancouver Airport after he “assumed a combative stance” wielding a stapler (I kid you not).

      When the police claims that these uses of a taser are “justified”, they are implicitly admitting that the officers were so lacking in self-defence training (or, even worse, simply incompetent in self-defence) that the smallest amount of resistance puts them in fear of their lives.

      Police officers who are so frightened by the prospect of controlling a small kid that they resort to tasering him are simply not fit to serve.

    9. #9 |  ktc2 | 

      Lior,

      That would be true IF taser use required the cop to have “fear” for their life or well being. It doesn’t. Taser use is “justified” with no fear of attack or harm to the cop, just disobeying the cop is “justification”.

    10. #10 |  Stephen | 

      So, non-lethal tasers have killed how many?

      Marijuana’s score is still zero.

    11. #11 |  KBCraig | 

      While the raw data about Sotomayor and discrimination cases is interesting, it’s meaningless without context. What is the dismissal rate compared to other judges in the same area? How many of the cases filed are outright bogus to begin with?

      Finding those numbers might be difficult (or impossible in the latter case).

    12. #12 |  Lior | 

      ktc2: I know that the regulations don’t require police to feel threatened before they use a taser. However, the problem is with the regulations.

      Police officers carry a variety of weapons — guns, batons, heavy flashlights, tasers, etc. The police need the weapons for a good reason: some confrontations cannot be resolved without the use of force, and the police need a variety of options for the use of force. That said, the police should use force only when it is actually necessary. Sorting out a confused Polish tourist should require the use of an interpreter, not a taser. Subduing a frightened 16 year-old should require talking to him, not shooting him.

      The police are allowed to punch a suspect in the head — if they find themselves in a fight with a suspect. Similarly, the police should use a taser (a potentially lethal weapon, even if less than a handgun) when they are in reasonable fear for their lives (or the lives of bystanders), but believe that they can use the taser effectively and don’t need to resort to gunfire. If the police have nothing to fear from the suspect, on the other hand, they shouldn’t be using the taser at all. Thus I repeat my assertion: police that cannot calm and subdue a frightened 16-year-old who is not threatening them without using a weapon are lacking in essential training.

    13. #13 |  Episiarch | 

      Lior, you are expecting thugs (the police) to use restraint and judgment before brutalizing someone. Why the hell would they do that? They enjoy brutalizing people.

    14. #14 |  Someone | 

      A lot of cops feel they have the “right” to shoot/kill people. When you give them a tool that can inflict pain at the push of a button what do you think these people are going to do with it?

      In a lot of these cases the cop would never strike someone with either their fist or a batton because it “feels violent” but the nice thing about a taser is it really doesn’t feel all too violent and thus you don’t have to ask moral questions about its use.

    15. #15 |  J Mo | 

      Hamburlgar007,

      I’m going to guess that if the patient is in stable condition, EMT’s are instructed not to turn on lights and sirens. Those are probably reserved only for patients that need to be rushed to the hospital, and it doesn’t sound like that was the case here. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

    16. #16 |  Michael Chaney | 

      Re: #8:

      I’ve said this before, but this is one case where zero-tolerance probably makes sense.

      “You say you need a taser to defend yourself and your buddies against a 100lbs. boy? Fine. Unfortunately, you just forfeited your job, as we have a zero-tolerance policy against pussy-boys on our police force. You may reapply for a rookie position when you have demonstrably grown a pair of balls.”

      That, of course, is overlooking the fact that they had no reason to subdue him in the first place…

    17. #17 |  hamburglar007 | 

      J Mo,

      A patient’s condition can deteriorate en route, and if an ambulance is transporting someone to the hospital, it is usually best to do it as quickly as possible. I’m sure that the procedures do vary, so it may be the case that the EMTs weren’t required to have lights and sirens on.

    18. #18 |  Eric | 

      aaaahhh! you linked to Glen Beck…. NOOOOOOO.

    19. #19 |  Stormy Dragon | 

      Funny how Glenn Beck and Craig Nelson had no problems with government unaccountability until January 20, 2009.

    20. #20 |  airforce | 

      Which is more dangerous, subduing a suspect with a Taser or subduing him with hands, feet, and baton? There simply is no way to predict how a street fight will turn out. The kid may have a knife, which could prove fatal to the kid, the officer, or both. And forcing someone to the ground is indeed violent; it’s not like Chuck Norris on TV. People are killed in these fights.

      We need to find some answers on just why there have been so many Taser deaths. We need to find a way to make them less deadly. But at the same time, they statistically are less violent than trying to take a suspect into custody with brute force.

      To be sure, Tasers can and have been misused in the past. But based on what I’ve seen about this particular case, the officers acted correctly.

      Flame away.

    21. #21 |  Bob Weber | 

      Leaving politics for once, the photos of Africa are absolutely stunning. I’m amazed at his ability to use shallow depth of field with infrared. Also his guts at getting so close to wild animals.

    22. #22 |  Mike | 

      Not to excuse the cop’s behavior. But did the ambulance have it’s light on? If not the driver shuld have yielded.

    23. #23 |  thorn | 

      What’s everyone’s suggestion to subdue a person without using the Taser? Someone suggested “talk to him” – ok, so that doesn’t work. What’s your next move?

      You want him hit with batons? Sprayed with OC? Shot in the leg? I’m genuinely curious what the next appropriate reaction is.

    24. #24 |  Blaze Miskulin | 

      Just a note regarding those who have commented on the lights/siren issue with the EMT incident:

      In certain circumstances (such as heart attacks), many EMT organizations have rules stating that sirens should NOT be used, since the noise (and the emotional reaction to that specific noise) can be harmful (or fatal) to the patient.

    25. #25 |  JS | 

      Two cops should have been more than enough to turn a 110 lb 16 yr old boy around and put cuffs on him. If you need a weapon to do that then you’re not physically strong enough for the job.

    26. #26 |  bob42 | 

      This two minute vid had me rolling on the floor quacking my feathers off.

      Riki “Garfunkel” Lindhome and Kate “Oates” Micucci sing a pro-gay marriage song in response to a Pat Robertson quote that legalizing gay marriage would lead to legalizing sex with ducks.

    27. #27 |  kyle | 

      airforce, the human body is pretty tough. one kid is not going to be able to overpower 2 or more police officers, knife or no knife. A blow with a bat to the head might knock out somebody, but its the repeated kicks to the head or those extra 10 stab wounds once you are on the ground that make you dead. People have been killing people since we crawled out of the ocean, and the skull and circulatory system have developed well in adapting to survive human on human violence. But at the same time, having the nervous system overloaded with high voltage is not something that people have been constantly subjected to over the course of millions of years. Maybe if we tased every 10 year old and let god sort them out, we’d become immune to dying from being tased as the gene pool is purged of defects. Go science!

    28. #28 |  thorn | 

      Or, just start wearing a faraday cage.

    29. #29 |  airforce | 

      airforce, the human body is pretty tough. one kid is not going to be able to overpower 2 or more police officers, knife or no knife. A blow with a bat to the head might knock out somebody, but its the repeated kicks to the head or those extra 10 stab wounds once you are on the ground that make you dead. People have been killing people since we crawled out of the ocean, and the skull and circulatory system have developed well in adapting to survive human on human violence. But at the same time, having the nervous system overloaded with high voltage is not something that people have been constantly subjected to over the course of millions of years…

      I agree, the kid is unlikely to overpower two officers, though it’s not 100% certain; this is not a confrontation in a ring with rules and referees. A lot of things can and have gone wrong in a brawl. ANY blow to the head, particularly with a baton, is especially dangerous. And baton blows to the joints–where we are taught to deliver blows–can cause permanent injury.

      I personally know a former security officer who was charged by an intoxicated, violent ex-con in a parking lot. The officer attempted to defend himself by striking the man in the head with his flashlight. He was acquitted of second degree murder, but you can imagine what this incident did to him, both psychologically and financially.

      I would probably have opted for pepper mace in this situation. I consider it safer than a Taser, but it is certainly not without risk either. This could easily exacerbate any health problems the suspect may have. Also, it does nothing to reduce the strength of the suspect. He may well run or fight despite the pepper spray and injure or even kill himself in the process. These things happen.

      There is no safe way to take someone into custody who is resisting. Violent encounters are, by definition, dangerous, and there is no such thing as a NON-lethal weapon. The Taser is a LESS-lethal weapon that has probably saved more people from death or injury than it has killed.

      I don’t know why the Taser kills some people, temporarily incapacitates most, and has no apparent effect on still others. Strict guidelines have to be adhered to for its deployment, and I would like to see more research conducted on just why the Taser proves fatal in so many instances.

      My guess would be that, in at least some of the cases, the victim injured himself falling to the ground or striking an object with his head as a result of the jolt. But we really need to find out.

    30. #30 |  annemg | 

      What CA needs is accountability, Mr. Nelson is right. People not paying their taxes will not create accountability. We need to somehow create a system that makes the government more like a regular business. There is no one agency or public program that is wasting money…. they are all doing it one dollar at a time. If each program was held to standards of efficiency, and risked closing completely if they are inefficient and wasteful, I bet they’d quit wasting money real quick. There’s a huge disconnect between employees of the state (who spend and don’t care because there is always more, hey, it’s the state) and taxpayers, which strangely enough, are the same damn people. I don’t know what the solution is, and it’s likely impossible, but whatever they’re doing now ain’t workin’.

    31. #31 |  Rock | 

      OHP says before the home video was recording, the paramedic assaulted the state trooper.

      Of course they claim this, the cameras weren’t rolling so they can make up whatever they want. And paramedics are known to fly into a rage and attack (armed) cops for no good reason, while cops are never known to do this to anyone. Riiiiiight…..

      The audacity of these sunzabitchez!

    32. #32 |  Frank | 

      Way back in the dark ages, Bingo used to be illegal in Pennsylvania. My grandfather served on a grand jury that refused to indict the volunteer fire company officers for running a game.

      I hope the grand jury in Maine breaks it off in the state trooper’s ass.

    33. #33 |  Michael Chaney | 

      Re: #23

      Two officers can subdue a small kid by hand.

      While there are times when I would suggest taser use, this particular incident wasn’t one of them. They had no reason to subdue the kid other than that he had run from them. Likewise, the tragic story of the Polish gentlemen who was killed by the RCMP with a taser was similar – there was no reason for the taser to be involved (or the police for that matter).

    34. #34 |  Stephen | 

      OK, finally looked at the Africa photos.

      Totally awesome.

      I would never have the balls to get that close to some of these dangerous animals.

      Some of those pictures look like the animal was cooperating and posing just for the picture.

    35. #35 |  Chris | 

      “The GOP has done a great job of demonstrating their irrelevance in this political cycle, and now he’s giving them the choice to piss off their base by not opposing Sotomayor, or to piss off pro-hispanic and pro-female constituencies that they desperately need to court if they’re going to start winning elections.”

      I couldn’t care less about the GOP, its health, or its relevance, but I find the cynicism implicit in this scenario to be depressing.

      Yes, I know you’re just describing the realpolitik of the situation: “Pro-Hispanic” and “pro-female” constituencies really do exist, and really are a factor in the voting game. But it’s nonetheless distressing that they’re a factor — that they even exist as “constituencies” — and that there’s no politically practical way to ignore, let alone combat, such a reality.

      See, now I have to go out of my way to be explicitly clear: This is distressing not because Hispanics or females are bad, etc. It’s distressing because identity politics sucks and is a fundamental obstacle to the default of individual liberty. It’s the triumph of democracy over freedom. It’s the triumph of collectivism over individualism. Hell, identity politics is the triumph of politics, period.

      The fact that I have to go out of my way to make that explicit disclaimer gets to the heart of the very problem I’m lamenting here: identity politics makes it logistically difficult to advocate individual liberty.

      In modern America, politics has to be conducted on the left’s premises, premises that are antithetical to American founding principles. Nodding in admiration at the brilliance of Obama’s ploy — his leveraging of group identity politics to put opponents in a tricky spot — is indeed deeply cynical. And ultimately it’s a disservice to the advancement of liberty.

    36. #36 |  Stormy Dragon | 

      In modern America, politics has to be conducted on the left’s premises, premises that are antithetical to American founding principles.

      The right is just as guilty, playing the identiy politics game with thing like urban vs. rural voters, secular vs. religious voters, etc.

      Conservativism used to be a coherent political philosophy. Now it’s just an identity group for angry rural whites.

    37. #37 |  freedomfan | 

      Chuchundra, I don’t see how Craig T. Nelson’s comments are really, “typical right-wing thinking”. Seems like he spent half of his segment bitching that the state was cutting funding to teachers and that education is the most important thing. I’m not sure support for big government schools is out of the right-wing playbook.

      Meanwhile, I agree with some of what he said, but the reality is that you can’t complain that taxes are too high in California (and they are) and then also complain when the state finally starts talking about getting spending under control by pulling the reigns in on the state’s biggest budget items. The problem in California (or at least one of them) isn’t that teachers unions and prison guard unions might be trimmed or not get the raises they’ve lobbied for. It’s that so many of those programs basically have spending increases built into the state constitution. In other words, the state is obligated to spend more on program X next year than this year, even if the legislature (in a rare moment of enlightenment), decides that the program should be cut or that there is a less expensive way to do the same job. Really, the state constitution needs a reboot.

      I was glad to see the we-will-be-fiscally-responsible-tomorrow-if-you-let-us-spend-more-money-today ballot initiatives go down in flames this month. But, last year, still in the middle of a 40+ billions dollar budget “crisis”, those same voters decided to waste tens of billions of dollars on a high-speed rail boondoggle, so it’s hard to know if they really understand the concept of “we can’t afford this” yet, or if they are just angry that politicians are finally running up against the limitations of trying to give everything to everyone all the time and having no plan to pay for it.

    38. #38 |  Chris | 

      The right is just as guilty, playing the identiy politics game with thing like urban vs. rural voters, secular vs. religious voters, etc.

      I think you’re confusing “the right” with Republicans.

      Even if we grant that conservatism was ever a “philosophy” in the first place — Kirk and others certainly argued that it’s not — it doesn’t stop being one just because some people employ the name in some new way.

      Anyone whose focal point is an identity group — “angry rural whites” or otherwise — is concerned with democracy, not principle. That’s machinery. It’s noise. And it plays to the left’s hand.

      At any rate, these sorts of exchanges always underscore for me how desperately we need a new working political spectrum, something to replace the “left-right” axis. It just doesn’t serve us very well anymore, and creates way too many obstacles to coherent discussion.

    39. #39 |  Rock | 

      http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/027020.html

      More on the officer filmed kicking a prone suspect in the head, and high fiving another cop. He owns a “gang/prison glorifying clothing line”.

    40. #40 |  James Campbell | 

      @ #39

      Just watching that video is kind of depressing. Nice to know that even if you throw yourself at the mercy of people who will easily overpower you…you’ll still get a fat kick to the skull and kidney punched (funny to note that it’s illegal in boxing).

      Is the officer gang-related in any way?

    Leave a Reply