Morning Links

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
  • I don’t know who they think they are / Smashing up a perfectly good guitar.
  • The New York Times: “The pornographic movie industry has long had only a casual interest in plot and dialogue.” I had no idea!
  • Police chief tasers 14-year-old girl in the head after she ran from her mother. The kid hadn’t committed any crime. The chief told a local news station, “he does not regret his actions. He adds he warned her several times and had no other choice when she did not listen to him.” So you shoot electrically-charged barbs into her head? God help this guy’s kids.
  • Swiss government tells banks not to cooperate with U.S. government demands for information on U.S. citizens with Swiss bank accounts. Good for them. More countries need to stand up to U.S. attempts to impose U.S. law on the rest of the world.
  • Traffic easing up all over the country–except in D.C.
  • Police union sues to prevent personnel files of Atlanta cops from being turned over to citizens’ review board, including the cops involved in the Kathryn Johnston shooting, arguing that “divulgence of such records would result in ‘irreparable harm’ to those under investigation.”
  • White supremacist sentiment in the Mississippi legislature. Good ol’ Haley Barbour is going to have to answer some tough questions about his ties to this organization too if he’d planning to run for president.
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  • 75 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  parse | 

      ClubMedSux, here’s the Merriam Webster online definitions for “prejudice”:

      1: injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights ; especially : detriment to one’s legal rights or claims
      2 a (1): preconceived judgment or opinion (2): an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b: an instance of such judgment or opinion c: an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics

      What type of prejudicial evidence would be fair to use in a trial?

    2. #2 |  SJE | 

      #50, the question of “unfair” prejudice in a trial is often related to its relevance, phrased as whether its probative value outweighs its prejudicial value.

      So, for example, the prosecution might want to mention the defendants prior conviction for rape because it will cast him in a bad light, making the jury more likely to convict. It is highly prejudicial. If the defendant is being tried for rape, the judge would admit evidence of a prior rape conviction: it is prejudicial, but is very relevant to whether the defendant is likely to be a rapist. If the defendant is being tried for drug possession, however, the prior rape conviction does not bear any logical relationship to drug possession and so would not be admitted.

      In a closer case, say breaking and entering, the prosecution would argue that the rape conviction is relevant because it provides motive for breaking and entering a building (i.e. to rape). Here, the judge might decide that it is unfairly prejudicial.

    3. #3 |  Dave Krueger | 

      #39 Ben (the other one)

      …and to suggest that corporations and their executives are somehow immune from the axiom that power corrupts.

      Sorry, I missed that. You mind pointing out where someone suggested that?

    4. #4 |  Spleen | 

      Though, as an avid reader of that type of magazine, I would contest that. I buy them strictly for the articles. It seems like, in every issue, there is at least one good piece.

      Sure, at least one good piece of ass! Ha ha! Am I right, fellas?

      Oh.

      So, for example, the prosecution might want to mention the defendants prior conviction for rape because it will cast him in a bad light, making the jury more likely to convict. It is highly prejudicial. If the defendant is being tried for rape, the judge would admit evidence of a prior rape conviction: it is prejudicial, but is very relevant to whether the defendant is likely to be a rapist.

      Actually, I would expect it not to be admissible, even in a rape case, for the very reason you suggest it would be allowed. The incidence of a prior rape cannot be used as evidence that the current rape occured. (I would expect it to be allowed during a sentencing hearing, however.)

    5. #5 |  Dave Krueger | 

      The reason I bash unions in general is because they champion ideas that restrict an individual’s right to market his labor freely and for companies to hire freely. While it’s true that I am particularly opposed to laws that grant labor rights at the expense of employers, I don’t think it’s much of a secret that unions almost universally strive for precisely that kind of disproportionate advantage, whether they’re successful at it in all states or not.

      Alabama is a right to work state, but I don’t like unions here anymore than I like them in union states and the reason is that Alabama would not be a right to work state if the union had its way. To unions, free markets are the enemy.

      When it comes to business, I’ll be perfectly clear that there as many unethical sleazy bastards in business as there are in politics or the labor movement. But, what keeps those sleaze bastards in business and what gives them their power is not the free market.

      To raise the argument that unions serve a critical purpose because there was a time in American history where employers unethically exploited labor doesn’t stand up to scrutiny very well. Not only do those conditions not exist in the current context, the union isn’t performing the function it did back then. I might also add nowhere is there a rule that requires unions to fight for workers’ rights by artificially inflating wages beyond the free market rates or by artificially restricting the supply of labor or by forcing mandatory membership or dues paying. In other words, unions are conflating two separate concepts as if they are one. They claim to be fighting for workers rights because it sounds a lot better than to simply say they’re partnering with government to extort inflated wages and benefits from employers.

      As an unabashed supporter of the free market, I can’t also be in favor of state supported unions. They’re mutually exclusive concepts, just as corporate welfare is incompatible with free markets.

    6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

      #33 Ben (the other one)

      Actually, as far as “old fashioned” is concerned, there is something like nine centuries of common-law and 220 years of American Constitutional precedent to establish that there is no probable cause requirement for investigative subpoenas.

      I appreciate your taking the time to explain that. I found it informative, but a bit depressing. My remark about being old fashioned mostly just alluded to my belief in privacy as having become somewhat outdated and I, admittedly was thinking more in terms of the drug war and the war on terror which seemed to have opened innumerable doors to government data mining (investigation in search of a crime).

      Also, just for the record, I will probably be supportive of any entity that promotes privacy. I don’t think we currently enjoy all the privacy and freedom that we are entitled to.

    7. #7 |  Tokin42 | 

      #49 Alex,

      Now that we’ve gotten off to a good start…..need any pipe work quoted? That way I can write my time on Radleys site off my taxes as “networking”. I can do that, right?

    8. #8 |  Ben (the other one) | 

      Certainly courts have, in the name of the “wars” on drugs and terror, substantially undercut the Fourth Amendment’s protections. I think it’s important to bear in mind that, particularly when it comes to subpoenas issued to third parties (i.e., not the investigative subject him- or herself, but to, e.g., a bank) there really never has been much of a right of privacy vis-a-vis the government.

      (In the area of the content of electronic communications, with the notable exception of the post-9/11 NSA activities, there are substantial statutory protections under federal law.)

    9. #9 |  Ben (the other one) | 

      @Tokin42 (#57)

      I’m not a tax lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that you can never write off your time, just your actual expenses for business or charitable purposes.

      If I’m wrong about that, someone please tell me, because I would love to write off the value of the hundreds of hours I have spent and will spend on Cory Maye’s case.

    10. #10 |  Tokin42 | 

      #59

      I was j/k. I should have had a sarcasm tag around that. I’m not much for “creative accounting”. I’d rather pay a bit more and not have to ever worry about an audit.

    11. #11 |  ClubMedSux | 

      Parse @51-

      SJE nailed it on the head. This should give you an idea of the point I was trying to make… Federal Rule of Evidence 403 reads:

      “Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.”

      Note that the word “prejudice” is modified with the word “unfair.” Did you catch the phrase in the definition you posted: “detriment to one’s legal rights or claims“? If you’re the plaintiff in a case where you claim the defendant’s negligent driving caused you to crash your car, evidence that you were seen doing shots at a bar a half hour before the accident is prejudicial; i.e. it is to the detriment of your legal claim. In such a situation, though, it’s likely admissible because it’s fairly prejudicial–the evidence is damning precisely because it suggests the accident was due to your drunk driving, not the defendant’s behavior. On the flip side, evidence that you were intentionally running over kittens with your car the half hour before the accident would be unfairly prejudicial because it isn’t relevant to the issue before the court. That’s the distinction I was trying to make.

    12. #12 |  Phelps | 

      Nice to know that “Impaled by Barbs, electronically tortured and stabbed in the face with a stick” are so low on the force continuum for high crime of “arguing with mom.”

    13. #13 |  BamBam | 

      In 5+ dictionary sources that I checked, electrocution means DEATH by electricity. Injury would be “electric shock” or some such term.

    14. #14 |  Chet | 

      As an unabashed supporter of the free market, I can’t also be in favor of state supported unions.

      It’s interesting to me that, as a free marketeer, you’re in favor of individuals forming collectives to sell anything they want, unless it’s their labor.

    15. #15 |  JThompson | 

      Re: The little girl and the taser.
      “After a CAT scan, a hospital resident told her the dart was “in her brain a little bit, but not much,” Akin said.”
      Awesome. The people defending the cop are idiots.

    16. #16 |  Dave Krueger | 

      #64 Chet

      It’s interesting to me that, as a free marketeer, you’re in favor of individuals forming collectives to sell anything they want, unless it’s their labor.

      To call a business a “collective” is a use of the term I admittedly have never heard before.

      In any case, you’re not hearing me. I don’t support any collective of anything that partners with government to get the rules slanted in their favor. You apparently missed my reference to corporate welfare which would also be included in that category.

      Free markets are free. When the government gets involved to tip the scales, they are not free markets and that applies to any scenario you wish to name (aside from a very limited number of functions arguably best served by government).

      If there’s anything unions don’t support it’s a free market in labor. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone, including union supporters, argue that they do. If you want to suggest a hypothetical, wherein a union might possibly promote a free market in labor, then be my guest, but don’t suggest that a union like that exists today.

    17. #17 |  Rune | 

      This will come as no surprise to The Agitators readers and though it’s anecdotal evidence, I think you might find it of interest. Kai Vittrup, head of EuPol in Afghanistan and former head of UNMIS in Sudan and the UN police contigency in Kosovo, has told my father and other danish soldiers in an informal chat in an airport awaiting transport back to Denmark, that US LOEs do more harm than good in the international missions, due to their us-vs.-them mentality, belligerence and default use of force when confronted with most problems.

    18. #18 |  Bronwyn | 

      Alright, alright! Is this better?
      Don’t worry, I won’t expect to rack up the same karma on the second draft. I’ll take it as implied :)

      Here we go, with revisions…

      Waitaminnit. A parent can be arrested for child abuse if they spank their child in public, but a cop can shoot electrically charged barbs into a child’s head and cause serious injury… because he ‘had no other choice’… and it’s ok?

      Also, what the hell kind of mother takes her child to the police just because they’re arguing?

      I’m baffled by the whole thing.

    19. #19 |  The Pale Scot | 

      Since the Swiss make a living from facilitating money laundering of common criminals to Bin Laden, the Saudis etc. they should be declared a terrorist state, simple. All of the free markets advocates here need to remember that in theory a free market requires everyone knowing where the money is going “perfect information”, especially in the stock market that requirement isn’t being met. For example look at the NYSE’s move to not publish the statistics on broker’s program trading after it was shown that Goldman Sachs is manipulating the market.

      http://zerohedge.blogspot.com/2009/05/observations-on-nyse-program-trading.html

      If I’m going to risk my savings in the stock market, I have right to know if the CEO of a company I’m interested in is short selling his own stock thru a numbered account in Switzerland; I want to know about capital movements, such as the movement into oil futures. Oil consumption is still declining but the price is climbing. There is a shitload of capital sloshing around the globe and when it pours into a market it distorts it. The way things are currently, your capital is not safe in dollar denominated investments in american stock exchanges, but because of the size of American stock markets, no where else is safe from their actions.

    20. #20 |  Wednesday Morning Link Dump | Texas Real Estate | 

      […] a link roundup this morning, Radley Balko included the following short item about using Tasers for noncompliance […]

    21. #21 |  Chance | 

      “If there’s anything unions don’t support it’s a free market in labor.”

      So the unions and corporations do agree on something.

    22. #22 |  SJE | 

      re: tazering kids.

      The fault should be more on the police than on the mother. The police are supposed to be trained in appropriate escalation of force and use of alternative methods. If the first instinct is to pull out the tazer and zap a kid, thats f**ked up.

    23. #23 |  Chet | 

      To call a business a “collective” is a use of the term I admittedly have never heard before.

      I just mean a bunch of people pooling their collective effort, as an organization.

      I don’t support any collective of anything that partners with government to get the rules slanted in their favor.

      That seems to me to be the critical feature of a democracy. Are you saying the very concept of a “political party” is illegitimate?

      Free markets are free.

      Free markets are never free.

      If there’s anything unions don’t support it’s a free market in labor.

      As free as anything else. “You can buy our labor from us, at our prices, or you can buy it from whoever you think will provide the same product at the same quality.” Same deal I get from Apple or Mitsubishi, I don’t see the problem with applying competition to labor. Should people simply not be allowed to band together to sell things? I don’t see how you can say that Apple should exist – as a collective formed to sell computers produced not by individual but by joint effort – but a union should not, when the only difference is that Apple sells computer and the union sells its members’ labor.

      “Union” doesn’t mean “closed shop.” A union is just an organization that contracts for its members’ labor. I fail to see what’s anti-free market or anti-competitive about that. If you don’t want to negotiate with the union, don’t hire union workers. If everyone you want to hire is in the union, well, tough; Apple is the only company that makes iPhones, so if I want one, I pay what they want. Same with the union.

    24. #24 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Hey, Chet. Suppose I wanted to hire on at one of the few auto plants that’s still operating in Michigan. Supposing I wanted to offer my labor at a rate that I wanted to choose? Would the company be able to hire me for that rate? Thanks to the unions, no.

      Would that company be able to give me a big raise if they liked my performance and attitude? No.

      Suppose, once I got hired I didn’t care to have the union representing me. Am I free not to pay union dues? No.

      Supposing I were an auto maker in Michigan and didn’t want to allow the union to use company property to conduct it’s business (which is largely adversarial to my business). Do I have the right to fire them if they do? No.

      If the company had to lay off workers, would they be able to get rid of the ones first who were the poorest performers? No.

      Yeah, unions are the epitome of the free market in the workforce. It almost brings a tear to my eye to hear how freedom oriented they are. All of the above are result of legislative support given to unions at the expense of business. That’s not to say that government doesn’t do favors for business or that it isn’t wrong when they do. It’s only saying that unions derive much of their power from government support and their function is to artificially inflate wages (etc) by threatening employers.

      To take it one step further, artificially inflated wages make products cost more which makes them less competitive on the world market, ultimately affecting job security. After all, the world is a small place and pretty soon companies will find cheaper labor overseas. That, of course, will lead to protectionist legislation. I suppose you’re next going to be telling me how protectionism is really just the free market at work, right?

      As for your reference to democracy (choosing to ignore my comment specifically excluding functions best handled by government), I will say unequivocally, that while I have great affection for the democratic style of government, I absolutely do not want a democratic majority (any democratic majority) making all my decisions for me. In case you haven’t noticed, not all things operated under democratic principles function with exemplary integrity and benefit everyone equally. I refer you to the U.S. Congress as sufficient proof of that statement. But I will grant that unions and Congress share a lot of similarities especially when it comes to their thirst for power.

      By the way. I really like your comment that “the free market is never free”. I only wish that people would keep that in mind when they’re so busy blaming the free market for everything that goes wrong in the economy.

    25. #25 |  Chet | 

      Suppose I wanted to hire on at one of the few auto plants that’s still operating in Michigan. Supposing I wanted to offer my labor at a rate that I wanted to choose? Would the company be able to hire me for that rate? Thanks to the unions, no.

      So? The cost of hiring you wouldn’t just be your wage, it would be the loss under contract of every other worker at the plant. Sucks for you, because it makes hiring you a much less attractive prospect, but it’s entirely within the rights of the auto worker’s organization to make contracts with the auto plant. No free market allows you to prevent third parties from entering contracts that don’t work out so well for you.

      Suppose, once I got hired I didn’t care to have the union representing me. Am I free not to pay union dues? No.

      You can’t enjoy the benefits of union negotiation and not pay union dues. How is that fair?

      Yeah, unions are the epitome of the free market in the workforce.

      Unions have contracts with employers that enjoin them from certain actions. That’s all. Are you saying that’s illegitimate? That contracts should never enjoin parties? I thought it was the position of libertarians that contracts, in fact, were to be held as inviolable. Funny how that isn’t extended to unions.

      After all, the world is a small place and pretty soon companies will find cheaper labor overseas.

      And eventually that labor will want the competitive advantages of unionization. It all reaches equilibrium.

      But I will grant that unions and Congress share a lot of similarities especially when it comes to their thirst for power.

      Lucky for us, there’s all those noble, heroic, multinational conglomerates to stand up for the rights of the enormously wealthy underdogs tragically encumbered by a total lack of thirst for power.