Afternoon Links

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
  • How Friars Club roasts broadened the First Amendment. He doesn’t get a lot of attention around the blogs, but Greg Beato is one of my favorite writers. Funny, incisive, and he has a knack for finding quirky histories and uncommon takes on stuff I’d never really given much consideration (like garden gnomes!).
  • Mexico’s bloody militarization of the drug war is finally getting some political push-back.
  • Here’s a regulation I’d support. When the airlines hold you in a hot, crowded plane for hours longer than you agreed when you bought your ticket, they’ve essentially taken you hostage. I have no problem forcing them to allow you to leave if your flight doesn’t depart within a reasonable period after leaving the gate. Of course, FAA ineptitude is part of the reason planes get stuck on the tarmac, too.
  • Free online archive of vintage TV commercials.
  • My city of residence’s police chief arrested for DWI. He blew .19.
  • States look to sports gambling to boost revenue. Contra Crisis and Leviathan, there does seem to be a bit of slackening on some personal freedom issues when the economy turns sour. It forces governments to prioritize (see the rise of drug courts over incarceration in recent years). And in some cases, the prospect of tax revenue can actually nudge some politicians past their moral prudery toward legalizing some vices.
  • Police release audio in Gates arrest. Looks like Crowley called for backup after Gates proved he was a legal resident of the home. Sounds like unnecessary escalation to me. Also, Eric Posner looks at Massachusetts case law, which indicates there’s really no way Gates’ behavior could have met the legal definition of “disorderly conduct.”
  • I’m a firm believer in the mantra that bacon makes most things better. But I may have to draw the line at soap.
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  • 39 Responses to “Afternoon Links”

    1. #1 |  CaveUrsine | 

      Who did that chief of police piss off to actually get arrested? In any event, good that he was arrested rather than having been given a “profession courtesy.”

    2. #2 |  Dave Krueger | 

      My city of residence’s police chief arrested for DWI. He blew .19.

      Yeah, crashing into someone makes it just that much more difficult for your buddies to let you off.

      I’m sure his lawyer will be arguing how unreliable those breath tests are. Of course, that assumes he actually winds up in court rather than having the charges mysteriously dropped due to some circumstance that hasn’t quite been fully conceived yet.

    3. #3 |  Tim C | 

      Commercials – damn it, I was hoping to finally be able to get video of the legendary Doxidan laxative spot (country nightclub singer).

    4. #4 |  David | 

      Re: Soap, Johnen Vasquez did it first.

    5. #5 |  Stephen | 

      Bacon soap… I think my head is going to explode.

      What’s next? Bacon breast implants?

    6. #6 |  James D | 

      Yes Stephen, because without that … us guys would never pay attention to women’s chests? :)

    7. #7 |  pertinent | 

      The audio of the 911 call, meanwhile, reveals that the caller told police she wasn’t sure if it was a break-in, and that she saw two suitcases on the porch. Oh, and that she was too far away to see the men clearly, but thought one might be Hispanic.

      In Crowley’s report, this became two black males with backpacks.

    8. #8 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Mexico should legalize the drug trade. Now that would be entertainment. I mean, watching how the U.S. would handle it. The call for a unbroken border wall resembling the Maginot Line would probably become an instant bipartisan crusade. Congress would be speaking with one voice, just like after 9/11. Just imagining the huge outpouring of patriotism and common purpose makes your eyes well up, doesn’t it?

    9. #9 |  Tokin42 | 

      FTA: In a second audiotape, of radio transmissions between Mr. Crowley and the dispatcher, the officer can be heard speaking in calm, measured tones. At one point, he describes Mr. Gates as uncooperative and tells the dispatcher to “keep the cars coming.”

      On at least two occasions, a voice is heard in the background. It is unclear whether it belongs to Mr. Gates or what the person is saying. Mr. Gates, a renowned Harvard University professor, didn’t return calls for comment.

      Crowley called for backup after Gates proved he was a legal resident of the home. Sounds like unnecessary escalation to me.

      1. it sounds like a bit of wishful reading between the lines. for all we know at that point gates was still refusing to show a picture ID.

      2. If it is gates voice in the background, then yeah, “unnecessary escalation” fits

    10. #10 |  Stephen | 

      It must have been the “start your journey now, lord” ad that caused me to come up with breast implants. :)

    11. #11 |  thomasblair | 

      Bacon soap… I think my head is going to explode.

      What’s next? Bacon breast implants?

      baconlube!

      http://www.baconsaltblog.com/2009/04/our-newest-product.html

    12. #12 |  PW | 

      “it sounds like a bit of wishful reading between the lines. for all we know at that point gates was still refusing to show a picture ID.”

      Actually, the tape proves that Crowley was indeed shown an ID because he radioed Gates’ name in to dispatch. Twice. Here is the transcript. Officer 52 is Crowley.

      Male patrol 1: Answering.

      Officer 52: He gave me the ID of a Henry Louis Gates. …

      Male patrol 2: Answering 52.

      Officer 52: He gave me the name of the resident of Henry Louis Gates Jr. (background voice) on Harvard property.

      Male patrol 2: Sir can you repeat?

    13. #13 |  PW | 

      Also, the exchange above where Crowley radioed in Gates’ name after being shown his ID happened BEFORE Crowley called for a “wagon,” code for a car to arrest Gates and carry him to the station.

      This proves conclusively that Crowley was intent on arresting Gates anyway even after he positively identified him as the rightful resident.

    14. #14 |  Maik | 

      Patrick Smith, a commercial pilot and columnist, has written about his view on a proposed right to disembark a long-delayed plane before takeoff.

      His main point: Letting one, two or even half the passengers leave after a three hour delay would bump the delay for everyone else by several hours, if not lead to outright cancellation of the flight. It’s not as simple as opening a door and letting them step out.

    15. #15 |  Rhayader | 

      FTA about Mexico:

      “U.S. officials said they now believe Mexico faces a longer and bloodier campaign than anticipated and is likely to require more American aid.”

      No. Fucking. Shit.

    16. #16 |  Zargon | 

      The confusion about the ID is due to people repeating over and over “He didn’t show picture ID! He didn’t show picture ID!”

      Which is true, but misleading. Most people read the sentence and conclude the officer didn’t know who he was talking to. The officer did know who he was talking to (he said so in the report), and Gates did show ID – it just wasn’t picture ID.

    17. #17 |  J sub D | 

      My city of residence’s police chief arrested for DWI. He blew .19.

      In an official vehicle. That he damaged. Now he’s going to retire. Life is sooooo tough when you’re in the LEO caste.

      Radley, please keep us abreast on his trial and sentencing.

    18. #18 |  Chris in AL | 

      The first time I saw this commercial I did a double take, then laughed quite hard. In our prudish country it had a very short run though.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyO2k96MOf0&feature=PlayList&p=3B4A6FF77ADD8B0D&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=22

    19. #19 |  Hamburglar007 | 

      I’m sure I am going to see many thumbs down for this comment. And I do believe breathalyzers are often faulty, and that this cop was for reals drunk. With that said Radley, why cite the results of the breathalyzer when you have so often been critical of their reliability?

    20. #20 |  Tokin42 | 

      #12

      Gates gave him his harvard id, without a picture, right after he said “Don’t you know who I am!” and before he yelled “your mama!” It was after he asked for a photo i.d. gates claimed racism.

      #15

      It had a name on it that gates claimed as his own, so the cop should have just taken his word for it? Think that would have worked for you? If you lost your keys and had to break into your own home and the only ID you had to show was your SAMs club membership card with your name on it, think that will satisfy the cop?

      I’m already tired of the gatesgate, my earlier post was basically trolling. I apologize.

    21. #21 |  B | 

      @#18–The difference between blowing a 0.08 and 0.19 is HUGE.

      Breathalyzers have instrumental error (the same as any analytical device–pointing out this fact got me promptly excused from jury duty once) but even on a bad day it’s not going to be more than 15-20% (and used properly, it should be a great deal less than that). So even with the most generous allowance for error, the chief had a blood level of at least 0.15, which is generally considered the threshold for “visibly intoxicated” by most behavioral pharmacologists.

      The relative risk of being involved in a fatal crash (which is the metric generally used to justify the legal limit) just starts to to tick up around 0.08, to 7x at 0.10. Between 0.10 and 0.20 it goes from 7x to 100x.

      I’m no fan of DUI laws the way they are currently enforced/applied. But I have no problem with someone who blows in the 0.15 and up range going to jail for a while.

    22. #22 |  Brian V. | 

      “Of course, FAA ineptitude is part of the reason planes get stuck on the tarmac, too.”

      As a long-time FAA Air Traffic employee, I’m quite willing to admit that it’s an agency that has a great deal of room for improvement, but this comment smacks of zeitgeist and has little basis in fact. The linked article cited only one possible instance where the ATC system was likely responsible for the the delay (the Dulles to Las Vegas trip, and in that case, the cause was most likely weather, vice ineptitude). In the rest of the episodes the article describes, the FAA was in no way to blame.

      To quote J. Buffett, “Don’t try to describe the ocean if you’ve never seen it.”

    23. #23 |  BamBam | 

      http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/31218.html

      Dead and mentally disabled man attacked by police with pepper spray and electric torture device, charged with disorderly conduct.
      In a bathroom stall.

    24. #24 |  BamBam | 

      Deaf, not dead. Fortunately the cops didn’t hallucinate and see the guy as a dog and use the South Park line, “shoot it, it’s coming right for us!” as their excuse for shooting.

    25. #25 |  Another Northern Virginian | 

      Just wanted to point out that the Alexandria police chief was in neighboring Arlington, outside his jurisdiction, when he smashed into the other car while drunk. You’re free to speculate whether things would have gone differently if it was his own officers handling the crash (my inner cynic says there would have been no alcohol test).

    26. #26 |  MacGregory | 

      #8   Dave Krueger
      “Mexico should legalize the drug trade. Now that would be entertainment. I mean, watching how the U.S. would handle it.”
      Yeah, you’d think it would come to a point where they would just say “fuck this.”
      I’ve considered that scenario many times. In mine, the Mexican Government not only legalizes it but also renders assistance in smuggling efforts.
      Entertaining? Maybe, but why does the phrase “an act of war” keep popping in my head? Wouldn’t Mexico then become just another nail in need of smashing?

    27. #27 |  Dave Krueger | 

      #26 MacGregory

      I’ve considered that scenario many times. In mine, the Mexican Government not only legalizes it but also renders assistance in smuggling efforts.

      Entertaining? Maybe, but why does the phrase “an act of war” keep popping in my head? Wouldn’t Mexico then become just another nail in need of smashing?

      Yeah, I’ve considered that. Since 9/11 my contention has been that we’re breeding tomorrow’s terrorists today, south of the border (at the time I was thinking Columbia).

      Logistically, war with Mexico would be the easiest war we had in a long time and it’s not like they’re much of a military power. It’s almost as if it’s begging to be invaded. If Mexico degenerates into total civil war, we’ll have to rescue them We’ll probably call it Operation Mexican Freedom.

      Considering the U.S. is supposedly the world’s only superpower we sure do blame a lot of our problems on other countries.

    28. #28 |  Aspasia | 

      “I’m a firm believer in the mantra that bacon makes most things better. But I may have to draw the line at soap.”

      You snob. :-P It’s a great way to combine your morning shower with your first meal of the day.

    29. #29 |  MacGregory | 

      …but wouldn’t conquering Mexico give you that warm and fuzzy feeling and a sense of safety that you haven’t known since you were a baby cradled in your mothers arms?

    30. #30 |  JS | 

      Stephen “Bacon soap… I think my head is going to explode.

      What’s next? Bacon breast implants?”

      Well if you couldn’t get a boyfriend before….

    31. #31 |  Jon Hendry | 

      #20 “Gates gave him his harvard id, without a picture, right after he said “Don’t you know who I am!” and before he yelled “your mama!” It was after he asked for a photo i.d. gates claimed racism.”

      Uh, Harvard, like virtually any large employer or university, uses ids with pictures.

      What makes you think there was no photo?

    32. #32 |  Jon Hendry | 

      Radley wrote: ” Looks like Crowley called for backup after Gates proved he was a legal resident of the home. Sounds like unnecessary escalation to me.”

      Exactly. Gotta love Crowley’s request to “keep ‘em coming”. Presumably Crowley was seeking a lot of police cars arriving, the better to embarrass Gates.

      Because I kinda doubt Crowley needed lots of backup to apprehend a senior citizen who probably hasn’t been in a fight in 45 years, and even then probably lost.

    33. #33 |  Jon Hendry | 

      Zargon #16 wrote: ” and Gates did show ID – it just wasn’t picture ID.”

      I don’t know where this is coming from. Harvard uses photo IDs, even for faculty, as you’d expect from the kind of institution that has astronomically expensive lab equipment around (like high-power lasers and scanning tunneling microscopes and $100,000 neural interfaces), high-profile public figures walking around, etc.

      I simply don’t get how anyone can think a Harvard id would lack a photo, when the 3rd-rate engineering school I entered 20 years ago had mastered the art of the photo ID.

      If Crowley had a beef with it, it was because it was a Harvard ID rather than a government-issued official id.

    34. #34 |  KBCraig | 

      Heaven help me, I’m about to agree with Tokin42!

      Preface: Any arrest based solely on verbal interaction with a cop is Charlie Sierra. Yes, there are cases where hustling someone off the scene can save lives and property if they’re trying to agitate onlookers into rioting, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. So, I agree that the arrest was wrong.

      On the other hand, many of Gates’ defenders are a bit over-eager to condemn Crowley, to the point of re-arranging the timeline and facts as they’ve been reported thus far.

      My best reading of this case is:
      - When Crowley called in Gates’s name, he only had a Harvard faculty ID that didn’t confirm whether or not Gates lived at that address. In the same breath, he requested Harvard PD to help confirm, because the house belongs to Harvard. The DL came later. Some reports say Gates’ address on his DL didn’t match the address of the house, but I haven’t confirmed that.
      - The tape of the radio broadcasts doesn’t reveal a lot, but the voice in the background was, at the very least, agitated and loud, at least compared to Crowley.
      - Gates was not arrested inside his own home. Let’s be accurate about that.
      - If Gates was “lured outside” by Crowley in order to evoke the disorderly person statute, it was a lure that he swallowed hook, line, and sinker. I really expect better situational awareness from someone so knowledgeable about police interactions with racial minorities.

      Crowley was called to the house because of a reported break-in. Even being experienced with law enforcement radio, I had to listen mutliple times to the varioius clips to understand just who said what to whom.It’s not unreasonable for Crowley to either assume race, or to have been mistaken about race.

      To sum up: the arrest was wrong. Gates was wrong. The two aren’t mutually exlusive.

    35. #35 |  KBCraig | 

      In today’s news, another Chief of Police arrested for DWI, in New Hampshire, after fleeing from his own officer:

      http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?articleId=a0b9e451-b17a-4dd9-a6b7-0d3076c37b29

    36. #36 |  Tokin42 | 

      #30 JS

      Now THAT’s an idea! just think how much better strip clubs would smell.

    37. #37 |  David Chesler | 

      Re FAA, four years ago I was laid off from a group doing advanced research for ATC DST (decision support tools) for NASA, when NASA was ordered to put all resources into Space projects. At full speed we were looking at 10 to 15 years before NASA deployed the proof-of-concept to FAA for complete re-engineering keeping in mind the human life issues. (Apparently “If it compiles ship it” isn’t good enough when lives are at stake. :-) ) The DST allowed more accurate scheduling of descents and landings, allowing more efficient use of the same runways, reducing over-crowding.
      We have a new administration and I haven’t heard that NASA is getting back its funding for Earth Sciences and Air, or that the project is ramping back up.
      I suppose that’s technically not FAA, it’s NASA and its funding, but it all looks like FedGov to me.
      (My former employer, a military-industrial complex player, could have funded the project out of petty cash, on spec, and when NASA wanted it they could have said “We have it NOW”, but that’s not the way cost-plus rolls.)

    38. #38 |  Zargon | 

      #33
      I don’t know where this is coming from. Harvard uses photo IDs, even for faculty

      If that’s the case, then I stand corrected. I added up people chanting “he didn’t show picture ID!” with the police report stating Gates produced his Harvard ID (it didn’t state if it was picture or not) and concluded the Harvard ID wasn’t picture ID.

      It didn’t occur to me that the chorus was simply mistaken.

      In any case, derailing this entire incident on the details of the ID is beside the point. The cop arrested Gates because he made an ass out of himself, not because he suspected him of being a burglar, therefore, the ID is irrelevant. Other people in other professions might have their own ways of getting back at assholes (waiters spitting in your food, ect), but the point is those guys would get fired on the spot if they got caught, while firing Mr. Cop here isn’t even remotely likely.

    39. #39 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

      “The cop arrested Gates because he made an ass out of himself”

      Wow, fascinating… thaks for breaking it down…can you show me the statute that renders this a crime?

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