Morning Links

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
  • Seattle Mayor-Elect Mike McGinn says he supports legalizing marijuana.
  • Obama administration looks at steep fines for long tarmac delays. I’ve written before that I support some sort of regulation in this area, particularly in cases where airlines unreasonably keep passengers hostage for hours on end. I don’t know that fines would work as well as a more uniform policy that if you’re stuck on a grounded plane for more than, say two hours, the airlines have to give you the option of de-planing. Unfortunately, part of the problem lies with how the airlines are regulated, and that part of course isn’t likely to get as much scrutiny.
  • Magnum photos of dogs in snow. I like mine better.
  • Chase Bank sets up a contest to fund non-profit groups, then changes the rules at the last minute to avoid funding two drug reform organization and a pro-life organization. It’s Chase’s money, of course. They can do what they want with it. But they got free advertising from these groups who promoted the contest. And I’m also free to call Chase a bunch of cowards for not backing their promotion because some of the winners were too controversial.
  • Oregon man freed after triple homicide conviction thanks to junk science and the state destroying the evidence in his case. As Gideon writes, it’s far from clear the guy is innocent. Which makes the state’s actions troubling for a whole other set of reasons. What’s unfathomable is that the FBI has admitted it’s comparative bullet lead tracing methods aren’t reliable, but refuses to release the list of cases where the methods helped put people in prison.

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  • 33 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  MDGuy | 

      I saw people on Facebook post that they’d used the Chase program to donate to NORML. I was wondering how long it would take for them to catch on and axe the program for drug reform orgs.

    2. #2 |  Saint Zero | 

      Chase should have known better. I find it amazing that a pro-life group doesn’t fit their social standards.

    3. #3 |  Mo | 

      Pro-choicers bank too. Better for Chase to offend no one.

    4. #4 |  Saint Zero | 

      Mo: if they’re that worried about offending someone (some people might be offended by rational drug policies, for all we know), they should have provided a list. Opening it up pretty much guaranteed they’d get some odd ball groups.

    5. #5 |  Thomas Paine's Goiter | 

      So, if I understand this, the government that keeps giving money to airlines to keep them from dissolving is now going to fine them $27,500 per passenger for delays.

      Will the CEO’s of the airlines openly flip off the American taxpayer when they pay the government fines with government money?

    6. #6 |  Aresen | 

      Will the CEO’s of the airlines openly flip off the American taxpayer when they pay the government fines with government money?

      Nope. They’ll just bump them.

    7. #7 |  Nando | 

      The policy, as proposed, requires that airlines either provide food and water after two hours OR allow passengers to get off the plane after three hours (providing that the ATC person in the tower doesn’t say that it’s unsafe). I kind of like that.

      As for Chase, I gave up banking with them (as well as BofA) a long, long time ago. I just don’t like they way they do business, so I don’t do business with them. For those interested, USAA is now taking people who never served (or related to those who served) as members (with partial benefits, not full benefits). USAA is, IMHO, the best bank in the USA, PERIOD!

    8. #8 |  hamburglar007 | 

      I hate chase. I switched to wamu a few years ago to get away from them, only to have Chase buy them up. Unfortunately my laziness to switch to another bank is > my hatred of chase.

    9. #9 |  anonanerd | 

      Uh, wont the airlines just pass the cost of the fines onto the customer by increased prices?

    10. #10 |  Marc | 

      When an airplane goes back to the gate, it loses its place in the takeoff order. Air traffic control created that rule, so another government should fix the problem created by the first government rule.

    11. #11 |  Darryl | 

      If the law required the fines to be paid from the CEO’s pay (and no post hoc adjustments to pay allowed), then I would bet that passengers would never feel as though they had been abandoned. Also, we don’t need the government to do this; what we need is a BoD that has a pair to say the CEO pays. If the BoD doesn’t have a pair, then all we need is a newspaper that is willing to list all extended delays so potential passengers can punish the airline in question. Of course, the airline will drop said newspaper from its list of advertisees(?)

    12. #12 |  adolphus | 

      #10: But on the other hand, “on time” percentages are set based upon the time the plane pulls away from the gate which allows airlines to game the stats with misleading numbers by pulling away long before they know full well they can take off.

      Also, at an airline’s hub that airline schedules planes ridiculously close together trying to squeeze as many planes into a gate per hour as they can, thereby further encouraging a plane to vacate a gate even when they know they cannot take off for some time, to make way for another plane.

      Part of a solution, seems to me, would be to require airlines getting government money and airports to publish accurate statistics and definitions of what constitutes “on time,’ average tarmac waits, extended wait policies etc and let the consumer choose.

    13. #13 |  Mo | 

      #12 Not to mention they game on time rates by padding the length of the trip. A flight from NY to LA takes a full 30-45 minutes longer than I remember it taking 8 years ago. Part of that is because they add potential fuckups in the schedule. Then they act like they did you a favor if everything goes smoothy and you end up at your destination 30 minutes early. However, if you’re getting picked up from the airport, being there 30 minutes early won’t teleport your ride to the airport.

    14. #14 |  Chris in AL | 

      Maybe it is because people run up big credit card bills paying for abortions and drugs.

    15. #15 |  Chris in AL | 

      “What’s unfathomable is that the FBI has admitted it’s comparative bullet lead tracing methods aren’t reliable, but refuses to release the list of cases where the methods helped put people in prison”

      It is also unfathomable that they are allowed to ‘refuse’. It is clear that there really is no checks and balances, no part of this government that is actually dedicated to the justice for all that is the fundamental basis for our illusion of greatness as a nation.

    16. #16 |  Chris in AL | 

      I guess “is” above should be “are”. Mr. MaGee, don’t make me angry. I can’t conjugate when I am angry.

    17. #17 |  johnl | 

      It’s seems safe to assume the evidence was destroyed because they knew he was innocent.

    18. #18 |  MacGregory | 

      #16 Chris
      That’s just crazy talk. Don’t you know the state doesn’t allow you to be literate? Spelling, grammar, punctuation…thats what them private school kids learn. We just aint smart nuff to understand anything short of what the *preacher tells us.

      *mayor, governor, congressman, gang leader, teacher, TMZ, Limbaugh, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX,
      (shit, I’m tired of typing)

    19. #19 |  perlhaqr | 

      I suspect it’d make the waiting passengers a lot happier if that $27,500 fine was getting paid out to them, instead of to the FedGov.

      “Sorry you were stuck on the plane for 14 hours, but you’ll be happy to know that we took nearly 30 grand from the airline to help pay the TSA to molest you on your behalf.”

    20. #20 |  Cynical in CA | 

      “It’s Chase’s money, of course. They can do what they want with it.”

      Because, of course, Chase is a private organization that receives no State privileges like bailouts, regulatory exemption, licensing or tax breaks.

      Mmm hmm.

      Can we end the charade already and call things by their true name?

      The State bestows favors on its preferred vassals and strangles the remainder into submission.

      The Bill of Rights is a dead letter. Time to move on.

    21. #21 |  Jim Collins | 

      Something for you to consider. Once an airplane backs away from the gate, the crew in the cockpit and the airline have no control over it. As soon as the plane leaves the gate it is under the airport’s Ground Control, until it is on the runway. Then it comes under the airports Air Traffic Control from takeoff until it is about 15 miles from the airport. Then it is handed off to the FAA’s ATC center for the rest of it’s flight. This process is repeated in reverse for it’s destination. The Ground Control and Airport ATC are usually run by the local government entity that manages the airport. Any descision for an aircraft on the ground to go back to the gate needs the permission of Ground Control. If Ground Control doesn’t give it, the plane doesn’t move, unless the pilot declares an emergency (it had better be a real emergency).

      Everybody keeps making the airline out to be the bad guy here, when it is far from the truth. The last thing an airline wants is a plane sitting on the taxiway for an extended period of time. Think of it from the airline’s view. Every moment that plane sits there it costs the airline money. The aircrew’s pay, crew rest hours, the fuel being burned by the engines, the hours that the aircraft systems are running (maintance inspections and component replacement are based on operating times). If a plane is running too late, the airline has to put another aircraft in service to take the runs that the delayed aircraft was supposed to do. All of this before the negative publicity of the delayed plane’s passenger’s complaints.

      As far as the delays built into the flight times is concerned, think about this. Our ATC system is still based on 1970’s technology. The Airport Improvement Program was started in the 80’s to replace the Air Traffic Control system in the 90’s. It was funded by a tax on fuel and passenger tickets. Everything was going fine until in 1995 Clinton took the funds out of the AIP’s account and put them into the general fund to make the deficit look better. Now everytime the FAA tries to use those funds for their intended purpose, some Democrat Congresscritter screams about how the Federal Government won’t use public funds to improve the airlines so the rich can have it easy. As a result ATC has to still use paper routing slips to keep track of the planes which can result in delays.

      For those who think that the airlines should schedule fewer flights, it isn’t up to the airlines. The same government entity that runs the airport has the final say so on that. Airlines are awarded gates at airports based on the whims of the local politicians. The number of flights per day is a contractual obligation between the airlines and the local government running the airport. Number of flights = $$$ for the local government. Landing fees, ticket fees, taxes on food and drink sold at the airport, fuel taxes, payroll taxes on people employeed at the airport, parking taxes, hotel taxes, taxi taxes, it all adds up.

      What I find funny is the causes of these delays. ATC has a backlog due to out of date equipment, so they place planes in a holding pattern. after so many planes are in that pattern, they start asking the airports to start holding patterns of their own. after thes patterns are full, the airports start delaying takeoffs. This starts planes to be held on the taxiways. In the mean time the planes that are landing have to have access to gates to unload their passengers, so the planes that just loaded at the gate have to move to the ramps. The airlines have no control over this at all, yet when something happens it is their fault. Bullshit!

    22. #22 |  Dave Krueger | 

      On the last item regarding those who have already been convicted using the FBI’s hokey voodoo lead-tracing evidence, one must keep in mind that the Constitution only promises due process. It doesn’t say that innocent people who were falsely convicted have the right to be let out of prison. Once you’re there, you’re there. If you get out, it’s ’cause the state is being compassionate out of pure parental loving kindness toward her children rather than any obligation. We should keep that benevolence in mind next time next time we badmouth the state.

      Now, let us all face toward Washington, bend down, nose to the ground, and humbly repeat the chant, “All hail Mighty Leaders of Democracy!”

    23. #23 |  MacGregory | 

      I can’t speak for the rest of you (well, maybe I can now) but it makes me feel a hell of a lot better knowing that I can shit my pants and the “rich” people will be there to wipe my ass.

    24. #24 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Jim Collins, I think you simply confirmed that the government responded to this issue the way they usually do. They solved a problem that didn’t exist. They must like problems like that because those seem to be the kind they are most enthusiastic about fixing.

    25. #25 |  Mattocracy | 


      Thanks for shedding some light on this. I think the government always finds a scapegoat for it’s fuck ups. It’s always the profit seeking ventures that get the blame.

    26. #26 |  Lascia Ch'io Pianga |

    27. #27 |  PA | 

      “It’s Chase’s money, of course. They can do what they want with it. ”

      Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong wrong… Chase made statements and promises, and in reliance on those statements and promises, third parties undertook activities that they were not previously obligated to perform. Further, you can argue that Chase benefited from those activities. While I’m sure they had a lot of fine print associated with their contest rules, there is still an argument to be made that Chase is liable on a contract or related legal theory.

    28. #28 |  Duncan | 

      Chase is getting a whole lot of free advertising out of the deal.

      There’s no such thing as bad press, as long as they spell your name right.

    29. #29 |  Chuchundra | 

      Chase set up the rules and they made it clear that advocacy groups were not permitted.

    30. #30 |  Laertes | 

      Jim Collins: That’s very interesting. If I was doing PR for the airlines, I’d be extremely embarrassed that it hadn’t occurred to me to make this argument in public. These long waits on the tarmac are often big news, and a PR disaster for the airlines when it happens. Americans being Americans, we’re generally quite willing to believe that Government is the villain and Big Corporations are blameless, so such a defense, if offered and backed up, would spread far and wide, quickly.

      Any idea why the Airlines aren’t offering this extremely effective defense?

    31. #31 |  Windy | 

      Scott hit the nail on the head here:

    32. #32 |  Jim Collins | 


      Only that the airlines are regulated by the FAA. Kind of hard to antagonize the people with their foot on your oxygen hose. The public has a short memory (kind of explains politics). This month it is US Air getting hammered, so American, Southwest and the others pick-up a few passengers from the bad publicity. Next month it will be somebody else and US Air gets those passengers back.

    33. #33 |  Wil | 

      Because you can never get enough Dogs in the snow :)