Lunch Links

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
  • It’s worth noting that included in this map of states where there are documented cases of police departments conducting illegal surveillance of people or groups for exercising their First Amendment rights are Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts, the three states that have been most aggressive about arresting civilians for recording police officers.
  • Toronto police put “weapons on the table” to illustrate the threat posed by G20 protesters. Problem is, some of what was on the table weren’t weapons, and others were weapons seized in unrelated busts. Note: This is not to suggest that some of the protesters weren’t actual violent, property-destroying douchebags. From what I’ve seen, there was plenty of that, too.
  • Vatican admonishes a cardinal who helped expose sex abuse scandals.
  • Mary Beth Buchanan criticized for improper travel expenses during her time as U.S. Attorney. She had better hope the new U.S. Attorney is more lenient with her than she was with, say, Cyril Wecht.
  • Marijuana legalization will be on California’s November ballot. Regardless of how it fares (and I’m afraid it’s going to fail), if you grew up in the 80s as I did, this represents a pretty incredible marker of how far the debate has come.
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60 Responses to “Lunch Links”

  1. #1 |  Rhayader | 

    “…..Dope on the damn table.”

    I’m also afraid the Cali initiative is going to fail, but I can’t tell if I’m just being pessimistic. It seems to me that while 56% support “legalization”, this specific measure is getting some pushback from within the reform-friendly community. I’m not sure 56% is enough to overcome the numbers lost because of that.

    For the record, people who “support legalization” but are going to vote down this measure are douchebags who are sacrificing an imperfect improvement for continuation of the beyond-ridiculous status quo. I’m sorry, but the economic well-being of Humboldt growers, or the respect received by seriously ill patients, or the objections from the “don’t tax it” crowd are vanishingly insignificant in light of the fact that we’re throwing people in jail for freaking pot.

  2. #2 |  Aresen | 

    The California initiative is going to fail because every pro-WOD interest group – police, prison guards, DARE promoters, owners of prisons, owners of rehab centers – is going to throw a ton of money into the hands of scaremongers who will say that allowing MJ legalization will turn their kids into criminals. The counter, obviously, is to point out that it is actually the WOD people who are making criminals of kids who are innocent of harming anyone, but they won’t have nearly as much funding or media support.

  3. #3 |  Aresen | 

    RE: Mary Beth Buchanan

    Don’t worry. She’ll get “professional courtesy.”

  4. #4 |  ChrisD | 

    I would love to see how these Toronto riots would be treated in the media if they were related to a Tea Party event.

  5. #5 |  Joe | 

    While I recognize we need police to maintain a free society, we also need unrestricted observation and recording of police while they are in public to maintain a free society. Both go hand in hand.

  6. #6 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “This is not to suggest that some of the protesters weren’t actual violent, property-destroying douchebags.”

    Or were they agents provocateur?

    Of course, if one is violent, one is automatically an anarchist. Can’t have one without the other. No way.

    /f’en puke

  7. #7 |  SJE | 

    Didn’t Maryland get in trouble a few years ago for illegal surveillance of ideological opponents? What happened to that case?

  8. #8 |  tariqata | 

    Re. the G20 meeting and the issues with policing: I’ve been seeing various news articles featuring displays of the “weapons” seized from protesters, and it’s infuriating (can’t imagine the LARPer trying to explain to the police what he was up to!) but it’s this, and this, plus Bill Blair’s smirking attitude toward the protesters that got me to join the people who want an inquiry into how the whole thing was handled. It’s an over-used and often expensive process in this country, but every politician and official who proposed and supported these policies – and lied by omission to the public about the scope of police powers during the summit – needs to be publicly named and held to account.

  9. #9 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “Marijuana legalization will be on California’s November ballot.”

    Stoners of the world, unite!

    Of course it won’t pass. Stoners tend to be oblivious to things like elections. If elections were held for like a week instead of that one particular day, more stoners might remember to go to the polls.

    But it doesn’t really matter anyway. Asking the State for permission to decide what you can and cannot put in your very own body seems childish in the extreme. No self-respecting person would do such a thing. Far better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Or better yet, tell the State to fuck off.

  10. #10 |  Joanne | 

    Point of order, Radley: The language used in this sentence (“…the three states that have been most aggressive about arresting civilians for recording police officers.”) implies that police officers are not “civilians.” Of course, police officers are civilians, by definition.

    When the police and others use the term “civilians” to describe fellow citizens who are not members of a police force, it furthers a “police-as-military-waging-war-on-the-citizenry” mindset. Nitpicking? Maybe, but winning the language battle is a big part of winning over public opinion.

  11. #11 |  Duncan20903 | 

    I’d rather tell people who cling to worthless and false stereotypes of stoners to fuck off. It was stoners that put Prop 19 on the ballot in CA. It was stoners that put Prop 215 on the ballot and got it passed into law. Anyway, with perhaps as much as 10% of the votes it isn’t the stoners votes that are going to make a difference.

  12. #12 |  Rhayader | 

    Yeah Duncan. I agree with Cynical’s second graf — tell the state to fuck off, indeed — but I don’t like the “stupid lazy stoners forget to vote” stuff. Not only is the stereotype inaccurate in my experience — stoners can be some of the most annoyingly politicized people in a given social circle — but opposition to cannabis prohibition is obviously coming from a whole lot more than stoners who want to get high.

  13. #13 |  BSK | 

    Cynical-

    That’s a complete strawman’s argument. Radley never said they were anarchists. If they are destroying property that does not belong to them, even public property, they are wrong, regardless of their political affiliation or philosophy.

  14. #14 |  BSK | 

    Thank god the protesters weren’t black…

  15. #15 |  Carl Drega | 

    While it looks like the polling is about even, hopefully the legalizers are more motivated and get the measure passed. I know for other issues broad but shallow support is not as good as narrow to mid level but very deep.

    Perhaps I’m naive or wishful here, but I tend to think most legalizers have spent more calories examining the issue and are more committed rather than those who just think drugs = bad.

    Surely if California legalizes pot, that will mean the end of pot prohibition west of the Rockies, if not nationwide. I see it as the break in the dam of drug prohibition generally and will fight like hell to see it happen. Now the question is, where to $end money for the fight. Radley, I hope you Reason, and others will be reporting on who is doing the best job getting the right message across and in doing so help me decide where to send my money for this effort.

  16. #16 |  Nick | 

    Or were they agents provocateur?

    You mean like at the SPP Protest in Québec (original video) or at the G20 in Pittsburgh? They’d never do that in Toronto. ;)

    That’s a complete strawman’s argument. Radley never said they were anarchists.

    I think he’s probably referencing the linked YouTube which does make that claim.

  17. #17 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #10 | Duncan20903
    #11 | Rhayader

    Duncan, you’re excused because I don’t recognize you. But Rhyader, you have no excuse for not recognizing my self-deprecating satire. And just so we’re clear, I believe that marijuana legalization will pass in California, though I denounce it for the reasons in my second graf.

    #12 | BSK

    How Balko feels about anarchists is no secret. And that he regularly conflates anarchy with chaos is no big thing either, being a very common fallacy. His posts are constructed within a certain implied context, whether or not he explicitly writes such on a given day. Of course, I agree with your second sentence — violence is always wrong, with the possible exception of self-defense. No one who credibly calls himself/herself an anarchist can engage in initiatory violence — those people are called statists.

  18. #18 |  BSK | 

    Cynical-

    So it begs the question… who identified the people in the video as “anarchists”? Placing it in quotes, as the videographer did, implies that either he was quoting somewhere there who identified them as such OR was indicating that he didn’t really believe them to be anarchists.

    Perhaps Balko is not a fan of anarchism. But I struggle to see how him labeling a bunch of people wearing masks and bashing store windows as “property-destroying douchebags” is any way an indictment of anarchy. If those kids were anarchists, even in name only, they are still property-destroying douchebags who are doing a disservice to the anarchy cause. If they are some other groups… they’re still property-destroying douchebags. Calling them as such, which is all that Radley did, is in no way a commentary on their ideology, only on their methodology.

    It’s pretty clear from the video that these people weren’t acting in self-defense and weren’t attempting to be provocateurs. As the one kids said, “We’re trying to commit crime here.” Maybe some of them had a legitimate message they were trying to get across, but a lot seemed to simply be reveling in the relative lawlessness and just wanted to smash stuff and not be held accountable.

  19. #19 |  BSK | 

    Cynical-

    I misunderstood your agent provocateurs statement. My apologies. Still, without any evidence that the group was infiltrated by the police, that cry falls on deaf ears. Yes, there is evidence of this being done in the past and it’s worth considering/investigating. But absent any real evidence all you’re doing is making excuses for property-destroying douchebags.

  20. #20 |  Rhayader | 

    But Rhyader, you have no excuse for not recognizing my self-deprecating satire.

    Reading back, I have no response but to cower in the corner in a fetal position, possibly (probably?) urinating all over myself.

    My bad.

  21. #21 |  InMd | 

    At #7

    What was going on there was former Governor Bob Ehrlich (who will be racing again against current Governor Martin O’Malley) had the police monitoring certain activists groups, particularly Casa De Maryland which is a controversial and influential immigrant organization. Many people see CDM as essentially an agent of illegal aliens in the DC suburbs and parts of Baltimore. The story came out and there was an investigation but ultimately nothing happened. Personally I found the whole thing to be somewhat sickening. I obviously disliked the government spying on political advocacy groups but I also find CDM’s methods regarding political influence and its knee jerk positions (i.e. anyone with a position other than theirs on illegal immigration is a racist) to also be quite troublesome. In short the whole episode was quite convoluted and in some ways had more to do with local political factions than with the 1st Amendment.

    That aside I hope that California does the right thing and votes to legalize. I think there’d be no way to describe it as anything but a watershed moment.

  22. #22 |  Mattocracy | 

    How can those cops put out play armor and fake medival sheilds and take themselves seriously. If I was an officer in that department, I would be completely embarrassed. That should be a fireable offence.

  23. #23 |  tariqata | 

    Mattocracy: Because they have to justify the billion-odd dollars spent on summit security somehow. I guess. Though I really can’t understand why they thought bike helmets belonged with the “weapons” display.

  24. #24 |  Radley Balko | 

    Of course, police officers are civilians, by definition.

    I understand the point. But there’s really no better way to distinguish police from people who aren’t police, other than the awkward phrase “people who aren’t police.”

  25. #25 |  perlhaqr | 

    BSK: A couple points. The people in the videos likely describe themselves as “anarchists”, because unfortunately, that term gets co-opted by a significant number of property destroying assclowns.

    The Toronto police have demonstrated in the relatively recent past that they aren’t above acting as agents provocateur: http://www.boingboing.net/2010/06/28/canadian-cops-histor.html (Though, to be fair, the story told at that link doesn’t constitute evidentiary proof of that behaviour, it just looks fishy as hell.)

    All that said, surely not all of the people acting like cockmanglers in that video are on the police payroll.

    *shrug*

    Ultimately, when it comes down to violent conflict between statist cops and leftist fucktards, I can’t lose. :)

  26. #26 |  Charlie | 

    As a self-identifying Catholic with an agnostic bent, it pleases me to know that if there turns out to be a “Hell”, Mary Beth Buchanan will certainly some day be burning in it…

  27. #27 |  bob42 | 

    I have more bad news regarding CA’s Prop 19 (aka: SB420.)

    A national coalition of social conservative religious/political groups represented by the National Organization for Marriage has pledged full financial support for defeating the proposition, and has issued a press release detailing a comprehensive 48 hour study performed by discredited psychologist Paul Cameron.

    According to Cameron, “this study proves that cannabis is a gateway to gay marriage.”

  28. #28 |  Rhayader | 

    But there’s really no better way to distinguish police from people who aren’t police, other than the awkward phrase “people who aren’t police.”

    I think they call us “normies”.

    But we could come up with some more words besides “citizen”:

    Victim
    Prisoner
    Target
    Funding Source
    Currently-alive-dog Owner

  29. #29 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #20 | Rhayader

    Now that’s some self-deprecating satire! I stand pwned.

  30. #30 |  BSK | 

    “Ultimately, when it comes down to violent conflict between statist cops and leftist fucktards, I can’t lose. :)”

    Perl-

    Good points, all of them. But the problem was, a lot of their violence, at least in the video, wasn’t directed at the cops. It was directed at private property. Now, you may not be a fan of Starbucks, either because of their coffee or their business practices, but nothing justifies breaking store windows wantonly because you want to damn the man. That is where I think the line was crossed. That wasn’t a political statement, it was just stupidity. And I have no sympathy for those folks, no matter what their agenda is. Throw their asses in jail.

  31. #31 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #19 | BSK — “But absent any real evidence all you’re doing is making excuses for property-destroying douchebags.”

    I’ve done no such thing. I condemn property-destroying douchebags everywhere. It’s just that I’ve seen this movie before — political summit, totalitarian law enforcement, rowdy protestors, property damage — Bam! Indictment of anarchism. Oh, and State agents provocateur is now an established part of the drill. Sorry if I put on my cranky pants today, but I’m pissed.

  32. #32 |  scott | 

    Currently-alive-dog Owner

    Outstanding! I’m absolutely co-opting this for my own use from now on.

  33. #33 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #22 | Mattocracy — “That should be a fireable offence.”

    You’re Canadian, Matt?

  34. #34 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #24 | Radley Balko — “There’s really no better way to distinguish police from people who aren’t police, other than the awkward phrase “people who aren’t police.””

    Off the cuff, a few suggestions: slaves, peons, inferiors, small people, nobodies, taser-fodder, etc., etc., etc. No charge.

  35. #35 |  zendingo | 

    i think the chances of marijuana law reform are better than some would think, as it’s been pointed out just the fact that it’s on the ballot at all is pretty amazing in itself and these days people are way pissed off at the government.

  36. #36 |  albatross | 

    If CA legalizes pot, is there any clear idea what the feds will do? I have a hard time seeing this sort of result being allowed to stand.

  37. #37 |  samsam | 

    I’m going to pile on with Joanne and criticize the use of “civilian” in this context. I, too, think the language is very important, and we should not use language that appears to grant superiority to cops. The sentence “…most aggressive about arresting civilians for recording police officers ” would have worked just as well if you used “people” or “decent folk”.

  38. #38 |  Rhayader | 

    @albatross: Yeah that’s a good question, but I say bring on the conflict. At least it would make this administration take one freaking definitive stance on the issue.

    Obama certainly doesn’t have the political will to advocate legalization, but I’m also not sure he has the political will to crack down on reform. I honestly think he’d rather leave it well enough alone. If reform happens with the feds largely out of the picture, he gets to take credit for it among legalizers and deny blame for it among prohibitionists.

  39. #39 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Vatican admonishes a cardinal who helped expose sex abuse scandals.

    By the end of Bush’s second term, I still had enough faith in the human race to think that, after such an embarrassment, most Republicans would leave the Party in utter disgust. I was wrong.

    Hell, I even thought that people would leave the Democratic party in droves rather than continue to be affiliated with a party that couldn’t even put up a candidate capable of beating the absolute dumbest President in history. I was wrong about that as well.

    I find it similarly astonishing that Catholics continue to belong to an organization of such low moral character that it protects pedophile priests (you know, those bad apples) and facilitates institutionalized molestation of children.

    What kind of standards do people have that there is literally no evil that would cause them to dissociate themselves from an organization?

  40. #40 |  ClubMedSux | 

    @albatross: Yeah that’s a good question, but I say bring on the conflict. At least it would make this administration take one freaking definitive stance on the issue.

    I would think that would be a battle for the courts, not the executive. If you look at Gonzalez v. Raich (which looked at conflict of law with respect to medicinal marijuana) it was decided 6-3 and only one of the three dissenters (Thomas) is still on the bench. Assuming Ginsberg, Kennedy, Scalia and Breyer don’t change their mind on the issue, all you need is one of Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor and Kagan to vote against California. If I’m a drug warrior I like those odds.

  41. #41 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Just to clarify my above comment, you (Rhayader) are correct that the executive would have to take a stance since it could choose not to enforce federal drug laws in CA (as it claimed it would do with respect to medical marijuana). My comment assumes the Obama administration WON’T look the other way, which I think is a pretty safe bet.

  42. #42 |  Mattocracy | 

    #39 | Dave Krueger |

    I have wondered that myself. The only thing I can say is that maybe no one wants to admit that they were wrong for their affiliation. Or maybe they see disassociation as letting the greater of two evils win. “Can’t leave the church for fear of hell. Can leave the party for fear that the opposition will be even worse.”

    With that kind of fear, people was willing to accept a lot of awfulness just so long as it is perceived to be 1% better than their alternative.

  43. #43 |  The Johnny Appleseed Of Crack | 

    Of course, police officers are civilians, by definition.

    I understand the point. But there’s really no better way to distinguish police from people who aren’t police, other than the awkward phrase “people who aren’t police.”

    How about “Private citizens”

  44. #44 |  Sydney Carton | 

    Or Mattocracy, people could actually believe in the Church notwithstanding the sin of men in the organization. Part of Catholicism specifically involves its unique universalist claims, so if you leave it then you’re abandoning a lot of the faith.

  45. #45 |  Dennis N | 

    Radley Balko

    Of course, police officers are civilians, by definition.

    I understand the point. But there’s really no better way to distinguish police from people who aren’t police, other than the awkward phrase “people who aren’t police.”

    Citizens.

    I know cops are citizens, too, but it’s important to get across the point of who they are messing with – their bosses.

  46. #46 |  Dennis N | 

    @ Dave Krueger

    I find it similarly astonishing that Catholics continue to belong to an organization of such low moral character that it protects pedophile priests (you know, those bad apples) and facilitates institutionalized molestation of children.

    What kind of standards do people have that there is literally no evil that would cause them to dissociate themselves from an organization?

    A couple of reasons.

    They are attracted or retained by the liturgy and the general theology of the Church.

    The Faithful have seldom had much regard for the Church Hierarchy above the Parish Priest level. It doesn’t effect them, and they ignore it.

    They genuinely like their own Parish Priest. The vast majority are innocent of wrongdoing and are decent folks. They recognize that the Church is very imperfect – probably more so then the Church Hierarchy does.

    As for the Hierarchy itself, damn the lot of them until they clean up their act and demonstrate that they value the Faithful more than their own kind.

  47. #47 |  J sub D | 

    It’s worth noting that included in this map of states where there are documented cases of police departments conducting illegal surveillance of people or groups for exercising their First Amendment rights are Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts, the three states that have been most aggressive about arresting civilians for recording police officers.

    Why do so many graphic artists forget to color in the upper peninsula when doing Michigan? I know it’s unimportant, but dammit, it pisses me off.
    ;-)

  48. #48 |  J sub D | 

    Of course, police officers are civilians, by definition.

    I understand the point. But there’s really no better way to distinguish police from people who aren’t police, other than the awkward phrase “people who aren’t police.”

    I use citizen. It doesn’t imply that cops are military, it may imply they are less than those who pay their salary.

  49. #49 |  perlhaqr | 

    BSK: Good points, all of them. But the problem was, a lot of their violence, at least in the video, wasn’t directed at the cops. It was directed at private property. Now, you may not be a fan of Starbucks, either because of their coffee or their business practices, but nothing justifies breaking store windows wantonly because you want to damn the man.

    It was not my intention to in any way condone the vandalism perpetrated by the leftist fucktards (or the agents provocateur pretending to be leftist fucktards) in the video. I was merely stating that, if the leftists beat up the cops, or the cops beat up the leftists, well, either way, I win.

    “The enemy of my enemy is probably also my enemy, and it saves me time and money if I can get them to fight each other instead of me.”

    —-

    As for how to differentiate between “cops” and “non cops”, I prefer to use the term “humans” to refer to those who aren’t police.

  50. #50 |  matt | 

    Oh for god’s sake they stole some random dude’s belegarth gear and then called it weaponry….

  51. #51 |  John | 

    For sure the California initiative to re-legalize pot is going to fail. No way it’ll pass. So if your against it, there’s no need to even go to the polls on election day.

  52. #52 |  BSK | 

    Perl-

    Duly noted. I don’t necessarily share your level of disdain for the cops, but I agree that two groups of fucktards are fine to beat the crap out of each other.

    The issue arises here: Suppose the cops (who, judging by the video, were incredibly restrained, to the point of actually failing in their legitimate duties) stepped in to protect the private property. Would you still have been okay with them getting beat up? If a cop stepped in and attempted to reasonably stop the group from destroying private property, I would have been 100% on the cop’s side. That’s where these situations get so tricky. I suppose the storeowner could have gone out there with a bat or a gun (are they legal in wherever Toronto is?) but that’s a tall order given the size of the mob. And, technically, that is what we have cops for. If they are going to exist, they might as well be charged with protecting private property rights, something they failed to do here but would have been, in my mind, rightful to have stepped in and stop, with reasonable force if necessary. Your thoughts?

  53. #53 |  BSK | 

    “Oh for god’s sake they stole some random dude’s belegarth gear and then called it weaponry….”

    I believe that belongs to Augie Farcques. He’ll need that back before the next LAIRE meeting.

  54. #54 |  Windy | 

    “people who aren’t police.” What’s wrong with “non-cops”?

  55. #55 |  kino | 

    the term Helots seems appropriate

  56. #56 |  Dave W. | 

    I prefer “regcits.”

    1. It is short and easy to say.

    2. It is intuitively clear, especially in context.

    3. (best of all) It is a new word and implies that police versus private citizen issues have taken on a new cast which necessitates the use of a new word to mean non-police as a distinct class of people (as opposed to a happenstance circumstance occasioned by a person’s career choice).

  57. #57 |  MikeZ | 

    “The people in the videos likely describe themselves as “anarchists”, because unfortunately, that term gets co-opted by a significant number of property destroying assclowns.”

    They always call themselves anarchists, until I get out my shotgun and start defending my property, Then they want government to step in and stop me from dismembering them. What a bunch of hypocrites.

  58. #58 |  Charlie O | 

    @InMD.

    The MD state police were targeting more than an Hispanic organization. Under Ehrlich’s watch, the MD state police surveilled both anti-death penalty activists and anti-war activists. One group of which were very dangerous Quakers.

  59. #59 |  albatross | 

    You can’t be too careful with those violent Quaker extremists. They’re almost as scary as fundamentalist Unitarians.

  60. #60 |  albatross | 

    Re the Catholic question, perhaps a parallel is useful: Many perfectly good, decent people maintain their US citizenship, vote, pay taxes, volunteer for the military, work for the federal or state government, etc., even though we’re aware of the truly godawful things the US government is doing and has done in the world. Partly, that’s because the cost of leaving the community where you have built your life, made friends, etc., is high. Partly, it’s because there are things about the US that are worth saving, worth honoring, even though there are also some godawful parts. And partly, it’s because even in an organization that has corrupt, horrible parts, there are also really good parts. The doctor working at the VA hospital treating some old veteran doesn’t become a force for evil in the world, just because the same organization blows up lots of mud huts full of civilians in Afghanistan.

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