Friday Links

Friday, June 8th, 2012

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71 Responses to “Friday Links”

  1. #1 |  David | 

    The “but for video” story says the officer could be “eligible for patrol” in nine months, which I found depressingly, and hilariously, believable.

  2. #2 |  dsmallwood | 

    Wisconsin –
    if money equals speech, more money is just talking louder. but it only buys ads, it doesn’t buy Customers. ask the New Coke guys. its sad for the unions that nobody bought what they were selling. it sounds like none of their ex-members wanted to buy their services either.

    Philly –
    defense attorney Gerald Stanshine said … Shwarz should have received … probation, given his previously clean record.
    right …. cause this is the first and only time he ever stepped across the line. clean records my butt.

  3. #3 |  BruceH | 

    So, the deputy who shot his canine will be charged with killing a police officer, right?

    Oh, wait. They are only police officers when citizens shoot them. Otherwise, they are “assets”.

  4. #4 |  Marcus | 

    If money is as useless as the article claims, why do groups and individuals continue to pour so much of it into campaigns? Further, why was it important and useful to a democrat (President Obama), but not important to a republican (Gov Walker).

  5. #5 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    I’m getting the impression that the Philadelphia police are worse than average. Is there information comparing the police in various cities?

  6. #6 |  Kyle | 

    I know I have heard this used somewhere before but I am going to borrow it for the sake of this discussion. Its makes one wonder that when Republincans, like Gov. Walker, raise large sums of money for their campaign they are called out as “buying the campaing” or claims of fraud are spouted but when Democrats follow the same funding path, in particular President Obama, its called “Hope and Change”.

  7. #7 |  John Thacker | 

    #4: A lot of it is to buy access, or favorable consideration from the politicians (or as protection money.) People donate to the politician who already looks likely to win; the causation doesn’t necessarily go in the way you think.

    There’s a certain minimum level of money needed to get your message out. Above that, it really doesn’t matter. Ask Carly Fiorina or Meg Whitman or a host of others.

    Note that self-funders do a lot worse than people who raise a ton of money from outsiders. That’s evidence that supports the reverse causation hypothesis– self funders aren’t getting money from people who expect that they’ll win, they’re just trying to buy it.

    Obama got a ton of money from people who were sure he was favored, and wanted to “build relationships.”

  8. #8 |  Len | 

    Phone confiscation “yeah, we don’t to keep it.” How about ” yeah, you had no authority to take it in the first place, and now I have to arrest you for assault and theft.”

  9. #9 |  a leap at the wheel | 

    Marcus – in addition to what Thacker says, campaign funding is an all-pay auction, which leads to irrationally high amounts of money in the system.

  10. #10 |  DoubleU | 

    K-9 officer shoots his own dog.

    The dog was doing just what it was trained to do, it was attacking a criminal.

  11. #11 |  Miroker | 

    I just want to know when you are going to join in with your new gig and start showing us some “sideboob”.

  12. #12 |  nigmalg | 

    Re: Election money:

    The “money buys votes” horse-shit is paternalism at its finest. Voters cannot possibly be capable of making decisions of who to vote for without screaming biased commercials being paraded in front of them. This is the admission that [insert side here] is the only elite class capable of protecting the serfs from themselves.

    In the same vein as soda, salt, and other petty diet controls.

    Re: Reporter’s cell phone:

    Notice how the officer informed his supervisor that he got *another* phone from the reporter. Can someone please explain to me how police all over this country believe that can walk up and yank an innocent person’s property out of their hands? There isn’t a single brain cell firing guilt or doubt about assaulting and stealing a camera from a reporter…

  13. #13 |  Kris | 

    Just like ‘new professionalism’, I think the Sheriff’s statement in the K-9 case should be included in every new puppycide story:

    “This is an extremely sad situation. Dogs are more than a family asset. They are beloved members of the community and the victim’s family.” Going on to say, “At least, they were before we put bullet holes in them. Now we’re pretty sure they were violent animals threatening our officers so maliciously as to require our officers of the law to use deadly force to save themselves.”

  14. #14 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Re: #11 – As I keep saying – we have to quit using weasel language. They didn’t “confiscate” the phone. What he did was to commit a crime known as “strong-arm robbery”. The linked article doesn’t allow room for comment but the writer should just call it what it is – robbery.

  15. #15 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Can someone please explain to me how police all over this country believe that can walk up and yank an innocent person’s property out of their hands? There isn’t a single brain cell firing guilt or doubt about assaulting and stealing a camera from a reporter…

    They believe that the cell phone may have evidence on it, and further that the evidence is likely to disappear if they do not confiscate the cell phone. They then characterize this as an “exigent circumstance,” which is a legally cognizable exception to the seizure strictures of 4a.

    This is part correct and part incorrect. Let us unpack it:

    1. The cell phone might have evidence. The phone may have an image of the shooter leaving the scene, or an image of a person that matches a later eyewitness account or whatever. Alternatively, maybe the victim yells out the shooter’s name with her dying breath. Good stuff to have recorded. I realize that one could argue that there is an even greater probability that useful evidence is NOT there on the phone, but on can see why it might be reasonable to believe that evidence is there.

    2. How about the idea that the evidence will disappear if the phone is not seized right away? It is probably true that if the policemen simply left the woman alone then the evidence would disappear. It would be hard to track the woman down again. She might very well erase it the way we have all deleted videos here in the modern age.

    3. HOWEVER (and this is important), this problem can be addressed by an approach other than the seizure of the phone. The woman can be approached and identified. She can be told not to destroy the video because the police may want to subpoena it later (I believe it would then become a crime for her to delete the vid — I think this is basically the reason Dharun Ravi is sitting in jail as we now speak). If the policeman did this, then there would not be a reason to believe that the evidence would be destroyed before the subpoena could be mustered. In a sense, the policeman creates the exigent circumstances by failing to do what a reasonable policeman would do if he were truly interested in seeing the video later.

    4. We need cases on this. besides the immediate issue of establishing the presumed liklihood that a cell phone videographer will destroy evidence, there is the deeper issue as to what probability threshol is generally required in cases where a policeman subjectively believe that evidence will be destroyed absent a warrantless (and presumably unConstitutional) seizure and/or search. Som people, like Professor Kerr, argue that a lesser probability threshold than the probability threshold for “probable cause” is required in exidgnt circumstances cases. As distinguished and esteemed as professor Kerr is, I think he is wrong on this. By allowing warrantless seizures and searches on less than probable cause abrogates not only the warrant requirement but the probable cause requirement as well. It would cause the exigency exception to completely destroy what is still left of 4a.

  16. #16 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Illinois torture investigation gets swept away to save the cost of what amounts to one cop’s salary.

    Of course, saving money ain’t why the funding got pulled. Exhibit #3,498 of how the state will stop at nothing to protect itself and that it does NOT protect citizens.

    Well done, Illinois House and Senate. You’re all complicit in the torture now.

  17. #17 |  perlhaqr | 

    K-9 officer shoots his own dog.


  18. #18 |  Surly Chef | 

    #9 DoubleU
    I like the snark.

    Anyways, this goes right the point I’ve tried to illustrate in other places. If a trained attack dog does not pose an immediate threat to life or serious bodily injury until it successfully attacks its owner and does not yield to commands to stop, then no other puppycide incident listed by Balko is anything other than criminal destruction of property. This incident is the exact standard that should be used when shooting a dog. I suspect that if this standard were adopted, stories of puppycide would be as rare as this story.

  19. #19 |  Marty | 

    re the Bloomberg article- I love the quote, ‘Indeed, the 16-ounce limit might actually enhance individual liberty by compelling restaurants and bottlers to sell soda in the smaller quantities that people often want but can’t get.’

    along with new math, this guy practices new freedom.

  20. #20 |  Personanongrata | 

    “Extremely excessive,” defense attorney Gerald Stanshine said of the sentence, which he said he would appeal because the most Shwarz should have received for the misdemeanor convictions is probation, given his previously clean record.

    Boo-hoo counselor, here is a quarter, call someone who cares.

  21. #21 |  B | 

    Good riddance to those old worthless Fullerton city council members.

  22. #22 |  Mannie | 

    The shot K-9 incident sounds like a dog with a bad temperament, inadequately trained, and with an inadequate trainer/handler. A good trainer would probably have been able to defuse the dog and save it.

    A large number of police dogs have lousy temperaments, and due to budget constraints, training isn’t all it should be. This is all too common with police dogs.

  23. #23 |  Personanongrata | 

    13 | Burgers Allday | June 8th, 2012 at 11:34 am
    They believe that the cell phone may have evidence on it, and further that the evidence is likely to disappear if they do not confiscate the cell phone. They then characterize this as an “exigent circumstance,” which is a legally cognizable exception to the seizure strictures of 4a.

    Using this specious logic every person at or passing by the crime scene with a camera or not is now a potential eyewitness as they may have seen evidence that the camera may not have recorded.

    Did the deputy collect the names and contact information of everyone present or passing by the crime scene for potential future questioning?

    If not then seizing a persons camera based upon the claim it may contain evidence is pure unadultured balderdash sprinkled with tin-horn despotism regardless of whether the deputy thought he/she was acting under the color of the law or not.

    It is the duty of all citizens to resist all such abuses of power.

  24. #24 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    The story about the Philly cop leaves out a history of other similar incidents, including one that left a 15 year old dead:

  25. #25 |  demize! | 

    Nancy the Philadelphia police dept along with the Massachusetts State Police bombed a house from a helicopter setting the entire block ablaze. This was during one of the MOVE standoffs. Bear in mind that all started with a “public safety” violation because of trash and loudspeakers. Its also documented on film that the survivors, including children and a pregnant woman were savagely beaten after surrendering. There was a massive shootout and the PFD tried to drown them by flooding the basement with fire hoses. I may be conflating two incidents. There was some vendetta against them. So uh maybe.

  26. #26 |  Pi Guy | 

    #7 Len, re: camera

    I’m curious, after the recent kerfuffle about the “USC”, if you’d share with me which rights of the reporter were violated by the cop taking the camera? Because it’s not theft at all – she gave it willingly – and it’s not assault because she wasn’t threatened in any way.

    I agree that it was wrong but, I suspect, for different reasons. What’s your justification?

  27. #27 |  Juice | 

    When a dog starts “showing sings of aggression” out of nowhere it’s usually not out of nowhere. Something tells me that the cop started treating him like shit.

  28. #28 |  Len | 

    Pi guy, yes I also willingly give my wallet to a bunch of armedthugs when they ask for it also. Sorry, but a cop imposing himself on someone as he did there is threatening. If she says no, what do you think happens? I’ve already seen too many vids of such scenarios when people haven’t given up their phone or recording device to believe that she would be allowed on her merry way.

  29. #29 |  Dana Gower | 


    From your link:

    Shwarz is the 12th Philadelphia police officer to be charged criminally since last January… “Unfortunately there’s more [arrests] coming this year, but it should in no way diminish the good work being done by this department on a daily basis,” (Police Commissioner Charles) Ramsey said. “There are a few people who have abused that trust, and we are committed to weeding them out.”

    I have no idea how big the department is, but with 12 arrests already and more coming, that sounds like more than “a few people.”

  30. #30 |  Burgers Allday | 

    nypd speaks out against smartphone app. for recording police:

  31. #31 |  noseeum | 

    Quote from that last link:
    “The criminal-justice system depends on the trustfulness of police officers. If they’re not telling us the truth, then the whole system is corrupt.”

    Ding ding ding! We have a winner! So that makes ONE judge who’s maybe seen the light? Thousands more to go.

  32. #32 |  Onlooker | 

    re: “Give me your cell phone”

    quote: “But come on, don’t yell at people when they don’t immediately comply with your command to do something you probably don’t even have the authority to ask them to do.”

    This guy is apparently not very familiar with the “contempt of cop” offense. Doesn’t he know that there can be NO delay in complying with instructions, and certainly zero trace of lack of respect? We’ll have chaos, chaos, I say, if citizens don’t promptly get in line.

  33. #33 |  Onlooker | 

    That defense of Bloomberg’s soda ban proposal makes me ill. It that twit wants a nanny let him get one, and leave the rest of us alone. How hard is that to understand?

  34. #34 |  Pi Guy | 

    re: Cop K9 killer
    I’m tending to side with those of us who sugget that a well-trained dog doesn’t just up and go apeshit without some provocation. I suspect the cop probably treated his “partner” with all the professional courtesy and respect afforded to all dogs everywhere. Namely, none.

    re: cell phone snatcher
    “But come on, don’t yell at people when they don’t immediately comply with your command to do something you probably don’t even have the authority to ask them to do.” [emphasis mine]

    Jeebus – the guy snatches the phone and not one of them is even sure if it’s okay or not?

    Back @ Len #26:
    Fair enough, armed thugs are threatening and I agree with your assessment of them. However, I’m trying to get you to expand upon your assertion that the USC doesn’t apply to the states and below. I’m sugggesting that there are specifically enumerated rights being violated here and that that is the reason that cop, an agent of the state, is prohibited for behaving in this way.

    See, you left us hanging. Well me, at any rate. Please, I’m not being sarcastic or baiting you. I really want to know why you believe the Constitution’s authority stops in DC. It’s a very unique viewpoint, at least from my experience, and you haven’t yet addressed the SCOTUS cases I cited Wednesday as evidence that, as I believe, it’s BoR all the way down.

  35. #35 |  BamBam | 

    My take on the dog situation is that, like a human that deprograms Statist propaganda, starts acting AGAINST The State. The dog was a State slave against its natural will, and the cop is a State actor and the slave of the cop, thus threw off its Statist chains and was willing to accept the consequence of death.

    I would love to believe the above, but @25 is likely correct.

  36. #36 |  BamBam | 

    @26 is correct. Handing someone your belongings under duress, which is what it is when a cop asks you for your stuff, is not the same as your friend asking to borrow your shovel and you hand it to him.

  37. #37 |  Len | 

    Pi guy, not that I give credence to the USC actually being in effect, but nonetheless, SCOTUS cases have nothing to with constitutionality. They occur after ratification and it is only the understanding of those ratifying the USC or subsequent amendments that matter.

  38. #38 |  Peter Ramins | 

    Was money that big of a factor?

    I think it was, yes.

    First, here’s this:

    You’ll notice that Walker’s opponent was actually much more fiscally limited than Walker himself was – Walker was able to campaign longer, and Walker was able to accept unlimited personal donations while his opponent was limited to $10,000 from a single person. Fourteen billionaires contributed to Walker, and thirteen of them didn’t even live in Wisconsin.

    The flipside to your link’s argument is that Walker had to spend approximately seven times as much per vote recieved, and my assumption is that if he didn’t have that huge warchest, he wouldn’t have been able to do it.

    In other words, if he didn’t have those piles and piles of money, he wouldn’t have been able to buy the election.

    What Wisconsin showed is that those with enough money to play a strategic and long-term game can and will do so. Why would thirteen billionaires who didn’t live in Wisconsin all donate to Walker? Hrm, I wonder.

    I find it disgusting, and I see it as proof that our elections aren’t really elections anymore, but sales.

  39. #39 |  Brandon | 

    Peter, did these scary scary foreign billionaires pay anyone for their vote?

  40. #40 |  A Critic | 

    “In other words, if he didn’t have those piles and piles of money, he wouldn’t have been able to buy the election.”

    So the solution is to get rid of elections, right?

  41. #41 |  nigmalg | 

    In other words, if he didn’t have those piles and piles of money, he wouldn’t have been able to buy the election.


    Please cite your evidence showing how the amount of money raised influenced the actual vote of the public.

    “Well gee, I was going to vote for the Democrat, but after I heard on the radio how much the Republican raised, I really had no choice.”

  42. #42 |  Pi Guy | 

    “…SCOTUS cases have nothing to with constitutionality…”

    Len, I’m pretty sure that they only preside over cases where Constitutionality is in question. I’m not positive of that but, again, you’ve continued to not make your case as to why the Constitution needs to be checked at I-495.

    Share with me, if you can, one single case heard by the Supremes that wasn’t in regard to a Consititutional challenge. And throw in some evidence that supports your Constitution-only-applies-to-feds meme. I’m at a total loss and you keep replying without anything other than “I know more about the Constitution than anny living person.” It’s failing to convince me.

  43. #43 |  StrangeOne | 

    This sounds like an onions article waiting to happen:

    “Voter finally surrenders to pressures of advertising”

    “You know I absolutely hate the candidate. I’ve never voted for his party. I find his politically philosophy outdated and amoral. I’m fairly certain I saw him molesting collies at the dog park last week” began registered voter Steve Johnson. “But after being bombarded with ads for six months I have to vote for him.”

    “Its just ridiculous that through these terrible transparently manipulative ads he has reached such a great number of people” he says with a sigh. “None of my friends like the candidate either, but they all agree the ads are simply everywhere and there’s nothing we can do other than vote for him.”

    “When faced with such a terrible onslaught of videos, radio messages, and billboards abject surrender to his campaign is the only reasonable option we have left.”

  44. #44 |  Jeff W | 

    @ Peter Ramins

    What is the difference between an “election” and a “sale”? Should politicians not be trying to “sell” themselves and their policies to the voters? How much money is a politician allowed to spend before it changes from “free speech” to “BUYING THE ELECTION! ZOMG!!!!ONE!!!”

    By the way, there are a few misconceptions about the Wisconsin election. First of all, Walker didn’t outspend Barrett 7-to-1 or 10-to-1 or whatever other numbers the media is touting. It was actually by around 30-50%. The labor unions spent over $20 Million on tv ads, which the media conveniently ignores. The labor unions also spent millions on get-out-the-vote, though we won’t know the exact number because not all of it is reported (since it was done through third party groups).

    Citizens United (i.e. “The First Amendment”) had nothing to do with Walker’s fundraising. Wealthy individuals have ALWAYS been able to write huge checks to put out tv ads. Remember “Swift Vote Veterans for Truth” from 2004? What Citizens United does is it allows ordinary people to pool their money so that they, too, can have a voice.

    Do you want to know who the biggest supporters are of very restrictive campaign finance laws? Do you know who the biggest supporters of McCain-Feingold were? Political incumbents, lobbyists, big corporations, billionaires and anybody invested in the status quo. Freedom of speech is the only way to get anti-status quo messages out.

    Arguably the single most important freedom in a free nation is political speech. The idea that so many today are so quick to want to eliminate political speech is incredibly repulsive to me. Go move to North Korea or Iran if you want a country where you aren’t allowed to criticize the government in the media.

  45. #45 |  Jeff W | 

    By the way, let me ad that there actually is basically zero evidence that political spending causes election wins. Winning campaigns tend to raise more money… but people have the cause-and-effect backwards. People give more money to winning campaigns – who wants to give money to a candidate who is going to lose by 20 points?

    If money could buy elections then how come Meg Whitman isn’t Governor of California? She spent close to $150 Million of her own personal money and outspent Jerry Brown 4-to-1 and got destroyed. How come Ross Perot was never President?

    All the people whining about money buying elections, how did you feel when Obama vastly outspent McCain in 2008? When Obama won did you believe it was “a mandate” or did you feel like he “bought” the election?

    If the only people who are allowed to speak publicly are the two major political parties and the mainstream media, who exactly do you expect voters to hear about police abuse or drug war abuses? Because those issues sure aren’t of interest to the current status quo. The ONLY way those voices are heard is through alternative media and free speech. Citizens United, the re-legalization of the 1st Amendment, is the best friend for alternative beliefs.

  46. #46 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    I would suggest that money allows a candidate to get his narrative out to the public. To know whether money was a deciding factor, I would want to see some analysis of local news coverage of Walker vs coverage of the people wanting to recall him. I know what the balance would have been in Maryland in the 1980s (the last time I was really paying much attention to broadcast news) but not what the balance would have been in Wisconsin. I would also like to see how many man-hours of ‘volunteer’ work the unions put behind the recall, and a comparison to how many man-hours could be bought by how much money, because I suspect that the comparisons being made are only taking the union man-hours into account when it reinforces their desired conclusions.

    In any case, I am still in favor of repealing most or all ‘campaign finance reform’ laws on the simple grounds that I am less afraid of wealthy people buying elections than I am of a government that believes it has the right and authority to restrict any kind of political speech.

  47. #47 |  BamBam | 

    @41, I can make a tenable case for @36. I’m not stating that I do or don’t believe my statement, just that it’s entirely possible.

    Money buys radio ads, newspaper ads, etc. Lies and half truths are told in such manners. People hear and read this data. most people (probably 85+%) DO NOT RESEARCH SHIT and repeat what they heard or read, and vote down party lines.

    I can’t count the number of times in life (personal or work) I’ve heard people repeat data, and when questioned about the veracity of the data and how they arrived at that data, it comes down to “it’s just what I heard” AND THEY DO NOT BLINK at the danger of behaving in such a manner and forming beliefs on such behavior.

  48. #48 |  BamBam | 

    And when I present verified data that contradicts a person’s statement, they get confused and do NOT want to believe that they are wrong, despite the evidence.

  49. #49 |  BamBam | 

    here’s an example

  50. #50 |  StrangeOne | 

    Well Bambam, that’s just human nature. Social psychology has shown over and over that people;

    1) Tend to forget the origin of information.
    2) Selectively remember information that confirms previously held beliefs.
    3) Reject information that contradicts previously held beliefs.

    The fallibility and apathy of peoples opinions is an unfortunate reality. I don’t really see how any degree of campaign finance reform will ever undo that. At best you are trying to undo peoples inherent bias by forcing a top down bias of some other kind. It all stems from a highly un-democratic notion that there is a right way to vote, and other people should be guided to it.

    The election process is about trusting your neighbors to behave with some degree of rational self-interest. The fact that they often don’t isn’t a problem exclusive to any set of political rules or operations, it’s a problem with humanity itself.

  51. #51 |  Brian | 

    Maybe the torture commission can do a Kickstarter project. $240,000 to review two dozen cases over the next year. I’d back it!

  52. #52 |  BamBam | 

    StrangeOne, I agree completely with you. I want to reiterate that I made a viable case to illustrate Peter’s position, regardless of my position.

    Unfortunately politics has long ago capitalized on the error of people not turning on their brain and checking their data. Your root cause observation is correct – it’s a problem with humanity itself. Here’s a thought: to what percentage have people ALWAYS been this unwilling to research and question data and their beliefs, has it slowly gotten to where it is now, or did something cause a major change some 50-100-200-500 years ago? My belief based on repeated data and observation and testing (scientific methods) in my life and reading history and pondering “what the hell were they thinking” tells me that a double digit small percentage of people have likely ALWAYS been unthinking (10-20%?), another are very thoughtful (10%?), and the rest are apathetic to the forces that control them (70-80%). Thus you end up with the vocal minority idiots against those that think, with a small percentage of the apathetic swayed one way or the other, while the rest of the apathetic don’t participate yet are still screwed by the outcome.

  53. #53 |  supercat | 

    #40 | Pi Guy | “Len, I’m pretty sure that they only preside over cases where Constitutionality is in question.”

    No, they don’t. They frequently preside over cases involving statutory or regulatory construction, where no constitutional issues are raised. They can (and sometimes do) also preside over cases which are appealed in lower courts and which they feel like taking, whether or not there are any real issues involving constitutional, statutory, or regulatory construction.

    Further, the way the judges rule is determined in many cases far more by their ideology than by any valid law. It’s unfortunate that neither Democrats nor Republicans appoint judges who consistently follow the law (including the supreme Law of the Land). If one can predict, even before oral arguments, that Souter, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan are going to rule one way, and Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito will rule another, and the only uncertanty is how Kennedy is going to rule, that suggests pretty strongly that at least four of the justices are probably going to ignore the law.

  54. #54 |  Rob | 

    K-9 officer shoots his own dog.

    I made a chart showing how police identify dangerous dogs. I think I’m going to have to edit it now.

  55. #55 |  Pi Guy | 

    #40 supercat via Len multiple comments:

    OK, look: I acknowledged that cops “asking” is indeed coupled with an implied threat. So I move on. Again. But I keep asking because I’m curious. Maybe because I don’t read every opinion adjudicated by the court I’m not familiar with any of these non-constitutional cases. So, once freaking again, will someone cite
    (1) a case on which SCOTUS rendered an opinion in a non-constitutional challenge (note that statutes and regulations are simply laws and, if those statute or regs violate the rights of the statuted {yes, I made that up} and regulated… can you see where I’m going?)
    (2) please provide something – anything – that supports the assertion that the Constitution doesn’t apply to the states.

    I provided several SCOTUS cases where the local law was superceded by constitutional law. I’m under the impression that that’s precisely why McDonald and Heller where challenged on 2A grounds, Kelo on eminent domain as a 5A (even though I suspect that many here didn’t like the outcome) and were decided the way that they were. And Citizens United on 1A. And students and parents from the four corners are challenging – and winning – school/graduation/pre-game prayer challenges on 1A as well. I keep throwing them out there because I believe they support my position. I could be wrong so I’m asking for some more here. Seriously.

    BTW: the Future Mrs. Pi, reading over my shoulder, just asked
    “What’s that document called again?”
    To which I stammered slowly “…the…Constitution…”
    “Constitution of…?”
    Again, I faltered until she led me there.
    “The Constitution of the United States of America. Not the colonies. Not just Maryland (where we live). The United States or America. Unless they’re no longer part of the United States…” [her emphasis both times]

    Please identify where this is wrong. If I’m/we’re wrong, I’d like to know why and replace that incorrect knowledge with the correct version. But, so far, nothing but crikcets.

  56. #56 |  Pi Guy | 

    #50 Rob:
    I liked that chart. It was easy to use. Now it’s gonna be all messy and the cops will be back to using their discretion again.


  57. #57 |  PermaLurker | 

    No need to change the chart too much, Rob. The police officer didn’t shoot until the K-9 was actually chewing his arm off.

  58. #58 |  Cyto | 

    I’d say it is pretty clear that seizing cell phones was department policy. Deputy dog retrieves the phone to his masters and says “Here’s another phone”. Not his first seizure of the day.

    “Yeah, I’d give it back to her… she’s a reporter.” is a pretty clear giveaway that returning phones is not their routine response. He sounds mildly exasperated at the prospect of dealing with a reporter who is pissed about getting their phone taken, so out of expediency he’d rather just return the phone. Undoubtedly your mileage would vary.

  59. #59 |  Peter Ramins | 

    I love how a lot of responses suggest that the political advertisements don’t have any effect.

    Seriously? The sheer stupidity of that idea just staggers me.

    “Hey, let’s blow 38 gajillion dollars on something that will have precisely zero net effect on the outcome of the election!”

  60. #60 |  Pi Guy | 

    I don’t think that the money moved the elctorate as much as you’d think. Exit polls indicate that WIers had made up their minds before the commercials hit. And I can’t track it down now but Reason had a post that linked to an article where it demonstrated that, despite spending times again more money this time than last (Walker v. Barrett I), the polls only moved like 1% from the first round results.

    What I think the money does is creates a situation in which Walker’s now beholden to those special interests in the future.

  61. #61 |  Pi Guy | 

    Peter, here it is:
    “Despite tens of millions of dollars in advertising, most voters decided on a candidate before the final ballots were even set. Exit polls found 86 percent said they decided who to vote for before May, raising questions about the impact — if any — all that money for TV advertising had on the electorate.” [emphasis mine]

    FWIW, Chris Cilliza – a near-Mindight Team Blue guy if ever there was one -of The Fix cited multiple additional reasons that clearly had an influence on WI voters this time around.

  62. #62 |  Pi Guy | 

    OMD, I need more coffee.

    Links work but you’ll have to work it a bit…

  63. #63 |  crzyb0b | 

    “Exit polls found 86 percent said they decided who to vote for before May, raising questions about the impact — if any — all that money for TV advertising had on the electorate”

    True- but this little tidbit is purposely misleading. Walker has been raising and spending millions advertising for many MONTHS prior to may, polling of his favorability ratings (which were well underwater last year) has been improving ever since this ad campaign started LAST YEAR. The fact that many people’s minds were made up before may just reflects the time he spent on advertising – and the tracking with the polling shows the value of it.

  64. #64 |  Peter Ramins | 

    I’m not contesting that, but your arguments assume (or sort of assume) that all else would have / did remain constant – the same number of people voted (making the ‘only 1%’ part telling), and that the ads didn’t motivate people to actually go vote.

    I think the large splurge of ads isn’t so much about last minute conversions as it is scaring people into actually *going to vote*.

    Then there are these reports:

    and I am reminded that ‘money’ doesn’t just pay for advertisements.

    We all shake our heads when we read a post by Radley about how Mattel is exempt from the very testing requirements that came about because of lead paint in Mattel products; about how hard it is for independent entrepreneurs to start businesses like a Taxi service or a competitive coffin-building business or any other number of ‘locked down’ industries, and then some of you fall all over yourselves defending completely unfettered corporate influence in politics. I just don’t get the cognitive dissonance here.

    Here, let’s try a simple debate-style resolution: “Resolved: If you can’t vote, you can’t spend.”

    I’m actually a big supporter of the concept of ‘corporate greed’ that you see lambasted so often by the left – it leads to new products, competitive prices, and improvements to technology and the general level of human knowledge and competency… but we have to recognize that it also leads to environmental disasters, pensions that aren’t honored, outsourcing, subsistence-level wages, and I absolutely do not support ‘corporate greed’ being a factor in our political process beyond the individual leanings of *real people*.

    Now someone explain to me why corporate interests should be able to donate all pell-mell and willy-nilly, but truly foreign interests shouldn’t.

    And lastly, don’t get the idea that I think the same amount of money in the hands of Democratic campaigns or supporters wouldn’t ever be put to similar use – I think it’s people who are corruptible, not political ideologies.

    This was kind of rambly, but I just woke up.

  65. #65 |  Other Sean | 

    Peter #55,

    There is an economic/game theory explanation for campaign spending, which does not depend on it having any significant effect on voting outcomes.

    For one thing, 38 million dollars sounds like a lot of money when you compare it to what I’ve got in my bank account, but it’s small change compared to what’s at stake if public employees are allowed to auto-negotiate their contracts. A rent-seeking interest worried about the solvency of city and state government might find it perfectly prudent to throw away 5,000 now, even if it means only a miniscule chance of gaining 500,000 in government contracts later. Once the money is donated into the party’s armory, why not spend it, regardless of its puny probability of effect?

    In a winner-take-all system, it makes sense for a contender party to blow huge amounts of money going after tiny fractions of the undecided electorate…IF the alternative is a platform shift that might alienate its base or change the basic coalitions in play.

    For example, Walker could have tried to remain in office simply by reversing himself on collective bargaining. That would have been the easiest thing to do. In the immediate moment, it would have cost him and the party a whole lot less than 38 million.

    So why didn’t he do that? He is an unprincipled scumbag politician ruled only by expediency, so why didn’t he do the expedient thing?

    Because it only looked expedient in the moment. In the mid to long term, once he’d got the unions off his back, Walker would have been set upon by a vicious mob of bond holders, corporate welfare recipients, subsidy farmers, and many others competing for government funds, to say nothing of NET state taxpayers taxpayers and the Tea Party. At that point, even 38 billlion worth of television commercial wouldn’t be enough to keep him in office.

    It’s not the money wasted on political ads that changes people’s minds…its the money given away BETWEEN elections. The ads are merely necessary to let voters and interest groups know who is giving away how much and to whom.

    And by “whom”, I mean “them”.

  66. #66 |  Charlie O | 

    The money shot: “The criminal-justice system depends on the trustfulness of police officers. If they’re not telling us the truth, then the whole system is corrupt.”

    Got news for you. The whole system is corrupt.

  67. #67 |  StrangeOne | 

    @ Peter #64
    You kind of pointed out the inherent problem. Corporations, with their large staff of professional accountants and lawyers, have the motivation to put their money where it needs to be. They devise work-arounds.

    If they want unlimited press they can buy a share in a major news outlet and use the first amendment to push their messages. Which is why citizens united was decided the way it was; why should only one class of companies get unlimited advertising under first amendment protections for the press and others not? Or they can give “bonuses” to senior staff with the implication that those bonuses become personal campaign donations.

    So you have a situation where aside from absolutely draconian measures nothing really stops the flow of money. Campaign finance reform is an attempt at socially engineering some degree of fairness in politics, that really only limits the spending of those least motivated to do so. If the stakes become high enough, a legal (or at least legal enough) way of getting the money to the candidates that matter occurs. I prefer a system where we recognize that spending is unlimited and can easily identify the source of the money.

    For what its worth I don’t think spending on advertising beyond a certain point really matters. People either vote based on party status or make up their minds about candidates fairly quickly and the only real advantage of ad saturation is to steal a handful of votes from true morons that vote based on name recognition alone. The Walker race is an excellent demonstration that total spending does not directly influence electoral success, several other factors must be accounted for. Obsessing over spending always appears to be the cause du jour of whichever side is out-spent in a particular race.

  68. #68 |  Other Sean | 


    “Here, let’s try a simple debate-style resolution: ‘Resolved: If you can’t vote, you can’t spend’.”

    That’s an unsound basis for debate, because it assumes that voting is the most important form of political participation. It’s probably the least.

  69. #69 |  Jeff W | 

    Peter, what is it that you want? You are complaining that campaign ads are misleading and voters are ill-informed…. so you want to ban the 1st Amendment. That’s like saying that we need to ban soda because Coke runs manipulative tv ads that get uneducated people to drink too much soda.

    Even if there were a shred of evidence that a campaign could “buy” an election by outspending the other by 2-to-1 (and there isn’t), what exactly is the alternative? We should ban individuals from running tv ads, and should just let the government tell us exactly what our opinions are supposed to be on issues?

    The problem with benevolent philosopher kings is that for some odd reason they always turn out like Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il, Robert Mugabe, Stalin, Mao and Hitler. As messy as freedom and democracy is, and how terrified we all are at letting uneducated voters seal our electoral fate, the reality is that freedom has a much better track record than tyranny. I’ll take my chances with uneducated voters.

  70. #70 |  supercat | 

    #55 | Pi Guy | “a case on which SCOTUS rendered an opinion in a non-constitutional challenge”

    I don’t remember every detail, but I think Thompson/Center Arms. vs. U.S. should qualify.

    Thompson/Center Arms manufactured a kit containing a Thompson Contender frame, a 14″ barrel, a 16″ barrel, a shoulder stock, and an instruction sheet explicitly warning that one must not attach the 14″ barrel while the shoulder stock was installed, nor attach the shoulder stock while the 14″ barrel was installed, unless one filed all the paperwork and paid the appropriate taxes necessary to manufacture a “short-barreled rifle” as such a thing is defined in the National Firearms Act of 1934.

    Thompson/Center Arms registered the kit as a short-barreled rifle and paid the $200 tax, but filed a suit for a refund of the tax on the basis that the kit was not, contrary to what the BATF claims, a “short-barreled rifle”. The case made it to the Supreme Court, which found for Thompson/Center Arms, noting that while NFA’34 explicitly defines the term “machine gun” to include any collection of parts from which a machine gun might be assembled, its definition of “short-barreled rifle” includes no such language. Although simultaneous attachment of a 14″ barrel and shoulder stock to a Thompson/Contender frame would be constitute manufacture of a “short-barreled rifle”, the mere juxtaposition of such parts in a kit–especially with a sheet warning against their simultaneous attachment–does not.

    Note that the Second-Amendment wasn’t even mentioned in Thompson/Center’s argument. The argument simply had to do with whether the meaning of the phrase “short-barreled rifle” included collections of parts from which such a rifle could be assembled; the Court determined that it did not.

  71. #71 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Well, I see you’ve declaring that the Government taking away your stuff is fine, Radley. It’s a major change on things like asset forfeiture, but there we go.

    @68 – It’s the only one where you can actually solve the issue rather than paper over the damage. I have no illusions that, for example, 38 Degree’s victories are anything but minor (if significant).