Friday Links

Friday, June 8th, 2012

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71 Responses to “Friday Links”

  1. #1 |  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!

  2. #2 |  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.

  3. #3 |  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.

  4. #4 |  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.

  5. #5 |  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.

  6. #6 |  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.


  7. #7 |  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.

  8. #8 |  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.

  9. #9 |  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!”

  10. #10 |  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.

  11. #11 |  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.

  12. #12 |  Pi Guy | 

    OMD, I need more coffee.

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

  13. #13 |  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.

  14. #14 |  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.

  15. #15 |  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”.

  16. #16 |  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.

  17. #17 |  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.

  18. #18 |  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.

  19. #19 |  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.

  20. #20 |  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.

  21. #21 |  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).