Saturday Links

Saturday, November 17th, 2012
  • Whether you support abortion rights, oppose abortion rights, or are somewhere in between, there’s one position on which we can all join together in agreement: Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais is an asshole.
  • Virginia man exonerated of rape after accuser admits to a detective that she lied. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is still blocking the man’s release, claiming the judge didn’t have jurisdiction to exonerate him. Remember, following procedure to the letter is only important when you’re trying to exonerate someone. When you’re trying to convict them, straying from the rules is just “harmless error.”
  • Good article looking at how and why conservatives joined the prison reform movement.
  • Spokane police officer who beat a mentally disabled man to death after falsely accusing him of stealing from an ATM . . . gets a four year prison sentence. Otto Zehm’s last words: “All I wanted was a Snickers bar.”
  • TSA detains, jails a man for wearing a “weird watch” and having “unusually large boots.”
  • Headline of the day.
  • Runner-up.
  • Step 1: Take advantage of nepotism to get elected to Congress. Step 2: Be corrupt. Step 3: Go into a deep depression when you’re caught for being corrupt. Step 4: Offer to resign, but only on the condition that you get disability pay because of the depression you’ve suffered after you got caught being corrupt.
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60 Responses to “Saturday Links”

  1. #1 |  JimBob | 

    From the TSA story:

    “Geoffrey McGann, 49, of Rancho Palos Verdes was taken into custody Thursday night after he tried to pass through airport security with an ornate watch that had switches, wires and fuses, according to Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.”

    Isn’t Nelson one of the explosives experts for Mythbusters?

  2. #2 |  Invid | 

    My CPAP machine has switches wires. The way it gets treated by TSA changes at almost every airport I go to but fortunately I haven’t been arrested…yet.

  3. #3 |  Marty | 

    prosecutors screw over so many people, I’m surprised more aren’t involved in porn.

  4. #4 |  DoubleU | 

    The TSA stopped inspector Gadget!

    #2, I recently started with a CPAP machine, I am wondering what is going to happen when I travel.

  5. #5 |  CyniCAl | 

    “Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais is an asshole.”

    For many of your readers, you are making a distinction without a difference.

  6. #6 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    I’m confused about the topless car wash guy; how exactly does he blame the federal government for a state law, and how would secession stop Alabama from passing even more anti-sex laws?

  7. #7 |  (B)oscoH, Yogurt Eater | 

    Nice porn stache, prosecutor! Holds a press conference to confirm he has a big enough unit to be in adult films. FTW.

  8. #8 |  Bob | 

    #1: JimBob

    Isn’t Nelson one of the explosives experts for Mythbusters?

    I believe that would be the case. I can’t find pictures of his watch, but it sounds like a “steampunk” art piece.

    You’d think an explosives expert would know better than to wear something like that to an airport. I’m not saying he did anything wrong… you should be able to wear any watch you want (Well, not one with actual explosives, per se.), but it’s like strapping a steak to yourself and standing by the lion’s cage.

  9. #9 |  Bob | 

    #6: Maggie McNeill

    I’m confused about the topless car wash guy; how exactly does he blame the federal government for a state law, and how would secession stop Alabama from passing even more anti-sex laws?

    Heh. And you expect humans to act rationally why, exactly?

    But yeah I agree with you. I’d hate to see the REAL reason he wants to see Alabama secede if this flimsy argument is all he could come up with as a ‘rational argument’.

  10. #10 |  Bob | 

    #7: (B)oscoH, Yogurt Eater

    Nice porn stache, prosecutor! Holds a press conference to confirm he has a big enough unit to be in adult films. FTW.

    No shit. I think I’ll change my name to “Max Johnson” and run for office so I can do that in 10 years.

  11. #11 |  RT | 

    I didn’t get it from the article, but when does the woman who lied about the rape start her prison sentence?

  12. #12 |  Ben | 

    #11 – From the article:

    “Coast has been charged with perjury.”

    Looks like they actually are going after this one.

  13. #13 |  dugglebogey | 

    It’s not just that deJarlais is responsible for so many abortions, it’s that he’s a fricking medical doctor and hasn’t figured out how to keep from impregnating someone yet.

  14. #14 |  JimBob | 

    Bob–

    “You’d think an explosives expert would know better than to wear something like that to an airport.”

    I don’t think it was Nelson that wore the watch, but McGann. I was just sort of surprised to see the name.

    That said, this is typical “war on the unexpected” that Schneier and other security experts have talked about: it doesn’t look like something we’ve seen before, therefore it must be unsafe. Better arrest the guy to be safe.

  15. #15 |  Cynical in New York | 

    RE: Conservatives and Prisons

    Put me in the skeptic column that cons are only interested in reigning in the Prison-Industrial complex because of the cost. Not because the justice system is quite fucked up and needs actual reform. The law and order, badge licking types don’t want to upset their voting bloc

  16. #16 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Can TSA actually arrest you? Jail you?
    I thought they were only allowed to seize toothpaste and
    shampoo.

  17. #17 |  overgoverned | 

    The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department jailed the dude with the watch — the TSA’s mall cops don’t have that authority, thank god. So the problem isn’t just that the pizza box crew thought a weird watch was a terrifying terrorist tool, but that they actually got some professional cops from a real law enforcement agency — /sarcasm — to act on their idiocy.

  18. #18 |  Bob | 

    #14: JimBob

    I don’t think it was Nelson that wore the watch, but McGann. I was just sort of surprised to see the name.

    Yeah, you’re right. Apparently, my ability to read has been compromised by the Obama administration, as such… Missouri should secede from the union at once! Ever since Obama cancelled the show “Firefly” by Executive Order, the country has been going downhill!

  19. #19 |  Brandon | 

    Both statist parties are chock full of megalomaniacal, immoral assholes.

  20. #20 |  supercat | 

    #11 | RT | //I didn’t get it from the article, but when does the woman who lied about the rape start her prison sentence?//

    It sounds like her lies where discovered as a consequence of her having admitted to them. A policy of prosecuting people who admit to having lied (as opposed to those whose lies are exposed by other means) would have the perverse effect of discouraging people who had lied in the past from trying to set the record straight. Given the alternatives of having liars exposed and prosecuted, versus exposed but not prosecuted, I’d prefer the former, but the real alternative to letting liars skate would generally be having their lies remain unexposed.

  21. #21 |  liberranter | 

    Whether you support abortion rights, oppose abortion rights, or are somewhere in between, there’s one position on which we can all join together in agreement: Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais is an asshole.

    Clearly not as big of an asshole as the votards who swept him back into office.

  22. #22 |  Weird Willy | 

    #20, Supercat

    Hey, I have a great idea! How about if we stop convicting people merely on the basis of one person’s word against another? Maybe we should require real evidence of a crime, or something? That way, we would not have to worry about such issues relative to the acts of liars who were able to put innocent people behind bars solely on the basis of their lying word.

  23. #23 |  Weird Willy | 

    RE: Otto Zehm

    “Thompson addressed the court, [stating], “I did not intend to harm Mr. Zehm that night, and did not act in malice.” Elsewhere, Thompson is quoted as stating he was merely “doing his job.” This provides tremendous fodder for advocates of the “cop are psychopaths” model, for this is an equivalent statement to, “I am a psychopath.” The facts are that Thompson entered a store, found an innocent, unarmed, mentally disabled individual and advanced upon him with a potentially lethal weapon in his hand. Without any warning, inquiry, or investigation, he clubbed his victim more than a dozen times then tased him, rendering him unable to speak and probably unconscious. He then stood on and watched while his cohorts sat on his victim and smothered him with a mask, providing a coup de grace. If Thompson is capable of doing this to a human being with relative indifference, without being motivated by even a hint of malice, he is a psychopath, by definition.

  24. #24 |  el coronado | 

    Somehow I just *knew* the corrupt pol who wants his ‘disability’ checks – probably even while he’s [going to be in] prison – somehow I just KNEW it was Jesse Jackson, Jr. Daddy must be so PROUD: looks as if Junior really did learn a lot at daddy’s knee. “Always get it in cash, son! Never leave a paper trail!” Sadly, Junior fucked up on the tiny-yet-important details, as wayward children often do.

    And since the subject of “asshole votards” has been raised – comment #21 – is it OK to point out the A.V.’s in Junior’s district _re-elected_ his sorry crooked ass by a 63-37 margin? Thus making them even *bigger, slimier, more corrupt* enablers of scumminess than DesJarlais voters could ever even aspire to?

  25. #25 |  Pi Guy | 

    You know what they say about guys with unusually large boots?

    They end up serving as DA in the big city. Or something.

  26. #26 |  Four years. « Whipped Cream Difficulties | 

    […] to Balko on this. I missed it earlier in the […]

  27. #27 |  Warren Bonesteel | 

    Is it just me, or does the insanity seem to be spreading?

  28. #28 |  Cornellian | 

    “Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais is an asshole.”

    Whenever any politician describes himself as a family values politician, I just assume he’s someone like Scott DesJarlais. It saves time.

  29. #29 |  2trips | 

    the tsa was correct. actually, any watch could be used as a timing device for a bomb. i guess it’s illegal to own a watch now :/

  30. #30 |  George | 

    El coronoado asks, “And since the subject of “asshole votards” has been raised – comment #21 – is it OK to point out the A.V.’s in Junior’s district _re-elected_ his sorry crooked ass by a 63-37 margin? Thus making them even *bigger, slimier, more corrupt* enablers of scumminess than DesJarlais voters could ever even aspire to?”

    And the answer is no, not on this site.

  31. #31 |  RT | 

    In my local news several cops while trying to arrest a woman’s boyfriend who attempted to run her down with a car, open fire on a pit bull in a trailer, and one of them shoots another cop. (The pit bull ran off but could not be found)

    http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20121117/NEWS/311170034/Haywood-deputy-shot-by-another-officer?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Frontpage|p

    At least they were there for a legitimate reason.

  32. #32 |  Mario | 

    “When officers abuse their power and lie to cover it up…”

    …it will take 6 years to get a conviction that will still only add up to 4 years in prison, even though the abuse of power resulted in the death of a retarded man trying to buy a snickers bars—and that conviction will still be subject to appeal. Oh, and all this if you’re lucky!

  33. #33 |  SP | 

    Wasn’t Ken Cuccinelli arrested for statutory rape as a teenager? I couldn’t find any information on it on the web, but somebody at Starbucks said that to me after reading about this case the other day. Does anybody vet these people?

  34. #34 |  Windy | 

    RE: the Spokane cop who killed the disabled dude
    Damn right it undermines the trust in LEOs from the community when they unnecessarily kill someone (or someone’s dog) or abuse their power in some other manner. By virtue of their position of power and license to use force, and even deadly force, it is imperative that they be held to a much higher standard of behavior than the rest of the citizenry. They MUST keep their cool on and off the job and they must treat those they encounter in the line of duty with at least a modicum of respect. That is why when they DO do something like this cop did, they SHOULD be subjected to a sentence far harsher than any old Joe Blow would get for the same offense. That did not happen in this case.

  35. #35 |  Linda | 

    Otto Zehm story – I really do not think a 4 year prison sentence will bring the victims family much “closure”.

  36. #36 |  DoubleOtNot | 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y2KsU_dhwI

  37. #37 |  Jack Depsey | 

    One of the things I point out to my students is that ANYTHING can be considered “bomb making components.” Got a digital device of any kind? Bomb making component. Electrical wires with alligator clips from Radio Shack? Bomb making components. Got a pulse and can fog a mirror? You’re a bomb maker.

  38. #38 |  Mannie | 

    #30 | RT | November 17th, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    several cops … open fire on a pit bull in a trailer, and one of them shoots another cop. (The pit bull ran off but could not be found)

    At least no one was hurt.

  39. #39 |  Phil in Parker | 

    The TSA x-rays thousands of flip-flops every day, but can’t detemine if they guy’s boots are a threat, after, I assume, an extensive search.

    What clowns. This is not even good (security) theater.

  40. #40 |  jmcross | 

    @ pi guy
    +3.14

  41. #41 |  Bill Poser | 

    Even if an appellate ruling is necessary to vacate the conviction, I would be surprised if there is not a way to release an exonerated inmate immediately. Does anyone know Virginia law? Does the Attorney General or the Governor have the power to parole an inmate?

  42. #42 |  SJE | 

    If the DEMS know what’s good for them, they will vote to deny Jackson Jr any sort of disability pay.

  43. #43 |  JimBob | 

    @Invid and DoubleU

    My father travels frequently with a CPAP (well, a BiPAP now, but same idea). If you tell them about it, they’ll usually swab it for explosives with one of their magic explosive-detection strips before sending you on your way. He’s only had one instance where somebody decided to pull the device (and my father) aside for “extra screening” because the idiot screener didn’t know what he was looking at.

    That said, the folks at the TSA have previously had trouble with ostomy bags, insulin pumps, adult diapers, hearing aids, feeding tubes, and a bunch of other medical devices, so I don’t put anything past the idiots. You might want to be prepared to spend a few extra minutes having to slowly explain the machine’s purpose, using the smallest words you can.

    From what the law says, though, you cannot be denied the chance to take your CPAP machine on board with you, in addition to your normal carry-on baggage. The Air Carrier Access Act mandates that you be allowed to bring medical equipment with you. If a TSA agent gives you any shit about your CPAP machine, calmly and politely ask him if its his intention to violate the ADA, ACAA, and numerous state laws protecting your right to be treated for a medical condition. Be sure to have a recorder running when you do.

  44. #44 |  Henry Bowman | 

    Scot DesJarlais may be a complete asshole, but he might be a decent Representative (I have no idea).

    It’s always good to recall that the way to tell if a politician is lying is to see if his or her lips are moving. Sometimes they tell the truth, just to confuse us, but Barry has yet to do so.

  45. #45 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Regarding DesJarlais and Jackson;

    The thing you want to remember about representative government is that the people running for office tend to be the loons who ran for the Student Government in high school, and that the Peter Principle applies to them with a vengeance. At each level from local government on up, the inept and the foolish tend to lodge until their general incapacity is brought forcefully to the attention of the voters AND they actually run into an opponent who can play the game better enough to notice. This can take a while. It can take even longer if they have the backing of an effective political machine, which I assume Jackson Sr. provided for his idiot son.

    The only thing to be said in favor of such a system is that everything else that has been tried runs to ruling classes of psychotics, Holy Relic collectors, monomaniacs, and inbred poodles. Indeed the strongest inditement of Socialism I can think of is not its historical parade of failures, but that if it ever got implemented as its fans imagine it would be run by Academics …. you know; the likes of Ward Churchill.

  46. #46 |  el coronado | 

    Well thought-out and well-written, CSP, but I think I can simplify it even further. A wise old sage once pointed out to me that the jerkoffs who run for political office are *the exact same jerkoffs who ran for “office” back in high school*. (and that goes _double_ for cops, BTW) Think back to those halcyon days, my friends, and let your memories linger upon the…..people…..who ran for class president; student council, crossing guard, etc. Did you consider them to be honest or honorable or worthy of any ‘power’ back then? Well, guess what: they moved on to the real world – and they want your vote! (or your obedience!) Again.

    We really could improve this sorry old world by 25% practically overnight if we just taught the idiot kids in skuel this one simple, immutable Fact Of Life: Adult life is just high school with live ammo.

  47. #47 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    el coronado,

    Thank you for the kind words. After those it pains me to disagree with you, but I must. Adult life can be a great deal better than high school, it’s just that there are a great many people who never realize this. They clutter up life for the rest of us, playing out roles they picked in their teens, and which they never grew beyond.

  48. #48 |  albatross | 

    The big difference between high school and the rest of life is that you don’t have to associate with nearly as many idiots in normal life, if you play your cards right, as you did in high school. The right of exit isn’t a perfect guarantee of a decent life for everyone, but it is remarkably effective in many cases, especially among people who have some reasonable number of choices.

  49. #49 |  marie | 

    Spokane police officer who beat a mentally disabled man to death after falsely accusing him of stealing from an ATM . . . gets a four year prison sentence.

    My husband is doing four years for possession of child porn. Looking at pictures is as bad as murder?

  50. #50 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    albatross,

    Indeed! The principle thing that makes high school society so hellish is that who you are is too often decided by either A) Titled bureaucrats (those teachers more interested in playing Pop Psychology games than teaching) or B) The high prestige cliques of your ‘peers’.

    Mean of me though it may be, one of the reasons I despise the Liberal Left is that they seem to me to want to run adult society along very much the same lines. Not that the Conservative Right isn’t judgmental, but they tend to be judgmental along fixed and predictable lines (biblical morality, financial success, etc), where the Left changes its mind on standards more often than its underwear.

  51. #51 |  Dustin | 

    police officer was sentenced Thursday to more than four years in prison for using excessive force against a mentally disabled janitor who died after being erroneously suspected of stealing money from an ATM.

    Wow… just wow. The verbal gymnastics. The suspect died ‘after being erroneously suspected of stealing money…’ I thought he was ‘murdered’ or ‘beaten to a pulp’ ‘by a cop’. But no, he just ‘died’ after been ‘suspected’ of a crime. That must have been one help of a suspicion.

  52. #52 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @23

    advanced upon him with a potentially lethal weapon in his hand.

    The baton is equal to swinging a baseball bat at someone’s head. Those things are not meant to be mildly irritating. They are very hard wood and will easily crack skulls. They just take up less room on a belt than a full baseball bat.

    Still, remember, the SPD thought they was no reason to even investigate this case. And, 4 years has them all gnashing their teeth at the injustice even though they weren’t even close to acting within the law, beat an innocent man to death, and lied about it all.

  53. #53 |  Chicagojon | 

    Step 5:
    Watch your congressional seat go to a former holder who spent years in prison for raping a 16-year old and bank fraud charges.

    Yeah Chicago politics!

  54. #54 |  Chicagojon | 

    From the runner-up headline Alabama secessionist:
    “If you look at a map of the red states, we have all of the oil and we produce all of the food. We’re the ones that are carrying the rest of the nation.”

    Can’t you just picture him adding “all you have is those computers in silicon valley. How are you going to get food and oil with that?”

  55. #55 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Regarding the Spokane case:

    “When officers abuse their power and lie to cover it up, it fundamentally undermines” their position of trust in the community, said Victor Boutros, a Justice Department attorney who helped prosecute the case.

    1. If I were Victor Boutros I’d watch my back very carefully.
    2. I’d be working on my resume, because prosecuting police is never a career enhancer.
    3. Hell, I’d probably move and consider a name change.

    Goddamn police.

  56. #56 |  Steve Verdon | 

    “A badge cannot equate to a free pass,” Boutros said.

    Funny, it usually seems too.

  57. #57 |  John C. Randolph | 

    When a man is exonerated, you fucking let him go, immediately. Call it a furlough or whatever and do the paperwork as needed, but keeping an innocent man in jail is a crime, for fuck’s sake.

    -jcr

  58. #58 |  John Thacker | 

    The guy in Virginia was just pardoned and immediately released by Virginia, but it probably shouldn’t have taken the Governor. Good for McDonnell, though.

  59. #59 |  Psion | 

    Does anyone else get a brief surge of hope every Saturday when they come to Radley’s site to click on his Arianna Huffington link and see a Saturday Links post just below?

    Every other day of the week, it makes no difference, but when I pop in here on a Saturday, a noisy neuron in my brain goes, “Look! Radley’s back! He posted Links for today! Oh, no, wait, that’s from November. Never mind.”

    Stupid neuron.

  60. #60 |  George | 

    The only thing to be said in favor of such a system is that everything else that has been tried runs to ruling classes of psychotics, Holy Relic collectors, monomaniacs, and inbred poodles. Indeed the strongest inditement of Socialism I can think of is not its historical parade of failures, but that if it ever got implemented as its fans imagine it would be run by Academics …. you know; the likes of Ward Churchill.

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