Patterico's Pontifications

4/22/2014

A Question From Today’s Fourth Amendment Supreme Court Opinion

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:52 pm

Here is an odd passage in Justice Scalia’s dissent today from the opinion (.pdf) allowing a stop based on a (functionally) anonymous call saying a specific vehicle had run the caller off the road. The issue was whether this (functionally) anonymous call provided reasonable cause for the stop. Here is what Justice Scalia says:

The tipster said the truck had “[run her] off the road­ way,” id., at 36a, but the police had no reason to credit that charge and many reasons to doubt it, beginning with the peculiar fact that the accusation was anonymous. “[E]liminating accountability … is ordinarily the very purpose of anonymity.” McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n, 514 U. S. 334, 385 (1995) (SCALIA, J., dissenting). The unnamed tipster “can lie with impunity,” J. L., supra, at 275 (KENNEDY, J., concurring). Anonymity is especially suspicious with respect to the call that is the subject of the present case. When does a victim complain to the police about an arguably criminal act (running the victim off the road) without giving his identity, so that he can accuse and testify when the culprit is caught?

Hmmmmmm. Verrrry suspicious. Verrry verrrry suspicious.

Oh: and also, untrue. From Justice Thomas’s opinion:

At the suppression hearing, counsel for petitioners did not dispute that the reporting party identified herself by name in the 911 call recording. Because neither the caller nor the Humboldt County dis­patcher who received the call was present at the hearing, however, the prosecution did not introduce the recording into evidence. The prosecu­tion proceeded to treat the tip as anonymous, and the lower courts followed suit. See 2012 WL 4842651, *6 (Cal. Ct. App., Oct. 12, 2012).

You can “treat” it as anonymous, I suppose, but it wasn’t. Therefore, to argue that the tip is suspicious because the caller oddly refused to give her name seems like a bad argument when . . . the caller did give her name.

How did Scalia miss this? It fairly screams out at the reader.

I realize they are setting rules for other cases, and the holding applies to actually anonymous calls — but that does not justify treating this call as suspicious for the caller’s failure to do something that the caller actually did. Just explain it and explain the rule.

P.S. The rest of Scalia’s opinion is pretty well written.

Breaking Reports: Supreme Court Upholds Michigan Ban on Affirmative Action

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:24 am

It’s little more than one-line breaking reports right now:

Supreme Court upholds Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions.

I’m about to leave for work, but here’s your thread to discuss the case as the details are fleshed out.

UPDATE: Opinion here (.pdf).

UPDATE x2: If an opinion makes hash of the law; if it refuses to overrule clearly bad precedents; if it seeks to harmonize irreconcilable positions with high-minded and impossible-to-understand verbiage . . . then it was written by Justice Kennedy.

I concur, as does Justice Thomas in this case, with Justice Scalia.

Is Conor Friedersdorf Calling for the Impeachment of Barack Obama?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:22 am

Conor Friedersdorf:

In a secret test of mass surveillance technology, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sent a civilian aircraft* over Compton, California, capturing high-resolution video of everything that happened inside that 10-square-mile municipality.

Compton residents weren’t told about the spying, which happened in 2012. “We literally watched all of Compton during the times that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people,” Ross McNutt of Persistence Surveillance Systems told the Center for Investigative Reporting, which unearthed and did the first reporting on this important story. The technology he’s trying to sell to police departments all over America can stay aloft for up to six hours. Like Google Earth, it enables police to zoom in on certain areas. And like TiVo, it permits them to rewind, so that they can look back and see what happened anywhere they weren’t watching in real time.

Friedersdorf says: that’s a firing.

Sgt. Douglas Iketani acknowledges that his agency hid the experiment to avoid public opposition. “This system was kind of kept confidential from everybody in the public,”he said. “A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so to mitigate those kinds of complaints we basically kept it pretty hush hush.” That attitude ought to get a public employee summarily terminated.

Summarily terminated, you say? OK. Let’s work with that logic for a moment.

There is undoubtedly some loss of privacy when a camera is able to record and play back all of your public movements. I think there’s a greater loss of privacy when the federal government can read my email. After all, a person’s movements in public are still public. You can be surveilled while you’re in public. While one does not expect to have all those movements tracked by technology, one still recognizes that the actions are public. By contrast, most people still think of their email as private.

But a lot of people do have a problem with their email being read — the Big Brother thing, you know — so to mitigate those kind of complaints, Barack Obama basically kept it pretty hush hush.

Should that get Obama summarily terminated?

Is Friedersdorf calling for the impeachment of Barack Obama?

4/21/2014

What Intimidation?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:10 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Giving unions more power – even the power to intimidate at one’s home,

The Obama administration is poised to change regulations to allow for union “ambush elections” in which workers have less time to decide whether or not to join a union — and in which workers’ phone numbers and home addresses are provided to unions.

The administration’s National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) proposed rules would allow for union elections — in which workers at a company vote whether or not to unionize — to be held 10 days after a petition is filed. And what, exactly, would be happening to the unions during those 10 days? The new rules require employers to disclose workers’ personal information, including phone numbers, home addresses, and information about when they work their shifts.

Workforce Fairness Institute spokesman Fred Wszolek points out the troubling obvious: [I]f you’re going to give access to unions any personal email addresses a company has, fine. But let’s protect the privacy of workers by no longer requiring companies to give to the union the home addresses of workers. It’s very hard to intimidate or coerce a worker by email. But it’s much easier to intimidate or coerce a worker when you’re standing on their doorstep.

Of course, union members showing up on an employee’s porch to intimidate is nothing new.

This poses several questions:

-Do employees have an expectation of privacy once their shifts end and they are back in their personal homes and lives?

-Understanding that employers are required to provide such information, *if* they refuse, based on the employee’s wishes, what penalties can they face?

-What recourse does an employer and employee have in light of being compelled to release said information?

–Dana

Bills Before Congress

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

During every congressional session, a plethora of bills are introduced for passage. Here are a few of the more unique ones. Even if bills don’t pass, sponsors and their causes will receive attention during the session. In reading several on the list, one can’t help think that too many congresspeople have far too much time on their hands.

Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act: Would establish the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park on the moon. – Chief sponsor Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.)

Read the Bills Act: Would require legislation to be posted online one week before it comes up for a vote. The House version, sponsored by two Republicans, would exempt declarations of war. The Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), would require that lawmakers sign an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, attesting that they “attentively” read the measure or were present throughout the entire reading. They do not have to sign the affidavit if they vote against the bill. – House Bill’s chief sponsor Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.)

Department of Peacebuilding Act: Would establish a Cabinet-level federal department, headed by the secretary of Peacebuilding, dedicated to reducing violence domestically and internationally. – Chief Sponsor Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland)

(The idea of a Department of Peace had been championed for more than a decade by then-Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio).

District of Columbia-Maryland Reunion Act: Would address the District of Columbia’s long-standing grievance over lack of representation in Congress by turning over the district to Maryland except for a “National Capital Service Area” that includes the Capitol, the White House and monuments on the National Mall.

SPA Act: Would prohibit the operation of the House gym during a government shutdown. The Shutdown Prioritization Act was introduced during the 16-day federal government shutdown in October.

Arguments for the bills and their current status can be read at the link.

–Dana

Monday Morning Link Round-up

Filed under: General — JD @ 3:46 am

[guest post by JD]

In typical NY Times fashion, they ran an article linking veterans as a whole with white supremacy. . She smears the collective group with the actions of a 73 year old VietNam vet.

Shockingly, the Keystone XL pipeline decision will be delayed, again, until after the 2014 midterm elections. Politics has nothing to do with this.

Lois Lerner was working with the DOJ and FEC to stifle opposition. . There isn’t even a hint of corruption, from the actions of those rogue employees in Cincinnati.

—JD

4/20/2014

Enduring Love

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:02 pm

[guest post by Dana]

For those in the faith, today is Resurrection Day – the make-or-break moment of the Christian faith. Without the Resurrection, there would be no manifestation of a divine living Love – so personal and perfect and whole that He pierces the heart with laser-like precision, laying it bare before our Maker as the amazing and arduous process of transformation begins. The Resurrection is the hope of the believer, the heart of faith, and the assurance that at the end of this earthly journey where we often find ourselves struggling through a vale of tears, there will be rest, there will be joy, and there will be peace. We are but pilgrims passing through. And without hope, what is one left with?

This morning, I considered posting on the unique gift of free speech we enjoy in America – in spite of how cynical, cowardly, and offensive it may be.

I considered posting about Google’s decision not to have an Easter doodle, but decisions like that have become cliche. Let’s just be glad Serbia National Day and Turkey Election 2014 and Britain’s First National Park weren’t ignored, okay? Because that would have been really awful.

But, given that it is a day to recognize Hope and Love, I decided to do a simple post on what really matters in this life: Enduring Love. And if for some reason, one is fortunate to find another to share the journey with, it becomes all the more unique. This love is the difficult love that calls one to walk through sorrow as well as joy while holding on to each other – no matter what seeks to tear apart. It is to believe in the united power of shared love when all might seem lost. It calls, even demands to put the other’s needs and well-being before one’s own, as well as to share in the victories, defeats, struggles, heartache, loss, and golden moments in between – while never letting go of each other.

A couple who held hands at breakfast every morning even after 70 years of marriage have died 15 hours apart.

Helen Felumlee, of Nashport, died at 92 on April 12. Her husband, 91-year-old Kenneth Felumlee, died the next morning.

The couple’s eight children say the two had been inseparable since meeting as teenagers, once sharing the bottom of a bunk bed on a ferry rather than sleeping one night apart

The pair had known each other for several years when they eloped in Newport, Ky., across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, on Feb. 20, 1944.

At two days shy of his 21st birthday, Kenneth was too young to marry in Ohio.

‘He couldn’t wait,’ son Jim Felumlee said.

Kenneth worked as a railroad car inspector and mechanic before becoming a mail carrier for the Nashport Post Office.

He was active in his Nashport-Irville United Methodist Church as a Sunday school teacher.

Helen stayed at home, not only cooking and cleaning for her own family but also for other families in need in the area.

She taught Sunday school, too, but was known more for her greeting card ministry, sending cards for birthdays, sympathy and the holidays to everyone in her community, each with a personal note inside.

‘She kept Hallmark in business,’ daughter-in-law Debbie Felumlee joked.

When Kenneth retired in 1983 and the children began to leave the house, the Felumlees began to explore their love of travel, visiting almost all 50 states by bus.

‘He didn’t want to fly anywhere because you couldn’t see anything as you were going,’ Jim Felumlee said.

Although both experienced declining health in recent years, Cody said, each tried to stay strong for the other.

‘That’s what kept them going,’ she said.

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Note: The views of faith expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of management here at Patterico’s. These are the author’s alone.

–Dana

4/19/2014

Twitter Hacked?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:17 pm

[UPDATE: See updates below. This has clearly happened to thousands and thousands of people today. -- P]

This morning I noticed a couple of odd tweets in my Twitter stream. One was from Charles C. Johnson:

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Hm. That doesn’t sound like something he’d say. Then there was this:

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Simon Dodd is someone who likes to blog about his admiration for Antonin Scalia. Not the sort of fella you’d think would be hawking some diet product — which is what the link turned out to be. It was, unsurprisingly, a link to the same page that Chuck’s was. I DM’d Chuck to ask if he had been hacked, and he said he had.

It’s not over. Now we have the president of FIRE, an excellent organization supporting free speech on campus:

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And then Rob Long:

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Rob made it clear what he thinks is going on:

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It seems to me that several people have been hacked on the same day — and it’s possible that, as Rob says, Twitter itself has been hacked. I can’t seem to find a news story about it, but this is too much to be a coincidence. If you see other suspicious tweets today, link them below and ideally screenshot them.

UPDATE: More:

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UPDATE: Still more:

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I just did a Twitter search for “fruit” which revealed dozens and dozens of Tweets in the last five minutes about the amazing weight-loss fruit. This is an epidemic and I predict it will be all over the Internet news by tonight. You saw it here first.

UPDATE: If you scroll down that Twitter fruit search, my guess is that thousands of accounts have been hacked.

UPDATE: This happened to Instagram last year, and the fruit diet people were the culprits then too.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker of Power Line writes to say that his Twitter account was also hacked. Where is Big Media on this??

Shoveling While Black

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:44 am

[guest post by Dana]

In a thoughtful essay, ESPN sports analyst and retired professional baseball player Doug Glanville relates his recent experience of being racially profiled while shoveling snow in the driveway of his Old Tudor house in Connecticut.

A police officer from West Hartford had pulled up across the street, exited his vehicle, and begun walking in my direction. I noted the strangeness of his being in Hartford—an entirely separate town with its own police force—so I thought he needed help. He approached me with purpose, and then, without any introduction or explanation he asked, “So, you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling people’s driveways around here?”

His attorney wife, furious upon being told what happened, emailed one of their neighbors who also happened to be their state senator. Her subject line read “Shoveling While Black”,

Doug just got detained by West Hartford Police in front of our house while shoveling our driveway, questioning him about asking to be paid for shoveling. The officer left when Doug told him that it was his house. There were several other people on our street out in front of their houses shoveling snow at the same time. None of them were stopped for questioning. Just wanted to vent to someone whom we know cares and would be equally outraged.

Her email set the wheels in motion for a meaningful and productive conversation with community leaders. (It was later discovered that a complaint of door-to-door soliciting from a resident of a neighboring community led the police offer pursuing complaint to Glanville’s street. The subject was described as a man Glanville allegedly resembled.)

Glanville walks readers through his loss of confidence as a homeowner and subsequent navigation through unfamiliar territory. Readers will observe that as Glanville, a public figure, chose to respond to the incident with an intentional measured deliberateness, any sensationalism was avoided.

The incident caused him to reflect on something he had always believed,

My biggest challenge as a father will be to help my kids navigate a world where being black is both a source of pride and a reason for caution. I want them to have respect for the police, but also a healthy fear—at least as long as racial profiling continues to be an element of law enforcement. But I also want them to go into the world with a firm sense of their own self-worth.

Glanville, citing the wisdom of his parents and how they raised him, closes with a somber look at his reality,

That upbringing is what enabled me to deal with this incident in a slow, communicative, and methodical way. And it now allows me to see the potential in the officer who approached me. He’s still young, and one day he could become a leading advocate for unbiased policing practices. But I wish he would sit down with my kids and answer their questions. That might help him understand how hard it is to be a father—let alone a father in a black family. And I’d like him to know how much my children—and all children—expect from the officers trained to protect them. At the end of all my conversations with my kids, there were many things they still didn’t understand. But my 5-year-old son reassured me: “That’s okay, Dad. I still want to be a police officer.”

Read the whole thing.

Update from West Hartford News, providing more details:

The West Hartford police reported that on Feb. 18, 2014, an officer responded to a complaint of a suspicious male on Concord Street, West Hartford. The complainant reported “a black male, in his 40’s, wearing a brown jacket and carrying a snow shovel,” had knocked on her neighbor’s door, police said. A town ordinance prohibits door-to-door solicitation.

According to the complaint, the same neighbors had issues in the recent past with a black male who had solicited money for shoveling snow. That first incident had been reported to the West Hartford Police, but the man had left the scene and was not located, police said.

The police dispatcher advised the responding officer that a party who matched the description was last seen heading east on Fern Street, crossing Prospect Avenue into Hartford, according to the report.

“The officer exited his vehicle and asked the man, who was later found to be Mr. Glanville, if he had been seeking work shoveling driveways. When Mr. Glanville advised that he had not, the officer then departed,” according to a report issued by police. “The officer took it on face value that Mr. Glanville was not the correct person and immediately left the scene.”

The suspect was later located at South Highland Street and Farmington Avenue and given a verbal warning for soliciting, according to police.

“While the officer’s actions in searching for the suspicious party were completely appropriate, we wish he had taken the extra time to introduce himself to Mr. Glanville and to explain the purpose of the question,” said police. “We have discussed this with the officer and will work to remind all of our officers of the importance of good interpersonal skills and taking time, when practical, to explain their actions.

–Dana

4/18/2014

New Kid On The Block

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:44 pm

[guest post by Dana]

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The Los Angeles Register made its debut this week. From the get-go, the newspaper moved to set itself apart,

The accepted wisdom about L.A. is that it is politically and ideologically monolithic. That Angelenos are almost exclusively Democrats. And that they are almost entirely liberal. But, just as L.A. is recognized for its ethnic and cultural diversity, so, too, should it be for its political and philosophical diversity.

Los Angeles Register Opinion aims to infuse a new perspective into the political and public policy debate in our community and lead the charge for a new generation of liberty-minded, free-market intellectuals.

To do so, we deliberately try to ignore party affiliation, focusing instead on principles and ideas with a very simple bright line: What can be done to increase economic and social liberty?

We favor free-market economic and fiscal policy and believe government – at all levels – should exercise budgetary prudence and restraint.

We believe individuals have the right, and are solely suited, to make the incredibly personal decisions about who to love, what to buy and what to consume.

And we believe that thriving cities and regions need a strong advocate for community building and development to support the everyday people who are the lifeblood of any great metropolis.

Free markets, limited government, personal freedom and a strong sense of community are essential to the economic prosperity that lifts all boats, to the deterrence of tyranny and to liberty that allows us, everyone, to realize our ambitions and aspirations.

LA Observed was amusingly condescending,

On the editorial page, an unsigned editorial opens with a bit of a false start that doesn’t bode well — claiming “the accepted wisdom about LA” is that it’s monolithically Democratic and liberal but the Reggies know better…

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times had an informative report about their new competitor.

–Dana

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