Patterico's Pontifications

7/28/2009

[Snarky Blog Post Title Goes Here]

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 10:04 pm

The (dwindling number of) layers of editors at the L.A. Times strikes again:

Insert Headline Here

At least it appears to have happened only in the online version of the front page — and didn’t, apparently, make it into a print edition. That makes this error less embarrassing than the last time something like this happened.

Radley Balko, Brian Doherty, and an L.A. Times Editor Distort Posting by Jack Dunphy

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 8:28 pm

I am proud to know Jack Dunphy, and I am especially pleased that he occasionally exposes my readers to his highly entertaining writing style in postings on this site. Jack is able to stand up for himself, and doesn’t need me to help out. Still, I find it highly annoying to see numerous people distorting a recent blog posting of his at NRO’s The Corner. It was bad enough when the radical libertarians like Radley Balko and Brian Doherty did it. But now that an L.A. Times editor is getting in on the act, I feel I must speak out.

Let’s start by reviewing what Jack actually said — which will make the distortion of his words plain to see. In a passage I quoted with approval the other day, Jack said:

So, since the president is keen on offering instruction, here is what I would advise he teach his Ivy League pals, and anyone else who may find himself unexpectedly confronted by a police officer: You may be as pure as the driven snow itself, but you have no idea what horrible crime that police officer might suspect you of committing. You may be tooling along on a Sunday drive in your 1932 Hupmobile when, quite unknown to you, someone else in a 1932 Hupmobile knocks off the nearby Piggly Wiggly. A passing police officer sees you and, asking himself how many 1932 Hupmobiles can there be around here, pulls you over. At that moment I can assure you the officer is not all that concerned with trying not to offend you. He is instead concerned with protecting his mortal hide from having holes placed in it where God did not intend. And you, if in asserting your constitutional right to be free from unlawful search and seizure fail to do as the officer asks, run the risk of having such holes placed in your own.

When the officer has satisfied himself that it was not you and your Hupmobile that were involved in the Piggly Wiggly heist, he owes you an explanation for the stop and an apology for the inconvenience, but if you’re running your mouth about your rights and your history of oppression and what have you, you’re likely to get neither.

Now, please understand: the cop in this example is acting lawfully. He has pulled over a suspect in a 1932 Hupmobile, which I think you’ll agree is a very rare car:

1932 Hupmobile

and he therefore has reasonable suspicion to detain the driver for what sounds like an armed robbery of a supermarket. (I’m reasonably interpreting “knocking off” a supermarket in a “heist” to refer to an armed robbery.)

If the driver didn’t commit the robbery, he may believe that the stop is unconstitutional, and that, by failing to do as the officer asks, he is “asserting [his] constitutional right to be free from unlawful search and seizure.” But in fact, as Jack explained this morning, if the driver fails to comply with the officer’s demands (which may include such indignities as commanding the driver to raise his hands above his head, lie face-down on the ground, and/or submit to a brief detention in handcuffs), he is actually resisting lawful commands by a police officer conducting a lawful detention. Not only is said citizen going to lose his lawsuit for civil rights violations, he may find himself locked up for a misdemeanor violation of Penal Code section 148, subdivision a, subsection 1.

And if the driver casually ignores the fact that the officer might consider him a danger, for legitimate reasons the driver never imagined, the driver could indeed end up full of holes. For as the refuses to get his hands in the air, and instead reaches in his pocket to pull out his wallet — to show that he is really, say, an important Harvard professor, a famous writer for a libertarian magazine, or the editor of a big-city newspaper — his actions may cause the cop to think he’s going for a gun. Why else would the driver ignore the officer’s lawful command to get his fucking hands in the air? (And yes, the officer may say it in just that rude a fashion. Complain later, driver — but raise your fucking hands in the air now.)

For some reason, a few libertarian-leaning writers have not understood Jack’s point — and in their zeal to criticize him, they have misrepresented Jack’s point. In some cases badly.

Radley Balko started the ball rolling in a column titled The Henry Louis Gates “Teaching Moment.” Balko cautions readers not to display excessive deference to police, and cites numerous examples of genuine police overreaching (such as confiscating video cameras on public streets and such). Balko’s thesis is simple: “[T]he emerging lesson seems to be that you should capitulate to police, all the time, right or wrong. That’s unfortunate, because there are plenty of instances where you shouldn’t.”

This is true, but as Jack’s example shows, there are times when you may think you have the right to ignore the officer’s commands, but you really don’t. You can disobey, but you’d damn well better be right. Because if you judge badly, you could end up in jail or dead.

Balko misrepresents Jack’s point in support of his argument, saying:

Los Angeles Police Department officer Jack Dunphy (a pseudonym) oddly concluded at National Review Online that the lesson from the Gates/Crowley affair is that anyone who asserts his constitutional rights when confronted by a police officer risks getting shot.

(All emphasis in this post is mine.)

No, he didn’t. Jack posited a specific scenario involving a suspected armed robber, in which the officer is making a lawful stop of someone he believes to be armed and dangerous, and says that someone who refuses to obey the officer’s commands in such a scenario could end up full of holes. That’s far different from, say, a situation where a citizen tells an officer illegally searching his car for drugs: “Officer, I assert my constitutional rights! Please stop your search!” There’s no reason such a person would end up full of holes, and I wager that Jack Dunphy would never say otherwise. Balko is simply misrepresenting and oversimplifying Dunphy’s point to make it sound alarming, when it’s just not.

It gets far worse when we read Brian Doherty’s blog post, titled Anonymous LAPD Writer: Running Your Mouth About Your Rights Can Get You Shot, And Don’t You Forget It. I have personally met Doherty, and while I think he’s a radical libertarian, he seems like a nice guy. However, his blog post here is very misleading, and the title is really just crap. Go back and read the passage I quoted from Jack’s column. He doesn’t say running your mouth can get you shot. He says failing to obey the commands of a police officer who reasonably suspects you of being an armed robber can get you shot. And running your mouth about it afterwards — if you’re rude about the way you do it — might lose you an apology and an explanation, to which (Dunphy says) you would otherwise be entitled.

But it doesn’t make a very snappy or convincing blog post title to say: “Anonymous LAPD Writer: Failing to Obey the Lawful Commands of an Officer Who Reasonably Suspects You of Being an Armed Robber Can Get You Shot, And Don’t You Forget It.”

Also note how Doherty loads the dice by paraphrasing part of Dunphy’s quote:

[A policeman talking to a citizen is] concerned with protecting his mortal hide from having holes placed in it where God did not intend. And you, if in asserting your constitutional right to be free from unlawful search and seizure fail to do as the officer asks, run the risk of having such holes placed in your own.

Uh, no, Brian. This is not just any citizen talking to any policeman — although I can see where you might have gotten that impression from reading Balko’s column. Nevertheless, you’re a big boy, you read Dunphy’s post yourself, and you should have been able to overcome any misimpressions from Balko’s column, assuming that’s where you first saw it.

Finally, we get to the Dog Trainer editor.

Paul Thornton, an assistant articles editor at the L.A. Times, italicizes Dunphy’s sentence: “And you, if in asserting your constitutional right to be free from unlawful search and seizure fail to do as the officer asks, run the risk of having such holes placed in your own.” Thornton — a seemingly very nice guy who was my editor for the “Dustup” series with Marc Cooper — then says:

Note the italics — and consider that an armed officer of the law grotesquely warns any innocent civilian who cites his Constitutional protection against unreasonable searches that he runs the risk of being killed. I hope that a cop who pulls me over simply because another guy driving a blue VW Jetta committed a crime would exercise more restraint should I point out that the law is on my side.

OK, Mr. Thornton, a few problems here. The law is not on your side; it is not an unreasonable search; you are not just “any innocent civilian” but rather one reasonably suspected of a violent crime; and your blue VW Jetta is a bit more common than the Hupmobile pictured earlier in this post. This is pretty thin gruel on which to base this rather histrionic display of Outrage:

Dunphy is completely out of line here; any officer who considers citizens belligerent for asserting their Constitutional rights is a danger to the public and his department. Chief Bratton take note.

No, Mr. Thornton, you’re out of line for misrepresenting the nature of Jack Dunphy’s argument. Again, I don’t level a charge of deliberate misrepresentation; presumably you simply misunderstood what he was saying. Hopefully this post helps clear up any confusion.

Obama’s Science Czar Defines Life

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 7:03 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Obama’s top science adviser, co-authored a 1973 book that said a newborn child “will ultimately develop into a human being” if he or she is properly fed and socialized:

“The fetus, given the opportunity to develop properly before birth, and given the essential early socializing experiences and sufficient nourishing food during the crucial early years after birth, will ultimately develop into a human being,” John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wrote in Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions.
***
The specific passage expressing the authors’ view that a baby “will ultimately develop into a human being” is on page 235 in chapter 8 of the book, which is titled “Population Limitation.”

At the time the book was written, the Supreme Court had not yet issued its Roe v. Wade decision, and the passage in question was part of a subsection of the “Population Limitation” chapter that argued for legalized abortion.”

Holdren’s co-authors were Stanford Professors Paul and Anne Ehrlich. Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book The Population Bomb is credited with launching the zero population movement. Zombietime has more on the Ehrlichs and Holdren’s views.

Would the authors object to a mother killing her two month old baby if they really believe life begins after a child is socialized? I’m sure they would for PC reasons, but I don’t see how they could and be philosophically consistent.

— DRJ

Obamacare would already be law, if not for you stupid Americans

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:51 am

[Posted by Karl]

Public support for a government takeover of the US healthcare system continues to decline. The House Democratic leadership is looking for someone to blame, aside from themselves. The establishment media seems to be picking a scapegoat — us (and them):

While viewers may seize upon numbers that indicate the size and scope of reforming health care — 47 million uninsured Americans or costs in the trillion-dollar range — most eyes glaze over when terms like “public option” or “bundled payments” get tossed around on the air.

“It’s not only not a cable TV-friendly story; it’s not a journalism-friendly story,” said John Harwood, chief Washington correspondent for CNBC.

Harwood, also a political writer for The New York Times, explained that reporters need to first understand the intricacies and nuances of health care policy before they can then try getting the story across to viewers and readers. Last week, Harwood said, he was “trying to get [his] head around the issue of cost control” before penning a Times column.

“It’s incredibly complex to try and explain to people,” Harwood said.

“The problem with health care is that it’s so big and so complicated that the public is never really going to understand all the moving parts of this,” NPR health policy correspondent Julie Rovner said on air Wednesday.

“So the public is really always going to be sort of amenable, if you will, to demagoguery and arguments one way or the other that don’t necessarily link to what the substance is,” Rovner continued. “We saw this during the Clinton efforts.”

It would be easy to dismiss this attitude as the rank partisan bias of the lapdog press. But perhaps we should take Rovner’s “one way or another” seriously. After all, if Obamacare was smoothly sailing through Congress, folks on the Right might well be griping that the public does not understand a public plan will hide its administrative costs in the federal budget, or that preventive care generally does not save money, and that people are being swayed by the sad stories in the letters Pres. Obama allegedly reads every day (and that CNN’s John King is busy covering for the fair and balanced CNN).

The question remains: Why aren’t Americans being swayed by the demagoguery of the Left?

The answer may be that even those Americans not steeped in the arcana of healthcare policy know enough to spot obvious chicanery. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that healthcare reform means a cap on your costs, but no cap on your benefits, most Americans can smell the horse manure. Most Americans know their government well enough to know it is not in the fishes and loaves business.

Accordingly when they hear that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office scores the House bill as a fiscal disaster, they tend to believe it. Indeed, even establishment outlets like the Washington Post and Newsweek now run op-eds essentially accusing Pres. Obama of misleading people on this basic point. As Pres. Obama, following the preponderance of the polling, has sold a government takeover as a way to cut healthcare costs, which now bothers Lefty bloggers like Ezra Klein:

Ask yourself what the administration’s one-line goal is on health-care reform. Is it “equal treatment for everybody?” Is it “if every American is guaranteed a lawyer, why not a doctor?” Is it even “guaranteed health care for everyone?”

No. It’s “bend the curve.” And the problem with “bending the curve” is that it’s a broadly testable proposition. This is, in part, why the Congressional Budget Office’s skeptical assessments pose such a threat to health-care reform. If the White House’s primary objective was health care for every American, or guaranteed care that you could keep even if you lost your job, or choice of insurance plans for every American, you could spend a bit more on health care and say you were achieving your goal. But if you say that the point of health-care reform is to save money, and then the outfit charged with estimating such things says it won’t, that strikes at the heart of the project.

Mary Katharine Ham succinctly calls it an “entire justification FAIL.”

That realization is the first step of the “internal Q&A” described by Peggy Noonan:

Will whatever health care bill is produced by Congress increase the deficit? “Of course.” Will it mean tax increases? “Of course.” Will it mean new fees or fines? “Probably.” Can I afford it right now? “No, I’m already getting clobbered.” Will it make the marketplace freer and better? “Probably not.” Is our health care system in crisis? “Yeah, it has been for years.” Is it the most pressing crisis right now? “No, the economy is.” Will a health-care bill improve the economy? “I doubt it.”

Rasmussen’s polling of likely voters tends to prove Noonan accurate on virttually every point.

Most Americans may not be policy wonks. But most Americans do understand that if you greatly increase the number of people with insurance, demand and price will usually increase. And most Americans understand that artificial price controls tend to produce decreases in quality. In an environment where the overwhelming majority have health insurance and are generally satisfied with their care, these basic perceptions have been trumping the demagoguery of the Left.

–Karl

Scumbag of the Day: Ken Layne

Filed under: General,Scum — Patterico @ 6:46 am

Via Andy Levy comes a lovely story about douchebag Ken Layne:

Meghan McCain, daughter of former presidential candidate John McCain, got involved in a Twitter controversy today, when a man sent her a note that suggested he was suicidal. McCain then tried to find help for the man. The whole situation was then mocked on Wonkette.com, a blog dedicated to political gossip.

The situation unfolded via Twitter while McCain was on a roadtrip in her home state of Arizona. When someone sent her a tweet with the message “please pray for me. SeriousLy please I want death. End it for. Me please. I hate http://myloc.me/enq5,” McCain became alarmed. The website link in the tweet was to a map indicating that the person was in Seattle, WA. McCain then posted a note to her own twitter account asking for help: “Twitter I need your help, I don’t know if this is real or not but this person @rolson141 just implied they want to kill themselves, I just read this just now. Who can I alert, what should I do? Like I said, I just read this just now, I am freaked out by this twitter message”

She and her publicist ended up contacting the police in Seattle and continued to talk to the man over Twitter. The whole situation was disturbing to McCain, as she continued to share over Twitter: “please pray for him everyone, I am shaking. I don’t know the situation but when someone tweets me “they want death”, I am going to do something about it.”

Perhaps the most upsetting thing about the story is how Wonkette chose to cover it. Instead of noting that she was trying to help someone who was depressed and in danger, they made fun of her. “Behold her nervous illiterate twitters,” wrote Ken Layne, a Wonkette writer, “about somebody she doesn’t know who may or may not exist, on the Internet, and perhaps at minimum exists on the other side of the country, typing some sadsack stuff about wanting to die. Teen-agers are hyper-emotional, Meghan, sort of like you…” Certainly, McCain had no idea if the person on the other end of the tweet was really depressed or just seeking attention, but she was legitimately trying to help someone. That deserves respect, not taunting. Yet Layne continued to make fun of her, accusing her of being a second-rate “Bat Man” and of going “progressively more nuts while reading the random twitters of other people.”

You know, I once saw a blogger threaten suicide, in comments to a post of his. Some of you will remember the situation I’m talking about. Some of his commenters mocked him and encouraged him to do it. The next post on his blog was from a relative saying he was dead.

The family deleted the ugly comments, but I saved them somewhere, as a reminder of how subhuman people can be on the Internet.

Regardless of what you think of Meghan McCain, mocking her for trying to help a possibly suicidal person is bottom-feeding, scumbag behavior. From what I know of Ken Layne, however, it’s typical.

Unreasonable at Reason

Filed under: Blogging Matters,General,Law — Jack Dunphy @ 2:42 am

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

One must be cautious not to judge the merits a blog site by measuring the apparent intelligence and moral character of its commenters. Heaven knows the commenters right here in our little corner of the blogosphere can occasionally wander pretty far afield, to understate the matter considerably. But I have to say I was shocked, and not in the Casablanca sense but genuinely so, to read some of the comments on a post over at the Reason website.

As I wrote Monday on NRO’s the Corner, Reason blogger Brian Doherty took liberties in lifting a quote from an earlier Corner post, with his readers being led to believe, either through his own carelessness or dishonesty, that I take a cavalier attitude in protecting constitutional rights if it comes at the expense of my own safety. You can read his post and my own and judge for yourself. But when the commenters weighed in, though there was some thoughtful exchange of ideas, there was at least as much lunacy, as measured by the number of people who expressed, in one form or another, the general idea of “f*** the police” (with the expletive spelled out, of course). And then there was the one who, addressing the subject of the risks police officers face, brushed aside such concerns with the observation, “Dying on the job is an occupational hazard.”

So, if I follow the advice of such people and, in my reluctance to give offense to some suspected criminal I have stopped, fail to heed some subtle hint of danger and am killed as a result, hey, I knew it was a tough job when I signed up, so tell Mrs. Dunphy to get the black dress to the cleaners and get over it.

I don’t think so.

Let me spell it out clearly for all those hardcore libertarians who think defying a police officer’s lawful authority is somehow noble. If I stop you in the reasonable belief – even a mistaken one – that you have committed a crime, abundant statutory and case law (see Graham v. Connor, for example) authorizes me to use reasonable force to effect an arrest, overcome resistance, and prevent escape. If the crime I suspect you of committing is serious enough, one way or another you’re going to end up in handcuffs, even if only temporarily. Protest if you must, but be prepared for the consequences.

Those who brand this as tyranny remind me of the driver who insists on entering an intersection on a green light even as he sees that a car is about to run a red light across his path. “But I had the green light” is a poor choice for an epitaph.

–Jack Dunphy


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