Patterico's Pontifications

7/30/2009

Democrats Point Fingers in Healthcare Fight

Filed under: Government,Politics — DRJ @ 1:31 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Democratic leaders in Congress are angry about healthcare. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is lashing out at insurance companies:

“It’s almost immoral what they are doing,” Pelosi said to reporters, referring to insurance companies. “Of course they’ve been immoral all along in how they have treated the people that they insure,” she said, adding, “They are the villains. They have been part of the problem in a major way. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening.”

Meanwhile, over in the Senate, Harry Reid blames the Capitol Hill media:

“Reid said reporters created a fictitious deadline of a successful vote by the August recess, and downplayed the fact that the chamber won’t meet that mark.

“That is a deadline that you created,” Reid told a group of about 75 reporters. “It’s not like we don’t have a product. Significant progress has been made … The mere fact that this wasn’t done by last Friday or by five o’clock doesn’t mean we’re not going to get a quality product.”

I bet there aren’t many people in Congress who are looking forward to the August recess trip home, but I agree with Karl that the Democrats are just beginning to fight.

— DRJ

Obamacare: We’ve Only Just Begun

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:51 am

[Posted by Karl]

Yesterday, Pres. Obama’s proposed takeover of the US healthcare system took hits in polling from from NPR, TIME, Gallup, NBC/WSJ and the New York Times. Today’s Pew poll is about as bad.

The Hill and Politico report on the Congressional Progressive Caucus threatening to bolt over the deal their leaders forged with the Blue Dogs — and that is over the supposed substance, not the delay for a vote by the full House until September, when time is so clearly the Democrats’ enemy.

The emerging proposal from the bipartisan “gang of six” Senate Finance Committee negotiators that would drop a government-run insurance plan caused wailing and gnashing of teeth throughout the Leftosphere. Matt Taibbi, Scott Lemieux and Howard Dean are good examples, though Jane Hamsher attacking Ezra Klein as insufficiently dogmatic may be my favorite. Moreover, it seems that a bipartisan proposal will not emerge before Congress goes on August recess.

Grading Pres. Obama’s efforts to sell healthcare reform, Lefty blogger Nate Sliver gives The One a B+, a D+, a D- and two Fs. President Obama’s AARP town hall showed a man clearly on the defensive. It is thus no surprise that Obama plans to retool his rhetoric — though 8 bullet points, pitched mostly at the insured (who are overwhelmingly happy with their coverage already) are unlikely to change the field much.

All (or most) of the above news can cheer the Right, but the Right cannot lose sight of the larger picture, which remains pretty gloomy. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, still thinks the odds of sticking us with some healthcare bill are very good, as does Rep. Mike Ross, chairman of the health-care task force for the Blue Dog Coalition in the House. Killing the public plan would be a mostly symbolic victory — essential, but not enough to prevent government-run health care.

Accordingly, when conservatives and libertarians press their elected representatives during the August recess, they should make clear that dropping the public plan is necessary, but not sufficient. Our representatives need to be told that Fannie Med co-ops are just as unacceptable as a government insurance plan.

The point should be driven home that government-run healthcare schemes with most of the same elements now being discussed have been proven disasters in Tennessee, Maine and most of all Massachusetts, which has been judged a failure by everyone from Reason to the Boston Globe. The pattern is always similar — costs soar out of control, which in turn pushes government to reduce benefits or payments to doctors and hospitals (pushing them to skimp on care). Our representatives need to be told that these schemes inevitably lead not only to government-rationed care, but the death of the medical innovation.

Our representatives need to be told that as much as we do not want a public plan, we do not want a Health Choices Czar imposing costly mandates (like the guaranteed issue mandate that nearly doubled insurance premiums in New Jersey), driving people into government-run health exchanges and interfering with our right to choose our own doctors.

Centrist Democrats are going to be pressured by their progressive colleagues and the punditocracy to cave in, to support — or at least not filibuster — whatever final bill gets cooked up in a backroom House-Senate conference. They are going to get told that the failure of Hillarycare in 1994 led to the GOP electoral tsunami that year. Centrist Democrats need to be reminded that the Democrats could have lost more seats had they passed Hillarycare. They need to be reminded that after Congress passed the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act in 1988, a mob of seniors heckled and chased then-powerful Rep. Dan Rostenkowski down a Chicago street and attacked his car. His colleagues faced a public only slightly less angry. Less than two years later, before the bill’s implementation, Congress repealed the law by huge margins.

The Democrats may be struggling today, but their current attempt to take over our healthcare system is far from meeting its Waterloo. Stop thinking ABBA. Start thinking The Carpenters.

–Karl

Hiding in Plain Sight

Filed under: Crime,No on 66 — Patterico @ 7:31 am

There is a blockbuster story lurking in the details of this blog post, for anyone willing and able to see it.

7/29/2009

Balko Utterly Demolishes a Few Arguments that Jack Dunphy and I Never Made

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:43 pm

Radley Balko is a smart man who sometimes makes apparently telling points about police misconduct. Yet whenever I read a Balko rebuttal to one of my pieces of writing, I find myself rubbing my eyes in amazement — because the argument Balko accuses me of making bears only a faint resemblance to the argument I actually made.

This trend continues today with a Balko-penned blog post at Reason that purports to respond to arguments made by myself and Jack Dunphy. I say “purports” because in nearly every instance, Balko fails to grapple with the actual arguments made by Jack and myself. Instead, Balko valiantly lays waste to arguments that are made to appear as if they originated with Jack and myself, but which in reality came to life only in Balko’s imagination.

For example, Balko says:

Patterico and Dunphy argue that Dunphy’s “lesson” here applies only to the specifics of his hypothetical—that the only time he meant to imply that you risk getting shot for asserting your rights is in the limited circumstance that an officer is looking for an armed, dangerous felon, and you happen to fit the very specific description of said felon given to police. I can’t speak for Doherty, but I stand by my original characterization of Dunphy’s post, for several reasons.

First, if this was Dunphy’s point, it’s unclear why he would invoke it in response to the Gates case, where there was no armed robbery, no getaway car, and no specific description of any unusual characteristics. Either he meant for his “lesson” to be applied more broadly, or his entire post was a red herring.

Second, as emphasized in the excerpt above (a portion that Patterico neglected to include in his post) Dunphy explicitly sets up the hypothetical by stating that its lesson should be taken to heart by “anyone else who may find himself unexpectedly confronted by a police officer.” In other words, not just people driving 1932 Hupmobiles.

(All emphasis in this post is mine.)

I was befuddled by the accusation that I had omitted Dunphy’s phrase “anyone else who may find himself unexpectedly confronted by a police officer.” After rubbing my eyes, I clicked on the link that Balko provided for my post, and was not especially surprised to see the very language Balko had accused me of omitting:

Balko Wrong Yet Again

Having established that Balko is sloppy with his facts, let me clear away some of the underbrush before I proceed further, by making two or three points in as clear a fashion as I know how:

  • Dunphy and I are not defending the arrest of Gates. Any argument that suggests we are, is a misleading argument.

    I have called the arrest an “inappropriate” action by “an offended cop who got high on his own authority and sense of outrage.” In a milder rebuke, Dunphy has called the arrest “imprudent.” It should be clear: Dunphy’s hypothetical is not designed to justify the arrest; rather, it addresses both parties’ behavior before the arrest.

  • Dunphy is not advocating unreasonable searches by cops, nor is he criticizing citizens who resist clearly unlawful searches or seizures. Any argument that suggests he is, is a misleading argument.

    In Dunphy’s Hupmobile hypothetical, the officer is acting legally. One of the points made by Dunphy’s hypothetical is that a cop can behave perfectly reasonably and legally, even when he is detaining, searching, or giving commands to a completely innocent person. The law is clear: a police officer may forcibly detain a citizen whom the officer reasonably suspects is guilty of a crime — and if the officer acts with reasonable suspicion, the officer’s action is legal even if that citizen later proves to be completely innocent. The point of Dunphy’s hypothetical with a comically named and absurdly rare car is to illustrate, in an exaggerated manner, a stop of an innocent person that is undoubtedly legally justified. (The fact that some real-world stops may also be justified, but less obviously so, does not render the hypothetical inapt; hypotheticals are generated to illustrate basic principles, which often must be applied to real-world situations that are less clear.)

  • Dunphy never said that “running your mouth” or “asserting your rights” alone might get you shot. Any argument that suggests he said that, is a misleading argument.

    He said that, in a situation where the officer reasonably suspects you of being an armed criminal, failing to obey the officer’s lawful orders may get you shot. Those lawful orders will likely include commands to a) raise your hands; b) get your hands out of your pockets; c) exit a car or house; d) lie on the ground — and so forth. If a citizen operates under the misconception that, because he is guilty of no wrongdoing, he is constitutionally free to ignore the officer’s commands and go about his business, he runs a serious risk of making some motion that the officer interprets as threatening. And the citizen may well find himself full of holes.

With these principles in mind, let us now turn back to Balko’s rebuttal:

Patterico and Dunphy argue that Dunphy’s “lesson” here applies only to the specifics of his hypothetical—that the only time he meant to imply that you risk getting shot for asserting your rights is in the limited circumstance that an officer is looking for an armed, dangerous felon, and you happen to fit the very specific description of said felon given to police. I can’t speak for Doherty, but I stand by my original characterization of Dunphy’s post, for several reasons.

First, if this was Dunphy’s point, it’s unclear why he would invoke it in response to the Gates case, where there was no armed robbery, no getaway car, and no specific description of any unusual characteristics. Either he meant for his “lesson” to be applied more broadly, or his entire post was a red herring.

Let me explain to Radley Balko how an analogy works. An analogy is designed to illlustrate a principle. It is a fallacious attack on an analogy to assert that there are specific characteristics of the analogy that are not present in the real-life example that the analogy is designed to illuminate. The question is whether the principle illustrated by the analogy is applicable.

Here, Dunphy constructed an analogy to illustrate the principle that citizens should realize that, while they may be completely innocent, they may be approached by an officer who, unbeknownst to the citizen, suspects them of a serious crime. (In the Hupmobile example, the serious crime is an armed robbery. In the Gates scenario, it is home burglary.) Citizens should keep that in mind, and should not get offended when the officer treats them as a potential suspect. (The Hupmobile driver should not get huffy and disobey commands to get his hands in the air, since the police officer reasonably fears he may be armed; Gates should not have gotten upset at the officer for following him into his home, as the officer may have reasonably feared that Gates was arming himself.) Jack’s analogy entertainingly illustrates, not that the arrest of Gates was proper (remember, we’re not saying that!), but that the officer acted reasonably in ordering/asking Gates out of his home, and in following Gates into his home — when Gates, a possible burglar, refused to exit, and walked deeper into the house to obtain an ID (or, for all the officer knew, a gun).

So, yes: Dunphy certainly intended for his analogy to be applied more broadly. But that doesn’t mean he was saying the Gates arrest was justified, or that the Gates scenario involved a Hupmobile or anything like that. It was an analogy, and it made a good point, as any rational and unbiased observer can plainly see.

However, it is part of the nature of analogies that, when they are offered to people who refuse to be convinced, those people will inevitably resort to fallacious attacks on the analogy — because, to people not paying close attention, those fallacious attacks sound convincing. “Obama can’t be analogized to President Carter, because Obama is neither from Georgia nor a peanut farmer! Game, set, and match!”) Such fallacious attacks are what Balko is employing when he spuriously notes that in the Gates situation “there was no armed robbery, no getaway car, and no specific description of any unusual characteristics” (well, other than the fact that a possible burglar was seen entering Gates’s home, and the officer soon thereafter confronted a man inside Gates’s home, which actually is a fairly specific description of unusual characteristics that are not shared by anyone else in the world who is not in Gates’s home).

Balko argues:

Dunphy was responding negatively to the idea that the “teachable moment” in all of this ought to be for the police to be more cognizant of our rights, and not make rash arrests or employ racial profiling (we now know of course that the latter most likely didn’t play a role in the Gates arrest). Dunphy’s counter to that sentiment clearly seems to be that if there’s a lesson in the Gates arrest, it isn’t for cops, it’s for everyone else, and the lesson is to avoid “running your mouth about your rights and your history of oppression” when you’ve been confronted by a police officer.

Once again, I find myself rubbing my eyes as I find the argument described to be different from the argument actually advanced. The lesson, to repeat myself yet again, is to understand that even if you’re innocent, the officer may reasonably suspect you of a horrible crime, and if you “fail to do as the officer asks” in such a highly charged situation, you could get hurt rather badly or killed.

It is, I repeat, a rank distortion for Balko to twist this common-sense lesson into a claim that “anyone who asserts his constitutional rights when confronted by a police officer risks getting shot.” It is an even worse distortion for Doherty to claim that Dunphy said “running your mouth about your rights can get you shot.” Again, the specific hypothetical about getting shot relates specifically to a citizen who “fail[s] to do as the officer asks” when he is suspected of being an armed felon. And (remember about analogies) the broader lesson that every citizen should learn is that, like Gates, you may be utterly innocent and still be (reasonably and legally!) treated as a suspect.

It is the legality of the officer’s actions that Balko seems to misunderstand when he argues:

[E]ven within Dunphy’s hypothetical, the innocent driver of the Hupmobile has no idea why he has been pulled over. He doesn’t know about the armed robbery, or that the getaway car resembles his own car. This is precisely Dunphy’s point. He’s arguing that you can’t possibly know what’s going on in a police officer’s head when he stops you or confronts you. You can’t know what circumstances led him to stop you. So you’d best just shut up and submit, even [if] he asks you to do something that you aren’t obligated to do under the Constitution.

No, no, a thousand times, no! Revisit my second bullet point at the outset of this post. The officer in the Hupmobile example is asking for something that the driver/citizen IS obligated to do: namely, comply with his lawful demands while he investigates the driver as a possible criminal suspect. As I noted this morning, failure to comply with the officer’s demands in such a situation is not your constitutional right. Let me say that again: failure to comply with the officer’s demands in such a situation is not your constitutional right. In fact, it could get you arrested and prosecuted. (And, as Dunphy notes, it could even get you shot — if your cavalier dismissal of the officer’s commands is accompanied by a gesture that could be interpreted as threatening . . . something that may well happen if you think you have the constitutional right to do any goddamned thing you want in such a situation.) Dunphy makes no argument that assumes unlawful behavior on the part of the cop — and Balko’s suggestion otherwise is the clearest indication that Balko doesn’t really understand Dunphy’s argument.

This post is for about 1% of you. Rabid Patterico fans already understood everything I just said. Rabid Balko fans are likely to do the Internet Dance and employ every fallacious argument in the book to attack my post. Nevertheless, for a small handful of you with open minds, I felt the need to make these points.

Also, I wanted to point out Balko’s clear and undeniable error in accusing me of omitting a passage that I did not omit. I’m sure he’ll be correcting that with his usual speed and lack of accompanying grumbling.

Homegrown Jihadis

Filed under: Obama,Terrorism — DRJ @ 6:03 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Attorney General Eric Holder is worried about homegrown terrorists, presumably like North Carolinians Daniel Patrick Boyd and his sons who have been arrested on suspicion of planning foreign terror attacks. Rusty at My Pet Jawa has an eye-opening post on what appears to be two of these suspected jihadis, Ziyad Yaghi and Mohammad Omar Aly Hussain.

— DRJ

House Democrats Mend Healthcare Fences

Filed under: Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 3:25 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The “Blue Dog” Democrats have reached a deal with the Democratic leadership on healthcare legislation:

“Across the Capitol, House Democratic leaders gave in to numerous demands from rank-and-file rebels, so-called Blue Dogs from the conservative wing of the party who had been blocking the bill’s passage in the last of three committees.

The House changes, which drew immediate opposition from liberals in the chamber, would reduce the federal subsidies designed to help lower-income families afford insurance, exempt additional businesses from a requirement to offer insurance to their workers and change the terms of a government insurance option.”

This is good news and bad news for Speaker Pelosi and the White House. The leadership must be pleased to have resolved this impasse but the concessions have angered liberal Democrats.

In addition, the revised timetable means the House won’t vote on this legislation until September. It’s a long time until then, including an August recess when many House members will return home and have to face constituents from both sides of the fence.

— DRJ

Family, Friends and Beer

Filed under: Obama,Race — DRJ @ 2:37 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The White House is preparing for Barack Obama’s meeting tomorrow with William Henry Gates, Jr., and Police Sgt. James Crowley. The beers have been ordered and the location set:

“Q Can I follow-up real quickly on the beer? All my folks are asking this. Any choices made on what beer the President —

MR. GIBBS: The President will drink Bud Light. As I understand it — I have not heard this, I’ve read this, so I’ll just repeat what I’ve read, that Professor Gates said he liked Red Stripe, and I believe Sergeant Crowley mentioned to the President that he liked Blue Moon. So we’ll have the gamut covered tomorrow afternoon. I think we’re still thinking, weather permitting, the picnic table out back.”

Sgt. Crowley is said to be bringing family members so this may be part family reunion since ABC reports Crowley and Gates have a common Irish ancestor, Niall of the Nine Hostages.

But not everyone is happy. The attorney for the 911 caller is miffed her client hasn’t been invited, but the caller herself didn’t seem to mind missing out on more media attention.

— DRJ

Sure, Save Money by Excusing Parole Violations. Just Understand That Some People Will Die as a Result.

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 7:34 am

As the state plans to save money by excusing parole violations, a parolee has been arraigned for murder in a case that might have been prevented if his parole had been violated. The L.A. Times reports:

A transient accused of abducting and killing teenager Lily Burk was charged Tuesday with murder, kidnapping and robbery — charges that could make him subject to the death penalty.

A hulking, handcuffed Charles Samuel, 50, was led into Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday afternoon.

. . . .

Burk, 17, never returned to her family’s Los Feliz home Friday after running an errand for her mother at Southwestern Law School in the city’s Mid-Wilshire area.

In the afternoon, she made two odd calls to her parents asking how to use a credit card to withdraw cash at an ATM. About 7 p.m., they contacted police to report her missing.

Later that night, police tracked Burk’s cellphone and ATM activity to the skid row and Little Tokyo areas, but a search into the early hours of Saturday morning turned up nothing.

At dawn, however, Burk’s lifeless body was discovered in the passenger seat of her Volvo in a downtown parking lot. Her head had been beaten and her neck slashed.

Lily Burk

Suspect Samuel was apparently arrested on April 23 for a parole violation, but was not returned to prison. The precise extent of his record has not been made clear; we know he was convicted of home invasion robbery in 1987 and has since been back to prison many times.

This comes at a time when the state is considering saving money by not returning parolees to prison for many parole violations:

An expert panel convened by California officials said the state could save more than $800 million a year by not sending parolees back to jail for technical violations and making it easier for convicts to complete classes for early-release credit.

What could go wrong?

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.

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