Patterico's Pontifications


Patterico Breaks Public Nudity Pledge

Filed under: 2008 Election,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 10:49 pm

[IMPORTANT UPDATE: See the update below. I now have another way to weasel out of what I promised. Namely, they changed the story. Not that I wasn’t going to weasel anyway.]

I recently pledged:

If the L.A. Times tells readers that Obama actually made a clear pledge [to accept public financing], I will parade naked down Broadway at high noon the following day for an hour.

You have my solemn word on that. And I will aggressively pursue an agreement with myself to ensure that it actually happens.

The front page of the L.A. Times web site says:

In reversal, Obama says he will forgo public funds

He abandons an earlier pledge to participate in the system if his GOP challenger agreed to do the same.

Following the link takes you to a deck headline that includes this sentence: “The presumptive Democratic nominee calls the system ‘broken,’ reversing an earlier commitment.”

It takes until the end of the story to get the details of the pledge, but here they are:

In a questionnaire that Obama got from a Midwest network of good government groups in November, he was asked if he would forego private funding provided his opponents did the same.

Obama answered: “Yes.”

“I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests,” he wrote.

Wow. They did it.

Accordingly, I hereby announce that I will not be doing my naked parade.

I never promised to anyway. I promised to aggressively pursue an agreement with myself. It was a plan, not a pledge. And plans change.

It’s not an easy decision, and especially because I support a robust system of public nudity. But that system as it exists today is broken. It is a broken system. We face old women and men who’ve become masters at gaming this broken system, and parading around their wrinkly carcasses in front of appalled onlookers. In light of this broken system, which is broken, my aggressive pursuit of an agreement with myself has resulted in failure.

Thank you.

UPDATE: I got an earlier version, which has now been rewritten. It’s substantially watered down now. The version in the print edition is much more the version I expected to see.

9th Circuit Upholds Mandatory 5 Year Consecutive Sentence for Border Patrol Agent’s Gun Possession When Convicted of Possessing Marijuana for Distribution On Duty — Same Issue That Resulted in 10 Year Sentence for Compean/Ramos

Filed under: General — WLS @ 2:55 pm

Posted by WLS:

This morning the 9th Circuit affirmed  both the conviction and sentence of former Border Patrol Agent Michael Carlos Gonzalez, including that portion of his sentence — a mandatory consecutive term of 5 years — that stemmed from his conviction under 18 USC Sec. 924(c) for “using or carrying” a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. 

The facts are straightforward — a load vehicle full of marijuana was stopped by a state law enforcement officer in Arizona.  Three Border Patrol agents in plain clothes and a personal vehicle  stopped to assist the Arizona officer who had made the stop.  Two of the BP agents along with the DPS officer went in pursuit of the load vehicle’s occupants who had fled the scene.  A third BP agent remained behind to safeguard the load vehicle.  Shortly after, BP Agent Gonzalez, on-duty and in uniform driving a BP vehicle arrived at the scene and conferred with the BP agent who had remained behind.    Gonzalez claimed to hear a gunshot, and the plain clothes BP agent went to investigate while Gonzalez remained with the load vehicle.  While alone, Gonzalez removed a 10 KG “bale” of marijuana from the load vehicle and placed it in the trunk of his BP vehicle.  Unknown to Gonzalez at the time, however, was that the dash-mounted video camera in the Arizona officer’s vehicle had been activated during the traffic stop, and continued running, catching Gonzalez on video in the act of removing the marijuana. 

Gonzalez was indicted and later convicted at trial for possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute, and for using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.  He was convicted by the jury on both counts. 

The defendant argued, similar to Ramos and Compean, that his “using and carrying” a firearm was because it was a part of his uniform that was required, and played no role in his other criminal activity.   The Ninth Circuit rejected this claim in affirming the conviction and sentence:

“Congress intended § 924(c) to apply when police officers, or in this case, Border Patrol agents abuse the privilege of carrying a firearm by committing a crime with the weapon.  See United States v. Contreras, 950 F.2d 232, 241 (5th Cir.1991)(citing S.Rep. No. 225, 98th Cong., 2d Sess. 315 n.10 (1983), reprinted in 1984 U.S.C.C.A.N. 3182, 3492 n.10).  However, courts have recognized that § 924(c) is not automatically violated any time a uniformed law enforcement officer commits a drug trafficking crime. See, e.g. Vasquez-Guadalupe, 407 F.3d at 500 n.4 (1st Cir. 2005) (quoting Castro-Lara, 970 F.2d at 983). There must be more to trigger a violation of § 924(c). “The phrase ‘in relation to’… clarifies that the firearm must have some purpose or effect with respect to the drug trafficking crime; its presence or involvement cannot be the result of accident or coincidence ….[T]he gun at least must facilitate, or have the potential of facilitating, the drug trafficking offense.”

The 924(c) statute applies to “using or carrying” a firearm during or in relation to a “crime of violence” or a “drug trafficking crime.”  The 9th Circuit cited the following evidence as supporting the conviction:

The government presented sufficient evidence for a rational jury to find that Gonzalez possessed a firearm in relation to his theft of the marijuana. Agent Rogers testified that he never would have left Gonzalez alone with the marijuana had he been unarmed, because doing so would have put Gonzalez in danger. Agent Rogers testified that he had safety concerns when leaving Gonzalez alone with the vehicle because the occupants could have come back for the marijuana or another vehicle could have ambushed him. He further testified he would not leave an unarmed officer alone to protect a load of marijuana and that the fact that Gonzalez had a gun was “crucial” to his decision to leave Gonzalez there alone.

[7] Gonzalez himself admitted that he thought drug trafficking was a dangerous activity and that having a service weapon protected him. Gonzalez’s own testimony tends to show that the weapon emboldened him and allowed him to take control of the marijuana load, lent him an air of legitimacy, and reduced the chance that he would be interrupted.

Gonzalez recevied a 30 months sentence on the marijuana charge, and an additional 60 months for the gun count.  This is the same manner in which Compean and Ramos received 120 additional months on their sentences — the difference being that they discharged their firearms rather than merely using/carrying them.

I still think there is a serious issue in the trial record of Compean and Ramos with respect to limits placed upon the cross-examination of Aldrede-Davila, and the inability of the government to clearly explain the nature of the immunity he had been afforded, which influenced the court’s ruling on the scope of cross-examination.   I’m not convinced that error was so severe as to require reversal, and since much of the trial transcript on the subject of Aldrede-Davila’s other criminal activity remains under seal, its hard to know what was before the court when it made the ruling.

Obama Breaks Public Financing Pledge

Filed under: 2008 Election — Patterico @ 12:55 pm

Barack Obama has officially broken his public financing pledge:

Sen. Barack Obama has switched course on general-election funding, announcing this morning that he would reject public financing and raise every dime for the fall campaign on his own.

Obama’s word is his bond.

Unless keeping his word becomes inconvenient.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

P.S. Obama’s pledge was crystal clear. So it will be interesting to see how many media organizations will report just how clear his pledge actually was.

I’m guessing not many. They’ll buy the spin that he promised nothing more than to aggressively pursue an agreement — but McCain wasn’t interest in reining in the 527s, yada yada yada.

But this spin ignores one simple word: the word that Obama used when he was asked if he would take the pledge.

That word is yes.

Watch them spin that word. Just watch them.

Jeff Jarvis Gets It — Plus, You Got Any AP Articles That Need Fisking?

Filed under: General,Media Bias — Patterico @ 12:03 am

Jeff Jarvis:

What the AP and The New York Times’ Hansell don’t seem to realize is how hostile an act it is to send lawyer letters to individuals. They have armies of attorneys. We bloggers don’t. The mere act of sending us a letter can cost us money out of our own pockets. Sending a lawyer letter is an assault.

Armies of attorneys committing an assault. I like it. I think that captures it nicely.

I’m guessing Orin Kerr disagrees. When I similarly observed that the AP has an “army” of lawyers terrorizing bloggers, Kerr took me to task:

Patterico, I realize that you can get very excited in your blogging and can be a bit over-the-top (such as describing the sending of a notice and takedown letter as using an “army” to “terrorize” people — kind of waters down the terms, I would think).

Well, at least Jeff Jarvis gets it.

More Jarvis:

[I]t’s not up to the AP to set the definition of fair use. They can’t rewrite the law. You may say that they are trying to create safe harbor by setting their own rules. From our view, they are trying to put up a fence where it cannot legally exist.


Meanwhile, Robert Cox defends the Media Bloggers Association’s representation of Rogers Cadenhead.

Me, I’m tempted to start fisking AP articles that merit it. Fisking, of course, requires one to quote large passages from an article, so that one can level criticism. Done properly, it should be fair use — even, conceivably, if the entire article is reproduced.

Yeah, it might be a fun time to fisk some AP articles. Because you young punks aren’t putting up a fence in my yard!

So: anyone know any AP articles that need a good fisking?

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