Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cato's Botched-Raid Map

One of the most meaningful and inspiring works I've read since coming to DC was Radley Balko's Cato white paper, Overkill. It is an eye-opening work that helped inspire me to do the work and research on which I plan to make my career.

Subsequently, Radley and Cato developed an online map that chronicled the "isolated incidents" of raids-gone-wrong. While I and others have contributed to the project since Radley's move to reason (and happy subsequent return to Cato as an adjunct scholar), it is most certainly his baby--along with Cato web guru Lee Laslo--and all praise goes to them.

It is now embeddable on various websites. Please pass around.

View Original Map and Database

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Little Deductive Reasoning

When I was rather young, the higher functioning patients from the state hospital (read: mentally challenged folks) would go on bike rides around town, adorned with the reflective orange flag on the back. Years later, I realized that the orange flag represented "slow moving vehicle."

At the time, as a six year old with not yet developed deductive reasoning skills, I just thought the flags meant "I'm retarded."

Good thing I'm not growing up in Catalonia:

Women touting for customers on a rural highway outside Els Alamus near Lleida in Catalonia have been told to don the yellow fluorescent bibs or pay fines of 40 euros (£36) under road traffic laws.

Police claim the sex workers on the LL-11 road are not being specifically targeted because of what they do but because they posed a danger to drivers.

HT: Jesse Walker at reason.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Old and Busted: Situational Constitiutionalism

New hotness: Cafeteria Constitutionalism-- n. the act of selecting the parts of the Constitution that best support your worldview while ignoring those that preclude your policy preferences.

I was encouraged to stake my claim to the phrase. I happen to like it better than "Situational Constitutionalism" so consider the claim staked. but, alas, a quick google search and it seems I'm a few months too late.

I understand that this becomes a pretty weak blogpost, then,  so to make up for it I give you kittehs playing paddy cake:

Selective Outrage

I admit, as someone who loathes both the Republican and Democratic parties, it may be easier for me to be equally disgusted with the acts of each party and its respective adherents. Thus, when I saw this incident this morning, I was appalled that it happened and am even more angered by the fact that the thug who forcefully battered this woman with his foot is walking free right now.

It instantly brought to mind this incident from August 2009:

Political violence of this sort is inexcusable. Absolutely and unquestionably inexcusable. The perpetrators of both incidents should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Appropriately, the Left is rather outraged that this young woman was attacked. Thankfully, she only sustained minor injuries.

The same outrage was noticeably absent when Kenneth Gladney, the man in the second video, was thrown to the ground by union members/Russ Carnahan supporters in Missouri. While I grant showing up at later events in a wheelchair was probably indulgent, the only mention that the attack gets on TAPPED and ThinkProgress was to mock the later-debunked assertion that Gladney didn't have insurance. What a hilarious irony that a man roughed up at a health care reform event trying to sell Gadsden flag merch would be out of a job and without insurance! HA! (Subsequently, it appears, there are some in the Missouri NAACP who are supporting the defendants by calling Gladney an Uncle Tom. Lovely.)

Adding insult to injury, Jamelle Bouie decided to 'libertarian-punch' in his response today titled "Libertarians against dissent."

"In fairness," he writes, "we don't know if these supporters are libertarians." That's an odd title for someone trying to be "fair."

I don't know what Bouie thought of the Gladney situation, but the libertarian broad-brush is just offensive here. This is especially offensive because he lumps libertarians in with anti-gay, anti-Muslim folks that don't reflect libertarian values at all, in order to describe a handful of outwardly violent people. Usually, when people assign malicious tendencies to an entire group for the actions of a few (who may or may not actually be members of said group), we give it a name: prejudice. Hey, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe some of his best friends are libertarian.

Anyway, I'm not upset that the Left is outraged by this attack. They should be. We all should be. But the outrage should be directed at the violence of the attackers, not the ideological persuasion of anyone involved.

Monday, October 25, 2010

And a Silver Star for Prison Nurseries!

There is just so much wrong with this Northern Ohio editorial about a report on incarcerated women:
The report, released Thursday by the National Women's Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, analyzes policies in three areas — prenatal care, shackling of pregnant women during childbirth, and community-based alternatives to incarceration enabling mothers to be with their children.

Only one state, Pennsylvania, received an A. Ohio received a C, scoring a D in prenatal care, a D in shackling policies and an A in community-based alternatives. Ohio also earned a B for its prison nurseries.
Let's put aside the awfulness of reading a sentence that "also" gives a letter grade to a prison nursery system and discuss the "alternatives to incarceration." Here's an alternative: let's try eliminating mandatory minimums:
As a backdrop to its findings, the report noted the number of women in prison — more than 115,000 as of 2009 — has risen at a higher rate than that of men since the introduction of mandatory sentencing policies for many drug offenses. It said most of the women are nonviolent, first-time offenders, and about two-thirds have at least one child under 18. (emphasis mine)
Put two and two together: legislative overreach into the judicial branch has authorized the government to put shackles on non-violent first-time offenders giving birth to children. In what bizarro world is this considered humane? What kind of society does this to a woman?

Well, the News-Herald has an original idea to prevent these situations: Just say "no":
While we support greater accountability and consistency, and while we don't feel women should be shackled to the extent they suffer lasting hip and back injuries while giving birth, as an Arkansas women alleges in a lawsuit, we feel the better way for mothers to avoid these problems is simply to stay out of prison in the first place.

Certainly a pregnant woman's health — and the health of her child — should be accounted for, but ultimately, incarcerated mothers are in the situation they're in because they committed a crimefor which they knew there would be consequences. (emphases added; smug contempt for justice in original.)
Shorter News-Herald: Well, so long as the shackles allow certain leeway so as to prevent injury, we see nothing wrong with treating a woman giving birth with less respect than we would give an animal in a zoo.

The 'crime ergo punishment' argument is as weak as it is tired. Yes, if you commit a crime, you can expect punishment if caught. This does not mean that any and all punishments are acceptable for any given crime.

There is a genuine and disturbing disconnect in this country between those who believe in blind justice, as I do, and those who believe that law and order should be blind to justice.

Photo courtesy of Jane Evelyn Atwood; used without permission.

That someone is labeled a "convict" or a "criminal" is not license to treat them inhumanely. This is even more true for those who have violated laws that are themselves unjust--as most of our drug laws and sentencing laws are.

bellum medicamenti delenda est.

Quick Comment on Juan Williams Fiasco

I don't listen to NPR. I don't watch FoxNews. As far as I can tell, Juan got canned by one organization of stunning hypocrites to work for another organization full of stunning hypocrites. Meanwhile, hypocrites unaffiliated with either NPR or FoxNews are being stunningly hypocritical when discussing the matter.

Admittedly, if I watched as much FoxNews as Juan presumably does, I'd probably be irrationally afraid of Muslims too.

Mood Music Monday

Just because it was stuck in my head this morning: