Archive for June, 2014


Let’s show them how that would work

June 28, 2014

Radley Balko points out something interesting in an ACLU report:

Massachusetts SWAT teams claim they’re private corporations, immune from open records laws

As part of the American Civil Liberties Union’s recent report on police militarization, the Massachusetts chapter of the organization sent open records requests to SWAT teams across that state. It received an interesting response.

As it turns out, a number of SWAT teams in the Bay State are operated by what are called law enforcement councils, or LECs. These LECs are funded by several police agencies in a given geographic area and overseen by an executive board, which is usually made up of police chiefs from member police departments. In 2012, for example, the Tewksbury Police Department paid about $4,600 in annual membership dues to the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, or NEMLEC. (See page 36 of linked PDF.) That LEC has about 50 member agencies. In addition to operating a regional SWAT team, the LECs also facilitate technology and information sharing and oversee other specialized units, such as crime scene investigators and computer crime specialists.

Some of these LECs have also apparently incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations. And it’s here that we run into problems. According to the ACLU, the LECs are claiming that the 501(c)(3) status means that they’re private corporations, not government agencies. And therefore, they say they’re immune from open records requests. Let’s be clear. These agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences. And yet they say that because they’ve incorporated, they’re immune to Massachusetts open records laws. The state’s residents aren’t permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they’re used for, what sort of training they get or who they’re primarily used against.

How clever of them, eh? I think we should let their claim stand and then start working out the consequences of that claim. Here’s a start:

1. SWAT companies give up all public funding and have to sell their "services" in an open market. No more police payroll and pensions. As my friend Paul said, we could hire the Keystone SWAT company.

2. SWAT companies give up their qualified immunity and become financially responsible for violating victims’ rights, destroying property and blowing holes in 2-year-olds.

In short, they’d have to provide commercial liability insurance to protect their clients (i.e., governments that hired them). Why not? Any other contracting company does.

Here’s a short video by the ACLU about using SWAT teams on drug raids.

Here’s the ACLU page on militarization: War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing.

Weren’t unreasonable searches and seizures part of the reason we rebelled against British rule? Just sayin’.


The Post-Dispatch ain’t what it used to be

June 22, 2014

I can recall when I stopped reading George Will’s columns in the late 70s because he argued against the Carter administration’s plan to de-regulate U.S. airlines. I thought that was fairly clueless attitude but, that said, I think Mr. Will has written many good columns since then.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on the other hand, hasn’t done so well over the years. It’s always been a fairly liberal paper: someone once wrote a letter to the P-D editor in the 80s claiming that the paper wouldn’t endorse Jesus Christ for office if he ran as a Republican. I found that letter pretty amusing.

But the Post-Dispatch’s announcement on Thursday (6/19) that it was dropping Mr. Will’s column was done for the wrong reasons, I think, and marks a new low for the paper. (My emphasis below.)

Editor’s note: Michael Gerson replaces George Will

Dear Post-Dispatch readers,
Starting today, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson replaces George Will on Thursdays and Sundays.

Mr. Gerson, who grew up in St. Louis and still has family here, is a former speechwriter and top aide to President George W. Bush. […]

The change has been under consideration for several months, but a column published June 5, in which Mr. Will suggested that sexual assault victims on college campuses enjoy a privileged status, made the decision easier. The column was offensive and inaccurate; we apologize for publishing it.

Here’s Mr. Will’s column in The Washington Post: Colleges become the victims of progressivism. Read it for yourself and decide whether it’s offensive. It probably offends a few government bureaucrats and some university administrators (another type of bureaucrat) but I’d say that was about all the people who should be offended.

Not that there’s anything wrong with offending people occasionally, mind you. As Samuel Johnson said, "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it."

There’s been some buzz about the P-D’s decision. David Bernstein has a piece about it (also in the Post): (Mis)reading George Will.

And here’s Mr. Will being interviewed by CSPAN about these events. Let him speak for himself. Then you can go knock him down, if you like.


A difference of opinion

June 22, 2014

The critical word there being ‘opinion’.

Jeff sends a link to this article about a professor studying climate change who recently lost a fellowship post at the Institue for Policy Studies. This is not a Free Speech issue; Mr. Rossiter isn’t being persecuted by the government. It’s just an interesting illustration of group think and political correctness.


EXCLUSIVE: Prof Fired For Calling Global Warming ‘Unproved Science’ Stands Firm

American University statistician tells The Fix: Belief in climate catastrophe ‘simply not logical’

If one would have asked statistician Caleb Rossiter a decade ago about global warming, he says he would have given the same answer that President Barack Obama offered at a recent commencement address.

“He castigated people who don’t believe in climate catastrophe as some sort of major fools,” Rossiter says of the president’s speech, adding he would have agreed with the president – back then.

But Rossiter would give a different answer today.

“I am simply someone who became convinced that the claims of certainty about the cause of the warming and the effect of the warming were tremendously and irresponsibly overblown,” he said in an exclusive interview Tuesday with The College Fix. “I am not someone who says there wasn’t warming and it doesn’t have an effect, I just cannot figure out why so many people believe that it is a catastrophic threat to our society and to Africa.”

For this belief – based in a decade’s worth of statistical research and analysis on climate change data – Rossiter was recently terminated as an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive Washington D.C. think tank.

Rossiter wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal titled “Sacrificing Africa for Climate Change,” in which he called notions of climate catastrophe “unproved science,” and shortly thereafter received word from the institute that his position was terminated. […]

Over the years, he’s broken a few students’ hearts when they learn of this truth.

“I have had students who are very strongly pro-the global warming movement in my classes, of course, because most young people have heard this already,” he said. “And when I have them actually do the study, and take apart an IPCC [International Panel on Climate Change] claim, sometimes they break into tears, and they say ‘I can’t believe this is the only class I’ve ever been in in which anyone has ever told me there is even an issue.’”

“I always enjoy that but, I would enjoy it the other way, too,” he said. “I always really push them to evaluate, dig down and learn the arguments of the other side- that is part of education.” […]


A world without supercomputers

June 18, 2014

Nicely done.

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