Reason Morning Links: Obama's Presser, Specter Blocks Card Check, Cold Fusion!

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• Obama promotes budget in prime time press conference. Two interesting bits: No questions about war or terrorism, and no questions from any of the country's four largest newspapers.

• States relaxing prison policies to ease budget crunch.

• Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) will vote to block card check, dashing Democrats' hope for a filibuster-proof majority.

• City of Atlanta decides it will fight, not settle, lawsuit from the family of Kathryn Johnston, the 92-year-old woman shot and killed in a drug raid in 2006.

• Reason contributor Jeffrey Miron argues for drug legalization at CNN.

• Cold fusion breakthrough! Again.

• Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) proposes bill to allow newspapers to reorganize as non-profits; would forbid them from making political endorsements.

NEXT: Geek Beach Reading

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  1. “City attorneys will use what is called, the Monell Defense. The city hopes to show there was no policy, practice or custom showing the police department violated Johnston’s constitutional rights.”

    So killing a innocent person is not a violation of their rights.

  2. and no questions from any of the country’s four largest newspapers.

    Ok, I can see USA Today and the WSJ as newspapers, but the NYT and WaPo? To call them newspapers any more is a stretch. Call them editorial fiction, and I’m with you, but newspapers isn’t justified.

  3. “If the case goes to trial, experts say the city could also be exposed to discoveries that may reveal more skeletons in the police closet.”

    We can only hope. At least we know Radley & Co. will fill us in on any juicy details that come out in court.

  4. So Arlen Specter is accidentally doing something right? Can you say “primary challenger?”

    Unfortunately, MNG’s going to be in here in a sec to tell us all why secret ballots are bad.

  5. Cabeza,

    No. They are arguing that killing her wasnt a policy, practice or custom.

    I think Atlanta loses this. In the case of a truly rogue cop it makes sense, However, this involved multiple cops. I dont think any jury that can do math (which, admittedly, would be none of them) would think that all the rogues in the ATL PD just happened to be together.

  6. At least we know Radley & Co. will fill us in on any juicy details that come out in court.

    I have a feeling we’re gonna need a lot more Radleys.

  7. “If the case goes to trial, experts say the city could also be exposed to discoveries that may reveal more skeletons in the police closet.”

    That, or they’ll simply lie, defy, and obstruct any attempt at discovery.

  8. Unfortunately, MNG’s going to be in here in a sec to tell us all why secret ballots are bad.

    They’re terrible, they’re all, well, secret.

  9. robc,

    Thanks, that kind of makes sense. The city will make sure only the dumbest jurors get selected for this trial.

  10. Card check is good. What is this secret ballot fiction you are talking about? The ballots the corporations lean on employees to sign? HA! Some secret.

    When MNG gets her he will tell you!

    Two interesting bits: No questions about war or terrorism

    That one is over. Don’t you guys get any news? Obama ended it.

  11. I have a feeling we’re gonna need a lot more Radleys.

    Hence the need for human cloning! See how everything ties together?

    Anyway, this development in Atlanta could be good or bad.

    On the one hand, it’s an attempt to make sure the blame lies with the officers who carried out the act, rather than the higher-ups who created the conditions that led to it. And thus nothing changes.

    On the other, by vehemently affirming that this act was carried out by rogue cops who were acting in a manner completely contrary to Department procedures, they could be forced to backpedal from military-style raids and so on, introducing various checks and balances in an attempt to disclaim responsibility.

  12. I read the other day that Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Costco are presenting an alternative to card check. I think the root of it was that it would set specific dates for secret ballot votes, thereby not allowing the employer to continually delay votes.

  13. If the case goes to trial, experts say the city could also be exposed to discoveries that may reveal more skeletons in the police closet.

    Isn’t that the fucking point?!?

  14. The Miron drug legalization piece running on CNN was a huge moment. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the legalization thing mentioned so prominently in national media.

    I read through all the comments below it on the CNN site, and 9 out of 10 respondents said it made perfect sense.

    Libertarians would do well to keep pushing on the drug issue. We’re making progress, and eventually will succeed in ending Prohibition. When that happens, we definitely want the “libertarian” name to be associated with it.

  15. @Episiarch: Yeah exactly. If I were in the position of Johnston’s family, I would be much more concerned with uncovering the abuses and excesses in open court than with getting a certain amount of settlement cash. I mean, I know people like them some money, but you would think people who have seen the victimization so clearly would be concerned about making it publicly known.

    @Flex Nasty: Yeah I saw the same thing in the user comments. I am starting to see a lot more “I don’t like drugs but I don’t support the Drug War” types of comments in stories about the issue, which is a great thing. There seems to be a ground swell of rationality and critical thinking about the drug war, which is fantastic.

  16. I read through all the comments below it on the CNN site, and 9 out of 10 respondents said it made perfect sense.

    This, of all things, surprised the crap out of me…

  17. I read through all the comments below it on the CNN site, and 9 out of 10 respondents said it made perfect sense.

    This, of all things, surprised the crap out of me…

    I wouldn’t get too excited over it. They probably all got to the article from links to it on blogs that have the same message, like this one.

    It’s not like it’s linked on CNN’s main homepage. Who exactly is going to find this?

  18. Reinmoose,

    What do you mean? Internet polls and comments are 100% accurate representations of the American people.

    I was surprised when Ron Paul didn’t win the primary either. The whole thing’s rigged!

  19. And Taktix – and don’t forget that time when someone on the intertubes was wrong!!

  20. Can Johnston’s attorney call someone from LEAP to testify, someone who works or worked in law enforcement who can explain to a jury why the types of raids that happen every day contribute to such egregious executions? I mean, they may lose all friends with a badge they ever had but if they really believe in the cause, it seeems like they would have an opportunity here.

  21. a) If the people who killed Kathryn Johnston are not on death row, nobody in America should be on death row.

    b) I’m surprised the city doesn’t want to pay what amounts to hush money, and sweep it all nder the rug.

    c) I hope the city loses in court, and the jury awards fifty billion dollars, and the people of Atlanta spend the next hundred years writing checks for a special tax assessment to the “Kathryn Johnston Settlement”.

  22. City of Atlanta decides it will fight, not settle, lawsuit from the family of Kathryn Johnston, the 92-year-old woman shot and killed in a drug raid in 2006.

    The city of Atlanta has already admitted systemic abuses. The APD fucking fired the whole goddamed narcotics unit after Ms. Johnston’s murder. I’m thinking they’re hoping to lower the price tag. Drag it out and hope the family settles for 5-10 million or the jury awards less.

    REMEMBER KATHRYN JOHNSTON!

  23. I read through all the comments below it on the CNN site, and 9 out of 10 respondents said it made perfect sense.

    This, of all things, surprised the crap out of me…

    I wouldn’t get too excited over it. They probably all got to the article from links to it on blogs that have the same message, like this one.

    It’s not like it’s linked on CNN’s main homepage. Who exactly is going to find this?

    A datum – I read it yesterday simply due to it being featured in the CNN.com box on my iGoogle page. The same box also led to a different piece about the Obama administration beefing up border security to prevent smuggling. I found the contrast amusing.

  24. So Arlen Specter is accidentally doing something right? Can you say “primary challenger?”

    Unfortunately, MNG’s going to be in here in a sec to tell us all why secret ballots are bad.

    I hope so. Really.

  25. City attorneys will use what is called, the Monell Defense. The city hopes to show there was no policy, practice or custom showing the police department violated Johnston’s constitutional rights.

    As long as its Just Another Isolated Incident, its all good? And some dickhead judge bought that, and now its a defense strategy that even has its own name?

  26. Secret ballots are bad for unionization drives because the workers can’t be trusted, in a private polling booth, to resist the coercion and threats of management.

    Secret ballots are the absolutely vital foundation of democracy everywhere else because voters can be coerced and threatened if they don’t have a private polling booth.

  27. You know I don’t really want to get into a discussion with the anti-union people on the board here cuz most of it has been said time and time again on the blog here, but I don’t understand why people think that if the workers want to unionize, the EMPLOYER should be able to decide that a secret ballot MUST be used.

    Under EFCA there could still be a secret ballot but the employees get to decide that, not the company. That seems like the much more correct thing.

    I also think that employers should not be allowed to force employees to have to sit through anti-union speakers/seminars/propaganda. If the employess are interested, fine, but as it stands now, employers can mandate these things. That to me is unacceptable.

  28. Under EFCA there could still be a secret ballot but the employees get to decide that, not the company. That seems like the much more correct thing.

    Do you think folks wouldn’t recognize that as the transparent bullshit it is?
    From the good people of C-SPAN

    August 29, 2001.

    We understand that the secret ballot is allowed for, but not required, by Mexican labor law. However, we feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose.

    We respect Mexico as an important neighbor and trading partner, and we feel that the increased use of the secret ballot in union recognition elections will help bring real democracy to the Mexican workplace.

    Sincerely,

    George Miller, Marcy Kaptur, Bernard Sanders, William J. Coyne, Lane Evans, Bob Filner, Martin Olav Sabo, Barney Frank, Joe Baca, Zoe Lofgren, Dennis J. Kucinich, Calvin M. Dooley, Fortney Pete Stark, Barbara Lee, James P. McGovern, Lloyd Doggett.

    For the record, that is Rep. George Miller (D – CA), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D – OH), Sen. Bernard Sanders (I – VT), Rep. William J. Coyne (D – PA retired), Rep. Lane Evans (D – IL retired), Rep. Bob Filner (D – CA), Rep. Martin Olav Sabo (DFL – MN retired), Rep. Barney Frank (D – MA), Rep. Joe Baca (D – CA), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D – CA), Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D – OH), Rep Calvin M. Dooley (D – CA retired), Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (D – CA), Rep. Barbara Lee (D – CA), Rep. James P. McGovern (D – MA), Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D – TX).

  29. the employees get to decide that, not the company. That seems like the much more correct thing.

    When the workers own the means of production, they can decide a lot of things.

    However, when I own the business, I get to decide how much money you make, and whether you can sit on your ass for the major part of a day waiting for the Official Designated Lightbulb Changer to wander back from his nap to do his job. If my terms are unsatisfactory, you are free to not work for me.

  30. Do you think folks wouldn’t recognize that as the transparent bullshit it is?

    You know what I think is transparent bullshit. The idea that just because something is being recommended to another country (one that is rife with corruption and the police can’t get a handle on violence) somehow means that we should have to do the same thing. We aren’t Mexico — what’s good for Mexico isn’t necessarily good for us.

    As it stands in the US, we have a Labor department that has been working against labor, and we have had an administration that has been trying to destroy labor unions.

    However, when I own the business, I get to decide how much money you make, and whether you can sit on your ass for the major part of a day waiting for the Official Designated Lightbulb Changer to wander back from his nap to do his job. If my terms are unsatisfactory, you are free to not work for me.

    And if all the workers want to band together and negotiate with you en masse rather than singularly you can fire them en masse or you can negotiate.

    But you shouldn’t get to set the terms of what we must do in order to be considered banded together.

  31. So your take is what they really meant to say was

    … we feel that the increased use of the secret ballot in union recognition elections will help bring real democracy to the Mexican workplace but would be a hindrance to workplace democracy in the United States.

    Make that disingenuous transparent bullshit.

  32. From the article on prison policy:

    New Jersey recently began a program for some offenders on parole with technical violations, like failing to report to a parole officer or changing their address without the officer’s approval. Rather than being returned to jail, those former inmates are sent to a center for a clinical assessment of their risks and needs. With that change, the state is on track to save $16.2 million this fiscal year.

    “Clinical assessment” means getting questioned without a defense lawyer present. In this setting, taking the 5th is recorded as “defiant behavior”. This might not be a good move. I wish state legislators would just repeal consentual crimes instead.

  33. Great CNN article, Miron.

  34. So your take is what they really meant to say was

    JsubD,

    my take is what I said.

    Just because someone proposes reforms for Mexico doesn’t mean that those reforms are necessary for the US. Circumstances are different in different countries.

    We don’t have the same problems in the USA as in other countries, so what may be needed or preferred in other countries won’t necessarily be needed in our.

    And I don’t think it’s disingenuous to believe that. One size fits all isn’t really the way to go about things, is it? Regardless of whether it about unions or crime or whatever. Different circumstances can call for different solutions.

    In fact our problem seems to be different. In the USA it’s getting harder and harder for workers who want a union to unionize, and we have a Labor department that isn’t enforcing the laws on the books and they aren’t going after employers who break the rules and use all sorts of dishonest method to break the unions before they can form.

  35. In the USA it’s getting harder and harder for workers who want a union to unionize

    Nice try; I think what you really mean is, “I want it to be easier for (currrently shrinking) legacy unions to expand their membership, and increase their political influence.”

    What is it that’s so difficult for some people to understand about ownership? Or the difference between “employER” and employEE”?

    If you want to control the process, get your fucking checkbook out, and buy the company. Or else, recognize the fact that you are freely exchanging your labor for money. If you don’t like the terms, walk.

  36. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) proposes bill to allow newspapers to reorganize as non-profits; would forbid them from making political endorsements.

    At first glance, this bill seems like a good idea to me. Anybody want to disabuse me of my mistaken approval by pointing out the unintended consequences?

  37. Does anyone know if there is any movement afoot to get the Johnstons some pro bono legal representation? Or a fund that can be donated to for this purpose?

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