July 1st, 2010


What constitutes entrapment?

I have recently started watching a show called Bait Car and at first I was very much amused. The premise is simple: the police set up a car with hidden cameras and they leave it in areas with high car theft incident rates. They wait nearby and when a would-be thief takes the car they hit the vehicle's "kill switch" so it shuts off and then apprehend the suspect.

Oh you'd be amazed at the excuses they give even when caught red-handed. That's probably the best part of the show, to see how much bullshit they can dish out.

However then I noticed that some of the cars are left with the door ajar, and/or others are left in no parking areas. To me this starts to border on entrapment.

I'm no legal expert but my limited understanding (and please correct me if I'm wrong) is that police can't make morality tests. For example they can't leave a bag of cash on the ground and then arrest everyone who picks it up. You can't create a scenario where someone who normally wouldn't commit a crime is suddenly tempted by bait left by the po po.

Yes, no one put a gun to anyone's head and made them take a nice car that has its door ajar and the keys in the ignition. But it makes me uncomfortable nonetheless. I've been through my share of desperate times and while I didn't succumb to temptation I can totally understand how someone would. Does this sort of thing discourage crime or does it make criminals out of people who normally aren't?

(no subject)

I thought someone would have posted about this by now.

ADAMS: Inside the Black Panther case

The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career. Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, this month I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.

(Note: if you don't like the source, here's the AP article.)

Once again, I don't particularly care about the surface issue, even though most of you are likely to comment on that. The main issue here is again corruption in government with a secondary issue of wondering just how widespread voter fraud is. With the first, do you think that this one person's accusations are (or should be) enough to warrant further investigation? With the second, there are some examples given in the first article, including the one this guy resigned over, do you think they are inconsequential and why or why not?

I don't know that voter fraud of the kinds described (like someone turning in 50+ ballots) do that much nor do I think it happens often, but I think they are only minor because they get prosecuted when they happen. If there are cases that happen that don't get prosecuted, then we are not living under the rule of law.
  • mijopo

I'd like to keep "left" and "right", but I'd be cool with a moratorium on "Godwin"

A bunch of neocons went all "OMG, Godwin's law" when Glenn Greenwald had the audacity to compare something to WW2 in the context of a recent discussion of a post by Jeffrey Goldberg (itself a response to another, somewhat over the top, Greenwald post).  The result was what I thought were a couple (one and two) of very good discussions of Godwin's law and what it should and shouldn't mean in terms of constraining political discussion.   But the very best part was that Godwin himself weighed in and validated Greenwald's point -- as one blogger noted it was like that Marshall Mcluhan scene in Annie Hall! 

Anyway, I couldn't resist posting this here because, well, it's my favourite place to discuss politics but it always makes me a bit crazy when people think that uttering "Godwin" serves as an effective argument refutation when someone has made what actually is an interesting and legitimate comparison to events related to Nazi Germany.  (Actually, it even makes me crazy when the comparison isn't legitimate, but not nearly as crazy.) Perhaps we can stop using the phrase "godwin's law" as a cudgel in place of argument.  Or, as a very wise man once said, "People should stop thinking they're so goddamn clever for being able to yell 'godwin' whenever they see the word 'nazi' or 'hitler' on the fucking internet."
turkey dance

The Times, They Are A Changin'

According to Yahoo, recent Gallup poll information shows that more Independents are siding with the GOP and Obama's approval rating has dropped below 50% among the same group.

Currently, 46% of Independents side with the GOP and 32% side with Democrats, mainly because they feel that Democrats have become too liberal. 51% of Independent registered voters disapprove of the job Obama's doing. 71% of Independents who disapprove of Obama's performance say they would vote for the GOP candidate in their district if the election were held today. Only 63% of Independents who approve of the job he's done so far would vote for him again.


Party affiliation has changed over the past two years as well. According to a June 2008 survey by Rasmussen Reports of 15,000 American adults, 41% identified themselves as Democrats. In June 2009, the number dropped to 38.9% and it dropped again in 2010 to 35.4%. The number of American adults who identified themselves as Republicans slightly rose in those years. In June 2008, 31.5% identified themselves as Republicans. In June 2009, it increased to 32.2% and increased again in June 2010 to 33%.

The number of people who stated they weren't affiliated with either party is currently 31.6%.


What do you think is causing this change? Some say it's simply disappointment in Obama's performance, but could it also be caused by a shift in the attitudes and values of our culture?