Thursday, 16 October 2003

Agent, meet principal

Glenn Reynolds points to this absolutely hysterical piece by Dahlia Lithwick that recounts one poor respondent’s efforts to alternately defend and avoid the reasoning of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in finding in his favor in a case where the respondent failed to come to the door when police knocked and announced themselves; the respondent wants to suppress the evidence from the search (under that pesky 4th Amendment).

The respondent’s lawyer didn’t exactly get off on a good foot here:

Randall J. Roske represents [Lashawn] Banks. He starts by warning the justices that this case is about whether their doors are sacred. This “next-time-it-could-be-you” tactic never works with the justices since they so rarely deal crack from their homes.

I think this exchange basically sums up how the respondent’s day went (after a long discussion of the fact that Banks was in the shower, and therefore didn’t hear the “knock and announce” by police):

Scalia has had it with the showers. “What does the shower have to do with it? Your constitutional reasonableness is the time it takes someone to complete a shower, dry himself, and grab a towel? Why is the shower relevant?” Roske replies that we have no idea how long Mr. Banks would have continued his shower.

“We don’t know and we don’t care,” retorts Scalia.

Needless to say, I’m not chalking up a win here for Mr. Banks.

Gorby speaks

Steven Taylor has a copy of a column he wrote on seeing Mikhail Gorbachev speak recently at Auburn University. In my youth I found Gorbachev a very interesting figure and read a couple of his books—for some odd reason, they had copies of them at the dinky base library at RAF Fairford. Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that the leggy brunette I had a thing for was a fan of Gorby as well. (Ah, my misspent youth…) Anyway, back from the digression… like Steven, I’m stunned by how much things have changed since then. And I think Steven has it more-or-less on the mark when he says:

The ironic thing about this new era, which in many ways is less threatening in absolute terms than the Cold War Era (terrorist are rather unlikely to destroy large parts of the world), it is more threatening to us in specific, personal terms (the odds of being on a plane, or being in a building that might be bombed has increased). And, aside from a perception of enhanced personal risk, the world itself is more unstable.

One thing I would note, however, is that global terrorism was alive and well during the Cold War too; ask the Israelis in Munich, American servicemen in Berlin and Beirut, West German politicians, the people who died on Pan Am 103 (and on the ground at Lockerbie), the people of Latin America, the Quebecois, or the British (both in Ulster and in Britain proper). I think the main difference from then and now is that the global projection capabilities of terror groups have improved, although I don’t think anything has really changed that makes terrorism more feasible—9/11, or its equivalent, could have happened in 1980. The important difference is that now there’s a group that simultaneously has the audacity,* motive, capability, and opportunity to carry out large-scale attacks on U.S. soil.

Babes of the Blogosphere(!?!)

James Joyner is compiling links to photos of bloggers of the fairer sex. One glaring oversight: the omission of the ladies of

The great philosophical questions

Jeff Taylor at Hit and Run finds it odd that the Chinese astronaut didn’t see the Great Wall of China from space.

KlanDay Post #4

I really don’t want to “flood the zone” on this—I have far more interesting things to blog about, and it is a nice day outside—but Patrick Carver’s take is worth reading. He also finds one media account that suggests there’s more to the story—did the Council of Conservative Citizens exaggerate its ties to the rally? And what happened to the black attendees?

The electoral effects of CCC ties

How much do Haley Barbour’s ties to the “white collar Klan” matter? Let’s play a game of Mississippi electoral math (courtesy of the U.S. Census):

Mississippi has just over 2 million people of voting age. 33.0% of the VAP is non-Hispanic black, 64.2% is non-Hispanic white, 1.3% are Hispanic, and 1.5% are “others” of various categories (including 0.5% mixed race). Barring electoral shenanigans, I think we can safely assume the Democrats capture almost all of the 35.8% Hispanic or non-white vote—say 95% of it.* Assuming non-differential turnout, that means about 34% of the vote is locked up already for Musgrove. (If anything, I would expect differential turnout in favor of blacks, as there are two black candidates on the statewide general election ballot.)

So, 66% of the vote is “in play.” Musgrove, who just needs 50% of the total vote to win, needs about another 16%; if you do the math (16%/66%), he only needs about 24.2% white support to win the election. Barbour, on the other hand, needs 75.8% white support, or the votes of just over three-in-four white voters.

Now, where is Barbour going to get those votes? Basically, we can divide white Mississippi into four bits: the Jackson area, the Gulf Coast, DeSoto County, and “everywhere else” (or rural Mississippi). Red meat—waving the Rebel flag, hanging out with the CCC, etc.—works for rural Mississippi; I suspect he gets 80%+ of the white vote in this area (except possibly around Musgrove’s old stomping grounds in north Mississippi), although how much flag-waving he’d need to do is debatable—Musgrove certainly didn’t endear himself with white voters when he limply backed 2001’s flag referendum. Red meat probably also is effective in the Jackson suburbs.

But what about the DeSoto and Gulf Coast regions? Does the CCC strategy cost him votes there? Probably not. The Mississippi press in general don’t spend a lot of time talking about the group, and most people in those parts get their media from neighboring states anyway. Most new voters moving to those areas—the “soccer mom” demographic, if you will—aren’t steeped in Mississippi politics.

Does Barbour absolutely need the CCC to get elected? I doubt it; the group really isn’t that powerful in the grand scheme of things. To the extent they have real political power, it’s because Mississippi politicians treat them as a legitimate organization. On the other hand, as long as Mississippi’s black vote remains largely monolithic (despite the disconnect between the views of rank-and-file black voters and the state’s black elite, particularly on social issues), I’m not sure the state’s Republicans will believe they can afford to lose even a single white vote. And, of course, blacks aren’t going to vote for Republicans in large numbers while the party panders to groups like the CCC.

More on the "white collar Klan"

I was going to compose a long post on the Council of Conservative Citizens, but I realized I said most of what I wanted to say almost a year ago. And, more or less what I said about Trent Lott applies equally to Haley Barbour. One thing I noted at the time:

The group is strongly tied to the whites-only academy system that perpetuates segregation and underinvestment in public education in the state.

The event Barbour was photographed at was a fundraiser for buying new school buses for Mississippi academies. Haley knew why he was there, and he knew who was behind it. If he didn’t, he’s far too stupid to be governor of Mississippi, much less to have chaired the Republican National Committee. (Not that being stupid is a disqualification for office in this state; if so, we’d have to throw out both major-party wackjobs running for lieutenant governor.) And, frankly, even though as a libertarian I’ll defend to the end the right of the segregated academies to exist, and I think that the individuals who send their children to them aren’t necessarily racist (this state is full of horrible public schools, due in no small measure to chronic underinvestment because the state’s elite don’t send their kids to them), I find them to be morally reprehensible institutions that no American of good conscience should support in this day and age.

Coming next: the electoral calculus of pandering to the white collar Klan.

Ricky West isn’t buying the "I didn’t know" defense either. (Link via CalPundit.)

Kobe's beef

Roger L. Simon thinks the Kobe Bryant prosecution is rapidly coming apart in light of the lackluster evidence shown in the preliminary hearing. I don’t know if I’m quite as convinced as Roger that Bryant is being “railroaded,” but a opinion piece that characterizes the case as being “weak with gusts up to pathetic” is pretty synomymous to my reaction.

Did Bryant rape this woman? I honestly don’t know. But unless the prosecution comes up with a smoking gun that isn’t in evidence at this point, there’s enough reasonable doubt here to fill Glenwood Canyon. The only thing I can figure is that the prosecutor thought (thinks?) he was going to get some sort of plea bargain from Bryant.

Score one against the nanny state

Germantown leaders are crying in their beer after learning that they can’t force local restaurants and bars to ban smoking, due to a state law that preempts localities from enacting such bans.

Notable by its absence is any mention in the article that there is no state law requiring bars and restaurants to allow smoking; indeed, many restaurants in Germantown already prohibit smoking by their patrons. But why expect basic honesty in reporting from the Commercial Appeal? One small plus: at least they take a welcome break from their continual suburb-bashing crusade in the article.

Hangin' with da Klan

Via Matthew Stinson, I note that both CalPundit and Andrew Sullivan have discovered that Haley Barbour’s been photographed with members of the organization best known as the white collar Klan.

I guess it’s time for me to move back into the undecided column again, even given my severe reservations about having another term of Ronnie Musgrove.

Alex Knapp isn’t impressed either. Expect more on this topic from me today…

Meanwhile, Jacob Levy is morbidly curious about the Council’s fixation on the Frankfurt School. I was confused because the only major Institute for Social Research I’d heard of is at Michigan; I'm sure they'd love it if they could be ascribed such influence on human society. (For the record, the Institute for Social Research in question is this one.)