How and why to end penalty kicks as we know it

Good lord soccer drives me crazy.  Such a great game with abysmal organizations in charge and some really, really dumb rules.  Lots of appropriate controversy with the Women’s World Cup about the insane new handball rule.  The new rule say it’s a handball if the defender’s arms are out of the silhouette of the torso, unless preventing a fall.  This is insane!  Short version: defenders are apparently supposed to run at all times with hands behind their back.  Try running in a meaningfully athletic way and see where your arms are.  That’s right– out from your body.  I hate that soccer’s rulemakers see that as something to penalize.

But, even worse, is the gigantically outsized role of the penalty kick in a game with so little scoring.  I’ve long been making family and friends listen to my rant on this.  How nice to discover that a Yahoo sportswriter, Henry Bushnell, has basically the same take and proposed solution.  I love this:

The real problem here isn’t specific to handballs. It’s that when they occur in the area, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

That cross that Kirby hit on Sunday? Had it not been blocked, its expected value was still a tiny fraction of a goal. Because it happened to strike a Scottish arm, its worth multiplied exponentially, to roughly 0.75 goals – or whatever Nikita Parris’ penalty conversion rate is.

That, when you think about it, is completely absurd. It’s mind-bogglingly stupid. Illogical. Backwards.

The incentives are so perverse that players in Kirby’s position, or Sadio Mane’s eight days earlier, will soon come to realize: Aiming for an opponent’s arm is a more effective strategy than trying to pick out a teammate at the back post. Mane probably didn’t do that last Saturday, but he might as well have.

Is this how we want the beautiful game to be played?

A similar incentive already compels forwards to hurl themselves to the ground under minimal contact rather than have an off-balance shot at goal. It’s an awful trend – but, from a player’s perspective, a rational one.

The onus, therefore, isn’t on them to reform their ways. It’s on soccer’s lawmakers to rethink a rule that is only in place because, well, it has been since the 1890s. And because this sport is so senselessly resistant to change.

How the penalty rule should be overhauled

The penalty box is an extremely arbitrary thing. Why, for example, should a foul occurring here be a free kick from this exact position …

View photos

… but a foul occurring here be an unobstructed one, 12 yards out from the center of the goal?

View photos

The 18-yard box itself can remain for goalkeeper handling purposes. But any foul, handball or otherwise, that does not deny a clear goalscoring opportunity should simply be a direct free kick from the spot of the foul.

The only other tweak required would be an expansion of the definition of “denying a clear goalscoring opportunity,” enough to discourage pervasive tactical fouling. This would make punishments proportional to crimes.

Yes!!!  I couldn’t agree more.  In a game where one team scoring 3 goals is a lot, the idea that you give a .75-.8 chance at a goal for any foul in the penalty box, regardless of it’s likelihood of impacting a goal-scoring opportunity is beyond preposterous.  Just because something has been around since 1890 is soooo not a good reason to keep it.

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Quick hits

1) From a couple weeks ago, but I still really like it.  Doris Burke is a great basketball analyst but doesn’t get her due because she’s a woman.  I love when I hear her call games.

2)Jesse Singal suggests the “coward’s like” could save twitter.

One of the reasons Twitter is so terrible and shrieky has to do with the skewed nature of the feedback users receive — the platform is basically a giant preference falsification machine. Back in January I put into paragraph form a really good tweetstorm from the philosopher and psychology researcher Brian Earp laying out the general issue (if you click on that link, scroll down a bit to get to this part):

I have a hypothesis about what might contribute to *moral outrage* being such a big thing on social media. Imagine I’m sitting in a room of 30 people and I make a dramatic statement about how outraged I am about X. And, say, five people cheer in response (analogous to liking or retweeting). But suppose the other 25 people kind of stare at the table, or give me a weird look or roll their eyes, or in some other way (relatively) passively express that they think I’m kind of overdoing it or maybe not being as nuanced or charitable or whatever as I should be.

In real life we get this kind of “passive negative” feedback when we act morally outraged about certain things, at least sometimes. Now, a few people in the room might clear their throat and actively say, “Hey, maybe it’s more complicated than that,” and on Twitter there is a mechanism for that: replies. But it’s pretty costly to leave a reply pushing back against someone’s seemingly excessive or inadequately grounded moral outrage, and so most people probably just read the tweet and silently move on with their day. And there is no icon on Twitter that registers passive disapproval.

So it seems like we’re missing one of the major in-real-life pieces of social information that perhaps our outrage needs to be in some way tempered, or not everyone is on board, or maybe we should consider a different perspective. If Twitter collected data of people who read or clicked on a tweet, but did NOT like it or retweet it (nor go so far as write a contrary reply), and converted this into an emoji of a neutral (or some kind of mildly disapproving?) face, this might majorly tamp down on viral moral outrage that is fueled by likes and retweets from a small subset of the “people in the room”… Thoughts?

3) Did you know that there’s really a non-crazy-conspiracy chance that Russia messed with North Carolina’s voting in the 2016 election?

4) Single-family zoning is really bad.  Great upshot feature including maps of cities all over the country.

Single-family zoning is practically gospel in America, embraced by homeowners and local governments to protect neighborhoods of tidy houses from denser development nearby.

But a number of officials across the country are starting to make seemingly heretical moves. The Oregon legislature this month will consider a law that would end zoning exclusively for single-family homes in most of the state. California lawmakers have drafted a bill that would effectively do the same. In December, the Minneapolis City Council voted to end single-family zoning citywide. The Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Julián Castro have taken up the cause, too.

A reckoning with single-family zoning is necessary, they say, amid mounting crises over housing affordability, racial inequality and climate change. But take these laws away, many homeowners fear, and their property values and quality of life will suffer. The changes, opponents in Minneapolis have warned, amount to nothing less than an effort to “bulldoze” their neighborhoods.

Today the effect of single-family zoning is far-reaching: It is illegal on 75 percent of the residential land in many American cities to build anything other than a detached single-family home.

And let’s be clear, residents, including many “liberals” who rail against changing the zoning are mostly motivated by the desire not to live around more people of a lower socio-economic strata.  Which are, of course, quite often racial minorities.  And, yes, for the record, there’s a bunch of duplexes and triplexes right around the corner from my house.

5) Recently learned about this approach to bring people together and help overcome the partisan divide.  The workshop featured in this Atlantic article was in my hometown of Cary, NC!  I’m a skeptic because of the selection bias:

The bigger problem is that the kind of people who are willing to spend a morning or a day on such an exercise are the kind of people who are already convinced that dialogue is important, and are more willing to hear the other side out. As participants went around, many had strong political views, but many had also participated in other efforts at cross-partisan dialogue. Reducing affective polarization will require getting more of the affectively polarized to show up at events like this. Still, even this group found the exercises useful, if largely as self-abnegation.

6) One of my favorite podcast episodes ever was 99% Invisible presenting an episode of John Green’s “Anthropocene Reviewed” and an utterly delightful interview of John Green by Roman Mars.  Five stars.  I’m now a huge fan of Green’s podcast, with which I was heretofore unfamiliar.  And John Green’s paean to Diet Dr Pepper was perfect.

7) Still really annoyed that we’re hardly talking about Oregon.  At least Brian Beutler is:

Oregon Republicans have successfully nullified a Democratic climate change bill by literally leaving town (making it impossible under the Oregon Senate’s quorum rules for the chamber to vote) and then threatening violent retaliation against state police officers dispatched to retrieve them. This is bullshit, and if Democrats don’t figure out how to get this bill through, it’s a template Republicans will replicate across the country wherever they can, whenever they’re out of power.

8) This report on America’s changing demographics and the predicted effect on partisan patterns is pretty interesting stuff.  Lots of data.

Our investigation turns up a number of key findings that illuminate how significantly the compositions of the Democratic and Republican parties have changed over the years and are likely to change in the future. We show that the 2016 election was the most demographically divisive election in the past 36 years. The parties were more divided by age, race, and education than in any prior election in modern political history.

Reflecting these intensifying divisions, the parties were more compositionally different in 2016 than at any point in the prior 36 years. This election was the first presidential election white noncollege voters did not make up a plurality of both parties’ coalitions, with white college voters exceeding the share of white noncollege voters in the Democratic coalition.

Nonwhites will continue to grow as a share of both parties’ coalitions, especially Hispanics. We find that, by 2032, Hispanic voters will surpass black voters as the largest overall nonwhite voting group. And, by 2036, black voters will make up a larger share of the Democratic coalition than white noncollege voters.

9) Really looking forward to seeing the new movie, “Yesterday.”  Really enjoyed this Vox interview with screenwriter Richard Curtis.

10) Loved this from Drum, “Tough on Crime” Makes No Sense — Unless You Understand the History of Crime.”  Yes, our criminal justice policies are absurd now.  But there really was a huge crime wave in America and it’s historical amnesia to ignore that context:

I sometimes feel like the current discussion surrounding crime and incarceration is a lot like wondering why the United States invaded Europe in 1944. Unless you know that Hitler had conquered most of the continent, it doesn’t make any sense. Once you do know that, it makes no sense to suggest that FDR did anything wrong.

It’s the same with crime. All of the tough-on-crime sentiment of the ’70s through the ’90s makes no sense unless you know that violent crime had more than doubled since the mid-’60s:

That said, nothing about this era makes sense unless you understand that crime really was rising and it really was scary. The absolute number of violent crimes tripled from 1970 to 1990 and people—black and white alike—were afraid to walk the streets at night. They demanded action, and they got it. There were tons of mistakes along the way, but the fundamental motivation for the tough-on-crime movement was the fact that there was a lot of crime.

10) This was a really cool NYT feature interviewing a variety of Hollywood big shots on how movies may survive and evolve over the next decade.

11) It’s quite well-documented that student evaluations of professors’ teaching are biased and flawed instruments.  But that doesn’t mean that peer evaluations are a panacea.  It’s not like most college professors are trained, reliable, assessors of college teaching.  James Lang:

Much of the work that we put into our teaching cannot be evaluated, or even accessed, via the two most common strategies that institutions use to evaluate our teaching effectiveness of their faculty: student evaluations and peer observations…

But even at teaching-intensive colleges like mine, just piling on lots of documentation to the process doesn’t resolve all of the challenges raised by the attempt to evaluate teaching effectiveness. Evidence doesn’t speak for itself, after all — it needs informed experts who can analyze and understand what the data means. What story does the evidence tell about the teacher’s work? What does it show about how much students have learned?

Understanding how to gather and evaluate evidence of good teaching strikes me as a fundamental and ongoing challenge for all of higher education. Very few academic administrators or tenure-committee members will bring to those roles professional training or scholarly backgrounds in the evaluation of teaching — or in the practice of teaching, for that matter.

12) Great essay from Lara Bazelon, “I’ve Picked My Job Over My Kids: I love them beyond all reason. But sometimes my clients need me more.”

13) Great NYT Op-Ed, “The Travel Ban Shows What Happens When the Supreme Court Trusts Trump.”

A year ago, the Supreme Court upheld, by a 5-4 vote, President Trump’s imposition of a ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. The court’s decision was gravely disappointing the day it was handed down. A year later, it looks even worse — particularly because it rested on three premises pushed by Trump Administration lawyers that have proven thoroughly unfounded…

In the travel ban case, first, the more conservative justices emphasized its temporary nature. The decision acknowledged that the provision of federal immigration law relied on by President Trump refers to a president’s authority to “suspend the entry” of foreigners to the United States; it further acknowledged that the word “suspend” means something temporary rather than permanent. Moreover, the majority opinion emphasized that, according to the same federal law, the president could maintain the ban only “for such period as he shall deem necessary.” The ban was thus upheld as something merely temporary — as required by law.

Yet here we are, a year since the court upheld Mr. Trump’s third version of the ban, almost two years since that version took effect and nearly 29 months since Mr. Trump issued the ban in its original form. The ban upheld by the court remains in full effect, and there’s not a whisper from the White House that it will be repealed. What the court’s majority accepted as temporary looks increasingly permanent…

Third, the court’s decision noted that, even while the ban remained in place and even for countries still subject to it, “case-by-case waivers” were available for individuals to allow them to travel to the United States if they could show “undue hardship.” The chief justice’s majority opinion emphasized that the availability of waivers made Mr. Trump’s travel ban more similar to actions of earlier presidents. It also underscored the direction given to consular officers to assess waiver applications while addressing any public safety concerns and broader implications for the national interest.

The waiver program looked like a sham a year ago, as a consular officer made clear in a sworn affidavit in another matter and as Justice Stephen Breyer emphasized in his powerful dissent. It looks like even more of a sham now.

The Travel Ban showed that 5 of the Court’s conservatives were entirely willing to let the federal government brazenly lie to it.  The Census case this week showed that Roberts has a limit to the brazenness (especially when there’s a good paper trail).  The others, sadly, will accept anything.

14) Love this from one of my favorite political scientists, Larry Bartels, “A Lot of Candidates May Make It Seem Like Democracy Is Working, But It Isn’t: The two major parties have made choosing among contenders far too hard, with dire consequences.”

Cognitive psychologists tell us that human information-processing capacity is limited to seven objects, plus or minus two. But when the objects are as complex and unfamiliar as the current crop of presidential candidates, that rule of thumb is much too optimistic.

Research on primary voting demonstrates that voters make better-informed and more coherent choices when the race involves just two or three major contenders. That’s why political elites and political institutions have a crucial role to play in shaping the options presented to primary voters.

Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has created a complex set of standards for candidates to qualify for inclusion in televised debates. Senator Michael Bennet, a latecomer to the race who could be barred from the next round of debates by Mr. Perez’s rules, has said, “It’s all just completely arbitrary, and I wish it weren’t.”

Unfortunately, there is no non-arbitrary way to do what needs to be done. Relying on polls gives an unfair advantage to candidates who are already well known. (The current poll standings mostly reflect name recognition.) Using fund-raising as a standard risks making affluent donors even more influential than they already are.

What is largely missing from this process is the professional judgment of people who actually know the candidates — officeholders and party officials. But the Democratic Party’s attempt to insert the judgment of “superdelegates” at the end of the nominating process, after primary voters have already had their say, has generated bitter complaints about “undemocratic” elites overriding the will of the party rank and file.

The time for political professionals to play a constructive role is before the primaries, not after. Their job should be to commend the party’s most promising potential candidates to the attention of the public, not to make the final choice themselves.

Short version: total failure of Democratic “leadership.”  And having so many people with zero chance of being elected President in 2020 on the debate stage this week very much makes this point.

The Supreme Court– too much to say

Wow, those decisions today.  I’ve honestly kept putting off a post because there’s just too much I want to say and I’d rather do things than spend 30 minutes on one blog post.  So, just a few points I want to make.

1) Over the course of the past couple weeks of decisions, I am utterly disgusted by the Supreme Court’s conservatives.  It seems that most, but for Roberts, will put up with the most extreme, unconstitutional absurdity if it helps Republican political power.  That the Census decision was 5-4 and not 9-0, given the available facts is truly appalling.  Roberts, Kavanaugh, and even Gorsuch branch out every now and again and actually do the right thing (though, not nearly enough).  Kavanaugh and Gorsuch each have mini-moments, but then they vote as they do on the Census and gerrymandering.  Of course.  But, damn, Thomas and Alito are just completely irredeemable.

1b) Think that last statement is harsh.  Read about the (overlooked) 7-2 case of the most extreme state-sanctioned racism.  But it’s all good with Thomas and Alito.

2) I love Dahlia Lithwick’s characterization of the gerrymandering ruling as a “body blow” to democracy.  And I love how she totally points out the bad-faith hypocrisy of the conservative jurists on a series of opinions.

3) And I really liked Rich Hasen on the absurdity of the gerrymandering ruling.

4) Also, cool thought, I brought it #3 and #4 to be speakers at NCSU and they were both awesome.

5) And, I really liked Zach Beauchamp with the big-picture view:

This principle — that Republicans believe their rule is better and are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure they take and hold power — does not merely lead to gerrymandering. It has produced a whole host of undemocratic actions, at both state and federal levels, that amount to a systematic threat to American democracy. Indeed, some of the best scholarship we have on American democracy suggests that this is even more alarming than it sounds; that it fits historical patterns of democratic backsliding both in the United States and abroad.

In her dissent to Roberts’s ruling, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that “gerrymanders like the ones here may irreparably damage our system of government.” I’d take it a step further.

The Court’s ruling in Rucho reveals that there’s a threat to American democracy more subtle and yet greater than the Trump presidency: the Republican Party’s drift toward being institutionally hostile to democracy.

Photo of the day

This is wild.  Via the Washington Post, “A mysterious explosion left a crater in a German field. It may have been a WWII bomb.”

An aerial view shows a crater on a barley field near Ahlbach, Germany, on June 24. (Boris Roessler/DPA/AFP/Getty Images)

 

From the air, the massive crater resembles a pink virus floating against a pool of green.

But from the ground, the destruction is clear and devastating: A 33-foot wide, 13-foot gouge into the earth that began in the 1940s with an Allied sortie and ended Sunday morning in a massive blast in a barley field in central Germany.

No one was hurt in the blast, the German news site Hessenschau reported.

The explosion was thundering and unexpected, leading some residents in Ahlbach farmland to speculate it was an earthquake.

Explosive experts combed the crater, and no bomb elements were initially found, the nearby city of Limburg said in a statement, prompting the theory that it was the work of an asteroid.

However, a second look, with the help of drones, helped build evidence that has pointed to a likely culprit — a 550-pound dud of a bomb dropped decades ago that remained buried and untouched until its detonation mechanism eroded with time.

Family values and kids in cages

When you are looking at the unfolding tragedy of our own government intentionally mis-treating children satire is helpful.  Of course, this is the purposeful policy of the Trump administration, so the Onion has a handy guide, “Tips For Staying Civil While Debating Child Prisons” for discussing with people who are not at all bothered by treating kids this way (I’m sure it helps these people that the kids are not white):

Avoid unkind generalizations like equating the jailing of ethnic minorities with some malevolent form of fascism.

Consider that we all have different perspectives stemming from things like age, ethnicity, or level of racism [emphases mine]

Make sure any protests are peaceful, silent, and completely out of sight of anyone who could actually affect government policy.

Give your political opponents the benefit of the doubt by letting this play out for 20 years and seeing if it gets any better on its own.

Realize that every pressing social issue is solved through civil discourse if you ignore virtually all of human history…

Avoid painting with a broad brush. Not everyone in favor of zero-tolerance immigration wants to see children in cages—it’s more likely that they just don’t care.

Damn, that’s good stuff.  And Alexandra Petri with an awesome takedown of the so-called “family values” types on the right:

Let me make one thing clear: The treatment that children are receiving at the border, reported with horror by those lawyers — this is not against my values. Do not misunderstand! I still have more values than anyone. I am a values voter, with values for days, values that go all the way to the floor, values that wave amberly as far as the eye can see!

I value the family, a theoretical entity against which people are making hideous strides all the time, mainly by being themselves in public or in private but on occasion by the throwing of unwanted parades. This thing that has happened — That Congress, I should say, has permitted to happen! Shame on Congress! Bring me a bowl to wash my hands in! Not as an uncomfortable reminder that government lawyers have argued that soap is no necessity for these children, but to demonstrate in a visual metaphor how very not-my-fault this is! — is not an assault on the family.

We can clearly see that these are just children by themselves, not families, and they are merely covered in filth and tear stains, not exposed to comprehensive sex education, Darwinism or a textbook implying the reality of climate change. So, yes, what’s going on there is in no way an attack on the family. The family is something to be cherished, as luminous as it is theoretical…

A value is when someone is about to let the tiny paper flag on a toothpick in the middle of a cake drop to the ground and you throw your body down and catch it and say, “Not on my watch, USA.” A value is when you hug the flag. A value is when you stand all the time and salute all the time, with as many guns as you possibly can! A value is when you do decorum, unless you do not like the other person. A value is when you observe proper process, unless proper process would result in Merrick Garland’s confirmation to the Supreme Court (another institution I abstractly cherish). A value is when you sing the anthem loudly.

But children are my greatest value. Especially future children. Those who are children currently, I could take or leave. This is not heartless; the children that I do value are simply not here yet.

OMG that’s just brilliant.  And so so sad that it’s true for so many Americans.

Oregon is nuts and nobody cares!

Well, liberals on twitter care, but it is seemingly not worth the front website coverage of NYT, WP, or CNN.  Charles Pierce:

In these times, everything looks like an ill omen. The capitol is crowded with crows. But it is not an exaggeration to say that if you’re not following the ongoing insanity in Oregon, you are missing a look into a very dark future. It begins with a not-at-all-unusual squabble between the Republicans in the Oregon legislature and the Democratic Governor, Kate Brown. At issue is a huge bill aimed at dealing with the climate crisis. On Thursday, every Republican member of the Oregon state senate took a powder, denying Brown and the Democrats a quorum and effectively killing the bill.

Now this is not an unusual tactic. Not long ago, Democratic lawmakers in Texas and in Wisconsin blew town for the same purpose—to throw sand in the gears of a legislative act of which they did not approve and could not stop by conventional means. In Wisconsin, it was to slow down an anti-union measure. In Texas, it was about a redistricting map that gerrymandered the Texas legislature into a farce. The legislative lamsters all had a good time, taking goofy videos in what appeared to be Holiday Inn lobbies while Republicans back home fumed. (The Texans, it should be noted, won a temporary victory.) What makes Oregon different is what the fugitive Republican senators did.

The Republican senators—with the full support of the Oregon Republican Party—made common cause with armed domestic terror groups. (Calling them a militia is a misnomer, regardless of what they may think of themselves.) When a Republican state senator named Brian Boquist heard that Brown was sending the Oregon state police after them, he told a local television station:

Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.

Almost immediately, the local domestic terror groups sprang to Boquist’s defense…

People with guns have involved themselves in a legislative dispute while the officials of one of the political parties was rooting them on, and one session of a state legislature was cancelled because of it. Roll that around in your head for a while and see where you end up. Something is building in our politics and now I wish I hadn’t watched that series about Chernobyl. We may be exceeding the tolerances of all our systems. [emphasis mine]

 

Petty tyrants

Man this first-person account from journalist Seth Harp upon his return to the U.S. from Mexico is beyond infuriating.   What is so clear is that many of the border partrol officer (goons) enjoying abusing their authority, simply because they can.  Somebody annoys them with a glib answer and they decided to use absurd, quasi-Constitutional powers (the Supreme Court really needs to step in here) to take it out on people.  An excerpt:

My work as a journalist has taken me to many foreign countries, including frequent trips to Mexico. On May 13, I was returning to the U.S. from Mexico City when, passing through immigration at the Austin airport, I was pulled out of line for “secondary screening,” a quasi-custodial law enforcement process that takes place in the Homeland Security zone of the airport.

Austin is where I was born and raised, and I usually get waved through immigration after one or two questions. I’m also a white man; more on that later. This time, when my turn came to show my passport, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer was more aggressive than usual in his questioning. I told him I’d been in Mexico for seven days for work, that I was a journalist, and that I travel to Mexico often, as he could see from my passport. That wasn’t enough for him, though. He wanted to know the substance of the story I was currently working on, which didn’t sit right with me. I tried to skirt the question, but he came back to it, pointedly…

In retrospect, I was naive about the kind of agency CBP has become in the Trump era. Though I’ve reported several magazine stories in Mexico, none have been about immigration. Of course, I knew these were the guys putting kids in cages, separating refugee children from their parents, and that Trump’s whole shtick is vilifying immigrants, leading to many sad and ugly scenes at the border, including the farcical deployment of U.S. troops. But I complacently assumed that wouldn’t affect me directly, least of all in Austin. Later, I did remember reading a report in February about CBP targeting journalists, activists, and lawyers for scrutiny at ports of entry south of California, but I had never had a problem before, not in a lifetime of crossing the Texas-Mexico border scores of times on foot, by car, by plane, in a canoe, even swimming. This was the first time CBP had ever pulled me aside.

When asked to comment on specific details in this story, a CBP spokesperson responded with a canned statement replete with the sort of pseudo-military terminology that betrays the agency’s sense of itself not as a civil customs service but as some kind of counterterrorism strike force. “CBP has adapted and adjusted our actions to align with current threat information, which is based on intelligence,” the statement reads in part. “As the threat landscape changes, so does CBP.” The agency declined to put me in touch with Moncivias and the other officers named in this account or to make an official available for an interview, but a CBP source mentioned that the “port director” had reviewed “the tape” of the encounter. I found that very interesting, because I had specifically asked Moncivias and the other officers if I was being videotaped or recorded, and they had categorically denied it…

That was just the beginning. The real abuse of power was a warrantless search of my phone and laptop. This is the part that affects everyone, not just reporters and people who keep journals.

IN GENERAL, LAW enforcement agents have to get a warrant to search your electronic devices. That’s the gist of the 2014 Supreme Court case Riley v. California. But the Riley ruling only applies when the police arrest you. The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether the same protections apply to American citizens reentering the United States from abroad, and federal appeals courts have issued contradictory opinions. [emphases mine] In the absence of a controlling legal authority, CBP goes by its own rules, namely CBP Directive No. 3340-049A, pursuant to which CBP can search any person’s device, at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. If you refuse to give up your password, CBP’s policy is to seize the device. The agency may use “external equipment” to crack the passcode, “not merely to gain access to the device, but to review, copy, and/or analyze its contents,” according to the directive. CBP can look for any kind of evidence, any kind of information, and can share what it finds with any other federal agency, so long as doing so is “consistent with applicable law and policy.”…

CBP has been doing warrantless device searches since the advent of the modern smartphone, Cope said, but the practice has increased by some 300 percent since Trump took office…

It was around 4 p.m. when Moncivias finally finished up and informed me, anticlimactically, that I was free to go. I couldn’t wait to get outside because the detention area was freezing. No wonder Spanish-speaking migrants call CBP detention la hielera — the icebox. I took my phone and laptop and silently packed up my luggage, which still lay disemboweled on the desk, underwear and all. Pomeroy was gone by this time. As I was walking out, I said to Moncivias and Villarreal, “It’s funny, of all the countries I’ve been to, the border guards have never treated me worse than here, in the one country I’m a citizen of, in the town where I was born.”

“Welcome back to the USA,” Moncivias said.

So, here’s what I got to thinking.  There’s probably a huge selection bias of people with bad character– who really like exercising arbitrary authority just because they can– seeking out these jobs.  In a better world, the CPB bureuacracy would do every thing it can to ensure that these types do not join the Border Patrol at higher rates.  These are exactly the sort of people who should not be in these jobs in a properly-functioning democracy.  One incident like these, and all the agents who harassed Harp should be out of job.  Alas, encouraging petty tyrants is clearly just standard operating procedure for this agency.  This is so wrong and so truly un-American and so sadly completely Donald Trump’s America.

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