the onion are being unpeel. what is significant questions i think those the failure of the federal government. the sec investigators or after madoff again and again from my 92 on in the always missed it. why was that? their defense was they were inexperienced and incompetence but i don't know if that is a satisfying answer. >> as head of the estin investigative service when was the first you heard of madoff? >> denied he was arrested. we had just finished reporting on rod blagojevich, the enemy-- governor of illinois. bernard invested a $50 camperville that is a typo. that would be the biggest in history. well, i soon found out. >> what kind of resources to you in your unit turned over to this investigation? >> we had the entire abc news' investigative unit immediately
but there was some money great details that could not fit into the world news or nightline or 2020 so we ended up doing this book. what is the first book i've written. >> it is your first book? >> i am a rookie at this but i enjoyed it. it usually exists of a minute and-a-half and hera had as much as i want. >> how did you fit writing this book into your workday? >> 4:30 in the morning was a good time to ride in the keep me a few days off over the july 4th weekend so after the sentencing at the end of june i swung into action and i was in pretty good shape to get it out briefly. >> you have a chance to talk to any of the madoff's are anybody close to him? >> i got to be very close with madoff's secretary for 25 years and she brought out a stack of documents that she took out of the office. she felt so betrayed and angry at madoff and phelps so badly for the victims, who were her
friends. she was the ones who answered the phone for bernie and when they called and said say it isn't so, she called an terrorist and she went to do anything to bring this man down so that is how we got the little black book which was published and lots of telling details. she gave copies to the fbi and copies to me. >> it is the madoff chronicles, includes bernie's lablatt buckie can see in the right hand corner and it is published by hyperion, the author, brian ross. >> a former supreme court clerk argues that historically the courts major decisions have reflected the views of the most powerful people in the country at the time. the 2009 texas book festival held in austin hosts this 45 minute event. >> good morning. my name is tom billups and it is my pleasure to introduce scott powe jr ehud joins estes discuss
his latest book, "the supreme court and the american elite." professor powe is taught at the university of texas and also since 1971 where he currently holds the and green regence chair of law and is a professor of government. his previous books, including american broadcasting in the first amendment, the fourth estate in the constitution and "the warren court and american politics" one such awards as the broadcast education association book of the year, the scribes book award and the american bar association silver gavel award for media and the arts. professor powe is a graduate of yale university and university of washington school of law and he was clerk to justice william brennan of the united states supreme court in the 1970 to 71 term. his newest work surveys more than 200 leaders of american constitutional law. to support his thesis that the
supreme court overarching role in constitutional interpretation has been "to harmonize the constitution with the demands of majority politics." while this book is intended for the labor leader, his fresh insights and opinions make the book a week for even the most serious scholar of american legal history. powe remises for example that his verdict on many landmark opinions has often been different than the initial public response. for example, after the disastrous dred scott opinion in 1857 voters did not punish the democratic party for their support of the result. andy democrats gained votes in the ensuing election in every state, both north and south. in the 1905 decision in lochner versus new york which is universally reviled today as they example of judicial
arrogance. failed to garner popular notoriety or scholarly attention for several decades after was handed down. though professor powe was a douglas clerk in general sympathy with the aims and outcomes of the warren court, he is relentlessly bipartisan in denouncing shoddy reasoning or outcomes. his personal opinions interspersed throughout the book will alternately infuriate and delight every reader. thus, to him the opinion in brown versus board of and kay is short and short on reasoning, the result in bush versus gore was brazen and the majority opinion in roe versus wade compete successfully as the worst in the 20th century. no one will agree with all of powe's assessments but he will come away unimpressed by the verb of this writing, the power of his intellect or the strength of his intellectual independence
ladies and gentlemen, professor scott powe. [applause] >> thank you all for coming out on such a nice sunday morning. when i decided to write this book, and i think i started it about five years ago, a little over that now, it was because i thought there was a gap in the histories of the supreme court. if you read american history, the supreme court and fruits in the narrative occasionally and randomly. they will note dred scott, they will note the new deal crisis, brown versus board and roe versus wade but it is really an afterthought and similarly, when you read supreme court histories, american history does not intrude very often very either. it is more a narrative of what the court is doing and i wanted to try and bring the two
narrative together as best i could, so what i attempted to do was essentially see american history through the eyes of the supreme court. i wanted a book that could be read, and it would have been easy to write an 800 page book on this, maybe even easier to write a 900 page book but i wanted something that would convince people that this was worth doing, so my goal was as close to 300 pages as humanly possible. i was pleased about a year ago at this time when i got page proofs at 350 pages. i have least said manage that. i think that is a manageable book. another goal, one of my pet peeves over the decades is the way we treat supreme court by referring to the chief justice. bussey will always hear the roberts court, and what is the function of john roberts' chief justice?
it is to design the majority opinion any time anthony kennedy will let him. [laughter] otherwise kennedy will choose john paul stevens to sign the majority opinion. it is senseless to talk about the roberts court and indeed with the exception of john marshall and possibly the earl warren, i think it is genuinely a mistake to refer to the court as belonging to the chief justice. one should look to the rhythms of american history or the rhythms of what is happening at the supreme court and divide your analysis the way, and that is what i have done in my 11 chapters. there is only one chapter-- excuse me, two. i in fact to chains chapters when john jane leaves the court because i think when he left the court in 1794, concluding that
it was never going to amount to anything. that is one of the reasons why his reputation 200 years later is a lot lower than when he left the court, but, the congress state had just ratified the 11th amendment which overruled the first supreme court decision interpreting the constitution, so the court was deemed by everyone wrong, 041 and jay got out. but it is john marshall. he really does deserve primacy. he is the babe ruth of supreme court judging, a great batter and a great pitcher as well and he did dominate his court only one constitutional the cent in 34 years. my boss, william o. douglas, roddick constitutional dissent about every 44 minutes near the end of his career but they were short and often not very well thought out.
and, of the title of my buck really does express its thesis, that the supreme court is highly influenced by the opinions of american elites, and there is no more elite group of americans than politicians for this purpose. the famous sadrist, peter finley dunn you the turn of the 20 a century had a great column with this fictitious the irish-american bartender, mr. duly and mr. dooley always speaks with his irish brogue which unfortunately i cannot imitate but his most famous of his statements referred to cases growing out of the spanish-american war, and the issue was, did the american constitution apply in the territories that we acquired from spain? and in the short form of it was,
does the constitution follow the flag? the democratic party's platform in the 1900 election was that the constitution does follow the flag. the supreme court in a 5-4 set of opinions held that the constitution does not fall-- follow the flag and dunn as mr. duly telling a customer, that i don't know whether the constitution follows the flag or not, but i do know that the supreme court follows the election returns. [laughter] and i think that is as fundamental and insight about the supreme court is you can get. now, remember it is a nine member body, or at least that has been since 1870 and that doesn't mean all justices are following the election returns, but it does mean that majority are, and i think that that has
been a truism throughout american history with a single, huge exception. in 1935 and 1936, the supreme court threw out ten freshly minted new deal statutes ranging from the national industrial recovery act to the agricultural adjustment act, and functionally the supreme court was trying to emasculate the new deal with a series of 5-4 votes in those two years. there has never been a two-year period in american history like that one. and the result was roosevelts resounding re-election in 1936, and his court backed plan in 1937 and even though the court-packing plan failed, the supreme court never again held a new deal statute unconstitutional. roosevelt won the war although i
think the court-packing plant cost in the new deal. there is only one other piece of new deal legislation, the fair labor standards act, that passed under roosevelt. the new deal was functionally broken in the court-packing plant at roosevelt with sable plan to pack the court with replacement. roosevelt god eight appointments, which is fine. you will always get a majority. if one party wins the presidency three consecutive times, it will wind up with the majority in the supreme court or at least we have got 220 years of american history, and that is all it is hell for that period of time. many of my colleagues in constitutional law and all of the generation that taught me believe that the court-packing plan was a seminal aspect of the supreme court behavior and that
the concern always is that an unchecked supreme court will go crazy in fighting popular will. and i think when you focus on one event and won the event only you can come off that way but it is wrong. the supreme court has been quite good in following to popular will as expressed by politicians and that one defense just dance out like a sore thumb. they give the more modern one. in the late 1990's, the supreme court invalidated 30 federal statutes. that is a record for a five or six year period, and somebody could say well they are standing to forge a majority rule but there is a slight difference. we call that the 1994 elections. the supreme court went on its
rampage beginning in 1995, and the statutes, the important ones that went down in that period or all passed prior to the 1994 elections, so what you had was a republican supreme court in validating the work of democratically controlled congresses at a time republicans now control congress, so nobody was in a position to offer retribution on the supreme court for what it did during that period, and it seemed to me that what the republicans on the court were trying to do was bring constitutional interpretation more in line with what republicans in congress happen to believe, and one of the things that republicans professed to believe is small government and thus, you got a
so-called federalism revolution where congressional statutes in pinching on the states were invalidated. it turns out that if federalism revolution was born in the eyes of the beholder. the case that is the best mark of conservatives is the kate out of new london, connecticut wehr new london condemned some homes-- excuse me. and turned it condemned properties over to private developers, and the sanctity of the home. it goes up to the supreme court, and by a 5-4 vote it is up pelt in new london. at up paltz connecticut and get the dissenters in the case who wanted to protect private property for the very people who always screamed states rights in
federalism. it was quite an example i think that federalism doesn't matter and it is this substantive right to do. let me talk about the court over the last decade. it has been a 5-court-- 5-4 court and the president stepped it with fresh new conservatives. john roberts is the gold standard for an appointed supreme court justice, a great record as a law student, a clerkship which justice rehnquist, a career and the justice department, the solicitor general's office in private practice with a glorious record is the supreme court advocate. you couldn't vote against john roberts of the with my recollection is correct every samole democratic candidate for president in 2008 voted against john roberts and the rationale i think was, honestly it was
appealed to the base but it comes very close to the republican shouldn't be allowed to appoint supreme court justices. something that i will note republicans believe about democrats, as you noted with the sotomayor hearings and i think the sotomayor hearings reflected the culmination of the roberts hearings. that is, a nominee who is coached never to answer a question but if you have the answer, please don't answer it truthfully. [laughter] and does, you get massive perjury going on, but we forgive it because everyone knows they are lying. [laughter] i was really disappointed in sherman leahy. i wish that his opening statement to judge sotomayor had gone like this. judge sotomayor, we have got the
votes to confirm you no matter what you say, so tell us the truth. [laughter] but, instead, you get the absurd, the ability to block, as if that is a statement about something. what is law that you have that fidelity to? or roberts, the job of the supreme court justice is just like an umpire in baseball. i assumed roberts knows the american league and the national league have different strike zones. [laughter] and that it isn't a strike until i call it a strike. you know, there is, you bring something to being a supreme court justice. what robert springs, what alito brings his experience in the reagan justice department and their catholocism. if you can combine to things,
the catholic religion and conservatism, you get somebody who will not vary on the key issues that republicans care about at the supreme court, first and foremost abortion and to a lesser extent now race. and that is where do do you see a difference in this court and the one that existed slightly earlier in the decade. the supreme court in 2000 struck down the brass as partial-birth abortion bam. the court did so on the grounds that it didn't make an exception for the health of the woman and therefore it was unconstitutional-- 5-4. in 2007 the supreme court upheld the federal ban on partial-birth
abortions that didn't have an exception for the health of the woman-- 5-4. the difference is the trade of sandra o'connor for samuel alito. that is the only difference on that. in a very famous case that everyone in legal education, in 2003, the court had a michigan affirmative action case, bruder versus bollinger and the university of michigan law school had a very aggressive affirmative action program that looked at least to my law school is like tempers send a deborah class should be class-- and it should happen here and in your out. they didn't get it perfectly every time but i don't think it was forewarned of trying in the numbers are just so close every year.
would michigan argued was they used the holistic approach. it didn't look just at grades, adjusted gpa but everything in my guess is the everything turned very nicely on hispanic surnames and perhaps being a member of the thurgood marshall society, some helpful extracurricular activity. it looked like the thing to virtually all observers that the michigan program was going to be held unconstitutional by a 5-4 vote. that was consistent with the majority on that, and yet it was sustained by a 5-4 vote in part because of an amicus brief. for those of you who aren't lawyers, lawyers write friend-of-the-court briefs, amicus is a nice letter word for it. these briefs are worth less. they are an ego trip for the rights are. i know, i've written them. [laughter] and they are a lot more fun if
you are being paid, but the parties are fully capable of handling their own problems there, but this brief was signed by william cohen, the former secretary of defense and 43 retired admirals and generals, and they stated that without affirmative action, the officer corps would not be the first in the armed services and a the verse officer corps was necessary for the military and unit cohesion, and as amicus brief, within the first five minutes of oral argument, for different justices had asked questions that went straight from the amicus brief and the questions went straight to at one time theodore olson, the solicitor general argued amicus on behalf of the united states and the question was, mr. olson,
what do you have to say about affirmative action in the service academies? and olson had to respond, i don't know, which is the best answer think you can give for a bad situation but it is one that i think flipped o'connor on that case. so, that was one. now let me go to 2007. i mentioned the change in the abortion case in 2007. there was a very modest, not quite affirmative action, a school desegregation case out of seattle, and i know a lot about this because i grew up there and i go back each summer in this case involves my high-school, ballard high school which one i was there i diversified by being the only non-scandanavian in the high school. [laughter] and it was not seen as the crown
jewel of the seattle school district when i was there. now this is seen as the crown jewel of the seattle school district if you were scandinavians i'll bet, but what had happened is you've had to communities, it right close to downtown. they were very affluent and white and it lost their high school because of lack of children, and the nearest high-school for them was ballard and that was where they all wanted to send their nice kids but with ballard fall and other things that send a tie-breaker, there were going to be sent way self in seattle to an asian and african-american high school with a 40% dropout rate. the affluent white parents don't like that, and they litigated the case. it goes up to the supreme court. now i want to go back just 25 years for one second.
seattle had earlier, and these are all voluntary cases than by a school board without pressure from courts, and in 1982, seattle had a busing case where there was busing in seattle and the state of washington passed a referendum outlawing busing except in the the court order and the supreme court held in that case 5-4 that was unconstitutional for the voters to prevent a local school district from using busing. 25 years later, the supreme court holds that it is unconstitutional for a local school to voluntarily go to busing for racial balance. that is a huge change. it also is a flip from the michigan affirmative action case, because chief justice roberts opinion talks in terms
of a colorblind constitution, and obviously if you take race into account in legal education we are not talking about a colorblind constitution. both the chief justice in his opinion and justice stephen breyer in dissent talked a lot about brown versus board of education and breyer stated that what the court had done was undermining the promise of around. now, i assume it remains undefined but what prior meant was an integrated education leading to an integrated society and i have got news for breyer, the promise of brown and it in the 1970's and nothing that the court in 2007 did was going to the fact that promise at all, but everybody claiming that mantle. there are two other cases, one
before and one later. they involve the mccain-feingold campaign finance act in 1990 to. in 2003, the supreme court upheld mccain-feingold in a 117 page opinion that read to me as if it were a case talking about regulating utilities and was dealing with a rate setting case. you never find free speech interrupting the analysis although the dissenters did. rothwell, in 2007 and again, they had a different mccain-feingold case. it involved in non-profit group, wisconsin right to life and their run afoul of mccain-feingold but with an ad on television telling wisconsinites to call your senators and tell them not to vote for-- not to vote to
filibuster republican judicial nominees, and this was ruled by the federal election commission to be the electioneering speech because it came within 60 days of an election. that was a typo in act. congress really wanted to prohibit speaking about an election 60 years before the election. [laughter] but it accidently came out 60 days. and the supreme court in a 5-4 decision by chief justice roberts held that the law couldn't be applied to ban this speech. he stated the ties go to the sons are and applied accurately that they probably would hold the unconstitutional. again, switching o'connor for a ledo change the results on that case. there is one other case that
summer and i will end with this one. it is the case of a high school kid with a banner at a parade, hits for jesus. i don't know whether the kid is offering their one or two jesus or which is pushing grass or being a. probably some of each. the court held 5-4 against the kid and it is so interesting, chief justice roberts majority opinion had no doubt what that sign meant. there's no more of this tie vote against the censor. itai vote to the school principal well justice stevens and dissent who had found in the case of the electioneering speech there's no doubt at all what it meant said this, krin figure out what it meant, gists and traditional provisions. if you take away one thing, it is that the party affiliation of
the justice is the single most determine if way about he or she will be voting in the future and those for those of you who care, presidential elections matter on that. i will be happy to take questions. [applause] >> professor powe, as they would have it i attended the same high school and i was wondering-- [inaudible] would you make a few comments if you would? >> yeah, activist court has been around for quite a while. it typically is a republican complaint that the supreme court is doing something wrong, although has been in recent
years a democratic complaint that the supreme court is doing something wrong. it is a term with absolutely no meaning. it is a terrible term, because all it says is the speaker doesn't like the supreme court at the moment, and there are a number of ways you could measure activism. statute held unconstitutional, federal statutes unconstitutional, state statutes unconstitutional overruling precedence. there is any number of gauges of activism that have been used in their often inconsistent with each other but i think that the term basically says something about the speaker and nothing about the supreme court.
[inaudible] >> a wonderful question, wonderful question. i am one of i think 32 quite elderly lawyers and academics who have written to attorney general holder stating we should abolish life tenure for the supreme court. i think it is a terrific idea. live ten year should be limited it to aging academics. [laughter] but, my reasoning, and what i favor is a non-renewable comedy team year term, where a vacancy will occur every other year in odd numbered years, and this would ensure that a-2 term president would get for appointments, but not five and that there would be rotations,
so i think it makes sense there. they say that life ten year is essential for independence. well, the united states is the only country in the world that has life tenure for judges, and i think, even the canadians have some independence and in deed as i assume you all know god created candidate to give us a control group. [laughter] otherwise i can't fathom no reasons for its existence. and indeed, only rhode island among the states has life tenure for judges, so it is truly an aberration in the constitution and the other thing i know it, one thing that is impossible to note-- not to note is that really old judges typically have stayed on too long.
to take to judges that i like, brennan and thurgood marshall, both of them were just hanging on hoping they could out live reagan. [laughter] and then, maybe bush will be defeated after one term, as he was but they quit when bush's popularity was very high and looked like a shoe-in and aegis believe they could accurately out of a second term. but, there is no good in people hanging on past their prime and most of the justices do that. the other thing i went through all the 20th-century judges with the standard, what did they add to the american jurisprudence in the course of their career? and with the exception of bill brannon, every single justice that i looked at had within 18
years accomplished everything jurisprudentially that they were going to offer to american law, so i don't see any need for an added term. this is about a quixotic question as one could have and not surprisingly, if you took a vote among the supreme court justices about life tenure he would finally get unanimity on a fairly divided court. >> wait for the bloom for one second. it will drop on your head. >> if the fidelity to precedent is often-- is it ever desirable for their circumstances and when-- in which the court should exult precedence or should they simply say yeah we are changing stuff because we can?
>> one of the great facets i think is ignoring a precedent in moving away from it. it is asserted that there are costs to overruling, that our confidence with them will be shaken, although i might think it may be improved. ah-hah they are getting some of that old stuff and moving it. we just don't have any useful data of on what would happen if judges became more candid about overruling. benjamin cordoza it was the great state court judge in the first half of the 20th century was a master at moving the law without overruling anything. we concede cases vary significantly, and that is a pleasure in judicial creativity, but i am sort of a candor guy.
yes, right-- >> can i ask you to make a prediction in a case that hasn't even been tried yet? >> i will try. >> is an outrageous type question but as you probably know ted olson and david police who were on opposite sides are now on the same side on the same-sex marriage debate in california which is about to be tried in january. if that case build a decent record for denial of legal protection what you think the supreme court will do with it? >> they will decide it 5-4. [laughter] i am of the opinion that they are bringing a case to send. and, i would feel more confident if they had anything to do with
the movement besides enclosing themselves on its to further a goal of the movement. i would rather see it come from within, where think people may have a better sense of how the time is going. now, if maine and washington both approved same-sex marriage in a referendum on tuesday, it may be that this is the time, but my instincts were that this lawsuit was being brought by the wrong people to send. yes maam. just one second. okay. >> i was just wondering why we get more congressman, we get stars added to the flag when they have new states, but why is it that the population and the
state cut, everything has been growing except the supreme court, which has its sacred number, and yet the population and a presentation in the states has increased but not the numbers, and i was wondering, like for example, we don't have a mexican-american ever judge, even if we have been american citizens since before the hidalgo treaty, so because of that, i would like to see more and more variety in our supreme court instead of just the amount of the supreme court judges we have right now. >> i think that almost everyone agrees that the courts get more
unwieldy the greater the number of judges that you put on them. and, it is hard enough-- if you are trying to get judges to come up with the majority opinion were in majority of the court agrees with one opinion is easier to do that on a smaller court than on a large record and i think that is one of the reasons. as to the argument about diversity, yeah, i think the supreme court, six roman catholics, seven people who have spent their entire adult life east of the alleghenies. eight people who attended eastern law schools situated between new york city and boston and the delete midwestern law school. and, nine whose last job was
judge on a federal court of appeals. i think we are terribly disserved by appointing people exclusively from the federal courts of appeals. i think we ought to find lawyers and politicians in all walks of life coming to the court but while it would be desirable to have more representation i think it just proved to be too difficult for judges to work together. courts that have a lot of people tend not to have a majority opinion. >> would you comment more on the increasing role of partisan politics in confirmation of supreme court judges and in particular on how you think over the long term that may affect respect for the court? >> on the first half of the question, the partisan nature of
the hearings and hearings now for courts of appeals are corrosive. they are terrible, and for the most part they are unnecessary. and i think that is just a bad situation. both parties think the federal courts are just too important, but think of the decisions that the united states is facing and has faced over the near-term. what to do about iraq, what to do about afghanistan, what to do about iran, any of the foreign policy crises. threatcom shelley bailout the things? showy make goldman sachs even richer? what do we do about medicare and are expanding aging population? what we do about national health insurance? should there be a public option? how to get out of this recession. all the major questions facing
the united states today have c. wrote to to with judges. there will never be a judicial opinion on any of them that matters. both the republicans and the democrats have tested too much energy in worrying about federal judges and i'm inclined to say too little energy worrying about what is good for the united states. yes, sir. >> members of congress and people who hold high positions in the executive branch seldom offer documents they sign. this is example hult truett and supreme court in the assistance that clerks do in creative writing? >> it dairies by judges. runquist demanded an opinion by his clerks in ten days, and then what extensively reright, as this john paul stevens, but the last, i think the last two
justices who did their own work were hugo black and william o. douglas, and i think it would be far better to see judges doing the work. i'm not quite interested in what a 27-year-old thinks about a problem. the where near as interested as i was 40 years ago. [laughter] >> yes, sir. >> mr. powe one of the conventional wisdom is the supreme court justices once there political considerations could go off their own way and become mavericks and justice souter's the most recent example of that, in your review of the history of the court is that actually a very common phenomenon? >> no. you get what you appoint. and, you may not understand who you have a pointed, and that may move somebody come up but
fundamental changes and was the justice thinks about the issues facing the united states do not occur on the court. tendencies will move. some judges, byron white, became more conservative as he aged, and i think it is fair to say that john paul stevens became more liberal as he aged, but there are bits of this-- white may have been moving with the country and stevens may look more liberal because the country looks more conservative and it could be as stevens himself would say i stayed in the same place. everything about me has moved, so i don't think you find leopards changing their spots. [applause]
>> professor powe thank you for that insightful, franken entertaining book report. we have for you a present for joining us at the book festival. it is mr. duly's opinions. [laughter] i will read the last page of his opinion on the supreme court flag cases after the spanish-american war and-- there you have the decision hennesey that ish chaiken the intellect of the nation to their various foundations, or willett they try to read it. it is all right, look over at some time. it is fine sports a few don't care for checkers. some say it leaves the flag up in the air and some say that is where it leaves the constitution. and the house something is in the air but there's one thing
i'm sure about. what is that asked mr. hennesey? no matter whether the constitution follows the flag and not the supreme court follows the election returns. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> lucas powe is a government professor at the university of texas at austin. his books include american broadcasting and the first amendment and the for the state and the constitution. the 2009 texas book festival hosted this event. form reclamation visit texas book festival.org.
>> a lot of this book is about culture and about how the culture matters and by that i mean how does where we are from and your ancestors were make a difference in how we do our jobs and how good we are or what we choose to do for a living. take-- that idea takes up the whole second half of the book and it is very i think profound and sometimes difficult thing to wrestle with, so one of the examples i use in the book to illustrate this point of how much it matters is-- i have a whole chapter on plain crashers so i thought what i would do today is tell the story from that chapter and i will warn you though that i'm not going to tell the whole chapter. the whole chapter i am taking an excerpt out and what i'm going to tell you makes a good deal less sense than the version you
read in the book and it is also a good deal scarier than the version you read in the book. who will be flying a plane in the next month or so? [laughter] sorry to hear that. [laughter] so it is scary but the most important thing about the plane crash that i want to talk about is that it is scary not because it is unusual. it is scary because it is typical, which is a very important thing to keep in mind. so, here it goes. the crush i'm going to talk about was of bianca 052 which takes off from colombia on january 25, 1990, bound for jfk airport in new york and as most of you know colombia is not that far from the united states. does just on the other side of the caribbean sea and to get up to colombia across the caribbean
sea on the gulf and what the east coast of the united states but as it happens, this was january and there was a-- and all kinds of planes were delayed that night, among them of bianca 502. here they were on a relatively routine flight from colombia to new york and the captain was a man-- sevir flying this plane and they start to get held up by air traffic control and they are held up because the weather is so bad, very thick fog and high winds. they are held up first above norfolk, virginia for about 25 minutes and then atlantic city for 30 minutes and then outside of gfk, 40 miles out of gfk for additional 30 minutes so after an hour and one-quarter delay they are cleared for landing and they come down the runway at jfk, and the encounter a really
severe wind sheer when they are 500 feet above the ground. win shear as i am sure most of you know is a situation where the wind is blowing heavily in the face of the aircraft so you add power to maintain constant speed and then at a certain point the wind drops off, bloom and all of a sudden you are going to fast. normally what happens in a plane is the autopilot willett just then you'll be able to land safely anyway but as it happened the autopilot for reasons we don't understand was turned off on all bianca 502 possibly because it was malfunctioning so the pilots executed what is called a go around which is simply when you are coming into land and you realize he can make the runways and you pull up and circle around and in a big circle over long island reproached for a second landing and as they were flying towards gfk to come in for the second landing, the engine-- the flight engineer cries out, flame out on
engine number four and flame out one engine number three. one by one the engines were just blowing and the captain says, show me the runway because he thinks it they are close enough to jfk they can drive the crippled plane in and it won't matter that they were losing all of their engines. they are known nowhere near gfk and they are still 14 miles away from the airport, so they crashed. they come down in the actually crash in the backyard of john mcenroe's father's estate on the oyster bay and long island. 73 people died and it is one of the worst accidents in many years. the next day of course the flighted investigators, calm to the wreckage and the retrieve the black box and they start their investigation. typically the investigations can take weeks to uncover the cause of the crash but in this case it doesn't take weeks and that they know by the next morning what caused the crash.
it has nothing to do with the plane. the plane was in perfect working order and it has nothing to do with the pilots. they warrant drunk or high or sick, and there was nothing to do and that with the weather although the weather was certainly bad that night and had nothing to do with air traffic control. they didn't make any air traffic mistakes. the cause of the crash was simple, to put it in the target of the aviation world it was fuel exhaustion. they had run out of gas. when i said at the beginning that this was a typical crash i did not mean by that the planes run out of fuel all the time. they don't. what i meant by saying it was a typical crash was that it took the form, it did not have a catastrophic pulse. we often think that accidents like plane crashes are catastrophes in the sense that something blows up in the cockpit and the captain is thrown back again secede and he says dear god and the flight attendant comes rushing in interface is fashioned and in
the back the passengers are screaming. that is our mental image of what a plane crashes but in fact nothing could be further from the truth. plane crashes rarely take that format all. in fact what they tend to be far more often is a very subtle process that begins very slowly and gradually overtakes the pilots until the plane and in some kind of irredeemable crisis. >> this was a portion of the booktv program. you can view the entire program and many other booktv programs on line. go to booktv.org. type the name of the author or book into the search area in the upper left-hand corner of the page. select the "watch link." now you can't use the entire program. you might also explore the "recently on booktv" box or the featured video box to find recent and featured programs.
>> our duane bats is the author of the question of freedom. mr. bats tell us what your story is. >> i guess that a short version of the story is when i was 69 contacted someone and the next day i got locked up, i pled guilty and spend eight one-half years in prison and the book is really about how that eight one-half years in prison prepared me to be a poet, writer, the future husband and father so i set myself up for the life that i live now. >> what changed for you in prison? >> i think a lot of stuff change but i spend my former years in prison from 16 to 24 so the main thing said change is me realizing that i had to work harder than i had to work before to accomplish the goals i had if i had any accomplishing the
goals and and i thought i could close my way through a successful life and i thought i could make certification mistakes that i should have known what effect me forever but i just didn't realize that would affect me and follow me forever. >> how was it that he got to a point where you carjacked somebody a age 16? >> noi think that is the hardest question that people ask me but in a lot of ways it is the easiest question. you think about cities in which there's a lack of resources and i was young and even though i was intelligent i never had talked to somebody who had gone to college and i never talked to anybody to achieve the things i want to achieve and that is not to say that alone is reason to carjack somebody but when you are looking for things you can do to change the lives of others i feel if i would have been exposed more, i may have been able to make better decisions. one day i had a gun in my hand and it was just this opportunity and that is the type of opportunity we hope no child has but when we look around a
society and the community we see unfortunately a lot of kids are exposed to that level of violence and just like me can't navigated in a way that leads them outside of jail. >> when did you start writing your book? >> again that is a difficult question to answer an easy question. i start writing it the moment i got locked up because i started analyzing what it meant to be blacken in prison in being imprisoned at 16, before i could drink, before i could drive, before was college age, so my process and thinking about those things began a journey to writing the book but the actual book contract to me sitting down to write a book began in the summer of 2007. >> how long had you been at a prison at that point? >> at that point that was released on march 4, 2005 so i had been out of prison for two years and really the book came about because i was featured on the front page of "the washington post" for a book club that