A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

It’s the End of the Internet, or Something

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The Federal Communications Commission Fascist Communications Club (FCC) announced its plan to revoke Title II status from Internet Service Providers (ISP) and to preempt state laws that would enforce net neutrality:

In addition to ditching its own net neutrality rules, the Federal Communications Commission also plans to tell state and local governments that they cannot impose local laws regulating broadband service.

[…]

It isn’t clear yet exactly how extensive the preemption will be. Preemption would clearly prevent states from imposing net neutrality laws similar to the ones being repealed by the FCC, but it could also prevent state laws related to the privacy of Internet users or other consumer protections. Pai’s staff said that states and other localities do not have jurisdiction over broadband because it is an interstate service and that it would subvert federal policy for states and localities to impose their own rules.

Predictably a large percentage of the Internet is in full on panic mode. Supposedly this is the end of the Internet and the only way to stop it is to call the FCC and your congress critters to demand that they, for the first time ever, listen to the will of “the people” (quotations used because “the people” doesn’t exist and therefore cannot be listened to).

Let’s take a step back, calm the fuck down, and actually think about this situation. First and foremost, the Internet was thriving before ISPs were granted Title II status. There’s no reason to think that everything is going to turn to shit if that status is revoked. So take a deep breath and relax.

Now let’s consider the situation as a whole. Everybody panicking about this seems to be recommending the same thing, contact the FCC and your congress critters and demand that they stop this. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Neither the FCC or your congress critters give a shit about what you think. You’re a pleb. You can’t afford to buy these people. “Oh,” I can hear one of you saying, “I’ll threaten to vote them out of office during the next election!” Here’s the thing with threats, they only work if the person your threatening can be convinced that you have the power to follow through. Your vote doesn’t matter and your congress critters know that. Moreover, the head of the FCC is appointed, you don’t get to vote for them. And by the time the next election rolls around the damage will have been done anyways.

The real problem isn’t that the FCC is planning to take away Title II status and preempt state laws enforcing net neutrality, it’s that the FCC has power. Why should a single agency have the power to regulate the entire United States Internet? Why should the word of a single man decide whether net neutrality is mandatory or illegal? Take away the FCC’s power and suddenly it can’t decide what rules the entire damned country has to play by. If you want to do something, work to take away the FCC’s power. Whether you want to waste your time with a political solution or a real solution like replicating the work of the people who built the Guifi.net mesh network in Catalonia is up to you. But nobody has ever won a war by fighting the same battle over and over again. This battle between “the people” and the FCC has already been waged several times and will continue to be waged forever if a change in strategy isn’t made.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 22nd, 2017 at 11:00 am

There’s No Kill Like Overkill

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Proportionality is a concept that many law enforcers appear to have trouble understanding. For example, killing a man for selling untaxed cigarettes isn’t a proportional punishment for the crime. Likewise, blowing up a man’s house to catch a shoplifter is not a proportional response to the crime:

In June of 2015, Reason reports, a man named Robert Jonathan Seacat shoplifted from a Denver area Walmart. He stole a shirt and two belts and then fled, first by car and then on foot, before breaking into a nearby home to hide inside.

Seacat was known to have one gun on him, and officers claimed he shot at them, but after the fact, investigators didn’t find evidence he’d fired that weapon or the two other guns that were already in the house. That’s perhaps because, as would later be discovered when police eventually took Seacat into custody, he was by that time probably feeling awful, as he had allegedly swallowed a container of methamphetamine that began to leak into his body.

The house had a security system that alerted the police of the break-in, and the cops arrived armed to the teeth. As court documents show, “50 SWAT officers” assaulted the house using “40 mm rounds, tear gas, flashbang grenades, two armored Bearcats [a type of armored vehicle] and breaching rams,” plus “68 cold chemical munitions and four hot gas munitions.”

And they used all of it to totally destroy this home. Their harebrained plan was to blow up every room, one by one, to herd Seacat into a corner of the house so police could be certain of his location. This process was ineffective as well as counterproductive: It created so much rubble that a police robot was not able to deliver a phone to Seacat for negotiations.

What’s the value of a shirt and two belts from Walmart? It’s probably somewhere between $30 and $50. What’s the value of a house, fuel for a Bearcat, 40mm teargas rounds, flashbang grenades, breaching rams, chemical munitions, hot gas munitions, a remotely controlled robot, and 50 officers’ time? A hell of a lot more than $50.

Shoplifting doesn’t requires a militarized squad of law enforcers to deal with. It requires compensation. Walmart probably has insurance against shoplifting so it was likely covered. In that case the insurance company had a right to seek compensation from the thief, which it could have easily done in small claims court. If the thief refused to appear in court, the judge could have simply ruled in favor of the insurance company or, at most, sent a single officer to kidnap the thief and bring him to court. Such a response would have been proportional to the crime.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 22nd, 2017 at 10:30 am

Watching the Dominoes Fall

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The resent glut of sexual assault and harassment reports has been both sad and fascinating to watch. On the one hand it’s sad to see just how many influential individuals have a record of sexual assault and harassment. On the other hand it’s fascinating to watch the accused fall like houses of cards.

Two of Minnesota’s lawmakers, one from the red team and the other from the blue team, announced that they’re resigning their positions due to sexual harassment allegations against them:

A pair of Minnesota state lawmakers — one a DFL senator, the other a Republican representative — announced Tuesday that they will resign from office in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

Word of the resignations of Sen. Dan Schoen and Rep. Tony Cornish came within two hours of each other, capping a stunning sequence of events that vividly demonstrated a new awareness of what many insiders say has been a long-standing tolerance of mistreatment of women working at Minnesota’s Capitol. Both men had been under pressure from leaders of their parties to resign.

I know very little about Schoen but I’m familiar with Cornish because he has played a major role in both gun rights and criminal law. While he was fairly reliable from the position of gun rights, he was an absolute bastard when it came to criminal law. As an ex-cop he was never shy about his absolute obedience to the blue line. He fought every piece of legislation that attempted to hold Minnesota’s law enforcers accountable. Moreover, he seemed gleeful about every piece of legislation that would make the lives of people found guilty of crimes, even the most petty of crimes, more miserable. Seeing this hardcore law and order politician fall from grace because he violated the law is karma in action.

Hopefully somebody will manage to convince Franken, Minnesota’s other grabby politician, to resign.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 22nd, 2017 at 10:00 am

What I Need Is None of Your Business

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I was involved in yet another debate about gun control that lead to the inevitable question of why I need and AR-15. This has to be one of the most entitle and pointless questions one can ask.

First, where do they get off thinking that they’re in a position where I have to justify anything to them? Nobody has declared them emperor as far as I know.

Second, why does it matter? Humans need food, water, clothing, and shelter to survive. Beyond that everything else is a luxury. You don’t need a television, cell phone, couch, bed, etc. They’re damned nice to have but you won’t die with out them. So asking why somebody else needs something is pointless because need is obviously not a criteria for legality.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 21st, 2017 at 11:00 am

Freedom of Speech is a Funny Thing

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Freedom of speech can be a funny thing, especially when you combine it with an officer who doesn’t understand how the legalities of free speech work. I’m guessing that many of you are familiar with the Sheriff Troy Nehls. He’s the man who posted a picture of a truck that had a window sticker that read, “Fuck Trump and fuck you for voting for him,” with a comment threatening legal action. After learning her identity he even had her arrested (he claimed it was for an outstanding warrant but all evidence indicates that it was harassment for the window sticker). The owner of the truck has been released from jail and has responded to his threat:

Karen Fonseca, the driver of a truck with an expletive sticker directed toward President Donald Trump, has added another name to the display: Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls.

The new adjustments read, “F (expletive) Trump and f (expletive) you for voting for him. F (expletive) Troy Nehls and f (expletive) you for voting for him.”

Ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse… unless you’re a law enforcer. If Sheriff Nehls had familiarized himself at all with First Amendment case history, he’d know that the courts have frequently ruled in favor of the individuals being censored by the government. Fonesca’s window sticker wasn’t threatening in any manner so there is no ground on which to claim that she was inciting violence. Yet Sheriff Nehls, who is supposed to be the top law enforcer in his department, decided it was appropriate to threaten violence against her. If anybody should have been arrested, it was him.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 21st, 2017 at 10:30 am

Tightening the Chains

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The turkey won’t be the only thing to get a hand up its ass this Thanksgiving:

New TSA screening guidelines will likely make Thanksgiving travel a disaster for legions of Americans — and the worst is yet to come.

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, TSA announced more “comprehensive” pat-down procedures which the Denver airport suggested might involve “more intimate contact than before.” TSA preemptively notified local police to expect potential complaints, and plenty of travelers are howling:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) still hasn’t thwarted a single terrorist plot. After 16 years one might expect an agency to show proof of having accomplished something. Instead the agency has pulled the same stunt as every other government agency and claimed that its failures are due to lack of funding. And like every other government agency, the TSA has shown no evidence of improvement when its funding has been increased.

Monday Metal: Noche de Halloween by Saurom

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This week we’re going to listen to some Spanish folk metal:

Written by Christopher Burg

November 20th, 2017 at 10:00 am

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Learning Lessons the Hard Way

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I’d imagine that most of you were taught to keep your hands to yourself at a pretty young age. I certainly was. However, some people can only learn this lesson the hard way:

A woman jogging Friday morning in Salt Lake City fought back against a man who came up behind her and groped her.

She was attacked about 6 a.m. in a neighborhood near 1700 South and 500 East, Salt Lake City police spokesman Greg Wilking said.

The woman was carrying a small knife in her hand and stabbed the man multiple times when he grabbed her.

And a valuable lesson was taught.

With sexual assault so prevalent in the news, it’s nice to read a story about how high the cost of sexual assault can be. The biggest enable of sexual assault is likely the extremely low cost of perpetuating it. Sexual assaults often face no physical or legal consequences. If sexual assaulters were commonly beaten, stabbed, or shot, the cost of perpetuating sexual assault might be high enough where would-be sexual assaulters would reconsider their actions.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 17th, 2017 at 11:00 am

They’re Just Teasing Us

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Nobody likes a tease:

This week, the 78-year-old Koskinen began his third retirement. And he says the IRS is still a distressed organization. “When Eisenhower left office, his message was: Beware the military-industrial complex,” Koskinen said. “My message is: Beware the collapse of the IRS.”

The collapse of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)? Why is he trying to get our hopes up so high? I think most of us know that there’s no way in hell that the federal government would allow its revenue generating arm to collapse. If anything, the IRS would be the last department that would be allowed to fall.

But can you imagine a world where the federal government didn’t take a huge chunk of our income? Not only would you have more money in you pocket to do with as you please but it would severely hamper the federal government’s law enforcement and military capabilities. Perhaps the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives wouldn’t be able to run guns to Mexican drug cartels; the Federal Bureau of Investigations wouldn’t be able to radicalize random isolated individuals, give them a fake bomb, arrest them, and claim credit for thwarting a terrorist attack; the National Security Agency wouldn’t be able to continue its massive surveillance program against us; and the Drug Enforcement Agency wouldn’t be able to continue waging its lethal war on drugs. A world without the IRS could be a beautiful one indeed. Let’s all hope that Koskinen’s warning has some kernel of truth behind it and that someday the IRS could collapse.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 17th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Creating the Super Bowl Experience

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The toll of the Super Bowl continues to rise. Between the “security” turning the entire city into a prison, shutdown streets, and light rail use reserved exclusively for Super Bowl attendees, things have already become quite miserable for the denizens of Minneapolis. But the Super Bowl experience wouldn’t be complete if some wealthy attendees had their vision offended by a poor person so the homeless shelter near the stadium is being evacuated for the duration of the game:

Dozens of people who use a homeless shelter near U.S. Bank Stadium will be moved to a new, temporary facility during Super Bowl week because of security concerns.

In a deal struck with churches and social service agencies, up to 60 people who normally would spend the night at First Covenant Church in downtown Minneapolis will be relocated six blocks away to a makeshift shelter at St. Olaf Catholic Church. The transition will occur the Thursday before the 2018 game and last through Super Bowl Sunday.

It is, of course, being done in the name of security. However, the 60 people occupying that shelter are no more a security risk than the hundreds living in the condominiums near the stadium so it’s pretty obvious this decision has nothing to do with actual security. But most “security” decisions being made have nothing to do with security and everything to do with security theater being a convenient excuse to ensure the Super Bowl attendees don’t have to deal with the riffraff or Minneapolis.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 17th, 2017 at 10:00 am